Real Estate News

    • Touring an Open House? Here are 8 Things to Look For

      22 September 2021

      When you’re searching for your dream house, you’ll likely spend a good chunk of time touring open houses—and while you may have a list of ‘must-haves’ or ‘no-no’s’ in mind, it’s easy to be distracted by color and/or other cosmetic touches that keep you from noticing more critical factors. Experienced real estate agents know what to look for. But if you’re touring on your own, here are eight things you should definitely be alert to.

      • Signs of Water Damage - They may not be obvious, so look for water marks on the ceilings or brown water marks on the walls. If there’s carpeting in the basement, be sure it is dry and be wary of a musty odor.
      • Foundation Cracks - While these, too, may not be obvious, check for misaligned doors or windows, sticking doors or sloping floors, which may be signs the house is not solidly anchored.
      • Too Many Stairs - They may not bother you now, while you are young and healthy, but will Grandma be able to handle them—and will you when you are her age?
      • Closet Space - Picture your things fitting into the existing closets. If you think perhaps there is not enough space, you’re probably right.
      • Storage Space - Where will you store your holiday ornaments, camping gear and out-of-season sports equipment? Think not just about closet space for clothes, but about space to store all your extras.
      • Water Pressure - Lackadaisical water pressure can be a big issue in the kitchen or the shower. Turn on the taps full blast for a minute to see how the water runs. 
      • Natural Light - If you’re touring the home in bright daylight with all the lights on, try turning the lights off to get a better idea about natural light. 
      • An Aging Roof - A home inspector will note it, but why wait until mid-transaction to realize you may need to budget for replacement? Check for an abundance of damaged or missing shingles, or signs of water damage in the attic.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 7 Tips for Selecting a Remodeler

      22 September 2021

      (Family Features) When planning a potential home remodeling project, the list of decisions to make may feel nearly endless. Ultimately, you may find the most important decision is choosing a trustworthy team of professionals to complete the job.

      For example, an organization like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) provides homeowners with helpful ways to find qualified, professional remodelers and contractors. These seven tips can help guide you through the selection process and assist you in making an informed decision that best suits your needs.

      1. Look Local
      Local remodelers have a vested interest to perform quality work that satisfies their customers in order for their business to survive. That’s why word-of-mouth referrals can be especially helpful in finding options near you. Ask relatives, friends, neighbors and business colleagues who live nearby about projects they’ve completed and the professionals they’ve used. Other resources may include people you know in the local home industry, such as lenders, real estate agents and material suppliers.

      2. Follow Building Codes
      Another advantage to hiring a local professional is he or she typically knows and understands the local building codes and permit requirements for your town or city. Building codes can vary considerably from each jurisdiction and are known to change from year to year. Most structural work or footprint expansions require permits.

      3. Check for Licenses and Insurance
      Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed, bonded and insured. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure the contractor you’re considering meets all requirements. Most states require a contractor to carry worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance. Ask for copies of their licenses and insurance to make sure it is current.

      4. Check for Violations and Complaints
      Check with your Consumer Affairs Office and your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no complaints on record for the contractors you’re considering. You can also search for reviews online and verify they are members of reputable trade organizations that promote professional excellence, such as NARI.

      5. Compare Apples with Apples
      If you solicit estimates from more than one contractor, be sure they are working off the same scope and quality of work. Discuss variations in prices and beware of any estimate that is substantially lower than the others.

      6. Be Informed
      A good remodeling professional educates clients on green remodeling, universal design, lead safety, new products, building techniques and trends. Make sure you’re hiring someone who has knowledge and expertise relevant to the remodeling industry, as well as the appropriate certifications and experience to complete the job.

      7. Check References
      Don’t rely on a contractor’s personality or demeanor. If a professional does not offer references, ask for them and follow up with a site visit or phone call.

      Find a qualified and reputable remodeler in your area at RemodelingDoneRight.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Keep Your Coffee Maker Clean

      22 September 2021

      People love coffee. Many adults start their day off by drinking it, and some swear they can’t even function without first downing a cup (or three) of the beverage to get a caffeine-fueled boost.

      If you brew your own coffee at home or the office, it’s important to keep the coffee maker clean. Without proper maintenance, the machine can accrue germs, mineral buildup, oily sludge and other gunk over time. That nasty stuff can prevent the coffee maker from operating at its best, create funky-tasting cups o’ joe and potentially affect your health.

      Luckily, keeping your coffee maker clean and working properly is simple.

      Deep Clean
      Make sure you give your coffee machine an occasional deep cleaning. There’s a variety of cleaning solutions out there that you can purchase online or at the store. If you opt to buy one, simply follow the product instructions. However, you could save some money by instead using a tried-and-true household cleaning solution: vinegar. It’s a natural disinfectant and descaling agent.

      If you use a traditional drip coffee machine, do a deep cleaning once every month or two. Start by filling the reservoir with a mixture of half water and half white distilled vinegar. Put the coffee pot in place, and turn the machine on. About halfway through the brewing cycle, shut off the coffee maker. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Afterwards, turn the machine back on to finish the cycle. Dump out the full pot, and rinse it with water. To fully flush out the vinegar solution, brew a full pot of plain water through the machine two or three times until the vinegar smell disappears.

      If you use a Keurig single-serve coffee machine, the process isn’t much different. However, you can probably get away with doing a deep cleaning once every three months. Fill the reservoir with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution. Brew a cup without inserting a K-Cup, and let the mug collect the liquid. Dump the mug out, and repeat brew cycles until the reservoir is empty. Let the machine rest for 30 minutes. Rinse out the reservoir, and repeat the process using plain water until the residual vinegar is gone.

      If your Keurig isn’t brewing well, you may need to start with the extra step of unclogging the machine’s puncture needles. You can carefully use a paperclip to dislodge any coffee grounds that got stuck in the needles or buy a designated needle-cleaning tool.

      Regular Cleaning
      To really combat buildup and germs, you should wash your coffee machine regularly. For a drip coffee maker, that means washing the brew basket, coffee pot and other removable parts after every use. You can handwash them with soapy water or put them in the dishwasher. Finish by wiping down the machine with a wet cloth or sponge. Because a Keurig uses disposable K-Cups, you don’t necessarily need to clean the machine daily. Once a week, wash the mug tray and K-Cup holder.

      Regardless of which type of coffee maker you use, consider brewing with filtered water over tap water. Especially if it’s hard, tap water can quickly cause mineral buildup.

      For more maintenance information, review the owner’s manual for your machine. Just make sure to read it while enjoying a fresh cup of java.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Easy-Care Houseplants You’ll Find Tough to Kill

      21 September 2021

      A bit of healthy greenery is a cheery accent for almost any home. But the keyword is healthy, because there are few things sadder than a dead, bedraggled houseplant. If you fear your brown thumb may keep houseplants from thriving, take a tip from the experts on some low-maintenance types that may be willing to take a chance on you.

      • Jade Plant - If your home has a patch of bright sunlight, this broad-leafed succulent will take it. It does pretty well with infrequent watering and will even reward your spotty care with pink or white flowers in the spring.  
      • Cast-Iron Plant (Aspidistra) - One of the easiest plants to care for, the cast-iron plant tolerates low light and infrequent watering—hence its name! In fact, this one doesn’t like lots of sunshine, and its glossy, green leaves will grow up to two feet tall.
      • Snake Plant - Although the snake plant prefers bright light, it will endure in low light and can live in just about any room of the house. A little accidental neglect in watering will not kill it, and despite being named for a viper, this West African native is an air-cleaning dynamo that is easy on the eyes. 
      • Peace Lily - Peace lilies require little sunlight and don’t require frequent watering. Put them in a large pot and they will reward you with flowers in spite of your spotty care.
      • Watermelon Peperomia - The green and silver stripes on this beauty’s leaves will remind you of watermelon, plus the plant doesn’t require much direct sunlight or watering. Native to South America, the watermelon peperomia grows tiny, green flowers in the spring.
      • Chinese Evergreen - Happy even in dry environments and partially shady locations, the Chinese evergreen doesn’t often flower indoors, but the unique patterns of pale and dark green on its broad leaves make for a stunning display.
      • Oregano - Not just a flavorful herb, oregano makes for a great houseplant. It has great drought tolerance, doesn’t mind a bit of shade, and if you’re of a mind to, you can pluck a few stems and use them as a tasty flavoring in soups or stews.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • What to Look for in a Daycare

      21 September 2021

      (Family Features) For first-time parents or even families with multiple children, the decision to place your little bundle of joy in someone else’s care can be a difficult one. However, the benefits of daycare can be significant, especially for children who start a program as infants.

      A high-quality early childhood program not only promotes children’s safety and well-being, but also supports their growth and development at a critical time in life as children’s brains develop more rapidly from birth to age 5 than any other time in their lives.

      “The pressure on families to do what’s best for their children while balancing the need to safely return to consistent routines is immense,” said Dr. Elanna Yalow, chief academic officer of KinderCare Learning Centers. “Many families have concerns about possible health risks to their children. At the same time, there is extensive data that demonstrates children are actually safer and better off developmentally when they are around other children. It’s no wonder so many families feel conflicted. Rigorous safety protocols give families confidence they can count on our programs to protect their children and help them thrive.”

      Consider these things when seeking care for your infant:

      Safety First
      Ensure the providers you’re considering follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics and local health department guidelines. Beyond COVID-19 protocols, look for a program with teachers and staff that take pride in keeping children safe, particularly when it comes to safe sleep. Confirm the provider has external validation of their program’s quality, like national accreditation.

      Responsive Teachers Who Care for Your Baby Like You Do
      Caring for young children requires a unique set of skills. Understanding what children need at each age and stage in life comes with expertise and an ability to build relationships with them. It should be clear right away your baby will be in a warm, nurturing environment and supervised by teachers who will respond promptly to your baby’s every coo, gurgle, smile and cry with kindness and compassion.

      Strong Communication
      You’ll know you’ve landed in the right place when your child’s teacher and day care staff feel like an extension of your family. To help start things on the right foot, share expectations and preferences with your potential provider early. It’s important the caregiver knows how often you want updates and what kind of information is most meaningful to you – whether that includes videos and photos, phone calls or texts, or short notes about the things your child is doing.

      They should also be available to answer your questions and ask their own in return to ensure they’re supporting your baby in the best way possible while also encouraging your child to develop at his or her own pace. It’s important for teachers to understand key milestones and how to support your baby’s ongoing growth and development.

      When parents know their babies are safe, happy and loved, they can focus on all the other things they need to do. For more information, and tips for finding the right child care, visit kindercare.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.