Monday, February 27, 2017

Safe Driving Starts With An Annual Vision Screening

It's so easy to get upset driving these days.  Even if you follow all of the rules of the road, it seems that inconsiderate drivers are zipping around every turn.  To make things worse, many drivers do not have their eyes screened regularly. This is an interesting article about why people don't get their eyes checked and how proper vision is the basic building block of safe driving.

Original Article By Nationwide

Psych yourself out about a vision test and you can delay diagnosing treatable conditions that will help you see and drive better.

Eye care professionals can sometimes fix a problem or minimize the symptoms with a change of prescription or drops that can help drivers cope with glare. Still, many older drivers delay their eye check-ups partly for fear of losing their licenses.

Common fears among drivers

“We have had patients that we can’t believe drove to us,” says Mark Prussian, administrator, Eye Care Institute, Lexington, Kentucky.

He added, “People don’t like to have their independence threatened. They are afraid a doctor will take away their drivers’ licenses. But that won’t happen. Doctors can’t have drivers’ licenses taken away from their patients, though they may have conversations with those patients and encourage them to allow others to drive them places.”

Even drivers whose vision is not impaired may have medical conditions that make it dangerous for them to operate motor vehicles. Diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes, all of which can cause physical responses that make driving dangerous, are just some of the medical conditions that can be detected through an annual eye exam. That’s why such exams are continually recommended to people of all ages, Prussian says.

Older Drivers

Patients over age 60 most commonly have more visual concerns while driving and in everyday life. The concerns include the inability to easily read road signs, especially in unfamiliar locales; dim colors; the presence of halos around objects, and vision, says Steven A. Loomis, president of the American Optometric Association.

“As we age, most of us develop some degree of medical changes to our eyes, including cataracts, ocular surface disease, glaucoma and macular degeneration. All of these conditions require diagnosis and management from a doctor of optometry or ophthalmology,” Loomis says.

“Often, vision can be improved with an updated pair of glasses or enhanced treatments of glasses like non-glare lenses. Other times, medical treatments are appropriate to treat the underlying clinical conditions. Most eye diseases begin silently without symptoms and are only diagnosed with a comprehensive professional eye examination.”


One example is glaucoma, often called “the silent thief of sight,” a condition that damages the optic nerve. That nerve transmits information from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is asymptomatic until it causes irreversible vision loss.

Some people are hesitant to seek eye exams, and specifically to undergo testing for glaucoma, because they fear pain from what was once the standard “air puff test”. During the test, the doctor releases a small burst of air at an eye – no equipment touches the eye – to measure the pressure within it.

Though the test is painless, many people find it so distasteful they count it among their greatest medical fears, Prussian says.

This test is now outdated. Most eye care experts use other tests for glaucoma, including the blue light test (Goldmann Tonometry). Doctors who use this test numb the patients’ eyes and then measure the pressure within the eyes. Patients feel nothing except an occasional rustle of eyelashes during that test.

The other parts of annual eye exams are equally painless.

Preparing for an eye exam

To best prepare for an eye exam, patients should provide a list of all medications – prescription and non-prescription – and dosages taken. They should also be prepared to share personal and family medical histories.

Annual eye tests generally include visual acuity tests (reading from eye charts), cover tests (when one eye is covered while the doctor looks into the other eye) and refraction (when a series of lenses are put before eyes to determine which provides the clearest vision).

“A visit to the [eye care professional] is easy, painless and, for most patients, very interesting and always rewarding,” Loomis says.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What Kind of Car Is Best for Empty Nesters?

Once the kids fly the coop, it’s a time of change for parents. For many it can be a time to do things they’ve dreamed about doing – traveling or resuming a sport or hobby they’d set aside.

While some might dream about what they’ll do, others dream about what they’ll drive. A family car, SUV or mini-van might have been essential while the kids were still living at home, but parents find they can begin looking at smaller, more performance-based cars now. According to, choosing a car as an empty nester can be very different from shopping for a family cruiser.

One of the greatest changes for the empty nester is that this is, quite likely, the first time in years that you’ve been able to think about buying a car specifically for your needs.

It’s no longer about how much sports equipment you’ll need to haul around or how many kids are going to pile in for a family vacation. It’s going to mean asking yourself an entirely different set of questions as you set out to buy.

Are we there yet?

For some, the idea of buying a car you want – instead of focusing purely on necessity and practicality – takes some getting used to. But the fact is, your living space isn’t the only thing you can look at downsizing once your children strike out on their own. This might be the time you start seriously looking at that sporty two-seater you’ve coveted since the moment you installed a child safety seat in your minivan.

Or you may have fewer day-to-day expenses, this could be the time you consider a luxury car. If it’s been a while since you’ve shopped for a car that didn’t have to include kid-friendly amenities, you might be surprised to find just how all-encompassing the luxury market is.

Where to begin

With so many options available to you, just defining what you want is a good start. Remember that what you want and what you need may be two different things; you might have to put some thought into both of those areas before coming up with your final answer.

Tim Shults, president of the Shults Auto Group in Jamestown, N.Y., says evaluating your needs, post-children, can be very different. In, he wrote that some factors for empty nesters to consider are:

Technology: It’s a different world out there, particularly if you haven’t looked at new cars for a couple of years. Read up on the available technology and make sure you’re not buying more than you’re going to use. “GPS in your infotainment system would be incredibly helpful when you get lost, but you might not want to load up on all the latest tech that could distract you,” says Shults. Do your research ahead of time so you know what you do (and don’t) want.

Safety: Car safety features seem to be improving every day, and that’s reflected in the drop in the number of deaths caused by car accidents as technology improves. Sensors can help notify you when you’re out of your lane or have another car beside you; they can also help you back up and parallel park. “Take advantage of the sensors and cameras offered nowadays,” Shults advises. “Collision avoidance can save your life.”

Visibility: Making sure you have plenty of visibility is key in shopping for a new car, and with so many more options available to you it’s important to make sure you can see what’s around you. Take your time and test drive different models to see what feels best for you. Better visibility equals safer travels.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for empty nesters when it comes to buying a car. Some may want to buy a restored version of the car they longed for when they were teens and couldn’t afford; others may want the latest and greatest. Whichever route works for you, make sure you do your homework.

As your car needs change, your car insurance needs change too. Make sure you’ve got the right protection on the road and, most importantly, remember to enjoy the ride.

Originally Posted by Nationwide

Friday, February 17, 2017

Staging a House For Sale

Staging a House for Sale: 11 Tips from the Experts

Photo courtesy of Nationwide

Nationwide Blog Original Article 

Homeowners looking to get the best price for their home are learning that if you want to sell quickly and score big profits, you need to remove clutter and make the place look inviting, not lived in.

Staging your house can help you sell it faster and possibly bring you more money, say many real estate professionals. The cost to stage a home is typically less than 1 percent of the list price, says Cindy May Davis, a Realtor with the Ann Wilson Homes Team for Keller Williams Realty in Arlington, Va., and the return is typically 1 percent to 5 percent over the list price.

Homeowners can hire a staging company, work with a real estate agency that does the staging for its clients or do it themselves. Here are 11 tips for staging your home that will have a positive impact on its price and appeal:

1. Give your home curb appeal

Most buyers start their home search on the Internet. Often their first impression of your home is a photo of the outside, Davis says. Before you take that photo, be sure you have spruced up the grounds of the house by weeding, mulching, trimming back trees and bushes, and power washing your siding and walkways.

2. Depersonalize and declutter

When buyers come into your house, it’s important they be able to visualize themselves living there, Davis says. So take down anything personal, including family photos, collections, diplomas or awards, , replacing them with generic artwork and photos. “This is often the hardest thing for people do to,” she says.

3. Clean your house

Make your house shine by cleaning everything including the inside of your appliances, the baseboards and windows, Davis says. Change your air filters and clean out your gutters. “This will show buyers that you do regular maintenance on the house,” she says.

4. Get rid of odors

If you’re a smoker or have a pet, it’s important to get rid of odors. Be careful of using air fresheners, Davis warns, because many are too strong and they might suggest you are trying to hide something. Open the windows instead.

5. Neutralize colors

Potential homebuyers might not love the dark purple accent wall in the dining room as much as you do, so it’s best to paint the walls a neutral color before you start showing the house, Davis says. You don’t have to paint every wall white but it should be a neutral color that will appeal to a variety of people.

6. Turn up the lights

At every open house, Davis opens every blind and curtain to get let in as much light as possible. If a room seems too dark or the lamp is outdated, Davis says she will bring extra lighting or a new lamp to the open house. Make sure all the light bulbs in your house are working on the day of the open house.

7. Pare down furnishings

Oversized furniture can make a room feel smaller, Davis says. Furniture is there to help the buyer visualize what the room is used for, but it’s best to minimize the number of pieces so the buyer can envision their own furniture in the room.

8. Accessorize

After you remove all the clutter add some accents such as interesting coffee table books, throw pillows and blankets on the sofa, a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter and matching towels in the bathroom.

9. Make repairs

If there is anything that clearly needs to be repaired or if there are any unfinished projects, you need to take care of them before the open house. No potential buyer wants to see unfinished work inside the house.

10. Clean out the closets and drawers

Potential buyers will open every closet, cabinet, drawer and door, says Davis, and you will want to display as much storage as possible. Davis recommends using baskets to hold items that are normally just loose in drawers and in closets to make them look less cluttered. She also tells clients to remove 20 percent to 30 percent of what is inside each closet to show space between items that are hanging up. This will make the closet seem larger.

11. Check the floors

If the carpeting is stained, replace it. If you’re using an old area rug, remove it. If your wooden floors are scratched, cover them with inexpensive area rugs.

Staging a home is key to appealing to prospective buyers. Get more helpful information about selling your own home today.

Friday, February 10, 2017

3 Ways to Save on Teen Car Insurance

For parents, having a teen driver in the house can be cause for mixed emotions. On the one hand there’s the added freedom of having another driver who can run errands and no longer needs to be driven to school or extracurricular activities.

On the flip side, many parents worry about the extra expense of adding a teenager to the insurance policy, as well as the accompanying expenses of gas and perhaps even an additional car.

Several factors affect how much the cost of insurance increases when a teen driver is added, including geography and gender. Insuring teen male drivers is more expensive than females, and certain areas are simply more expensive than others. While you can’t do much to change those two factors, there are many ways for parents to cut insurance costs. The good news is that, in addition to improving the bottom line, these options could help your teen become a better driver or even become more conscientious about his or her grades.

Here are three things you can do right now to start saving money on your teenager’s auto insurance.

1. Look into a good student discount

The grades your teen earns can lower the amount of insurance you have to pay. This is something you may have to ask for, so if your student driver is earning a minimum of a B average, contact your insurance agent. Before you call, make sure you have proof of the student’s academic prowess. It may be in the form of a report card or a form signed by a school administrator to verify those grades. The discount is also valid for homeschooled teens, who will need to provide results from a standardized test (PSAT, SAT, ACT, etc.) and must be in the top 20 percent of the student scores nationwide. Even better news – this discount continues when your driver goes to college and it’s offered up to the age of 24. Click here to learn more about getting a good-student discount.

2. Consider telematics

Telematics are electronics that record and report on a driver’s habits. That information can be used in many ways; it allows insurance companies to reward drivers for good behavior, and it also lets drivers (or their parents) receive feedback on their driving, which can help them make better decisions behind the wheel. Nationwide’s program SmartRide gives drivers an automatic 5 percent break on the teen’s insurance just for signing up, then offers additional discounts – as much as 40 percent – based on a driver’s habits. They provide a device that is easily installed, tracking four factors: hard braking, fast acceleration, miles driven and nighttime miles.

3. Don’t buy new

While most teens dream of a shiny new car to begin driving, it’s not the best financial move. The reason teens cost more to insure is these inexperienced drivers tend to have more accidents, so buying a new car is going to mean higher repair costs if they have a fender bender. Buying an older car that has good safety ratings won’t just mean lower repair costs and lower monthly car payments, it will cost less to insure.

Having the right car insurance is extremely important, even more so for a young driver. Find out how Nationwide can help you save money on teen car insurance while keeping you covered.

Link to original article

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Client Hightlight: Clocktower Realty & Investment Properties

~This past Tuesday we had the opportunity to be included at Clocktower Realty's first official team meeting~

And we couldn't be more proud. A little backstory: 

Rhonda Howlett is a Virginia native, at 33 years young she has taken the Real Estate Market by storm. Last year her team completed over 120 Real Estate transactions totaling over millions of dollars in home sales. This feat is impressive on its own, but what is more impressive is that she launched her very own Real Estate Agency in 2017! She is 100% self sufficient and has put an amazing team together that includes: Realtors, Marketers and Advertisers. 

We met Rhonda sometime ago when she first moved to Richmond and was in insurance sales. We knew her potential back then and boy has she showed us how she can really live up to it. 

The purpose of our meeting with Rhonda was to talk to her team about insurance of course, but more specifically about home investments.

Did you know that as an investor when you purchase a home in Richmond to renovate, you need to purchase insurance? Even though it seems like an obvious requirement from your bank, what a lot of people don't know is that if you're planning on buying, restoring and selling a home, a lot of insurance agencies won't insure you or even worse, require you to buy a year's worth which you won't need. At Cary-Wheeler and Associates we work with your contractor to find out exactly how long you will need a policy for and insure you for things that you may not expect! While the home is being flipped, there will be construction and expensive equipment on the property which you are fully responsible for as the homeowner, it's IMPERATIVE to be covered. The last thing you need is to run into legal trouble and dig into your profit margins. 

Know a Real Estate Agent or an Investor that needs help with Home Insurance? Even though one of carriers is Nationwide, we compare rates with many different companies and can get you the best rates! 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Casa del Barco restaurant opening second location with rooftop tequileria in Short Pump Town Center

BY KARRI PEIFER Richmond Times-Dispatch

Casa del Barco, the Mexican restaurant that Richmond restaurant Kevin Healy opened on the Canal Walk in 2013, is planning a second location in Short Pump Town Center.

The restaurant will join its sister restaurant The Boathouse, which opened its third location in the mall in 2015. The new Casa del Barco will be in the former Tara Thai.
This location will be 8,400 square feet and include an "open-air rooftop tequileria" with a menu of 200 tequilas or mezcals. There will also be a private dining.
“We wanted to find the right fit for our second Casa del Barco location and when the opportunity to open at Short Pump Town Center was available, we knew we couldn’t pass it up,” Healy said.
The new Casa del Barco is expected to open this summer and will create 85 jobs, according to a news release. The restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

The Boathouse restaurant group is also working on a The Boathouse restaurant location in Hopewell. That spot is slated to open in April or May.

Original Article