Consumer Real Estate News

    • 5 Ways to Step Up Date Night Without Breaking the Bank

      18 May 2018

      (Family Features)—Most relationship experts agree that making time for date night is important, whether it's the early days of a blossoming romance or decades into a comfortable marriage. Spending that valuable time together doesn't have to be expensive, as long as you take the time to make it special.

      Plan your next date with these ideas for low-cost experiences with the one you love:

      Share time outdoors. Except in the most extreme conditions, there's always something to do outside, and most of those activities are either free or relatively inexpensive. Whether it's taking a stroll hand-in-hand or planning a picnic at a scenic location, the exercise and fresh air can be good for your body and mind, for both you and your beloved.

      Dine on a dime. Although the days of a nickel burger are long gone, there are ways to curb your spending when you eat out. For example, many restaurants offer menus with smaller portions, as well as promotional nights with discounts geared toward certain audiences. Some restaurants even offer daily discounts—as high as 10 percent off your total bill—for AARP members. If you are not a member, it's simple to sign up online.

      Master the movie schedule. Prime time at the theater can be pricey, but if your calendar is flexible, you can catch a show earlier in the day for a steep discount. Some theaters also offer special discounts for ordering tickets online. An added bonus? Taking in an early movie with a snack may help save money on dinner later.

      Enjoy special engagements. Whether it's a local sporting event or a musical performance by a group visiting your town, sharing a pastime that you're passionate about is a good way to share a piece of your life and interests to help establish a deeper connection with a loved one.

      Source: AARP

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Simple Tips to Keep Your A/C Chillin' All Summer Long

      18 May 2018

      Once the summer heat is upon us, there is no cool time for an air conditioner to quit. Here are few tips to keep your central and window air conditioners in tip-top shape.

      For central A/C systems, Don Vandervort, blogger for HomeTips, advises scooping leaves and debris out of the base of the condenser, and, if it has a drain, make sure the drain is clear. He says to use the vacuum and a rag to clean the blower's fan blades. Then, tighten any loose mounting bolts, and, if the fan motor has oil ports, put a few drops of lightweight oil or spray WD-40 into the ports for lubrication. Mop up any excess water inside the unit, and then reassemble the condenser.

      When it comes to window units, Ashley Eneriz at The Hartford, an insurance company, says investing 20 minutes at the beginning of the summer will help keep your air conditioners running efficiently.

      First, she says, unplug your unit and clean the filter. The filter is located right behind the front grill that blows air into your room.

      If it's a paper filter, replace it, and if your window unit has a mesh filter, clean it with warm, soapy water and let it dry thoroughly. If you notice any mold on the filter or grill, wash it in a solution of bleach and water.

      Then, clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil with a soft vacuum brush. The evaporator coil is behind the filter and the condenser coil is behind the compressor.

      Finally, Eneriz says wipe down the outside of the unit and check the window seal for cracks or wear. If there is a gap, add adhesive-backed foam weather stripping inside the gap to ensure a proper seal.

      Depending on how often you use your window A/C during the summer, Eneriz says you should clean the unit once or twice more before autumn.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Tips for Safer Youth Sports

      18 May 2018

      Sports safety is always important, but when it comes to youth sports, keeping your kid protected on the field is a top priority. The Taylor Haugen Foundation cites these five tips for building the safest youth sports program possible, in schools and throughout other organizations serving school-age kids:

      Post dedicated medical personnel on the sideline. For timely response to on-the-field injuries, it's vital that some sort of emergency medical service (EMS) (e.g., a licensed athletic trainer, paramedic, team doctor, or some other emergency unit) is actually along the sideline for every game (including warm-ups) in every sport.

      Establish proper sideline protocols for injuries. Develop an action plan for game-time response to potential injuries, from minor sprains and cuts to major blunt-force impact that could result in significant trauma, such as a concussion or fracture or abdominal injury. (In secondary schools, serious sports-related abdominal injuries, such as those to the ribs, spleen and liver, are on the rise at an alarming rate.)  Coordinate the plan with the attending EMS.

      Outfit your athlete with the proper protective equipment. Start by researching "sports protective equipment" or "sports safety gear" online. Also, determine which protective equipment is mandatory and what's optional for each sport, and understand how some non-mandatory products can help make a difference. For instance, there is a protective rib shirt on the market that can help protect against commotio cordis, an often-lethal disruption of heart rhythm that can occur from a blow to the area directly over the heart.

      Partner with other parents. Talk openly and often—at parents' meetings, booster club gatherings and other events—to address the important questions about sports safety and proper protocols. Together, parents can raise questions with the coaches to ensure safety precautions are both in place and being taken seriously. Presenting a united front to coaches, principals, school boards, etc., can help parents demonstrate they mean business when it comes to advocating better safety protocols and equipment, including optional gear.

      Talk to your kids about sports safety. Make sure they understand how to be as prepared and protected as possible for competition. Check for proper equipment fit and see that all the vulnerable bodily areas are adequately covered. In addition, some of the more recent regulations about contact in football have made the torso the logical target for hits, so make sure your athletes know how to tackle—and be tackled—without causing harm.

      Source: Taylor Haugen Foundation

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Where Do America's Most Over-Leveraged Mortgage Borrowers Live?

      17 May 2018

      Ten years after the global financial crash, many are wondering how Americans are doing in relation to their mortgage debt, and where the largest proportions of over-leveraged mortgage debt are located.

      In a recent report, WalletHub looked at 2,500 cities across the country to determine which are home to the most over-leveraged mortgage debtors.

      The report found that while New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania have communities in the 99 percentile point range, California and Hawaii dominate the grid, with a couple of Texas locations and one from North Carolina thrown into the mix.

      Some key stats:
      - East St. Louis, Ill., has the lowest mortgage debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, 141 percent, which is 7.2 times lower than in Lahaina, Hawaii, the city with the highest at 1,016 percent.

      - Naples, Fla., and Bronxville, N.Y., have the lowest mortgage debt-to-house value ratio, 22 percent, which is 8.6 times lower than in Willis, Texas, the city with the highest at 190 percent.  

      - Scarsdale, N.Y., has the highest median income, $185,106, which is 9.7 times higher than in Lake Placid, Fla., the city with the lowest at $19,153.

      What if someone is currently over-leveraged and has trouble affording their mortgage payments? Vaneesha Boney Dutra at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver weighed in with some good advice.

      Dutra says the first step is to talk with your mortgage company. After the financial crisis, many banks and mortgage companies established programs that help homebuyers restructure their mortgage if they run into trouble, such as a loss of employment or reduction in salary.

      Communication is key, Dutra says. Mortgage holders should make contact with their bank as soon as financial distress develops, so that there is more time to work out a potential solution.

      Over-leveraging, by definition, is generally not a good financial situation to be in, said Dutra. She suggests if you are already cash-strapped and are attempting to purchase a home, consider renting until your situation has improved. Homeownership often comes with many hidden and unexpected expenses, which can further deplete cash reserves.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 7 Safety Tips for Operating a Pressure Washer

      17 May 2018

      As with any power equipment, it's important to know how to operate a pressure washer safely and correctly. Even if you've had your unit for a while, it's a good idea to refresh yourself on how to use it properly before you get started on your outdoor to-do list.

      1. Dress for the task. Wear indirect-vented (chemical splash) goggles for eye protection, and a pair of closed-toe shoes such as sneakers or boots.

      2. Before getting started, be sure to remove all electronics, cords and wires, and place them safely away from water.

      3. Perform routine maintenance. Prior to each use, check the oil level and top off if low. Check the water screens to ensure they can freely move water. Inspect hoses and couplings; if they are cracked or brittle, replace them.

      4. Know your equipment and where it can or can't be used. Never operate your gas pressure washer indoors or in enclosed structures. When operating a gas pressure washer, use it outdoors away from occupied spaces to prevent a potentially deadly build-up of carbon monoxide.

      5. When operating a gas pressure washer, know the signs of potential carbon monoxide poisoning (dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea or irregular breathing), and if you experience these symptoms, get to fresh air right away and seek medical attention.

      6. Always point the nozzle in a safe direction. Never operate a pressure washer near small children or pets.

      7. Before storing, relieve the pressure in the system. Also, run a cycle of water through the machine to eliminate any detergent residue and give the unit time to cool down before storing.

      Source: Briggs & Stratton

      Published with permission from RISMedia.