Maria Elena

MARIA ELENA "ME" BANKS

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY CA PROPERTIES

7 Quick Tips to Get Your Swimming Pool Ready for Summer

May 30, 2012 in Homeowner. 0 Comment

7 Quick Tips to Get Your Swimming Pool Ready for Summer

Summer is nearly here, which means it’s time to get your pool back into shipshape form. Before you bring out the floats, sunscreen, and other pool accessories, there are a few steps you need to take to get your pool ready for swimming. Whether you kept your pool under a cover, or the water’s turned into a green, leafy soup, the following quick tips can get you well on your way to that first summer swim.

1. Clean the deck

The pool deck area is, aesthetically speaking one of most important aspects of the pool, and it’s been practically abandoned during the cold winter months. Before you pull off the pool cover, be sure to sweep away or hose off any leaves, pine needles, or other debris from the pool deck. 

2. Remove the pool cover

Before you remove the pool cover, be sure to wipe off any leaves or debris that has collected. If water from rain or the hose has collected on the pool, drain it using these instructions before you take off the pool cover. Feeding that water back into the pool is a bad idea, as it could drastically upset the chemical balance of the pool. Once you’ve removed the pool cover, lay it out on the deck and give it a thorough cleaning. Use a mild detergent to remove any dirt stains, and then simply hose it off. 

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Brighten Someone's Day with a Random Act of Kindness

May 28, 2012 in Lifestyle. 0 Comment

Brighten Someone's Day with a Random Act of Kindness

Have you ever had a stranger offer you their place in line at a grocery store or open the door for you when your hands were full? If you’ve really been lucky, maybe someone paid for your meal at a drive-thru. We call these random acts of kindness - when someone does something nice for us even when they don’t know us.  

 

The idea is to be nice to someone so they can pass it on to someone else. If we all lived this way, think how much nicer the world (or your community) would be. Here are a few ideas to help you with some random acts of kindness of your own.

 

Money

One of the biggest ways you can help someone is by using your money. You can do any of the following and it will make a difference:

-Put a quarter in a meter when you are about to leave or in the spot next to you

-Tip a service person more than the usual

-When you leave a foreign country, give away all of the currency that is left instead of converting it back

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7 Ways to Get Noticed and Promoted at Work

May 24, 2012 in Business/Finance. 0 Comment

7 Ways to Get Noticed and Promoted at Work

Getting the promotion you want often takes more than hard work. Here are seven simple ways to demonstrate your value and secure a better position.

Let Your Boss Know

Don’t assume people will know that you are interested in a job; discuss interest with your boss or supervisor. This can feel awkward, but most managers expect their best employees to want to advance. Your annual evaluation is a good time to broach the subject; you can often get your manager’s input on how to get that promotion.

Volunteer

Take on extra responsibilities and volunteer for special projects. Not only will you show you’re dedicated and can handle challenges, but it will help you get noticed by more people.

Speak Up

If you have ideas, speak up. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion and offer new suggestions on how to complete a project or task. This can show that you are able to handle more than your current job.

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Costco Now Selling Mortgages to Capitalize on Growing Market

May 23, 2012 in Homeowner. 0 Comment

Costco Now Selling Mortgages to Capitalize on Growing Market

In addition to bulk boxes of Cheez-It crackers and discounted flat screen TVs, shoppers can now purchase ready-to-go mortgages at the wholesale depot Costco.

 

Partnering with First Choice Bank and ten other lenders, Costco now offers a mortgage lending program on its website. After a year of testing more than 10,000 mortgages, Costco will move into an aggressive promotion campaign to gather more members and provide a wider range of financial products.

 

"The Costco service, while offering competitive options for its members, still warrants comparison shopping and research," says Keith Gumbinger of the mortgage information company HSH.com. Gumbinger surmises that the Costco services may provide more opportunities to homeowners looking to refinance, than those looking to purchase a home. "The process of purchasing a home happens face-to-face, and isn’t yet suited for online transactions," Gumbinger says.

 

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Take This Test to Find out If You’re Addicted to Facebook

May 21, 2012 in Tech. 0 Comment

Take This Test to Find out If You’re Addicted to Facebook

In the halcyon days of Facebook, college friends connected with each other, networked for career purposes, and shared fun memories. Now, however, Facebook has turned into a social Narcissus, where people become trapped on the site, checking and updating statuses at all hours of the day. Where stalking is acceptable and showing off encouraged, Facebook has turned “Likes” into social currency. 

 

Harvard scientists have released a study that proves what everyone already knew about Facebook: it’s addictive. In the study, scientists found that online social interaction, particularly bragging and self- promotion, triggered sensations of pleasure, similar to what happens when we eat ice cream or receive a yearly bonus.

 

Because activities on Facebook, like posting photos and sharing your thoughts, are so closely tied to pleasure, it makes sense that so many of us flock to the site multiple times a day. The brain remembers the thrill of reading friends’ comments and wall posts. What the brain remembers, it repeats, and this is the source of addictive Facebook behavior.

 

A group of researchers in Norway recently delved deeper into Facebook addiction, observing the behavior of 423 people to uncover some of the risk factors associated with Facebook use. They found younger people more addicted than older people, and that women were more susceptible to Facebook addiction than men. This led the team to develop the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale. 

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Can the Internet Tell You How Long You Will Live?

May 18, 2012 in Lifestyle. 0 Comment

Can the Internet Tell You How Long You Will Live?

There are numerous tools available today that can calculate how long you should expect to live. They are free web-based tools that allow you to input your age and other information, and they calculate your life expectancy. But what do they really tell you?

How They Work

There are basic calculators that only require your birthdate and gender. These are generalized calculators that base their results on the overall population in your age range. For more precise information you will need to use a complex calculator.

With complex calculators, you provide information about your age, family history, and lifestyle. From this information the system will calculate how long you can expect to live. While these are more accurate, they do not take into account what would happen if you make good or bad changes in your life. They still make their calculations based on statistics for the general population.

 

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Fun Social Games Worth Checking Out

May 16, 2012 in Sports/Entertainment. 0 Comment

Fun Social Games Worth Checking Out

Social games have come a long way since pinocle. With the rise of smartphones and social networks, people can connect with their friends and acquaintances all over the world by challenging them to match in Words with Friends or Draw Something. If you’re just getting into the social gaming world, here are our top picks to keep you entertained and delighted.

Words with Friends

With almost nine million daily active users, Words with Friends is Scrabble on speed. Similar to the board game, Words with Friends gives each player in a two-person game tiles with letters to spelled out as words on the board. In this fast-paced, real-time game, you can challenge any friend to battle of words. The game is free to play on Facebook, iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.

Cityville

Eight million users build cities, civilizations, and societies with the hugely popular game Cityville. In this role-playing game, you can open restaurants, build hotels and bridges, collect rent and capture criminals.  Once you’ve built your city, you can run for mayor and, later, governor. Play this game on Facebook or Zynga.com. 

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8 Companies Hiring Right Now

May 14, 2012 in Business/Finance. 0 Comment

8 Companies Hiring Right Now

If you’re considering a mid-life career change or want to seek success beyond your current position, now is the time to make your move. Booming tech companies and Fortune 100 companies looking to expand have a combined 96,000 job opportunities available. Below is the list of top companies hiring right now.

1 - General Electric (GE)

Ranked 6th on the Fortune 500, GE currently has over 8,000 job openings, more than 2,000 of which are located in the United States. GE seeks experts in a range of fields including engineering, finance, marketing, information technology, manufacturing, and sales. GE recruiters say they are looking for candidates who generate new and creative ideas, have expertise in their field, and are clear, analytical thinkers. Search GE’s job openings.

2 - International Business Machines (IBM)

Another tech giant, IBM seeks over 8,000 new employees for jobs in consulting, hardware engineering, finance, accounting, IT, human resources, and law services. IBM is another top ranked company, coming in at no. 18 on the Forbes 500 list. IBM prizes its culture of forward-thinking and collaborative innovation, seeking both experienced professionals and recent college graduates. Search IBM’s job openings.

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How Can You Tell When it’s a Sellers Market?

May 11, 2012 in Homeowner. 0 Comment

How Can You Tell When it’s a Sellers Market?

Reports have been showing that the housing market is improving, which is good news to both buyers and sellers.  There are several indicators that show we may be transitioning to a seller's market. 

Inventory

The length of time that it takes for inventory to turn over has dropped to around three months, which is good news for sellers.  This means that if there were no new homes listed for sale, it would take three months for all of the homes to be sold.

More Jobs

When new businesses open or current businesses add new workers, more people will be buying homes.  People may move into the area and others feel more confident to buy a house when they have a stable income.

House Prices Increase

This indicator is usually one of the later to be seen.  However, you will begin to see less negotiation between buyers and sellers; buyers are more willing to pay the sales price.  Sellers are less likely to offer deals or reduce their price because they know someone else will be interested in the house at the selling price.

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Hire a Detective to Get the Latest Apps

May 09, 2012 in Tech. 0 Comment

Hire a Detective to Get the Latest Apps

No matter how many cool apps you have in your app store, you are always on the lookout for something new. It could be an upgrade of an app you already have, or one that hasn’t been updated to the latest version of a device. Instead of spending hours scouring the store for what you want, use AppDetective to find it for you.

What is AppDetective?

AppDetective is an app that you can download onto your mobile device and specify a wish list of apps for it to locate. As soon as your app is available, it will let you know, and you can decide if you want to download it.

AppDetective is for use with Windows phones and will support Windows Phone 7.5 or higher. Since there are fewer applications available for Windows-based phones than for Androids and iPhones, this will be helpful for anyone waiting on a particular app. Since developers add new apps every day, this will save you time from hunting through the Windows app store over and over again as you eagerly wait for an application that is already available on other phones.

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How to Have a Rational Political Discussion with Friends and Family

May 07, 2012 in Lifestyle. 0 Comment

How to Have a Rational Political Discussion with Friends and Family

In some families, there are some subjects that you just don’t bring up at the dinner table. If you’ve been afraid to mention your budding libertarian sentiments to your socially-minded family or friends, arm yourself with the following tips and you’ll soon be engaged in a rational, lively political discussion.

Know what you know and what you don’t. 

Being a political junkie is a full-time job, and you’re not likely to be thoroughly versed on certain topics unless you’ve spent hours researching. Fortunately, unless you’re on a competitive debate team, there’s no rule that mandates all parties in a conversation must know every nuance and facet of a subject. This means you should be open-minded about possible interpretations of a political situation or candidate; it also means you should recognize where your own knowledge falls short.

Know the opposition.

Just as you should know yourself, you should know the opposition’s views. It’s too easy to consume news with a confirmation bias because those pundits tell you what you want to hear.

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7 Ways to Ruin Your Yard

May 04, 2012 in Homeowner. 0 Comment

7 Ways to Ruin Your Yard

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing daffodils and azaleas bloom in the warm weather. Inspired by the verdant blossoms in your neighbor’s yard, it’s easy to get carried away with unmanageable landscaping projects. This spring, as you consider your landscaping strategies, you may want to note these landscaping pitfalls so you can avoid lost time, wasted money, and tiresome maintenance.

 

1. Projects with unmanageable budgets and maintenance.  Underestimating the cost and time necessary to make your yard look good can cause a lot of problems down the road. Before you jump in headfirst, sit down and draft a landscaping plan. Estimate the cost of each project, revising your plan to fit your allotted budget and time commitment.

 

2. Focusing on the backyard rather than the front.  Just as you wouldn’t read a book from back to front, you don’t want to landscape from the back yard to the front. Creating curb appeal is one of the first things you should try to accomplish as you begin landscaping.

 

3. Buying things you won’t use, like concrete curbing and lawn ornaments.  It’s easy to get carried away in Lowe’s or other home supply stores. As you strategize your spring landscaping projects, whatever you do, don’t splurge your entire budget on one or two superfluous items. Concrete curbing is one of those luxury items that can easily cost upwards of $1,000. Large lawn ornaments, like outdoor fireplaces or statues, are expensive, and for the most part, unnecessary. 

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Recognizing and Fighting Age Discrimination in the Workplace

May 02, 2012 in Business/Finance. 0 Comment

Recognizing and Fighting Age Discrimination in the Workplace

As an experienced member of the work force, you face the risk of being subjected to age discrimination. Age discrimination, or ageism, is the prejudice or subordination against the middle-aged and seniors. Despite stellar job performance, years of experience, or other qualifications, those who face age discrimination may be intimidated, reprimanded, and in some cases, laid off by supervisors.

 

Since the 2008 recession, technology has advanced, jobs have grown scarce, and retirement investments have plummeted. Aside from coping with the fallout of the recession and the constantly changing technological landscape, seniors in the workplace hardly have time to worry about discrimination. Now, however, is the time to be on the lookout for prejudice or discrimination against those in their forties and beyond, as the bias against older age workers grows stronger. There are fewer jobs than five years ago, and just as many people looking for work; not to mention recent graduates and other young people who join the work force every year. Despite the exaggerated gloom and doom attitude towards the jobs market both a year ago and now, here are four steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of age discrimination:

Step 1: Trust your instincts

Age discrimination can be backhanded, subtle, and hard to document. If you have a gut feeling that there’s something fishy about the behavior of your supervisors, or if you experience one of these telltale signs, trust your instincts and start researching discrimination laws in your state. 

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Contact Information

Keller Williams Realty

2 Ritz Carlton Drive, Suite 201
Monarch Beach, CA 92629

ME Banks
Mobile: (949) 248-9300
Fax: (949) 248-0937
Email: mariaelena@mebanks.com
CalBRE #: 00670773