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 homeownership 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.
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:
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 the aggressive nature 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
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.
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.
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.
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.The 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.
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.
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.
· 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:
· 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.
· 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!
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