Consumer Real Estate News

    • 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.

    • How to Make Mornings Less Stressful

      2 April 2020

      For many people, mornings are stressful, even chaotic. Rushing and feeling anxious first thing in the morning can set a negative tone for the rest of the day. Some simple (but important) changes can make a world of difference.

      Prepare for the Day Ahead

      You can eliminate much of your morning stress by taking care of as many things as possible the night before. Check the weather forecast and pick out clothes and shoes for yourself and your kids. If anyone will need an umbrella, coat or other items not generally worn, put them with each person's clothes. If you and your kids take lunches to work or school, make them in the evening. Put them in the refrigerator in labeled or color-coded bags. Fill your gas tank in the evening so you won't have to make a detour in the morning.

      Plan Your Day and Week
      Make a to-do list for the day ahead, but be realistic about how much you can accomplish. Prioritize items so you get essential tasks done and know which ones can be saved for another day.

      If there are any special events, medical or dental appointments, athletic competitions, teacher conferences, or other things that are not a regular part of your weekly routine coming up, write them on a calendar. Check it before the start of the week so that you can make any necessary adjustments to your schedule in advance.

      Don't Stay in Bed Too Long
      Many people experience morning stress because they get out of bed at the last possible moment. Resist the urge to do that. Don't hit the snooze button. You won't get any more quality sleep, but you could be groggy and fall behind schedule.

      Before you get out of bed, take a moment to think about things for which you are grateful, things you have to look forward to that day, and what you hope to accomplish. Don't check your email, texts, social media accounts or newsfeed until you have gotten ready for the day. Reading about other people's problems or requests could cause you to begin your morning on a negative note.

      Fuel Your Body
      Eat a healthy breakfast that includes protein. Avoid sugary foods that will provide a quick boost of energy followed by a crash. If you typically skip breakfast, try eating a small morning meal each day for a week and see how it affects your mood and energy level.

      Expect the Unexpected
      Build an extra 10 or 15 minutes into your schedule in case you spill something on your shirt, find that a pet knocked over a plant, or hit a traffic jam. Something will inevitably come up at least once a week. Budgeting extra time for those situations can help you avoid becoming frazzled.

      Change Your Routine
      Mornings don't have to be stressful. Knowing what you need to do, accomplishing as much as you can ahead of time, and being prepared for last-minute hiccups can make your mornings much more relaxed.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Search for Homes Remotely

      1 April 2020

      For future homebuyers, especially those who were mid-search when the COVID-19 pandemic started, being able to explore potential homes has drastically changed. As social distancing has increased across the country, and with an unknown time frame of how long this isolation will actually last, many open houses and meetings with agents and sellers have been cancelled. However, just because you can’t see homes in person, doesn’t mean your search needs to end. 

      Talk to a Real Estate Agent
      The real estate business is one of thousands that has had to adjust and adapt during this pandemic. Utilizing social media and today’s technology has given agents the opportunity to communicate with clients in new, virtual ways. If you were planning on attending an open-house or walk-through for a specific property, talk to your agent and see if you can set up a virtual tour. Some agents may even have pre-recorded video tours to share. 

      Utilize Listing Websites
      If you’re looking to explore new properties, your local real estate brokerage and agent websites, and portals like and Zillow, feature thousands of listings, categorized by location, price range, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, quality of schools and much more. While you’re stuck at home, take some time to research homes in the areas you are interested in moving to and view information, images and sometimes even virtual tours to expand your home search.

      Explore Neighborhoods on Facebook
      Deciding on a neighborhood, or simply getting to know the ones you’re interested in moving to, can be tough when you can’t visit it. But don’t fret—social media is here to help. Many communities have Facebooks groups, run by local schools and businesses, parents or individuals to stay connected and share information. Exploring these pages is a great way to get to know a neighborhood, from dining, activities and schools to learning about your potential future neighbors and community.

      Your home search may be affected by the current state of this virus, but shouldn’t stop you from exploring potential homes and neighborhoods. With the vast resources available, from experienced real estate agents to the expansive search tools online, future homebuyers have the opportunity to shop around from the comfort of their homes. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.