Gunning Daily News

Q: What about repairs made to get the home ready for sale?

August 31, 2012 1:38 pm

A: If you realize a taxable gain after you sell your home, even with an exclusion, you can reduce your gain with selling costs. These selling costs may include items that are otherwise considered to be repairs – such as painting, wallpapering, even planting flowers – if you complete them within 90 days of your home sale and provided they were completed to make the home more saleable.

Late Summer, Early Fall Planting and Harvesting

August 30, 2012 5:24 pm

I don’t exactly consider August a time when homeowners are thinking about gardening. Isn’t August supposed to be the beginning of harvest season?

A recent interview by April Lehmbeck at, however, points to August as a potential month to begin certain planting or other complementary landscaping projects. Lehmbeck chatted with Joe Allemon, president of Allemon’s Landscape Center in Detroit, who says the end of August is a fabulous time to do any type of tree and shrub planting, as well as reconditioning their lawns. He says most folks will want to start with a good stiff rake, and focus on areas that look like they’re not in the best shape.

Then, they can add a layer of topsoil, which Allemon says really makes for a nice seedbed. Next, they can add grass seed, fertilizer and Canadian peat moss to aid the growing process.

For those who are looking for a new or different style of grass, early September is a good time to lay sod, Allemon added. And if homeowners don’t feel like adding plants to the landscape, what about taking on other projects, such as putting in a patio or a water feature?

Over in Pittsburgh, Charley Goetz and his crew at Brandon Landscape Maintenance ( are telling their clients that late summer is a good time to prune most shade trees and spring flowering shrubs such as Forsythia and Lilac.

Just be sure to prune deciduous and evergreen hedges at this time of year as well. And spray a follow-up insecticide on all ornamental trees and shrubs.

The folks at Brandon know that red spider mites will do damage to evergreens, in particular close-needled dwarf varieties. So they advise spraying a miticide such as Malathion if noticed.

This chemical is only effective for 10 -15 days, so this should be done in before late summer. Check our next segment for some advice on planting a fall vegetable garden that will yield a tasty bounty into the early winter season.

Prep Yourself Financially for a Natural Disaster

August 30, 2012 5:24 pm

Prep Yourself Financially for a Natural Disaster
September is National Preparedness Month and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) is offering tips to help individuals put their financial documents in order before a disaster strikes.

"While the first priority is the physical safety and well-being of you and your family, knowing that your banking and financial papers are safe gives you one less thing to worry about during times of duress," says Jeff Gerhart, chairman of ICBA and Bank of Newman Grove, Neb. “Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other natural disasters remind us how important it is to be organized and have a plan. Having a financial preparedness plan will protect you and your family from the long-term effects of damaged or destroyed financial documents."

ICBA offers the following tips to help consumers prepare before an emergency occurs.

• Keep marriage and family records, including adoption papers, property deeds, birth certificates, wills, insurance policies, passports, Social Security cards, immunization records, credit card account numbers, car titles or lease contracts, bank and investment account numbers and three years of tax returns in a bank safe-deposit box. Put each of these documents in a sealed plastic bag to keep out moisture.
• Make and safeguard additional official copies of critical documents such as birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage certificates and the deed to your home for safekeeping and notify a trustee, close relative or attorney where your important financial information is located.
• Keep names and contact numbers for executors, trustees and guardians in a safe place, either in your safe deposit box or with a close relative.
• Take an inventory and keep a list of household valuables. Taking photographs of these items can help as well.
• Start and regularly contribute to an emergency fund that can cover at least three to four months of expenses. This fund should be separate from your savings or investment account.
• Include extra cash (ideally small denominations) in your home emergency kit, which should include a three-day supply of water, food, a first aid kit, can opener, flashlights, radio and extra batteries.
• Identify the records that you keep only on computer. They may not be available if electrical power fails, so make a printout and safeguard them or back them up to an external device or web storage facility.
• The web can serve as a supplement or back up to paper copies. Scanned or other electronic documents can be attached to e-mails and stored in your e-mail account or with secure online back-up services.
• If you feel flood insurance may be necessary to protect your home, start shopping around. Contact your insurance agent or visit FEMA’s website at for more information.


Cranky Pants? 7 Positive Strategies for Managing Aggressive Behavior in Children

August 30, 2012 5:24 pm

As the school year starts, teachers (and parents) may worry about how to handle child who is "having a total meltdown." Some children may fall in a puddle of tears and sob, others yell and scream. What can be the hardest to handle is when a child becomes aggressive and hits, bites, shoves, throws things or kicks, possibly hurting themselves and others in a fit of anger or frustration.

"One of the most difficult issues when living and working with children of any age is knowing how to calmly, lovingly, and safely stop them if they are acting out in ways that are potentially harmful to themselves or others," says Irene van der Zande, child safety education expert and founder of

"Although aggressive behavior must be stopped, great harm can be done if an adult restrains an upset child in a way that is physically unsafe for the child or for the adult; acts worried or angry about the child being upset; or shames the child for losing control," writes van der Zande. "Firm, kind, matter-of-fact adult intervention is necessary for everyone’s emotional and physical safety."

Below are seven intervention strategies for managing aggressive behavior in children:
1. Be prepared that children will sometimes have difficulty staying in charge of their behavior.
2. Identify and reduce causes of stress that trigger outbursts.
3. Teach children how to recognize and manage the feelings and actions that lead to unsafe behavior.
4. Create a plan for how to prevent and handle outbursts for every place the child might be.
5. As the adult in charge, understand and stay in charge of your own emotional triggers.
6. Be a powerful, respectful, adult leader when taking charge of an out-of-control child.
7. When you are caring for other people's children, make a plan ahead of time with the parents and/or your work supervisor about how to handle problems and what you are and are not authorized to do to manage outbursts and keep kids safe.

"Children need to understand that all of their feelings are acceptable and normal, including anger," writes van der Zande. "Everyone gets upset sometimes and wants to do hurtful things. As adults, we can help our kids learn how to stay in charge of what they say and do even if they are feeling very angry or upset at that moment. Being able to recognize when you are feeling upset, take care of your feelings in positive ways, and act safely no matter how you feel inside are tremendous life skills."


Word of the Day

August 30, 2012 5:24 pm

Restrictive covenants. Clauses placed in a deed to restrict the full use of the property by controlling how future landowners may or may not use the property; also used in leases.

Q: Are Seller-Paid Points Deductible?

August 30, 2012 5:24 pm

A: For the buyer, yes, but not the seller – even though the seller pays them. Since January 1, 1991, homebuyers have been able to deduct points paid by the seller whereas, previously, they could only deduct the actual points they paid on the home loans themselves.

Top Tips for Finding the Perfect Sofa

August 29, 2012 6:06 pm

Whether you're browsing sofas online or hitting the stores, it can be tricky to find the right couch. Take a look at the following sofa buying guide to make sure you'll be sitting pretty on your new furniture.

Before you start sofa shopping, you need to work out the exact size of your living space and how many people may be sitting at one time. Most large sofas will seat three adults comfortably, while a smaller sofa may only be suitable for two people. It's also important to work out the safe distance from a sofa to a radiator to prevent the risk of fire. You should also gauge whether a new sofa will fit through a tight doorway or space.

If you're short on space or have low ceilings, consider choosing a sofa with a low back to create the illusion of more room. Modular sofas are also a great flexible option for open-plan rooms or smaller spaces.


Leather or fabric has become one of the biggest dilemmas when it comes to buying a sofa. Plain leather sofas are a fantastic way to add a contemporary feel to a home, while fabric furniture offers a greater range of colors and patterns. A leather sofa is a great choice if you would like your furniture to age over time, becoming part of the family as the years go by. A fabric sofa with washable loose covers, on the other hand, is perfect for anyone with young children or pets.

The filling of a sofa determines its level of support and appearance. Foam-filled sofas offer a structured look and provide firm support for anyone with limited mobility. Fiber upholstery offers a more relaxed finish with a softer sit, while feather-filled upholstery needs to be plumped up regularly, but is ideal for anyone who loves to curl up on the sofa for hours on end.

Make sure to browse, compare prices, and do a lot of test sits before choosing your next piece of furniture.


Word of the Day

August 29, 2012 6:06 pm

Reserve account. An account for money collected each month by a lender to pay for property taxes and property insurance as they come due.

Q: How Does a Lease Option Work?

August 29, 2012 6:06 pm

A: A landlord agrees to give a renter an exclusive option to purchase the property. The option price is usually determined at the outset, but not always, and the agreement states when the purchase should take place – whether, say, six months, or a year or two down the road.

A portion of the rent is used to make the future down payment. Most lenders will accept the down payment if the rental payments exceed the market rent and a valid lease-purchase agreement is in effect.

Before you opt to do a lease option, find out as much as possible about how they work. Talk to real estate agents, read published materials, and, in the end, have an attorney review any paperwork before you and the tenant sign on the dotted line.

7 Steps to Start the School Year Right

August 29, 2012 5:06 pm

September is an exciting time for kids and parents alike. But as your little ones get ready to board that big yellow bus again, it’s important to make sure they are starting the year strong—and safe.

"The first weeks of a new school year can be an exciting and anxious time," says Irene van der Zande, Kidpower founder. "Children may be thinking or saying:
“It will be nice to see my friends.”
“I hope the teacher likes me.”
“I hope the other kids like me.”
“I hope it won’t be too hard.”
“I am worried about that kid who picked on me last year.”
“I am sad that summer is over.”

Van der Zande says that most of the parents she hears from have mixed feelings about the start of a new school year. "As adults, we know that having a positive beginning for any new experience sets the stage for success. An unhappy beginning to a school year can be very upsetting for everyone."

Below are steps for parents to plan and practice communication and safety skills with their kids, as well as advice to help support teachers — all aimed at helping children start the school year off so they can be "strong, safe and sound at school, and everywhere they go."

1. Take a realistic look at your child’s emotional school-readiness.
"Qualities like being more sensitive or less sensitive, more outgoing or more reserved, louder or quieter, are all normal and have both benefits and potential liabilities," writes van der Zande. "The sooner children can learn to be in charge of their qualities so these are gifts instead of problems, the happier and more successful they will be – not only in school, but in life."

2. Be clear about both safety and learning expectations.
Van der Zande advises: "Tell your child clearly, 'I expect you to feel respected and safe at school. And I expect you to act in safe and respectful ways towards others.' Be explicit about what this means, using specific examples relevant to your child."

3. Make a plan for potential problems.
"Children can suddenly find themselves struggling with some academic subject or having emotional or social problems with someone in their circle of friends," says van der Zande. "Explore ways to make learning and interacting with friends easier. Sometimes children need major support, but often a little bit of help can make a huge difference."

4. Stay in touch with what is going on at school.
"Many children are tired of school by the time they get home and don’t give much information when asked general questions like, “How was school today?'" writes van der Zande. "At the same time, most children like to share what’s going on in their lives if they are listened to without being lectured or having to hear negative comments about themselves, their school, or their friends."

5. Offer support to your child’s teachers and schools.
"Teaching is a hard job and schools face many challenges," says van der Zande. "Supporting teachers and not taking them for granted - all year long - is vital to helping kids have a good experience at school."

6. Prepare your children to set boundaries and to advocate for themselves.
"In an ideal world, people would always be kind to each other rather than being mean to each other. However, even people who really care about each other annoy and bother each other sometimes," writes van der Zande. "Rehearsing how to handle specific problems will help to increase confidence, reduce anxiety, and build competence. For example, you can teach children how to protect themselves emotionally from insults...You can also teach children to project an attitude of confidence. We are all more likely to be listened to and less likely to be targeted for bullying if we greet the world with awareness, calm and confidence. "

7. Advocate for your children when things go wrong.
"Remember that, as parents, our job is to make sure that our children are in places that are emotionally and physically safe and with people who are creating a supportive, effective learning environment," writes van der Zande. "If something goes wrong, be prepared to advocate in a respectful, powerful way for your child."