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Spring Maintenance

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Now that spring has arrived early this year, here are some helpful tips to help you maintain your and help save you some money.
 
Gutters.....make sure you check your gutters for clogs.  They tend to accumulate debris and leaves during the winter so remove them and help your gutters drain properly.  Also, check to make sure they are securely attached to your house.

Shrubs and Trees......Make sure you maintain your shrubbery by pruning and remove any organic debris.  This will help shape and improve their health, which gives your house "curb appeal".

Decks/Patios.....Check your deck for rotting wood and and any boards/rails that may need to be replaced.  Make sure it doesn't squeak when you walk on it.  Also check your patio for cracks that may need to be fixed.

Pipes.....Check your pipes for any leakage that may occurred during the winter.  Check your shutoff valves, for each plumbing fixture, to make sure they function properly.

Sump Pumps........with spring comes April showers.  Make sure your sump pump has a new battery in the backup.  Also look  oil that may present from in the water.  This could mean you have a faulty oils seal, which could ultimately burn up the motor.

Air Conditioner.....Make sure you get a professional air conditioning  inspector out to check this.  They know what is needed to maintain it and keep it working properly during the upcoming hot months!  Nothing is worse than having your AC not work during the hottest day of the year!

Batteries.....Check you batteries in you smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  They should be changed and checked atleast once a year, but a good rule of thumb is to check and change with daylight savings time.  These batteries could ultimately save your life and your home possessions.

Fireplaces.....I know winter is over, but now is the time to get it cleaned and service by a professional chimney sweep.  That will save you the hassle in the fall when everyone is trying to get ready for old man winter.

These are just some minor tips that you can do during these nice days.  They don't take long and could save you a headache in the long run.

Home Inspection vs Appraisal

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

So many buyers ask me what inspections should we do?  That question is answered only by the buyer and the concerns each buyer has.  However, I always recommend that buyers do a Home Inspection.  It is the best money spent in the transaction. 

A Home Inspection will cost $250 and up based on the price of the house.  It should take approximately 2.5 to 3.5 hours, again depending on the size of the home.  Home Inspections should be done on both re-sales and new homes.  (New home prices could vary due to the number of times the home inspector comes out....typically 3 times.)  You as the buyer should plan to attend the inspection along with your real estate agent.

What does a home inspection consist of?  A home inspector will determine the CONDITION of the property.  The inspection will consist of all of the mechanical of the home; i.e.: heating, air conditioning, water heater, plumbing, electrical, appliances, etc.   Also, foundation, water penetration, roof, leaks, doors, windows, exterior items such as decking, porches, grading, etc. 

A home inspector will give advice on maintenance to keep your home in good condition and some inspectors will even offer phone support while you are in the home.

What does a home inspection NOT INCLUDE?  A home inspection is not for cosmetic or maintenance items, even though advice to help you as a homeowner will be obtained.

  

An Appraisal will determine VALUE for the bank.  The appraiser will contact the listing agent to obtain entry into the property.  This inspection will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes.  Usually the only person that attends is the person who gives entry, i.e. the listing agent or homeowner.  

What does the Appraiser inspect?  Depending on the loan program of the buyer, the appraiser will have a checklist of items.  He/she will make sure those items meet the requirements of the loan program, as well as making sure the price is a fair price for the market conditions.  The price is determined by recent SOLD comparables in the area.  The costs of the appraisal is built into the lender fees and usually range $350 - $550.  As a buyer, you are not normally involved in the process and your lender will let you know when this process is completed.

So to summarize:  Home Inspection is for determining CONDITION

                            Appraisal is for determining VALUE

If you have any questions regarding inspections with regard to buying or selling a home in Harford County or the surrounding areas, please contact me for the names of reputable inspectors and appraisers in your area.

 

 

Preventing Illness in 2012

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The holidays are now in full swing and most people have been busily preparing for family and friends.  Along with the holidays normally comes along with illness of some sort.  Most people tend to think of the flu.  The flu is manageable for most people however it can be severe or even deadly. It is highly contagious and is spread throughout the air via coughing, sneezing, or talking.  Most people begin spreading the disease about 1 day prior to showing symptoms, and may continue to be contagious up to 1 week after the symptoms have presented.

 

Signs and symptoms of the flu may be mild to severe.  The most common symptoms are fevers/chills, fatigue, headache, body aches, stuffy or runny nose, coughing, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  People who have the flu normally do not have all the symptoms but a combination of symptoms.  More severe symptoms may differ from child to adult.  If you have a child that is experiencing fast or trouble breathing. fever with a rash, lack of interest to play or interact, doesn't want to be touched or held, decreased fluid intake, bluish skim coloration, or mild flu-like symptoms that improve but return with a worse fever and cough take them to the closest ER.  If you experience difficulty breathing, sudden dizziness, confusion, pain/pressure in chest/abdomen, severe or persistent vomiting, or mild flu-like symptoms that improve but return with a worse fever or cough then go to the closest ER. 

 

The best way to prevent getting the flu is to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 secs.  Those in the medical field are taught in school to sing the alphabet song while washing.  If soap and water are not available then use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.  The second best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine.  Some people however are not good candidates for getting the flu vaccine, so make sure you consult your doctor before getting one.  The flu vaccine will introduce your body to a non-harmful strain, which will cause your body to build a memory of the strain.  When the body builds up this memory, it will know how to fight against the real virus to prevent getting sick or will prevent the more severe symptoms which could be deadly.  Try to get plenty of rest,drink plenty of fluids, and exercise during the winter months.  This will help keep your immune system in top shape to fight off any infections you may get.  Also, try to stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing.

 

Not everyone may be able to prevent the flu this year.  If you do get sick your best and fastest way to recovery is to stay home from work or school.  That will prevent others from catching it from you.  Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and get lots of sleep.  Take over the counter medicine as needed and as directed by the manufacturer.  Most people can manage symptoms by abiding by those tips, but feel free to consult your doctor if you are concerned or your symptoms get worse.  However, if you do present with mild symptoms and still go into work, make sure you wash your hands often with soap and water.  You should cover you sneezes and coughs.  The most efficient way to do this  is by sneezing or coughing into your bent elbow.  If you use a tissue to cover you sneeze/cough or to blow your nose, wash your hands immediately afterwards.  Disinfect your work area by wiping down your phone, keyboard, doorknobs, and other workplace equipment.

 

If you have any other concerns or questions contact your doctor's office, your local health department, or the cdc. I hope you now have the information needed to keep you and your family healthy.  Have a Happy, Safe, and HEALTHY New Year!

MVA Emergency Contact Information

Monday, November 21, 2011

Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) announced it has added an emergency contact option to Maryland Driver’s Licenses.  Maryland drivers can now add three emergency contacts to their Driver’s License so police will know whom to call if an accident occurs.  The emergency contact information is stored electronically on an individual’s Driver’s License and will be available only to authorized law enforcement personnel.

You can go to MVA’s website at www.mva.maryland.gov and add your three emergency contacts in just a few minutes. Go to the website, under “On-line Transactions”, click “More”, then click “Emergency Contacts” to add your emergency contacts. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes.

Shopping on Black Friday

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Many of us will be out in the stores starting Black Friday.  Here are some tips to help you take advantage of the significant discounts the season has to offer...

  • Make a list:  Create a shopping list of items you hope to purchase on Black Friday or during the shopping season.
  • Do your homework:  Using a pricing search engine, such as Milo.com, to find store deals in your area and to ensure the product in in stock.
  • Compare sales:  Go to Pricegrabber.com to compare sale prices
  • Get sale information early:  Join the email lists of your favorite retailer to get special deals and discounts.
  • Avoid the crowds and go online instead:  Many retailers including Macy's, Kohl's and Wal-Mart offer the same bargains online as they do in the store.  Check out their website

Enjoy your shopping and be smart!

Property Taxes Too High?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

PROPERTY TAXES TOO HIGH

How do I petition to have my property taxes reduced?
One question I hear over and over again at the settlement table is “How do I dispute the amount of the property taxes?”   It is a process that starts with filing paperwork in the appropriate jurisdiction.  Either myself or the title company will be happy to give the form to you.  For your convenience, I have supplied the necessary link: http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/petitnrv.pdf.  After you have completed your settlement, you may apply for a review of your assessment.  This must be done by January 1st to be eligible for the following tax year starting July 1st. 

Knowing the Importance of Your Credit Score

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

 

    Credit Score Ranges    300-850

 

 

THE "Y"

    Your credit score is a reflection of your credit worthiness.  It is important to have a high credit score when looking to make a large purchase, a car, a home, etc. Your credit worthiness is reviewed even when applying for employment. 

 

THE "HOW"

        The following tips will help keep your credit score strong;

·         Keep credit card balances under 50% of the maximum limit.

·         Watch out for rebates on credit cards ; ie. gifts/gift cards, air mileage, etc.

·         Avoid activation of overdraft protection on checking account. 

·         Avoid NO payments/NO interest credit on new purchases

What Happens If You Have NO Credit?

    Lenders can use alternative credit ie. rental payments, utilities(cell, BGE, cable) medical, insurance are just a few types of alternative credit.

 

Best Way to Establish Credit?

·         Gas credit cards,

·         Secured credit card

·         Become an authorized user on someone else's credit card

§  BEWARE: Be sure that "someone else" has good credit and pays on time

 

Pull your credit report once a year to make sure there are no mistakes on your report. Be careful when pulling online, this should be a free service...DO NOT give any information for payment, ie. checking account number, credit card number

Never Worry About Money Again

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

If you’re like millions of Americans, you dream of the day when you will be debt free. The economic recession has prompted many families to restrict spending in order to take control of their finances, pay down outstanding debt and make saving a priority. In fact, the average household debt has fallen over 8.2% since its peak in 2008.* For many people, eliminating household debt feels unattainable; however, with the right tools, anyone can take control of their spending and begin to build wealth.

This month, I’m sending tips to help you break the cycle of debt and achieve financial freedom. The first page outlines steps you can take to create a budget and save money. Page two details a plan to eliminate debt from credit cards and loans in a fraction of the time it would traditionally take. Feel free to share this information with your family or friends who are looking to get out of debt and improve their financial security.

If you would like a copy of this "Item of Value," please contact me, Marian Staab.

The Risk Of Flooding

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Even if you don’t own a home along the ocean or river, you can still be at a risk for flooding. You may be surprised to learn that your Homeowners Insurance doesn’t cover flood.

  • Historically about one-in-four flood claims occur in low- to moderate-risk areas.
  • Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states.
  • Just a single inch of water can cause costly damage to your property
  • Dangerous or damaging floods don't always mean dramatic, rushing waters through the streets of your hometown.
  • Hurricanes, winter storms and snow melt are common (but often overlooked) causes of flooding.
  • New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes
    natural runoff paths.
  • More and more buildings, roads and parking lots are being built where forests and meadows used to be, which decreases the land's natural ability to absorb water. Coupled with changing weather patterns, this construction has made recent floods more severe and increased everyone's chance of being flooded.

And if you decide to rely on Federal disaster assistance – consider this:

  • Federal disaster assistance is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest. For a $50,000 loan at 4% interest, your monthly payment would be around $240 a month ($2,880 a year) for 30 years. Compare that to a $100,000 flood insurance premium, which is about $500 a year ($33 a month). Even then, those loans are only available if the President formally declares a disaster … and less than 10 percent of all weather emergencies in the United States are declared.

Flood insurance premiums are generally lower than expected

  • If you live in a low to moderate risk area and are eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy, your flood insurance premium may be as low as $112 a year, including coverage for your property's contents.

Remember – there’s a 30 day wait before a flood insurance policy takes effect.

Get covered today! Call me at 410-515-5742 for additional information on flood insurance.


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