Wednesday, August 25, 2010

4 Tips for home mortgage shoppers

These tips were provided by Denise Wing of Academy National Mortgage. To contact Denise visit her website at www.academynational.net  or give her a call at 303-987-0622.

Finding the mortgage product that fits your lifestyle and financial situation is crucial to any refinance or new home purchase. If you are one of the many looking to take advantage of the current low rates and discounted homes on market, read these 4 tips before making your next mortgage decision.
Get acquainted with mortgage basics
Get educated! Borrowers should know terminology and mortgage basics before they shop. By knowing mortgage lingo and market conditions you can be sure to understand the terms of the mortgage product and discuss any concerns or questions you may have with your Academy National Mortgage Corporation mortgage specialist.

Know your credit score
In order to get the best interest rate possible, you'll want to ensure your credit score is up to snuff. Request your free annual credit report and amend any discrepancies before applying for a mortgage. Addressing any issues on your credit report prior to applying for that loan will allow you to take advantage of more desirable mortgage rates and products.

Shop your product options
It's always tempting to simply pick the product with the lowest interest rate, but buyers should also consider closing costs and points before locking into their new loan. Work with your mortgage professional to determine the mortgage products that best fit your financial situation and loan needs.

Though conventional loans (which require a 20% down payment) are typically the most desirable, a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) may be more feasible. FHA insured mortgages almost always require mortgage insurance which is paid for by you, the borrower, in return for issuing a minimal down payment (typically 5-10%) and less restrictive qualifying requirements..

Know the market trends
Mortgage rates adjust daily. If you find a low rate on a loan you like, consider getting a rate lock. A rate lock reserves that interest rate for a certain number of days and can protect you from a rise in the interest rate which may potentially increase your monthly mortgage payment.
Remember, after you've locked the rate, you'll want to work closely with your Academy National Mortgage Corporation mortgage professional to ensure your loan will close before the lock period ends.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gazebo Project - some finishing touches

The gazebo is just about done although we do have some finishing touches which we are determined to complete before the end of the summer. There is some trim work, some staining and a little tidying up of things that didn't fit 'just quite right'.  I'll write up a summary of the entire project soon with lists of what went right and what we would do differently next time.

As most projects seem to go, whether inside my house or outside, one thing always seems to lead to another so of course with the gazebo structure done we now are moving on to more landscaping type projects.  As many of my friends now, especially those who have worked with me on Habitat projects, I do NOT like landscaping.  I much prefer to build a structure than tend to grass and plants.  Fortunately for me, and more so for my husband, the projects we have in mind are more building than tending.

What we will be doing next:
  1. We plan to lay a paving stone path from our patio to the gazebo.  During the entire project we made a point to always walk towards the opening to the gazebo from the patio, even if it was not the shortest distance to our work just to get an idea of where the path should go.

  2. We are installing some raised bed planters next to the gazebo.  My husband has decided he wants to start some gardening and our neighbors have some wonderful raised beds that we are copying.  The nice thing is we have some experts on gardening just across the fence so advice is never far away.

That should complete our backyard projects for this year.  I guess we'll take on the front yard next summer.  Bill (my husband) is taking some Xeriscaping classes to get some ideas about what we might want to do. 

Stay tuned for more fun to come in the next few weeks and watch here for an invite to our gazebo party coming soon :)

Gazebo Project - some finishing touches

The gazebo is just about done although we do have some finishing touches which we are determined to complete before the end of the summer. There is some trim work, some staining and a little tidying up of things that didn't fit 'just quite right'.  I'll write up a summary of the entire project soon with lists of what went right and what we would do differently next time.

As most projects seem to go, whether inside my house or outside, one thing always seems to lead to another so of course with the gazebo structure done we now are moving on to more landscaping type projects.  As many of my friends now, especially those who have worked with me on Habitat projects, I do NOT like landscaping.  I much prefer to build a structure than tend to grass and plants.  Fortunately for me, and more so for my husband, the projects we have in mind are more building than tending.

What we will be doing next:
  1. We plan to lay a paving stone path from our patio to the gazebo.  During the entire project we made a point to always walk towards the opening to the gazebo from the patio, even if it was not the shortest distance to our work just to get an idea of where the path should go.

  2. We are installing some raised bed planters next to the gazebo.  My husband has decided he wants to start some gardening and our neighbors have some wonderful raised beds that we are copying.  The nice thing is we have some experts on gardening just across the fence so advice is never far away.

That should complete our backyard projects for this year.  I guess we'll take on the front yard next summer.  Bill (my husband) is taking some Xeriscaping classes to get some ideas about what we might want to do. 

Stay tuned for more fun to come in the next few weeks and watch here for an invite to our gazebo party coming soon :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Your home improvement project can improve America's National Parks

CONTACT:   
Karla Neely, kneely@mbapr.com
Susie Lomelino, slomelino@mbapr.com
214.521.8596, ext. 236, 231
                                                                               
YOUR HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT CAN IMPROVE AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS
From Acadia (Maine) to Zion (Utah), America’s National Parks Need Your Help

Three hundred and ninety two sites in 49 states.
Approximately 275 million recreational visitors annually.
More than 27,000 historic structures. 

America’s National Parks are the largest and most diverse park system in the world.  But as the centennial of the National Park Service approaches, there is a severe backlog of maintenance and repair projects needed to keep the Parks safe and enjoyable for everyone.  Now there are two new ways homeowners can help protect and preserve our Parks while protecting and preserving their back yard deck (and fences and more!)

Beginning April 3, 2010, The Thompson’s Company, makers of the Thompson’s®Water Seal®brand of products, will donate one dollar for each eligible product sold – up to $50,000 – to be distributed to the National Park Foundation on behalf of America’s National Parks.  This includes a wide variety of Thompson’s Water Seal deck cleaners and waterproofers, so homeowners can get the look and protection that is right for them and contribute to the upkeep of the Parks. 

For those who are caught up on exterior waterproofing projects, the Thompson’s Water Seal Web site (www.thompsonswaterseal.com) will also feature a “Donate Now” icon.  Simply click, and the brand will donate $1 to the National Park Foundation (up to $25,000.)  In addition, Thompson’s Water Seal will donate $25,000 worth of certain Thompson’s Water Seal products for use in the Parks, for a total donation value of $100,000 for 2010. 

For the past five years, The Thompson’s Company has supported some of America’s most iconic parks, like Niagara Falls, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, directly through the Very Important Places (VIP) Program.  The company has donated funds and products to protect structures like the Cave of the Winds decks at Niagara Falls, campgrounds and historic cabins in Yellowstone, viewing platforms in Glacier and more. 

Thompson’s®Water Seal®Supports National Park Foundation

 “America’s National Parks have preserved the rugged, majestic natural beauty of our country for everyone to experience,” said Anika Davis, Director of Corporate Development for the National Park Foundation.  “They contain a wide variety of structures that serve staff and visitors, like decks, boardwalks, visitor centers, tourist cabins, hotels, campgrounds, Park Ranger housing and much more.  Extreme climates, natural occurrences like floods and fires and the increasing number of visitors all cause wear and tear on these structures which needs to be addressed for the Parks to continue functioning at their best.”

SAVE MONEY AND SAVE THE PARKS   
In addition to a donation to the National Parks, homeowners will get a rebate, in the form of a store gift check, on the Thompson’s Water Seal products they purchase, so saving your deck can save you money too.  Products included are:

CLEANERS
The first step to a great deck makeover is removing dirt, mildew and old coatings to get back to the beautiful color of the wood.  Consumers can get $3 back per bottle (up to $12) when they purchase one of these Thompson’s®Water Seal®cleaners from May 22-September 6:
•    Oxy Foaming Action Exterior Multi-Surface Cleaner
•    Heavy Duty Deck Cleaner
•    Deck Cleaner & Brightener
•    Maximum Strength Deck Stripper
•    One of three new concentrated deck cleaner formulas (Wood Cleaner, Wood Brightener or  Wood Stripper)

Consumers will get back $1 per gallon (up to $4) on purchases of Thompson’s®Water Seal®Deck Wash.

WATERPROOFERS AND EXTERIOR STAIN
After cleaning the deck, a waterproofer is applied to add color (if desired) and protection.  Consumers can get $3 back per gallon (up to $12 for clear and tinted waterproofers and up to $15 for exterior stains) when they purchase one of these Thompson’s Water Seal waterproofers or exterior stains from April 3-October 4:
•    Advanced Wood Protectors (Natural/clear or four tinted shades)
•    Waterproofer Plus Wood Protector (clear or four tinted shades)
•    Deck & House Waterproofing Stains (latex or oil formulas, semi-transparent or solid)

Thompson’s®Water Seal®Supports National Park Foundation

















Consumers can find rebate forms in stores or they can be downloaded via the Web site at www.thompsonswaterseal.com.  While there, everyone can enter the Thompson’s®Water Seal®VIP Sweepstakes, with a grand prize of a trip to the National Park of your choice!  The winner will receive round-trip airfare for up to four people, a four-night hotel stay, rental car and $1,000 spending money for meals and souvenirs.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation (www.nationalparks.org) is an independent charitable organization chartered by Congress in 1967 to strengthen the connection between the American people and their 392 national park sites. As the official national non-profit partner of America's National Parks, the Foundation raises private funds, makes strategic grants, creates innovative partnerships and increases public awareness about the need and opportunity for park philanthropy. In its 2008 fiscal year, the National Park Foundation distributed grants and program support of $27.3M.
                                                          ###

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

5 Surprising things that may affect your indoor air quality.

Many of us are becoming better educated about indoor pollutants and what we need to know to protect our health, but there are some surprising things that you may not have thought about that could affect the indoor air quality of your home.  A majority of this information has been excerpted from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s website.  Please visit their website for more specific information on each of these topics.
Attached Garages - Houses with attached garages had measurable concentrations of benzene (a gasoline related pollutant) in their indoor air. Houses with no garages or detached garages had little or no benzene. This is true of a host of other airborne chemicals. The study revealed that pollutants in attached garages can find their way into the house.
There are also secondary sources of pollutants in garages, apart from car-based emissions. There are many gas-powered appliances, such as lawn mowers, chain saws and edging tools whose emission systems are not as good as those found in cars. Chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides are also sources of pollutants. 

Burning Candles - By-products of combustion include carbon monoxide, VOCs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and soot. Do not burn candles, liquid fuel or incense in the home.

Too Energy Efficient - If your house is stuffy, odors linger, or humidity is high in fall and winter, it is likely that your house does not have adequate fresh air. If you or your children have respiratory conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis or chronic colds, getting the proper amount of fresh air is even more important. Opening windows can be part of the solution, but open windows can be a security risk (in some neighborhoods), can cause comfort problems and can increase heating and cooling costs. Furthermore, opening windows may not improve indoor conditions under all circumstances. Using a mechanical ventilation system, such as an exhaust fan or a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), can be more effective.


Your newly remodeled kitchen- In new or other well-sealed houses, significant indoor formaldehyde levels may still occur when new carpets or wood composite materials, such as plywood, particleboard and waferboard, are used in home construction, cabinetry and furnishings. These are the most likely sources of high formaldehyde levels in the home today.

Radon - Radon is a radioactive gas that is released from the normal decay of uranium in rocks and soils.  Uranium is found in nearly all soils everywhere in the U.S.  Radon is invisible, colorless, odorless and tasteless and seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air. Radon gas can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as attics, and basements. It can also be found in some spring waters and hot springs. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual's background radiation dose, and is the most variable from location to location. Please see additional postings on this blog about radon.

Important note about filtration - Most people assume that contaminants can be removed by filtration. Typical residential furnace filters are designed to filter particles, not gases. Gases can be filtered only by special filter media, such as activated charcoal or activated alumina. These filter media require special installation and, like furnace filters, must be replaced frequently. Filtration as a means of removing airborne contaminants throughout the house is inefficient. The most effective way to remove chemical contaminants, whether particles or gases, is to stop or capture them at the source before they are dispersed over a large area. This means getting rid of the sources, and when this is not possible, isolating or encapsulating them.