Gunning Daily News
September 12, 2013 1:18 am
A: This is a tough decision, but the answer will depend on your personal situation, as well as the condition of the local housing market.
If you put your home on the market first, you may have to scramble to find another one before settlement, which could cause you to buy a home that does not meet all your requirements. If you cannot find another home, you may need to move twice, temporarily staying with relatives or in a hotel.
On the other hand, if you make an offer to buy first, you may be tempted to sell your existing home quickly, even at a lower price.
The advantage of buying first is you can shop carefully for the right home and feel comfortable with your decision before putting the existing home on the market.
On the flip side, the advantage of selling your existing home first is that it maximizes your negotiating position because you are under no pressure to sell quickly. It also eliminates the need to carry two mortgages at once.
Talk with your agent for advice. Discuss the pros and of each and whether certain contingencies written into the contract can ease some of the pressures.
September 10, 2013 8:21 pm
BPT—Summer storms are a reminder to make certain your roof is well-equipped to help provide protection from Mother Nature. Considering a roof replacement? Follow these tips for outstanding performance, increased curb appeal and enhanced comfort for your family.
1. Check the warning signs
One of the best ways to stay in front of a roof replacement is to look for small annoyances that could eventually turn into big problems. Do a thorough investigation, but remember to practice ladder safety. Look for discoloration, cracking, uneven surfaces, curled and missing shingles and stains on the underside of the roof deck when viewed from the attic and excessive amounts of granules in the gutter, which fall from shingles and expose the asphalt underneath. If any warning signs are evident, it's time to get in touch with a contractor to assess your roof's condition and discuss replacement.
2. Choose a complete roofing system
When most people think about roof replacements, they think shingles. While shingles add beauty and character to a home's exterior, it's important to understand that they're only the first line of defense in protecting your home from the elements. For true peace of mind, your roof should consist of high-quality shingles and underlayment products to help guard against severe weather outside, as well as ventilation products that balance airflow to control temperature and humidity inside.
"A high-performance roof needs to include components and layers that are specifically designed to work as one system for outstanding protection," says Carl Baca, director of strategic marketing for Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt.
3. Select your contractor wisely
Finding a skilled and reputable professional who will be able to guide you through the roof replacement process from start to finish is key. It may seem like a difficult task, but it doesn't have to be. Begin by looking for preferred contractors on roofing manufacturers' websites. Ask trusted friends and neighbors for recommendations. Then, obtain quotes from multiple contractors and ask for references. Insist on someone who is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau, holds at least $1 million in general liability insurance and carries all required state and local licensing. The best contractor for the job will be specifically certified to install the roofing components you've selected and possess both a dedication to outstanding craftsmanship and knowledge of the latest industry standards and technologies.
4. Plan for the future
Replacing a roof can be a significant investment, so make sure it's protected with a strong warranty. If you've installed a roofing system, ask your contractor about adding on a warranty that covers the system of components.
5. Don't hesitate to insulate
While your roof is being replaced, consider adding another layer of protection to the top of your home. Ask your contractor to assess your insulation levels when he's in the attic inspecting the underside of your roof. When installed in an attic, loosefill insulation contributes to energy savings and helps control interior temperatures for a comfortable living environment. This could be a DIY project, but many contractors are specifically certified to install insulation - making it an easy add-on to your roofing project.
September 10, 2013 8:21 pm
Are you prepared for the next emergency? Well, September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, so if you're not ready yet, now is the time to kick it in gear. This month, take the important steps necessary to prepare yourself for future disasters – both the expected and unforeseen emergencies.
To help businesses and cities protect critical facilities during a power outage, the Diesel Technology Forum has outlined several ways to ensure backup power in a crisis:
Assess the risk: Identifying your facility's critical loads is an important first step. Assign a cost to the risks associated with utility power interruptions, production losses and downtime. Make considerations if natural gas pipeline service is disrupted in your community.
Install a standby generator: Frequent outages of a few seconds, a few minutes or more can often disrupt production lines and have significant cost implications to businesses. While other generator drivers take up to two minutes to engage, diesel-powered generators are uniquely qualified to provide power quickly during a power outage and offers the most cost-effective source of reliable backup power available.
Have sufficient fuel storage: Diesel fuel's energy density and the engine's high efficiency allow for smaller fuel storage facilities compared to other fuels, which provides a cost savings to owners. Still, it is important to make sure that you have sufficient fuel storage capacity on-site for an extended outage of several days.
Maintain your equipment: As required by electrical and safety codes, standby generators should be "exercised" periodically to ensure they will operate as designed in the event of an emergency.
Contract rental power: If installing your own standby generation is not feasible for your business, you might consider contracting with a firm to reserve rental generator power for use in the event of an extended outage.
Recheck your system and set up: One of the great lessons of Superstorm Sandy last year was that even the best generators won't work underwater when subjected to extreme flooding. Is your unit properly located? Is your fuel source also located in a protected area? Also, check the connections and assure you have the proper gauge extension cord for the electrical load and distance.
Never operate a generator in an enclosed area! Generators need to be used safely in an outdoor setting. Carbon monoxide fumes from generators can build up in enclosed areas and poison people. Never use generators or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices such as grills or heaters inside your home, in a garage, in an enclosed area or outside near an open window.
Check your load: Have you added any new demands or critical circuits to protect? If you've added new computers or other power-hungry devices, consider updating switchgear.
Renew your commitment to maintenance: Make sure your current on all oil and filter changes, service contracts etc. You want your generator to start when you need it.
Exercise is important: All manufacturers suggest you run the units periodically before you need them in an emergency. Many stationary units have automated weekly run cycles.
Plan your refuel strategy: You don't want to have a generator without fuel to operate it. Consider fuel contracts for your generator.
Follow the rules: If you're a business operating a stationary unit, make sure you have the proper permits and records on operations.
September 10, 2013 8:21 pm
Loan origination fee. Paid by the borrower to get a loan; it covers expenses incurred by the lender, such as the cost of the appraisal, credit report, title search, etc.
September 10, 2013 8:21 pm
A: The loan-to-value ratio, or LTV, is the loan amount expressed as a percent of either the purchase price or the appraised value of the property. It is an important factor considered by lenders before approving a mortgage.
Few lenders will lend the full value of a property unless they have guarantees such as those offered by the Veterans Administration (VA). Otherwise, the risks are just too high because if the borrower defaults in the early years of the loan, the lender is stuck with a bad loan.
This is why lenders prefer a down payment of 20 percent, with an 80 percent LTV.
Buying private mortgage insurance, which insures the lender against default, can reduce the LTV to 90 or 95 percent, making it possible to have a down payment of 10 or 5 percent.
September 10, 2013 6:51 pm
If you’re tired of shelling out hefty service fees, consider that many of the most common home repair needs can be fixed easily – and cheaply – even by people with only a passing knowledge about tools and cleaning fluids.
From a consumer blog at ABC News, here are seven easy home repair solutions you should be willing to try yourself:
Clogged drains – Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. As they bubble down the clogged drain, follow with at least a teapot full of boiling water.
Mice – If you can spot the opening where mice are crawling in, stuff it with a rag saturated with peppermint oil. Mint planted near doorways, or spraying door frames with peppermint oil will also deter mice from entering.
Ants – Ants hate peppermint, too, the solution for mice infestation should work for ants as well. Other solutions? Sprinkle baking soda where you have seen ants congregate. Leave it for 24 hours, then brush or vacuum away. Or try cinnamon sprinkled in the doorway where the ants are seen to be coming from.
Carpet stains – Put a dab of white shaving cream (not the gel variety) onto the stain and blot. Use cool water to clean off the shaving cream. Let dry and vacuum. For pet stains, try a bit of white vinegar or a little dishwashing soap and water.
Squeaky wood floors – Before you call in a pro to adjust your squeaky hardwood floor, try sprinkling baby powder between the floorboards and sweeping up the excess. The powder should lubricate the boards so they no longer rub together.
Dirty windows – White vinegar or a mixture of lemon juice and water – and a little elbow grease – should get windows sparkling.
Appliance breakdowns – Keep the instruction booklets for every appliance you buy. Before you call the repairman, check the handbook. Most contain troubleshooting tips that may help you solve the problem yourself.
September 10, 2013 1:06 am
(BPT)—Flipping through the television channels, it's hard not to find a home improvement show about remodeling and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. From "Property Brothers" to "Design Star," these popular programs give homeowners ideas on how to modernize their spaces. If you're planning your own DIY projects, here are three areas of the home that will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to a makeover.
First stop: the bathroom
Bathroom remodels are the most popular remodeling projects because they have a high return on investment, according to the National Association of Home Builders. When you're ready to sell your house, renovating the bathroom typically has a return of 62 percent. A low-cost way to modernize the bathroom is installing new faucets. Look for a signature style featuring cylindrical, geometric shapes and distinct 90-degree angles, such as the new Moen Arris collection, for an iconic, modern update.
Another idea for modernizing the bathroom is to add additional light sources. Bringing in more light will open up the space and make your bathroom come to life. The bathroom is often a place to unwind, and adding the right lighting can set the tone for a spa-like atmosphere. One way to do this, without breaking your budget, is by simply replacing the light fixtures. Add a modern touch to your bath with dramatic choices like chandeliers and sconces.
Second stop: the living room
Modern design doesn't have to mean uncomfortable. Homeowners love modern interiors for the sleek and streamlined look, which leads to less clutter and visual stress. Expand the modern theme throughout the home by updating furniture with unfussy and relaxed pieces. You don't need to buy everything new. Fabric covers, in an array of prints and colors, can instantly bring new life to old furniture. For pieces that need to be replaced, consider purchasing solid and neutral furniture. As trends change, you can switch out pillows and blankets to stay up-to-date.
Keep neutrals in mind when selecting paint colors, as well. White, black, brown and gray will go with just about anything. For a pop of color, paint an accent wall with a bold color, or add extra personality with drapery or area rugs. Use lamps, paintings and accessories to give a personal touch throughout the rest of your living space.
Final stop: the kitchen
Opening up shelving is a way to put a fresh, modern spin on your existing kitchen layout. You can order new cabinets with glass panels or simply remove the doors from your existing ones. Just make sure the exposed areas are not cluttered. Open shelving is a perfect place to display dishes. For a crisp look, try stacks of white plates and bowls. If you're looking for an edgy feel, try patterned or bright-colored ones. Adding new hardware to cabinets is also an inexpensive way to improve the look of your kitchen.
Since you updated your faucet in the bathroom, consider doing your kitchen the same favor. . To complement your new faucet, look to update your counters as well. Granite remains a popular choice because of its high style and durability.
Integrating technology into home design
It's not just about making your life easier, technology can also aesthetically enhance your living space with modern touches. Mirror technology allows homeowners to disguise the TV when it isn't in use. Available for all TV models, it will look like a mirror is in the room until the unit is turned on. The iCon Bed from Hollandia features a headboard equipped with speakers, an amplifier and docking stations for two iPads. The NestLearning Thermostat shares the same designer as the iPod, and automatically creates a temperature-control schedule personalized around your lifestyle; while also saving energy.
September 10, 2013 1:06 am
If you are wondering how to get out of a car purchase, your first thought may have been to invoke the federal "cooling-off rule." But this rule, which allows consumers to cancel certain sales transactions within three days as a protection against high-pressure sales tactics, does not cover car purchases. While negotiating with a car dealer is often described as a high-pressure situation, cars lose a tremendous amount of value the moment they are driven off the lot. Therefore, allowing a cooling-off period would force dealers to sell virtually new cars at sharply reduced resale prices.
Car Purchase Contracts and Cancellation Agreements
Instead, it's really important for car buyers to fully understand the terms of the contract, including optional fee-based cancellation agreements, before signing on the dotted line.
Some state laws require dealers to offer extra protections for used car buyers, which serve as incentives to buy. In California, for example, car dealers are required to inform consumers about Contract Cancellation Option Agreements for used cars costing less than $40,000. These agreements, which cost roughly $250 for a car listed at between $10,000 and $30,000, allow the buyer to return the vehicle within two days if they have a change of heart.
Defective Cars and Illegal Sales Tactics
Most other protections for car purchases pertain only to defective automobiles or illegal sales tactics. For example, Massachusetts law requires used car dealers to provide a full refund if an automobile fails to pass a safety inspection test within the first seven days after the buyer takes delivery (the point at which the new owner drives it off the dealer's lot). Additionally, many states have agencies tasked with mediating disputes between buyers and dealers.
Lemon laws protect new car buyers from defects that the dealer is unable to repair. So while they don't offer a way for buyers who simply change their mind, these laws do offer protections against defective vehicles. States have specific lemon laws.
Florida lemon law, for example, requires consumers to have first reported a defect to the dealer or manufacturer within 24 months of taking delivery. If the dealer is unable to fix the car after three attempts, the consumer must contact the manufacturer, which has 10 days to direct the consumer to an independent repair facility. If the car is not fixed by the third-party repair facility within 30 days, the consumer may seek a refund.
If you believe the dealership where you purchased your automobile engaged in fraud or failed to live up to its contractual obligations, then you may consider filing a formal complaint with your state's attorney general's office. Also, never assume your car is covered by a warranty and make sure any such guarantee is spelled out in the sales contract.
If you were not subject to fraud, the car is not defective, and you did not purchase an option to cancel the sale, it may be very difficult to get out of a contract. But you still may have options if you are wondering how to get out of a car purchase. In the absence of cooling-off periods for car purchases, some dealerships will make exceptions; so it never hurts to ask.
September 10, 2013 1:06 am
(Family Features)—Filled with mesmerizing trinkets and gadgets—your home is a new and exciting world for your small child to explore. But this new world can introduce serious and sometimes surprising safety issues that many parents do not realize are risks.
Hidden concerns in common household devices
As your children happily toddle around your home, they may come in contact with unknown safety issues scattered throughout. One issue you may not have considered is coin lithium batteries, about the size of a nickel, which can be found around most homes in everyday items like remote controls, keyless entry devices for your car, sound-enabled books and a variety of health and fitness devices. Because many of these devices are not regulated as children’s toys, the battery compartments often are very easy to open. Children are naturally drawn to these devices, as many include buttons that are fun to play with and push.
The danger of these batteries is very real. If a coin-sized lithium battery is swallowed by a small child, it can get caught in the esophagus. The battery can react with saliva and cause a chemical reaction that can lead to severe injuries in as little as two hours. Unfortunately, many parents do not know about the issue. In fact, a recent survey showed 62 percent of parents reported being unaware of the risk associated with coin lithium batteries.
Spread the word
In an effort to help keep children safe, Energizer and the National Safety Council are working together to educate parents and caregivers on the steps they can take to help prevent these injuries.
“We know parents and caregivers are constantly thinking about their children’s safety, but we want to bring awareness to an issue still unknown to many families,” said Amy Heinzen, Program Manager of Grants and Strategic Initiatives for the National Safety Council. “Coin lithium battery safety needs to be top of mind and we hope parents will take the time to learn about the issue with these four simple steps to help children be safe.”
In case of emergency
If it is suspected a child has swallowed a coin lithium battery, it is important to go to the emergency department immediately.
For more information on child safety and coin lithium battery safety, visit nsc.org, www.energizer.com, www.TheBatteryControlled.com and www.poison.org/battery.
September 10, 2013 1:06 am
Refinance. To pay off one loan by taking out another on the same property.