Real Estate News

    • The Best and Worst Places to Hide a Spare House Key

      9 July 2020

      Having a spare house key hidden on your property can come in handy, especially if you need a house or pet sitter while you’re on vacation or, of course, if you lose your main set of keys. However, leaving a key in an obvious spot can make it easy for potential burglars to find it and walk right in through your front door.

      If you decide to leave a spare key, you’ll need to be clever and avoid the most common hiding spots burglars are likely to check. According to home security specialist ADT, these are the best and worst places to put a spare:

      Best Hiding Spots

      • In a hollow, realistic-looking false rock that blends in with its surroundings.
      • In a small lockbox under the porch.
      • In the barbeque grill in the backyard.
      • Under the foot of a chair on the patio.
      • Under a loose brick in the walkway.
      • Inside or under a children's toy in the front yard.
      Worst Hiding Spots
      • Under your doormat.
      • Under a potted plant by the door.
      • Under a garden statue.
      • On the door jamb.
      • In the mailbox.
      Even the best hiding spots for spare keys aren’t fail-safe, though. For added security, ADT suggests installing an alarm system and cameras. To eliminate the need for a spare key altogether, you could also invest in smart door locks, which offer keyless options and can also be controlled and monitored remotely on your smartphone.

      By taking the proper security measures, you can have peace of mind knowing your home is safe while you’re away.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Ways to Prevent Wildlife From Invading Your Home

      9 July 2020

      Squirrels, raccoons, opossums, bats–these types of so-called “nuisance wildlife” often try to find shelter in and around homes, especially through attics and basements. In addition to being unwelcome guests, wild animals can damage property and pose serious health risks.

      To help you critter-proof your property, the National Pest Management Association (NMPA) offers the following five tips:

      Screen Vents
      Raccoons and squirrels often find their way into homes via uncapped chimneys, broken vents and other openings along rooflines. Ensure that these items are fully screened to prevent wild animals from making your home their own.

      Cover the Trash
      Many types of nuisance wildlife, especially raccoons, are attracted to piles of trash left outside. You should store all garbage bags in plastic containers with sealed lids to make it difficult for animals to dine on your leftovers.

      Cut Back Vegetation
      Squirrels and other small wildlife are known to use tree branches to gain access to rooflines, where they can then find a number of ways to move indoors. Be sure to cut back any tree limbs or branches that hang too close to the foundation. A good rule of thumb is to keep vegetation at least 6 to 8 feet from the roofline.

      Clean up the Yard
      Don’t let brush, leaf piles or other debris accumulate in the yard, as these materials make the ideal harborage site for small animals. Also, make sure firewood is stored at least 20 feet away from the house during the cooler months.

      Keep Bird Feeders Out of Reach
      Ensure bird feeders are only accessible to birds. Squirrels, raccoons, opossums and even bears are drawn to birdseed. Homeowners should also place birdbaths where small animals can’t reach them. Birdbaths and fountains may attract wildlife to the property, especially in areas where water is scarce.

      If you encounter nuisance wildlife on your property, the NMPA says it’s extremely important to contact a local wildlife control specialist or pest control professional instead of attempting to trap and remove the animal on your own.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Common Practices That Can Damage Your Home Appliances

      9 July 2020

      We all rely on appliances to make home life convenient and comfortable, but many of us make mistakes that cause appliances to break down or wear out faster than they should. These are some of the most common blunders:

      Washing Machine
      If you have a mountain of laundry, it can be tempting to stuff as much as you can into the washing machine. Overloading a washer can damage the suspension and coils and may also damage clothes.

      If items such as coins and zippers rattle around inside the washer, they can cause damage. Check pockets before putting clothes in the washer, and zip up any zippers so they don’t damage the machine.

      If you start a load of laundry and then forget to put it in the dryer when the cycle finishes, your clothes can get moldy. In addition to causing an unpleasant odor, mold can spread and damage the electronic components of the washer

      Hair, lint and dirt can accumulate inside a washing machine and clog the motor, which can prevent the washer from agitating and getting clothes clean. The washer needs to be cleaned periodically to remove any accumulated waste that could cause damage.

      Refrigerator
      The compressor in a refrigerator is usually located in the back. If it isn’t cleaned regularly and gets covered in dust, it’ll be unable to provide the condenser coils with enough air, which means the refrigerator will be unable to cool.

      Overfilling your fridge can lead to problems. Blocking the air vents in the back of the refrigerator can prevent it from cooling food adequately and can cause the condenser coils to overheat.

      Leaving the refrigerator door open unnecessarily can cause it to adjust to the outside temperature. That can cause strain and make the refrigerator less efficient.

      Oven
      An oven is designed to cook food, but homeowners sometimes run into problems when they use the appliance in a way that wasn’t intended. Using an oven to heat a house can damage the internal components.

      Keeping the oven clean can keep it working efficiently. Failing to clean up spilled food can cause damage to electronic parts and make the oven struggle to cook food.

      Dishwasher
      A dishwasher can help you avoid expending a lot of time and energy to scrub dishes. When it comes to particularly dirty dishes, some people think they should use extra dishwasher detergent. The truth is that too many suds can damage electronic components. The normal amount of dishwasher detergent should work fine.

      Avoid Unnecessary Bills
      Broken or worn-out appliances can be expensive to repair or replace. Appliances often become damaged by common mistakes. If you’ve been making any of these blunders, change your habits and use your appliances the way they were intended so they’ll last as long as possible.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 10 Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids

      8 July 2020

      If you were like most kids, you probably dreaded eating fruits and vegetables during your childhood. But now that you’re a parent who understands the importance of healthy food for a child’s well-being, you might find yourself struggling to talk your young kids into doing exactly what you once refused to do.

      Pretty ironic, right?

      To help you overcome this common challenge, ChooseMyPlate.gov suggests encouraging your children to eat fruits and veggies by trying to make it fun. Depending on their age and abilities, your kids may even be able to prepare their own healthy creations, making it all the more enjoyable for them.

      ChooseMyPlate.gov offers these 10 kid-friendly ideas for fruits and vegetables:

      Delicious Dippers. Kids love to dip their foods. Whip up a quick dip for veggies with yogurt and seasonings such as herbs or garlic. Serve with raw vegetables like broccoli, carrots or cauliflower. Fruit chunks go great with yogurt and cinnamon or vanilla dip.

      Smoothie Creations. Blend fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk with fruit pieces and crushed ice. Use fresh, frozen, canned and even overripe fruits. Try bananas, berries, peaches and/or pineapple. If you freeze the fruit first, you can even skip the ice!

      Caterpillar Kabobs. Assemble chunks of melon, apple, orange and pear on skewers for a fruity kabob. For a raw veggie version, use vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, squash, sweet peppers or tomatoes.

      Personalized Pizzas. Set up a pizza-making station in the kitchen. Use whole-wheat English muffins, bagels or pita bread as the crust. Get tomato sauce and low-fat cheese, and cut up vegetables or fruits for toppings. Let kids choose their own favorites. Then pop the pizzas into the oven to warm.

      Fruity Peanut Butterfly. Start with carrot sticks or celery for the body. Attach wings made of thinly sliced apples with peanut butter, and decorate with halved grapes or dried fruit.

      Frosty Fruits. Frozen treats are bound to be popular in the warm months. Just put fresh fruits such as melon chunks in the freezer (rinse first). Make “popsicles” by inserting sticks into peeled bananas and freezing.

      Bugs on a Log. Use celery, cucumber or carrot sticks as the log, and add peanut butter. Top with dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries or cherries, depending on which type of “bugs” your children want.

      Homemade Trail Mix. Skip the pre-made trail mix and make your own. Use your favorite nuts and dried fruits, such as unsalted peanuts, cashews, walnuts or sunflower seeds mixed with dried apples, pineapple, cherries, apricots or raisins. Add whole-grain cereals to the mix, too.

      Potato Person. Decorate half a baked potato. Use sliced cherry tomatoes, peas and low-fat cheese on the potato to make a funny face.

      Put Kids in Charge. Ask your children to name new veggie or fruit creations. Let them arrange raw veggies or fruits into a fun shape or design.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Save Up for a Down Payment

      8 July 2020

      Saving up for a down payment is one of the biggest challenges for aspiring first-time homebuyers. A typical down payment can range from 5 to 20 percent of a home’s purchase price–that’s no small chunk of change. Although it might seem overwhelming to rack up thousands of dollars, practicing some discipline and using the right tactics can help you pull it off, making it possible for you to go from renter to proud homeowner.

      To help you save for a down payment, consider these tips from the American Bankers Association:

      Develop a Budget and Timeline. Start by determining how much you’ll need for a down payment. Create a budget and calculate how much you can realistically save each month–that’ll help you gauge when you’ll be ready to transition from renter to homeowner.

      Establish a Separate Savings Account. Set up a separate savings account exclusively for your down payment, and make your monthly contributions automatic. By keeping this money separate, you’ll be less likely to tap into it when you’re tight on cash.

      Shop Around to Reduce Major Monthly Expenses. It’s a good idea to check rates for your car insurance, renters insurance, health insurance, cable, internet and cellphone plan. There may be deals or promotions available that allow you to save hundreds of dollars by adjusting your contracts.

      Monitor Your Spending. With online banking, keeping an eye on your spending is easier than ever. Track where most of your discretionary income is going. Identify areas where you could cut back (nice meals out, vacations, etc.) and instead put that money into savings.

      Look Into State and Local Home-Buying Programs. Many states, counties and local governments operate programs for first-time homebuyers. Some programs offer housing discounts, while others provide down payment loans or grants.

      Celebrate Savings Milestones. Saving enough for a down payment can be daunting. To avoid getting discouraged, break it up into smaller goals and reward yourself when you reach each one. If you need to save $30,000 total, consider treating yourself to a nice meal every $5,000 saved. This’ll help you stay motivated throughout the process.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.