Protecting Yourself on the Internet

EyeComputerBig Brother is watching you and more importantly so are the Internet Hackers. If the big boys like Bank of America, Target and Home Depot, just to name a few can have their financial information stolen in mass quantities then what about you and me? How can we protect ourselves from cyber-attack?

Well I’m glad you asked! Think of it as a war, it’s the hackers against you and the strategy that you employ can make or break this destructive battle. There are several ways you can protect your information and privacy on-line. First and foremost be aware of what you’re putting out there for everyone to see.

Let’s start with your email, you should have at least two email accounts, one for your banking, billing and credit card sites and one for miscellaneous info like newsletters, social media and the like.

Never ever give anyone your password, and remember legitimate banking sites will never ask for your password and if you get an informational or alerting email, never log into the site using the clickable link provided in your email. Open your browser and go to the site as you normally would which is much safer! Once on the site you can check your messages and alerts.

Guard your username and change your passwords often. For example if a hacker can get into your email they will have a clear pathway towards your banking accounts by simply pressing forgot password and answering a few questions that you’ve most likely already provided the answers to.

Are you wondering how you provided those answers? Wonder no more my friend and just take a look at your online profiles; for example are you on Facebook, do you have your maiden name and high school listed, perhaps your hometown, your kids name, etc. Yes indeed these simple profiles that make it easy for old and new friends and colleagues to connect also make it easy for hackers to answer your internet security questions.
The same goes for all the other social media sites like LinkedIn, Google and many others. There is one way to combat this that can baffle any hacker and that’s to answer those security questions on your billing and banking sites with answers that have nothing what-so-ever to do with the question.
For example:
Question: what is the name of the high school you attended
Answer: pizzapie
Question: what city were you born in
Answer: pizzapie
Question: what is the name of your first pet
Answer: pizzapie
Are you following me? Make your answers something only you will know and that make no sense at all to anyone else. Remember you can always change the answer to your security questions at any time. In fact this is a good time!

Another tip would be to never use the same password for everything, don’t make it easy for hackers to get your information.
For Example if you go to you can use part of the site as your password: hugmerealtor9295lover
password: hugmevillagesearch9295lover
Simply changing the four digit number every two months or so will make it harder for hackers and hopefully they will consider you too much trouble to bother with and go on to the next victim.

Always remember you are never alone in the dark with your keyboard, there are peering eyes over your shoulder alone in the dark with their own dang keyboard looking to score your hard earned money.

Most of us can’t beat hackers at their own game, however you can outsmart them every step of the way by minimizing the information you put out there for the public to see and keeping passwords and user names secure.
Good luck and safe surfing on the World Wide Web!

Time to Get Organized

Are you still telling yourself that one of these days “I’m going to get organized?” I know just what you mean with so much going on, seller appointments, showings to schedule, customers to call, contracts to negotiate there’s never enough time in the day.

I am here to help you organize the one thing that is in your hand all day long, and that’s your IPhone, lets clean it up!

Is your phone cluttered with icon’s on page after page, is your background picture so busy you can hardly see the names of all your apps? A cleaned up phone can save you valuable time and keep you from searching for that app you need.

Let’s start at the beginning, always a good place to start with, and that would be your background picture. It should be a solid color, I found that I didn’tIPhone like the colors in the ready-made backgrounds provided so one day I pointed my IPhone at the ocean and now my background is subtle and my icons are more prominent, using a clear blue sky works well also.

Notice the first page of my IPhone you can clearly see everything, including the folders I have created.

You can see that on the task bar I keep my favorite icons, I only have three there because I leave a space for when I decide to move an icon, it’s a lot easier to move an icon to that line then to try and move it to another page. If you do this moving icons and creating folders will be quick and easy.

This is the last and most important step towards cleaning up that phone. Create folders so that everything is easily accessible and yes organized. For example if you use social media on your phone you have several apps that you can put in one place.

folderIphone Let’s Begin: hold down your Facebook icon till all your icons begin to shake and have an X showing in the left hand corners.

If your Facebook icon and your LinkedIn icon for example are not on the same page then put your Facebook icon on the bottom taskbar, go to the page where your LinkedIn icon is and place the Facebook icon directly on top of your LinkedIn icon and a folder will automatically create, this is also your opportunity to name this folder, I named mine Social. Now that your folder is created you can drag more icons in there. When you open a folder you can see its contents, no more looking for an app. Look how nice and neat that looks! To close a folder just hit your home button.

As you collect more social media apps you can put them in this folder, there is no limit since you can have many pages in one folder.

You just continue this process to create folders reducing the number of pages on your phone and find everything in a flash. This photo shows another folder I created I named utilities with more than one page of icons as indicated by the two dots at the bottom of the folder, this shows this particular folder has two pages. Notice how nice and neat it looks with a clean background. Remember neatness counts! I also have folders for news, county info, documents, etc. You can be creative and neat at the same time.

I hope this tech tip helps you get a smooth operating IPhone since you’ll be using this each and every day. If you’re wondering how I took pictures of what’s showing on my phone at any given time, I’ll tell ya.

Simultaneously (at the same time) hold down both the end button and the hiphonebuttonome button, release and you have taken a screen shot. Go to your Photo’s and it will be there ready to text and or email as a photo.

This is also useful if you want to take photos of a short conversation in message or even a game level. Anything you can see on your IPhone you can save as a photo.

Be organized and carry on.

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Quit Claim Deed

I Quit, I give you all my interest in this property and maybe just maybe a few problems, so lets make a deal!

Quitclaim Deed, is just that, it’s a deed a seller gives a buyer when the seller is quitting his interest in the property and giving it to the buyer in the form of a deed, a quitclaim deed. To name a few examples these types of deeds are most often used in a tax sale, to pass property between family members or from one spouse to another in a divorce settlement? The Seller says Uncle, I give up, I Quit, and it’s yours now!

Now the buyer has any and all of the seller’s interest in the property at the time of the transfer. Well let’s hope this seller really owned the property, even that’s not guaranteed in this type of deed. In fact nothing is guaranteed or warrantied.

So the seller deeds the buyer his interest in the property, does anyone else have an interest in the property, are there any liens or judgments against this property, and is there a spouse or sibling who has a legal claim out there somewhere?

It’s like doing business on a handshake, that’s all and good if a future problem doesn’t appear on your doorstep. As a buyer are you willing to take that kind of a gamble on a real estate purchase?

Do your homework and most importantly hire a real estate lawyer and obtain title insurance before you sign a quitclaim deed; remember in the end it’s up to you to protect your interest in the property you’re buying.

We live in a very uncertain world, however if we follow the obvious steps required for a smooth transaction we can avoid Murphy’s Law, “whatever can happen will happen.”

Oh and for those of you who have been wondering if the Quitclaim Deed is also referred to, in error, as a Quick Claim Deed, the answer is yes!

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To Inspect or Not To Inspect

By all means inspect my friend inspect!

Now that your offer to purchase real estate is a contract, you’re probably thinking about how much all this is going to cost. I know you’ve sacrificed and saved for the last few years just waiting for this day to come, and now the time has come for you to start signing all those checks. First it’s the deposit money, and then it’s all those upfront mortgage company fees. The real kicker will be that truth in lending statement which gives you a good faith estimate towards all of your closing costs. MC900056234

It’s all coming together and time is of the essence, it doesn’t matter what kind of contract you signed whether it’s for a short sale, foreclosure or seller owned property, even an “as is contract” gives you the opportunity to have a home inspection within a certain number of days. My advice is to take advantage of this opportunity, especially if it’s an existing home; a home inspection is well worth the money you’re going to spend. For a reasonable fee you can have everything inspected, the roof, attic, plumbing, electric, mold issues and all appliances. In the long run this important step in purchasing real estate can save you thousands of dollars.

Now is not the time to save a few dollars, it’s time to spend wisely and  know exactly what you’re buying so you won’t be unhappily surprised in a  month or two after closing. If your inspector finds something majorly wrong with house you can renegotiate the contract purchase price, back out of the contract all together or even just decide to deal with the problem yourself after the closing. As you can see the options are very advantageous to you since you are now a savvy informed buyer.

A good home inspection company will be able to provide the WDO (Wood Destroying Organism also known as a termite inspection) report during the same time as your home inspection.

A home purchase is a big investment, know what you are buying and believe me you will be glad you spent the money on that all important home inspection.

Happy House Hunting

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Life With A Realtor® Part 2

As you know I live here in St. Augustine, Florida with my Realtor® and we couldn’t have picked a better place to call home. St. Augustine is the oldest continued occupied European settlement in the United States. Yes that’s right it’s the oldest city in America and there’s always something going on downtown. Right now we’re celebrating the 2013 Romanza Festival till May 19th. There are concerts in the plaza and on the beach, jazz and art festivals all free of charge. Of course I get a lot of attention when we hang out in the plaza, mostly from little children who want to pet the cute little dog with the wagging tail. I must admit I am a hit and the best conversation piece my Realtor® ever had. 

Walking around downtown is always exciting; people from all over the world come here to enjoy our city. The cannons at the Castillo de San Marco are shot often by re-enactors, and the first time I heard that loud noise I’ll admit I was a little frightened but I’m used to it now. Music plays from various eateries filling the air with delight when we walk around. Of course I’m always fashionable in my matching harness and leash ever aware of just how cute I look. 

One of my favorite places to visit is the Tini Martini Bar located right on the bay front. We always get a bistro table for two by the sidewalk so we can people watch and the people can watch us. I sit up in my chair alert and always ready to wag my tail for a kind word or a pat on the head. I’m always welcome at the Tini Martini Bar, in fact there are many places in town where I’m welcome and my Realtor® and I patronize these places frequently, maybe later when I have more time I’ll tell you about a few more of my favorite places. lizmartini


It’s beautiful here during the day looking out upon the waterfront seeing the boats, the horse and buggies in the street and all the happy people waving from the sightseeing trains and trollies. In the evening the atmosphere here is positively dreamy with the lights of the tike torches. There’s nothing better than a beautiful day or evening sipping a martini, listening to live music and meeting new friends at the Tini Martini Bar here in my home town of St. Augustine, Florida. Say hello to me when you walk by or sit across from us, you can easily recognize me since I’ll be the cutest one there! See you down town.

 Elizabeth pawprintxsm

Life with a Realtor®

Hello my name is Elizabeth and I live with a Realtor®, and believe me it has its ups and downs. Every morning my Realtor® puts on what’s called clothes, she tried putting those things on me and I put a stop to that right away. Oh she petted me and told me how much I would like my new outfit and then she proceeded to put it on me lifting my legs awkwardly into tiny little holes then forcing scratchy material over my head. Wow did Elizblogpicthat feel strange; I don’t know how she can put those outfits on herself every day because I sure hated that constricting horrible feeling. Well I did what any proud miniature dachshund would do, I froze right there on the spot, yep that’s right, I refused to move! I stood perfectly still then I really laid it on looking at her with my big irresistible eyes screaming help, help me, please help me, I can’t move. Off came that stupid outfit and that my friend was the end of my Realtor thinking I would be wearing clothes like her. I can just imagine her thinking how cute we would look in matching outfits; sometimes she’s just not wrapped too tight.

Let’s face it, I do spend a lot of time in the house alone because she’s always going somewhere and most of the time she doesn’t take me along. That is so frustrating especially since I always want to go with my Realtor®, heck I don’t want to miss out on anything. So many times she promises me that she’ll be home with me all day, and then the phone rings and she’s out the door breaking the promise she just made. Or she says, I’ll be back in a little while and comes back five or six hours later. When my Realtor® does come home I jump up and down on her leg wagging my tail like crazy, she thinks I’m so happy to see her when all I really want to do is go outside and do my business since I’ve been holding it for hours!

As I said in the beginning there are many up sides to living with my Realtor®. For instance we both enjoy a lot of the same things, playing ball, sleeping under a blanket, sitting in the same recliner, watching old movies and eating cheese. Plus there seems to be an endless supply of food in a big metal box that she keeps in the kitchen, I usually get a piece of whatever she takes out of there too. She does keep a bowl on the floor for me filled with some sort of colorful pebbles that I simply refuse to eat on a regular basis. Make no mistake about it, I may live with a Realtor® but I’m top dog in this house, I’m in charge around here. I had her trained in no time. Whenever she sits down to eat she always shares with me. I have a special seat in the car too right up front next to my Realtor®, it’s nice and high so I can see out the window, I love riding in the car.

I must admit that my Realtor® is my very best friend. I follow her around the house and even when she’s on the computer, which is most of the time, I’m right under the desk in my bed just in case she needs me. I feel sorry for her sometimes especially when people come over. She thinks they’re coming to see her when they really just came over to play ball with me. Like I said before, sometimes she’s not wrapped too tight so I’m taking care of her and I’m doing a great job.

Elizabeth pawprintxsm

Deborah Link Earns NAR Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource® Certification



Deborah Link Realtor® with Deltona Realty, has received the nationally recognized Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification. The National Association of REALTORS® offers the SFR® certification to REALTORS® who want to help both buyers and sellers navigate these complicated transactions as demand for professional expertise with distressed sales grows.

Deborah has just returned from the Northeast Association of Realtors where she has completed the highly specialized Short Sale Foreclosure Resource course. The certification program includes training on how to qualify sellers for short sales, negotiate with lenders, protect buyers, and limit risk, and provides resources to help REALTORS® stay current on national and state-specific information as the market for these distressed properties evolves. “I am proud to have this additional knowledge to assist my customers through the difficult and emotional transition of the Short Sale and Foreclosure process” said Deborah, who has been helping both home sellers and buyers in St Augustine, Florida.

Foreclosures and short sales can offer opportunities for buyers, benefiting the community as well, but it’s extremely important to have the help of a real estate professional like a Realtor® who has earned the SFR® certification for these kinds of purchases.