Real Estate News

    • How to Help Home-Bound Teenagers Cope

      31 March 2020

      Stay-at-home restrictions are challenging for everyone, especially teenagers.

      In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, teens - who would normally just be starting to enjoy life as independent beings in the world - are suddenly back under the purview of mom and dad. To make matters worse, many teens have had something extremely important to them suddenly ripped away: a lead in the school play, a varsity spot on the team, prom, graduation, a part-time job, etc. On top of that, their all-important social life is now off limits as well.

      What’s a parent to do? While nothing will come close to replacing the life your teenager had been living, here are a few strategies to help your teen cope:

      Make sure they’re informed. Teens are masters of disguising their true feelings, so don’t misread their cool demeanor as apathy. They might be getting the bulk of their information through social media, which is not always accurate and may be causing undue alarm. Be sure to calmly keep them apprised of the developments surrounding the coronavirus, explaining why the restrictions are important. Don’t withhold information out of fear of worrying them. Listen to a trusted news source together so that the information is coming directly from the experts, not their “overreacting” parents.

      Give them a social outlet. It’s critical that your teenager is still able to connect with friends during this time. Encourage social distancing activities they can do with a friend, such as hiking, running or biking. Let them take the car to a nearby scenic spot and hang out side-by-side with a friend in another car. Give them privacy to use the family computer to host a Zoom “meeting” or Google hangout with multiple friends. At all costs, make sure your wifi is up to snuff so that your teens can easily text, use social media and Facetime to stay connected.

      Help them earn money. Your teenager may be depressed about losing a job, but you can easily come up with some jobs around the house for your teen to take on to earn some money. Have them help you with some small tasks related to your job while you’re working from home, or a project that will get them outside, such as spring yard clean-up. While the financial incentive is a big plus, the real benefit is getting their minds focused on something other than the situation at hand.

      Keep student athletes in shape. While staying active is essential for all teens in this situation, it’s particularly important for your student athlete who is used to a rigorous work-out schedule, and could respond negatively to suddenly being sedentary. Check in with coaches to see if they’ve put a work-out schedule in place or are perhaps hosting online group workouts. Remind your athlete that keeping their fitness level up is essential so that they can return to sports without missing a beat.

      Embrace family time. While the hectic pace of life before the pandemic might have made you and your teenager ships that pass in the night, you’ve now got lots of time together, so make the most of it. Eat meals together, binge watch a series together, play cards, get the old photo albums out, etc. The idea is to make sure your teenager doesn’t stay holed up all day in his or her room. So make some interactive time mandatory.  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Retain Your Home's Value

      31 March 2020

      If you plan to sell your home in the future, you want to earn a profit...or at least get back what you paid for it. A house can depreciate, or lose value, for a variety of reasons. Some are beyond your control, but you can take steps in other areas to help your home retain its value.

      A home's proximity to an undesirable site can lower property values. For example, buyers may not be interested in a house near a highway, train station, airport, large sports arena or performing arts venue because of concerns about noise and traffic. Buyers might also be wary of a house located near a factory or landfill because of concerns about pollution and unpleasant smells. People generally prefer homes that are located relatively close to schools, stores, restaurants and parks.

      Local Issues
      A house can lose value because of a struggling economy, several properties in foreclosure in a small area, crime, underperforming schools or troublesome neighbors. You can't do much on your own to fix a troubled economy, but you and other residents can band together to lower crime rates by starting a neighborhood watch and installing security cameras. Get involved with other parents at local schools and offer suggestions and assistance to improve the quality of education children receive. If a neighbor throws loud parties or does not take care of home maintenance and landscaping, have a polite but direct conversation. Emphasize how creating a more pleasant neighborhood can help all homeowners retain their property values. 

      Maintenance and Curb Appeal
      Prospective buyers want a house that has been well maintained. Any serious problems, such as a leaking roof, a damp basement, drafty windows or mold, should be addressed before you put your home on the market. Most buyers would pass on a house in need of substantial work. You might be able to find a buyer willing to make the repairs, but you would not get as much money as you would if you were to take care of the problems yourself first.

      The house should be aesthetically appealing. Trim the grass, prune the trees and plant a garden. Painting the house or replacing the siding can give potential buyers a positive first impression. Even painting the front door can boost your home's curb appeal.

      Find the Right Home and Work to Retain Its Value
      If you have not yet bought a house and want to choose one that is not likely to depreciate substantially, consider the pros and cons of the neighborhood. You can't predict what the area might be like years from now, but if there are any obvious red flags today, you would be better off looking elsewhere.

      Houses can depreciate over time for many reasons. In some cases, there is nothing you can do, but if you can take steps to retain your home's value, you should. Maintain your house and yard and help create a neighborhood of which everyone can be proud.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Ways to Avoid Declaring Bankruptcy

      31 March 2020

      If you're burdened by debt, the stress of having bills you can't pay and receiving calls from creditors can be overwhelming. You might even be considering declaring bankruptcy. Before you take such a drastic step that could significantly lower your credit score and limit your future financial options, look for other solutions.

      Earn More Money
      If possible, increase your income. If you have been at your job long enough and your boss is pleased with your performance, ask for a raise. If that's not possible, volunteer for projects that could put you in line for a promotion. If you work part-time, look for a full-time job or a second part-time one. Use your skills to earn extra money by freelancing or teaching others, or find odd jobs to generate additional income.

      Reduce Expenditures
      Look for ways to cut costs. If you live in an expensive apartment, look for a cheaper place, find a roommate or consider moving in with family or friends. Before you ask your loved ones for help, be honest about your circumstances, your ability to contribute to living expenses and how long you might need to stay with them.

      You can also save money by cutting back on things like entertainment, eating out and clothing. If you spend a lot of money to commute to your job, ask if you can work from home, or consider public transportation.

      Negotiate Repayment Terms
      If you have explored these options and you're still struggling to pay your bills, talk to your creditors. They would rather get some money than have your debts be discharged in bankruptcy court. Your creditors might be willing to lower your interest rates and allow you to make smaller payments over a longer period of time. A credit counseling company can help you negotiate with your creditors if you have not had success working with them directly.

      Sell Property or Borrow Money
      Another option is to sell some of your belongings to earn money quickly. Turn jewelry, clothing, accessories, electronics or even a vehicle into cash by selling them online or holding a yard sale.

      If you're in dire straits, you can borrow money from family or friends. Before you ask others for a loan, think about their financial situation. Your loved ones might feel obligated to help you, but it wouldn't be fair to ask them for help if it means that they wouldn't be able to pay their own rent or mortgage or feed their own families. If someone is willing and able to loan you money, agree to a plan with specific repayment terms and stick to it. If you don't, it could cause irreparable harm to your relationship.

      Explore All Options
      If you're buried in debt, you might feel that bankruptcy is the only option, but there are other solutions to explore first. With hard work and a combination of strategies, you can fight your way out of debt.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets

      30 March 2020

      The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in any household. It's where meals are cooked and families eat, and also a place to play fun games or just talk.

      The foodie craze is changing the way we eat and the way we cook. Amateur chefs get ideas from cooking shows and then visit farmers markets to find the best possible ingredients for the delicious meals they put together. And homebuyers want the perfect kitchen where they can make their culinary creations. While a complete revamp of your kitchen isn't necessarily practical, one easy step is to clear out the cabinets and pantry.

      Organize Your Pots and Pans. You should dedicate a cabinet or two to your pots and pans, and start the process by emptying out the cabinets and dusting them. Then, put the cookware back, neatly and organized. Place covers on pots and arrange them by size. This is also a good opportunity to get rid of items you no longer use and to designate a cabinet for special cooking items like slow cookers, bread makers, food processors, blenders, etc.

      Dishes and Glasses. If your cabinets are overrun with dishes, bowls, cups and glasses, clear out some clutter. Set aside older things you no longer use and, if possible, donate them to a local soup kitchen or senior center. Keep whatever you'll need to use while selling your home and place everything back neatly. Try not to leave any cabinets completely empty, but rather, send the message to buyers that your kitchen has enough room for all their cooking supplies.

      In the Pantry. This is commonly a space that has a lot of potential for improved organization. Go through your pantry and toss ingredients and packages with expiration dates that have passed or that you don't expect to use. Then clear everything else out, clean the shelves of crumbs and spilled foods, and replace things neatly. Put canned goods like soups, sauces and vegetables together, and cereal boxes on one level with boxed goods on another level.

      Under the Sink. Here's a space that can get unorganized and messy very easily. Clear everything out and clean this space thoroughly. This is where people commonly keep cleaning ingredients, dishwasher detergent, sponges and cleaning supplies. Get rid of items you don't use (be sure to dispose of cleaners in an environmentally safe way) and replace them in an organized manner.

      Organizing the storage areas in your kitchen will improve your home's visual appeal while allowing potential buyers to imagine themselves preparing delicious meals in the space.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • These Games Will Help Lighten the Mood at Home

      30 March 2020

      Following stay-at-home restrictions can be taxing on many levels, from learning how to work remotely to keeping the kids engaged in online schoolwork. Add in concerns about your personal health and the well-being of your loved ones, and it’s easy to see why you and your family may be feeling stressed. For a quick antidote that will get everyone away from the TV, try a fun, engaging game, such as:

      Charades. This is a great choice because it requires no equipment whatsoever, and can be played either indoors or in the backyard, weather permitting. You can also tailor charades - from simple to complex - to make it suitable for all age groups in your home. 

      Scavenger hunt. A game that challenges your mind and gets you up and moving, a scavenger hunt can take place throughout the various rooms of your home as well as in your outdoor space. Clues can range from simple, hand-drawn pictures for the preschool crowd all the way to cryptic ciphers for the adults among you. Don’t forget to make the prize enticing enough to keep players on the hunt.

      Hearts. One of the world’s classic card games, hearts is enjoyable for the entire family - and easy to learn for beginners. Gather everyone around the dining room table and the hours will start flying by.

      Jenga. For those who want to challenge both their manual and mental dexterity, Jenga is a great way to get your mind off of things as it requires calm and focus. It’s also perfect for taking a break from business or school work in the middle of the day - just challenge your nearest family member to a quick match or two. 

      Pictionary. Nothing elicits laughter quite like the valiant artistic attempts people make while playing Pictionary. This game is the perfect choice for letting loose and getting loud - just remember not to take it too seriously. Put the focus on having fun, not winning!  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.