Latest Real Estate News

    • New Considerations in Home Design: Privacy and Space

      11 August 2020

      According to a recent report from Zillow, home builders are predicting that there will be a move away from open floor plans as homeowners seek out increased privacy, as well as an increased demand for more space. 
      Growing in popularity for decades, open floor plans have also been touted by popular home-design programs in recent years. In fact, Zillow research found that the share of for-sale listings mentioning open concept layouts more than doubled since 2015.

      However, in the wake of the coronavirus, homeowners are discovering that the lack of privacy involved in an open design concept can often be a detriment. In a recent survey by Zillow and The Harris Poll, 27 percent of those surveyed said they would consider moving to have a home with more rooms—one of the top reasons for considering a move—after spending more time at home because of coronavirus orders.

      Homebuilders agree. The experts at Berks Homes believe that homes built post-coronavirus will have more doors for privacy, dedicated home-office space, better insulation for noise control and separate spaces for kids. The pros at Pyatt Builders believe that open concepts won’t disappear, but will be approached differently, highlighted by features like barn doors, which preserve the feel of openness yet allow for private, multi-use space.

      Other emerging home trends will include germ-preventing features, such as mudrooms, allowing family members to remove shoes and wash hands before entering the house, and smart home technology like touchless faucets and self-cleaning toilets.

      According to Zillow research, home shoppers are clearly interested in starting from scratch when it comes to home design—searches for new construction homes are up 73 percent from 2019.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Vacation More Safely

      11 August 2020

      Even though vacations may look a little different this year, there are many great ways to enjoy the season, whether you’re headed off on a roadtrip or simply to the backyard. Farmers Insurance recommends considering the following tips to help enjoy a safer summer:

      Know Before You Go - Before embarking on a road trip adventure, consider getting an overall checkup of your car to ensure comfortable cruising, especially if your car has been sitting for an extended period of time. Take your car to a professional for an inspection well in advance of your trip, so you have plenty of time to address any unexpected issues that come up.

      Check Your Coverage - It's also a good idea to know your insurance coverage before getting behind the wheel. You probably already know your personal auto coverage, but if you're planning to rent a vehicle or an RV for your travels, it's worth checking in with your insurance agent to understand what coverages you have and discuss coverage options you may want.

      Go Phone-Free in the Car - Limiting mobile phone use is one of the easiest ways to become a more focused driver—and that keeps everyone safer on the road. Recent driving data from Farmers Signal® app, which is powered by TrueMotion, shows that non-call phone use while driving is up 50 percent compared to pre-coronavirus levels. For more focused driving, make your car a "phone-free zone."

      Pump the Brakes - Take the time to safely slow down if you have to go over a pothole or any other object in the road and keep a safe distance from other cars. Farmers data indicates that 24 percent of all collision claims in the summer involve a rear-end collision.

      Enjoy a Quiet Drive - Road trips are great for bonding with loved ones, but boisterous conversation can be a distraction for drivers. Take a cue from the 33 percent of people who believe that talking to passengers, even those seated in the back seat, poses a danger to others on the road and keep the chat light.

      Treat Yourself - Your homecation is still a vacation—treat it like one. Many of us are working from home these days, so it's important to be intentional about taking time to relax and unplugging from your home office. Set up an out-of-office reply for your work emails, think about turning off email notifications on your phone and be sure to take plenty of pictures so you can cherish your homecation memories forever.

      Get All Decked Out - Think about taking on home improvement projects that expand your living space to the outdoors. Renovations like building a deck or balcony can create a much-needed personal paradise after spending so much time indoors—and can increase your home's value. Consider checking in with your insurance agent to understand what coverages you have and discuss coverage options you may want.

      Guard Your Pool With an App - Pool safety rule number one: never leave children unattended. You may already have a locked gate to help keep kiddos away from the pool, but you may also want to think about adding a high-tech monitoring system that connects WiFi motion sensors, lights and cameras around your pool to your smartphone.

      Bounce Into Safety - Trampolines can be a fun addition to your backyard setup, but they also can create a safety hazard, especially when multiple people are bouncing at once. Flips and somersaults can also be major causes of injury. Set firm ground rules for trampoline use at your home that limit use to one person at a time and prioritize safe bouncing.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Support Students Through Community Programs

      11 August 2020

      (Family Features) As kids prepare for the upcoming school year, school supplies remain critical to their success. While school districts struggle with the challenge of delivering education and resources to students amid a pandemic, many parents are working to determine how they will ensure their children have the necessary supplies.

      Community youth programs are innovating to fill gaps and ensure kids from low-income families in particular are equipped with learning materials and supplies, enrichment activities and food. For example, when schools closed, local corps of The Salvation Army started adapting creative alternatives to their youth programs to provide activities, snacks and educational materials like coloring sheets, scavenger hunts and more to keep kids entertained and learning.

      If you’d like to make a similar impact in your community, consider lending a hand in one of these ways:

      Tutor or mentor students. Although most kids across the nation face the same challenges with academics, some are at more of a disadvantage because their access to remote learning resources is limited or parents are unable to assist at home. You can help by volunteering to tutor students as they practice learned skills and get back into the swing of a new school year. 

      Donate supplies. There are 30 million children in the United States whose parents will have to choose between buying school supplies or other necessities like putting food on the table. Consider adding extra common items like crayons, markers and glue when you shop for your own children and dropping them off at your local youth center. Campaigns like The Salvation Army's "Stuff the Bus" events allow shoppers to purchase and drop off requested items at collection bins located at the front of participating retailers.

      Get involved with extracurricular activities. If you have a particular skill set or experience, for example as a high school or college athlete, lending your knowledge to a local youth group can help provide a constructive outlet for kids while enriching your own life.

      Volunteer for meal distribution. Many children rely heavily on schools for meals; in fact, the food some students receive through their schools’ breakfast and lunch programs may be the only meals they get in a day. Across the country, organizations have partnered with local school districts to provide meal kits, coordinate food distribution routes and pickup locations to get meals to kids and families. Depending on the needs in your area, you may be able to donate food, assist with organizing the meal kits or help coordinate deliveries.

      Help fund youth programs. Uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has many people reconsidering their finances, and that means the donations and contributions many programs rely upon have slowed. If your situation allows, consider a monetary contribution to a youth-oriented cause, which can help deliver programming even if you’re not able to volunteer in other ways.

      Learn more about getting involved in your community at

      Purposeful Youth Programs
      While many children from low-income families rarely experience life outside of their immediate neighborhoods, youth programs can help kids discover new skills, passions and hobbies while connecting with others in a safe, healthy way.

      Along with community centers dedicated to supporting the physical, emotional and spiritual growth of moms, dads and kids, organizations like The Salvation Army provide after-school programs for students of all ages and numerous music, art and athletic programs at its 7,600 centers across the country.

      The organization's "Stuff the Bus" program also helps make activities and programs more accessible to low-income youth in local communities, including:

      After-school programs offer homework assistance and counseling for children of all ages, as well as one-on-one assistance with homework, study skills and literacy advancement. Dance, art and music programs are offered in no- or low-cost environments. Classes range from choir, band and dancing to drawing, writing and acting.

      Sports, clubs and extracurricular activities give children from low-income neighborhoods a chance to play team sports and learn valuable athletic and life skills.

      Parental involvement coaching equips parents with the skills needed to support and sustain their children’s educational needs.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Keep Any Floor Looking Beautiful

      10 August 2020

      The choices for home flooring are dazzling these days, with nearly a dozen types of floor tile available and laminate options you’d need to examine closely to be certain they aren’t actually real wood. But different floors require different cleaning methods to keep them looking their best.

      Here’s a guide to proper maintenance for the four most common floor types:

      Ceramic or Porcelain Tile - These most-popular floor tiles by a wide margin are also among the easiest to clean, requiring nothing more than a wet string mop and warm water, and/or a neutral floor cleaner that does not contain abrasives. If the grout between tiles gets dingy, you can clean it by hand. Spray on a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, let it stand for five minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush.

      Vinyl - Vinyl floors are gaining in popularity, both as tile and in planks resembling wood. Their only natural enemy is too much water, so again, warm water and/or a neutral, non-abrasive cleaner applied with a good string mop are all you need. Just be sure the mop is well wrung-out before using. 

      Laminates - Laminate flooring, available in a wide variety of patterns, offers the look of wood at a fraction of the cost. Like vinyl, it dislikes a lot of water and it hates harsh chemicals, so use a dry dust mop or vacuum for regular cleaning. If it needs more every two or three months, mop it with a solution of one teaspoon of unscented baby shampoo mixed into a gallon of warm water. Be sure that mop is damp, not soaking wet.

      Hardwood - Little can replace the warmth and luster of real hardwood floors. But if you’re lucky enough to have them, you’ll need a little more elbow grease to keep them looking their best. Regular vacuuming is the first step. A microfiber mop sprayed with a dusting agent once a week will pick up dust and prevent scratches. If a deeper cleaning is needed, use a wood floor cleaning product, diluted according to label instructions. Saturate a string mop in water, then wring it almost dry and damp-mop the floor. Rinse with a clean mop and be sure no standing water is left on the floor, as this can cause permanent damage to the wood.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Snack Right Before Bed

      10 August 2020

      That before-bed urge to root around in the fridge or pantry for an end-of-the-day treat can be a powerful force. Whether you’re looking for a mindless munchy to accompany your TV-time or just trying to satisfy your late-night sweet craving, eating too close to bedtime, while enjoyable, is one of the common culprits involved in weight gain.

      Though for those night-time noshers, there may be hope. According to experts, eating before bed might not be so bad if you choose your snacks carefully. In fact, some say that certain foods may actually help boost your metabolism while you sleep, such as those rich in protein and complex carbohydrates. So before you reach for the chips or ice cream, consider one of these options instead, recommended by Cooking Light magazine:

      Whole Grain Toast and Hummus. Because it’s made from chickpeas, hummus is rich in vitamin B, which helps metabolize carbohydrates, protein and fats. The fiber in whole grain bread will help satisfy you and may also help you sleep better thanks to the magnesium in wheat flour.

      Cottage Cheese and Cherries. The protein content in cottage cheese may help your muscles repair themselves while you sleep, and boost your metabolism. Not only will tart cherries on top help sweeten this bed-time snack, their natural melatonin may help regulate your sleep cycle.

      Banana With Peanut Butter. A banana dipped into a tablespoon of nut or seed butter is a great choice for a few reasons. First, bananas are a fast-digesting carb, and fast digestion is what you want before bed. They’re also rich in magnesium, which helps subdue stress hormones. The carbs will also help release sleep-promoting insulin.

      Plain Greek Yogurt With Blueberries. Not only a much healthier alternative to ice cream, the calcium in the yogurt will help your body create melatonin for a better night’s sleep. The antioxidants in blueberries will help lower overall physical stress, which can also help in the sleep department. This healthy snack will also help you avoid waking up ravenous, resulting in better eating habits in the morning.

      The goal with these and other healthy night-time snacks is to help you sleep better, regulate your cravings and get an extra dose of the nutrition your body needs most. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.