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Today's Top Real Estate News

Provided by RISMedia News
4/20/2019  1:10:05 PM

Air it Out: Improving Your Indoor Air Quality
Ideally, you should be able to breathe deep in your space and not have any negative effects. In reality, indoor air can be some of the most polluted we come in contact with, even in our own homes. From natural aggravators like pollen and mold, to man-made chemicals and compounds, it's important to scrutinize your indoor air and take steps to freshen it.

Read on for clean air insights from Tommy Webber, owner of T.Webber Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric.

Tune up your HVAC system. Regular tune ups to your heating and cooling will keep your system clean, monthly energy costs low and lengthen the life of the HVAC system. Additionally, skipping annual maintenance can often void a manufacturer's warranty.

"There are a lot of steps homeowners can take to improve their indoor air quality, but one of the biggest — and best — options is scheduling a tune-up to their heating and cooling system," says Webber. "A home's HVAC system is responsible for circulating air through your home, and its maintenance has to be a priority. A neglected system can develop moisture and mold, which releases harmful spores into the air you're breathing."

Clean your ducts. This should be done seasonally, or more frequent, especially in the winter months when your home is sealed.

Installing a whole house humidifier. This can help keep mold at bay.

Cleaning regularly, weekly if possible. Cleaning away surface dust and dander, shampooing carpets and laundering linens in hot water can help keep irritants down.

Implementing indoor plants. Some living plantlife in your home not only looks lovely  - it can help filter out volatile organic compounds.

Install an air sanitizing system. If you're extremely concerned about your inner air quality, or you or a loved one suffers from allergens, install an air sanitizing system, which uses UV lamps to destroy bacteria and prevent mold from cycling through the HVAC unit.

Source: T.Webber Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Encourage Healthy Eating Habits in Kids
(Family Features)--As a parent, instilling healthy eating habits in your children at an early age can aid in proper growth and development. Eating well goes a long way toward maintaining a healthy weight, increasing energy levels and improving moods while also reducing the risk of obesity and other chronic issues such as heart disease and diabetes later in life.

Set your children on a path to making lifelong nutritious choices with these tips:

Foster independence. Allowing your children to help with shopping and meal prep can aid in them taking ownership of what they're eating. Start by divvying up easier tasks, such as setting the table then work toward creating snacks and meals on their own.  

Offer balanced options. Children require balanced diets made up of all three major food groups, including fruits and vegetables, for proper development.

Be a role model. Typically, your children will follow your behaviors, which includes the types of foods they select at mealtimes. Eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables can help ensure your family is getting a complete range of nutrients. Thinking about how many colors you eat in a day may inspire your kids to do the same, which can foster a lifetime of healthy eating habits.

Source: Produce for Kids

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Paint Trends to Love
The great news about the latest trending paint colors is that there’s something for everyone and every mood, from warm neutrals to deep hues of blue. Here are some of the colorways that are making headlines, according to Better Homes & Gardens. See how they might work their way into a room or two in your home:

Moody Tones. Dark, rich paint shades, such as chestnut brown, deep burgundy and charcoal blue create a “moody” velvety look thanks to complex undertones that create depth not usually found in traditional colors. Use them to make a dramatic statement on an accent walls, kitchen or bathroom cabinets, or in a small bathroom.

Nature Rules. Our increasing movement toward technology is perhaps triggering the appeal of return-to-nature colors this year. Colors that invoke the sky, forest and ocean are quickly gaining popularity for screen-weary eyes. Look for muted blues, greens, gray and browns to bring the calming influence of nature into our homes.

Warm Whites. While white never goes out of style, the current movement is away from bright, cool whites and more toward warmer whites. Look for cozy colors with names like Antique White, Swiss Coffee and Polar Bear.

Black Accents. Making its mark in a big way this year, black is being used to demonstrate beautiful contrast to white or light spaces. Use it on cabinetry, interior doors and accent walls. If true black is too strong for your tastes, consider a wide range of almost-black options, such as dark browns or charcoal grays.

Soft Shades. Also look for a wide range of soft and muted pastel hues to be popular this year, a great choice when you want a pop of color, but don’t want to go too bold.

Any of these paint-color ideas can provide a quick way to put your home on the forefront of design.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

3 Steps for Improving Your Home's Environmental Impact
Your impact on the environment extends beyond recycling and ditching single-use plastic. How you live at home matters, too.

"The decisions we all make about our energy and water consumption at home affect much more than our monthly bills," says Ted Puzio, owner of Southern Trust Home Services, a Roanoke-based HVAC, plumbing and electrical company. "Making small adjustments to reduce water waste and increase your home's energy efficiency will not only save money but also lessen our homes' strain on the environment."

Below are Puzio's top tips.

Regularly check for leaks. Leaks, no matter how small, should never be ignored. The EPA states that only 10 drips per minute add up to more than 500 gallons of water wasted in a year, and more than 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons each day. Regularly check inside cabinets and around plumbing for signs of moisture, mold or rusty stains, and periodically test for leaks by turning off the water at the main valve. Watch the meter for activity, and call a professional if the leak can't be found.

Reduce the runtime of your heating and cooling system. The most significant source of power consumption in the home, an inefficient system can wreak havoc on both bills and emissions. Annual maintenance by a licensed professional is recommended, and filters should be changed frequently to ensure smooth operation. To lower the runtime further, consider using ceiling fans to offset up to five degrees on the thermostat, and invest in a programmable thermostat to better control heating and cooling times.

Consider minor, inexpensive efficiency upgrades and adjustments. Investing in low-flow showerheads and new faucet aerators can further reduce water consumption, and choosing to completely unplug electronics when not in use can eliminate trickle charges. Also, purposefully seeking out more eco-friendly supplies, such as choosing an enzyme-based drain cleaner, is a better choice for the environment and easier on your plumbing.

Source: Southern Trust Home Services

Published with permission from RISMedia.

5 Tips for New Pet Parents
(Family Features)--Introducing a new dog to the family can bring plenty of excitement, sweet snuggles and puppy kisses. However, there are also plenty of practical steps to consider to successfully transition a pup into its new environment.

Whether you're a seasoned pet owner or a first-time puppy parent, these tips can help your newest family member feel right at home:

Purchase the necessities ahead of time. Similar to newborns, new pets require products that fit their size, age and life stage to ensure their safety and good health. This includes chew-proof food and water bowls, an ID tag with name and contact information, and a sturdy leash for both walks and training. Many experts discourage retractable leashes because they offer little control. For puppies specifically, some veterinarians recommend harnesses to attach a leash to because their necks are too fragile to attach a leash to a collar. Remember, puppies are going to grow, and items like beds, crates and collars will need to grow as they do, so you may want to hold off on investing in pricier options until they've matured.

Offer high-quality food that provides balanced nutrition. Feed new pets the best quality food possible because an investment in your pet's food is an investment in its health and longevity.

"Quality is a top priority when new pet parents are selecting food, so reading ingredient labels and understanding what nutrients are important for your pet at his or her life stage is key," says Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, Ph.D., R.D., nutrition manager at Petcurean. "Better quality food will usually equate to fewer vet visits overall. The same goes for treats."

Have enough playthings around the house. Keep dogs from destroying furniture, shoes and household items by providing them with fun, safe and entertaining toys. Chew toys and puzzles that combine play and treats are interactive, which can give dogs mental stimulation and help keep them out of mischief.

Pet-proof the house. Dogs are naturally curious and spend time exploring their homes, especially pets eager to get to know their new environment. Items on counters and shelves that could be dangerous to a small child are also dangerous for dogs, including wires, sharp or small objects and fragile items. Store them up and away from your dog or in locked cabinets for safekeeping.

Provide a safe spot to retreat. Moving in to a new home can cause a pet to feel a little disoriented and overwhelmed. Providing a safe place for the dog to retreat from enthusiastic kids, other pets and general household commotion can help the pup feel calmer. A crate or kennel lined with a soft pad or blanket in a quiet area of your home is typically a good choice - it's a confined space and can also serve a dual-purpose with housetraining, if needed.

Source: Petcurean

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Want Flowers Inside and Out? Plant a Cutting Garden
While flowers look beautiful blooming in the garden, or in pots and window boxes adorning your porch and patio, there’s nothing quite like the sight and scent of freshly cut flowers gracing the inside of your home. How to achieve the best of both worlds? Plant a cutting garden.

As the name implies, a cutting garden is a designated area for planting flowers specifically designed to be cut. The trick is to nurture this garden to abundance so that you have plenty for cutting, and an ample supply left behind to admire while outside.

The first step to planting a cutting garden is choosing the right spot. Look for an area that gets plenty of sun, has soil that is well-draining, and offers quick access to water.

The next step involves choosing the right flowers. While just about any flower looks lovely when perched in a vase, certain varieties lend themselves to cutting, thanks to qualities like long, strong stems, and a long life post-cut. The experts at Martha Stewart suggest the following:

- Sweet peas
- Poppies
- Peonies
- Baby’s breath
- Bachelor’s buttons
- Queen Anne’s lace
- Cosmos
- Zinnia
- Sea Holly
- Dahlias
- Coral Bells
- HydrangeaBeyond choosing the right varieties of flowers, there are other factors to consider when planting your cutting garden. For example, be sure to mix things up in terms of color, shape, size and texture. Adding foliage to your cut arrangements adds interest and appeal, so consider greens such as hosta leaves, ferns, ornamental grasses, even boughs of pine.

When you’re ready to cut, marthastewart.com suggests cutting when color first appears on the buds. And always cut in the cooler mornings as opposed to the intense heat of the afternoon. To keep flowers as fresh as possible in the vase, cut off any leaves that fall below the water line to prevent bacteria from growing in the vase.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Top Plumbing Issues, Explored
Homeownership comes with many joys,  as well as headaches, especially when it comes to unforeseen maintenance, like plumbing. Mr. Rooter Plumbing recently commissioned a national survey asking homeowners about the most common plumbing issues they face.

"Being a homeowner is a fulfilling and rewarding accomplishment, but it can also bring new responsibilities and tasks that many aren't prepared for," says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing. "This survey gave us tremendous insight as to the most common plumbing problems that homeowners deal with, along with their go-to methods for fixes. We learned that when faced with a plumbing issue, nearly 4 6percent of homeowners research DIY tips and attempt to fix the problem themselves. That's why it's vital to educate consumers about the do's and don'ts of plumbing, so they can hopefully avoid back-ups, bursts or other potential catastrophes down the line."

To help prep homeowners for any unforeseen plumbing disasters, Mr. Rooter offers the following tips on how to handle some of the most common plumbing issues.

Clogged toilet. Do not try to flush the toilet, as this will only lead to an overflow. Find a plunger and make sure to have a good and consistent connection with the plunger and the toilet. Being quick and repetitive with the plunging motion and keeping an eye out for movement in the toilet is key to unclogging it.

Backed-up drain. Use a regular wire coat hanger and straighten it out as much as possible. Bend one end to create a hook, push it through the drain and start fishing. Hair and all the buildup, aka gunk, should pull out. Once it's all pulled out, run the hot water and it should clear up.

Clogged sink. Mix 1/3 of a cup of baking soda and 1/3 of a cup of vinegar until it starts to fizz. Pour it immediately down the drain to help break down the gunk, hair and grime. Let it sit for about an hour (overnight is even better) and then flush it with hot water.

Low water pressure. Screw off the aerator, clean off the gunky residue and screw it back onto the faucet. This should help the water pressure get back to normal.

Garbage disposal. Never use chemical cleaners to clear a backed-up garbage disposal. To check for clogs, remove the unit and visually inspect the pipe for obstructions.

Source: Mr. Rooter

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Add Joy to Spring Cleaning
(Family Features)--While spring cleaning can be crucial for keeping your home in tip-top shape, especially for DIYers who find inspiration in the bright season for new home decor projects, the annual ritual can also feel overwhelming.

To add color and whimsy, and make spring cleaning a more joyous event, consider these ideas from mom and designer Joy Cho, the founder and creative director of Oh Joy! - a lifestyle site focused on design, fashion, food and life's joyful moments.

Frame homemade artwork. Once spring has arrived, you may have compiled lots of children's artwork from time spent indoors. To keep it all organized, sift through it in the spring and frame some of your children's hard work to put on the walls as colorful pieces of homemade decor.

Start with a fresh clean. Routinely cleaning your high-touch surfaces with disinfecting wipes and picking up common areas is a good habit to get into and should be a starting point for any spring project. When you start with a clean space, you know you won't have to deal with dust bunnies and clutter along the way. Plus, with nearly 1 in 3 Americans (31 percent) admitting to rarely or never deep cleaning their households, according to an online Clorox survey in February 2019, regularly freshening up can help you maintain a clean space and cut down on time spent tackling big messes.

Decorate with color. Make your shared spaces as fun and unique as possible by adding pops of color. After cleaning accumulated dirt and dust off your bookshelves, add contact paper to the inside back section of the shelves and flower vases or decorative jars for temporary color and character. You can also add an unexpected springtime pop to floral bouquets by incorporating fragrant mint sprigs or colorful stems. Picking out an attractive spring print that brings you joy and updating your throw pillow shams can also provide little bursts of color.

Maintain your spaces. Spending a little time each day cleaning high-traffic spaces can be easier than devoting an entire day each week to getting your home back in order. Disinfecting wipes make it easy to clean up messes, wipe down surfaces and stay on top of spot cleaning, allowing you to spend less time worrying about dirt and germs and more time with your family.

Source: Clorox

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Common Renovation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Embarking on a home improvement project is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. You can’t wait to take the next step in turning your house into the home you’ve always wanted, but you’re also probably making a major investment to do so.

So, before you get started on your reno, consider Real Simple’s and HomeAdvisor’s Dan DiClerico’s advice on how to avoid these common home renovation mistakes:

Rushing the job. Unfortunately, one too many home improvement shows have led us to believe that home renovations magically happen in no time at all. In reality, large-scale projects take months, so take the proper time to accurately plan for each step of your project, then tack on several additional weeks to allow for the inevitable curve balls that will arise. Rushing will only cost you—emotionally and financially.

Ignoring the need for a team. According to DiClerico, your project most likely requires a variety of professionals, such as an architect, a kitchen or bath designer, a contractor, etc. But many homeowners make the mistake of working with just one of these individuals before bringing in the others. Get the team together as early as possible to ensure a smooth flow and optimal outcome.

Miscommunication. Tensions can run high during a home renovation—between you and the professionals you’re working with, as well as between you and your loved ones. Find out the best way to stay in ongoing touch with your contractor, i.e., email, text, weekly meetings, and let your contractor’s professional guidance help mitigate issues between you and your partner.  

Making your own design choices. While you may have diligently combed Pinterest and home-improvement magazines for months, there’s a big difference between what you like and what makes the best sense for your home. DiClerico advises working with a designer who can help ensure good quality design and functionality.

Forgetting to budget. You must go into your renovation project with a number, allowing for the fact that it will cost more than what you originally planned—so adding in another 10 - 20 percent is prudent. DiClerico suggests spending more on the things you’ll interact with—i.e., cabinet doors—versus items that are purely decorative.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Plan a Stress-Free Group Getaway
(Family Features)--The arrival of vacation season means it's time to stop daydreaming about that getaway and start making some travel plans.

Getting organized for a grand adventure, especially if you'll be traveling with a group, requires some careful planning before you begin making reservations. Get started planning your dream vacation with these travel tips from the experts at Vrbo:

Narrow down the location. Vacation planning often begins with an idea more than a specific destination. For example, you may want to lay on the beach or visit the mountains. The first step should be figuring out exactly which beach or which mountain range captures your attention. Research your options online and look for information such as lodging, food and activities you may want to explore.

Set a budget. Daydreaming about a luxury excursion may be appealing when it's all in theory, but your bank account may have a different opinion. Also remember that if you're traveling with a group, you're likely to encounter household finances different from your own, so you'll need to set a budget that works for everyone.

Determine how you'll get there. The smaller your group, the more options you have for reaching your destination. As the group grows, you may have fewer alternatives, particularly if you want to travel together. For example, it can be difficult to get a large block of seats together on a commercial flight.

Think about where you'll stay. Vacation rentals typically offer more space and privacy than hotel rooms and allow everyone to stay together. Many offer amenities like a backyard or pool, and guests can split the cost several ways. You can give others a chance to weigh in with a tool like Trip Boards, a feature on the Vrbo website and mobile app that lets friends and family members collaborate during the decision-making process and find the perfect vacation home together. With inviting, voting and commenting capabilities, fellow travelers can see each other's favorited properties, vote and leave comments on which vacation homes they like best.

Discuss an itinerary ahead of time. With multiple personalities and interests involved, it can be challenging to keep everyone on a set schedule. Some may prefer to sleep in and others may have specific ideas about what time meals should be. Even if you don't have a formal itinerary, it's a good idea to talk through the schedule ahead of time, so expectations are clear. Breaking off into smaller groups part of the time may work better than keeping the entire group on the same schedule throughout the trip.

Look for group discounts. Though a larger group poses some challenges, there are also some perks that make bigger better. As you're planning activities and making reservations, be sure to inquire about specials and rates reserved for larger parties.

Use apps to get organized. From organizing everyone's travel schedules to voting on activities and coordinating payments, you can rely on apps to orchestrate most of the minutiae of a group getaway.

Source: Vrbo

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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