Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December Home Maintenance

Happy holidays! While enjoying this festive season with family and friends, double-check December's tips for a warm and cozy home environment:
-Monitor ice build-up in gutters and drain spouts.
-Inspect all interior plugs and switches for safety.
-Check and maintain fire extinguisher.
-Examine wood burning flues for blockage and clean if necessary.
-Grind ice cubes in garbage disposal to sharpen blades.
-Check attic for leaks and condensation.
-Store firewood at least 30 feet away from the house.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Throw a Memorable and Safe Holiday Party

Throwing a holiday party is a great way to celebrate the season with friends and family. From great food and drinks to decorations and songs, here is everything you need to know to have a memorable and safe holiday gathering.

Decorations can set the mood for your party. Whether you are looking for a formal feel with dark burgundies or hunter greens, or a relaxed environment with bright reds and greens, partygoers are sure to remember a well decorated party. Candles and white lights can also set a winter mood. Keep in mind, though, that the open flame of a candle can be unsafe around small children. Place candles in safe environments away from any decorations as to avoid catching on fire.

Food is also a key to any good holiday party. A major complaint of party hosts is spending too much time in the kitchen. Avoid this by preparing foods that can be served at room temperature. This also invites people to eat when they are ready instead of serving food at one time.

Holiday parties are not complete without festive drinks. Remember though, if serving alcohol at your party, do it responsibly. Stop serving alcoholic beverages at least one hour before the party ends to ensure safe travels. A good way to limit the consumption of alcohol is to have premixed drinks such as punch, this way you can control the amount of alcohol in each drink. Be sure to also provide an array of non-alcoholic drinks for guests who prefer not drink.

Keep these few tips in mind when planning your next holiday party. Just remember, the most important part of any party is to enjoy the festive time with family and friends.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Common Real Estate Terms

Adjustable rate mortgage: An ARM is a mortgage rate that changes over time as the interest rate changes.

Escrow: A third party wills act as a stakeholder for both buyer and seller according to both parties' instructions. The third party will hold responsibility for handling all paperwork and distribution of funds.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage: Often made for 15 or 30 years, this type of mortgage is based on payments that stay them same throughout the entire term of the loan.

Inspection: A third-party report on the property's overall condition prior to a sale. A buyer may attend the inspection, and demand repairs for any problems reported.

LTV: A loan to value ratio is a figure that tells the lender what percentage of the purchase price the loan will be.

PITI: Stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance. This is an owner's typical monthly payment.

Point: An amount that is equal to 1 percent of the principal amount of the investment or loan You can either pay points to get your lender to offer you a lower interest rate, or you can refuse to pay and keep the initial interest rate

Purchase Contract: A document wherein the homebuyer will set the price and conditions under which he or she will buy the property and the seller agrees. This is also called a sales contract or agreement for sale.

Title Insurance: Guarantees a return if your investment if a title problem arises after you've taken possession. There are two types of title insurance: 1) Fee title policy — insures owner's title. 2) Mortgage title policy insures the lender for the mortgaged amount. These policies will fluctuate depending on the mortgage amount.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cut Down on Winter Bills

If you're like most homeowners, you probably dread opening your energy bills during winter months. But there are ways to prevent energy loss and keep your home well-heated. Follow these tips and watch the cost of your energy bills drop this winter.
Set Your ThermostatIn the winter, your thermostat really only needs to be set at about 62°F. If you feel a little chilled, put on a cozy sweater or some fleece-lined pants. And nothing beats a warm cup of hot chocolate to keep you toasty.

Plug Up Leaks To find out if you're losing heat through windows and doors, conduct a candle test. Place a lit candle by the edges of your windows and doors and if the flame flickers — or even worse, goes out completely — you've got a heat-loss problem! To plug up these leaks, apply new caulking to windows or install storm doors to keep cold air out. Also, never heat your home through your fireplace. The flute of the fireplace is one of the biggest sources of heat loss in your home.

Remember Energy Efficiency Consider installing energy-efficient Energy Star® appliances as well as compact fluorescent light bulbs. Not only will these appliances last longer than regular models, but they also use far less energy, shaving valuable dollars off your energy bill each month.

Adjust Your Water Heater Many manufacturers set the thermostats at 140°F, but 120°F is usually hot enough for all your hot water needs. If your water gets so hot that you have to mix it with cold water to use it, you're wasting money.

Get Time-of-Use Meters If you don't already know about time-of-use meters, you might be interested in checking them out. It's kind of like calling during peak hours to save on your cell phone bill. Energy used during certain peak periods would cost more, while energy used outside of those periods would cost less. So if you wait until 9 p.m. to do laundry or run your dishwasher, you'll save money! Check with your electric provider to see if they offer time-of-use meters and what their set peak hours are.

Keep in mind these tips and those scary winter energy bills won't be so shocking this season.