Consumer Real Estate News

    • 4 Ways to Ensure a Smooth Closing

      19 August 2019

      Buying a house is a thrilling experience! But before you can cross the threshold, you have to get through the closing...which, unfortunately, can be a confusing and stressful process for many.

      While every homebuyer’s situation is different, there are some steps everyone can take to make sure the closing goes as smoothly as possible:

      Have cash available. Make sure you have extra cash that is easily accessible well ahead of the closing. You will need the cash to pay some of the closing costs, and be sure to build in a 10 percent buffer for final costs that come in higher than estimates.

      Have all your documentation ready to go. Ask your lender and real estate agent to provide you with a list of every piece of documentation you will need for the closing. Make sure it is complete and gathered ahead of closing day, so that you have time to double check and troubleshoot as needed.

      Preserve your credit score. Keep in mind that your loan approval was based on your credit score at the time you signed the purchase agreement for your home. If you’ve taken out any new loans or debt since then, such as a credit card or car loan, this could affect your credit score and jeopardize the home loan. Wait to make any large purchases until after the closing, and make sure you’re paying everything on time.

      Keep your employment steady. Don’t change jobs or decide to quit and start your own business prior to closing. Keep your employment record and income steady.

      Settle the inspection. Review the inspection and make sure you are satisfied with the results. If there are any issues that need to be addressed, decide how they are going to be handled - by you or the seller? It’s critical that all decisions regarding the inspection are made before closing - you may have no further recourse afterwards.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Boat Safe: Ensure Your Boat is Ready for the Water

      19 August 2019

      ( matter how much experience you have on the water, prepping your boat - and your passengers - before leaving the dock can make for a more enjoyable experience.

      To prepare for a safe and comfortable trip, review this pre-departure checklist to ensure your vessel is in good working order and well-stocked for the adventure:

      - Documentation - Have all required documentation for planned activities readily accessible, including boat registration, fishing permits and boater education cards. 

      - Float Plan - File a float plan with a responsible party who will remain on land. Provide contact info, explain where you're going, when you intend to return and what to do in case he or she doesn't hear from you.

      - Weather Forecast - Always check the forecast before you head out on the water. To regularly monitor any changes, keep a handheld radio onboard.

      - Fuel - Before leaving, check that your fuel level is adequate for the trip and that other fluids, like oil and coolant, are at the proper levels.

      - Batteries - Check to make sure the boat's battery, as well as battery-operated items like flashlights and handheld radios, are fully charged and operational.

      - Lights - Check to make sure you have properly functioning navigation and instrument lights and pack a flashlight as well.

      - Life Jackets - Ensure you have at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device per passenger with a minimum of two onboard. If your boat is longer than 16 feet, you'll also need a throwable device.

      - Anchor - Keep at least one anchor, attached to an anchor line, and at least two fenders for docking onboard.

      - Bilge - Before launching your boat, ensure the bilge is dry, clear of waste and has a properly functioning pump.

      - Fire Extinguisher - Keep a U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher securely mounted in an accessible place.

      - Distress Signals - Store flares and day signals in a dry, accessible location and ensure all passengers onboard know how to use them. Also have a noise-making device, such as an air horn, bell or whistle, capable of producing a four-second blast audible for at least a half mile readily available.

      - Tools - Keep a basic toolbox onboard with commonly used tools and spare parts like wrenches, screwdrivers, batteries, fuel filters, hull plugs and light bulbs.

      - First-Aid Kit - Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit - and extra sunscreen - in an accessible location in case of accidents.


      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Health Hacks for Back-to-School Success

      19 August 2019

      A sick child can put a major damper on the start of their school year, but back-to-school time is often when illnesses occur, as children's schedules shift and they become exposed to an explosion of germs in their busy school setting. To help, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following tips for parents and schools to help children and teens stay healthy, whether they're just starting kindergarten or heading off to high school.

      Wash your hands. Germs are everywhere. Touch a surface where germs are lurking, then touch your face, and you can get sick. It doesn't have to be that way. Handwashing with soap and water is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of colds, flu and other diseases to others.

      Parents, teachers and informed students can teach proper handwashing so people don't pass germs or illnesses to others. At school, it's important for students to wash their hands before eating, after using the toilet and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing. Handwashing also helps keep students, their families and school staff healthy so they don't miss school or work.

      Eat well and be active. Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important for children. Nearly one in five U.S. children have obesity, putting them at risk for asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Children with obesity also are more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression and lower self-esteem.

      Most children consume almost half of their calories at school. That makes school a great place to learn and practice healthy eating – a gift that keeps on giving for a lifetime.  

      Did you know that being physically active can help reduce anxiety and even help with a child's focus in school?  The time kids spend watching TV, playing video games and surfing the web is time they could be physically active. Experts recommend children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day—before, during and after school; running, walking and playing sports all count!

      Limit sugary drinks. While calories in drinks are not exactly hidden (they're listed right on the Nutrition Facts label), many people don't realize just how many calories are in the beverages they drink. Here's the good news: Water is a great, no-calorie, low-cost substitute for sugary drinks. Drinking plenty of water every day is a great habit to establish for a lifetime.

      Stay cool. Schools are opening, but it's still hot out there. Learn how to recognize, prevent and treat heat-related illnesses. Remember these tips while participating in outdoor activities:

      - Schedule workouts and practices earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
      - Limit outdoor activity, especially during the middle of the day when the sun is hottest.
      - Pace activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
      - Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
      - Drink more water than usual, and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
      - Pair up: Monitor a teammate's condition and have someone do the same for you.
      - Wear loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing.

      Plan for emergencies. Plan ahead! As children head back to school, it's important to have a written emergency care plan and to practice that plan as often as needed. The plan should include any medicines your child needs to take or any assistive devices they use, such as a motorized wheelchair or assistive communication device. Having conversations now with your child's teacher about being prepared in an emergency can help reduce your concerns if an emergency does happen.

      Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Stay Safe at Big Events

      16 August 2019

      Due to growing threats to cyber and physical safety, Americans are increasingly concerned about attending large-scale events, according to the 2019 Unisys Security Index, with more than one in five Americans reporting that they have cancelled plans over such anxieties.

      To combat fears about safety at big events, Unisys offers the following ways to protect yourself:

      - Only buy event tickets from official channels or websites you trust. Look for the secure padlock icon in the browser and make sure the address begins with https://. Don’t get duped - if ticket prices seem to good to be true, they probably are. 

      - Plan ahead and check local authorities' alerts. Event organizers usually offer travel or news alerts, so be sure to sign up to receive them. This will give you a heads-up about any potential problems on the day of the event.

      - Let people know about your plans. If you’re going to a big event alone, be sure to tell friends and family ahead of time. Let them know when you plan to arrive at the event and when you expect to return.

      - Leave valuables at home. Travel light when attending big events, storing just the essentials in your pockets.

      - Be aware of your surroundings. As soon as you get to the event, survey your surroundings. Know where the exits are and figure out a meeting point with your friends in case you get separated. Also find out where event workers and information desks are stationed should you need to speak with someone. 

      - Avoid unsecured wi-fi networks. Make sure your phone is updated with the latest software so that it’s as secure as possible, then only use password-protected wi-fi to prevent hackers from accessing your personal data.

      - Don't make electronic transactions with unofficial event vendors. Be careful with your contactless cards or making mobile transactions, particularly outside event venues. Criminals could be gathering your financial data for nefarious purposes

      - Watch for suspicious activity. Don't hesitate to report something you think is unusual, such as an unattended bag or suspicious or threatening behavior.

      - Make sure your phone is charged. Bring a cordless battery charger if you can to ensure your phone is always available.

      - In an emergency, stay calm and move to the edges of crowds. Try to leave the area quickly and calmly. If you need to, get away from the incident quickly, hide yourself if needed, call 911 when you can, and then let your family know you are safe.

      By following the above steps you’ll be able to attend big events and enjoy them safely.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Tips for Maintaining an Organized Home

      16 August 2019

      (Family Features)--This time of year, family life can get a little messy. School schedules and sports activities mix with work commitments and, before long, the house is as cluttered as the calendar.

      Fall is the perfect time of year to recommit to an organized household so you can keep the chaos contained. With these tips, you can make small changes to help you get organized and stay that way.

      Embrace routines. The idea of dedicating large chunks of time to organizing and tidying the house can be overwhelming. However, making time to clean as you progress through the day can help control clutter and keep the time commitment more manageable. Commit to cleaning up the kitchen after dinner each night. Set expectations for kids to pick up their rooms before bed. Before long, routines become productive habits that make a visible difference.

      Purge the excess. Over time, nearly everyone collects too much stuff, and clutter is often more an indication of too much volume than poor organization. Items are purchased to replace outdated things, but the old pieces sometimes don't actually get discarded. Getting control of your clutter starts with eliminating the things you no longer want or need. A good strategy is to create piles of items: keep, sell, donate and discard.

      Create a drop zone. In most homes, the entryway is a catchall for family belongings that get shed with each pass through the door. It's convenient to have shoes, coats, backpacks and other essentials ready to grab as you head out, so instead of fighting the inevitable jumble, find a way to organize it. A stylish drop zone organizers is a solution that attractively contains all those essentials. Consider shelving kits, complementing drawers, baskets, rods and more so you can customize the storage unit to your exact space and needs.

      Avoid junk piles. Nearly every home has at least one junk pile, drawer or even room. In most cases, the reason is that the contents are a mish-mash of items that don't really have any place else to go. Make a point to identify ways to create order, whether it's adding drawer inserts to contain all the odds and ends or buying a standing file to capture bills and mail.

      Be mindful about use. When you're on a mission to eliminate excess clutter, it can be tempting to go overboard putting things away. It's important to be realistic about where you store the things you need and err on the side of keeping the things you use regularly within reach. This may mean getting creative about how you organize or even adding new storage containers or furniture, but remember being organized is only helpful if it's also practical.

      Source: ClosetMaid

      Published with permission from RISMedia.