Latest Real Estate News

    • 5 Cool Things You Can Get for Free

      18 September 2018

      Getting a bargain is good, but getting something you want for free is even better. The hot deal sleuths at Kiplinger’s Magazine have found a host of cool things anyone can get for free. Here are a few worth checking out:

      Free college. You don’t need to qualify for a four-year scholarship to get a free college education. Berea College in Berea, Ky. provides every student with a four-year tuition scholarship valued at nearly $100,000.  College of the Ozarks in Missouri offers a work-study program that allows students to attend tuition-free if they participate. The city College of San Francisco offers free tuition for city residents, and New York is the first state to offer tuition-free college for residents with annual incomes under $125,000.

      Free checking. For the best free checking accounts, look to online banks such as Ally Bank or Bank of Internet USA. They give you free ATM access and free online bill paying, plus you earn interest (free money!) on your deposits.

      Free food at restaurants. Mark your calendar to take advantage of these freebies:

      - Free pancakes at IHOP on National Pancake Day in March
      - A free sandwich at Schlotzky’s Deli on Tax Day, April 15 – and a free cookie from Great American Cookie
      - A free doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme on National Doughnut Day in June
      - A free Slurpee from Seven-Eleven on July 11
      - A free meal for veterans at Applebee’s, Chili’s or Golden Corral on Veterans Day

      Free tour guides. Traveling? The Global Greeter Network organizes volunteers in several cities worldwide to show you around, give you the inside scoop and answer your questions. Tours can last a couple of hours, and there’s a strict no-tipping policy.

      Free auto services. Pep Boys auto supply stores offer free battery tests, code retrieval, windshield wiper replacement, brake inspections and alignment checks. No purchase is necessary to take advantage of any of the services. You can get free brake inspections, too, if you are a Pep Boys Rewards Member.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Fall Sport Safety Tips for Your Teen

      18 September 2018

      Fall marks the kick-off of back to school, and for may teenagers, that means back to sports. But even the most conscious of young athletes can have a slip or fall on the field that may lead to years of chronic pain. With that in mind,  the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends the following fall sport safety tips for young athletes:

      - Always get a pre-participation sports physical examination to ensure you're in proper physical condition to play a sport.

      - Know and abide by the rules of a sport.

      - Wear appropriate protective gear (for example, a hard-shell helmet and padding for football, shin guards for soccer).

      - Know how to correctly use athletic equipment.

      - Always warm up before playing.

      - Stay hydrated.

      - Avoid playing when very tired or in pain.

      - Avoid overuse injuries by taking regular breaks and playing other sports.

      - Understand the signs of an injury caused by overuse, such as pain that cannot be tied to an acute injury and increases with activity, swelling, changes in form or technique, and decreased interest in practice.

      - Wear shoes that provide strong ankle and arch support.

      Source:  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Home Upgrades That Really Work

      18 September 2018

      (Family Features)--Bathroom and kitchen upgrades are among the most popular home renovations, but not just because the improvements are likely to increase the home's value. Renovations to these high-use areas can enhance the practical enjoyment of your home while adding aesthetic appeal and style.

      A Better Bathroom
      Bathroom makeovers can take many forms, from simple updates to total overhauls. Consider these common approaches, identified by the home experts at JCPenney Home Services, to determine the best match for your home and needs.

      Tub-to-Shower Updates
      According to the National Association of REALTORS®, more than 60 percent of homeowners prefer a stall shower without a tub. Whether you want to join the ranks of homeowners transforming their outdated tubs to modern showers, need a larger tub to soak away the day or simply want to update the look of your space, converting your tub or shower is a simple way to add functionality while transforming your bathroom.

      Aging and Accessibility
      More than 200,000 injuries occur in the bathroom each year, according to the National Safety Council. Especially for those with mobility challenges, water and slippery surfaces can be a dangerous combination. If you're taking on a bathroom upgrade with accessibility in mind, be sure to consider options like slip-resistant flooring, strong grab bars, shower seats and a practical walk-in tub or low-threshold shower base.

      Complete Remodel
      If you're looking for a substantial change, a complete remodel may be your best answer. This approach allows you to integrate a consistent look and style throughout the room and create a truly custom experience. However, a project of this scope often requires professional assistance.

      Create a New Kitchen
      It's the hub of the home, so it's no surprise that many homeowners start with the kitchen when they're planning functional upgrades. New appliances, countertops and tile work all add to the style and function of a kitchen, but don't overlook these highly functional features that can make your home more enjoyable.

      Water Filtration
      Features like the faucet and sink, and even refrigerators with ice-makers and water dispensers, can take a real beating through basic everyday use. One way to minimize the wear and tear, and take your kitchen upgrade to the next level, is a water filtration system. Cleaner, clearer water can benefit your home in a number of ways. It eliminates the need for expensive bottled water, produces cleaner, spot-free dishes, lets you save on soap and detergents, results in less build-up on fixtures and helps increase the life of appliances that use water.

      Flooring
      Updating the floor of your kitchen is another easy way to upgrade the space, even if it's the only enhancement you make. For example, JCPenney Home Services offers a broad line of hardwood, laminate and luxury vinyl, all of which are affordable and practical solutions for a high-use area like the kitchen.

      Lighting
      If there's one place in the home where task lighting really matters, it's the kitchen. Proper lighting can help ensure you can see well for safe food handling. It also helps set the mood for the room, whether it's a lively gathering with guests or a quiet candlelit meal at your eat-in nook. You can create a focal point with exquisite fixture over a feature like an island then be sure to complement your standout fixtures with recessed lights on multiple switches with dimmers so you can customize the lighting as needed.

      Planning Your Project
      Define your desires. Although obvious, many homeowners find this to be among the most challenging aspects of a renovation. Start by determining the scope of your project. It may be just a new tub or shower, or it may be the entire kitchen. Some homeowners find it helpful to consider their project in terms of must-haves and nice-to-haves so it's easier to make adjustments as obstacles or finances require.

      Set a budget. The easiest way to overspend on a renovation is to go into it without an established budget. If you specify what you can afford from the outset and plan against that budget every step of the way, you're more likely to feel satisfied with your investment in the long run.

      Expect the unexpected. If possible, review a blueprint of your home (or have your contractor take a look) to identify details behind the wall, like the layout of the plumbing and electric lines, which can be costly to relocate. It's also a good idea to take a thorough inventory of your current space so you're aware of any damage or wear that will need repaired before you begin.

      Hire the help (or not). With some preliminary information on the complexity of the job and a better idea of exactly what you're hoping to accomplish, you should be able to make a decision about whether the project is something you're prepared to tackle on your own or if hiring professionals is more likely to provide the results you're seeking.

      Monitor progress. Even if you're handling the project on your own, it's a good idea to continually monitor the project in terms of budget, timeline and quality of work. It's easier to make corrections as you go than to get to the end and discover a problem that needs reworking.

      Source: JCPenney Home Services

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Are You Ready to Look for Your First Home?

      17 September 2018

      Buying your first home doesn't need to be overwhelming, and the more prepared you are, the better. Here are a few tips and tools to make first-time home-buying a little easier.

      Take a class. Katie Ross, a community education and marketing manager for American Consumer Credit Counseling, says you shouldn’t be at all ashamed to take a first-time homebuyer education course, many of which are offered online. They provide potential homebuyers with detailed information, advice and budgeting tips on how to purchase a home. With a homebuyer certificate, consumers may qualify for loan products that might otherwise be out of their grasp.

      Save, save, save. Digital Federal Credit Union (dcu.org) advises prospective homebuyers to save as much as possible toward the purchase price of the house and closing costs. Though minimum down payments start around 5 percent, the greater the down payment, the more favorable the borrowing terms.

      Put more down. DCU.org says if you can purchase a home with at least 20 percent down, you probably will save even more because you won't need to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI).

      Find an agent. DCU also advises first-timers to find a trusted real estate agent. They say an agent's job is to know how much properties are worth, facilitate the sale process and bring an offer to the seller's agent.

      Emily Starbuck Crone at nerdwallet.com reminds first-time prospects that there are a lot of mortgage options out there, each with their own combination of pros and cons. If you’re struggling to come up with a down payment,
      Crone says check out:

      - Conventional mortgages that conform to standards set by the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which require as little as 3 percent down.

      - Federal Housing Administration loans, which permit down payments as low as 3.5 percent.

      - Veterans Affairs loans, which sometimes require no down payment at all.

      Finally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov) says shopping around for a mortgage can lead to real savings. Saving even a quarter of a point in interest saves thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Hacks for Holiday Hosting

      17 September 2018

      (Family Features)--It may feel impossible to fit even more into already jam-packed days, but when the holidays roll around, entertaining and celebrating always find a way. Fortunately, you can find some shortcuts when hosting that offer plenty of festive style while also helping you avoid stressing over every detail.

      This year, rely on some time-saving hacks so you're not just throwing the holiday party, but enjoying some seasonal fun of your own.

      Repurpose with purpose. There's no need to make time for a trip to the store or to spend a bundle on party supplies. A pretty, oversized flower pot or planter that has been cast aside for winter makes a perfect tub for icing down beverages. When it comes to decor, you can cover any old box with some of last year's leftover holiday paper to add some colorful touches around the home. A similar idea: wrap canvas art or other frames in pretty paper to extend the theme up the walls.

      Fill the freezer. Whether your holiday entertaining is more impromptu in nature or you host a single sizable shindig, keeping a well-stocked freezer can help make hosting a cinch. Dedicate an afternoon to preparing items you can easily defrost and serve later, like casseroles, appetizers, side dishes and desserts.

      Forgo fussy food. An elegant sit-down meal isn't the only way to enjoy a holiday gathering. Guests may even appreciate a break from traditional heavier fare. Simple food stations, finger foods and even store-bought meals are all time-saving alternatives. Another time-saving option: dressing up store-bought food as part of a larger spread. For example, you can top side dishes like mashed potatoes with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with cheese, or embellish a main course such as ham with rosemary sprigs and fresh fruit.

      Keep cleanup simple. For a festive, yet deceptively easy table, consider using kraft paper as tablecloths and let some of that leftover wrapping paper do double-duty as table runners. Simply cut the wrapping paper to your desired length and fold the edges under to create clean seams. Match the DIY table coverings with a coordinated line of disposable tableware to make cleaning up a cinch.

      Source: Chinet

      Published with permission from RISMedia.