Consumer Real Estate News

    • Prepare Pets for Better Grooming Visits

      22 October 2018

      (Family Features)--While a haircut is often the first thing that comes to mind when pet parents contemplate a visit to the groomer, those visits can involve much more than a bath and trim. It can also include spa-like skin and paw treatments, deep moisturizing shampoos and conditioners for healthy skin and a lustrous coat, deshedding and flea or tick treatments. These treatments are all in addition to the expert clipping, shaving and nail trims you might expect.

      Grooming is more than an attractive hairdo; every breed, regardless of size, age or coat type, needs regular grooming for overall wellbeing and to help prevent problems such as excessive shedding, skin and paw irritation, painful mats and bad breath. For certain longer-haired breeds, more frequent grooming may be necessary.

      While grooming is a necessity, it may sound more pleasant to pet parents than pets, especially dogs that are new to the experience or don't visit the groomer regularly.

      "While a day at the groomer is enjoyable for some pets, others may feel nervous or out of their comfort zones," says Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart's resident veterinarian and pet care expert. "Frequent visits are key to a less stressful experience and visiting the same trusted salon associate each time can help your pet build a connection and foster a relationship, making each visit more pleasant."

      Freeman also recommends flagging any pre-existing conditions with your groomer beforehand. This is especially important because grooming can elicit excitement or stress in some pets and aggravate underlying health issues like heart disease.  

      "Talk to your groomer about any known health concerns so he or she can be sure to watch out for signs of distress," Freeman says. "For some pets, the stress of a visit to the salon can trigger an adverse clinical event due to pre-existing conditions. Salon associates care about the overall well-being of each pet. Talking to them about underlying health issues makes the grooming associates aware of any special needs and, in some cases, may even lead them to recommend holding off on grooming for the health and safety of the pet."

      Freeman also offers these tips for pet parents:

      - When deciding on a groomer, look for a salon that employs safety-certified groomers who have undergone extensive hands-on grooming instruction including bathing, trimming and styling.

      - Be proactive in raising questions or concerns. Being transparent about your pet is best for his or her well-being, as well as that of other pets and associates in the salon.

      - Let your pet visit the store or salon beforehand to get familiar with the smells, sounds and salon associates.

      - Schedule groomer visits during slower times or request an express groom where the pet stays in the salon for a shorter time period.

      - Prepare your pup for having his or her feet, ears and tail handled by doing these things at home and using grooming tools like combs and brushes to reduce fear of strange objects. Try holding an electric toothbrush near your dog to familiarize him or her with the humming sound and vibrations that are similar to clippers in the salon.

      - Limit how much food, water and treats your pet consumes before grooming, as this can contribute to upset stomachs and digestive trouble.

      - Ask a salon associate to recommend appropriate basic grooming tools and supplies for at-home maintenance between appointments.

      Source: PetSmart

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Move Over Student Loans: Millennials Make Room for More Debt

      22 October 2018

      Just when you thought today’s younger generation couldn’t take on any more financial pressure, a new form of debt is on the rise. Whether it’s to pay for moving costs or an upcoming wedding, personal loans are becoming an increasingly popular course of action for millennials.

      In fact, according to a recent CNBC article, those 35 and under account for 25 percent of personal loans, more than double the amount in 2015, says personal loan provider LendingPoint, based on an analysis of borrower data from 2015 through August 2018.

      Millennials aren’t the only ones dipping into personal loans. TransUnion reports that outstanding personal loan balances hit a high of $125.4 billion in the second quarter of 2018, up 17.5 percent from the same period one year ago.

      What’s driving the move? For one thing, interest rates as low as 3 percent for those who qualify, compared to average credit card rates, which exceed 17 percent. This is making personal loans an attractive option for those who can get them at a low rate to consolidate and pay off higher-rate debt.

      As with any borrowing scenario, personal loans can be a smart option when used wisely. CNBC offers the following common-sense precautions:

      Borrow what you can afford to repay. Sounds obvious, but understand what this really means. Your monthly housing costs and debt payments should not exceed 36 percent of your gross monthly income.

      Borrow for the right reasons. Taking out a lower interest-rate personal loan to pay off higher interest-rate credit card debt makes sense...but only if you stop using those credit cards. And if you’re taking out a loan to pay for a wedding or another large expenditure, perhaps a better option is to delay the expense until you have the money saved.

      Know your fees. While finding the best rate will be your priority, don’t forget to read the fine print to avoid surprise expenses, such as origination fees and prepayment penalties.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Should You Rely On Your Credit Card's Travel Insurance?

      22 October 2018

      When it comes to travel insurance, you may feel like the options are endless. But is your credit card travel insurance enough to protect you? Below,  Squaremouth offers four questions travelers should ask themselves before relying solely on their credit card's travel insurance.

      Do I Want Medical and Evacuation Coverage?
      Credit Card Coverage. Most credit cards don't include medical coverage if a traveler has a medical emergency while traveling. If a credit card does come with travel medical benefits, it is often a limited amount, ranging from $2,500 to $5,000.

      Third-Party Travel Insurance Coverage. Third-party medical insurance offers more comprehensive coverage, with benefits starting around $10,000 for Emergency Medical and $100,000 for Medical Evacuation, and can exceed a million dollars. Third-party policies can also offer coverage for pre-existing conditions, including chronic conditions and recent diagnoses, illnesses, or injuries.

      Did I Book Everything on My Credit Card?
      Credit Card Coverage. Some credit cards include Trip Cancellation coverage—reimbursing customers for the cost of their trip if they are unable to go as planned. However, most credit cards that include this benefit only cover travel expenses purchased on that card, and limit the amount that can be reimbursed, typically between $1,500 and $10,000 per trip.

      Third-Party Travel Insurance Coverage. Third-party Trip Cancellation-style policies can reimburse 100 percent of the insured trip expenses. This can even include unforeseen fees related to a cancellation, like the fee to rebook travel or airline points used to book the trip.

      Do I Need Any Other Specific Coverage?
      Credit Card Coverage. Credit card travel insurance typically offers travelers higher amounts of coverage for lost or damaged luggage than most third-party providers, often reimbursing up to $3,000. However, this coverage typically only applies to items purchased using that credit card.

      Third-Party Travel Insurance Coverage. Third-party travel insurance usually offers some coverage for baggage and personal items that are lost or stolen while traveling, but often has limitations per item and may actually exclude expensive items, such as jewelry, cameras and electronics.

      Most third-party policies offer additional travel insurance benefits that are usually not covered by credit card insurance, such as Pre-existing Condition coverage and Cancel For Any Reason coverage. These benefits are time sensitive and must be purchased within a specific time frame prior to the trip departure date.

      Is It Worth Buying a Policy If My Card Already Covers Me?
      Depending on the benefits a traveler needs, they may already have adequate coverage through their credit card, and don't need to spend more on an additional policy.

      Another money saving tip Squaremouth suggests is to purchase a third-party policy with just the basic benefits missing from your credit card's coverage. For example, travelers who have their trip expenses insured by their credit card can find a medical-only travel insurance policy at a very affordable premium.

      Source: Squaremouth

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Having a Home Inspection? Don’t Forget the Trees

      19 October 2018

      When you buy a home, a professional inspection is a standard part of the process, designed to reveal any potentially dangerous and costly problems that may not be evident to the untrained eye, such as faulty electrical wiring or hidden mold.

      But there’s more to inspecting a property than the actual home itself. According to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), it’s just as important to know the quality and safety of large trees on the property, as a mammoth branch coming through the roof during the first storm spent in your home is a problem no new homeowner wants to deal with.

      While beautiful, mature trees are probably part of what drew you to a property in the first place, the experts at TCIA advise inspecting the trees for the following issues. They could be telltale signs of an imminent problem:

      - Poor past care or previous topping
      - Improper planting
      - Too much mulch on the root system
      - Damage during construction
      - Wrong tree in the wrong place
      - Insect or disease damage
      - Overwatering from the lawn's irrigation system, or limbs rubbing on the siding or roof

      Dying or decaying trees are usually easy to spot, especially when foliage is out, but you’ll need a qualified arborist to identify some of the above problems, such as healthy-looking trees with structural defects. A professional arborist can also provide advice about the future maintenance of trees on the property to help stave off long-term problems.

      Taking action on tree issues sooner than later is a wise course of action before they result in more serious and expensive problems. As Lew Bloch, a registered consulting arborist in Potomac, Md., says, "Large trees are usually an asset and a valuable amenity to the property, but weak, damaged or diseased trees are actually liabilities."

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Looking to Learn: College Search 101

      19 October 2018

      If you or your teen are beginning their search for a college, there are many things to keep in mind, from size of school, to location, curriculum, and more. Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News, offers four key tips for beginning the college search.

      Focus on fit. Students should narrow down their ideal majors and decide if they want a rural or city campus, small or large classes, a school across the country or one closer to home. To start, U.S. News' college search tool has more than 1,800 college profile pages with in-depth information on alumni starting salaries, graduation rates, tuition cost and financial aid, class size and student body breakdown.

      Be mindful of application deadlines. The majority of schools have a regular decision deadline of Jan. 1, with students expecting to hear back sometime between March and April. However, some schools offer early decision or early action deadlines that can come as soon as November. Other schools have rolling admissions, which means they will evaluate applications as they receive them and release decisions on a regular basis. Remember these dates so that deadlines for top-choice schools aren't missed.

      Write the college essay. One of the most important aspects of the application is the college essay, and students should start working on it as soon as possible. Essays have a 650-word limit on the Common App, an application platform that allows students to submit materials to multiple colleges, and the prompts are usually open-ended.

      Discuss cost and affordability in detail. Don't let a school's sticker price stop you from applying. Sometimes, seemingly expensive schools offer a considerable amount of financial aid. However, understand the implications of student loan debt, and remember that the average cost of attending college can vary based on whether a school is public or private, in- or out-of-state, and more.

      "Applying to college is a process years in the making and requires lots of family support, dedication and detailed research," says Narayan.

      Source:  U.S. News & World Report

      Published with permission from RISMedia.