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Updated: Wednesday, April 01, 2015

What To Plant When Your Thumb Is More Brown Than Green

When spring arrives, we all get a little itchy to get outside and enjoy our surroundings. For many of us, that means hitting the local nursery or Home Depot and hauling home a car full of flowers and plants for the yard. But for those of us who lack a green thumb, spring may be a bit bittersweet. We want a pretty, colorful garden. We just dont want to waste our time planting stuff we know will die in two days.

"Many of us have trouble keeping plants alive in our garden, and have quite the "black thumb". Either we are too busy to maintain them, or our gardens have issues that make it difficult; hot, dry sites, poor soil or bad weather, said The Garden Glove. "Dont let that stop you from growing flowers There is hope for even the most murderous of gardeners you can grow flowers, and you can plant them today and trust they will still be there next year and the year after that."

Here are some plants and flowers that may be your spring salvation.


"The garden experts agree that sun-loving lantana is hard to beat, with a variety of colors and a low- maintenance profile that allows it to do well even next to hot pavement in spots like parking lots," said The Tennessean.


"Aloes are succulents hailing from South Africa, Arabia and Madagascar. Theyre >


"While most of you recognize this as a spice from the kitchen cupboard, there are many very ornamental varieties that can offer texture, color and scent in your garden," said The Garden Glove. "Oh, and did I mention they grow like weeds? In a good way, of course. Drought resistant and sun lovers, these plants come in creeping forms to tuck between pavers, and larger varieties that fit right into any garden bed. Flowers are usually white, pink or red, and cover the plants spring through fall. They are fragrant when crushed, make great filler for flower arrangements, and attract butterflies like crazy These plants come back every year, and yes, you can use them in the kitchen"


"If you have a t>


"This perennial blooms a long time throughout the season with spikes of bluish lavender flowers, and has gray-green foliage that is pretty even when not in bloom. "If you cut it back, itll even bloom a second time," said Yahoo. "Catmint makes a good filler plant for the front of a garden, since it doesnt get tall. It does best in sun, but doesnt require particularly fertile soil, and once theyre established, theyre fairly drought resistant."

Crepe Myrtle

"Often the street tree of choice in some council areas around Sydneybasically the new powdery mildew resistant cultivars can be planted and forgotten," said Home Life. "They like a hot, dry climate, and aside from the beautiful flowers from January to March, their bark makes them one of the most beautiful plants around."


"A tough and beautiful pick for any garden, Yarrow is an easy bet no matter how black your thumb may be. Flowers are tightly packed on flat heads, giving some architectural structure to your garden design," said The Tennessean. "This plant thrives on neglect, loves poor soil, and blooms right through the summer. Its most common color is yellow, but there are also varieties in pink, red, salmon and white.

The foliage is ferny and lower to the ground, but the flower stalks can be anywhere from twelve inches, to four feet off the ground Foliage can be anything from a deep green to a soft sagey gray depending on variety. It is attractive out of flower, starts early in the spring/summer, and keeps going through the fall."

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Solar Panels May Effect Your Homes Value, In Either Direction

There is no shortage of newspaper and magazine articles that extol both the virtue and the value of solar panels for residences. Curiously, there is a similar abundance of articles telling of buyer resistance to homes with solar panels and how the presence of solar panels has caused either price concessions or failed sales. Try googling: solar lease scaring buyers.

Actually, there is no contradiction here. We just have to read the fine print. In short, solar panels per se -- with no qualification regarding financing -- are generally perceived by buyers in a positive way. But, when the panels come along with a lease that may have 15-20 years to run, the reaction is somewhat different.

Two studies looked at the effects that solar panels have had on sale prices. One was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research "Understanding the Solar Home Price Premium". It looked at utility data, sales records of single family homes and building permit data in San Diego County and Sacramento County Calif. from 2003 through year-end 2010. For the average installation, the authors found that solar panels added a 20,194 premium to the sale price of a home in the mid-500,000 range, based on repeat sales data.

Another study, >

For the most part, though, these studies looked at homes that had panels installed prior to the advent of solar panel leasing programs. In June of 2014 a Bloomberg report said this: "Leasing is driving a boom in solar sales because most require no money upfront [Leasing has] made solar affordable for more people, helping spur a 38 percent jump in U.S. residential installations in the past year."

To date there have been no voluminous studies of the sales effect of leased solar panels. The evidence is only anecdotal. But stories have been surfacing all around the country, and have been reported in a variety of news outlets and internet posts.

The issue is that many buyers are resistant to assuming the solar panel lease, which might have 15 years or so left to run.

Some argue that the leases are too long commonly twenty years at the outset for an item that may be technologically obsolete well before the lease term is up. Others are concerned about the long-term viability of the companies that provide the panels. Will they be there to provide service for the life of the lease?

Even those who are ok with a lease have to face the fact that they will be taking on new debt at the same time they are trying to qualify for a mortgage. Most people who can qualify for a mortgage will meet the credit standards for assuming the lease. But, taking over the lease will, in many cases, lower the amount of mortgage for which the home buyer can qualify.

Of course there are many ways to skin this cat. The considerations involved in selling a home with leased solar panels are certainly not insurmountable. Sellers of such homes are well advised to do some homework in preparing to go to market. Find out about the lease-assumption process from the company doing the financing. Investigate buy-out provisions as well. Most of all do the math on the energy cost savings. Have records available.

You might even want to have some information on those studies that show the price premiums that panels can add.

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Spring Home Prep and Maintenance Inside and Out

The spring real estate market is picking up. Is your home ready for the many buyers who will see it in the coming days? Its imperative that your home stands out among all of the others so youll get the best offer possible. Dont leave one stone unturned -- inside or out -- when it comes to spring home maintenance and preparation. Heres a checklist to help you prepare:

Home exterior courtesy of Roof Real Clean

On the outside:

Lawn: Clean up the lawn following the frigid winter. To prevent weeds, lay down an herbicide. Check that your in-ground sprinkler system is still working.

Decks/patios: Sweep off the deck and patio to remove any debris. Clean, stain and reseal your deck. Hose down your patio to get back to the original layer.

Exterior wall: Look for trouble areas following the cold winter months and climate conditions. Water stains mean your gutters arent handling runoff well, for example. Look for holes, cracks and other issues and repair as needed.

Roof: Any cracked or missing shingles? How is your roof deck performing following any ice dams? Address any issues to keep your roof in top shape.

Chimney: If you have a stone chimney, check to see how the bricks are doing. Look for efflorescence, a white calcium deposit that means your chimney is absorbing water. Reseal chimney if needed.

Gutters and downspouts: Clean the gutters and make sure downspouts are in the right position so they direct water away from your house. You can hire a professional to clean your gutters for between 100 and 200 to avoid injury.

Home interior courtesy of JFC Real Estate Development, LLC

Inside the house:

Windows: Check caulking and weather stripping and replace as needed.

Leaks: Check for leaky faucets, clogged drains and broken pipes. Look for any puddles around the dishwasher. Call a plumber to perform repairs if needed.

Attics: Search for pests and mold and repair as necessary. Proper insulation and good ventilation will prevent more problems, so you might add a new layer around the attic floor.

Air conditioning unit: Change the filter, check for leaks around the house and make sure the drain pan is working correctly. Vacuum all the dust away and have an air conditioning professional perform any necessary repairs.

"Spring" cleaning: Your house should be in tip-top shape to welcome the new season. To get out the last of the cold and welcome the warmth, you should:

  • Dust window frames, wood furniture, ceiling fans and areas above the cabinetry.
  • Vacuum furniture and carpet; steam clean if needed.
  • Wash cabinets and walls.
  • Clean tile and repair any missing grout.


This is only a portion of the spring checklist you might have for your home, but it focuses on the major areas that may need work following a frigid winter. You never know how much damage snow and ice may have caused to your roof or attic, and you dont want your air conditioning system to fail halfway through the warm months ahead. Tackle the problem areas now as spring begins. Then you can work to update and stage rooms for the spring market ahead.

Photos courtesy of DesignMine
Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.

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Five Realities about Parental Input When Buying Your Dream Home

While juggling the complexities of buying your dream home, how can you keep both your emotions and your parents in check, so you dont gain a home and lose the close connection with your parents? PJ Wade shares Five Realities about Parental Input - Wanted and Otherwise - with buyers.

Your parents may be more excited than you are about your plans to buy your first home. How do you curb their enthusiastic interference without offending them?

Parents Perspective: Experience makes parents certain they can save you money and disappointment, now and down the road.

When things dont work out youve always turned to them for advice and helpeven a bailoutso you cant blame parents for wanting to head off potential problems that they, as experienced property owners, know can be part of buying real estate.

Parents also know your "bad" habits and how those quirks have gotten you into trouble in the past.

Most important, they genuinely want to save you time and money that could be lost if you insist in "learning the hard way" through buying the wrong property or ending up over your head financially.

Your Perspective: Even with less real estate experience, you are certain youre ready to take the plunge into home ownership that so many of your friends have successfully taken.

These two sets of certainties can collide to materialize as frustrating stubbornness from the parents viewpoint and annoying parental interference from your perspective. This can leave all of you both right and wrong, and unnecessarily upset.

While juggling the complexities of buying your dream home, how can you keep both your emotions and your parents in check, so you dont end up gaining a home and losing the close connection with your parents?

Here are Five Realities about Parental Input - Wanted amp; Otherwise - When Buying:

1. Friends who told you they went solo lied

If your friends have parents, the parents chipped in suggestions, warnings, and maybe cash or connections. Whether this was helpful or not, your friends want to be seen as confident grown-up buyers, so youll probably never know what really happened during the buy. Understand that savvy buyers want to gather all the "if only wed known" insights they can from friends and family before signing on the dotted line.

2. If you listen, youll learn

You may have lived in the family home most if not all of your life, but you probably know little about the problems and solutions your parents have lived through. Ask them to give you a tour of the house and property pointing out the problems, so you get a feel for what to look for when you tour listings. Take notes as practice for keeping track of the differences between the 3 or 53 properties youll view and as a signal to your parents that youre listening, so youll not need to be continually reminded. Having shared their experiences, your parents will feel they have contributed. They can now >

3. If moneys involved, learn the terms before you need the dough.

Parents are often generous enough to contribute funds for the downpayment and other expenses, but find out before you start viewing homes what their terms will be. Will they me>

4. Its who you know that can make the difference.

Your parents may have close, real-estate-savvy friends who will go out of their way to help you. Acquaintances or less-than-the-best connections may hold you back. Its up to you to discover whos who. Take time to learn how professional knowledge and experience can benefit you as you build your buying support team. Youll then make good decisions, not guilt-driven choices, regarding whom to place your - not your parents - trust in.

5. Even the most knowledgeable parents cant know all that a real estate professional knows.

If youre close to your parents, you might decide to involve them in your search for professional support; however, the final choice should be a professional who suits your needs and compliments your >
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5 Designer Tips For Choosing a Fire Pit

Weve all been waiting for the sun to come out so we can enjoy a little more time outdoors. As my clients begin to get their backyard entertaining spaces up and running again, there is almost always talk of a fire pit. Theres just something about gathering around a fire at the end of the evening with some hot chocolate or a glass of wine thats as warm as the fire itself.

If youre thinking of adding an outdoor fire pit, here are five quick tips to consider before you get started.

1. Location, Location, Location

For safety and security, an outdoor fire pit should be at least 10 feet away from the house and shouldnt be placed on your wooden deck. Some communities have specific requirements about placement in >

Next, map out the space youll need for the fire pit itself. Outdoor fire pits are generally anywhere between 18 and 48 inches in diameter. Youll need space for people to sit comfortably around the fire, but remember that people tend to back away from the fire as time progresses. Plan for an additional six to eight feet of space for chairs and movement.

2. All About That Base

Outdoor fire pits come in all kinds of shapes and sizes these days, but they boil down to three base >

An actual fire pit is dug into the ground and completed in any of several different finishes more on that below. These are obviously permanent structures, so plan your backyard layout accordingly.

Coffee table fire pits resemble low tables and, when not in use, they can be covered and used as an actual table.

Raised bowls bring a stylish, artistic element to the space. Whether metal or concrete, deep or shallow, these simple components can be customized for exactly the look you want.

3. Find a Fabulous Finish

Youll have a lot of choices in terms of materials for your new outdoor fire pit. First, decide whether a mobile or stationary unit is best for your space and the way you entertain.

Mobile fire pits are great when you have the space to move the party, depending on the weather or the view at a particular time of the year. Theyre also a great way to try out a fire pit before you invest in a more permanent structure.

Mobile fire pits are almost exclusively made of metal, but can be found with accents and finishes for traditional or contemporary design >

Stationary fire pits offer a custom look, and actually become a part of the architecture of the house. Choose a finish that complements the exterior of your home and the outdoor furniture youll be using.

Stone finishes that resemble slate, natural stone, limestone or even pavers are a safe and solid choice that works well with traditional or transitional spaces. Concrete bowls are trending these days, and look great in more contemporary spaces with an eco-friendly design.

Bronze, copper and stainless steel have the unique ability to bring a historic vibe, an industrial look or an ultra modern, artistic flair to your outdoor entertainment space. Prefabricated models made of metal tend to serve a more traditional or transitional design >

4. Fire It Up

Now youre ready to gather your family and friends and light that fire. We love the smell and sound of an actual wood-burning fire - not to mention the convenience. Most communities have restrictions about whether and when open fires are permitted, so check for those details before you make a decision.

Propane is efficient and super safe, too. It works much like your outdoor grill, with a hose attached to a hidden propane tank. Propane has the added advantage of allowing you to have a little more fun with the contents of the pit. You can cover the propane jet with all kinds of material, from natural and colored gravel to fiberglass crystals in finishes that resemble glass.

5. Precautions

As delightful as an outdoor fire pit is, you should never forget that youre dealing with open flames. Make sure you have a plan if things get out of hand. A strategically placed fire extinguisher is the best option here. Placing your fire pit near a hose is another great choice. If neither of those is an option, keep a bucket of sand and a bucket of water nearby. A roaring fire is that much more enjoyable when you have confidence that youre prepared to put it out, whether it spreads from its confines or youre simply ready to call it a night.

Kerrie Kelly is an award-winning interior designer based in California who also enjoys writing about outdoor yard design for Home Depot. Kerrie is the author of the popular book Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide. You can view a selection of fire pits, including >

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Home Improvement Projects Inspired by March Madness

It is March Madness season and you are in a competitive mood. During this time of the year, you pit everything against its competition. You make ranking boards for your dinner entries, you lay odds on cell phone packages and you even split your kids into teams to see who can get chores done the fastest. They dont call it madness for nothing. So, now that youre ready to do some spring cleaning and DIY home improvement projects, keep the competition madness going with these tips:

Seeding Your Insulation Projects

March is the turning point between winter and summer weather. This means its time to look at your insulation. There is a lot to compare with heat transfer resistance you can go green or you can blow in your insulation or roll it out. There are also various R-values that determine the amount of heat resistance. The U.S. Department of Energy provides information on insulation projects, including which type to use for your area and where to place it. Use them as a resource to determine which technique wins the seed.

The Paint-Offs

The playoffs are always exciting. You watch every game on the edge of your seat to see if your team is going to make it to the next round. You find yourself cheering at your teams triumphs and disappointed at their failures. You can set up this same idea with a spring painting project.

Raw power versus clever usage is this projects tipping factor. You can paint the interior of you home to give it a clean new look, or you can create accents that give the room a sharp, sophisticated design. Set up a paint bracket in your house and have your family, friends and neighbors vote on their favorites. Knock off one color at a time until you get to your semifinals.

Then, if you plan to paint the whole of your interior, use a high quality, washable paint in a neutral color. Or, for one-can projects, go for bold colors that draw the eye and make a statement. And, dont forget to give it some texture to get a winning look.

The Design Championships

Youve been inspired by the playoffs the last few weeks, and now youre ready for the upcoming finals in the first week of April. You are excited to see the winners prove themselves on the court, and you are ready to prove yourself at home.

There is a fine balance between making your home interesting and making it inaccessible. Fine art may be beautiful in a museum, but may be too much in your modest home. If you cant find art that reflects your particular taste, create your own from your photographs. Blow up some of your best photos and place them on canvas to make your home sharp and personal. This puts the final touch to your home design, and makes you the champion at least for this year.

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Southlake, TX Executive Home For Sale

This Southlake Executive Home boast luxury trim levels, custom iron chandeliers, wine room, private study, a chefs kitchen that includes:

built in stainless steel refrigerator
stainless steel gas cooktop
copper sinks
pot filler
huge island with storage
and tons of granite counter top space to work with.

Home also includes a Media Room and a huge gameroom. Come enjoy the huge backyard with pool-spa and built in water feature to gently soothe away the days stress.

This home has 4 garages for ample storage of an active familys boat, cars and other gear. Fine dinning and shopping are nearby and of course this home is located in the premier Carroll School District.

Seller is offering 1 point toward mortgage buy-down and up to one point for buyers closing cost with an acceptable offer.

Click Here For The Video

For More Information, please contact:

John R. Berrier
Phone: 972-567-1533

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Updated: Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Five Realities about Parental Input When Buying Your Dream Home

While juggling the complexities of buying your dream home, how can you keep both your emotio...
> Full Story

5 Designer Tips For Choosing a Fire Pit

Weve all been waiting for the sun to come out so we can enjoy a little more time outdoors. A...
> Full Story

Home Improvement Projects Inspired by March Madness

It is March Madness season and you are in a competitive mood. During this time of the year, ...
> Full Story

Copyright © 2015 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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