Today's Top Real Estate News

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Top Signs You Need to Replace Your Water Heater

November 24, 2020
Water heaters are a household appliance that many homeowners don’t think about until it’s too late. This is a mistake, because like many vital home features, your water heater’s life and effectiveness are directly related to how actively you perform basic maintenance. Unfortunately, there will always be a reason to replace your water heater entirely. Here’s what to look out for so you don’t find yourself wading through a leak.

Your Water Heater is Too Old
Most water heaters last between eight to 12 years depending on the manufacturer, type and how well they have been cared for. Check on the front of your water heater to find its rating plate; this will reveal important information. The serial number contains the year the water heater was manufactured and the model number will tell your water heater’s size. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, you should start thinking about a replacement.

Strange Noises
If you hear a hissing or sizzling noise coming from your water heater, you likely have sediment build-up that must be addressed. If you haven’t maintained your water heater properly, the sediment could have caused damage by slowly overheating the bottom of your tank.

Leaks are the most obvious sign that your water heater is past its prime, but it is still worth mentioning. It might be tempting to ignore a small leak, but this is highly unsafe. It’s vital that you replace your water heater immediately upon discovering a leak. Since leaks are likely the result of pressure built up in your tank, neglecting a leak can lead to a tank explosion. 

Rusty Brown Water
If your water supply suddenly looks murky, rusty or brown, you could be facing a problem with your water heater. This problem could mean one of two things: the anode rod within your tank is rusted or your tank is facing corrosion and is itself beginning to rust. You’ll need to replace a corroded tank as soon as possible.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Top DIY Outdoor Projects You Need to Know

November 24, 2020
Keeping your home looking its best can require learning a lot of new skills. If you want to boost your curb appeal without breaking the bank, here are the top DIY outdoor projects you should know.

Reseeding the Lawn
You don’t want to go through the expense of installing sod simply because your lawn became slightly patchy. Instead, learn how to grow grass that will make the whole neighborhood envious. The grass truly is greener on your side.

Building a Raised Garden Bed
Whether you’re hoping to create a prized vegetable patch or simply want to grow your favorite blooms, there’s no better way to create structure for your curb appeal than a few raised beds in your yard. Select the wood, stone or brick of your choice and get to work to create a cohesive feel.

Build a Window Box
You don’t have to be a master builder to ensure that this simple project turns out well. Give the exterior of your home a facelift with a few well-placed window boxes and some vibrant flowers. This easy project is sure to make your home look great for years to come.

Make a Trellis
A garden trellis is a must-have for any plants that need to climb. They add needed structural support for those plants and also give your outdoor space visual interest in the form of additional height. Go simple and make a garden trellis of wood and lattice or shoot for a more elaborate mixed-medium trellis.

Power Wash Your Driveway
A good power wash can do wonders for the appearance of your home. Power washing your home’s siding or your driveway can take years off the look of your exterior. Removing dirt and grime can be just as visually impactful as a new coat of paint, for far less cost.

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Helping Your Child Connect With Nature

November 24, 2020
Amid growing environmental concerns at a time when group activity is curtailed, encouraging your child to bond with nature can achieve two important goals, researchers say.

According to a recent study by North Carolina State University, solitary outings and shared outings with parents help children to not just understand and enjoy nature, but to build respect and personal concern for preserving natural resources. 

Preschoolers on a walk outside can identify flower colors, inspect insects, and collect and trace fallen leaves.
Older children can benefit from picnics in the park or in a wilderness area. They can do a soil test, create a wildlife habitat, learn to identify trees and shrubs and research their contributions to the environment.

Hiking, fishing, skiing, surfing and other outdoor sports are far more than a source of fun, researchers note. They boost physical health and emotional well-being and, especially when paired with parental questions and input, they inspire in children of all ages a connection to and an interest in nature and the environment.

Now, with screens taking up more of your child’s time than ever, health experts agree that it’s critical for parents to provide opportunities for outdoor activity and nature study.

Set up a treasure hunt - Make a short list of things for younger kids to look for outside, such as a smooth rock, something green or something that grows on a bush.

Schedule sidewalk activity - Skating, bicycling, skateboarding or scooter-riding are great ways to keep kids moving.

Plan a camping trip - Spend hours or days in a mountain or seashore environment. Talk about the difference between pets and wild animals. Talk about how things grow, about keeping the environment safe and about how tides work.

Try photography - Older kids can use a phone, but even young children can use a simple camera to photograph things in nature. Talk about the plants, animals or seashells they captured. Frame a few of their best photos and put the rest in scrapbooks. 

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How to Make a City Home More Tranquil

November 23, 2020
While there’s plenty to love about urban life, it’s no secret that it can be a grind. The noise, the traffic and the general energy can leave us yearning for a little peace and quiet at the end of the day. If you want to come home to a more relaxing environment, here are several ways to create your own urban oasis. 

Reduce Noise Pollution
If you live close to the street level, noise pollution can be a major cause of disruption, as anyone who’s had the unfortunate experience of being awoken by a car alarm at three in the morning can attest to. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the amount of noise that gets into your home, and windows that have a high sound transmission class rating are perhaps the most effective method. Additionally, extra insulation and proper window treatments can help to dampen the sounds of the street.

Air Purification & Ventilation
When the air in your apartment is feeling kind of stuffy, the first thing you want to do is open the window, right? Of course, that’s just going to let all the noise pollution in, or worse, air pollution. For this reason, it might be worth installing a ventilation system to pump fresh air into your home, as well as a purifier to remove any airborne contaminants. Improved air quality can make all the difference and leave you feeling like you’ve escaped the city each time you get home. 

Plenty of Plants
If there’s one thing that the city can deprive us of, it’s green spaces. While you might not be able to totally immerse yourself in nature, you can still fill your living space with houseplants and indoor trees. There are plenty of studies to suggest that being surrounded by nature can help to promote relaxation, which is reason enough to bring some greenery into your home. Plus, it can also help to absorb sound, which is an added benefit.

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Five Tips for a Hassle-Free Moving Day

November 23, 2020
Moving vans are criss-crossing the nation in great numbers these days, as consumers take advantage of historically low mortgage rates to upgrade their living space and grab their piece of the American Dream.

The New York Times reported recently that moving companies are so busy, they are turning people away, and in most areas of the country, movers need to be booked way in advance of your moving day.

But the big day will arrive sooner than you think and you’ll want it to go as smoothly as possible. Moving professionals offer five tips for ensuring that it does:

List last-minute chores. You’ve spent weeks sorting, packing and preparing for your move, but certain tasks cannot be accomplished in advance, like emptying and/or cleaning out the fridge and freezer, getting kids or pets to scheduled sitters, or taking out the last of the trash. Making a list will make it easier for you to check off last-minute needs.

Prepare a go-bag. Pack a box or suitcase with stuff you’ll need on moving day or the day after, as well as documents and valuables you don’t want to load onto the moving truck, such as phone chargers, toiletries, medications and an extra set of clothes for each family member. For a long journey, you may also want to fill a small cooler with water and healthy snacks or pre-made sandwiches.

Leave out basic cleaning supplies. You’ve likely done a thorough house cleaning by now, but once the furniture and packed cartons are gone, you may see dirty areas you didn’t notice earlier. Keep rags or paper towels and a few basic cleansers handy for tackling dust bunnies behind the now-gone sofa, or grime where the fridge once stood.

Do one last walk-through. Anything left behind may be difficult to retrieve later, so open all kitchen and bathroom drawers and cabinets, bedroom closets, coat closets and any other built-in areas where items may have escaped notice. 

Have some cash on hand. While a credit card can cover unexpected stops for lunch or other purchases, you may want to have cash to tip your professional movers. Such tips are not mandatory, but if they’ve done a good job, consider tipping $20 per helper.

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Eat and Drink Smart to Fend Off Cold and Flu Season

November 23, 2020
(Family Features) It’s no secret that a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies can deliver important vitamins and nutrients for better health, but many of your favorite foods can actually help support your immune system, too.

In addition to precautions like avoiding people who are sick and washing your hands often, you can influence your immune system through what you eat and drink.

Stay hydrated. Keeping well hydrated can be difficult during the winter months, especially if you spend most of your time indoors. A warm drink like this flavorful Orange Spiced Tea provides a strong dose of vitamin C along with a delicious dose of hydration.

Keep the produce going strong. Fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies often come to mind during warmer months, but produce like citrus, leafy greens and root vegetables are plentiful during cold and flu season, too. 

“Consuming the whole fruit is the best way to ensure you gain the maximum nutritional benefit,” Dr. Poonam Desai said. “When speaking with patients, I recommend seeking nutrients like vitamin C from whole food sources, rather than supplements, especially with a vitamin C-rich fruit like California oranges.”

Get a natural boost of vitamins. Vitamins A and C, found in fresh citrus, are two key nutrients that support your body’s natural line of defense, your immune system. Just one orange offers 90% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, and California Navel oranges are in their peak season – just in time for the height of cold and flu season. 

Get inspired with more ideas to boost your immune system with essential vitamins and nutrients at

5 Ways to Get More Vitamin C
Pick heavy fruit.
When shopping for citrus, choose fruit that smells fresh and feels heavy for its size. The heavier the orange, the juicer it’s likely to be.  

Explore versatility. Fresh citrus like California Navel oranges make a nutritious addition to sweet and savory dishes, beverages, cocktails, sauces and more. 

Use the whole fruit. Reduce food waste by consuming the flesh, juice, zest and peel. Try squeezing juice and grating zest into a smoothie, using orange segments for a vibrant salad or combining diced Navels with red onion, cilantro and jalapenos for a zesty salsa. 

Retain vitamin C content. Vitamin C is water soluble, so to retain as much as possible, eat citrus fresh, avoid overcooking and use minimal amounts of water. 

Refrigerate for longer shelf life. Keep your citrus fresh longer by storing it in the refrigerator at a temperature below 42 F. To get the most juice out of the orange, bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Orange Spiced Tea
Recipe courtesy of California Citrus Growers
Bring water and cinnamon to boil; let cinnamon dissolve. Remove from heat and add tea bags; soak at least 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.  

In a separate pan, bring orange juice, sugar and lemon juice to boil. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Pour juice mixture into spiced tea.

Garnish with an orange slice and serve hot.

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How to Reduce the Amount of Cholesterol in Your Diet

November 20, 2020
Cholesterol is a waxy substance located in cells throughout your body that helps with the production of hormones and vitamin D, and aids in digestion. Your body produces enough cholesterol to support these functions, but you can also consume cholesterol in food.

If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances to form plaque, causing your arteries to become narrow or completely blocked. If plaque in an artery ruptures, a blood clot can form and block blood flow. This may result in oxygen-rich blood not being carried throughout the body as necessary and may lead to heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke.

Types of Cholesterol
Lipoproteins are made up of fat and protein. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries cholesterol to the liver, which removes it from the body. HDL is often referred to as “good” cholesterol. 

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can cause plaque to build up in arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. LDL is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. 

Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) can also cause plaque buildup in the arteries. VLDL mostly transports triglycerides, whereas LDL carries cholesterol.

How Your Diet and Lifestyle Can Affect Your Cholesterol Levels
An unhealthy diet filled with foods that contain saturated and trans fats can lead to high levels of LDL cholesterol. Trans fat can also lower your HDL level. Red meat, full-fat dairy products and deep-fried, baked and processed foods often contain high levels of saturated fat. Some processed and fried foods also contain high amounts of trans fat. Nutritional labels may refer to trans fat as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.”

Focus on reducing your consumption of foods that contain saturated and trans fats and eating more foods with healthy fats, such as lean meat and nuts. Use unsaturated oils, such as olive, canola and safflower, for cooking. 

Foods that contain soluble fiber and plant stanols or sterols prevent the absorption of cholesterol. Include more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains in your diet. 

Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, will not reduce your level of LDL cholesterol. They may, however, increase your level of HDL cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing blood clots and inflammation, as well as the risk of having a heart attack.

Lack of exercise can reduce your level of HDL cholesterol. Smoking can lower your HDL cholesterol and increase your level of LDL cholesterol. Your age, weight and genetics can also affect cholesterol levels.

Talk to Your Physician
If the results of a blood test have revealed that your LDL cholesterol is at a high level, discuss ways to address it with your doctor. He or she may recommend modifying your diet and activity level, or taking other steps. Seek professional guidance before making any dramatic changes to your eating habits or lifestyle.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Pros and Cons of a 40-Year Mortgage

November 20, 2020
Most mortgages have a term of 15 or 30 years. However, if you want to buy a more expensive house than you could afford with one of those loan options, you might be able to purchase your dream home with a 40-year mortgage. You could have a hard time finding such a loan, though, and you would pay more over the term of the mortgage.

How Does a 40-Year Mortgage Work?
There are several variations on the 40-year home loan. Lenders may offer one or more versions. Most have a fixed interest rate, but some have an adjustable rate. The interest rate for a 40-year mortgage is often higher than it is for a 30-year loan. Some 40-year mortgages have interest-only payments for the first several years, while others have low monthly payments and a balloon payment due at the end.

Costs and Equity With a 40-Year Mortgage 
Since a 40-year mortgage spreads out the cost of a loan over a longer period of time than a traditional mortgage, it has lower monthly payments. That could make a 40-year mortgage a good option if you want to keep your monthly payments as low as possible or if you want to buy a more expensive home.

You will pay more in interest with a 40-year mortgage because it will have a higher interest rate and you will be paying interest over a greater number of months. You can also build equity more slowly with a 40-year loan. If you decide to sell your house before you pay off the mortgage, you might have little equity, even after living there for several years.

Is a 40-Year Mortgage Right for You?
If you are considering a 40-year mortgage because you want to buy an expensive house and you can’t afford the monthly payments for a 30-year loan, you may be better off purchasing a less expensive house and taking out a smaller mortgage with a shorter term. If, on the other hand, you want to buy a house in an area where average home prices are high overall, a 40-year mortgage might be a better option.

Be sure to carefully consider the terms of each specific loan. For instance, if you take out a 40-year mortgage with a balloon payment and you’re  unable to pay the large sum, you could lose your home. 

How to Find a 40-Year Mortgage
A qualified mortgage meets standards that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has set to make sure that borrowers are only approved for home loans that they can afford to repay. A qualified mortgage may not have a term longer than 30 years. 

A 40-year mortgage is an unqualified loan. Many lenders consider unqualified mortgages riskier than qualified mortgages and do not offer them. You may be able to find a 40-year mortgage through a small private lender or a credit union. Before you take out a 40-year mortgage, check the lender’s background to ensure it is reputable.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Get Ready to Gift: Holiday Presents for Every Person (and Pet) on Your Holiday List

November 20, 2020
(Family Features) With a variety of personalities and interests likely on your holiday shopping list, finding the perfect gift for everyone can be a daunting task. Rather than spending countless hours browsing online or walking up and down store aisles, consider this array of gift ideas that can put you on the path toward successful shopping during a holiday season sure to be unlike any before it.

With more people spending time at home, gifts that can keep the house clean, showcase team spirit or provide a simple way to pass the time can be hits. Of course, you can also ship a tasty meal directly to a loved one’s door or give that four-legged family member an extra special treat.

Find more holiday gift-giving inspiration at

A Tasteful Holiday Gift
Give the gift of flavor this holiday season with a full spread of Omaha Steaks favorites in one collection. Loaded with double-trimmed, famously fork-tender Butcher’s Cut filet mignons, tender and crispy bacon-wrapped filet mignons, flavor-packed burgers, classic boneless pork chops, juicy boneless chicken breasts, gourmet jumbo franks, all-beef meatballs, a savory side and dessert, it’s a memorable and delicious gift everyone can enjoy. Find more flavorful holiday gift ideas at

The No. 1 Gift Pick
Give the sports fan in your life an authentic piece of collectible memorabilia to showcase his or her team spirit, such as this Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl LIV MVP Dynasty Banner from Winning Streak Sports – The #1 Premium Licensed Product in Sports. Created to commemorate some of the greatest teams, schools and players, these limited-edition high stich count banners, which are available framed or unframed, are made from 100% wool blend felt with iron-safe backing and include a hanging cord for easy display. Find more upscale, gift-worthy sports memorabilia at

A Riveting Read
Provide the bookworm in your life with a true thriller like “Pilate’s Cross” by J. Alexander Greenwood, a murder mystery based on a true story. A sleepy college town in the middle of nowhere is just the fresh start John Pilate needs, but he didn’t count on uncovering a deadly conspiracy. In over his head, Pilate risks it all to get to the truth in this tale exploding with action, crisp dialogue and quirky twists. Visit to find the book.

Countdown to the Holidays with Your Pet
Add more happiness to your pet’s holiday season with an option like this Merry & Bright Holiday Deck The Howls with Cookies Advent Calendar Dog Treat, which is available at PetSmart. Your dog has been good all year, so don’t forget to include him or her in the holiday countdown with an advent calendar of his or her own. Find more holiday gift ideas for your pets at

Give the Gift of Time
Gifting your family a vacuum-and-mop-in-one like the DEEBOT T8 allows you to enjoy the holidays and leave the cleaning to the robot. It provides hands-free cleaning and removes 99.26% of bacteria with its patented OZMO Mopping System. With no pre-cleaning needed and a runtime of more than three hours, it also detects obstacles with accuracy to avoid collisions and getting stuck. Learn more at

Published with permission from RISMedia.

How to Make Sure Your Home Is Safe When Your Baby Is Learning to Walk

November 19, 2020
Though watching your baby learn to walk is very exciting, it can also be nerve wracking. If your little one has taken his or her first steps, or will soon, it is time to childproof your home. Go through the house room by room, identify any potential sources of injuries and address them. 

Eliminate Tripping Hazards
Get rid of anything that might cause your baby to trip and fall, such as throw rugs. Remove other obstacles and clutter and create clear pathways so your baby can get around without tripping.

Secure Anything That Could Fall
Toddlers often use furniture to pull themselves up to a standing position. Make sure dressers and bookcases are anchored to the walls so they can’t come crashing down and injure your baby. Remove any objects from the tops of tables so your baby doesn’t accidentally pull them down. Place any breakable objects and plants out of their reach.

Discourage Climbing
After your baby has learned how to walk, he or she may soon figure out how to climb. If your house has stairs, your toddler will want to climb them. Set up baby gates at the top and bottom, but still keep a close eye on your little one, since toddlers often try to climb gates.

Secure Windows and Doors
Window screens are not strong enough to prevent a fall. If your house has upstairs windows, install window guards and move any furniture away from windows so your baby can’t climb up on it.

Keep doors that lead to the yard or garage locked. You can also use childproof door knob covers to keep your toddler in the house and out of certain rooms.

Lock Down the Kitchen and Bathrooms
Install safety latches on the refrigerator and oven doors, cabinets and drawers, and use guards on the stove and oven knobs. Put small kitchen and bathroom appliances in cabinets or on shelves instead of leaving them on counters. Install a safety lock on the toilet. Make sure any hazardous substances, such as cleaning supplies, shampoo and medications, are stored in places where your baby cannot reach them. 

Protect Your Toddler From Other Dangers
Remove furniture with sharp corners or put padding on the corners to protect your baby from injuries in the event of a fall. Block radiators, heaters and fireplaces with screens or baby gates, or block off the rooms where they are located all together. Use outlet covers or furniture to block electrical outlets. Scour your house for choking hazards and remove potentially dangerous objects.

Look at Your Home Through Your Baby’s Eyes
A toddler’s newfound mobility will bring the urge to explore. Get on your hands and knees and look at your home from the perspective of your baby. Never underestimate the curiosity and determination of a toddler. Look for all the ways that he or she could potentially get injured and eliminate risks as much as possible. 

Published with permission from RISMedia.