Consumer Real Estate News

    • Home Safety Tips to Protect Tots

      23 March 2018

      When your child first finds their legs, the home can become a playground - and sometimes, it can become a hazardous one.

      The Up and Away campaign urges families to follow these five tips to keep their children safe and healthy:

      Clean surfaces. Disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often, like countertops, doorknobs, keyboards, faucet handles, phones and toys.

      Store safely. When you're done cleaning and reorganizing, store everything you wouldn't want your kids to get into, like cleaning products and medicines, in a safe spot up and away and out of sight and reach of young children. Remember to put medicines back in their safe place after you use them every time.

      Dispose safely. Dispose of any expired, unused, or unwanted medicines in your home. Make sure to follow recommendations for safe disposal to prevent exposures to medications that have been discarded. Consider bringing expired or unwanted medications to medicine take-back programs.

      Be prepared. Check your first aid kit for expired medicines and supplies; medicines that are past their expiration dates may not work as well as they should. Make sure your first aid kit is stored in a location that is accessible to adults, but not to your young children.

      Update your contacts. Make sure you have the Poison Help number stored in your cell phone and available to your children's caregivers: 800-222-1222.


      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Hiring a Contractor? Do This First

      23 March 2018

      Nothing is more exciting than embarking on a home renovation project! Hire the wrong contractor, however, and your dream remodel can quickly turn into a nightmare.

      That’s why it’s essential to do your due diligence when hiring a contractor, such as getting multiple estimates before signing a contract. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), when you get multiple bids, you can learn a great deal about the proposed project, such as what type of work is needed, the quality of the building materials, how long the job may take and the total cost.

      The BBB offers these other tips to help find the best, most ethical contractor to work with and ensure a successful home renovation:

      - First, check - BBB’s business profiles can tell you how long the contractor has been in business, as well as provide contact information, verified customer reviews, complaint details and how the business responded.

      - Be wary of ‘today-only’ sales pitches - This is a sales tactic designed to get you to sign a contract or put down a deposit, without giving you the opportunity to do your research. Watch out for these and other ‘bargains’ that rush you into a deal.

      - Get references from recent customers - Speak with other property owners who had work done recently, and ask what they did or did not like about a particular contractor. A reputable contractor will be happy to provide client references.

      - Get everything in writing - Make sure all verbal promises end up in the written contract as well as a detailed description of the work, the cost of materials and start and completion dates. Contracts also should include specifics about the deposit and payment schedule and guarantees for the quality of work and materials.

      - The contract should specify required permits - Renovation work often requires permits from the town or municipality. If you’re contractor suggests going without permits, it might be a sign they have a poor reputation at city hall.

      - Compare apples to apples – Choosing a prospective contractor is simpler if you ask for quotes based on the number of hours needed and the same quality of materials.

      - Avoid putting down a large deposit - A typical payment schedule should follow the “rule of thirds.” The first payment is given when signing the contract and helps pay for materials, the second payment when work begins, and the final payment when the job is finished and you are satisfied with the quality of work. Ask the builder to walk you through the work to explain what has been done.

      By sticking to the above steps, you’ll head into your renovation with peace of mind, knowing you’ve done your homework and taken the necessary steps to select the best possible contractor.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Smart Seniors: Planning Your Final Years

      23 March 2018

      If you're in or approaching retirement, you're likely dreaming of days filled with friends, family, and hobbies. But you should also consider planning for your final years.

      Final years planning can bring families comfort and ease. Home Instead, Inc., along with experts at Genworth Financial, developed the following questions for seniors to consider when planning for their final years:

      How do you want to live your final years? Seniors should consider what they want to do during their final years.

      Where do you want to live? Older adults should consider if they want to spend their final years at home and, if so, what type of assistance might be required to help them do so.

      What's your plan if you need help? Many seniors will need long-term care at some point in their lives and they need to consider how they will be able to afford that care.

      Do you know the cost? Older adults should consider the cost of care and anything else they would like in their final years.

      Are products and services in place to support a plan? Seniors and their families should explore the long-term care plans that exist to help them meet their needs.

      Is your plan flexible? Seniors and their families should ensure their plans are adaptable to the changes that may occur as time goes on.

      Does your family know about your plans? Families should have conversations and take the time to share specifics about their plans and the types of products and services they have in place.

      Source: Home Instead, Inc., Genworth Financial.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Simple Home Safety Measures That Can Save Your Life

      22 March 2018

      According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are more than 360,000 fires in homes each year, resulting in approximately 2,200 deaths and 11,000 emergency room-related injuries. Proper installation, operation, and maintenance of smoke alarms plays a significant role in reducing the risk of property damage, injuries, and death.

      In addition to smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms are also essential. Carbon monoxide is known as an invisible killer due to the fact that it’s colorless and odorless. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, just 42 percent of households report having a working carbon monoxide alarm.

      While changing the batteries in your smoke and CO alarms is the easiest way to ensure protection of your loved ones and your home in the event of a fire, the CPSC recommends taking these other safety measures:

      - The CPSC recommends that smoke alarms be placed on every level of your home, outside sleeping areas and inside bedrooms.

      - You can also install a smoke alarm that has a sealed-in battery that will last 10 years.

      - Install both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms.

      - Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area.

      - Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once a month to make sure they are working.

      - Have a fire escape plan and practice it with your family.

      - A smoke alarm can't save lives if everyone doesn't know what to do when it sounds. Have two ways to get out of each room and set a pre-arranged meeting place outside.

      - Children and the elderly can sleep through the sound of a smoke alarm and not hear it go off, so a caregiver needs to be prepared to help others get out of the house.

      - And remember, once you are out of the house, stay out. Do not be tempted to go back inside to retrieve belongings. Let firefighters take over at that point.

      Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Home Safety in the Spring

      22 March 2018

      Winter is over, but that does not mean your home safety woes are behind you. Spring weather is among the most unpredictable Americans will experience all year, but there are certain proactive steps that can help mitigate damage in many situations. Jim Taylor, head of claims customer experience for Farmers Insurance notes, "Many of us are in the habit of spring cleaning our homes, and by adding a couple of simple home and auto maintenance practices to our to-do lists, we may help minimize potential weather hazards."

      There's no action capable of fending off every challenge that blooms alongside those spring flowers, but there are practical tips to keep in mind as we head into the stormy months ahead. Drivers and homeowners should consider the following, according to Taylor:

      On the Road

      - Park with care. Hail never fails to make an impact in the spring. If you don't live or work in areas with a garage, consider parking near large buildings or under secure structures that provide some shelter if there's even a hint of hail in the forecast. Alternatively, you can purchase a car blanket designed to protect your car from hail or similar cover if you're short on options for covered parking.

      - Be flexible. If severe weather is in the forecast, consider making use of public transportation options, or call a ride share or taxi service for door-to-door transit — whatever alternative you choose, make sure to park your vehicle in a secure, covered location to help prevent damage.

      - Watch out for water features. Whether the result of snowmelt or a healthy rainstorm, water can accumulate quickly and creates numerous risks for drivers, including the potential to encounter downed power lines with an active electrical charge, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If you're heading downhill, pay close attention to any standing water that waits ahead because it might be deeper than it appears.

      - When in doubt, take another route. Take this same caution with you on every route and know when you may find yourself near a drainage channel or underpass, where flash flooding can occur at any time. If you have reason to think you might encounter a problem, make a detour.

      - Beware the potholes. Potholes can crop up in no time and can be easily concealed by water following a storm. Slow down to give yourself time to identify and avoid these potentially dangerous little craters.

      At Home

      - Look after the lightweights. If heavy wind is in the forecast, bring lawn furniture, plants and other small or lightweight items inside. Secure larger items and take an inventory of your possessions.

      - Batten down the hatches. If you have storm shutters, use them! If you don't, consider protecting your windows with plywood panels.

      - Clear out those gutters. Clogged gutters are basically a shortcut to water damage, especially if you live in an area that experiences significant temperature changes in the spring. Clear gutters can reduce the risk of overflow and ice dams. Likewise, you're more likely to notice loose sections and make simple repairs before further damage necessitates further repair.

      - Pay attention to your foundation. Overtime, the soil around homes tends to settle and exposes foundations to rainwater and potential seepage. Check your foundation for any potential points of weakness, including cracks and worn floor slabs, and water seal your basement to prevent seepage.

      Additionally, make sure your soil grade allows water to drain away from your home, and whenever possible, remove snow near your exterior foundation before it has a chance to melt.

      Source: Farmers Insurance

      Published with permission from RISMedia.