Monday, October 1, 2018
Monday, September 24, 2018
The gutters and downspouts on your home are intended to channel rainwater away from your home and its foundation. When they're blocked and not functioning properly they can lead to the gutters coming loose, wood rot and mildew, staining of painted surfaces, and even worse, foundation issues or water penetration into the interior of the home.
Most experts recommend cleaning the gutters at least once a year. More often might be necessary depending on the proximity of leaves and other debris that could collect.
If this is a task that you feel comfortable about tackling yourself, there are few things to consider. If the debris is dry, it will be easier to clean the gutters. Safety is important, and precautions should be taken such as using a sturdy ladder and possibly, having someone hold it while you're on the ladder.
Other useful tools will be a five-gallon plastic bucket to hook on the ladder to hold the debris; work gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges of the gutters; a trowel or scoop and a garden hose with a nozzle.
? Start by placing the ladder near a downspout for the section of gutter to be cleaned.
? Remove large debris and put it into the empty bucket. Work away from the downspout toward the other end.
? When you're at the end of the gutter, using the water hose and nozzle, spray out the gutter so it will drain to the downspout.
? If the water doesn't drain easily, the downspout could be blocked. Accessing the spout from the bottom with either the hose with nozzle or a plumber's snake, try to dislodge the blockage.
? Reattach or tighten any pieces that were removed or loosened while working on the downspout.
? Flush the gutters a final time, working from the opposite end, as before, toward the downspout.
Monday, September 17, 2018
Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 in response to the mortgage crisis that led to America's Great Recession. The two parts that apply closely to homebuyers are the Ability-to-Repay (ATR) and Qualified Mortgages (QM).
A Qualified Mortgage is a category of loans that have certain, more stable features that help make it more likely that borrowers will be able to afford their loan. These loans do not allow certain risky features like an interest-only period when no money is applied to reduce the principal; negative amortization that would allow the mortgage balance to increase; and, "balloon payments" at the end of the loan that are larger than the normal periodic payments.
A debt-to-income ratio of less than or equal to 43% has been established to provide a limit on how much of a borrower's income can go toward total debt including the mortgage and all other monthly debt payments. However, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau believes these loans should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and in some cases, can exceed 43%.
There is a limit for up-front points and fees the lender can charge.
By showing that the lender made an effort to be certain that the borrower has the ability to repay the loan, the lender in turn, receives certain legal protections. Underwriting factors considered by the lender include:
- current or reasonably expected income or assets
- current employment status
- the monthly payment on the covered transaction
- the monthly payment on any simultaneous loan
- the monthly payment for mortgage-related obligations
- current debt obligations, alimony, and child support
- the monthly debt-to-income ratio or residual income
- credit history
For more information, see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fact sheet ... protecting consumers from irresponsible mortgage lending.
Monday, September 3, 2018
Whether it is hesitation or procrastination due to uncertainty, it can cost buyers by having to pay more for both the house and the financing. This is one of those markets where most of the experts expect interest rates and prices will continue to rise through 2019.
The National Association of REALTORS? reports there is currently a 4.2-month supply of homes for sale which is close to the same as last year's inventory. Normal inventory is considered to be a 6-month supply.
If during the period you're waiting to buy, the price of the home goes up by 5% and the mortgage rate increases by 1%, the payment on a $275,000 home with a 95% mortgage could be $233.80 more each and every month. Over a seven-year period, the delay to purchase would total close to $20,000.
To act decisively, you need good information; a confused mind will not generally make a decision. In today's market, you need to know exactly what price home you can qualify for and you need to know what kind of home you can expect for that price.
You'll want a housing and a mortgage professional you can trust to give you the information you need to make good decisions for yourself and your family. We'd like to be your real estate professional and can recommend a trusted mortgage professional.
Monday, August 20, 2018
Moisture is mold's best friend and it thrives between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit which is why it is commonly found in homes. Mold spores float in the air and can grow on virtually any substance with moisture including tile, wood, drywall, paper, carpet, and food.
Moisture control and eliminating water problems are key to preventing mold. Common sources of moisture can be roof leaks, indoor plumbing leaks, outdoor drainage problems, damp basements or crawl spaces, steam from bathrooms or kitchen, condensation on cool surfaces, humidifiers, wet clothes drying inside, or improper ventilation of heating and cooking appliances.
- Control the moisture problem
- Scrub mold off hard surfaces using soap and water or other cleanser; dry completely
- Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces
- Discard porous materials with extensive mold growth
- Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold
- Periodically, inspect the area for signs of moisture and new mold growth
The EPA suggests that if the moldy area is less than ten square feet, you can probably handle the cleanup yourself. If the affected area is larger than that, find a contractor or professional service provider.
Increasing ventilation in a bathroom by running a fan for at least 30 minutes or opening a window can help remove moisture and control mold growth. After showering, squeegee the walls and doors. Wipe wet areas with dry towels. Cleaning more frequently will also prevent mold from recurring or keep it to a minimum.
A simple solution to clean most mold is a 1:8 bleach/water mixture. Since homes have thermostatically controlled temperatures and water is used all day long in the kitchen and bathrooms, the environment is conducive to mold.
See Ten things you should know about mold written by the EPA.
Monday, August 13, 2018
It's understandable; you're excited; you've found the right home, negotiated a contract, made a loan application and inspections. Closing is not that far away, and you are making plans to move and put personal touches on your new home.
Even if you have an initial approval on your mortgage, little things can derail the process which isn't over until the papers are signed at settlement and funds distributed to the seller. The verifications are usually done again just prior to the closing to determine if there have been any material changes to the borrower's credit or income that might disqualify them.
Most lending and real estate professionals recommend NOT to:
- Make any new major purchases that could affect your debt-to-income ratio
- Buy things for your new home until after you close
- Apply, co-sign or add any new credit
- Close or consolidate credit card accounts without advice from your lender
- Quit your job or change jobs
- Change banks
- Talk to the seller without your agent
Your real estate professional and lender are working together to get you into your new home. It's understandable to be excited and feel you need to be getting ready for the move.
Planning is fine but don't do anything that would affect your credit or income while you're waiting to sign the final papers at settlement.
Monday, July 2, 2018
Carbon monoxide is a silent killer you don't want in your home but because it is colorless and odorless; you may not even be aware the deadly condition exists. The Center for Disease Control says more than 400 people in the U.S. die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning and over 10,000 require medical treatment each year.
Unmaintained furnaces, water heaters and appliances can produce the deadly gas. In addition, other sources could be leaking chimneys, unvented kerosene or gas space heaters or exhaust from cars or trucks operating in an attached garage.
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests the following to reduce exposure in the home:
- Keep gas appliances properly adjusted
- Install and use an exhaust fan vented to the outdoors over gas stoves
- Open flues when fireplaces are in use
- Do not idle car inside garage
- Have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up central heating systems annually
Headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and feelings of weakness or fatigue are a few of the most common symptoms. Lower levels of exposure to carbon monoxide may be mistaken for the flu.
Carbon monoxide alarms should be on every level of a home and especially, in sleeping areas. The alarms can be purchased for as little as $25 and plugged into the wall like a night light.
Regardless of the government requirements, no one would want to put their family, guests or themselves at risk for something so deadly.