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Month of Thankfulness :: Don’t Stop at Being Thankful

As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. -Audrey Hepburn

adult helping senior in hospitalAt Assurance Professional Home Inspection, we love our jobs. We enjoy helping our clients understand any and all issues their homes might have so that they can be fixed, and so that their homes can be at their very best. We're thankful to be a part—however small—of making your homes safer, stronger, and more beautiful.

But today we’re going to break from the norm of finding faults and fixes to instead focus on being thankful for what IS. For a moment, we’re going to forget about inspection lists and home improvements and DIY projects (as much as we love them!), and instead appreciate what we have, flaws and all, and we encourage you to do the same.

We’re thankful for the roofs over our heads–old wallpaper, stubbornly creaky floors, and wiggly door knobs included. We’re thankful for the warmth, comfort, and shelter our homes give us, even on days when radiators are annoyingly loud or pesky faucets refuse to stop drip-drip-dripping. We’re thankful for the family and friends who have shared our homes over the years, and for the memories we’ve made together within their walls. We’re grateful, and we’re lucky.

We’re thoroughly enjoying the spirit of sincere positivity and gratitude that appears to be taking over the Internet this month (what with all the 30 Days of Thankfulness posts), but we’d like to take it a step further. We challenge everyone (ourselves included!) to take all the gratitude and positivity you possess in this Month of Thankfulness and channel it toward helping someone who might not be so lucky; put your hard-earned home improvement skills and proud DIY spirit to use for someone else—an elderly or not-so-handy family member or neighbor, perhaps. The satisfaction of making, fixing, or creating something with your own hands is tough to beat, but we’re willing to bet that making, fixing, or creating something with your own hands for someone else just might do it. This month, try showing your gratitude by giving back. You’ll be thankful you did. Your fireplace and chimney should be inspected annually—twice yearly by fire sprinklers San Diego redtruckfire.com if you regularly burn soft woods like pine or cedar. Not only are neglected fireplaces potential fire hazards, they’re also potentially damaging to yours and your family’s health.

For volunteer ideas in your town, check out volunteermatch.org. Look at VolunteerMatch social media pages which currently have marketing campaign by the Marketing Heaven. All information is there! Also, we connect companies of all sizes with real-time, community-sourced volunteer opportunities. With more volunteers and more volunteer opportunities than any other service, VolunteerMatch is how good people and good causes get connected.

And of course…

thank you typography

 

Solar Power for Your Home :: Consider Living Off the Grid

What once was cost prohibitive and unrealistic for the average homeowner is no longer so—solar power for your home is more affordable than ever before, and with other natural resources rising in price and shrinking in supply, now's a fine time to consider your solar options.

solar power cityWhy is solar power for your home worth considering? The sun is our planet’s cleanest and most renewable energy source, and once you have the means to harness its power, the power itself is free; free and efficient. According to the Department of Energy, employing solar energy over traditional power can drastically reduce your energy costs over time—by 50% or more in some cases. A solar water heater, for example, can lighten the electric load of your water heater by 2,500 kilowatt hours annually, which prevents 4,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. That’s equal to not driving your car for four months. Solar energy has always been attractive for its minimal environmental effects, but now it’s also attractively affordable. Residential systems installed between Jan 1, 2009 and Dec 31, 2016 are eligible for federal, state, and local tax credits equal to 30% of the system’s cost. If you haven’t considered your solar options before, there’s no better time than now.

Be realistic when considering solar power for your home. Solar power is clearly an environmentally responsible and highly efficient option, but it’s not the right option for everyone. An important factor in determining if solar power is right for your home is your home’s location. Photovoltaic (PV) systems (systems that convert solar energy into electricity) are only worth installing if they’ll have exposure to direct sunlight for at least five hours a day, the more the better. *To estimate the energy production and cost of a PV system for your home, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s NREL PVWatts Caluculator.

Your costs vs. potential savings is something else to consider when deciding whether to spring for solar power for your home. In an ideal situation, with tax incentives that cut the initial cost, plentiful sunshine for the panels, and high local utility rates, you could stand to benefit greatly from installing a solar power system so find the best and largest solar companies in california for your sweat home or the business purposes. Under such circumstances, a PV system could pay for itself within about five years. However, if you live in an area with little sunshine, consistent cloud cover, and local utility rates that aren’t too terribly high, you stand to gain very little from such a system. In any case, it’s smart to first take little steps to improve your home’s energy efficiency before resorting to solar panels—a tube of caulk and a few rolls of fiberglass insulation cost a whole lot less, and installing solar panels is no small endeavor. When traveling, you would be taking a FAA approved car seat on a plane.

solar diagramThink solar power’s right for your home? Know your options.

  • Solar PV panels – Though pricey upfront, if you live in a sunny climate, especially a cold and sunny climate, solar panels offer savings on utility bills that are well worth it. You have the option of either a standalone system or a grid-tied system. Though more costly upfront, a standalone system is likely a more cost-effective option for more remote homes that are far from power lines and would therefore be difficult  to tie into the power grid. Grid-tied systems are best for older homes that don’t offer many opportunities for making energy efficient design changes, and they are also more likely to receive federal rebates.
  • Indoor solar lighting – Using large windows and skylights to bring sunlight into your home is a great way to save on daytime energy costs. With proper placement, indoor solar lighting can eliminate your need for electric lighting during the day.
  • Outdoor solar lighting – Using outdoor solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity to be stored in batteries for use at night works well in conjunction with indoor solar lighting.
  • Solar water heaters – Solar-thermal energy is a cheaper alternative to PV energy and can drastically lower the average household’s water-heating costs. Also, solar water heaters have a life expectancy of 20 years or more, double that of conventional storage tank water heaters.

Solar power could be GREAT for your home, but it’s not great for everyone. When considering solar power, be realistic—know the limits of your location and your budget, and consult a professional before making your final decision (you can find certified PV installation professionals in your area here). If in the end it looks like living "off the grid" is a viable option, now's the time to go for it.

Save Your Time + Money: Worthwhile Home Improvement Projects

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2013 Cost vs. Value Report, the overall value added by home renovation projects—especially those focusing on upgrades, replacements, and curb appeal—has improved for the first time in six years.

The study focused on the “cost-value ratio” of 35 common home improvement projects (this ratio expresses the value a project retains once the house sells in relation to the original cost of the project; the greater the percentage of the original cost a seller recoups once the house sells, the greater the cost-value ratio). The continued decline in construction costs (down 6.0%) combined with relatively stable resale values (down only 1.4%) has finally created favorable conditions for homeowners to make those upgrades and remodels they’ve been putting off in recent years. For all 35 projects studied in the survey the cost-value ratio rose, making for an average 60.60 cost-value ratio across the board.

Sixty percent may not sound like much of a return on investment, but keep in mind that the 60.60% figure is merely an average of the cost-value ratios of all 35 projects. The projects at the top of this year’s list boast a cost-value ratio of 90% or higher in many cities. Nationwide, the top 10 lists are dominated by outdoor replacement projects that cost relatively little but have dramatic impact on curb appeal, a very strong factor in raising the perceived value of a home in the eyes of potential buyers.

The most worthwhile home improvement projects in our region were no exception. Below are the five projects with the highest return on investment in western Kentucky:

  1. Replace entry door (steel) – Replacing your existing front door with a steel door is inexpensive and relatively easy for an experienced DIYer. It can be painted an eye-catching color or made to match your home’s existing color scheme, and paired with quality hardware it can make for a simple, but impactful little facelift for the front of your home. The door’s steel outer layer will be susceptible to denting, so swing for a kickplate. Not sure if you want a steel door? Here are more details on the pros and cons of fiberglass and wood doors too. Estimated ROI: 87.60%
  2. Add a deck (wood) – If you’re looking to add living space, a deck is an easy and cost-effective alternative to a full addition, and it provides a great way to enjoy the outdoors when the weather’s nice. If you keep it simple and build the deck yourself with pressure-treated lumber, you can knock off almost 50% of the cost. Clean and seal it annually to keep it in good shape. Here are some tips on how to plan for a deck that suits your home, meets your budget, and offers the best possible return on your investment. Estimated ROI: 86.40%
  3. Replace siding (vinyl) – There’s a good reason why vinyl siding is so popular; it’s reasonably priced, it’s durable (good-quality vinyl siding can last 30 years or more), and its light weight makes it easy to install. Plus, it comes in almost any color you can imagine. Here’s more information on vinyl siding, as well as other siding options such as fiber-cement and wood. Estimated ROI: 79.90%
  4. Garage door replacement – This is a GREAT way to improve your home’s curb appeal. An attractive, mid-range garage door can do wonders for the overall appearance of your home, and a skilled/brave DIYer can install one in a weekend. For smart garage storage ideas and how you can exploit more storage space visit goodgarage.us.
  5. MINOR kitchen remodel. Resist the urge to do a complete kitchen overhaul, and keep your remodel to-scale—installing big, fancy appliances in a small home will rarely ever pay off. Stick with high-quality fixtures, and make smart cosmetic updates to modernize the look of your kitchen. For more tips on remodeling your kitchen without going overboard and over budget, click here. Estimated ROI: 76.60% and also you can keep the house plants san diego in your kitchen for fresh air.

As you tackle your own home improvement projects, keep in mind that your end goal is to increase the value of your home, and work to-scale. For example, if you live in a neighborhood full of mid-sized three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath homes and your home only has one-and-a-half baths, you will likely benefit more from adding a bathroom to bring your home up to the neighborhood standard than by doing a complete kitchen overhaul. Think strategically, shop smartly, and do the work yourself when you can. Here’s to a high cost-value ratio for all your home improvement projects to come!

Buying a New or Old Home :: Which is Right for You?

Which is better, a new or old home? Either option has its perks and its drawbacks, as does every home—be it a charming old Victorian or a newly constructed ranch house. The choice is a matter of personal preferences and priorities, but there are some points all homebuyers should consider before deciding which route to take.

Advantages of buying NEW:

  • Customization. In many cases, you’ll have the chance to be a part of the building process from the ground up. Many components of new constructions are open for personalization. YOU have a say in the end product.
  • Choice in location. If you get in on the project early enough, you can usually have a say in the location of your home within the neighborhood or subdivision.
  • Energy efficiency/low energy costs. New homes must be built to meet today’s energy standards. That means energy efficient appliances, plumbing, wiring, and construction, which in turn means lower energy costs for you. You can get financial support from loanigo.co.uk if you need one.
  • Low maintenance. In theory, a new construction filled with new appliances will require fewer repairs and upgrades in the near future.
  • Modern design and features. Newer homes tend to feature open floor plans, large windows, bigger rooms, and other features that are popular with and make sense to home buyers today.
  • That new home feel. It’s exciting knowing that you are the first to ever own or live in your home—you get the unique opportunity to be part of the home’s history from the very beginning.

Disadvantages of buying NEW:

  • Construction issues. Just because a house is new does not mean it’s well-built. The quality of a home’s construction depends on its builders, and with financing becoming more and more difficult to come by, some builders are having to cut corners and use cheaper materials.
  • The wait. In most cases you will have to wait for months before your new home is move-in ready. For many people that means moving into transitional housing in the interim, which can be a big hassle.
  • Higher cost. A newly constructed home typically costs about 20 percent more than a comparable resale home.
  • Limited negotiation room. A builder negotiates from a purely business-minded, financial standpoint, which leaves less of a chance for you to talk down the price.
  • Cookie-cutter design. Though home builders tend to offer options for customization in the details of a new home, they usually start from a template that’s been used many times before and will be used many times after, often for homes in the same neighborhood.

 

Advantages of buying RESALE:

  • Quality and character. The craftsmanship and quality construction of older homes is incredibly expensive and nearly impossible to recreate today. Not to mention that the character and quirkiness that comes with a house with history is simply something you can’t find in a newly constructed home.
  • Availability. There are more resale homes on the market to choose from, and once purchased you can usually move in right away. No wait. No transitional housing necessary.
  • Better deals. Resale homes typically start out at lower prices than their newly constructed counterparts, and you have better luck getting a bargain or considerable concessions from a seller than from a builder.
  • Track record. In the case of an older, well-maintained home, many upgrades and repairs will have already been made by the time you come into the picture. By now the home’s strengths are well established, its weaknesses known.
  • Established neighborhoods. An older, well-maintained home in a well-maintained neighborhood that has retained its value over the years is very likely to continue holding its value.

Disadvantages of buying RESALE:

  • Old construction/safety/energy standards. Older homes were built to the standards of the year in which they were constructed, not today’s. Oftentimes this can lead to issues with plumbing, wiring, and energy efficiency.
  • The negotiations can get personal. Unlike a builder of a newly constructed home, a seller likely has emotional ties to the house and may see it as being worth more that it actually is. This can lengthen the negotiation process, creating more stress for you.  
  • Costly renovations. Depending on how much work has already been done on the house, and how comfortable you are with DIY projects, fixing up a resale home can turn into a costly affair. A home that seemed like a steal in the beginning may end up costing just as much as a comparable, newly-constructed home. Mentally, you should include the cost of any renovations you envision for the house in the home’s overall cost, and negotiate accordingly.

Whichever route you take, avoid falling head over heels for a home too soon. Get the facts and do your best to see your prospective home’s reality as critically and objectively as possible—that’s where we can help. For a professional home inspection, give us a call anytime at 270-933-7242.

DIY: How to Install Weather Stripping

christmas door

As we mentioned in last week's post, Top 10 Tips for Home Maintenence This Fall, one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to increase your home's energy efficiency and reduce your utility bill is to properly seal your windows and doors before winter gets into full swing. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to install weather stripping around YOUR door.

Products you'll need:

  • Vinyl-reinforced aluminum weather seals for the top, left, and right sides of your doorframe. You can usually buy them together as a kit.
  • Compression foam weather stripping.
  • Door sweep.

Tools you'll need:

tools

  • Hacksaw to cut through aluminum
  • Utility knife to cut through vinyl
  • Tape measure to make sure everything is cut to size and will create a tight fit
  • Drill driver or hammer–depends on the weather seals and door sweep you buy

The How-To's

  1. Remove any old weather seals and stripping from the doorstop (this includes seals mounted to the doorstop itself, as well as any foam weather stripping between the seals and doorstop).
  2. Measure the top of the doorstop. Cut the top weather seal to fit (use a hacksaw to cut the aluminum, and a utility knife to make a clean cut on the vinyl). With the door closed and latched, fit the vinyl-reinforced aluminum seal along the top of the doorstop so that it sits flat against the door.
  3. Before screwing or nailing in the top seal, attach a strip of compression foam weatherstripping to the back of the seal. This will ensure that no cold air sneaks in behind it.
  4. Once the top seal is installed, open the door to measure for the side seals. Measure from the threshold up to the top weather seal you've just installed. Once again,when cutting the seals to size use a hacksaw to cut the aluminum and a utility knife to cut the vinyl.
  5. Just as with the top seal, fit each side seal with the door closed and latched, checking that it fits properly and sits flat against the door. Attach strips of compression foam weatherstripping to the backs of these seals as well, mount them, then attach to the doorstop.
  6. Remove your old door sweep if you have one, and measure the bottom of the door so that you can cut your new door sweep to size. Attach the sweep to the inside of your door with only two screws first and check to see that the door opens and closes properly without getting caught on the floor or rug. Make any necessary adjustments, and complete the installation.

Now your door is airtight and ready to keep you and your family safe from the cold winter winds (and your wallet safe from unnecessary energy costs)!

Why the Holidays are the BEST Days for Buying or Selling a Home

Most people shy away from the holiday season housing market—folks are busy spending money on gifts and time with family, and they figure others who might otherwise buy from/sell to them are busy doing the same. While this is largely true (only 8.1% of home sales occur in December), the shortage of holiday season home buyers and sellers creates a real estate phenomenon almost as magical as the holiday season itself: Only those who are serious about buying or selling continue their efforts into the winter months, which is good for ALL involved.

Why the holidays are the perfect days to BUY a home

  • You will be one of FEW holiday house shoppers. This means little competition and big chances at getting a good deal. The scarcity of others like you who are willing to brave the cold to look at homes turns you into a serious buyer with serious negotiating power.
  • You’re more likely to get favorable mortgage terms in the holiday months than at any other time of the year. The low demand for buying homes during the holiday season means fewer mortgage money requests for lenders, allowing them to offer you better deals.
  • Buying and closing on a house before the year’s end may qualify you for a generous tax break.
  • As a serious buyer in the holiday season, you’re likely to find seriously motivated sellers. It’s a match made in real estate heaven.

Why the holidays are the perfect days to SELL a home

  • As aforementioned, those who are shopping for homes during the holidays tend to be serious and ready to buy, which is exactly the type of buyer you want to attract.
  • People are typically more generous and willing to spend money during the holidays. Take advantage of it while you can.
  • Homes look their best during the holidays. When it’s cold outside, your festively decorated home will look warm, inviting, and enticing to potential buyers, and will feel even more homey than usual.

A few tips to holiday home SELLERS

  • Make your home cozy and inviting for the holidays, but don’t overdo it. Stick to fall and winter decorations rather than overtly religious ones—aim to please a broad audience. Play instrumental, festive music and have freshly baked goodies ready for people coming to see the house. Make them want to stay. The more time a potential buyer spends touring your home, the more time they have to picture themselves in it.
  • Since your yard will be more subdued in the winter months, the winter months are your house’s time to SHINE. Make sure your home is looking its best, inside and out. Get a pre-sale home inspection to catch any imperfections before the buyers do.
  • Find a reliable realtor, one who won’t disappear during the holidays and is as committed as you are to selling your home before year’s end.
  • Online presence is everything these days, especially in the winter. Having high quality, appealing photos of your home available to potential buyers online is MUST. When it’s cold and sometimes treacherous traveling from house to house, many potential buyers will rely heavily on the Internet to decide which houses are worth the trip. You want YOUR house to be on their shortlist.

The holidays are busy and sometimes stressful, but—if you’re up for it—the holidays could be the BEST days for finding or selling your home and finding one more thing to celebrate.

Haunted Real Estate: Recent study reveals “stigmatized property” sellable, but at mysterious price

Here at AP Home Inspection, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide thorough, professional evaluations of properties, whether on behalf of buyers, sellers, or builders. However, there are some things about a home that even our skillfully trained eyes can’t see–the spooky and chill-inducing things people seek when they watch scary movies in the dark, but aren’t necessarily seeking when buying a home.

In honor of Halloween (which is only a week away today!), we bring you some interesting new findings from realtor.com on public perceptions of avenue3realty.com real estate:

Between September and October 1st, realtor.com surveyed roughly 1400 people on their sentiments regarding haunted real estate. Over half those surveyed said they would consider buying a “haunted” property (36% said maybe, 26% said yes), while only 38% said absolutely not. Of those who said they would consider buying a haunted property, only 12% said they would be willing to pay full market value or more for it. The majority of respondents, if they were willing to consider such a thing at all, said they’d expect a significant discount on such a house.

The sentiments this study reveals have serious implications for both sellers and realtors of houses rumored to be haunted. While the study suggests that haunted houses are indeed sellable, they’re rarely sellable at near-market value. For home buyers who are willing to put up with the possibility of ghostly housemates, a "stigmatized property" may be a chance to purchase a home that might otherwise be unaffordable.

Even if a home’s inspection comes back squeaky clean, the mere suggestion that something mysterious or violent occurred on-site can stigmatize an otherwise desirable house. Perception shapes reality, and in this case, it can make or break realty.

In most states—including Kentucky (see KRS 324.162)—realtors have no legal obligation to disclose stigmas such as reported paranormal activity, murder, suicide, or violent crime that occurred on-site in the past. This creates a tricky situation for realtors handling “stigmatized property.” If a seller prefers to keep a house’s dubious past hidden, what should a realtor do if a potential buyer asks about it point-blank? The law is unclear, and the ethics are murky.  

For buyers, finding more information about a potential home’s past may be best left to the buyers themselves. One site recently featured on USA Today, DiedInHouse.com, will dig through multiple sources to see if anyone has died at a specific address. For those who don’t put much stock in stories of ghosts and goblins, it may still be interesting to know your home or future home’s history, even if only for laughs, or fodder for spooking dinner guests.

We leave you with a handy infographic of realtor.com’s findings below:

Easy & Effective Energy Conservation Tips for Your Home

October is National Energy Awareness Month—an effort by the White House to emphasize just how central energy conservation is to our national prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. Local governments, organizations, and businesses across the country are rolling out special events and promotions in the spirit of conservation, but for each and every one of us, energy conservation starts at home.

We sifted through many-an-article on energy conservation tricks and tips and selected a few we thought you’d find most useful. They’re relatively easy, inexpensive, and will make an incredible difference in the environmental impact of your home, and your home’s impact on your wallet.

  • Replace regular, incandescent bulbs with compact florescent bulbs (CFLs). It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again… replace those bulbs! Compared to old-school bulbs, CFLs use 75 percent less energy, last 10 times longer, and cost only $1 more on average. Start with the most commonly-used room in your home and work your way through the rest in time. Many local power companies are offering free CFLs to their customers this month—check with your provider. One of the only downsides to CFLs is that they can be irksome to dispose of, but Home Depot will recycle them for you for free (see here).

  • Unplug those electronics. If you’re going to be away from your computer, television, or other favorite gadget for an extended period of time, turn it OFF instead of putting it in “sleep” mode. It takes precious energy for our electronics to dream. Also unplug things like phone and laptop chargers when not in use—they use energy even when not attached to your gadgets. Another tip? Use power strips in areas full of electronics (offices, entertainment centers, etc.). This makes it easy to power down a room full of equipment with a flick of a switch.

  • Reduce your water heater temperature. A good temperature range that will save you money while still allowing for those hot showers you love is 110-120. (Here are some video tutorials for adjusting your gas or electric water heater repair videos from hughesairco.com arizona).

  • Be thoughtful about how you heat your home. If no one is home during the day, set your thermostat back or even OFF. Many thermostats are programmable and can be set to kick in a half hour before you get home. Also, make use of the sun’s natural heat. Close the drapes on cold, dark days and open them on sunny ones. It’s easy and effective.

Also be sure to check out our previous post on fall home maintenance, and pay special attention to tips 3, 4, and 10 for a few bonus energy saving tips.

Top 10 Tips for Home Maintenance This Fall

 

We’ve noticed it, and we’re sure you’ve noticed it too… Fall is finally here! It’s time for building bonfires, decorating for trick-or-treaters, and before long it’ll be time for cooking up delicious Thanksgiving dinners. We love the trimmings of fall just as much as our clients, but by nature and by profession we’re also incredibly conscious of what lies ahead for us all: winter.

Here are some tips on how to prepare your home for the coming winter months while still enjoying fall, from our family to yours.

 

DIY-Friendly

  1. The gutters. Every year your gutters divert gallons upon gallons of water away from your home—if they’re clean and clear, that is. Clogged gutters can cause water damage to your home’s exterior (and water in your basement, if you have one). Plus, clogged gutters are more prone to rust and corrosion. This is a relatively easy DIY fix for anyone without a fear of heights with access to a ladder, gloves, and something to help remove the debris.
  2. Your dryer vents should be cleaned regularly to prevent a possible fire hazard. You’ll definitely want to do this messy outdoor task before Jack Frost comes a-knockin.
  3. Your windows and doors. To prevent your home from losing expensive heat and gaining cold drafts once winter hits, check the caulking and weather stripping on your windows and doors. Touch up caulking and replace weather stripping where needed, and be sure to clean the surfaces to insure a proper seal. *This is a fix you don’t want to skip. According to the Department of Energy, gaps and caulking and weather stripping, while easily fixable, can account for 10% of your heating bill if left unattended.
  4. Your ceiling fans. Keeping your ceiling fans turning counter-clockwise keeps things cool in the summer, but you’ll want to start running them clockwise once winter hits to keep things toasty.
  5. Your outdoor faucets. Winter-proof your outdoor faucets and their corresponding water lines by shutting off the lines and draining them. If you don’t have shut-off valves for your outdoor faucets, you inexpensive covers from your local home improvement store will do the trick.
  6. Trees or shrubbery near your home should be trimmed before winter ice and snow can weigh down unruly branches and send them careening into your house or nearby power lines. Depending on the size of the tree you may be able to do the trimming yourself, but don’t hesitate to call a professional if it seems like more than you can handle.
  7. Driveways, walkways, and steps near your home can be year-round hazards, but their potential for danger is compounded in the winter. Make note of any cracks more than 1/8 wide, uneven sections, loose railings or steps, and you can easily fix the issues accordingly unless a major repair is needed.

You might want to call a professional

  1. Your fireplace and chimney should be inspected annually—twice yearly if you regularly burn soft woods like pine or cedar. Not only are neglected fireplaces potential fire hazards, they’re also potentially damaging to yours and your family’s health. This is definitely a job best left to a professional chimney sweeper, and a reputable one at that. Here are some tips from the Chimney Safety Institute of America on finding the RIGHT sweeper for the job.
  2. Your roof. Autumn storms and winter snows have an uncanny way of turning minor issues with your roof into very expensive problems. Do a preliminary DIY inspection—look for damaged or curling shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents—and if you find something worrisome, call a professional. Though roof fixes aren’t always cheap fixes, they’re crucial and should be done properly.
  3. Your heating system and filter. It’s easy enough to clean and replace your heating system and filters on your own (just follow your system’s instructions), but it’s smart to have your entire heater/water heater inspected and serviced annually to avoid inefficiency and possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Local utility companies will often provide this service for free!

We hope you’ll find these tips useful in the coming months. If you’d like to take your winter preparedness and home maintenance a step further and have an exceptional, professional home inspection, give us a call at (270) 933-7242. Because when you’re ready, so are we.

New Mortgage Rule Effective January 10, 2014

If you’re in the market for a new home then you should be aware of a new mortgage rule, The Ability to Repay Rule, which takes effect January 10, 2014. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau amended Regulation Z, a regulation that requires creditors to make a reasonable, good faith determination of a consumer’s ability to repay any consumer credit transaction secured by a dwelling. This means that consumers in the market were able to be granted loans, even if they weren’t able to afford them.

When you apply for a loan you may assume that the lender will not make you a loan that you cannot afford. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case. Years down the road homebuyers have been finding themselves unable to pay the loans back, resulting in foreclosure of their home. The Ability to Repay Rule requires that before lenders make a mortgage loan, they look at a consumer’s financial information to be sure that they can afford to repay the loan. This requires that borrowers’ financial information, employment status, income, assets and debt, be supplied and verified by lenders, thereby eliminating no- or low-doc loans. That information, including debt-to-income ratio, must be used to prove that the borrower has the ability to pay back a loan.

So what do this mean to you if you’re in the market for a new home?

  • A lender must collect and verify your financial information including your current income or assets, current employment status, credit history, monthly payment for the mortgage and on other mortgage loans you get at the same time, property taxes and other debts.
  • You must have enough assets or income to pay back the mortgage.
  • A lender can no longer determine your ability to repay using “teaser” rates.
  • The rule includes exceptions for refinancing a consumer out of a risky loan.

The rule protects home buyers from potential shady lenders, making sure that homebuyers get a mortgage loan that they can afford. The rule will also help make sure that responsible lenders aren’t forced to compete with reckless lenders that are engaged in risky practices.
Source:https://mrlån.weebly.com & http://www.consumerfinance.gov/regulations/ability-to-repay-and-qualified-mortgage-standards-under-the-truth-in-lending-act-regulation-z/#consumers