Are you prepared for a crisis?

For what you ask?  Well, natural disasters seem to be headlining the news lately, and even though Northwest Arkansas is highly unlikely to be a victim of any hurricane, I’d like to have you think back 6 short years ago to the destruction that our neighbors to the north in Joplin, Missouri experienced.  Now imagine calling 911 after something horrific like this, or just a medical emergency in your home and having to have the wits about you with tons of adrenaline flowing through your veins to have to answer basic questions.  I’ve heard of stories of people who cannot even remember their own address due to the stress of an emergency situation.

Wouldn’t it be great if 911 magically knew about your house, and all your family members?  That could possibly save your life in an emergency situation.  Well, there’s something that exists that I don’t think has gotten near enough press.  It’s called Smart911.  Up until about 2 months ago during a home safety/preparedness presentation, I had never heard of it!  The purpose of Smart911 is to give a 911 operator as much information possible about you and your family, even if you are incapacitated or unavailable to do so.  This website is a warehouse of information that is available to subscribed 911 areas, in which I have found most of the major municipalities here in Northwest Arkansas are participants in Smart911, you can check your specific zip code here.  Smart911 then will give you webpages to fill out People and Household Information (basically who lives there, even your pets), Medical Information on those people,  and Location Information, including utility shutoffs, bedroom layouts, etc…   You share as much or as little as you want, and as long as you live in a 911 area who is subscribed to the service, they will have this information at their fingertips.  They’ve even thought about that things change and send out an email either monthly or quarterly (I can’t remember) to ask you to review and update any details (for those of us with failing minds).

Hope you find Smart911 as beneficial as I believe it is.  I can say I have not used it in a 911 situation, and hope to never to, but in theory, if it works as stated, I think there’s a huge benefit to using it.

Hope you all are enjoying this crazy cool weather!  I have never experienced an August like we just had here in Arkansas.  Again, do you have a topic for me to ramble on (home related or not)?  Have any experience with Smart911 to provide input on what I said?  Post a comment, your topic just might be my next one!


**This review was written on my own without any outside influence, payment or request.  Just an important PSA I felt needed to be shared.**


Eclipse awesomeness!

This past Monday the eclipse phenomenon literally swept through the country.  Back a few months ago, my husband and I thought about taking a weekend trip to stay somewhere close to the eclipse to experience it, but then when we thought about all of the people and didn’t know really where to go watch it, we shrugged it off.  Flash backwards to about a month ago I saw my brother-in-law, Dave, post that he and my youngest niece were going to experience the eclipse at a private nature preserve in Missouri, in direct path of totality.  My husband then said that his co-workers were practically pushing him to go see the eclipse a day earlier, so we jumped on board and called Prairie Garden Trust to reserve our spot.  When on the phone, they told me that their parking lot could only hold 25 vehicles and that is all they were going to allow on the property, which made the experience so much more magical.  I also quickly checked around and surprisingly found that there were still hotel rooms available in Lake of The Ozarks.

In our planning we did struggle to find glasses, but happened to find a website that had allowed me to put a couple of pair in a cart, and sure enough they did arrive!  We decided not to do anything fancy with cameras to capture the eclipse as we felt like we would not be able to focus on the event ourselves.  I did decide to bring my handy dandy new Zhiyun Smooth-Q phone gimbal to play with and maybe do some recording.  That Monday the nature preserve was everything we had hoped and we set up about 20 feet from the exact center of the totality path.  It was so incredibly hot and humid and pretty much in full sun at 92 degrees with some breeze.  Dave had the forethought to bring a thermometer so we could track the actual temperature drop with the eclipse.  At about 8 minutes to totality, I decided to do a Facebook live for all my friends to experience with us, not expecting it to turn out very well or to see things, but I’m so glad I did.  It allowed me to enjoy the experience, but also capture it at the same time, and to my surprise, it really does take me back to what we experienced.  There are no real words to describe how amazing and beautiful it was, so I was glad to capture the emotion of myself and others around me (including all the cheering in the background from around the park) for a lifetime of memories.

Enjoy the video here on my YouTube channel.  I am still a novice with the gimbal, so I apologize for the black circular piece of the gimbal that kept getting in the way!  I’ve seen so many videos of people who have video of the actual eclipse, but none of them capture what the sky and sun’s corona truly looked like because they have to darken the exposure so much to actually see the moon’s shadow, otherwise I would have linked to it here.

Were you able to experience the eclipse on Monday?  Tell me about your experience and how you describe it in your words.

To take the plunge… or not?

Growing up my siblings and I would spend quite a bit of time at our local town’s pool.  It was probably one of the most favorite activities I did as a kid in the summer.  At one point our parents considered putting a pool in, but after lots of advice, the costs involved with building it and maintenance, it was decided that we would be fine with driving the 2 miles to the local public pool.

Flash forward about 25 years and I was faced with a similar decision.  My hubby and I were building our dream house.  I had always loved the water, but just didn’t care for swimming in public (funny how we become more self-conscious when we get older about being seen in a swimsuit).  I was also not very motivated to drive a couple miles to use the public pool or pay membership to someplace that had a pool.  After a great deal of advice taking, research, and lots of thought, we decided to move forward and build it.

Is that the right decision for you?  Let me share some things to think about when considering to build a pool or buying a house specifically with a pool vs no pool that we walked through in our decision making process.  One key piece of advice you must realize upfront if you considering building a pool…  DO NOT build or not build a pool thinking it will increase or decrease your home’s value.  Value of a pool resides strictly in the eye of the beholder!!!!  If you are in the market to buy a home, possibly with a pool, you also need to consider the above statement when deciding on what to offer for a home.

Motivation – Did you or your family grow up with a pool or swimming often?  If you are currently without access to a pool, do you often make trips to swim elsewhere?  Do you have any experience with pool maintenance?  A pool should not be taken lightly as it can become a large burden as I explain below.  If you truly do like and would use a pool, but unsure of what it’s like to own one, ask for advice.  Facebook is a great way to acquire people’s opinions.  People tend to be honest about swimming pools, and you will hear advice going both ways.  As with anything you take advice for, listen to as many people as you can.  Don’t go on one person’s advice!  I cannot stress enough to ensure you are wanting a pool for the right reasons!

Location – Are you located or looking in a neighborhood that has a community pool that you are already “paying” for via POA/HOA fees?  For many neighborhoods, this is a great hangout place, especially if you have kids.  Kids typically want to swim with other kids.  Don’t have kids, are you comfortable going to a common use pool?  If you are not in or looking in a neighborhood with a common pool, do many neighbors have a pool?  Not sure, pull up Google Maps in satellite view.  It will be very clear to see the saturation (pun intended) of pools in the neighborhood.  If you tend to engage with your neighbors and your kids are very sociable, there is a chance that there may be lots of opportunities to swim at other homes in the neighborhood (of course by invitation only).  Is there a public pool close by?  Many local pools have cost effective packages that can be purchased if you frequent them often, or just a daily rate if you aren’t sure you want that much of a commitment.

Investment – Are you prepared for the cost of a pool?  This is something that you need to consider whether you are building a pool or purchasing a home with a pool.  The cost of maintaining a pool goes beyond the construction and mechanical maintenance.  There are regular maintenance costs, which some can be avoided by being a do-it-yourselfer, but then reference point #1.  The biggest expenses per year are: opening a pool for the season, and subsequently closing the pool for the season.  Then there’s costs for chemicals, but there are also multiple hidden costs that most people overlook.  Pools need electricity to run a pool pump for 4+ hours per day to “turn over” the water the recommended once per day.  That’s a cost that is directly related to equipment (pool size and pump).  And if you choose to have a heater on a pool, the gas or electric needed to run the heater at the beginning and end of the season.  Pools are listed as an improvement on a property, thus they are an item that is calculated into your property taxes.  Finally, make sure you check regarding homeowners insurance as a pool will be an additional liability and typically raise your insurance payment.  Talk with your agent PRIOR to building a pool as you can mitigate that cost some by understanding what makes insurance rise on pools, typically but not limited to, diving boards, slides and lack of fences.  A more detailed article to read on costs is located here.

Time – Pools demand time, not just time to care for, but also time to use.  The time needed to perform general maintenance depends on alot of factors (which is another blog), but would require AT LEAST one hour per week (for the most easy factor set), but also additional time through the summer to perform additional maintenance tasks that may be done fewer times. There is time to test (driving to and from a pool store at least once weekly), daily cleaning, periodic vacuuming, filter maintenance, and the list goes on.  Beyond care, consider if you even have time to use the pool?  Are you so booked up in the summer with other activities and vacations that you wouldn’t get the full benefit vs cost of having a pool?  Only you can decide what that balance is.

I hope these points will assist those who are in the conundrum of trying to figure out what to do.  I also realize that there might be alot of questions about specific details, but that’s another blog day.  Please leave your comments on what you think, or things that you would like more detail on and I would be glad to expand on specific topics in later posts.

Until the next post, make it a great day!


What should I write about?

Hi all…  My name is Cara, and I’m a REALTOR® here with RE/MAX Real Estate Results in Bentonville, Arkansas, and I’m a rookie blogger, so please allow me some grace if I break any blogging etiquette.  My intentions are to banter about things related to real estate, but there are no boundaries here.  And don’t think real estate, geez, she’s going to bombard us with houses to buy or nag us to ask about a market value report on my house!  Nope…  I want to take a different spin and get minds thinking beyond the standard process of buying and selling a home, although maybe some quick refreshers are warranted.  I’d most like to hear what your suggestions are on what you’d like to hear about.

Here’s some things that have been swirling in my mind to blog about:  Swimming pools, landscaping, the great square footage debate, rent vs own are just a few ideas.  The great thing is that you can help drive topics!  Just leave a comment with what you would like to banter about, and I’ll add it to my list.  My goal is to put something out there every week or two (see how I clarify that in case I forget or get writer’s block).  I will admit, I’m the stalker on social media, not the poster.  I read alot of posts, but have posted very little personally.  You will see that changing as my vocation pretty much lives or dies by it in this era.  Hold me to that!  I want to be relevant to you, not just another cookie cutter post.

Now if you are looking to buy or sell, of course I’d be honored to serve you in that capacity (shameless plug, yes).  And if you personally are not, I’d also appreciate your referrals of your family/friends/co-workers.

Have a great Tuesday!