Date Archives: August 2015

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August
30

A well-maintained deck can provide years of outdoor enjoyment for family and friends–not to mention, a major selling point for buyers. To keep your deck looking its best, the experts at HomeAdvisor.com recommend following these seven tips.   deck   1. Inspect for Rot – The devastating effects of wood rot and decay can be mitigated with regular inspection. Examine the deck's ledger board, support posts, joists, boards, railings and stairs for signs of trouble, including soft spots and splitting, peeling pieces. 2. Fasten Weight-Bearing Board – To ensure your deck remains structurally sound, remove any nails attaching the deck to the home and replace with half-inch stainless or galvanized steel lag screws and bolts. If you notice a gap between the house and the deck, tighten the bolts. 3. Clean Flashing – Clear out any mud or debris caking the flashing, which helps to prevent board rot. Assess the flashing for compromised caulk or other signs of breakage. If the flashing is dated, consider hiring a professional deck contractor to replace it. 4. Secure Railings – Most municipal codes require deck railings to be at least three inches high and four inches apart, but check with your local authority to see what mandates exist in your area. Periodically, pull on the railings and banisters to ensure stability. 5. Evaluate Stairs – Take a look at stair risers and stringers (which hold the steps up from the side) to ensure they are securely attached. Generally, stair treads must be no more than four inches high–contact your local government office to be sure. 6. Tighten Fasteners – Fasteners are what hold deck boards together, such as nails, screws and anchors. Be sure to tighten loose fasteners and replace any that have rusted or corroded–leaving them in can speed up deterioration of the wood, and make your deck sag or sway. 7. Reapply Finish – If your deck's finish has seen better days, consider reapplying with a waterproof finish that protects from mold, mildew and pests. To extend the finish, keep your deck free of leaves and dirt. Source: RISMedia's Housecall Published with permission from RISMedia.
August
28

It can be easy to get lost and confused during the home buying process. Proper planning is paramount. It's also helpful to learn from other people's mistakes. Here are some of the most common errors people make when shopping for a new home.   Not budgeting for everything: Yes, this sounds obvious, but many people forget about some of the costs of buying a home. There are added costs such as furniture and appliances, DIY projects, moving fees, or your first mortgage payment. This last one is especially important-setting a budget may help you determine how much you can comfortably afford to pay for your mortgage.   Neglecting your credit score: Your credit score will play a major role in the home buying process. This 3-digit number might be the thing that keeps you from your new home! Credit reports often contain errors or misinformation, so it's important to retrieve your report ahead of time and fix any errors before sending it out to lenders. Looking at your credit reports may also give you a better idea of what interest rates you can expect so you can make room for them in your budget.   Trusting verbal agreements: A home seller can verbally accept your bid and still turn around and give it to someone else if a higher bidder comes along. So before you celebrate your new home, make sure you've signed paperwork!   Skipping the home inspection: You can't expect the seller to tell you about all the potential problems you might face if you buy their home. There might even be issues with the house that the seller isn't aware of, which is why it's crucial to hire an inspector to take a look through the house. An inspector will examine the overall foundation and structural features of a house. It's their job to find these areas of concern so that you don't have to worry about them later on! (Tip: Don't be too reliant on the inspector. You may catch these problems that they sometimes miss.)   Sweating the small things: Don't like the color of a house or the wallpaper inside? Is there something about the kitchen that you just can't stand? Don't sweat the small things! Focus instead on the location and the overall structure of the house. Once you move in you can change the small things you don't like and make your house a home!   If you avoid these mistakes and work closely with a CENTURY 21® Affiliated Sales Associate, you may just find the home you've been searching for!   Source: https://www.century21.com/real-estate-blog/dont-make-these-5-common-home-buying-mistakes/
August
27

(BPT) - From tools and stools to trunks and junk, it seems the garage is home to just about everything these days - except the car. As summer gear is put away and preparations for winter months begin, fall is the perfect time to organize the garage, reinforce garage safety and move the car back inside.   Check out these steps from the experts at The Lehigh Group to organize your garage:   Clear the clutter
Sort through and throw out rusty tools, broken toys, worn-out sports gear and other items you haven't used in the last year and recycle, donate or sell usable items. Then, group remaining items into categories, such as holiday decorations, gardening tools and sports equipment to begin the organizing process.   Create a parking space
Divide the area into zones, making sure to designate a parking spot for the car. Allow enough space for vehicle doors to fully open and for individuals to walk around without bumping the car. Sweep this area to avoid tracking dirt and debris into your car or home.   Keep necessities at the ready
Store small items in a clean, dry place for maximum organization. For flexible storage - and to transport tools easily - the Crawford Safe-Mount Mobile Caddy features a bin with mesh pockets to store everything from weed picks to gloves, and a wall mount bracket to keep tools off the garage floor.   Go vertical
When zoning your garage, don't forget the walls and ceiling. Install hanging shelves, pegboards, storing rails and overhead storage systems to open up floor space and enjoy a more organized system to visualize your tools. Keep a sturdy step stool or ladder handy to safely reach overhead equipment.   Securely store heavy items
With 70 percent of Americans using the garage to store equipment, such as saws and power tools, it's important to ensure these large and potentially dangerous items are properly anchored. Always remember to follow all manufacturer instructions regarding weight limits when using wall hooks, rails and shelving.  
August
21

According to a recent Bankrate.com national survey, mortgage rates have declined to a two-month low, sparked by a surprise devaluation of the Chinese yuan. By itself, such an action has little effect on the U.S. economy, but the consequent drag on economic growth from a larger trade deficit and a further downward influence on inflation could prompt the Fed to delay the first interest rate hike.   slide2monthlow   According to the survey, the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate slid to 4.04 percent, and the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate ticked lower as well, to 3.26 percent.   Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) were on the downswing also, with the 5-year ARM dipping to 3.20 percent and the 7-year ARM dropping to 3.39 percent.   The larger jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage rate stepped back to 4.00 percent, still remaining below the smaller conforming 30-year fixed mortgage.   At the current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 4.04 percent, the monthly payment on a $200,000 loan is $959.45.   Source: Bankrate.com Published with permission from RISMedia.
August
18

(BPT) - Though summer is winding down, for many families, hectic moving schedules are still underway. Whether you are moving this season or planning for a move in the near future, consider some helpful guidelines on packing up, moving out and settling in without a hitch - plus, the latest technologies to turn your new house into a home.   movingtips   Here are five tips to help you minimize moving stress and settle in quickly:   Make a list, measure it twice. After celebrating the signing of your new home (congratulations!), it's time to begin the moving process. Even before you start packing, it's important, if possible, to visit your new home with a tape measure. Carefully measure and take note of the square footage and dimensions of every room in your new home. Do the same with any existing appliances and furniture you plan on relocating to your new home to ensure that everything fits through the door and in the space. LG's moving guide (www.lg.com/us/moving) is designed to help and includes tips on measuring your current appliances to make sure they'll fit. If you're purchasing new large appliances or furniture, be sure to measure everything in the store or take note of each item's dimensions online to make sure it fits. Removing or replacing a refrigerator, for example, is a time-consuming and expensive task that can be avoided with careful planning. If you aren't able to visit before moving in, ask your broker or real estate agent for a copy of the floor plan.   Pack strategically, unpack easily. Pack and label items by category, such as dishes, winter clothes and books, or by appropriate area, such as bedroom, kitchen and living room. To limit damage, be sure to pack fragile and valuable items carefully with padded packaging, and communicate fragile items clearly with your movers. To save even more hassle, pack a couple of boxes of essential items, specifically for the first night in your new home, which would otherwise be hard to find. You'll thank yourself when items such as cleaning supplies, fresh linens and a coffeepot are right at your fingertips. Staying organized is key to avoid losing your belongings - resulting in saving time and unnecessary re-purchasing expenses in the process.   Find savings and convenience in new technology. Moving is a common time to buy new electronics - and there are some simple ways to make these new purchases more customizable than ever. For example, rather than choosing surround sound speakers that require lots of cumbersome wiring to install, select a wireless speaker and TV surround sound system like LG's Music Flow. It offers a range of speakers and soundbars that you can mix and match to create a customized and easy-to-use home audio system for your new living space. With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and Google Cast built in, systems like this let you can stream your favorite online music services, including Spotify and Pandora, straight from your mobile device. There's no need for additional hardware or wires.   Share your new address. Take initiative and update your employer, bank, school, doctors, pharmacist and credit card company with your new address as early as possible. This can affect billing statements and formal records, which are a headache to change at a later date. Be sure to call your electric, cable and internet companies to swap your address, and inquire about any potential changes in your service. Sign up for USPS mail forwarding to ensure all of your mail reaches you in a timely manner. And don't forget to keep your friends and family in the loop! It's a busy and exiting time, so share your news!   Upgrade your appliances. If you're not planning to bring your current laundry appliances to your new home, look for a new ENERGY STAR washer and dryer with the latest cleaning technologies that help make clean-up a breeze and save on your electric bill, too. One such example is LG's top-load laundry pair with the dryer featuring an EasyLoad door, the first machine to open two ways. The unique door can be accessed from the top (hamper style) to easily toss in wet clothes from the washer and sideways to quickly unload clothes into the basket. This makes it easier than ever to drop in and unload laundry.   For additional tips on moving and settling into a new space, as well as a complete, eight-week timeline, check the helpful LG moving guide (www.lg.com/us/moving). It's impossible to anticipate every bump in the road, but having a thorough yet flexible plan will help minimize stress and ensure the moving process goes smoothly.
August
14

(BPT) - Homeownership is a dream for many Americans, and maybe it's one of yours as well. Making this dream a reality requires hard work, dedication and the proper preparation. You must figure out where you want to live, what type of home you desire, what you can afford and also how your credit rating may impact your home-purchasing goals.   credmort   Your credit rating can play an important role in the home buying process, and your creditworthiness could also affect the amount that you can borrow, the interest rates you will qualify for and your ability to obtain a mortgage loan in the first place.   'A consumer's credit is one of the biggest factors that goes into the mortgage-application process,' says Eric Hamilton, President of Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. 'Before applying for a loan, it is crucial to get your credit in the best shape you possibly can.'   To help you build good credit and increase your ability to obtain better loan terms, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. offers these tips for improving your credit:     Pay your bills on time Late or missed payments on any of your credit accounts, such as credit cards, mortgages and other loans, could cause a drop in your credit score. To prevent this, make your payments on time. Making additional payments whenever possible and paying extra toward the principal balance will also help to keep a good payment history and decrease the payoff timeline. Using an Extra Principal Payment Calculator tool can also help you calculate the savings that come with paying extra - generating additional motivation to do so.   Minimize any outstanding debt and keep existing debt manageable Paying your statement balances in full instead of letting debt accumulate can improve your credit scores, which may result in better terms being offered from lenders. Lenders often check your credit report when you apply for a loan and measure the amount of debt you're carrying against the loan amount they've requested. Excessive debt is one of the factors that could cause a lender to decline your application.   Avoid applying for unnecessary credit Credit applications can appear as inquiries on credit reports, which may suggest to lenders that an applicant is taking on additional debt. Be aware of advertising or sales promotions that offer purchase discounts if you apply for a credit card. Even these cards could show up as inquiries on your credit report. These inquiries remain on credit reports for two years. Instead of applying for additional credit, use your existing lines of credit to showcase your responsible credit management by paying bills on time and paying off the debt quickly.   "There are a lot of steps you can take to improve your credit, but it's important to remember that credit scores don't change overnight," says Hamilton. "It takes time to increase your credit rating, and while it may feel like a slow-moving effort, it is well worth the wait when you get to open the door to a home of your own for you and your family." Source:  vmfhomeloan.com.
August
11

When back-to-school time approaches, it is important for parents to ensure their children know what to expect.   backtoschool   "Parents need to begin transitioning children into the back-to-school routine early enough so they have time to adjust -- mentally and physically," says Richard Peterson, Kiddie Academy Educational Child Care vice president. "Waiting until right before school begins is not an effective strategy for a smooth start to the school year."   To help get your children acclimated to the start of a new school year, start by:   Getting children excited. Get your children ready for school by making back-to-school shopping a family affair. During a shopping trip for new school supplies, let children cross off items from their lists as they fill the cart. This will keep them involved and excited during the process.   Establishing a school year schedule. A few weeks before school begins, set – and stick to – a realistic bedtime to allow children to get the recommended 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night. Playing school. Gather books, paper, pencils, and crayons and play school with your children. Let them be the teachers and you be the student. As you play, ask your children how they feel about starting school. This is a great time to talk about anxieties or concerns they may have as they start a new school year.   Attending back-to-school events. Find out about back-to-school activities or events, such as meet and greet with teachers. This is a great opportunity to get your children familiar with their school surroundings and comfortable with their new teachers.   Practicing the morning routine. Before the first day of school, figure out how long it will take for everyone to get out of the house on time. If your children will be walking to school, practice the route showing them where to stop and if necessary, how to cross the street. If your children are bus riders, show them where to catch the bus and review the bus rules.   Getting your own routine in check. Make sure you know what you need to keep the busy morning schedule running smoothly. To make more time in the morning, consider handling tasks like setting the coffee maker, preparing lunches and reviewing homework at night. And, practice your new routine before the stress of the school year really hits.   Source: Kiddie Academy® Published with permission from RISMedia.
August
7

As uncertainty about the economy pushes Treasury yields lower, average fixed mortgage rates have moved down for the third week in a row, according to the recent Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®).   mortratestrickledown   Dipping just below four percent, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.91 percent with an average 0.6 point. The 15-year FRM averaged 3.13 percent, also with an average 0.6 point.   In addition, the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.95 percent with an average 0.4 point. The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.54 percent with an average 0.3 point.   Source: Freddie Mac Published with permission from RISMedia.

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