Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

April 9, 2011 6:21 am

Release of mortgage. Certificate from the lender stating that the loan has been repaid.

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: Can I make an all-cash purchase instead of getting a mortgage?

April 9, 2011 6:21 am

A: That certainly is an option, although not one most people can afford. The national median existing-home price was $217,000 in 2007 and much more than that in many areas of the country (Honolulu, $643,500; San Diego, $588,700; New York $469,700). Unless you're independently wealthy or have hit the jackpot, it may be difficult to make a "no-mortgage" investment. And an investment is exactly how you should view it because you get to save on mortgage interest that is usually paid over the life of the home loan interest that could amount to several thousand dollars, conceivably hundreds of thousands of dollars.

With an all-cash deal, you also save by avoiding loan origination fees, an appraisal, some closing costs and other charges imposed by the lender. You enhance your negotiating position with the seller and get to bypass the rather lengthy loan qualification process, which helps to close the deal quickly. But if you want to use the home as your primary residence, forget about taking advantage of the tax breaks available to homeowners with conventional loans. By paying cash, you basically forfeit those tax breaks.

To determine whether a no-mortgage purchase is right for you, compare it to other investments, weighing the risk, return, and liquidity.

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.

Ingredients to Scrub Down the Cost of Cleaning Products

April 9, 2011 6:21 am

RISMEDIA, April 9, 2011-Buying products to clean your house shouldn't have to cost you a fortune. Next time you're in the grocery store, check out these items that will make cleaning a budget-friendly breeze: super washing soda, Mule Team borax, distilled white vinegar, mild liquid soap, bar soap, baking soda and lemon.

Many of these ingredients can be used on their own, especially for intensive spring cleaning. Baking soda can be used on carpets (just sprinkle and vacuum 15 minutes later), to cut through grease stains on appliances and clothes, or just to freshen up the refrigerator or trash can. Mix baking soda with water to create a cleaning paste for tiles and counters, or with a lemon to treat grime and disinfect your toilet bowls.

For everyday solutions, the ingredients can be mixed to make common household products from dishwasher detergent to furniture polish. Homemade cleaners may save you up to 75% of the cost of buying store cleaners. Homemade products can also help you avoid the headache of unnecessary chemicals and strong smells in the home.

"Everyone is looking for ways to be more eco-friendly these days. These products are much less expensive and more green for your home than most pre-mixed cleaning products," says Jenny Realo, executive vice president of CareOne Services Inc.

Here's a look at some of the recipes that are easy to whip up at home:

Laundry Detergent

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Use a box grater to shred a bar of soap, and gradually add the soap shavings to the water as you go. Once the soap dissolves, add the mixture to a bucket filled with 3 gallons of warm water. Add 1/2 cup borax and 1 cup washing soda. Let the bucket sit, covered, for 24 hours. Then pour the mixture into old detergent containers, and shake before use. This recipe makes enough detergent for 52 loads of laundry for only $1.25-quite a price break considering an equivalent brand detergent would cost up to $10.

Dishwasher Detergent

Mix 2 cups washing soda with 2 cups borax. Store in an airtight container and use 2 tablespoons for each load. If your dishes come out cloudy, add 2 tablespoons of sugar-free lemon-flavored soft drink mix powder to the mix the citric acid cuts the etching. Save even more money by replacing your rinsing agent with a tablespoon of white vinegar. This mixture runs 16 loads of dishes for $1.20 instead of paying more than $6 for store bought dishwasher detergent.

Glass Cleaner

Instead of buying glass cleaner for upwards of $5 or more, you can make a simple glass cleaner for 50 cents. Mix 2 cups white vinegar with 2 cups water and put it in an inexpensive spray bottle. Wipe with newspaper for a streak-free shine.

All-Purpose Cleaner

For counters, tubs, sinks and appliances, make this all purpose cleaner and store it in a spray bottle. Mix together 1 cup of hot water, 1 teaspoon of borax and 1/2 teaspoon of washing soda. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to help cut down grunge. Spend less than a quarter rather than $4.

Furniture Polish

Instead of shelling out up to $8 for furniture polish, mix up a quick alternative for only 20 cents. All it takes is 3 tablespoons water, 2 teaspoons olive oil (or any oil you have around the kitchen), and 4 tablespoons white vinegar.

Spot Remover

Dissolve 1/4 cup borax in 2 cups white vinegar and apply to stains or the soiled spot for 10 minutes. This remedy costs a slim 62 cents, as compared to up to $5 on a spot remover, and can be used on laundry, furniture and even carpet.

If it's the convenience that keeps you coming back to cleaning wipes, try making any of these recipes into wipes. Cut a large roll of paper towels in half and place one in a clean, empty coffee container. Pour the cleaning solution over the roll. After a few hours, you should be able to retrieve the cardboard roll from the center. Cut an 'X' in the lid of the container, and carefully pull the loose end from the center of the roll through the opening before closing the lid.

"Overall, the ingredients washing soda, borax, vinegar, soap, baking soda and lemon ring in at less than $15, and one of each is more than enough to make all six of these cleaning solutions with extra to refill as needed," says Realo. In fact, she says buying the equivalent in popular brand-name products can cost more than $60.

Although price is the most obvious perk to making your own cleaning supplies, you can say goodbye to competing scents in your house, feel safe about your children and pets becoming exposed to the products, and make extra bottles for different areas in your house to avoid lugging your supplies around.

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.

Unwanted Spring Break Souvenirs Be Mindful of Pests When Returning from Vacation

April 9, 2011 6:21 am

RISMEDIA, April 9, 2011-The bags are packed, but before spring break travelers take off, pest and termite control company Arrow Exterminators cautions them against bringing home unwanted souvenirs.

Bed bugs, fleas and ants are notorious hitchhikers and can wreak havoc in a home if undetected. Arrow Exterminators encourages travelers to maintain vigilance, and offers the following pest prevention tips to avoid bringing these intruders home.

"Spring break is a great time to remind people of the many hitchhiking pests that can come home after a vacation. Bed bugs, fleas and ants can be a particular nuisance-breeding rapidly and causing health problems," said Shay Runion, Arrow Pest Expert. "While the goal of a vacation is to relax, it's important to be mindful of these pests. Many pest problems are easily avoided with a quick inspection before settling in a hotel room and by thoroughly washing all clothing-worn or not-upon returning home."

Bed bugs are the number one enemy of spring break travelers this year. Making a strong resurgence due to increased international travel, these pests can be hard to spot. The size of an apple seed, they are often found in mattresses, bed frames, suitcases and shoes. Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases but do leave behind painful, itchy welts. There can also be lasting emotional and psychological effects from an infestation. When arriving at a hotel, inspect mattresses and headboards closely. If bed bugs are detected, ask to be moved to another room away from the infested location. When returning home, vacuum suitcases before bringing inside and wash all clothing.

Fleas are another pest to be aware of. Typically associated with the family pet, flea populations have been making a comeback in recent years due to increased resistance to products on the market. Fleas leave behind painful, itchy bumps on their victims and like bed bugs they are excellent hitchhikers, quickly attaching to clothing and luggage. To avoid infestations, make sure your hotel room is vacuumed daily.

Lastly, ants are another pest that can end a vacation on a sour note. With more than 700 species in the United States, ants can be found everywhere. While most ants are considered to be a nuisance, there are a few species that can inflict harm. In particular, Red Imported Fire Ants will sting humans if they are disturbed. Like with bed bugs and fleas, it's important to inspect hotel rooms thoroughly before settling in. To prevent an ant infestation, make sure food is stored in sealed containers and trash cans are emptied daily. If indulging in room service, request for the tray to be removed from the room after dining.

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 6, 2011 8:15 am

Restrictive covenants. Clauses placed in a deed to restrict the full use of the property by controlling how future landowners may or may not use the property; also used in leases.

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 is the best time to refinance?

April 6, 2011 8:15 am

A: Many people flock to refinance while mortgage interest rates are low, particularly when rates are two percentage points below their existing home loans.

Other factors, like when to finance, will depend on how long you plan to hold on to your home and whether you have to pay considerable fees to refinance. It also will depend on how far along you are in paying off your current mortgage.

If you expect to sell your home shortly, you are not likely to recoup the costs you incurred to refinance. And if you are more than halfway through paying your current mortgage, you probably will gain little by refinancing. However, if you are going to own your home for at least another five years, that is probably long enough to recoup any refinancing costs and realize real savings as a result of lowering your monthly payment.

In fact, if it costs you nothing to refinance, you can gain even more. Many lenders will let you roll the costs of the refinancing into the new note and still reduce the amount of the monthly payment. Plus, there are no-cost refinancing deals available.

Contact your lender, and its competitors, before you refinance.

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.

6 Simple Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

April 6, 2011 8:15 am

RISMEDIA, April 6, 2011-Pets add a lot of love and personality to a home, but they also add plenty that needs cleaning up. From slobbered-on chew toys to pet hair on the sofa, they definitely leave their mark on the home.

Here are some simple tips for keeping things fresh and clean, for you and your pet.

Pet toys. Wash plastic and rubber toys in a solution of four tablespoons baking soda dissolved in one quart warm water. Launder plush toys, or give them a dry shower by sprinkling on some baking soda, then brushing off after 15 minutes.

Collars, harnesses and leashes. If they are cloth or nylon, you can either hand wash them with a little dishwashing soap and water, or toss them into a nylon bag (or even a pillow case) and run them through the washing machine. Leather can be wiped down with a damp cloth, then rubbed with a little saddle soap. While you're cleaning them, check for worn areas-you may need to replace them.

Bedding. Vacuum bedding and crate pads thoroughly. Most should be washable (or have removable, washable fabric covers), so launder them along with any pet blankets. You can keep pet bedding smelling fresh in between washings by sprinkling liberally with baking soda, waiting 15 minutes, then vacuuming it up.

Outdoor shelters. If your pet has a dog house, crate or some other outdoor hangout, be sure to give that a good cleaning, too. Sweep or rake out leaves and other detritus. If it can be disassembled, take it apart, scrub it down with a non-ammonia based cleaner, then hose it down, let it dry, and put it back together.

Removing pet hair. Shedding is the bane of many pet owners' existence. Regular floor vacuuming is a must to keep it under control. For getting pet hair off of furniture, there are several things you can try: lint rollers; swiping a damp rubber glove over surfaces; using a squeegee with a rubber edge; or trying hand-held vacuums or attachments specially designed for picking up fur.

Reducing litter box odor. Litter boxes can bring the worst of smells to the house. Whenever you replace the litter, be sure to clean the litter box itself. Use a non-ammonia based cleaner. Also, consider using a different litter to help control odors better.

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.

5 Reality TV Shows That Teach Consumers How to Obtain Debt Relief

April 6, 2011 8:15 am

RISMEDIA, April 6, 2011-For a decade or more, some of the most popular shows on television have been reality programming. These shows have a voyeuristic element, but they can often offer lessons on how to achieve goals and get a handle on difficult areas of life, according to Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Freedom Debt Relief (FDR).

Here are five lessons anyone can learn from reality TV-and Gallegos' suggestions for using them to get debt relief:

1. Focus on one deadline at a time. Every episode of "Project Runway" has the designers focus on a specific challenge. The lesson: Setting goals and then focusing on them, gets things done. Consumers can have success getting out of debt using a similar strategy: Pay the minimum payment on all credit cards. Apply any additional cash each month to the balance on the smallest credit card balance. "Before you know it, you will eliminate that balance. Then use the same strategy to continue paying off other credit cards, one by one," said Gallegos. "But stay focused: Do not keep charging while you are paying off debt."

2. Fast forward. Contestants on "The Amazing Race" sometimes receive the opportunity to "fast forward," which allows them to skip a number of challenges and move to a new task in the race. "Think of this opportunity the next time you receive unexpected cash, whether it is a work bonus, a prize winning, a gift or even reimbursement for something you've already paid," Gallegos suggested. Using the windfall wisely might knock out a bill or jump-start savings, taking financial goals fast-forward.

3. Find inner inspiration. Again and again, contestants on "Dancing With the Stars" reveal that their hard work on the program has surprised them as they become braver, stronger or just better dancers than they expected. By going through the learning process, step by step (literally), they reach their goals. "Paying off debt is a process," Gallegos said. Consumers can ask themselves why they want to get out of debt. Inspiration can come from visualizing the sense of peace when creditors no longer call, or the pride of helping pay for a child's college education.

4. Exceed expectations. Many a dieter has taken inspiration from "The Biggest Loser" contestants who sweat their way through difficult tasks while carrying excess baggage. When paying off debt gets hard, remember that if the Biggest Losers can stick to their eating and exercise plans, anyone can stick to a budget. After challenges like a late fee or an unexpected expense, get back on track with following a debt-paying budget.

5. Shout out for help. On "Cash Cab," contestants have the opportunity to get help from outside the cab when they can't answer a question. Individuals can do the same thing if they run into financial trouble. "Decide what kind of help you need, and then find the right assistance. A financial planner, tax advisor or credible debt relief partner can provide answers and assistance," Gallegos said.

"The successful contestants on these shows have certain things in common. They are focused and unconcerned with what others think while they pursue their goals. They find meaning in their tasks and try their best, and if they make mistakes, they get up and try again," Gallegos said. "In the end, even if they don't win, they have gained invaluable perspective on what matters to them. Apply these same values to your process of getting out of debt, and you can come out a winner, too."

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.

Simple Tips to Prevent Pest Infestations This Spring

April 6, 2011 8:15 am

RISMEDIA, April 6, 2011-The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) celebrates April as National Pest Management Month, an observance that has been taking place for more than 30 years. National Pest Management Month honors the professional pest control industry for playing a key role in protecting both health and property from significant pest-borne threats.

"The NPMA is pleased to have the opportunity to publicly recognize the important work that pest professionals do every day during National Pest Management Month," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "In honor of National Pest Management Month, the NPMA is dedicated to raising public awareness about the risks posed by household pests and encouraging homeowners to take proactive steps to prevent pest infestations in their homes and properties."

Pest such as termites, rodents and carpenter ants can cause extensive property damage by chewing through walls, flooring and even electrical wiring. Other pests, including ticks, mosquitoes, cockroaches and stinging insects pose health threats to humans. Ticks can spread Lyme disease, while mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus. Cockroach allergens can trigger asthma attacks, while stinging insects send more than half a million people to the emergency room every year.

The NPMA recommends that homeowners follow these tips to prevent pest infestations:

-Seal up cracks and small openings along the foundation of the house.

-Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water.

-Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.

-Keep kitchens clean by wiping counters and emptying the garbage frequently.

-Keep all food containers sealed.

-Avoid leaving pets' food dishes out for long periods of time.

-Keep trash containers clean and sealed, both indoors and outdoors.

-Screen windows and doors.

If you see signs of pests or suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional.

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.

Window Safety Tips to Practice Year-Round

April 6, 2011 8:15 am

RISMEDIA, April 6, 2011-Whether gearing up for spring cleaning, new landscaping projects or home improvement tasks, Pella Corporation encourages families to add "window safety review" to their springtime to-do lists. Simple actions now can help protect the safety of loved ones all year.

April 3-9 is National Window Safety Week-an annual reminder to parents and caregivers about how to help prevent accidental window falls or injuries and how to use windows for potential emergency escapes. Pella Corporation teamed up with the National Safety Council (NSC) to promote year-round window safety tips.

"As you open windows to let in fresh breezes, it's also a good time to keep window safety in mind," said Kathy Krafka Harkema, Pella spokesperson and a NSC Window Safety Task Force member. "For safety's sake, adults need to supervise children at play, and teach them to keep their play away from windows and doors."

About 4,700 children in the U.S. are injured by falls from windows each year, according to window safety organization The Timothy Healy Foundation ( In many cases, the fall occurred within the child's own home. More than 70% of window falls are from the second or third story; however, even falling from a first-floor window can cause injury, according to the foundation.

"Remember that insect screens are not designed to keep children or adults from falling," Krafka Harkema said. For greater safety, don't lean on screens. "Insect screens simply help keep bugs out; they don't protect your family members from accidental falls."

Window safety tips to practice year-round:

-Keep furniture like beds or dressers away from windows. Furniture placed directly under a window can create an enticement for a child to climb and the potential to fall.

-Keep children's play away from windows, doors and balconies to help prevent an accidental fall or injury.

-Remember, insect screens are designed to provide ventilation and to keep insects out, not to prevent falls. For added safety in children's bedrooms, consider installing window guards or window fall prevention devices that meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

-Window treatments with traditional cords can contribute to childhood injuries. For added protection, choose blinds and shades with no room-side cords.

-Plant soft shrubs like boxwoods under exterior windows that might be used as an emergency escape route to help soften a fall.

-While spring cleaning, do a "clutter sweep" and remove tripping hazards near window, doors or balconies.

-Do not allow children to jump on beds, especially ones near windows.

"Whether you're in an existing home or moving to a new one, take a few minutes now to review window safety tips," Krafka Harkema said. "Simple changes now could help protect your loved ones and decrease the risk of accidental falls."

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.