Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

April 18, 2011 9:43 am

Second mortgage. Lien on property that is subordinate to a first mortgage. In the event of default, the second mortgage is repaid after the first. Also called a junior mortgage, and in some circumstances a home equity loan.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Q: Can an older homeowner who is cash poor but house rich use their home to tap into the equity?

April 18, 2011 9:43 am

A: Yes, but not so much by refinancing. A reverse mortgage is a better, and 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.

Repaying a reverse mortgage is not necessary until 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.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Bedroom Design Ideas for Better Sleep and Comfort

April 18, 2011 9:43 am

RISMEDIA, April 18, 2011-Creating a relaxing and comfortable bedroom environment is an important part of getting better sleep. Bay Area interior designer Lisa Staprans offers these interior design ideas for bedroom designs that enhance sleep and rejuvenation.

-Keep the bedroom uncluttered. What is in the room should bring you joy and a sense of peace and calm.

-Select artwork that is personal and inspiring.

-Choose bedroom colors that make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Add splashes of color with a beautiful coverlet or pillows made from an amazing textile. Stay away from fussy fabrics.

-Have a variety of lighting options, including ambient and reading lights.

-An upholstered headboard adds comfort and softens the room.

-For stability and harmony, anchor the bed against a wall

-Invest in high quality and beautiful linens pillows, comforters and mattress pads. They feel great and last longer.

-Have a mix of pillow sizes.

-Build your bedroom around a high quality, comfortable mattress set. .

For more information, visit www.McRoskey.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Helpful Painting Ideas for First-Time Home Buyers

April 18, 2011 9:43 am

RISMEDIA, April 18, 2011-Prior experience is essential when tackling many home improvement projects, but if you are looking to paint the interior of your home, no experience is necessary. Even first-time painters can get great results when painting their newly purchased house, condo or apartment-and have a lot of fun in the process. Whether personalizing an entire new living space or updating one room at a time, paint is the do-it-yourselfer's best decorating tool.

Like building a wardrobe, selecting a paint palette for your living space is a great form of personal expression. But be aware that the shade of paint you see on a color card-or even in the paint can-may look a lot different when applied to an entire room.

To avoid surprises, follow these handy tips:

-Don't make your final color selection in the store; instead, take color cards home so you can see them in the space that will be painted.

-Evaluate the paint colors in daylight and under artificial light at night. Colors can change quite dramatically in different lighting conditions.

-Remember that colors tend to intensify when applied to a large area. To compensate, it is often wise to choose a lighter value of a color, rather than a darker one.

-When you go to purchase your paint, you will likely be asked which 'gloss level' you'd prefer. Paints come in a variety of sheen or gloss levels ranging from 'high gloss' (the shiniest) to 'flat' (virtually no shine). Those with higher gloss reflect more light, so they can make a room look brighter. On the other hand, higher gloss paints also tend to highlight surface imperfections, so if your walls and other surfaces are not in the best of shape, a flat paint might be the better option.

-Color and sheen aside, the most important decision you'll make in the paint store is the quality of paint you purchase. Top quality paints provide superior adhesion, offer better stain resistance and resist yellowing. They also are tougher and more durable than ordinary paints, so they'll keep a paint job looking great for a longer period of time. Bottom line: Don't skimp on quality.

-Before you leave the paint store, make sure you have the right tools and brushes to do the job. Here again, quality counts-high quality brushes and rollers apply the paint more smoothly and evenly than economy-grade equipment. In addition, quality tools apply a heavier coat of paint that will help hide the color below, be more durable and stand up better to cleaning and scrubbing.

-Once you have purchased all your supplies, you'll be tempted to start painting right away, but most walls and woodwork need to be cleaned first to help the paint adhere better. You can remove dust, dirt and grime with a simple detergent and water solution, after which you should rinse the surface clean and allow it to dry. If nail holes are present, they can be plugged with filling compound. Small cracks can be filled with a quality acrylic latex caulk.

-Applying paint to interior walls is as simple as 'framing' them by painting the outside edges with a brush, then filling in the center with your roller. An effective way to do this is to roll on the paint in a large "W" or "M" pattern, then fill it in, working in various directions.

-When you're done painting, protect your investment in brushes and rollers by cleaning and storing them properly.

-Always take safety precautions while painting. That means, among other things, not climbing a ladder any higher than the third rung from the top, making sure all stepstools are sturdy and locked into position before use and wearing the proper eye and skin protection while preparing the surface and painting.

For more information, visit www.paintquality.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Fountains Increase Aesthetic and Financial Value of Homes

April 18, 2011 9:43 am

By John Voket, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, April 18, 2011-Homeowners don't need to spend a fortune on a swimming pool or pond installation to enjoy the aesthetic and value-enhancing qualities of a water feature. The experts at Kinetic Fountains in Arden, N.C. recently published an article that helps consumers and homeowners understand the basics of installing water fountains, whether they are planning to use pros to do the job, or they are planning to do it themselves.

According to the folks at Kinetic, installing a working fountain is an operation that is slightly more difficult than hanging a painting on wall brackets. Most fountain projects do require a two-person team for installation, however.

It is ideal-and may be required by local building codes to install a GFI electric outlet in the wall where you are going to house the fountain. The outlet should be right behind the fountain center.

Keep in mind that the outlet for the hanging wall fountain should be behind the center of the piece, not toward the bottom or the hood.

And what if you cannot afford to do electrical work? One simple and pleasing way to hide those unsightly wires is to put a plant right by the wall fountain.

You can disguise the cord in this manner and still avoid cluttering up the area. As far as the type of wall goes, there really are no limitations.

Fountains can be easily installed on cinder block walls or even metal walls. If the feature is heavier, you will need some additional studs mounted on the wall for safe holding-do not try and hang a hanging wall fountain using just sheet rock or plaster.

When you are ready to hang your wall fountain, make sure you have these tools on hand: a Phillips standard screwdriver, a hammer, masking tape, a cordless drill, a pencil, a stud finder and a level.

A fountain is a great way to increase the aesthetic value and financial value of your home, not to mention improve your health by providing the soothing and stress relieving sound of babbling water in your yard, or on your deck or patio.

For more information, visit www.kineticfountains.co.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


5 Tips Every Home Buyer Should Know

April 18, 2011 9:43 am

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, April 18, 2011-So you've saved up some money, worked on your credit score and diligently kept track of the marketplace. But buying a home remains the single most important financial decision most people will make, and what's most important in a home for one family may not fill the bill for another.

If you think it's time to get serious about choosing a home and buying, here are five tips from the National Association of REALTORS to help you settle on the right home for you:

Know what you want Write down the housing characteristics that are most important to you. Is it the number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms? Overall condition? Proximity to shopping, schools or public transportation? As you house shop, keep a careful list of the pros and cons of every house you see.

Browse online first There are many websites that list homes for sale. Browsing online will help you compare neighborhoods, price ranges, trends and characteristics that you should know before you get in your car.

Work with a pro A real estate professional will represent your best interests, and can make a real difference in locating your dream home, negotiating the price and working with you through the closing process. Get recommendations from friends and choose a full-time agent with a good website and experience in your neighborhood of choice.

Search out the details An online listing only tells you so much about a house. Check with police and school districts in the areas that interest you before you make a final decision.

Stay on top of the market You need to know when a property has a price cut or when a new listing comes on the market. Email alerts from Realtor.com and/or your agent's website will help keep you up-to-date so you can act quickly when the time comes.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Tips for Safe Spring Cleaning

April 16, 2011 9:43 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Now that spring has officially arrived, homeowners are taking the time to take stock of what is in their homes and do a thorough spring cleaning. While it's a great thing to do, it's important to stay safe while you're doing it, especially from falls and poisoning-two of the top causes of home injuries.

The following tips will help you stay safe while cleaning your home:

-When cleaning out closets or re-organizing things, always keep stairs, steps, landings and all floors clear.

-When hauling items from room to room, carry loads you can see over, and keep one hand free to hold banisters and railings.

-Five gallon buckets are often used while cleaning and present a serious drowning danger to young children. Never leave a bucket or any standing water unattended and be sure to store buckets empty and upside-down.

-Follow safety recommendations when using harsh products, such as wearing gloves and masks. Do not mix products together because their contents could react with dangerous results.

-Never use gasoline to clean something and never use or store gasoline in your home, even in tiny quantities. Gasoline vapors can explode with just a spark. If you must keep some, use a special safety container and store it in an outside shed.

-When you clean out your cabinets, look at the labels on the products. If you see the words "Caution," "Warning," "Danger," "Poison," or "Keep Out of Reach of Children," be very careful. These products should be locked up when you are not using them.

-Remember to put things away so people cannot trip on them. Safely tuck away telephone and electrical cords out of walkways. In homes with children, make sure toys and other items are always safely put away when not in use.

-If you need to climb to clean something, use a stepladder or ladder. When using a ladder, stand at or below the highest safe standing level. For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top, and for an extension ladder, it's the fourth rung from the top. Before using, make sure the rungs are dry.

For more information, visit www.homesafetycounci.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

Sales contract. Contract that contains the terms of the agreement between the buyer and seller for the sale of a particular parcel or parcels of real estate.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Q: Are there routine steps I can take now to avoid major home improvements later?

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

A: Get in the habit of taking an annual inventory of every single space in your home to check for potential problems. Examine the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical wiring basically everything. Try to fix trouble spots as soon as you uncover them. This proactive approach will help you avoid major repairs to your home later.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


5 Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Environment

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Studies show that one in three people in the United States are living with extreme stress, with an estimated 67% of all doctor visits being stress related. The best way to reduce the stress in your life is to evaluate your environment. Reconsider these five areas and see how you can lessen the stress in your world.

Sounds

Too many background noises can contribute to the stress and tension of your day in the office it might be ringing phones, workplace chatter or copy machines. At home it could be television volume, computer games, or children playing. If the sounds at work or home are causing you stress, take control. Begin by turning down your own sounds and noises like cell phones, chatter and radios, and kindly ask others to do the same.

Sights

Poor lighting can cause eye strain and increase fatigue. Better lighting can be an instant mood booster. Be sure your work environment has adequate lighting. Experiment with full spectrum bulbs at your desk or try working by a window, if possible. Also, try to get some daily exposure to the sun.

Surroundings

A cluttered, messy or disorganized work or home space can be stressful and distracting. Take the time to develop a system that works for you. Try to create a relaxing, inviting and pleasant vibe in both places. This will not only keep you calm, but will be welcoming and tranquil for any guests.

Systems

We all know that systems and technology can make life easier, but often offer too many interruptions, information overload and stressful accessibility. Make sure to give yourself a technology break on a regular basis- take a walk outside, chat with a friend or co-worker or practice some quiet meditation. Log off and disconnect whenever possible. Create a system or schedule for reading e-mail, responding to text messages and checking voicemail to eliminate overload and response time stress.

Space

Find a space at home, work or in between where you can breathe deeply, mediate, visualize or practice other stress management techniques. Spending time in nature, even looking at nature pictures, has been shown to reduce stress levels.

For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.