How to Get Rid of Mold In Your House

Molds are a natural part of the world, serving the important function of helping to breakdown dead organic matter.  However, that process can produce toxic elements that, when outdoors, are perfectly natural and appropriate.  But indoors, that toxicity can be dangerous and life-threatening and needs to be eradicated whenever encountered.

Molds are living organisms that reproduce by tiny spores, virtually invisible, that can travel airborne from their origin and thrive in any relatively moist environment.  They will not survive in an environment void of water or moisture.

How and why does mold grow in a home? 

Mold does not typically present a problem indoors unless exterior mold spores drift inside through open doors or even between the mesh of a window screen and happen to land on a wet or damp spot to thrive and grow and spread.  One distinction of mold is that it does not necessarily require the presence of light in order to thrive.

Mold can present health risks to anyone exposed to them.  Not all molds are toxic, but virtually all are allergenic, causing reactions of sniffles, sneezing and coughing or rash in a variety of degrees in individuals depending on their sensitivity.

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Tips for De-Cluttering Your Home to Help it Sell

De-cluttering your home might be one of the most important aspects of the home selling process.  It can mean the difference between the property selling quickly or sitting on the market.  That being said de-cluttering is a step that no seller should overlook.  When you de-clutter your home, prospective buyers are able to picture themselves living there rather than seeing it as though it’s someone else’s.  It will also help the home appear as though it has been well cared for.  Before you place your home on the market, follow these steps to de-clutter your home for a quick sell.

One Room at a Time

Start in the back of the house and tackle one room at a time.  Have bags for everything you’ll be tossing out or donating and then boxes or plastic containers for everything you’ll pack and store away.  A home that is on the market should be as appealing as possible, and one way to achieve appeal is to showcase the purpose of the room.  Have enough furniture and accents and get rid of everything standing in their way.   Remember your goal is not to organize clutter.  It is to get rid of it.  Organized clutter is still clutter!

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How to Get a Mortgage With Bad Credit

Obtaining a mortgage with bad credit takes a little bit of planning and work, but the results are getting the home you’ve been waiting and working for. Many people feel like giving up when they get turned down for credit reasons. The fixes aren’t always difficult, but they might take some effort and time. If you want to get a mortgage, it’s worth going the extra mile to get the job done.

Make Credit Repairs

One of the first things you need to do when you have poor credit is to get your credit score up by repairing what you can. You won’t start to see immediate results, but you need to just dive in and start getting it done. First you need to have a copy of your credit report. There are three different reporting agencies. Check through all of the listed creditors and make sure that they are debts that you actually owe. You can dispute any that aren’t valid. Next you’ll need to contact the creditors you can afford to pay off right away. Make payment arrangements with as many as you can to clear off your credit report. It will begin to bring your credit score up and make it easier to get a mortgage.

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5 DIY Halloween Decorating Ideas For Your Home

Halloween is a holiday that all ages look forward to with great anticipation. The success of the celebration lies in the social interaction of all ages. It helps bond communities and the individuals that reside in them. Getting in the spirit of the holiday means doing a little decorating. There are “kits” available that can guarantee that your house will look like nearly every other one on the block, or you can get creative with one of these DIY Halloween decorating ideas.

Spooky Bushes

One of the cutest DIY Halloween decorating ideas that leave kids amazed is the creation of spooky bushes. They are very easy to make and can be used for many years. They give a great spooky look, but won’t make little kids too scared to come up the walkway to get their treat.

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How to Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane

Hurricane season is about to come to an end however anyone living in a high risk area should always know what needs to be done to ensure their homes are properly prepared in case the worst happens.  On average, there are five hurricanes a year that will hit US coastline.  Winds can gust at 100+ miles per hour and water surges can reach 20 feet or higher.

Anyone who has been in a hurricane knows that they are no joking matter.  No two hurricanes are the same which means the best way to prepare is to always prepare for the worst.  I have always been a believer in the saying, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” Here are some suggestions to make sure you prepare your home for a hurricane so that it can withstand the effects.

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Conquering Your First Time Home Buyer Fears

San Francisco may be witnessing one of the highest rates of home value appreciation in the country – in excess of 25%, in the second quarter of 2013, yet a variety of home buying fears still remain among prospective home buyers. Are these first time home buyer fears justified? And if not, how do we conquer them? Read on as we explore these nuances in greater detail.

Timing

Timing remains one of the biggest fears among prospective buyers. Essentially they are unsure whether the time in question would be opportune to make a property purchase. After all, given the way property prices have seesawed in recent history, more downwards than upwards, many home buyers feel that it may be better to stall the purchase they have been contemplating so that they can take advantage of even lower prices.

This is honestly, not the best of strategies – nor is the fear factor in this scenario justified in anyway. After all, as we mentioned right up front, in many parts of the country home value appreciation rates are on an absolute roll, so the “strategy” of stalling an impending purchase may only backfire since prices would in fact have gone up considerably rather than down.

Ideally, you should only look at your own preparedness (largely financial preparedness) as the primary driving force behind your home buying impetus; if you are adequately prepared financially, NOW can very well be as good a time as any to buy the property you have been eyeing – and dreaming about!

Depreciation

Depreciation in property values is a genuine fear for a prospective first time home buyer, often with very good reason. After all, across the country, including here in San Francisco city and the entire Bay Area, we saw a major downward spiral in property prices at the peak of the United States housing bubble. No doubt, things have picked up substantially from those days and there is heightened optimism currently – not only as a matter of perception but very much in reality, with San Francisco and other California metros likely to witness the strongest levels of property appreciation in 2014, fear remains concurrent among home buying prospects.

What if there is another correction?

What if this current phase of appreciation only turns out to be another bubble in the making?

What if the property I buy only turns out to be a sitting duck, waiting to crash in its value?

These are many of the fears going through buyer’s minds.

In this regard, we have to say that it is really difficult to predict the way the market behaves. All that we can do at our end is to ensure that we buy a property which is “risk averse”, implying in a “good” neighborhood, which is free from crime. Such neighborhoods usually do not see major corrections in property prices. Also, buying homes with multiple employment avenues in the vicinity helps since people do not move out en masse (in case of a downturn), which would otherwise have driven prices down rather drastically.

Future Unaffordability

Not being able to afford a property that is currently affordable remains a major fear among a lot of prospective home buyers. After all, what if jobs are lost? Or there is another negative setback which takes place, say an accident or a debilitating illness which renders viable employment implausible?

There is little that we can do in case of such situations other than to hope for the best. At the same time, we must look at augmenting our current income until we are healthy as well as in a very good employment situation. In turn, the effort should be to maximize savings so that mortgage payments can happen even if something goes awry. Further, the faster mortgage payments are made, sooner the property in question will be yours for the taking without any pending liabilities. So if you happen to come across a lump sum amount, you could very well use it towards prepayment of your home mortgage, instead of splurging elsewhere.

Buying the Wrong Property

A major fear for a prospective first time home buyer is the possibility of ending up with the “wrong” property – one which needs extensive repair and renovation, to really make it livable in the truest sense. Or maybe it simply does not have what you want or expect from your home.

This is one aspect which can be easily controlled. For instance, you can prepare a thorough listing of your property expectations…you want a certain view, check; you want a certain location, check; you want a certain layout, check. This way you can avoid ending up with a potential lemon which is diametrically opposite to your expectations.

Also, please remember to double check fixtures and fittings, drainage, insulation and a host of other related elements thoroughly, prior to signing on the dotted line, confirming your purchase. And bear in mind, issues along these lines crop up not only in the case of old properties but among newer ones as well. So do not take things for granted either way.

Additional Costs

This may seem a relatively minor aspect but truth is that when it comes to finalizing a property purchase, there are many ancillary expenses which crop up under the aegis of “closing costs”. Closing costs can include things like appraisal fees, credit report charges, loan origination fees, and so on.

The best way to manage these closing costs is to try and have them incorporated into the mortgage sum, which is reasonably easy in case of FHA loans.

Also, you can negotiate in such a way that brokers can pay a major chunk of these closing costs, out of their brokerage fee; in any case, they will still make money so they have relatively little to lose.

Final Thoughts

Typically, these are the top five home buying fears most commonly seen among prospective home buyers. Reading through this article should have given you a very good idea of how to conquer these fears with reasonable ease.

8 Tips to Help Avoid Mortgage Fraud

In 2010, there was over $1.5 billion worth of mortgage fraud loses in the United States. You’re excited to finally become a homeowner, but you don’t want to become a statistic. If you’re not careful, your happy home-buying experience could turn into a major nightmare. Let’s face it, most of us don’t need the hassle, headache, and heartache. Before you sign on the dotted line, here are eight tips to keep in mind in order to avoid  becoming a victim of mortgage fraud.

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10 Tips for Women Home Buyers

10-top-tips-for-first-time-women-homebuyers

Congratulations! You’ve finally taken the step you’ve dreamed about for years – buying your first home. It’s a big decision, and not one you should take lightly. As a single first time woman homebuyer, there are many who likely told you that you should wait, but that’s far from the case. It can seem like a daunting process, but if you plan carefully, everything can go more smoothly than you ever thought possible. If you’re ready to get handed the keys to your dream home, there are nine home buying tips to keep in mind as a first time woman homebuyer.

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Warning: Do NOT Buy That House

Reasons When Not to Buy a House

Blown away by awe-inspiring Golden Gate Bridge views from the ravishing Marina property you just saw? Raving about (and craving for!) the breathtaking Pacific Heights property you just checked out, which incidentally happens to be…  San Francisco’s most expensive home? Unfortunately, location, all round views or even price tag (especially) are not the only factors you can take into consideration, while choosing a property to buy – especially if you consider these factors in isolation.

Rather the focus should be on building a composite picture formed on the basis of multiple simultaneous considerations. And among these considerations, prime should be pitfalls that you must elude in the home buying process, in order to successfully avoid ending up with proverbial ‘lemons’.

Accordingly, herein we will focus on top warning signs that can easily serve as red flags for you on questionable properties which are best avoided.

1. Reasons when not to buy a house: Debt to Income

No matter how beautiful a home maybe, you must ALWAYS ensure that it is one you can actually afford. Otherwise, it won’t take time for that dream home of yours to sound and seem extremely ugly to you from all angles. In fact, we have seen relationships break up and families fall apart, simply because they opted for a property which was actually beyond their reach, and yet they tagged along with their purchase for a while, till they could no longer take it and simply caved in!

Do not let that happen to you. Ideally, you should look at things like Debt to Income ratio, which really should not be more than 36%. In other words, given all the debts you hold – credit card debts, car loan and the home loan you have taken on, you should not be spending more than 36% of your total income towards debt repayment. If you do, especially because of the home you have just bought, that might just turn out to be the lemon we forewarned you about.

2. Reasons when not to buy a house: Structural Defect

Remember the dude in Florida who got sucked into a sinkhole, complete with his bed? Of course you do not want that to happen to you and the best way to do so is to ensure that your home does not have any structural defect. For instance, in the case of that home in Florida, it had been identified as being in an area prone to sinkholes – that by itself is an indication of a structural defect.

Essentially, what this points towards is the absolute importance of robust foundations – you must check for that when it comes to any home you are looking to buy. Likewise, it makes perfect sense to avoid properties with flat roofs since they tend to have major leakage issues, which in turn can lead to mold development, not to speak of the varied levels of damage that they cause to properties. Same is the case with property developments that take place without city permits – you need to avoid all such properties like the plague.

Then, unique to San Francisco, it is very important that you double check for earthquake resistance; we are in a major seismic zone here and the last thing you want is to see the million dollar property you just bought develop cracks on it as a result of seismic activity.

3. Reasons when not to buy a house: Drainage

Poor drainage is a HUGE dampener when it comes to purchase of both new and old homes. No doubt old homes seem to showcase this problem more often but you will be surprised by the extent to which newly constructed buildings often throw up drainage issues in front of their erstwhile proud owners.

This is something which you must double check for, inspect thoroughly, and ideally have the seller or the broker party in question to give you an assurance in writing that drainage systems on the property are working perfectly.

4. Reasons when not to buy a house: Pest Control

A good home is one which is well protected – and sanitized from pests like termites. Otherwise, it really does not take much for the entire woodwork on the home to simply fall apart and collapse. And if it does, it will no doubt cost you an absolute bomb to get things done up again. So make sure that prior to finalizing the purchase of the home in question, it is adequately protected from pests.

Similarly, caulking, which is moisture control within the property, is just as important. Not doing so not only leads to the prospect of pests swarming the property, there are a whole host of problems which can surface, such as the occurrence of molds, passing on of infections, and so on.

5. Reasons when not to buy a house: Neighborhood

No matter how good a house may be, you do not want to buy it if it is in a neighborhood which you know has a dubious reputation. Here in SF, you don’t really want a home in The Tenderloin, often cited as the worst neighborhood in San Francisco, do you? The same holds true for many neighborhoods right across the country. The key is to select a home in a neighborhood where you can consider yourself safe and bring up your children, raise a family, with complete peace of mind.

At the same time, when it comes to neighborhoods, location plays a central role. Imagine being in a high profile area which is always chock-a-block with traffic, with little public transport in the vicinity? Or as a corollary, envisage being in neighborhoods which have ample public transport, almost uncomfortably so? Instances would include East Bay with BART and Amtrak running through as well as Silicon Valley and Peninsula region that have Caltrain going through – it will sure take a lot of getting used to, to live with all the noise which is generated, in spite of being in what are widely considered as some of the most prestigious neighborhoods in San Francisco.

Conclusion

These reasons when not to buy a house are surely not mutually exclusive in themselves but at the same time they do give a fair idea in terms of the pitfalls to avoid – or the impending signs to read, which may foretell a disaster of a house being considered for a purchase. And being forewarned is definitely being well prepared.

3 Options to Securely Send Sensitive Financial Documents

mortgage, home loan,

Whenever you purchase real estate, you’ll almost certainly need to exchange important financial documents with someone. This is especially true if you will need a mortgage to complete the purchase of the property. It may also be true if you’re planning on paying cash, as some people may require proof of funds for the purchase.

If you’re planning on obtaining a mortgage, you’ll need to provide two years of tax returns, two paycheck stubs, two years W2s, bank statements, investment statements and possibly some other important personal and financial documents. When you do that, the person who reviews your sensitive financial documents will probably advise you to drop it off at the office. Upon hearing that suggestion, you might be tempted to ask yourself, “Why do I need to drive there when I can send the information by email? This isn’t the 1970′s, after all!”

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