Greg Hanner's Blog

Posted in:Home Ownership and tagged: Homeowners
Posted by Greg Hanner on April 16th, 2020 5:36 PM

Are you a HOMEOWNER paying a mortgage and struggling with making your mortgage payment? RENTER and out of work not able to pay your rent? Are you a LANDLORD not receiving rent from some tenants? Then this info may help you during this COVID-19 crisis.  

Here's the best link I've found on assistance to avoid having your credit hurt and outlining options that may be available to you:  https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/guide-coronavirus-mortgage-relief-options/  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a great list of additional info here:  https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus 

HOMEOWNERS in need:  You MUST take action and you can't sit on your hands without damaging your credit and putting your home at risk. You need to contact your lender! There is the ability to defer making mortgage payments until you return to work. This doesn't mean you don't owe them money, it just means lenders will give you extra time at the end of your mortgage term to pay the months that you don't pay. Great info for homeowners having difficulty with making their mortgage payments: https://portal.ct.gov/DOB/Consumer/Consumer-Help/COVID-19-Mortgage-Relief 

To check if your mortgage is Fannie Mae go here https://www.knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup and if your mortgage is Freddie Mac go here https://ww3.freddiemac.com/loanlookup/

RENTERS:  Call your landlord if you are struggling. The CT governor has issued another executive order 7X, this one:  

1) Prohibits all landlords from issuing a notice to quit or beginning eviction proceedings before July 1, 2020, except for serious nuisances, such as physically harming another tenant or the landlord.

2) For rent due in April 2020, landlords must grant tenants an automatic, 60-day grace period for payment, instead of the existing 9-day grace period.

3) For rent due in May 2020, landlords must grant a 60-day grace period for payment upon the request of tenants. Under this provision, a tenant must notify the landlord that they have lost a job, lost hours, or otherwise lost revenue or faced significantly increased expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

4) If a tenant has a paid security deposit of more than one month’s rent, the tenant can apply all or part of that excess to April, May, or June rent. Under this provision, the tenant must notify the landlord that they have lost a job, lost hours, or otherwise lost revenue or faced significantly increased expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LANDLORDS:  If you have many tenants not paying rent and that's making it difficult for you to pay your investment property mortgage, you are also able to seek forbearance. Use the mortgage lookup tools above if you think your investment property mortgage may be with one of those to government entities. Can you do me a favor? PLEASE share this info with as many people that may need help.

Happy Easter!!!

Posted by Greg Hanner on April 11th, 2020 4:42 PM

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a great thing you can do from your home and it will give you an edge over other Buyers so that you're in the best possible home buying position when this health crisis is over.

Posted in:Home OwnershipPosted in:Buyers
Posted by Greg Hanner on April 2nd, 2020 4:51 PM

Why the Stock Market Correction Probably Won’t Impact Home Values

Why the Stock Market Correction Probably Won’t Impact Home Values | MyKCM

With the housing crash of 2006-2008 still visible in the rear-view mirror, many are concerned the current correction in the stock market is a sign that home values are also about to tumble. What’s taking place today, however, is nothing like what happened the last time. The S&P 500 did fall by over fifty percent from October 2007 to March 2009, and home values did depreciate in 2007, 2008, and 2009 – but that was because that economic slowdown was mainly caused by a collapsing real estate market and a meltdown in the mortgage market.

This time, the stock market correction is being caused by an outside event (the coronavirus) with no connection to the housing industry. Many experts are saying the current situation is much more reminiscent of the challenges we had when the dot.com crash was immediately followed by 9/11. As an example, David Rosenberg, Chief Economist with Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., recently explained:

“What 9/11 has in common with what is happening today is that this shock has also generated fear, angst and anxiety among the general public. People avoided crowds then as they believed another terrorist attack was coming and are acting the same today to avoid getting sick. The same parts of the economy are under pressure - airlines, leisure, hospitality, restaurants, entertainment - consumer discretionary services in general.”

Since the current situation resembles the stock market correction in the early 2000s, let’s review what happened to home values during that time.Why the Stock Market Correction Probably Won’t Impact Home Values | MyKCMThe S&P dropped 45% between September 2000 and October 2002. Home prices, on the other hand, appreciated nicely at the same time. That stock market correction proved not to have any negative impact on home values.

Bottom Line

If the current situation is more like the markets in the early 2000s versus the markets during the Great Recession, home values should be minimally affected, if at all.

Posted by Greg Hanner on March 31st, 2020 4:47 PM

Early winter of 2015-2016 has been unseasonably warm here in Eastern CT, but that’s what we had last year until we got hit with a Blizzard and 3 Polar vortexes that put us into a deep freeze with temps struggling to get out of the teens early last February.

Getting busy outside your home NOW will pay dividends in reduced hassles and may even avoid expensive repairs. Here’s a quick things to double check before outside temps plunge sapping your enthusiasm to get things done.

Yard:

·         Check for positive grade away from foundation. If the ground settled anywhere and there’s a chance that water can puddle against your foundation, make a change NOW before your basement becomes flooded in the spring. I’ve seen mulch at the planting beads look like there’s pitch away from the home, but then if you pulled back the mulch (which floats!) the soil actually pitches toward the foundation of a home. You can buy small bags of soil and then regrade next to your foundation BEFORE the ground freezes. This can help minimize foundation leaks during storms.

·         Make sure footing/gutter drains daylight terminations (if you have one) are clear of leaves and yard debris. You might think that’s obviously something that you wouldn’t let happen, but I’ve had clients find those terminations covered and frozen after trying to figure out why a previously dry basement all of a sudden became flooded during a major storm event.

·         Seal Driveway Cracks – To prevent water flowing into them as that causes frost heaves and will accelerate your driveway’s deterioration.

·         Look at where rain waters flow NOW before snow is on the ground. Snow drifts can impede the flow of water in the swales around your home and the end result can be water flooding your basement! Knowing what areas of your yard which should be cleared if we get a deep snow pack is important. A great video on that topic is HERE:

Home Exterior

·         Check and confirm your gutters are clear of leaves. Remember the ice damning that you or others may have had last year? Clogged gutters are a start to creating an ice damning problem. Their root cause is often the lack of insulation and air sealing in older homes along with lack of “water & ice” barrier under the roofing.

·         Check Caulking At Windows/Doors/Penetrations – Caulking deteriorates over time. If you see caulking that’s cracked it’s only going to allow driving rain to enter the home AND it’s going to be a source of drafts.

·         Remove hoses from outside faucets – Frost-free faucets are NOT freeze proof unless a hose is disconnected to allow the water to flow out of the valve.

·         Have Ice Melt Available – You should not apply “Rock Salt” to concrete walks, porches and driveways as the salt will break down the concrete!  That’s a great product for asphalt driveways but not concrete surfaces.  Use Calcium Chloride on concrete surfaces.

·         Snow Removal Resource – If you plan on having snow removal done by a contractor, have those arrangements made NOW before a storm hits. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone to do snow removal right after a blizzard and you’ll pay a lot more if you are not a regular customer for the contractor removing the snow.

Home Interior

·         Heating System Annual Service – That should be done every year for oil burning furnaces and boilers.  Change air filters and turn on humidifiers

·         Windows – All windows should be locked. If you have storm windows, they should all be now closed so that there’s storm window’s glass at top/bottom sashes. If you still have your window A/C unit in your window, you are in serious need of a home maintenance plan!  Get it out of the window and stored as it’s just a big hole in your wall costing you money due to heat loss and the room it is in will feel a lot cooler than the rest of your home.

·         Frozen Pipes – You should really never have them.  If you are on vacation, set your thermostat no lower than 50 degrees. HERE are some tips if you ever get a frozen pipe.

I hope this info helps you get your house in order so that you can cut back what needs to be done when we finally see Old Man Winter again here in CT! Happy New Year!

Posted by Greg Hanner on December 26th, 2015 12:20 PM
We all know the damage that storms can cause for homeowners via flooding and fires. Often overlooked is the damage that trees can cause from high winds. Preventative maintenance is the best insurance and way to avoid damage to your home or auto.

When homes are built, the trees around a home are normally cleared away from the home far enough for the construction activity to get done.  Over the years, the trees grow back and the canopy (the high branches of the trees) slowly get bigger and closer to your home. 

http://www.aandbtreeservice.com/

In the photo above, the tree experts at AB Tree Service, LLC are "walling" off the trees along the garage of this home.  Left uncut, the trees would slowly threaten the home during high wind storm events.  Bob York, Owner of AB Tree Service says "Doing routine trimming with me is much cheaper than calling me after a major storm event which results in my phone ringing off the hook. Calling then is like trying to call around to get your driveway plowed after a blizzard".  If you are one that suffers property damage to your home from a tree during a storm, the worst part may be a high wind deductible and the added frustration that the building repairs will take time and energy that's better spent doing anything other than restoring a home back to the way it was before the storm event. 

Tree trimming also has the added benefit of allowing light to get to your lawn and garden areas. Some call it "raising the canopy" and it can give a nice look to any yard and home which increases your property value.  

So in summary, instead of paying your insurance deductible AFTER damage occurs, spending a little on preventative tree trimming maintenance will give your home a better look and help reduce the headaches of property damage in the future.
Posted in:Home Ownership and tagged: Tree Trimming
Posted by Greg Hanner on April 27th, 2015 11:21 AM
OK, we've had an historic winter here in New England and with the combination of persistent sub-freezing temperatures and numerous substantial snow events we now find ourselves with snow depths measured in feet not inches.  Before we know it, we'll be enjoying temperatures above freezing and we'll soon see our yards again.

The transition between harsh winter and welcomed spring weather brings a HUGE threat to homeowners who have basements.  The issue is that we've go so much snow on the ground, the natural swales (low spots in our yards) where rain water would flow around and away from our homes or off driveways are now blocked with snow.  Taking advantage of the cold weather now to clear paths for the future water flow is a top priority of you want to avoid water damage to your home in the form of a flooded basement.

Here's a quick video explaining what you need to do now before the rains come and the melting starts:



Bottom line, clear paths for the water to run through the snow pack downhill and away from your home.  Check to confirm the paths that rain waters normally flow are clear (this includes off sides of driveways, footing and gutter drain outlets to daylight, etc.).  If you ignore this advice and find your basement flooded, then your priority will be to get the water out as fast as possible and dry out the basement quickly in order to avoid mold and mildew growing.  Professionals at ServPro of Norwich and Windham Counties (priority service will be provided if you mention you saw this blog/video) and other flood/fire damage experts are the go to professionals if the damage becomes overwhelming.

Hope this info helps!
Posted by Greg Hanner on February 21st, 2015 2:13 PM


Some new homeowners or renters may not be aware of (beyond the media calls for bread and milk) what they should do around the house before and during the storm.  While communicating this to my daughter, I figured it may be helpful for others:

* Snow Removal - Don't let the storm end before starting to tackle more than 3 or 4 inches.  If the storm ends with rain (very common occurrence here in New England) the last thing you want to do is try to shovel 1'-2'+ of wet snow.  Be sure to remove snow from up against all doors since not doing so can often be the cause for leaks when the snow starts to melt.  Special attention needs to be taken to clear the snow from any Heating or Hot Water system vents that are down low on the side of the home.  Not getting those vents clear can be a root cause for the heat or hot water system to shut down.  A few years ago I lost a good friend to a heat attack while he was shoveling snow, so don't over do how hard you physically push yourself.

* Put Water In Tub - This is important for those on wells as that water can then be used to flush your toilets if the power goes out (taking the well power out also).

* Don't Let Your Thermostat Go Into Setback Mode Before or During the Storm - Reason for keeping the heat up is to have the highest inside temperature to start from in the event of a power outage.

* If Power Goes Out - Try to minimize opening your refrigerator or freezer.  It's amazing how quick the food will get warm and freezer items will thaw (being a winter storm, you can always use mother nature's refrigerator).  You'll need to migrate into an emergency mode state of mind and evaluate how long power might be out.  Voice calling uses much more power on your phone instead of texting loved ones.  Remember the tips shared in my blog post about Frozen Pipes:  http://tinyurl.com/q3p7vax  

* Portable Generators - They need to be used outdoors (to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning) and connected to your home with approved disconnect devices to protect the power company personnel from being electrocuted from your generator's output when they are trying to get your power back on.

* Be A Good Neighbor - Help your neighbors if you can.  Do wellness checks on older relatives or those you know who are not physically capable of snow removal.  Older folks often won't ask for help, but they need it.

Hope this info helps!  Post to your timeline or pass it on to those who can use the info.
Posted in:Home Ownership and tagged: Snowstorm Tips
Posted by Greg Hanner on January 25th, 2015 7:50 PM

The calendar change to a new year can be an inspiration for resolutions that are often centered on one’s body and mind.  The start of the New Year can also be a catalyst for a homeowner to embark on pruning their home ownership expenses.  The New Year ushers in the time of tax preparation and organizing, so why not expand those activities to giving your homeownership a quick review?  The following is a list of items that one might want to consider if they are interested in saving some money and if they want to be better prepared for future expenses for home maintenance and repairs.

  1. Confirm Monthly Costs Are Necessary or Still Desired:

    1. PMI – Private Mortgage Insurance is a cost that Owners have when their original mortgage exceeded 80% of the house purchase value. If you’ve had your mortgage for a number of years, you might want to check what your mortgage balance is verses the current home value as PMI may be able to be dropped saving you hundreds of dollars per month. Mortgage terms vary widely so checking with your lender as to how and when the PMI costs can be deleted is best. Some Owners get the PMI dropped via their commissioning an independent appraisal and then providing the appraisal to their lender. Check with your lender first on the process for deleting PMI expenses.

    2. Mortgage – Many homeowners with mortgages having high interest rates have already refinanced and many of those who were “underwater” (home’s value is less than the amount owed on the home) have taken advantage of refinance or modification options to reduce their mortgage costs. You might want to confirm your interest rate is competitive with today’s low rates.

      If you have a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) loan, you might want to look at when you took out that equity line of credit since they often have initial interest only terms of 10 years. After that time, one has to pay off the line of credit. Refinancing that debt or extending the term via obtaining a new HELOC loan may be desirable and help provide more time for repayment of the debt incurred on your line of credit.

    3. Electric Provider – Most homeowners in CT can select their electricity generation provider. Do you know what you are paying / KW for your electric generation fees? You should since the providers available have generation fees that can vary by close to 100% from the cheapest to the most expensive providers. There are fixed and variable rate plans available. More on selecting an electric supplier can be found here: http://www.energizect.com/

    4. Communication & Entertainment – When is the last time you studied what you are spending on TV, Phone, Internet and Streaming Alternatives? Do you use all of them? You might find savings in bundling your services OR by deleting services you don’t use. If you haven’t used a monthly media streaming service for months, then why not cancel your subscription to that service? The new streaming hardware devices like Roku / Chromecast / Amazon / Apple TV all tout thousands of streaming providers however they don’t really do a good job at explaining that many of these services require recurring monthly costs.

      I’ve seen many of my new custom home clients have even gone as far as not wanting a traditional land line for their phone. There are also inexpensive land line phone options which use your broadband connection for their connection! Two of these services are Ooma and Magic Jack. A pretty good review of these and others can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/opehu9f

  2. Maintenance Review:

    Are you putting off maintenance to the point that you are only reacting to items when they become emergency repairs? If your answer to that question is “what maintenance? I just pay my mortgage, taxes and insurance.” then you are probably costing yourself a lot of money for expensive service calls OR you are reducing your home’s resale value when it comes time to sell your home. I wrote a quick post about recurring maintenance items back in April 2013 and you might want to review that post. Here are the most important items that should be checked first to avoid wasting money on emergency repairs:

    Exterior Inspection:  The winter months bring shorter daylight hours so vacation and holiday time gives the perfect opportunity to go outside on a nice day and take a look around your home.  Looking around your home and yard sounds like a remarkably easy task that many folks never make time for, but for those that do, they can often spot future problems before they become emergencies or before they cause structural damage that’s expensive to repair.

    Checklist of what you might want to look at OUTSIDE the home:

    • Roof Condition – Roof shingles last normally 20-30 years. Often, roof plumbing vent flashing “boots” can fail long before the shingles do. If you notice a crack in the rubber plumbing vent pipe flashing, then it will need to be replaced. Making that repair will be much less expensive than repairs needed after water damages the ceiling below.
    • Gutters – Are they clean? Are they secure? Clogged gutters are often root causes for water getting into homes during winter storms that end with rain events. If you notice snow on your roof except down along the gutters, that’s a sign of insulation issues that will often migrate into ice damming problems. If your gutters are tied into underground gutter drain pipes, is the daylight end clear and unobstructed?
    • Siding and Trim – Are there any areas of siding or trim missing or damaged?
    • Ground around the foundation – Has it settled and created low areas against your foundation? Is it properly pitched so that water will run away from your foundation?
    • Driveway – Are cracks sealed? Water entering cracks in paved driveways is increases the ground movement during freezing weather and that movement is a root cause of the need for driveways needing to be replaced.
    • Decks and porches – Are they sealed or painted? Is the framing securely fastened to the building still? Are handrails and steps all still secure and in place?
    • Trees and shrubs – Have the trees grown to the point of overhanging your home? Are tree branches all in good shape? Are bushes all pruned and trimmed so they don’t touch the house?
Checklist of maintenance items you might want to look at INSIDE the home:
  • Heating System – Has your heating system been serviced this year? If you have a forced hot air heating system, has the air filter and humidifier pad been replaced?
  • Heating Source – A while back, I wrote a review on cost differences between Oil and Propane as heating alternatives. Currently, oil costs have dropped considerably, but I believe this price easing in oil will be short lived and oil prices will rise again over the next few years.
  • Wells - Change your sediment filter as needed. Pressure drop is a tell tail sign that your well sediment filter needs to be changed. Water treatment systems often need to be check to be sure that softener salt levels are correct (let them run down to minimum level before refilling). Acid neutralizing media often needs to be replaced once per year. If you have a water treatment system that has an acid neutralizer, not having calcium media present has potential to cause serious damage to your home's water piping due to theaggressivenature that low PH water has.
  • Frozen Pipes – Don’t let the mild winter so far lull you into thinking that Old Man Winter won’t have is way with us at some point in the near future. When that time comes, if you find you have Frozen Pipes in your home, you can learn more about how to deal with Frozen Pipes in my post about them here:  http://www.gardenrealty.com/Frozen+Pipes 
Home Improvements: If your review of your home uncovers an upcoming major repair being needed, shopping now for that replacement is a wise thing to do. Winter weather slows down exterior construction and those contractors have more time to provide quotes on work that you might desire.  Home improvement contractors are booking their summer work now. If you wait to book your job until when the contractors are really busy, you are not going to get the best pricing for the job.


I hope these tips and ideas help you save money and start your new year off right!  If you have any homeownership questions or problems that you would like to have my thoughts on, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Posted in:Home Ownership
Posted by Greg Hanner on December 27th, 2014 10:55 AM

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