Consumer Real Estate News

    • Don't Flush These 8 Items Down Your Toilet

      7 August 2020

      Homeowners flush a lot of things down their toilets without considering the potential plumbing issues it may cause. If they’re lucky, they’ll only have to use a plunger to tackle a minor clog. But if a major issue arises, they may need to call a plumber and pay for costly repairs.

      Whether your home has a septic tank or sewage line, there are certain items you should never flush. To prevent unnecessary clogs and damage to your home’s plumbing, take some advice from the pros. Harts Services, a Tacoma, Wash.-based plumbing company, shares its list of the top items that shouldn’t go down your toilet:

      Dental Floss. Not only is floss non-biodegradable, but it can also tangle up with other debris and turn small clogs into big ones. If flushed into a septic tank, floss can wind itself around a motor and cause it to burn out.

      Paper Towels. It may seem okay to flush paper towels because they look a lot like toilet paper, but flushed paper towels are one of the leading causes of clogged pipes. They're made to be very absorbent and are considerably thicker than toilet paper.

      Sanitary and Baby Wipes. Although many of these wipes say they're flushable on the package, it’s advisable to throw them out instead. The fibers in the wipes are much thicker than those of toilet paper, so they don't break down the same way and can contribute to a clog.

      Q-Tips or Cotton Balls. Cotton may seem like it's harmless, but just like sanitary wipes, cotton does not break down enough to make it through the pipes. Cotton can clump together and get stuck, causing a backup.

      Fats, Oils and Grease. Flushing food waste is a bad idea that will lead to any number of plumbing problems. When hot, these substances are in a liquid state, but once they cool, they congeal and build up on the sides of the pipes.

      Feminine Hygiene Products. These products expand when they come in contact with liquid. This means, when flushed, they absorb more water and get stuck in the pipes.

      Kitty Litter. It may not seem that bad since it's cat waste, but kitty litter is made of clay and sand, which will create major problems for plumbing.

      Adhesive Bandages. These products are non-biodegradable and can easily stick to pipes and cause issues.

      If you have any question about an item you’re thinking about flushing down the toilet, Harts Services advises to remember that when in doubt, throw it out. Otherwise, you may end up paying for costly repairs that could have easily been avoided.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Money-Saving Tips for Kitchen Cabinets

      7 August 2020

      Are you planning a kitchen remodel? If so, you could save a lot of money by finding and buying cheaper cabinets. The trick, however, is to save without compromising on style or quality. To help you choose the right cabinets for a budget-friendly kitchen project, HomeAdvisor offers the following five tips:

      1. Get the Best Kitchen Cabinets for the Money. The most affordable kitchen cabinets can start around $30 per linear foot, with minimal features. It’s cheaper to choose standard sizes, like 24” or 30” wide. Custom options take more work, so they can be expensive. Pull-out shelves and drawers cost the most, so you may want to limit them. For the most part, there isn’t a big difference in value between $30 and $100 per linear foot. Bargain kitchen cabinets tend to have a thinner frame and shelving, which means they can bow or sag under pressure. If you plan to store heavy tools or appliances, opt for thicker panels made of plywood.

      2. Stick With Inexpensive Cabinetry. Solid hardwood cabinets can cost $300 to $350 per linear foot. By comparison, the cheapest kitchen cabinets can cost $30 to $150 per linear foot. These typically contain a plywood frame with a door made of particleboard, also called MDF. Keep in mind that cheap construction often doesn’t last as long. Aim for products with 3/4″ thick panels and screws that’ll go most of the way through the panel. If you’re building it yourself, extra nails will help hold it together.

      3. Don’t Buy More Cheap Cabinets Than You Need. You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars on budget cabinets by buying only what you need. Manufacturers set prices by the unit. Wider sizes tend to have a lower cost per linear foot. For example, selecting two 36” wide base models will probably run less than three 24” ones. It’s tempting to fill the space with cabinets, but you’ll pay for every empty unit. Sometimes, it’s easier to thin out kitchen tools you don’t use than to build more places to store them.

      4. Save on Labor With Ready-to-Assemble (RTA) Cabinets. Assembled cabinets can cost $50 to $150 per linear foot, compared to $30 to $100 per linear foot for RTA units. You might not have as much choice in RTA products, but you’ll save on shipping or bringing them home from the store. Remember that DIY only saves money if you have the right tools and materials and know what you’re doing. Cabinet assembly usually takes a few hours per unit and requires several supplies not provided with the kit.

      5. Shop Locally for Used Kitchen Cabinets. Since solid wood cabinets often last longer than the kitchen design, you may find people nearby looking to sell their old ones. Cabinet removal can cost $15 to $30 per linear foot. To avoid this expense, some homeowners will even give them away for free instead of demolition, if you’ll get them out of the house. Before you choose used products, you should shop around and consider at least a few options, inspect the condition before buying, ask if the price includes removal and make sure you can transport them to your home promptly.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How Does a Reverse Mortgage Work?

      7 August 2020

      A reverse mortgage is a loan designed to help older homeowners access home equity while using their house as collateral. This can provide financial flexibility and security in retirement, but it’s important to understand the terms.

      Who Is Eligible for a Reverse Mortgage?
      Reverse mortgages are intended for people who own a house outright or who have a large amount of equity. A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is the most popular type of reverse mortgage. It’s insured by the federal government and widely available through Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-approved lenders.

      The youngest borrower for a reverse mortgage must be at least 62 years old. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sets financial eligibility criteria. The borrower must use the house as a primary residence, pay required property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums, and maintain the house according to FHA requirements.

      How Much Money Can You Get and How Can It Be Used?
      You might not be able to borrow an amount equal to your home’s full value, even if it’s paid off. The amount of the loan depends on the age of the youngest borrower, the current interest rate, the house’s appraised value and lending limits set by the government. You may receive money in a lump sum, equal monthly payments for a fixed time period, equal monthly payments as long as you live in the house, a line of credit, or a combination. Reverse mortgages have several fees that can make them expensive.

      Seniors use funds from a reverse mortgage for a variety of purposes, including medical bills, home repairs and emergencies. If you have an outstanding mortgage balance, proceeds from the reverse mortgage must be used at closing to pay off the existing mortgage first.

      Will You Have to Make Payments?
      You’ll never owe more than the house is worth, no matter what happens to property values, and you won’t have to make monthly payments. A reverse mortgage generally doesn’t have to be repaid until the last borrower dies or moves out, but the loan may come due if the borrower no longer uses the house as a primary residence, falls behind on property taxes or homeowners insurance, or doesn’t properly maintain it.

      If you die, your spouse may be able to continue living in the house, even if he or she wasn’t a co-borrower, or the estate may repay the reverse mortgage or sell the house. Any home equity in excess of the loan balance will become the property of the estate. If the sale price isn’t enough to pay off the reverse mortgage, the lender will take a loss.

      Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?
      A reverse mortgage can let you tap into your home equity and live comfortably in retirement, but it can be a risky financial move. Make sure that you understand the rules and fees and that you can afford to pay for property taxes, homeowners insurance and maintenance. Discuss the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage with a financial planner.

      This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Pros and Cons of Having Your Kids Sleep in Bunk Beds

      6 August 2020

      If your house has limited space, your kids may have to share a room. Bunk beds can help you make the best use of available space and give your family options in the future, but there are possible problems to take into consideration.

      More Space for Play and Storage
      Young children need lots of space to play, as well as room for a toy box, shelves and dressers. With two single beds taking up valuable floor space, the rest of the room can feel cramped. With bunk beds, you could maximize the use of vertical space and make the entire room feel bigger. In addition, many bunk bed designs feature built-in drawers and shelves where kids can arrange their belongings.

      Privacy and Independence
      For kids who share a bedroom, privacy can be hard to come by. With bunk beds, each child will have an individual space to read, do homework, write, draw or sleep. If your kids have different sleeping schedules, the overhead light can be off, and one child can use a clip-on lamp.

      Sleeping Options
      If you have one child who invites friends to sleepovers or a young relative often comes to visit, a guest can sleep on a bunk bed instead of on a couch or an air mattress. Some bunk beds have a built-in trundle bed that can be stored underneath and pulled out if a third bed is needed.

      Many bunk beds are designed so they can be separated. If you move to a larger house or build an addition with another bedroom in the future, you won’t have to buy your kids separate twin beds.

      Parents often worry about the possibility of a child falling from a bunk bed. Rolling out of bed while sleeping shouldn’t be an issue as long as the top bunk has railings on each side, and they are undamaged and securely attached.

      Falling while climbing the ladder is a more likely possibility. The child on the top bunk should be at least 6 years old and must be able to safely climb up and down. Regularly check the ladder to make sure it’s secure. Explain to your kids that horsing around on the bunk beds is dangerous and not allowed. Strictly enforce that rule.

      Other Potential Problems
      Making the bed on the top bunk can be tricky. You may need to help until the child who sleeps on top gets the hang of it.

      Some kids feel claustrophobic when they start sleeping on a bottom bunk. If your child is uncomfortable, consider moving the bunk beds away from walls so there is open space on all sides.

      Are Bunk Beds Right for Your Family?
      Bunk beds can give your kids more room to play, privacy and independence, but they can be dangerous if not used correctly. If you’re considering buying bunk beds, ask yourself if your kids are old enough and, if so, have a clear and direct conversation about rules and safety.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Reasons You Should Microchip Your Pet

      6 August 2020

      Millions of pets go missing each year, and many are never reunited with their owners. If your pet has a collar and a tag engraved with its name and your contact information, the tag may become damaged and difficult to read, or the collar may fall off or be removed, making it impossible for someone who might find your pet to contact you. Microchipping is a simple solution.

      How Does Microchipping Work?
      A microchip is an electronic chip around the size of a grain of rice that is enclosed in a glass cylinder. A veterinarian can insert a microchip under a pet’s skin using a hypodermic needle that is a bit larger than a needle used for an injection. The process can be performed at a routine office visit, doesn’t cause any more pain than a typical injection and doesn’t require anesthesia.

      Each microchip has a registration number and each manufacturer has a database that stores pet owners’ contact information. Some manufacturers also let owners include pets’ medical information. A microchip doesn’t contain a GPS and can’t track a pet’s location.

      If your pet gets lost and someone finds it and takes it to a veterinary office or animal shelter, an employee can scan the animal. When a scanner passes over the area where the microchip is located, the scanner emits radio waves that activate the chip, and the chip transmits its identification number to the scanner. The employee can then access your contact information and notify you that your pet has been found. If you get your pet microchipped, be sure to complete the registration and keep your contact information up to date.

      Most veterinary offices and animal shelters have handheld readers that can scan microchips, but several systems are used and they work at different frequencies. The International Standards Organization has recommended a global standard. You’ll have the best chance of being reunited with a lost pet if you choose an ISO microchip.

      Is There a Risk to Microchipping?
      A small number of pets have experienced adverse reactions to microchips, such as swelling, infection and hair loss. A handful have developed tumors, but in many of those cases it wasn’t clear that the microchip was the cause.

      Sometimes a microchip migrates away from the site where it was implanted, which can make it difficult to read. When you take your pet to the veterinarian for routine exams, ask an employee to scan the microchip to make sure it can be detected.

      Talk to Your Veterinarian
      Losing a pet and not knowing what happened to it can be devastating for anyone, but particularly for children. A microchip can dramatically increase the odds of being reunited with your pet. Since a microchip is inserted under the skin, it can’t be lost or separated from the pet, so the animal will always be identifiable. The cost is relatively low compared to the potential emotional effects of losing your four-legged friend. If your pet hasn’t been microchipped, discuss it with your veterinarian.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.