Welcome Home: Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee

welcome home logo Welcome Home: Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee

For our service men and women, coming home is one of the greatest things for them, but it can also be trying. Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee served our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is truly an American Hero.

Sandra has survived multiple roadside bomb attacks, sustained brain injuries, and PTSD while protecting her country. She’s adjusting to life back at home, but her multiple story apartment was causing her problems. That’s where our friends at NBC’s George to the Rescue stepped in.

Expert designer, George Oliphant, and his team worked to build Sandra a new home that was one level so she wouldn’t have to deal with the issues she had with stairs and make it easier for her to adjust to life back at home.

In the video above, Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee shares what home means to her and the special memories of home that she now looks forward to enjoying in her own place.

Welcome home, Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee.

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On My Way Home

By car. By boat. By foot. Everyone has their way of getting home. You take it every time you go out. Your car knows it without even thinking about it. A child who can’t read, write or spell can identify the path. It’s the way home.

Your commute might be painful. It was a long day at work, school or both. You have zoned out and simply rely on muscle memory to guide you, but subconsciously you get that feeling as you inch along the road. It’s the feeling that you’re almost home.

That vacation you looked forward to for so long has passed and you wonder how you could feel more tired than before you left. Your body is telling you what your mind already knows. You want to be on that way home.

The train tracks, the giant rock, the sleepy downtown or that church on the corner are the markers your heart and mind craves. You don’t need a robotic female voice to signal your next turn. These monuments of familiarity are beckoning you back home.

While talk radio or a carefully crafted playlist may escort you, the path itself seems to be the welcome mat for your soul. It sings a tune I know by heart though it has no words nor melody. The road though familiar never seems to get old.

I’m on my way home.

What are the things that signal to you that you’re on your way home? Share your favorite markers of your road home with us in the comments or on Twitter at @coldwellbanker.

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9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

poncho showercurtain 9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

I don’t mind horror. I’m a Walking Dead fan. I’ve sat through most every Halloween movie. But these are easily the scariest things I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

I’m begging you. Please don’t put these in your home. If you do, please don’t invite me over. Here are 10 of the most frightening shower curtains you’ll ever see.

1. The Poncho Shower Curtain - Makes me feel like I need to wear my Baja sweater.

2. Creepy Zombie Shower Curtain - If their eyes had pupils, this might not be so bad.

creepymonsters 9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

3. Green Eye Cat Shower Curtain – If you have this, you probably live alone.

green eye cat 9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

4. The Hangman Shower Curtain – If you ordered this thinking you were getting the word game…you were wrong.

hangman showercurtain 9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

5. Artistic Mermaid Shower Curtain – This is supposed to be a mermaid…I don’t see it.

mermaid shower curtain 9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

6. License Plate Shower Curtain – So you made this while serving a dime in the clink?

License Plate Shower Curtain 9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

7. Bloody Hands Shower Curtain – I would think the floor mat would have to be included with every purchase.

bloody hands shower curtain 9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

8. Hello Kitty Shower Curtain – I’m at a loss for words…

hellokitty shower curtain 9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

9. Robert Pattinson Shower Curtain – Is he brooding or does he want me for lunch?

robert pattinson shower curtain 9 Shower Curtains I Never Want to See in Your Home

Header image courtesy of Flickr user Docklandsboy

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Home of the Week: A Timeless Architectural Beauty in Pacific Palisades

In our newest ‘Home of the Week‘ we move from a Spanish Princess’s home in Barcelona to a timeless architectural beauty in Pacific Palisades, California.

With priceless Santa Monica Canyon and Pacific Ocean views, this home listed at $19.8 million is the embodiment of all that makes California a spectacular place to live. Set on 1.36 acres, the over 14,000 square foot home took five years to build from concept to completion. Such refined attention to detail is evident throughout and is highlighted by how it artfully invites the outdoors in with floor to ceiling windows, classical simple lines and soaring 26 foot ceilings.

Home should be your private oasis and this estate is no exception. The soothing trickle from the water features and fountains can be heard in many rooms and is punctuated by the light let in by floor to ceiling doors that disappear into the walls and blur the lines between the indoors and outdoors.

Other stand-out features of this home are the sleek lap pool, wine cellar that accommodates 10,000 bottles, formal dining room with room for 30, and chefs kitchen with white oak cabinets that perfectly compliments the granite counter tops. My favorite part of the home would be the master suite with private entry foyer with a patio that offers unobstructed views of the ocean on clear days. The circular soaking tub right near the massive window would be the perfect way to start or end any day!

Visit coldwellbanker.com if you’d like to see more of this stunning home with 5 bedrooms and 7.5 baths listed by Joyce Rey with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

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Understanding Your Credit Check and Background Check

Whether you are applying for a mortgage, a new apartment, or a job in the Philadelphia area, chances are you will be asked to sign a form allowing a credit or background check to be performed. These types of checks have become more common in recent years as technology has made information more reliable and easily accessible. Before you grant permission for a credit or background check, take some time to find out what they reveal about you.

Verification of Data

Background checks are performed to verify the information you provided on your loan, rental, or employment application. Due to time lags between informational database updates, the most current information may not appear on your credit report. Address information may not match due to a recent relocation. Discrepancies also occur because the reports tend to pick up the addresses where bills are sent, even if you don’t live there. If you have moved out of your parents’ house but never got around to changing the billing address on your credit cards, credit agencies may report a different address from the one listed on your application.

Last-name changes for someone who is recently married is another pieces of data where mismatches are common. Also, prior employment may be verified as part of a background check, so be sure to include all previous employers on your application if asked for this information. Loan officers, landlords, and human resource personnel won’t be surprised to see these types of minor differences, but it’s still a good to idea to explain any discrepancies you are aware of ahead of time.

What’s Your FICO Score and Why is it Important?

Your FICO score is computed using a complex mathematical formula that takes into account all the information on your credit report. The score is based on many factors, including total outstanding debt, number of open credit lines, frequency of late payments, and the length of your personal credit history. Because so many factors are taken into account when calculating a FICO score, there is no official definition of what constitutes a “good” score. Different lenders have varying ranges of what they consider acceptable scores — partly because they take these scores into account alongside other factors, such as income.

How You Handle the Debt in Your Life?

Almost everyone has debt. What distinguishes good applicants from others is how they repay their debt. Do you allow payments to slide past the due date and incur frequent late fees? If so, the pattern of lateness will be evident on your credit report. Do you open every credit card offer you receive to collect freebies or discounts at your favorite stores? The more debt you have available to you, the more worrisome it may appear to someone evaluating your credit — even if you are currently making the proper payments. If you do have some issues with past debts, be prepared to offer an explanation and discuss your plans for repayment.

Repairing Your Credit

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Real Estate Headlines for the Middle of October

This might be the most wonderful time of year for sports fans. The World Series is upon us. Hockey is back. The NBA is about to start. College football is in conference play. And of course the NFL is in mid-season form. The desire to stay home and enjoy all the wonders that ESPN and the sports world has to offer is tempting, but before we slump back on our couches here’s your weekly dose of real estate headlines.

Speaking of sports, the greatest player I’ve ever seen, Michael Jordan, is selling his home in Highland Park, IL.

In Seattle, millenials are looking to buy homes to escape rising rent rates.

RISMedia takes a look at the ripple effect of buying a home.

Would you buy a haunted house? Survey says most people would consider it.

Now that the government shutdown is over, what does it mean for the mortgage market?

What is the biggest real estate want for home in major cities? Light from the sky.

Fallacy of false cause or growing trend? Housing recovery sparks rise in prenups.

Fox Business has a list of the top 10 luxury markets for home flippers.

Apparently some castle ruins are for sale but may need a knight in shining armor to spruce it up.

Talk about an issue of supply and demand, in London there are 12 buyers for every property for sale.

And finally, here is a slideshow of 9 things luxury real estate buyers should ignore…like a pet spa.

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Plant bulb containers at nursery’s morning class

Gunter’s Heirloom Vegetables: with Pam and Leah Gunter. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-351-8851, arborgate.com.

Open garden day: sponsored by Precinct 2 Harris County Master Gardeners. 8:30-11 a.m., with seminar about dividing day lilies, canna lilies and irises at 9:30 a.m. at Genoa Friendship Garden, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Road; hcmga.tamu.edu.

Landscape Design I – Analyzing Your Landscape: with Master Gardener and landscape designer Karen Lehr. 6:30-8 p.m. at Galveston County AgriLife Extension office, 4102 Main, La Marque; Design II and Design III Oct. 29 and Nov. 5.

Perennial Herbs for Fall: with Ann Wheeler. 10 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-351-8851, arborgate.com. …read more

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The Gas Free Snow Blower for Your Winter Driveway

The white giant of winter is not so far away for much of us who don’t live in the South or Southwest portions of the U.S. But for those who live in the great north, dealing with snow is always in the back of homeowner’s minds.

Snow blowers are a precious commodity for those who must plow their way through much of the winter months, but there’s always the hassle of getting gas for the blower or getting it to start…until now.

I just discovered the Snow Joe Ion snowblower on Amazon.com which is a battery powered, instant start snow blower. It’s light enough for pretty much any adult to handle, but has enough power to plow you out of a 10 inch snowstorm.

At $400 the price point isn’t ridiculous either. You’d probably pay more having a plow come clear your driveway and walkway after just 2 snowfalls. The Snow Joe Ion even has a headlight for those early mornings or late night snow plowing jobs.

I haven’t used the Snow Joe Ion so I can’t speak from experience, but by the looks of it this might be a nice little present to get before the winter months come rolling.

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Home of the Week: The Hip Home of Spanish Royalty

While the homes of most Princesses might look like the ornate castles from television shows like Game of Thrones, the Spanish King’s daughter’s home puts a 21st century spin on the “royal palace” construct.

Our newest ‘Home of the Week‘ takes us over to the stunning city of Barcelona for a look at the Duques de Palma’s 10,000+ square foot home sitting on over 20,000 square feet of expertly manicured gardens. Located in a quiet residential area of the busy city, the Princess’s spectacular home is on sale for $13.3 million and is also available as a rental for a cool $34,000 a month.

The home features 7 bedrooms and 4 floors in total highlighted by a gorgeous large reception hall perfect for entertaining up to 80 of your closest friends and family. Other unique and stand-out features of the estate would be the salt-water swimming pool, multiple terraces over looking the gardens and a gaming room fit for a king…or princess.

As if buying a royal home wasn’t enough, all the hand-crafted ultra modern furniture comes with the property as does the energy efficient and environmental friendly solar panels.

Visit coldwellbanker.com if you’d like to learn more about why this home is the talk of many across Spain and Europe. If you understand Spanish, Coldwell Banker Spain and Andorra CEO Fran├žois Carriere was recently interviewed on Spanish TV about the the Duques de Palma’s home. Watch it here!

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A New Kitchen for a Cupcake Baking and Cancer Research Funding Kid

cupcakes A New Kitchen for a Cupcake Baking and Cancer Research Funding Kid

Livy O’Donnell is an inspiration to us all and has used her home kitchen to make a difference in her family and the world around us.

Young Livy hails from my town of Rockaway, NJ where she’s shown a proclivity for baking tasty treats for friends and family. She’s also used her talents to bake for various charities and fundraising events in her town. But then something happened that made her even more focused in her cause.

This past year her dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. While he battled chemotherapy and surgeries, Livy headed into the kitchen to bake. Not just to lift her dad’s spirits, but to start selling her baked goods to help raise money for cancer research.

Our friends from NBC’s George to the Rescue heard about Livy’s endeavors and thought she deserved a kitchen that would be better suited to the cause she is dedicated to. So they redid the O’Donnell’s kitchen to make it bigger while also adding unique touches just for Livy, like a pink Kitchen Aid mixer.

The family has not only enjoyed the goods coming out of the kitchen, but also that the room has now become the gathering place for their home. The video above is the family talking about what makes the concept of home so special to them and I know your heart will be warmed by the amazing girl and her family.

To learn more about Livy and her cupcake charitable efforts, visit Sweet Livy’s on Facebook.

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