It’s All About Who You Know

You’ve worked hard to establish a network of friends, colleagues and associates to help you grow your business. LinkedIn is a simple but powerful tool to help you maximize, organize and grow this network. This guide is a step-by-step process to getting you quickly up to speed on LinkedIn and on your way to fully maximizing the potential of your network.

We pulled our favorite LinkedIn advice from David Gowel’s book The Power In A Link, and applied it to the real estate profession. Definitely worth a read, the book is an excellent resource for discovering the hidden power in your network with many real life examples of how the author used LinkedIn to improve his social status and advance his career.

By following these simple instructions, you’ll be a LinkedIn power user in no time. We’ll discuss how to check your privacy settings, set up an all-star profile, map your network, grow your network using advanced search and suggested content to keep your network entertained and engaged.

Growing Your Network
Your network is far greater than the people you actually know – the real power of LinkedIn lies in the second and third degree connections that represent the majority of your network, a number that is exponentially greater than those you are currently connected to. LinkedIn puts networking into overdrive by connecting the dots for us.

With the right network, even the most passive LinkedIn user will be driven leads just by having an up-to-date profile. To take it a step further, you can start posting interesting articles and listing information to establish yourself as a subject matter expert, periodically reminding your network that you are in real estate should anyone be in the market.

If you really want to harness the power of LinkedIn to drive your business, try using the Advanced Search feature to work those second and third degree connections mentioned earlier. Using Advanced Search will allow you to find more people to connect with, and turn them into first degree connections so that your posts and listings will reach more people.

HINT: Follow the Rules!
Sounds great so far, right? The potential is huge! But there are rules. The rules for networking online are identical to the rules for networking offline. Often we forget a key component to online networking – to be social! In order to nurture an effective network, we have to listen and engage with others and establish our relationships before asking for favors, such as making an introduction.

Privacy Settings
After you create your account, the first step is to set your privacy settings. Hover over the avatar or photo of you in the upper right hand corner to find the Privacy & Settings menu. This is where you go to determine your profile settings, the manner in which you receive communications, as well as where you may update your email address and phone number. Spend time exploring this section to ensure that your account is set up exactly how you wish, for now we’re going to turn our attention to just the profile settings.

Turn on/off your activity broadcasts.
Turn this off if you don’t want your connections to be informed of each step as you build out your profile. You can always turn it back on once your profile is complete.

Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile
Decide how you want to show up when others see that you’ve viewed their profile, if your goal is to find more clients, choose to show your name and headline to be as transparent as possible.

Edit your public profile
People are increasingly turning to the web to find out more about the professionals they choose to do business with. Control how you appear when people search for you on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s results. By choosing to make your public profile visible to everyone, you’re enhancing your natural search results. You’ll always have the bio on your company’s website, but here is an opportunity to enhance your personal brand with a professional profile, enticing people to engage with you right on the spot. Add a link to your LinkedIn profile to your business card and email signature, you’ll start to see your LinkedIn profile rank before your Facebook profile on Google, which for some professionals is a great opportunity to separate their personal and professional activities.

Create an All-Star Profile
As you build your profile LinkedIn lets you know how you’re progressing along the way with a little graphic on the right hand side of the page. It ranges from Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and All-Star. Once you set up your account, the platform prompts you to start filling in your background information and with a little bit of attention, you’ll be at the Intermediate level in no time. Be sure to include a title, your photo, education and any awards and honors you’ve received. Perhaps the two most important pieces of information in your profile are your summary and recommendations.

Summary
Your summary is where you show off your personality, highlight your experience and most importantly, tell people how you can help them! Let people know what your specialties are, such as working with first time home buyers or selling investment properties.

Recommendations
As a real estate professional, recommendations are also important to boost your credibility. Once the rest of your profile is ready, the next step is to connect with some of your best clients. The fastest track to receiving a glowing recommendation is to send your client an InMail with suggested copy for the recommendation, so that all they have to do is copy and paste. Always be polite and give them an out so that if they’re not comfortable doing so, it doesn’t tarnish your relationship.

Map Your Network
Now that your profile is ready for action, you may want to turn on your activity broadcasts. There a few ways to find people to connect with.

People You May Know
LinkedIn will automatically suggest people on the People You May Know screen based on the profile information you’ve included such as colleagues from places you’ve worked as well as the email address you provided when you signed up. Spend some time connecting with the people you know on this screen as this is most likely the majority of your first degree network.

Your Personal and Professional Contacts
Take some time to go through your rolodex and the stack of business cards on your desk to search for people if they didn’t show up on the People You May Know screen. Think about the people you regularly engage in business with either personally or professionally — your printer, your hair stylist, your electrician, your plumber, your landscaper.

HINT: Beware of super-connecting!
People who connect with anyone and everyone defeat one of the most important and fundamental values of LinkedIn: knowing the people in your network for whom you could make a warm introduction. It can’t be stressed enough: quality over quantity. Imagine how disappointing it would be for your best client to ask you for an introduction to someone in your network, only for you to have to explain that you can’t introduce them since you don’t actually know the person they’d like to meet. Instant credibility drainer. Only connect with people you know and trust.

Advanced Search
Once you’ve developed your profile and have made substantial progress in mapping your network, it’s time to put advanced search to work for you! Advanced search allows you to search and connect to your second degree connections.

If you’re interested, LinkedIn’s Premium membership will allow access to your third degree connections. For example, with 350 first degree connections one would have at least 200,000 second degree connections, and at least 9 million third degree connections, so there is plenty of room to grow into the Premium membership.

There are several strategies to employ when looking to expand your network. You might pick an area of your background to find more people that share the same interests or education as you. Another tactic is to find professionals in a complimentary field, such as all the interior designers in your area.

Prospecting
When you click on the Advanced button at the top of the screen it will open up a menu of fields. Try typing in some keywords, if its interior designers you’re after, type in “interior designer” into the keyword field. Type in your zip code and choose a search radius. Uncheck the 1st degree connections, since we’re prospecting, you only want to find people who are not already in your network. When you click the search button LinkedIn will list out all of the interior designers in your network! Feel free to filter the results to narrow it down by company and industry if you like. You can click on the shared connection link to find out how you are connected where all you need is an introduction to open the door to a new referral partner. If you’re happy with your search results, save the search and have it automatically sent to you every month via email; it’s an easy way to keep tabs on people on the move in your network. To save click on the Save Search link on the top right hand side of the page.

Your College Network
If you’ve lost track of some of the people you went to school with now you can re-connect on LinkedIn. Hover on Interests and choose Education, on the new screen go to Alumni and enter your school. On the next screen go to Students & Alumni, where you’ll likely see thousands of people. You can narrow it down to the years that you attended in order to find the alumni from your class. For those who will recognize you, feel free to connect. For those who were more of an acquaintance, you may need an introduction to connect with them.

Introductions
One of the most important values to LinkedIn is the ability to be introduced to new connections through your first degree connections. That’s why it’s essential that we know the people in our networks, so that when the opportunity to make an introduction arises, we are able to engage in this form of social currency, which is powering the world of business today.

You might notice that one of your most outgoing friends from college is connected to dozens of alumi who all live in your area. You could write an InMail to your friend asking her to introduce you to these potential clients. Make sure to include the benefit of connecting to you – maybe you have an affinity program for all alumni where you offer a free market assessment of their home and you can put them in contact with an AH-mazing loan professional, if the timing is right. It should be an easy decision for your friend to make the introductions for you!

Be creative with your search criteria and utilize introductions and your network will expand with potential clients. Now it’s time to get social with your network!

Suggested Content
You’ve cultivated a wonderfully mapped network that represents everyone you know or aspire to know. Now what? You need to develop a content strategy to stay in front of this essential audience.

To establish yourself as a subject matter expert you may become a curator of valuable information. When you come across a particularly useful article, share it on LinkedIn. You may even add a sentence, no more than 140 characters, on why you find it useful.

You can also generate your own content, which is more time-consuming but it will add to your credibility as an expert. Drive traffic to your blog by linking to it on LinkedIn. Slideshare is a terrific platform for sharing listing information and photos without having to navigate away from LinkedIn.

Whatever you decide, make sure it’s authentic, interesting or entertaining. Engagement is a direct path to potential clients, but it shouldn’t be all one-sided. Remember to read, like and comment on others’ posts to engage in true social networking.

LinkedIn is growing every day, with two users joining every second. Now is the time to get on board to benefit from being in the early majority and gain an edge on your competition.

LinkedIn, the LinkedIn logo, the IN logo and InMail are registered trademarks or trademarks of LinkedIn Corporation and its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries.

The Power of Thank You

by Sarah Valentini, principal/president

In my New Year’s blog from January, I wrote about a thank you note I received from a couple moving into their first home, and how deeply it affected me and my view of the career path I have chosen. This simple expression of gratitude from a client not only made my day, but it changed my perspective as I reflected on 2013, and really my entire professional life. Talk about a powerful act!

We all have the power to affect people’s lives by taking an extra moment to let them know how much we value them. In a business built on reputations and referrals, what could be more important?

Below are four great tips from Entrepreneur.com about how to use the incredible power of a “thank you.” I hope you take a minute to read them, and more importantly, to say “thank you” today to someone in your life. You’ll be surprised how much it might mean to them.

  • Be specific in your thanks. It’s one thing to say, “I appreciate what you did today. Thanks a lot.” That’s a soap-bubble comment. Pretty while it lasts, but gone in seconds. It’s general and vague. When you thank them for something specific, that’s Velcro. That’s a thanks they remember because it sticks. You hook your gratitude to something the employee did. For instance, an employee just handled a difficult phone call with a customer really well. Thank them for that specific activity.
  • Appreciate the process. Target your appreciation on what the employee or vendor did. Let’s go back to the worker who took the phone call. Avoid telling the employee, “Thanks for helping me keep that customer.” That’s just an outcome that benefits you. Say, “I like how you hung in there when that customer was being difficult. You were really patient and respectful.” The same type of strategy goes for vendors. Give thanks for doing something that was an extra-mile effort for them, recognizing the above-and-beyond work.
  • It’s about them, not you. Showing that you know something about them, and that you’re able to place yourself in their shoes, is incredibly valuable. Connect your gift-giving with life beyond the business walls. If a vendor became a grandpa, give him a copy of “Goodnight, Moon” to read to the little one. If an employee’s mother died of breast cancer this year, make an end-of -the-year donation to Race for the Cure in her name. Such intimacy breaks the relationship ice in a transformational, not just transactional, direction which is the game-changing pathway to greater profits.
  • Go old school with your thanks. In this pixelated world of emails and texts, Facebook and Twitter, the simple and quick act of writing a handwritten expression of gratitude can go a long way. There’s something special today about a handwritten note. I keep a stack of cards and envelopes with me to write thank you notes on a flight when returning from a workshop or coaching session. It takes about three minutes per card. You create return business when you take pen in hand and write, “Thank you,” to your customers. Just say, “I know you could do business with others, but you chose us. Thank you! We treasure our relationship.”

radius “likes” Homes for Our Troops

Today we’re announcing an exciting new fundraiser for Homes for Our Troops, an organization dedicated to building specially adapted homes for severely injured, post 9-11 veterans. To support their mission, we will donate a dollar for every new and existing “like” on the company’s Facebook page through July 13, 2014.

Homes for Our Troops, based in Taunton, Massachusetts, is a privately funded national non-profit committed to helping those who have selflessly given to our country and have returned home with serious injuries since September 11, 2001. The mission of HFOT is to build specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans across the nation to enable them to rebuild their lives.

“At radius financial group inc. we are proud to support such a remarkable organization and to help veterans have a safe, accessible place to call home after their years of service to our country,” said Sarah Valentini, president of radius. “As more and more people turn to their social media channels to find causes to support, we thought this would be a fun, creative way to raise money for a very worthy organization.

Clients and business partners are encouraged to visit www.facebook.com/radiusgrp.com to like the page and support Homes for Our Troops.

Happy New Year

by Sarah Valentini, principal/president

While I’m not really big on making New Year’s resolutions, I do like to take time to reflect on the past year and consider what I plan to achieve in the year ahead.

When I began looking back at the past year, my initial thought was that it was a challenge, given the shifting mortgage market and my dear mom, whose health has continued to decline. Then I caught myself and thought again…

I was out of town on April 15th, Patriot’s Day, when I received a phone call from my business partner saying he was around the corner from Copley Place and heard some kind of explosion.  As the day’s events unfolded, I was in complete shock, as we all were.

Considering the lives that were senselessly lost and the families who continue to grieve in their wake, along with the debilitating injuries dozens others have suffered, my perspective quickly shifted: My year certainly had its challenges, but all things considered, I know how truly fortunate I am. I work with a team of amazingly talented, hard-working people, and have friends and family who are loving and supportive at every turn. I’m so grateful and thankful to all of them.

Meanwhile, in the weeks after the event, I spent a lot of time thinking about all the people who heroically jumped in to help that day, like the doctors and nurses who ran the race and then worked through the night saving people. I had such admiration for their selflessness and bravery.

It made me start to question how I ended up in mortgage banking and whether I should have forged a different career path.  (For the record, becoming a doctor or nurse isn’t among them – no one would want me working in either capacity.)

Then, as luck would have it, soon after the marathon, I received the kindest note from a couple who’d just gotten an approval on their loan, along with a picture of their adorable kids who were so excited to be moving to their new home. The smiles on those two beautiful faces shifted my perspective once again: We certainly don’t save lives at radius or solve the world’s problems, but we do help people accomplish important milestones that make their lives better.

Facebook photoKOLAR So while my work doesn’t fall under the category of heroic, it does matter to the people we help and that has value in its own right. Every time I look at the picture of those two children, which I taped on the refrigerator in our office, I’m reminded of that.

I think each and every one of us, in our own ways large and small, contributes to the greater good.  But when you do anything for a very long time and going through the motions of the day-to-day, it’s easy to forget that.

Sometimes a simple thank you note or photo can help you see the big picture. It definitely did for me. So when I start to slip into my own little world of frustrations and stresses, I look at that picture and remember how lucky I am to simply be here, and to be helping others in the way I best know how.

I encourage you to find your own reminder of the value you play in other people’s lives. It’s there, you just have to keep your eyes open to see it.

Best wishes for a year ahead full of peace, health and a true appreciation for all you do and have. Happy New Year.

Time to Grab an ARM?

by Bob Melone, radius loan officer

As interest rates have begun creeping up in recent months, so has a renewed interest in adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) loans. While there’s no “one size fits all” approach to choosing a home loan, ARMs can be a savvy, cost effective financial option for some borrowers.

Depending on the type of ARM you choose, rates are typically locked in for the first 3, 5, 7 or 10 years, then adjust annually thereafter.  ARMs typically offer a lower interest rate at the beginning of a loan than a traditional fixed rate loan and have the potential to save borrowers hundreds of dollars per month.

An ARM can be a particularly smart choice if you:

  • Plan to move in the next 5 to 10 years
  • Are starting a professional career with a significant impending income increase (i.e., a lawyer taking the bar exam, a doctor finishing his/her residence, etc.)
  • Work on a non-salaried, commission-based income
  • Pay off short-term debt (i.e., student or car loans) within the next 5 years
  • Are purchasing a property as an investment to be flipped

However, if you plan to stay in the home for an extended period of time, your interest rate will eventually adjust to reflect the market’s current rates.  Today’s borrowers should be prepared to face higher interest rates when their ARM adjusts at the end of the fixed rate period.

That’s why it’s important to put today’s fixed rates in perspective and think carefully about whether an ARM is right for you. While it’s understandably concerning that rates are no longer at rock bottom lows, they are still very low from an historical perspective.  Anyone who buys a home or refinances at today’s rates has access to lower rates than most people have in decades.  Imagine telling someone with a mortgage rate of 15% in 1986 that they would eventually have access to fixed rates in the 3’s and 4’s. They’d fall off of their chair in amazement (or start crying!).

As a mortgage professional, I know how easy it can be to get caught up in the daily ups and downs of the market. But focusing on those fluctuations moves you away from the bigger, more important picture: Figuring out what your monthly mortgage payment will be and whether that number is comfortable for you and your family for the length of time you plan to be in the home. That’s your bottom line. It’s also the reason your mortgage advisor should review all the options available to you in today’s market.

An established lender with access to a wide range of programs, along with a loan officer who takes the time to learn about the details of your plans and finances, will provide the resources and insights to find a loan that’s right for you.

If you’re in the process of buying a home and have questions about choosing a loan, feel free to contact me. I’m happy to help!

Creative Home Buying Options Abound!

Learn which ones may be right for you

by Bob Melone, radius loan officer

Over the last few years, you’ve likely heard that mortgage lending guidelines have undergone some tightening. It may even seem like getting approved for a mortgage without flawless credit and less than 20% down is next to impossible, and that “creative financing” options went out of style in 2005 along with Jessica and Nick.

People

Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. In the next few installments of our radius blog, I’ll be discussing the many creative mortgage options available, which allow for fixed rates, low down payments and flexible credit scores.  

Today, I’d like to focus on the granddaddy of creative financing options: the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) 203(k) rehabilitation program. The FHA 203(k) rehab program allows buyers to finance almost any improvements they’d like when purchasing a home with as little as 3.5% down (based on the home’s purchase price and rehab amount). Meanwhile, renovation work can start right after the closing.

Before addressing specifics of the program, though, consider this scenario. If you’re currently in the market to purchase a new home or you’ve bought one before, you likely know it well:

You see a hot, new listing for a home that’s just hit the market. Looking at the pictures and description online, everything looks flawless: the size and style of the home, the bedroom count, the neighborhood… it’s all perfect! You’re sure it’s an ideal fit for you and your family. You promptly set up an appointment, the agent opens the front door and… UGH!! The linoleum in the kitchen is peeling and the lime green cabinets are straight out of a Brady Bunch episode. They’re so outdated even Alice wouldn’t want to use them!

Kitchen

You’re heartbroken. But once reality sets in, you know the house could, in fact, be perfect. That is, with a new kitchen, updates to the bathrooms, a roof that could use some repair, the removal of an old shag carpet that needs to be pulled up so the hardwood floors underneath can be refinished, and the possible addition of a deck off the back.

All those renovations and more are possible through FHA’s 203(k) rehab program, which allows for the following (and much more):

  • Additions for increasing living area or a garage
  • Finishing basements
  • Satisfying Title 5 requirements
  • Making any structural repairs
  • Remediating health issues (i.e., mold)
  • Updating kitchens and baths
  • Completely replacing utilities (electrical, plumbing, etc.)

Single-family homes, condominiums and 2-4 unit homes are all eligible under the FHA 203(k) rehab program. You can even use it to renovate your current home! Meanwhile, our 203(k) program allows for flexible credit qualifying and credit scores as low as 640.

Maximum loan amounts, which are also quite generous, vary from county to county and the type of property you plan to buy. For example, the maximum loan amount for a single-family home in Norfolk County is $523,750, while the maximum loan limit for a four-family home in Norfolk County is over $1,000,000! To find the complete list of maximum FHA loan limits, follow this link.

Simply put, the FHA 203(k) program is a great way to turn today’s reality into tomorrow’s dream. So if you’re planning to buy a home that needs some work, or plan to do renovations on your current home, please feel free to call me with questions. I’m more than happy to answer them and would love to help.

Have a great day!

When you’re buying a home, zip your wallet!

by Bob Melone, radius loan officer

A few weeks ago, I came across an article on The Boston Herald ’s website discussing credit updates that lenders perform prior to a buyer’s closing. In the mortgage industry, we call this a Loan Review Report (LRR). The LRR is an update to the borrower’s credit report, which shows whether a borrower has applied for new credit or increased balances (and payments) on existing debts. This check typically occurs three to five days prior to a closing.

Though the article is a bit over-dramatic at times (like when it compares a lender pulling an LRR to NSA’s phone surveillance) its overall message is spot on: Potential home buyers should not apply for or obtain new credit at any time during the home buying process! That’s because increased debt can push a loan from being approved to declined, even after a clean mortgage commitment is issued.

When reviewing a loan application, mortgage lenders carefully review a potential borrower’s debt-to-income ratio, which is the percentage of monthly income that goes toward paying their mortgage, bills and other expenses, like car and student loans. While maximum debt-to-income ratios depend on a borrower’s income and the overall strength of their application, lenders generally like to see that no more than one-third of a borrower’s income goes toward monthly debt and expenses.

While an LRR can potentially increase a buyer’s debt ratio, so can the rising mortgage rates we’ve seen in recent weeks. Together, these two factors can create a perfect storm of stress and anxiety in the days before a closing. As a result, not incurring new debt, which has always been important, is now more vital than ever.

Unfortunately, borrowers often don’t know that adding new debt after an initial loan approval can negatively impact their final eligibility to acquire a new loan. Many people think that once the P&S is signed, they’re free to make new purchases like buying furniture or a new car, and that’s where they can get into trouble.

At radius, we make a concerted effort to remind borrowers about the risk of incurring new debt throughout the loan application process. It’s a message that can’t be underscored enough!

If acquiring new credit can’t be avoided, borrowers should talk with their mortgage lender first to avoid any potential pitfalls.

Applying for a home loan is generally stressful for everyone, even for experienced borrowers with low debt-to-income ratios and stellar credit ratings. That’s why it makes sense to do everything in your power to minimize pitfalls.

The bottom line is this: After home buyers apply for a home loan, they should keep their wallets closed! Don’t apply for or obtain new credit, or make any large purchases. It’s an easy way to maintain your borrowing profile and work toward starting life in your new home.

Andria Dolce Raves

Stephanie Avelino worked with our very own Andria Dolce, and had a lot to say about her. This is what she said:

Dear radius financial:

I have three words for you:  Andria, Andria, Andria.  Dolce that is.

You know:  Andria Dolce  
Loan Officer NMLS# 949919
 @ radius financial group inc.

This is Stephanie Avelino and I recently had the good fortune and pleasure to work with Andria as we were refinancing a 2 family investment property in Roslindale, MA.  Andria was great to work with and I would recommend her and radius financial in a heartbeat.  Feel free to contact me anytime for further information.

Here are some highlights to my experience:

1:  ORGANIZATION:

Andria is organized, knowledgeable and follows through when she says she will.  She was often able to answer my questions right on the spot and if she couldn’t, she promptly got back to me with the information I needed.

This was extremely helpful because I am only a moderately organized person myself and I live a life that is a bit too hectic between 2 kids ages 5 and 13 (yeah that’s pretty interesting) working part time, managing our own household and taking care of the investment property.  Many days I am lucky if I get my pants on before I leave the house.   With Andria’s help and support I was able to collect and submit all necessary paperwork and forms needed to complete the refinancing.  Andria helped keep me on track throughout the process – just what I needed.

2:  DETERMINATION

Andria is determined and resourceful.  We had a 30 year fixed rate loan on our property but we also had a special deleading loan through the city of Boston that had been transferred and required subordination.  This required tracking down the loan info and dealing with Mass Housing Finance Agency.  At first I didn’t even know which bank or agency had acquired the loan after transfer.  This issue added some extra red tape and time to our application process and made the whole thing more complicated.

With Andria’s help and support and resources that she was able to draw upon, we were able to obtain the subordination, even though at first our request was denied and it seemed like this might not be possible.  In addition, even if we had not been able to obtain the subordination, Andria had a back up plan in mind that probably would have allowed us to restructure the loan and still wind up with a favorable rate for refinancing.

3:  ACCESSIBILITY

Andria is accessible and reassuring.  It was easy to get in touch with her, even on weekends and the time she was sick.  And she offered information and reassurance for all of my questions and confusion about the different steps of the process.

4:  HAPPY ENDING

My new loan has now been transferred to Citibank and I now have a monthly payment that is about $570 less than my old monthly payment.  I am one very satisfied customer.

Winning that $250 gift card would make me happy, but even without it I am quite pleased to have worked with radius to help me refinance my property.

In addition, Andria is nice and she has a sense of humor: Two big pluses to the already mentioned attributes.

Hope all goes well for folks at radius.  Things with us are swell.

Take Care:
Stephanie Avelino

Hydrogen Peroxide Power

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Whether you’re moving out of your home or into a new one, you’ll likely be putting in some cleaning time. Instead of investing in a host of expensive cleaning agents, consider using hydrogen peroxide. It’s a safe, ultra-cheap gem at a price that can’t be beat: A 16-oz. bottle only costs a buck!

Here are 10 ways you can use 3% hydrogen peroxide to make your home shine:

In Your Kitchen

1. Clean your cutting board and countertop. Hydrogen peroxide bubbles away any residue left after preparing meat or fish for dinner. Add hydrogen peroxide to an opaque spray bottle — exposure to light kills its effectiveness — and spray on your surfaces. Let everything bubble for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse clean.

2. Wipe out your refrigerator and dishwasher. Because it’s non-toxic, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning units that store food and dishes. Just spray the appliance outside and in, let the solution sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean.

3. Clean your sponges. Soak them for ten minutes in a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a shallow dish. Rinse the sponges thoroughly afterward.

4. Remove baked-on crud from pots and pans. Combine hydrogen peroxide with enough baking soda to make a paste, then rub onto the dirty pan and let it sit for a while. Come back later with a scrubby sponge and some warm water, and the baked-on stains will lift right off.

In Your Bathroom

5. Whiten bathtub grout. If excess moisture has left your tub grout dingy, first dry the tub thoroughly, then spray it liberally with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit — it may bubble slightly — for a little while, then come scrub the grout with an old toothbrush. You may have to repeat the process a few times, depending on how much mildew is there, but eventually your grout will be white again.

6. Clean the toilet bowl. Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl, let stand for 20 minutes, then scrub clean.

In Your Laundry Room

7. Remove stains from clothing, curtains, and tablecloths. Hydrogen peroxide can be used to pre-treat stains — just soak the stain for a while in 3% hydrogen peroxide before tossing the garment into the laundry. You can also add a cup of peroxide to a regular load of whites to boost brightness. It’s a green alternative to bleach, and works just as well.

Anywhere in Your Home

8. Brighten dingy floors. Combine half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one gallon of hot water, then go to town! Because it’s so mild, it’s safe for any floor type, and there’s no need to rinse.

9. Clean kids’ toys and play areas. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe cleaner to use around kids, or anyone with respiratory problems, because it’s not a lung irritant. Fill an opaque spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and spray toys, toy boxes, doorknobs, and anything else your kids touch on a regular basis. You can also soak a rag in peroxide to make a wipe.

Outside

10. Help out your plants. To ward off fungus, add a little hydrogen peroxide to your spray bottle the next time you’re spritzing plants. Use 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide added to one gallon of water for your plants.