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Winter pruning - Getty Images

Winter is a great time to prune your trees and shrubs!

And if you'd like to hire a professional, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) may be able to help. Their Tree-Bate program offers rebates for professional tree care – up to $100 for residential customers!

ABCWUA Tree-Bates!

Trees, while they do require water to survive, actually aid conservation by providing shade and reducing water loss to evaporation, not to mention the many other environmental benefits they bring to our community.  In order to promote proper care in our dry climate, the Water Authority offers “Tree-Bates” to help cover the costs of tree maintenance -- and even the purchase of new trees!   The “Tree-Bate” is 25 percent of the cost of…
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By: Jan Soults Walker

Make an outdoor living area comfy long after the sun sets or the leaves turn with outdoor lighting, a patio heater, and a glowing firepit or portable fireplace.

Light the Deck or Patio

The sun sets sooner on your outdoor living space in the fall, but that shouldn’t limit the hours you use your deck or patio. Adding low-voltage or solar outdoor lighting fixtures lets you party or relax well after dark.

With both lighting types, you can:

  • Light deck railings and stairs
  • Define the patio perimeter
  • Illuminate the edges of paths and walkways
  • Draw attention to a planter or tree

Other fixtures light up dining tables, grill surfaces, and even underwater in swimming pools. 

Low-voltage fixtures clip onto a

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patio idea

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Upgrading your outdoor spaces? Here are upgrades that landscape architects rate as most popular.

If you’re thinking of sprucing up your yard, install what you love; but also pick upgrades that will increase your home’s value and, someday, attract buyers.

The new "2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey" by the American Society of Landscape Architects clues you in on what outdoor features are trending up: 

1.  Outdoor lighting (98.3% of architects rated this as very popular): With today’s solar and LED lights, it’s a low-cost upgrade, too. 

2.  Terraces, patios, and decks (97.7%): Adding any of these features is like adding another room to your home for much of the year.

3.  Low-maintenance landscaping

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Couple looking at tablet with their realtor

By: G. M. Filisko
Source: Houselogic

By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that homeownership will fit in your budget.

Homeownership should make you feel safe and secure, and that includes financially. Be sure you can afford your home by calculating how much of a mortgage you can safely fit into your budget.

Why not just take out the biggest mortgage a lender says you can have? Because your lender bases that number on a formula that doesn’t consider your current and future financial and personal goals.

Think ahead to major life events and consider how those might influence your budget. Do you want to return to school for an advanced degree? Will a new child add day care to your monthly expenses? Does a relative plan to

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Couple packing/moving

Plan ahead.

Develop a master to-do list so you won’t forget something critical heading into moving day. This will also help you create an estimate of moving time and costs.

Discard items you no longer want or need.

Ask yourself how frequently you use an item and how you’d feel if you no longer had it. Sort unwanted items into “garage sale,” “donate,” and “recycle” piles.

Pack similar items together.

It will make your life easier when it's time to unpack.

Decide what you want to move on your own.

Precious items such as family photos, valuable breakables, or must-haves during the move should probably stay with you. Pack a moving day bag with a small first-aid kit, snacks, and other items you may need before unpacking your “Open

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Couple working with a REALTOR®

Buying a home is one of the largest financial investment you will ever make.

When else do you spend around over $200,000 on a single item?

Like other large investments, it makes sense to have an expert that is looking after your best interest. Because of the complexity of real estate transactions, rising number of home buyers are using REALTORS®. In 2013, about 88% of home buyers nationally purchased their home through a real estate broker. That’s up from 69% in 2001, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Here are a few of the ways it helps to have a REALTOR in your corner:

REALTORS® know the process

  1. As your client advocate, your REALTOR® is your market expert and master negotiator in one.
  2. They are more that just
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Women searching using binoculars

House hunting is just like any other shopping expedition. If you identify exactly what you want and do some research, you’ll zoom in on the home you want at the best price. These eight tips will guide you through a smart homebuying process.

1. Know thyself.

Understand the type of home that suits your personality. Do you prefer a new or existing home? A ranch or a multistory home? If you’re leaning toward a fixer-upper, are you truly handy, or will you need to budget for contractors?

2. Research before you look.

List the features you most want in a home and identify which are necessities and which are extras. Identify three to four neighborhoods you’d like to live in based on commute time, schools, recreation, crime, and price. Then hop

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Group stands outside home for sale

How long have you been in residential real estate? Is it your full-time job?

Like most professions, experience is no guarantee of skill. But much of real estate is learned on the job.

Do you have any designations or certifications?

Real estate professionals have to take additional specialized training in order to obtain these distinctions. Designations and certifications help define the special skills that an agent can apply to your particular real estate needs. One designation buyers should look for is the ABR®, or Accredited Buyer’s Representative.

What’s your business philosophy?

While there’s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what’s important to the agent and determine how closely the agent’s goals

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Quick-and-easy tasks that’ll brighten up your interior.

December.

The year’s coming to an end. Time to do four small tasks for a bright (and money-saving) new year.

#1 Clean Light Bulbs and Fixtures   

Two great reasons to clean your light bulbs: You want as much light in your house as you can get as the days grow shorter, and, you’ll save money.

Dirty bulbs apparently shed 30% less light than clean ones, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Wipe bulbs with a cloth dampened by a mix of 1 oz. dish soap, ¼ cup white vinegar, and 3 cups of water. Get to it December 1 so you’re ready for the curtain fall on the shortest day of this year: Thursday, December 21.

#2 Evaluate Homeowner's Insurance

The holidays. You love

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It’s the spring cleaning of fall, so to speak.

With THE HOLIDAYS coming at you fast and furious, you want to be sure your home is cozy, but with that fresh-as-spring feel — as opposed to that musty-damp-winter feel.

Here's how to make that happen (along with a few other timely tips):

#1 Wash Bed Pillows

You love your trusty, old, perfectly-snugged-to-your-head pillow. But guess what's also snug against your head? Fungus — 4 to 16 species to be precise. Gross!

With fall being the height of guest season, you'll want your pillows fresh, too. Pop them in the washing machine and dryer for an all-over clean feeling. (But check manufacturer advice, too. Some pillows shouldn't be washed, but replaced instead.)

#2 Clean the Mattress, Too

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