General Observations Feed

What is Clutter telling you?

Clutter is informing you that something needs to change.

Clutter is a clear sign something is not working; clutter would not pile up if everything was working as it should.

So what exactly isn’t working and what can you do about it?

1.     Change the home, or lack of a home.

The issue might be as simple as the item doesn’t have a designated home. Sometimes stuff is left out just because it has nowhere to go. Look at the item in that is sitting out and ask yourself, ‘where does this go?’ if you don’t have an answer then you need to find it a home- right now. You can always change where you store it, so pick a place and give it a try.

2.     Change your habits.  

Maybe the item has a home but you’re just not in the habit of putting it away when you are through using it. A common problem is leaving an item out because you plan to come back to finish using it later. Don’t wait until later, put it away where it belongs now and you’ll be able to find it again whenever you need it. 

3.     Change the storage spot.

You may have a place to put the item, but if the storage spot is inconvenient chances are you won’t make the effort to put it away. This is about being busy and having a lot on your plate already that running a single piece of paper to your home office on the second floor of your home just isn’t a priority. Create the storage spot or at least the “holding” place where the item naturally lands so you won’t end up with a pile of stuff to move.

4.     Change your expectations.

So you dream of a perfectly organized home? Do you wish for a closet with everything color coded and folded with precision? Would you love a completely clear table top? These images, although lovely, are more reminiscent of a model house that no one lives in. Your house is a home; a home where people enjoy life and life comes with stuff. The key is to manage the stuff and adjust your expectations.

5.     Change your focus.

Sometimes it is easier to simply ignore the cluttered closets and piles of paperwork. Sometimes you put your focus on other people’s needs first and your need to de-clutter takes a back seat. And sometimes the stuff becomes part of the landscape of your home and is hardly noticeable unless you really look. When you change your focus your life can change. Decide to make clearing out unused, unwanted items your main focus over the next week. Take it one week at a time until you get the desired results. If you like this once-a-week method check out my Once-a-Week De-cluttering Calendar.

positive change for markets where housing inventory has been stagnant.

The year ahead holds the promise of positive change for markets where housing inventory has been stagnant. Rising home prices are serving to lift the market – and homeowners – above the low-equity tide. That's a good thing for several reasons.

Increasing home prices = possible inventory boom
Over the next 15 or so months, 8.3 million homeowners (that's 18% of homeowners with mortgages), are expected to gain enough equity in their homes to be able to sell them without being forced into a short sale, according to a recent report by RealtyTrac.1 This assumes that home prices continue to increase at the rate they have since March 2012 – 1.33% per month.

The report shows that this segment of homeowners' equity currently ranges anywhere from 10% negative equity to 10% positive equity. As their equity improves, so does their ability to sell their homes. Another bright spot in the report: 1 in 4 homeowners in foreclosure has positive equity, meaning they stand a better chance to sell their homes before foreclosure proceedings are completed.

The "big boost"
More home inventory is good news for the housing market overall, with buyers having a greater number of choices as the spring season approaches. Rising home prices also contribute to an overall sense of security and optimism. People who feel more financially stable are more likely to spend. "Fewer underwater homeowners is a big plus for the economy," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "The home is still the most important asset most Americans have."2

1 More than 8 million homeowners are 'resurfacing' by Teke Wiggin
2 Rising home prices lift underwater homeowners by Julie Schmit

Rumson September 2012 Real Estate Report


September 1 - September 30, 2012


Total Number of closed sales


Average days on market


Ratio of sale price to list price


Lowest closed price


Highest closed price


Median closed price



Distribution of Closed Sales


# under $500,000


# $500,001 - $1,000,000


# above $1,000,000



Total under contract as of 10/4/12


Total homes available as of 10/4/12


Median price of available homes




Source: Monmouth/Ocean MLS. Information deemed reliable but not

New Short Sales Rules - Cheat Sheet

New Short Sales Rules - Cheat Sheet Recently the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are issuing new guidelines for mortgage servicers that will essentially consolidate all short sale programs into one streamlined program. These updated short sale program rules will allow lenders to qualify someone for a short sale, and homeowners will more easily be able to tell if they are eligible for a short sale. Under the new guidelines going into effect Nov. 1: - Homeowners with a mortgage backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will be able to do a short sale even if they are current on their mortgage if they have an eligible hardship such as the death of a borrower or co-borrower, divorce or legal separation, illness or disability, or a distant employment transfer. - Homeowners will be able to make a financial contribution at closing in exchange for the lender not pursuing them for a deficiency judgment later (assuming the homeowner has sufficient income and/or assets). - Milita ry personnel who are being relocated will be automatically eligible for a short sale and will be under no obligation to contribute funds to cover the shortfall between the outstanding loan balance and the sales price on their homes. - Subordinate-lien payments will be limited to $6,000. Previously lenders would often attempt to negotiate a higher payment from the homeowner. - In certain circumstances, homeowners will be eligible to receive up to $3,000 in relocation assistance. New guidelines for lenders The FHFA also recently announced that lenders: - Must respond to short sales within 30 days of receipt of the short sale offer. - Must provide weekly updates to the borrower. - Must communicate a final decision to the borrower within 60 days of receipt of the offer.



While forecasting methods and tools are improving year after year, people are still at great risk to tropical storms and hurricanes because they continue to build along the coastline. The following is a list of helpful hints that you can use before hurricane season, when a watch or warning is issued, before, during, and after a tropical storm, or hurricane strikes your area.


  • Enter the season prepared. 
  •  Know all evacuation routes if you live close to the coast. 
  •  Make sure your home meets building codes for withstanding hurricanes, and they have storm shutters. 
  •  Have proper tools, supplies, and a first aid kit.
  • Have plenty of batteries and flashlights ü Always have plenty of non-perishable foods on hand.


  • Leave low lying areas. 
  •  Protect windows with plywood boards, or storm shutters. 
  •  Secure outside objects. ü Make sure you have plenty of fuel and water. 
  •  Have several days supply of food and water for each family member.
  •  If called to evacuate, do so immediately.


  • Be ready to put your plan and preparation into action.
  • Pay attention to local weather reports on radio, television, or the internet.
  • Have house boarded up, or have storm shutters in place.
  •  Have plenty of food and water.
  • Make sure all your tools, supplies, and first aid kit available for use. 
  •  Have a secure room available.


  • Stay in Secure Room.
  • Stay away from windows. 
  •  Do not use the phone, or candles.
  • Monitor Weather and Public Safety alerts on regular and NOAA radios.
  • Have supplies on hand.
  • Remain indoors when the eye moves over your area because the storm will resume shortly.


  • Make sure that all is definitely clear outside, and the storm has completely passed before going out.
  • Report downed power lines, and stay away from them.
  • Use stored water and food.
  • Be patient. Things will take a while before they get back to normal.



Sympathy Messages for Pet

Sympathy Messages for Pet Loss

Sympathy Messages for Death of a Pet

Sometimes you will need general pet sympathy card messages. You can use these pet
condolence messages to help you get your message started or leave them the way
they are.

  1. I am sorry about your pet dying. I know it was special and became part of your family.
  2. Some animals are extra special, and when we lose them, we feel a real loss. My condolences on the loss of your pet.
  3. I don't know that I can say anything to make you feel better after losing your pet, but I would like to say I'm sorry for your loss.
  4. Some people don't think that losing a pet is a big deal, but I know that it can be difficult. Pets can be great friends and even family members. My condolences.

Sympathy Messages for Death of a Dog

Use these sympathy card messages for dogs.

  1. When they say a dog is man's best friend, it's easy to understand why it's so difficult to lose a great dog. Losing your best friend is difficult.
  2. There is something special about dogs to be able to bond with their owners. That relationship can be difficult to lose. I am sorry you lost your dog.
  3. Life is too short for dogs. We get to watch them as puppies all the way through old age. A dog will give it's entire life to pleasing us. My condolences on the loss of your dog.
  4. They're cute, funny, happy, protective, sweet, and understanding. What more could you ask from a pet or even a person? Your dog was all of these things. My condolences.
  5. They broke the mold when your dog died. There will never be another one like him. I am sorry for your loss.

Sympathy Messages for Death of a Cat

When someone's cat dies, you can use these messages for your sympathy card.

  1. Although cats are relatively independent creatures, you get used to having them around and miss them when they are gone. Sorry for your loss.
  2. I wish cats did have nine lives. Then I wouldn't have to say "My condolences for the loss of your cat."
  3. Cats entertain us with their athletic abilities. They pounce several feet, sprint quickly, and land on their feet. I am sorry for the loss of the athletic member of your family.
  4. It's amazing how much you can miss a cat. My condolences.
  5. Dogs may be man's best friend, but cats are members of the family. Sorry for the
         loss of your family member.

Suggestions for Writing Pet Loss Messages

When you are writing a pet sympathy card keep these things in mind, so you can ensure an effective message.

  • Don't make fun of the feelings the owner has. Sometimes people bond emotionally to pets and can go through the grieving process when they lose a pet. Be sensitive to this, especially if you are thinking of making a joke of it.
  • Don't suggest that the person go out and buy a new pet right away, or mention the fact that it's easy to obtain a new one. The owner had THAT pet, not just any other of the same type of animal. Some pets aren't replaceable.
  • Don't try to convince the person to buy a different type of pet the next time. It's not the time to debate whether dogs or cats are better pets. No pet is going to be as good as the pet they lost.


The January Challenge is here! Ready! Set! Toss!

this is from one of my favorite bloggers Jamie Novak on de cluttering I thought I'd put it out there as well.

I just started so who knows how many bags I will get done by end of January. Also a good time to start if you are thinking about selling your home this or buying. Good Luck to All.

Post in comments to tell me how you do.

The January
Challenge is here! Ready! Set! Toss!

The goal: challenge yourself to “toss” as many bags of stuff as
you can before the January 31st deadline.

Tossing can mean tossing in the garbage, recycling, donating,
giving to a friend, free-cycling or any other way you can think of to get a bag
of any size filled with unused stuff out of your home.

The big bag tossing has started so jump in today!

Will you be the winner? Will you toss the most bags?

Check in here to post your ongoing tally, share
photos, report progress, share thoughts, get ideas and stay motivated. I'll
check in too so I'll see you there!

Remember friends don’t let friends toss alone so forward this
email to a friend today, they'll thank you!

Foreigners Jump into Real Estate Market

"Falling home prices may be plaguing the US economy, but they are candy to foreign investors, who already have a weak dollar on their side.  Buyers from overseas spent roughly $41 billion on US residential real estate last year, a bump up from the previous year. US real estate agents report a surge this Spring especially, as foreign buyers see continued pressure on home prices and ample bargains.  'I don’t think they’re so concerned about the prices dropping as they are about getting value for their money,' says Rick Ambrose, a Coldwell Banker agent in Lake Mohawk, NJ.  Ambrose and his colleague Mary Pat Spekhardt recently hosted two groups of Japanese investors searching for homes on the scenic lake just about an hour outside of New York City.  'They can work here, be close to the city, be close to their corporations and still feel like they’re on vacation. I think that’s really what grabbed everybody.

That’s what got them,' says Spekhardt.  The group of about 35 from Japan also toured properties in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, which are more popular choices among foreign investors.

 A new survey by that tracks searches from potential foreign buyers found LA ranked number one in potential interest traffic, trailed by New York City, Cape Coral, Fl, Fort Lauderdale, FL and Las Vegas.  The greatest interest is from buyers in the UK, Canada and Australia.  'Prices now in the US are generally 30-40% off from the peak.  In addition, the weakness of the dollar gives the Japanese an advantage, as it does the Europeans, of another 20-25% off, so they’re seeing real bargains and opportunities,' notes Ambrose.  The interest is pretty widespread, with Brazilians trolling Miami and Russians and Chinese hunting in Chicago, according to Trulia's survey. 

 What's so interesting to me, though, is that foreigners are so much more ready to jump into the market now than US investors.

Granted, they have, as noted, the weak dollar on their side, but they also seem to have a longer term view. US buyers are so afraid to lose a little in the short term on paper, they don't realize they could gain a lot in the long term. Of course foreign buyers are largely using cash, which many US buyers are lacking.

Credit, or lack thereof, is playing against the US investor.

Prices in Miami are actually beginning to recover, especially in the condo market, thanks to foreign buyers, so much so that the foreigners are beating out the Americans.

Be Ready for Summer with No Hassle

Here's what I keep in the tote, ready to go when the moment strikes:

  • Beach towel
  • Plastic tablecloth or shower liner (to sit on a damp or muddy ground)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm (sunscreen has a shelf life of about 6 months)
  • Baby wipes or hand sanitizers
  • Microfiber cloth or rags or paper towels
  • Mini first aid kit (anti-itch spray, bandages, antibiotic ointment)
  • Water bottle and snacks
  • Camera or your cell phone with you when you go
  • Small bag with spending money
  • Hat & sunglasses
  • Baby powder and soft-bristle paintbrush (removes sand or dried mud easily)
  • Hair ties 
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Bag for treasures
  • Garbage/recycling bag (not every place has a trash nearby)
  • Taking Fido? Grab water bowl & leash
  • Radio or MP3
  • A watch you can hang from the handle
  • Of course a book to read or maybe your Kindle

Voila you're now ready at a moments notice to go enjoy the sun alone or with family and you don't have to search for anything.

What is your favorite summer thing to do?