What Buyers Should Ask After a Home Inspection

After an inspector has finished a home report, buyers may feel overwhelmed by any flaws that might have been found. That’s why it’s important they take the opportunity to learn more so that they can move forward confidently in the transaction.

A recent article at realtor.com® recommends home buyers ask their inspector clarifying questions like: “I don’t understand this; what does it mean?” or “Is this a major or minor problem?” and “Do I need to call in another expert for a follow-up?”

Home inspectors are bound to uncover something in a home; no home is perfect. But the majority of the problems they uncover will likely be minor. Have the home inspector clarify which problems fall within the “minor” or “major” categories.

Keep in mind: “The inspector can’t tell you, ‘Make sure the seller pays for this,’ so be sure you understand what needs to be done,” Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, told realtor.com®.

If the inspector identifies a potentially major problem, consumers will want to follow up whether they should call an additional expert in to investigate further. For example, consumers may need to bring in an electrician to take a closer look at potential electrical issues that were flagged or a roofer if a roofing problem is suspected. Those specialists can then give an idea of the cost to fix it, which the real estate agent can take to the seller to request a concession, if the seller doesn’t want to fix it prior to the sale.

Also, Lesh says that the list of items a home inspector identifies are issues the new buyer may need to address as soon as they move in. He says it’s like a “to-do list” for those items that did not get repaired by the seller prior to the sale.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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12 Outdoor Halloween Decorations to Spook Out Your House

Halloween lights and decoration ideas you can DIY.

Graveyard, CFL Floodlights | Outdoor Halloween Decorations
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Stunning Ceilings: The Latest Eye Candy for the 5th Wall

Ceilings are too often the plain Jane element of a listing, but this element of your listing’s structure can assume a starring role and transform a space with minimal effort and expense. Learn about your clients’ options, from millwork to lighting, different shapes, paint, and even wallpaper.

Ceilings have long reflected architectural, economic, and other influences of the day. In early American homes, low ceilings were favored to keep spaces warm, even if they made them feel a bit claustrophobic. During the Victorian era, high ceilings—at least nine feet high and often higher—were embellished, integrating handcrafted cast-plaster ornaments, stenciling, and other decorative treatments.

When factory buildings and warehouses in New York’s downtown manufacturing district were converted to loft-style apartments starting in the 1950s, a grittier industrial chic took hold, leaving ceiling ductwork and beams exposed. Lofty heights remained in vogue throughout the 1980s and ’90s, but fancier vaults, peaks, and arches emerged as McMansions became the rage. However, as concern about the high cost of energy consumption gained traction, the idea of heating and cooling all that extra space turned some off high ceilings. They were lowered, though rarely to less than 8 feet, and left unadorned, a nod toward a modern aesthetic that often shunned crown molding and other details.

These days interest in personalizing space has meant ceilings have begun to play a role in helping rooms take on different personas, create memorable impressions on buyers, and solve problems such as adding visual depth to a low room.

Lisa Pickell, president of Orren Pickell Building Group, custom home builders in Chicago, is a fan of maximizing ceilings. “They offer a great opportunity to extend and enhance an aesthetic,” she says. But she also recommends doing so when planning a room’s décor rather than as an afterthought, which can make the project more expensive.

Erin Powell, design director and principal at RoOomy, an online staging firm out of San Jose, Calif., concurs that a well-planned ceiling treatment can help a listing stand out. “It usually won’t make or break a purchase, but it opens up the chance to make a buyer more interested,” she says.

Here are five ways to showcase a ceiling. Use them sparingly—certainly not in every room—to avoid visual confusion. “Otherwise, the concept may lose its specialness,” Pickell says.

dark blue ceiling

Paint

This is the least expensive way to make a ceiling stand out and alter its look without major architectural change. New homes often feature the same white color on walls and ceilings, but broker Matt van Winkle with RE/MAX Northwest in Seattle recommends painting the ceiling slightly lighter than what’s used on the walls to add depth. Generally, he advises steering clear of bold colors, except in children’s rooms.

Others, however, like adding more color for different visual effects. Designer Rebecca Pogonitz of Go Go Design in Chicago likes to use darker colors to create a cozy, almost a cocoonish, feeling, which she sometimes pairs with white trim to keep the overall feeling from seeming too heavy. Kristie Barnett, founder of The Decorologist in Nashville, also likes dark choices when staging a home for a memorable impression.

Sometimes, a wildly unexpected hue can be the easiest way to update a room, which was the approach architect Anik Pearson took with a vintage New York apartment that had its footprint and bones intact. “We restored it to its glory but with a modern twist by painting the dining room’s walls and beams a bold teal, filling in the space between beams in white, and running some chinoiserie-inspired wallpaper all around,” she says. Bob Zuber, partner, principal, and head of architectural design at Morgante Wilson Architects in Chicago, finds that tinted Venetian plaster warms up ceilings.

For the best coverage and less splatter, Rick Wilson, director of product information at Sherwin-Williams, stresses the importance of using quality ceiling paint. His colleague Sue Wadden, director of color marketing, suggests going with flat or matte finishes to hide imperfections and produce a polished, clean look for any color choice. Otherwise, painting the ceiling is no different from painting walls.

Wallpapered ceiling

Wallpaper

While many see this option as something of a throwback, wallpaper has found favor among more design professionals of late and for multiple reasons. “A graphic paper can define an activity area in an open-plan space; colorfully patterned papers can pull together a palette in a room, and gold, silver, or pewter leaf paper, which we use often, add stature, drama, and radiance when coupled with the right kind of lighting,” says Chicago-based designer Jessica LaGrange. “Wallpaper can hide cosmetic blemishes or introduce pattern in rooms where all the walls are taken such as a kitchen or family area with copious cabinetry.”

Pogonitz, who likes using bold and detailed patterns on ceilings, says it’s important to do the same prep work as you would for any wall surface—”patch and smooth out the ceiling as needed.”

But many design pros offer caveats with this approach. Powell cautions that wallpapering both a ceiling and walls can look excessive, so she recommends covering one or the other. LaGrange warns against using paper with a definite directional cue, such as those with a clear top and bottom, since it won’t be read “correctly” from a visual standpoint.

Barnett, who trains stagers, suggests avoiding wallpaper on the ceiling when selling. “It’s so taste-specific and many are still scared of paper,” she says. One way to hedge bets is to suggest one of the newer easy-to-remove papers from sources like Chasing Paper.

vaulted ceiling

Shape

Ceilings don’t have to be a flat plane, though it’s certainly easier and less costly to make this decision before construction or during a major remodeling and in a one-story space. Van Winkle has found coffered ceiling treatments are attracting a lot of attention these days among consumers. That could mean a pitched, vaulted, or arched shape that rises upward and provides a greater sense of airiness, drama, and light.

Homebuyers who purchase townhomes in communities developed by Chicago-based Lexington Homes are increasingly requesting to upgrade to ceilings with volume, particularly tray designs in master and secondary bedrooms, says sales director Todd Lesher. “Ceiling upgrades are one of the most common selections we encourage buyers to make, as they do not add a lot of cost, but make a big impact,” he says. “Buyers like that the volume helps open up the space and make the rooms seem larger and more expansive.”

Key to adding any volume to a ceiling is carefully considering the relationship of the elements to the size of the room to maintain proper visual scale, says Zuber. “You never put a tall ceiling in a small space or a short ceiling in a large room,” he says.

ceiling with millwork

Millwork

Woodwork is used for all sorts of interior spaces—doors, floors, walls, and the trim detailing that’s used in crown molding at the top by the ceiling. Such architectural trim, especially when wider and thicker, makes a house look more luxurious, says Barnett. It can also be used in more elaborate ways, atop a ceiling in recessed grids for a coffered effect or in one large central portion that’s recessed and higher, in what’s called a tray design. Merritt, in Mentor, Ohio, often designs these complex arrangements of wood in clients’ homes. The company recently fashioned an elaborate grid pattern from American white oak for a large Hamptons, N.Y., home. Haver and Skolnik Architects, in Roxbury, Conn., known for building and renovating traditional homes, frequently uses beams and other millwork to add coziness and an aged character. And Pearson recently used millwork to define an area in an open-plan New York apartment and baffle sound. In an adjacent kitchen, she added trim to bring extra drama to a skylight.

But simpler uses of crown molding or ceiling trim can achieve effects such as unifying adjoining rooms for less than $1,000, says Julie Whitley, director of architecture design at homebuilder Red Seal Development Corp. in Northbrook, Ill. One DIY technique that’s attracted wide attention and adds an updated farmhouse feel is to use shiplap, basically manufactured boards with grooves that fit together snugly. The look picked up steam after celebrity TV couple Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” show began using them in countless projects, including on ceilings. For a more modern vibe, Zuber of Morgante Wilson Architects recommends trim with an angled or slanted profile rather than straight rectangular boards. He advises keeping millwork in the right proportion to the ceiling’s height. “Four-inch crown is good for an 8- or 9-foot ceiling,” he says.

Whether the millwork is left natural or painted should depend on how much homeowners want it to stand out or complement a certain period or style. Winkle recommends keeping millwork white, which makes it easy to live with over time and appeal more universally, especially to buyers. For traditional homes, however, Powell favors dark hues that more readily reveal texture. But she cautions that going dark can visually bring a ceiling down.

ceiling lights

Lighting

Ceiling lights have changed a great deal in recent years; even housings for recessed cans reflect trends with different trim colors, materials, and diameters. Zuber likes placing them strategically around a ceiling rather than peppering a line of cans in the more common shotgun approach. Some also suggest eschewing the expected fixture at the center of a room, particularly in dining and master bedrooms, which gives greater flexibility when arranging furniture, says Amber Shay, national director of design studios for Meritage Homes, a Scottsdale, Ariz., builder of single-family homes.

In general, oversized fixtures are more on trend, along with ceiling fans with lights built in, and almost all bulbs are LEDs for better performance, greater efficiency, and new smart-home applications, says Joe Rey-Barreau, an architect, lighting designer, and education consultant for the American Lighting Association. Among some of the new LED uses are in linear strips that can be installed easily inside or on top of cabinets, in bookshelves, along toe kicks in kitchens and baths, and in ceiling coves and cornices. For sellers who want to update fixtures before listing to improve how rooms show, Rey-Barreau says the number of attractive, affordable options has increased. That’s especially helpful if they must leave such upgrades behind, which of course depends on the sales contract.

wood kitchen ceiling in loft

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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7 Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips that Every Homeowner Should Know

Some Halloween tricks can really cost you.

Hot lights and large crowds present some real risks to homeowners. Follow these seven tips for trick-or-treat safety:

#1 Make Your Outdoor Lights as Bright as Possible

Three trick-or-treaters waiting on a doorstep on HalloweenImage: Carolina Hanna/Offset

John Pettibone, curator of Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester, Mass., suggests checking the label on your outdoor light fixtures and using the highest wattage bulbs they can safely handle. You can always switch them back after the holiday for a softer glow.

#2 Prop Open the Storm Door for Trick-or-Treaters

Pettibone suggests propping open the screen or storm door so it doesn’t get in the way when there’s a big group of kids congregated on your stoop. Yellow caution tape can do the trick while keeping with your Halloween theme. A 1,000-ft. roll of 3-inch-wide tape is about $8.

#3 Use LEDs Instead of Real Candles

Brick path lined with jack-o-lanterns lit with LED candlesImage: Jamie Garbutt/Getty

Pettibone warns against lighting real candles in carved pumpkins or paper lanterns; they’re a fire waiting to happen. LED-bulb faux candles are much safer, and the light looks a lot like the real thing. Before you purchase Halloween decorative lights, be sure to look for safety certifications such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories).

#4 Use Motion Lights After the Trick-or-Treaters Have Left

When the trick-or-treaters go home, the vandals often come out. Motion sensor lights that illuminate the whole house can help scare away mischief makers out to egg your house or do more serious damage.

#5 Tighten Railings

Fixing wobbly or broken porch railings is a trick-or-treat safety must, as they can cause severe injuries if anyone leans on them a little too hard. Hire a contractor or handyman to fix the problem before your guests arrive.

#6 Use Friction Tape on Steps

Jack-o-lanterns placed out of the path of trick-or-treatersImage: Grabill Creative/Getty

Steps can get slippery in damp weather. Prepare by applying friction tape ($16 for a 60-foot roll of 1-inch-wide tape) to steps.

If your neighborhood is at risk for an early freeze, stock up on ice melt, too ($20 for a 50-lb. bag).

A related Halloween trick-or-treat safety tip: Clear your walk, steps, and stoop of any obstructions like potted plants – and even jack-o’-lanterns. Move them where no one can accidentally stumble on them.

#7 Clear the Curb — It’s the Most Important Trick-or-Treat Safety Tip

Here’s a scary statistic: Four times as many child pedestrians are killed on Halloween night than a normal night. Of all the trick-or-treat safety guidelines, this one could be the most important.

Reduce risks to little pedestrians by clearing parked cars from the curb for better visibility and placing a reflective “Watch for Children” sign at the edge of the road. On busy streets, consider having adults take turns maintaining safety in the street with a hand-held traffic control light.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Homeowners Ready to Sell in Third Quarter of 2018

WASHINGTON (September 26, 2018) – New findings from the National Association of Realtors® show that a record high 77 percent of Americans believe that now is a good time to sell a house, while those that think now is a good time to buy continues to decline.

NAR’s third quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey1 also found that a majority of consumers believe prices have and will continue to rise, while the quality of schools is a critical factor in deciding whether or not to buy a home.

Half of all Americans strongly believe now is a good time to sell (compared to 46 percent last quarter), while 27 percent moderately believe this is the right time (29 percent last quarter). Respondents in the West are the most likely to think now is a good time (85 percent) as are those who currently own a home (82 percent). Only 22 percent believe that now is not a good time to sell, down from 29 percent in the second quarter.

Optimism that now is a good time to buy has declined slightly from last quarter. Sixty-three percent of respondents either strongly or moderately believe that now is a good time buy compared to 68 percent last quarter. Among renters, positive feelings about purchasing continue to fall, dropping from 49 percent in the second quarter to 45 percent this quarter. Optimism is highest among older U.S. households (65 or over) and those with a household income of more than $100,000 a year (70 and 68 percent respectively).

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says several consecutive years of strong home price growth are enticing homeowners to consider selling. “Though the vast majority of consumers believe home prices will continue to increase or hold steady, they understand the days of easy, fast gains could be coming to an end. Therefore, more are indicating that it is a good time to sell, which is a healthy shift in the market.”

Respondents were also asked about their view of home prices in their neighborhoods. Seventy percent believe that home prices have gone up in their area in the last 12 months, up from 68 percent in the second quarter. Fifty-three percent also believe that home prices will continue to increase in their communities in the next six months; this is down from the last quarter (55 percent).

Consumers feeling positive about the economy and concerned about qualifying for a mortgage

A near-record high of 60 percent of households believe that the economy is improving – up slightly from 58 percent last quarter and up significantly from 53 percent in the third quarter of 2017. People in a household income of over $100,000 are more likely to view the economy as improving (67 percent) compared with those with an income $50,000 to $100,000 (64 percent) and under $50,000 (49 percent).

The HOME survey’s monthly Personal Financial Outlook Index2, showing respondents’ confidence that their personal financial situation will be better in six months, rose slightly from 62.1 in June to 62.6 in September. A year ago, the index was 62.0.

Among those who do not currently own a home, 28 percent of those surveyed believe that it would be very difficult to qualify for a mortgage and 31 percent believe that it would be somewhat difficult given their current financial situation (compared to 26 and 28 percent last month respectively). “This is most likely a manifestation of the constantly rising prices,” said Yun. “As prices rise so do down payments, making the mortgage qualifying process more challenging.”

Importance of Highly Rated Schools, Other Factors in Homebuying Decision

In this quarter’s survey, homeowners and non-homeowners were asked how important high rated schools are in their home buying decision. Over two-thirds of those surveyed said that highly rated schools were either very or somewhat important in their decision (47 percent and 23 percent, respectively).

When asked about what considerations were taken into account when choosing a new neighborhood, 25 percent of respondents ranked proximity to friends and family as most important, followed by proximity to their job and a short commute (24 percent). Proximity to friends and family is most important to those in rural areas (31 percent) compared to suburban and urban (25 and 21 percent respectively).

“When you buy a home, you do not just buy the house; you buy a community – neighbors, parks, stores and schools,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “Realtors® understand the unique qualities of the neighborhoods in their area and can help individual families find and purchase the right home in the right neighborhood.”

Respondents were also asked about the number of homes available for sale in their communities. Fifty-six percent of respondents reported that the number of homes available for sale in the neighborhood has remained the same over the past six months, while 23 percent said they have observed more homes for sale than usual.

About NAR’s HOME survey

From July through September, a sample of U.S. households was surveyed via random-digit dial, including a mix of cell phones and land lines. The survey was conducted by an established survey research firm, TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. Each month approximately 900 qualified households responded to the survey. The data was compiled for this report representing a total of 2,731 household responses.

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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1NAR’s Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey tracks topical real estate trends, including current renters and homeowners’ views and aspirations regarding homeownership, whether or not it’s a good time to buy or sell a home, and expectations and experiences in the mortgage market. New questions are added to the survey each quarter to reflect timely topics impacting real estate. HOME survey data is collected on a monthly basis and will be reported each quarter. New questions will be added to the survey each quarter to reflect timely topics impacting the real estate marketplace.

2Index ranges between 0 and 100: 0 = all respondents believe their personal financial situation will be worse in 6 months; 50 = all respondents believe their personal financial situation will be about the same in 6 months; 100 = all respondents believe their personal situation will be better in 6 months.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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13 Tips for Home Wildfire Protection

A well-maintained roof helps protect a home from wildfiresImage: NFPA Firewise Communities Program

All it takes is for one ember to fall on your roof. Don’t let it happen.

With that in mind, fortify your home like the castle it is with these 13 wildfire-repelling steps. But keep in mind that no product or technique is a failsafe against a raging fire.

#1 Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

If you don’t already have working smoke detectors or haven’t tested them recently, make that your No. 1 job. Now.

#2 Check Fire Extinguishers

And if you don’t have them, get them.

#3 Get a Bucket, Shovel, and Hose Ready

Have an easily accessible bucket, shovel (to dig a trench to protect against encroaching ground fire), and connected garden hose to help you defend the area around your home.

#4 Invest in Rain Barrels

An extra source of water can’t hurt. And rain barrels save on your water bills, too.

#5 Clear Yard of Debris

Keep gutters, porches, and the lawn free of debris, leaves, and fallen branches. If a fire threat is imminent, remove furniture and decorations from decks and porches, including welcome mats.

#6 Plant Fire-Resistant Shrubs and Annuals

Like irises, rhododendrons, hostas, and lilacs, which have high-moisture content. Your local Cooperative Extension Office can advise you on appropriate species for your area.

#7 Remove Tree Branches Lower Than 6 Feet

Fires tend to start low and rise. For that reason, don’t plant shrubs directly under trees; they can combust and cause the fire to rise up the tree. By the way, spacing out all plants and shrubs is a good practice, too.

#8 Remove Tree Limbs Near Chimneys

Keep them at least 10 feet away. Embers from burning limbs could fall in.

#9 Set Up a Protective Perimeter

Create a 100-foot perimeter around your home, free of dry leaves, grass, and shrubs that fuel wildfires. Keep petroleum tanks, cars, and wood piles outside of this safe zone.

#10 Use Rocks Instead of Mulch Next to the House

Lay a six-inch swath of decorative rocks closest to the home and then use mulch from there. This also helps repel insects, like termites, (bugs like wood) and facilitate rain water drainage.

#11 Use Non-Flammable Fencing

If you have wood fencing around your home, replace any three-foot sections that attach to the home with metal or other non-flammable fencing material. A metal gate or decorative fencing piece is stylish as well as fire-unfriendly.

#12 Cover Chimneys and Vents With Flame-Retardant Mesh

And it’s cheap to do. They cost just few dollars from hardware or home improvement stores.

#13 Check Your Siding

Fire-resistant or non-combustible siding like stucco or brick provides the best protection against fire. Make sure your siding, whatever type, is in good repair, because if the plywood or insulation are exposed, the home is more vulnerable to flames.

Some experts recommend spraying homes with fire retardants, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the product, region, and size of the project. But some of the chemicals used to make flame-retardants have toxic properties. Although you might have less exposure to chemicals used on your home’s exterior than those inside, toxicity issues could still be a factor.

Most important, if a wildfire is on its way, evacuate. And have an evacuation plan worked out with your family before the worst happens.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Market Shifting to Buyers’ Favor

A housing market defined by rapidly rising home prices, bidding wars, a lack of inventory, and sellers with the upper hand in negotiations may be changing. “The signs are pointing to a market that’s shifting toward buyers,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “But in most places, we’re still a long way from a full reversal.”

After all, home sales aren’t exactly tanking. Prices for existing homes were up 4.6 percent from a year ago in the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report. The median home list price in August was up 7 percent from last year.

While these numbers are still higher than last year, economists point to a slowing growth in the percentage jumps. Last year, median home list prices increased by 10 percent from the previous year and by 9 percent the year before that.

A recent report from real estate brokerage Redfin showed that more than one in four home sellers dropped their asking price last month. The areas seeing some of the biggest decreases this year are Las Vegas; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; and Atlanta.

“We’ve hit that tipping point in a lot of these cities where what sellers think they can get is just not possible for many buyers,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, told realtor.com®. “Now the pendulum is swinging away from sellers and back toward buyers.”

Economists point to housing affordability as a culprit for the slowdown. Mortgage rates are up 0.82 percent since a year ago; the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.65 percent as of Sept. 20. Each percentage point increase in rates can translate to about $143 more on a monthly mortgage payment, or nearly $51,500 over the life of a loan on a $300,000 priced home, according to realtor.com®.

“Home prices have just gone up too fast,” Blomquist says. “It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden it’s a market that’s going to crash. But it does mean there are limits to what people can afford.”

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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7 Myths All New Homeowners Fall For

You’ve signed the closing papers and have your new house keys in hand.

As you open the door to your exciting — and sometimes overwhelming — new life as a homeowner, steer clear of these seven common home ownership myths. Avoiding them will save you time, money, and protect your home value.

Myth #1: Only Homes In Warm Climates Need Roof Vents

Yes, roof vents do suck hot, humid air up and out through the roof. That act is called ventilation. Which is why you need roof vents if you live in a colder climate.

Huh?

Because ventilation pushes the warm away from your snow-covered roof and gutters. If warm air lingers under your roof, it could cause the snow to melt just enough to easily refreeze at night, melt again, refreeze (you get the picture) creating If you spot icicles hanging from your gutters, that’s a clue you might have ice dams forming.Read More In6 Chilling Facts About Icicles That All Homeowners Should Know ice dams instead of pretty, fluffy snow on your roof.

And when those ice dams melt come spring, that water could funnel into your insulation and walls causing mold, mildew — and a busted bank account.

Myth #2: Mowing Grass Extra Short Means Mowing Less Often

Garden gnome next to a home's lawnImage: Chris Clor/Getty

Save the grass — and your home’s good looks — by cutting your lawn no more than one-third the length of the blades at each mowing. Overall, aim to keep the grass between two-and-a-half and three inches high.

Myth #3: If My Water Main Springs a Leak, The Water Company Will Cover It

Nope. The city fixes the public water lines from the road to your property, but you’re responsible for the main that runs from your property line to your dwelling.

A broken water main can cost anywhere from $500 to a shocking $3,000 (or more!) to repair. Plus: all that water everywhere.

And you may have to If you alert your utility, and address the leak as quickly as possible, they may forgive all or part of the cost of the water that leaked. pay for that water, too, which also can run into the thousands, especially if you don’t address the leak quickly.

The most common cause of water main breaks is tree roots getting into older pipes. If you have mature trees with roots pushing up the sidewalk or driveway, that could be a hint that you might encounter a water main break — or sewer line break (yup, just like the water line, the sewer line on your property is your responsibility).

And don’t waste money on special water pipe insurance. It’s not worth it. You’re better off putting that money into a home maintenance account. Besides it only covers fresh-water pipes.

Myth #4: I Can Remove a Tree or Paint My Mailbox Any Color

Tree stump in a yardImage: David Crespo/Getty

What an HOA (or condo association or co-op board) may control is surprising. Things like pet ownership, outdoor clotheslines, or even (true story) parking in the driveway instead of your garage.

So check the rules. Because breaking them could cost you — by making you redo a remodel, or fining you.

But keep in mind that HOAs are there to protect your home value. They’ve got your back. Just stay in touch with the rules so you don’t make a costly mistake.

Myth #5: When The Pipes Clog, Pour In a Bottle of Drain Cleaner

While drain cleaners are quick and convenient, they can cause more (and bigger) problems than they fix. They don’t typically remove the entire clog, making it more likely to recur — and their caustic chemicals can wear away the insides of the pipes, causing leaks.

Instead, invest in a $15, manually-operated drain snake at the hardware store, or rent an electric one to clear bigger clogs. Then use screens to prevent food scraps and hair from getting in your pipes.

And keep everything but sewage and TP out of the toilets. Always.

Myth #6: My Neighbor’s Tree Fell In My Yard, So They’ll Pay For It

Well …  that depends. Your first step, no matter what, is to call your insurance company. They’ll restore your property and then decide whether to pursue the neighbor for reimbursement.

That may be tough, though, (and awkward) because in order to collect the insurance company needs proof that the neighbor knew the tree was old or damaged, and didn’t maintain it.

The good news is that your policy should cover tree damage caused by wind, water, and storms. It may also cover hauling away tree debris if it damaged your home.

Likewise, if your tree falls on a neighbor’s property, don’t rush over with a wad of cash. Offer your sympathies, and let them know you’ll wait to proceed until their insurance company contacts you.

And always keep receipts for trimming and other tree care, should you need to prove your diligence.

Myth #7: I’ll Save Time And Money By Reroofing Over Old Shingles

An old roof that needs to be replacedImage: Peter Horrox/Getty

But it’s not wise. A roof is like a cake of wooden sheathing beneath an icing of shingles. If the cake is spoiled, you can’t fix it (or even find out about it) by putting an extra layer of icing on top.

If there’s damage to your roof, get a new roof. Period.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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5 Strategic Ways for Millennials to Save Money

Putting money in piggy bank

© Eakachai Leesin – EyeEm/Getty Images

Today’s affordability pressures are holding back the most eager would-be home buyers. In a recent study by CoreLogic and RTI Research, young millennial renters under the age of 29 are the most enthusiastic demographic wanting to purchase a home in the next 12 months. However, one-third of millennial renters said they can’t afford the downpayment required to do so.

If the down payment is your potential clients’ biggest hurdle to buying, share some tips with them on how to meet their savings goals.

1. Investments. Investing may be widely used in higher income brackets and older demographics, but it’s often an intimidating practice for young adults just starting out. There’s also a misconception that you need a lot of money to begin investing, which simply isn’t true, Dave Nugent, head of investments at Wealthsimple, told Bustle. Wealthsimple, Swell Investing, Stash and other investment platforms are easy to use and allow users to start small.

2. Micro-tracking costs. Tracking every single monthly expense will help potential home buyers see precisely where their money is really going. This will also help them start to find unnecessary spending, according to Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate at finder.com, in her interview with Business Insider.

3. Budgeting apps. Clients can take advantage of financial planning apps like Wela, Acorns, Mint, and Wally to alert them when they’re spending too much in one category and find additional ways to save.

4. Get rid of high-interest debt. Saving money is important, but if buyers are sitting on a mountain of high-interest debt, paying that down first is more crucial, according to Adam Jusko, founder and CEO of ProudMoney.com, in his Bustle interview.

5. Think twice before using credit cards. Consumers should never use a credit card like a bank account. If they can’t afford a purchase now or in the near future, “putting it on a credit card just kicks the can down the road,” Jason Reposa, the CEO and co-founder of MyBankTracker, told Bustle.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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