These ‘Blue Zones’ Foods May Help You Live Longer—Wine and Bread Included

The longest-living people on Earth eat a diet based on these principles.

By Brierley Horton, MS, RD

January 03, 2020
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It sure is tempting to think that you could (healthfully) eat your way to 100. The reality is that what you eat really does play a role in how long you live—as do many other factors. A Danish study of nearly 3,000 pairs of twins found that genes only dictate 20% of how long we live. Eighty percent is determined by our lifestyle, which includes what we eat. Turns out there are a handful of areas around the world where there are larger populations of centenarians—people who live to 100 or older. Folks who live in these areas, called Blue Zones, practice some of the same lifestyle habits and eating patterns that help them reach that 100th birthday milestone still in good health. Here’s what to know about the Blue Zones and tips to eat like the centenarians who live in them.

Where Are the Blue Zones?In 2004, Dan Buettner and a team of scientists interviewed hundreds of 100-year-olds to explore what they had in common. Looking at the data, they identified 5 communities around the world where people reach age 100 at 10 times greater rate than the United States. They named them the Blue Zones and they are Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

various healthy foods such as nuts, berries and vegetables on a pale blue surface
helovi/Getty Images

What Is the Blue Zones Diet?

There isn’t actually a single Blue Zones diet, or even one way of eating. As varied as the locations are, so are the diets. Here’s a summary of the common diet in each of the Blue Zones.

  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: Here it’s the ‘three sisters’ that are most common in the diet—beans, corn, and squash. Plus, papayas, yams, bananas and peach palms (a small Central American oval fruit).
  • Loma Linda, California: The residents here are Seventh Day Adventists and, thus, are vegetarian. They follow a biblical diet, which is predominately grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Their most common foods are avocados, nuts, beans, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, soy milk, and salmon, if they eat fish or meat (some do eat small amounts of fish). They only drink water.
  • Sardinia, Italy: Their diet is heavy in goat’s milk and sheep’s cheeses, eating around 15 pounds of cheese per year. They also eat a fair amount of carbs—sourdough bread, flatbread, barley. And also fennel, beans, tomatoes, almonds, milk thistle tea, and wine.
  • Okinawa, Japan: Their so-called “longevity foods” are bitter melon, tofu, garlic, brown rice, green tea, and shiitake mushrooms.
  • Ikaria, Greece: Another community that eats a version of the Mediterranean diet. Their diet focuses on lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, potatoes, and olive oil.

Although there are variations in their diets, there are four foods they all ate, and four they all avoided.

The Four Foods Every Blue Zone Eats

If we were going so far as to say these are the foods that make up the Blue Zones diet, this is what would be included.

  1. 100% whole grains
  2. Nuts and seeds
  3. Legumes, beans, and pulses (pulses include dry beans, lentils, and chickpeas to name a few)
  4. Fruits and vegetables

The Four Foods Every Blue Zone Avoids

If we were to put together a list of foods forbidden on a so-called Blue Zones diet, these would be the foods that are off-limits.

  1. Sugar-sweetened beverages
  2. Salty snacks
  3. Packaged sweets
  4. Processed meats

When researchers studied the Blue Zones, they found—as you now might expect—that it wasn’t just what the residents of those communities ate, but the lifestyles they lived, too. The Blue Zones shared 9 characteristics, which scientists dubbed the Power 9. Of those “Power 9,” these are the three that characteristics that apply to diet.

  1. The 80% Rule: In Okinawa, there’s a mantra said before meals—Hara hachi bu—which reminds dieters to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full. The 20% difference between not being hungry and being full is significant.
  2. Plant Slant: Beans are the cornerstone of most of the Blue Zones communities, while meat and fish are eaten much less compared to the standard Western—or American—diet. All adhere to a more plant-focused way of eating.
  3. Wine at 5:00: With the exception of the Adventists in Loma Linda, the people in all of the other Blue Zones drink red wine moderately—and typically with friends and/or family.

How to Eat Like You Live in the Blue Zones

The experts behind the Blue Zones findings pulled together tips on how you, too, can eat as if you lived in one of the Blue Zones and lengthen your life. Here are their tips.

Kale Halloumi and Peach Salad
Justin Coit
Make your diet 95% plant-based

People in the Blue Zones eat a lot of vegetables—fresh when in season and picked or dry when they’re not. The top longevity veggies are leafy greens such as spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards.

Drizzling olive oil over pan
Andy Lyons Cameraworks, LTD
Choose plant-based oils

Using and cooking with plant-based oils instead of animal fats is a healthier choice—and in the Blue Zones the primary oil used is olive oil.

Spanish-Style Butter Beans
Blaine Moats
Eat beans daily

(Sorry keto diet or paleo diet followers.) Beans appear in every longevity diet—in the Blue Zones they eat, on average, at least four times as many beans as Americans do. Blue Zone scientists’ advice? Eat at least a half cup of cooked beans daily.

Karla Conrad
Snack on nuts

The average quantity of nuts that Blue Zones people eat is about two handfuls a day—almonds in Ikaria and Sardinia, pistachios in Nicoya, and all types of nuts with the Adventists.

Slow-Cooked Sourdough Peasant Bread
Andy Lyons Cameraworks, LTD
Eat sourdough or whole-grain bread only

Bread consumed in the Blue Zones is unlike the bleached white flour-based bread most Americans buy. Blue zones bread is either 100% whole grain or sourdough.

People enjoying a dinner of vegetables at a table.
Choose whole foods, wholly

People in Blue Zones traditionally eat the whole food—they don’t throw out the yolk and make an egg-white omelet, nor do they skip the juice in their fruit. They eat raw, cooked, ground, or fermented—and not highly processed—foods, and most of their dishes typically contain only six or so ingredients.

Woman Opening Water Bottle
Drink mostly water

Although coffee, tea, and red wine (in moderation) are all consumed by different Blue Zones people, water is the primary beverage.

Peppered Salmon with Roasted Root Vegetables
Andy Lyons Cameraworks, LTD
Go easy on fish

Research on The Adventists in Loma Linda found that the people who lived the longest were vegans or pesco vegetarians, but those who ate fish didn’t eat much, which is why to eat the Blue Zones way, it’s recommended to eat fewer than 3 ounces, up to three times weekly.

Meatball & Vegetable Kabobs
Andy Lyons Cameraworks, LTD
Retreat from meat

People in four of the five blue zones consume meat, but sparingly—as a small side, or a way to flavor dishes, or at celebrations. Researchers found that, on average, Blue Zones people ate about two ounces or less about five times per month.

Mini Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits
Jacob Fox
Reduce dairy

Only some of the Adventists drink cow’s milk. Two other groups, however, consume goat and sheep’s milk—the Ikarian and Sardinian Blue Zones. And they don’t drink it so much as milk as they eat it fermented as yogurt, sour milk, or cheese.

Alternative eggs, eggs
Karla Conrad
Eliminate eggs

People in all of the Blue Zones eat eggs about two to four times per week—and researchers’ advice is to eat no more than three eggs per week.

pressing brown sugar into measuring cup
Mike Dieter
Slash sugar

Consume only 28 grams, or 7 teaspoons, of added sugar daily. In the Blue Zones, people eat sugar with intention. Surprisingly, they consume about the same amount of naturally occurring sugars as Americans do, but a lot less added sugar—about a fifth as much.

If you’re the resolution-making type and this year you’ve set a goal of eating for longer (and healthier) life, implement some of the Blue Zones principles and cooking methods that help people in these areas make it to 100 to learn other longevity tips.

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Should I Sell My Home Now or Wait Until the Spring?

There’s no doubt that the spring market is a great time to be selling real estate, but the fall and winter seasons may be the best fit for you.

Source: Should I Sell My Home Now or Wait Until the Spring?

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7 Considerations When Buying an Older Home

Before you take the plunge and put a down payment on an older home, there are some specific things you should look for during the inspection process.

Source: 7 Considerations When Buying an Older Home

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What do you say to someone with Cancer?

Written by:
Lisa Boncheck Adams
April 5th, 2013

I always get some heat about posting essays about the stupid things people say to those with cancer.
I know people come here expecting to learn. That’s what I’m trying to do: educate. People inevitably vary in their responses to what people say. After all, responses to books, movies, and comedians are all over the place.
Occasionally people will get defensive and say, “Well, I have said one of those ‘stupid’ things and I meant well.” I am going to take an unpopular stance and say that meaning well isn’t always enough.
Maybe the listener is scared. Maybe they’ve had cancer or a family member with it. Maybe they are just uncomfortable talking about illness and death. It’s important to remember: it’s not about you. It’s about the person with the illness. If you are a friend you will need to get over your discomfort or get out of the way. What you don’t want is for the ill person to have to be consoling the listener or trying to minimize the seriousness of what they’re feeling.
Do not turn it back on you, or when you had cancer, or when your child or mother or 2nd grade teacher did. It’s not necessarily the same. Types of cancer are not the same. Even subtypes of cancer are not the same. Now, I’m not saying you should always avoid interjecting something to let the other person know that you’ve had experience with cancer. But the first thing out of your mouth shouldn’t be to connect it to someone else and what their outcome was, good or bad.
Different diseases cannot be compared. Different cases of the same disease cannot necessarily be compared, either. Chiming in with, “Oh, my second cousin’s boyfriend’s dog walker had breast cancer” doesn’t help a person, especially if it’s followed by “She suffered in pain for a long time and died” (yes, this gets said more often than you can imagine). The other end of the spectrum is, “Oh I know someone who had that. They’re fine now.” (Okay, but some people are not fine… should they be jealous? Feel inadequate?) Someone told me in response to learning I had metastatic breast cancer that his wife “had a bit of that last year.”
If you had a coworker who worked the entire time she had treatment, that’s great. We are happy for her, truly. But that bears no relation to how someone else can handle their surgeries, treatments, and side effects. So while you might think it’s supportive (in your mind you’re saying, “See, I’m being supportive and reassuring her that it might not be as bad as she thinks”) what that person may reasonably hear is, “Wow, if you have to take time off work you are weak, or at least not as strong as my coworker was.”
What would be something better to say to a coworker? How about “Please tell me how I can help you during this time. Is there something at work I can do to make it easier for you? I hope you know I would like to help if I can. If you can’t think of anything now, that’s okay. Just let me know if/when you do. I’ll ask again to make sure you’re getting the help you might need.”
Asking “Has this been a good week or bad week for you?” seems like a good bet to ask someone you might not be best friends with. It shows concern and they can be as detailed as they want in their response.
A few weeks ago someone tweeted to me, “As a cancer survivor myself, I know that half the battle is the mindset. Be determined to defeat cancer and you will!” Then followed that one up with “I meant that if we believe we can win against it, we will.”
Comments about someone’s attitude are definite don’ts. Does that mean those who die every day are responsible for their deaths because they are weak-minded? If it were as easy to defeat cancer as mindset, people would not die of it by the thousands every day.
Similarly, comments about appearance while rampant, can strike the wrong chord. I can’t tell you how many times people find out about my stage 4 diagnosis and say, “But you LOOK just fine!” The two are not always correlated, most especially at the time of diagnosis. This is why many people don’t know they have cancer and are completely taken by surprise. When people tell me “You look great!” I know they mean something nice by it. But the rest of that comment, the dark underbelly, is “You don’t look like you’re dying” or in some ways more insidious, “If you look that good you can’t possibly be that sick/it can’t be that serious.”
Don’t say you know exactly how someone feels if you don’t have evidence to back that up. Being a compassionate person and caring friend does not require personal experience that is identical to what the person is going through. Let me say that again, a different way: in my opinion you don’t need to have had cancer to be a caring friend. It might help you to be a good friend if you have had cancer, but it’s no guarantee. People “do” cancer differently. While the experience might have similarities, it doesn’t mean we will necessarily agree on how to deal with it. Part of what I try to do here is level the playing field. I try to bring you information and advice you can use so that you will know more about helping than you did before.
Don’t tell them that their science-based treatments are bunk and what they really need to be doing is just changing their diet, breathing pure oxygen, or relieving their constipation to be cured of cancer. Do not tell someone who is in the middle of treatment that chemotherapy is a waste of time. You may think your suggestions of supplements/vitamins/tea are harmless, however, there are serious interactions that can dull the effectiveness of chemotherapy and other treatments. Not all lotions are good to use during radiation treatment. Not all vitamins are good additions.
I like what @travisbhartwell tweeted to me: “Mindset changes the days you have, not the number of days you have.”
The worst thing that can happen is that friends disappear. This is happening to me in spades. It may be that they are afraid they’ll say the “wrong” thing and end up being written about. But I think it also has to do with the fact that death and illness make people uncomfortable. I represent their fears. People who should be in touch with me at least every week or two (because that is how often we saw each other before) have just dropped away.
That said, there are so many people in my life who are so wonderful. Who offer to help, who make it easy to accept it. Who send notes or emails of support months after the initial shock. Who keep asking what they can do. Who pointedly give ways they can help and ask if I could use it.
One thing I think is very important is to always say to someone who is ill or has experienced a death in the family: do not write me a thank you note for this. Do not feel the need to answer this email. Do not feel the need to call me back.
If you live near the person ask them, “Would it be helpful if I texted you before I run errands so that I can pick something up for you?” Texting and email help because talking on the phone is almost always too much of an ordeal and/or inconvenient. I have friends who email me at the beginning of the week to say, “I’ll be at the grocery store, the drugstore, and the post office this week. Can I do anything there for you?” Some will text on the spur of the moment, “Running to Costco. Need anything?” These are invaluable offers.
If you have no knowledge of what information you are being told, admit it. People with serious illnesses do not expect you to know everything about their new diagnosis. They are probably learning a lot of information in a short period of time and may not even know the details of their diagnosis and treatment. They don’t expect you to have the knowledge but you need a way to connect. I recommend when someone tells you about a diagnosis you don’t know much/anything about you say, “I don’t know anything about what that diagnosis means. Would you mind telling me about it, and what it means for you?”
How is it affecting your day-to-day life and what part of that can I help you with?
I’m so sorry to hear that.
What is the worst part of this for you and how can I help make that a bit easier for you?
If your friend is dying or has a relative who is, and they refer to the death or how difficult treatment/daily life is, don’t brush it off, dismiss it, or say, “Oh, you’re not going to die. You’ll be fine. It will all be okay. Things will work out.” Saying this to someone with stage 4 cancer comes across as dismissive of the seriousness of their diagnosis.
If the listener says, “Oh, that’s depressing, let’s not talk about dying,” it can isolate the person who is ill, making them feel they should not be thinking about what is a very real concern or outcome. As Julie Klam points out in her book Friendkeeping, acknowledging someone’s wishes should be paramount. She tells the story of her mother and her mother’s friend Patty who was dying of cancer. Patty wanted to give Julie’s mom a pendant. Rather than gratefully accepting it, Julie’s mom insisted Patty would wear it again, that she would get better. Instead, she died a few days later. Years later when recounting the story with regret, Julie’s mom said, “She knew she was dying. It probably would’ve been comforting to her for me to acknowledge that… I was just afraid that she had some small glimmer of hope. I just didn’t know.” I would bet that if that same scenario happened again, Julie’s mom would act differently.
Later in the chapter Julie recounts being a friend to someone who had to terminate a pregnancy. She asks Julie a question that continues to haunt me: “Will anything ever be good again?” It echoes in my mind now: Will anything ever be good again? Will anything ever be good again?
The truth of the matter is that for some it will. For some people, it won’t.
Check in with your friend intermittently. Give her reminders that she is not forgotten even if she is not out in public. I love getting cards or texts or emails that tell me what my friends are up to. As I write this my friend Kathleen texted me to say she was eating at one of our favorite places. “I miss your company” she said. How can you not love that?
I love written notes. I save my favorites. When I’m having a bad day there is something about pulling out a card, seeing handwriting, reading a message. It’s just more personal than seeing it on a screen. Of course texts and emails are great for frequent check-ins, but for a special message? Real paper can’t be beat.
Other winners to me are notes that remind me of a funny experience a friend and I had, a favorite memory. Many people know I love my garden and flowers. They will send me a pretty card and tell me what they saw at the farmer’s market or in their own garden or what they’re looking forward to about Spring. Sometimes they will tell me about being on vacation and how they thought of me when they saw the water or the tropical plants and they remembered a trip I’d blogged about.
Some send a favorite poem or story or memory. I like those. I don’t like religious quotations or cards that focus on people praying for me or hoping for a miracle. That assumes I am a religious person (I am not and I don’t believe in miracles). I think cards should focus on the person— the connection to that person, your friendship, not what types of religious comfort or explanation the writer endorses.
One Twitter friend, Neil Shurley, wrote me a song titled “We Love You, Lisa,” and then made a video with people holding up signs that say those same words. I still watch it. I always cry. It’s one of my favorite things anyone has ever done for me. This, from what most people would term a stranger. Another friend, Nichole, took photographs that people sent her, combined them with poems and sayings and turned them into a photo book for me. When I’m down it’s another thing I reach for to feel support.
Does the person who is ill have children? If so, you can do what one room mom did for me this year: For school events Lizzie always asked if I felt well enough to join on any party or field trip. She offered rides to school performances. When I could not attend, she (and other moms) took photos and videos and sent them to me… without being asked. My friend Zerlina put together a playdate calendar and a dozen moms signed up in rotation to have Tristan over three times a week for playdates for the past six months. This was especially helpful. Sometimes I’ve been well enough to say we would host the playdate here. But knowing there was fun built in with his friends was a relief to me.
Finally, I always love my mother’s suggestion for one of the best questions you can ask in any situation whether it be posed to a friend, a spouse, a child, a coworker. When someone comes to you with a complaint, a problem, or a rant asking the simple question, “Do you just want me to listen or do you want my advice?” is a wonderful way to be supportive. Sometimes a friend just needs to cry and vent, no advice wanted. By asking you will show sensitivity to the distinction. This is what I mean by not needing to have had the same experience to be a good friend. Listening matters. It’s free, and all you have to do is offer (and follow through).
And if you have a serious illness how do you respond when someone asks you how you are? If you don’t want to answer in detail, one suggestion is to say, “There are good days and bad days. Today is a … day.” This response is also a good one after the death of a loved one. If you are having a good day it allows you to acknowledge they’re not all like that. If you’re having a bad day it expresses that you know they won’t all be like that, either.
I think we all like to hear that we matter, that we make a difference, that we are loved. In the end, you can never go wrong by telling (or writing) someone what they mean to you, what you like about them, and what you enjoy most about being with them. This is the essence of friendship to me. Some days you need a serious chat. Some days you need a friend to be silly with. Some days you need a friend to go shopping and have a gossip session with and try to put cancer in the back seat for a few hours. There are many ways to be supportive.
My dear friend Cathy texts me every morning to wish me a good day and asks, “How can I help you today?” I most certainly don’t expect that every friend should do this. But boy, it means a lot that she does. I rarely need something these days. But I will someday. And when I do, I know she’ll be there for me.
I have so many people in my world who care. I know how fortunate I am. I hope that some of these suggestions will be helpful and I am sure you will find others as readers comment on the post. You don’t need to have many things to say… a few good options will do.

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This student was ashamed of her Republican father, until he said this


A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and was very much in favor of the redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the addition of more government welfare programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn’t even have time for a boyfriend, and didn’t really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, “How is your friend Audrey doing?” She replied, “Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She’s always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn’t even show up for classes because she’s too hung over.”

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don’t you go to the Dean’s office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.”

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father’s suggestion, angrily fired back, “That wouldn’t be fair! I have worked really hard for my grades! I’ve invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!”

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, “Welcome to the Republican party.”

It’s as simple as that.

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Staging Tips for Selling During the Holidays

Staging Tips for Selling During the Holidays

Before you deck the halls, see which holiday decor can help you sell.

The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgo holiday cheer this year. But a few subtle touches like a pinecone centerpiece, an evergreen wreath or a pot of cider simmering on the stove can create a warm and festive feeling in your home. Avoid overtly religious flourishes, which may be off-putting to some buyers.

It’s the time of year that calendars are packed with holiday parties, budgets are strained by gift-giving and the roads are covered in freshly fallen snow. Alas, ’tis not the season for real estate. But the good news is that the few brave house-hunters who do venture out are serious about buying a house and stylish trimmings will make them want to ring in the new year in your home.“Try these tips to get buyers in the right spirit:

  • Clean and stage. “Before you decorate, your house needs to be staged,” Powers says. If your living room is already piled high with clutter and tchotchkes, your ceramic reindeer collection is only going to add to the sense of overcrowding.
  • Create a cozy vibe. The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgo holiday cheer this year. But a few subtle touches like a bowl of pinecones, an evergreen wreath, or a pot of cider simmering on the stove can create a warm and festive feeling in your home.
  • Complement your palette. Before you start untangling your tinsel, make sure your holiday collection matches your current decor. If your living room is painted a soothing ocean-blue hue, skip the clashing red garland and opt for white snowflakes or a silver glass-ball wreath. If you’ve got an earthy color scheme, accent with rich tones like cranberries, forest greens and gold.
  • Accentuate the positive. Too many trimmings may distract buyers, but the right accessories can draw attention to your home’s best features. Dangle mistletoe in an arched doorway, or display your menorah on the ledge of a bay window; just don’t block a beautiful view with stick-on snowflake decals or clutter an elegant fireplace with personalized stockings.
  • Go light on lights. Step away from the inflatable snowman, Clark Griswold. One man’s “merry” is another man’s “tacky,” so tone down any garish light displays while your home is on the market. (No, your neighbors didn’t pay us to say that.) Instead, use simple string lighting to play up your home’s architecture or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.
  • Be an equal-opportunity decorator. Leave the life-sized Nativity scene in storage this year, because overtly religious flourishes may be off-putting to some buyers. “You want to keep neutrality throughout, so you can attract any type of buyer,” Powers says. Not sure what qualifies? Powers adds, “No matter what your religion is, you’re not going to feel offended by a nutcracker.”
  • Mind the tree. A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-story great room, but make sure the wide base won’t overwhelm the floor space. If your living area is on the small side, save space with a skinny tree. Swap the gaudy heirloom ornaments and trim your tree in a cohesive theme such as icicle lights and silver tinsel, for example, or blue and gold glass balls.
  • Clear the clutter. A few decorations can stir the holiday spirit, but don’t feel obliged to hang every last ornament. “A lot of people, when they decorate, tend to use all the extra space in their house,” Powers says. “You still want each space to look as spacious as possible.” Limit yourself to a few hints of holiday flair, but stash the rest in the basement for now. If you start to miss your Santa figurines, just remember that with a little luck, you’ll be celebrating next year’s holidays in a new home. And you can decorate that place any way you please.
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Realtors® Rate Exterior Replacement Projects Among Most Valuable Home Improvements

Eight of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally, in terms of value recouped, are exterior projects. A wood deck addition came in second with an estimated 87.4 percent of costs recouped upon resale. Two different siding replacement projects also landed in the top 10, including fiber-cement siding, expected to return 87 percent of costs, and vinyl siding, expected to return 78.2 percent of costs. Out of the top 10 projects, the fiber-cement siding replacement project improved the most since last year, with costs recouped increasing by more than 15 percent. Two garage door replacements were also in the top 10; a midrange garage door replacement is expected to return 83.7 percent while an upscale garage door replacement follows closely at 82.9 percent of costs recouped. Rounding out the top exterior remodeling projects were two window replacements; a wood window replacement is estimated to recoup 79.3 percent of costs and a vinyl window replacement is estimated to recoup 78.7 percent of costs.

According to the report, two interior remodeling projects in particular can recoup substantial value at resale. An attic bedroom is ranked fourth and is expected to return 84.3 percent of costs; nationally, the average cost for the project is just above $49,000. The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the minor kitchen remodel. The project landed at number seven and is estimated to recoup 82.7 percent of costs. Nationally, the average cost for the project is just under $19,000. The improvement project likely to return the least is the home office remodel, estimated to recoup 48.9 percent.

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The Most Undervalued Leadership Traits of Women

Interesting article about women in the workplace

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Is a TV Wall Mount a fixture?

Is a TV wall mount a fixture?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

By James L. Goldsmith, Esq.

160903390A quick trip to Google suggests that this question comes up all the time, though I am only starting to get Hotline calls on the subject. I looked to Google because I wanted to follow-up my answer, “It depends,” with the industry standard, if there was one.

What I found on the web made my head spin. Apparently there are lots of “experts” out there on all sides of the issue, some who conclude that even a TV becomes a fixture once it is bolted to a mount that is bolted to the wall!  What I found on the web also reminded me why web browsers are not the place to conduct legal research.

So, we are going to reach an answer to this “new” question by resorting to old principles of real estate law. And the most basic question to be answered on our quest is, what is real estate? (Stick with me, this will get us there.) Real estate is the land and anything annexed to the land with the intent that it is permanent. We call those permanent attachments “fixtures.” So a fixture is real estate that is sold with the land. Since a basic agreement of sale purports to convey “real estate,” it also serves to convey fixtures.

But we humans love exceptions. A buyer and seller, therefore, may agree that fixtures will not be sold with the rest of a property. But if the parties do agree that a fixture passes to the seller, so be it. Their agreement controls. As long as an item is addressed in the agreement of sale, it doesn’t matters whether the item otherwise considered a fixture or personalty.

So what about that TV mount? If the parties address it in the agreement of sale, the agreement controls its destiny.  Standard agreements usually include fixture clauses that cover the common items (lighting fixtures, plumbing, smoke detectors, garage door openers) and some more unusual ones say, radiator covers, electric animal fencing systems.  And while such clauses are modified to keep up with the times, they don’t catch everything (TV wall mounts). Years ago, the disputes were not over TV mounts but over TV antennas attached to chimneys which looked like those old-time things you hung wet laundry on.  There were as many fights over those old antennas as there are now about TV mounts.  And, yes, many Realtors® dug into their pockets to resolve those disputes, just as they do today.

Since the PAR standard agreement offers no help with regard to our TV mount, we have to apply basic real estate law to determine whether a TV mount is a fixture. Specifically, we need to determine whether the TV mount was attached to the wall with the intent that it be permanent. That, my friends, will lead to the answer.

But how does one prove intent? Ah ha! I just happen to have a video of the seller attaching the wall mount, clearly declaring his intent that it is not a permanent addition to the house, but one that will be removed when the seller leaves the property. Obviously that doesn’t exist, so how will intent be proved?

Intent is proved in courts of law every day. Intent is what distinguishes first-degree murder from other forms of homicide; it distinguishes an accident from an injustice. There is usually little direct evidence of intent and resort is made to circumstantial evidence. In our case, circumstantial evidence will include how the TV mount was attached to the wall.

It is hard to imagine a TV wall mount that can’t be removed, as can the lag bolts that attached it. A little spackle, sanding and paint will likely remove all trace that it existed. Other evidence may be whether the mounting system is proprietary to a specific TV or universal so that it will accept all TVs.

My inclination is to consider that a TV wall mount is personalty, assuming that it is relatively easily removed and the cover-up easily applied. Reasonable minds, however, may differ. A poll of the Hotline attorneys suggests that while I may be with the majority, there is indeed a difference of opinion (actually, I discontinued polling when I saw that I might lose).

The only thing I can say with complete confidence is that the best practice is to avoid these disputes altogether. Do so by adding a provision to the agreement of sale that clearly states whether TV wall mounts are included with the property or not.

So what is the next fixture/personalty controversy on the horizon? I am sure we will find out.

Source- PAR – Jim Goldmsith

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Renting a Home or Apartment : Lease and Security Deposits – from the Consumer’s Perspective

Renting a Home or Apartment: Leases and Security Deposits

Your choice of housing plays a significant role in your life and represents a major financial commitment. Understanding your rights as a consumer and a tenant will help you make informed decisions in selecting the right rental property for you. Keep these important tips in mind and don?t be afraid to exercise your rights as a tenant.

Consider the Following Before Renting:

Don?t pay for an ?apartment finder? service if the listings provided are simply vacancies taken from newspaper classifieds.

Look the properties over carefully and be sure to ask questions about any apartment or house you are considering renting. Consider the following:

Does the rent cover all utilities, or will you be responsible for paying for them yourself? If you will be paying for heat, water, or other utilities ask whether the landlord can provide an estimated monthly or annual cost for the rental property.

What kind of security does the building have? Are the doors, windows and entrances secured? Are the stairs safe and well lighted? Are the fire escapes easily accessible?

What sort of commute will you have to school or work and what is nearby in terms of restaurants, shopping, entertainment and other places you frequently visit? Also, what are the neighbors like (students, families, retirees) and is this the right setting for you?

Who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of common areas (stairwells, hallways, etc.) and appliances, furnace filters and other items within the property which may need to be serviced?

Is the landlord or property management readily available during nights and weekends and what are the procedures for emergency services, repairs or lock-outs?

What kind of parking is available? Is there an extra charge for a parking spot?

Are storms windows, screens and shades provided?

The Rental Application

Your new landlord may ask you to provide credit references and a list of past landlords, addresses and your employment history, including salary.

An application fee may be charged and may be nonrefundable if you are not approved. At the landlord?s discretion, the application fee may be applied to your first month?s rent or security deposit, but it is not required by law.

The Lease

A lease is a contract which legally binds both parties to terms for a specified period of time. Breach of this contract by either party can result in serious legal and financial consequences. Be sure to carefully read over the lease or rental agreement and any list of rules that the landlord will expect you to follow.

Make Sure Your Lease Contains:

  • The specific address, including apartment number of the property.
  • The length of the lease.
  • An explanation of the rent payment procedure, including late penalties and rent increases.
  • Which utilities you are responsible for paying.
  • Termination or renewal terms.
  • The amount of any security deposit.


  • Don?t let anyone rush you into signing an agreement before you understand what it says and do not sign a lease until all blanks are filled in. Be sure to keep a copy of the lease for yourself. Make a second copy and keep it in a safety deposit box or with a friend or family member for safekeeping.
  • Watch out for clauses which provide for the automatic renewal for another full term equal to the original term. To avoid automatic renewal, make sure you give notice of your intention to vacate prior to expiration of the lease and in accordance with the lease?s terms.
  • Remember that if you are sharing the property you may be responsible for nonpayment, damages or breaches caused by any roommate or co-signer.
  • Inspect the premises prior to signing. If the property is furnished, check for any defects in the furniture. Make a check list of any damages to the property or its contents along with maintenance responsibilities and get the landlord?s signature on the list along with any changes or repairs. Make sure you keep a signed and dated copy.

Security Deposit

A security deposit is money which actually belongs to the tenant, but is held by the landlord for protection against damages or unpaid rent.

During the first year of a lease, the amount of a security deposit cannot exceed two months rent.

Beginning with the second year of a lease, a landlord cannot retain a security deposit of more than one month?s rent. Any security deposit greater than $100 held by a landlord must be placed in a bank in escrow.

The Landlord Tenant Act requires that interest be paid on security deposits held over two years.

After taking out damages and unpaid rent, a landlord or property owner must send its tenants the list of damages and/or the full or partial security deposit no later than 30 days after the lease ends or when the landlord accepts the tentants? keys to vacate the premises early, whichever occurs first. The law requires landlords to pay twice the amount of the security deposit if they fail to provide consumers with the list of damages along with any refund due.

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