Latest Real Estate News

    • How to Properly Remove Wallpaper

      29 September 2020

      Old wallpaper can make a house look dated. If a room in your home could use an update, you should be able to remove the wallpaper yourself. The steps will depend on the type of wallpaper you have.

      Before You Get Started 
      Cover the floor with a tarp and use painter’s tape to secure it. Cover any electrical outlets with painter’s tape and turn off the electricity before removing the wallpaper that surrounds  them. Have one or more large trash cans ready to toss in sheets of wallpaper as you remove them.

      Which Type of Wallpaper Do You Have?
      Use a putty knife to loosen a sheet of wallpaper at a bottom corner or seam. If it pulls away easily, it’s strippable wallpaper that should be easy to remove without water or chemicals. You may be able to simply pull entire strips off the walls. If you encounter some stubborn pieces, you can use a knife to cut them into horizontal strips.

      In some cases, you will need to mix a liquid stripper concentrate with hot water. Brush it on the wallpaper, working in sections from top to bottom. After the mixture has had a few minutes to soak in, start using a scraper to peel off the wallpaper. If the wallpaper is old and won’t absorb water, use sandpaper or a scoring tool to scuff the surface. Then spray the mixture again and let it soak in until you can remove the wallpaper.

      Peelable wallpaper has a top coat that can be removed in the same way as strippable wallpaper, leaving behind a layer of backing. Remove the backing with the stripper concentrate/water solution and follow the same steps. 

      Since washable wallpaper has a plastic film designed to stop water from penetrating, you will first need to use a scoring tool to cut holes in the paper. Spray water into the slits, wait 10 minutes or so to allow the water to soak in, then remove the paper with a putty knife.

      If you have wallpaper that just won’t budge, you may need to use steam to loosen it. Rent a steamer and ask someone to help you. Pour water into the machine and wait for it to boil. Place the steamer pad on the wallpaper, wait about 30 seconds, then check to see if the wallpaper is loose. If so, the other person can peel it off, using a scraper if necessary.

      Update Your Home
      If you’re tired of looking at wallpaper from a bygone era, you should be able to remove it fairly easily. Figure out what kind of paper you have, assemble the necessary supplies and get some help so you can modernize and transform the room.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Five Dog Breeds That are Easy to Train

      29 September 2020

      If you’re thinking of adopting a dog, you may already have your heart set on one particular breed or another. But if your furry friend is to become a beloved and well-behaved part of the household, you may want to be sure you are choosing a breed that is known to be readily trained. 

      Several factors, such as age or physical and mental health, for example, can affect how easily a dog learns. Some trainers say adult dogs learn more rapidly than playful puppies. But while opinions vary widely among breeders and trainers, these five breeds are at the top of most lists, suggesting the smartest and easiest breeds to train:

      1. Labrador Retriever - Arguably America’s favorite dog, Labrador Retrievers are sweet, fun-loving dogs that are easy to train because they want little more than to make their owners happy.
      2. Golden Retriever - Like their Labrador cousins, Golden Retrievers are good-natured, which makes them receptive to training. They are also very loyal and will do just about anything they are asked to please their owner.
      3. Border Collie - Herding dogs that were bred to be independent workers, collies are nonetheless sensitive to their owner’s needs. They are said to be intelligent dogs and easy to train, but not so energetic that the average owner will have trouble keeping up.
      4. Poodle - All varieties of poodle, Standard, Miniature and Toy, are seen as incredibly intelligent dogs that are eager to please and pick up training very quickly. They are typically even-tempered and aim to please their humans. 
      5. German Shepherd - The German Shepherd is considered to be the Jack-of-all-trades in the dog world. They are intelligent and simple to train. Having a job, such as protecting a family, keeps them happy. They enjoy training and can succeed in a variety of dog sports. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Which Home Improvements Are Eligible for Tax Credits?

      29 September 2020

      When it’s time to file your tax return, you want to avoid owing money, if possible. The federal government rewards homeowners who make some renewable energy upgrades with tax credits. 

      Resident Renewable Energy Tax Credit
      This tax credit applies to solar, wind, geothermal and fuel-cell technology. Credits can be used to reduce your current or future taxes owed but are not refundable.

      Solar, wind and geothermal technologies installed in a principal residence and/or a second home can qualify for tax credits. Solar panels must be used to generate electricity in the house. Solar-powered water heaters must be used in the home and at least half of the house’s water-heating capacity must come from solar power. Wind turbines that generate up to 100 kilowatts of electricity to be used in the residence qualify for tax credits. Geothermal heat pumps are eligible if they meet ENERGY STAR guidelines set by the federal government.

      Fuel cells that use a renewable resource and generate at least 0.5 kilowatts of power qualify for tax credits. They must be installed in a primary residence.

      You can deduct 30 percent of the costs for equipment installed in 2017, 2018 or 2019. The costs of both equipment and installation are eligible. There is no limit to the tax credit for solar, wind and geothermal equipment. For fuel cells, the tax credit is limited to $500 per half-kilowatt of capacity. The value of the credits will go down to 26 percent for equipment installed in 2020 and 22 percent for equipment installed in 2021.

      Nonbusiness Property Tax Credit
      This tax credit has been extended through December 31, 2020. To figure out if you qualify, you need to understand two terms the IRS uses. 

      “Qualified energy efficiency improvements” include insulation; exterior doors, windows, and skylights; and some roofing materials. “Residential energy property costs” includes electric heat pumps; electric heat pump water heaters; central air conditioning systems; natural gas-, propane- or oil-fueled water heaters, furnaces and hot water boilers; stoves powered by biomass fuel; and advanced circulating fans for furnaces fueled by oil, propane or natural gas.

      Check with the manufacturer to make sure equipment and materials meet standards set by the Department of Energy to qualify for tax credits. The maximum tax credit is 10 percent of the cost of qualified energy efficiency improvements and 100 percent of residential energy property costs. You can get up to $200 in credits for windows, up to $50 for a furnace circulating fan, up to $150 for a furnace or boiler and up to $300 for any other individual residential energy property cost. The maximum total you can claim in tax credits is $500 for all tax years from 2006 through the expiration of the credit.

      Get Professional Tax Advice
      These credits may help you reduce your tax burden. If you have questions about whether equipment you installed in your home qualifies, the amount you qualify for in tax credits or any other tax-related matters, consult an accountant.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Seven Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

      28 September 2020

      If it seems to you that groceries cost more these days, it is not your imagination. Nearly every category of food has become more expensive since February, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, with beef seeing the steepest price spike (20.2 percent), followed by eggs (10.4 percent), poultry (8.6 percent) and pork (8.5 percent).

      While there’s not much consumers can do to improve the supply chain or limit price hikes, there are many things you can do to help stretch your grocery dollars.

      • Make specials work for you - Build meals around the store’s weekly sale circulars, starting with the proteins. Look for sales on beef roasts, pork shoulders or whole chickens that can provide multiple meals. Choose seasonal produce and buy only featured sale shelf items.
      • Redefine dinner - You can save big by realizing that dinner doesn’t have to be traditional. Try breakfast for dinner, or fill up and save money by thinking quiche and salad or soup and sandwiches—even cleverly stuffed baked potatoes.  
      • Shop smarter - Keep your spend under control while shopping by sticking to a shopping list and keeping a running tab on what goes into your grocery cart. Leave the kids or other over-spenders at home.
      • Skip eye-level items - That’s where the more expensive attention getters reside. Look up or down for less expensive and typically comparable counterparts are shelved. Buy generic when possible.
      • Don’t buy anything pre-cut - Cut-up fruit platters, bagged salads and meats pre-packaged with veggies look tempting, but are rarely worth the price tag. You will save big by doing it yourself.
      • Shop dairy, not deli - Most of the meats and cheeses sold at premium prices in the deli can be found pre-packaged in the dairy section at a much lower cost. 
      • Use what you buy - Tossing unused food is throwing money away. Freeze whatever you can, even milk or half a loaf of bread, so they stay fresh until you need them. Make wilting veggies into soup. Use about-to-expire lunch meats in a salad. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Create Quality School Day Meals with Simple Shortcuts

      28 September 2020

      (Family Features) The seemingly constant rush of hectic school days and nights often leaves busy families feeling like there’s no time for a homemade meal around the table. However, taking shortcuts that don’t skip out on quality can mean more time together enjoying flavorful dishes without spending hours in the kitchen. 

      For starters, an easy yet filling breakfast like these Sausage, Egg and Cheese Muffins can help you begin your day the right way while calling for a simple list of ingredients and just a few steps. 

      Perfect for grabbing on the way out the door to power you through the day or enjoying at home as you manage double duty as parent and best teacher on the block. They’re made with ground turkey sausage, eggs, melty cheddar cheese and Success Tri-Color Quinoa, which is simplified even more by the “boil-in-bag” cooking process. Just add water to a saucepan, drop the convenient BPA-free bag into the water, boil for 10 minutes and remove with a fork for a no-measure, no-mess shortcut. 

      When the dinner bell dings at the end of a long day of learning, feed your family an effortless recipe that allows the oven to do most of the work. The array of flavors and textures in these Vegetable and Rice Power Bowls can bring warmth to your loved ones while requiring little effort. 

      Sweet and buttery flavors of maple-roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash and beets pair with the convenience, taste, texture and quality of Success Jasmine Rice, lentils, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette for an abundance of flavors that help recharge and refuel with loads of nutrients combined in one comforting dish.

      Find more ways to add ease to school day meals at successrice.com. 

      Sausage, Egg and Cheese Muffins
      Total time: 30 minutes
      Servings: 16

      • 1 bag Success Tri-Color Quinoa
      • nonstick cooking spray
      • 1 package (9.6 ounces) cooked turkey sausage crumbles
      • 2 cups prepared baking mix
      • 1 cup cheddar cheese
      • 1 cup milk
      • 4 whole eggs, lightly beaten
      • maple syrup (optional)
      Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Coat 16 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.

      In a large bowl, combine quinoa, sausage, baking mix and cheese. Stir in milk and eggs; blend well.

      Pour 3/4 cup mixture into each muffin cup.

      Bake for 18-20 minutes.

      Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. 

      Substitution: In place of baking mix, substitute 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 pinch of salt.

      Vegetable and Rice Power Bowls
      Total time: 45 minutes
      Servings: 6
      • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
      • 2 cups chopped sweet potatoes
      • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
      • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
      • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
      • ¼ teaspoon salt 
      • ¼ teaspoon pepper
      • 2 cups peeled, chopped beets
      • 2 bags Success Jasmine Rice
      • 4 cups mixed greens
      • 1 can (15 ounces) brown lentils, drained and rinsed
      • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
      • ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds
      • ½ cup prepared balsamic dressing
      Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, toss together butternut squash, sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons oil, thyme, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

      In the same bowl, toss the beets with remaining oil until well coated; add to the baking sheet with butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and tender.

      Prepare rice according to package directions; divide among six bowls. Top each with greens, roasted vegetables, lentils, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with balsamic dressing.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.