Consumer Real Estate News

    • Car Care: DIY Items Everyone Can Do

      24 April 2018

      (Family Features)--While taking your car to an auto service professional is a great way to ensure peak performance, the Car Care Council reminds vehicle owners there are few simple vehicle checks they can do themselves to save a little money and help keep their vehicles running efficiently all summer long.

      With basic knowledge of common maintenance practices and a little time, motorists can inspect the following components in their own driveway:

      - Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.

      - Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer fluid and antifreeze/coolant.

      - Check the hoses and belts as they can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.

      - Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and inspect and replace worn wiper blades. Keep the reservoir filled with windshield washer fluid.

      - To keep the cooling system working effectively, the coolant and distilled water mixture for a vehicle's radiator should be 50/50. Never open a hot radiator cap when checking the coolant level in the reservoir. As a rule of thumb, the coolant should be changed annually on most vehicles.

      - Check the gas cap to ensure it is not damaged, loose or missing to prevent gas from spilling or evaporating.

      - Don't neglect the exterior. When washing the outside, make sure to include the tires, wheels, underside and fenders to eliminate any road salt or grime. The body of the vehicle should be washed using a product sold specifically for cars. Wax your vehicle every six months.

      Source: Car Care Council

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Up Mobility in Your Home

      24 April 2018

      For many of us, moving around our own home is second nature; at this point, you may be able to do it with your eyes closed. But if you have small kids, disabled family members or elderly family members with decreased mobility or vision, you may want to give your home's layout a second thought. Below are a slew of home mobility suggestions, courtesy of

      - Replace a kitchen or bathroom sink faucet with a hands-free style faucet that has a proximity sensor and turns the water on and off without touching it.

      - Install a grab-bar in your bathtub or shower to prevent falling and assure safe footing.  

      - To prevent scalding, add a pressure balance temperature control faucet.

      - In the kitchen, add under-counter lights to the bottom of cabinets for safe food preparation, especially when cutting vegetables.

      - Replace knob cabinet hardware in the kitchen with D-shaped handles for comfort, especially for those who have arthritis.

      - Make closets more accessible with adjustable shelving and lighting so items can be easily identified and reached.

      - To make it easy to move around in the most used rooms, declutter and purge furniture and items that are not being used on a regular basis.

      - To prevent tripping, use U-shaped staples to secure appliance cords to base shoe moldings; use cord managers and covers to eliminate a tangle of cables and wires.

      - Secure small "scatter" rugs with a rug grip or rug tape and never position them at the top or bottom of a staircase. Area rugs look nice but they may be an obstacles for a toddler’s scooter or senior’s walker.

      - Add a second hand rail on staircases to make going up or down stairs safer.

      - Choose bruise-proof furniture with round edges instead of pointed angles that can harm a baby or bruise an adult’s hip.

      - For someone with mobility issues, raise the height of their favorite chair with a large cushion so it is not as difficult to use.

      - Secure a not-so-sturdy shelving unit to the wall with an anti-tip strap or furniture bracket so no one is harmed if it’s bumped or a child tries to climb up the shelving.

      - Prevent a tripping accident by providing bright, glare-free lighting along outdoor walkways to provide stumble-free paths.

      - Light up front, back and side door entrances with a motion sensing security light and trim away shrubbery surrounding the house. Anyone can stumble on a debris-filled path so keep the area clean and clutter-free.

      - Anyone can stub their toe when nail heads protrude from decking boards. Remove nails and refasten boards with wood screws to secure decking properly.


      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Adding an Outdoor Family Room Can Increase Your Home's Value

      24 April 2018

      Whether you're looking to sell your home, or are just interested in making improvements that offer ROI, an outdoor living space is a great investment. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) shares the top four ways family yards and other living landscapes add value to a property and extend the usefulness of the home.

      Curb appeal. As you know, curb appeal is an important factor in determining overall property value. After all, the first impression on a home is made before buyers even walk through the door! According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2016 Remodeling Impact: Outdoor Features study, 99 percent of REALTORS® have suggested that sellers improve their curb appeal before putting their home on the market, and 98 percent think curb appeal is important to potential buyers. That’s good advice. Studies show that improving overall curb appeal, which includes a beautiful lawn and landscape, can boost property values by as much as 17 percent (source: Texas Tech University).

      Win with trees. Mature trees are often an indicator of an established neighborhood, which can be a positive for buyers looking for an older, classic home. But the value of trees goes beyond perception and preference and right into your pocketbook. According to the International Society of Arboriculture, each front yard tree adds 1 percent to a homeowner’s sale price, while large specimen trees can add as much as 10 percent to property values.

      Green. Potential buyers often ask about the energy efficiency of a home, and it turns out that living landscapes impact the monthly electric bill.

      According to the Urban Forest Coalition, 100 million mature trees around U.S. residences save approximately $2 billion annually in reduced energy costs. In fact, strategically placed trees can save up to 56 percent on annual air conditioning bills. In the wintertime, evergreens that block winter winds can save 3 percent on heating (source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service). Cumulatively, eight average-sized front lawns can provide the cooling equivalent to air-conditioning for 18 homes (source: Alliance for Water Efficiency).

      Living space. Yards can be outdoor family rooms and are increasingly important to families who want a safe, inviting place for their kids and pets to play almost year-round. Merging indoor and outdoor living to increase living space is trending, making outdoor living space important for homebuyers. But just how much can you expect to recover from ensuring a useful outdoor living area? According to NAR survey, any cost to enhance outdoor living is well worth it.

      Seeding the family yard will recover 417 percent of the project cost, while updating landscape with sod will result in a 143 percent recovery. If you want to take on more of a project, adding a new patio will recover 102 percent of your investment and a new wooden deck will result in a 106 percent recovery rate.

      One final note: a systematic research review concluded that knowing and experiencing nature makes people generally happier and healthier. Since nature starts in our own backyards, it’s fair to assume that the family yard contributes to overall well-being. This is priceless, whether you are looking for a new place to call home or are just settling in to your new property.

      Source: OPEI,

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Improve Your Time Management

      23 April 2018

      Looking to get more done in your day? From work to family and social commitments, it can be hard to fit in everything. Here's where time management can help. Consider the following tips to tick more off your daily to-do list.

      Time block. Time blocking is one of the No. 1 metrics of successful time management, and it can make larger tasks feel less overwhelming. Each night before bed, look at your next day's to-dos, and chunk off sections of time for each project, from cleaning the house to tackling paperwork. Unsure how much time? Aim for 1 - 3 hours to avoid mental exhaustion.

      Schedule the hard stuff first. To slay procrastination, schedule the things you'd prefer not to do first. Getting the difficult or least-liked items done first will help you feel more productive.

      Reward yourself. Sprinkle in 15 - 30 minute reward breaks throughout the day, like taking a walk with the dog, reading a chapter of a book or calling a friend.

      Be kind. Regardless of how diligently you planned to follow your daily schedule, sometimes things happen. A headache, family emergency or a task that proves more difficult than you expected. Even a terrible night's sleep can throw off your flow. If this happens, be kind to yourself and pat yourself on the back for what you have accomplished.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Prepare for Life’s Inevitabilities

      23 April 2018

      (Family Features)—Spring offers the promise of warmer temperatures, but with spring cleaning, tax season and other responsibilities, it is also a season for planning.

      One inevitable life experience that requires organization, consideration and planning, but often gets overlooked, is the end of life, both for one’s self and loved ones. It is important to have conversations with loved ones, sooner rather than later, to learn about family history, reaffirm how much they mean to you and gain an understanding of how family members want to be memorialized.

      To help families have important conversations about the things that matter and how a person’s life story can be meaningfully remembered and honored, the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC) created the
      “Have the Talk of a Lifetime” initiative, which offers families the resources to facilitate these conversations that can be cherished for years to come.

      While you are in a paperwork groove during tax season, take time to fill out FAMIC’s checklist, which can be a resource for things to consider when pre-planning a funeral and for helping facilitate conversations with loved ones. It offers questions such as:

      - Where would you like your service to be held?

      - Will there be a ceremony? If so, religious or non-religious?

      - How would you like to be remembered?

      - Do you have a specific charity you would like to honor?

      By answering these questions, and more, families can create a log of loved ones’ preferences for how they want to be memorialized. Completing the checklist can take place at any time, not just when a family member is nearing the end of life. Answering these questions can also prompt larger conversations about defining experiences and relationships in a loved one’s life.

      Take notes and record your responses as you go through the checklist. Save the checklist in a safe place for when it is needed and to share with future generations. To take your conversations one step further, meet with a local, trusted funeral professional and share those thoughts and ideas with someone who can help you put a plan in place, easing the burden on your loved ones.

      Regardless of when it becomes necessary to refer to the preferences and memories recorded in the checklist, you can be grateful you took the time to have meaningful conversations with those most important to you.


      Published with permission from RISMedia.