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SO YOU'RE HOSTING THANKSGIVING IN YOUR MARYLAND HOME THIS YEAR

by Phil Kelley
The holiday season is upon us, and many of us are looking forward to sitting down to at least one Thanksgiving dinner.  Hosting this seasonal spread can be intimidating, stressful, and even a bit maddening for some, but it doesn’t have to be!  Here are some basic guidelines to bring some order to the chaos of Thanksgiving dinner prep.
Recruit organized help: Guests traditionally bring a dish or two to Thanksgiving gatherings, and this generosity, pared with some guidance, will help to ease some of the strain of playing host/hostess.  However, if you leave your menu completely to luck, you could end up with six bowls of cranberry sauce and a turkey!  To avoid this possibility, ask your guests to let you know what dish they plan to bring.  This way you can keep a running list of gaps, and tell them what you need.  
Stick with what you know:  There are many classic and exalted Thanksgiving dishes that we’ve come to expect.  Turkey, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and mashed potatoes are some accepted mainstays, but don’t move heaven and earth to stick to these strict guidelines if you aren’t comfortable with them.  We all have our own traditions, and if frying a turkey makes you envision your kitchen up in flames, just stick with what you know.  Make dishes that you are known for, or that have been passed down in your family.  Not only will it cut down on your stress levels, but you will produce better quality cuisine.
Make a map: Take time to take stock of how much space all your dishes will need, and be sure to make room.  You may need to set up an extra card table, find extra trivets and placemats to protect your existing set up, or determine how many extra serving utensils you will need.  This preparation will prevent any confusion or awkwardness that could arise from being unable to point guests with piping hot dishes to suitable spots.
Food-safety tips: Although food-safety is often overlooked in the happy flurry of activity following a good dinner, this is possibly one of the most important considerations you can make as the host.  Perishable foods and hot dishes should not be left out for more than two hours, so before your dessert course, pack up any leftovers and place them in the fridge.  Encourage guests to bring their own disposable containers, or pick up some heavy duty foil and plastic bags to have on hand.
Remember to delegate as many tasks as possible, and let go of any rigid expectations.  Perfection is overrated, and the cleaning can wait.  Be part of your gathering, and enjoy yourself.  A joyful and gracious host is a good host!

HOME BUYING TIPS FOR MARYLAND NEWLYWEDS

by Phil Kelley

Often, one of the first major life steps that newlyweds must make as a couple is buying a first home together.  An incredibly important step for anyone, this decision is often a first-time experience as well as choice with very expensive price tag!  A newly married couple would be well served to embrace caution before starting their climb on the property ladder, and to follow these 4 home-buying tips:
1. List Out Your Priorities
The consequences of buying the wrong home in the wrong location are much more far-reaching than almost any family purchase, so the first step towards buying a home as a new couple is to determine the “must have” features.  The most common and important priorities to consider are home size, design, and location. This is the time when couples can choose whether they want a house with room to grow, or a neighborhood with lovely parks or convenient shopping areas, so it’s very important to decide on top priorities, and hold fast when it’s buying time.
2. Research
Once a couple has hammered out their top non-negotiable priorities, a good next step is to research the possible neighborhoods and areas that best fit their values.  The Internet is a homebuyer’s best friend, and there is an endless supply of real estate sites available.  Couples can have a much better grasp on the local real estate market than was possible just decades ago.  This tool is best used to whittle down the overwhelming choices down to a manageable number, but does have its limits as well.  Always visit the area of a prospective home and take stock of the surrounding community.  Chatting with area residents is the best way to find out “off the record” information about the neighborhood, and the prospective home.
3. Find A Trusted Real Estate Agent
It’s often possible to assume that the a combination of Internet and on-the-ground research are enough when it comes to deciding on a home, but hiring a quality real estate agent can be a game changer when it comes to buying a home.  A good real estate agent will have access to in-depth information, experience to help guide a couple towards the right home, as well as price-negotiating savvy.  These agents can often make tens of thousands of dollars difference in the price of a home!  They also serve as a buffer between buyer and seller, and handle the mass of paperwork to make the transition as stress-free and seamless as possible.  ­
4. Financial Preparation
There are two main avenues of purchasing a home, purchasing the home outright with money already in the bank, or obtaining a loan and providing a down payment.  It is crucial for a couple sit down and to determine their optimal budget, as well as exactly where this money will come from before shopping for a home or signing a home contract.  Most lenders require a down payment of twenty percent of the cost of the home, so keep this in mind.  Also, remember to factor in insurance, and closing costs to the home budget.
A couple’s first home is a giant step for a new family, and can be the most memorable move of their lives.  Following these tips will aid in making the memories good ones!

 

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Phil Kelley
RE/MAX Realty Group
Six Montgomery Village Ave., Suite 200
Gaithersburg MD 20879
Phone: 301-983-2428
Cell: 301-873-7635
Fax: 301-417-9736

 Each Office Independently Owned and Operated