Consumer Real Estate News

    • Kid-Friendly Recipes for At-Home Learning

      24 September 2020

      (Family Features) During a school year that’s sure to be a new experience for students and parents alike, many of the everyday necessities, like eating breakfast and lunch, remain. However, this year, many little learners will be enjoying their lunches from the comfort and safety of home rather than at school, meaning moms and dads are back in charge of keeping the kitchen running throughout the day. 

      According to a survey conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Sabra, 74 percent of caregivers expect this school year to be more chaotic than ever and 64percent of moms and dads complain they are dreading becoming the “lunch lady” at home. 

      You can improve those school day blues with quick, kid-friendly recipes that refuel children for their educational explorations. By providing a steady stream of balanced meals and snacks made with wholesome ingredients, you can feel good about boosting your at-home students’ learning capabilities even during these tricky times. 
      In the morning, try starting with this Chocolate Banana Cinnamon Toast recipe from Tabitha Brown, the actress and vegan foodie known as “America's Mom.” Sliced banana powers this breakfast with the rich, decadent taste of Sabra Dark Chocolate Dessert Dip & Spread to thrill chocolate lovers for a combination of flavors kids love.

      For a lunchtime solution with easy prep and quick cleanup, a Hummus Flatbread Pizza takes just 10-15 minutes to make. Made with easy-to-find ingredients you can keep on-hand like pizza sauce and hummus, simply top with sweet favorites like pineapple for a fun boost for long days of learning.   

      To find more at-home recipe inspiration, visit 

      Hummus Flatbread Pizza
      Recipe courtesy of Tabitha Brown
      Prep time: 10-15 minutes
      Yield: 1 flatbread

      • 4 teaspoons pizza sauce 
      • 1 rectangular flatbread
      • 3 tablespoons Sabra Classic Hummus
      • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
      • 1/3 cup pineapple tidbits or fresh pineapple pieces
      • strawberries
      • chopped romaine lettuce
      • English cucumber slices
      • Preheat the oven to 500 F.
      Brush pizza sauce to edges of flatbread. Swirl to spread hummus to edges of flatbread. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder over flatbread. If using canned pineapple tidbits, drain and pat dry with a paper towel. Add pineapple tidbits to flatbread and sprinkle with remaining garlic powder. 

      Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until flatbread is light golden brown.

      Cool and cut flatbread. Serve with strawberries and mix chopped romaine lettuce and English cucumber slices for simple salad.

      Chocolate Banana Cinnamon Toast
      Recipe courtesy of Tabitha Brown
      Prep time: 10-15 minutes
      Yield: 2 pieces toast
      • 2 slices cinnamon raisin bread
      • 3 tablespoons Sabra Dark Chocolate Dessert Dip & Spread
      • 6 banana slices, plus additional for serving (optional)
      • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon powder
      • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
      • fresh strawberries (optional)
      • powdered sugar
      • Toast bread to desired doneness.
      Using a spoon, swirl to spread 1 1/2 tablespoons chocolate spread on each slice of toast.

      Add banana slices to one slice of toast and sprinkle with cinnamon.

      Top with a second slice of toast.

      Slice in half diagonally. Add to the plate with extra sliced banana and fresh strawberries, if desired. Drizzle toast with maple syrup and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • When Refinancing Your Mortgage Might Be a Bad Idea

      24 September 2020

      Refinancing your mortgage could help you lock in a lower interest rate, reduce your monthly payments, pay off your loan early or access equity to make home repairs or pay other bills. Despite all these potential benefits, refinancing isn’t the right choice for everyone.

      Would You Get Approved for a New Loan?
      If you submit a mortgage refinance application, the lender will consider your credit. If your credit scores are low, you might not qualify for a competitive interest rate. You would be better off focusing on paying bills on time and lowering your credit card balances to boost your scores before trying to refinance your mortgage. Even bumping your credit scores up by a handful of points might put you in a tier that would make you eligible for a lower interest rate.

      A lender will also consider the amount of equity you have in your home. You might have trouble qualifying for a conventional refinance if you have less than 20 percent equity, although you could be eligible to refinance through a government program. Tapping into your home equity could be risky. If you couldn’t afford the loan payments, you might lose your house.

      Would You Save Money?
      If you can’t afford to pay for closing costs, refinancing might not be a smart move. Even if you could roll them into the loan balance, that would reduce your equity and increase your monthly payments.

      Think about how long you plan to stay in your home. Refinancing might give you lower monthly payments, but it could take several years to break even. You can find the break-even point by dividing the closing costs by the amount you would save each month. That will tell you the number of months you would have to stay in the house after refinancing to recoup the closing costs. If you expect to move before then, refinancing wouldn’t benefit you financially.

      Sometimes a refinance lowers monthly payments by extending the term of the loan. In the early years of a mortgage, most of the payments go toward interest. If you refinanced and extended your loan term, the monthly payments for your new loan would also go primarily toward interest at the beginning. That means you could pay interest twice on the bulk of your principal.

      Some mortgages have a prepayment penalty or a charge that applies if the borrower pays off the loan early or refinances. Rules enacted in 2014 limited the circumstances in which lenders could charge prepayment penalties, but they don’t apply to mortgages that were issued before then. If your loan has a prepayment penalty, figure out how much you would owe and whether refinancing would be worthwhile.

      Consider All the Financial Ramifications
      Refinancing can be a way to save a significant amount of money on a home loan, but it doesn’t work out that way for everyone, since many individual factors come into play. Talk to a mortgage professional to decide what’s right for you.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Organize Books in Your Apartment

      24 September 2020

      Renting doesn’t always leave much room for personalization. And when you’re a bibliophile, it can be hard to organize your large collection when you can’t build out bookshelves or are limited on space. But don’t fret, book lovers, there are ways to display your literary assortment in a creative and organized fashion. Here’s a few ideas…

      Line Your Windowsill
      Utilize the space you’ve been given by lining up your collection in front of your window. Use plants or other decorative items as bookends to give your presentation more style. Add some photos around your display for even more personalization. 

      Create a Headboard Library
      If reading in bed is your way to relax before slumber, displaying your collection in arms reach is the perfect solution. Build your own headboard with shelves and cubbies that will easily fill up with your favorite reads. Add a coaster for your cup of tea to add another layer of comfort.

      Build a Makeshift Library
      Bring back the elegance of an old-fashioned study with bookshelves you can assemble on your own or with a friend. Whether in a cozy corner or across an entire wall, show off your collection of novels with a classic and timeless look. Add this display to your home office to create a studious and intelligent space. 

      Make Use of Extra Space
      Take a look around your apartment to find unused and open spaces. A shelf above your cabinets, the lid of your toilet or any sort of built-in nooks are perfect spots for stacks of books. Even dress up your coffee table in your living room or your end tables in the bedroom with a set of visually appealing hardcovers.   

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Tips for Designing the Car Enthusiast's Dream Garage

      23 September 2020

      If you’re the type who enjoys collecting luxury automobiles, then chances are you spend a fair amount of time in the garage. Of course, extraordinary cars shouldn’t be kept in ordinary garages. A high-end space to park your fleet will help keep it in pristine condition and ensure you have everything you need when it’s time to do some work under the hood. Here are a few features that every car enthusiast will appreciate in their home garage. 

      Cooling and Heating
      Anyone who spends long hours in their garage knows that a heating and cooling system is essential. In addition to keeping you comfortable when doing work, you’ll also never have to wait for the car to heat up or cool down before heading out. Plus, freezing temperatures can damage your car battery. Radiant heat is another popular upgrade for luxury garages and it works great under porcelain floors, which are an ideal surface.

      Wash and Wax Area
      If you’re the type who regularly hand washes and waxes your cars, then you’ll want to have a designated station for doing so in your garage. A water source and proper drain system are essential for this and will allow you to keep your prized collection looking brand new without having to clean them in the driveway when it’s too hot or cold outside. 

      Hydraulic Lift
      Of course, if you’re going to be doing work on your vehicle’s undercarriage, then you may want to consider installing a professional-grade hydraulic lift. Sure, it will set you back a bit, but if cars are your passion then it’s absolutely worth it. After all, fitness fanatics have exercise rooms and cooks have gourmet kitchens, so what’s the difference?

      Kitchenette & Bathroom
      It’s no secret that garage work can get messy and you probably don’t want to run back into the house to use the bathroom or grab a snack. That’s why a bathroom and kitchenette are perfect additions to any garage that you plan to use for more than simply parking your cars. Lastly, you’ll also want to have ample cabinets and storage space for keeping your tools organized and easy to locate.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • The Right Way to Load Your Dishwasher

      23 September 2020

      As for home appliances, your dishwasher is one of the most hard working and utilized. When the cycle is finished, it’s nice to see your dishes, glasses and silverware sparkling clean. But in some cases, when the time comes to empty, residue is stuck and you’re left wondering how a plate, glass or pan is still dirty after an entire wash cycle.

      This can happen simply because the dishes weren't properly loaded. Here, you’ll find a guide to loading your dishwasher the right way to ensure the best clean. 

      Top Rack
      Designed for your smaller items, the top rack is perfect for glasses and cups, bowls and plastic containers. To ensure that plastics don’t get warped, keeping them on the top rack, away from direct heat is the safest bet. Don’t over fill, as it can cause dishes to break or limit the water and detergent from thoroughly washing. 

      Bottom Rack
      Larger items, like plates, serving bowls, pots and pans and cutting boards belong on the bottom rack of your dishwasher. Just make sure that the item isn’t too tall, as it can block water and detergent as well as cause the center spray arms to stop rotating. Remember to remove as much residue as you can before loading, especially on pots and pans. 

      Silverware Basket
      Most dishwashers have utensil baskets, however some have a rack above the top rack to lay down silverware. For baskets, place forks and spoons handle-side down, exposing the top where it’s mostly dirty. Knives should be placed handle-side up to avoid injury when unloading.

      Other Tips
      For larger utensils, like cutting knives or wooden spoons, it’s smart to lay them down on the top rack. In some dishwashers, they can catch the center spray arms and stop movement, disturbing the cycle for the rest of the load. 

      When loading bowls or large spoons, be sure to load them face down to avoid catching large pools of water. Also, always start with the bottom rack. If there is any residual water on items from the top rack, pulling it out first will spill water onto the dishes below.   

      Published with permission from RISMedia.