Daily Real Estate News

Meet NAR’s Newest Volunteering Works Honorees

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 2, 2020 - 1:00am

Five real estate professionals have been selected for a program to help expand their charitable causes.

Mortgage Rates Approach 3% Mark

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 2, 2020 - 1:00am

The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage this week was the lowest ever recorded by Freddie Mac.


New FICO Index May Help Expand Mortgage Lending

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 2, 2020 - 1:00am

The FICO Resilience Index aims to look beyond credit scores and assess borrowers’ ability to maintain payments in an economic downturn.

Developers Adapt to Drive-Thru Events, Virtual Launch Parties

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 2, 2020 - 1:00am

Commercial and residential companies are finding new, safe ways to attract real estate brokers to their projects.

7 Summer Trends for Creating Cozier Backyards

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 2, 2020 - 1:00am

Internet searches for outdoor features are on a major upswing, Google Trends data shows.

President Trump Expected to Sign PPP Extension

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 2, 2020 - 1:00am

The application period for the Paycheck Protection Program ended on Tuesday with $130 billion still unallocated.

At-Home Fitness Experiences a Pandemic-Era Resurgence

RisMedia Consumer News - July 1, 2020 - 3:45pm

(TNS)—Clad in black leggings and grip socks, Katy Winter strides into Vita, her Oakland, Calif.-based fitness studio. She’s all primed to teach a power Pilates class to a group of clients, only the place is completely empty.

No worries. Winter unfurls a yoga mat upon the gleaming wooden floor, props her MacBook laptop on a cushioned stool and gazes into the screen. Twelve faces in little Zoom squares smile back at her.

“How are you holding up?” she asks. “Go ahead and start your playlists, and let’s get going, everyone!”

Behold the virtual new fitness normal. Ordered to close their doors as part of the COVID-19 lockdown, resilient gyms, dance studios and other facilities have turned to online platforms to help participants stay active, get motivated and find their Zen without leaving their living rooms.

It’s a far cry from the days when Jane Fonda, all aglow in neon spandex, urged millions to get their sweat on via VHS videotapes. But with modern audio-visual technology making real-time interaction possible, the rise of—and return to—home fitness has proven a blessing on many levels.

“We’ve had some of our clients talk about how they’re dealing with depression and anxiety during these challenging times. How they’re crying all day and can’t get off the couch,” Winter says. “I tell them, just try giving us 45 minutes or so. Get the blood flowing. You’ll feel so much better.”

Of course, the instructors and facilities also benefit, as the coronavirus closures have many of them struggling to stay afloat.

Jordan Schreiber, who owns the ATA Martial Arts Leadership Academy in Martinez, is facing his biggest fiscal hurdle ever, and that’s saying a lot, considering he opened his business in 2007—just as the recession started to hit.

“That was nothing compared to this,” he says. “This has been incredibly brutal.”
Stefan Trandafirescu, a dance instructor who owns The Rose Ballroom in San Jose, can relate. With his revenue in a free-fall and a strident landlord offering no breaks in rent, he claims the recent months have been “very, very painful.”

And so they’re forced to adapt or wither away. To survive, many of them are leaning into things that weren’t exactly in their wheelhouse: working with camera equipment, video monitors, headsets and unfamiliar software platforms—all while trying to hone their on-screen magnetism.

“That’s part of the fun and the challenge of it,” says Randy Myers, a Berkeley-based personal trainer and group exercise instructor, who is known to encourage his charges with virtual fist-bumps. “Fortunately, I like to learn new things.”

Shabnam S. Wright is on the same page. An award-winning belly dancer who runs the Shabnam Dance Studio in Oakland and teaches classes via Skype, she says the pandemic has been “good in a way”—pushing her to rethink her approach to instruction.

“A business can’t do things just one way,” she says. “This has forced us to be innovative.” And amazingly creative. With instructors unable to rely on studios packed with familiar equipment, they’ve had to improvise.

“We try to think of what people have at home,” says Winter, who has had clients use “weird props” like women’s tights for stretch bands, a roll of toilet paper for inner thigh work and wine bottles in place of light dumbbells.

“You just have to be careful not to smash them,” she says.

Schreiber has had to be even more imaginative. Recently, he and his staff administered skill tests to more than 100 martial arts students, who, under normal circumstances, would perform them in-studio and alongside sparring partners. Instead, the tests were carried out on Zoom with students challenged to respond to the teachers’ virtual “attacks.”

As for the subsequent rank ceremony, it became a drive-through affair with masked staff members adhering to social distancing edicts by using extender poles to pass the colored belts to students, who remained in their cars.

And then there’s Terez Orr, a dancer and instructor with Smuin Ballet in San Francisco. Unable to work with pupils at the company’s new facility on Potrero Hill, she had Marley flooring—professional dance flooring—installed in the kitchen of her snug San Francisco apartment. From there, she administers lessons via Zoom to ballet students who, of course, had to make their own in-home modifications.

“It’s a challenge to find the proper height for the bar, which normally would be mounted on a wall,” she says. “They can use a chair or a table, but that might not always be stable … And we try to do small jumps instead of big ones.”

Naturally, there are downsides to the online transition. The instructors refer to the loss of personal connection and the in-room group energy. Myers had to move some of his online sessions from his home into his backyard after his cat became a nuisance. Now, he occasionally frets over whether a lawn-mowing neighbor might ruin the vibe.

“There are so many things you don’t encounter in a gym,” he says.

And Orr admits that certain tutorials simply can’t be done remotely.

“I’m a very hands-on instructor,” she says. “It’s difficult sometimes not being able to physically correct something a student might be getting wrong. I also worry about the safety of the spaces they’re working in. I don’t want them falling over any furniture!”

Trandafirescu and his ballroom dancing partner, Carolyn Barreno, lament the loss of bonds they formed with young couples taking lessons in preparation for weddings that now have been canceled or indefinitely postponed. And they miss the group-dancing socials often held at The Rose Ballroom.

“Those are a chance for everyone to see friends, connect, mingle and talk,” Barreno says. “And it’s a time when you can ask different partners to dance. Obviously, all that has vanished.”

Still, there are significant benefits to the online movement. Several instructors acknowledge that the video tutorials have helped them reach a broader audience, attracting clients outside the Bay Area who appreciate the convenience and otherwise wouldn’t make the trek to the brick-and-mortar outlets.

Also, adds Orr, there’s a certain “safety net” to home exercise.

“Some people just feel more comfortable learning on their own, outside of a group situation,” she says.

Maura Smith, a Berkeley resident who has participated in online classes with Myers, counts herself among them.

“I’ve been willing to try certain things—like Pilates and dance—that I normally wouldn’t,” she admits. “I have a fear of failure. So I often avoid things that I’m not familiar with, especially in group situations.”

Monica Albe of Richmond harbors similar sentiments. When taking online Zoom classes provided by the UC Berkeley recreational sports fitness program, she can see the instructor but chooses an option that prevents others from seeing and hearing her.

“I love that I can be a bum and anonymous,” she says. “I can be sweaty and a complete dork but still feel like I’m part of something cool. It’s much better than a Netflix workout video because it’s live, and the (trainer) is someone I can actually talk to. And I know I can ask for help through the chat function if I need it.”

Orr is convinced that the pandemic-era streaming workouts have been just as valuable for her as they’ve been for her clients.

“It’s a reminder that we’ll be OK and can get through this together,” she says. “To feel that collectively, through a computer screen, is pretty amazing.” And also incredibly uplifting, according to Wright.

“A lot of people aren’t moving right now,” she says. “They’re stuck inside, on the couch or at a work desk. Their hips are locking up. We need to move. We need to dance. We need to be happy and tune in to our bodies.”

All of which brings up the question: Is the Zoom-ified at-home streaming fitness craze here to stay—even post-pandemic? Or will it go the way of Jane Fonda’s playful-peppy workout videos?

“I’ve heard from a lot of people that ‘this works for me,'” Myers says. “So I think that from here on out, the online classes will at least be part of the mix for many of us. It’s redefining what we can offer.”

©2020 The Mercury News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

The post At-Home Fitness Experiences a Pandemic-Era Resurgence appeared first on RISMedia.

Realogy, AARP Team Up for Cash-Back Program

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 1, 2020 - 1:00am

The program is aimed at Americans aged 50 and older who show an eagerness to move, even amidst the pandemic.

New Tool in the Fight Against COVID-19: Upgraded AC

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 1, 2020 - 1:00am

Will New York become a trend-setter now that the state is mandating shopping malls improve HVAC systems before reopening?

Home Sellers Are the ‘Missing Link’ in the Recovery

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 1, 2020 - 1:00am

The lack of housing inventory continues to be buyers’ biggest hurdle as the number of homes for sale plummeted in June.

Is My Home in a Flood Zone?

NAR Daily News Magazine - July 1, 2020 - 1:00am

A new mapping tool developed by a nonprofit research firm has a different view of flood risk compared with FEMA’s long-used maps.

IRS Stands Firm on July 15 Tax Deadline for 2019 Returns

NAR Daily News Magazine - June 30, 2020 - 1:00am

For those who can’t make the deadline, you have options, the IRS says.

Counties Where Buying a Home Is Most Affordable

NAR Daily News Magazine - June 30, 2020 - 1:00am

The latest affordability numbers reveal a win-win situation for sellers and buyers, a new report finds.

Freddie, Fannie Extend Aid to Landlords, Renters

NAR Daily News Magazine - June 30, 2020 - 1:00am

With federal protections about to expire, landlords can now request up to three months additional mortgage forbearance.

7 Best Bargain Beach Towns for Retirees

NAR Daily News Magazine - June 30, 2020 - 1:00am

The pandemic is driving greater interest in second homes and beach properties.

Top 10 Issues Facing Commercial Real Estate

NAR Daily News Magazine - June 30, 2020 - 1:00am

The Counselors of Real Estate announces its annual list of events and trends that will shape the commercial sector in the year ahead. Among the leading concerns: the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supreme Court Upholds NAR’s View on CFPB

NAR Daily News Magazine - June 29, 2020 - 1:00am

Monday’s ruling will result in minimal disruption to housing markets while ensuring bureau’s director serves at president’s will.

Pending Home Sales Post Record-Setting Rebound in May

NAR Daily News Magazine - June 29, 2020 - 1:00am

The rapid recovery shows “the resiliency of American consumers and their evergreen desire for homeownership,” says NAR’s chief economist.


Want to Drastically Improve Your Cooking? Get the Right Types of Salt and Use Them Well

RisMedia Consumer News - June 28, 2020 - 1:04pm

(TNS)—Salt is often the difference between a good dish and great dish. To season with it right and well, it’s helpful to understand the different types of salts and the best ways to use them.

Where does salt come from?

All salt comes from the sea in some form, whether it’s taken from the water or pulled out of the ground where seas were long ago. The distinctions between the types we use for food lie in their source and processing.

True “sea salt” is harvested from shallow marshes, ponds or other low-lying areas. It comes from either sunshine and wind evaporating the water and leaving behind the salt or from raking salt off the surface of still water.

Other cooking salts come from solution mining. After water dissolves salt deposits, the brine solution is evaporated and purified. The salt left behind is then dried and refined, ending up as almost entirely sodium chloride.

The harvesting and processing determine the shape, size and taste of cooking salts. Here’s a guide to the most commonly used types:

Kosher Salt
Kosher salt was originally made for use in kashering, which involves salting meat to draw out its blood according to Jewish dietary laws and traditions. Its coarse grains work best in that process and also in other forms of cooking and baking. Now it is the de facto salt of most professional kitchens and cookbooks.

Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt: My go-to salt for nearly everything. Diamond Crystal stands out among brands of kosher because its crystals are large enough to pick up easily for sprinkling, but still dissolve readily. Most importantly, it tastes less salty than other brands of kosher salt. This is the brand you should use for any measured amounts of kosher salt in recipes by me and my colleague Ben Mims—and it is the brand used by almost all professional cooks we know.

Morton’s Kosher Salt: This blue-box brand may be easier to find, but I don’t recommend it because the larger crystals taste much saltier and don’t dissolve as easily, sometimes making food taste salty in an unpleasant way. If you have it and want to get rid of it without wasting it, use it to salt boiling water for pasta. If it is what you can find at the store or prefer, use ¾ teaspoon for every teaspoon of kosher salt called for in our (and most) recipes.

Fine Salt

The sandlike grains of fine salt dissolve the most readily.

Iodized salt: I grew up shaking the white fine-sand salt that came from Morton’s blue cylinders. You probably did too. They sell a regular table-salt option and one with iodine, which is added to prevent deficiencies that can affect thyroid function and because it is an anti-caking agent (i.e., it won’t clump in the salt shaker.). Unless you need the extra iodine, you can skip this salt’s metallic taste. If you do use it, 1 teaspoon is the equivalent of 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt.

Fine sea salt: If you prefer the more mineral taste of sea salt, you can use fine sea salt for cooking and baking. It dissolves quickly and is good for last-minute sprinkling when you want to add saltiness but not texture.

Salt Flakes

Salt harvested from the sea can come as flakes or in other coarse textures that are ideal for finishing dishes with an extra hit of flavor and a bit of crunch. Large crystals need to be ground before use; I prefer flakes.

Sea salt flakes: The delicate crunch and mild taste of pretty snowflake-like salt are ideal for sprinkling on dishes after cooking. Maldon is the most readily available brand and options from Jacobsen Salt Co. are easy to find as well.

How to Salt
Once you’ve stocked your pantry with salt, you need to use it properly. Regardless of what you have on hand, you want to follow these steps to seasoning food.

1. Get to know your salt. Even if using my recommended option (Diamond Crystal kosher), know that salt can vary in its saltiness. Whatever you’re using, taste a tiny bit by itself first. If you happen to have multiple brands, taste them one after the other (with lots of water in between) to understand their differences.

2. Keep tasting. Every culture and cook salts food differently. Some go heavy from the start, some sprinkle throughout the process and some season only at the end. Many do a mix of all three, but whichever method you’re following, keep tasting your food as you cook. Start by nibbling ingredients that can be tasted raw and taste at every stage when it’s safe to try the food (avoid raw poultry and the like). Remember that you can always add more salt, but you can’t take it away, so taste, sprinkle, taste, sprinkle.

3. Strive for balance. Salt doesn’t work alone to make food taste great. Its role is to enhance the natural flavors of whatever you’re cooking and to tie everything together. When you’re tasting for salt, ask whether you also want more umami, richness, acidity, heat or freshness. If you are going to add more umami (a dash of soy sauce), fat (like another pat of butter), acid (a squirt of lemon juice), heat (a pinch of chile) or freshness (a handful of herbs), do that first, then taste and season with salt. You can do this throughout the cooking process and be sure to do it just before serving. And a little dish of sea salt flakes to pass around the table never hurts either.

©2020 www.latimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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COVID-19 Safety: Tips for Leaving Home to Travel, Visit Restaurants, and More

RisMedia Consumer News - June 27, 2020 - 12:00am

(TNS)— If coronavirus disease (COVID-19) stay-at-home restrictions are easing in your community, you might wonder how to visit public places and protect your health. Here’s what you need to know.

Before You Head Out
Follow guidance where you live. In the U.S., activity restrictions vary among cities and states. Before you head out, check your city or state health department’s website for information about local restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The best way to protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus is to avoid exposure. If you go out, wear a cloth face covering. Keep a distance of about 6 feet (2 meters) from others if the COVID-19 virus is spreading in your community, especially if you have a higher risk of serious illness. Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms. Also, avoid large events and mass gatherings.

In addition, practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

If you feel sick, stay home. Don’t visit public areas unless you’re going to get medical care. Avoid taking public transportation if you’re sick.

And if you’re at higher risk of serious illness, don’t head out into the community just yet. It’s safer to stay home. If other members of your household return to work or visit places where social distancing isn’t possible, it’s recommended that they isolate themselves from you.

Safety Tips for Public Places
Beyond taking general precautions to prevent COVID-19, consider specific safety tips for visiting different public places.

Before traveling check the websites of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for health advisories and self-quarantine requirements. Consider checking the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s website and your airline’s website for additional guidance.

Consider the risks associated with different types of travel. There might be a risk of getting the COVID-19 virus on a crowded flight if other travelers on board are infected. On a bus or train, sitting or standing within 6 feet (2 meters) of others for a prolonged period can put you at risk of getting or spreading the COVID-19 virus. Traveling by car or recreational vehicle often involves stops that could put you in close contact with infected people.

If you’re planning on booking a hotel room, check the hotel’s website to learn about precautions being taken and if amenities, such as the gym or restaurant, will be open. Bring cleaning supplies with you. When you get to your room, disinfect all high-touch surfaces, such as light switches, sink faucet handles, door knobs and the remote control. Wash plates, cups or silverware (other than pre-wrapped plastic) before using. Also, confirm the hotel’s cancellation policy before making a booking.

Before you eat at a restaurant, check the restaurant’s safety practices. Are the employees wearing cloth face coverings, regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces and practicing social distancing? Is there good ventilation? Are tables set far enough apart from each other to allow for social distancing? Is the menu digital or disposable?
Ideally, the restaurant won’t offer salad bars, buffets and drink-filling stations that require people to use common utensils or dispensers. If you need to wait in line for service, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) from others. If possible, use touchless payment.

When ordering takeout, try to pay online or over the phone to limit contact with others. If you’re having food delivered, ask for it to be left outside your home in a safe spot, such as the porch or your building’s lobby. Otherwise, stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from the delivery person. If you’re picking up your food at the restaurant, maintain social distancing while waiting in the pickup zone. After bringing home your food, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.

Places of Worship
Before going to a place of worship, check to see if the size of gatherings is being limited and how that might affect your visit. Seek out services held in large, well-ventilated areas. Continue social distancing during services.

Also, avoid contact with frequently touched items, such as books. Place any donations in a stationary collection box. If food is offered at an event, look for pre-packaged options.

Before going to the gym, call to see if it’s limiting how many members are allowed in at the same time. You might have to reserve a block of time in advance, with staff cleaning the facility between blocks. Ask about the facility’s cleaning and disinfecting policies and whether you’ll be able to use the locker room or bathroom. If you are interested in group exercise classes, ask if they are being offered.

Your gym will likely enforce social distancing by blocking access to every other cardio machine. Follow the gym’s guidelines and stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from other members. Clean equipment before and after using it. Some equipment that’s difficult to clean, such as foam rollers and yoga blocks, might not be available.
If you’re at higher risk of serious illness, you might consider waiting to return to the gym. Ask if your gym offers virtual classes or training.

When making your appointment, ask about safety measures. You might be required to attend your appointment alone, wash your hair at home to reduce traffic near the shampoo area, and wait in your car or outside until your appointment begins. In addition, you might ask whether the salon is offering blow drying. Eliminating blow drying could reduce the spread of germs.

Ideally, the salon will stagger appointments to limit how many people are in the facility at the same time. You might ask about the salon’s disinfecting practices. Is the staff regularly wiping down high-touch surfaces? Are chairs and headrests disinfected after they are used? Is the staff wearing cloth face coverings and regularly washing their hands? Are they wearing single-use gloves for nail and facial work? Also, look for touchless payment options.

Grocery Stores
Before going to get your groceries, consider visiting the chain’s website to check on the precautions being taken. For smaller businesses, call the store.

To make social distancing easy, visit the grocery store early in the morning or late at night, when the store might be less crowded. If you’re at higher risk of serious illness, find out if the store has special hours for people in your situation and shop during these times. You might also consider ordering your groceries online for home delivery or curbside pickup.

At the store, disinfect the handle of the shopping cart or basket. Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others while shopping and in lines. If possible, pay without touching money or a keypad or use hand sanitizer after paying. Also, apply hand sanitizer after you leave the store. When you get home, wash your hands.

©2020 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

The post COVID-19 Safety: Tips for Leaving Home to Travel, Visit Restaurants, and More appeared first on RISMedia.

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