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Home Ownership

The Essential Skills Needed To Survive Homeownership

The Essential Skills Needed To Survive Homeownership

The Essential Skills Needed To Survive Homeownership

Owning a home is quite a bit different than renting a place where if something goes wrong a quick call to the property manager results in maintenance coming by and fixing a problem. Yes as a homeowner you can call a plumber to fix a toilet that won’t flush or can call a handyman (or woman) to come fix a squeaky door but eventually all of those calls will quickly add up in costs.  Those dollars spent on calling someone to fix a problem could be put to better use by the homeowner spending on other things they need or by simply adding it to a rainy day fund so when something major does go wrong and a professional contractor can be called in to make repairs.  This article explores some of the essential skills homeowners should have in order to make sure their home is running in tip top condition.

Basic Plumbing Skills

Whether you have a slow drain or your toilet clogs up knowing which type of drain cleaner to use or having handy a toilet plunger or toilet auger (sometimes referred to as a drain snake) can save you hundreds if not thousands over the life of owning that home.  Routine calls to a plumber will run a minimum of $80 dollars and up depending on your location.  Drain cleaning solutions run no more than 10-20 dollars a bottle and often provide multiple uses with one bottle.  A toilet plunger should run no more than 5-10 dollars and a toilet auger should cost no more than 20-30 dollars and get multiple if not unlimited uses based on the quality of the product. 


Tips For Hiring The Best Contractor For Your Home

tips for picking the right contractor for your home

Tips For Hiring The Best Contractor For Your Home

When it comes to home improvement or home repair hiring the right contractor can mean the difference between getting a quality final product or possibly losing money and having to find someone else to complete the work.  Some unsavory contractors are more than ready to collect money upfront and promise to complete the job only to never show up again.  Other contractors may stick around to do the work but after everything is completed the quality of their workmanship is revealed to be not that great.  So how are homeowners able to find the best contractors who will do a good job and won’t take the money and run?  This article explores the topic in detail.

Determine Your Actual Needs First

Determining your actual needs first can help you narrow down the type of contractor you need to get in touch with.  Does your home need plumbing work like installing a new toilet or are you looking for new lighting to be installed in your kitchen?  Sometimes the work one contractor does will also require another contractor to fix up.  For instance many electricians will need cut into drywall in order to run wires, switches and fixtures.  Once done most electricians are not able to make the drywall repairs nor offer painting services so that will require a call to one or more additional contractors. Similar would happen in the case of a plumber who had to cut into drywall in order to access the pipes behind the wall, they may not have the skill...

Tips For Dealing With A Notice Of Sale And Foreclosure

tips for dealing with a not of sale and foreclosure

What Is A Notice Of Sale?

Homeowners who fall too far behind in their mortgage payment may find a Notice Of Sale or Notice Of Sheriff’s Sale mailed to them or posted on their front door.  Often times the mortgage companies will attempt to contact the borrower and make arrangements for the mortgage to be paid back with some different terms that make it easier for the borrower to pay.  On the other hand some lenders due to lack of ability or resources do not do or say much of anything until the late payments are sufficient enough to file for foreclosure which results in the Notice of Sale of Notice of Sheriffs Sale.  Even when such notices are delivered to a homeowner there still may be a few options homeowners can consider in order to prevent their home from being sold out from underneath them.

What Is A Foreclosure?

Foreclosure is a step lenders take to obtain possession (title/ownership) to a house so they can sell the home and attempt to recover money owed to them under a mortgage.  Foreclosures happen generally only after the homeowner has stopped paying on their mortgage and has not attempted to work out something with the lender.  As the foreclosure process is expensive for both the lender and the homeowner it is better for the homeowner to try and sell the home well before the foreclosure process has started.  With easy credit and easy money for buying a home sometimes homeowners get in over their head and end up in a house poor situation.  Especially where some major repairs have been deferred...

Why Homeowners Should Get Permits When Doing A Home Remodel or Addition

why homeowners should get a building permit for a remodel

Why Homeowners Should Get Permits When Doing A Home Remodel or Addition

Many homeowners as well as homebuyers may not know the about the requirements for obtaining permits when improving their home.  Whether the homeowner is moving internal walls or adding on an addition to a home many local governments require the homeowner and their contractor to obtain the proper permits prior to having the work done and require periodic inspections as the work is completed.  Some contractors and homeowners may be tempted to do certain work without permits in order to save money and time.  Failure to get the proper permits could result in the homeowner requiring to undo certain work or face steep fines and inspections in order to verify the completed work.  This article explores the permit process and explains the importance of it to homeowners, buyers and more.

Why Do You Need A building or construction Permit?

Most local governments have some sort of building department who is responsible for issuing permits for new construction as well as re-modeling and home addition construction. The building departments monitor construction and home re-modeling in order to make sure homes and other buildings comply with existing zoning laws and meet the required safety standards.  For instance adding a second kitchen to a home could be in violation of zoning laws where the reason for the additional kitchen is to turn a single family home into a two family home and where the home as currently situated is zoned for only single family residences.  As a result a permit request to add...

How To Turn Your Home Into A Smart Home

how to turn your home into a smart home

How To Turn Your Home Into A Smart Home

With all the talk about smart homes and how they can save money and time for homeowners many may be wondering how they can turn their homes into a smart home.  A smart home is not necessarily any one thing that needs to be added and suddenly your home is now considered smart.  A lot of the controls from smart homes do start with a smart phone or a tablet and a Wi-Fi Internet connection.  As almost everyone these days has a smart phone they can be well on their way towards a smart home with some additional equipment.  (Note: Per disclosure requirements, some of the links in this article do pay us a commission if you buy something after clicking on the link.)

Basic Smart Home Features To Consider

The smart home features discussed in this section can be used anywhere around the house that you want to use them.  Features like a smart video camera that can be used to monitor your pets, your children, the security of your home and more.  These smart video cameras like the Nest Camera, the Yi Camera and more can monitor any room in your home and send video images to your phone anywhere in the world.  These smart cameras require an internet and power connection to operate.  Some of the cameras are fixed but have a wide angle view that can see quite a bit, whereas other smart internet connected cameras offer the ability to pan and scan around the room to see different things.  Not only can these cameras show a live image of what is happening in your home some can also record video...

Homeownership Facts To Be Aware Of

homeownership facts to be aware of

Homeownership Facts To Be Aware Of

There is much more to owning a home than just making a mortgage payment.  If homeownership just required the payment of a mortgage payment and nothing else then many more individuals would opt to buy a home.  Those who do own a home should be aware of all the aspects that are involved with homeownership especially since neglecting some of these areas can result in loss of one’s investment in the home.  This article explores a few important areas where homeowners should keep up to date with in order to protect their investment.

Updating A Home

A home will requires updates throughout the time a homeowner is living in it.  Some updates may be cosmetic like fresh paint, updating landscaping, adding new window treatments.  Other updates may be required out of necessity such as replacing outdated HVAC systems that no longer function or function with very poor efficiency.  Replacing the roof on a home also would be required in order to maintain the habitability of a home.  If a roof can’t do its job of protecting a home from the elements the rest of the home will quickly degrade as the weather does its damage.  Other updates like remodeling a home to change the floor plan to something more modern or to remodel a kitchen to change its look and style also are done by some homeowners.

Where updates like replacing an old worn roof, replacing inoperable HVAC systems or water heaters are required in order to keep a home livable other updates like a kitchen update, window treatments, or more are not required as they don’t effect the livability of a home.  Those non-required updates though may be needed in order to maintain the value...

Should I Buy A Geothermal Heat Pump For My Home?

should I buyer a geothermal heating and cooling system for my home

Should I Buy A Geothermal Heating & Cooling System For My Home?

Geothermal Heating & Cooling Systems or geothermal heat pumps are heating and cooling systems for your home that utilize the stable temperature found below the surface of the earth.  Below the surface of the earth temperatures remain relatively stable as compared to the surrounding air temperature.  Depending on the location the temperature below the ground stays at a consistent 50 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Do Geothermal Systems Work?

Geothermal systems use pumps to cycle water into pipes that have been buried in a home’s yard.  During the warmer months the temperature below the surface of the earth is cooler that the surrounding air thus allowing the cooler temperatures to pumped in to cool a home and in the colder months the temperature below the surface is warmer than the surrounding air allowing warmth to be pumped in to heat homes.  Depending on the air temperature during the colder seasons and the overall efficiency of the home, back up heat sources such as natural gas or electric heat may be needed to supplement a geothermal system.

Geothermal systems allow for savings on energy bills since the natural temperature variations between heat pump diagram the surface below and the outdoor air can be efficiently utilized for heating or cooling purposes depending on the season.  There currently are tax credits and power company rebates offered for geothermal heat pumps that may be available to homeowners who install a geothermal system.  Consult your local...

Should I Install Solar Panels On My House?

should I install solar panels on my house?

Should I Install Solar Panels On My House?

With energy prices and energy consumption trending higher many homeowners think about the idea of installing solar panels on the roof of their home in order to save money on energy bills and possibly boost the value.  Like real estate solar is also location dependent and those homeowners in states with higher average annual sunshine will see a quicker return on investment than those with lower average sunshine or in areas where the sun may be blocked by trees or other geographical features.  The type of solar energy system installed can also dictate whether a homeowner will realize a boost in home value in addition to the savings on the energy bill.

Types Of Solar Systems

While there are water solar heating systems available for sale, when homeowners think about solar panels on a home they think about the kind that can generate electricity.  Whereas solar electric generation systems can heat/cool a home, allow the use of appliances, and even warm water through an electrical water heater a solar water heater generally does only one thing and that is heat water.  Multiuse solar electrical generation systems as a result are more preferred in order to maximize the use of the solar generated electricity.

The two different types of solar electrical generation systems available are grid tied and off grid systems.  With a grid tied system there is still electricity being provided by the local power company for backup purposes.  During cloudy days or on days where demand in the home exceeds the capacity of the...

Winterization Tips For Your Home

winterization tips for your home

Winterization Tips For Your Home

Your home is a long term investment and in order to protect the investment you must make sure your home is ready for all the different seasons.  The winter season can be harsh on your home since the freeze thaw cycle is especially tough on the house structure and components.  By following the below tips and properly winterizing your home you can help protect your investment in your home and ensure it will last you for a long time.

Check Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are one of the biggest sources of entry for cold air during the winter time.  Not only should you be checking for gaps in and around windows and doors to save energy you should be looking at the exterior components as well.  Any rotted wood or damaged components for windows and doors should be replaced immediately to prevent water from entering into the home where it can cause further damage through freezing or through causing mold.  If the weather prevents you from repairing the windows and doorways then at least try to cover up and seal as best as possible those areas to prevent water and ice from creeping in.  You will have to monitor those areas on a regular basis until a full repair can be done.

The caulking in and around windows and doors can wear out over time due to weather or insect causes.  Caulk seals up gaps that could normally allow water to seep into a home.  If that water freezes the chance of greater damage happing increases.  Many caulks need to be applied in temperatures above 40 degrees otherwise they do not set or cure properly.  If you need to refill gaps...

Fall And Winter Energy Saving Tips

fall & winter energy savings tips

Fall And Winter Energy Saving Tips

As the seasons start to change from the warmer months of summer to the cooler months of Fall and Winter you may notice that your energy bill after dipping for a brief month or two is now increasing again.  While some of the increase is due to the fact that it is colder and therefore your heater is now being cycled on every time the thermostat gets below a certain temperature, some of the increase in your heating bill can be as a result of inefficiencies in your heating system and in inefficiencies with your house.  By addressing the sources of the inefficiencies in your home and heating system, you can ensure your home stays warmer and save some money at the same time from a lower energy bill.

Central Heating System

The furnace used to heat your home is a large consumer of energy.  If you have an old, worn down, poorly maintained furnace then on cold days it will have a hard time putting out enough heat to warm your home.  Proper maintenance including regular service calls/tune-ups and regular filter changes can help your furnace run more efficiently which results in saving on your energy bill since the furnace does not have  to work as hard.

If you are able to, upgrading to a new furnace can result in great cost savings on your energy bill.  picture of a home in winterNew furnace systems whether they be hybrid electric and gas, all gas, hybrid heat pump or some other system are designed to produce the most amount of heat with the least amount of energy as possible.  While the cost to install a new furnace...

How A Home Security System Can Protect Your Home

how a home security system can protect your home with picture of a burglar

Home Security Systems Help Keep The Bad Guys Out

Installing a home security system to protect your loved one and belongings is a smart step to take. With the many different home security options available researching the best home security system can be a daunting task. By understanding the types of home security systems out there and how they can protect your family and belongings you can be sure to get the right system for your needs.

The Basics of a Home Security System

On a basic level most home security systems provide a way of either notifying the local authorities or notifying the homeowner in the event that someone were to break into your house. These home security systems can monitor the opening and closing of entry doors, windows, and garage doors. When the system is armed anyone illegally attempting to get into the house should result in notification to the police and/or the homeowner.

Some home security systems also include window breakage sensors to detect if someone has broken a window while trying to enter. Oftentimes home security systems also include motion sensors in the interior of the home to detect intruders that other sensors may have missed or to catch the thief who managed to bypass the door and window sensors. Some advanced home security systems can include noise sensors that detect sounds of breaking glass or intruders making noise in the home. You may also find temperature sensors that can detect a change in temperature from someone being in the house when normally no one should be home.

Home security providers also provide fire detection, water detection and medical alerts as add-ons to their systems. With...

Home Improvements That Can Suck The Value Out Of Your Home

picture of man holding money and question mark with text home improvements that can suck the value out of your home

Money Losing Home Improvements

Making the right home improvements to your home can not only increase the value of your home they increase the desirability by homebuyers and that can mean a quicker sale. On the other hand there are home improvements that when done can actually take away from the value of your home since those improvements are seen not as improvements in the buyers mind but something that will cost them extra money to undo. By avoiding these home improvements you ensure your home retains its value and is ready to sell when the time comes.

Adding A Pool

While this is somewhat more dependent on the state you live in, here in the Ohio and Kentucky real estate market adding a pool (whether in ground or above ground) to your home can result in a reduction in value of your home. In the Greater Cincinnati real estate market pools may be a nice feature to have in higher end luxury homes and may add value to those luxury homes but in anything other than luxury homes pools are something that will decrease the value of your home. The reasons pools decrease the value of your home is due to the fact that there are increased costs associated with pools.

When buyers are faced with increased costs for maintenance, heating and insurance costs associated just with the pool only a few buyers are ready to make the jump to buy the pool home. Additionally due to the four full seasons we experience in the Cincinnati area people with pools are not able to enjoy them for long since the cooler weather usually means colder water or increased energy bills to heat the pool. Insurance costs on homes with pools are also much higher due to...

How To Appeal Your Property Tax Valuation

how to appeal your property tax valuation picture of house on top of money

How To Appeal Your Property Tax Valuation

Property taxes are one of those things that often homeowners forget about since they are being paid out of escrow and but for an occasional notice of adjustment to the escrow payment amount most don’t know what their actual property tax bill is. The property tax bill is sent directly to the escrow company and nor do homeowners bother to check their local tax authority to see what they are being charged for property taxes. By being aware of your property tax valuation and how much you are paying each year in taxes you can be better prepared to dispute the property tax valuation if it is higher than what it should be.

Ways Your Property Tax Valuation May Be Wrong

Incorrect Information About Your Home

The first thing you should check with regards to your property tax valuation is the facts listed about your house at your local county tax board’s website. For instance how many square feet is your home listed as having, how many bathrooms and bedrooms does your home have according to the county information. If there is a mismatch in the information where your home on the county website is listed as a 4 bedroom 3 bathroom home and you only have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms that is a definite error that will raise the value of your home and as a result also increase the amount of taxes you have to pay.picture of house on papers

If the county’s information regarding square footage is higher than what you actually have then that should be brought...

Home Fire Prevention Tips

fire safety tips for your home picture of firefighters

Fire Safety Tips For Your Home

Protecting your home from fire is an important safety topic all homeowners should be aware of. By taking proactive steps in and around your house you can reduce the risk of fire damaging or destroying your home. Some of these fire prevention solutions will not only reduce your fire risk but also can reduce your homeowners insurance rates since the insurance companies want to encourage you to put into place features that help reduce risk of home fires.

Smoke Detectors

One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to keep your home safe from fire is by making sure smoke detectors are installed in and around the house and that they are tested on a regular basis. Smoke detectors that are connected to your home’s electrical system usually also have batter backup so that they can operate when the power goes out. There are also smoke detectors that run on battery power exclusively which allows them to be placed in any room without having to run wiring for power. All smoke detectors should be checked and tested at least once a year to make sure they still work and to replace the battery where needed. Check with the manufacturer’s directions as to the method for testing your smoke detector and the procedure for replacing the battery.

There are different types of smoke detectors to be aware of. Smoke detectors can detect based on an ionization method or an optical method, some smoke detectors combine both of these methods in order to deliver the best detector possible. Ideally the best type of smoke detector to have is one that can detect both via ionization and optically. Optical detection smoke detectors...

Should I Have An Indoor Air Quality Test Done?

man cleaning ac as part of indoor air quality test

Should I Have An Indoor Air Quality Test Done?

In the past indoor air quality was not paid much attention to. When you bought a home you were more interested in the home’s structural and mechanical components than you were in the indoor air quality. With new studies and research indicating indoor air quality is a factor in human health the ability to test that indoor air quality for potentially harmful substances may be important to you. This article explores the process of testing the indoor air quality in your home.

Why Have Your Home Tested For Indoor Air Quality?

If you have an existing home you don’t intend to sell anytime soon, having the indoor air quality tested can allow you to determine if you should make some changes or investments in order to improve your indoor air. With much of our time spent indoors when sleeping or doing things around the home having good clean air to breathe helps improve your health. This is also a very important factor if you are considering buying a home, after all no one wants to move in a home they love only to have their health get worse as a result of airborne mold, allergens or other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Home sellers can also can also benefit by having their home tested for indoor air quality by showing that their home’s air is indeed good quality or by showing the extra steps taken to improve the quality. How many other home sellers can say they have had their home air quality tested or show actual improvements that will make the air quality in their home better? If you have your home tested...

Green Home Features That Can Improve The Value Of Your Home

Green Home Features That Can Improve The Value Of Your Home infographic

Green Home Features That Can Improve The Value Of Your Home

A green home is a home that is more energy efficient than the average home and has been built/remodeled using environmental friendly techniques and materials. Often times the use of environmental friendly materials or building techniques result in a better environment for those living in the home due to low/no volatile organic chemicals being present in the home, improved air flow to prevent stagnating toxic air, and an overall cleaner indoor environment. Green homes not only offer improved healthiness of the interior of the home but the green features can also boost the value of your home since having a better overall indoor environment and being more energy efficient are big selling points for buyers.

Green Home Features To Boost The Value Of Your Home

Solar Energy Systems

Solar panels installed on a home are an easy feature to spot since the black rectangular panels are located prominently on the roof. Some solar energy systems merely supplement the power to the house when it is sunny and rely on the local power company to fill in the remaining power demand when the power demand in the home is high or when there is not enough sunlight to produce electricity for the home. This type of system, called a grid tied solar energy system, helps reduce monthly power bills. Some power companies will also buy power from a homeowner that has a solar energy system when the solar system is outputting more power than the home currently needs.

Another type of solar energy system is the off grid system. In this type of solar energy setup a home is completely disconnected from the electrical grid and solely relies on...

Top Insurance Tips For Homeowners

top insurance tips for homeowners

Top Insurance Tips For Homeowners

Insurance is one of those things people hate to pay for but once they have to file a loss they are happy they are insured. Insurance covers you in the event of unexpected losses so you don’t end up out of house and home due to some catastrophe. Knowing what type of insurance coverage you should be asking for and what should be communicated to your insurance agent is key to ensuring you get the proper coverages and don’t end up with a policy that only covers you for $100,000 dollars in losses when you just lost $200,000 dollars’ worth of home and furnishings. The following tips give you a starting point for you and your insurance agent to figure out where you need your insurance coverage to be at.

1. Opt for replacement cost and all of your extras are covered (jewelry, firearms, classic cars, valuable collectibles etc.)

If you have a loss that requires insurance to reimburse you for your losses there are two primary ways the insurance company will reimburse you. The first way is the insurance company paying you for the current depreciated value of the item you just lost. For example if you had a TV stolen from your home the insurance company will look at that TVs make, model and age and give you money for something that is equal in make, model and age. Yes that means if your TV is five years old you will only get reimbursement for what a five year old TV would cost. While these types of insurance policies are more affordable when you need to file a claim you may not get enough money to replace everything that needs replacing.

Replacement cost insurance policies on the other hand reimburse money for the actual amount it would cost to buy a new and like kind item. So in the example above where your TV is stolen, with a replacement...

Tax Benefits Of Owning A Home

Tax Benefits Of Owning A Home

The Tax Benefits Of Owning A Home

There are many benefits to home ownership. Owning your own home means you are your own landlord and can customize your home the way you see fit without having to worry about breaking the terms of your lease. Additionally by owning a home that is either paid off or on a fixed mortgage you don’t have to worry about the landlord raising your rent rates every time your lease is up.

Homeownership also conveys many different tax advantages that are not available to renters and can help you save big when it comes time to file your taxes at the beginning of the year. Tax breaks such as mortgage interest tax deduction, property tax deduction, home energy upgrade tax deductions and more are available to homeowners. Read on to find out about all the tax benefits that are available to you if you own a home.

Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction

This tax deduction is by far the most popular and widely used tax deduction for homeowners.   The mortgage interest tax deduction allows you to use any mortgage interest (interest on your first or second mortgage and home equity line) you paid in a tax calendar year as a deduction on your taxes. What this means is that if you paid $5,000.00 in mortgage interest on your primary residence during your tax year you can use that $5,000.00 to reduce your taxable income thus resulting in less tax paid to Uncle Sam. For example if you earned $75,000.00 and paid $5,000.00 in mortgage interest in 2015 you will only be taxed on $70,000.00 in earnings due to the mortgage interest tax deduction. The limits on this deduction are $1,000,000.00 for debt taken on to buy the home and $100,000.00 in home equity debt.

Property Tax Deductions

If you paid real estate property taxes on property...

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