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But make a list and check it twice

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You can build your real estate portfolio starting with your own house.

The holidays are a great time to create your list of wants-and-needs for a new home.
While you are at it, also ask yourself a question: Should you rent out your existing house instead of selling?

Recent news shows that buying is cheaper than renting. When you turn that around it means rents are up for property owners. And you could be one.

A study by Trulia.com shows that, in 100 of the largest metropolitan areas, buying a home is cheaper than renting. Averaging all areas, buying a home is nearly 35 percent cheaper than renting.

In some areas, there is a dramatic difference. In New Orleans, buying is 52 percent cheaper than renting.

The study took into consideration down payment, taxes, insurance, and utilities. It assumed that the buyer would live in the home for seven years.

That’s good news for potential buyers. But it is also good news for property owners who want to lease their homes.

If you have a personal mortgage and have lived in your home, you can rent it out without getting another mortgage. This is important because investment mortgages have higher interest rates and down payments ranging up to 25 percent. Conclusion: If you want to build a real estate portfolio, it is less expensive to live in a home and then rent it out instead of buying a home as an investment property.

One potential stumbling block here is that you have to qualify for another mortgage. Lenders will consider your debt-to-income ratio and another mortgage could pose a problem. One possible way to overcome this is to establish a lease before you go to the lender.

According to Zillow, lenders will want to see you have some property management experience before they count the lease as income.

You might want to consider a professional leasing service for your property to find qualified renters.

However, if you do qualify for a second mortgage, you will have some tax advantages related to depreciation and the deduction of maintenance expenses, and the deduction of your mortgage interest.

Beyond that, it is a matter of homework. Consider whether your home is rentable in your area. Larger homes might not be marketable.

Look into rental rates in the area.

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Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with kids

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On January 20, Americans across the country will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The holiday presents a unique opportunity to honor the legacy of the civil rights leader and to follow his example by volunteering. However, for those with children, it’s also an opportunity to help kids understand why it’s more than a day off school. Here are some ways you can share the day with them.

Read to them
There are a number of accessible biographies of Martin Luther King Jr. Reading one with your kids is a great way to teach them about the civil rights movement and, depending on their age, to help them develop their understanding of the ongoing civil rights struggles taking place in America today.

Make a themed craft
For younger or more artistically-minded kids, try creating artwork centered around a theme like peace, diversity, acceptance or generosity. These values are all central to MLK Jr.’s legacy. You could create peace signs, doves or garlands made up of diverse people holding hands.

Attend events
Bring your kids to museums and libraries holding events for the holiday. These institutions often have activities for younger kids while providing informative installations for older children and teenagers. Some places also hold parades and marches you can attend.

Watch the “I have a dream” speech
If your kids are older, watch the speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a timeless articulation of his message and watching it presents an opportunity for you and your kids to discuss how the speech continues to be relevant today. Perhaps it’ll even provide insight into ways they could volunteer.

Exposing young people to the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. is a key way to help keep his message alive. This year, take a bit of time to share his insight and wisdom with your children.

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How to socialize your new puppy

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Socializing puppies early is the key to making sure they develop into well-adjusted dogs. Most experts agree that between two and four months old is the ideal age to begin. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Register for puppy class
An obedience training program will expose your pup to other dogs and people, while teaching them how to respond to basic commands. Learning alongside other puppies trains them to concentrate on you, even when there are distractions.

Bring your dog everywhere
Let your dog accompany you on as many errands as possible. Walking your canine companion through town is a great opportunity for them to become used to the area’s sights, sounds and smells. If your puppy is comfortable with it, allow all types of strangers to greet and pet them.

Invite people over
Dogs need to learn how to greet visitors into their homes as well as on the street. Inviting other people and dogs over to meet your pooch will illustrate that visitors are welcome and that there’s no need to protect the home from them.

Socializing dogs is important but it does leave them more exposed to disease. Until they’re fully vaccinated, be sure to keep them away from off-leash dog parks and other places where they may come into contact with unfamiliar canines.

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Are there any alternatives to declawing cats?

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There are two effective ways to protect your furniture, curtains and children from your cat’s claws without having to declaw it. After all, declawing is a major operation. The solution? Scratching posts and nail caps.

Scratching posts are covered in materials that cats love to dig their claws into, such as cardboard, wood, carpet or jute. A post gives your pet a perfect place to scratch as much as it wants, but the challenge is to get your cat interested in doing so. If your cat ignores its scratching post, it’s probably because the post isn’t located in the right place. Typically, it should be where your pet wants to scratch to mark its territory. To solve this problem, move the post around until your cat shows interest; try placing it near the corner of a sofa, for instance. You can also make the post more attractive by hanging a toy on it or by sprinkling it with catnip.

Nail caps are protective membranes attached directly to trimmed claws with non-toxic glue. These guards are painless, last about six weeks and are available in various colors. Talk to your veterinarian to learn more about nail caps or declawing.

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How often should you inspect your roof?

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Your roof is an integral part of your home and plays a big role in shielding you and your loved ones from the elements. Though roofs last a long time, they must be inspected regularly and repaired as needed.

So, how often should you inspect your roof?

Most contractors recommend checking it twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall. However, if you’re not comfortable climbing on top of your house, it’s best to hire a professional roofer to perform the inspection.

Some things to look for are:

• Soft spots
• Shingles that are loose or curling
• Loose material around the chimney
• Anything protruding from the roof
• Large amounts of shingle granules in the gutters

Biannual inspections are crucial, but they aren’t the only time your roof should be given attention. Be sure to also visually check them after big storms, especially those with heavy precipitation and strong winds.

Your roof’s lifespan depends on its material. Slate, copper and tile roofs can last for up to 50 years, while wood shake roofs last for 30 and cement tiles have a lifespan of 25 years. Asphalt shingles will typically last around 20 years.

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4 reasons why you should go snowmobiling

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There are over four million snowmobile enthusiasts across North America and this number continues to grow every year. If you’re wondering what makes snowmobiling such a popular activity, here are four good reasons to give it a try and find out for yourself.

1. It’s a great way to experience nature
Few people get the opportunity to explore their area’s backcountry during winter. Snowmobiling allows you to explore hills, plains, mountains and forests while they’re draped in virgin snow.

2. It allows you to access remote areas
You can cover vast distances on a snowmobile and reach scenic areas that can’t be accessed any other way. If you want to find solitude out in nature, snowmobiling is your ticket.

3. It’s super fun
Snowmobiling will give you an adrenaline rush like no other, no matter what pace you go at. Whether you float over fields of soft powder or weave through a forest trail, you’re sure to have a blast.

4. It’s easy
Learning to ride a snowmobile is simple. Just make sure you follow all the safety guidelines you receive from your instructor and take it nice and slow your first time out. If you’re nervous about venturing out on your own, hire a guide.

Are you ready to experience all that snowmobiling has to offer? If so, be sure to book a course or take a lesson nearby.

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4 types of flooring for your bathroom

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In a bathroom, the type of flooring you use should be water resistant, easy to clean, durable and beautiful to boot. Here are four choices that fit the bill.

1. Porcelain or ceramic tile. A popular flooring option for bathrooms, these types of tiles are versatile, relatively inexpensive and stand up well to moisture. They also come in a near endless array of colors and styles.

2. Vinyl. If you’re on a budget, vinyl planks, sheets or tiles are a great choice. Waterproof and easy to maintain, this flooring type is a great option for bathrooms, but may not look as chic as other materials.

3. Natural stone. For luxurious bathrooms, granite, marble and other types of natural stone make a great choice. Some kinds are waterproof, but others need to be sealed yearly.

4. Cork. Made from the bark of cork trees, this material is mildew and mold resistant, extremely comfortable to stand on and a sustainable, eco-friendly flooring option. However, it isn’t entirely waterproof, so it’ll need to be coated yearly with a sealant.

Any of these options can be used to create a stylish and hardworking floor. Just be sure to choose something that you’ll appreciate for years to come.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
18
Sat
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Alaska. What do people eat in the snowy, frozen state of Alaska? Come to Kooky Chefs to find out and help prepare some Alaskan dishes. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins December 18.
12:00 pm Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Jan 18 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Program Moderator: The Rt. Rev. Larry W. Johnson Call to Order: Larry Johnson Posting of the Colors: James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard Pledge of Alliance: Dale Carpenter,[...]
3:00 pm Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
The award-winning team at Rainbow Puppets has created a new musical review that shares the joy of reading through music, dance, puppetry, and story-telling. It’s a travelling early reading program designed around our new children’s book. And thanks[...]
Jan
20
Mon
9:00 am Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Jan 20 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Monday, January 20, 2020, starting at 9:00am, Esbie Baptist Church will be having their annual MLK Prayer Breakfast. The speaker of the hour will be Rev. Dr. Donald Reid, Pastor of Mt. Parah Baptist Church[...]
Jan
21
Tue
2:30 pm Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Jan 21 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith to visit R-MA @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
On Tuesday, January 21st, at 2:30 pm, in Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), the public is invited to be inspired by Rodney Smith, a man who has chosen to make a difference in the[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 21 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, January 7 – Based on books about Balto, we will learn more about service dogs this week. For ages[...]
Jan
22
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 22 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
23
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 23 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
24
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Jan 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Services Meeting at Able Forces @ Able Forces
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
Jan
25
Sat
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.