Real Estate News

    • Safe Grilling Tips for a Sizzling Summer

      14 July 2020

      (Family Features) When temperatures soar this summer, many American families may be seeking a break from the monotony of their everyday routines. To make the most of the extra time at home, firing up the grill can be a simple solution for relatively quick food preparation that also allows for spending time with loved ones in the comfort of your own backyard.

      A gas grill provides families flexibility for preparing everything from a casual meal of burgers and hot dogs to an upscale surf and turf menu. You can prepare virtually every course on the grill, including protein, veggies, sides and even fruits like pineapple or watermelon.

      Whether you are grilling for the first time or the first time in a long while, above all, play it safe during your next cookout.

      Transporting Propane Cylinders
      Unless your grill connects directly into your home’s propane system, you’re likely to use a standard 20-pound propane cylinder to fuel your grill. When transporting a propane cylinder, place it in the vehicle securely and upright so it can’t fall, shift or roll. Avoid leaving a propane cylinder in a hot vehicle; always head straight to your destination and remove the cylinder when you arrive.

      Lighting Your Gas Grill
      Propane gas grills are popular because they provide fast, efficient heat for grilling. To safely operate your gas grill, consider these tips from the Propane Education & Research Council.

      • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Whether it’s assembly, use, maintenance, cleaning or storage, make your grill manufacturer’s instructions your go-to resource for safe grilling.
      • Position the grill in a safe location. Keep your grill outdoors and away from the house based on the recommendations of the equipment manufacturer. Choose a level surface that is clear of outdoor furniture, overhead trees or other potential fire hazards.
      • Verify the grill is off. All knobs and switches should be turned to the off position before you attempt to attach or replace a propane cylinder.
      • Ensure a tight connection. When attaching the propane hose to the fitting on your grill, be cautious of cross-threading. Keep twisting by hand until the hose and fitting are as tightly sealed as possible to minimize the chance of leaks.
      • Check for leaks. Use a leak detector solution or soapy water solution to check connections for leaks. Slowly open the cylinder valve and watch for bubbles, which indicate a leak. If bubbles appear, close the valve, tighten the connection and check again. Follow this procedure every time you replace a cylinder.
      • Follow proper lighting procedures. Follow the manufacturer’s lighting instructions to generate a flame. Regardless of the grill model, keep the lid open and avoid leaning over the grill when lighting it.
      • Follow proper relighting procedures. If your flame goes out, turn off the gas and refer to your owner’s manual. At a minimum, keep the lid open and wait at least 15 minutes before relighting.
      • Be present. Stay close and never leave your grill unattended.

      Storing Propane Cylinders
      Your propane cylinder can remain attached to the grill when not in use, but if you have extra cylinders that are not in use, it’s important to store them safely and properly. Never store a small cylinder inside; it should always be kept outside, never in an enclosed area like a basement, gar age, shed or tent. Choose a location away from potential heat sources over 120 F, such as a stove or fireplace. Never store extra cylinders near the grill. Keep ignition sources away from the area while handling or transporting a propane cylinder.

      Find more tips for grilling safely this summer at propane.com.

      Find a Grill to Suit Your Tastes
      Just like an indoor gas range, propane grills give you instant on-off convenience and precision temperature control for perfectly done meals. With no coals, soot or ash, cleanup is a breeze, too.

      Propane grills come in a variety of sizes and styles, with different perks like side burners for sauces and even rotisserie features.

      First, consider your budget and what size grill will reasonably fit your space. Then determine which features are essential, as well as what extras might make your grilling experience more enjoyable.

      When you’re ready to browse, remember the more burners a grill has, the more you can cook in different temperature zones so you can perfectly grill fish, burgers and corn simultaneously, for example.

      For a large family, getting a larger grill allows you to put all the food on the table at once rather than grilling in batches.

      More Ways to Use Propane Outdoors
      When most people think of propane cylinders, the all-popular gas grill comes to mind. However, propane can fuel many other aspects of your outdoor living space. Full outdoor kitchens, patio heaters, fire pits and flame lighting are all examples of propane-powered outdoor products that can keep the fun going well into the night. In addition, pools and spas can heat quickly and efficiently using propane heat.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 7 Ways to Save on Auto Insurance

      14 July 2020

      Want to save money on your auto insurance? According to the Insurance Information Institute, one of the best ways to keep auto insurance costs down is to have a good driving record. Following are seven other things the organization suggests you can do to help lower your costs:

      1. Shop around. Prices vary from company to company, so it pays to shop around. Get at least three price quotes. You can call companies directly or access information online. Don’t shop by price alone, though. Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations, and pick an agent or company representative that takes the time to answer your questions.

      2. Before you buy a car, compare insurance costs. Car insurance premiums are based in part on the car’s price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft. Many insurers offer discounts for features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft.

      3. Ask for higher deductibles. Deductibles are what you pay before your insurance policy kicks in. By requesting higher deductibles, you can lower your costs substantially. Before choosing a higher deductible, be sure you have enough money set aside to pay it if you have a claim.

      4. Reduce coverage on older cars. Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverages on older cars. If your car is worth less than 10 times the premium, purchasing the coverage may not be cost effective. Research the current worth of your cars, and review your coverage at renewal time to make sure your insurance needs haven’t changed.

      5. Buy your homeowners and auto coverage from the same insurer. Many insurers will give you a break if you buy two or more types of insurance. You may also get a reduction if you have more than one vehicle insured with the same company, and some insurers reduce the rates for long-time customers. However, it still makes sense to shop around. You may save money buying from different insurance companies, compared with a multipolicy discount.

      6. Maintain a good credit record. Most insurers use credit information to price auto insurance policies. To protect your credit standing, pay your bills on time, don’t obtain more credit than you need and keep your credit balances as low as possible.

      7. Seek out other discounts. Companies offer discounts to policyholders who haven't had any accidents or moving violations for a number of years. You may also get a discount if you take a defensive driving course. If there's a young driver on the policy who is a good student, has taken a driver’s education course or is away at college without a car, you may also qualify for a lower rate. Some companies also offer discounts to motorists who drive a lower-than-average number of miles per year.

      For more information on insurance, visit iii.org.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Who Pays Closing Costs When a House in Foreclosure Is Purchased?

      14 July 2020

      If you are looking for a new home and have limited funds, a foreclosed property might be a bargain. Foreclosed homes are often sold below market price. If you find one in good condition, you may be able to get a lot more house than you would otherwise be able to afford, but you need to consider all potential expenses.

      Don’t Forget About Closing Costs
      Closing costs are fees to process a mortgage, perform a title search and satisfy other requirements to transfer ownership of a property. They typically total about 2 to 5 percent of the sale price, depending on the location and the companies involved in each aspect of the process, and are usually paid by the buyer.

      When purchasing a house, people sometimes don’t think about closing costs or are surprised at how high the total figure turns out to be. Closing costs will still be required if you buy a house in foreclosure, but you might be able to lower or avoid them, depending on the circumstances.

      What’s the Condition of the Property?
      A vacant property is subject to neglect, vandalism and theft. Homeowners who are facing foreclosure have even been known to vandalize their own homes out of anger before being evicted.

      A foreclosed property is sold as-is. A bank may pay for repairs to make a home inhabitable, but other problems are left for the new owner to handle. A bank selling a foreclosed property may not be aware of all problems and may not disclose problems even if it knows about them.

      The Seller May Be Willing to Negotiate on Closing Costs
      If a significant amount of time has passed since the lender foreclosed on the property, the company is probably eager to get the house off its hands. Every day that a property sits vacant, its condition can deteriorate, which can make it harder to sell. If the lender has struggled to find a buyer, it might be willing to pay some or all of the closing costs as an incentive for you to buy the property.

      If the seller won’t budge on closing costs, your mortgage lender might be willing to roll them into the total amount of your loan. That means you’d have a higher monthly payment and possibly also a higher interest rate. If you are short on cash now, however, you might be willing to accept the greater long-term costs to buy the house you want, especially if you’re getting it below market rate.

      Get Professional Advice
      Buying a house in foreclosure may be a smart move, depending on the amount of work the house needs and the cost. If you decide to purchase a house that has been on the market for a while, you may be able to negotiate an agreement with the seller to reduce or eliminate your closing costs. Discuss the specifics with your real estate agent, and ask for advice on how to proceed.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Create a Stylish Home Office in a Limited Space

      13 July 2020

      With more people working from home and the trend expected to continue, many who’ve been co-opting the kitchen table are looking for better ideas. 

      From designers focused on meeting this need, here are four simple and workable ideas that won’t break the bank: 

      • Create a moveable work zone. Turn the area behind your sofa or in a corner of your bedroom into a comfy work space by day that knows its place in the evening. Start with a lightweight, sit-or-stand desk (many are now available at office furnishings stores) that can be moved out of the way after the work day. A flexible wire shelf unit installed along one wall can hold supplies, such as notebooks, pens and a printer, and you can roll your desk and chair right up against them when it’s time to replace the coffee cup with a glass of wine.
      • Clear out a closet. The closet in a second bedroom can easily house a hideaway office. Install modular wire shelving along the back wall, add a desk and some extra interior lighting and keep your office behind closed doors. A rolling desk chair or a balance ball can provide comfy seating, and a small bookcase can easily accommodate files or surplus supplies.
      • Go for invisible. In the living room, you can create a low-profile office with a glass topped, Lucite or acrylic desk that won’t dominate the space. Even go for a slimline desk you can spray paint to blend in with the wall behind it and use existing bookshelves in the room to hold your printer and supplies.
      • Use a room divider. Carve out a corner of your living room or bedroom for a small but usable office and conceal it from view whenever you wish. With a stylish, standing room divider or a curtained “wall” strung onto a rod with shower hooks,  you can span the width of the space as you desire.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Emotionally Preparing Your Children for Back-to-School Season

      13 July 2020

      (Family Features) Between sheltering-in-place, online learning and time away from friends, many children will need a little extra support as they head back to school this fall.

      Consider these tips from the experts at KinderCare to help you emotionally prepare your children to return to school with confidence, optimism and excitement.

      Address your feelings (and theirs)
      Children often take cues about how to react from their parents. Think about what it takes for you to feel calm and prepared (or even excited) for the start of a new school year. That could mean talking with your child’s teacher or school about the safety precautions they’re taking so you can feel more at ease, taking a few minutes to establish a morning routine or stepping away from news that makes you anxious. Focus instead on the positive aspects of school, like the opportunity your child will have to learn, make friends, interact with others and grow into his or her own person.

      “Children need a sense of belonging, and school provides an important connection point for them,” said Dr. Elanna Yalow, chief academic officer for KinderCare Learning Centers. “Nothing builds a sense of community like personal contact with friends and teachers. That connection is essential in supporting a child’s growth and development.”

      Set expectations about what to expect before the first day
      Some children may feel ready to go and eager to explore, while others can be more reserved or even fearful of new places, faces and routines. When your child knows what to expect, it can go a long way in soothing any worries he or she may have about leaving home and going to school.

      It’s also important to respect your child’s growing independence and empower him or her to help others. As you explain safety precautions like covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, or proper hand washing, emphasize how your child’s actions can help keep family, friends and teachers safe.

      “Children may already be apprehensive about returning to school, let alone trying to cope with new safety practices,” said Dr. Joelle Simpson, a pediatric emergency medicine physician and medical director for emergency preparedness at Children’s National Hospital. “Explaining these precautions ahead of time can help your children see them as part of the school day routine instead of something to fear. For parents, remember that while children can get sick from this virus, it occurs less frequently than in adults and at lower rates than the flu.”

      Celebrate the start of a new school year
      Try to plan a special activity or some extra family time the week before school starts and encourage your child to participate in the planning.

      “Remember, children didn’t have time for a clean break and celebration at the end of the last school year, and this can help your child mentally adjust to a new routine and schedule,” Yalow said.

      Let your child know how proud you are to see him or her growing up, learning how to be a good friend and exploring and learning about the world. Be sure to talk with your child each school day – what was learned, funny things friends said, the things that seem little but are important to your child.

      For more tips about how to help your child prepare for the new school year, visit kindercare.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.