Archive for October, 2011

Do you VRBO?

Several of my Real Estate clients have been picking up investment homes here in the valley and either holding them for long term rentals or making them a Vacation Rental By Owner, better known as a VRBO.  During the season you can do very well on weekly rents but the regular turn over of occupants can pose logistical problems at times.

Here’s a company that allows you to control the lights, thermostat, front door code and surveillance all from your smart phone.  So between occupants you can easily change the front door code for the next set of tenants and text or email them the new code without having to visit the property.  This is especially nice for those who manage property in another state or when you’re away. Same goes for changing the thermostat or lights that have been left on by your last visitors, wasting precious energy and racking up your bills.  You can change codes between cleaning crews as well, eliminating the need for a contractor’s box on the property which means you have to make a manual code change each time.

I learned about this system from a friend who’s renting a VRBO now and has Vivint installed. Here’s the website in case this is a resource you might find handy:




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Over the past month I’ve had a handful of friends and clients mention a surge in the number of scorpions they’ve found in their homes, each asking for a recommendation on which pest control service to use.  Thanks to my good friend Sandy, I maintain that YOU are the best defense against scorps, better than any service that has to use pesticides around your home.  Even the experts will tell you, they spray to reduce/eliminate crickets which are the food of scorpions, so the theory is without a food source you rid yourself of scorpions.  Maybe so, but when I bought my foreclosure home which sat empty for several months I sighted dozens in the backyard and a handful inside.  Thanks to Sandy, I worked at eliminating them over the months before I moved in (while remodeling) and I’ve now lived in the home for almost 8 months with not a one inside and just a few outside.  I live directly across from wide-open preserve and was told by neighbors this is a high scorpion neighborhood.  Nonetheless, I enlisted Sandy’s tactics with great results.  There’s also a product you can use if you have a more serious issue (nests on your property for example) that I’ll mention.

First, purchase a scorpion black light as I have pictured.  They come in the small size shown and larger, I went for the smaller version. Go out at night when the temps are at least 80 degrees (this is getting tough with our temp change now) and methodically work your way around the yard, shining the light on all your fence walls and the house, even the ground. There will be no mistaking when a scorp falls in the path of your light, they will fluoresce to a white/purple shade, almost like the white of a velvet painting when seen in black light. Spray them with a dose of Spectracide (also shown) to slow them down as they are fast little buggers and then ‘dispose’ of them using the end of a flat shovel or any other similar tool.

For the inside search use a large, flat dowel with a circle of duct tape on the end (also in the picture), NO Spectracide and no shovel. Make your way from room-to-room, checking ceilings, walls and floors.  If you find one, stick it to the end of the dowel then take it outside and smash it.  Scorpions can carry a multitude of babies on their back and this ensures you stick all of them together so they don’t scatter; the last thing you want is a brood of baby scorpions dispersing themselves throughout your home. And remember, whether you’re inside or out, be sure to protect your eyes from the black light, it can do damage so never shine it in your eyes or anyone elses.

If you have a more persistent problem, the next suggestion is to purchase a bag of diatomaceous earth, but NOT the kind you use in pool filters, there’s another version that’s used by organic farmers instead of pesticide and some even feed it to their horses to keep flies from growing in their manure. You can purchase it at a feed store for about $23 for a 50lb. bag.  Sprinkle a barrier around the perimeter of your home as well as your fence line.  As scorpions pass through it, it actually permeates and tears up their structure.  When you want it gone just hose it away and the best part, it poses no danger to your children or pets.

That's duct tape on top of the dowel for your inside scoprion searches.

You can purchase the scorpion light & Spectracide at any hardware or home improvement store.

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