Gunning Daily News

Low Cost Curb Appeal Boosters

October 17, 2012 5:24 pm

When it comes time to list a home for sale, there are a number of different ways sellers can increase the curb appeal of their home substantially – at a relatively low cost. One of the improvements is a fresh coat of paint on trim, windows, or wood siding. Although some painted areas are small and often hard to see from the street, unsightly chips in window trim or worn and discolored paint on window shutters often alert potential buyers to how poorly a home has been maintained no matter how green and weed-free the grass or how well-trimmed the walkways are.

Pillar To Post inspectors suggest some tips for real estate professionals to pass along to their sellers in an effort to get the best offers on their homes.

The first thing to do is to make a visual walk around the exterior of the home, which can take a few minutes but should be thorough and not rushed. Sellers should use the same mindset as buyers and look for any possible things buyers will use to negotiate a lower the offer on the home. For example, water damage around door frames and windows can often indicate a problem, even if the problem has been addressed and repaired.

Water-damaged wood may not need to be replaced but it certainly needs to be cleaned and painted.

Mold and mildew can also leave telltale signs that a simple clean-up and a fresh coat of paint can remedy. Even well-maintained homes will show their age over time and dull or discolored paint can be easily covered with a new, fresh coat.

Once identified, sellers can determine if a professional painter can do the best job or if it only requires a little extra elbow grease – whatever fits the household budget. If they choose to use a contractor, homeowners should get references and specifics as to length of job and all additional charges. Ideally, all costs and job specifics should be in writing. But in most cases, simple paint jobs won’t require a contractor. Most homeowners can be “do-it-yourselfers” with a can of paint, paint roller, paint brush, some tape, and plastic tarps – and a lot of patience. Any painting tips are readily available online or at local hardware stores.

A beautiful lawn, new garage door, flower bed or neatly trimmed shrubs can all add to the curb appeal of a home. But an unsightly, peeling window sill can quickly negate all of the good physical attributes. If homeowners want a quick “SOLD” sign on their lawn, a fresh coat of paint can go a long way!

For more information on Pillar To Post inspections visit

Word of the Day

October 17, 2012 5:24 pm

Yield. What an investment or property will return; the profit or income.

From The Gutter: Designs & Materials

October 16, 2012 6:16 pm

Once in awhile, I have to get down into the gutter to get the job done. So in this first of two segments, we will provide some important advice on gutter design.

Build (, a residential and commercial architecture firm in Seattle, says certain gutter styles can really cheapen an otherwise well designed home. As negligible as gutters and downspouts seem to the overall look of a project, they matter, according to the firm.

Some of the points Build offers on gutter and downspout design include:

  • Match the color to the roof
  • For a deliberate look, align the bottom of the gutter with the flashing joint of the metal fascia.
  • A quality installation can make up for the structure’s inequities. Hire an experienced tradesperson who knows when to follow the lines of the building, and when to let the gutter slope.
  • Locate downspouts on less prominent faces of the structure.
  • Situate downspouts away from lines of sight and out of view from windows.
  • Camouflage them with screens or exterior walls.

The U.S. Rain Gutter Institute ( provided this insight about some unique and popular gutter materials:

Wood gutters - these are rare, except for restoration work, and expensive at $12 to $20 per linear foot installed. The original wood gutters were made from old growth cedar, a product that is rarely available today. And its substitution with new growth cedar or hemlock gutters has proven inadequate.

Copper - it's handsome, never rusts and never needs painting. And while copper is expensive, it adds a sense of visual appeal and value to your home. Copper requires less maintenance than aluminum or other materials, however, copper gutters will oxidize and turn green over time unless they are treated. There are several sealants available that can be applied to keep copper gutters looking golden and shiny.

Vinyl - a commonly used material, easily installed by a homeowner or contractor. It can be susceptible to damage by heavy ladders, as well as long-term deterioration by ultraviolet light from the sun. Quality vinyl gutters retain their color; remain flexible; are relatively easy to repair or replace; don't rust or corrode; have a greater dent resistance than lightweight aluminum and can be painted, if desired.

Next time, we’ll look at gutter maintenance.

Don’t Be SAD: Exploring Seasonal Affective Disorder

October 16, 2012 6:16 pm

It's almost that time of year again—cold weather, snow, ice, clouds and days with less sunlight. For parents, winter is a tough time—finding activities that are always inside, worrying about snow days and delays and making sure kids get plenty of physical exercise even though the weather is cold and the days are shorter.

On top of that some parents (and non parents) have to deal with a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This type of depression usually happens in the winter months due to the weather and shorter periods of daylight. Being that this type of depression is seasonal, the symptoms usually come back the same time every year and go away around the same time. The symptoms usually start late fall or early winter and the symptoms start to disappear when the warmer weather and longer days of sunlight return.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you are feeling under the weather during the cold winter months but not sure if you are having seasonal affective disorder, here are some of the symptoms associated with SAD.

1. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety during the winter months.

2. Feeling fatigue, loss of energy, trouble concentrating and unmotivated.

3. The feelings of sadness, fatigue, isolated, etc. start out mild and become more severe as the winter progresses.

4. Change in appetite and sleeping habits.

5. Social withdrawal - loss of interest in social activities and hobbies.

Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder - 10 Tips to Prevent the Winter Blues

There are treatment options for SAD so you can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days. Here are some tips to help prevent the winter blues:

1. Get as much light as you can even when you're indoors. Open the shade, roll up the curtains, move your desk near the windows, etc.

2. Spend time outdoors during the daylight hours. The weather is cold and snowy but we do know that being outside in the winter months is beneficial. Go outside for quick walks and sit in the sun to help lift your spirits. After a few days of spending some time outdoors, you will start feeling a little better.

3. Add exercise into your daily routine - exercise, even just walking, produces endorphins and reduces stress hormones at the same time so you get a boost of happiness.

4. Make sure to add some fun into your life. Even though the weather keeps us homebound, it doesn't mean you can't have fun! Instead of feeling trapped inside, find ways to engage in things you love.

5. Be social even in the winter months. Adding more social activities where you will be surrounded with family and friends can give the extra support you need.

6. Take a vacation. Some clients feel a sense of isolation and loneliness in the winter months, if this is the case setting up vacation time in warm, sunny spots can help and give you something to look forward to.

7. Try "Light Therapy." We know that increased sunlight helps improve the symptoms of SAD. There are certain lights you can buy called "Light Therapy Box" which mimics outside light and helps you lift your mood and spirits.

8. See a counselor before winter starts. If you have a mild case, you can take preventive methods such as seeking a counselor right before late fall to start talking to someone who can help.

9. Medications - Doctors have prescribed anti-depressants that have worked well for some patients.

10. Psychotherapy is another great option. The therapist can help you identify your negative thoughts and behaviors and help change them. A therapist can also help you find good coping skills to feel better.

Diane Lang - Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist - is a nationally recognized author, educator, speaker, therapist and media expert. Find her at

5 Tips from Project Runway’s Interior Designer

October 16, 2012 6:16 pm

In honor of Project Runway’s Season 10 Finale, Project Runway interior designer Katherine De Luca is offering her exclusive tips to get the Project Runway look in your own home.

1. Try D.I.Y.

The Project Runway apartments’ wall art can be easily achieved: simply use a staple gun to wrap frames with inexpensive fabric, or purchase blank canvases and paint to achieve a custom color.

2. Emphasize lighting and wall décor
These are my favorite go-to home accessories that can instantly dress up a room for the better.

3. Learn to flea!
If you’re in NYC, I highly recommend renting a Zipcar on the weekend to check out flea markets, antique shops, and furniture consignment shops in New Jersey, Connecticut, and upstate NY. Their inventory is generally less expensive, better quality, and unique.

4. Do save…
On linens, kitchenware, and even carpeting.

5. Do splurge…

On a good sofa. You get what you pay for, and if you splurge on a sofa you will find that it is well made, lasts longer, and will be the perfect focal point in any apartment.

Word of the Day

October 16, 2012 6:16 pm

Write-off. Depreciation or amortization an owner takes on a commercial property.

Q: Should I Sell My Home First or Wait until I Have Bought Another Home?

October 16, 2012 6:16 pm

A: This is a tough decision, but the answer will depend on your personal situation, as well as the condition of the local housing market.

If you put your home on the market first, you may have to scramble to find another one before settlement, which could cause you to buy a home that does not meet all your requirements. If you cannot find another home, you may need to move twice, temporarily staying with relatives or in a hotel.

On the other hand, if you make an offer to buy first, you may be tempted to sell your existing home quickly, even at a lower price.

The advantage of buying first is you can shop carefully for the right home and feel comfortable with your decision before putting the existing home on the market.

On the flip side, the advantage of selling your existing home first is that it maximizes your negotiating position because you are under no pressure to sell quickly. It also eliminates the need to carry two mortgages at once.

Talk with your agent for advice. Discuss the pros and of each and whether certain contingencies written into the contract can ease some of the pressures.

Supermarket Super foods: 12 Foods That Should Be Staples in Your Kitchen

October 15, 2012 5:38 pm

You don’t have to go to the health food store to be sure your fridge and pantry are well-stocked with super-foods that boost energy, make you feel better, and can help you lose pounds or maintain a healthy weight.

Registered dietician Karen Ansel, writing for Woman’s Day, suggests 12 super-foods you can find in any market – and some of the best ways to use them every day:

Nonfat ricotta cheese – It has three times the calcium of cottage cheese. Mix it with pasta, add a big spoonful to pancake or waffle mix or use it instead of mayo in your lunchtime sandwich.

Peanut butter – It has 30 essential vitamins and minerals and a combination of healthy fats and fiber. Stuff it into celery sticks or spread it on multigrain toast.

Canned salmon - One 3.5-oz can has 1,100 mg of brain- and heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Mix with light mayo and chopped celery or carrots for sandwiches, or toss into a salad with sliced grapes, strawberries and romaine.

Oatmeal – Oats are filled with iron and heart-healthy fiber. Enjoy a bowlful for breakfast or add oats to your fruit and yogurt smoothie.

Cabbage – Red and green cabbage have bone-building vitamin K and compounds that may help fight breast cancer. Shred into slaw or any green salad, or munch a wedge out of hand.

Canned tomatoes – Loaded with lycopene and vitamin C, they pair well with any veggies in soups or tomato sauce for pasta.

Whole grain pasta –
Boil up this heart-healthy food for a hot pasta dinner or a cold pasta salad mixed with veggies, leftover chicken, and light vinaigrette.

Strawberries or blueberries – Full of antioxidants, these juicy treats are great by themselves or mixed into cereals or salads.

Edamame – A great source of protein, cooked edamame can be munched hot or cold or added to salads, rice or pasta dishes.

Avocados – With 65 percent of its fat coming from heart-healthy monounsaturates, mashed avocadoes are an ingenious swap for butter or mayo on your morning toast or afternoon sandwich.

Sweet potatoes – They pack more vitamin A and beta-carotene than carrots and enough fiber to help you stay full. Bake or mash as you prefer.

Cocoa – Contains flavanols, which are powerful antioxidants. Enjoy a hot cupful mixed with fat-free milk.

TechTools: Must-Have Free Apps That Save Money

October 15, 2012 5:38 pm

Nearly everyone thinks that saving money is a good idea. But hunting down deals and finding the best stuff to buy can sometimes feel like a hassle. However, now that mobile technology is here to stay, these days, shoppers can easily find what they are looking for at a great price. The November 2012 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, features ten must-have, free apps that can help shoppers score some of the best deals.

ShopSmart's feature story on sites and apps that can save shoppers big also identifies 17 must-see sites and 10 fun new ones for smart beauty picks, comfy home items, kids' gifts and more; plus an update on new offerings from old standbys like Amazon, eBay, Google and Walmart.

"The Web is filled with tons of deals and finding the best bargain can take time," says Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "These apps can save shoppers time and money, possibly scoring them even better deals than they may find on their own."

Here's five free apps from ShopSmart's list of must-haves--the entire list can be found in the November issue:

Amazon mobile is a great tool for shopping on a smartphone. Users can buy almost anything, anywhere with this app. Quick barcode scanning and picture search make it easy for users to find what they're looking for (or to check prices against those in-store) and checkout is a breeze, especially with the one-click option. Amazon mobile is available for Android, Apple and BlackBerry.

CardStar is best for organizing loyalty cards. Shoppers can get rid of all those bulky cards and grimy key chain tags--CardStar puts all of this info neatly into one app. To save, users show their phone to the cashier in stores and local deals may pop up on the app (if it's open) while they are there. CardStar is available for Android, Apple and BlackBerry.

Coupon Sherpa helps users grab hundreds of coupons for dozens of stores. Users have a good chance of finding a deal on this app for the store they're heading to and cashiers can scan directly from a phone. Grocery coupons, available for several chains, can be applied directly to loyalty cards, so the savings automatically comes off the bill. Coupon Sherpa is available for Android and Apple.

RedLaser is an eBay-owned barcode-scanner app that locates great deals. Users can scan items and find the best price locally and online or buy stuff and arrange for pickup at participating retailers. It also searches using images and voice commands to give product details, reviews and nutrition info. Redlaser can help users take advantage of price-matching policies at stores like Target and Walmart and is available for Android, Apple and Windows.

Shopkick automates rewards. Users can earn points (called kicks) just for entering participating stores. The kicks can be redeemed for a reward such as a free drink at Starbucks or a Coach bag. Users can link credit or debit cards to earn even more kicks. Nationwide partners include ExxonMobile, Macy's, and Target. Open the app when walking in or by a participating retailer to claim available rewards. Shopkick is available for Android and Apple.

For more information, visit

Home Staging for a Modern World

October 11, 2012 5:36 pm

A recent visit to the Academy of Home Staging ( revealed some of the latest home-staging trends and how they could translate into selling your home faster.

The academy blog about 2012 design trends reveals a couple of key points about color and accessories.

According to the site, 2012 interior design trends regarding furnishings will favor seating that is much lower to the ground. Home furniture manufactures are debuting chairs and sofas that offer lower seating arrangements than standard products.

There is also a growing trend to incorporate the industrial look into furnishings, not just kitchen and bathroom spaces. With all shades of grey remaining favorable within interior design, it can be expected to see more yellow integrated into furniture to enhance this color pairing.

Also, rustic wooden furnishings will be popular this year, the academy advises.

We touched on this earlier this year, but it bears repeating - the accent color of 2012 is bright, bold and orange. The Pantone Color Institute recommends the reddish orange Tangerine Tango to replace last year’s pink Honeysuckle.

The Academy of Home Staging explains that this color has a lot of depth, being dramatic and simultaneously seductive and sophisticated. It’s important to be conservative in the use of a vibrant color, however, otherwise it can overpower the surroundings.

Selecting patterned trimmings that incorporate this color will give an edge to pillows, bedspreads, or tabletop accessories. For a more bold approach, painting an accent wall in a hallway, kitchen or entrance can create a dynamic burst of energy, the academy advises.

Finally, never as well overlook ‘dynamizing’ - giving the room in your house that special look. Make sure that each room clearly conveys its function and purpose.

For the bathrooms or toilets, the academy advises displaying fresh towels and toiletries like they do in hotels. For the living room, put a vase of fresh flowers on the coffee table.