Latest Real Estate News

    • Deck Your Halls Safely This Holiday Season

      14 December 2017

      Decorating your home for the holidays can be great for family bonding and exploring your creative side. However, as you decorate, you should be keeping home safety front and center. To help, Florida Realtors® offers the following tips.

      - Illuminate holiday lights only when another adult is home and awake.

      - Place all extension cords out of the normal traffic path and do not place furniture on the cords.

      - Check electrical decorations to make sure they're in good condition. Replace any decorations that have frayed, that have exposed wires or loose connections. When buying new lights, select products approved by a testing agency, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which is usually indicated by the agency's symbol printed on the package.

      - Use decorations made of fire-resistant materials. Artificial trees, garland and tree skirts are often made of this material, but check the package to be sure.

      - If you prefer a live tree, remember to water it daily so the needles stay moist and are less likely to catch fire. There are also some plant-food products designed to extend a tree's life, which may help.

      - When you open gifts, discard wrapping paper and ribbons in a metal garbage can. In the event of a household fire, excess paper will increase the speed at which the fire spreads.

      - Burn candles only when an adult is present. Make sure there is plenty of space between candles and overhead cabinets, use a candle holder large enough to contain the dripping wax and move nearby items that could ignite. Carefully extinguish the flame when leaving the room and – as always – keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.

      - Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in working order, preferably one that will put out all types of fires including electrical and grease fires. Make sure family members know how to use the extinguisher and keep it in an easily accessible place.

      - If your home does not have smoke detectors, now is the time to install them. If you already have smoke detectors, check the batteries and replace them if you aren't sure how old they are. Some new-home builders install electrical smoke detectors, which eliminate the need for batteries, but it doesn't protect you or your home during a power outage. Most experts recommend installing at least two battery-operated smoke detectors. You should also consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.

      - Discuss escape routes with your family and choose alternate routes in case a preferred exit, such as the front door, is blocked.


      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Turn Any Room into a Guest Room

      14 December 2017

      Whether you have out-of-town visitors on the way or an unexpected guest who needs to crash for the night, don’t panic if you don’t have an official guest room - you can quickly outfit just about any area into cozy sleeping quarters with a few simple steps:

      No bed? No problem! A comfortable sofa will do the trick when you make it as bed-friendly as possible. Remove the back cushions for more space, then make it up with a set of twin sheets, pillows and a comforter, and its sweet dreams in no time!

      Choose an area with privacy. If you don’t have a guest room, consider your home office or finished basement. Or, section off an area of your living room or family room with a decorative screen. Anything that makes your guest feel a bit removed from the rest of the house.

      Accessorize. Feeling at home in someone else’s home is often about the small touches. So make sure your guest has a few hangers and drawers or shelves to place their clothes, a small table with a lamp that can serve as a nightstand for their book, glasses, keys and other small personal items, access to an outlet for charging their devices, and a small chair where they can relax when not sleeping.

      Add necessities. Nothing will make your guests feel more pampered than stocking their space with bed-and-breakfast-like accoutrements. Add a stack of fluffy towels, a set of spare slippers, bottled water and glasses, and a basket packed with shampoo, soap, sunscreen, toothpaste and a spare toothbrush.

      Remember, feeling at home is not about how much space a guest has, but how welcome they feel within that space.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Avoid Pipe Damage This Winter

      14 December 2017

      Nothing will put a damper on your winter wonderland faster than a busted pipe. But with freezing and thawing all season long, your pipes can take a beating. To help, Best Service offers the following tips to avoid expensive pipe damage:

      Look for early signs of hard water – Hard water and issues with scaling can be detected early by keeping an eye on items easily affected by the minerals that may be present in the water. A coffee maker, for example, can provide great early warning signs for hard water. If the maker is failing early in its life due to clogs and requiring multiple descaling treatments, there is a good chance that attention needs to be given to the home's water lines. Noticing spikes in a utility bill with no notable changes in usage can serve as a good indicator that there are leaks in need of attention.

      Consider a water-softening system – A water softener is a system that helps lower the hardness of incoming water and therefore, reduces the amount of minerals that can adhere to the inside of pipes and appliances. Purchasing or building a home in a known hard-water area is reason enough to invest in a water softener, and it is best to have it installed and in good operational condition before beginning daily life in the new home.

      Install a pressure regulator – Having a pressure regulator installed is a great way to monitor possible clogs and detect any issues before they result in serious damage. As minerals from hard water or other intrusions clog pipes, they restrict water flow and increase pressure on the walls of the pipes. Setting the regulator between 50-70 psi is normal, but noticing pressure between 100 and 120 psi is a sign that something is restricting water flow and may cause damage to the pipes.

      Check the landscaping relative to the water lines – In addition to taking hard water into consideration, it is worth noting the approximate distance of trees to the water lines. As pipes age, they can develop tiny cracks and holes that can allow water to begin leaking at rates less detectable by meters and bills. Tree roots, which can grow quite extensively underneath yards in search of water, will sometimes pick up on these sources and try to invade the pipes. These roots can penetrate the cracks in the pipes and begin to grow, clogging the water flow and putting more stress on the already compromised structure of the pipe. If a home is over 25 years old, the piping may be steel or clay. Steel is susceptible to corrosion, and clay is more porous. At this point in their lifespan, both of these materials will be more likely to leak and attract tree roots than modern materials such as PVC or concrete.

      Source: Best Service

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Boomers Share 5 Lessons on Retirement

      13 December 2017

      The unanimous advice from Baby Boomers when it comes to retirement? Expect the unexpected. A survey of 1,200 investors conducted by Capital Group, revealed the many facets of retirement, including what causes sticker shock, the factors that affect why people end up retiring earlier or later than they had planned, and what keeps Boomers up at night when it comes to financial security in retirement.

      Here are five of the biggest lessons Boomer investors have learned when it comes to saving for a secure retirement:

      Be in it for the long-term —  Don’t expect much from quick hits. Nine in 10 (92 percent) retired Boomer investors stress the importance of getting and staying invested in the market. When markets fluctuate, stay put; only three in 10 (32 percent) say they would adapt their strategies based on market conditions.

      Know your fees — Being able to easily understand fees is crucial to your peace of mind and financial security. Ninety-four percent of retired Boomers want to be able to easily understand the fees they pay, and 78 percent stressed low-cost simple investments to buy and hold for the long term.

      Diversify!— As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Eighty-five percent of retired Boomers believe that building a diversified portfolio is one of the most important elements for a safe path to a better retirement.

      Be prepared for downturns — Take steps to lower your risk in the face of a market downturn. Eight in 10 (80 percent) retired Boomers stress the importance of protecting their nest egg and lowering the risk of losses during market downturns.

      Start saving early and often — Eight in 10 (79 percent) retired Boomers believe saving a portion of monthly income toward retirement is one of the best things you can do, and 60 percent said they wished they had started investing as young as possible.

      When it comes to surprising costs in retirement, health care tops the list, with 43 percent of retired Boomers reporting spending more on health care than they had planned. Conversely, only 9 percent report spending more on housing costs than they had anticipated, and just 11 percent say they are paying more than expected to support dependent family members, such as adult children living at home.

      Overall, 60 percent of Boomers said they feel positive about their retirement compared to their expectations, and most are positive about the next 10 years of market returns. Fifty-three percent believe the market will go higher and perform at least as well as the past five years or so, or it will average single-digit returns in line with historical averages.If retirement is in your near future, check in with your financial advisor to make sure your plan is on track. Now is the time to start budgeting for factors you may not have anticipated.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • New Technology to Make Airtight Homes Healthier

      13 December 2017

      Recently, sources from Georgia's Eco Custom Homes attended the North American Passive House Conference in Seattle to learn about the latest and greatest in ultra high-performance home construction.

      Since a key component of a high performance home is "airtightness," efficiency-minded homeowners should know that when it comes to achieving an airtight home, aim for the desirable "Under 2 ACH" (air changes per hour) range. To achieve this, manual ventilation must be supplied to prevent bad, stale air from building up in a home. The most common way of doing this is to add a fresh air vent to the HVAC unit.

      But what do you do when the HVAC unit is not operating and no fresh air is being changed? And does this method even supply an accurate amount of fresh air to areas that need it the most?

      In states with humid subtropical climates like Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina, just the latent humidity load required for ventilation equates to close to 12,000 BTUs on an average home, according to the Eco Custom Homes team.

      One solution is adding an Ultra–Aire dehumidifier, which handles both ventilation and dehumidification. But depending on its size, this add-on could cost $4,000 to $5,000 with install.

      Soon, air-tight buildings may be able to utilize all-in-one units, which are just starting to come on the market. They reference compact technology unites that provide 12,000 BTUs of cooling, 6,000 BTUs of heating, HEPA filtrations and sensors for VOC and CO2 levels.

      Eco Custom Homes says there is no single system available to provide enough heating or cooling for medium to larger homes (over 1,000 square feet) in humid subtropical climates - yet. Within the next decade, and with the attention the issue is getting from passive house builders, be on the lookout for a proliferation of all-in-one systems.  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.