Gunning Daily News

How to Master the Art of Curb Appeal

May 2, 2011 9:49 am

RISMEDIA, May 2, 2011-With prime home selling season upon us, it's time for to make sure your property is at its best-and the smartest place to start is in your front yard. First impressions are important. You don't want potential buyers to discount a home without even getting out of the car.

According to Home and Garden Television (HGTV) an attractive and well-maintained yard can add as much as 10 percent to the value of a home. In less than one weekend, you can follow three easy steps to greener and cleaner yards -allowing you to sell your home for more money in less time.

Step One-Feed Your Grass

Spring is an important time to fertilize a yard, which leads to greener grass. GreenView Lawn Food with GreenSmart is a possible option for home sellers, with an all-new enhanced efficiency fertilizer that features Mesa a patented slow-release nitrogen ingredient. After just one application, it claims to work up to 12-weeks, setting your lawn up for success against heat, drought and additional good-weather traffic. Additionally it costs an average of 20 percent less than other brands. If you have a weed problem-you'll want to choose either Crabgrass control (pre-emergent) or Weed and Feed to help with many broadleaf weed varieties, such as dandelions, chicory and pigweed. Use just three-weeks prior to your scheduled open house to see real results.

Step Two-Trim Your Lawn & Shrubs

After you feed the grass, you'll need to maintain it for open houses and showings. Don't cut your grass too short, particularly for cool season grasses. Most common grasses do well at the 2.5 to 3 inch range. Additionally, make sure to cut back overgrowth on trees, bushes and shrubs.

Step Three-Add Some Color

Add some color with fresh mulch, new flowers and a nice welcome mat. These little touches will be noticed by prospective homebuyers and make for a more welcoming appearance to your home. For a small investment, containers with flowers a good idea too. The flower containers are great for staging, and you can take them with you when you move.

For more information visit

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.

Word of the Day

April 30, 2011 10:25 am

Tax credit. An allowed deduction that can be subtracted from your income tax. If you are entitled to a $1,500 credit, and your income tax would otherwise be $10,000, the credit would reduce the tax due to $8,500.

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.

Question of the Day

April 30, 2011 10:25 am

Q: How can I make energy efficient improvements to my home?

A: Begin by focusing on those small cracks and crevices around doors and windows. According to Lowe's, a 1/8" space between a standard exterior door and its threshold is equivalent to a two square inch hole in the wall. Close those gaps to save up to 15% in heating and cooling costs and also reduce the demand on your heating and cooling system. Other energy efficient steps: lower your water heater's thermostat setting; blanket or insulate the water heater to reduce the amount of heat lost by the unit, particularly if it is located in an unheated area; insulate water pipes, at least the hot water pipes to prevent heat lost that can cause your water heater to work harder; change furnace filters to prevent reduced airflow through the heating/cooling system and overheating that can lead to premature compressor damage in the A/C systems; and install water-saving shower heads.

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.

American Drivers Ready to Go Green

April 30, 2011 10:25 am

RISMEDIA, April 30, 2011-Electric cars are just beginning to hit U.S. highways but, if the most recent Nielsen Energy Survey is any indication, they should receive a huge welcome. An overwhelming 85 percent of American consumers say they would be interested in purchasing a plug-in electric vehicle; either right away (3 percent), when their current car needs replacement (57 percent) or when the technology is proven and becomes mainstream (25 percent).

One consumer who won't be waiting is MXenergy CEO Jeffrey Mayer. Mayer, head of one of the nation's leading independent energy providers, was one of the first in line to order his "Victory Red" Chevy Volt.

"The Volt and other plug-in vehicles getting ready to hit showroom floors represents a huge step forward for the sustainability movement," says Mayer. "The large scale production of electric cars is something many people feared might remain just a dream. I for one can't wait to be a part of that dream becoming a reality."

While U.S. drivers seem ready to embrace the electric car, they also have a strong preference as to the type of vehicle they prefer. 58 percent of customers prefer plug-in hybrid electric versions (PHEV) such as the Chevy Volt to electric-only models such as the Nissan Leaf. PHEV's have a much greater range than their electric only counterparts. According to E Source, younger drivers are more willing to go to electric-only route with their vehicle choice.

Regardless of which version people prefer, Mayer says the greening of America's highways is exciting to see.

"People realize we have to dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil and do all we can to lessen our environmental impact as well. The introduction of electric vehicles into the marketplace is a transformational moment for the automotive industry and the sustainability movement."

For more information MXenergy please visit

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.

Most Americans Are Health-Conscious, but Behavior Varies by Age

April 30, 2011 10:25 am

RISMEDIA, April 30, 2011-When purchasing food and beverages, U.S. adults are aware of basic nutritional facts of these products and how to manage their weight. In addition, Americans think that locally sourced produce is an important aspect of food choice. At first glance, the good news is that U.S. adults show a high level of health-consciousness, but whether or not awareness translates into behavior is still in question.

A closer look at the results shows that as Americans age, they develop stronger purchasing preferences and habits with regard to healthier choices. Matures (66+ years old) are the most likely of all generations to pay close attention to nutritional facts and translate their health consciousness into behavior, possibly because they are more likely to need to follow a diet with specific restrictions, such as with low salt and sugar. The differences in eating habits among age groups suggest that actual behavioral change may, to some extent, be more driven by necessity than by knowledge.

  • Awareness of key nutritional facts is high. At least three-quarters of all U.S. adults place importance on fresh (89 percent), fiber (81 percent), whole grains (81 percent), fat content (80 percent), portion size (79 percent), calories (77 percent) and saturated fat (76 percent) when making food and beverage purchases. However, more specialized nutritional items are rated much lower with 33 percent and 20 percent rating gluten and vegan as important.
  • Awareness of how to manage a diet is also high. At least seven out of 10 of all U.S. adults place importance on consumption of protein (83 percent), fat (81 percent), whole grains (81 percent), calories (80 percent), saturated fat (79 percent), sugar (76 percent), cholesterol (75 percent), carbohydrates (74 percent), and sodium (73 percent) when thinking of how they manage their diet and/or weight. Hydrogenated oils were rated the lowest in importance at 67 percent.
  • Sugar and salt drive dietary behavioral change. Over half of U.S. adults (57 percent) place some type of monitor or restriction on their diet. Sugar and salt are the top two restricted items, with 34 percent and 32 percent restricting salt and sugar.
  • Local is in, but organic lags behind. When asked about broader food-related issues, 71 percent of U.S. adults rate locally-sourced produce as important when thinking about where their food comes from. Comparatively, only 42 percent rate organic as important.
  • Matures lead all age groups in diet changes. Three quarters (76 percent) of Matures have a diet restriction, as compared to 58 percent of Baby Boomers (aged 47-65), 50 percent of Generation X (aged 35-46), and 51 percent of Echo Boomers (aged 18-34). Matures are also more likely to curb their salt or sugar intake than any other generational group.
  • Nutrition Awareness is not translating into dietary change for most generations. Among those who rate sugar or salt as important when managing their diet/weight, less than half of these U.S. adults actually restrict their sugar (42 percent) or salt (47 percent) intake. The action/awareness gap is even more pronounced when comparing the youngest and oldest generations, where 32 percent and 31 percent of Echo Boomers restrict their sugar or salt intake respectively, compared to 67 percent and 61 percent of Matures who do.

So What?

The high levels of awareness indicate that the nutritional initiatives in recent years-such as revisions to food labels and increased interest in obesity programs-seem to be effective in creating a health-conscious public; however, transforming awareness into healthy habits is the next step. As noted in a previous Harris Poll "knowledge alone, while important, is not enough to change behavior," and the current data reinforces this issue.

For more information, please visit

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.

Two New Profiles to Help Identify Toxicity from Everyday Exposures

April 30, 2011 10:25 am

RISMEDIA, April 30, 2011-Metametrix Clinical Laboratory recently announced the availability of two new toxicity profiles to help determine exposure to harmful chemicals: Bisphenol A and Organophosphates. These new additions to the Toxic Effects product line give practitioners additional resources to determine if toxicity is an underlying cause of disease in their patients.

"BPA has been in the news recently as a dangerous chemical used in a variety of plastics. Organophosphate pesticides are still used in agricultural production, and eventually end up on our dinner tables," says Dr. J. Alexander Bralley, CEO of Metametrix Clinical Laboratory. "Once identified, these chemicals can be easily avoided, reducing risk and improving health. Environmental toxins are the secret, silent health destroyers which can be easily identified and eliminated."

Bisphenol A (BPA) is widely used in the production of clear, shatter-proof plastics and is also present in liners of canned foods and beverages. The Bisphenol A Profile also measures triclosan, an antimicrobial agent used in personal products such as hand soap and toothpaste, as well as 4-nonylphenol, a surfactant with industrial uses. These chemicals are shown to be endocrine disruptors and possible contributors to disorders such as obesity, neurological development delays in infants, thyroid disruption, developmental issues of sexual organs in infants, and sexual dysfunction in adults.

Organophosphate pesticides are nerve agents used in agricultural crops, orchards, residential lawns, and food storage centers. Organophosphates can be hazardous to the neurological development of children and fetuses. Other health effects include chronic fatigue, asthma, immune system disorders, impaired memory, disorientation, depression, irritability, and may increase risk of cancer.

"It is no longer a question of if we are burdened by toxins. It is a question of how burdened we are and whether these toxins are keeping us from the health we desire," states Dr. Walter J. Crinnion, Environmental Health Specialist. "Finding the burden and removing the sources of toxicity are critical steps in the road to recovery of health."

For more information visit

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.

Gardening and Spring Activities Should Include Learning about Invasive Pests That can Devastate America's Trees

April 30, 2011 10:25 am

RISMEDIA, April 30, 2011-Now that spring has arrived, and summer is quickly approaching, The Nature Conservancy-along with nursery industry partners and scientists-encourages people to take the time to learn more about tree-killing invasive insects and diseases as they spend more time outdoors. Everyday citizens can help detect forest pests and prevent their spread if they remain observant of the trees and forests around their homes and nearby natural areas while gardening, hiking and performing other outdoor activities.

Results from a recent poll conducted by The Nature Conservancy indicate that 95 percent of the public consider trees to be an important part of the character and quality of life where they live, and that 93 percent are concerned about the insects and diseases that kill trees. The poll results also showed that 77 percent of the respondents live within 10 miles of a wooded area, underscoring the vital role the public can play in detecting the presence of tree-killing pests.

"More often than not, the presence of an invasive insect or disease that has spread to a new area of the country has been detected by a concerned member of the public," says Faith Campbell, senior policy representative in the Conservancy's Forest Health Program. "If we can better educate people about these non-native pests, the chances of controlling them will dramatically increase."

Imported trees and shrubs-as well as untreated crates and pallets-can have harmful hitchhikers, such as beetles buried in wood or tiny mites on the leaves of a flowering plant. These pests can kill trees in neighborhoods and parks, choke farmland, and devastate forests. Remarkably, new non-native plant pest introductions are detected at a rate of one every twelve days, adding to the burden of the more than 450 damaging tree pests already established in the United States.

"There are many tree species in the forest now that are suffering from attack by pests, including the beech, which produces nuts that feed bears, turkey and many other types of wildlife; and the hemlock, which creates majestic, cathedral-like, old growth forests that many people cherish," comments Gary Lovett, senior scientist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. "The loss of these tree species creates ripple effects that ramify through ecosystems and affect our own lives."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering revising its regulations governing international plant trade. This revision would create a new category called NAPPRA (Not Authorized for Importation Pending Pest Risk Assessment), which is designed to increase the effectiveness of the USDA's plant pest prevention efforts, providing a way to stop pests well before they might arrive at a U.S. port of entry.

The Nature Conservancy encourages members of the public to become familiar with the insects and diseases that are threats in their region by using the many online resources available, such as or Following are some of the invasive insects and diseases that are currently threatening trees and other plants that live in forests and other ecosystems across the country. These pests can be contained or mitigated if new outbreaks are detected sufficiently early.

The Nature Conservancy encourages members of the public who notice an insect or tree disease they don't recognize to take a photo or obtain a specimen of it, and compare it to website photos of the suspected pest. Or, they can take the photo or specimen to a county agriculture extension office, local nursery, or state agricultural office to obtain help with its identification. If they believe they have found a new outbreak of an invasive pest or pathogen, they should contact their state department of agriculture to find out where to send a sample of it and how it should be packaged to ensure nothing could potentially escape during shipment. For a listing of all the USDA-APHIS state plant health director offices, visit and click on "Report a Pest or Disease" on the far right menu.

For more information visit or

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.

Question of the Day

April 29, 2011 4:25 pm

Q: What about a vacation home as an investment?

A: Like any investment, it can be risky. Location and current market conditions are extremely important when deciding whether to buy.

Other things to consider:

- Will you be able to afford repairs, maintenance, insurance, and utilities?

- What about fees to pay agents who rent the property for you?

- If you live several miles away from your vacation home, who will clean up between tenants and take an inventory of household items once the tenants leave?

- What if you are unable to rent your second home? Can your pocketbook withstand the strain of paying the mortgage?

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

More Consumers Say Privacy Is Biggest Concern when Using Mobile Applications on Smartphones

April 29, 2011 4:25 pm

RISMEDIA, April 29, 2011-Recently, at both APPNATION and the Mobile Marketing Strategies Summit, TRUSTe, an online privacy solutions provider, announced the results of a survey of 1000 smartphone users nationwide on issues relating to privacy and usage of mobile applications and mobile web sites. The Q1 2011 online poll-conducted by Harris Interactive-included responses that reveal attitudes and perceptions about mobile privacy, primary areas of concern and current safeguards being implemented.

Nearly all respondents agreed that privacy is an important issue when using a mobile device and that they want more transparency and control over what personal information is collected and how it is shared. In addition, smartphone users want more choices about advertising and geo-location tracking. Thirty-eight percent say privacy is the number one concern when using mobile applications, followed by security (26 percent); identity tracking (19 percent); and sharing information with or without permission (14 percent).

"This survey makes it crystal clear that privacy concerns are a huge stumbling block to consumer usage of applications and websites on smartphones," says Fran Maier, president and executive chair, TRUSTe. "As growth of the mobile market continues to surge, the industry needs a dedicated approach to educate consumers about how their data is being used and lets them make choices whether or not to engage. Overcoming consumer hesitancy and addressing increased lawmaker and regulator concerns require privacy practices that include notice and choice. TRUSTe is committed to extending those capabilities to the mobile platform."

Tracking and Behavioral Targeting are Hot Buttons

The survey shows that behavioral advertising is one of the top consumer issues relating to mobile marketing, with a majority being apprehensive about advertising tracking and wanting the choice not to participate. Specifically:

An educated 68 percent of respondents indicate being aware of advertisers tracking mobile activity and delivering personalized content as a result

A significant 85 percent want the choice to opt in or opt out of targeted mobile advertisements

Seventy-five percent of smartphone users say they do not like advertiser tracking

While location tracking remains a concern, the survey reveals that some smartphone users do permit access to their whereabouts

Only 36 percent feel they have a choice regarding the collection and use of their location information

Less than one-third of those surveyed say their smartphone alerts them when location information is being collected. (Note: this is significantly more common for iPhone users.)

Survey Shows Consumers Crave More Control before Fully Trusting Mobile Opportunities

A whopping 98 percent of consumers say having easy access to controls over their personal information in a mobile application is important

Only 38 percent feel confident that mobile applications will protect their privacy

Just 25 percent believe their application store only makes available applications that safeguard their privacy

While 90 percent say they have downloaded at least one application for their phone, 85 percent restrict at least some type of information sharing on mobile applications

Forty percent of those surveyed do not use mobile applications or mobile websites that ask for or use their personal information, with 38 percent saying they don't access their online accounts via mobile devices at all.

TRUSTe's independent analysis of the top 340 free mobile applications shows that only 19 percent have a link to a privacy policy, which demonstrates how much work mobile application providers have ahead. In the Harris survey, 51 percent of consumers confirmed that they do look for a privacy policy on mobile applications, with just over one-half indicating having read one.

"Given the highly personal nature of the mobile phone, privacy remains a top priority for the MMA as we carry out efforts to provide standards and guidelines for marketers," says Michael Becker, managing director of North America for the Mobile Marketing Association. "The MMA is encouraged by the investment in privacy research, privacy management solutions and standards that many of its members are making. It is the continued implementation of these types of programs that keep consumer best interest in mind for the responsible and sustainable growth of the industry."

For more information visit

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.

Word of the Day

April 29, 2011 6:55 am

Subletting. The leasing of premises by a lessee to a third party for part of the lessee's remaining term.

Copyright 2010 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.