Monthly Real Estate Tips
From Paul Donovan, Your Real Estate Company
What are some of the best new home products out there these days?  An entire list of prospects would be huge, but here are some top picks of well-reviewed home gadgets and ideas that you might want to try out this year.
By the way, if you or anyone you know has a real estate need, please contact me today. I'll always provide first-class service!
Paul Donovan
Paul Donovan
555-555-5555 Direct
Notable Home Products and Ideas

Spring is a great time to get started with outdoor projects, and the next few ideas work well regardless of how much space you have available.

Make Your Patio Bear Fruit

The "farm to table" trend is in full swing these days, and the good news is that container fruit plants fit in virtually any outdoor space while providing nice decor as well.

For the rushed gardener, the Patio Strawberry Kit comes ready to go, with five strawberry plants and a decorative plastic urn shipped straight to your doorstep.

Tip:  Fruit plants often arrive bare of leaves, and may take a while to start producing.  Just keep in mind that buying plants online can be a bit like Internet dating - what shows up in person may not look much like the website photo, at least at first.

Plant Cold-Hardy Jasmine

Jasmine is a fast-growing vine known for the fantastic scent of its many white and pink flowers.  It attracts hummingbirds and can be a great addition to patios, balconies, and gardens.  Unfortunately (and unknown to many purchasers), many of the varieties sold in stores are not hardy enough to withstand harsh weather.

Poet's Jasmine (Jasmine officinale) is an exception, hardy to Zone 7 (approaching zero degrees Fahrenheit), and it comes in many gorgeous varieties.  Paul Bonine of Xera Plants wrote a great article with photos and descriptions of Poet's Jasmine.

Start a Vegetable Garden Anywhere

All right, "garden" might be an overstatement - but vegetable kits sold by garden supply companies make growing container plants a cinch on virtually any deck or patio that gets the right amount of sunlight.

The Organic Tomato Success Kit from Gardener's Supply Co. is one that gets rave reviews, and it looks like a great way to keep a supply of organic tomatoes on hand throughout the summer.

Moving Inside...

The "O Duster" Robotic Cleaner

Have you been wanting to try out a robotic cleaner, but just haven't wanted to plunk down a few hundred dollars on one?  After all, it's a lot to spend if you're not sure it will work in your home, or if you think it might give your pet a heart attack.

Now for less than $30 you can try out the O Duster, which gathers up dust bunnies and pet hair on hard surface floors.  It's a duster, not a vacuum, and reviews tend to fall on the extreme ends of the spectrum (either "love" or "it doesn't work"), but for that price it's not a huge risk.

Dual Flush Toilets

Expect dual flush toilets to become more common in the U.S. as water conservation becomes more of a headline topic.  They allow the user to choose between two predetermined amounts of water per flush, and are already the norm in countries such as Australia and New Zealand (where American visitors tend to spend the first day or two trying to figure out what the difference is between the two buttons on top of the toilet).

It's estimated that dual flush toilets save 6,000 to 7,000 gallons of water per family annually.  Just imagine what that would mean in a big city such as water-starved Los Angeles.

'This Old Grout' Cleaner and Colorant

Cleaning grout isn't exactly anyone's idea of a glamorous time, but fortunately there are some products that make it a bit more pleasant.  This Old Grout sells an easy-to-use grout cleaner and color sealer system that has received many good reviews and lets you match nearly any grout color.  It's reasonably priced as well.

The Paint Handy

picture of the Paint Handy
The Paint Handy provides a spill-proof way to carry around paint without the danger of kicking over or dropping opened paint cans.  It is held in one hand like a pie plate, and absorbent material inside the dish takes in the paint while still allowing it to soak into your paint brush.  You can flip it upside down or drop it from a ladder without disaster.

The absorbent material needs to be cleaned out after every use, and at around $40 per unit not everyone will jump on board, but it appears to work well and has gotten good reviews.

Miniblindrx Window Blind Repair Tool

From "This Old House Top 100 Products List" for 2013 comes a handy tool that repairs bent 1-inch metal mini-blinds (something once deemed virtually impossible by mankind).  Considering how easily these blinds are damaged by children and pets, at around $12 the Miniblindrx can be a great alternative to spending hundreds of dollars on new window treatments.

The Kevo Wireless House Key

The Kevo is a deadbolt-iPhone app combination that lets you open your house deadbolt by simply touching the lock, as long as your iPhone is in your pocket or purse.  There's an alternate fob and key for times when you don't have your phone on you, and you can remotely create e-keys for other users if you need to let someone in when you're not at home.

The downsides?  According to reviews, the positioning technology that senses where you are sometimes gets a little confused, and if someone steals your phone they could potentially use it to enter your home unless you can get online and change the access settings in time.

(*What the lawyers make us say: The information in this newsletter is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please always consult a qualified expert before making decisions based on this content. Nothing in this article is meant to be taken as expert legal or financial advice.)

Recent Market Highlights

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- U.S. home prices rose 12.9 percent year-to-year in February 2014, according to a recent S&P/Case-Shiller report. They rose 11.1 percent year-to-year in March, according to CoreLogic, a data and analytics company.

- The national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate recently dropped to the low 4-percent range, the lowest it has been since November 2013.

- The Pending Home Sales Index dropped 7.9 percent year-to-year in March 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Note:  Most housing statistics are based on closed sales and typically reflect market conditions of two or three months ago.  To find out what's going on right now in your local market, please call me directly.

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Contact Me for Market Information
Are you curious about your home's current market value, or do you have a question about home buying? Just reply to this email, or call me at 555-555-5555.
Links that Make Life Easier

Sometimes real estate-related, sometimes not... these are assorted links that come in handy:

"This Old House" Top 100 New Home Products for 2013
See the entire list of cool gadgets here. (As with most lists, take it with a grain of salt.).

Gardening Without a Garden: 10 Ideas for Your Patio or Balcony
Ten very imaginative ideas for growing vegetables and herbs in small spaces..

How Much Water Would a Dual Flush Toilet Save?
Use this calculator to estimate how much water you'd save each year by installing dual flush toilets in your home.

14 Simple Gardening Tips and Tricks
Not the usual blather that everyone already knows. :) This is a really useful list of practical gardening tips..
"21 Creative Ways with Load-Bearing Columns"
Great photos of various ways homeowners have incorporated load-bearing columns into their interior design ideas.

The Lighter Side
flowers and link to video In memory of Mother's Day, here's a touching video of a mom who raised six kids on her own receiving a glamorous surprise gift on her 70th birthday.  (Things get going at around the 1 minute mark.)

Click here or on the image to see the video on the Good News Network website.

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Your Resource for Real Estate
Paul Donovan
Are you thinking of buying or selling a home in the next year, or could you use some remodeling advice? Even if you just need the name of a good service provider, please remember that I'm always here to help you. I welcome the opportunity to serve you, your friends and associates with my expertise and recommendations.

Please give me a call today at 555-555-5555 if I can be of assistance!
Working for your success,


Paul Donovan (Any designations here)
Your Real Estate Company


Paul Donovan
Paul Donovan
Paul Donovan
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