Consumer Real Estate News

    • Travel Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

      19 November 2018

      Many Americans plan to zip across the country for the holidays to visit loved ones. But with busier roads, it's important to pay mind to safety as you head to your destination. Consider the following travel safety tips from American Red Cross before you buckle in for a long ride.

      - Make sure your car is in good condition for a road trip.
      - Pack an emergency preparedness kit, supplies and a first aid kit in the trunk
      - Share travel plans with a family member or friend.
      - Check the weather before departing and along your route. Plan for travel around any storms that may be coming.
      - Be well rested and alert.
      - Buckle up, slow down and don't drive impaired.
      - Follow the rules of the road and use caution in work zones.
      - Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
      - Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you're too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
      - If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

      Source: American Red Cross

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Plumbing Blunders: How to Dodge Holiday Disasters

      19 November 2018

      A full house for the holidays can be wonderful--but not for your plumbing. According to Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® professionals, extra pressure is put on home plumbing systems during the holidays, with day-long meal prep and additional house guests, it's easy for the wrong items to go down the drain and disposal. Below are their top tips for dodging drain disasters.

      Your sink can't handle everything. Fats, bones and vegetable peels can clog drains and damage the disposal. When fats and grease cool, put them into a disposable container and throw it in the trash. If you have a compost pile, that's a good place for peels. Anything that you can hold in your hand, throw it out instead.

      Holiday cooking can strain your garbage disposal. Know how to properly use it! Always run the water when using a garbage disposal. If your disposal becomes clogged, turn it off, and shut off the water. Don't reach into a disposal, and never, ever use harsh chemicals to treat a clog. Like other kitchen appliances, disposals can use tune-ups, too.

      Think outside of the kitchen. Be mindful of the plumbing use in other areas of the home. Holidays guests can require more loads of laundry. Poor water quality and age can lead to breakdowns in the washer hose, which can lead to massive water leaks. Getting your hose inspected will save you from water damage from a defective hose.

      Avoid the messiest of all plumbing disasters by understanding what can and cannot be flushed. The amount of people in a normal household easily triples during holidays.  This means triple the amount of trips to the bathroom, which strains the integrity of your home's plumbing system. Remind your guests what can and can't be flushed, and inform them of any plumbing issues you are already aware of. Meaning, if you need to jiggle the toilet handle to get it to flush, spread the word.

      Preventative maintenance can save you a holiday headache. If it's been a while since you've had a plumbing inspection, now may be a good time to call a trusted plumbing professional. They can spot potential trouble areas and prepare your home for the holiday influx. They can also help winterize your plumbing system for the colder weather to come. Cold temperatures can put more stress on your pipes, drains, outdoor hose bibs and water heaters.

      Source: Benjamin Franklin Plumbing®

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Key Winter Prep That Will Protect Your Home's Value

      19 November 2018

      Protecting your home’s value means taking good care of it during the more demanding winter months, especially if you’re eyeing a spring sale. According to the Appraisal Institute, winterizing your property will go a long way toward reducing future costs, not to mention keeping you more comfortable in chilly weather.  

      Winterization projects that will contribute most to your home’s value are those that focus on your lawn, deck and roof.

      - Tend to your lawn by raking, mowing and fertilizing before the cold months set in.

      - Check to see if your deck needs protecting by pouring some water on it; if the water beads up, then you’re in good shape. If it doesn’t, then clean and seal your deck.

      - Make sure your roof is ready to handle the elements by doing a careful inspection and replacing any shingles or repairing any compromised sections. While you’ve got the ladder out, clean out any gutters to avoid ice damming.

      Of course, getting your home ready for winter also means paying attention to energy usage. According to the Energy Saver Guide, homeowners should:

      - Use smart and programmable thermostats, which can help lower energy bills by as much as 10 percent per year.

      - Replace the home's heating system if it's more than 15 years old.

      - Use heat pumps instead of electric furnaces or electric baseboard heaters to reduce electricity used for heating by up to 50 percent.

      - Determine their eligibility for weatherization and home energy assistance.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Know If Mold Has Made Its Way Into Your Home

      16 November 2018

      If you’ve been a victim of recent flooding or have a leakage problem in your home, you could be susceptible to mold. Here are some ways to tell if mold has infiltrated your home:

      A musty smell. If mold is hidden away in your house somewhere, a moldy smell might be your only clue. Don’t ignore the odor just because you can’t see the mold, as the problem may get worse.

      A patch of ‘dirt.’ You might mistake mold for soot or grime, so carefully inspect the ‘dirt.’ Even a small patch of mold should be handled right away before it spreads; or it could be a sign of a larger, hidden area of mold somewhere else.

      An odd discoloration. You might overlook a discolored area as something harmless when it's actually mold. Some mold can appear white and thread-like; other variations can be gray-brown or gray-green. Mold that grows behind wallpaper made of vinyl can even be orange, pink or purple.

      Chronic water issues. If you have recurring leakage problems in your home, there’s a good chance you have mold. So if you have water stains on walls, floors or ceilings, or bubbling, peeling or cracking paint, be sure to check for mold.

      Use a mold test kit to accurately check for mold or call in a professional if you’re unsure. Mold can cause a range of health issues from mild to serious, so be sure to treat it expediently.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Texas Travel: Go Exploring for These Hidden Travel Gems

      16 November 2018

      (Family Features)--Discovering a region's secret treasures is one of the greatest rewards of travel. When you embrace an adventurer's spirit, there's no telling just where you'll go. From an uncharted journey back in time to new ways to appreciate unconventional art, a vacation that celebrates the unexpected is an ideal way to uncover hidden travel gems.

      Though it can be tempting to schedule every moment of your trip, a better way to capture the most exceptional travel experiences is to leave ample time for exploration and see what delightful sights you can happen upon by chance. A destination like the Texas Panhandle Plains offers a wealth of opportunities for excitement and adventure.

      Great grapes: A growing movement of casual wine enthusiasts has wineries popping up all over the country. Regional variances in climate and soil make for some tasty twists on your favorite varieties, so take time to explore and sample the local wine scene. World-class quality wine can be found from coast to coast, and a winery is the perfect place to relax and unwind while taking in the ambiance of a vacation destination.

      History lesson: In a place like the Texas Panhandle Plains, history is as much a part of the landscape as the canyons and plains. Frontiersmen and settlers encountered the Comanche nation, which led to the rise of the Frontier Forts throughout the region. Later the area became home to a great part of the American ranching industry. For example, Frontier Texas!, the Texas Forts Trail, Fort Concho, The Texas Plains Trail and the National Ranching Heritage Center are a few places where history comes to life.

      Off the beaten path: You may be surprised by what you can find when you venture away from more populated areas. In state parks, you can take adventure into your own hands and get up close and personal with a destination's rugged natural beauty. The scenic outdoors are the perfect backdrop for you to marvel at the native wildlife, hike, ride horses or bikes, camp, geocache or take a scenic drive. Similarly, local parks or lakes might also offer opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming.

      Local legends: Visiting a city with ties to an internationally acclaimed celebrity is almost like entering the screen of a self-directed documentary. You can see where he or she lived and ate, and travel the same roads, marveling at the lifestyle and environment that shaped a bigger-than-life persona. In Lubbock, visitors can do all that and more at the Buddy Holly Center, which pays tribute to the uniquely interesting life of the iconic music legend.  

      Artistic license: Art can be enjoyed in many places far removed from a traditional gallery or museum. You can even find artistic displays in an empty field, including one located on Route 66 west of Amarillo: Cadillac Ranch was created in the 70s by a group of California hippies. Originally a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin, today the 10 vehicles protruding from the earth are scarcely recognizable as automobiles. The iconic attraction is ever-changing, as visitors add their own interpretations to this piece of public art.

      Source: Texas Tourism Board

      Published with permission from RISMedia.