Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS
Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS

Jeff's Blog

Are You Part of the Nonemployer Explosion?

June 23, 2014 12:38 am

I have been writing about home offices for some time—and for good reason. It appears that more people than ever are taking work home.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently announced that the number of businesses without paid employees in the U.S. reached 22.7 million in 2012, up 1.1 percent from 2011. That is one million more of these home-based ventures since 2009.

This marks the third straight annual increase in nonemployer businesses, which are businesses with no paid employees, annual business receipts of $1,000 or more ($1 or more in the construction sector) and are subject to federal income taxes.

William Bostic Jr., the associate director for economic programs at the Census Bureau observed in an agency release that nonemployer businesses represent entrepreneurship in perhaps its purest form, including the classic 'mom and pop' shops and people running businesses out of their homes.

This includes 19.6 million sole proprietorships, 1.4 million corporations and 1.7 million partnerships, which account for the total number of nonemployer businesses.

So if someone was interested in making their home more marketable to sell, what areas of the country are most likely to draw folks looking to establish a home based business?

The Census Bureau says Florida had the largest increase in nonemployer businesses, with 57,978 added in 2012. California (39,051), Texas (38,504) and New York (15,207) had the next highest increases.

California remains in the lead, however, with the largest number of nonemployer businesses - 2.9 million.

And if you think home based businesses are not huge contributors to the economy, think again. The Census report states that the total annual receipts for nonemployer businesses were $1 trillion in 2012, an increase of $41.3 billion from the year before.

Considering that the rate of home based business operations is showing no sign of weakening, we will continue to focus on various aspects of establishing, designing and effectively utilizing space where homeowners can work while enjoying the shortest commute possible!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


4 Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults

June 20, 2014 6:05 am

Whether you’re settling into your 60s or heading into your ninth decade, you should be extra careful when taking prescription and over-the-counter medicines. And if you’re caring for older loved ones, you should help them stay safe. The older you get, the more likely you are to be prescribed to additional medicines, which can increase the chance of harmful drug interactions.

Avoid these risks by following these FDA medication guidelines:

1. Take medicine as prescribed. Take your medicine regularly and according to your healthcare provider’s instructions. Don’t skip doses or stop taking medication without first consulting with your provider. (This holds true even if you’re feeling better or if you think the medicine isn’t working.) If you’re having bothersome side effects or have other questions, talk to your healthcare provider.

2. Keep a medication list. Write down what you’re taking and keep the list with you. Consider giving a copy to a friend or loved one that you trust—an important step especially in the event of an emergency and when you’re traveling.

Record the medicine’s brand name, if applicable, and generic name. Also write down how often and what dosage you take. (For instance, one pill daily, 300 mg.) Finally, note when you take each.

3. Be aware of potential interactions. Interactions can occur when:

• One drug affects how another drug works;
• A medical condition you have makes a certain drug potentially harmful;
• A food or non-alcoholic drink reacts with a drug;
• A medicine interacts with an alcoholic drink.

Learn which interactions are possible by carefully reading the drug facts label on over-the-counter drugs and the information that comes with your prescription medications, and by reviewing any special instructions with your healthcare provider. For instance, some medications should not be taken with alcohol, as symptoms such as loss of coordination and memory loss can occur.

If you’re seeing multiple healthcare providers, tell each one about all of your medications and supplements. You can also ask your pharmacist about potential interactions.

4. Review medications with your healthcare provider. Schedule at least one annual review of your medications with your healthcare provider to confirm which medications are still necessary and which you can stop taking (if any). If a certain medication seems out of your budget, ask your healthcare provider whether there is a cheaper, and still effective, alternative. This review can help you avoid potential interactions and can even lessen costs.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Brighten Up Your Summer with Fresh Decor Trends

June 20, 2014 6:05 am

Bring the warm, sunny days of summer into your home while embracing some of the season's latest trends. Incorporate these decor tips to brighten up your space:

• Look for unique geometric prints or patterns and utilize them in your decor whenever possible. Try them on fabrics, rugs and tiles for a fun update to any room.
• This summer, go matte when it comes to things like glass, tile, wood flooring, countertops, cabinets and natural woods. This modern finish is in full force and applies to elements that would normally have a polished or glossy finish.
• Refresh old bedding with a simple duvet and shams in a crisp, clean white for summer. Add a pop of color with accent pillows and a brightly colored quilt or throw that can be changed out easily and regularly.
• Replace traditional blinds with simple drapery panels, fabric roman or woven wood shades to bring natural light and a modern feel into a space.
• From chair frames to wood flooring, natural toned woods are gaining popularity this season—it's no longer just for rustic or reclaimed furniture. Use this wood for a more contemporary, on-trend look.
• A bold patterned rug can anchor a room and pull together any color palette. Stick to solid shades for the rest of the room and tie it all together by pulling from the colors found in the rug.

Source: Ace Hardware

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Do You Have Good Water Sense?

June 20, 2014 6:05 am

(BPT) - When you turn on the water faucet in your kitchen, do you think about the water that goes down the drain without being used in any way? Or have you wondered how you might be able to reduce your water bill?

Have good water sense and cut water usage in your home and backyard with these tips:

Toilets - If you have a toilet manufactured before 1992, it's the biggest water hog in your home. These fixtures use about six gallons of water per flush, according to the EPA. New high-efficiency toilets use less per flush, and thanks to better flushing technology, there’s no sacrifice in performance.

Faucets - Leaky faucets or faucets without new aerators could be wasting water right before your eyes. Invest in new faucets that produce less water per minute, and remember to turn off the water when it's not in use. When brushing teeth or washing hands, for example, only let the water run when you need it for rinsing.

Gardening and lawns - Everyone wants a green and healthy-looking lawn and garden in the summer, but many homeowners actually overwater the lawn. For sprinkler systems, there are high-tech sensors that only turn on the sprinklers when the soil is too dry. There are also systems that connect to local weather systems to program when the water will turn on. In addition, it is best to install sprinkler heads that apply water directly to the plants instead of allowing the water to blow away and evaporate in the air. Rain catchers can be a great natural supplement to water needed for your gardens.

Laundry - The average family washes between seven and eight loads of laundry per week, according to the EPA. This number might be even higher for larger families and those who wash reusable diapers (which also has its environmental benefits). For traditional laundry machines, each load requires nearly 41 gallons of water. To help cut down on the water needed for your laundry, be sure to only run a load when the machine is full. If your machine is older, consider replacing it with an Energy-Star high-efficiency model, which can use 35 to 50 percent less water.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Three Ways Your Family Can Create a More Sustainable Household

June 19, 2014 5:53 am

(Family Features) - Just because school is out, doesn’t mean learning has to stop. The summer months are a great opportunity for families to spend time together and see firsthand that small actions to live more sustainably can together make a big impact on the future. Get your family in on the action and encourage others to adopt sustainable habits at home with these tips from Unilever:

Go Green in Your Bathroom
Nearly 40 percent of Americans toss plastic bottles from the bathroom in the trash, not realizing that along with cardboard product packaging and toilet paper spools, many bathroom toiletry bottles are recyclable. There’s also some fun up-cycling you can do to make use of empty plastic bottles. Turn your empty bottles into a handy caddy for everything from keys to mobile phones — a craft that’s perfect for kids to create for everyone in the house.

One Ingredient, Five Ways
Each year the world produces about 1,477 pounds of edible food for every person on the planet, but only about half of that is ever eaten. Empower the kids of the household to plan a menu for the week by thinking up five meals with one main ingredient, and teach the entire family that simple ingredients can go a long way. Challenge your children to get creative with their menu planning.

Be Your Own Farmer’s Market
Growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and positively impact the environment. Add some fresh flavor to your next family dinner by up-cycling empty containers like mayonnaise jars to create a garden of your favorite herbs and vegetables.

Source: Unilever

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Sure-footed Tips for Choosing New Flooring

June 19, 2014 5:53 am

(BPT) - When spring cleaning uncovers a worn floor, it may be time to consider purchasing a new one, especially if you're selling your home in the near future. A new floor, like refreshed paint and updated fixtures, makes a home more enjoyable to live in as well as more marketable.

Floor purchases are often postponed because homeowners are confused about how to make a selection. But Erinn Valencich, celebrity designer and contestant on NBC's reality home- design show, American Dream Builders, says choosing a floor is easier than you think. She offers three easy steps to help guide you through the process:

1. Think color first. When redoing a room, always starts with fabric swatches to determine a color palette. So if you're refreshing a room, you'll want to select a floor that will complement the new color palette of your fabrics and walls. Find a floor color that contrasts with the walls and furniture in the room. If you have rich, dark walls, a lighter floor creates a dramatic difference. White and light walls may look more dramatic when paired with mid-tone or dark floors.

2. Choose your style. With the resurgence of vintage looks in furniture and accessories, reclaimed, time-worn and rustic textures are extremely popular while smooth surfaces are always a classic. Try combining a rustic textured floor with the clean lines of a contemporary space. There's no right or wrong, so choose what speaks to you and your style.

3. Visualize your floor in your home. When you've narrowed your choices, it's time to visualize the new floors in your home. There are several ways to do this. Most manufacturers provide some type of visualization tool on their websites. Once you've narrowed your choices even further, it's best to see actual flooring samples in your room with available light. Samples can either be ordered online or checked-out from your local retailer. It's wise to involve your retailer early on in the process; he or she can provide great information on product specifications, durability and maintenance. Your retailer will also measure the room, order flooring and arrange installation.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Top 4 National Parks to Visit This Summer

June 19, 2014 5:53 am

The United States is home to 59 national parks, according to luxury vacation provider Travel To Go. With many diverse parks spanning the country, the accommodation site encourages travelers to opt for vacations at national parks this summer. Travel To Go recommends adventure seekers visit these top four parks:

1. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It's no wonder the Smokies are America's most visited park. The park boasts 800 miles of hiking trails through the Appalachian Mountains, with some of the mountains peaks as high as a staggering 6,000 feet. The park is also peppered with many waterfalls, rivers and streams. What makes this National Park so popular is its diversity and the wide array of activities it offers visitors.

2. The Grand Canyon
The second most visited park is said to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Depending on the angle and the location of the sun, this park changes features frequently making virtually every photo opportunity unique. Aside from the breathtaking geography of the canyon and the panoramic view, the Colorado River below is nothing to scoff at. The whitewater rafting is second-to-none and runs from challenging to expert. Attracting hikers, the canyon offers a moderate level hike to one that is longer and requires more skill.

3. Yosemite National Park

Ranked as the third most visited park, this central California Park is roughly the size of Rhode Island. Best known for its breathtaking waterfalls, the park is also popular for its granite cliffs, sequoias and wildlife, which bring millions of visitors each year to rock climb, hike, bike and take photos. Travel To Go recommends visiting early in June when the snow melt feeds the waterfalls, however, there really is no bad time to visit the park.

4. Yellowstone National Park

No. 4 on the list is known for its geysers, grizzlies and bison. The most popular geyser, Old Faithful, garners so much attention that traffic jams are not unusual. Yellowstone boasts the honor of being America's first national park. Travelers looking for the best time to visit the park will want to plan a trip after May, as the roads are open all around the park by that time.

Source: Travel to Go

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips to Make Outdoor Play a Priority This Summer

June 18, 2014 5:41 am

(BPT) - The school year has ended and kids are more excited than ever to get outside and play. However, as the days grow longer and summer boredom sets in, it's easy to become uninspired during playtime and it's tempting for families to turn to DVDs and video games as entertainment.

Keeping your kids active and playing during the summer months is important, since healthy lifestyle habits, formed through play and other physical activity, can lower the risk of obesity and its associated health issues, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Here are a few creative ways to inspire families to put down the devices and get outdoors this summer:

Visit a national park
Many of the nation's national parks are family friendly with the perfect combination of beautiful landscapes, fresh air, wildlife and fun recreational activities to captivate both parents and kids. These parks often feature walking or hiking trails to keep your family up and on their feet while they take in the natural scenery. A quick search online can provide many park options within an easy drive.

Host a donate-to-play field day
Gather your neighbors or kids' play group and organize a summer field day. Set up stations with classic games like a potato sack relay race, water balloon toss and three-legged race. Parents can man the stations or compete alongside their kids. Instead of an entrance fee, ask participants to contribute a monetary donation to a non-profit that promotes play. For example, Good Sports is an organization that helps to lay the foundation for healthy, active lifestyles by providing athletic equipment, footwear and apparel to disadvantaged young people nationwide. There's nothing better than getting active and giving back while doing so.

Make your own water park
Keep your family cool and refreshed while staying active by creating a do-it-yourself water park in your own yard. Simply setting up a sprinkler and putting on a swimsuit turns every game into a water game - water freeze tag, water volleyball or even water jump rope.

Compete in a play challenge
Bring a little friendly competition into your family by starting a play challenge this summer. Let's Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple to help get kids and families get active and make play a daily priority, offers a Let's Play pledge at Take the pledge to play a certain number of minutes each week and then compete to see who plays the most to help the family reach its goal. Create a chart to track each family member's progress, and the person who wins gets to choose a fun activity for the whole family to participate in. Let's Play also offers a catalogue of play ideas organized by age, group size and season to keep your family inspired.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Three Easy Solutions to Make Your Move Easy

June 18, 2014 5:41 am

Summer is a popular time to sell and buy a new home. Most people feel that summer is the best time to move as the weather is ideal. If you have children, summer is a great time to move as their school year has ended and they can settle in before they start their new school year in the fall. It's important to let family and friends know of your move so they can update their records for future correspondence. The Stationery Studio has three great solutions to make it easy to let everyone know of your new address.

1. Moving Announcements
- What better way to let people know of your new address than with a moving announcement? With so many stylish designs to pick from, these are a great way to announce your move. These are also easy to tuck into holiday address books to make sure you're not forgotten when holiday cards are sent.

2. Personalized Address Labels - These are perfect for all your correspondence and with so many options to pick from, you can chose an address label that reflects your personality. Address labels are also perfect for children's school supplies that need to be labeled.

3. Stampers - Personalized self-inking stampers are an easy and affordable way to display your new address. With so many styles and colors to choose from, there is something for everyone.

Source: The Stationery Studio

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Top 10 Ways to Save around the House

June 18, 2014 5:41 am

Renters and homeowners across the country are taking savvy approaches to save money around their homes. In honor of National Home Improvement Month,, leading online real estate destination, and sister site,, sought out the top 10 tips to save money around the home, using little time and effort and offering inexpensive solutions. From do-it-yourself projects to updating small appliances, everyone can take advantage of these easy tips on a dime.

1. Programmable Thermostats
Utility bills can be daunting. In the summertime, the cold air needs to be on full blast and in the winter, everyone wants to feel warm and cozy. Programmable or “smart” thermostats are an efficient and inexpensive way to save hundreds of dollars on yearly electricity bills. An energy-saving smart thermostat, available for about $50-$100, can help decrease the cost of heating or cooling your home. It takes the guesswork out of trying to coordinate your home’s temperature with the temperature outside, as well as provides the convenience to set different temperatures at different times, seven days a week. Some models even come equipped with Wi-Fi so you can control the temperature of your house even when you are not home.

2. Go Low-Flow in the Shower
Wasted water during baths and showers is like washing money down the drain. Replacing old and outdated showerheads with new low-flow models is a great way to tackle the monthly utility bill and increase the efficiency of your hot water consumption. Plus it’s a great solution for renters! New spray shower heads use no more than two and a half gallons per minute and provide excellent water pressure. This simple switch could reduce your annual water bill by upwards of $100, depending on frequency. An added bonus is that low-flow showerheads help the environment by conserving fresh water.

3. Make an Extra Payment
An easy tip that can save thousands of dollars in the long run is to make an extra mortgage payment annually. Over the course of a 30-year loan, one additional mortgage payment per year can save a considerable amount of money on annual interest payments.

4. Unplug Your Appliances
This may come as a surprise, but turning off electronics does not mean that you are eliminating their draw from the electric grid. Many electronic gadgets and appliances, especially computer monitors, consume power even when they're turned off, but still plugged into an outlet. This phenomenon is known as “phantom power” and can cost you hundreds of dollars annually. By unplugging your appliances, or using a smart power strip, you can save an estimated five to ten percent on your monthly electric bill.

5. Use House Plants to Purify Air
With air pollution levels steadily increasing, trying to improve the quality of air inside the home has become a trend across the country. Some homeowners spend hundreds of dollars on air purifiers to reduce allergens in air. An alternative to this costly investment is placing houseplants around the home. Not only do they remove toxins from the air, but they also add a little extra color to a room and make it feel more warm and comfortable. Perfectly placed houseplants can help improve air quality and aesthetics throughout the entire house. Houseplants are a great addition for renters because they add so much, cost so little, and can be easily moved to the next location.

6. Dodge the Draft
Even though homes have doors and windows to keep out the elements, as a house ages, the hot and cold air from outside often creeps in, creating drafts and gusts. Weatherproofing a home is an inexpensive and simple task that can save up to 15 percent on heating and cooling costs. For about $15, you can purchase some of the supplies you need to weatherproof doors and windows. There are a variety of weatherproofing products, including v strip, felt, and foam tape, so make sure to do some research ahead of time to see what your specific home will need. You can also get a home energy audit to discover ways to improve your home’s interior quality.

7. Do It Yourself
Redecorating a home or apartment is a great way to make a home feel new again. Professional decorators and painters often come with a very hefty price. With so many resources available around the web, jumping on the DIY bandwagon is easy, inexpensive, and fun. There are many DIY workshops located at local hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. Projects around the house, such as painting, can save hundreds of dollars while transforming your space. Projects can also provide hours of fun and entertainment.

8. Install Ceiling Fans
Cooling a home is traditionally the most expensive part of running a home during the hot summer months. An air conditioner uses 3,500 watts of energy, while a ceiling fan only uses 60 watts of energy. A new ceiling fan costs anywhere from $50 to $200 and, on average, costs seven dollars per month to run. Decreasing the use of an air conditioner and increasing the use of a ceiling fan can save money and keep a family just as comfortable. Ceiling fans can even be useful during the winter months by setting the fan to run in a clockwise direction. The reverse motion pushes warm air down from the ceiling, keeping everyone warm.

9. Shop Your Home
Everyone loves to spruce up their space by buying bright new pillows and brand new artwork. Before you buy new accessories, take a walk around the house and see if there are small budget-friendly tweaks you can make. Rearranging furniture and lighting is a quick and free way to recreate an entire room. Move a desk in front of a window or position a sofa toward the fireplace instead of the television during the winter to change the feel of any space. Switching decorations between rooms is another free way to make two spaces feel new and different. Shopping your home before heading to the store can save you a lot of money!

10. Cut Back on Washing and Drying
With the average family doing 300 loads of laundry per year, maximizing how laundry is done at home can save time and money. Consider washing most clothes (except towels and linens) in cold water to save on heating costs. Make sure to use the dryer efficiently by filling up the machine without overfilling it. The next time you’re in the market for a new washer and dryer, do some research up front and see if a new washer and dryer will qualify your family for an additional tax credit. Energy-efficient appliances can save a family time and money.


Published with permission from RISMedia.