Gunning Daily News
March 14, 2012 6:02 pm
Q: What is an impound account?
A: It is a special bank account held by the lender to collect monthly payments from the borrower to pay property taxes, mortgage insurance, and hazard insurance. These accounts also are called escrow or reserve accounts.
Lenders like to set up impound accounts to ensure the property taxes and insurance will be paid on time. They typically also collect a two-month cushion for taxes and insurance at the closing. A few states require the lender to pay interest on funds held in these accounts.
March 13, 2012 6:16 pm
At a time when homebuyers are looking for houses that don't need numerous home improvements, many homeowners increase home value with relatively simple upgrades to their kitchens.
The kitchen is the heart of the home so be sure that your kitchen is living up to its potential. A great kitchen has to have more than just good looks; it needs to have a good 'feel' to it as well. Play to your kitchen's strengths and it can easily become one of the greatest selling points of your home.
Painting is a cheap and fairly easy solution to dramatically alter the look and feel of your kitchen. If your kitchen is large and laid out in such a way that promotes its use as a gathering space, then you should consider using a warm color scheme to create a feeling of sociability. Smaller kitchens might want to make use of lighter colors to make the room seem larger, and if your kitchen is a place where you go to find serenity then you might want to think about using blues or greens.
Adding tile to your walls has become a popular way to give color and creativity to different rooms in the house. There is a wide range of tiles to choose from and depending on the feel you are going for you may want to bring home a couple samples to try out. Hiring a professional handyman can make this process quick and painless for you and save you money in the long run.
Re-facing or replacing cabinets and drawers is a great way to give your kitchen a new look. If you don't want to replace them, a new paint or stain job can also do the trick. While you are at the hardware store looking for paint, snag some new handles or knobs for an inexpensive way to make your drawers and cabinets feel brand new!
Your countertops have been through a lot, so before you put your house on the market you might want to think about replacing countertops with something that fits the new look of your kitchen.
March 13, 2012 6:16 pm
With a relatively small amount of snow accumulation around the country, the winter of 2012 stood in sharp contrast to the record-breaking winter of 2011. Without this snow cover or "white fertilizer" to act as insulation, lawns were left exposed to strong winter winds resulting in desiccation, or extreme drying. Add to this a spring with unusually mild temperatures arriving ahead of schedule and it means that homeowners could face a unique set of challenges this spring.
The following tips, compiled by SavATree, can homeowners counteract some of the common issues that come with an "open winter" and recover a lush, green landscape this spring:
Turn On the Water - Returning moisture to the crowns of your grass is essential. As soon as possible, begin watering your lawn to restore nutrients and combat the damage done by high winds. Irrigate long and infrequently rather than daily for short intervals. It is best to water each zone for 30+ minutes every other day than watering 15 minutes each day. By longer, infrequent watering the moisture will actually penetrate deeper into the ground resulting in the roots going down deeper for the water; a benefit now and during the stresses of summer heat.
Mow Early and Often - When it comes to mowing, it's better to be too early than too late. As grass grows and pushes last year's desiccated tissue to the top, sharp blades will take it off cleanly and make room for new, healthy grass. Mow often as grass grows quickly in the spring, but try to set your blades at 3" or higher so as not to remove more than 1/3 of leaf blade. Leaving clippings on your lawn, rather than bagging, will help speed the return of nutrients to the soil.
Aerate - Aerating your lawn will help improve water, air and nutrient movement in the soil and also reduce compaction and break down thatch. Compaction and thatch make growing grass more difficult, because they impede air and water movement to the soil and work to weaken your lawn's root system. Desiccation is also less of an issue for well-aerated soil since water is able to move more freely through it, making the grass above much more resistant to drought.
Control Pests - Milder temperatures typically allow greater numbers of insects to survive the winter and an early spring can mean a longer growing season and more generations of certain insects. Specifically, residents of New England might encounter an unusually high volume of deer ticks and the woolly adelgid—an insect that attacks hemlock trees—this season. The best way to keep these pests in check is to contact a certified arborist to evaluate your property and recommend a safe and effective solution.
Prevent Disease - When buds begin to swell and break open earlier in the season, diseases such as dogwood anthracnose, apple scab and leaf spots are able to gain an early foothold. The best approach to protecting against these diseases is preventive. By addressing and treating for these diseases ahead of time, you can lessen the chance of damage to your trees and shrubs during an early spring.
March 13, 2012 6:16 pm
With social media use running rampant, understanding defamation laws are important. With so many people connecting through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, communication is easier thane ever. But damaging and false claims made online can lead to a defamation lawsuit, so it’s important for consumers to be aware of what constitutes defamation, and how to handle a defamation lawsuit if you think you want to file one.
There are two types of defamation, according to FindLaw senior writer, Andrew Chow. “Libelous comments are in writing, while slanderous statements are spoken. In the age of status updates, podcasts, and YouTube, both types can potentially apply in social-media defamation cases,” writes Chow.
Defamation suits generally require the victim to prove certain elements. Here are Chow’s three tips if you're considering an online defamation lawsuit:
1. Keep records of the hurtful comments.
Defamation requires that a hurtful statement be made and "published" to at least one other person. Online comments can suffice—but because such comments can be easily deleted, a victim may want to act quickly to preserve the comment as proof.
There are different ways to do this, and an experienced attorney can suggest the best course of action for your particular case. Suggestions may include:
• Printing a hard copy of the defamatory statement, including the web address and the time and date;
• Taking an electronic "snapshot" of your entire computer screen, using the "print screen" key or another keyboard shortcut; or
• Grabbing a camera to take a photo of what your screen and the defamatory comment look like.
2. Have proof that the hurtful comment is false.
Whatever the defamatory comment says, it must be false for it to be considered defamation. For example, if someone defames you by calling you a tax cheat, you can prove the comment is false by digging up your tax records.
If you're a public figure, you'll also have to prove actual malice -- that the statement was made with an intentional disregard for the truth. Again, an experienced lawyer will be able to help figure out the best way to prove this.
3. Resist the urge to post a scathing reply.
The old adage that "revenge is a dish best served cold" applies to online defamation as well. Though a defamatory comment may be fully deserving of an immediate, scathing reply, it may be best to leave it alone. Posting an angry response could make matters worse—and could set you up for a potential defamation lawsuit as well.
March 13, 2012 6:16 pm
Cancellation clause. Stipulation in a contract that allows a buyer or seller to cancel the contract in the event of a certain specified occurrence.
March 13, 2012 6:16 pm
Q: What should I know about mechanics’ liens?
A: A mechanic’s lien is a “hold” against your property that provides contractors and suppliers legal recourse to assure payment for services. The liens vary from state to state and allow for a cloud on the title of your property and foreclosure action. Also, if you paid the contractor, but he failed to pay the subcontractors and laborers – who do not have a contract with you – then the workers may file a mechanic's lien on your home. This could result in a double payment by you for the same job. You can protect yourself from unwarranted liens by selecting your contractor carefully and managing your construction project responsibly. Also, most construction lenders will specify a payment distribution process that involves the securing of lien waivers. The remodeling contract should address this as well, assuring that the general contractor is responsible for all payments as well as any costs required to remedy lien disputes that may arise.
March 12, 2012 6:08 pm
The weather is warming and pretty soon it will be time to throw open your windows, enjoy the fresh air and partake in a bit of spring cleaning. However, decluttering isn’t the only thing you should be focusing on this spring. Following winter months spent indoors, it's important to take the time to get rid of the dust, dirt and allergens that accumulate in your house. Use these tips to get your home organized and clean:
Gather your arsenal. Save yourself time and hassle by organizing the items you'll need, such as rubber gloves, scrub brushes, multi-purpose cleansers, etc. into one bucket with a handle.
Cover the basics. Make sure to dust, disinfect and clean all of your surfaces, as well as those areas that get the most use. Sanitize telephones, remote controls, door knobs and counter tops. Take down and launder curtains and wipe down window blinds using a damp sponge.
Tackle the kitchen. Focus on the key areas. Using a solution of half water, half white distilled vinegar, wipe down the plastic and glass components of the refrigerator. Sprinkle baking soda onto a damp sponge and clean counter tops, stainless steel sinks, the oven range, and within your microwave. To remove soap buildup in your dishwasher, pour a cup of white vinegar in an empty machine and run through the cycle.
"Most people are unaware that the kitchen sink is one spot with the most germs," says Clay Nichols of www.DadLabs.com, a website that helps modern dads tackle the challenges of paternity, one day at a time. Nichols understands the challenges of juggling a busy schedule and tackling household chores. He suggests using the moments in between other tasks to clean as you go.
Clean early and often. If areas of your house are forgotten for weeks at a time, dirt, dust and allergens can build up quickly. "Kids and pets can create a lot of mess in a house," says Nichols, "It is important to clean daily, and in doing so, you free up your weekend for quality family time."
Don't forget to look high and low. Dirt and dust don't only settle on the ground. To reach the tops of bookshelves and ceiling corners, use a high powered vacuum that allows for optimal cleaning reach.
Check behind the lines. When cleaning carpets, flooring and baseboards, move furniture out of the way. If you're looking to refresh a room, try placing key pieces in new spots. To get rid of the carpet indentations left behind by heavy furniture, place ice cubs an inch to an inch-and-a-half apart within the indentations and allow them to melt. The carpet fibers will absorb the moisture and begin to take form.
Source: www.Hoover.com and www.DirtDevil.com.
March 12, 2012 6:08 pm
Running your own business is hard work. To make it, you need a fully functioning team that works together to make goals, just like your favorite sport. And, like any good sports team, every business needs a good coach. Marketing consultant John Jantsch, bestselling author of "Duct Tape Marketing" and "The Referral Engine," has some low-cost ideas that will help you create a strong message and communicate it to the right people.
• Keep Score - If you want to determine who your ideal client is, go through your entire client list and rank your clients by profitability. Then look at your most profitable clients and identify those that are already referring business to you. Figure out the common characteristics in this group and you've got a pretty good picture of your ideal client.
• Find Your Zone - Once you've identified who you're marketing to, you need to fine tune your message. Ask how you're really different from your competitors, Jantsch advises. The best way to find out is to ask your customers. Get with five to eight ideal customers and ask them to tell you one thing they love about your business. Listen closely to words they use. There's a good chance the words your clients use to describe what you do that's unique should be part of your value proposition -- no matter how simple they may sound to you.
• Be a Coach Yourself - Instead of advertising your products and services, promote valuable content that tells your prospects how to do or get something you know they want more of. This can be an ebook or video, but make sure you're creating awareness for educational content and you'll have the chance to build the trust required to start a sales conversation.
• Know Your Fans - A lot of small business owners want to know how to make social media pay off. Jantsch recommends that you go through your client list and append every record with the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles for each. You can do this by hand or use a service like RapLeaf. Now every time you make a client call you'll know a great deal more about what's going on in their world.
March 12, 2012 6:08 pm
Reading is one of the most important skills your child can acquire. Since no two children are the same, most learn to read at different paces. For many parents, encouraging their child to become an active reader can be difficult. And because each child learns at a different pace, it can be hard for parents to determine how to best further their child's reading skill growth.
"Get caught reading! Nothing motivates the youngest learners like mom and dad can. If you read for pleasure, your kids will want to read for enjoyment, too," says K12 Inc. Director of Primary Literacy, Kristen J. Kinney-Haines, Ed.D. "Also, read as a family. No matter your age, we never outgrow the enjoyment and comfort of hearing a great story read to us. Allow everyone a chance to be the reader— even the littlest ones, who can chime in with sight words."
Here are more tips for encouraging your child to read, which in turn expands their vocabulary and helps aid in further studies.
For those children beginning to learn letters and words, remember that story time alone is not the only key to unlocking their reading potential. Many early reading programs are designed to help children recognize the relationship between sounds and letters, to develop fluency, and to continue to develop a more extensive vocabulary.
• Start with picture books. Remember that you must make the act of reading a story exciting. Picture books are a great way to introduce the act of reading—or simply flipping through a book—to young children.
• Let them read with you. As you read to your child, ask them to help you spell out words. Make sure you point out words as you read, to reinforce the sounds each letter, and combinations of letters, makes.
• Recommended books for early readers: "The Doorbell Rang," by Pat Hutchins, the "Frog and Toad" series by Arnold Lobel, and the "Amelia Bedelia" series by Peggy Parish.
As your child continues to develop their skill level, look to books they can enjoy on their own.
• Visit the library often. Updating your child's book shelf is crucial for independent readers. Parents should ensure their child has access to books that will garner their attention and challenge their vocabulary.
• Study challenging words. Because new reading materials will provide further vocabulary, practice looking up tricky words in the dictionary with your child and encourage them to keep a list of new words and definitions learned from each new book.
• Recommended books for independent readers: "The Chronicles of Narnia" series by C. S. Lewis, "Chocolate Fever," by Robert Kimmel Smith, and "The Borrowers" series by Mary Norton.
For children reading at an advanced level, it is important to ensure they are exposed to an ever-increasing library.
• Find a reading program. Enroll your child in a regional or national reading program to help further motivate their reading practices.
• Start a book club. Encourage your child to start a book club with friends. Making the act of reading a more social practice is important as your child gets older. In addition, you are preparing your child for classroom conversations focusing on reading materials for when they attend a higher educational institution.
• Recommended books for advanced readers: "The Catcher in the Rye," by J. D. Salinger, "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen and "Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury."
March 12, 2012 6:08 pm
Bylaws. Rules and regulations that govern how a homeowners’ association will be run.