Consumer Real Estate News

    • Save Your Way to Lower Home Insurance

      21 March 2019

      (Family Features)--If your homeowner insurance rates are creeping up even though you haven't filed any claims, it may be time to take a look at how you can bring those prices back down.

      Research, smart shopping and even some home upgrades can make a noticeable difference in your insurance premiums. Explore the cost-savings potential with these tips from the experts at CertainTeed, a manufacturer of exterior and interior building products:

      Shop for the best rates. It's easy to be complacent when you've used the same insurance company for years, but if getting the best rate is your objective, it's a good idea to shop around. To do effective comparison shopping, have a copy of your current policy ready and contact a handful of competitors. Provide them the exact same coverage details so you can compare like rates, but also be ready to listen to information about additional coverage options that may suit your needs.

      Combine homeowner insurance with other policies. Most insurance carriers offer multiple policy discounts, which they apply when you insure more than one item. For example, if your homeowner insurance carrier also insures your cars, you're likely to save money on the rates for protecting both your home and automobiles.

      Update your home's first line of defense. Many homeowners focus on aesthetics when it's time to make upgrades, but there are some important functional improvements that can make a difference when it comes to your insurance premiums. For example, as extreme weather becomes more commonplace, the first line of defense is often the type of roofing material chosen. Many insurance companies even offer discounts for using impact-resistant shingles. Check with your insurance provider before making a final selection, but in general, look for products that include "impact-resistant" in their name and specs, and "Class IV Impact Resistance," the highest rating available for roofing materials.

      Install a home security system. An intruder alarm can provide more than peace of mind. Insurance companies often reward homeowners who take steps to minimize the chances of burglary or vandalism. After all, a well-protected home is less likely to result in a claim for losses. Some companies offer varying degrees of discounts on insurance rates depending on the type of system you install, so be sure to thoroughly research the options.

      For example, a system that simply emits a loud noise when triggered may generate one level of discount, while a system that dispatches emergency personnel when activated can lead to an even better rate.

      Source: CertainTeed

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • The Benefits of a Credit-Line Increase

      21 March 2019

      If you’ve got a credit card in good standing, then you probably receive frequent solicitations to increase your credit line. The offer is always tempting. But is it smart? Here are some reasons why increasing your credit line can be a good idea...followed by an important caveat!

      More purchasing power. Obviously, an increased credit line will allow you to buy more. If you’re short on funds - perhaps you’re in need of a home improvement or a special event is looming - a credit line increase could help you out in a tight spot.

      An improved credit score. If you increase your credit line - and don’t use it or use only a small portion of it - you will actually improve your credit utilization ratio, which is the sum of your outstanding credit balances, divided by the sum of your total credit limit.

      The opportunity for other loans. An increased credit line may also make it easier for you to get other lines of credit, such as a car or home loan, as it shows you’ve demonstrated a pattern of responsible credit behavior.

      An emergency fund. A credit card with a higher limit can serve as your emergency fund, keeping it on hand in case something goes wrong, such as an unexpected car repair or medical bill.

      The caveat? While the above are all good reasons to get a credit line increase, it’s all for naught should you max out that credit line and fail to pay it back within a short time frame. Accumulating more debt at a high interest rate will only hurt your credit score and your overall financial picture.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • A Healthy Home Starts with Healthy Plumbing

      21 March 2019

      You likely take precautions to maximize your physical health, like eating right, exercising and sleeping regularly. But how often do you think about your home health? A healthy home begins with healthy plumbing; to keep home plumbing healthy, Harts Services recommends the following tips:

      Check the outdoors. Make sure all storm drains, gutters, pipe vents, and downspouts are cleared of debris to prevent unwanted water from leaking into the home. Also check the flow of all outdoor faucets to monitor for drips. Faucet drips may indicate cracks that can cause leaks.

      Complete a sump pump test. Pour a gallon of water into the sump pump pit. The sump pump should activate and push the excess water out through the drain pipe. If your sump pump is not working, enlist the help of a plumbing expert.

      Tune-up your kitchen sink. Check the pipes underneath the sink for leaks then run hot water down the drain for 15 minutes to clean out the drain. Also, check to see how the sink is draining. For garbage disposal maintenance, throw ice in the disposal and run cold water through to clean the blades.

      Perform a bathroom check. Remove shower heads and let them soak in a vinegar bath for an hour to remove any sediment. Open the toilet tank and flush to check the mechanism and make sure each part is functioning properly. Monitor the refill valve and make the tank refills within one minute. Check your toilet bowl for cracks or leaks. If you suspect a leak, add food coloring to the toilet tank and wait 30 minutes to flush. If the coloring appears in the toilet bowl, the tank is leaking into the bowl.

      Monitor for invisible leaks. Find the main shut off valve and turn off your water. Check your water meter leak indicator for any water movement.

      Source: Harts Services

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • In Your 50s and Short On Savings? What To Do Now

      20 March 2019

      If you’re in your fifties and short on retirement savings, the money mavens at The Motley Fool remind us, you are not in a good place. Most seniors will need 70 to 80 percent of their previous income to live comfortably, and Social Security will provide only about half of that.

      If you’re looking at that scenario, you are right to worry, according to financial advisors. But it isn’t time to panic - yet - if you take the following three steps now:

      Make lifestyle changes - Downsize your living space. Become a one-car family. Eat out less often and cut down on clothing buys and other nice-but-not-necessary expenses. If you can manage to free up $500 a month to save over the next 15 years, and your investments generate an average seven percent return, you’ll be on track to accumulate $150,000 - not a huge amount, but a better position to be in.

      Get a side gig - You can only cut back on so many expenses before there is no lifestyle left. The obvious answer is to generate more income with a side hustle. Figure out what you can do. If you can bring in $500 a month in addition to the $500 you are saving, you will be on track to accumulate $300,000 by age 65.

      Plan to work a little longer - It’s hard to push yourself to keep working when you’ve been looking forward to retiring. But working longer means more time to contribute to your retirement plan. Also, the longer you delay taking your Social Security benefits, the higher the amount you will receive when you do retire.

      With Americans living longer these days, the last thing you want to do is be dreadfully short of funds in your senior years. Resolve now to do what it takes to put yourself in the best financial position possible.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Facebook Marketplace: How to Turn Home Clutter into Cash

      20 March 2019

      If you're sick of your home clutter and short on cash, consider turning to social media for a local selling solution: Facebook Marketplace. To help, the following lifestyle experts, interior designers, and Marketplace power users share their exclusive tips.

      Tackle one item at a time
      : "Put yourself on a schedule and list one item per week. Eventually you'll chip away at minimizing your extra 'stuff' and collect some extra cash to spend on something fun!" — Kait Schulof, A Clean Bee organizing and cleaning blog

      Price to sell: "Think of your potential buyer and what they're willing to spend, then do some research on what items are selling for nearby. Remember people are looking for a good deal, and price accordingly." — Laura Durenberger, The Mindful Mom Blographer sustainable living lifestyle blog

      Be descriptive: "Be thorough in your description. In addition to sharing basic information, include common words and associations people might use to find it. For example, instead of just saying 'TV stand', include other descriptors like 'entertainment center' and 'media console'." — Diana Blinkhorn, The Gray Ruby Diaries motherhood blog

      Photos are key: "Take multiple quality photos, and make sure you have good lighting. A plain white or light background works best for me. If you're selling clothes, hang the item up and make sure it's pressed." — Olivia White, House of White motherhood and lifestyle blog


      Don't be afraid to ask for a deal:
      "Don't be afraid to ask if the price is negotiable. As long as you're respectful, and your price is reasonable, most people will accept lower offers." — Oscar Bravo, interior designer at

      Join buy and sell groups: "Join buy and sell groups in your area to get even more items specific to your interests, and to interact with other people in your neighborhood." — Kate Mundo, Kate Mundo lifestyle blog

      View public profiles and mutual friends: "In addition to looking at the item details, check out the seller's public Facebook profile. You never know, you may even have friends in common!" — Kate Nixon Anania, author of Twenties in Your Pocket: A twenty-something's Guide to Money Management

      Use filters for a faster search: "Once you know what you're looking for, you can filter results by price and how close items are to you. If something is too far, you can offer to pay extra in exchange for delivery." — Darrell Humphrey, DIY Dad Online blog

      Source: Facebook

      Published with permission from RISMedia.