Consumer Real Estate News

    • How to Create a More Walkable Community

      21 November 2019

      From supporting local businesses to building a sense of community to improving your health, walkable communities offer myriad benefits over places where citizens must rely on their cars. And according to Charles L. "Chuck" Marohn, Jr., author of “Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity,” there are some strategies communities can deploy to make their areas more walkable even if they weren’t designed that way in the first place. Consider working with your fellow citizens and local government on some of the following steps to get people out of their cars and strolling around town instead.      

      Look into roadblocks for mixed-use neighborhoods. Do zoning laws prohibit homes and businesses from being built on the same block? Or perhaps regulatory obstacles make it difficult to obtain financing for renovation or construction of small, mixed-use buildings in walkable neighborhoods. It may be to the benefit of your community to reconsider some of these laws and regulations.

      Review the condition of your Main Street. If your Main Street has become a desolate place no one frequents, it’s time to rally the community and local officials and get creative. If most of the buildings are vacant, consider a pop-up storefront initiative where local businesses can affordably set up shop. Make Main Street more pleasant for pedestrians by installing inexpensive chairs and benches.  

      Create walkable destinations. Create a weekly open-air market just about anywhere by enlisting local farmers, artists or merchants. You can also set up a food truck park in an unused parking lot, or park a bookmobile in an area that's safe for kids to walk to.

      Make streets pedestrian- and bike-friendly. The following steps will help make your community more welcoming and accessible to those on foot:
      - Paint bike lanes to give riders a safe place to travel and reduce car traffic.
      - Put up directional signs to welcome newcomers and help people find their way around.
      - Install curb cuts to make sidewalk access more available to wheelchair users.
      - Plant trees to give pedestrians shaded places to walk.

      Add pedestrian crosswalks at unmarked intersections. Pedestrian crossing areas are vital in busy neighborhoods—especially in intersections adjacent to businesses that get a lot of foot traffic. Crosswalks and crosshatched intersections improve safety for bikers, pedestrians and drivers alike.

      Widen the sidewalks. Nothing encourages walking more than wider sidewalks. Your community can experiment before committing financially by using cones and temporary fences to create a wider path for pedestrians. If the trial is successful, then new sidewalks can be installed.  

      Any of these steps will help create a more vibrant, healthier community, so get involved and see if it makes sense for your town. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Spruce Up Your Guestroom for the Holidays

      21 November 2019

      (Family Features)--The holidays are typically a time for lots of merriment and cheer. They also often include an abundance of guests visiting your home, which means it's time to get the guest room ready for family and friends who'll be spending time with you this season. 

      If sprucing up your guest room induces panic, fear not. Consider these easy tips to help transform your guest room into a comfortable and restful retreat. 

      Clean and Clear. The first step in creating a welcoming getaway for guests is giving the room a good cleaning and clearing out clutter. If your guest room has become a catch-all for items you've been meaning to organize throughout the year, the arrival of guests (such as in-laws) can serve as the perfect motivator to take care of the task. For a painless approach, start the process a few weeks in advance, devoting 15 minutes a day to clutter-busting and cleaning. Make sure you remember to leave room for guests to unpack any luggage and free up outlets for cellphone chargers and other devices they may bring along.

      Home Is Where the Hairdryer Is. While fancy furniture and decor are nice, a gracious guest room is about hospitality and anticipating the needs of your guests. Think about useful necessities provided in hotel rooms—a reading lamp by the bed, extra hangers in the closet, an alarm clock, fresh sheets and towels and sometimes even a hair dryer. These are items you likely already own. Simply add them to the guest bedroom or bathroom to create a thoughtfully appointed home away from home. To take it up a notch, provide extra toiletries such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap and other necessities in case your visitors left something behind.

      Comfort is King (or a Queen or Twin). Few things make guests feel more comfortable and cared for than being able to get a good night's sleep, and that can start with your mattress. The guestroom mattress is often overlooked because you're not the one sleeping on it. Give the mattress a good inspection. If it has lumps and bumps or is more than 7 years old, it's time to replace it. Also remember to check the pillows to ensure your guests don't have to endure any sleepless nights with flat, lumpy pillows that are past their prime.

      Focus on Functional. Because your guests may not conform to the same schedule as you, ensure the early risers and night owls have things at their disposal to stay occupied while others are sleeping. Reading lights, a photo frame that includes the Wi-Fi password so your guests can easily connect their smart devices, and a television in the room are all accommodations that are typically universally accepted. You may also consider leaving coffee and snack options in an easily accessible location in the kitchen.

      Thoughtful Touches Add Up. Take time to add some thoughtful yet affordable touches to the room. Consider a small vase of fresh flowers, a scented candle, some subtle holiday decorations or even a few of your favorite magazines and books. If you really want to wow your guests, leave a small gift basket of snacks along with a handwritten welcome note.

      Source: Mattress Firm

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Pool Owners: Prep Your Pool for Winter

      21 November 2019

      Pool owners understand that maintaining their pool protects their investment for years to come. As winter approaches, pool cover manufacturer LOOP-LOC shares four tips for winterizing your pool.

      Ensure the correct pool chemistry. When preparing to close your pool for the winter, it's important that the pool chemistry is balanced. Use a test kit the week you plan on closing your pool to measure chemical levels.

      Remove and store equipment when possible. Any removable equipment, like diving boards or ladders should be removed and stored indoors when possible. This protects the equipment from freezing temperatures that could damage equipment. If equipment cannot be removed, try to keep it dry and keep an eye on it throughout the winter.

      Cover your pool. Pool covers are essential for keeping your pool clean and secure for the winter. Find a cover that is made from the highest quality materials and that exceed ASTM standards. A secure pool cover will keep debris out of your pool, in addition to keeping it safe. Be sure to refer to your cover care and maintenance instructions to get the best result from your pool cover.

      Consult your swimming pool professional. If there are any care steps that you are uncertain about, don't leave anything to chance. Swimming pool professionals are here to help and will guide you in the right direction if you come across any issues, have any questions, or face any unique circumstances. If need be, a professional can come to your home and winterize the pool for you.

      Taking the steps to properly winterize your pool makes it easy to enjoy it again season after season.

      Source: LOOP-LOC

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Simple Ways to Create a Peaceful Home

      20 November 2019

      Work, kids, money, the news...there’s no end to the things that can cause us stress in any given day. That’s why it’s essential that when we walk through our front door at the end of the day, our home welcomes us with a sense of calm and serenity—the safe, comforting place we can rely on no matter how crazy life gets.

      Easier said than done? Not with these simple, clever strategies. Try a few of the following and your home will instantly take on a more peaceful vibe:

      1. Dim the lights. Lighting immediately affects our mood, so avoid turning on your harsh overhead lights and opt for softer-lit table lamps instead. Or use your dimmer switches, if you have them, to keep the lighting at a lower temperature. You can also light a few candles or scatter fairy lights or lanterns in unexpected places.
      There’s no need to wait for the holidays to use lighting in subtly creative ways.

      2. Incorporate music. Connect bluetooth speakers in several rooms and choose the music that calms you or boosts your mood, whether it’s Mozart or Motley Crue. Music is a great way to turn off the noise of the day and help you unwind.

      3. Use scent. A soothing scent sends triggers to your brain to relax, so find one that does the trick for you and make it part of your evening ritual—or morning, weekend, etc. Scented candles will do the trick, as will essential oils that work with a diffuser. Skeptical? Think about the last time you went to a spa; while the massage or facial probably felt great, the way the room smelled was probably a big part of the relaxation experience. So why not recreate a little of this right at home?

      4. Add plenty of soft touches. To properly de-stress at home, we must feel ultra-cozy, and while comfortable furniture is a prerequisite, additional touches can go a long way, so be sure to have plenty of warm throws, plush toss and floor pillows, as well as ottomans for resting your weary feet. The idea is to make sure your home is a place that will embrace you with comfort. 

      5. Minimize technology. While your home may be replete with all the latest devices and smart home technology, be sure to carve out time—especially when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed—to put technology on hold. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, avoid the television, and spend time reading or journaling, or indulging in a forgotten hobby, such as painting or carpentry. In order to facilitate this type of tech-free time, make sure your home has an inviting space for such activities, i.e., an oversized chair with a reading lamp in a TV-free room, a workbench in the garage, or a drafting table in the spare room. 

      Source: Self

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Remodel Your Way to a Bigger ROI

      20 November 2019

      (Family Features)--Homeowners and renters remodel, redesign and restructure their homes for a variety of reasons. Even a newly constructed dream home needs improvements over time. 

      Common renovation projects include upgrading worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials, or adding features and improving livability. Other homeowners invest in remodeling simply because they're ready for a change.
      However, many find the idea of taking on a remodeling project too overwhelming to attempt. Thirty-five percent of U.S. homeowners would rather move to another home than remodel their current home, according to research by the National Association of REALTORSⓇ (NAR). 

      What those homeowners don't realize is that taking on projects is often worth the investment and time. The same study showed that among those who did undertake a home improvement project, 75 percent had a greater desire to be in their home when the project was completed. Others reported increased enjoyment in their home and a major sense of accomplishment.

      Satisfaction aside, there are financial implications that may influence how you prioritize renovations in your home. Learn which interior and exterior upgrades are likely to bring the biggest return on investment with the leading in-demand projects identified by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and NAR.
      Exterior Upgrades

      Generally speaking, improvements to your home's structural features and exterior elements drive the greatest returns on your renovation dollars.

      New Roof. Your home's roof takes a real beating from the elements, and upgrading this protective feature is one of the greatest investments you can make for your home with an estimated 109 percent return on value. There's a reasonable expectation for long-lasting results, and you're likely to see some improvement in your home's energy efficiency.

      Garage Door. Proving that curb appeal counts, a new garage door is another exterior feature that's likely to bring a strong return. A new door may be an opportunity to create a new look for your home, but it's also a way to improve the function of a worn-out door.

      Updated Siding. Enhancing an architectural element like siding is another way to improve your home's aesthetic appeal while making it easier to maintain. Be thoughtful in selecting your materials, though; fiber-cement siding brings a slightly higher return than vinyl selections.

      Interior Upgrades. Although many improvements inside the home tend to be based on your personal tastes and lifestyle, you can still reap the benefits of undertaking certain high-return projects.

      Wood Flooring. Refinishing existing wood floors or installing new wood floors is likely to bring at or near a 100 percent return on investment. The project improves a home's aesthetic appeal and eliminates possible signs of wear while bringing a more modern feel to the living space.

      Sustainable Considerations. Also high on the list are projects that improve a home's energy efficiency, such as upgrading insulation. Not only does improved quality or quantity of insulation help reduce energy bills, it's an investment you can expect to recoup a large percentage on. Similarly, replacing the HVAC may be a necessary project if the old unit is failing to perform, but it can also improve energy efficiency and result in better functionality and livability for the home.

      Livable Spaces. Adding square footage always helps a home’s value, especially when you can convert unused, unfinished space like a basement into a comfortable, cozy living area. Another place where you can expect a big return is on a complete kitchen remodel, which will allow you to improve function while adding modern touches and upgrading outdated and worn features.

      Source: National Association of the Remodeling Industry

      Published with permission from RISMedia.