Three Helpful Tips for Renting Out Your Home

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 9.23.2010 4 comments

(NewsUSA) - Home ownership has always been a part of the American dream, but that may be changing. Uncertainty in the housing market has led many would-be buyers to believe that renting's the better option.

According to a May 2010 online survey commissioned by the National Apartment Association, 76 percent of consumers think that renting is preferable to owning a home in today's market.
Likewise, some homeowners believe it's better to rent out their home than to sell it for less than its worth, if they can sell it all. Those considering renting out their property shouldn't make a hasty decision. Neglecting to weigh the costs and potential risks could put first-time landlords in a poor situation.

House for rent
Moco, Inc., a company that provides screening services to property owners, managers and employers throughout the United States, offers the following tips:
* Look at the numbers. Renting might not be the best option. If you're going to lose money each month, it might make more sense to sell, even if you won't get your asking price. Consider all potential costs, including property taxes, income taxes on your tenants' rent, maintenance, and the normal wear and tear your property will experience. Remember that you won't be able to pocket all of the rent money; you will have to put a portion of it back into the property.
* Find quality tenants. Nightmare tenants can be, well, a nightmare.

Prepare for a careful screening process. Many private landlords can't access the quality screening products available to larger businesses without going through a lengthy certification process. However, you can avoid time and expense by asking your applicants to visit The report includes a consumer credit report, SSN verification, comprehensive criminal search, eviction search, national sex offender registry search and an OFAC (federal terrorism database) search -- everything you need to determine whether a potential tenant meets your standards.

* Use an all-encompassing lease. Whether you use a template or hire an attorney to write your lease, make sure that the lease clearly states your expectations. The lease should state who is responsible for what, when you expect rent to be paid and what penalties you will impose if it is late.

For more information, visit

Adhesives Offer Advantages to DIYers

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 9.16.2010 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - What's the most basic tool every DIYer has on hand? Why, the hammer, which has been with us since pre-history. But as the human race have evolved, so has its tools; for many projects, a caulking gun and adhesive are easier and more effective than a hammer and nail.

When you use mechanical fasteners, such as nails or screws, you concentrate the load on individual points. For example, if you hang up a picture, a single nail has to support the frame's entire weight. If you used an adhesive to glue the picture to the wall, the weight would be distributed across the entire surface.

While gluing frames to walls isn't practical, this general principle applies to all sorts of projects. For example, if you're repairing deck steps, using adhesives in addition to mechanical fasteners can result in a stronger, more durable repair.

Deck steps become loose as hot and cold weather cause wood to expand and contract, creating strain on mechanical fasteners. By applying straight beads of adhesive before putting the step back in place and replacing the fasteners, you'll distribute strain more evenly. The steps won't loosen when the wood changes shape, because the adhesive secures the boards.
Adhesives also offer more flexibility than mechanical fasteners. "Once something is screwed, nailed or stapled in place, it is very difficult to re-adjust its position," says Mike Goldstein, senior brand manager with Liquid Nails Brand Adhesives ( "With an adhesive, there is some amount of open time, approximately 10 minutes, allowing you to reposition the substrate immediately following installation."

Liquid Nails Brand formulates products for specific projects. For example, its Interior Projects Adhesive will adhere drywall, molding, paneling, foamback tub surrounds, and ceramic tile repair, while its Heavy Duty Adhesive is recommended for countertops, cabinets, brick veneer and plywood.

For more information, visit

(NewsUSA) - In the late 18th and 19th centuries, steam powered factories, boats and locomotives. Now, steam power can be harnessed at home -- to thoroughly clean every room.
Americans aren't used to the idea of steam cleaning, but Europeans have been steam cleaning their homes for years. Steam-cleaners work by releasing hot steam vapor into the pores of surfaces, where it breaks up dirt and stains. While a vacuum cleaner removes surface dirt, a steam cleaner removes deeply embedded dirt without using harsh or potentially harmful chemicals.

Steam cleaner
Steam cleaners clean most surfaces more effectively than a spray bottle and towel. They also disinfect areas better than commercial wipes or sprays. Steam cleaners produce very hot water vapor -- one portable cleaner, Reliable's EnviroMate Pronto, releases steam at 245 degrees Fahrenheit -- which kills bacteria, mold spores and other microorganisms. Steam cleaners are also effective against dust mites, making them an ideal appliance for those with indoor allergies.

Homeowners worried about the environmental or health effects of chemical stain removers and disinfectants will find peace-of-mind with steam cleaning. Steam cleaners use nothing but water to clean, deodorize and disinfect. Most steam cleaners use less than a gallon of water per hour. Low-moisture vapor leaves surfaces nearly dry -- a carpet takes around 15 minutes to dry after steam cleaning -- so homeowners don't need to worry about damp areas encouraging mold growth.
Steam cleaners are especially effective in killing dust mites and bed bugs, removing pet stains and odors, cleaning grout, removing wallpaper and detailing cars. They can remove grease from kitchen counters, disinfect stuffed animals, clean grill racks and golf clubs, deodorize litter boxes and shine jewelry with equal effectiveness.

Powerful steam cleaners, like Reliable's EnviroMate Tandem Steam/Vacuum Cleaner, can take on the toughest messes through steam cleaning, extracting steam residue and vacuuming. The cleaner comes with a 24-piece accessory kit, which allows the machine to steam and vacuum a variety of surfaces, including carpets and furniture.
For more information, visit

Shopping for a New Home?Check Out the Kitchen

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 5.25.2010 6 comments

(NewsUSA) - Buying a home is the largest investment most people will ever make, so it's no surprise that such a big decision may seem daunting. There are, however, some simple guidelines that can help you find a home that you will be happy with for a very long time.

A recent study conducted by Merillat, a leading manufacturer of cabinetry, examined what consumers think about when they're purchasing a home. The study found that the kitchen sways more minds than any other room, followed by the great room and the master bedroom third.

"The kitchen is the gathering place for special occasions, family functions and day-to-day activities, which is why it is so important for prospective buyers to ensure their new kitchen will meet the needs of their family from a design and functionality prospective," said Paul Radoy, manager of design services for Merillat.

Try creating a checklist to help you decide whether a kitchen is right for you. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I like the layout of the kitchen? Consider the kitchen from an overall perspective, and keep all the items that will require storage in mind.

2. Does the kitchen look comfortable? Do I feel good when I'm in it? You should feel at home right away.

3. Does the kitchen help facilitate frequent casual interactions with family and friends? Consider the views into the surrounding rooms, like the living and dining areas. Can you easily associate with family and friends?

4. Is the cabinetry durable and well-built? Is the finish on the cabinetry smooth and consistent? Investigate the cabinet interiors to determine whether they're covered with a durable water- and stain-resistant material or a lower-quality product. Make sure that the color of the interior complements the exterior.

5. Does the kitchen have visual impact or a good focal point like an island, cooking grotto or other unique feature? Islands are a useful feature that many homeowners desire. When examining an island, identify the tasks or storage functions it serves to decide whether it will meet your needs.)

6. Does the kitchen have adequate storage space and built-in features to accommodate my possessions? Merillat's study found that, after remodeling a kitchen, many homeowners find that they didn't include enough storage features. Make sure you don't overlook features, like drawer organizers, pull-out trays and lazy Susans.

To more learn about kitchen design and storage features visit

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Home's Security?

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 5.18.2010 1 comments

(NewsUSA) - As Americans work in their yards and start DIY home projects, it might be appropriate for them to think about improving outdoor security.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. households experienced about 16.3 million property crimes, including burglary and robbery, in 2008. Many people feel that a home security system automatically makes their home safe, but outdated technologies may leave a home vulnerable.

Take outdoor motion sensor lighting. Burglars want to avoid detection, so they are often deterred by well-lit yards and driveways, making motion sensor lighting a wise investment. But for the past two decades, motion sensor lights have used Passive Infrared technology (PIR), which detects heat from moving objects. The problem? PIR technology can be easily fooled.

PIR sensors can be triggered by wind or temperature changes. For example, they might turn on by wind-blown leaves, but fail to detect a burglar on a cold night. In addition, PIR motion sensor lights can only detect lateral, or side to side, movement. If a burglar moves towards a PIR light in a straight line, he can approach the house without triggering the light.

But one new motion sensor light combines Doppler Radar with PIR to create more reliable home security. Precision Plus Doppler Radar, by Cooper Lighting, uses Doppler Radar to cover those areas where PIR motion sensors fail. Doppler Radar allows the motion sensor light to cover a larger range. Doppler Radar does not sense temperature, so weather changes don't affect its ability to sense somebody approaching the home. In addition, Doppler Radar can detect a person moving in a straight line towards or away from the home.

Upgrading a motion sensor light is just one way to protect your home. Some low-tech, DIY solutions include installing heavier doors and deadlocks, and removing large hedges, which burglars can use to hide.

To learn more about Precision Plus Doppler Radar, visit

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Set Up a Nursery with Room to Grow

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Preparing for a new baby is an exciting time in a couple's lives. And while baby-proofing electrical outlets and cabinets might seem tedious, no one ever complains about designing a new nursery.

From teddy bear wall paper to ballerina cotton sheets, nurseries allow for more fun and whimsical designs than any other room in the house. But your baby won't be small for long -- before you know it, your bundle of joy will be crawling, climbing and toddling about.

If you love redecorating, you might want to change your child's room as he or she grows. If your child will be sharing a room, or you plan on keeping one design for more than a few years, you should make decisions with the future in mind.

Pottery Barn Kids offers the following tips for parents starting to design new nurseries:

* First and foremost, make sure that your baby's room is safe. Choose furniture, bedding and accessories that meet or exceed U.S. safety regulations. Don't place the crib near a window, and keep drapery and blind cords well out of the baby's reach. Cover all electrical outlets.

* Design for function and beauty. Caring for a new baby is harrowing enough on its own -- make your life easier by choosing changing tables with built-in drawers or shelves, storage options that are easily accessible, and machine-washable bedding and changing-table covers.

* Find bedding that you love, and design your nursery around it. Pick a light, medium and dark shade from the bedding, and use them throughout the room. Consider how long your design will be appropriate for your child. Two years? Longer? Think about color and pattern themes that will last through early childhood.

* Go organic. You are going to spend a lot of time washing your baby's bedding, so choose three to four fitted sheets to keep in constant rotation. Organic cotton bedding is both eco- and baby-friendly, as the cotton is grown without toxins or pesticides. Pottery Barn Kids offers 100 percent organic bedding.

* Add those special touches. Put photos on display, or spell out your baby's name on the wall. Decorate with handprints or footprints and plush toys, or paint a mural. You don't want to use all of these examples -- the nursery would look too crowded -- but two or three will make your nursery feel like home.

For more tips on decorating your nursery, visit the Web site

Navigate Through the Choices in Composite Decking

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 5.06.2010 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - When many consumers decide to add a new deck or replace an existing one with a low-maintenance composite version, they typically discover an overwhelming amount of information available. Homeowners might find themselves faced with many options and have questions about how to choose the right product. What type of composite decking is right for me? How do I choose from the different types of deck boards? What color combinations are right for my home?

Composite Decking
There are quite a few different decking options available, based on individual needs and budgets. Composite decking is available in several different types of boards with varying looks, colors and qualities; therefore, it is important to understand all the alternatives.

Based on all these options, how can consumers decide which is best for their lifestyle? TimberTech, one of the leading manufacturers of composite decking, railing and fencing products, offers a number of tools that help sort through the details of choosing a deck and assist consumers in making educated decisions about their new deck.

At the beginning of the decision-making process, consumers first need to choose the type of board that best fits their lifestyles and tastes. Tools like the Product Selector guide consumers through a series of step-by-step questions that are used to uncover their needs, habits and deck usage. The results give consumers options of board type and style that are best suited to their needs.

Another tool that is helpful during the planning process is the Deck Designer. By using the Deck Designer, consumers can enter the desired size, shape and color of their dream deck so that they can envision the deck before it is built. When the deck design is complete, users can print a 3-D model of the deck, build a materials list and get installation guidelines and helpful construction tips for their deck.

The newest tool, designed to help consumers decide among the varieties of color combinations available, is TimberTech's Color Visualizer. The Color Visualizer lets consumers choose different home colors and decking color combinations. The colors of the primary decking, accent decking, rails or balusters and posts can all be changed to build a customized look. If consumers are looking for more direction, the Color Visualizer also offers suggestions of the most popular color combinations.

No matter what type of composite decking consumers choose, it is important to understand the different offerings available by taking advantage of these free interactive tools available online at

Re-insulation Projects Offer Year-Round Rewards

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 5.04.2010 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - Homeowners seeking to pad their homes and wallets should consider re-insulation projects that maximize energy efficiency year-round. Simple, energy-saving practices will not only reduce heating and cooling bills every month, but also will result in a higher tax return next year.

The federal government expanded the scope of a tax credit program that rewards homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements, giving homeowners a prime opportunity to increase their homes' efficiency. Homeowners are eligible to receive a 30 percent federal tax credit up to $1,500 for weatherization improvements in their homes through Dec. 31, 2010,

And as far as energy-efficient improvements are concerned, re-insulation is a smart solution for the near and short term.

"Most of the steps you can take to improve your home's energy efficiency in the cooler winter months are equally as effective in the warmer summer months, when the thermal flows are simply reversed," said Bohdan Boyko, building science manager with GreenFiber, a natural-fiber insulation product made from 85 percent recycled materials. "In most areas of the country, winter has the greatest temperature differences between inside and outside temperatures, but in either situation -; summer or winter -; a properly insulated home is one that will help cut energy bills, lower the home's carbon footprint and help keep a family comfortable."

Homeowners can find information on the benefits of re-insulation, including R-Value education, how to's and tax credit information from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, at where researchers engineered a special new blow-in product that aids in retro-fit projects. Older homes or homes where current insulation is inadequate can benefit from attic air sealing, duct sealing, attic insulating and side wall insulating. Because the insulation is literally "blown in" through a tube, it can reach high crevices and deep places in walls. "Re-insulation is a fast and easy way to improve a home's energy efficiency, often with little up-front cost," said Boyko. "A blow-in insulation product will perform better than material that is cut to fit, because it provides complete coverage and fills gaps, unlike fixed-dimension insulation products."

Do-it-yourselfers should have no difficulties renting equipment and tackling a blow-in natural-fiber insulation project in an afternoon. And because natural-fiber insulation is made from recycled content, it provides the greatest benefit to the environment, diverting materials from local landfills and reducing the energy a home could draw.

Tips On Making Over Your Home

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 3.09.2010 2 comments

From Blah To Ahh.

(NewsUSA) - Giving your home a makeover doesn't just mean on the inside. Often, the exterior can also be in desperate need, but is often overlooked.

While outside projects may seem daunting and expensive, new online tools can help consumers visualize the home of their dreams.

Home makeover
CertainTeed Corporation offers ColorView, an online interactive exterior style and color selector, to help homeowners explore options. Through its Web site, homeowners can envision how high-end roofing, vinyl and fiber cement siding, trim, fence, railing and deck products look on various home styles.

Homeowners begin a session by entering their zip codes to view color and brand availability, then select the home style that most resembles their current home. The exterior is then customizable with hundreds of different colors and styles of products.

In addition, the following tips can also spruce up your property and give your home a gentle facelift:

- Change the exterior colors of your house. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a home's exterior or consider re-siding your home with low-maintenance vinyl or fiber cement siding, which is available in dozens of colors from CertainTeed.

- Unclog those gutters. Nothing can seem more mundane then spending part of your weekend unclogging the gutters on your home; however, not only will it keep the exterior of your home looking tidy, it can also prevent potential problems down the road.

- Clean up the yard. Unsightly weeds, overgrown hedges and grass, and mulch strewn about can give a home a disheveled appearance. Spend a weekend outside tending to the property, planting flowers and pulling weeds. Look for vinyl fencing, deck or railing for an added extra touch to your outdoor living areas such as CertainTeed's EverNew deck and railing or Chesterfield vinyl fence with CertaStucco.

- Make it shine. Adding more lighting or just upgrading fixtures that are already in place are easy and affordable solutions when thinking about what to do to the outside of your home. Consider putting in either solar-powered or electric walkway lights, or if you're feeling particularly creative, think about highlighting trees in your yard with small lights or hanging paper lanterns from your front porch.

For more information on color options for your home, call 800-782-8777 or visit

The Flip Side of Foreclosure

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 1.14.2010 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - In so many ways, foreclosure is an end. It's a bank's last resort, and the sad final chapter for a family sold on the American dream of home ownership.

But in another sense, foreclosure is also a beginning -- a never desirable, but often useful, tool that can help stave off neighborhood blight and create a path toward rejuvenation.

As much as everyone wants to avoid foreclosure, it does provide cities -- especially older ones with declining populations -- the legal means necessary for acquiring property that would otherwise become vacant or abandoned.

The trouble is that there's a stigma associated with foreclosure, and legislators can be swayed to impose restrictions on the process that make it more difficult for municipalities that want to reclaim and reuse property that has been left to decay.

So, from a policy perspective, what can be done to create better legal tools for clearing titles that don't depend solely on the self-interest of debt collectors? Here are some ideas proposed by Mary Helen Petrus, a researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland:

* Quiet title actions, in which governments go to court to "quiet" any and all claims to a property's title.

* Laws to facilitate nuisance abatement through receivership (giving courts the power to assign repairs or improvements to an overseer of a vacant property).

* New rules making it easier for willing homeowners to forfeit their properties so that governments can take stewardship.

* Processes for tax foreclosures that don't have to go through the courts.

This is not to say that foreclosure is always the best option. In viable neighborhoods, the most beneficial course of action is generally to focus on improving the quality and affordability of housing for the people who still live there. But when there's a breakdown, and there's no hope of rescuing properties from becoming vacant or falling into disrepair, foreclosure is often the most viable option.

This is especially true in American cities where joblessness is high, or the population is dwindling. In these situations, where there simply aren't enough homebuyers to purchase the number of homes available in a market, foreclosure can actually help begin the process of revitalizing neighborhoods. For more information on this subject, visit

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