Drool Over These Epic Indoor Slides

By Susanne Dwyer

Zippy_Yellow_1

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

We’ve covered many-a-fun house features here on Housecall, from 3D floors to wacky kitchens, aquatic living rooms and bedazzled bathrooms. But when it comes to cool features, what is more fun (and frivolous) than a house decked out with an indoor slide?

These homeowners know how to have a good time, and I’ll bet not all of these slippery babies are for the kids. Behold, four fun indoor slides to make you super jelly.

Zippy Yellow

Image Credit: Buzzfeed, Pinterest

Seemingly straight out of the movie “Big,” this vibrant London townhouse allows you to slip from the master bedroom to the dining room in seconds. And doesn’t that sunflower yellow give you all the good feels? Also, pay mind to that pillow pit. This setup is ideal for hours of safe, slippery fun. Just look how happy that family is! This could be you, if only you would install an indoor slide…

Blobular

Image Credit: Pinterest

Something about the style of this slide makes me think of Play-Doh. But still, it’s pretty rad, or at the very least, a great pick up line. “Want to come back to my place and check out my slide…?” Who could say no to that?

Sleek Ride

Sleek_Ride_3

Image Credit: Homedit.com

This silver baby is marketed as a kid’s slide, and if that’s the case, call me a child and sign me up! It’s rare something as ostentatious as a giant indoor slide looks good with the decor, but this design nailed it. Can’t you just imagine some hotshot CEO sliding downstairs in the morning in her bathrobe and slippers? Maybe even somehow balancing a coffee cup?

Splash!

Splash_4

Image Credit: FeelItCool.com

If you have an indoor pool, an indoor slide is sort of a must. If this was the sitch in your home, you’d have a guaranteed party spot. Just stand at the top and holler, “I am a golden god!”

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Nancy Wey
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First-Time Homebuyers Shell Out More for Upgrades

By Susanne Dwyer

While first-time homebuyers are facing certain challenges entering the housing market, that doesn’t mean they aren’t spending on upgrades to the homes they end up owning.

According to a recent report by Houzz, first-time homebuyers in 2016 dropped more than ever on renovations, spending an average $33,800. Homeowners overall spent an average $60,400.

First-time homebuyers aren’t starting with small changes, either—in fact, many have taken on remodeling four rooms at once, including more involved projects like bathrooms and the kitchen. Most, as well, are focused on outfitting their new homes with smart home technology.

“Younger and cash-constrained first-time buyers are responding to the low inventory of affordable homes by purchasing properties that require more than just cosmetic upgrades,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz, in a statement on the survey. “Not surprisingly, we are seeing their spend on home renovations increasing significantly in 2016 and expect this trend to continue through 2017.”

That lack of cash for a more expensive home could explain why first-time homebuyers rely more on credit cards to finance renovations than other homeowners, according to the survey. Ninety-one percent of homeowners overall fund renovations, at least partially, with cash. Eleven percent fund them by taking out a loan, mainly a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

First-timers are also having trouble keeping renovations within budget, with 47 percent of those surveyed reporting it challenging to stay out of the red. They are, however, willing to ask for help, being just as likely as other homeowners to hire a professional.

Source: Houzz

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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Relocating? Here’s How to Feel at Home Faster

By Susanne Dwyer

Moving to a new city, whether it’s 30 or 3,000 miles away from your last one, can be stressful to say the least—perhaps even more so after you’ve dealt with the last of the packing boxes, because now it’s time to get to know your new community and begin to feel comfortable within it.

Relocation professionals offer practical tips to help you feel more at home faster:

Get connected. If they haven’t already done so, don’t wait for the neighbors to ring your doorbell. Knock on the doors of the neighbors to your left and your right to introduce yourself. Even if they don’t become friends, they can be a good source of city information, as well as referrals for reliable window washers, babysitters, medical professionals and other service providers.

Walk or drive around town. Walking your neighborhood is the best way to pinpoint local stores, schools, libraries and more—and driving will widen your familiarity with the city and acquaint you with alternative driving routes.

Don’t hesitate to say you are new in town. Wherever you happen to be, from the dry cleaners to the kids’ new gymnastics school, let people know you are new in town. You may be surprised to find how much good information they will want to share with you about their favorites in the place they call home.

Use social media. Get online to browse upcoming local events, as well as trending restaurants, museums and other local attractions.

Find clubs, schools or shops of interest. Look online for appealing local activities for everyone in the family: Toastmasters, quilting shops, book clubs, photography classes or sports leagues. They can be your best source for meeting new people who share your interests.

Say yes to invitations. Agree to join colleagues for a drink after work or a neighbor’s invitation to a fundraiser. The more people you meet as a newcomer, the more likely you will be to develop friendships.

Update your registrations. Finally, don’t forget to register your car with the DMV, apply for any necessary licenses, and re-register to vote. Identifying with your new location will help make you feel more connected.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Are You Making These 5 Lawn Watering Mistakes?

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Proper watering nourishes lawns, just as proper hydration nourishes our bodies. Yet too many of us are failing at both. We’re not going to lecture you about drinking more water—we’ll leave that to your doctor or significant other—but we are going to give you a lesson about correctly watering your lawn.

Here are five lawn watering mistakes that you’re likely making right now and ways you can fix those mistakes.

  1. You’re over-watering your lawn.
    Many homeowners drench their lawns with water; however, that’s not a wise move. Over-watering can leave your lawn susceptible to fungus and other diseases. It also can cause your lawn to grow too quickly and can wash away costly fertilizers, according to PlantCareToday.com. In addition, drowning your lawn wastes water.

To avoid excessive watering, PlantCareToday.com recommends buying a soil moisture meter: “These meters are very simple and valuable tools that you can pick up for $10 or so at any garden center or home store.”

Lawn care experts say most lawns need one inch of water per week; however, that’s merely a rule of (green) thumb, as watering requirements vary according to grass type, climate and seasonal changes.

“The amount of water required for an established lawn will be determined by its overall health, beauty, and ability to withstand use and drought,” according to Turfgrass Producers International, a trade group for sod growers.

  1. You’re under-watering your new lawn.
    While your existing lawn may be getting too much water, your newly planted lawn may not be getting enough. Bayer Advanced, a maker of lawn and garden chemicals, says a new lawn is in a “critical stage” during its first year.

“Don’t rely solely on rainfall to establish a healthy, deep root system—provide supplemental irrigation during the first year of growth,” Bayer Advanced suggests.

How much irrigation you do depends on factors such as the type of grass and the climate.

  1. You’re not monitoring your irrigation system.
    If you’ve set up an automatically timed irrigation system to water your lawn, don’t put it on autopilot.

“Irrigation timers are not ‘set it and forget it’ devices,” says Lee Miller, a turf pathologist at University of Missouri Extension. “You’re not cooking turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Sprinklers should be adjusted according to precipitation events.”

For instance, if it’s been steadily raining the past two days, your sprinkler system should be off for a while afterward. The San Diego County Water Authority recommends turning off the sprinklers for two weeks after “significant rainfall.”

“After a storm, do not begin watering again until the top one to two inches of soil are dry. Lawns that lose their lush green luster will rejuvenate with the next rain,” says Jeff Stephenson, principal water resources specialist at the San Diego Water Authority.

Researchers at Kansas State University found that 65-83 percent of homeowners surveyed in three Kansas cities didn’t know how much water their lawn irrigation systems had applied.

“In reality, deep and infrequent irrigation makes for deeper root systems,” UM’s Miller says.

  1. You’re watering your lawn at the wrong time.
    The worst time to water your lawn is when you’re probably sound asleep. Watering after dark soaks the lawn overnight; a soggy lawn invites fungus and other diseases to invade your grass.

When’s the best time to water your lawn? Experts says it’s around 4-8 a.m., before many of us have sipped our first cup of coffee.

Watering the lawn early in the morning gives it a good supply of water to survive the heat of the day, according to University of Illinois Extension. Early morning also tends to be when wind speeds are lower and, therefore, when water evaporation is less likely to occur.

  1. You’re assuming that you’ve got to water brown grass.
    When your lawn is brown, you might think it’s parched; however, it may simply have gone dormant during hot weather or drought conditions.

“Dormancy is simply a state of reduced water usage where the turfgrass…focuses resources on the roots,” according to the Lawn Institute. “Dormant turfgrass will turn brown and is often considered unsightly, but it will recover when conditions improve.”

In other words, brown grass doesn’t necessarily equal dying grass.

The Institute says summer dormancy is a normal response to heat and drought, and most lawns can stay dormant for at least three to four weeks without dying.

During the summer, “the worst that will happen if lawns are not watered is that weaker parts of the lawn or areas in hot spots will die,” according to the Oregon State University Extension Service. “When fall returns, lawns can be reseeded and will recover just fine over the winter.”

John Egan is editor-in-chief at LawnStarter, which offers an online platform and mobile app to connect homeowners with lawn care providers.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

These 3D Floor Designs Are Perfect for Hours of Trippy Entertainment

By Susanne Dwyer

floor_samples_1

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

It looks like 3D is not just for blockbuster films and street art anymore. Now, you can take 3D home with a 3D floor design.

These hip geometric floor patterns can give your home an artsy, innovative vibe, with their cool colors and minimalist patterns. Put out by Atra Flooring, these vinyl designs come in a variety of styles, and all of them are pretty trippy. From the never-ending swirls of the “Hula” pattern to “Giants Causeway,” reminiscent of the famous M.C. Escher lithograph, your floors will definitely be a source of conversation (and perhaps a bit of vertigo).

Atra Floor isn’t the first to take a stab at 3D floors. From a bedroom resting atop a waterfall to lava oozing across the living room floor, the designs can get pretty daring. Check out some of these crazy options.

Credit: Decoist.com

3d_pavimenti_3

Credit: 3d-pavimenti.it

PSFKcom_4

Credit: PSFK.com

Whatever design you choose, a 3D floor is sure to up your home to a whole new level of cool. Good luck keeping your guests from staring at their feet.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

10 Most Common Real Estate IRA Questions Asked by Investors

By Susanne Dwyer

Investing in real estate with your self-directed IRA isn’t too different from a regular real estate purchase; however, there are important rules and processes that you must follow to do it right. This is why when it comes to Real Estate IRAs, people have lots of questions. We’ve collected some of those questions asked by real and prospective investors. The following questions will focus on investing in real estate with a self-directed IRA:

Q: How can I invest in real estate with my IRA?
A:
There are several ways you can approach investing in real estate with your retirement funds. Here are a few examples:

  • Direct Purchase – Your IRA pays cash for the investment property and holds the title of the property.
  • Partnering – You partner your IRA with personal funds or other IRA funds. You can also partner with other people’s IRAs or their personal funds. You divide the investment according to each investor’s percentage of ownership.
  • Leveraging – Your IRA borrows money to purchase a property with a non-recourse loan and the leveraged property is held in your retirement account.
  • LLC – Your IRA holds interest in a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or land trust. The title of the property is held in the name of the LLC.


Q: Can I personally use the property that was purchased with my IRA funds?
A:
No, you cannot. The property is strictly for investment purposes only. You and other disqualified persons may not receive direct or indirect benefits from an asset that is owned by your IRA, even if the IRA only owns a portion of the investment.

Q: Can the rental income from the property in my IRA flow back to me personally?
A:
No, you may not receive direct income from the property; however, you can request the funds in your IRA to be sent to you as a distribution.

Q: What type of properties can I hold in my self-directed IRA? Are there any restrictions on the type of property I can purchase?
A:
A self-directed IRA gives you the opportunity to make investment decisions in areas based on your knowledge and expertise. From real estate to private lending, your IRA can hold various investment property types including commercial buildings, vacant land, condos, mobile homes, apartment buildings, and more. You are not limited to residential real estate.

Q: Can I buy the property from my IRA to reside in once I retire?
A:
No, you cannot buy a property that is already owned by your IRA, as the IRS has ruled it a prohibited transaction; however, you can take a distribution of the property in-kind by retitling the property to your name when you are ready to take a distribution for the property. Depending on the type of IRA the property is under, if taxable, the fair market value of the property would be reported on IRS Form 1099-R and be includible as taxable income in the year of distribution.

Q: Do expenses like utilities, repairs, taxes, and mortgage payments need to be paid from the IRA account?
A:
Yes, any expenses from an asset within your IRA must be received and paid via the IRA. You cannot use personal funds to pay for expenses incurred by the asset within your retirement account because it is prohibited by IRS Code 4975.

Q: Can you talk about the logistics of handling revenue produced by a property? Does a bank account need to be opened in the name of the IRA?
A:
If purchasing a property directly using an IRA, the income must come back to the IRA. As an example, property managers who collect rental income from an IRA-owned property are required to send the rent (revenue) to the custodian, made payable to the IRA. Some have the tenants make their rental check payable to the custodian directly as they make monthly rent payments. If it’s an LLC structure, the rent is paid to the LLC. The LLC will need to have a checking account established.

Q: Can I buy a house with IRA funds but use non-IRA funds to help pay for repairs?
A:
No, as it is considered a prohibited transaction and will violate the IRS Code 4975; however, if eligible, you can make a cash contribution to the IRA and use the contribution to pay for expenses.

Q: Can I be the property manager on my investment property?
A:
No, but Entrust does permit the IRA owner to receive the rental income for record-keeping, but the actual funds must be sent to the custodian for depositing. The IRA owner cannot deposit the rent in any non-IRA account because this constitutes a distribution. You cannot pay yourself income from profits generated from your IRA’s rental property.

Q: How long does it take to make a typical Real Estate IRA purchase?
A:
Entrust typically sees escrow close on a simple real estate purchase between 15 to 30 days. Depending on the complexity of the transaction, it could take longer. There are a number of factors that must be considered when timing a real estate purchase in an IRA. Investors must have a funded account before the investment can be made. It is important to note that funding your account is heavily dependent on the custodian that you may be moving funds from. It is wise to have an established and funded account, even before you start searching for a property.

As administrators, we cannot give advice about specific investments and strategies; however, we aspire to provide answers and educational resources, or direction to legal issues, for all inquiries. Do you have any questions of your own about investing in real estate with a self-directed IRA? Or maybe you want further clarification? We want to hear from you.

Find out how you can generate more referrals, leads, and repeat business with your free download of How to Help Your Clients Invest in Real Estate Tax-Free.

For more information, please visit www.theentrustgroup.com and our online Real Estate IRA Center.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Americans Find Moving More Stressful Than Weddings

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Shopping for a new home can be one of the most exciting times of your life, but after the excitement of finding that perfect space, making an offer and closing, you have to face the harsh task of packing up all your belongings and moving.

Whether you’re moving across the ‘hood or across the country, moving is always stressful. Unfortunately, unless you plan to live in the same place for the rest of your life, moving is also inevitable. The U.S. Census Bureau projects 40 million Americans will add another home to their list this year, with 65 percent moving between Memorial Day and Labor Day. With the spring moving season upon us, many are packing up their boxes and hitting the road.

According to a new survey released by SpareFoot.com, Americans have moved an average of six times throughout their lives. Below are the top findings from SpareFoot.com’s study on the emotional side of moving:

More Stressful Than a Wedding – Surprisingly, 58 percent feel moving is a bigger challenge than wedding planning. Move over, Bridezilla. Say hello to…Movezilla?

Argument-StarterStress often leads to arguments, so it makes sense that 31 percent of Americans who have moved in with a partner–including 46 percent of millennials–have had some of their worst arguments while moving.

A Time for Parents to Be Selfless Prior to a move, 69 percent of American parents claim they prioritize their child’s needs over their significant other’s needs.

It Takes Longer With Kids Like grocery shopping, traveling, and, well, most things you do with your children, the actual process of moving can take up to eight days longer when your kiddos are in tow.

Finders, Keepers Wading through sentimental items may make your move take longer. The study found that 81 percent of parents admit they have kept a child’s possession, even when given permission to get rid of it. Take our advice: No one cares about those second grade art projects and that box of nubby stuffed animals. Let them go.

Source: SpareFoot.com

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

10 Tips for Making Your New House Smart

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Whether you want automatic doors and windows or color-changing lights that can be controlled by your phone, turning your home into a technologically advanced smart home can be an intimidating venture. Today’s market contains hundreds, if not thousands, of internet-connected devices that can all be controlled by separate means. Smartphones, touch sensors, and voice activation all require different conditions to work and work well. So where do you start to upgrade your home?

Start Simple: Basic Upgrades to Everyday Items
Before going overboard and picking up the latest in tech gear like Bluetooth-enabled cutlery, look for items in your home that you use every day that can be automated. Devices such as your thermostat, lights, and security systems can all be automated with little effort on your part, while often giving you more functionality than when you started.

Intuitive Temperature Control
The third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat is a device that stands out from the rest of its competitors. Within a week of use, this smart little device will program itself to suit your preferred temperature, meaning you don’t have to get up and change the dial every time. The capabilities extend beyond learning your preferred temperatures; the Nest thermostat also learns your schedule and adjusts itself accordingly. Using your phone’s location, it recognizes when you are out of the house and puts itself in an “eco-friendly” mode to save energy.

Home Security Made Simple
Home security systems like the iSmartAlarm are essential in homes that utilize smart devices. With motion detection, contact sensors, and the option to add cameras all around your home, the iSmartAlarm ensures you are covered in every room wherever you are. Even at the office, you can monitor the activity that goes on within your home, and are immediately alerted to unusual activity and unauthorized access via SMS and email. Easy to install, with no monthly fees or contracts, make this alarm a good choice for a cost-effective security system.

Add a Splash of Color
Personalize any room with colored LED light bulbs, such as the LIFX Color 1000 lightbulb. Increase productivity or herald relaxation with multiple hues that fit your mood. While the light bulbs themselves can start out expensive, you won’t need to replace them very often. The lifespan of these lights is quoted at being over 20 years, with a yearly energy cost of $1.32 per bulb.

Windows and Locks That Work for You
Opening blinds, closing doors, and manually locking up your home are daily tasks that you may not even think about automating, but they are some of the easiest processes to install and control within your home. Blinds that open up when the sun comes out or locks that don’t need a key to enter are subtle touches that make a big difference.

Self-Raising Blinds
If you struggle with getting out of bed in the morning, wake up to a loud alarm, or prefer to wake up naturally, then you may choose to automate your blinds with FlipFlic. FlipFlic is a simple, solar-powered device that automatically opens your blinds for you based on your preferences. You can also use the smartphone app to adjust the level manually without standing up from your chair. This device manages your blinds when you are away, opening and shutting blinds to simulate activity in the home, keeping you safe.

Smart Locks Give You Control
The August Smart Lock is a lock that works with your preexisting hardware, meaning less time and energy spent on installation. Your smartphone becomes your key, locking and unlocking your door without the need to dig in your purse. Giving virtual keys to your family enables you to keep tabs on who is entering and leaving your home. With the addition of guest keys, you can also decide how long a guest may have access to your home, from a few minutes to several weeks.

Control Your Home
There are many different options for controlling your smart home, from voice commands to touch control. With so many choices on the market from numerous trusted brands, you have options that help you adjust your automated life from anywhere you are.

Amazon Alexa
Control your smart devices with Amazon’s Alexa. Alexa serves as a link between you and your devices using intuitive voice activation, meaning you can give it simple commands and it will perform them to the best of its ability. Not all devices are compatible with Alexa’s voice service, so ensure that they are before purchasing the product.

Vivint
Vivint Smart Home offers packages bundling all of your smart devices, enabling you to control everything from one place without going to seven different applications. Simply put Vivint’s App on your smartphone, add your devices, and watch as your home comes together under one convenient remote control. Vivint also works with Google Home for added functionality.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Tips to Beautify Your Property—Sustainably!

By Susanne Dwyer

I recently attended a workshop on water conservation. Depending on which part of the country you live in, water conservation and preservation are a hot subject. One of the presenters said that if every homeowner did just one thing, it could make an exponential difference toward ensuring we could pour fresh drinkable water every time we turn the tap. That one thing is installing one or more home rain barrels.

Our contacts at the Missouri Botanical Garden says a key to maximizing your property’s sustainability is conserving water and controlling water runoff.

Your Lawn

  • Water plants only when they need it. Lawns only need about one inch of rain a week. Set up a rain gauge to record weekly rainfall.
  • For lawns, use a low-angle sprayer instead of oscillating sprinklers, as they result in less water loss due to evaporation.
  • Position watering devices to prevent water loss by water falling in storm gutters, walkways or in the street.

Your Garden

  • Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses instead of oscillating sprinklers, as they result in less water loss due to evaporation.
  • Position watering devices to prevent water loss by water falling in storm gutters, walkways or in the street.
  • Add mulch beds to help retain soil moisture.
  • Set up a rain barrel to collect rainwater for watering plants.

Elsewhere on Your Property

  • Plant a rain garden or develop a swale to help retain water in the soil and prevent runoff.
  • Install a cistern to collect water to use for plants, washing clothes, bathing and other non-potable uses, as local ordinances allow.
  • Investigate the use of greywater use in your area.
  • Remove hard surfaces in your landscape to allow water to percolate into the soil and not run off in storm gutters. Replace with a porous surface if needed.
  • Incorporate “rainscaping” features to manage storm water.
  • Don’t use the hose to wash off your driveway, deck or walkway. Instead use a broom or an electric blower—gas-powered blowers produce more pollutants.

Source: MissouriBotanicalGarden.org

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893