Consumer Real Estate News


  • Simple Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

    21 July 2017

    Buying a home is always exciting, if a bit overwhelming. But when you’re a first time buyer, the process can seem even more complicated.

    "The biggest hurdle for the housing market in the middle of 2017 is low inventory," Senior CFP Board Ambassador Jill Schlesinger, CFP®. "Housing starts, housing permits, new home construction and pending home sales have all slowed this summer. This all adds up to fewer options for those looking to buy a house, especially for the first time."

    Follow these simple buying tips, from Schlesinger and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

    Run the numbers. Understand how much home you can afford to buy and whether home ownership might preclude you from addressing other important financial issues in your life, like paying off debt. A financial planner can help you understand how your housing choices can support your overall financial plan.

    Start the mortgage process/correct credit report mistakes. If you have not done so in a while, go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request your free copy. It's important to correct any errors on the report before you start the mortgage process.

    Conduct research. Even if you are working with a realtor, check out new listings and spread the word throughout your network. You never know who might be about to list a home.

    Keep your emotions in check. Even with limited supply, there are a lot of houses out there. Be careful not to blow through your budget or put yourself in a position where you own two homes.

    Source: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • How to Really Clean Your Closet

    21 July 2017

    Cleaning your closet out is rarely a fun task. But if you blast some tunes or even enlist a willing friend to help, it can seem more appealing. Below are five tips for giving your closet the clean out it needs.

    1. Prep! Set a date on your calendar. Aim for a time window of 2-5 hours, depending on your closet size. Get what organizational tools you will need, like bins or baskets, wall hooks, or those nifty hangers that can store several pairs of jeans in one go.

    2. Empty the closet. Yes, the entire thing. Pile all of your clothes on your floor or bed and take a look at the space that’s left. Envision a way you can store things in a more organized fashion - it’s easier when the space is empty.

    3. Wash the inside of your closet. Vacuum the floors, dust the shelves and clean the walls with a mixture of soap and water, or vinegar and water.
     
    4. Sort through your clothes. Take an eagle’s eye to your wardrobe. Ask yourself, when is the last time I wore this? If the answer is more than six months ago, set it aside for donation.

    5. Organize. Put everything back in the organizational style of your choosing. Color coding, style, length, weather or occasion - whatever is going to be easiest for you. Store out of season clothes in a bin, and if you have limited closet space, store that bin under the bed or elsewhere. Make sure the closet is streamlined, and that the things you wear most are easy to access.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 10 Tips for Urban Gardening

    21 July 2017

    (Family Features)--City dwellers often think gardening is only for those who live in suburbs or rural communities, but planting an urban garden can be easy. Whether you are planting a garden for yourself or your family, you can do your part to create a more sustainable and green future.

    These simple steps recommended by Arjan Stephens, executive vice president at Nature's Path Organic Foods, can help you on your way to greening your thumb and the planet:

    1. No Space, No Problem. Not everyone has a backyard, roof or balcony. To overcome this issue, start a container garden. While decorative pots can be lovely, they don't improve the quality of your plants and can be expensive. Instead, you can use a large bucket from a garden store, which is a low-cost and effective option. Or upcycle containers not in use, such as crates, old toys or paint cans.

    2. Plant Selection. There are vegetable, flower and herb varieties that are easy to grow in urban spaces. When planning your garden, think about what to plant - shallow-rooted veggies, such as herbs, lettuce and radishes typically do better in confined spaces.

    3. It Takes a Village. In addition to establishing your own garden, another way to plant is by getting involved with community gardens. Each year, Nature's Path Food's Gardens for Good program supports community gardens that make fresh, organic food more accessible in local neighborhoods. Three $15,000 grants are available to gardens that demonstrate high community support and a viable plan for the urban agriculture project.  

    4. Plant Right. Potting your plants takes a few simple steps. Put some gravel in the bottom of your container to help with drainage and fill with soil, tamping it a bit. Leave 1 inch at the top for watering. Tamp the soil after the plants are in place and water gently.

    5. Portable Planters. An advantage of container gardens is that they allow you to easily move them in and out of the sun. If your plants seem to dry out in one window area, you can try different areas to adjust to what works best.

    6. Grow Up. Small spaces make it ideal to grow vertically, which means planting tall plants like squash, cucumbers, beans and tomatoes.

    7. Drain Gain. Whatever container you choose for your garden, remember drainage holes are essential. Without proper drainage, soil can become waterlogged and plants may die. The holes need to be large enough to allow excess water to drain out.

    8. Water Wise. Hand water every morning. Once the plants are large and summer is hot, they will probably need watering in the evening, too. A little afternoon shade can keep them from drying out too quickly.

    9. Soil Smart. A common mistake urban gardeners make is not making sure their soil is good quality. While those made with pesticides promise great results, they are loaded with chemicals. Go for organic soil and grow well from the beginning.

    10. Have Fun. Gardening not only results in food or flowers, it is a great way to relieve stress, have fun and get in touch with nature. Just because you live in an apartment doesn't mean you can't experience the joy of eating what you grow. 

    Source: naturespath.com.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • How to Banish Bugs From Your Kitchen, Naturally

    20 July 2017

    Even if you’re an animal lover, you likely don’t love bugs in your kitchen. From ants to beetles and even cockroaches, summer brings a slew of crawlies indoors. But spreading poison in your kitchen can be unsafe.

    Below are a handful of natural, poison-free ways to keep those critters outside where they belong.

    Vinegar and oil. No, you’re not making a salad dressing. By mixing water, vinegar and essential oil in a small spray bottle, you can spray your counter tops, window sills and nooks and crannies to help ban bugs. Use a mix of half white vinegar, half water, and 10 drops of lavender oil.

    Lemon juice. Like the vinegar mix, lemon juice can act as a natural deterrence. Cut it with water and sprinkle it around your counters, the backs of your shelves, and anywhere you see bugs infiltrating.

    Diatomaceous earth. This soft rock powder sounds like a mouthful, but really works to help keep critters outside. Simply sprinkle it in the cracks of your home where pests are likely to infiltrate.

    Coffee grinds. Yet another wonderful gift from the coffee plant. This trick works outside rather than inside - sprinkle coffee grounds around the foundation of your home to deter bugs from climbing in.

    Dish soap. While not completely “natural”, this is likely something you already have hanging around your home. Mix a bit of soap with water and rub it along your baseboards, window sills and door jambs.
     

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 5 Steps to Keep Your Car Prepared for Summer Heat

    20 July 2017

    (Family Features)--Taking proper care of your vehicle is important all year, but summer heat brings a unique set of challenges to your car's air conditioning system, tires, brakes, battery and more. To ensure your vehicle is prepared to safely handle the summer elements and to help avoid breakdowns, preventative maintenance is necessary.   

    The car care experts at Goodyear Auto Service offer these essential tips that can help keep your car performing safely, comfortably and cool - all summer long:

    1. Keep tires properly inflated. As temperatures rise, so does your tire pressure. Tires with high air pressure perform inefficiently as compared to properly inflated tires. Check your tires regularly, leveraging the inflation level molded into the driver door sidewall or in your vehicle's manual.

    2. Check air conditioning. The experts at weather.com are predicting warmer than average summer temperatures for a vast majority of the country. When temperatures climb, avoid losing your cool with preventative care.

    3. Test and replace the battery. Battery failure is the No. 1 cause of car breakdowns. Often, batteries give slight warning signs when they run low. For example, you may notice the engine struggling to turn over upon ignition or see white, blue or orange fuzz forming around the battery. While a typical battery life is 4 1/2 years, each day of extreme weather - both hot and cold - contributes to the shortening of a battery's life. It's a good idea to have your battery tested by a trained professional during peak seasons to determine whether it's time for a replacement.

    4. Don't overlook tread depth. When it comes to tire maintenance, proper depth is an easy way to maximize safety and performance. There are several ways to check tread depth, including the "penny test." Simply insert a penny into your tire's tread groove with Lincoln's head upside down, facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, it's time to replace your tires.

    5. Inspect brakes. If your car jerks or pulls to the side when you apply the brakes, or if you hear sounds like squeaking, squealing or grinding, it's likely time for service. Always check your owner's manual, but a general rule of thumb is to have your brakes checked every 12 months or 15,000 miles.

    Source: GoodYear

    Published with permission from RISMedia.