Consumer Real Estate News

    • Smart Home Technology You Can Easily Integrate Into Your Home

      3 April 2020

      Smart home technology is advancing beyond telling your phone or internet-enabled device to play music and look up sports scores.

      Smart thermostats, lightbulbs, plugs, locks and doorbells are available to homeowners, and the list of things technology can connect to within a home is growing every year.

      Here are some smart devices you may want to consider integrating into your home:

      With a variety of options to choose from, one of the most popular smart thermostats among today's homeowners is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is owned by Google.

      The Nest thermostat uses an algorithm to adapt to your preferences, as well as when you leave and arrive home. When you're away at work, it uses your phone's location to determine that you've left and enters eco mode to save money and energy, reducing bills by up to 15 percent, according to the company.

      The Sengled Smart LED Floodlight is an inexpensive way to monitor your home as a motion sensor, while providing light without having to turn the light switch on and off.

      Unlike some motion detector lights that require installing new fixtures and possibly wiring, the Sengled Smart LED bulb connects to existing fixtures. Built-in motion and daylight sensors turn the light on automatically for 90 seconds when motion is detected within 30 feet. The light can also be controlled through voice control on Alexa or Google Assistant.

      With the Sengled app, you can even receive mobile notifications when motion is sensed.

      Smart Lock
      The August Smart Lock Pro + Connect attaches to the existing deadbolt and features keyless access. With your phone in your pocket, you can open the door without fumbling for your keys. It automatically locks the door behind you after you leave.

      The lock can also be voice activated through Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

      Smart Doorbell
      Want to see who's ringing the doorbell? With continuous streaming and video recording, the Nest Hello gives you a 160-degree view and visitor detection alerts. It also has a speaker and microphone so that you can communicate with visitors knocking on your front door whether you're inside the house—or away from home.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Seven Top Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy

      3 April 2020

      No one can predict when a health crisis will arise, but there are steps every family can take in any environment to ensure they remain healthy enough to ward off illness.

      From the Center for Disease Control (CDC), health experts, and university researchers, here are seven proven tips for raising healthy families:

      Make nutrition a family affair. A well-balanced diet combined with regular exercise is the basis for good health. Even young children can be encouraged to ‘eat the rainbow’ of fruits and veggies along with whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and fat-free sources of calcium. Involve everyone in learning about nutrition, planning and preparing healthy meals – and commit to drinking lots of water and steering clear of sugary drinks.

      Get enough exercise. Kids who spend a little time outdoors each day typically get enough exercise, but adults should make time for at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Whether it’s walking, bicycling, dancing, swimming, or participating in sports – even gardening counts! – a little daily exercise can pay big health dividends.

      Help avoid injury. Wear seatbelts and bike helmets, use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at home, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, and be street smart when walking alone. 

      Create no-phone zones and times. Designate times during the day – like at the dinner table or during homework time - when no technology is allowed. A 10-minute break from devices just before bedtime can help ease the way toward sleep.

      Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep is one of the best promoters of physical and mental health. It reduces inflammation and helps reduce the risk of infectious diseases. Aim for a minimum of eight to nine hours for children, and seven to eight hours for adults.

      Plan some family time. Family vacations can be fun, but just spending a few hours of regular time together is a great way to increase communication. Whether it’s over a game board, at the zoo, or volunteering together at the local food bank, meaningful family time can contribute to overall health.

      Avoid smoking and keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Smoking harms every major organ in the body, and second-hand smoke can severely impact children. If you drink, keep your intake to within accepted guidelines – up to one glass per day for women and two per day for women, according to the CDC.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Stay Social While Practicing Social Distancing

      2 April 2020

      It can be incredibly isolating to be stuck at home while practicing social distancing. And that's become the new reality for many Americans. But being at home doesn't have to mean you're alone. There are many ways you can be social and connected while staying inside your home. Here are some tips:

      Use social media. Everyone is a lot more active on social media right now because it gives people the opportunity to feel connected even if they're in isolation. Use social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat to stay in touch with everyone. You can have conversations through Facebook groups, view videos and content that your friends and colleagues have shared, and share pictures of cute animals because that makes everyone feel a little bit better.

      Get on the phone. I know, no one talks on the phone anymore, right? This is the perfect time to change that. Have long phone conversations with friends and family to check up on them and update each other even while you're separated from each other.

      Try video conferencing. You can talk to your family, friends and colleagues as if they were in the same room with you. Just hop on a video call and have a conversation like you normally would. Being able to see someone's facial expressions along with hearing their voice will help you really feel connected.

      Attend virtual events. You can find practically any kind of event in virtual form online. Even breweries are participating in the new trend. And there are concerts being streamed so you can rock out with thousands of others online. Find something you're interested in and join a virtual gathering that applies.

      This is a great opportunity to connect with people all around the world. Find online groups and communities that you can relate to and join in on the fun! And if you're still feeling disconnected, just remember we're all going through this together and so none of us are really alone.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Adding a Dog to the Family? Here Are Some Expenses to Consider

      2 April 2020

      Getting a dog can be one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do. Seeing your cute pet's tail wag when you get home from a long day at work can be a heartwarming experience that makes the responsibilities of dog ownership worthwhile.

      But don't forget those responsibilities, including financial ones, when determining whether now is the right time to bring a dog into the mix. New owners can expect to pay $1,400-$2,000 in the first year of having a puppy, and $14,500 over their dog's lifetime, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA.

      Here are some costs to consider, according to the ASPCA:

      Don't underestimate the cost of feeding your dog. Premium brand dry dog food for large dogs costs an average of $400 per year. Taking care to not overfeed your pet will lower the food cost a little and will also help prevent them from becoming overweight and having higher medical bills down the road.

      Boarding and Walking Services
      Unless you have a kind friend or neighbor that is willing to watch your dog for free when you go on vacation and is able to walk him/her while you're at work, you may need to pay for pet sitters and dog walkers throughout your dog's lifetime.

      A 30-minute dog walk on Wag, a nationwide dog walking service, costs about $20. Boarding on Rover, a network of pet sitters, costs $25-$35 per night, up to $75 in some areas.

      Puppies need a round of immunizations in their first year, and regular boosters every few years afterward. Vaccinations can cost about $100, though you may be able to get them for free (or a lot cheaper) at vaccination clinics offered at pet stores.

      Medical Care
      Going to the vet can be expensive, with recurring medical care costing anywhere from $210 annually for a small dog to $235 for a medium-sized dog and $260 for a large dog, according to the ASPCA. While emergency care expenses aren't included in the ASPCA data, they can often cost pet owners upwards of thousands of dollars.

      To prepare for emergencies, begin saving for this expense as soon as you've decided to get a dog, and buy pet health insurance as a way to defray the costs of expensive medical treatment that may be necessary along the way. Pet health insurance costs about $225 per year, with most plans reimbursing 80 percent of eligible expenses after the annual deductible is met.

      Dental Care
      A related medical cost is professional teeth cleaning, which costs $200-$300. While annual cleanings are generally recommended by vets, brushing your dog's teeth at home with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste may help save some money in this area.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Help Your Child Cope With Allergies

      2 April 2020

      Allergies can make life uncomfortable or nearly unbearable. Kids with allergies may not understand why their bodies respond to things in ways that other bodies don't. They may feel different from their siblings and peers, and may struggle with feelings of embarrassment and isolation.

      Talk to the Doctor and to Your Child
      If you suspect that your child has allergies, schedule an appointment with a doctor. Once you have confirmed that your child has allergies and know what triggers reactions, you can make any necessary changes.

      Explain to your child in age-appropriate terms what allergies are, what he or she is allergic to, and how to avoid reactions. Your child will feel less anxiety and will be more willing to accept medication and diet and lifestyle changes if you explain what is going on and why those measures are necessary.

      How to Deal With Allergies
      If your child needs to take medication, discuss the benefits, how it should be taken and how often. If your child needs to take medicine at school, talk to the school nurse and teacher so your child can be excused from class when necessary.

      If your child has to avoid certain foods, make sure all relatives, teachers, coaches, babysitters, family friends and any other people who might care for your child understand which foods he or she can't eat. Describe the signs of an allergic reaction and explain what to do if one occurs.

      If your child needs to stay inside on days with high pollen counts, look for something fun to do. Encourage your child to invite friends over to play indoor games or watch movies.

      If your child is allergic to a family pet, some treatments might make it possible to keep the pet without causing too much discomfort for your child. Keep the pet out of your child's bedroom and frequently sweep and vacuum to reduce the amount of dander in your home. If your child's symptoms are so severe that you can't keep the pet, giving it to a family member or friend who agrees to share photos and updates could ease the emotional distress. You might also be able to have a different type of animal as a pet without triggering allergic reactions in your child.

      Kids often feel embarrassed if others perceive them as different, or if they view themselves that way. However, allergies are very common. If your child and others feel comfortable discussing their allergies, that can help take away the stigma, but don't force the conversation.

      Support Your Child
      In addition to the physical symptoms of allergies, children may have to deal with complicated emotions. Explaining what is going on and finding ways to avoid triggers can ease the emotional toll on your child. Talk openly and honestly about your child's allergies and help him or her find ways to cope.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.