Real Estate News


    • 5 Easy Ways to Spruce Up Your Home's Exterior

      17 May 2021

      Whether you’re selling your home or just looking to make some simple updates, curb appeal matters. Thankfully, updating your home’s exterior doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. From following a smart maintenance routine to adding a splash of personality, you can spruce up your home’s exterior in no time. 

      Maintain Your Lawn
      Your front lawn is a focal point to your home, making it one of the most important spaces to maintain for your home. If your grass is overgrown or your trees and shrubs are dead, a first impression of your home may not be a good one. Mow your lawn, trim your trees and bushes, rake or blow leaves out of your yard and remember to sweep any walkway, porch or front steps you may have leading to your front door. 

      Add Flower Pots and Window Boxes
      In addition to a clean lawn, florals play an important role in the look of your home’s exterior. Maybe you don’t have the best luck with gardens, or there just isn’t enough space. Adding flower pots to your steps or porch is a great way to add a pop of color to your doorstep. Window boxes are another great option if you don’t have space for a garden or potted plants. Even hanging plants in your exterior entryway will liven up the look.

      Paint Your Front Door
      Florals don’t have to be the only pop of color you add to your home’s exterior. Painting your front door in a bright, vivid color is a great and modern way to spruce up your home. Consider the color of your home and the aesthetic you want to present when choosing this color. If you are part of an HOA, be sure to refer to the regulations and guidelines.

      Clean Your Windows
      Of course, this is something every homeowner should do when maintaining their home. However, the outside of the windows are often overlooked. Cleaning the outside of your windows will not only boost the curb appeal from outside, but allow brighter, natural light to enter the interior of your home, which is great for daily life as well as showing your home for sale. Use a microfiber towel with dish soap and water for the best and clearest results. 

      Add a Seating Area
      Whether your porch or yard is large or small, having a small space where people can relax and enjoy the outdoors is an easy and cost-effective way to heighten curb appeal. Chairs, benches and even a small table add an inviting touch to your home. Be smart when choosing your outdoor furniture regarding size, color and plans for placement and spacing. 

      Boosting your curb appeal doesn’t have to be hard or costly. A little bit of time, care and minimal spending is all it takes to take your home’s exterior from drab and dreary to bright and lovely. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Family-Friendly Ideas for Summer Fun

      17 May 2021

      (Family Features) Warm, sunny days are the perfect setting for making family memories, but they’re also ideal opportunities to encourage kids to get creative and let their imaginations soar.

      These ideas for summertime activities encourage family interaction, and the more kids get to help plan and organize the details, the more engaged you can expect them to be.

      Visit Your Local Park 
      Pack all the kids’ favorite snacks and beverages to keep cool and hydrated. Choose your spot under a big shady tree and spread out for an impromptu picnic. Be sure to bring along outdoor toys for a game of catch or lighten the load and create a nature scavenger hunt with different types of leaves, rocks and flowers for kids to discover. If they come across an unfamiliar plant or animal, snap a picture with your phone so you can do some research on it when you get home. Encourage the kids to draw or design a piece of art reflecting the things they saw.

      Create Watercolor Paintings 
      Away from the school setting, kids sometimes have fewer opportunities to practice expressing their ideas and getting creative. Fun tools can make an artistic session more exciting, so look for unique methods like blending Zebra Pen Mildliner Brush Pens with water and a paint brush to create fun, pastel watercolor paintings with minimal mess. The pens are conveniently double-ended with a paint brush-like tip on one end and fine marker tip on the other so you can precisely draw a design then create softer swirls of color using water and a brush.

      Water Sponge Challenge
      Cool off with a fun and refreshing water fight with a few creative twists. First grab sponges, or water sponge balls, and a full bucket of water. The sponges are reusable so you can use them all summer long. Make it extra fun by organizing teams with kids against adults or everyone fending for themselves. Encourage kids to devise their own blockades and targets or adapt a classic game like baseball or dodgeball using water sponges in place of the usual balls. You could also do a sponge scavenger hunt to load up everyone’s buckets before the dousing begins.

      Find the Animals
      Visit your local Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoo or aquarium and have your kids find as many animals as they can from the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction species list. It’s a good opportunity to talk about the concept of extinction and why these animals are on the list. Follow up the visit with an activity that reinforces how everyone has a role in conservation and look for ways to help protect each family member’s favorite animal.

      Make Oven S’mores 
      On a rainy night (or any night) make a s’more by putting it in the oven. They turn out just as melty and gooey as the campfire version but with easier prep and cleanup. This is a tasty way to get those creative juices flowing. Experiment with different candies, such as peanut butter cups in place of chocolate bars. Or add different ingredients and have other family members guess the flavors.
      Find more ideas for creative inspiration this summer at zebrapen.com/art-studio/creative-tips.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Reasons You Should Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

      17 May 2021

      If you’re just starting out with the home-buying process, you may want to get a mortgage pre-approval. This is a statement from a lender that informs you of a certain amount you are qualified to borrow, as well as a specific pre-approved interest rate. Not only will this help you, but to sellers and agents as well. Here are four real reasons why you should get a mortgage pre-approval before you start your home search. 

      Understand Your Realistic Budget
      Arguably the most important factor when buying a home will be the cost. It is important to know not only the cost of a home, but the cost of agent fees, repairs, inspections and more. With a mortgage pre-approval, you can set educated limits and budgets to be sure that any home you may be interested in will be one you can afford.

      Become a More Attractive Buyer
      For sellers, especially in a sellers market, finding a buyer with a mortgage pre-approval is an advantage. Buyers with pre-approvals are at a lower risk of falling through on the purchase due to lack of financing. If you put an offer in on a home with a pre-approval, and another buyer without pre-approval also puts in an offer, you will be more likely to be approved and move forward through this part of the process. 

      Find Room to Negotiate
      Because a pre-approval makes you more attractive to sellers, you may also be awarded some flexibility in terms of negotiations. When a seller is sure a buyer has been qualified for the cost of their offer, they may be more likely to make financial compromises, such as closing costs, repairs and improvements, if it means the sale is guaranteed. 

      Speed Up the Closing Process
      During the process of closing, mortgage approval plays a part in time delays. With a mortgage pre-approval already done and financing secured, you are able to jump into the following steps, such as appraisal and inspections. If a seller wants to close quickly, something almost every buyer can hope for, having your finances pre-approved will be beneficial to both parties involved.

      Research lenders you’d like to work with. Compare rates and terms to determine which lender is right for you and will help you find the right home. Avoid any major financial changes, such as opening a new credit card or applying for another loan, between applying and receiving your pre-approval. Don’t rely on the number you receive, as it is only an estimate. Be conscientious and talk to your real estate agent and financial advisors for further advice, information and guidance throughout this process. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Home Features That Blend Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

      14 May 2021

      It’s quite common for luxury homebuyers to look for a property that has just the right balance between luxury and natural beauty. Perhaps that’s why homes that thoughtfully blend indoor and outdoor living spaces are often in high demand. If you’re looking for a property that offers exactly this, here are a few features that can deliver the best of both worlds.  

      Retractable Glass Walls
      You can remove the barrier (literally) between the interior and exterior of your home with a retractable glass wall. This sleek, modern feature is ideal for anyone who wants to open up their living space to a fresh breeze and create a seamless connection to the terrace or backyard, while also enjoying an abundance of natural light and unobstructed views even when the glass wall is closed.

      Outdoor Kitchens
      Who said you have to spend hours inside to prepare a wholesome family dinner? Outdoor kitchens have fast become a favorite amenity for homeowners who want all of the high-end appliances found in traditional cooking space but in an al fresco setting. After all, no one wants to go inside to cook when the sun is shining and the kids are playing in the pool.

      Solariums
      A solarium, also known as a conservatory, is a room that’s entirely enclosed by glass walls and ceilings. It’s just about as close as you can get to going outside without actually leaving the house and, on a bluebird winter day, the sun can naturally heat a solarium right up to a comfortable temperature. This feature is particularly desirable for those who want to grow houseplants and trees that require ample sunshine year-round.

      Covered Outdoor Space
      Whether it’s a loggia, veranda or a screened-in porch, a covered outdoor area offers plenty of unique advantages. For starters, you can decorate with luxurious furniture without having to worry about damage from rain or sunshine. Additionally, it offers just the right amount of shelter from the elements, so you can enjoy being outside regardless of the weather.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • What to Know When Choosing a Hospital

      14 May 2021

      (Family Features) When Judie Burrows, an adventurous, retired teacher, broke her hip during a bicycle accident, her family trusted the doctors and the hospital. They were not worried about a routine hip surgery.

      “I didn’t realize at the time that we should have worried, even though this was a routine procedure,” said her son, Steve Burrows. “We thought all hospitals were basically the same.”

      Burrows, who produced the award-winning HBO documentary “Bleed Out” recounting his mother’s story, points to an option like the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade as how his family might have compared hospital safety.

      Five months later, with her first hip surgery failing, Judie Burrows fell and broke her hip again and spent eight days in the hospital in excruciating pain with no plan of care. She had a second hip surgery, despite the doctor knowing she was still on three different prescription blood thinners, and lost half the blood in her body.
      After surgery, Judie Burrows slipped into a coma. For a day and a half, no one noticed.

      “When my mother emerged from her coma after two weeks, her cognitive abilities were equal to that of an 8-year-old,” Steve Burrows said. “She survived, but lost her fierce independence, her home and all her life savings, which were used to pay for the injuries she suffered.”

      One easy way to judge local hospitals 
      “At first, I thought my family was just unlucky,” Steve Burrows said. “However, after the release of our HBO documentary, ‘Bleed Out,’ I received thousands of messages from people across the country who recounted their own stories of loss and suffering related to medical errors.”

      Research confirms the problem is significant. A study in “The BMJ” found upward of 250,000 people in the United States die of preventable medical errors each year, equal to more than 600 people per day.
      To assist people like the Burrows family, nonprofit watchdog organization The Leapfrog Group grades hospitals with an A, B, C, D or F based on measures that protect patients from preventable errors, injuries and infections.
      The grades look at up to 27 measures of hospital safety, like infection rates, surgical errors and standards for intensive care unit (ICU) physician staffing.

      ‘Shopping’ for care is crucial
      “Health care is too important not to shop for it,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group.
      Binder suggests a safety-first research strategy that begins with the Hospital Safety Grade, the only resource entirely devoted to errors, injuries and infections, followed by research from other sources into the quality of the surgery or treatment a patient needs.

      The hospital grades are free to the public, updated twice a year, independently assessed, peer-reviewed and fully transparent. People can search for hospitals in any region of the United States.

      Judie Burrows passed away last year after enduring more than a decade of health struggles following her first hip surgery. The hospital and doctors never claimed any responsibility for the emotional and financial costs.
      “Do not be afraid to shop like your life depends on it,” Steve Burrows said. “It does depend on it. My family found out the hard way.”

      Look up grades for your local hospitals at HospitalSafetyGrade.org.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.