Gunning Daily News

Make Sure Vehicle Lights Shine Bright for Safe Spring Driving

March 21, 2011 8:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 21, 2011-Spring is here and its arrival means warmer weather, more hours of daylight and spring break travel. Making sure your headlights are in proper working order should be a top priority before hitting the road this spring, says the Car Care Council.

"Many motorists think to check their vehicle's lights in fall or winter when the days are shorter, but checking lighting before the spring and summer driving season is just as important," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. "Better weather and longer days mean more driving and longer trips, often after dark. Lights play a major role in safe driving, as the chance of an accident increases if you can't see or be seen."

Lights are normal wear items that require periodic inspection and replacement. The lighting system provides nighttime visibility, signals and alerts other drivers, and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle's interior. From the driver's seat you may not notice a light that isn't working, so be sure to inspect your car's lights at every oil change. At the same time, inspect and replace wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during spring showers.

In addition to replacing dimming, rapidly blinking and non-functioning lights, the following tips can help keep you safe:

-Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights from being seen by others.

-Make sure your headlights are properly aimed. Miss-aimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.

-Don't overdrive your headlights; you should be able to stop inside the illuminated area, otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.

-If there is any doubt as to whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on. Lights not only help you see better in early twilight, they also make it easier for other drivers to see you.

For more information, visit www.carcare.org.

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.


5 Ways to Turn Window Treatments Into Art

March 21, 2011 8:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 21, 2011-"Window treatments are much more than objects that meet an end goal of energy conservation and sun glare reduction. Window treatments should be considered part of the overall design of a room, especially with rooms where bay windows or floor to ceiling windows are already the focal point of the room," says Chris Stanley of Blinds Chalet.

Blinds Chalet offers the following tips for turning your window treatments into art.

1. Layer energy efficient, cellular shades with custom drapery. Use decorative curtain holders to sweep the drapes back from the window while maximizing energy efficiency and sun glare reduction.

2. Use a color that contrasts with the rest of the interior design. Consider adding a bright bold color through fashionable window treatments like roman shades. Be sure to use a matching valance for a complete, finished look to the window treatment.

3. For an exotic look, pair bamboo or woven wood curtains with decorative window tapes. The window tapes frame the window, protect the window treatments and can utilize either bright bold colors or patterns, creating a frame for the window, or neutral colors can be used for a more subtle effect.

4. Install shutters. This adds a quaint feel to any room. Pair shutters with a nautical color scheme and let the window treatments stand as the focal point of the room.

5. Paint the window trim as if it were a frame for a piece of art. Use complimentary or contrasting colors. Window treatments need to be more than functional. They help create the feel of a room and are often where the gaze is trained for long periods of time. Human eyes naturally gravitate toward light; therefore windows are most commonly the first item observed in a room. With the above tips, it's easy to turn window treatments into pieces of art.

For more information, visit www.BlindsChalet.com.

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


5 Steps to Creating the Ultimate Man Cave

March 21, 2011 8:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 21, 2011-Every guy dreams of having his own man cave-that rugged realm of testosterone where workday annoyances can be shaken off, and fellow dudes can congregate to watch a game, work out, or just kick back and enjoy a beer. While decorating a man cave is all about no-rules freestyling, there are a few basic first steps to building the ultimate guys' hangout.

According to CableOrganizer.com Product Specialist Christina Hansen, "Decorating a man cave is all about freestyling-no rules." But regardless of your theme, there are a few basic first steps to building the ultimate guys' hangout.

Step 1: Scout Out the Perfect Location

Don't have the megabucks for a residential lair like Bruce Wayne's or Tony Stark's? Not to worry. Have an unused basement, guest room or garage where no one else in the family wants to hang out? That's all you need. It may look rough now, but with a little creativity and some DIY skills, pretty much any space can be transformed over a weekend or two.

Step 2: Temperature and Volume Control

Once you've got dibs on a location, check out the insulation factor, for both temperature and sound. If you're setting up shop in or above a home garage, you may need to insulate to keep things comfortable temp-wise. Remember that audio systems and power tools make noise, so if you want to engage in manly pursuits without complaints from everyone else in the house, install acoustical drywall or sound-deadening room treatments.

Step 3: Power Up

You're going to need power, and lots of it. Make sure your home theater equipment, gaming consoles and power tools have a convenient source of energy by choosing the right surge protector or power strip for the space.

Step 4: Where's the TV Going to Go?

The one man cave non-negotiable is a flat panel, high-def TV. So that leaves only one question: where are you going to put it? Suspending your HDTV on a ceiling mount not only makes you feel like you're hanging out at a sports bar, but gives you extra space for kick-back furniture and wall d cor.

Step 5: Don't Forget the Snacks

Fact: sometimes you just won't feel like leaving your manly domain in search of sustenance. Even the smallest space has enough room for a cabinet stocked with your junk foods of choice, but you can always go all-out with a wet bar/microwave/mini-fridge combo. Want eats on wheels? Load everything into a rolling tool chest or tool cart, and take it where you need it.

For more information, visit www.CableOrganizer.com.

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


The Impact of Paint Color in Your Living Space

March 21, 2011 8:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 21, 2011-The words 'paint' and 'personality' aren't often used together, but they certainly could be. "Studies show that paint and room color can have an effect on the body and mind," states Debbie Zimmer, color and decorating expert with the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute. "By understanding the impact of color, consumers can better incorporate the hues that help create the desired living space mood and setting that best suits their family and personal lifestyle."

When repainting a room, here are some simple guidelines you should keep in mind:

-Red packs a wallop, physiologically speaking, increasing blood pressure, heartbeat and energy in most people. It instills feelings of intimacy and passion. Red also increases the appetite, which explains why it is used so often in restaurants, and why it can be a good choice for a formal dining room.

-Orange, like red, tends to warm a room, but in a more friendly and welcoming way. As a result, paints in various shades and tints of orange work well in living rooms and family rooms.

-Yellow is also warm and welcoming, but it is more attention-getting than either red or orange. For this reason, it is a good paint color to use in poorly lit foyers or dark hallways.

-Green is another relaxing color that is much more versatile than blue. Light greens are ideal for bedrooms and living rooms and midtones are good for kitchens and dining rooms. Also, because green is calming, it is often used in hospitals, workplaces and schools.

-Blue, which is part of the cool color palette, makes us feel calm and tranquil, so it is ideal for use in bedrooms. But since blue works as an appetite suppressant (perhaps because there are few blue foods) it is not the best option for a dining room-unless you're on a diet.

-Violet is a tricky color, psychologically speaking. Many adults dislike purples, but are fond of the rose family, which can work in many rooms, including dining rooms, bedrooms and libraries. Young children, on the other hand, respond favorably to violet, so this color can be used successfully in children's bedrooms and play areas.

For more information, visit www.paintquality.com.

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


5 Tips to Ensure You Get the Mortgage That's Right for You

March 19, 2011 9:13 am

RISMEDIA, March 19, 2011-Shopping for a mortgage can be time-consuming and difficult for home buyers, especially in today's market where many buyers don't know where to begin. The Federal Reserve Board has put together the following tips so that you can make sense of the mortgage market and be sure you are getting the mortgage that is right for you.

1. Know what you can afford. Review your monthly spending plan to estimate what you can afford to pay for a home, including the mortgage, property taxes, insurance, and monthly maintenance and utilities. A worksheet for developing your monthly spending plan can be helpful so that you can plan ahead and save for emergencies as well as be sure you will be able to afford your monthly payments for several years. Be sure to check your credit report to make sure that the information in it is accurate.

2. Shop around-compare loans from lenders and brokers. Shopping takes time and energy, but not shopping around can cost you thousands of dollars. You can get a mortgage loan from mortgage lenders or mortgage brokers. Brokers arrange mortgage loans with a lender rather than lend money directly; in other words, brokers sell you a loan from a lender. Neither lenders nor brokers have to find the best loan for you-to find the best loan, you have to do the shopping

3. Understand loan prices and fees. Many consumers accept the first loan they are offered and don't realize that they may be able to get a better loan. On any given day, lenders and brokers may offer different interest rates and fees to different consumers for the same loan, even when those consumers have the same loan qualifications. Keep in mind that lenders and brokers also consider the profit they receive if you agree to the terms of a loan with higher fees, higher points, or a higher interest rate. Shopping around is your best way to avoid more expensive loans.

4. Know the risks and benefits of loan options. Mortgages have many features-some have fixed interest rates and some have adjustable rates; some have payment adjustments; on some you pay only the interest on the loan for a while and then you pay down the principal (the loan amount); some charge you a penalty for paying the loan off early; and some have a large payment due at the end of the loan (a balloon payment). Consider all mortgage features, the APR (annual percentage rate), and the settlement costs. Ask your lender to calculate how much your monthly payments could be a year from now, and 5 or 10 years from now.

5. Get advice from trusted sources. A mortgage loan is one of the most complex, most expensive financial commitments you will ever assume-it's okay to ask for help. Talk with a trusted housing counselor or a real estate attorney that you hire to review your documents before you sign them.

For more information, visit www.federalreserve.gov.

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.


7 Steps to Help Speed Up Your Sale

March 19, 2011 9:13 am

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, March 19, 2011-Setting a competitive sale price, most REALTORS agree, is arguably the best way to speed up the sale of your home in today's market.

"In addition to pricing your home right, you need to do everything you can to make your home stand out from the competition," said Don Bucknam with Laguna Woods Properties, specializing in sales in the southern California senior community of Laguna Woods.

To do that, Bucknam suggests, try to change your mindset and look at the property from the point of view of the buyer:

Start at the curb What does the buyer see first? Keep the walkway neat, trim plants and hedges, replace worn front door or screen doors.

Focus on the entry Potential buyers entering the home should see as spacious an interior as possible. Remove clutter, even small pieces of furniture that 'close off' further entry instead of inviting it.

Remove the personal factor Shelves full of bowling trophies or your personal collections can be distracting to a buyer who is trying to 'see himself' in the living space.

Make small repairs Replace that cracked light switch cover. Repair or replace a broken tile or a chip in the bathroom sink. Even taping back wires from audio or computer systems can increase a room's appeal.

Make small updates Brighter light fixtures, new cabinet door handles in the kitchen, or updating to modern bathroom accessories can go a long way toward giving your home a fresh, new look.

Scrub, scrub, scrub New kitchen appliances, especially stoves, are a plus, but if you can't replace the appliance, make sure oven racks, broiler pans and burner surfaces are scrupulously clean and shiny.

Add some "bling" Brighter lighting, a shiny mirror in the hallway, fresh new towels, or a crystal vase of fresh flowers on the dining room table are small and inexpensive touches that can attract and please potential buyers.

If you need a reality check, Bucknam said, take a walk through an open house or two in your neighborhood and compare your home to the competition. Then adjust your price and/or make the small changes that make your home the best buy on the block.

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

March 19, 2011 6:43 am

Private mortgage insurance (PMI). Required by most lenders for conventional loans with a down payment of less than 20 percent. Insurance is paid by the borrower and guarantees the lender will not lose money if the borrower defaults.

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.


Q: When do foreclosure proceedings begin?

March 19, 2011 6:43 am

A: Usually after the borrower has missed three consecutive mortgage payments. The lender will record a notice of default against the property. And unless the debt is satisfied, the lender will foreclose on the mortgage and proceed to set up a trustee sale, where the property is sold to the highest bidder.

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.


Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Personal Trainer

March 19, 2011 6:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 19, 2011-Get in Shape for Women recently polled 1,000 members and 100 personal trainers to present the most effective qualities in a trainer and their clients. Following are their "Fitness Bill of Rights"-universal expectations for both trainers and clients that make the biggest impact on a successful fitness partnership.

It's your right that your personal trainer:

Be accountable If you aren't showing up or are falling behind with your commitment, your trainer should call you. They're your partner in this effort and should hold you accountable.

Be the best Trainers need to update their skills regularly.

Be flexible Everyone has different capabilities; trainers need to accommodate those differences.

Be kind You're there because you want to improve your life. Trainers should celebrate that.

Be prompt Trainers should never be the last person to enter the room. They're leading this effort and should be there to greet you.

Be creative If something isn't working for you or you're losing interest, trainers need to change things up. Trainers must do everything they can to keep you motivated and committed.

Be present Trainers should leave everything in their life at home- 100% of their attention should be on you.

Be fair Trainers shouldn't focus on 'favorites.'

Be fit A healthy lifestyle is their biggest calling card. Trainers need to lead by example.

Be fun Even if the workout isn't- energy is everything.

It's a trainer's right to expect that you:

Be prompt When you're late, you start at a deficit and won't get the most of your experience.

Be honest With yourself and your trainer. If things are too tough or not right, speak up.

Be committed Limit the excuses and hold yourself accountable to a commitment you can stick with.

Be supportive Of yourself. Recognize that this is a process that will take time.

Be brave Leave your insecurities, inhibitions and vanities at the door.

For more information, visit www.GetInShapeForWomen.com.

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


10 Appraisal Tips that Will Save You Time and Money

March 19, 2011 6:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 19, 2011-Mortgage rates are at near-historic lows, but sinking home values are often lowering appraisals as well. If you are considering refinancing your home, what do you need to know about the appraisal process to help ensure you get the best possible appraisal on your home? Seasoned loan officer and mortgage industry insider Len Finelli shares ten important tips on understanding the appraisal process. If you are a homeowner seeking to refinance, heeding these important tips on appraisals before proceeding can improve your refinancing options and save you time and money.

Top 10 Appraisal Tips to Help You Save Time and Money

1. Continuously research the value of your home and the other homes in your neighborhood; pay attention to foreclosures in your area; they may drive down the value of your home.

2. Since appraisers use "comps" (comparable market sales) of local properties sold within the last six months to value your home, make sure to work with a great loan officer who will leverage their knowledge to research comps in your area, before ordering the appraisal.

3. If you use your own appraiser, research them first and ask your lender to cross check them for any potential issues that may delay the process. Great loan officers will always confirm your appraiser's credentials.

4. Direct your loan officer to work with local, experienced appraisal companies. Local appraisers have a deeper knowledge of the surrounding neighborhood and will likely be more readily available for the home inspection, to speed your appraisal process.

5. The appraisal report is yours to keep. Find out in advance who pays for the appraisal-many times appraisal fees are the homeowner's responsibility and have to be paid up front.

6. New lending regulations require two appraisals in some situations-ask at the beginning whether you'll need one or two.

7. Commit to your lender before committing to an appraisal. Being comfortable working with your loan officer is imperative. They often will be the liaison between you and the appraisal company.

8. Make sure any major repairs are completed before moving forward with your refinance. Structural damages drive your home value down and jeopardize the approval process for today's popular government-backed FHA loans.

9. Don't overestimate the value of making cosmetic home improvements. The expense is rarely justified because in the appraisal world, only improvements that add square footage will significantly increase home value.

10. Rely on market value rather than tax assessments for a realistic appraisal value-in today's market, tax value and current market value may differ widely, but your lender can only go by appraisal value.

Finally, homeowners should expect their lender to explain the appraisal process and all of the steps for refinancing clearly and up front. "Homeowners have a right to understand the process fully before going forward with their appraisal and refinance," Len says. "Ask questions, and if they aren't answered to your satisfaction, find another lender that has the answers. Today's market offers many opportunities for homeowners to refinance, and a reputable lender can help homeowners find great options to consolidate debt, shorten terms and lower payments. And it all starts with an appraisal."

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.