February 11 2013


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The Northeast United States was crushed under three feet of snow this weekend. The storm caused downed power lines and resulted in thousands of people being without power for several days.  What do you do when the power goes out?  Having no power for several hours or days is especially dangerous in freezing temperatures.  Here are a few tips to help you out.


“Be Prepared” is not only the Boy Scouts’ motto, it should be yours as well.  Don’t wait for a power outage before you act. 


Make certain you have plenty of fresh batteries on hand for flashlights and a battery-powered portable radio.  Place a strip of glow-in-the-dark tape to flashlights to make them easy to spot in the dark.  It may also be wise to invest in battery-powered candles so you have a constant light source.  You may consider getting some kerosene lamps, wicks and lamp oil before the next storm.  These will provide a much stronger light.


Make certain your home is properly insulated and that doors and windows are caulked.  Make certain you know how to manually open your garage door.  Store plenty of alternate fuel such as wood for a fireplace. 


If you have exposed pipes that may be in danger of freezing, wrap them in insulation or several layers of newspaper.  If using newspaper, cover the pipes with plastic to keep out moisture.  Know how to turn off water valves in your home and make certain you can turn them on and off. 


If you know a storm is coming set your freezer and refrigerator settings to the coldest level (just remember to set it back to a normal setting when the storm has passed or the power restored).  If you have medication that needs to be refrigerated, check with your pharmacy on how to protect it during an extended outage.


Once the storm hits, let your faucets drip to prevent freezing.  If your water supply will be adversely affected by a lack of power then fill your bathtub with water and any extra plastic containers.  Place an empty bucket by the tub.  The toilet will flush if you pour a pail of water directly into the bowl.  By the way, don’t drink any water you use to fill the tub. It is only for sanitation purposes.


Dress for the cold in several lightweight layers.  The many layers work better to insulate you than one heavy layer.  Put on a hat and gloves or mittens.  You can lose heat on any part of your exposed body.


Here’s another important tip: if the power goes out unplug all your sensitive electronic equipment including T.V.s, VCR, microwave, computer, cordless phone, answering machine and the garage door opener.  There is a good reason for this.  The power surge when the electricity is restored could cause voltage irregularities that could fry your equipment.


The Old Farmer’s Almanac had another excellent tip. Call shelters, motels or hotels that have power.  See if they will accept pets in case you need to leave your home and seek alternative shelter.


I’m certain you can think of others but whatever happens, don’t be caught unprepared.  Maybe winter storms will pass Omaha this year.  But by then we’ll be in tornado season.


Be prepared too, when you are thinking of buying or selling a home, with the name and number of an excellent Realtor like me.  You can call or text me at 402-670-8775 or email me at Marie.Otis@cbshome.com

December 31 2012

Omaha, Think Before You Pick Up that Snow Shovel

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Old Man Winter is flexing his muscles and for many of us snow shoveling is inevitable.  This may seem to be just a simple chore but consider the following from The Early Show Medical Correspondent, Dr. Emily Senay.  The average shovel when loaded with snow can weigh in at 16 pounds.  If you load the shovel 12 times per minute that means you moved 192 pounds of snow.  In ten minutes you will have lifted almost 2,000 pounds of snow. WOW!


Is it any wonder that even healthy people strain their backs when shoveling snow? 


What about people who are not healthy?  If you suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoke or lead a sedentary lifestyle you may be at a high risk for heart attacks and injuries while shoveling.  Frigid temperatures can exacerbate conditions.  Extreme cold makes it harder to breathe and adds a lot of extra strain to the body.


Be sensible about shoveling.  Stretch your muscles before attacking the snow.  You are about to engage in a vigorous bout of exercise.  If you have health problems then hire the kid down the street to shovel for you.  Dress in layers so you can remove layers as needed.  Use the right kind of shovel.


Lift with your legs – not your back.  Don’t twist your body to fling the snow away. Walk to the side and just turn the shovel to a 90 degree angle so the snow falls off.  If you can push the snow instead of lift, then please do so.  Anything you can do to make the job easier is a good thing.


Stop and rest.  Listen to your body.  Don’t overdo.  With Omaha winters I’m afraid shoveling snow is inevitable.  Please use caution next time you head out to clear your sidewalks and driveway.

May 10 2011

Summer Safety Tips for Kids

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Summer Safety Tips for Kids (and Parents too)!
Most of us can hardly believe that summer is already here, but with school coming close to an end for most districts in the Omaha area, we thought it would be a good time to remind everyone of a few summer safety tips.
  • Sun Safety: Use sun screen! To avoid sunburn, reapply every two hours when swimming or sweating.
  • Pool Safety: Never leave children alone or unattended; even for a moment.  Also, appropriately fence backyard pools.
  • Bug Safety: Do not use scented soaps, hair sprays or perfumes on kids.
  • Playground Safety: Make sure equipment is carefully maintained.  Open hooks or bolts can be dangerous.
  • Bicycle Safety: When purchasing a helmet, look for a label or sticker that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard.
  • Skateboard, Scooter and In-Line Skate Safety: Always wear a helmet and other protective gear such as wrist guards.
  • Lawn Mower Safety: Children younger than 12 should not use a push behind mower and children younger than 16 should not use a riding lawn mower.
These are just a few tips from a great article title “Summer Safety Tips” from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  You can view the entire article by clicking here.
Summer is a great time to buy a home!  If you are planning on buying or selling this summer, contact your CBSHOME Agent.  If you need an agent, feel free to contact our Relocation Department! Have a happy and safe summer!

June 14 2010

The BEST Thing about Real Estate is…

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I recently accompanied a friend who’s thinking of getting into the real estate business to a CBSHOME Career Night. I found it to be very informative and certainly worth the time of all who attended.

Near the end of the presentation, I was asked: “As an long-time agent, what is the best thing you’ve found about being a Realtor?”

To me, it was a very easy answer. I simply said: “The entire time my kids were growing up, I never once had to ask a boss if I could take the day off to go watch a Christmas Program.” There are lots of other things I never had to ask for the day off for; like field trips, doctor visits, taking several days off while my son recuperated from surgery or the few years when I picked the kids up every day from middle school.

There are a lot of great aspects to our business, but far and away, in my mind the flexibility of our schedule for family time or personal obligations wins hands down. That is the BEST thing about Real Estate.

Yes, there is a great opportunity to make a very good living income wise. Of course, any good Realtor works a lot of hours; many of which to make up for taking those afternoons off with the kids.

Of course there’s also a flip side. I’ve seen many agents come and go in my years because they had ‘too flexible’ of a schedule. If they didn’t have a boss to tell them what time to be at work , they just didn’t work. But if you happen to have an ‘entreprenurial edge’ about you, being a Realtor might just be your ticket!

May 20 2010

Omaha’s Downtown Living Tour!

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downtown2_oOmaha’s Downtown Living Tour is this Saturday, May 22nd from 11:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.!  This is a great opportunity to preview all the hottest condo and townhome properties in Omaha.

Make sure to visit the CBSHOME featured condo and townhome projects at The Paxton and Giovanna Rows.

January 08 2010

CBSHOME agents and staff pull together to help Siena Francis House

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On the news Sunday night they were interviewing a man who lives downtown in a tent.  He was really proud of his tent and its aero dynamic features, but I couldn’t help worry that aero dynamic or not a low temperature of below zero that night would be cold.  Waking the next morning, I was still thinking about the man braving the cold tempratures and then saw a news report about the Siena Francis House being short on coats, boots, hats and gloves, etc.  I went through my closets and drawers and didn’t come up with nearly enough, so I knew where to go.  Knowing that I work with the most generous and compassionate people, I sent out an email asking for donations for the very next day.  As usual, they stepped up to the plate and together we stuffed to capacity the back of an SUV. 


While delivering the items we received great thanks from the people working there, but what touched us the most were the smiles and even waves of thanks from the men and women who had just walked up the street to pick up a sandwich from the table placed outside. 




I got home that night feeling grateful to have the opportunity to work with such caring people and that together we could hopefully keep a few more people warm this winter.  The Siena Francis House wanted me to thank everyone at CBSHOME Real Estate.  THANK YOU!!

Find out how to help here…


December 07 2009

Forbes Ranks Omaha #1!

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Top 5 Best Bang For The Buck Cities

1. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Metro Area

2. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metro Area

3. Jackson, MS Metro Area

4. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Metro Area

5. Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC Metro Area

To find the cities that offer the most bang for the buck, Forbes looked at the country’s 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas–geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, for use in collecting statistics– across these measures: foreclosures as a percentage of home prices; vacancies; unemployment rates; a three-year job-growth forecast; a three-year home-price forecast; housing affordability; median real estate taxes; and median travel time to work.

Omaha, was  No. 1 bang-for-the-buck city and was also rated the city best surviving the recession.  It joins a number of Great Plains metros near the top of our list. These include Wichita, Kan. (No. 6) and Tulsa, Okla. (No. 19). This swath of prairie in the center of the country was somewhat buffered from the disastrous effect on coastal markets of the housing crisis, enabling it to emerge solidly from the recession. Housing sales here kept a steady, if slow, pace during the boom.

Click here to see the full list on Forbes.

Would you like more information on your housing options in Omaha?  Email bill.swanson@cbshome.com today!

November 02 2009

Halloween Candy Buy Back Program

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Suffering from the post Halloween blues?

As you are nursing your sugar hangover you are probably wondering what to do with all that leftover candy.  By now you have eaten all your full size chocolate bars and traded away anything else that has street value which leaves you with the final pile of candy I like to call “The Undesirables”.  You know what I am talking about – the icky peanut butter taffy wrapped in orange paper, pixie sticks and rock hard tootsie rolls, necco wafers and anything with coconut.

Well I have a solution for you – take all your unwanted candy to one of your local dentists who are participating in The Halloween Buyback program.  They will be happy to take your unwanted loot off your hands and even pay your for it!  They in turn send it, along with their own matching donations, to our troops overseas.

To find out more about who is participating in your area go to :  www.halloweencandybuyback.com

Hurry up as most dentists are only accepting candy for the next 2-3 days!  Sorry, they are only take candy so you will have to figure out what to do with your apples and popcorn balls!

September 16 2009

Fall into Autumn… in Nebraska City

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This weekend is the official kick off to the fall season with Nebraska City’s 41st Annual AppleJack Festival.  It is a great time to see the historic Arbor Lodge, participate in apple picking, view art exhibits, the car show and so much more.  View their website for more information and maybe enter the  Strongman/Strongwoman contest.  There will be fun for visitors of all ages!

September 16 2009

It’s time for RiverCity Round-up!

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It’s RiverCity Round-Up time!    Sept 24 – 27.

Grab a friend or your family and head for some fun this year.  Check out the rodeo and have the kids do a little Muttin bustin, one of those top ten things your kids should do before they grow up.  Go enjoy the  BBQ contest, fair, different contests, livestock  and trail rides.  Sit and watch the parade, go shopping and have lots to eat.  Billy Currington, Julianne Hough and Blake Shelton  are in concert with tickets as low as $17.00.  So go have a “rip, roarin” good time.

Check out all the details here.