Home appraisals 101

Aug 7
Category | General

18091737_SWhether you’re trying to buy, sell or refinance a home, an appraisal can have a big impact on what you’re trying to do. An appraisal is designed to provide you – and the lender – with an unbiased professional opinion of a home’s value.

Appraisals are almost always used in home purchase and refinance transactions. In a home purchase transaction, an appraisal is crucial because it helps determine whether the selling price is appropriate given the home’s age, condition, location and features. An appraisal can protect you from paying too much for a home and your lender from lending too much in relation to a home’s market value.  A home appraisal is important during a refinance, too, because it helps the loan provider avoid lending more money than the home is worth.

Want to know more about the role of appraisals in the home buying process? For more information about appraisals and how they affect home selling and refinancing, here’s some great information.

13367212_SIn most parts of the country, spring has sprung. That means it won’t be long before you start to crank up your home cooling expenses.

Did you know that according to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly half of your yearly utility bills go to heating and cooling?  But before those higher energy bills start to arrive in the mail, there are a few things you can do that will help lower the costs of keeping your home cooler and without sacrificing comfort.

Use a programmable thermostat

This gives you better control over the temperature inside your home. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature to go up automatically a few degrees when you aren’t at home and then have it click back to your desired temperature before you arrive home. Moving it up a couple of degrees during the day will save a lot of energy. Many cooling systems today even allow you to control the temperatures in your home using an iPhone or Internet.

Set it and forget it

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, every degree you turn your thermostat up knocks 7 percent off your electric bill. When at home, try and keep the thermostat at 78 degrees. For every degree cooler, you’re adding about 10 percent to the cost of cooling your home. A typical single-family home will save $180 a year by nudging the thermostat up seven degrees during the daytime and four degrees at night.

Clean air filter

Dirt or clogged filters restrict air flow and forces your air conditioner to work harder and use more energy. Check your air filter monthly. In general, it is a good idea to replace them every three months. They are not expensive to replace.

Use ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are great energy savers. Ceiling fans help circulate the cool air from the air conditioners around the home quickly and efficiently. In fact, fans can make you feel 3 to 8 degrees cooler.

Shut the blinds

Keep the shades closed during the day to block the sun’s heat. It keeps the cool air in and the hot sunlight out. Installing awnings or heavy mesh solar screens on the outside of your windows can also cut your cooling by 5 to 20 percent.

Install a whole-house fan

This may not be an option if you live in a humid climate. But if you live in an area where the temperatures drop at night, these industrial strength fans work by pulling in the cool air from the outside and sending the hot out air up to the attic and out the vents. Whole-house fans cost $600 to $1,500 but use about 10 percent less energy than your central air.

Regular tune-ups

It’s a good idea to call a heat and air technician to inspect and clean your system once a year. But don’t wait until it gets too hot. Spring is the best time to have your system checked. A professional will be able to diagnose any problems.

12478542_SHave you served in the military? The Veterans Affairs Home Mortgage Loan Program is one of the most important benefits available to service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses.  It can help you buy or build a home with some of the most favorable lending terms that can be found anywhere!

The VA home loan program can help you purchase a home at a competitive interest rate and often without a downpayment or private mortgage insurance. That’s a HUGE benefit that’s not available through other loan programs!  Even better, VA home loans can be used to buy a home, manufactured home or condominium, build a home or purchase and fix up a home that is in need of some repairs or renovation.

Questions about the VA home loan program? Give us a call — we’re glad to help you explore this fantastic financing option.

18659930_SSummer is here, and you want to keep your kids safe and injury-free. Here are the activities you’ll want to pay special attention to while school is out and kids are on the go:

Biking. Biking is the most dangerous sport, based on estimates of injuries treated in emergency departments compiled by the National Safety Council. To protect your family, insist on bicycle helmets. They are your first line of defense again head injuries caused by bicycle, scooter and skateboard accidents. Read these bike safety tips for more ways to keep your children safe while on two wheels.

Swimming. Each year, more than 225,000 swimming injuries are treated in emergency rooms, according to the National Safety Council.  About 42 percent of injuries involve children between the ages of 5 and 14. Enroll your children in swimming classes to learn basic water skills and learn to stay afloat. Make sure even water-wise children are never unattended near water. Check out these tips for keeping your family safe around water.

Outdoor fun. Sports-related concussions affect thousands of young people who engage in a variety of sports. An estimated 173,285 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI), including concussions, among children and adolescents are treated in U.S. emergency rooms annually, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But just because your children don’t participate in organized sports over the summer doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk for concussions. Playground activities and recreational sports are among the most common causes of concussions and other brain injuries. Have children wear helmets as recommended, and make sure they are well-supervised. Get prompt medical attention for any blows to the head.

For more tips, check out this handy guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

happy-boy-play-in-soccer-200x300Sports are a healthy outlet for children and adults alike. They’re fun. They make us feel good. That’s why growing numbers of people of all ages participate in at least one sport.

But sports participation, even non-contact sports, always carries a risk of suffering injuries. Here are some great tips for you and your family to stay safe while enjoying sports this spring and summer:

Wear protective gear: Players should dress with the appropriate protective gear for their sport at all times. This can include padding, helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, eyewear and protective cups. Many sports, such as baseball, have their own safety risks. Make sure you know what the risks are and what safety equipment you need.

Make sure to stretch: Encourage everyone in your family to stretch their muscles before and after games and practices. This helps reduce cramping and tightness in your muscles and joints and could prevent some types of injuries.

Drink lots of water: Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after athletic competition to avoid heat-induced injuries. Avoid practicing in extreme hot/humid weather whenever possible and always wear light clothing. And don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

Know when to stop: If you feel any type of pain from tightness to soreness, stop competing and rest. Pushing through pain can turn a minor injury into a major one.

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