Talking Real Estate

Planting Winter Garden Vegetables

According to some experts, the term winter garden is a misnomer. Winter garden plants mature and are ready to eat when the winter months come around. They’re able to tolerate chilly rains and big drops in temperature.

With the right timing and care, you can cultivate your own winter vegetable garden that will provide delicious produce. Planting should begin mid to late summer or early fall. You can build a cold frame that covers your crops, protecting them against seasonal winds and frost damage while they utilize the sun to grow, and reuse the frames for seed propagation in spring and summer. They can be made from various materials like wood, cement block, fiberglass and more so long as they include a transparent face. There are also hotbedsavailable that heat your plants from underneath by electric or steam-heated elements. A more natural alternative is fresh manure; it absorbs and retains the heat from the sun for a long time.

For the best garden, figure out what you want to plant, how much time the plants need to grow and how much space is available. Create the right amount of space for your winter garden is by diagramming your existing plot(s) on graph paper.

Some plants like beets, carrots, brussels sprouts and cauliflower take 90 days to mature. Others like leeks, turnips, collards and perennial herbs take 60 days to mature. Chives, bunching onions, broccoli and spinach need only 30 days to mature. To learn more, visit

Preventing Expired Listings

When a seller signs a listing agreement with a real estate agent, they’re giving the agent exclusive rights to sell the home for the duration of the contract. Because agents and their brokers bear the cost of marketing the seller’s listing, most listing contracts run between six months and as long as a year.

The listing agent is required to make the listing public by putting it into the multiple listing service (MLS) where the agent and agent’s broker are members, usually, three days or so after the listing contract is signed. The MLS provides the most exposure to homebuyers, often through agreements with real estate franchises such as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and third-party listing sites such as to carry the MLS’s listings on their websites.

Sometimes marketing doesn’t help a listing to sell if it isn’t priced attractively for its age, condition and location or it requires too much “work.”  According to, other reasons for expired listings are minimal marketing, lack of staging, or an oversupply of similar homes.

Expired listings can be prevented. The listing can be “withdrawn” from the MLS while the seller makes updates and repairs. Once the home is ready to be remarketed, the listing is reentered into the MLS at a new price point. If the listing is allowed to expire, the seller is released from the contract. They have the choice to relist with their agent, to find a new agent, or take the home off the market.

Should You Refinance to 15 Years?

If you’re thinking of refinancing your mortgage, you’ll pay origination fees and closing costs, but it may be worth it to you to get a better interest rate and better terms. Refinancing to a 15-year loan may mean you pay a little more for your refinanced mortgage, but the amortization schedule (how much goes toward interest and how much goes to reducing your principal) is definitely more favorable than a 30-year.

According to, the average closing costs for a mortgage refinance are about $5,000. Costs will vary according to the size of your loan and the state and county where you live. But you can expect to pay anywhere from 2% to five percent of the borrowed amount. Closing costs can be rolled into the financing, so you don’t have out-of-pocket expenses, but that will add to the principal that needs to be repaid. For a $200,000 refinance, your closing costs range between $4,000 and $10,000, but you’d save much more than that in interest.

Could you simply make higher payments on your current loan? Yes, any amount you add onto your mortgage payment will reduce principal immediately but it won’t impact your interest rate until you refinance or pay the mortgage off. says it could be easier or cheaper to refinance to a 15-year mortgage. You’ll get a better interest rate because shorter terms lower risks for the lender and you could change the type of loan based on fixed, adjustable or hybrid rates.