Consumer Real Estate News

    • How to Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

      12 April 2021

      (Family Features) As Americans continue to spend more time at home, it’s important to support the health and comfort of those living spaces. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is an important step, but one often overlooked aspect of a home’s health and comfort is its air quality.

      Proactively addressing potential air quality issues can result in cleaner air and more comfortable living. There are multiple factors that may affect your home’s air quality. 

      • Indoor particulate matter consists of the visible and invisible airborne particles in the air that can enter your nose and lungs, some triggering allergies, asthma and other potential health problems.
      • Carbon monoxide, sometimes called the “silent killer,” is a colorless, odorless gas that can build up to dangerous levels if not properly ventilated, causing headaches, drowsiness and, in some cases, death.
      • Too much humidity can encourage the growth of bacteria and mold. Too little humidity can dry out your skin and wood furniture.
      • Volatile organic compounds are emitted by everything from household cleaners and paint to new furniture and dry-cleaned clothing. These compounds can have an adverse impact on your short- and long-term health, so proper ventilation is essential.
      • The level of air pollution in your community can affect your indoor air quality since opening a door or window brings that air indoors.
      If you’re unsure about your home’s unique air quality needs, you may benefit from a tool like Carrier’s “Improve My Air” quiz, which was designed to help homeowners and renters determine which indoor air quality solution is a good fit for their spaces. You can also take steps to improve the indoor air quality of your home with these practical tips.

      Change your filters. Clean filters support your heating and cooling system’s ability to operate efficiently.
      Control humidity levels. When the air is too damp, the chance of bacteria and mold growth is higher, but when it’s too dry, your skin, lungs and furniture may feel the impact. Many experts recommend a humidity level of 40-50% for optimal air quality.

      Invest in an air purifier. An air purifier is a simple way to improve your indoor air quality. Carrier has just introduced a new room air purifier that doesn’t require professional installation, making it an easy and portable solution for both homeowners and people renting their spaces. The purifier comes in two sizes and is powerful enough to purify the air in rooms up 550 square feet. Its high-performance fan and high-efficiency filtration system capture airborne pollutants and its 360-degree design filters air from multiple angles while easy-to-change filters make it a low-maintenance solution for busy households.

      Strategically place greenery. Plants are natural air filters, so placing a few indoor plants around your living space may help improve your indoor air quality while also enhancing your home’s decor. Small plants like ferns and lilies are among the best options for pulling contaminants from the air.

      Find more solutions for improving your home’s indoor air quality, and take the “Improve My Air” quiz, at

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Should You Refinance Your Mortgage to Consolidate Credit Card Debt?

      12 April 2021

      If you’re carrying balances on multiple credit cards with high interest rates and struggling to keep up with the bills, you may be thinking about consolidating your debts to lower your monthly payments. Refinancing your mortgage can help you access cash and save money, but it’s important to understand the risks involved.

      How Can Refinancing Your Mortgage Help You Manage Credit Card Bills?
      If you decide on a cash-out refinance, you will be able to access a portion of your home equity (generally no more than 80-90%) and use that cash to pay off your credit card balances. You will take out a new loan that will include your outstanding mortgage principal, plus the amount of home equity you used, and will make one monthly payment that will be applied to the entire debt.

      Credit cards typically have interest rates that are much higher than the interest rates on home loans. Refinancing your mortgage can allow you to lower the interest rate on your credit card debt and potentially save thousands of dollars in interest.

      What Are the Pros and Cons of Refinancing? 
      Refinancing your mortgage and rolling your credit card balances into the loan can significantly reduce your interest rates on credit card debt. That means you’ll pay less money toward interest each month and more toward principal, which can help you pay off the debt faster. 

      You will have to pay closing costs, which may be several thousand dollars, if you refinance. Weigh that against the amount you would save in interest to figure out if refinancing would be worth it.

      If you have a conventional mortgage, your lender will require you to carry private mortgage insurance if you have less than 20 percent equity. If you don’t currently pay for PMI but you borrow a large chunk of money from home equity, you may fall below the 20% threshold and have to purchase PMI, which may cost hundreds of dollars per month. That additional expense can negate some of the benefits of refinancing and consolidating credit card debt.

      Think about why you got into trouble with credit cards in the first place. If you have a habit of overspending, you may continue to do so even after refinancing. You may wipe out your credit card balances, only to find yourself swimming in debt again in a matter of months. 

      If that happens, you may struggle to keep up with your higher mortgage payments and new credit card bills. If you don’t pay your mortgage on time, you may lose your house in foreclosure.

      Should You Refinance?
      Make sure that you could afford higher mortgage payments and that you wouldn’t rack up new debt and put yourself in an even worse situation.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Renovate Your Basement Laundry Room

      12 April 2021

      For many people, the laundry room is an area in the basement that looks unattractive and that they don’t think about much. With some simple changes, you can convert your laundry room to a more aesthetically pleasing and functional space.

      Think about what you currently store in your laundry room and whether you have enough space. If not, consider a variety of design options.

      You will need enough storage space for detergent, fabric softener and other supplies that you use to wash and dry clothes, as well as an iron, ironing board, hangers and baskets. If you have young kids, make sure that you will be able to store chemicals out of their reach. Cabinets may work, or you may decide that shelves are a better choice based on the amount of space available. 

      When selecting a flooring material for a laundry room, keep in mind that the area is susceptible to leaks. You should therefore avoid wood, laminate or carpet and instead choose a material such as tile that can resist water damage.

      Having enough lighting can make the task of doing laundry easier and more pleasant. Since basements generally have small windows or none at all, you will need to rely on artificial lighting. Choose overhead fixtures that will brighten a large area, as well as smaller lights for spaces where you will handle specific tasks, such as folding and ironing clothes.

      Paint the walls in a light color to make the room look brighter and less like a basement. If you have space, install shelves or cabinets on the walls, as well as a rod where clothes can hang to dry. You can also use fixtures on the walls to keep an ironing board and other items easily accessible but out of the way when they’re not being used.

      A counter or an island in the laundry room can give you a space to complete tasks such as sorting and folding laundry. Select a material that is both durable and attractive, such as quartz or granite.

      Get Professional Advice
      Speak with a few local contractors who have experience handling basement laundry room renovations. Talk about problems with the design of your current laundry room and ways to address them. 

      Request estimates from at least three contractors, but don’t choose a company based on cost alone. Check references and only hire a business that has satisfied customers and that is licensed and insured.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 9 Quick Tips to Help Up Your Game in the Kitchen

      9 April 2021

      If you’re like many Americans, you’ve spent a good part of the past year improving your kitchen skills.  You have the right to be proud if you’ve mastered sourdough, learned to flip an omelet or turned out a high-top souffle.

      These nine easy hacks from professional cooks can help you up your kitchen game even more.

      • Remove Eggshells -  Dab your finger in water before trying to fish out an eggshell dropped into the yolk. Water acts like a magnet and the shell will stick to your finger so you don’t need to chase it around the bowl.
      • Ripen Fruit Faster - Put rock-hard peaches and avocados in a paper bag and close it with a paperclip. Concentrated ethylene gas will ripen them twice as fast.
      • Burnt Cookies - Shave off the evidence on the outside of the burnt cookie with your trusty microplane and no one ever needs to know you left them inside the oven a little bit too long.
      • Measure Sticky Stuff - Ingredients like honey, molasses or peanut butter may seem tough to measure due to their consistency. Add a quick spritz of non-stick spray in the cup or spoon before you measure and every bit of it will slip right out.
      • Makeshift Funnel - Use a regular piece of printing paper or snip off a corner of an envelope and open it to form a cone.
      • Nuke Herbs to Dry Them - Congrats if you’re growing your own oregano and basil. If you can’t use the fresh herbs fast enough, nuke some in the microwave for a minute or so to dry them for future use.
      • Core Berries With a Straw - Ditch the paring knife and instead push a straw through each berry from the bottom out. This will remove the core and leave the berry intact.
      • Get More Lemon Juice - To get every last drop of juice from a lemon, microwave it for 7 - 10 seconds, then roll it back and forth on the kitchen counter a few times before halving and squeezing.

      Reduce Salt - Toss in a few wedges of raw potato or apple to a recipe where you used a little too much salt Simmer for 10 minutes or so, then remove before serving.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Spruce Up for Spring: Fresh Ideas for Home Upgrades

      9 April 2021

      (Family Features) Spring means it’s time to start sprucing up your home and garden with a little TLC inside and out. If you’re unsure where to begin, consider these tips:

      Make function a priority. While aesthetic changes may boost value and please the eye, be sure to consider upgrades that make living easier, like organization units that give you more space or upgrades that create additional living space.

      Keep budget in mind. Make a list of the projects you’d like to complete and estimate how much each will cost. Use the list to determine what you can afford to complete now.

      Do your research. If you’ll be making a significant purchase such as a new vacuum or grill, be sure to explore your options, read reviews and shop around for the best prices for greater confidence in what you choose.
      Set yourself up for a more enjoyable spring with more home and garden tips at

      Hands Free Spring Cleaning
      For busy households, an all in one vacuum and mop robot like the Deebot N8+ is a perfect daily companion to help automate spring cleaning. It features high suction power (but low noise), TrueMapping technology to create an efficient cleaning path and the OZMO Mopping System to remove 99.26% of bacteria with dual vacuuming and mopping. Controllable with a smartphone app, it includes an Auto Empty Station for months of hands- and maintenance-free cleaning. Learn more at

      Enhance the Space Under Your Deck
      Optimize the space beneath an elevated deck by adding a drainage system such as Trex RainEscape. Designed to capture and divert water, this system protects a deck’s substructure from moisture damage while creating dry space usable for storage or an additional living area. Homeowners can safely add gas lines and wiring to accommodate grills, appliances, ceiling fans, lights and entertainment components to create an outdoor oasis. For more information, visit

      Perfect Your Pantry
      Cleaning out your pantry is an important step during spring cleaning as it allows you to discard expired items and rethink the space. Start by reorganizing and simplifying the area with ClosetMaid ventilated shelving like this Pantry Organizer. Built with the ShelfTrack system for a fully adjustable space along with close mesh to help prevent items from tipping over, it includes four 4-foot-by-16-inch shelves, a hang track and all necessary hardware. Find more information at

      Get Ready to Grill
      A grill’s lifespan depends on many factors, including where and how it is stored and your climate. When it’s time to upgrade, you’ll have some decisions to make. The biggest is which heating style you prefer: gas, electric or charcoal. Other considerations include the overall size, number of burners and grate quality. Also be sure to compare available features, such as side burners and igniters, which are fairly common, and upgrades like lighting and fuel gauges.

      When to Update Home and Garden Goods
      Investing in quality products, properly maintaining and storing them all have an impact on how long they’ll stay in good working condition. As you tackle spring cleaning this year, take stock of your common home and garden equipment to determine what may need updating.

      Lawn Mower: If your mower needs a repair that exceeds its value, it’s time for a replacement. However, there may be other signs that an upgrade is warranted. Rough operation, frequent breakdowns or other indications of faulty performance deserve a second look. Before you buy new, remember to check your warranty to determine whether repairs might be covered.

      Vacuum: Many homeowners discard their used vacuum when it stops picking up dirt and debris as efficiently as it did originally. Before you move on, be sure to check that performance issues aren’t the result of clogged hoses or a filter than needs cleaning or replacing. A belt may also be worn or need adjusting. Other signs it may be time to replace the vacuum include damaged or frayed cords, motor issues like overheating or making strange noises. 

      Grill: A grill may last anywhere from 5-15 years, depending on the quality of the materials and how it is maintained. However, it’s common to have to replace parts along the way. Signs you may need a new grill include a firebox (the main enclosure) with cracks, rust or holes and burners that distribute heat unevenly. Damaged grates can affect even grilling if they’re warped or if they’re flaky or rusted, they can contaminate food. If you’re not able to replace the grates, or any other essential part, including hoses and connectors for a gas grill, you’ll be better off replacing the unit.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.