Want To Improve Your Neighborhood? Here Are 10 Ways You Can Take Action Immediately

Want To Improve Your Neighborhood? Here Are 10 Ways You Can Take Action Immediately

If you’re a homeowner, you may have spent months, even years investing in and improving the look and feel of your house. You’ve turned it into your personal oasis. It has all the amenities you need and want, and all the renovations you’ve made perfectly reflect your personal taste.

Creating the home you want doesn’t just end at your property’s boundaries. Take a look at your neighborhood. Could it use a little sprucing up? Do you think you can make a positive impact on the appearance and safety of your streets, sidewalks, playgrounds, and other public spaces? If you think you can make your neighborhood a better place to live, here are 10 ways you can take action immediately.

1- Pick up litter near your home.

A little cleaning goes a long way. If trash was thrown on the sidewalk that runs by your home, take a few seconds to put it in the garbage. If everyone on your street did this, you would have a clean, trash-free street in no time!

2- Support local businesses.

Supporting local business can help improve the local economy, keeping the neighborhood unique. Thriving small businesses in your area may help boost the desirability of living in that particular area. This may, in turn, increase the value of the properties around it — possibly yours. Supporting local entrepreneurs may also allow you to meet new people, keeping the neighborhood friendly and open to newcomers.

3- Volunteer.

There may be more opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood than you think, whether it’s at the local public library or in a community garden. All you need to do is ask! Volunteering, whether it’s cleaning up, helping out at an after-school program, or just keeping others company, can benefit the people around you in unseen ways and bring the community closer together.

4- Talk to and help your neighbors.

Even if you prefer keeping to yourself, it’s important to connect with your neighbors — you never know when you may need their help, or if they’ll ever need yours. They can keep an eye on your house and alert you should there ever be some suspicious activity on your property. If you have an elderly neighbor, help them shovel snow in the wintertime. If you have kids, your neighbor may end up being the person you trust the most to keep them safe when you’re away.   

5- Donate.

You don’t have to donate money to improve the quality of life in your neighborhood. If there is a local charity near you, try donating some gently used coats, clothes, and accessories— you never know who among the people around you is secretly struggling. It doesn’t matter who gets your previously owned items — just know that you’re helping them out in a huge way!

6- Help improve neighborhood safety.

There are so many ways you can help increase neighborhood safety, both on your own and with the help of your neighbors. Less crime in your area means a better quality of life! Check out all the ways you can start keeping you, your family, and your neighbors safe.

7- Plant a tree.

Trees and plants help improve air quality, which may lead to fresher, cleaner air in your neighborhood. Plus, they’re pleasant to look at, and provide shade in the summer months and can improve mental health. Get together with some neighbors and start planting: it’s a win-win situation!

8- Use your car less: bike, walk, or use public transportation.

If you want to improve both your neighborhood and the environment at large, use your car as little as possible. If you can bike or walk to your destination, do so! If everyone made the same effort, there could be less congestion on the streets. Additionally, you’ll get more exercise, and that’s a good thing!

9- Set up an emergency preparedness network and establish an action plan.

If you live in a high-risk area for natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, and tornadoes (to name a few), communicate with your neighbors: how would you keep each other safe and alive in the event of an emergency? Make plans to check on each other or to help transport groups of people to a safe zone, when necessary. You may also want to have a way to communicate in case phone lines are down.

10- Promote literacy.

One of the greatest advantages of having a home is that you can set up a small, free library on your property. No, it doesn’t mean inviting people into your home — all it takes is a single bookshelf. Homeowners can set up small “give one, take one” book exchanges in front of their houses that allow anyone to do just that: leave a finished book on the shelf while taking out a new one for free. This way, children in the area may have greater access to literature and knowledge. Who knows, you may help them get better scores on tests and do better in school!

These are only a few ways you can help improve your neighborhood, but any small, positive change can make a world of difference in the quality of life of your and your neighbors. Don’t underestimate the power of your actions!

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

Help! A Sex Offender Moved Into My Neighborhood. What Should I Do?

Help! A Sex Offender Moved Into My Neighborhood. What Should I Do?

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

Imagine this scenario: you’ve lived in the same neighborhood for months, even years, and feel quite at home there. You have everything you need in your immediate area and have turned your house into a real home. You love your neighbors and get along with them. Then, one day, you receive an official notice that a sex offender has moved in.

If you live alone or with a significant other, this may frighten you, and you may think of this person as a threat. If you have children you may be particularly frightened. You may be tempted to keep an eye on your family’s every move, accompanying them wherever they go. But even if this news sounds off some alarm bells, here are a few steps you can take to not just help you and your family stay safe, but stay calm too.

Know who’s around you.

If you are concerned that there are unknown sex offenders living in your neighborhood be advised that the federal government requires that all states release information to the public on registered sex offenders. This is “Meghan’s Law,” enacted by President Bill Clinton in 1996. However, it is up to each state to determine how to notify community residents. Law enforcement is, for example, sometimes required to notify residents either via fliers or community notification meetings.

States are required to keep a registry of convicted sex offenders, and there may even be online maps that show where they live. If you live next to a school or park, your neighborhood may not necessarily be clear of sex offenders: every state or jurisdiction has its own laws about where sex offenders can live and how close to places such as schools, parks, playgrounds, and even houses of worship. For greater peace of mind, you may want to check up on these laws with your local government. Often, specific details about a given sex offender’s crimes may even be available.

There is also a national database of sex offenders. The National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) created by the U.S. Department of Justice allows users to search by name, state, zip code, or even address (but only if the state allows the NSOPW to access address information).

Stay calm, alert, and vigilant.

Once you are certain that a sex offender or sexual predator lives in close proximity to you and your family, it is especially important to stay calm yet aware of your surroundings. In addition to keeping an eye on the state or national registries, take steps to learn skills that will help you stay safe. Panicking may ultimately be unproductive. Instead, communicate your knowledge to those around you. With children especially, create the sense that nothing has changed — but prepare them for dangerous situations.

Remember, unfortunately, many sexual predators may not have been caught yet. According to some experts, 95% of new sex crimes are committed by people whose names have not yet been added to the registries. Additionally, three-quarters of sex crimes are believed to be committed by someone familiar to the victim — not a stranger.

Talk to your children, if you have them — but be careful what you say.

Adults can typically comprehend the feelings of anxiety and fear and can generally digest information better than children can, but this doesn’t mean that “little ones” should be kept in the dark. Communicate the severity of the situation, but in gentler terms and in a soothing tone. You don’t have to fully explain the grisly, graphic details of a sex offender’s crime: simply say that that person’s behavior can hurt them, so they should stay away from them. Add that, if the sex offender gets too close, the child should immediately find an adult with whom they feel safe. If you feel that you might benefit or are especially motivated, you could also consider reaching out to local law enforcement or child protective services to determine the best way to communicate this to your children.

If the sex offender is someone you know, or someone who spent time around your child…

While it’s not ideal, sometimes a newly convicted sex offender happens to be someone with whom you’re acquainted. It may be the relative of your or your children’s friend, a next-door neighbor you get along with, or even someone you see almost everyday, like a grocery-store employee.

To ensure your safety and that of your children, you may want to consider cutting ties with that person or perhaps those who work with or live closely to that person. If your child’s friend lives with the sex offender in question, move all play dates to your home instead of letting your child go to their friend’s house — this way, you are the one supervising them and retain some control.

In the event that the offender is a friend of yours, you may want to consider severing ties or limiting contact with that person for the safety of your family.

Whatever the case, you may wish to consider prioritizing safety over the historic relationship you have with the offender or those people who spend much time with them.

Know where your kids are and what they’re doing — even if it means “annoying” them.

More likely than not, kids are more than happy to tell you how “annoying” you are by not giving them their space. Sure, teenagers who want their freedom are likely to lash out at any parent’s attempt to hinder that transition into adulthood. But if you’re a parent of a minor, know that having your child yell at you from time to time is well worth it if it means keeping them safe. Have them check in with you throughout the day, and have them tell you where they are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing. They may not always be telling the truth, but at least you’ll hear from them regularly.

If you’re the parent of a small child, know who is spending time near your kids whether they’re on a playdate, attending an after-school activity, or even on their morning walk to school.

Practice safety techniques with them, and give them knowledge to defend themselves.

Regular practice of safety techniques teach your family how to assess a situation and determine whether or not they are in danger. You can even practice these methods in your own home by simulating how you believe a dangerous person may try and approach your child. For example: you can have your child or teenager learn how to politely reject an accoster, then immediately seek out a safe space where there are other adults.

However, these skills are of little use if you don’t give your child some space. You can gradually increase the amount of independence they have if they’re at an age that they are just now starting to leave home without you to accompany them or absent your direct supervision.

Most importantly, teach your child how to say “no.” This may be the most important tool in the arsenal, as it may protect them against emotional and physical coercion, unsafe games, or inappropriate touching.

Living in the same neighborhood as a sex offender can be scary, especially if you have children, but it doesn’t mean you have to move. By staying informed and alert, you can take steps to better protect and keep you and your family safe! Check out other ways you can help improve neighborhood safety.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

Alarming New Report Claims That Nearly Half Of All Cell Phone Calls Will Be Scams By 2019

Alarming New Report Claims That Nearly Half Of All Cell Phone Calls Will Be Scams By 2019

An alarming new report says that the volume of calls from unknown numbers is on the rise.  According to Inquisitr, First Orion claims that “nearly half of all calls to mobile phones will be fraudulent in 2019 unless the industry adopts and implements more effective call protection solutions.”

To many of us, that may not come as a huge surprise: everyday, thousands of cell phone owners are plagued by robocallers and scammers who are now using a technique called ‘neighbor spoofing’ to essentially trick people into picking up. There are two prevalent neighbor spoofing techniques: robocallers use a number with the same area code and exchange as your own (a.k.a., the first six numbers), or when scammers impersonate and modify phone numbers from neighbors, friends, and local business to entice you to pick up the phone.

The company first released a report in 2017 that claimed that only 3.7 percent of calls received on cell phones were from scammers. That has grown to a whopping 44.6 percent projected in this latest report.

First Orion Corp., a company that specializes in cell phone protection, analyzed over 50 billion calls made to tens of millions of cell phone users to determine the number. The company is currently partnered with many mobile phone companies such as Sprint, T Mobile, Virgin Mobile, MetroPCS, and Tracfone.

Their in-network technology has allowed them to both identify new scam methods and prevent scam calls by warning the mobile phone users which calls may be fraudulent. However, many people still use third-party call blocking apps: because neighbor spoofing allows the scammer to disguise their phone number, these apps are not as effective as in-network technology.

Read more on how to know if you are the victim of neighbor spoofing by checking out the NeighborWho blog.

Are you a NeighborWho subscriber? Try our Phone Search to lookup those suspicious numbers and protect yourself against telemarketers, scammers, and robocallers.

These are the Most Common Types of Homes in the United States, and Here’s Where to Find Them

These are the Most Common Types of Homes in the United States, and Here’s Where to Find Them

Homes in the United States come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. But if you look closely, you may find some that resemble each other closely. In fact, the rich history of our country has contributed to the popularity of some architectural trends in certain specific, discernible areas and regions. You may not necessarily know them by name, but you may recognize a few of these styles — and perhaps, your own home’s architecture follows one of these trends! Here are eight of some of the most popular house styles in America.

1- Craftsman Style

Craftsman style homes were most popular from 1905 to the 1930’s. Also called Arts & Crafts homes, the most notable key characteristics of this style include a low-pitched, gable roof, unadorned, massive tapered columns that help support a porch, and exposed rafters. The architectural styles stemmed from a philosophical movement that emphasized handwork and rejected the mass production attributes of the Industrial Revolution. It also rejected the over-decorated aesthetic of the Victorian era. Craftsman style homes can be found all over America, but are most popular in the Western U.S. However, this style has been experiencing a revival since the 1990’s with many homeowners leaning to a minimalistic, simple, and clean design.

2- Ranch style

A ranch-style home is perhaps one of the most recognizable architectural styles in America thanks to its no-frills, low horizontal profile, typically single-story design (although, there are raised ranch-style homes that are two stories). Other typical characteristics of this style include a U- or L-shaped floor plan and attached garages. They were most popular from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, when there was a notable influx of farmers moving to the suburbs. These new homeowners wanted their houses to reflect the simple, informal lifestyle to which they had become accustomed. This architectural style is the most popular in the Sun Belt region, or the Southern tier of the United States.

3- Mediterranean Revival

Popular in the 1920’s and 30’s, Mediterranean Revival style homes managed to capture the essence of a Mediterranean villa. People were moving toward embracing and valuing leisure time, and nothing screamed opulence, exoticism, and relaxation more than this style. It became a very popular style in warmer states like Florida and California, which were among the first to develop a tourism industry along the coast. These states also shared a Spanish colonial history, which played a key part in forming the aesthetic of the Mediterranean Revival home.Common features of these homes include low-pitched, red-tiled roofs and a stucco and usually white-painted exterior. This style is neither distinctly Spanish nor Italian, but a mix of both.

4- Tudor Revival

Tudor Revival style homes were popular from 1880 to around 1940, and are mainly characterized by steeply pitched, side gable roofs and decorative half-timbering, narrow multi-light casement windows, and walls of stucco or stone. This style stems from an early English form, which came into vogue thanks to wealthy homeowners who could afford to pay for the decorative stone and brickwork. The Tudor Revival home fell out of style after World War II, when there was a resurgence of American patriotism. Homeowners started leaning toward a more distinctly American design, the Colonial Revival style. Tudor Revival homes were most popular on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

5- Colonial Revival

As the name suggests, these homes drew inspiration from the style of the typical colonial homes from the Colonial Era in the United States. They were part of a movement that celebrated an American identity after World War II, though they had been popular from 1880 to 1955. Instead of directly copying the style of those older houses, architects decided to mix and match details from several early styles. Typical characteristics of Colonial Revival style houses include a symmetrical facade, a large accented doorway, and evenly spaced 6-over-6 windows. There are millions of examples of this kind of house all over the country.

6- Cape Cod

Popular from the 1920’s to the 1940’s, Cape Cod style houses are the most popular — as you maybe guessed it — in the Northeast. This architectural style originated with the colonists who came from England to New England, and is typically a one-story cottage with a loft attic space and a symmetrical window placement on either side of a paneled front door. The houses were designed and built to withstand the region’s stormy weather. The term itself was coined in 1800.

7- Queen Anne

The Queen Anne architectural style, sometimes called the Victorian style, is very different from other typically American styles of houses in that it is very ornamental with sculptural shapes. Popular from 1880 to 1910, some key characteristics of the Queen Anne style include the wrap-around front porch (a trait that architects borrowed for other home styles), an asymmetrical facade, bold and unconventional color schemes, classical columns, and round, square, or polygonal towers. Queen Anne homes were a product of the Industrial Age, and ultimately fell out of style with a return to a more simplistic design. A famous example of this kind of house? The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, of course!

8- Neoclassical style

Mostly built from 1895 to 1950, the Neoclassical style pays homage to classical Greek and Roman architecture, and still shows itself to be related to Colonial Revival architecture. It is characterized by tall, massive columns, Corinthian or Composite capitals, a symmetrical facade, elaborate doorways, and evenly spaced windows. The heaviest concentration of the Neoclassical style of building is in the Northeast. It is a popular one for government buildings and universities, but there are many homes built in this style, too: Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, in Virginia, is a classic example. Primarily, the style served to show the upward social mobility of the home’s residents.

These are only a few of the many styles homes across America are built. Which one does your home have?

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

Is Your Home’s Interior Looking A Little Gloomy? Here Are 9 Ways You Can Bring More Natural Light Into Your Rooms

Is Your Home’s Interior Looking A Little Gloomy? Here Are 9 Ways You Can Bring More Natural Light Into Your Rooms

Natural light can do wonders for the body: sunshine can help boost your mood, trigger your body’s production of vitamin D, and can even lower blood pressure and improve brain function. But did you know that natural light can also benefit your home? Not only may you be able to save on electricity bills, but it can make you more productive, happier, and calmer, even when you’re spending time inside, away from the heat.

But what can you do if your house’s rooms are always dark or shaded? Here are 9 changes you can make to your home to help allow more natural light in.

1- Make the best use out of reflective surfaces.

A mirror or two can add tons of light to your house, as long as you place them strategically. For the best effect, prop or hang them opposite windows so that they disperse sunshine throughout the room.

2- Paint the walls a light color.

If your walls are painted a dark color, you may want to consider switching things up. Dark hues can make a room look darker, whereas an off-white wall will reflect sunlight better.

3- Rethink your door.

This tip may not be the first one you think of when trying to bring more light into your home, but a door with a glass pane can allow more of it inside. If you’re concerned with safety, consider high-security glass.

4- Move furniture around.

If you have room to do it, move furniture around, a few feet away from windows. This can go a long way, especially if you have a piece of furniture blocking the sunlight!

5- Consider other flooring options.

Dark floors can absorb natural light, which may make your room look darker. Carpets may have a similar effect. Wooden, ceramic or stone floors with a polished finish are the best options to help disperse light better throughout your rooms.

6- Clean windows, replace them if you can, and change up the curtains.

This is perhaps one of the most important tips on this list. A first step is making sure that your windows are clean so that they can let the light in: grime and soot accumulate over time, decreasing the amount of light they’re letting in. If your windows are frosted or have parts that block out the light, consider changing the style of your windows. Similar to flooring and carpeting, dark curtains can absorb light more than you think, so invest in some light-colored curtains, too!

7- Add a skylight.

If you’re planning to make renovations on your home, you may want to think about adding a skylight. Not only will it let more light in, but it can add more character to a room!

8- Trim trees and shrubs.

Sure, shade may be a great thing in the summertime, but overgrown shrubs and trees in your yard may be casting a much bigger shadow than you think, preventing any sunlight from streaming into your home. A little trimming can go a long way!

9- Knock down a wall.

If you have the time, resources, and energy to make major renovations to your house, consider knocking down a wall. This is a huge step, and there are many considerations before making such a huge decision. But if the circumstances are right, knocking down a wall can do more than just let in a little more light: it can open up a room, create a communal space, and be the first step to creating your dream home! Check out NeighborWho’s guide on when, how, and why to knock down the wall if you’re seriously thinking about doing so.

Letting more light into your home can be an easy, budget-friendly way to revamp its look and style. It may take a few tries, but you may be thrilled with the results!

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

 

Don’t Let Your Home’s Beauty Fade: These 13 Budget-Friendly Tricks Can Instantly Help You Ramp Up Your House’s Curb Appeal

Don’t Let Your Home’s Beauty Fade: These 13 Budget-Friendly Tricks Can Instantly Help You Ramp Up Your House’s Curb Appeal

If you own a house, you’re likely familiar with the effort it takes to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Many homeowners often complain that the upkeep is constant: once one problem is fixed, something else breaks. Anything can go wrong in a minute, from a burst water pipe to broken tiles. And not to mention the countless hours maintaining your garden. But while they may lament the work behind keeping their houses beautiful, many homeowners actually enjoy the process. If you’re on a budget, you may be putting off the bigger projects meant to ramp up your curb appeal, but there are a few neat tricks that can make a huge difference almost instantly.

1- Paint your front door.

Don’t underestimate the power of repainting your front door. A fresh coat of paint can make your home stand out, especially if it’s a bright and inviting color. The more polished look may come at around just $30 — the cost of a gallon of paint.

2- Upgrade your mailbox.

If your mailbox is looking a little rusty and if you want your home to look a little more glamorous, it may be the perfect opportunity to replace it with a newer, more stylish option. Whether it’s

located close to the sidewalk or by your front door, you can find the perfect mailbox to fit the look you want for your home.

3- Revamp your house’s number.

Sure, you may not be able to change your house’s actual number, but you can definitely change its font and size to better suit your style. This can easily add some extra curb appeal to your home and, by extension, your neighborhood.

4- Plant a tree strategically.

Plants can spruce up an outdoor space, but if you place them strategically, they can do even more for your front yard. A tree may provide some shade, add color to your garden, and even frame your property.

5- Try out different lighting at night.

Your house may look its best during the day, but what about at night? The right lighting can set the ambiance you want and even show off all of its best features.

6- Cut the grass — but not too short.

Some homeowners underestimate the power of a well-manicured lawn: not only can it say that you care about your house and its appearance, but it may also keep your grass green and healthy. However, experts advise that it’s best to keep the blades between 2 to 4 inches in height, depending on the species of grass you have.

7- Install window boxes or planters.

Adding flowers below your windows can drastically change the look of your home, thanks to a the pop of color they can provide. You don’t have to have them at every window — even just one or two may be sufficient to drastically ramp up your curb appeal.

8- Add a stylish door knocker.

Once you’ve painted your door, you may want to invest in a new door knocker that fits your house’s style better. Check out more interesting shapes like lion’s heads or a different material or color.

9- Power wash everything.

From the siding to the pavement to your pathway, you may want to use a power wash to deep clean outdoor surfaces. Over time, many homeowners don’t realize how much grime and dirt accumulate in those areas, and you may be surprised just how new your house looks after a good wash.

10- Get rid of weeds.

This may be a no-brainer for most homeowners, but there’s more than one reason to get rid of weeds. Not only can they be unsightly, but because they are greedy for water, they may easily take over your lawn. Take great care to eradicate them, and your may be increasing your curb appeal tenfold!

11- Rethink your garage door.

It may be a daunting prospect to totally replace your garage door, but just like your front door, all it may need is a fresh coat of paint and a few accents to make it look like like new. Go the extra mile and get some vines and a trellis and place it over the door for a romantic touch.

12- Get a new doormat.

Although people walking down the street or driving by won’t see the details of your doormat, this minor replacement can do wonders for both the look and feel of your house as you know them. Even on the most basic level, a clean doormat can make your home look tidy — remember, the outdoor appearance of your house may be considered to be a reflection of what it’s like inside!

13- Replace old mulch.

Replacing old mulch doesn’t necessarily improve the health of your lawn and flower beds, but it can make your property look fresh and well-maintained.

All these tips are just a few ways you can up your curb appeal, but your home is what you make it: any changes you make should make your house feel like a home!

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

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