Consumer Real Estate News

    • Consumers Demand Improved Indoor Air Quality

      22 May 2018

      A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS)—a collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Kennedy School—states that today's homeowners want to take greater action to address healthy-home issues; however, they face obstacles such as lack of trustworthy, clear, and actionable information. In a related blog, report co-author Mariel Wolfson says the housing industry must do better demonstrating and responding to consumer demand.

      Wolfson discovered that:

      - Nearly one in four households in a JCHS survey had some concern about health-related issues in their homes; more than 20 percent acknowledged uncertainty about whether their homes might contain health risks.

      - Nearly half of American homeowners responding to the survey have some level of interest in healthy-home issues.
      - Sixty percent had already taken action—even if minor—to create a healthier indoor environment at home.
      Wolfson says data proves consumers want their homes to contain fewer toxic materials and have good indoor environmental quality overall, but they need trustworthy expertise, services and information from the industry.

      Building professionals who have relevant expertise—which includes knowledge of healthier/non-toxic materials and practices—have a distinct competitive advantage when working with individual homeowners and owners of multifamily buildings.

      If you are a homeowner looking to integrate more indoor air quality (IAQ) features into an existing home, or are planning to build one and want to maximize air quality features, Wolfson says, there are a growing number of initiatives that work to help building professionals develop this expertise.

      She advises consumers to steer prospective contractors or builders toward resources such as, which offers training courses, as well as the  National Center for Healthy Housing; the Healthy Building Network; the Perkins and Will Transparency project; and the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative.

      Wolfson also notes that the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) strategy for action is another valuable resource.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Tips for Healthy Summer Hydration

      22 May 2018

      (Family Features)—Summer provides countless opportunities to get outside for hiking, biking and running around with friends and family; however, having fun in the sun also requires proper hydration.

      While staying hydrated may seem easy, healthy hydration is not always a given. For example, the water coming out of your faucet can travel through miles of aging pipes before it reaches your home, potentially picking up unwanted contaminants such as lead, pesticides and industrial pollutants along the way.

      These tips can assist in achieving healthy hydration throughout the summer months:

      Drink plenty of water. It may seem simple, but consuming an appropriate amount of water can be especially important when temperatures reach sweltering levels. Since the human body is 60 percent water, it's a vital step for your health to make sure you're getting enough of it, which is why Healthline recommends 6-8 glasses (8 ounces each) of water per day.

      Make sure it's pure. In addition to drinking the right amount of water, it's also important to drink the right kind of water. Consider installing an in-home filtered water solution.

      Take it to-go. Keeping a bottle of water with you when you're out and about is a convenient way to stay hydrated. Rather than disposable plastic water bottles, consider using a refillable, BPA-free bottle, which is a more environmentally-friendly choice and typically more affordable.

      Add a little flavor. Quench your thirst and add some refreshing flavor and nutrients to your water by infusing it with strawberries, kiwi, orange, mint or melon slices.

      Eat water-rich foods. An overlooked option for maintaining proper hydration is eating fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumbers and celery that naturally contain water. For the freshest results, wash your fruits and vegetables with filtered water prior to eating them.

      Source: PUR

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Should Alexa Be Choosing Your Next Credit Card?

      22 May 2018

      While you may be using Alexa to order your groceries and stream your Spotify, this popular smart home device is kicking it up a notch when it comes to functionality.

      For example, the personal finance company NerdWallet recently announced a new skill for the Amazon Alexa. You can now ask NerdWallet via the device to help you find the best credit card. Alexa will then guide you through a series of questions to determine a variety of factors, like your spending habits, your credit score range and what you're looking for in a credit card (e.g., a basic credit account or one that's tied into rewards). Once Alexa processes your answers, presto—a card is recommended. For some of the suggested credit cards, Alexa will provide a phone number that you can immediately call using voice command should you want to apply on the spot.

      According to MarketWatch, NerdWallet is just the latest entrant of many financial services firms that have joined the Alexa bandwagon, with some allowing customers to access account information through Alexa. Credit rating agency Experian is also allowing consumers to check their FICO scores through Alexa for $25 a month.
      Should you decide to shop for a credit card using Alexa, here are some important details to keep in mind:

      - While there is no subscription fee involved, NerdWallet does earn a commission on the credit cards it recommends; however, Alexa will also recommend cards that NerdWallet doesn't collect any commission from.
      - You are under no obligation to apply for a card through Alexa.
      - NerdWallet doesn't ask for any sensitive information through Alexa; you are simply providing a credit score range. None of the information is personally identifiable.
      - All developers, like NerdWallet, that create skills for Alexa are required to provide a privacy policy, which Amazon displays on the skill's page; developers must use the information in compliance with their own privacy policy, as well as all laws that apply.

      Source: MarketWatch

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Lightning Protection Systems: How Do They Work?

      21 May 2018

      Maybe it's a near impossibility for lightning to strike the same place twice, but most hope lightning never even strikes their home even once.

      According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2007-2011, U.S. local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning.

      These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries, and $451 million in direct property damage per year.

      Most of these fires occurred outdoors, but most associated deaths, injuries, and property damage were associated with home fires.

      The NFPA says lightning-related fires are more common in June through August and in the late afternoon and evening; however, peak seasons for lightning-related fires vary by region, as do weather patterns in general.   

      So how does a lightning protection system actually work? says lightning protection was first invented by Ben Franklin in 1752. Today's lightning diversion system consists of a lightning rod combined with cable and ground rod, which provides a very good conductor with very low electrical resistance between the lightning rod atop the protected object, like your home or outbuilding, and the earth.

      InspectAPedia explains that if a lightning strike begins to form between the protected object and the cloud, the lightning protection system conducts that electrical energy safely to Earth. Otherwise, that same energy would pass through the protected object itself, almost certainly causing more serious damage, or perhaps a fire, as well.

      The website says the budget for a residential lightning protection system can be as little as a few hundred dollars for an average two-story house. This includes a lightning rod atop the roof with an insulated cable running to the ground.

      However, this kind of system offers minimal protection and may fail, depending on the intensity of the strike. A single lightning strike can hold as much energy as 150,000 amps, the site states.

      A more complex and secure system, with several lightning rods strategically placed around the roof and several ground electrodes, may cost $2,000-$3,000 for an average two-story house. The price dips a bit for a one-story house, and rises slightly higher for a three-story house. This is primarily due to the materials cost for the metal-conducting wire.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Spruce Up Your Outdoor Spaces

      21 May 2018

      (Family Features)—Over time, the appearance and function of any outdoor space can dull due to combinations of heat, precipitation and use. With some careful attention, you can quickly spruce up your outdoor living areas and get them back in great working order for patio season.

      Take care of textiles. Outdoor textiles often take a beating from the elements. Freshen up often-overlooked things like outdoor rugs, lawn furniture cushions, pillows and umbrellas. A thorough vacuuming may be adequate to remove leaves, bugs or dirt; however, if stubborn spots persist and a deeper cleaning is needed, review the manufacturer's guidelines. Washing covered furniture from time to time helps ensure it's ready for use no matter the season.

      Declare dust-off limits. Dingy light fixtures and fans lend an air of disrepair in any space. Outdoors, they'll undoubtedly collect dust and dirt quickly, but a deep clean can help make them easier to maintain. Dust and scrub as needed, and if necessary, grab a scrub brush and some soapy water to brighten up other items like decorative pieces and flower pots.

      Freshen up finishes. From furniture to hard surfaces, the finishes can take a beating. Take time to bring these items back to their former glory by rinsing, scrubbing and brushing dirt away from your wrought iron, metal, aluminum or wicker furniture. If needed, apply a fresh coat of sealant or add a rust-preventive layer of new paint. The same applies for other surfaces with finishes that may be chipped and dull.

      Blast away grime. A careful sweeping with a sturdy broom is a good starting point, but to get your outdoor space truly clean you may need a little more power. When used at the appropriate settings, a pressure washer can clean a wide range of surfaces from patios, decks and sidewalks to siding, windows, screens and tables.


      Published with permission from RISMedia.