Consumer Real Estate News

    • Which Fall Chores Should You Tackle First?

      11 October 2019

      Running down your list of fall chores? Rebecca Edwards at reminds homeowners across much of the mid to northern regions of the country that now is the time to get your yard ready for winter. According to Edwards, the right preparation now will save you time and energy when spring rolls around, and will keep you and your family safe in the yard year-round. 

      To make sure you get the most out of your yard next year, here's a sampling from Edwards' checklist 'MUST-DOs' this fall:

      Dry everything out. Edwards says drain all water from hoses, fountains, and drip irrigation systems, and store them in a dry place. Water left standing over the winter may damage your equipment.

      Aerate. Break up soil to keep water from pooling and guarantee that nutrients will reach the roots over the winter. Edwards says a garden fork will do the job for small yards, but larger yards may require a walk-behind aerator, which should be available to rent for a reasonable price.

      Rake and mulch. If left unattended Edwards says fallen leaves can suffocate grass. So she says rake them up, shred them, or use a lawn mower to mulch leaves, and use that mulch for young trees, shrubs and flower beds.

      Protect the deck. Edwards says prevent the growth of mold and mildew by giving your decks a good power wash. Once the deck is clean and dry, add a weatherproofing stain to protect the wood from moisture damage over the winter.

      Clean and store tools. Don’t throw your gardening tools in the shed and forget about them until spring. Edwards says take time to give them a good cleaning and add a light coat of oil to prevent rust.

      Edwards says if you follow her complete checklist, you’re bound to have a wonderfully winterized yard that will be ready to wow with lush green-ness once warm weather returns.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Ways to Treat and Trick Your Pet this Fall

      11 October 2019

      (Family Features)--The autumn season offers plenty of reasons to celebrate: nostalgic flavors, pretty leaves and a seasonal wardrobe change. Fall also typically features event calendars full of festivals, trips to pumpkin patches and hikes to take in the crisp air.

      While taking advantage of all the season has to offer, there are also ways to incorporate your furry friend into your favorite fall activities. Consider these tips for making the most out of the season.

      Get Cozy with Your Pet
      If the sound of a good book when the weather cools piques your interest, try making a day of it. You may not be basking in the sun, but a cup of warm cider or a pumpkin-spiced drink can help you appreciate the feeling of fall. Bring your pets in on the relaxation by helping them get cozy, too. Find extra blankets and open windows to let them observe any squirrels or neighbors that might pass by. Your pups or cats can enjoy snuggling, sleeping or watching the leaves fall while you're fixed on your book.

      Celebrate Festive Fall Flavors
      Pick up a fall-themed cookbook or browse the web for ideas to put you in a festive autumn mood. Your pet's nose may perk up from the scents coming from your stovetop, so include him or her in the fun with pet-friendly, fall-flavored treats. For example, GREENIES Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Flavor Dental Treats for dogs and TEMPTATIONS Holiday Dinner Turkey and Sweet Potato Flavor treats for cats are two options to keep your furry family members seasonally satisfied.

      Take Up a New Hobby
      With cooler temperatures most likely ushering you indoors, consider taking up a new hobby, such as crafting or learning new skills in the kitchen. You could also use the time to bond with your pet. Try teaching him or her new tricks by using favorite fall treats as positive reinforcements.

      Explore the Outdoors
      A fun way to trick yourself (and your pup) into stretching your legs is by going on an outdoor adventure. With leaves changing and many regions boasting pumpkin patches, apple orchards and hiking trails, there are nearly countless opportunities to spend quality time with your pup while enjoying the cozy fall weather.

      Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Preparing Your Furnace For Winter

      11 October 2019

      With winter well on its way, homeowners who rely on their furnace for heat should take precautionary measures to make sure everything is working as it should.

      "You want to take care of your furnace the same way you take care of your car,"  says Joseph Giannone, owner of Giannone Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. "It's an investment, and neglecting proper maintenance and upkeep can lead to very costly repairs. It's critical to be proactive instead of reactive. Furnaces tend to break down more frequently on the first day below freezing, but preventative maintenance and early attention to developing issues can help lower the chances of an untimely failure."

      Below are Giannone's top furnace prep tips:

      Ensure the furnace flue is clear. Be sure to clear any debris and obstructions from the furnace flue. For gas units, the flue is a pipe that releases the byproducts of combustion, like carbon monoxide. By clearing this, the furnace will vent properly, reducing its workload and safely removing noxious fumes.

      Check around windows and doors for air leaks. According to, heating and cooling a home or business equates to approximately 40 percent of total annual utilities’ costs. Much of that can be wasted if air is escaping from the home. Use a simple match test to check for leaks around windows and doors. If the flame flickers, new weather stripping or caulking may be needed.

      Replace the filter. Replacing the filter is recommended every 60 to 90 days. A new filter will reduce the workload on the furnace, making it more cost effective during the peak season. If pets are kept in the home, replace the filter every 30 days to remove excess hair and dander.

      Inspect the ductwork. Air escaping from ducts is another cause for inefficient heating and unnecessary strain on the system. Look for obvious tears, damaged joints or duct tape. Another match test performed near the ducts can help find potential leaks. Fix them if possible or contact a service professional for duct inspection and cleaning.

      Schedule an annual tune-up. Tune-ups increase the performance of furnaces, and they can also help identify potential issues developing with the unit. The enhanced efficiency and identification of any serious problems will result in lower monthly heating bills, and avoiding major repair expenses during the coldest days of winter. Documented proof of regular, annual maintenance may also be required by the furnace's manufacturer for the warranty to remain in effect.

      "A lot of basic maintenance is quick and simple, like ensuring your thermostat has fresh batteries for the season," says Giannone. "Taking some easy DIY action now and scheduling a tune-up sooner than later are the two best steps homeowners can take to ensure they'll have heat throughout the fall and winter."


      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Homeowner's Insurance: What is Umbrella Coverage?

      10 October 2019

      If you're a homeowner, you likely already have homeower's insurance. But do you have umbrella coverage, or fully understand what this coverage means? Any homeowner - or homeowner-to-be - should have a little background on this all-encompassing security blanket.

      Paul K. Improta, CPIA, AAI, LUTCF of Underwriters, Inc. points out that in the event of someone getting injured on your property, your basic liability insurance may help, but may not cover all the resulting costs. For this type of comprehensive protection from a potential financial storm, umbrella insurance could be the right product to consider. Umbrella insurance, as Improta explains it, is a form of liability insurance designed to provide an all-encompassing level of protection. 

      So, basically, this coverage picks up where other forms of liability insurance leave off. The nonprofit Insurance Information Institute ( offers these important points about typical umbrella policies:

      - An umbrella policy will kick in when you reach the limit on underlying liability coverage in a homeowners, renters, condo or auto policy. 

      - Besides protecting you if someone is injured on your property, the III says umbrella coverage will cover you if you are sued for libel and slander.

      - The III says there are certain limits that typically must be met to qualify for this coverage. 

      - Most insurers will want you to have about $250,000 of liability insurance on an auto policy and $300,000 on your homeowners policy before selling you an umbrella liability policy for $1 million of additional coverage.

      - The III says for about $150 to $300 per year you can buy a $1 million personal umbrella liability policy, the next million will cost about $75, and $50 for every million after that.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Tire Tips to Prepare for Winter

      10 October 2019

      (Family Features)--Among the many daily necessities that tend to take a backseat during the cold days of winter, driving is one of a handful directly affected by the weather. From slick roads caused by ice and snow to cold temperatures that can wreak havoc on certain parts of vehicles, even a simple commute to work or school may become a more treacherous activity.

      While staying home is the only surefire way to avoid the pitfalls brought on by winter's chill, there are precautions you can take and ways you can enhance the safety and performance of your vehicle before hitting the road. Perhaps the most productive way to protect yourself and your family is to make sure your tires are in a safe condition heading into winter. Consider these tips from the experts at Discount Tire to help ensure you're winter ready.

      Check Your Tread. Tread depth plays an important role in determining your vehicle's safe stopping distance. A tire with low tread, for example, would likely lead to a vehicle with a shorter stopping distance than a tire with proper tread depth. Checking your own tread depth is relatively simple: Stick a penny upside-down in one of the grooves, and if President Lincoln's entire head is visible, it's time to replace your tires.

      Ensure Proper Tire Pressure. The air inside your tires supports the weight of your car, and as outdoor temperatures drop, so does your tire pressure. In fact, for every 10-degree drop in ambient temperature, your tires lose about 1 pound of pressure. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle so you can always make sure each tire is filled to the manufacturer's recommended inflation level (typically located in the instruction manual and on the inside of the driver-side door), or stop by a tire store, such as your local Discount Tire, for a free air check.

      Rotate Tires Often. Standard recommendation is that tires should be rotated every 6,000 miles, or earlier if irregular or uneven wear develops. One easy way to remember is to have your tires rotated every other time you have your oil changed.

      Invest in Winter Tires. At 45°F ambient temperature, you can begin to see your breath; this same temperature is when all-season tires can start to lose traction and grip, which is why winter tires are encouraged for cold-weather driving. As an essential safety feature, winter tires can deliver a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires, which could be the margin you need to brake in time to avoid trouble.

      Because they're designed to maintain better traction and gripping capabilities in colder conditions, winter tires provide more control than all-season tires in situations involving snow, ice and low temperatures. For example, in extreme cold, the tread rubber of an all-season or summer tire can stiffen and become less able to provide sufficient traction. In contrast, tread rubber compounds of winter tires are designed to remain flexible, allowing the tire to better grip the road with thousands of extra traction edges. Plus, the softer rubber of the tire surface allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain contact with the road.

      Source: Discount Tire

      Published with permission from RISMedia.