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Beware electric hedge clippers…

Crofton home owners are busily grooming their yards, and you’ll see us throughout the neighborhood on summertime weekends. We tend to be educated people who know to “Beware of power tools,” but accidents can and do happen.

Trimming the BushesAccording to a 2004 Consumer Reports article, nearly 4,000 trimmer related injuries involved lacerated fingers. I couldn’t find more recent stats, but suffice it to say that I became a participant for the next set of statistics when someone updates that article again. Fortunately, I didn’t lose my finger, but there’s a lot of blood and pain when that happens, and my finger looks pretty darn ugly a week into recovery.

Even though you probably already know and practice these safety tips from that same Consumer Reports article, it can’t hurt to share these reminders with you:

1. Never use electric trimmers in the rain, on wet grass or shrubs, or near water.
2. Use an undamaged extension cord rated for outdoor use, and plug it into an outlet with a ground fault circuit interrupter (or use a GFCI-equipped cord).
3. Keep cords safely looped behind you.
4. Wear safety goggles, ear protection, work gloves, nonslip shoes, and clothing that won’t get caught in the blades.
5. Don’t overreach, especially on a ladder.
6. Keep both hands on the trimmer, and fingers and other parts of your body away from the blades when trimming.
7. Turn off the power and wait for the blades to stop before adding fuel or removing debris.

My accident happened so quickly that I don’t know exactly what happened, but obviously I failed to keep both hands on the trimmer (#6).

Let me add one more suggestion, in case you ever do have an accident like this: Call 911. The EMT performed initial triage, so I arrived at the Emergency Room with the bleeding controlled and the pieces more or less held together by sterile gauze. The inevitable wait to see a doctor was much less frustrating and stressful than it would have been if someone else had taken me.

No matter how many times you’ve safely used electric tools in the past, remember that’s no guarantee against an accident in the future. Take care!

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Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Beware electric hedge clippers…

Lower Your Electric Bill

LED 200.jpgYou Can See the Savings!

If you’ve considered changing your light bulbs to energy-saving LED bulbs, you’ll be glad to know that prices have come down considerably.

An initial investment now will generate immediate returns through energy costs and, because they last longer, you won’t need to replace them for years.

The life of LED bulbs is projected to be from 35,000 to 50,000 hours, compared to an incandescent bulb at 750 to 2,000 hours.  For normal home use, a LED bulb could last more than 20 years.

80-90% of the energy used by fluorescent and incandescent bulbs is wasted by the heat generated.  In contrast, cool LED bulbs converts 80% of the electrical energy to light energy.

Watt comparison.png

Shop around to find the best price on LEDs.

If the LED only lasted 20,000 hours, you might have to purchase 20 incandescent bulbs during that same period of time.  Using the chart below, you can see that the LED uses about 10% of the wattage without compromising on the brightness.

I purchased new light bulbs at Home Depot last week for a new listing, and a four-pack of  9-watt bulbs was only $2.98. In fact, I went back for a supply of extras for future listings.

Give LED light bulbs a try.  ‘Guarantee you’ll like the savings on your electric bills and the replacement cost of your light bulbs.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Lower Your Electric Bill

My First Real Estate Experience as an Agent

Crofton residents might enjoy reading about my first real estate experience, written for a challenge on Activerain. I’ve inserted the street names in parenthesis, since Crofton readers are familiar with the area.

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Experience Collage 5 copyYou wouldn’t be the first to say that I’m just lucky… and there’s good reason to say that, based on my first experience as a real estate agent in Crofton, Maryland.

There was little or no training for agents in the early 70’s. It truly was baptism by fire, trial and error, or the school of hard knocks – whatever you want to call it – or just good old fashioned luck.

With only one black and white photo in the MLS listings delivered to our office each week, agents learned about local listings the old-fashioned way: same-day tours of new in-house listings so we would be familiar with them if someone should see the sign and call our office for information about them, and weekly caravans of other companies’ new listings in nearby communities.

Lesson learned: Tour new listings so you know the inventory, or at least carefully review every online listing in your target market.

 

After my first caravan, I called a friend to tell her about the fabulous antiques I had seen in a nearby townhouse. At 7 a.m. the next morning, my phone rang (scared me to death, since my husband was deployed in Vietnam at the time). It was my friend saying that she and her husband had been talking about it all night and decided they didn’t want to see townhouses, only detached homes.

What? Are you kidding? Is this a prank?, ran through my mind. I didn’t know my friends were looking for a house and I certainly hadn’t intended to hint anything about real estate sales or listings to my friend when we spoke the previous day about antiques. But here was my first client!

Lesson learned: Anyone you know could be thinking about buying or selling a home, so talk about real estate with them – at least indirectly.

 

One problem… they wanted a house like mine and none were on the market. So I knocked on the door of a For Sale By Owner on my street (Jordan Avenue) and told them about my clients’ desire to purchase that model, and they invited me in. I had no idea it would be THIS easy to list a home! Before I left, they had signed the one-page listing form.

Lessons learned: Don’t be afraid to knock on doors and don’t be afraid of FSBO’s!

My friends didn’t choose this house, but another agent in my office did buy it for his own family a few days later. Meanwhile, I listed my friend’s house (on Walleye Drive), which sold within days.

 

Another home came on the market across the street from me (also on Jordan Avenue) the very next day, and my friends decided to buy it. I contacted the listing agent who told me to bring my buyers and their children into her office to meet the seller.

What???? I thought real estate agents were supposed to keep buyers and sellers apart, I said to the old pro. She said no, they would work it out. And they did… in about 15 minutes. The one-page contract was written and signed before we left the office.

Lesson learned: It’s okay for the buyer and seller to meet and talk… in some cases, it’s actually a good strategy!

 

Just to refresh… A casual conversation with a friend resulted in my first buyer, my first sale (after showing just two homes), two listings, and my first two listings sold – all in one week. My first real estate experience truly did multiply like bunnies!

Ka-ching, Ka-ching, Ka-ching… is that the sound of a cash register being stuffed with all the money I would earn in real estate over the next 40 years?

 

We all know the rest of the story. It’s NOT that easy! I was just “lucky.” 

LUCKY to get into this business when there was no Internet (consumers NEEDED us to buy or sell a home because there really wasn’t a viable alternative)… LUCKY that paperwork was simple (one page), and… LUCKY to learn good habits that have contributed to my longevity in this business and to the success of agents I mentor today.

Today, my business is built on 40 years of experience, training, and evolving technology – and I’ve never enjoyed it more. It would be a privilege to put that expertise to work for you, and disappointing you is simply not an option.

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Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on My First Real Estate Experience as an Agent

Parenting is a Whole New Ballgame in the Digital Age

Imagine seeing your own precious pre-teen son or daughter reveal himself or herself online, on a public website. This happened to one mom, recently, while she was on the phone with customer support at uKnowKids.com – much to the embarrassment of the support technician who was assisting her with using uKnowKids.com for the first time. Her response: “Looks like I have a problem!”

Ignorance is NOT bliss, when it comes to your kids.

Boy texting

This mom, like most moms, was quite sure that her little angel had good judgement and would never misuse a computer or cell phone to create and transmit pornography.  It never even crossed her mind!  She was more concerned about classmates bullying her child or adult predators targeting her child, and that’s why she had signed up for uKnowKids.com.

When we were children, our parents answered the phone and screened our calls…  “I’m sorry, Marggy is doing homework now.  Can I have her call you back when she’s finished?” Or, if some sleazy-looking stranger knocked at the front door and asked for me, I just know my mom and dad would have asked who they were, what did they want… and then probably either stood there while I talked to the person or not even called me to the door. They certainly would not have let him inside.  This was good parenting – something that is MUCH harder to do in the Digital Age.

uKnowKids is sort of the modern day version of the parenting we benefited from as children. It’s that layer of parental protection that kids need to stay safe in the Digital Age.

The very tools that parents give their children to help keep them safe – a cell phone to call home if their car breaks down, for example – could be providing a window of opportunity for strangers to have unfettered access to your children. If you wouldn’t let that sleazy stranger in the front door of your home to go spend unsupervised time in your child’s bedroom, you’re probably a parent who would appreciate the parental oversight provided by uKnowKids.com.

My own kids are parents now, and I’m so glad that I didn’t have to worry about these things when I was raising them.  But I do have grandkids and I want their parents to do everything possible to protect their children the way I protected my children and my parents protected me.

Check it out… what do you have to lose except your children’s safety? Six months from now, you don’t want to be saying, “I should have tried that online parenting thing called uKnow.” Remember, Ignorance is not bliss, when it comes to your kids.

uKnowKids.com

uKnowKids.com was created by two brothers who grew up in Crofton, MD, after the 14-year old son of one of them was targeted by a sexual predator. Fortunately, good parenting interrupted this sexual predator (now in solitary confinement in a Maryland penitentiary), and uKnowKids was developed to help you avoid the hazards of raising children in the Digital Age.

See this video for the story that inspired uKnowKids.com: uKnow Kids on the Ricki Lake Show

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Parenting is a Whole New Ballgame in the Digital Age

To Share or Not on Social Media

My family has been deeply touched by social media –  and I’m not just talking about my occasional posts to Facebook. In fact, my grandson became “friends” on Facebook with a sexual predator when he was just 14 years old. 

Tim WodaMy son’s discovery of an ongoing sexual solicitation of his son resulted in the arrest and conviction of this middle school teacher. It also inspired my two sons to develop a product and business to help other parents thwart predators and bullies from harming their children.

You can see and hear Tim talk about this by setting your DVR now to record the Rikki Lake Show on Thursday at 11 a.m. on Fox WTTG in Washington (Channel 45 on Verizon FIOS) or Fox WBFF in Baltimore.

Find out how easy it is for social media to bring “bad guys” into your home and what you can do to safeguard your children or grandchildren. Please share this information with other parents and grandparents, even if their children are still in elementary school. 

For more information, check out uKnowkids.com.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on To Share or Not on Social Media

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