Consumer Real Estate News

    • Is Your Family Safe From Lead Poisoning?

      11 November 2019

      While October marks National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW)—a federal initiative sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—it's important to keep this top-of-mind regardless of the time of year.

      The CDC says that lead paint has been banned for use in house paints in the United States since 1978, and even though increased awareness of the risk of lead poisoning and primary prevention efforts have helped decrease the rate of lead-poisoned children, nearly half a million children living in the U.S. have elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to their development and overall health. 

      In addition to paint and dust inside their homes, the CDC says children can also be exposed to lead that may be found in the soil around the outside of homes, and even from the toys they play with. For everyone living in a home or apartment built before 1978, it is important to understand the steps that should be taken to protect children from lead poisoning. 

      These steps include:

      Learn about hazards. Flaking, cracking and chipping paint in homes built before 1978 may be a hazard. Learn what you can do to prevent lead paint hazards by visiting

      Get your child tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead at least twice before the age of five. These tests are usually conducted at the 12- and 24-month well-child visits. 

      To that end, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that lead poisoning is usually detected by measuring the level found in blood. While finger-prick samples are appropriate for screening tests, all elevated capillary levels should have confirmation with a venous blood draw since capillary tests can yield frequent false positives.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Frozen Family Fun: Royal Frozen Sweet Potato Lasagna

      11 November 2019

      (Family Features)--As families look to incorporate more nutritious dishes into meals from morning to night, using kid-friendly recipes can help make the process easier and more fun. 

      To help make it easier for busy parents to plan and serve healthier meals, registered dietitian Melanie Marcus, Dole's nutrition and health communications manager, created a series of enchanted frozen fruit- and vegetable-based dishes including main courses, smoothies, desserts, sides, and more. Because these recipes can be made in advance and frozen for later use, they're perfect for on-the-go families and busy lifestyles. 

      For example, make-ahead lasagna simplifies a busy evening.

      Royal Frozen Sweet Potato Lasagna
      Prep time: 45 minutes
      Cook time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
      Servings: 8

              Nonstick cooking spray
          1     tablespoon olive oil
          1     medium DOLE white onion, chopped
          1     package (8 ounces) Dole mushrooms, sliced
          2     garlic cloves, minced
          1 1/2     pounds 99 percent fat-free lean ground turkey
          5     cups Dole baby spinach
          1     teaspoon Italian seasoning
          1/4     teaspoon salt
          1     cup marinara sauce
          1     cup raw cashews
          2     cups fat-free cottage cheese, strained 
          4     medium Dole sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick crosswise
          1 cup  low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese 

      Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 13-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

      In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil; add onion and cook 5 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; cook 4 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add turkey; cook 8 minutes, or until browned, breaking up turkey with side of wooden spoon.

      Add spinach, Italian seasoning and salt; cook 3 minutes, or until spinach wilts. Stir in marinara; cook 1 minute. 
      In a food processor, pulse cashews 20 times, or until small crumbs form. In a medium bowl, stir together cottage cheese and cashews. 

      Shingle 1/3 of sweet potato slices in bottom of prepared dish; top with 1 cup of cottage cheese mixture followed by 1 1/2 cups turkey mixture. Repeat layers twice; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and cover tightly with foil. Bake 45 minutes; remove foil. Bake 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

      Tip: To freeze lasagna, wrap tightly once cooled with a layer of plastic wrap then foil. Freeze up to 3 months.

      Remove plastic wrap; bake lasagna from frozen, covered with foil, at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

      Source: Dole/Disney

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Avoid Travel Nightmares With These Smart Tips

      11 November 2019

      Whether you're a seasoned travel pro or embarking on your first international trip, it's important to take precautions to protect your travel plans. To help, CheapOair® offers the following common pain points with some tricks to navigate them.

      Missing Luggage

      Check-in as early as possible. Most travel nightmares begin with a rush to the airport, and lost luggage is one of the most common and most tedious travel setbacks.

      "Checking in at the last-minute may cause the airline baggage handlers to miss getting your luggage to your destination," says Tom Spagnola, senior vice president of Supplier Relations at Fareportal. "Make sure you get the barcode for the luggage tag that goes on your bag. This is how the airlines can track your bag should they not be able to find the luggage. The barcode will save you a lot of time and frustration trying to find your luggage."

      Add an itinerary. It is also recommended that travelers place an itinerary inside their luggage in case the tag gets ripped off in transit. This will allow the airline to reunite consumers with their lost items a lot faster.

      Missed Connections

      There's nothing that gets the heart pumping faster than an airport-length sprint to another terminal. A missed connection could derail an entire vacation.

      "Should you be taking a connection flight, try to avoid one that is less than one hour," advises Spagnola. "The more room for error, the less likely you are to find yourself stranded and losing valuable time. With an abundance of restaurants, shops and lounges now available at most major airports, a longer layover isn't as tiresome as it used to be."

      Preparation is key. Travelers should plan the best they can by downloading an app  that can keep them updated on flight times, delays and gate changes. This will help circumvent any last-minute surprises that may lead to a missed flight.

      For consumers that do miss their connections, see a gate agent immediately to confirm when the next flight will be available. As frustrating as it may feel, a cool head and a calm demeanor can work wonders when trying to get on another flight.

      Passport problems. A lost passport is everyone's worst fear, but there are several other passport problems that can end a trip before it even begins.

      As a rule of thumb, a passport should be valid up to six months AFTER the return date of your trip. It is also important that the document is not damaged in any way. A mangled passport can and will be denied by a TSA agent.

      "Most people forget how easily a damaged passport could stop someone from getting on a flight," remarks Ruben Bello, vice president of International Operations at Fareportal. "If there is damage beyond the usual "wear and tear" such as discoloration, ripped pages or indecipherable details, that document is not fit for air travel. If you're unsure, it's always safest to get a new passport at least a month before you're set to fly."


      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Should You Utilize 'Virtual Staging'?

      8 November 2019

      As home staging has advanced along with imaging technology, the trend of virtual home staging is emerging as a viable and cost-effective alternative for sellers and their agents. The practice taps technology that allows you to take digital photos of empty rooms and insert furniture, rugs and accessories into the images. 

      According to a recent blog from American Home ShieldⓇ (AHSⓇ), in today’s marketplace, it’s more important than ever to present online listings in their best possible light. The National Association of REALTORSⓇ estimates that 90 percent of buyers use the internet to search for a home, and 97 percent find the photographs to be the most useful element on brokers’ sites.

      AHS says most large real estate firms are already using virtual staging, and there are a growing number of web-based services that can do the same thing for individual REALTORSⓇ and even owners trying to sell their own homes.

      So what are some of the pros and cons of virtual staging? 

      - On average, it costs between $2,000 and $3,000 to actually stage a property—and anywhere from $500 to $1,000 for additional monthly rental fees. 

      - The average cost to digitally stage real estate is between $200 and $400, depending on the company and the number of photos.

      - Virtual staging helps clients visualize how a potential home might look and helps them connect with the property emotionally. 

      - Virtual staging also allows you to change the color of the walls, upgrade kitchen appliances and alter flooring to show how the home might look when renovated.

      - The folks at point out that not all MLS markets allow for photos of virtually staged homes, so do your homework before signing off on a virtual staging contract.

      - If you have a room that can function as either an office or a bedroom, for instance, suggests virtually staging it as both.

      In the end, remember that a staging company can only have so much furniture, so your choices in the real-world are limited; however, in the virtual world, those choices are nearly unlimited. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Tips to Ward Off Cold Weather Woes

      8 November 2019

      (Family Features)--Colder weather brings plenty of changes, especially in the ways you take care of your home and self. Especially when the temperature drops, extreme winter conditions can play havoc not only with your skin and health, but also your family's comfort.

      Take steps to protect your family and household as the weather starts to cool this season with these practical tips:

      Take steps to help prevent the flu. As temperatures drop, the chances of getting sick rise. That's partly because certain germs and viruses thrive in colder temperatures, and because the cold puts extra strain on your immune system. When it is cold outside, people are also more likely to spend time indoors (and in closer quarters) where germs are more easily spread. Do your part to help prevent the flu by washing your hands often and covering your mouth or nose when you cough or sneeze. Also be sure to stay home if you're sick and avoid exposing others to your illness. 

      Prepare your wardrobe. Colder weather outside means more skin sensitivities and dryness. Long pants and sleeves don't just add warmth; they also protect your skin from harsh outdoor elements. When you haul your winter wardrobe out of storage, start the season on a comfy note by washing everything with an option like ‘all Free Clear Liquid Detergent or Mighty Pacs, recommended by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin due to its hypoallergenic formula.

      Dress in layers from head to toe. Bundle up with winter accessories to match the daily weather forecast. For chillier mornings and nights, cover exposed areas such as your head with a hat, neck with a scarf and hands with gloves. To accommodate warmer weather during the day, layer flexible clothing options to accommodate temperature shifts. 

      Stay active. Physical activity naturally warms your body in the short term. In fact, shivering is your body's natural physical response to generate body heat when you're cold. Aside from the immediate benefits, keeping active during the colder months can help in other ways, too. A healthy cardiovascular system keeps your blood flow steady and strong, and a good circulatory system plays an important role in keeping your body, and especially your extremities, warm when temperatures take a dip.

      Nourish your body and skin. Preventing painful dry cracks and itchy, scaly skin is a job that requires attention inside and out. Externally, moisturize shortly after showering to trap in the water lingering on your skin, use extra lotion throughout the day on areas prone to drying, and reapply lotion after washing hands. Remember to protect sensitive spots like your lips that can easily chap and crack. You can also prevent dry skin by ensuring you're drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet with plenty of essential vitamins and healthy fats.

      Source: 'all

      Published with permission from RISMedia.