Real Estate News

    • Welcome a 4-Legged Family Member with Care

      14 February 2020

      (Family Features)--Bringing home a new pet can be exciting and heartwarming. Before you get caught up in the excitement of adopting a pet, however, it’s important to do a bit of homework and have conversations to ensure you’re choosing a lifelong fit for your family.

      When considering adopting, keep in mind that pets can provide as many benefits to you as you do them, such as helping to reduce stress, providing companionship, getting the daily recommended amount of physical activity and more. As you take your options into account, remember these guidelines from the experts at PetSmart Charities to prepare for a successful homecoming for your newest family member.

      Life Stages
      If you prefer a lower energy pet, seek a senior (age 7 or above) who may move a little slower. For higher energy, look for young puppies and kittens or active breeds such as Labradors, hounds, American terriers (commonly known as pit bulls) and mixed breeds.

      For first-time pet owners, a healthy adult dog or cat can help teach new pet parents the joys of having a pet and may not require as much attention as a puppy or kitten.

      Families with young children might consider a family-friendly breed or mixed breed such as a hound. Older kids may benefit from additional responsibilities such as walking the dog or cleaning the litter box.

      Living Environment
      In addition to the type and age of pet you adopt, you’ll need to consider the space you have available to welcome your furry friend.

      If you live in a home, consider fencing your yard for more relaxed playtime. If you live in an apartment, discuss any restrictions with your landlord and find out where the closest dog parks are to ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise.

      Dogs need a place to call their own where they’re contained overnight and while you’re not home until they can be safely left to roam. Get a crate so your new pet can have an ‘apartment’ within your home.

      You should always have more litter boxes than you do cats; for example, if you have one cat make sure you have at least two litter boxes. Litter boxes need to be scooped daily and completely changed weekly. 

      Veterinary Care
      Most adoptions come with a free veterinary check-up within the first week. Visit the veterinarian to have your pet’s vaccine records reviewed and ensure you know the best options for food, exercise and preventative care.

      You can prevent many common diseases by keeping your pet at a healthy weight, current on flea, tick and heartworm prevention, fully vaccinated and on a high-quality diet. Preventing diseases costs less money than treating them, so discuss any concerns you have with your veterinarian.

      Financial Considerations
      Most pets come with annual veterinary bills between $200-500 and food bills between $200-400. 

      Adopting a pet can provide cost savings, however, as fees at shelters and adoption events are typically lower than breeders and many of these pets are already spayed or neutered.

      To ensure your pet is covered in case of emergencies, consider options like pet insurance or opening a designated savings account and depositing 5% of your pay each pay period. If you take out an insurance policy as soon as you adopt your pet, he or she will not have any “pre-existing” conditions excluded from your insurance plan.

      Find more tips for a successful pet adoption and locate upcoming adoption events in your community at petsmartcharities.org.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Predatory Lending

      14 February 2020

      Some unscrupulous lenders use abusive practices, known as predatory lending, to trap borrowers in loans they can’t afford. Those lenders target vulnerable groups, make misleading claims and conceal the true cost of their loans.

      Types of Predatory Lending
      It’s legal for lenders to charge borrowers with bad credit high interest rates since they’re riskier than customers with good credit. Predatory lenders deliberately target people with bad credit and charge them exorbitant interest rates.

      Redlining is the illegal practice of denying loans to residents of low-income or minority neighborhoods. Reverse redlining means predatory lenders aggressively push unaffordable loans on residents of those areas.

      A bait and switch is when a lender approves a borrower for one type of loan, then changes the terms without adequately disclosing future changes up front.

      Asset-based lending is a practice in which a lender offers a customer with assets, such as home equity, a large loan that they know the borrower can’t afford. A borrower who defaults can lose those assets.

      A balloon loan has small payments at the beginning, then a large payment for the remaining balance due. Those loans can be legitimate, but predatory lenders don’t clearly explain the terms to borrowers.

      A negative amortization loan has payments that don’t cover the interest due or any of the principal. Borrowers make payments each month, but their balances keep growing.

      Loan flipping is taking out a new loan to refinance an unaffordable loan. Predatory lenders often set up customers so they move from one unaffordable loan to another while the lender keeps collecting fees.

      Loan packing means a lender tacks on fees for services the borrower doesn’t need or want. Those services may be legitimate, but predatory lenders may tell customers they are required, even though they’re optional.

      Legitimate lenders often charge prepayment penalties to discourage borrowers from paying off loans early. Predatory lenders may charge exorbitant prepayment fees to discourage refinancing.

      How to Spot a Predatory Lender
      Several laws are designed to protect consumers from predatory lending, but they aren’t always strongly enforced. That means you need to be on the lookout.

      Get quotes from several lenders. Verify that they’re licensed in your state, check their Better Business Bureau ratings and read reviews.

      Make sure you understand all the loan terms, including the fees, interest rate and monthly payments, and how any of those terms could change in the future. If a lender won’t provide those details up front and in writing, don’t sign a loan agreement. 

      A lender that doesn’t check your credit should raise a red flag. The company doesn’t care if you can afford to repay a loan because it can get money through high interest rates and fees or take your car or home if you default.

      Don’t sign a contract with blank spaces. Someone could add other information later and you’d have a hard time proving you didn’t agree to those terms.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables

      14 February 2020

      Vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, but many children don’t like them. Instead of fighting with your kids or giving up in frustration, try these strategies to get them to eat more vegetables.

      Offer Vegetables in Different Ways 
      Sometimes kids don’t want to eat vegetables because they don’t like them prepared a particular way. Try cooking vegetables with a variety of methods, such as sautéing, steaming and roasting to see if your kids prefer one over others. Some children only like to eat raw vegetables.

      Cut vegetables into fun shapes or sprinkle some seasoning or cheese on them to make them more appealing. Have your kids try vegetables with hummus, dip or guacamole. When making foods such as tacos or pizza, give your kids a long list of possible toppings, including their favorites and some new vegetables, and let them experiment with various pairings.

      Serve salad with dinner on a regular basis. Include different combinations of vegetables so your kids can experience a range of flavors.

      Get Your Kids Involved
      Your children will be more inclined to try new foods if they are involved in planning and preparing meals. Look for recipes with creative ways to serve vegetables. Teach your kids about where vegetables come from and how they’re grown. Take your children grocery shopping with you, teach them how to tell if vegetables are ripe and let them choose some veggies to buy for snacks. Let them help you prepare meals to the extent that they are able.

      Keep Trying
      Kids are often reluctant to try things that are unfamiliar. If you offer your children a particular vegetable several times (days, weeks or months apart) and it gradually becomes familiar, your kids may become curious and may eventually be willing to try it.

      Be a Good Role Model
      Children learn and develop habits by watching their parents. Set a good example by eating a wide range of vegetables at mealtimes and for snacks. Kids will also be more likely to consume healthy foods if family members eat dinner together regularly.

      Be Sneaky
      If those strategies are unsuccessful, look for ways to hide vegetables in foods your children like to eat. If you make pasta for dinner, mix some zucchini noodles in with the noodles you usually make and don’t tell your kids. Put some shredded carrots in tomato sauce and other sauces where they won’t be visible. Serve mashed cauliflower and let your kids think they’re eating mashed potatoes. 

      Figure Out What Works for Your Family
      Many kids are picky eaters, but there are ways to make sure they get the nutrients they need. Look for ways to make vegetables appealing to your kids and, if necessary, be a little sneaky so they get the vitamins and minerals they need.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Should You Purchase Long-Term Care Insurance?

      13 February 2020

      With Americans living longer, adults have to think about who will take care of them if they need help later in life. Long-term care insurance is an option, but it’s not right for everyone.

      Reasons to Consider Long-Term Care Insurance
      Most people 65 and older will require long-term care at some point. Even if you’re healthy now, you may eventually need help due to physical or mental decline.

      Full-time non-medical care can cost thousands of dollars per month. Medical care costs even more. Most people don’t have enough money set aside to cover those expenses for a significant amount of time. Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care in most cases.

      Many families are spread out geographically. If you have relatives who live nearby, they might not be able to take care of you if they have families of their own and full-time jobs. With long-term care insurance, your family members won’t have to worry that they might someday need to care for you and you won’t have to worry about being a burden.

      How Does Long-Term Care Insurance Work?
      A policy will pay up to a set amount per day for care, up to a lifetime maximum or for a limited period of time, and may only cover specific providers. Policies generally pay for in-home care for help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom, as well as care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. 

      There is often an elimination period, or waiting period, before insurance begins to pay for care. Sometimes policyholders seek treatment in a nursing home and are discharged before their insurance benefits kick in, so they pay the entire bill out of pocket.

      You may not be eligible for coverage if you are older or have a serious pre-existing condition. If you qualify for a long-term care insurance policy, in most cases it can’t be canceled because of any change in your physical or mental health.

      Is Long-Term Care Insurance a Good Investment?
      Long-term care insurance is expensive compared to other forms of insurance, but the cost of premiums is significantly less than what you might have to pay out of pocket for long-term care. Companies that offer policies allow customers to choose from a variety of features and coverage limits. 

      It’s hard to know how much coverage to choose if you have no idea what your needs may be years or decades in the future. You may be underinsured or you may pay premiums for insurance that you wind up not needing. Some companies have raised premiums sharply to keep up with rising health care costs and an aging population.

      There are other options to pay for long-term care, including an annuity with a long-term care rider, a deferred annuity, critical care or critical illness insurance, a life insurance policy with a long-term care rider and an asset-based policy. Discuss these options with professionals and get quotes to decide which would be best for you.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 3 Ways to Eco-Clean Your Fridge

      13 February 2020

      Suffice it to say that no kitchen appliance gets more traffic than the refrigerator, and all that use means it’s prone to mess. The next time your fridge is due for a cleaning, consider using eco-friendly agents that are just as effective as some of the harsher products you’ll find at the store. The best part? They’ll save you some serious green!

      Oust Odors
      With varied foods stored inside refrigerators, it’s no wonder the appliances are susceptible to odor. To eliminate unpleasant smells, remove the offending item and place an open box of baking soda in the back of your fridge. Baking soda has absorption properties that neutralize odor to help keep your fridge smelling fresh, no matter its contents.

      Banish Chemicals
      To clean the inside of your fridge (and other areas of your home), mix up a large batch of non-toxic cleaner made of equal parts tap water and distilled white vinegar. Heat up the solution in a microwave-safe container to zap any bacteria and wipe down all shelves and drawers inside your fridge. Also, make sure you don’t forget to clean the sides.

      Go Natural
      Rather than using a commercial refrigerator cleaner, such as stainless steel sprays, combine warm water with a drop or two of natural dish soap. Store-bought cleaners often release chemicals that cause indoor air pollution, and natural soap won’t irritate sensitive skin. To remove fingerprints or smudges on your fridge, wet a soft cloth with the solution and wipe down the doors and handles.

      These are just three eco-friendly ways to clean your home’s kitchen refrigerator. Check online for some more green cleaning tips that you can try for the whole household.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.