Consumer Real Estate News

    • How to Keep Any Floor Looking Beautiful

      10 August 2020

      The choices for home flooring are dazzling these days, with nearly a dozen types of floor tile available and laminate options you’d need to examine closely to be certain they aren’t actually real wood. But different floors require different cleaning methods to keep them looking their best.

      Here’s a guide to proper maintenance for the four most common floor types:

      Ceramic or Porcelain Tile - These most-popular floor tiles by a wide margin are also among the easiest to clean, requiring nothing more than a wet string mop and warm water, and/or a neutral floor cleaner that does not contain abrasives. If the grout between tiles gets dingy, you can clean it by hand. Spray on a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, let it stand for five minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush.

      Vinyl - Vinyl floors are gaining in popularity, both as tile and in planks resembling wood. Their only natural enemy is too much water, so again, warm water and/or a neutral, non-abrasive cleaner applied with a good string mop are all you need. Just be sure the mop is well wrung-out before using. 

      Laminates - Laminate flooring, available in a wide variety of patterns, offers the look of wood at a fraction of the cost. Like vinyl, it dislikes a lot of water and it hates harsh chemicals, so use a dry dust mop or vacuum for regular cleaning. If it needs more every two or three months, mop it with a solution of one teaspoon of unscented baby shampoo mixed into a gallon of warm water. Be sure that mop is damp, not soaking wet.

      Hardwood - Little can replace the warmth and luster of real hardwood floors. But if you’re lucky enough to have them, you’ll need a little more elbow grease to keep them looking their best. Regular vacuuming is the first step. A microfiber mop sprayed with a dusting agent once a week will pick up dust and prevent scratches. If a deeper cleaning is needed, use a wood floor cleaning product, diluted according to label instructions. Saturate a string mop in water, then wring it almost dry and damp-mop the floor. Rinse with a clean mop and be sure no standing water is left on the floor, as this can cause permanent damage to the wood.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Snack Right Before Bed

      10 August 2020

      That before-bed urge to root around in the fridge or pantry for an end-of-the-day treat can be a powerful force. Whether you’re looking for a mindless munchy to accompany your TV-time or just trying to satisfy your late-night sweet craving, eating too close to bedtime, while enjoyable, is one of the common culprits involved in weight gain.

      Though for those night-time noshers, there may be hope. According to experts, eating before bed might not be so bad if you choose your snacks carefully. In fact, some say that certain foods may actually help boost your metabolism while you sleep, such as those rich in protein and complex carbohydrates. So before you reach for the chips or ice cream, consider one of these options instead, recommended by Cooking Light magazine:

      Whole Grain Toast and Hummus. Because it’s made from chickpeas, hummus is rich in vitamin B, which helps metabolize carbohydrates, protein and fats. The fiber in whole grain bread will help satisfy you and may also help you sleep better thanks to the magnesium in wheat flour.

      Cottage Cheese and Cherries. The protein content in cottage cheese may help your muscles repair themselves while you sleep, and boost your metabolism. Not only will tart cherries on top help sweeten this bed-time snack, their natural melatonin may help regulate your sleep cycle.

      Banana With Peanut Butter. A banana dipped into a tablespoon of nut or seed butter is a great choice for a few reasons. First, bananas are a fast-digesting carb, and fast digestion is what you want before bed. They’re also rich in magnesium, which helps subdue stress hormones. The carbs will also help release sleep-promoting insulin.

      Plain Greek Yogurt With Blueberries. Not only a much healthier alternative to ice cream, the calcium in the yogurt will help your body create melatonin for a better night’s sleep. The antioxidants in blueberries will help lower overall physical stress, which can also help in the sleep department. This healthy snack will also help you avoid waking up ravenous, resulting in better eating habits in the morning.

      The goal with these and other healthy night-time snacks is to help you sleep better, regulate your cravings and get an extra dose of the nutrition your body needs most. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Important WFH Hacks

      10 August 2020

      Work-from-home warriors have probably already figured out the tips and tricks that lead to a productive, stress-free remote work day. But if you’re relatively new to a WFH situation, or you’re going to be working remotely for the foreseeable future, these helpful hacks will pave the way for an efficient and enjoyable work environment.

      Connect Seamlessly. When you work from home, priority one should be the ability to connect seamlessly with coworkers and managers. The people you interact with should be barely able to tell whether you’re in the office or working remotely. Make sure you’re connected via the same web-based programs being used in the office, such as Gmail, Teams, Slack, Zoom, etc., and have your office line redirected to your home phone or cell. You don’t want your WFH situation to be the reason for glitches in workflow or slow-downs in response times.

      Schedule Facetime. One thing you’ll miss when working from home are interactions, big and small, with the team in the office, which can lead to a sense of disconnect and missing out on key information...or just the little soundbites that build camaraderie. So, in addition to scheduling regular meetings through video conference, also be sure to just pick up the phone and have a conversation with a colleague as opposed to constantly relying on email and chat.

      Maintain Your To-Do List. Working from home as opposed to heading into a structured office environment can often make for a somewhat nebulous approach to each day, leading to detrimental lapses in productivity. To prevent this from happening, end each day by writing out the top five priorities for the next day. This creates a to-do list that’s not overwhelming and helps you start the next day focused on what’s most important. This will also help you ensure you’re accomplishing key tasks each day, as opposed to wasting your hours with busy-work that could be delegated or set aside for another time.

      Take a Lunch Break and End the Day on Time. Many people who work from home feel guilty about taking an actual lunch break or creating a definitive stop time to the work day. These boundaries, however, are actually critical to productivity. Just like they do in the office, these scheduling structures allow you to disconnect from work and switch gears to focus on friends, family and activities. The daily shifts in mindset will help improve the quality of your work, your creative thinking and your focus. So don’t forego them just because you’re working from home.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Don't Flush These 8 Items Down Your Toilet

      7 August 2020

      Homeowners flush a lot of things down their toilets without considering the potential plumbing issues it may cause. If they’re lucky, they’ll only have to use a plunger to tackle a minor clog. But if a major issue arises, they may need to call a plumber and pay for costly repairs.

      Whether your home has a septic tank or sewage line, there are certain items you should never flush. To prevent unnecessary clogs and damage to your home’s plumbing, take some advice from the pros. Harts Services, a Tacoma, Wash.-based plumbing company, shares its list of the top items that shouldn’t go down your toilet:

      Dental Floss. Not only is floss non-biodegradable, but it can also tangle up with other debris and turn small clogs into big ones. If flushed into a septic tank, floss can wind itself around a motor and cause it to burn out.

      Paper Towels. It may seem okay to flush paper towels because they look a lot like toilet paper, but flushed paper towels are one of the leading causes of clogged pipes. They're made to be very absorbent and are considerably thicker than toilet paper.

      Sanitary and Baby Wipes. Although many of these wipes say they're flushable on the package, it’s advisable to throw them out instead. The fibers in the wipes are much thicker than those of toilet paper, so they don't break down the same way and can contribute to a clog.

      Q-Tips or Cotton Balls. Cotton may seem like it's harmless, but just like sanitary wipes, cotton does not break down enough to make it through the pipes. Cotton can clump together and get stuck, causing a backup.

      Fats, Oils and Grease. Flushing food waste is a bad idea that will lead to any number of plumbing problems. When hot, these substances are in a liquid state, but once they cool, they congeal and build up on the sides of the pipes.

      Feminine Hygiene Products. These products expand when they come in contact with liquid. This means, when flushed, they absorb more water and get stuck in the pipes.

      Kitty Litter. It may not seem that bad since it's cat waste, but kitty litter is made of clay and sand, which will create major problems for plumbing.

      Adhesive Bandages. These products are non-biodegradable and can easily stick to pipes and cause issues.

      If you have any question about an item you’re thinking about flushing down the toilet, Harts Services advises to remember that when in doubt, throw it out. Otherwise, you may end up paying for costly repairs that could have easily been avoided.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Money-Saving Tips for Kitchen Cabinets

      7 August 2020

      Are you planning a kitchen remodel? If so, you could save a lot of money by finding and buying cheaper cabinets. The trick, however, is to save without compromising on style or quality. To help you choose the right cabinets for a budget-friendly kitchen project, HomeAdvisor offers the following five tips:

      1. Get the Best Kitchen Cabinets for the Money. The most affordable kitchen cabinets can start around $30 per linear foot, with minimal features. It’s cheaper to choose standard sizes, like 24” or 30” wide. Custom options take more work, so they can be expensive. Pull-out shelves and drawers cost the most, so you may want to limit them. For the most part, there isn’t a big difference in value between $30 and $100 per linear foot. Bargain kitchen cabinets tend to have a thinner frame and shelving, which means they can bow or sag under pressure. If you plan to store heavy tools or appliances, opt for thicker panels made of plywood.

      2. Stick With Inexpensive Cabinetry. Solid hardwood cabinets can cost $300 to $350 per linear foot. By comparison, the cheapest kitchen cabinets can cost $30 to $150 per linear foot. These typically contain a plywood frame with a door made of particleboard, also called MDF. Keep in mind that cheap construction often doesn’t last as long. Aim for products with 3/4″ thick panels and screws that’ll go most of the way through the panel. If you’re building it yourself, extra nails will help hold it together.

      3. Don’t Buy More Cheap Cabinets Than You Need. You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars on budget cabinets by buying only what you need. Manufacturers set prices by the unit. Wider sizes tend to have a lower cost per linear foot. For example, selecting two 36” wide base models will probably run less than three 24” ones. It’s tempting to fill the space with cabinets, but you’ll pay for every empty unit. Sometimes, it’s easier to thin out kitchen tools you don’t use than to build more places to store them.

      4. Save on Labor With Ready-to-Assemble (RTA) Cabinets. Assembled cabinets can cost $50 to $150 per linear foot, compared to $30 to $100 per linear foot for RTA units. You might not have as much choice in RTA products, but you’ll save on shipping or bringing them home from the store. Remember that DIY only saves money if you have the right tools and materials and know what you’re doing. Cabinet assembly usually takes a few hours per unit and requires several supplies not provided with the kit.

      5. Shop Locally for Used Kitchen Cabinets. Since solid wood cabinets often last longer than the kitchen design, you may find people nearby looking to sell their old ones. Cabinet removal can cost $15 to $30 per linear foot. To avoid this expense, some homeowners will even give them away for free instead of demolition, if you’ll get them out of the house. Before you choose used products, you should shop around and consider at least a few options, inspect the condition before buying, ask if the price includes removal and make sure you can transport them to your home promptly.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.