Consumer Real Estate News

    • 5 Tips for Staying on Track in the New Year

      12 December 2018

      (Family Features)--While many people often wish maintaining good health was as easy as following an equation, health doesn't have a start or end date. Once the allure of the new year wears off, it can be easy to let those resolutions go by the wayside.

      When you focus on making small, positive changes, you can move your health goals forward throughout the year, no matter where you are on your health journey. To help stay on track, consider these easy-to-implement ideas from registered dietitian Annessa Chumbley:

      Write it down. Using a nutrition journal and keeping a record of everything you eat and drink can help track progress and reveal small changes that need to be made. Alternatively, downloading a fitness tracking app can help keep you accountable digitally. With a variety of options available for most operating systems, there is almost certain to be one to meet your needs, whether you're looking for a companion app to track progress or something more in-depth to help guide you through workouts and meal planning.

      Start your day with protein. A high-quality protein source can set the stage for sustained energy levels throughout the day. Having an on-the-go source of protein on-hand can help ensure you're starting the day with a proper foundation for success.

      Hydrate all day. Hydration is a foundation of good health. Before bed each night, put a 16-ounce bottle of water in the bathroom then drink it first thing in the morning for a daily energy boost. For an easy and healthy way to add flavor to your water during the day, consider putting an herbal tea bag of your choice in it. For example, Chumbley recommends ginger as a digestion-helper, mint as a caffeine-free way to awaken and chamomile to calm.  

      Make healthy swaps. Looking for alternatives is an easy way to eat healthy. Consider swapping out heavier carbs for vegetables such as grilled Portobello mushrooms as pizza crust or zucchini noodles instead of pasta. Swap mayo for avocado when eating egg, chicken or tuna salad. You can also use the sweetness of ripe bananas to decrease the need for added sugar in recipes like cookies, muffins and pancakes. For an additional nutrition boost, consider adding a scoop of gluten-free protein powder like Premier Protein's line of 100 percent whey powders, which are available in chocolate or vanilla milkshake flavors and feature 30 grams of protein and 3-4 grams of sugar per scoop, plus no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners.

      Get moving. Commit to stepping outside and taking a daily walk. Whether it's one mile or a walk around the block, you can burn calories and receive the added benefits of mental clarity, increased energy and improved digestion.

      "Use these tips as one small thing that can make a powerful, positive impact on your day," Chumbley says. "Choose one of these and do it every day. Keep the strategy simple so you'll be more likely to stick with it. When implementing these health tips, think ‘progress’ not ‘perfection.’ If you are progressing, you are successful."

      Source: Premier Protein

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Homemade Gifts People Really Want

      12 December 2018

      Whether or not the budget is tight, few holiday gifts are more warmly received than home-crafted treasures made especially with the recipient in mind. If you take a few moments to reflect on what’s meaningful to the people you want to gift, you can be among those holiday angels whose gifts are received with delight.

      From craft magazines and home crafters, here’s a round-up of possibilities:

      For the kitchen newbie - Anyone presiding over their own kitchen for the first time will appreciate a selection of helpful tools - such as a whisk, a wooden spoon, a baster, a roasting thermometer and more stuffed into a pretty oven glove and tied with a wide ribbon.

      For the crafty kid - This homemade play dough that looks great and smells better is also safe and non-toxic. Pack it in an airtight container, include a few crafty utensils, and you can keep some curious kid happy for hours. Get full instructions at

      For the serious cook - A collection of homemade gourmet salts may spur new levels of creativity.  See the recipes and instructions at for lemon salt, roasted garlic salt, even shiitake mushroom salt.

      For the spa lover - Make her happy in her own bath with a jar of mint chocolate body bath. It smells as delicious as it sounds, and adding in some vitamin E will help it stay soft - and softening - for months. Find the instructions at

      For the tea or coffee lover - Line a decorative basket with a couple of pretty tea towels. Fill it with a selection of teas or coffees and some yummy cookies, crackers and cakes, and make someone a very merry camper.

      For squirmy, wet little ones - Hooded towels are a must after the bath! Making your own is much cheaper than buying them. Find instructions for a shark towel at or a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer towel at

      For pet lovers - If your loved ones have a pet, they’ll appreciate a little something for their furry friend. There’s a template you can download for a bag decoration at, then fill it with doggie or kitty treats.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Fight the Beg: Don't Overfeed Your Pet

      11 December 2018

      Do you tend to give in to your begging pet? You're far from alone. "When sad eyes plead for one more treat or constant meowing reminds you the treats are in easy reach, it's common for pet owners to give in to the temptation and play into that begging behavior," says Dr. Eric Mueller, veterinarian and Royal Canin spokesperson. "Unfortunately, in the long run, those quick responses can have some damaging results for a pet's overall health."

      To help, Mueller offers the following tips:

      Talk to a veterinarian. Obesity is a medical concern. Pet owners should feel comfortable seeing their veterinarian to start a conversation about their pet's weight. If a veterinarian identifies that there is an issue, he or she can develop a weight loss plan to help a pet reach its ideal weight and body condition, as well as discuss solutions to help control begging during the weight loss process.

      Practice smart nutrition. Not surprisingly, proper nutrition is often one of the first solutions a veterinarian is likely to recommend to address a pet's weight problem. Choose a formula that will provide great taste and is clinically proven to support a healthy weight by using quality ingredients designed to help keep pets feeling full and satisfied between meals.

      Focus on portion control. Although many varieties of pet food include recommended serving sizes on the packaging, those servings are general guidelines and don't take into account a pet's unique circumstances and dietary needs. A better approach when working to bring a pet's weight down is to measure out the recommended feeding amount directed by a veterinarian.

      Encourage exercise. Encourage regular physical activity. This can be anything from brief periods of play to long walks. Remember to adjust the intensity based on the individual abilities of your pet.

      Maintain consistency. Changing behaviors can be challenging. Your personal motivation and commitment are critical to the success of your pet's weight loss program. Remember that a pet is not likely to immediately understand why the treats have ceased or why mealtime looks different.

      Attention-seeking behaviors may even amplify for a time. Hold firm and be consistent in resisting those begging eyes and you can find the process becomes easier for both of you.


      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Homeowners: Look Out for Utility Scams

      11 December 2018

      Lately, there's been a growing chorus warning utility customers to be hyper-aware of unscrupulous callers and visitors set on stealing everything from an energy supplier authorization to your personal and financial data and your hard-earned cash.

      As we make our way through the winter season, utility companies want customers to be reminded about common utility scams - and have banded together to promote a comprehensive and far-reaching #StopScam awareness campaign.

      According to this consortium of over 100 energy companies branded Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), a growing number of gas, electricity, water and communications consumers are getting calls on the phone and even encountering these imposters at their front doors.

      So UUAS is partnering with the media and law enforcement to amplify their advisories.

      A common utility con involves a caller claiming to be a utility billing representative claiming that you have an overdue bill, and in order to avoid an immediate shut-off, you must provide a credit card number or prepaid debit card.

      Sadly, scammers are meeting with great success using this tactic. While the median monetary loss for all scam victims is $274, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says the median loss for a utility scam victim is $500.

      In fact, the BBB has found people more susceptible to utility scams than they are to Internal Revenue Service scams.

      Utility customers are advised to read and heed these reminders - and share them with everyone in the household:

      - All UUAS member utility employees carry photo identification

      - Field workers generally wear clothing with the company logo and drive company vehicles. When in doubt, do not allow them in - and if they persist, call 911

      - UUAS utility representatives never demand instant payment in person - or over the phone

      - Utility representatives from UUAS companies do not require the use of prepaid debit cards (such as Green Dot MoneyPak, Vanilla or Reloadit)

      - UUAS reps will never request customers meet them at a payment center, such as a department or grocery store, to make a payment

      - None of the UUAS utilities solicit door-to-door - or on the phone on behalf of third-party energy suppliers

      The Utilities United Against Scams website ( provides more information on how to protect personal information and avoid becoming a victim of utility scams.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • What Comes With the House? Negotiating 'Fixtures'

      10 December 2018

      After receiving a piece of furniture as a last-minute gift from a friend who was selling and moving, the buyer became upset assuming they would inherit the item even though it had not been agreed upon.  

      Something that should be assumed to come with the house is known as a 'fixture.' But what counts as a fixture is the basis for many real estate disputes, according to Elizabeth Weintraub at - even when that feature or fixture is outside the building.

      Generally speaking, she says, a fixture is not required to exist inside the house. Landscaping, or any type of plant with roots firmly ensconced in the ground, is considered a fixture, Weintraub says.

      Connecticut REALTOR® Kathy Hamilton says determining what will stay with the home and what will go with the previous owner will vary by seller and contract. She first suggests checking the listing, however, because a seller may have already specified any such items included in their asking price.

      When it comes to any questions about which items will stay, Hamilton advises both sellers and buyers to know the "screwdriver rule."

      For the most part, she says, if it takes a screwdriver to remove, it’s considered part of the home - this includes shelves, light fixtures and even curtain rods. But, if it’s hung on a nail, or is a piece of movable furniture - even a grand piano - it’s likely not included in the sale.

      Devon Thorsby at U.S. News & World Report says states have different standards regarding what things are included in a home sale, but light fixtures and major appliances are typically included unless otherwise noted in the contract.

      One luxury property specialist she spoke with in Fort Lauderdale on the subject said, as a rule, a fixture is something that’s bolted down - if it’s not, you can take it.

      Thorsby reminds buyers that the negotiation also works the opposite way. If you don’t want the seller’s old washer and dryer, you may be able to stipulate they remove the appliances in your contract.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.