Gunning Daily News

Question of the Day

June 30, 2011 1:23 pm

Q: Is a reverse mortgage good for elderly homeowners? 

A:
A reverse mortgage is an increasingly popular option for older Americans to convert home equity into cash. Money can then be used to cover home repairs, everyday living expenses, and medical bills.
Instead of making monthly payments to a lender, the lender makes payments to the homeowner, who continues to own the home and hold title to it. 

According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, the money given by the lender is tax-free and does not affect Social Security or Medicare benefits, although it may affect the homeowners’ eligibility for certain kinds of government assistance, including Medicaid. 

Homeowners must be at least 62 and own their own homes to get a reverse mortgage. No income or medical requirements are necessary to qualify, and they may be eligible even if they still owe money on a first or second mortgage. In fact, many seniors get reverse mortgages to pay off the original loan. 

A reverse mortgage is repaid when the property is sold or the owner moves. Should the owner die before the property is sold, the estate repays the loan, plus any interest that has accrued.

Word of the Day

June 30, 2011 1:23 pm

Capital gain. Profit earned from the sale of an asset.

What Are the Most Attractive Retirement Cities?

June 30, 2011 1:23 pm

Portfolio.com, a national business news site for small and mid-sized business (SMB) executives revealed its latest “U.S. Uncovered” study, ranking the most popular and desired cities for retirement. The study, which used a six-part formula to rank 157 metropolitan and micropolitan markets with at least 40,000 seniors, named Bradenton-Sarasota, Florida as the number one choice for seniors’ post-retirement plans.

“Beginning next year, an unprecedented three million Americans will turn 65. While most of these seniors are expected to stay in their current homes, a significant number will decide to seek new places to live in other parts of the country,” says J. Jennings Moss, editor of Portfolio.com. “In addition to warm cities, we’ve also noticed that seniors are attracted to communities that already have a significant population of retirees. This demonstrates that seniors will go to places that already have a comfortable infrastructure in place.”

Already thought to be the classic retirement destination, the state of Florida is home to eight of the top 10 cities in the survey, with Bradenton-Sarasota taking the top spot. Senior citizens represent 26.81 percent of the city’s population, which is more than double the national average of 12.9 percent. With a population of 688,126, Bradenton-Sarasota is the largest city among the top 10, while Homosassa Springs, Fla. (No. 7) is the smallest with a population of 140,357. More than 95 percent of seniors residing in Bradenton-Sarasota were born out of state compared to only 53 percent of the elderly residents of a typical U.S. market who were born out of state.

The 10 most popular retirement cities:
1. Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla.
2. Prescott, Ariz.
3. Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
4. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
5. Naples, Fla.
6. Palm Bay-Melbourne, Fla.
7. Homosassa Springs, Fla.
8. Ocala, Fla.
9. Punta Gorda, Fla.
10. Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Two cities from Arizona earned a place in the top 10. Prescott, Ariz. ranked No. 2 in the study with 23.6 percent of its population comprised of seniors. Lake Havasu City, Ariz. followed directly behind taking the No. 3 spot. The rest of the top 10 are occupied by Florida cities including Cape Carol-Fort Myers, Naples, Palm Bay-Melbourne, Homosassa Springs, Ocala, Punta Gorda and Port St. Lucie.

“The study explores a wide variety of markets, both in terms of size and geography. The markets that ranked the highest in the study were areas where the population of seniors is already substantial and growing rapidly,” says G. Scott Thomas, a nationally-recognized demographer who created the analysis for Portfolio.com. “While not surprising that many cities in the top 30 were from the southeast and southwest, there are several cities that have broken the stereotype of beach retirement communities including Seaford, Del. ( No. 13), Barnstable, Mass. (No. 14) and Eugene, Ore. (No. 29) from the north.”

For more information, visit www.portfolio.com.

10 Tips to Conserve Water

June 30, 2011 1:23 pm

Soon, summer will be on its way out and the rains may even slow. Still, it's more important than ever to conserve water. From checking the kitchen faucet to watching your laundry loads, there's plenty we can all do to save water.

Here are some tips from Pennsylvania American Water on how you can conserve water and reduce the environmental impact of water consumption both indoors and outside the home:

1. Water your lawn only when it needs it. An easy test to tell if your lawn needs water is to simply walk across the grass. If you leave footprints, it's time to water. (An added benefit of watering less often is that fewer, deep-soaking waterings encourage deep root growth and stronger turf.)

2. Water in the early morning. As much as 30 percent of water can be lost to evaporation by watering during midday.

3. Set your lawn mower one notch higher to make your lawn more drought-tolerant.

4. Use drip irrigation hoses to water plants, and water in the early morning or evening.

5. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your sidewalk, driveway, or patio.

6. Forego the hose and wash your car with a bucket and sponge instead. According to EPA WaterSense, a hose left running can waste as much as six gallons per minute while a bucket and sponge uses only a few gallons to do the job.

7. Keep a bottle of cold tap water in the refrigerator. You'll avoid the cost and environmental impact of bottled water and you'll have cold water available in the summer without running the faucet.

8. Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are full. If you have a water-saver cycle, use it.

9. Adjust the water level of your clothes washer, so that it matches your load size.

10. Regularly check your toilet, faucets and pipes for leaks and have them fixed promptly. An easy test for toilet leaks from EPA WaterSense: Place a drop of food coloring in the tank. If the color tints the water in the bowl without flushing, there's a leak. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.

Summer Landscaping Design Ideas: 6 Popular Garden Styles Revealed

June 30, 2011 1:23 pm

Gardens come in all shapes and sizes, and the landscaping design ideas that go into them are truly one-of-a-kind. Online landscaping design resource, landscapingNetwork.com, reveals today’s top six leading garden styles from across the country. Offering a multitude of design ideas, consumers can easily gain inspiration for new summer garden projects. 

Gardens at home have long been a staple for homeowners who want to enjoy the outdoors by creating inviting and relaxing spaces perfect for reading the morning paper or enjoying a glass of wine with friends. They are often a representation of self, and take on a lot of character. 

These are today’s most popular garden styles that seem to be popping up in yards across the country:
1. Modern gardens that include contemporary paving and furniture.
2. Japanese gardens designed for peaceful contemplation.
3. Mexican gardens that center around socialization and entertaining.
4. English cottage gardens providing a cozy, romantic atmosphere.
5. Desert gardens built for functionality and low maintenance.
6. Tropical gardens lush with tropical plants and bold colors. 

Whatever the style may be, these gardens offer consumers a multitude of design ideas and options for creating the perfect garden at home. The rules of design are open for interpretation. 

For more information on garden styles and design, please visit PacificHorticulture.org.

Wood Floor or Carpet?

June 30, 2011 1:23 pm

Six Factors Can Determine Your Choice

Contrary to what many homeowners believe at the outset, there may be scant difference in the price of installing hardwood flooring versus carpeting.

“Carpeting—unless you choose the most expensive high-end product—will generally cost less than hardwood flooring,” says home store flooring consultant Leonard Rangle. “But wood floors can also vary widely in price, so if cost is your primary consideration, be sure to get estimates on installing hardwood and carpeting of equal quality.”

Other factors should be taken into consideration before making your final choice, notes Rangle, who suggests weighing these six factors before making your final choice: 

• Noise – Carpet is quiet, while wood flooring absorbs no sound at all. If you have young children, or if TV and/or music is a constant in your home, carpeting may be the better choice.
• Warmth – Carpeting is warmer to walk on, especially in colder climates. If you live in a warm climate, you may appreciate the coolness of wood flooring under your feet.
• Liquid spills – Liquids may stain carpet, although today’s cleaning products do a good job of minimizing damage. But a build-up of dampness can lead to underlying mold or mildew. Wood is resistant to stains and absorption, although prolonged exposure to moisture can cause discoloration or warping.
• Cleaning – Carpeting needs to be regularly vacuumed and shampooed, and even then, dust particles can penetrate under the weave. Hardwood floors are easily cleaned with vacuuming and a damp mop.
• Lifecycle – Carpeting can be expected to last 10 to 15 years depending upon wear and maintenance. Wood flooring, barring water damage, can be expected to last a lifetime.
• Health factors – Hardwood flooring is a better option if there are allergies in your family. Carpets, in addition to trapping dust particles, emit gases—like the ones you smell when you enter a carpet store—for much of the life of the carpet.

Question of the Day

June 30, 2011 12:53 pm

Q: What is a wraparound loan?

A: Also called an all-inclusive mortgage, it is where a new home loan is placed in a subordinate or secondary position to the original mortgage and the new loan includes the unpaid balance of the first.

The wraparound allows the buyer to purchase a home without having to qualify for a loan or pay closing costs. The contract is made between the buyer and seller with the seller remaining on the original mortgage and title. The buyer pays the seller a fixed monthly amount and the seller uses part of this money towards the existing loan.

The seller benefits by offering the buyer a loan at a higher interest rate than the existing mortgage, and the lender profits from the difference in interest in the two loans.

Wraparounds are not for novices and cannot be used when there is a legally enforceable "due on sale" clause in the first mortgage.

Consult an attorney if you are considering this type of financing.


Word of the Day

June 30, 2011 12:53 pm

Bylaws. Rules and regulations that govern how a homeowners’ association will be run.

Dad, the Burgers Are Burning…And So Is the House!

June 30, 2011 12:53 pm

July is National Grilling Month but also the Peak Month for Grilling Fires 

While Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day see the most cooking related smoke and fire claims, the 4th of July isn’t far behind. According to State Farm claims data, nearly 3,000 fire and smoke related claims happen in the month of July. 

To help ensure your grilling plans don’t go up in flames, State Farm offers these tips: 

Location, Location, Location
• Move your grill away from flammable objects, including the house. Nearly 30 percent of home grilling fires start on a balcony or open patio.
Flame On
• Only use charcoal starter fluid to start a charcoal grill. Never use lighter fluid or any other fire accelerant on an open flame. Gasoline or lighter fluid is a factor in almost one-quarter of the charcoal grill burns seen in emergency rooms. 

Adult Supervision Required
• Never leave the grill unattended when cooking. Radiating heat from the grill and grease flare-ups can lead to a home fire very quickly if a grill is left unsupervised. 

In the Zone
• Keep kids and pets away from a hot grill. Maintain a safe zone of at least three feet around the grilling area to prevent children or pets from touching a hot grill. 

Keep It Clean
• Clean and maintain your grill. Check the valves and hoses for cracks or leaks. Leaks or hose breaks are the leading factor contributing to gas-fueled grill fires. 

Put It Out
• Properly extinguish a charcoal grill by closing the grill lid. This will smother the fire by depriving it of oxygen. When the briquettes have cooled down, transfer them into a metal container with long tongs or immerse them in water. Warm charcoal can easily re-ignite and start a fire while your family is away or asleep. 

For more information about cooking fire safety, visit the State Farm Learning Center at http://learningcenter.statefarm.com/.

Florida Realtors® Advises Homeowners to Take Summertime Safety Precautions

June 30, 2011 12:53 pm

Many families across Florida and the rest of the nation will spend the Fourth of July holiday away from home, basking on beautiful beaches, traveling to see relatives or maybe just visiting friends for a backyard barbecue.

To fully enjoy those activities and other summertime pursuits spent away from home, Florida Realtors® suggests that homeowners take precautions to safeguard their residences when they're not around. Crime rates across the country often start to peak as temperatures rise during warm weather months— the same time that many families leave their homes unoccupied and unprotected.

"A home is the biggest financial investment that most people will make in their lifetimes, but it is also the place where they raise their families, build memories and share their dreams for the future," says Florida Realtors® 2011 President Patricia Fitzgerald, manager/broker-associate with Illustrated Properties in Hobe Sound and Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart. "It just makes sense to take steps to protect something so priceless."

Homeowners can take these simple precautions to make their homes less of a target for criminals:

No "Home Alone": Before leaving your home during the day, make it look as if someone is still at home by using timers on lights in various rooms. Even though daylight hours are longer during the summer, it may still get dark faster than you expect or you may return home later than anticipated, and taking this step ensures that your home appears occupied at all times. 

No Open Door Policy: Ensure that all doors leading to the home and garage are locked, even when leaving for short periods of time. The typical burglary takes less than five minutes, and unlocked doors, combined with an empty home, put out the "welcome mat" for crime. 

Someone to Watch over Me: Be landscape smart. Shrubbery and other plants can grow very rapidly during the warm, wet summer months, so keep them trimmed to allow your neighbors to keep an eye on your home. Also, an unkempt yard could be viewed as a sign of an empty home to a burglar. 

A Key Reminder: When leaving home, take your house keys along or leave a spare set with a trusted neighbor. Never leave a key under a welcome mat, in a mailbox or other hiding spots—most burglars know where to look. 

Crime Doesn't Take a Vacation: If you're planning to be away from home on vacation for more than a day or two, ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway and pick up your mail and newspapers—or be sure to make arrangements to cancel the paper and hold the mail. Disable your garage door opener and manually lock it from the inside, and don't forget to check that the door leading from the garage to the home is locked, too.

Florida Realtors®, formerly known as the Florida Association of Realtors®, serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. Florida Realtors® Media Center website is available at http://media.floridarealtors.org.