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Anthony Noland

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Liven Up Your Home with Color

August 19, 2013 1:45 am

(Family Features) The summer months are all about color. From flowers in bloom to vibrant beach towels and colorful dresses, summer brings with it a multitude of hues.

If you feel that your home is in need of an update, adding a little pop of color can help. Start by thinking about the colors you want to add, where color can make the most impact and just how much you need to give your home a fresh look.

Here are a few tips to get you started on your adventure in color:

Explore Color
Begin by visiting your favorite clothing boutique, stopping into a paint store or flipping through home design magazines for inspiration. Choose the looks you are most drawn to or the colors that evoke a feeling of happiness or calmness. These colors reflect your personal style and will make you feel most comfortable in your home.

Start Small
After picking a color palette, don’t go out and paint your whole house with it; start small. Just changing your accent pillows, throws, lampshades or accessories can make a big impact when you are introducing a new color. Remember to make sure the color flows well throughout the entire space, especially if your home has an open floor plan with rooms easily visible from one to another.

Accent with Artwork
Another easy way to bring color to your home is by updating artwork and wall decor. Simply moving artwork from one room to another can give your home a refreshed look. Adding some newly purchased pieces can also breathe new life into your home!

Be Brave

If you’re ready to go all out with color, it’s fine to make a dramatic change. The kitchen is a great place to go big with color and it’s usually the gathering place in the home. To bring bold color in the kitchen, and to set the tone for your entire home, update your cabinetry.

Source: KraftMaid

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

August 16, 2013 1:45 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates largely unchanged from the previous week after bouncing around over the past few weeks on market speculation that the Federal Reserve will taper in its upcoming September monetary policy committee meeting.

-30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.40 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending August 15, 2013, unchanged from last week. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.62 percent.

-15-year FRM this week averaged 3.44 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.43 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.88 percent.

-5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.23 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.19 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.76 percent.

-1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.67 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.62 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.69 percent.

"Fixed mortgage rates have been bouncing around over the past few weeks on market speculation that the Fed will taper some of its monetary stimulus. In fact, 65 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the Fed to reduce the amount of bond purchases at its September 17th and 18th monetary policy committee meetings,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Currently, mortgage rates on 30-year fixed mortgages are 1.1 percentage points above their all-time low set on November 21, 2012, which translates into $125 more per month in mortgage payments on a $200,000 loan."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Timeless Roof Colors

August 16, 2013 1:45 am

According to national color expert Kate Smith, the most timeless roofing colors used on American homes include black, gray and cedar. Colors that are gaining popularity in “shaking up” today’s roofs include shades of green, clay and terracotta.

“Black never goes out of style for any use,” says Smith, president and chief color maven of Sensational Color. “From the little black dress to the luxury black car to a crisp black tuxedo, there is an upscale feeling about black that crosses product and category boundaries.

“It’s not surprising that black, which denotes power and authority, is perhaps the most popular roofing color. For a lighter shade of black, gray clearly is the next most timeless color for roofs --- especially because so many people have selected natural slate roofs over the years.”
Smith notes that bright colored roofs were far more common historically than people realize.

“Colorful roofs with a range of reds, greens and even golds were used in all styles of homes in the past,” says Smith. “And, for homes with wood roofing, nothing matches a natural cedar color for a timeless appeal. Again, the historical aspect of people using real wood shakes, which were widely available in rural areas, has driven the popularity of this color over the years.”

New Classic Roofing Colors
In today’s home environment, Smith points out that consumers are expressing themselves more often with different colors - and blends of colors - on their roofs.

“I’ve seen how people’s tastes vary and how they enjoy having 49 standard roof colors to choose from,” says Smith. “While a majority of people request the polymer roofing tiles in black and gray, some people really wish to ‘shake up’ their roofs. Those homeowners may select a green blend of roofing tiles that beautifully complements both warm and cool tones on the rest of the home. And, green roofs work well in wooded settings or can easily ‘soften’ the look of a home in an exposed location.”

For a Mediterranean style home, Smith suggests that a terracotta or clay color can add accent appeal to the exterior. To replicate the look of cedar, but get all the advantages of a polymer shake roof, Smith recommends a Tuscano blend of light, medium light, medium and dark autumn colors that combine to provide the timeless “color feeling” of cedar.

Source: www.davinciroofscapes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Multiple Offer Dilemma? Make your Offer Stand Out Against the Competition

August 16, 2013 1:45 am

Finding your dream home is no simple task. You may start by considering a price range or maybe you’re looking for a particular style of home. Often times, home buyers have to meet certain work or family needs – location, a particular number of rooms, the need for a big backyard or a specific amount of garage space.

There are several factors to consider as you narrow the search down to just a few properties. But what do you do when you find your dream home, only to discover other potential buyers have already made offers? In today’s competitive market, buyers need ways to make their offers stand out against the competition. When faced with a multiple offer situation, follow these tricks of the trade:

Include a Sales Price Escalation Addendum with your offer
A Sales Price Escalation Addendum is a document attached to your offer that allows it to be increased by a specified amount, which is activated if competing offers meet certain perimeters. The Sales Price Escalation Addendum is triggered if the seller receives one or more legitimate additional offers, which have a higher net value – the final sale price, after closing costs and buyer concessions have been agreed upon – than the offer with the escalation addendum. Specific values will vary from offer to offer, but this addendum gives your offer room for adjustment.

Don’t ask for Closing Cost Credits and Increase your Earnest Money Deposit
In the real estate business, money talks! Closing costs credits assist the buyer in purchasing the home and reduce the net cash to the seller. Oftentimes with multiple offers in the current sellers’ market, these requests have the offer thrown out immediately. Like a security deposit, earnest money is the initial deposit with the offer as an act of good faith. It shows the seller that you’re serious about your offer and moving towards the purchase. If the offer is accepted, this money goes towards the eventual down payment. When there are multiple offers, increasing the earnest money tells the seller you’re committed to the purchase, and they should give your offer more consideration.

Be prompt with inspection scheduling
When submitting an offer, every property is subject to inspection. Having a tightly scheduled inspection period not only shows you’re serious about moving forward, but also indicates to the seller that you’re in control of the situation. Industry standard is 17 day inspection period, reducing to 10 or 12 days is much more appealing. Being proactive expedites the sales process to closing, which will make any seller happy. By initiating the inspection process and keeping a tight schedule, you make your offer look more serious and closing attainable, which is the mutual goal.

Make sure your agent reaches out to the listing agent prior to submitting an offer
This will help expedite the offer process, again setting your offer apart from the competition. Using the selling agents preferred vendors for items such as termite, title and escrow go a long way to suggesting a smooth transaction. Also, the buyer may need a rent-back period after the sale, and give an idea whether they are willing to give any credits for repairs, etc. This eliminates many of the minor countering items and reduces back and forth negotiating up-front.

Use DocuSign
This cloud-based electronic signature technology facilitates the exchange of contracts, tax documents and other legal materials. DocuSign simplifies the real estate buying process by organizing all of your documents, making them mobile and easily accessible. Also, your electronic signature will be honored and secure. Since all the documents are saved as electronic files, they can be easily emailed to listing agents. Again, this shows that you are a serious buyer, working with you may be easier than others and they should consider your offer with more earnest.

Keep in mind offers can be too high
Some homebuyers may think no price is too high to pay for their dream home, but the highest offer is not always the strongest. Mortgage lenders must approve the value. Lenders won’t approve a loan for more than the appraised market value of the property. Even though the seller may love an offer higher than list price, the bank may not approve.

Following these steps through your next real estate purchase will help you compete with multiple, legitimate offers on your dream house, making yours stand out above the rest.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Tips to Lawsuit-Proof Your Pool Party

August 15, 2013 1:42 am

With the dog days of summer upon us, here's hoping your pool party doesn't belly-flop into a lawsuit.

When it comes to potential pool party liability, safety is key. Before you fire up the grill and play another round of Marco Polo, take all the necessary pool safety precautions or you could get sued.

Here are a few tips on how to lawsuit-proof your pool party:

Prevent "toxic" pool injuries. During a party, lighting is key. But beware of dumping chemicals in the pool without considering the potential consequences. Last year, two ravers filed a lawsuit, alleging chemicals that made a pool glow under blacklights caused them partial vision loss. Swimming pool chemicals injure thousands yearly, but are largely preventable.

Repair and maintain nearby wires. Swimming pool electrocutions happen more often than you may think. If you have electricity powering lights or a pump that supplies water to a slide at your party, make sure the equipment and wiring is safe. And if you notice some precarious overhead wires, it may be best to call your local power company to get it checked out.

Protect young children. Pool parties are fun and games, but not for kids who don't know how to swim. Death and nonfatal injury rates for drowning are highest among children under four. To protect the little ones, install a self-closing gate around the pool, have them wear "floaties" during the party, and always keep them supervised.

Prevent slip-and-fall accidents. Slip 'n Slides are fun. Slip 'n falls? Not so much. Keep partygoers off slick surfaces so they don't slip and fall into a lawsuit. You may want to lay rubber mats around the pool and make sure the diving board is in good working order.

Prevent drunk driving. A pool party often entails adult libations - brewskies, pinot grigio and margaritas - but don't let people drive home drunk. If you do, and someone gets hurt, then you could be on the hook for social host liability.

Prevent pool hopping. When the party's winding out, take precautions to keep mischievous "pool hopping" teens out. Though they're trespassers, your best bet is to fence-in and lock your pool when the party's over.

Source: Findlaw.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Chocolate or Vanilla? Cup or Cone? America Weighs In

August 15, 2013 1:42 am

The decision is a very hard one. Should you go traditional or a little more out there? It's hot and all you want is that nice cold treat. But which flavor are you going to go with? If you want to follow what other Americans do, chocolate is the way to go, as over one-quarter (27 percent) say it is one of their two favorite ice cream flavors, followed by vanilla (23 percent) and cookie dough/cookies and cream (22 percent).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,242 adults surveyed online between July 17 and 22, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

For one in five Americans, butter pecan/Swiss almond is tops (19 percent), as is mint chocolate chip (19 percent), followed by strawberry (14 percent), rocky road (12 percent) and peanut butter (10 percent). Less than one in ten U.S. adults say one of their two favorite flavors is coffee (9 percent), cherry vanilla (8 percent), pistachio (7 percent), black raspberry (6 percent), a seasonal flavor such as eggnog or pumpkin (5 percent) or peach (3 percent). One in ten (10 percent) have a different favorite flavor, and 2 percent say they do not eat ice cream.

There is a little bit of gender divide when it comes to favorite flavor. For women, chocolate is on top (29 percent), followed by mint chocolate chip (23 percent) and cookie dough/cookies and cream (22 percent). For men, vanilla is the narrow favorite (27 percent), then chocolate (26 percent) and cookie dough/cookies and cream (21 percent).

How do you want that?

Now, once the flavor is chosen, the decision doesn't end there. How should you actually eat the ice cream? More than two in five Americans (45 percent) say their favorite way to eat ice cream is in a cup, followed by cone (31 percent), sundae (16 percent), and sandwich (4 percent) while 5 percent say their favorite way to eat ice cream is something else – maybe in a cake? Men are more likely than women to prefer cups (49 percent versus 42 percent) and sundaes (17 percent versus 14 percent). Women, however, are more likely to say their favorite way to eat ice cream is in a cone (36 percent versus 25 percent).

And, any toppings?

Now there is one more major decision to make. Are you in the mood for something crunchy, or maybe something warm? Maybe there's a choice for something a little 'healthy,' or even pure decadence? Ah, what topping should you have on that ice cream?

Over half of Americans (53 percent) say hot fudge is among their favorite toppings for ice cream, followed by two in five who say nuts (41 percent). Just under two in five say whipped cream is among their favorite toppings (39 percent), while 38 percent say caramel. Three in ten say their favorite is fruit, such as strawberries or bananas (31 percent), while one in five choose sprinkles (20 percent), followed by 17 percent who go for candy bits and one in ten who say marshmallow (11 percent). There are some purists out there, as 16 percent say they prefer their ice cream plain.

Source: Harris Interactive

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Great Financial Freebies

August 15, 2013 1:42 am

There are free financial products and services to be had, but consumers may have to shell out money to get some of them. The September 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from Consumer Reports, features an up-close look at five truly free financial products and services including checking accounts and tax filing.

"Beware of the word free, especially when it comes to financial services," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "Free financial advice in particular can really end up costing you."

Five Great Financial Freebies

1. Checking accounts. Truly free accounts are getting harder to find, but there are still some available without no minimum-balance rules to follow and no monthly fees. Consumers are most likely to get them at credit unions, small or internet banks, and brokerage houses. For example, two online banks, Ally and Schwab, offer free checking accounts plus free checks, zero ATM fees, and interest (though puny) on a balance.

2. Personal finance help. Some free budgeting programs can help set short- and long-term financial goals and create a spending plan that will help consumers meet these goals. Mint (mint.com) has ads but it's easy to set up and navigate a plan; Yodlee (yodlee.com) is clunkier but has more features and no ads.

3. Retirement money. Some employers match funds that employees contribute to their 401(k). Consumers whose 401(k) is maxed out should consider a Roth IRA if it is offered by their employer. There is no tax break on investments, but withdrawals, including earnings, are free from federal tax if they are taken on or after the age of 59 and have held the Roth IRA for more than five years.

4. Trip insurance and other perks. Credit cards may offer free trip insurance that might come with other perks, such as price protection (meaning the card issuer will refund the difference if a better deal is found on something recently bought) and coverage of items purchased on the card that are lost or damaged within a limited time. Check the card's terms to see what it offers and read the fine print for restrictions.

5. Tax filing. At FreeFile on the IRS website, there's no charge to prepare and file federal taxes. But one version on FreeFile has income limitations that are updated annually. This year it was available to households with a 2012 adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less. Other services, such as Express1040, FreetaxUSA, TaxACT, and TurboTax Federal Free Edition, offer free tax preparation and filing for federal returns that are relatively straightforward.

Source: ShopSmart

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Dining Out With Kids: More Delight Than Disaster

August 14, 2013 1:42 am

Restaurant.com revealed that parents enjoy dining out with their kids citing many benefits to the experience with family quality time and education opportunities topping the list. A recent survey by the company found that 59 percent of parents dine out with their children once a week or more. In fact, 70 percent say that going out to eat with their kids is a great way to spend time with the family.

The survey also reveals that 66 percent of parents feel that taking children out to eat offers educational benefits and provides the opportunity to try new foods they normally would not have at home. And, 57% say that eating out is a good time to emphasize good table manners.
Additional findings include:

American Cuisine – The most popular cuisine choice for family dining is American, with 40 percent reporting it as their family's favorite. Italian came in second with 25 percent of the votes, followed by Mexican with 21 percent.

Food Options – Parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with the menu selection restaurants provide for their family with 83 percent reporting that most restaurants have kid-friendly food options, and 56 percent feel that restaurants have healthy food options for kids.

Entertaining the Kids – As for keeping the kids entertained while in a restaurant, 74 percent of parents report that good, old-fashioned conversation is the best entertainment, followed by crayons and paper (53 percent).

Dining Deals are the Best – Nearly all respondents (96 percent) have used a coupon or a deal when dining out with their children, with 37 percent reporting they do so more often than not.

Source: Restaurant.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Parents Spend 26.7 Billion Dollars in Back-to-School Gear

August 14, 2013 1:42 am

While parents report spending on average $90 per child on school supplies each year, a recent national survey shows that many of those pricey items will be lost. Michelle Brandriss, a mom and founder and CEO of Name Bubbles, advises parents to "label it or risk losing it; help keep items coming home."

Before the back-to-school season, Name Bubbles asked parents across America, between the ages of 18 and 44, a series of questions in an effort to learn more about one of the busiest times of the year. Of the more than 400 parents surveyed, 80 percent admitted that their children lost items at school last year. Of those parents, 73 percent never recovered the lost and unlabeled school supplies, and 27 percent spent more than $50 replacing those lost items. In contrast, the parents who did label their children's school supplies always recovered their lost items.

"Organization is the key to a successful school year," said Brandriss. "Whether you label school supplies, backpacks, jackets, or sports gear, name labels help students keep track of their belongings and avoid having them end up in the lost and found."

Most Frequently Lost Items and Percentage of Kids Who Lose Them:

1. Hats and gloves - 57%
2. School supplies - 52%
3. Outerwear - 43%
4. Lunch boxes - 36%
5. Book bags - 14%

Source: NameBubbles.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Eight Best Reasons to Use a Professional Pest Control Company

August 14, 2013 1:42 am

Many people consider themselves would be "do it yourselfers" and with all the information available online, it makes sense that many household projects can be undertaken by a layman or weekend hobbyist. When dealing with pest control issues, however, it may be a better idea to let a pro handle it instead of just buying some poison and going to town.

Here are the best reasons to use a professional pest control company when you have a pest problem in your home:

8) Discount for Additional Services – Generally, the more services you purchase from your exterminator the more you save per service. As a result, each service becomes cheaper per service.

7) Referral Discounts – Many pest control companies offer discounts to clients who successfully refer them to their friends. This is a way to get money back for a service you have already purchased.

6) Exclusion Services – Once your exterminator has indentified the causes of your pest issues, he/she can either perform the corrections to the structure or recommend someone who can. By changing these conditions, pests are less likely to return.

5) Prevention - You pest control company is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to ways to prevent pests. They will assist you with information on what you can do to prevent termites, ants, roaches and more.

4) Identification – Not sure what the pest is that may be bothering you? Your exterminating company will be able to get an ID of the pest, even if you are not covered for that pest. Maybe you have a mysterious bite; again the pest control company can help.

3) Formulating a Plan – A professional exterminator understands the needs of your home or business. So he/she will formulate a planned approach to the implementation of service to aide in eliminating and reducing a pest invasion.

2) Risk– Using pest control products comes with a risk to your health, the health of your family and the environment. Pest Control companies are not only trained to use pesticides safely, they are also regulated by state and national laws that help protect non target animals from exposure to the insecticides.

1) Cost – The purchase price for an insecticide is generally cheaper for a professional exterminator since they are able to purchase their products at a wholesale price and in bulk. More importantly, they will use the right product for the pest that is infesting your home or business. Knowing the insect and the correct product to use is half the battle. Ants are not just ants, for example. Different species of ants may require a different type of product and application. You as the property owner may not be able to properly identify the pest; hence, spending more money on products in an attempt to correct your pest issue.

Source: Earth’s Best Pest Control

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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