Consumer Real Estate News

  • How to Keep Your Water Clean

    18 August 2017

    We think about keeping our homes clean and our clothes clean, but how often do you stop to consider the cleanliness of your water?

    "Lakes, rivers, and streams are significant resources that the U.S. relies on heavily as principal sources of water," says Tommy Webber, owner of T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. "We may use these water sources recreationally, but we take them for granted. Neglect, pollution, and overuse has put the water quality in danger.  

    With that in mind, Webber offers residents these tips for cleaning up water.

    Use a rain barrel – During the summer months, garden and lawn watering make up about 40 percent of a household's total water consumption. If your state allows it. Webber recommends using rain barrels to collect runoff from rooftops and use that to water lawns and gardens.

    Wash the car on the lawn – Several of the soaps and detergents that are used to wash cars contain phosphorus and other nutrients that may be good for the grass, but may not be so good for our water sources. By washing the car on the lawn, the runoff goes into the ground as opposed to storm drains where the harmful chemicals will negatively impact lakes and rivers.

    Properly dispose of pollutants – Used motor oil, antifreeze, paint, roof tar, rechargeable batteries, unused fertilizer, unused medication and other similar contaminants can be recycled at the Wheelabrator solid waste plant. This will prevent these dangerous substances from entering the water supply.

    Pick up pet waste – One ounce of dog waste contains 23 million microorganisms of disease-causing fecal coliform bacteria. Either flush your pet's droppings or put it in the garbage.

    Put trash where it belongs -- Recycle, reuse or put it in the garbage. Plastic does not decompose and can harm many animals and fish as well as pollute the water.

    Have the water tested by a professional – Some residents rely on private wells for their water source. Unlike public water systems which are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), private wells are not. Households that use private wells need to take special precautions to ensure the water that enters their home is safe for their families. Homeowners that are concerned about the safety of their water should contact a professional to test the water. Once the water is tested, and any contaminants are identified, the expert can recommend a water treatment system to improve the water quality and provide peace of mind.

    Source:T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 5 Questions to Ask Before Requesting that Credit Line Increase

    18 August 2017

    When you see that tempting “request a credit-line increase” message on your credit card statement, it can be very tempting to take advantage of the offer. Before you apply for an increase, however, creditcards.com recommends asking yourself these five questions:

    Why do I need a credit-line increase? Do you need an increase to help you finance a large purchase, like a trip or a new fridge, that you’ll be paying off the following month? Or are you spending more than you make and running out of credit? If it’s the latter, an increase is not a smart move and will only land you further in debt.

    What’s my credit score? Before applying for an increase, make sure you know your current credit score. Even though you’re an existing credit card holder, asking for an increase is like applying for a new loan so check your credit report to see if there are any existing issues. Add up all your credit card lines and compare that to your total usage to determine your credit utilization score. If you’re using more than 30 percent of your total credit, that will negatively affect your score. If you have a history of late payments or have made only the minimum payments in the last six months or so, don’t ask for a line increase.

    Can I afford a “hard pull?” When you apply for a credit-line increase, it oftens triggers a hard pull on your credit report - inquiries that are noted on your credit report for two years, and are factored into your credit score for a year, according to FICO. Before you apply for a line increase, contact the credit card company to see if they will do a hard pull, to avoid shaving even a few points off your credit score.

    Will an increase help or hurt my credit score? A credit-line increase can help your credit score as it will automatically shrink your credit utilization ratio. However, if you quickly convert the increased line to new debt, then your credit score will suffer.

    How much more credit do you really want? Do some soul searching and reality checking to figure out how much credit you can actually afford. Larger limits can tempt you into overspending and damage your long-term financial health.

    I hope you found these credit tips helpful. Feel free to contact me if you’d like information about your local real estate market.

    Source: creditcards.com

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • How to Safely Photograph an Eclipse

    18 August 2017

    With August 21 on the horizon, residents across the country are gearing up to witness the first total eclipse since 1979. However, according to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, there is one thing that sets this month's total eclipse apart from others: Smartphones. Millions of ordinary people are expected to use smartphones and digital cameras to photograph this eclipse. Eye care professionals are concerned that first-timers might train their cameras on this phenomenon, unaware of the damage they can do to their eyes.

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Optometry teamed up to offer the follow tips on how to safely photograph an eclipse:

    Buy a solar filter or modify your eclipse glasses to function as a solar filter for your smartphone. Cut your glasses in half and tape one eyepiece over your smartphone camera lens.

    Take the filter off during totality. Totality is when the moon entirely blocks the sun's bright face. The path of totality for the Aug. 21 eclipse stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. Unless you're in the path of totality, keep your solar eclipse glasses on throughout the eclipse.

    Use a tripod to keep your camera stable.

    Use a remote trigger. With a remote, you can adjust settings and shoot the photo while keeping your camera stable.

    Practice. Take photos just after sunset during twilight to get an idea of what the light levels will be like during totality.

    Shoot photos of the moon to learn how to manually adjust the focus on your camera. Tap the screen and hold your finger on the image of the moon to lock the focus. Then slide your finger up or down to darken or lighten the exposure.

    A telephoto lens system is a must-have for eclipse photography with a smartphone. There are zoom lenses for smartphones designed solely to provide magnification without resorting to digital zoom.

    Try the pinhole effect. This eclipse effect is easily captured with point-and-shoot cameras. Use a straw hat or a kitchen sieve and allow the sun's shadow to fall on a piece of white cardboard placed several feet away. The small holes act like pinhole cameras and each one projects its own image of the eclipsed sun.

    Make sure you purchase solar eclipse filters and glasses from reputable manufacturers. There have been reports that some companies are selling counterfeit products labeled as if they conform to international safety standards.

    Source:  www.aaopt.org.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Mortgages Are Going to the Dogs

    17 August 2017

    A third of millennial-aged Americans (ages 18 to 36) who purchased their first home say the desire to have a better space or yard for a dog influenced their decision, according to a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage, a division of SunTrust Banks, Inc. Dogs ranked among the top three motivators for first-time home purchasers and were cited by more millennials as reasons for buying a home than marriage/upcoming marriage (25 percent) or the birth/expected birth of a child (19 percent).

    Only the desire for more living space (66 percent), and the opportunity to build equity (36 percent), were identified by more millennials as reasons they purchased their first home.

    According to Dorinda Smith, SunTrust Mortgage president and CEO, renting can be expensive and stressful for dog owners, making homeownership a better living situation.

    Among millennials who have never purchased a home, 42 percent say that their dog – or the desire to have one – is a key factor in their desire to buy a home in the future, suggesting dogs will also influence purchase decisions of potential first-time homebuyers.

    SunTrust offers the following tips when considering a first-time home purchase:

    Understand your initial expenses. The down payment and closing costs can really add up, but don't forget to budget for moving expenses. These include everything from truck rental to setting up water, power, cable, internet and more.

    Organize your finances. While there are different types of loans for different needs, your finances will be thoroughly evaluated during the credit application. Make sure they are organized so you can better retrieve them throughout the application process.

    Get pre-qualified. Lenders can use your income and credit history to give you an estimate of the home loan amount for which you qualify. The pre-qualification amount can be a helpful guideline when you are considering which properties to purchase.

    Create a realistic timeline. Even with a pre-qualification, loans can take weeks to be finalized. Work with a loan officer to decide the best type of loan for your situation and make sure your loan will be ready in advance of your closing.

    For more information about preparing to buy a home, please contact me.

    Source: SunTrust Banks, Inc.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Tips for Tackling a DIY Deck Project

    17 August 2017

    (Family Features) While planning a new outdoor living space can be overwhelming, chances are there's a home improvement retailer nearby that offers an abundance of resources to help you tackle virtually any project. If a DIY deck project is on your to-do list, these tips can help you navigate the aisles like a pro.

    Do your homework. Get started by perusing retailer websites to learn about their product offerings and services. Then visit manufacturer websites for more information and to compare aesthetics and performance. Research your options and decide what materials and styles make the most sense for your lifestyle and preferences. For instance, if you are looking to spend more time enjoying your deck than maintaining it, you may consider a high-performance composite material, like Trex. Unlike wood, composite decking won't rot, warp, crack or splinter, and resists fading, scratching and mold.

    Take advantage of retailer resources. After you've decided on a preferred material, your local big-box retailer can help you obtain additional information, design ideas and product samples. In addition to perusing an array of decking options, you also can preview designer-curated railing pairings. Once you find a combination that suits your outdoor space, you can download the materials list to better guide your in-store experience.

    Explore the store. Once you have determined the direction of your project and narrowed down your product preferences, orient yourself with the store landscape so you can navigate the merchandise in an order that correlates with your project. It may be easiest to start with decking materials in the lumber aisle and then move to railings, which can typically be found in an adjacent aisle or on an end-cap display. Pay close attention to signage and look carefully for logos to make sure you're finding the brand you want.

    Ask an associate. Don't be afraid to ask for help. The staff at your local retailer can provide tips to help you successfully navigate your project and the store. For instance, if the materials you are looking for aren't on the shelves, many options are available via special order. Typically, an associate can arrange for the product you want to arrive in-store in about 10 days. Most stores also offer assistance with installation.

    Source: lowes.trex.com  

    Published with permission from RISMedia.