Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mortgage rates remain quiet before the Fed

Mortgage rates were relatively unchanged this week, but don't let the calm before the storm fool you. When the Federal Reserve wraps up its policy meeting Thursday, the markets will be anything but quiet.
30 year fixed rate mortgage – 3 month trend
30 year fixed rate mortgage – 3 month trend
With or without an announcement for additional monetary stimulus, the Fed will indirectly affect mortgage rates this week. For borrowers who don't like to live on the edge, this may be a good time to lock a rate.
The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.81 percent from 3.79 percent, according to the national survey of large lenders. The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.39 discount and origination points. One year ago, the mortgage index stood at 4.32 percent; four weeks ago, it was 3.86 percent.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September Home-Maintenance Checklist - conclusion

Inspect your roof and chimney

If your roof isn't too steep, and isn't covered with slate or tile, you may be able to carefully walk on it on a dry day. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys, and damage to boards along the eaves. Also peer down your chimney with a flashlight to make sure no animals have set up house in it. If you can't get on your roof, perform this inspection with a ladder around the perimeter. Pay close attention to valleys and flashings — many leaks originate in these spots. Some patches and roofing cement now can prevent thousands of dollars of water damage later in the winter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September Home-Maintenance Checklist - cont.

Caulk exterior
Think of caulk as weatherstripping in a tube. Any gap on the outside of your home can be a candidate for caulking. Look at transition spots: corners, windows, doors, areas where masonry joins siding, or places where vents and other objects protrude from walls. Carefully read manufacturer's directions to make sure the caulk you buy will work where you plan to use it, and don't forget to purchase a caulking gun. Early fall is a good time for this task because caulk becomes difficult to apply when the temperature falls.

Got wood?
If you have a wood stove, it's not too early to lay in a supply of firewood. Though most of us buy whatever's local, bear in mind that soft woods like fir and cedar burn faster and create hazardous creosote in the chimney, thus requiring more system maintenance and more wood. Hardwoods such as oak, hickory and maple are slow, hot, clean burners. Wood piles attract insect and animal pests, so stack wood away from the house. Wood dries best when it's protected from rain and has air circulating around it, so under the roof of a wall-less carport would be an ideal wood storage spot.

Clean dryer vent
This is another one of those tasks that should be on your to-do list every six months. Scoot your clothes dryer away from the wall, unplug it, and vacuum behind it. (If it's a gas dryer, turn off the gas supply to the dryer at the appliance shutoff valve.) Unhook the tube that leads to the vent and clear as much lint from the tube as you can. Grab a shop vacuum, go outside, and tackle the outside dryer vent as well.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September Home-Maintenance Checklist - cont.

Check storm windows
If you have storm windows that are cracked or dirty, repair and clean them now — prior to autumn installation.

Fight winter with plywood
Find a couple of scrap sheets of plywood and set them aside. When the weatherman predicts a cold snap, set the boards against the exterior basement vents on whichever side of your house bears the brunt of your prevailing weather patterns. This bit of scrappiness could help prevent frozen pipes. Be sure to remove the boards once the weather warms up — those vents are there for a reason.

Insulation speculation
This is a good time to check the condition of insulation and see if you need more, especially if you live in an older home. You can purchase unbacked or loose-fill insulation if you are just beefing up what is already there. If you are adding batted insulation to a spot that has none, remember that the foil-backed side is the vapor barrier, and it must face the heated area.
For example, if you are laying fiberglass insulation in an unfinished attic floor to keep heat in the living room below, you should see pink when you're done — not foil. If your walls lack insulation, consider having a professional install blown-in insulation foam. The energy savings will probably offset the cost of the procedure in a couple of years.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September Home-Maintenance Checklist

School is back in session and mornings are crisp, making this a great month for tackling home projects.

Ever wake up in early September and notice that the air smells different? School begins, days get shorter, and a sense of responsibility begins to creep up on most of us.
We've always wondered why "fall cleaning" isn't as popular as "spring cleaning." The air on brisk September mornings inspires us to dutifully button up the home in preparation for cooler days and longer nights.

Add weatherstripping to doors and windows
Weatherstripping can be plastic, foam, felt or metal; its job is to seal small gaps, keeping moisture and cold air outside where they belong. Look around your doors and windows: Is the weatherstripping torn or missing? This can become expensive if ignored. On doors, make sure the bottom seal is working properly — there are many sweeps, gaskets and thresholds designed to seal this gap. Doors generally need weatherstripping in their jambs as well. Adhesive-backed foam pads are easy to install for this purpose. Newer, energy-efficient windows generally don't require added weatherstripping, but if your windows are older, weatherstripping can keep drafts at bay and energy costs down.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Don't Sell a Smelly House

Homebuyers don't want houses that stink. Sellers must identify and remediate odors that make prospective purchasers hold their noses and run for the exits. A buyer's market is a tough challenge for sellers.
If you're selling, your house has to look a little better, smell a little better and be priced a little better than the other houses the buyer will look at that same day.
Unfortunately, it's not always easy for sellers to identify familiar smells that might be problematic, says Neeraj Gupta, director of product research and development at ServiceMaster Clean, which performs major cleanups and post-disaster restorations of residential and commercial properties.
"There is no 'odor meter,'" Gupta says. "People get used to the odor of their house and may not notice that something is not pleasant."

Outside sniffers

The best way to find out whether a house smells OK is to "ask someone who doesn't live there to come inside and give an opinion.
The obvious "someone" would be the real estate broker hired to sell the home. But not all brokers will point out that a house smells bad, even if they're willing to offer other helpful suggestions.
Some sellers are not outspoken about odor issues. Instead, they might consider offers to pass along any unfiltered "brutal truth" comments they hear from their colleagues who bring buyers to see the property. That way, the message gets delivered with less risk to her cordial relationship with the sellers.
Some people will never be the kind that will come out and tell you that your house smells like cat litter or mothballs. They would rip their tongue out first.

Friday, September 14, 2012

6 Mortgage Relief Scams To Avoid - conclusion

How to report a scam

If you believe you are the victim of a mortgage relief scam, you can contact one of the following agencies to report it.
  • or call (877) 382-4357.
  • or call (866) 459-2162.
  • or (888) 995-4673.
  • or call (877) 744-2009.
While it is important to report a possible scam, homeowners must be careful to tell their servicers immediately, too.
If the homeowners have listened to a scammer and not paid their mortgage or have avoided communication with their lender, they need to get in touch as soon as possible to prevent foreclosure if it is still possible. Unfortunately, for some homeowners, it will be too late to stop the foreclosure process.