Investing in Small Home Repair Jobs can Have Big Benefits
There are great similarities between maintaining a small home and that of maintaining a healthy
diet plan. Everyone knows that eating healthy foods is a priority, but few actually invest their
times in that on weekends. Instead, binge eating is the traditional norm. Just like that, small
homeowners know that there are plenty of small repair jobs that need accomplishment, but
spending the weekends on the job just continues to get postponed. However, you need to
consider spending a little time in your weekends for the job. In fact, carrying on the diet analogy,
it can actually take much less time in certain home improvement projects than preparing a new
You may have the number of a good handyman in your locality who can help you with these
minor maintenance works, but these works do not demand much time and effort. According the
Gino Goe, a Santa Barbara property manager, these small jobs are just too simple to consider
hiring an extra hand. “You can go about them even if you do not have a big toolbox in your
basement workshop or a flannel shirt.”
These go a long way in making the home more convenient and beautiful. Besides, there is that
pride of your personal touch that always lends character to a property.
Increasing energy efficiency
The energy efficiency aspect is an important parameter. Not only is it a sustainable practice, but
it also may make you eligible for certain tax benefits. They are also huge cost savers which is an
essential parameter for small homeowners who have to deal with a diversity of bills at the end of
the month. You just have to ensure that your energy costs come down even during periods of
You can plainly start by applying a leaf blower to the condenser of your air conditioner
appliance. The condenser is the outer box of the machine. This simple strategy can keep the
machine clean and functioning well, and has the potential of saving up to 15% of your air
conditioning energy expenditure.
You can also try getting rid of the lint build up in your clothes dryer. This is again a very easy
job. You need to take off the vent hose from the dryer machine and apply the vacuuming to get
rid of the lint. According to Jim Godbout, the ex president of Maine Plumbing and Heating
Contractors Association, this vacuuming can save the dryer electricity bill by about 25-30 %.
If you have radiators in your heating system, consider using a ‘key’ that you can get from your
local hardware retailer for a few cents. You can use this for bleeding the air out of the radiator
system. This can see that your heating bills reduce by as much as 20% . Increase stuff longevity
A great way to incur savings is to make things last longer than they usually do. These small
repairs can go a long way in home maintenance and saving big repair costs later on. Look for
spaces of improvement. Windowsills are susceptible to rot, so you must look out for any cracks
in the sill. You can just buy exterior caulk worth a few dollars for sealing any fissures in the
windowsill. This essentially keeps the rainwater out and prevents the windows from rotting. You
do not have to replace the rotting windows, thereby saving money.
However, in case of extensive paint damage, you have to scrap off the existing paint and put on a
fresh new coat. There are other ways of preventing paint damage as well. Always see whether
the spray from the garden sprinkler is heating the walls of the house or the garage. Set up a
protective barrier on the walls and save upto $10,000 on a new paint job.
Groaning, squeaking, creaking doors and windows is yet another problem. There is no need to
hire a pro for this. You can simply spray WD-40 on the groaning regions. This provides the
necessary lubrication, moisture prevention and keeps them clean.
Keep things in use
Always try to keep the various mechanical components of the home in use. Otherwise, later they
can become malfunctioning. You may want to sell your home to a new buyer later on. The buyer
may hire an appraiser of the property. So, when this person comes, all the equipments must be
working well. Otherwise, these small neglected aspects may cause the cost of the home to come
Take the garbage disposal system for example. You may not use it everyday, but consider using
it once in a while. Other such neglected aspects at the home includes the Jacuzzi pumps of the
attic bathroom, and the emergency shut down switches of the electrical network and water
supply line. Plumbing fixtures deserve a lot of maintenance, since they have to balance constant
water flow. Look for the various valves in your plumbing network. Keep them operational by
closing and opening them occasionally. This ensures that your plumbing system is working at
Check out the circuit breakers in your electrical line also. Flip them into on-off positions a few
times occasionally. This keeps them from taking up corrosion and you can be sure of the safety
of the house. If they stay unused, they may fail to operate when there is an emergency.
Optimizing the comfort and beauty quotient
Homes are living spaces. The better you keep them, the better your living would be. Maintain a
habit of home maintenance at least twice in a month. Look for signs of unclean homes like the
growth of black mildew on the shower grout. The bathroom vent fan may not be sufficient toprevent the accumulation of moisture. Jeff May, professional of indoor air quality, suggests using
an oscillating fan just after using the shower to keep it dry.
Showers often turn into a trickle because of the clogging by mineral deposits. To deal with this,
just take off the showerhead and soak it in white vinegar overnight. This is a great way to
increase your water efficiency.
If you want to clean up the tarnishes stainless steel sink, use a non bleach sink easily available at
your local hardware store. This can effectively restore the shine on the stainless steel.
Redeployment of Refinancing Resources on the Rise
The distressful days of refinancing are over. Nationwide mortgage rates finally climbed out of
the historic depression that made refinancing mandatory for every other homeowner, even for the
homeowners who refinanced previously for lower rates and more flexible terms than before.
Lenders point out a significant decline (as much as 40%) in refinancing applications due to the
increase in the mortgage rates. Although, some of the traditional refinancing parameters remain
as they are (debt consolidation, divorces, college tuitions, home improvements, and financial
goals not driven by interest rates), yet the trend is overall on a decline.
For the loan officers or mortgage loan originators in the refinancing business the profit arose
from paid commissions of refinancing. When there is no salary safety net, no income, and no
closings, there is also no income. A 40% decline in the mortgage industry means that the
refinancing business is also down by 40%. This can be difficult to accept for the loan officers.
The loan originators are essential mortgage salesmen, and they received training to identify and
develop new mortgage markets. When refinancing rate declines, the only business to concentrate
upon is the purchasing of new homes. However, mortgage refinancing is easier than the
mortgage on purchasing a new home. The major difference is that the refinancing officer finds
you out, whereas in case of purchase mortgage, you have to find out the lender. At this stage,
stuff begins to get murky.
Understanding the concept of pipeline mix is also important. This refers to the ratio of purchase
mortgage loans to the refinancing mortgage loans. Loans at all stages come into consideration
(closed and active), so pipeline mix ratio can provide a good estimate of the status of the housing
market. The loan officers who have a high percentage of purchase loans in the pipeline typically
depend on a network of referrals for sourcing their businesses. Even in the rising interest
markets, these networks have the potential to generate purchase mortgage referrals.
However, for loan originators who have a high amount of refinancing loan applications in the
pipeline, the network of referral sources are difficult to find. Therefore, with the fading of the
refinancing business, the loan officers are left to try new markets, trying to purchase businesses
from the established businesses of competing loan originators. This poses a huge difficulty for
the RO. Competitive ROs may not be collaborative unless you can provide them with the
prospects of a good deal.
States Surprisingly Worst Affected by Foreclosures
As housing markets nationwide continue to recover from the foreclosure crisis, some states show
the reverse trend. These are the states that you least expected to delve into the crisis.
The states like New Jersey, Maryland, and Oregon noted up to triple digit hike in foreclosure
rates. This comes as a surprise because these states had been maintaining a relatively stable
housing market since the popping of the real estate bubble a few years back.
According to data from RealtyTrac, new foreclosures in Maryland rose by an overwhelming
275% since last year. If you consider the total foreclosure activity, taking into account the bank
repossessions, scheduled auctions, and default notices, the state ranks second in the list of
foreclosure-ridden states, second to Florida. In Oregon, the foreclosure rate rose by 137%. New
Jersey noted a 89% increase in the rate from last year.
So, what is the explanation? Foreclosures are never healthy for the housing market. According to
the analyst Daren Blomquist from RealtyTrac, the early interventions from the Government in
these markets a few years back is returning in a negative manner. After all, you have to pay the
He said, “The foreclosures are returning with heightened impact in select niche markets where
the state legislations and court rulings had hitherto kept a lid during the worst part of the housing
The DC Metro area can be an ideal case to consider. This area marks the converging of the
Columbia district with the suburban counties of Maryland and Virginia. Foreclosure applications
in the DC and the Virginia suburbs of Arlington and Fairfax came down significantly from last
year. At the same time, neighboring Maryland noted skyrocketing foreclosure rates in the
counties of Montgomery and Frederick.
“This observation points to the fact that this crisis relates to the way the previous crisis was
averted.” confirms Blomquist. According to him, you can postpone the crisis, but not avert it.
After the deflating of the housing bubble, Virginia did not try to prevent many homeowners to go
through the foreclosure process. This policy had stressful implications in the beginning, but the
hit subsided in these few years as the market balanced itself. By the end of 2008, the state ranked
10th in the list of foreclosure affected states.
At the same time in Maryland, the state tried to prevent foreclosures by helping homeowners
with loans. However, now the banks are finally catching up, pointing to the inevitable.
The Rich and Single Crowd at University Park, Tx
The University Park is one of the best places for the rich and single crowd. Among a population
of 23,653, singles constitute 32.5% of the populace. The median family income here is $190,323.
This city also has a touch of destiny about it if you come here looking for a partner. There is
actually a Lover’s Lane splitting the town in two halves. The multimillion dollar homes in the
area also prove it to be a high end destination for finding well-to-do singles.
The city derived its name from the Southern Methodist University. Along with the sister suburb
of Highland Park, this Texan town forms the ‘bubble’, surrounded by Dallas. Residents confirm
that it is a friendly neighborhood in middle of the big D.
There are plenty of socializing options here. Great parks and community events serve as good
venues to mingle. You can also visit Dallas for world class shopping, culture, and restaurants.
Home Sales Numbers and Prices in Southern California Make Significant Gains
In the month of July, the number of homes sold in Southern California rose by 23.5 percent,
marking a high unattained during the last eight years. The average home prices also recorded a
significant hike in July. A total of 25,149 homes and condos changed hands across the six
counties. La Jolla based market research agency, DataQuick noted that a year ago the number
was at 20,558 homes. In fact, the hike has been also immediate (17.6 %) in respect to the number
in June, which was at 21,608 properties.
The properties closed in on the long-term average denomination, settling at a meager 0.5 percent
below the July average number of 25,541. The average calculations involve data since 1988,
when DataQuick began its research. The pasts seven years did not see sales figures crossing the
July also noted a median price rise in property value by 25.8 percent. This year the median price
was $385,000, which was above the $306,000 from July 2012. This median value is also the
highest figure for any month from April 2008. DataQuick research indicates that the median
value rose at a month-by-month rate, indicating a robust property market.
The president of DataQuick, John Walsh released a statement saying, “July home sales figures
are very promising and we attribute this to the availability of a rising inventory. The hike in
mortgage rate a few months back may also prompted many buyers to look for new homes under
the apprehension of avoiding even higher mortgage rates.”
The Los Angeles County remained the hottest market recording the highest increase in prices.
The median value from last year was at $330,000, which rose to $425,000 this year, marking an
increase of 28.8 percent. The number of properties sold also increased by 17.8 percent to 8,353
properties as against 7,091 properties from last year.
San Bernadino County noted an increase of 24.2 percent in the median value. Last year it was
$165,000, while this year it was at $165,000. The number of sales rose by 20.8 percent,
recording 2,941 homes against the 2,434 properties from last year.
Riverside County noted a median increase of 25.9 percent. Last year, the value was at $210,000.
This year, it was at $265,000. Number of sales rose by 14 .9 percent. It was 3,546 homes in July
2012 and this year, it was at 4,076 homes.
Walsh noted that, “The market is in a re-balancing stage, as many underwater homeowners have
been able to sell their homes at a profit, or at least clear their existing debts. However, as the
supply and demand gap eases, home prices may not rise as steeply, as it did this year.”
The key reason for the rising values in July is traceable to the rising value of properties. About
one-fifth of the rising price is attributable to a shift in the market mix, reviewed DataQuick.
Using the Home Equity for Investing in a Second Home
A common issue among homeowners is the dilemma on using existing home equity for investing on a
second home. Because of the relatively low interest rates, the real estate market continues to draw the
attention of new investors. Many are considering buying a new home as an asset. However, the liability of
taking out a new mortgage loan remains a major obstacle. Moderate investors really cannot afford to buy
the property in cash. Taking out a new loan seems the only option.
It’s not that there are no other options. Many investors consider selling some bonds and stocks for raising
the required amount. Some even consider other high-risk propositions like taking out the amount from the
IRA or a taking out a 401(k) loan. Truth is, any proposition in new homes is risky, considering the size of
the investment. Real market conditions can be very transitory. The memory of the bubble and the sub
sequent crash leading to the acute depression is still fresh in the subconscious. Therefore, if you are
considering buying a new home on the equity of the existing property, always make sure to consider the
various aspects of the deal. Try to interpret the present trends with a futuristic outlook to understand the
direction of the market. This can give you greater confidence than before to buy a new home.
The home equity is essentially the illiquid amount difference between the mortgage debt and the market
value of the home. So, a home that is worth $400,000 in the market and has a mortgage debt of $300,000,
has a home equity of $100,000. If home prices rise, the home equity also increases. The liquidation of the
illiquid amount is possible through a loan on home equity or through a line-of-credit on it. Another name
of the line-of-credit is the cash-out refinancing. This indicates that you can take a new loan with greater
balance that is useful in clearing the existing mortgage, and in using the remaining amount to buy a new
home. However, this does not get rid of the debt, as you still have to repay the new loan.
Using the home equity value to buy a new home has both pros and cons of the process, according to
senior financial analyst, Greg McBride. Lenders like banks allow for greater flexibility in the loan terms
because the homeowner is already one-home deep in the market. The homeowners taking out a second
mortgage are more likely to default than those using home equity values to take out a loan. In order to
offset the risks, the banks charge higher interest rates and bigger down payments. Besides, the home
equity loans do not include paying for the insurance or title charges or any other extra transactional costs
of taking out a new mortgage.
However, there are some negative aspects of a home equity loans also. A new loan entails greater
responsibilities. Besides, taking out a home equity loan also makes the existing property more vulnerable
than before. Understandably, new investors are afraid about losing both homes for debt defaulting. The
home equity loan also entails tying up the money in a single asset. This may not be a very prudent
portfolio management, clarifies McBride