Retirees Turning to Custom Homes to Get the Right Space

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

As people reach retirement, their current house may simply be too big for their needs. Paying large utility bills, maintenance costs and property taxes for an older home on a large lot can often drain nest eggs and retirement funds. During a time when you have a lower income and too much house, there may come a time when downsizing to a smaller home will fit better into one’s lifestyle and budget.

Retiring to a Custom Home
When you hear about a retiree downsizing to a smaller place, most people think that the person will be packing up and moving into an apartment in a senior community or a mother-in-law suite in their adult children’s homes. Yet many retirees still want their freedom to come and go as they please in their own place. Purchasing a smaller home then becomes the ideal option.

One interesting trend is that retirees are looking to custom build a new home that is smaller in size. The retiree may be at a unique advantage of having the financial independence to cover the costs of home construction without straining their retirement funds. At this point of time in their retirement years, most retirees have already paid off the mortgage for their other home as they now own the house outright. With the home value having appreciated, they can now ask for a higher sales price that can cover the land purchase and all the home construction expenses.

Building a Home Tailored to Health Needs
Another advantage to having a custom home built is that it can be designed to current medical conditions or physical restrictions. You can work with builders and architects to design the home so that it can make your daily life easier as you grow older. The custom build may have wider first-floor spaces and hallways to accommodate mobility devices. There can be outdoor ramps by front entrances for wheelchairs and walkers, as well as lower kitchen cabinets so you can get items without having to stretch to reach higher shelves. In addition, bathrooms can be designed for retirees with physical disabilities who may have problems using the shower, tub or toilet.

You can have more flexibility when having a smaller home built with adaptable features. The custom home can be later modified for different life stages without having to deal with costly renovations later on that can be a major disruption to your daily life.

Custom Home Offering Less Maintenance Hassles
During retirement, retirees often don’t want to deal with major maintenance and repairs that are associated with larger, older homes. Even downsizing to a smaller, existing home can lead to stress as there may be significant issues with the existing house that will need to be dealt with before moving in.

By having a custom home built at a smaller size, buyers will know that everything in the house is new. They will have new wiring, plumbing, mechanical systems, appliances, a roof, a foundation and other aspects. Even if something should break during those first few months, builders normally provide a builder warranty that will cover defects and provide repairs.

Downsizing to Your Custom Dream Home
Downsizing to a custom home has many advantages. Buyers can have the home built at a chosen destination that offers everything they could possibly need during their retirement years.

It helps to perform comprehensive research regarding the real estate market when purchasing land at another location. Also, researching building plans and contractors can make the difference in purchasing a custom home built with superior craftsmanship. A real estate agent’s help can be just what buyers need to find a new place that is specifically designed for their golden years.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Don’t Let Clogged Gutters Wreak Havoc on Your Home

By Susanne Dwyer

clogged_gutters_Infog

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

As a homeowner, you undoubtedly understand just how important home maintenance is when it comes to preserving the life of your home. In fact, you probably spend a good chunk of time fixing problem areas and items both inside and outside your home.

But when was the last time you checked the gutters? While clogged gutters can wreak havoc on your home from top to bottom, maintaining your gutters and downspouts will work in your favor when it comes to avoiding conditions such as flooding, foundation damage, pest infestation, roof damage, warped/rotted window frames, siding and doors, and mold—all of which may ultimately undermine the integrity of your home.

The following infographic from Kings of Clean sheds light on the important role gutters play in the well-being of your home.


Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at paige@rismedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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5 Cities Millennials Are Flocking To

By Susanne Dwyer

Downtown Salt Lake City skyline Utah in USA

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

There are several places in the U.S. where millennials can be found due to the high employment rates and beautiful settings. For adults who are in their 20s and 30s, there are several places where it’s smart to invest. When you’re looking to move, these are a few cities that millennials are flocking to throughout the country.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Downtown Salt Lake City skyline Utah in USA

The high job growth in Salt Lake City makes it a desirable place for young adults to live as they look to obtain steady employment. The city is affordable to live in and has a median home price of $233,000 with job growth of 2.4 percent. Salt Lake City also has a lower unemployment rate compared to other markets throughout the U.S. with 2.9 percent, which is below the national average by a few points.

Seattle, Wash.

Seattle is considered to be a hot spot for millennials, which make up 24.1 percent of the population. Its busy nightlife scene and generous median incomes of $67,000 make it an ideal place to live for younger generations. It also boasts a job growth rate of 10.8 percent. The beautiful views of the water and the long list of activities and attractions in the area are additional reasons that many millennials relocate to the city.

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, USA downtown skyline over the Colorado River.

Austin, Texas, USA downtown skyline over the Colorado River.

Millennials are drawn to Austin for its real estate market, which includes homes that have a median price of $226,000. The job growth is also 4.2 percent, and it’s the second-top city in the country for the number of jobs that are becoming available. Some of the top companies that are run out of Austin include Dell, Apple and Google, making it known as “Silicon Hills.” The average median income is also $58,932, which allows many young adults to afford to purchase their first home.

There’s also a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability, making the city desirable for millennials who make green practices a priority. Austin is also known for selling more renewable energy than other nations.

Charlotte, N.C.

Downtown Charlotte skyline with Marshall Park (and autumn colored trees) in the foreground.

Downtown Charlotte skyline with Marshall Park (and autumn colored trees) in the foreground.

Charlotte is one of the best places to live in North Carolina with 14 percent of the population between the ages of 25 and 34. Many of the youth are post-college graduates who have relocated to the city to seek employment and purchase a home in a neighborhood that has a suburban family profile. The draw of millennials is also causing many companies to relocate their headquarters to Charlotte in hopes of hiring talented employees.

Dallas, Texas

Photo of Dallas' skyline in the marning. Sunrise moment. Dusk.

Photo of Dallas’ skyline in the marning. Sunrise moment. Dusk.

Dallas continues to grow each year and attract young out-of-towners due to its job growth rate of 3.9 percent and median home price of $175,000. The big city boasts plenty of shopping opportunities and attractions for those who want to stay busy without spending a lot to live close to the downtown area. The city hasn’t attempted to control ride-sharing, and many places are also easy to access by walking. There are also neighboring cities that are affordable to live in for those who don’t mind commuting to work.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Report: Proximity to Family Drives Housing Decisions for Households With Children

By Susanne Dwyer

Many upper-middle class households with young children are caught between an inability to afford childcare and an inability to sustain on one less income with a stay-at-home parent—a predicament that has a driving force on their housing decisions.

According to the Zillow Housing Aspirations Report (ZHAR), many upper-middle class households choose to put down roots close to relatives who can provide childcare, even more so than low-income households. Roughly one-quarter of upper-middle class household members surveyed for the report, as well, cite “proximity to family” as an influencer on their choice about where to live.

Low-income households do, however, struggle with childcare costs in pricey housing markets, such as San Francisco, Calif. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed overall depend on relatives for childcare.

Most households with young children are being pinched by a combination of higher housing costs and standstill income growth.

“Housing costs and childcare are among the two largest budget items for working families, costing as much $43,000 a year in urban areas and over $34,000 a year in the suburbs,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “While many Americans are tied to the places they live for a variety of personal and financial reasons, it’s necessary for some households to live near family in order to make ends meet. Sometimes extended family might move together to provide childcare, or grandparents might even follow their children when they move to a new city to help care for their grandkids.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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7 Gadgets From ‘The Jetsons’ That Have Become a Reality

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

If you were around during either run of “The Jetsons”—first in 1962 and again in 1985—you may have watched the show and wondered if the technology the futuristic family used would ever become a reality. In fact, quite a few of the gadgets used on the show have become commonplace in real life. From robotic maids to video chatting, here’s a look at how the future predicted by “The Jetsons” has become the present, and how you can get in on it today.

  1. Robot Vacuums
    The Jetsons had robotic helpers that took care of all sorts of daily tasks around the house. Rosie, the family’s robot maid, was always working to keep their home in tip-top shape. While we may not be quite at the Rosie level with our robots, little helpers like the Roomba from iRobot can get you pretty close.

Roomba will take care of the vacuuming for you. It may still need some maintenance—like emptying dust bins or making sure the floor is clear so it can do its job—but if you hate vacuuming, this little guy is going to be your best friend. These types of home automation devices promise to free up tons of time for more important activities in your day-to-day lives.

  1. Smartwatches
    Way back when Steve Jobs was just a boy, the Jetsons had little square watches they would watch TV on. While the Apple Watch doesn’t have the ability to stream television—yet—it does bear a striking resemblance to the gadget the Jetsons used almost 50 years before the Apple Watch was unveiled.

Even if you can’t catch up on your Netflix queue, today’s smartwatches have a lot of futuristic capabilities. You can take calls, set reminders, check sports scores, see weather forecasts, and do other tasks right on your wrist.

  1. Video Calls
    Another technological capability that probably seemed far-fetched at the time “The Jetsons” aired was video chatting. The characters would call each other up and communicate as if they were face-to-face. These days, apps like FaceTime and Skype make it as easy as tapping a contact name.

Of all the advances in technology that have accompanied the smartphone craze, video chatting might be the most life changing. Grandparents can see their grandkids from thousands of miles away at any time. Soldiers can chat with their spouses and children from across the ocean. The impact this tech has had on families can’t be overstated.

  1. Talking Tech
    In “The Jetsons,” George was woken up each day by a talking alarm clock built into his bed. After being rudely startled awake, he could silence the alarm with his own voice—usually an angry grunt or groan.

If you want the talking alarm clock experience, plenty of options are available. Smartphone apps like the Rock Clock allow you to rise every morning to Dwayne Johnson’s soothing vocals, while dedicated alarm clocks that talk to you are available for the old-school consumer.

It isn’t just alarms that talk, though. It’s possible to have anything on your screen read to you using accessibility tech like screen readers, and digital assistants like Siri and Alexa will not only speak info to you, but also have actual conversations with you.

  1. Flat-Screen TVs
    At a time when many TVs were still black and white and all of them were thick and bulky with tiny screens, “The Jetsons” featured flat-screen TVs with huge screens that lowered from the ceiling. In the ’60s, this would have been unthinkable.

Today’s televisions are ultra-thin and often very light with huge screens and ridiculously high resolutions. LG unveiled a model at CES this year that is less than 2.6 millimeters thick and weighs only 17 pounds—and it’s a 65-inch display!

TVs that retract into the ceiling are also a thing. Companies like Nexus 21 can install a TV concealment system that makes it impossible to tell anything is there until you’re ready to watch, keeping your walls and living space open until show time.

  1. Drones
    The Jetson kids were dropped off at school each day by robotic drones—a far cry from the school buses most of us grew up with. While we are still a long way off from personal drones to chauffeur us around, the technology is advancing rapidly, and drones are being used for a variety of purposes.

Consumer-oriented drones are basically futuristic RC cars, and military drones fly combat missions while keeping our troops out of harm’s way. Even Amazon’s delivery drones can have an order to your doorstep in less than 30 minutes. Self-driving cars are also coming along nicely, so it might not be long before these technologies converge to bring us our very own Jetsons-style transport pods.

  1. Pill Cameras
    A piece of technology that’s easy to miss both on “The Jetsons” and in everyday life is the PillCam. On the show, George swallows a little robot that travels around his body and performs a checkup. If you’ve had any sort of digestive issues in the last several years, the chances are good you may have swallowed a very similar device.

The PillCam is exactly what it sounds like—a camera in a pill-shaped case that you swallow. It can be a little hard to choke down due to the size, but once swallowed, the camera goes to work, imaging your digestive tract and transmitting the info to a receiver. This helps diagnose a variety of illnesses, like Crohn’s disease, and helps the patient avoid a much more elaborate and invasive endoscopy procedure.

“The Jetsons” first aired in 1962, and, 50 years later, the show’s futuristic vision of life has very nearly become a reality. What do you think our homes and lives will be like in another 50 years?

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

6 Ways to Keep Your Appliances and HVAC Running Strong This Summer

By Susanne Dwyer

Most people enjoy summertime, but it can take a toll on home appliances. With kids out of school, families typically use them more frequently and the heat and humidity forces them to work harder and longer. Extreme heat, summer storms and power outages can also damage appliances. All these factors can spell trouble if you’re not performing routine maintenance.

Here are six expert tips to keep your appliances and home running strong this summer:

  1. Clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils. Condenser coils help the refrigerator stay cool by releasing heat from the compressor. Dirty coils result in the refrigerator having to work harder to cool, which can result in expensive cooling system repairs.

Clean the condenser coils at least twice a year, removing dirt, pet hair, food and more. If you have an older fridge, the coils might be painted black and mounted on the back. Newer refrigerators often have the condenser coils on the bottom. It’s easy to clean them with a vacuum and a coil brush, available through SearsPartsDirect.com.

  1. Clean and inspect your refrigerator’s door gaskets. A leaky door gasket, the rubber strip that runs alongside the door to form an air-tight seal with the fridge, can result in your refrigerator trying to cool the entire kitchen rather than the food and drinks inside.

Clean the gasket with a mild cleaner and then check the seal integrity with a solution of soapy water (just like you would do with an inflatable mattress). You can also use the dollar bill approach—close a dollar bill in the door so that it is only halfway in the fridge. If your gasket isn’t tight enough, it won’t hold the bill firmly in place. If the dollar bill falls out or slides down, look at scheduling a professional to replace the gasket.

  1. Change the air filters in your HVAC system. Homeowners should regularly change their air filters, as dirty ones can lead to increased energy bills and damage systems. Experts recommend changing air filters every three months at minimum and monthly during the summer if they are dirty.
  1. Clear away debris and clean HVAC condenser coils. Condenser coils release the heat from the AC unit to the outside. Dirty coils can reduce the unit’s ability to cool your home, forcing you to run it longer and use more energy.

To clean, you’ll need a garden hose, a spray nozzle and a water source. Before you begin, disconnect the power to the air conditioner. Most AC units have a shutoff box nearby. If there’s no shutoff box, find the circuit breaker in the home that controls the AC unit and turn the power off.

First, clear away debris and trim any overgrown grass or weeds near the AC unit. There is no reason to remove covers or fins from the air conditioner to clean the coils. Simply take a garden hose with a spray nozzle and wash the fins, (the outside of the AC unit) with regular water. Start with the top and work downward, washing away debris and blockage so the coils can release heat efficiently.

  1. Clean the dryer lint trap and moisture sensors. Our expert technicians recommend you clean the dryer lint trap after every single load to ensure your machine is drying clothes as quickly as possible, which will save you time and energy. Periodically, use a dryer lint brush to dislodge and remove any lint that the screen didn’t catch and clean up with a vacuum. Every six months or so, remove and wash the lint screen to remove build up, especially if you use dryer sheets.

If the automatic cycle isn’t fully drying your clothes, you should clean the moisture sensors with soap and water to remove the chemical residue left behind from dryer sheets. This residue can build up and trick the sensors into thinking your clothes are dry prematurely. Moisture sensors are thin strips typically located near the dryer vent.’

  1. Clean and inspect your gas grill. With outdoor entertaining season here, now is a great time to make sure your gas grill is in working order. Make sure the gas is off, check the manual for how to remove the burners, then brush out the grill’s interior and burner ports with a wire brush designed for grills. When you start up the grill, let it burn for five to 10 minutes before using. Use cooking spray on the burners to prevent rust and tarnish and to keep food from sticking.

Before using your grill, you should also check for a tight seal and for leaks and cracks in the hose going to the propane tank or natural gas supply line. Use soapy water to detect leaks. If bubbles start to form, there’s a leak. If there’s a leak, replace it, as this can be a fire hazard.

Most homeowners are comfortable performing these routine maintenance tasks. If you don’t have time or want to maintain your appliances, Sears Home Services can do it for you and your clients with Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Check-Ups and HVAC Maintenance. Sears Home Services expert technicians repair and maintain more than 180 appliance brands—not just those sold by Sears.

Chip Smith is the chief marketing officer of Sears Home Services, a national provider of appliance services. Sears Home Services, the House Expert for Homeowners, has more than 5,000 expert technicians who make nearly 7 million service calls annually.

For more tips on maintaining your home, please visit SearsHomeServices.com/blog.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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How to Make Your Home Design Pet-Friendly

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Decorating your home is a fun, creative, and expressive process of putting yourself into your living space—but what about the furry members of your family? When laying out and decorating your home, there are some key elements that you can slightly alter or improve to make your home more pet-friendly, durable, and easy to keep looking and feeling fresh. Not only will you benefit, but your pets will feel more at home, too. Here are some ways to make your home design pet-friendly.

Choose Durable Floors
Skip the wall-to-wall, expensive carpeting. Skip the softwood floors, no matter how beautiful. Both of these floors will quickly show the impacts of life with pets, either when they are covered in hair or are scratched up by little claws. Opt for ceramic tile in your most high traffic areas, like entryways and main rooms, and consider hardwood floors or even sealed terrazzo (kind of like concrete) elsewhere. Just remember that large dogs can still scratch hardwood, so maybe reserve it for bedrooms if your pup will leave a mark or add area rugs to cover a lot of the surface area. Word to the wise on those rugs? Don’t spend too much on them. No matter how diligent you are about cleaning them, once your pet has lived on them, they will never be the same.

Choose Durable Furniture
Whether you allow your pets on the furniture or not, their fur will find a way. Choose furniture with upholstery that is stain-resistant and easy to clean—bonus points for couch cushions with covers that can be removed and washed. Leather or pleather couches won’t get covered in fur, but they will sustain a few scratches from puppy and kitty claws, so don’t get too attached. Many furniture lines now make models with fabrics explicitly designed to be pet-proof…which might be worth the extra money in the long run!

Build a Pet Area Near an Entry
If you are a dog parent or have an outdoor cat, you need to deal with the comings and goings—and the stuff, dirt and debris that comes along with it. Make an area to hang leashes and other accessories for Barky, put a high-impact floor mat down to catch the muddy paws before they hit the clean floors, and consider even half-tiling the walls to prevent stains from the inevitable shake-off. Add some shelving and storage for treats, towels, and other knick-knacks, and your pet area will be well-stocked.

Avoid Attractive Plants or Small Decorations
Set your pet up for success: don’t leave your vintage collection of Beanie Babies at snout level, or decorate with knitted animals or felted things. Your pets will naturally assume you’ve left toys around the house, and you will be sad when they are chewed. Likewise, animals don’t always know which plants are and aren’t safe for nibbling. Have a look at the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants, and keep them out of the house for your pet’s wellbeing. Since you also want to avoid having to wrestle your decorations out of a puppy’s mouth, keep small items in a china closet or other enclosed area.

Choose Toys That Don’t Make a Mess
If you’ve ever had the brilliant idea to give your dog a rope indoors, you know: one messy toy can leave residue for a long time. If you are a fan of marrow bones or other food-like treats, do yourself a favor and leave them for outside time only. Rawhide really isn’t great for your dog anyway, but it will be guaranteed to make a mess of your floors. When giving your cat a catnip ball, choose a contained area so you don’t end up with flakes of catnip everywhere.

Groom and Bathe Your Pets Regularly
Fluffy may not love being groomed, but it will help keep the fur levels down. For dogs, depending on their hair, you may bathe them at home or choose to bring them to the groomers. Either way, prevent your home from getting a film of animal dander and grease by keeping their fur clean. Tip: Use a gentle, natural shampoo to prevent more dandruff!

Unpakt is a full-service, online moving platform that can help easily plan, compare, book and manage a move.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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Small Is the New Big: Home Size Preference Shrinks

By Susanne Dwyer

First-time homebuyers are shifting housing industry standards when it comes to home design preferences—and, according to the latest Home Design Trends Survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), one of the most significant changes is the end of the era of expansive property and square footage.

Small, simply, is the new big.

“With younger households that are increasingly entering the market looking for more affordable options, home sizes appear to have peaked for this economic cycle,” said Kermit Baker, chief economist of the AIA, in a statement on the survey.

Smaller homes are generally more affordable, which is key for many first-time homebuyers squeezed by high home prices and student debt. Small homes, however, are scarce in most housing markets.

Aside from less living space, the architecture professionals surveyed see the following trends taking shape:

  • In-Home Accessibility
  • Single-Floor Plans
  • Open-Concept Layout
  • Informal Spaces

Source: American Institute of Architects (AIA)

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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No Magic Formula for ‘Best Time to Book Airfare’

By Susanne Dwyer

(TNS)—Search on the web for “best time to book airfare” and you’ll find many conflicting answers, all of them completely wrong—and not only are they wrong, but they do a disservice to consumers who fall for this “voodoo” airfare economics.

One site gives a “guide” of 47 days before travel, although it admits that there is “quite a variance” depending on route and destination. Keep in mind that the booking site in question doesn’t offer or track Delta or Southwest, which together control about 35 percent of the domestic market, so its predictions have to be taken in that context.

Another site’s founder has infamously insisted that the best time is Tuesday at 3 p.m., (that site also doesn’t track Southwest or Delta). Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Company claimed earlier this year that the best day is not Tuesday but—wait for it—Sunday.

But wait: Skyscanner says it’s exactly seven weeks in advance of travel.

So who can you believe? Answer: none of the above.

There is no magic formula.

The best idea: sign up for “airfare alerts” by email. Search the term on the web and you’ll find many options from reputable companies that send out email alerts. Before you sign up, however, make sure that they at least include Delta Air Lines (that excludes such popular apps and sites as Hipmunk and Hopper along, with several others). If they also include Southwest, all the better, but few do.

These alerts all work a bit differently. Some only allow you to track specific dates, which is cool, except what if leaving a day or two earlier would have saved you hundreds? Some allow you to specify “to” and “from” specific airports, because a fare from Baltimore Washington International (BWI) might not be as ideal as one from closer-in Washington National DCA. Most alert systems treat “nearby” airports as equal, but tell that to someone who doesn’t want to trek out to Baltimore or Dulles when National is just a Metro ride away.

Another big annoyance is that the lowest fares are often on airlines that people hate to fly (because they charge for carry-on bags and seat assignments), so look for a service that allows you to eliminate alerts from airlines you’d never fly even if they were free (Airfarewatchdog.com does allow specific airline choice).

Another reason for signing up for several alerts: all online travel agencies do not show the same prices. I recently saw a fare from New York to South Africa flown on Delta and KLM for $200 less round trip if bought on Priceline versus the exact same flights, dates and airlines if booked on Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, or on KLM’s or Delta’s own websites. Some online travel agencies offer negotiated rates that are far less than the airlines themselves sell for. It’s worth searching more than one site.

Twitter is another great source for being alerted to short-lived airfare deals. Follow the #airfare hashtag, where over a half-dozen accounts tweet out unadvertised deals. The #flights hashtag is also useful. Follow the accounts you find there.

Once you’re signed up or following, you have to act. An airfare from L.A. to Singapore (this is a recent example) might go down, unadvertised, to $398 round-trip including tax on Singapore Airlines, whereas other airlines were charging $800 for the same travel dates but on less desirable connecting flights. But that fare, even if it’s good over several months of travel, might appear for just three or four hours and then it goes back up to $800. Now that airlines allow you to pay for a fare and cancel within 24 hours without paying a fee, the strategy is to book it, hold it, and then get your friends and family on board and sort out hotels.

George Hobica is founder of the low-airfare listing website Airfarewatchdog.com.
(c)2017 Airfarewatchdog.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Nancy Wey
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How to Prepare Your Home Before Going on Vacation

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Your summer vacation is finally here! You’ve booked flights, reserved hotel rooms, and scoped out the best places to eat along the way, but have you prepared your home for your absence?

Nothing spoils a vacation like returning to smelly trash, sad houseplants, or an unexpected break-in. Whether you plan to be gone for a week or a month, there are a few simple steps you can take to get your home ready so you can relax and enjoy your time away.

Clean Up

Leave your home exactly as you’d like to find it when you return—like new!

  • Empty your refrigerator of any perishable foods that will pass their enjoy-by dates while you are away, and toss open pantry items that will mold or go stale.
  • Take out the trash and recycling. Don’t forget about smaller trash cans in bathrooms and utility rooms.
  • Finish, fold and put away laundry. You’ll likely have clothes to wash when you return, so get a jumpstart before you go.
  • Wash your sheets and towels, and remake your beds. You’ll thank your past self when you come home to fresh linens in clean bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Wipe down counters, run your garbage disposal, sanitize toilets, and organize clutter.


Close Out

Reduce the possibility of surprise maintenance issues, which can be costly to fix, by keeping up with regular home repairs throughout the year.

  • Perform routine inspections and weatherize. Make sure your heating and cooling systems, gas and water lines, and roof and windows are in good shape. Clean up your yard, mow the grass, and take care of any dead trees or overhanging limbs that could cause damage in severe weather.
  • Unplug all small appliances. This will save power and eliminate the potential for things to short-circuit and cause significant electrical damage.
  • Check your smoke detectors. Batteries die, parts wear out, and dust and other pollutants can impede alarm performance. Make sure your home is prepared in case of fire, and consider integrating your detectors into your home security system so the fire department is notified in an emergency.
  • Turn off your water at the main shut-off valve to prevent damage in the case of a burst pipe or water heater malfunction. Consider installing a water and flood sensor, which detects moisture where it shouldn’t be and notifies your smartphone.
  • Leave your closet doors ajar to prevent mold and musty smells from building up.

Secure

Protect your home and belongings from thieves. The highest percentage of burglaries occur during the summer months, and homes without security or alarm systems are up to 300 percent more likely to be broken into.

  • Set up remote monitoring. You can have a security system professionally installed or start with a wireless security camera that you can view from your smartphone. If you have a security monitoring service, let them know that you are traveling.
  • Collect spare keys. If you have house keys hiding under doormats or flower pots, bring them inside so prowlers don’t find them. Leave an extra set with a trusted neighbor or friend in case there’s an issue that needs to be addressed while you’re away.
  • Hold your mail and newspapers. Nothing signals that you are out of town like an overflowing mailbox or stack of unread papers on your front porch. Placing a hold with USPS is as easy as completing an online form and will prevent identity thieves from targeting sensitive information found in bills and credit card statements.
  • Take advantage of home automation. You can link everything from smart locks that you can triple-check via smartphone app to smart doorbell cameras that sense motion on your front porch and have two-way audio.
  • Close blinds into rooms that contain expensive items, and set up smart light timers that mirror your regular habits when you’re home.
  • Ask for help. Have a neighbor park in your driveway while you’re gone, and enlist a friend to water your plants and check up periodically on your property.

A little bit of preparation will go a long way when it comes to leaving your home clean and secure, and enjoying your vacation stress-free!

Emily Long is a home safety expert for SafeWise.

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The post How to Prepare Your Home Before Going on Vacation appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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