Consumer Real Estate News

    • How to Handle a DIY Painting Project

      1 October 2020

      Painting a room yourself can be a hassle if you don’t know how to do it and don’t take steps to avoid problems. Here are some tips to make things go as smoothly as possible.

      Choose the Right Paint and Gather Supplies
      Start by deciding which color(s) to use. Get samples from a local home improvement store so you can see them in the room and hold them up against your furniture. Think about how the room would look at different times of day with different lighting.

      Some brands sell products that contain both paint and primer. The brand of paint, the type of primer you use (if any), the new color and the color you’re covering will all affect the amount of paint you’ll need. Ask an employee for help if you aren’t sure how much to buy.

      Gather essential supplies, including paint, paintbrushes, rollers with extension poles, a paint tray, drop cloths, rags, painter’s tape and a putty knife. Some brushes and rollers work better with certain types of paint—ask which kinds you should buy. If the room has high ceilings, you may need a ladder for areas that you can’t reach with a roller extension pole.

      Focus on Prep Work 
      Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting paint on. Try to avoid painting on a rainy or humid day since the paint will take longer to dry. Open windows and use fans to ventilate the house.

      If possible, move all the furniture to another room before you start painting. If that’s not an option, move the furniture to the center of the room and cover it with drop cloths or lightweight plastic. Cover the floor as well.

      Remove any cobwebs and wash the walls before you get started. Use painter’s tape to cover molding and window and door casings. Remove covers from outlets and light switches and use painter’s tape to protect them from stray paint. Use a putty knife, if necessary, to create a tight seal.

      Follow the Right Process
      Use a wooden paint stick to stir the paint before you begin painting and several times later. If you’re using multiple cans of paint, pour them into a bucket and stir them together in case the cans have slightly different colors.

      Start at the ceiling and work your way down. When using a roller, paint in a “W” pattern to get broad coverage and to avoid roller marks. If you’re going to paint one wall a different color to serve as a focal point, paint the lighter walls first, let them dry, then apply painter’s tape before you paint the accent wall. Before painting the trim, remove the painter’s tape, let the walls dry, then place painter’s tape along the walls.

      Set Aside Plenty of Time
      Painting a room isn’t difficult, but it’s often time-consuming. Give yourself time to move furniture, apply painter’s tape and paint—plus time for the paint to dry. Don’t be surprised if the project takes longer than you anticipated.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Pros and Cons of Prepaying Your Mortgage

      1 October 2020

      Paying off your mortgage early could lead to a sense of financial freedom, but it’s not the right move for everyone. Consider your complete financial picture and check your lender’s policies before deciding whether toprepay your mortgage. 

      Reasons to Make Extra Loan Payments
      Prepaying your mortgage would reduce the total amount you would spend on interest. The amount you pay in interest each month is based on the outstanding principal. Reducing the principal would lower your interest charges and could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. 

      Paying more than required could help you pay off your mortgage sooner. If you have a specific goal in mind—such as paying off your home before you retire or before your children start attending college—making extra mortgage payments now could mean greater financial security and flexibility later.

      Equity is the difference between a house’s current value and the amount owed on the mortgage. Prepaying your mortgage could help you build equity faster. If necessary, you could access that money through a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. Getting your equity up to 20 percent could also allow you to eliminate private mortgage insurance and save money each month.

      Reducing your mortgage balance could improve your credit score, which is based, in large, on your total debt-to-income ratio. If you applied for a credit card, car loan or personal loan, a good credit score could help you get a low interest rate.

      When Prepaying Your Mortgage Might Not Be the Best Move
      If you started saving for retirement or for your children’s college education late, it might make more sense to put extra money toward those goals than to make extra mortgage payments. Money that you invested in stocks, bonds or mutual funds could substantially increase in value and help you meet your more immediate financial goals.

      If you have high-interest debt, such as credit card balances, you would probably be better off focusing on those than prepaying your mortgage. Interest rates on credit cards are typically much higher than interest rates for mortgages. Eliminating your credit card debt as quickly as possible would likely save you a lot more in the long run than you would save by making extra mortgage payments.

      If you don’t have an emergency fund with enough money to cover at least  3 - 6 months’ worth of expenses, focus on that first. If you lost your job or couldn’t work for medical reasons, it would be easier to withdraw money from a savings account than to borrow against your home equity.

      Communicate With Your Lender
      Some mortgage lenders charge a prepayment penalty. Before you make extra loan payments, contact your lender to find out if you would be charged a penalty. If you decide to make extra payments, clearly inform the lender that you want the extra funds to be applied to the principal, not to interest or escrow.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How Your Pet Could Affect Your Homeowners Insurance Coverage and Rates

      1 October 2020

      You probably consider your pet a member of your family, but a homeowners insurance company looks at it in terms of risk. Depending on the type of pet you have and the state where you live, it might be difficult to obtain homeowners insurance at affordable rates, or at all.

      Obtaining Insurance Coverage for Dogs and Exotic Pets
      Many homeowners insurance companies deny coverage for applicants with dogs based on the animals’ potential to cause injuries or property damage. Rather than evaluate individual dogs, companies often exclude entire breeds that are considered aggressive. An insurer may automatically deny coverage to an applicant who owns a dog that belongs to an excluded breed, regardless of whether it is a purebred or mixed-breed dog and whether it has ever attacked anyone. 

      Some homeowners insurance companies don’t automatically exclude entire breeds, but rather evaluate the histories of specific dogs. Some states prohibit insurance companies from excluding entire dog breeds but allow insurers to charge high premiums for owners of those animals.

      Homeowners insurance companies often exclude exotic pets, which may include ferrets and some reptiles and large mammals, such as snakes and tigers. If a company excludes your pet, you might be able to purchase a separate exotic pet insurance policy, but it will most likely carry high premiums.

      What Homeowners Insurance Will and Won’t Cover
      If your pet is covered by your insurance and it injures someone not named on the policy, the insurance company will investigate the facts surrounding the incident. If the company finds you liable, your policy will cover medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and legal bills, up to your liability limits. If your dog bites or jumps on a member of your family and causes injuries or chews up your furniture, you will be responsible for associated costs. 

      Your insurance company won’t necessarily cancel your policy if your dog bites someone, but it may decide not to renew your policy if your dog has bitten people more than once. If your homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover dog bites at all, you can get a separate dog liability policy, an umbrella policy that will cover damage or injuries caused by the dog, or an excess policy that will provide liability coverage beyond your homeowners policy’s limits.

      Tell Your Insurance Company About Your Pet
      Before you purchase a homeowners insurance policy, contact several companies to compare coverage and rates. If you have a dog or exotic pet, make sure you inform the insurance company. If the animal were to injure someone or cause property damage and you never told the insurer you owned it, you would be responsible for any related bills. If you decide to get a pet after you have obtained a homeowners insurance policy, contact the company to make sure the animal will be covered. If you don’t notify the insurer about your pet and the company finds out, it may cancel your policy.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Choose the Right Amount and Types of Lighting

      30 September 2020

      When decorating your home, one of the most important areas of focus should be the lighting. Inadequate light can make a room look dark and dreary, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks comfortably. But too much light or the wrong types of fixtures can be an annoying distraction. 

      Types of Household Lighting and Fixtures
      Ambient lighting from overhead or recessed lights can serve as the primary source of light in a room. Task lights can be used in specific parts of a room for certain activities. They may sit on a table or desk or be mounted on a wall. Accent lighting is used to draw attention to a particular feature, such as a piece of artwork. Accent lights can take a variety of forms.

      Flush and semi-flush mounting lights hang down a short distance from the ceiling. They’re designed to illuminate a room without taking up too much space. 

      Pendant lights are attached to a cord, chain or wire and hang down farther than mounting lights. Pendant lights vary in size and are often used in kitchens and dining rooms for task lighting.

      Chandeliers are hung from the ceiling. They contain many bulbs and may be functional or decorative, depending on their size and placement.

      Floor and table lamps are used for task lighting. They can be placed around a room and easily rearranged.

      Sconces are light fixtures that are mounted on a wall, either individually or in pairs. They can be plugged into an outlet or hardwired.

      How to Choose Lighting for Each Room
      A living room should have multiple sources and types of light. An overhead fixture with a dimmer switch can provide an appropriate amount of ambient lighting. Table and/or floor lamps can allow individuals to relax while reading or playing games.

      Having adequate lighting is especially important in the kitchen for safety reasons. The kitchen should have plenty of ambient lighting, as well as task lights in certain areas, such as above the sink and stove.

      A dining room should have an amount of ambient lighting appropriate for the space. One chandelier may be ideal, or you may want two or more overhead lights if you have a long dining room table where you host large gatherings. 

      In a bedroom, you may want ambient lighting or just a series of lamps. It’s often a matter of personal preference.

      A bathroom should have overhead lights, as well as task lighting over the sink. That will make putting on makeup and shaving easier.

      When choosing light fixtures, think about how much light you need and where, the style of your home and decor and the type of vibe you want to create. Select a combination of fixtures that provides an aesthetically pleasing mix of styles and an appropriate amount of lighting for your family’s needs.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Why Consistency Is so Important in Parenting

      30 September 2020

      Raising children is difficult, stressful and often overwhelming. It can be hard to know what to do and how to react when your kids don’t listen or cooperate, and it’s easier to give in when you’re tired or frustrated. You may also have to deal with other people who have different views on child rearing than you do. 

      Consistency Makes Kids Feel Secure
      It may seem that children don’t want to follow rules and would rather do whatever they want, but the truth is that rules and routines make them feel safe. The world can be confusing and scary for kids. Having consistent rules and boundaries and knowing what to expect helps children understand how things work and learn appropriate behaviors.

      How Inconsistency Can Affect Kids
      Lack of consistency is one of the most common causes of tantrums and acting out. If an adult allows a behavior sometimes, but yells about the same behavior at other times, or tolerates a behavior from one child but punishes the same behavior from another, that can make children feel confused and unsafe, which can lead to anxiety, hostility and aggression.

      Another common problem is that parents and other caregivers have different rules. In those situations, children will feel confused and learn to pit adults against each other.

      How to Enforce Rules and Empower Your Kids
      The best way to prevent problems is to set rules for your home and enforce them consistently, whether you are alone with your children, grandparents are visiting or a babysitter is in charge. That requires clear and firm communication with your children and with other caregivers, as well as a lot of patience. 

      Explain the reasons for rules to help your kids understand the bigger picture and learn to behave appropriately. Create logical consequences for breaking rules that match the seriousness of the offense.

      If your children have already developed undesirable behaviors, changing them will be difficult, but it is possible. Set new rules, explain them to your kids and enforce them. Make sure other caregivers are on board.

      Information helps children understand what is going on and react positively to changes. If a routine will be altered for some reason, explain the expected change and the reason to your kids.

      Don’t try to tightly regulate every aspect of your children’s lives. Too many rules can stifle kids and make them act out to express themselves. Focus on important areas, such as safety, manners, hygiene and bedtime routines, and give your kids a reasonable amount of freedom in other areas. Offering choices and assigning age-appropriate chores can teach responsibility and make your kids feel empowered. 

      Being Consistent Now Will Pay Off in the Long Run
      Kids like to push adults’ buttons. When parents cave in because they’re tired, stressed out or busy, that may make things easier in the moment, but it can create long-term problems. Taking a consistent approach to discipline can make life more predictable for children and lead to better behavior.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.