68 Countries Entered in the 43North Competition

Earlier this year, Buffalo announced the 43North project, which is allocating $5 million to developing startup companies in the area: with a $1 million grand prize, there are six additional awards of $500,000 and four worth $250,000.

Winners get a free “incubator” space in downtown Buffalo where they can develop their startup, the help of local mentors, and other incentives.  But these entrepreneurs must be willing to relocate to Buffalo.

Some 68 countries have entered the competition from all corners of the globe: from Rwanda to Vietnam, Argentina to Romania.  Check out the map to see the number of countries and submissions grow.

Five Spring Home Maintenance Tasks

Nothing renews that feeling of pride of ownership more than attending to annual home maintenance tasks (especially once they are completed and behind you). Now that spring has arrived, it’s time to investigate the condition of your home’s exterior— everything from the roof, gutters, siding, and foundation to the lawn, shrubs, trees and garden. The chore isn’t so bad, and with a plan — and the right tools — you can make short work of many of these common tasks:

Inspecting

Spring is a good time to see what damage winter storms, snow and ice may have done to the exterior of your home. Take this time to inspect the roof; you can do it easily and safely from the ground with a pair of binoculars. Look for loose, curled or missing shingles and any bent or damaged flashing around chimneys, skylights or points where the roof makes contact with the house. Note where repairs are in order and make sure to get them done. Next, clean out your gutters and downspouts. With those spring showers on the way, you definitely want to make sure your gutters are clear of debris so that they function properly. Also use this time to inspect your home’s foundation and chimney; repair any cracks or crumbles. Small fixes now could save you money and headaches later.

Pruning

Your trees and bushes will look and grow a lot better if you remove dead, damaged or overhanging branches. The main thing to remember here is to cut the entire branch off at the branch collar, which is the point where the branch connects to the trunk or another branch. Don’t leave little half branches or big stubs. You’ll get the best results using a handsaw or hand pruner, and it’s well worth investing in an extendable pruning saw with clippers if you have some branches that are just out of reach. Be sure to wear safety glasses and a hard hat if you are cutting branches directly overhead.

Cleaning

There’s certainly no shortage of things to clean outside when the spring season hits. A hose attachment like the HYDE PivotJet Pro can help with almost any cleaning task and lets you get the job done with ease since there’s no bulky or noisy engine to cart around or an electric cord to wrestle. Its powerful spray provides superior cleaning without the risk of damage associated with pressure washers. Use it to clean siding, windows, foundations, decks, gutters, patio furniture, grills, driveways, pool areas, fences, mowers and more. The spray wand with a pivot nozzle head gets into hard-to-reach spots, and a built-in liquid cleaner reservoir can be adjusted or turned completely off as needed. It’s much easier to use than a pressure washer, and much more affordable as well.

Touch-up painting

Exterior paint takes a beating throughout the year, so touching up those areas of your house, fence or shed where paint is starting to fail is a good way to avoid long-term damage and make everything look new and fresh. This isn’t a task you want to revisit every year, so it is crucial to follow the proper steps for prepping, priming and repainting.

Garden prepping

If you enjoy growing a garden, then you have some prep work to do before it’s ready for seed or seedlings. Removing weeds and leaves, tilling or turning the soil, testing the soil and adding the appropriate fertilizers are just a few tasks you can start doing now. You might want to consider adding a motorized tiller to your arsenal of tools if you plan on keeping a good-size garden every year. If you get a jump on prepping your garden early in the season, you will have more time later to enjoy the fun part — watching your garden grow!

Why It’s Important to Be Pre-Approved

So much has changed in the past few decades that the old ways of buying or selling a home simply won’t work today. For decades, buying a home was pretty much the same thing: You shopped around, made an offer and then went to the bank to get a loan. If you were denied or there were problems, you walked away.

Today, a buyer needs to speak to the bank and get approved prior to shopping and definitely before making an offer on a home. Not being pre-approved today won’t get you past the front door. Here’s why:

Markets move faster today

With online listings and so many real estate resources available to buyers and sellers, it’s easy to quickly get a property in front of the masses. Buyers aren’t waiting on a call or fax from their real estate agent like they did in the 1980s. Instead, motivated buyers get push notifications from Zillow or texts from their agents and see homes as soon as possible. It’s more efficient.

Transactions happen at the same speed. If you’re not approved for a mortgage when you make an offer, the seller risks waiting weeks to see if your loan will go through. That’s not good for them. Show that you’re pre-approved, and you’ve eliminated one huge hurdle for the seller.

Know what you can afford

People today are focused on their monthly payments more than the total purchase price. Why? Because, unlike the typical buyer a generation ago, many of today’s buyers don’t plan on staying in their homes for 30 years. Instead, they can commit to 7 to 10 years and are open to alternate mortgage options that could save them money on their monthly payments.

It’s helpful to know exactly what a $425,000 mortgage will cost vs. a $500,000 mortgage on a monthly basis. Also, in some parts of the country, there are options for FHA loans with as little as 3 percent down. Knowing all your options before you start shopping allows you to shop and buy smarter. There’s no sense looking at homes in the $400,000 range if you can afford more, and vice versa.

Competing with pre-approved buyers

Few buyers today get into the real estate market without forging a relationship with a local mortgage professional. It’s simply smarter to have your ducks in a row. In a competitive market, you may face multiple on one property. If you don’t have a pre-approval letter to go with your offer, you have zero chance of getting your offer accepted. Not being pre-approved means you aren’t a serious buyer in the eyes of the seller.

Getting pre-approved means organizing all your documents, documenting your income, debt and credit, and understanding all the loan options available to you. There should never be a cost to be pre-approved for a loan. And you aren’t committed to a mortgage when going through the pre-approval. Got a signed contract from a seller? Then you’re ready to lock in a rate and choose the mortgage that’s best for you.

Butter Sculpture Receives Pardon

Butter Sculpture Receives Pardon

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Butter sculptures are a familiar staple during Easter in Buffalo, often used during Polish-American Easter festivities.  Polish immigrants brought the lamb tradition when they came to America and settled in upstate New York.

On Wednesday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz saved one lamb: much like US presidents pardon turkeys prior to Thanksgiving, Poloncarz pardoned one butter lamb from going “under the knife” this Sunday.

10 Over-Water Bungalows That Will Take Your Breath Away

10 Over-Water Bungalows That Will Take Your Breath Away

In honor of the good weather of this past weekend and the cold front that’s on its way, check out these ten over -water bungalows in tropical climates.  Imagine waking up to the sound of the waves and the feel of the warmth…

Cayo_Belize

 

Cayo Espanto, Ambergris Caye, Belize

cocoa-island-by-como

 

Cocoa Island by COMO, South Male Atoll, Maldives

Four Seasons_Bora Bora

 

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Gili_Maldives

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives, North Male Atoll, Maldives

Hilton Moorea Lagoon

 

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, Moorea, French Polynesia

pangkor-laut-resort

 

Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor, Malaysia

Rosewood_Playa del Carmen

 

Rosewood Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Sofitel Moorea_Ora Beach

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort, Moorea, French Polynesia

Song Saa Private Island_Cambodia

 

Song Saa Private Island, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

the-st-regis-bora-bora

 

The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, Bora Bora, French Polynesia