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Archive for November, 2009

Five things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.

2. Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.

3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn our or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.

4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.

5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?

How to hire a contractor

November 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Here’s some good news if you’re planning a home improvement or remodeling project. Contractors are finding it slow going these days due to the housing slump and shaky economy. Many are taking on smaller jobs that they wouldn’t have considered before—and they’re willing to deal on pricing just to get new work.

Unfortunately, however, a softer economy also brings out unscrupulous types, warns the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, such as unlicensed individuals posing as remodelers.

Here’s how to protect yourself if you’re planning a project:

• Be sure to hire an experienced local contractor and not a fly-by-nighter. Contact state or local licensing agencies to ensure a contractor meets all requirements.

• Check with the local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor. Check references from past customers as well.

• Get three written estimates from licensed contractors.

• Ask for proof of insurance.

• Draw up a contract before work starts. It should detail the type of work and materials and contain starting and finishing dates. The contract should also contain a warranty covering materials and workmanship for a minimum of one year.

• Be wary of contractors soliciting business door to door.

• Never give a big deposit upfront. Consider putting down no more than 10 percent of the total job cost.

• Make sure you understand the financial terms of the contract and that the total price, payment schedule and any cancellation penalty are clear.

Home Sales Activity

November 7, 2009 Leave a comment

· Home sales continue to rise year-over-year, with sales in September increasing 2.1 percent in California, compared with the same period a year ago. Sales soared above the 500,000 unit threshold for the thirteenth consecutive month.

· Month-to-month sales increased slightly in September. Sales in September 2009 increased 0.6 percent compared with the previous month.

Federal Tax Credit will be extended!

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Upon the President’s signature the federal tax credit will be extended through April 30, 2010, with a 60-day extension if a binding contract is in place prior to the deadline. First-time home buyers will continue to be eligible for a tax credit of up to $8,000, while existing homeowners will be eligible for a reduced credit of up to $6,500. To qualify for the $6,500 credit, existing homeowners must have lived in their current residences for at least five years. The bill also increases the qualifying income limits from $75,000 for single tax filers and $150,000 for joint filers to $125,000 and $225,000, respectively. The purchase price of the home is capped at $800,000 in both instances.

Under additional provisions included in the bill, taxpayers can claim the credit on purchases completed in 2010 on their 2009 income tax returns. The legislation maintains the provision that home buyers do not have to repay the credit provided the home remains their primary residence for 36 months after purchase, and waives this requirement for active duty military personnel who move due to a military order.

Categories: Finance

REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month

November 4, 2009 Leave a comment

cell_phoneREMINDER….. all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls.
…. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS
To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222.

It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time.. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

What’s new Eco-friendly interior design?

November 3, 2009 Leave a comment

eco-friendlyThe color “green” is red-hot these days, as environmental awareness spreads and more and more industries incorporate Earth-friendly principles. Going green not only helps the environment, but also helps consumers save money on utility bills.

Incorporating eco-friendly principles into your home may also improve your health, says Hilary Sopata, a Park Ridge, Ill. designer, by eliminating volatile organic compounds (VOCs) often found in paint and other products.

Sopata, currently writing a book called “Get Green With Style,” is seeing the following trends in eco-friendly home design:

New Countertop Materials. “Countertops have come a long way from where they were even three years ago,” Sopata says. Granite has been popular for years, but keep an eye out for compressed paper counters as well as those made from recycled glass bottles.

Natural Fiber Carpets. Wool, cotton, jute and hemp rugs are becoming increasingly popular. These are great for households with pets or small children, Sopata says, who spend time on the carpet and won’t be exposed to the chemicals given off by man-made carpet products.

Automatic lights. These are easy and inexpensive to install, but can save a significant amount of energy.

Natural Window Coverings. Natural window coverings are made out of grasscloth, sisal or other woven plant material. They can be dressed up with a fabric edge trim and are available with a lining for privacy.

Antiques. Using antique or vintage furniture saves them from landfills. Reupholstering or refinishing an antique can cost as much as buying new, but it is much better for the environment.

Eco-Resin. Eco-resin is a translucent material (with 40% recycled content) that lets light flow through to otherwise dark spaces. Used as part of a wall or in place of a door, it may eliminate the need for artificial lighting.

Five Maintenance Issues Homeowners Shouldn’t Ignore

November 2, 2009 Leave a comment

hammerSure, times are tough, and money is tight. It may be tempting to put off home repairs. And while it’s okay to rebuild your patio when you get that long-awaited bonus, some repairs can’t be ignored because they can cause thousands of dollars in damage–or worse, they might affect your family’s health.

The June 2009 issue of Consumer Reports listed five “red flags of home maintenance” that need immediate attention–even in a bad economy.

1. Keep water away from the house. Gutters, downspouts and leaders collect rainwater and move it away from the house. Check the gutter system seasonally. Also, make sure that soil slopes away from the house.

2. Inspect the roof. Use binoculars to spot damaged or missing shingles, and check for cracks around chimneys, skylights and roof valleys, all common sources of leaks.

3. Keep bugs out. Termites and carpenter ants can do major damage, so inspect the exterior of your home for signs of their presence, and keep mulch, firewood and shrubbery away from the foundation.

4. Avoid mold. Inspect the interior of the house for signs of mold. If indoor mold covers less than 10 square feet, you can treat it yourself with a bleach solution. Professional help is needed for larger areas.

5. Seal foundation cracks. Hairline cracks can be filled with epoxy. For cracks wider than 3/16”, however, consider hiring a structural engineer to inspect. These can be a problem.

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