Fun and Interesting Day Trips from Las Vegas – Part One

Now that the summer heat has left us it’s time to wander around the area beyond the borders of Las Vegas and see some amazing places that are near enough for a day trip.

Oh dear – you have lived here for years and you haven’t driven through Red Rock Canyon?  Red Rock Canyon features a one-way 13-mile scenic drive, hiking and trailsplants and wildlifegeologycamping, cultural resources and much more. Our Visitor Center offers information and interpretation about recreation opportunities. The facility also features indoor and outdoor exhibits and a book and gift store.

red rock canyon sign

The fee per day is $15 for one truck or car. (or buy a National Park Annual Pass for $80 and go as often as you like plus gain entry in such amazing places as Lake Mead, Cedar Breaks, Death Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Yosemite & more!)

The Valley of Fire is incredible. It is a State Park for public recreation and nature preservation area covering nearly 46,000 acres located 16 miles south of Overton, Nevada. The state park derives its name from red sandstone formations, the Aztec Sandstone, which formed from shifting sand dunes 150 million years ago and contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. A Visitor Center provides exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory and history of the park and nearby region

Valley of Fire 1

Entrance fee is $10

Mount Charleston is a great place to visit now with the trees turning colors, in the summer to get relief from the heat and in the winter to ski.  Named for nearby Mount Charleston, the highest point in Clark County, the town is in a valley of the Spring Mountains to the northwest of Las Vegas, noted for its hiking trails, and for the Mount Charleston Lodge, a rustic hotel. At an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet, temperatures are much lower than in Las Vegas, which has an elevation of about 2,000 feet, making it a popular place for Las Vegans to vacation. The mean high temperature is 20.4 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than in Las Vegas.

Mount_Charleston

Goodsprings (Ghost Town) was a settlement in the hills seven miles west of Jean. It served as an important town for milling or from the surrounding mines. The town has named after a Mr. Joseph Good who headquartered his cattle raising operation there. At first the site was known as Good’s Springs but eventually was called Goodsprings. It was a mining camp with a hotel, a saloon that is still standing and in operation, and a general store.  Make sure you go to the Pioneer Saloon and the general store!

Pioneer Saloon exterior

Nelson (Ghost Town) was first called Eldorado by the Spaniards who made the original discoveries of gold in the area. A hundred years later prospectors and miners took over and established the notorious Techatticup Mine. Disagreements over ownership, management and labor disputes resulted in frequent killings. Today, you’ll find several old buildings, cars, trucks, buses and 2 crashed airplanes, making it a great spot to explore and take fun photos. I took my son’s HS graduation pics in a tired old pink Cadillac! Make sure you go to the general store!

_Pink cadilac

Boulder City, Nevada is quite a great little town.  Very close to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam.  The town is quaint with interesting shops of all kinds, and interesting restaurants and bars.  Here is a link that can tell you the 10 best things to do https://trip101.com/article/best-things-to-do-boulder-city-nevada

boulder city

In the near future, I will be putting together other interesting spots to visit in part two – you won’t want to miss that.

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Do you really need to replace your cabinets?

Have you noticed recently that there may be scratches on your cabinets or they look old and blah?  So your first thought is probably replacing them.  While it seems like a good idea at first, replacing your cabinets can end up being more of a hassle than you anticipated. There are other options you can think about for a lot less money and stress. Here are a few options to consider before you rip them out completely.

Adding a Coat of Paint –One of the simplest fixes you can make when it comes to your cabinets is simply adding a new coat of paint.  It’s a great way to change the look of your kitchen as long as the cabinets themselves are still in decent shape .You can get creative and turn the cabinets into works of art. This can help you to match your cabinets to new appliances or a new decorating style and is also a huge help if your cabinets are a bit old and have simply faded or peeled with time. Just make sure that you take the time to do this job right; slapping new paint on top of a peeling finish without sanding or trying to cover stains and discolorations without a coat or two of primer is just asking for trouble.  If you are not up to the task there are many companies that can do the work for you and they do not cost the amount new cabinets will cost.

New Doors and Fixtures If your cabinets need a little more than just a coat of paint, consider upgrading their hardware as well. Handles, hinges and other fixtures are pretty easy to replace and can completely change the look of your cabinets with relatively little work. You can also replace latches or cabinet locks while you’re at it, helping those cabinets that always seem to hang open to finally stay shut when you close them.

If your problems are a bit more severe and you have damaged, warped or otherwise bad-looking cabinet doors, you can change those as well! New doors will completely revitalize your old cabinets and can be a great solution if the cabinet body and shelving is still in good shape. Best of all, if you still want to add a coat of paint you can easily paint the new doors before mounting them – much easier than doing it after they’ve been hung.

Refacing Your Cabinets – Maybe your cabinets need a little more work than just new doors but the shelves and interiors are still in good shape. This is where refacing comes in. When you reface your cabinets, you’ll not only replace the doors and fixtures but you’ll also add veneer or other coverings to the outside of the cabinet body as well. This will cover up any cracks or other damage as well as unsightly stains, giving you the look of a fresh install at a fraction of the work. You won’t have to actually remove the cabinets but everyone who enters your kitchen will think that you did!

Do You Need New Cabinets? If the interiors or the shelves in your cabinets are warped, damaged or otherwise in rough shape, you might have to go ahead and replace the full cabinets. The process is fairly straightforward as it just involves removing the old cabinets and putting new ones in. It may cost more than you expect, though, and the process is often a little more involved than that basic description makes it sound. If the cabinets need to go, though, don’t settle for substandard cabinetry just because you don’t want to do a full replacement. The solutions above are great when they work, but if your problems are too severe for them then by all means get some new cabinets in there.

If you want to hire a professional to do any of the work described above – contact me.  I have lists of good reputable people that can help you achieve the new look for your cabinets. That is why I am your Realtor for life.

 

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

 

 

Your Credit is Quite Valuable, So You Should Protect It

On September 23, I received a notification from my credit monitoring subscription that someone had applied for credit using my Social Security Number. I called the creditor and let them know it was fraud. On October 10, I received another notification… a different creditor. I called them. On October 11 & 15 same thing so I “froze” my Experian file… On October 17 I received a notification that Experian blocked an attempt to access my credit and that there was a “hit” to my Transunion profile. (I thought I was freezing Transunion & Equifax on 10/17 – oops!) I then spent some time ensuring that all 3 were “frozen”… 5 “hard” inquiries to my credit report inside of about 3 weeks. Ouch! 4 out of 5 of the creditors said they would report to the bureaus that those inquiries were fraudulent and that it could take 90 days for those to fall off my report. So, while I was in the Equifax site, I decided I would try to expedite cleaning up my credit and I disputed the 3 inquiries that had showed up there plus 2 addresses that were never my addresses. I should mention that the first time this ever happened to me was about 10 years ago and it probably happens 1-2 times a year (until 2 weeks ago) so those addresses may or may have come from those inquiries. Oh, and did I mention that 3 of those 5 applications resulted in approved credit? In any case, when Experian finished reviewing my dispute, they removed the 2 bogus addresses but told me that the inquiries had happened… so they could not remove them and if I wanted them removed, I had to contact the creditor and ask them to report it as fraud.

Currently, (at least in theory) no one can make an inquiry on my credit. If I want to apply for a credit card, car loan or mortgage, I need to “unfreeze” my report long enough for the lender to check my credit, and then, of course, I’ll want to freeze them again. It’s going to be a hassle, but not as big a hassle as the hours I spent on the phone unwinding all the above mess.

Here’s the bummer… credit monitoring isn’t always cheap… I get 1 service free courtesy of my Capital One card and 1 service free for a year because some company that had my information was breached and as part of a settlement, they offered affected consumers that option (and I took it). [Note: this started happening to me long before the above noted breach.] I strongly recommend you contact your credit card companies and see if membership offers that as a privilege. If it’s free, get it! Seriously! Just get it. And based on my personal experience, if you do not have a company offering it to you for free, you may want to consider paying for it. Be careful about the options you choose though. I’ve been poking around the internet and it looks like most companies that do offer a subscription offer a “1 bureau” option… there are 3 credit bureaus and they don’t all get checked by all creditors. If someone applies for credit with a company that does not check the one you are having monitored, then you still won’t know until they have run up a large bill and I (fortunately) do not know what the process is for unravelling that mess! Of course, another proactive approach would be to contact all 3 bureaus and just freeze your credit, like I have (finally) done.

Here’s how… Go to www.transunion.com/credit-freeze and create an account. You will need to answer some questions that hopefully only you can answer (like “which one of these 5 lenders have you ever had an account with?”). They do that to ensure that you are really you, of course. Then you’ll create a 6-digit pin – put that PIN in a very safe place. Now your credit file is frozen and cannot be accessed until you log back in and give that PIN.

Then go to www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/ – similar process as above, however Equifax will create and issue you a PIN.

Then, if you have a Capital One card and have taken advantage of their CreditWise program, log into that and freeze your Experian file. (that’s how I did it). I am told that the Experian freeze is only effective for 2 months (or maybe that is only through CreditWise… not sure), so I have put in my calendar to re-freeze it every 60 days. Or you can go to http://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html and I’m sure the process is quite similar to the other 2 bureaus.

Do you even know what is on your credit report? Did you know you can get a free copy twice a year? (of course, if your file is “frozen” you’d have to “unfreeze” to get a copy). If you have not gotten 2 free copies already in 2019, stop right now and visit all 3 bureaus online – If you wait until you want a car loan, or credit card or mortgage to find out what yours says, you may find out you have a lot of cleaning to do before you can get that loan… they can charge you for your credit score, but not to see what good and bad things are on your report.

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Don’t Freak Out if You Find a Crack in the Foundation of Your House

Yes cracks in the foundation can be signs of a problem; however it doesn’t mean you should automatically think of worst case scenario.  Believe it or not, there are a few perfectly normal reasons why cracks can appear in your foundation.

Of course you should have the issue looked into but hold off on assuming the worst until you determine whether there’s a problem worth worrying about.

There are several things that can cause cracks in your foundation. In some cases, the cracks are simply caused by the settling of your home over time or soil expansion if your home is built on land with a lot of clay in the soil. Other potential causes of foundation cracks include:

  • Drainage issues around the home
  • Insufficient reinforcement to support the weight of the house
  • Major home renovations or add-ons such as adding a second story
  • Tree roots under the soil
  • Earthquakes, sinkholes or landslides that have affected the area
  • Deep soil freezing during the winter

Despite the wide range of possible causes, it’s important to not freak out and get excited and worry over the cracks until you’ve figured out whether they actually indicate a serious problem.

When you first notice cracks in your foundation get a good look at them and where they appear. Taking photos may help with this since they’ll give you an easy-to-access reference later on. If possible, include an object of known size in the pictures to give you a sense of scale; coins, ink pens or other common objects are easy to use.

When looking at the cracks in your foundation, take note of the direction of the crack, how wide the crack is and whether it has a uniform width. If there is an obvious point of origin (a crack that starts at the corner of a basement window or foundation vent) then you should take note of this as well. If you have a crawlspace or basement under your home, go in and examine the foundation wall from the inside as well to see if the crack is visible. The more information you have about the crack, the easier it will be to determine whether there’s a problem.

Small, thin cracks in the foundation usually aren’t much to be concerned about; they typically form as the house and the soil beneath it settle into place. Likewise, small cracks that appear after a particularly harsh winter shouldn’t be a major concern since they are easy to seal before the next bout of cold weather comes around.

There are some cracks that you need to watch out for, though.  Horizontal cracks, straight vertical cracks and cracks that are wider at one end than the other are all signs of potential problems. These can indicate that the foundation is cracking due to a much larger problem than just settling or bad weather. Check the depth of the crack, especially if you have a crawlspace or basement; a crack that goes all the way through the foundation wall can be very bad indeed. You should also see if there are multiple cracks forming around the same area or if any of the cracked areas correspond with cracks or other issues inside the house.

If the cracks seem recent, clean up the area and place marks on the wall beside the cracks. This will let you look for new debris or changes to the crack length over the next several days. Large cracks or cracks that seem to still be growing need to be repaired before they can cause significant issues.

Even if you’re handy around the house, you might want to call a professional to examine the situation and foundation and take care of what is wrong.  Having a pro to do the work will certainly give you piece of mind.  Just give me a call I have a list of professionals that I can highly recommend to you.  I am after all your Realtor for life!!

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day…..Jeff

Properly Mounting Things on the Walls of Your Home (pictures, decorations, etc)

Ok so you are in your new home or just adding a picture or mounting a television – anything that goes on your wall needs something to anchor it in place. Sometimes there is a stud in the wall that you can attach it to and you are good to go. You have well-supported wood to drive a screw into which will hold whatever you’re mounting in place.  However if you can’t find a stud where you need one, if the item has any real weight to it, you need some help. That’s where drywall anchors come in.

What is a drywall anchor? Drywall anchors are small pieces that are slightly larger than the screws you are using for this project.  Depending on the type of anchor you’re using it might be made of plastic or metal, with small fins sticking out from the outside of the anchor body and a hole in the middle that runs the length of the anchor.  You first put the anchors into the wall and then your screw goes into the hole. As you screw it in the screw digs into the anchor body in much the same way it would with wood to ensure that the screw won’t slip out.

The drywall anchors are designed to provide a tight fit for your screws. As the screw goes in, the anchor is forced to spread out and open up a bit. This pushes the body of the anchor against the sides of the hole you put it in, causing those little fins to dig into the surrounding drywall. The fins are positioned to go in easy but resist coming out, giving you a solid mounting even though there isn’t any wood or other solid material for your screws to secure to.

There are multiple types of drywall anchors. Choosing the right one for the project you are working on helps to reduce unnecessary damage to your drywall and ensures that the mounting is strong enough for what you are hanging on the wall. To ensure that you have the right drywall anchor for what you need to support you should try to estimate of the weight of the load and check the packaging of different drywall anchors to find an anchor that can hold that much weight.

If the load of what you are hanging is relatively light you’ll most likely only need a plastic anchor. The most common of these are known as expansion anchors and are essentially plastic sleeves that you hammer into a drilled hole and that simply spread out as you insert a screw. There are also threaded plastic anchors that look like oversized screws -they work similarly, except you screw them into place instead of hammering them. Regardless of the type of plastic anchor you use, the purpose is still to dig into the drywall and hold a screw in place.

For heavier loads you will need a metal anchor. Though you may see some threaded metal anchors, the most common metal anchors are known as molly bolts and feature a metal sleeve with a screw already inserted into them. You hammer these into place as you would with an expansion anchor and then remove the screw. Once you are ready to mount you place the screw back into the anchor and start tightening – this causes a portion of the metal sleeve to pull toward the screw, expanding metal arms on the other side of the drywall to create a much more secure fitting.

For seriously heavier loads you’ll need to use a toggle bolt instead. These anchors consist of a metal bolt with foldable metal wings that the bolt screws into. You have to fold the wings so that they lie over the bolt and then insert them into a hole large enough that they can fit through to the other side. Once on the other side the wings will expand, preventing the bolt from coming back out. Make sure that there is a washer or something else that’s large enough to cover the hole, though, or the bolt head could slip through the hole and you’ll lose your toggle bolt into the wall.

If a drywall anchor fails then it simply wasn’t the right type of anchor for the job. Trying to use smaller or weaker anchors for heavier loads will often result in failure because they simply don’t achieve enough grip on the surrounding material to hold the load. In some cases, though, the drywall itself may be too weak or the anchor you use may have been intended for a different material. Be sure to match the anchor to the weight and the material to minimize your chances of anchor failure.

If you are still having issues, or just not comfortable doing it yourself, you’ll probably want to hire a professional. I always keep a list of reliable professionals around in just about every category that pertains to your home, so feel free to reach out to me for recommendations. After all, we’re neighbors.

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day…..Jeff

 

Robotic Lawn Mowers

 

Over the years we have seen automation and robotics change the way that a number of things work in the home.   Did you know that robotics and automation work outside your home as well? Robotic lawn mowers are starting to change the way that people approach lawn care with modern robotic lawn mowers that were introduced in recent years, however the devices have a longer history than you might think.  If you have grass on your property you should keep reading.

Hard to believe the first robotic lawn mower was actually created and patented in 1969. Called the MowBot, the robotic device was self-propelled and capable of making random turns within an area defined by a signal wire that was used to create a boundary. The MowBot was a battery-powered device that was primitive compared to today’s robotic lawn mowers however its approach to lawn maintenance wasn’t that far off from how today’s devices work. It had some staying power and MowBot Inc. is still producing robotic mowers today that are more modern takes on the original MowBot functionality.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that the more modern style of robotic lawn mowers began to emerge. A solar-powered mower was developed and introduced in 1995 by Husqvarna, and it was followed for the next 10 years by other niche robotic lawn mower designs. The development of smaller-scale robotic mowers occurred in the United States and the UK in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the first widespread commercial release of a robotic lawn mower occurred. Interestingly, these mowers used the same sort of signal wire that the MowBot had; combined with a few more modern features.

Since then the use of robotic mowers has really taken off with a variety of solar-powered and self-charging robotic mowers hitting the market with innovations such as programmability, autonomous obstacle avoidance and even the ability to program or control the mower remotely from a smartphone or similar device. Some modern robotic mowers are even designed to only trim a small section of the grass blades at a time, opting instead to mow more frequently (often without any input from their owners) to keep the lawn in optimal shape.

Robotic lawn mowers offer a number of benefits over traditional push mowers or riding lawn mowers. A few of the benefits of these mowers include:

  • Electric-powered robotic mowers reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions
  • Smaller, more frequent cuts prevent excessive strain on your lawn that could result in browning or other damage
  • Lightweight units that use random movements while cutting the lawn prevent damage caused by mowing in the same pattern repeatedly
  • Electric units with smaller motors significantly reduce noise pollution while cutting
  • The mulching action of robotic lawn mowers recycles clippings to feed your lawn throughout the year
  • Using a robotic device gives you the benefit of more free time and consistent lawn heights, plus eliminating the danger of injury from traditional lawn mowers.

Robotic lawn mowers have seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years. Models can range in price from $400 to $3,500 or more, with higher-end models offering greater coverage and more programmability features. Robotic lawn mower sales are growing at a faster rate than sales of traditional mowers, with analysts believing that robotic mower sales will continue to increase by approximately 11 percent each year through 2024. Technology is moving at a rapid pace so expect more automation and other types of gadgets for you home – inside and out.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Optimize your 401K Planning

People are living longer, which has become a problem… in that we risk outliving our retirement income. Pensions are all but unheard of outside of heavily-unionized industries and the government, and both these entities have increasingly transferred more and more responsibility to the individual worker as far as their retirement account is concerned. When it comes to employer-sponsored plans like 401(k) s, it is vital for workers, savers and investors (and you should see yourself as all three) to make the most they can out of the plans. While there are some differences with other plans, like 403(b) s, most of this advice applies fairly well across the major plans in the United States. Below is a list of ways to get the most benefit out of your 401(k).

Work Backwards – For folks who have the ambition and the financial wherewithal to truly make the most of their 401(k), one of the best ways to begin is by working backwards. Take your maximum allowable contribution (your 401(k) plan documents should make this number relatively clear, or you can ask for help), divide it by the number of pay periods in a year, and see where that leaves you.

Make the Match – Fully exploiting employer matching is one of the most vital strategies in getting the most out of a 401(k) plan. Matching is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – subject to certain rules and limits, your employer will contribute the same amount of money you contribute, effectively doubling your retirement savings without decreasing your salary or increasing your tax burden. Many employer matches kick in at 3% of your pay (or higher), so try as hard as you can to at least contribute this much. Afterall, who doesn’t like free money?

Watch the Costs – As part of some employee retirement plans, workers can avail themselves of investment advice from independent professionals. Be advised that this advice is rarely free and it may cost up to 1 to 2% of your funds to get this help. It’s understandable that many workers feel overwhelmed when it comes to calculating their contributions, and then investing that money in a relatively fixed menu of investment options. However, if the advice really is from someone who does not stand to directly gain from the advice they give, and they are qualified to help you understand the options, it may be well worth it.

Consider Borrowing – For workers who save some funds in a 401(k) but find that they cannot contribute more, because they are saddled with expensive debt, there may be a counter-intuitive option. Most plans have provisions that allow employees to borrow funds from their own account. This money comes relatively free of strings ( as what the funds can be used for), and it is possible to use it to repay much more expensive debt, like credit card debt. This money does not come free, but the good news is that the interest charged is basically being paid to you.

Additional Options – What do you do if you have maxed out your 401(k) or you really hate the investment options offered? In most cases, it is allowable to have a Roth IRA and 401(k) and contribute to both in the same year. The Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but the money put aside this way can still accumulate tax-free over decades.

Once you have contributed as much as possible to these tax-sheltered accounts, there are still other ways to save for retirement. People who are lucky to have maxed out their 401(k) or IRAs in a year can consider buying and investing in annuities. There are a lot of problems with annuities – they can carry high sales loads, they typically have high expenses and sponsors have continually transferred more risk to the investor. All of that said, money in an annuity can accumulate without year-to-year taxation, and it is a worthwhile option if protecting even more retirement savings from the taxman is important.

Additionally, you can invest in real estate. The gains are not calculated until/unless you sell, and your tenants pay your mortgage, adding to the wealth created by the appreciation.

Speak up 
– Notifying your employer about a deficient plan can be an effective means of improving your options (and those of your co-workers). If you do not like how a plan is organized or the investment options on offer, say so. Keep in mind that many employers choose 401(k) plans on the basis of what is cheapest and most convenient to offer, and they may not even be aware of its deficiencies. While it is true that many workers do not like to be a squeaky wheel, and some companies are certainly apt to be more responsive than others, doing nothing is a pretty good way to ensure that the plan will get no better.

Careful savings is not likely to be the gateway to becoming a millionaire or independently wealthy, but it can at least go a long way towards ensuring a more comfortable and desirable retirement. Whatever the specific plans being offer to you, be it a 401(k), a 403(b), an IRA and so on, make sure to contribute as much as you can afford and take full advantage of your opportunity to save money for the future.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff