Consumer Real Estate News

  • Plan Ahead for Peak Travel Seasons

    28 February 2020

    (Family Features) A family getaway is the perfect chance to unwind and reconnect with loved ones away from the distractions of daily life. However, peak travel times like Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekend are some of the busiest times of the year, which can mean limited options.

    Booking travel early not only gives you more time to get excited leading up to your trip – it gives you more time to plan, helping take some of the stress out of family vacation. 

    “The key is to book vacation homes before traffic peaks, so you’ll find the best selection for the amount you want to pay,” said Melanie Fish, Vrbo family travel expert. “There are clear times when demand surges. Booking your stay before that surge ensures you’ll get that house with a pool right on the beach or that mountain cabin with enough beds for all the cousins.”

    If you’re considering one of these high travel periods for a family trip in 2020, get ahead of the curve with these tips for advance booking dates from the travel experts at Vrbo. 

    Memorial Day
    Marking the beginning of summer, Memorial Day is an ideal time for a beach getaway. Two of the top destinations are on the shores of Alabama alongside Santa Rosa Beach in Florida’s Emerald Coast. Make travel plans by mid-April so you can soak up the sunshine and get away from it all to celebrate the long weekend.

    Summer
    Summer is the ultimate time to take a family beach vacation, and for the best selection you’ll want to make reservations before the end of April, especially if you’re considering a vacation home. Staying in a vacation home can take the stress out of a family summer vacation, particularly as extra space means extra bedrooms for the adults to relax after the kids go to bed. Top destinations with many vacation homes to choose from include Panama City Beach, Florida; Gulf Shores, Alabama; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

    Fourth of July
    Fourth of July falls on a Friday this year, which means families from coast to coast will be enjoying a long weekend together, whether it’s the immediate clan or extended relatives, too. Be sure to make travel arrangements by late May for the best selection and rates. The Florida and Alabama coasts are popular choices for a mid-summer getaway.

    Labor Day
    Often considered the final hurrah of summer, Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to kick back and relax. A vacation home at the lake or beach can allow you to take advantage of amenities like outdoor grills so you can enjoy one last sun-kissed meal with the family. Make plans by the end of July, especially if you’re considering a popular destination like Myrtle Beach.

    Find more travel tips and start planning your family getaway at vrbo.com.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 4 To-Dos Before You Sell

    28 February 2020

    The weather’s better in a neighboring state.

    It would be nice to be closer to the grandkids.

    Those are a lot of stairs to walk up.


    Whatever the reason, the idea of selling is beginning to have some appeal—but you might not be quite ready to start packing or see a "For Sale" sign in your yard.

    If that sums up the way you’re feeling, you are not alone. Over 6 percent of Americans between 55 and 64 move every year, according to the Over-50 Council of the National Association of Home Builders.

    But even if you’re not quite ready to make the leap, there are things you could do while you are still in the thinking stage.

    Get rid of the guilt. A feeling that they are the keepers of family heirlooms is the top reason seniors hesitate to move. So, this is the time to get rid of that guilt by transferring as many of those heirlooms as possible to the people who will inherit them anyway. Ridding yourself of emotional tie-downs will make it easier to make a more sensible decision about moving.

    Get rid of clutter. Now it’s time to clear out the clutter—dust-catching knickknacks, old draperies and area rugs, any furniture you don’t need. Go through every room and make a list broken down into three categories: keep, toss and donate. It may be difficult at first, but try to fall into a rhythm. At the very least, if you decide to stay, your home will be easier to navigate. If you decide to move, your streamlined rooms will be more attractive to buyers.

    Do it again in 30 days. Once you are accustomed to the new look of your home, go through it again. Chances are it will be a lot easier to decide what to keep, toss or donate.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Top 7 Most Profitable Home Features

    28 February 2020

    Improving your home before you sell it can seem like wasting money. After all, if you’re not going to live there much longer, why remodel or add features you won’t get to use much?

    Because, as any real estate professional will tell you, the upgrades can help you recoup the cost and more in a higher selling price for your home. Without some updates, home sellers may realize their home is not worth as much as they thought.

    Here are some of the features that increase the resale value of a home:

    1. Laundry Room
    Starting at $1,000, adding a laundry room to a home helps clean out other rooms where clothes may be stacked and can keep the living space tidier.

    The basement is the easiest place to put a laundry room. Another option is to add a laundry closet that fits a washer and dryer and some shelves.

    2. Energy Efficient Items
    Energy Star-qualified windows and appliances can be good selling points for buyers looking to save on their utility bills.

    A water-efficient washing machine can cost anywhere from $500 – $1,800, while a dishwasher that senses how dirty the dishes are so that less water is used costs about $225 – $1,600.

    3. Ceiling Fan
    For as little as $50, a ceiling fan can lower cooling costs when used with an air conditioner. After chilling a room, a ceiling fan can keep the room cool and allow the thermostat to be raised a few degrees.

    4. Patio
    For about $950, you can add a 120-square-foot concrete patio. This feature can be very appealing to buyers and can make a backyard look much more inviting. Add a table and some patio furniture, and buyers can envision themselves sitting outside with friends at a party.

    5. Hardwood Floors
    Since they are easy to maintain and have a clean look, hardwood floors are gaining ground in popularity. If refinished periodically, hardwood floors can last a lifetime, compared to about 10 years for carpet.

    6. Garage Storage
    Storage space always seems to be lacking in homes, especially for growing families. Add some storage to a garage to keep clutter out of a home’s living areas and you’ve essentially created a bonus space.

    Storage in a garage can include cabinets, shelves, rows of boxes, and improved lighting and extra electrical outlets.

    7. Exterior Lighting
    Light fixtures are relatively inexpensive, and illuminating the outside of your home doesn’t have to be a Disneyland-at-night event. At the very least, put spotlights on walkways and the driveway so that nighttime visitors won’t stumble to your door in the dark.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 5 Overlooked Places to Clean

    27 February 2020

    Regardless of how much time you spend cleaning, there are likely to be a few places you overlook. Below are five frequently missed spaces that may need a little elbow grease.

    Baseboards. While cleaning, look down. The baseboards running along the floor may likely need a little TLC, as they commonly pick up dust and debris throughout the year. Give them a scrub at least twice annually.

    Doors. When is the last time you washed the surface of your doors? How about the door jams? Doors get a ton of traffic, especially to high-use places like the bathroom. Give them a wash at least twice a year to remove fingerprints, dust and grime.

    Behind Appliances. Pull out the fridge and stove and take a look at what's lurking back there. In addition to dust, you could find food scraps that attract critters, and even missing cooking accoutrement.

    Stairs. Look closely at your staircases and you will likely find a thick layer of dust in the crevices and cracks. Give them a sweep or a vacuum to keep them in top shape.

    Cabinet Interiors. At least once a year, empty everything out of your cabinets and give them a wipe down. This will remove dust, mildew, cobwebs and any critters that may have moved in. Bonus: with everything out of the cabinets, you now have the ideal opportunity to reorganize! Win!

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Some Over-the-Air TV Frequencies are Changing

    27 February 2020

    (Family Features) If you rely on a rooftop or indoor antenna for your TV viewing, changes that may affect your local channels are happening.

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making more airwaves available for new high-speed wireless services and, as a result, some over-the-air TV broadcast frequencies will change.

    “Some TV stations across the nation are changing frequencies to help make airwaves available to meet ever-growing consumer demand for high-speed mobile broadband services such as 5G,” said Jean Kiddoo, FCC incentive auction task force chair. “The channel numbers on the TV are not changing, but viewers who use a rooftop or indoor antenna need to rescan their televisions to continue receiving those channels. The process is the same as when viewers first connected their TVs to the antennas and scanned them to find local channels, and the FCC has resources to help viewers who may need assistance.”

    Viewers who watch TV with antennas need to rescan their TVs, but don’t need to buy new TVs or purchase converter boxes. Cable and satellite subscribers are not affected by these changes.
    The frequency changes are happening on a rolling basis through July 2020, so not all changes will happen at the same time. TV stations will give you at least 30 days’ notice that their channels are changing frequency. You should be on the lookout for announcements by your local channels on when to rescan, and if you notice a channel you normally watch is missing, try rescanning in case you missed the notice.

    For more information and tips on how to rescan, visit fcc.gov/TVrescan or call 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322).

    Common Transition Questions:

    How will I know it’s time to rescan?
    Some local TV channels will change frequencies at various times through mid-2020. Your local TV stations will announce their specific “rescan days” on which you will need to rescan. You should be on the lookout for public service announcements and “crawls” running across your TV screen. Broadcasters will provide at least 30 days’ notice that their channel is changing frequency.

    A good rule of thumb is to rescan your TV anytime you notice a missing channel. If you haven’t rescanned in a while, you may be surprised by how many other channels are now available.

    Who will be affected by the transition?
    People who watch television with an antenna will be affected. Millions of consumers across the country watch free, over-the-air TV using an antenna. Cable and satellite subscribers will not need to take any action.

    Will channel numbers change?
    No, the channel numbers you see on your TV are not changing, but you will need to rescan your television to update it to find the new frequencies so you can continue receiving those same local channels.

    How can I find out which TV stations are changing frequencies?
    The FCC website has an interactive map where you can insert your zip code to see which of your local TV channels will be changing and the dates during which you should be watching for the station to announce its “rescan day.” To access the map, visit fcc.gov/media/engineering/dtvmaps. 

    Why are frequencies changing?
    The frequency changes are making more airwaves available to meet the demand of American consumers and businesses for increased mobile broadband capacity, new 5G wireless and other advanced high-speed mobile services currently being developed.

    How can I find more information?
    For more information and tips on how to rescan, visit fcc.gov/TVrescan or call 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322) and choose option No. 6.

    How to Rescan Your TV
    Rescanning your TV to receive the new frequencies is the same process you used to find your local channels when you first set up your TV.

    To rescan, look in your TV remote control’s “menu” for “channel scan,” “program,” “rescan,” “auto tune” or “auto search” in the “setup” or “channel” function.

    Even without these frequency changes, it is typically a good idea to periodically rescan your TV to update the channels you receive since local stations sometimes add new “sub-channels” to their programming. While some TVs do this automatically, you may need to select “scan” or “auto-tune” from the TV menu to start the scanning process.

    If you have difficulty, consult your TV owner’s manual or call the manufacturer’s customer service line for more detailed instructions on how to run a channel scan to find local TV channels. If you need to contact customer service, you can find that information in your TV owner’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website.

    Once the rescan is complete, you should receive all available digital TV channels through your antenna. Except in rare circumstances, no new equipment or services are required.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.