Real Estate News

    • Are You Properly Preventing Fire Risk at Home?

      10 December 2019

      The cold winter months are the perfect time to cozy up in front of a fire, or stoke up the home heat. However, nearly 900 people die in home fires each year during the winter season, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and 30 percent of all home fires and nearly four-in-ten home fire deaths take place from December through February. 

      So to prevent tragedy and enhance everyone's safety through the holidays and into the New Year, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) has reached out with numerous safety tips to prevent household fires and accidents caused by improper cooking and heating practices.  

      Heating Safety

      - Have your heating system inspected annually by a qualified professional.

      - Keep space heaters out of high-traffic and exit areas, and at least three feet from anything that can burn.

      - Do not leave a space heater running unattended. Turn off and unplug when you leave the room or go to sleep.

      - Never plug a space heater into an extension cord.

      - Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on top of furniture.

      - Never leave an open flame, including the fireplace, unattended.

      - Have a qualified professional install heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

      Cooking Safety

      - Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling.

      - Keep children at least three feet away from cooking appliances.

      - Wear short or close-fitting sleeves.

      - Make sure your stovetop and oven are clean and free of grease and dust.

      - Keep the cooking area clear of combustibles, such as towels, napkins, and potholders.

      - To protect from spills and burns, use the back burners and turn the pot handles in.

      - Locate all appliances away from the sink.

      - Plug countertop appliances into ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected outlets.

      - Unplug the toaster and other countertop appliances when not in use.

      - Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces.

      - Turn off all appliances when cooking is completed.

      - It’s easy to forget about something that’s cooking, especially when you’re entertaining guests.

      Finally, on average, 260 home fires in the U.S. start with Christmas trees each year. So if you put up a real tree, make sure you water it daily — a dried-up pine tree is nothing but kindling. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Make Time for Better Health on Busy Days

      10 December 2019

      (Family Features)--Fitting in time to exercise and eat sensible meals can be impractical, if not impossible, when the demands of daily life get in the way. If busy days limit your ability to live as healthy of a lifestyle as you desire, take charge by squeezing in fitness and smart snacking when and where you can.

      Sneak in some exercise. Even on days you can't make it to the gym, you can find ways to get your body moving. Forego the closest parking spaces and get in a little cardio with a walk into the office or while running errands. Skip the elevator and use the stairs. Swap out your traditional desk chair for a standing desk or a balance ball that lets you get in a little core exercise. Make a point to write down your fitness resolutions and stick to them.  

      Choose smart snacks on the go. There are plenty of snack foods available that prove you don't have to choose between great taste and great for you - even when a busy schedule threatens to get in the way. 

      Drink more water. Staying hydrated is essential for good health, and since you can carry water with you nearly any place you go, it takes virtually no extra time at all. Proper hydration helps keep skin supple and your body systems functioning properly. Water also helps you feel full; in fact, people often mistake the body's natural craving for more water as hunger. Keep a bottle of water at your desk and refill it often. If you have trouble guzzling at least 64 ounces a day, set reminders on your phone or computer to keep you on track.

      Make meal prepping more fun. If planning an entire week of meals seems like a chore, make it more entertaining by sharing the duty with a friend or incorporating the whole family. Having meals and snacks ready to go for the week ahead makes it less tempting to grab quicker, less healthy options when a busy day sneaks up on you.

      Carve out mental health time. It may seem counterintuitive but forcing yourself to grab a few minutes of downtime can actually make you more productive. Turn off or mute your devices and take a break. You might use the time to collect your scattered thoughts into an efficient to-do list or simply meditate to give your brain a break before you head to bed so you can wake up refreshed for another day.

      Source: Stryve

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Keeping Pests Outside This Winter

      10 December 2019

      While the holidays are a time of family fun, you may find a few uninvited guests entering your home this winter, coming in hordes in the form of creepy crawlies. 

      "During the holiday season, we access areas that we do not see very often during the rest of the year, such as attics and basements, to bring out decorations, which can introduce pests living there to the rest of the home," says Glen Ramsey, an Orkin entomologist. "Some of the food and decorations placed out during holidays can also attract unwanted pests."

      According to Orkin, awareness and vigilance are key to keeping your home pest-free. See their insights, below.

      Aphids: A Cautionary Tale.

      Many people choose to celebrate the holidays with live trees, but unfortunately, real Christmas trees may carry pests—such as aphids—indoors.

      What is an aphid? It is a soft-bodied insect, about the size of an ant, that uses its piercing, sucking mouthparts to feed on plant sap. Aphids are common on conifers.

      "While it is unlikely aphids cause any damage to the home or residents, they are a nuisance and may exude a sticky honeydew-like substance," says Ramsey.

      Although many will stay on the tree, aphids are known to become active after exposure to warm temperatures indoors. Others are attracted to light sources, including windows. Aphids can reproduce quickly. In fact, a tree could be infested with hundreds or even thousands of the pests. A key sign of infestation includes seeing dead aphids underneath the tree.

      Bed Bugs - The Unwanted Holiday Travel Guest. Bed bugs, which are typically 4-5 mm in length and red to dark brown in color, are great hitchhikers and can travel from place to place with ease, including luggage, purses and other belongings.

      "Bed bugs are not a sign of uncleanliness," says Ramsey. "They only need blood to survive and can be found anywhere from single-family homes, apartments and hotels, to public places such as movie theaters, public transit, libraries and offices."

      With the hustle and bustle of holiday travel, turnover rates increase, along with the likelihood of a bed bug introduction in hotels and homes across the country. Keep this in mind when you're on the road visiting loved ones. Also, think twice before you throw your jacket on a pile of others at a holiday party, as you never know where those jackets have traveled.

      Ants Moving In For The Holidays

      Ants often move inside looking for the same things that humans do—favorable temperatures, food, shelter and a permanent place to call home.

      Observing swarmers during the cold weather months may indicate that an ant colony exists somewhere inside the home. In this scenario, ants are usually located somewhere in an inner house wall, in door and window frames, or in hidden places.

      Furthermore, ants are omnivores and may be attracted to the interior of a home by substances that are edible and provide a good energy source, including the sweet baked goods that frequently accompany the holiday season.

      The good news, though, is that all these threats are manageable and preventable. To help people avoid the risks associated with ants, aphids and bed bugs, Orkin recommends the following tips:

      - Mechanical tree shakers are available at some retail lots and are useful in removing some insects from the trees. If a mechanical tree shaker is unavailable, vigorously shaking the tree before bringing it into a home will help remove unwanted pests.

      - Routinely inspect any trees or plants brought indoors, all the way down to the trunk or stem.

      - Before bringing potted plants and other vegetation inside from cold temperatures, check the soil for ants.

      - Store sweets and other food in sealed containers and clean up any crumbs on counters.

      - Decrease clutter around your home to make it easier to spot bed bugs on your own.

      - When traveling, elevate your luggage on a rack away from the bed and the wall to avoid bed bugs. While repacking to return home, examine your luggage very carefully.

      Using the tips above, homes across the nation can be better equipped to keep pests out this holiday season. To effectively control pest introductions, contact a trained pest professional who can assess your situation, implement a sound solution that is designed specifically for your home and monitor for improvements over time. 

      Source: Orkin, LLC

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How-To Decorate Damage-Free This Holiday Season

      9 December 2019

      Exterior holiday decorations add so much to the beauty of one's property during the winter holidays. However, according to our decorating experts at Window World, one wrong move while hanging holiday lights can lead to thousands of dollars in damage to your home — not to mention the risk to your own safety.

      Enthusiastic or less experienced homeowners may not realize how easy it is to damage a home simply by hanging holiday decorations. For instance, using nails or a staple gun on your roof or gutters can create small holes which lead to leaks, and new gutters can cost the average homeowner thousands of dollars. So to minimize damage and maximize the beauty and safety of your exterior holiday decor, the experts at Window World have just produced a helpful "Damage-Free Holiday Decorations Guide."

      Some of the guide's important decorating tips include:

      Don’t Gut Your Gutters. Ditch the drill and hang outdoor lights from adhesive clips, shingle tabs or gutter hooks. Adhesive clips work on smooth surfaces, like vinyl siding. Shingle tabs help position lights on top of your roof. 

      Ornaments for Windows, Too! Grab some colorful ornaments and ribbon. Tie one ribbon to one ornament and hang three or four of them in varying lengths from your curtain rods. Tip:  Use plastic ornaments to avoid scratching your windows. 

      Light Up Your Windows. Place battery-powered or LED candlesticks or menorahs on your window sills.

      Don’t Wrestle with Wreaths. You don’t need a hammer to hang a wreath on your door. Simply place a strong adhesive hook on the inside and tie twine around it. Then hang the twine over the door, tie it around the wreath, and you're done.

      Bring the Stars Inside. Adhere festive star stickers to your windows to add some sparkle to your home. Versions of these can be found at many retailers and at various price points. Tip: Clean your windows before placing the adhesives on the glass. Use a coffee filter to ensure it is streak-free for your display.

      Make It Green. Hanging a few pieces of greenery brings the scent and look of the outdoors into your home without the chill. Plants also help humidify a room during the dry, cool months.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Tips to Refresh Your Home in the New Year

      9 December 2019

      (Family Features)--Each new year gives you the chance to reset and start new routines. When you're considering new approaches to healthy living - whether eliminating or adding habits to improve your daily life - beginning with your home is an optimal choice.

      Your living environment has a strong influence on your life, and it's worth evaluating how you can make updates that create a positive space for you and all that the new year will bring. Consider these ideas to refresh your home and simplify your house cleaning routine so you can spend more time focusing on your goals this year. 

      Start by Decluttering. It's practically impossible to get excited about a fresh start when you're surrounded by last year's junk. Make decluttering and purging unnecessary items a top priority for your refresh. Clear counters and tables to create more inviting surfaces and force yourself to assess which items are worth keeping. Get rid of items you don't need by donating, selling or disposing of them. Tackle piles of things you've carelessly tossed aside and find (or create) purposeful places for them to belong. 

      Simplify Your Laundry Routine. Whether it's the frustration of having no clean laundry or never-ending baskets filled with clothes that need folding, laundry is an area where nearly every home can use a refresh. Start with the basics to make laundry easy and quick. A streamlined laundry system starts with the right tools for the job, such as single-dose detergent pods that release while inside your machine, so you can simply toss one in and start the load.

      Create a Fitness Space. One way to stay committed to a new workout regimen is to create a place where you enjoy spending time. Even if you don't have a room to dedicate to fitness, you can make a fitness corner feel more intentional and less like an afterthought with some simple changes. If possible, locate your fitness area near a window so you can soak up the energy of natural light. Clear away unnecessary items and make room for the equipment or floor space you need. Add inspiring posters or make frames to hold your current workout guide. Add storage for hand weights, resistance bands and other small equipment to create your own home gym. 

      Reconfigure Your Furniture. A full-fledged renovation may not be in the cards (or budget), but you can give your living space a quick facelift by simply rearranging the furniture. Beyond simple aesthetic changes, think about how you can make better use of natural light and improve traffic patterns. You might also eliminate extra pieces if the space feels overcrowded or consider borrowing functional items that add storage or seating from other rooms in the house.

      Add Greenery. The middle of winter may not seem like an ideal time to hone your green thumb, but adding a few plants can make your home feel more inviting and chase away the cold weather blues. Plants can also help serve as a natural air purifying system; they absorb carbon dioxide to help stimulate their growth and are believed to absorb a host of other airborne pollutants.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.