The 7 Most-Needed Repair Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Relax. Here’s how to make short work of every common repair annoyance.

These are the 7 most-needed repair tips every homeowner should know.

1. Fix a Leaky Toilet

Running toilets not only rob sleep, they waste water and jack up your bill. Here’s how to change a flapper — the usual suspect:

    1. Identify the correct flapper using model number of toilet.
    2. Turn off water valve (clockwise).
    3. Flush toilet to drain.
    4. Remove old flapper.
    5. Clip chain to lever.
    6. Attach new flapper to mount pegs and check chain length.
    7. Remove and adjust length to be allow about 1-3 links of slack, if needed. Reattach.
    8. Turn water valve back on (counterclockwise).
    9. Test and you’re good to go.

 

2. Repair Drywall Holes

The hardest part of drywall repair is making the patch flush with the existing wall. A “pumpkin patch” is an easy repair that cuts down on sanding.

3. Adjust Cabinet Doors

Changes in humidity can make cabinet doors rub, refuse to close, or just look cockeyed. Adjusting them is easy and generally requires only a screwdriver.

4. Open a Stuck Window

Windows stick when paint, dust, or moisture builds. Use a utility knife (or a pizza cutter) to remove old paint. Be careful not to gouge the wood sash. If high humidity is making windows hard to move, run a humidifier that sucks moisture out of air.

5. Stop a Leaking Faucet

A dripping faucet can waste 5 gallons of water per day. If you can’t replace the faulty part immediately, tie a string around the faucet and let it fall into the drain: Dripping water will silently flow down the string.

6. Silence Door Squeaks

Take the squeak out of doors by lubricating top and bottom hinges with a little WD-40 or white lithium grease. If you don’t have any on hand, olive oil is a quick but temporary fix.

7. Turn Off the Main Water Line

Don’t wait until water gushes into your house to search for the main water line. When things are calm and dry, locate and practice turning it on and off.

Written by Lisa Kaplan Gordon / Houselogic.com

Solar Christmas Lights: Should You Make the Switch?

LED vs solar-powered Christmas house lights

 

Solar Christmas lights don’t cost anything to operate, but are they better than plug-in LED strings?

In the last few years, energy-efficient LED holiday lights have largely replaced more wattage-thirsty incandescent strings, resulting in significant savings — LED lights use 50% less energy than their incandescent predecessors, and they last up to 10 times longer as well.

Now there’s a newish kid in the string-light neighborhood: LED solar Christmas lights promise grid-free festive lighting.

Powering Up Solar Christmas Lights

A string of solar Christmas lights uses a small solar panel for power; there are no extension cords that must be plugged into outlets. The panel — about the size of a hockey puck — powers rechargeable batteries that illuminate a 25- to 100-bulb string of LED lights.

Panels come with small stakes so you can put them in the ground, where they can take advantage of the sun. A fully-charged string of lights should glow for six to eight hours after the sun goes down.

Solar Lights vs. LED Plug-In Costs

Pricing for solar-powered and plug-in LED holiday lights runs neck and neck. Compare purchase prices:

  • A 100-light string of miniature solar-powered LED lights costs about $10 and up.
  • A 100-light string of miniature plug-in LED lights costs about $10 and up.

Compare costs to operate:

  • Operating a string of plug-in LED holiday lights for 300 hours — more than enough time for an entire holiday season — costs about 24 cents, using an average energy cost of 12 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
  • Solar-powered Christmas lights, of course, don’t cost anything to operate. That means you’re saving 24 cents per year in energy costs.

Advantages of Solar Lights

  • No extension cords
  • No need for exterior electrical outlets
  • Withstand cold temperatures and precipitation
  • Zero cost to operate
  • Light output comparable to plug-in lighting
  • Green option

Disadvantages of Solar Christmas Lights

  • May not operate under cloudy skies
  • Unproven longevity (too new on the market for results)

Article by Alyson McNutt English for HouseLogic | REALTOR

3 Days on the Market – 2645 S. Dolphin Street, San Pedro, CA 90731

2645-dolphin-st_san-pedro-ca

SOLD by Lucy Garber.  Custom 4 bedroom, 2 level, single family home with detached guest quarters and 3-car garage. Impeccable interior with classic architectural elements blends seamlessly with exterior living space. First level features living room with fireplace, formal dining room, family room and a beautiful kitchen which opens out to the landscaped patio. Grand staircase leads up to the master bedroom with his and her closets and bathroom. 3 additional bedrooms, full bath and laundry room complete the 2nd level. Sold at listed price of $1,090.000.

Please call me if I can help you sell your home – Lucy Garber at (310) 293-4866.

How Design Sense Can Stop Burglars in Their Tracks

home-interior

It feels like there’s always a new rule about how to design your house. Whether it’s feng shui, how to make your room feel open, or how many colors to use, it can make your head spin trying to find the best way to decorate your home for you. All you want to do is make your home feel like home. Face it, no matter if you’re a rule follower or a rule breaker, when you enter your house after a long day, it feels good to feel at ease, to truly feel home. One of the things that make us feel most at home is to feel safe. Safety is an essential trait of any home and yes, it can be taken into consideration no matter if you have a furniture set or have collected pieces over the years. Get ready to learn Designed Defense.

Guarding with a Garden:

Great design and great protection start in the same place: the front yard. How you plan your garden will make a big difference in the protection of your home. First, consider the perimeter of the yard. Do you have a fence? Many think that having a fence will protect a home. But unfortunately, often it does the exact opposite. The fence provides privacy to you, but it also allows a person to move unseen behind it, and enter your home without worry of someone on the road spotting them. Best thing to do? Take down the fence. If you still want a fence and love the look, go for a shorter fence. Make sure that people can be seen behind it, and it’s for aesthetic purposes, not attempts at privacy.

Learn to love short plants. Little plants can make a big impact on your yard, while keeping your home nice and safe. These plants will not provide coverage for a burglar to break in. Like a fence, tall shrubs and overgrown trees allow burglars to move around unseen. If you have basement windows, keep the plants even lower. Trim your plants back from your basement windows.

Choosing flowers over big bushes means not only do you add extra color, but you’ll also be keeping your home safe. If you do not have basement windows, keep your shrubbery under the height of your first-floor windows. It will make your yard look neat, and protect your home.

Let There be Light:

Lighting can make or break a space. You want to set the right mood and lights can do the trick. Whether it’s a lamp or a light bulb, the quality and look of light change the feel of a space. But smart lighting choices can keep you safe too. Before we talk about lighting in the house, let’s stay outside. Add motion sensitive light outside. This will help you stop fumbling with your keys when you come in the dark, and it will also alert your community, literally putting a spotlight, on anyone moving around your yard who shouldn’t be there.

Inside your home, lights should be on timers. This way, whether or not you and your family are home, a potential burglar thinks you are. It will deter them from entering the property. They do not want to find a family at home. Empty properties are easier targets for a burglar, so they will not risk a property that looks occupied. It’s easy to use timers on your existing lamps. All you need to do is plug the lamp into the timer, the timer into the wall, and then set the timer. It’s helpful to have multiple lamps on timers. Consider timing the lights so it mimics your patterns as if you are home: turn the living area lights off as the upstairs lights turn on!

Use Your Blinds:

One of the most important rules of home security is to make sure that potential burglars do not know what you have that they might want to steal. The good news is this practice is easy to incorporate into your design. Always use your blinds and curtains. Don’t let anyone walking by on the street know about your new gaming system or computer. Not only do they know what you have, but they know where you keep it. Make sure to integrate closing your blinds into your evening routine. Additionally, keep valuables out of view from out a window. Even if they can’t be seen from the street, a burglar may peer through your windows, looking for potential targets.

Furniture Placement:

Use your furniture to your advantage. If you have a finished basement, don’t let your furniture be a helpful aid to someone entering into your basement through a window. Furniture can help in their descent. Make sure to keep furniture away from windows. Upstairs, use furniture to block anything that you don’t want the outside world to see. This can include valuables, and help you protect your privacy late at night.

The rules of design are completely up to you, but home security should always be a factor as you design your home.

From SimpliSafe.com

Want to Refinance Your Mortgage But You’re Being Turned Down?

Can HARP help you refinance your mortgage?

Especially with the current record-low interest rates, many homeowners would like to refinance their mortgage.

Are you having difficulties? The federal program HARP might be able to help you. Here’s how it works.

Is your mortgage rate above today’s rates?

Is your house worth less than your current mortgage amount?

Are you unable to refinance into a lower-rate mortgage or convert your adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage?

Then the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is an option you should explore.

HARP is one of two components of the federal Making Home Affordable Program for struggling homeowners. Its counterpart, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), offers loan modifications if you’re behind on your payments or need help exiting gracefully if you can no longer afford your home.

HARP, on the other hand, helps you refinance your home with a brand new mortgage.

What Are the Benefits of HARP?

Your savings from refinancing using HARP could be substantial. The White House says the typical homeowner using HARP could reduce their mortgage payments by about $2,500 a year. Like any refinance transaction, HARP loans come with fees, so you’ll have to weigh the costs and benefits for your specific situation.

The good news is that HARP’s fees are less than the fees for typical refinances. For instance, you won’t have to pay for a full appraisal if the lender can get a reliable automated appraisal for your home. And Fannie and Freddie will waive for borrowers some fees they usually charge lenders (which lenders would normally pass on to you).

What Are the Qualifications?

Your mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
Your current lender had to sell your mortgage to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 1, 2009. Check with your lender to make sure that happened.
This must be your first HARP refinance. You only get one Home Affordable refinance, so if you’ve used the program before, you can’t use it again (although there’s a loophole for those with a Fannie Mae loan refinanced between March and May of 2009).
You need the right balance between what you owe and your home’s value. The minimum is that you owe 80% of your home’s value (for example, owing $80,000 on your $100,000 home). If you owe less than 80%, you can’t use HARP. If you owe up to 105% (say your home is worth $100,000 and you owe $105,000), you can refinance into an adjustable-rate mortgage. If you owe above 105%, you have to go with a fixed-rate mortgage. There’s no cap on how much you can owe above what your home is worth.
If you’ve paid your mortgage late even once during the past six months, you can’t use HARP, but if you had a late payment between 7 and 12 months ago, you’re fine.
If you can meet those criteria, you have until Dec. 31, 2015, to apply for a HARP refinance through either your current lender or a new lender.

Should You Apply?

HARP makes sense if you owe more than your house is worth, which is preventing you from refinancing, according to Bob Walters, chief economist at Quicken Loans. You’ll still pay full-market rates for a HARP refinance, not a discounted rate or payment that you might get with a loan modification.

As a rule of thumb, for fixed-rate mortgages, you’ll want your new rate to be at least a half-point better than your old one.

Lowering your interest can pay off immediately. Let’s say you took out a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 6.5% for $176,800 at a monthly payment of $1,117.50 five years ago.

Today, you’d still owe $168,065. If you refinance that balance into a new 30-year loan at 4.5%, your monthly payment would drop to $851.56, saving you about $266 a month. Or, you could refinance into a 15-year fixed-rate loan, pay about $168 a month more, and pay your loan off about 10 years earlier.

HARP might also make sense if you can convert an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage. Even if an ARM’s monthly payment is low now, it’ll go up if rates rise.

When applying for HARP, you need paperwork just like any other mortgage application:

  • Pay stubs
  • Tax returns
  • Mortgage statements
  • Account balances
  • Debt totals (for credit cards, student loans, car loans, and such)
  • Details about any second mortgages or home equity lines of credit

Pay attention to the fees associated with the refinancing, which the lender must disclose up front, and ask if those costs can be rolled into the new loan if you’re strapped for cash.

Tips to Make the Process Go Smoothly

To keep the process moving, ask your lender for a list of the documents it will need. Give yourself two weeks to collect everything.

If possible, submit the entire packet together via certified mail. Sending in documents piecemeal could result in lost paperwork and your loan application falling to the bottom of the pile, says Nicole Hall, editor of LendingTree.com. Keep detailed records of any phone calls you make, and dates you mail or fax correspondences.

There are companies that will offer to take care of the paperwork for a fee, but you don’t need to pay. You can access free help through a housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Counselors will help you understand the Making Home Affordable program and aid in gathering the documents needed for your loan servicer.

Don’t qualify for HARP? Then maybe its sister program, HAMP, is for you.

By: Donna Fuscaldo


Need help? Give me, Lucy Garber a call at (310) 293-4866.  I can refer you to some great mortgage brokers I’ve worked with over the years.