Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

March 12, 2011 5:43 am

PITI. Acronym for "principal, interest, taxes, and insurance." Frequently used to describe a loan payment that combines all four items.

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: What should elderly homeowners consider when deciding to remodel?

March 12, 2011 5:43 am

A: According to the AARP, older homeowners prefer to age in place, meaning they want to live in their homes safely, independently and comfortably, despite age or ability level. To do so, many require a few modifications in the home to enhance maneuverability, including the installation of a private elevator and the addition of a bathroom and bedroom to the main level. A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) may prove helpful. CAPS professionals are remodelers, general contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants who are trained in the unique needs of the elderly, Aging-in-place home modifications, common remodeling projects, and solutions to common barriers. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), together with the NAHB Research Center, NAHB Seniors Housing Council, and AARP, developed the CAPS program to address the growing number of consumers who will soon require modifications to their homes.

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.


Don't Let the Cold Stop You: Tips for Grilling in Cold Temps

March 12, 2011 5:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 12, 2011-After one of the snowiest stretches in recent memory, and with warmer weather still weeks away, more and more New Englanders desperate for a taste of spring are braving colder temperatures and icy decks for an early BBQ. Kayem Foods, maker of Fenway Franks, reminds hearty winter grillers that different rules apply for barbequing in cold weather versus warmer months. Kayem consulted BBQ champion Chris Hart to share the following "cool" tips and tricks to prepare great meals and keep your grill in great shape during even the coldest times of the year.

Shield Your Grill. The number one winter grilling enemy is not cold temperatures, but the wind. Wind makes it difficult to keep your cooker at proper cooking temperature and may even blow out the flame if you are using a gas grill. Position your cooker in an area protected from the wind. Serious winter grillers will even set up wind barricades using plywood, cardboard or piles of snow.

Grill Check-Up. If you have not checked the operation of your grill since the end of the summer, don't wait until an hour before your guests arrive. Fire up the grill the day before and use a grill brush to clean up the grate.

Allow Extra Time. Meats may take longer to cook on a cold winter day. A dish that takes 20 minutes in the summer may take 40 minutes in the winter. A meat thermometer can help you determine the proper doneness.

Grill Outdoors. Never grill on an indoor porch or in your garage. This creates a fire hazard and risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keep it Simple/ Keep in the Heat. Keep it simple and cook items that do not require a lot of tending. Open the lid to the cooker as little as possible in order to keep in the heat.

Maintain the Heat. Warm your platters in the oven to help keep your grilled meats warm as they come off the grill.

Dress Safely. Fitted clothing helps with the cold and is safer around open flames. Be mindful of loose clothing such as scarves, long winter caps and loose sleeves.

Never pierce the casing. Those three diagonal cuts so many of us put in our hot dogs before grilling provide absolutely no taste improvement or enhancement. Many natural juices and spices run out of these slices, diminishing the hot dog's taste and plump appearance. The same rule applies in winter months.

For more information, visit www.kayem.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.


5 Quick Tips for Spring Lawn Care

March 12, 2011 5:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 12, 2011-As spring nears and green creeps back into the landscape, lawns across the nation will need a little extra help to recover from the harsh winter months and return to lush, healthy life. Lawn Doctor, one of the nation's largest lawn care franchises wants to help homeowners across the nation see their yards spring back to life.

"Spring lawns require extra care following chilly winter temperatures and dormant growth," said John Buechner, Lawn Doctors Horticulture expert. "It's also a critical time to take steps to insure a beautiful summer lawn. Fertilization, weed and pest control combined with proper mowing will stop problems before they start and keep your lawn looking its best."

With over 40 years of experience in the industry, Lawn Doctor knows a few tricks when it comes to lawn care. Here are a few spring lawn care tips designed to promote a healthy yard well into the summer:

Fertilization: Spring is a crucial time to fertilize because it replenishes the food reserves your yard draws from while dormant in the winter and fuels grass' rapid growth phase. A top recommendation in lawn care is to utilize a balanced fertilizer consisting of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is best, with 30% of the nitrogen slow release. Don't over-fertilize your lawn-no more than one pound of nitrogen should be applied per 1,000 square feet. A thick, healthy lawn also helps prevent weeds.

Weed control: Apply a pre-emergent weed killer on lawns to prevent grassy weeds from germinating. Spring broadleaf weeds like dandelions, clovers and plantains are best prevented by maintaining a proper mowing height and fertilization. After a mild winter, annual weeds that germinate in the fall, like henbit and chickweed, will be more visible and require higher levels of broadleaf weed control through herbicides.

Pest control/Disease repair: Severe winters may increase the incidence of winter diseases such as snow mold and Bermuda dead spot. Proper cultural care is important in helping your lawn recover from stress related winter diseases. Properly timed fertilizer application and mowing at the recommended height for your grass type are two items that will aid in the recovery of your lawn.

Mowing: Contrary to popular believe, setting your mower at a very low height can actually increase weeds by exposing the soil surface to sunlight and removing stored nutrients in leaf blades. Cool weather grasses, such as bluegrass, ryegrass and fescues, should maintain a height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches. Warm season grasses, like bermuda, zoysia, St. Augustine and centipede, should be kept at 1.5 to 2.5 inches tall.

Spring is also the perfect time to plant summer annuals and vegetables, but hold off on seeding until the fall when fewer weeds, more moisture and cooler temperatures allow seedlings to develop.

For more information, visit www.lawndoctor.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.


Word of the Day

March 11, 2011 9:41 am

Origination fee. A charge by the lender for granting and processing a new mortgage 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: Why do lenders require a down payment

March 11, 2011 9:41 am

A: It protects them should you default on the loan, especially if you fail to make payments in the early years of the loan when more is owed on it. Foreclosure, property fix-up, and resale costs could result in a loss on the mortgage loan.

That is a bad situation the lender wants to avoid. So they have historically required cash down payments of 20 percent of a home's purchase price.

However, if you purchase private mortgage insurance, the down payment requirement can drop to 5 or 10 percent of the purchase price.

Few lenders will lend the full value of a home unless they have special guarantees, such as that offered by the Veterans Administration (VA) under its mortgage assistance program.

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.


Simple Tips to Clean Your Closet, De-Clutter and Refresh Your Wardrobe

March 11, 2011 9:41 am

RISMEDIA, March 11, 2011-Many of us can relate to having an overstuffed closet or trunk filled with clothes in great condition that we rarely wear. But as you begin to comb through and update your winter wardrobe for spring, consider giving your old clothes new life by donating them to those in need.

To help people clean out their closets for a good cause, The Glad Products Company has teamed up with style editor and author Bobbie Thomas to share tips on maximizing the purging process to benefit those who need it most.

"Twenty percent of U.S. children live in poverty and one in 10 has needed to borrow or receive a donated winter coat for their child," said Thomas. "So it's important to give back through charities like One Warm Coat, a national non-profit that provides free coats to people in need. Winter fashion may change from year to year, but giving back never goes out of style."

Thomas suggests these tips to help you clean your closet, de-clutter and refresh your wardrobe in 2011:

Find motivation for your mission. Gather inspirational images from magazines and catalogs and collect them in a folder, or create an easy to find desktop file filled with photos from surfing the Web. This will help you develop your own spring style, giving you a fresh perspective on what you should keep in your closet as well as what you should store or donate. Include a list of most-wanted items that stand out, and basics that seem to repeat in your inspirational images. You may already have similar items in your closet, and if not, this list will keep you on track through the season.

Start with a section. Make sure you're realistic with your time and schedule. Plan to clean your closet in shifts, and zone in on one area or category. For example, focus on one drawer or just your dresses to get started. After all, it's always less overwhelming to tackle one thing at a time. Organize by color and length. You'll want your wardrobe to welcome you the way a beautifully merchandised department store does.

Donate and do good. The reward of feeling freshly organized is fantastic, but you'll feel even better knowing that your unused items are helping others in need. Although warmer days are on the way, One Warm Coat is still eager to help your old favorites find new life. Beyond coats, the organization also accepts clothing and has teamed up with Glad's Bag Bank. Go to TheBagBank.com to find out how you can receive free Glad ForceFlex trash bags to donate your unwanted clothing and accessories.

For more information, visit www.familyfeatures.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.


Don't Let Spring Break Become Spring Break-In Tips to Protect Your Home while You're Gone

March 11, 2011 9:41 am

RISMEDIA, March 11, 2011-If your family is counting down the days until your much-needed spring break getaway, the following tips will provide peace of mind and ensure that your home is safe while you're away.

Don't publicize your vacation. Your kids are really, really excited, but they must resist the urge to post details about vacation on their Facebook pages. It is too easy for the information to find its way to a burglar, or someone who might take this opportunity to become one.

Don't leave obvious signs that the house is unoccupied. Stop the mail and paper, or have a neighbor take it in. Arrange for snow removal or lawn care as needed. And don't leave notes on the door.

Make your home look lived-in. A light on a timer is a great first step. You can buy a small device called "FakeTV" that simulates the light output of a television, making it look like you are home watching TV each evening. The effect is so convincing that your neighbors may later ask if you really went on vacation. A loud radio on a timer, tuned to a talk station, can provide signs of life during the day.

You need good locks. Your hidden outdoor key is probably not as cleverly hidden as you think it is. So, get to know your neighbors, and leave a key with them. Let them know you will be gone, and have them keep an eye out during your absence. If you have an alarm system, by all means use it. Amazingly, many people forget to set the alarm when they go away. Conversely, do not think that an alarm system makes you invulnerable. Burglars can still cause you a great deal of misery in a smash-and-grab robbery, leaving before the police can respond.

Take a walk around your property and make sure you cannot see any easily pawned valuables through uncovered windows. Are there any ladders left out, or particularly easy or well-concealed access points?

Park a car in the driveway, but be sure to take out the garage door opener first.

For more information, visit www.faketv.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.


5 Insurance Mistakes to Avoid

March 11, 2011 9:41 am

RISMEDIA, March 11, 2011-Too many Americans believe that the coverage limits of their homeowners insurance policy are linked to the market value of their home, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

In the I.I.I.'s 2011 Insurance Pulse Survey, conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, nearly half (48%) of survey respondents came to that mistaken conclusion.

"The real estate value of a home-the price you can buy or sell it for-has absolutely nothing to with the amount of insurance needed to financially protect the homeowner in the event of a fire or other disaster," said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. "Reducing insurance coverage because the market value of a home has decreased can result in being dangerously underinsured."

One out of three respondents to the Pulse Survey reported that they purchased less homeowners or auto insurance as a way to save money. A better strategy would be to take a higher deductible, which can substantially reduce insurance costs. Home and car owners can then put the savings into purchasing the right amount and type of insurance for their specific needs, pointed out Salvatore.

Another way to save money is to comparison shop, something that seven out of 10 Pulse Survey respondents said they utilized as a strategy to save on both their home and auto insurance needs.

Following are the five biggest auto, home, flood and renters insurance mistakes consumers can make, with suggestions to avert those pitfalls while still saving money:

1. Insuring a home for its real estate value rather than for the cost of rebuilding. When real estate prices go down, some homeowners may think they can reduce the amount of insurance on their home. But insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, not the sales price of the home. You should make sure that you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace your belongings. A better way to save: Raise your deductible. An increase from $500 to $1,000 could save up to 25% on your premium payments.

2. Selecting an insurance company by price alone. It is important to choose a company with competitive prices, but also one that is financially sound and provides good customer service. A better way to save: Check the financial health of a company with independent rating agencies and ask friends and family for recommendations. You should select an insurance company that will respond to your needs and handle claims fairly and efficiently.

3. Dropping flood insurance. Damage from flooding is not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as from some private insurance companies. Many homeowners are unaware they are at risk for flooding, but in fact 25% of all flood losses occur in low risk areas. With the significant snow fall this winter, spring related flooding may be particularly severe, thus increasing the importance of purchasing flood insurance. A better way to save: Before purchasing a home, check with the NFIP to determine whether the property is situated in a flood zone; if so, consider a less risky area. If you are already living in a designated flood zone, look at mitigation efforts that can reduce your risk of flood damage and consider purchasing flood insurance.

4. Only purchasing the legally required amount of liability for your car. In today's litigious society, buying only the minimum amount of liability means you are likely to pay more out-of-pocket if you are sued-and those costs may be steep. A better way to save: Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage on older cars worth less than $1,000. The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident.

5. Neglecting to buy renters insurance. A renters insurance policy covers your possessions and additional living expenses if you have to move out due to an insured disaster, such as a fire or hurricane. Equally important, it provides liability protection in the event someone is injured in your home and decides to sue. A better way to save: Look into multi-policy discounts. Buying several policies with the same insurer, such as renters, auto and life will generally provide savings.

For more information, visit www.iii.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.


Home Sellers Fare Better in Getting Their Homes Sold Using a REALTOR , According to Survey

March 11, 2011 9:41 am

RISMEDIA, March 11, 2011-HomeGain.com, a leading online real estate resource that connects home buyers and sellers with real estate professionals, announced the results of its For Sale By Owner (FSBO) vs. REALTOR survey. HomeGain surveyed over 1,000 homeowners asking whether they used a REALTOR to sell their home or whether they attempted to sell it themselves. Eighty-three percent said they used a REALTOR to sell their home and 17% said they tried to sell their home on their own.

Fifty-nine percent of homeowners that used a REALTOR to sell their home were successful vs. 39% of FSBO's, reflecting a 50% higher closing rate for those home sellers using a REALTOR .

Eighty-one percent of homeowners that used a REALTOR to try and sell their homes said they would use a REALTOR again for their real estate needs.

Eighty-eight percent of homeowners who sold their homes using a REALTOR said they would use a REALTOR again.

Seventy-one percent of FSBOs who managed to sell their homes on their own said they would try and sell their home on their own again.

"It is especially striking that homeowners fare significantly better in selling their homes using a REALTOR than selling on their own," said Louis Cammarosano, General Manager of HomeGain. "Due to that relative success, the level of satisfaction in the home selling process is also higher for home sellers utilizing the services of a REALTOR than those who try to sell their homes on their own."

The survey also pointed out that 24% of FSBOs eventually enlisted the aid of a REALTOR to help sell their homes.

For more information, visit www.HomeGain.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.