Monday, December 21, 2009

Mortgages are Becoming Easier to Obtain

While lending remains tight in troubled markets, banks are starting to relax standards for borrowers with good credit in recovering areas of the country. In some parts of the country, borrowers with good credit are more likely to be able to borrow 95% of the purchase price than they were just a few months ago.

According to The Wall Street Journal, in troubled markets (i.e. Florida) credit remains tight and mortgage companies continue to scrutinize property appraisals, which makes it difficult for some borrowers to get financing. But in most areas of the country where prices are stabilizing or falling only slightly, standards are relaxing.

This is great news and another sign that the economy is truly beginning to improve.

Visit my website for more up-to-date real estate news.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Your Home For the Holidays

Things can get crazy around the holidays. All the shopping, decking the halls and visions of sugar plums can cause homeowners to lose focus and overlook issues that can turn a season of joy into a season of “oops.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. Here is a Top 10 list to remind busy homeowners that just a few minutes a day can keep the ghost of deferred maintenance away:
  1. Clean your gutters and downspouts. They play an important role in diverting water away from foundation walls. That means less damage related to water and moisture. If you clean them before winter weather moves in, you can keep your basement and crawl spaces
    dry and leak-free.
  2. Drain exterior water lines. Frozen pipes that can crack the lines are history if you remove, drain and store outdoor hoses now.
  3. Give your garbage disposal a hot water bath. Cooking for crowds puts additional stress on these appliances. Flushing the garbage disposal with one pot of hot water and a half-cup of baking soda now – and again after the holidays – can help prevent plumbing problems and
    costly repairs. Grinding citrus fruits with a dish soap solution can remove the smell of decay.
  4. Have your home heating systems inspected. Nearly half (44 percent) of all home heating fires occur in December. Schedule a professional inspection of your home’s heating systems, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces and water heaters, every year before winter weather sets in. Stock up on furnace filters and change them regularly.
  5. Re-caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. Save energy and money by sealing air leaks around doors, windows, corner boards and joints. Make it a habit.
  6. Trim back tree limbs. Overhanging tree limbs are both a falling hazard and a chimney or flue blockage hazard. Also consider installing a battery-operated carbon monoxide
    detector. Replace batteries when Daylight Saving Time begins and when it ends.
  7. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the nation. Buy and place a fire extinguisher away from potential fire sources so that you can reach it in an emergency. Make sure it’s charged and ready to go.
  8. Test your electrical circuit shut-off switch. Plug outdoor decorations only into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Ensure that the circuit shuts off properly by using a night-light or radio. Click the circuit button. If it clicks and the night-light or radio stays on, the circuit has not shut off. Consider contacting an electrician to check for problems.
  9. Be steady on the ladder. Falls account for an average of 5.1 million injuries and nearly 6,000 deaths a year. Before hanging Christmas lights, wrap pipe insulation around your ladder beams (vertical members that the rungs are attached to). The insulation helps prevent the ladder from slipping and provides insulation against electrical shock.
  10. Avoid using extension cords except when absolutely necessary. If you do, be sure they are the proper gauge. And don’t run them across hallways or doorways, under carpeting or furniture or through walls. Never, ever staple them in place.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Protect Yourself and Your Family From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a dangerous gas that you cannot see, smell or taste. Carbon monoxide can be deadly. By knowing more about CO, you can protect yourself and your family from CO poisoning.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide
CO can come from anything that burns fuels, especially if it is not used or vented in the right way. Examples include:
• Furnaces
• Gas-powered home appliances
• Wood stoves
• Gas-powered tools
• Kerosene heaters
• Gas and charcoal grills
• Generators
• Cars and trucks

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning CO poisoning can feel like the flu without a fever, but in a very short amount of time it can become very serious.

CO Can Cause:
• Headache
• Nausea
• Dizziness
• Vomiting
• Fatigue
• Passing out
• Shortness of breath
• Death!

How to Prevent CO Poisoning
• Place CO alarms close to all sleeping areas in your home, and change the batteries each time you change your clock for daylight savings time. Never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm.
• Have appliances, furnaces and heating systems installed and maintained by a professional.
• Check and clean your chimney at least once every year.
• Leave cars, snowmobiles and other vehicles running only if they are outside of your garage.
• Use kerosene heaters only when room doors are open and windows are open at least one inch.
• Run generators outside and away from windows, doors and vents.
• Burn charcoal in open, outdoor areas away from your home, cabin, garage, or other enclosed areas such as porches or tents.
• Use pressure washers, chainsaws and other gas-powered tools outside of your home, garage or other enclosed areas such as barns or sheds.

If you think you have been exposed to carbon monoxide:
• Get yourself and others to fresh air immediately
• Call 911 or your local fi re department
• Call the Northern New England Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222
• Return to the area only after the fire department tells you it is safe