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10 Tips to Make Your Move Easier

April 22, 2011 10:11 am

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, April 22, 2011-Whether you are moving across town or across the country, packing and transporting your life's possessions is never an easy thing. But being prepared, and being organized, can simplify the process immensely, say the planners at Mayflower Transit.

Check Mayflower's top ten tips for a more seamless move before you begin to pack:

Stock up first Gather up cartons, bubble wrap, packing tape and newspapers before you pack your first box. That includes marking pens so you can label each box with its contents and intended location in your new home.

Start early The sooner you begin, the more stress-free you will be-and it's easier on your back, too. Aim to fill and mark at least two or three boxes each day.

Set aside valuables As you pack, set aside valuables or irreplaceable items such as jewelry, heirlooms or pieces of artwork that you'd feel more comfortable moving yourself. This should include important paperwork and photos.

Purge now The best time to declutter is while you're packing. Throw out or give away items you will likely not want in your new home.

Utility changes Make a list of utilities at both locations that need to be notified of your moving date. Check off each as you make arrangements for shut-off and turn-on dates.

Notify others List and contact creditors, Internet providers and anyone else who will need your new address, including magazine and book or movie subscriptions.

Set a date Make your move during the week if possible, when banks and other businesses are open in the event you need assistance during the move.

Pet plans If you have pets, make plans well ahead of time as to where to keep them during the move-and how you'll transport them to your new home.

Med plans Be sure you have enough prescription medications to see you through your moving period-and be sure to transfer existing prescriptions to a pharmacy in your new area.

Post office Don't forget to file your change of address with the post office at least a week before you move.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Create an Eco-Friendly Oasis in Your Home

April 21, 2011 10:11 am

RISMEDIA, April 21, 2011-Mohawk Industries, a leader in recycled and renewable flooring, has teamed up with DIY enthusiast Chip Wade to help consumers transform their home into a green sanctuary this Earth Day with five simple steps.

1. Conduct an energy assessment. Whether you are living in an older house or a more modern space, an energy audit can determine the efficiency of a home's heating and cooling systems. Learn where your house is leaking energy, and then fix the problem. Your pocketbook will thank you

2. Be green from the ground up. Every great green space begins with eco-friendly flooring.

3. Pick a soothing color palette. The trend of sharply contrasting accent walls is slowly fading away. Instead, select a calming dark beige, grey or blue paint that is nontoxic and contains no, or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

4. Say yes to vintage furniture. Flea markets and rummage sales are the perfect places to snag antique chairs, tables and couches. Give pieces a fresh, new look by reupholstering with organic linen or fabric made from recycled yarn.

5. Spend time enjoying your serene space-not cleaning it. Skip upholstery and throws made of fussy silks and velvets in favor of comfortable, organic cotton. And keep floors clean with a nontoxic cleaner.

For more information, visit www.MohawkFlooring.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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5 Good Reasons to Invest in a Tankless Water Heater

April 21, 2011 10:11 am

RISMEDIA, April 21, 2011-Tankless water heaters provide an endless source of hot water on demand, take up less space, use less energy, and last longer than tank-style water heaters. So when the old tank-style water heater fails, All American Plumbing urges homeowners to consider a tankless water heater.

"A tankless water heater heats as much water as you need, whether you are drawing a bath, washing multiple loads of laundry, running the dishwasher, or all of these things at once," said Leanne Heinrich of All American Plumbing. "You will never run out of hot water when you own a tankless water heater."

According to Heinrich, the ideal time to convert to a tankless water heater is when a conventional heater fails and must be replaced, but converting before a failure will help ensure there is no interruption in hot water at an inconvenient time. Homeowners can also start realizing energy savings as soon as they switch.

The advantages of tankless water heaters are numerous. First of all, they take up much less space. A traditional water heater takes up approximately 16 square feet of valuable space, compared to a tankless model-which is about the size of a small carry on suitcase. A tankless water heater can also be installed almost anywhere inside or outside the home.

Second, tankless water heaters can pay for themselves in as little as three years based on energy savings alone. Tankless systems heat water when it is needed. There is no energy wasted on pilot lights or storage loss. When water isn't needed, the system shuts off.

Third, tankless water heaters are more durable and will last longer than traditional water heaters. Units are generally well designed and constructed and require very little maintenance over their lifetime. If something does break down, any single part of the heater can be replaced or fixed.

Finally, scale and rust can build up in the storage tank of a tank-style water heater-but since water is heated as it passes through a pipe in a tankless model, the water is fresher and cleaner. No tank also means no leaks.

For more information, visit www.plumbingserviceseastbayca.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Word of the Day

April 21, 2011 7:11 am

Semidetached. One structure containing two dwelling units separated vertically by a common wall.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Q: What are conventional loan limits?

April 21, 2011 7:11 am

A: These are limits imposed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the amount of money you can borrow to finance a home purchase. The loan limit generally increases each year and applies to single-family homes in the 48 contiguous states, with higher limits in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands and on homes with two, three and four units.

For example, in 2008, the loan limit is $417,000 for a single-family owner-occupied property, $533,850 for a two-unit property, $645,300 for three-units, and $801,950 for four-units.

Theoretically, no limit applies to the amount a lender can provide under the VA program. But in practice, local lenders generally lend up to $417,000 in 2008 with no money down.

There are also loan limits for owner-occupied homes under the FHA 203(b) program, the most common FHA option. The limits vary depending on whether you live in a "high cost" or "low cost" area, as well as the number of units that are being financed. In general, the FHA loan limit is $362,790 for a single-family home in high-cost areas and $200,160 in low-cost areas.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Raising Healthy Kids - An Easy 10-Step Guide

April 21, 2011 7:11 am

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, April 21, 2011-Raising safe and healthy kids can be as much about using good common sense as about how much you read and study. But, says the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are a few simple guidelines that can make a parent's life more worry-free and a child's life healthy and happy.

From the CDC, here are 10 tips for setting off on the right road to child health and safety:

Know the risks Make a study of your family's health history and let your pediatrician know of any conditions or diseases for which your child may be at risk.

Good nutrition From babyhood on, introduce your children to a variety of fruits and vegetables and find innovative ways to ensure they continue to eat and enjoy them throughout their childhood.

Hand washing/hygiene One of the most important ways to keep kids healthy is to teach them to wash their hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing or using the bathroom.

Bicycle safety Bicycle helmets for kids age five and over reduce the risk of head and brain injury by as much as 88%. Be sure your kid wears one.

Compliment them Complimenting your kids when they do something noteworthy is the surest way to raise self-confident youngsters and keep open the lines of parent-child communication.

Cover up Too much sun exposure can raise the incidence of skin cancer later in life. Get in the habit early of giving your kids sunscreen protection.

Dental health Some 17% of children aged two to four already have dental decay. Teach kids early to brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice daily, to floss daily, and to see a dentist twice each year.

Exercise Physical activity helps build healthy bones and muscles and keeps obesity and high blood pressure at bay. Be sure your child engages in regular exercise.

Vaccinations Seeing a doctor regularly will ensure your child is protected by all recommended vaccinations.

Talk to them As age appropriate, explain the facts of life and talk to your kids about such topics as violence, abuse and bullying. Encourage them to talk about what worries them.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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High Quality Paint Offers Best Return on Investment

April 21, 2011 7:11 am

RISMEDIA, April 21, 2011-In times of economic stress, we all look for ways to cut back on expenses. But if you're thinking about having a contractor apply a cheap paint to the exterior of your home, you may want to reconsider. A careful analysis shows that in the long run, it's actually less expensive to apply the very best quality paint, despite its higher initial cost.

Debbie Zimmer, spokesperson for the Paint Quality Institute, explains: "Most of the cost of exterior painting goes for labor, not for paint. Paying somewhat more for top quality paint won't greatly increase the overall cost of the job, but the better performance you get will greatly extend its life."

In fact, field tests at the Paint Quality Institute show that while ordinary exterior paint lasts about four years, top quality 100% acrylic latex paint can last 10 years or more when applied to a properly prepared surface, resulting in a lower cost per year of service.

To make the point clearer, Zimmer offers an example for an average-size, single story home: Labor cost for painting would typically be about $2,500, regardless of the type of paint that is applied. About 20 gallons of paint would be needed for a two-coat paint job.

If an ordinary paint were used, costing $25 a gallon, the cost for the 20 gallons of paint would be $500. Add in $2,500 for labor, and the total cost of the job would be $3,000. Assuming, as the field tests show, that the job will last four years, the cost per year of service would be $750.

Now assume that top quality 100% acrylic latex paint was used instead of ordinary exterior paint. At a cost of perhaps $50 a gallon, the cost for 20 gallons of paint would be $1,000. The labor would again be $2,500, and the total cost of the job would be $3,500, just a little higher than before. But, since this paint job is likely to last 10 years or more, the cost per year of service would be only $350, less than half the yearly cost of the "economy" paint job.

Zimmer says that even this example may not tell the whole story. If your house needs repair work or extensive surface preparation prior to painting, the labor component could be much higher, producing an even greater return on an investment in top quality paint.

"Plus, professional painters might charge higher rates in your area, further skewing the math in favor of the highest quality, longest-lasting paint," she says.

Bottom line: By spending more up front for top quality paint, you can stretch the life of your paint job and end up saving a lot of money. As a bonus, you'll avoid the hassle and inconvenience of repainting again after only a few years.

For more information, visit www.paintquality.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Word of the Day

April 20, 2011 10:11 am

Seller's market. One with few sellers and many buyers.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Q: Are buyers protected against housing discrimination?

April 20, 2011 10:11 am

A: By law, real estate agents may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. They also cannot follow spoken or implied directives from the home seller to discriminate. If you suspect you have been discriminated against, a complaint may be filed with the local Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office nearest you. You may call HUD's toll-free number, 1-800-669-9777, or visit its website at www.hud.gov/complaints/housediscrim.cfm.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Innovative Ways to Promote Community Service and Volunteerism among Your Children

April 20, 2011 10:11 am

RISMEDIA, April 20, 2011-In recent years, volunteerism has become vital to the health of our nation's communities as nonprofit organizations struggle with limited budgets and resources. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, more than a third of nonprofit organizations reported a significant increase in the number of volunteers they use throughout the year.

By teaching our children the importance of volunteerism and instilling values that promote community service, teachers, parents and caring adults have the power to inspire the next generation of America's leaders to be active members of society and give to those in need.

Here are a few innovative ways to promote community service and volunteerism among your children.

Service Learning

Service learning offers a unique opportunity for our nation's youth - from kindergarteners to college students - to get involved with their communities in a tangible way by integrating service projects with classroom learning. Service learning engages students in the educational process, using what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems.

Through service learning, students build character and become active participants as they work with others in their school and community. For example, students can visit with and entertain seniors at a local senior housing community or prepare disaster relief kits for families in need as part of a lesson on natural disasters. Or to learn about construction and the plant life cycle, students can make wood planter boxes and plant seeds - placing them around the grounds to beautify the school.

Family Values

In addition to promoting volunteerism within the classroom, there are many ways that parents and caring adults can encourage public service at home. For example, parents can plan a neighborhood clean up to make bettering the community fun for the entire family. Activities like these provide parents with the chance to show their children the importance of volunteering and the impact it can have. And studies show that children who volunteer are much more likely to continue as adults and carry on the tradition with their own children.

Community Service

Local companies can also reinforce and model the importance of public service among children. For example, team members at Target have volunteered millions of hours to community projects which effect children-from reading to young people to helping make over school libraries across the country. They also provide specialized business knowledge to community and nonprofit partners through a variety of unique skills-based volunteer opportunities in areas including marketing, forensics and design and construction.

For more information, visit www.familyfeatures.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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