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September 21st, 2015 2:53 PM

When I was in college, I was a TA for a class called Profiles in American Enterprise. Every week the CEO of some large corporation (Nissan USA, Flextronics, etc.) would come talk to the class, and the TAs would get to grab dinner with them after. During dinner the subject of work/family balance often came up—and it wasn't pretty. Divorce was common. Missing kid's events or games was the norm. Men and women who prided themselves on their ability to move mountains got sheepish describing the fissures and faults in their home lives. They had constructed their lives in a way that lacked margin.

The Danger of Lacking Margin

One of the more common problems with driven people is a lack of margin. They cram their schedules so full of activities and busyness that their emotional, physical, and spiritual health suffers.

These folks are constantly around other people but find it difficult to cultivate deep relationships. They rarely spend time alone to reflect or meditate or pray. They get so used to their frenetic pace they don't know what to do with themselves on the rare occasion they have time to themselves. The pace of their lives is unnatural and ignores the toll it takes on their bodies and minds. They convince themselves their unrelenting schedule is a badge of honor to be proud of. They think wise management of energy doesn't apply to them.

Every year you read profiles of successful people claiming the secret to success is their willingness to always be on. They only need four hours of sleep, they work 130 hours a week, they spend rare 10 minute break between meetings responding to emails and voice mails.

The Truth is You Can Be Wildly Successful and Still Be Delusional

It's not hard to find people who lived this life a while but eventually burn out. They rapidly move up the ladder but decide the path they've been killing themselves for isn't for them.

They face a quarterlife or midlife crisis, and after all that work decide to throw their it away and start over. On their way out, they convince themselves it was the nature of the job or industry that's the problem, not their lack of margin. This can be all avoided. By being more deliberate and making simple changes, the risk of burnout drastically goes down, and a greater feeling of balance and engagement is possible.

You don't need a ton of margin, but it's likely you need more than you have right now. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Become Aware of Your Energy and Your Seasons

The first step in creating margin is to pay attention to your energy levels. Our energy waxes and wanes throughout the day. Even if you can stay up and push through your periods of low energy, it's likely you aren't doing your most productive work. Becoming aware of when you have a lot of energy and when you don't will allow you to make smarter decisions about how to structure your day. Some people do their most creative, high value work early in the morning while others are at their best late at night.

Similar to your energy during the day, your energy rises and falls during the week and during the year. I have a pastor friend who's found December is a period where he expends a tremendous amount of energy. For many people the holidays are a difficult time and he needs to be more available to them. Come January, he's spent. Rather than plowing through and convincing himself it's just the nature of the job, he uses January as a time to be with his family and to recharge.

Many industries have similar cycles of activity. Understanding and planning for them can help you sustain your energy over the long term.

Get More Sleep

Around 1-3% of the population truly can get by on less leep. It's probably not you. Sleep helps you make smarter decisions and makes it more likely you'll accomplish your goals.

Exactly how much sleep is necessary does depend on the person, but for most people the range is between 6.5 to 8 hours. Make this a non-negotiable in your life.

Listen to Pareto

The 80/20 rule is your best friend. The majority of your results and effectiveness come from only 20% of your activities. There will always be more meetings to have, more people to hang out with, more opportunities to pursue than you can realistically take on. Before taking on another commitment, ask yourself whether it is likely to be high impact. If it's not moving you forward in your goals, remove it. You're better off spending time with your family or doing something that recharges you than attending another low-value networking event.

Take an Extra 15 Minutes

I historically have been terrible at getting up in the mornings, waiting as long as possible to drag myself out of bed and get started. I started to notice how this habit led to a more stressful morning, and an immediate frenetic feeling. Fifteen minutes can make the difference. It's enough time to stretch, make a cup of tea, read for a few minutes, pray, write down my most important tasks, or do something else leaving me feeling more peaceful and focused. I've started applying this 15 minute habit in other areas of my life with similar results:

  • Showing up at the airport 15 minutes earlier than I otherwise would makes checking in and going through security less stressful.
  • Getting to church 15 minutes early is enough time to drop my son off at Sunday school, grab a drink, and get settled before the service.
  • Showing up for meetings 15 minutes early (even if I'm waiting outside the building) gives me one last opportunity to mentally prepare and ensure my first impression is a good one.
  • We have a lot of dinner parties at our house, and it always takes longer than I think to make everything. By tacking on 15 minutes I'm able to be more present with our guests instead of hurriedly trying to get everything finished.

I have a good friend who blocks his day out in 90 minute increments. He has 60 minute blocks for meetings or focused work, buttressed by 15 minutes at the beginning and the end.

When he has a meeting, the 15 minutes in the beginning give him the time to mentally prepare and visualize the outcome he wants from the meeting. The 15 minutes at the end give him the chance to process his notes and distribute follow-up or action items. When he has a focused time for work, he finds the 15 minutes in the beginning give him time to get centered and eliminate distractions he's in a state of flow as long as possible during that hour. And the 15 minutes at the end give him a chance to wrap up and tie things off.

Limit Social Media—Cut Off Your Hands If You Have To

Many people fill up whatever precious "down time" they have checking their Facebook and Twitter profiles obsessively. While the ability to connect with friends and colleagues is certainly a wonderful thing, too many of us are literally addicted.

Last year, I did an experiment for two weeks where I tracked how many times I checked Facebook or Twitter. I also tracked my level of focus and anxiety at three times throughout the day. Not surprisingly, I found a direct correlation. I found a number repercussions to spending a lot of time on social sites:

  • I get less done during the day. Because I primarily follow people who share interesting links and articles, I would routinely go down a rabbit trail and emerge an hour later having accomplished little.
  • My level of concentration was considerably worse, particularly with Twitter. It's difficult for me to read compelling linkbait headlines and not have a portion of my brain wonder what lies behind the link. When I return to work my brain is a jumble, and I'm completely taken myself out of my flow.
  • I feel inadequate. After 5 minutes of reading interesting articles I end up thinking of a dozen things I should do to improve my life in some way. But I'm not in a position to do anything about it – these thoughts don't get captured and turned into action items. I don't truly have any plans to do anything about these ideas, which leaves me feeling more "down" than before I started.
  • I don't feel recharged at night. When I check social media during the hours I'm winding down before bed, I don't end up feeling recharged or refreshed. My brain is a mess. Almost all alternatives left me feeling happier and more peaceful—exercise, spending time with my wife or friends, reading, stretching, writing.

Limiting social media has been one of the biggest ways to add margin to my life. But it's not easy. The following are some things I've done to make it work.

  • Schedule it. I try to check Facebook and Twitter on my way to and home from work. Doing this for 15 minutes and doing nothing else has helped me stay up to date, and provides a change of pace from work to home.
  • Don't read the links right away. If there's something that catches my eye, either mark it as a favorite, or add it to my ‘Stuff to read' list. Then, when I have an hour or two of uninterrupted time (usually on a Saturday during my kids nap) I read the stuff on my list. This helps me avoid the rabbit hole during the week. I can take notes, decide if I want to turn any ideas into action items, and make better use of the material.
  • Don't check at night. My evenings are my time to enjoy my family and friends, to reflect on the day and monitor the state of my heart.
  • Unfollow some of the people you envy. There are people who are successful and use social media to share information that can help me become better at what I do. But there are other people I follow for no other reason than I envy their lives in some way. If I find myself reading someone else's content and thinking unproductive thoughts about myself as a result, I unfollow them. It's not that they're bad people – it's just that I know how my heart reacts to it and it isn't good. This might only be my problem, but I doubt it.

Margin Must Be Created

Unless you get laid off, you're not simply going to find yourself with margin. Being successful at work is usually rewarded with more work and responsibility. And the constant tendency of driven people will be to fill up every available moment.

Even if you stay at home, it's very easy to find yourself overcommitted. The responsibilities of kids, the pressure to make sure they're getting all the benefits of having a parent at home, the self-imposed stress of keeping a home spotless and organized can quickly create more stress than a typical desk job.

Margin has to be cultivated. Spent time every three months looking at your schedule and how you spend your time. Is there anything that can be removed? Are there 15 minute opportunities that you're missing? Are you using your down time to truly recharge? By being honest with yourself and ruthless about your priorities you can increase the likelihood that you stay happy and engaged at work and at home.

Why You Need More Margin in Your Life | Sean Johnson Intentionally


 

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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on September 21st, 2015 2:53 PMLeave a Comment

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$310,000.00
1429 W 16th St

Chicago, IL 60608



Beds: 0 Rooms: 0
Full Baths: 0 Sq. Ft.: 0
Garage: 0 Built: 0
 

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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on October 27th, 2014 2:12 PMLeave a Comment

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$109,900.00
4616 S Maple Avenue, Unit 10

Brookfield, IL 60513



Beds: 2 Rooms: 4
Full Baths: 1 Sq. Ft.: 950
Garage: 0 Built: 0
 

Very clean unit. Close to transportation and schools.
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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on October 24th, 2014 2:27 PMLeave a Comment

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$274,900.00
1934 Maple Avenue

Berwyn, IL 60402



Beds: 2 Rooms: 8
Full Baths: 2 Sq. Ft.: 1850
Garage: 1 Built: 1942
 

Right time to own a home in Berwyn's "Gold Coast".
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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on October 24th, 2014 12:41 PMLeave a Comment

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$479,900.00
298 Hill Ave

Glen Ellyn, IL 60137



Beds: 4 Rooms: 8
Full Baths: 3 Sq. Ft.: 2828
Garage: 0 Built: 1929
 

This home is a wonderful blend of old and new. Lots of new features that were added with the new addition, Great location, walking distance to great schools
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Pillar Real Estate
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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on June 6th, 2014 9:53 AMLeave a Comment

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$239,900.00
678 Iroquois

Carol Stream, IL 60188



Beds: 3 Rooms: 7
Full Baths: 2 Sq. Ft.: 0
Garage: 0 Built: 1978
 

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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on June 3rd, 2014 12:39 PMLeave a Comment

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$284,900.00
2716 S Cuyler Avenue

Berwyn, IL 60402



Beds: 4 Rooms: 8
Full Baths: 2 Sq. Ft.: 1890
Garage: 2 Built: 1912
 

Totally rehab down to the studs. New AC electrical, plumbing, windows, roof, kitchen, 2 baths and 4 bedrooms. New 2 car garage, large yard with deck.
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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on April 23rd, 2014 11:55 AMLeave a Comment

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$16.00
101 22ND STREET Suite 202 & 204

Lombard, IL 60148



Beds: 0 Rooms: 0
Full Baths: 0 Sq. Ft.: 3499
Garage: 0 Built: 0
 

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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on February 18th, 2014 4:12 PMLeave a Comment

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Make Classic Trends New Again In Your Bathroom Remodel

When you undertake a bathroom remodel, you want to create something that you can enjoy now and that will still look stylish in the years to come.

Rather than go with flash-in-the-pan trends, focus on classic designs that keep appeal year after year. Here are just a few:

1. Medicine cabinets. Though these cabinets fell out of favor for several years, the demand for more efficient use of space means that they are making a comeback, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Medicine cabinets that are built into the wall might stay in style even longer.

2. Transitional style. A blend of contemporary and traditional, this style is comfortable in almost any home and offers a timeless look. With the addition of decor items and the occasional small makeover, transitional style can help your bathroom change with the times.

3. Solid surface. Bathrooms with granite or marble are still popular, but solid surface countertops are making a big comeback. These countertops were popular well over a decade ago, so what was once old is suddenly new again. Classic trends come around again and again for a reason!

4. Stainless steel. Always a popular option for sinks and faucets, stainless steel has held steady for years while brushed nickel, brushed chrome and satin nickel have wavered in popularity. Stainless steel has a classic beauty that looks great with any decor, and so should be a top pick for those who want a timeless bathroom remodel.




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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on September 13th, 2013 4:07 PMLeave a Comment

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$1,495.00
481 METROPOLITAN STREET

Aurora, IL 60507



Beds: 2 Rooms: 0
Full Baths: 2 Sq. Ft.: 1520
Garage: 0 Built: 2005
 

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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on August 6th, 2013 4:43 PMLeave a Comment

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$124,900.00
317 S Wisconsin Ave.

Oak Park, IL 60302



Beds: 2 Rooms: 5
Full Baths: 1 Sq. Ft.: 0
Garage: 1 Built: 1972
 

Great opportunity to own a Condo in Oak Park, IL walking distance to transportation and shops. Newly remodeled.
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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on August 6th, 2013 4:23 PMLeave a Comment

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$169,900.00
3S135 TIMBER DRIVE

Warrenville, IL 60555



Beds: 2 Rooms: 0
Full Baths: 2 Sq. Ft.: 1286
Garage: 0 Built: 1991
 

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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on April 30th, 2013 10:01 AMLeave a Comment

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$199,900.00
6-8 PARK AVENUE

Lombard, IL 60148



Beds: 0 Rooms: 0
Full Baths: 0 Sq. Ft.: 1686
Garage: 0 Built: 1920
 

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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on April 30th, 2013 9:58 AMLeave a Comment

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$215,000.00
606 65TH AVENUE

Willowbrook, IL 60527



Beds: 2 Rooms: 0
Full Baths: 1 Sq. Ft.: 1200
Garage: 0 Built: 1959
 

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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on January 24th, 2013 3:54 PMLeave a Comment

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It’s likely you’ve heard the term “short sale” thrown around quite a bit. But what, exactly, is a short sale?

A short sale is when a bank agrees to accept less than the total amount owed on a mortgage to avoid having to foreclose on the property. This is not a new practice; banks have been doing short sales for years. Only recently, due to the current state of the housing market and economy, has this process become a part of the public consciousness.

To be eligible for a short sale you first have to qualify!

To qualify for a short sale:

  • Your house must be worth less than you owe on it.
  • You must be able to prove that you are the victim of a true financial hardship, such as a decrease in wages, job loss, or medical condition that has altered your ability to make the same income as when the loan was originated. Divorce, estate situations, etc… also qualify.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what a short sale is, there are some huge misconceptions when it comes to a short sale vs. a foreclosure. We take the most common myths surrounding both short sales and foreclosures and give a brief explanation. LET’S BUST SOME MYTHS!!

1.) If you let your home go to foreclosure you are done with the situation and you can walk away with a clean slate.  The reality is that this couldn’t be any farther from the truth in most situations. You could end up with an IRS tax liability and still owing the bank money. Let me explain. Please keep in mind that if your property does go into foreclosure you may be liable for the difference of what is owed on the property versus what is sells for at auction, in the form of a deficiency balance! Please note this is state specific and in most states you will be liable for the shortfall, but in some states the bank may not always be able to pursue the debt. Check your state law as it varies widely from state to state.

Here is an example of how a deficiency balance works

If you owe $200,000 on the property and it sells at auction for $150,000, you could be liable for the $50,000 difference if your state law allows it.

Not only could you be liable for the difference to the bank, but in some situations you could also be liable to the IRS! Although there are exemptions (mostly for principle residences) under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, there are times when you could be taxed on both a short sale and a foreclosure, even in a principle residence situation. Since the tax code on this is a little complicated and I am not a CPA, I advise always talking to a CPA when in this situation as you are weighing your options. Hard to believe?  Well, believe it or not, the IRS counts the difference between the sale and the charged off debt as a “gain” on your taxes. That’s right-you lost money and it’s counted as a gain! (I didn’t make that rule, that’s a wonderful brainchild of the IRS). Banks and the IRS can go as far as attaching your wages. Not to mention if you let your home go to foreclosure you will have that on your credit, as well.

Guess What?  A short sale can alleviate your liability to the bank, in most situations. There are also exceptions to this, but in most cases banks are releasing homeowners from the deficiency balance on a short sale.

2.) There are no options to avoid foreclosure. Now more than ever, there are options to avoid foreclosure. Besides a short sale, loan modifications along with deed in lieu are also examples of the many options. In most cases (but not all) a short sale is the best option. Either way, there are more options today than there have ever been to avoid foreclosure.

3.) Banks do not want to participate in a short sale, or, it is too hard to qualify for a short sale. Banks would rather perform a short sale than a foreclosure any day. A foreclosure takes a long time and creates a huge expense for the banks; a short sale saves both time and money. Banks have more foreclosure inventory than ever before, and certainly do not want any more. Banks more than ever welcome short sales. Qualifying for a short sale is easier than you think, you need to have a true financial hardship, or a change in your finances and your house has to be worth less than what you owe on it. Not only do consumers, but banks also now have government incentive to participate in short sales.

4.) Short sales are not that common. At this present time, short sales range from 10-50 % of sales in various markets and it is predicted that in 2012 we will have more short sales than any other year, to date. Due to economic changes in the last few years, this is something that is affecting millions of Americans. Short sales are in every market, and are not just limited to any particular income class. This has affected everyone from all facets of life. A short sale should be looked at as a helpful tool, not a negative stigma. That is why the government is offering programs that actually pay consumers to participate in short sales. It is not just affecting one community; it is affecting communities and consumers across the nation.

5.) The short sale process is too difficult and they often get denied. Though the short sale process is time consuming; it is not as difficult as the media would have you believe. The problem is that most short sales are denied because of a misunderstanding of the process.  It is true that if the short sale process is not followed correctly there is a good chance of getting denied. An experienced agent knows how to avoid this. Short sales require a lot of experience, and a special skill set. If you are looking to go the option of a short sale make sure your agent is skilled and experienced in this area.

6.) Short sales will cost me money out of pocket.  A short sale should not cost you any out of pocket money. In fact, you could get between $3000-up to $30,000 to participate in a short sale. In many ways, a short sale may put you in a better financial position than prior to the short sale. Almost every short sale program now has some type of financial incentive for the home owner, as long as it is a principle residence, and we are even seeing relocation money being paid on some investment/second homes. As a seller of a property you should never have to pay for any short sale cost upfront to any professional service. Realtors charge a commission that is paid for by the bank. In most communities there are also non-profits and HUD counselors who can help you with foreclosure prevention options for free. The only potential cost you could incur is if the bank would not release you from a deficiency balance in the short sale, which is happening less and less now.

7.) If I am behind on my payments, I can perform a short sale any time. The farther you get behind on your payments, the harder it is to get a short sale approved. The closer a property gets to a foreclosure the harder it is to convince the bank to perform a short sale. As they get closer to a foreclosure sale more money is spent, thus deterring them from doing a short sale. If you think you need to perform a short sale, time is of the essence; the sooner you start the process, the better. Waiting too long can trigger the ramifications of a foreclosure, losing the ability to do a short sale as a viable option.

8.) I have already been sent a foreclosure notice so I can’t perform a short sale. For the most part just because you received a foreclosure notice or notice of default it does not mean that you do not have time to perform a short sale. The timeline and specifics do vary from state to state, but having done short sales all over the country, I have seen banks postpone a foreclosure to work a short sale option as close as 30 days prior to the scheduled foreclosure auction, but the longer you wait the less chance you have. If you have received a legal foreclosure notice, please reach out to a professional right away. The longer you wait, and the closer you get to foreclosure, the fewer options you have. If you have received a notice to foreclose this means the bank is filing paperwork and starting the process to take legal action to repossess the house. You still have time at this point to prevent foreclosure, but do not hesitate! The closer you get to the foreclosure date the harder it becomes to negotiate with the bank for whichever option you choose.

9.) I was denied for a loan modification, so I know I will get denied for a short sale.  Short sales and loan modifications are handled by two separate departments at the bank. These processes are totally different in approval and denial. If you got denied for a modification you can still apply for a short sale; in some cases you can get a short sale approved faster than a loan modification, as some loan modifications are denied because they cannot reduce the loan low enough based on the  consumers income.

10.) If I go through a short sale I cannot buy another house for a long time. The time to buy another house depends on your entire credit picture and can vary from 12-24 months. There are even a few FHA programs that allow for a purchase sooner than that. I have worked with clients who went through a short sale and bought another house in less than 12 months.

These are just a few of the common myths surrounding short sales and foreclosure. With the options available today, no homeowner should ever have to go through foreclosure, and hopefully this information can help a few more homeowners think twice before walking away from their home not realizing the possible long term ramifications a foreclosure can have.


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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on October 10th, 2012 10:55 AMLeave a Comment

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Capital Economics expects the housing crisis to end this year, according to a report released Tuesday. One of the reasons: loosening credit.

The analytics firm notes the average credit score required to attain a mortgage loan is 700. While this is higher than scores required prior to the crisis, it is constant with requirements one year ago.

Additionally, a Fed Senior Loan Officer Survey found credit requirements in the fourth quarter were consistent with the past three quarters.

However, other market indicators point not just to a stabilization of mortgage lending standards, but also a loosening of credit availability.

Banks are now lending amounts up to 3.5 times borrower earnings. This is up from a low during the crisis of 3.2 times borrower earnings.

Banks are also loosening loan-to-value ratios (LTV), which Capital Economics denotes “the clearest sign yet of an improvement in mortgage credit conditions.”

In contrast to a low of 74 percent reached in mid-2010, banks are now lending at 82 percent LTV.

While credit conditions may have loosened slightly, some potential homebuyers are still struggling with credit requirements. In fact, Capital Economics points out that in November 8 percent of contract cancellations were the result of a potential buyer not qualifying for a loan.

Additionally, Capital Economics says “any improvement in credit conditions won’t be significant enough to generate actual house price gains,” and potential ramifications from the euro-zone pose a threat to future credit availability.



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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on March 8th, 2012 12:25 PMLeave a Comment

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$209,500.00
401 N. WEST ROAD

Lombard, IL 60148



Beds: 3 Rooms: 0
Full Baths: 2 Sq. Ft.: 1240
Garage: 0 Built: 1960
 

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Jaspe Mangiaracina
Pillar Real Estate
6306299940
www.pillar-realestate.com



 
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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on February 7th, 2012 1:11 PMLeave a Comment

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November 1st, 2011 10:43 AM

Why you can’t get the lowest mortgage rates

Five reasons near-record low rates are out of reach for some

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — Mortgage rates are near historical lows, but the rates lenders are quoting you aren’t as eye-popping as those you see in the news.

. Why is that?

First, remember that mortgage rates are moving constantly, and rate surveys are capturing rates from past points in time. For example, Freddie Mac’s weekly survey collects rate data over the course of a week. Bankrate.com’s survey collects rate data every Wednesday.

By the time results are released, they’re already outdated.

There are other reasons your rate might be higher. Below are five of them.

1. You’re not paying points

Average rates in Freddie Mac’s survey include average discount points paid for the mortgage. But not everyone is willing to pay points.

For the week ending Oct. 27, rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.1%, but that rate required an average 0.8 point to get it. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest

Unless you’re going to live in your home for a very long time, paying points often doesn’t make sense, said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com.

“Where the investment pays off is if this is a loan you’re going to have for a long period of time. You’re making an investment of money now to pay the points to get the benefit of a lower monthly payment for years to come,” he said. “The more years you have of that lower monthly payment, the greater return on that initial investment of points.”

Bankrate’s weekly survey includes as many zero-point loans as possible, McBride said. That’s another reason that rates in Bankrate’s survey are different than those in Freddie Mac’s, he said. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.33%, but points required to get that mortgage averaged 0.42, according to the Bankrate survey released Oct. 27.

2. Your borrower characteristics mean price adjustments

A credit score on the low side will prevent you from getting the lowest rates. Low levels of home equity will also mean a pricier mortgage rate.

That’s thanks to loan level price adjustments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that have been making it tougher for borrowers to get the best rates for the past few years.

“The further down the FICO realm you go, and the higher the loan-to-value ratio, the more cost for the consumer,” said Cameron Findlay, chief economist for LendingTree.com, an online network of lenders.

Those with credit scores below 700 will have a tough time getting the rates in the low 4% range that everyone has been talking about, McBride said.

Meanwhile, a 20% equity cushion in your home for a refinance, or down payment for a purchase, is what’s needed to get the best rates these days. And if you have a jumbo mortgage, lenders usually want 25% or 30% down for the best rates, McBride said.

However, borrowers who qualify for the newly revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program will be able to snag low rates, even if their equity has taken a severe hit.

3. Your property type means higher rates

For condo-unit mortgages, you need a 75% loan-to-value ratio, or a 25% equity position, to get the best rates, said Christopher Randall, vice president, secondary marketing, at the Real Estate Mortgage Network, a mortgage lender.

And if your mortgage is for a vacation home or investment property, you can also expect to pay a higher rate, McBride said.

4. You don’t have recent proof of income

For the self-employed — who don’t have pay stubs as proof of recent income — the most recent tax returns are what a lender will look at before giving you a mortgage. If business has improved after your past tax return, that’s not going to be of any help as you try and get a mortgage today.

“Business could be off the charts now, but if the tax returns tell a different story, then getting approved or getting the best rates becomes a problem,” McBride said.

5. Your lender isn’t hurting for business

There can be a big disparity in what rates are offered from lender to lender, Findlay said. And it may have to do with how many mortgages they’ve been originating lately.

“Some that are lacking volume will tend to be more competitive,” he said. “Those that have enough volume may say we’re going to keep rates high.”

But the rate isn’t everything, Randall said. When shopping for mortgages, borrowers need to focus on comparing their monthly payments. “People are drawn to the interest rate… but you have to look deeper. Review the documentation,” Randall said.

For instance, it’s possible for someone to get an offer of a very low rate on a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration — that loan also may come with a higher insurance premium, Randall said. That person may be better off taking a conventional mortgage with lower priced private mortgage insurance, even if their interest rate is a little higher, he said.


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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on November 1st, 2011 10:43 AMLeave a Comment

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October 27th, 2011 11:47 AM
Baby Boomers Retire
Reverse Mortgages Gain Popularity


Born between 1946-1964, the generation known as the Baby Boomers will begin to retire in large numbers, substantially shrinking the labor force in the US. As a result, Social Security, Medicare, and other government programs will be significantly affected over the next several years. In fact, the Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB) estimates that, by 2030, about 20% of the American population will be 65 years old or older.

With rising costs of living and a dwindling budget to accommodate the elderly and disabled, we will see increased usage of the reverse mortgage. This loan allows equity to be taken out of the home to meet day-to-day expenses, and was designed in the late 1980s to help those who owned property, but lacked sufficient income to live on. However, there are benefits and disadvantages to be considered before going into this type of loan.

In most loan scenarios a home will go into foreclosure if payment is not made. If payments are made, the debt decreases and equity increases. The opposite holds true for a reverse mortgage; equity is taken out of the home to sustain the family, causing debt to increase while equity decreases. There is an exception - if the actual value of the home increases, less equity will be lost overall.

Most reverse mortgages are set up so there is no monthly payment as long as the owner resides in the home. There are no minimum income requirements, and the money can be used for any purpose. Equity disbursed from this type of loan is tax-free. Depending on the type of plan, reverse mortgages will usually allow the owner to retain the title to the property until they have lived in a different residence for 12 months, sold the property, died, or the end of the loan term has been reached.

On the flip side, reverse mortgages can be more costly than a normal equity loan. Interest is added to the principal balance each month, and the amount of interest owed is compounded over time. The interest will not be tax deductible until the loan is paid off, in part or in full. Also, since the reverse mortgage uses equity in the property, this constitutes a loss of assets one could pass on to heirs.

The Federal Trade Commission warns of abuse with this type of loan, as they have received reports of predatory lenders taking advantage of the elderly. It is best for the individual interested in a reverse mortgage to research and obtain counsel from reputable sources.* HUD does not recommend consulting an estate planning service to obtain a referral to a lender. HUD provides this information free to the public. Even if the home loan was not originally an FHA loan, the reverse mortgage can be federally secured.

*Visit the HUD page on this subject at http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hecm/rmtopten.cfm, consult AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) at http://www.aarp.org, and the National Center for Home Equity Conversion at http://www.reverse.org.


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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on October 27th, 2011 11:47 AMView Comments (1)

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Solving wet-basement problems is one of the most important things you can do to protect the value of your home and health of your family.

Some wet basements are easy to cure simply by clearing gutters and by diverting gutter water away from the foundation. But if the problem comes from other sources—water flowing toward the house on the surface, seeping in from underground, or backing up through municipal storm drains—you must take more aggressive action.

Here are eight strategies to keep water out of your basement.

1. Add gutter extensions

If downspouts are dumping water less than 5 feet away from your house, you can guide water farther out by adding plastic or metal gutter extensions.

But extensions aren’t the neatest or most effective long-term solution, especially if you’re likely to trip over them or run over them with a lawn mower. Permanent, underground drain pipe is invisible and capable of moving large quantities of gutter runoff much farther from your house.

For about $10 a foot, a landscaper or waterproofing contractor will dig a sloping trench and install pipe to carry the water safely away.

2. Plug gaps

If you see water dribbling into the basement through cracks or gaps around plumbing pipes, you can plug the openings yourself with hydraulic cement or polyurethane caulk for less than $20.

Plugs work when the problem is simply a hole that water oozes through, either from surface runoff or from wet soil. But if the water is coming up through the floor, or at the joint where floor and walls meet, the problem is groundwater, and plugs won’t do the trick.

3. Restore the crown

If the gutters are working and you’ve plugged obvious holes, but water still dribbles into your basement or crawl space from high on foundation walls, then surface water isn’t draining away from the house as it should.
Your house should sit on a “crown” of soil that slopes at least 6 inches over the first 10 feet in all directions.

Over time, the soil around the foundation settles. You can build it back with a shovel and dirt. One cubic yard of a water-shedding clay-loam mix from a landscape supply house costs around $30 (plus delivery) and is enough for a 2-foot-wide, 3-inch-deep layer along 57 feet of foundation.

4. Reshape the landscape

Since your home's siding slightly overlaps its foundation, building up the crown could bring soil--and rot and termites--too close to siding for comfort: 6 inches is the minimum safe distance. In that case, create a berm (a mound of dirt) or a swale (a wide, shallow ditch), landscape features that redirect water long before it reaches your house.

In small areas, berms are easy; a landscape contractor can build one for a few hundred dollars. On bigger projects, berms make less sense because you’ll have to truck in too much soil. In that case, dig a swale (about $1,000). Once landscaping grows in, berms and swales can be attractive features in your yard.

5. Repair footing drains

If water is leaking into your basement low on the walls or at the seams where walls meet the floor, your problem is hydrostatic pressure pushing water up from the ground.

First, check whether you have footing drains, underground pipes installed when the house was built to carry water away from the foundation. (Look for a manhole or drain in the basement floor or a cleanout pipe capped a few inches above the floor.)

If the drains are clogged, open the cleanout and flush the pipes with a garden hose. If that doesn’t work, a plumber with an augur can do the job for about $600.

6. Install a curtain drain

If you don’t have working footing drains, install a curtain drain to divert water that’s traveling underground toward your house.

A type of French drain, a curtain drain is a shallow trench--2 feet deep and 1.5 feet across--filled with gravel and perforated piping that intercepts water uphill of your house and carries it down the slope a safe distance away.

If the drain passes through an area with trees or shrubs, consider switching to solid pipe to reduce the risk of roots growing into the piping and clogging it. Cost: $10 to $16 per linear foot.

7. Pump the water

If you can’t keep subsurface water out, you’ll have to channel it from the inside.

To create an interior drain system, saw a channel around the perimeter of the floor, chip out the concrete, and lay perforated pipe in the hole. The pipe drains to a collection tank at the basement’s low spot, where a sump pump shoots it out the house.

Starting at about $3,000, an interior system is the best and least disruptive option in an unfinished basement with easy access. It’s also a good choice if your yard is filled with mature landscaping that digging an exterior drainage system would destroy.

8. Waterproof the walls

Installing an interior drainage system gets the water out but doesn’t waterproof the walls. For that, you need an exterior system: a French drain to relieve hydrostatic pressure and exterior waterproofing to protect the foundation.

It’s a big job that requires excavating around the house, but it may be the best solution if you have a foundation with numerous gaps. It also keeps the mess and water outside, which may be the best choice if you don’t want to tear up a finished basement.

The downside, besides a price tag that can reach $20,000, is that your yard takes a beating, and you may need to remove decks or walkways.

 

 


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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on October 3rd, 2011 12:29 PMView Comments (1)

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5 Steps to Deciding How Much to Offer – or Ask – for Your Home

One of the hardest, most important decisions homebuyers face is how much to offer for their home. And the glut of information on the web about real estate only makes buyers even crazier than the decision itself does. Supply, demand, foreclosure rates, mortgage rates – buyers think they need to run spreadsheets and do fancy math to make a smart offer. And THAT can be super intimidating.

But the fact is, there is a pretty short list of steps you need to take to make a smart offer – one that gets you a great value, but is also likely to be successful at getting the property. (A low offer does not make for a great deal if you don’t get the house!) And most of the same steps apply to sellers trying to set the list price that will lure the most buyers (and net them the most cash)!

Step 1: What do the “comps” say? First things first. When it comes to pricing a home, or making an offer to buy one, the ‘first thing” is the home’s fair market value. Both buyers and sellers should work with an experienced, local agent to understand what the home’s value is. Most agents will do this by offering you a look back at similar properties that have recently sold in the neighborhood – i.e., the comparable sales, or comps.

Ideally, look for comparables that are very recent sales (3 months or less before you’re listing or buying), very similar properties (i.e., same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage; and similar style, condition and amenities). If you do get into contract, these may be the same comparables which will be considered by the appraiser, so looking at them before making an offer can:

(a) provide factual support for a lower-than-asking offer or for the asking price, in a negotiation, and

(b) result in a sale price at which the property will actually appraise, later on - avoiding the common glitch of the deal falling through because the appraisal comes in way below the agreed-upon price.

Also, looking at comps is the first step for locating a home’s seller and prospective buyer in the reality-based universe of current home values. The fact that you bought or refinanced the place at a given value 5 or 6 years ago is entirely irrelevant to what it’s worth today, as is the buyer’s belief that the place was worth $100K less at the trough of the market, in 2009.

Step 2: What can you afford? This step is much more critical for buyers than for sellers. (Unfortunately, sellers, the facts that you need to net a particular amount to buy your next home or pay your existing mortgages or credit card bills off has no relationship whatsoever to the price at which you should list or will sell your home.)

Buyers – it’s a must to make sure that your offer price for any given home falls within the range of what is affordable for you. This includes offering a price within the range for which your mortgage was preapproved, but also includes making sure that the monthly payment and cash you’ll need to close the deal (down payment + closing costs) are affordable in light of the particular house. If, for example, the property will require repairs for which you’ll need to conserve cash, or has HOA dues you hadn’t planned on, you may need to rejigger your offer accordingly.

Step 3: What’s your competition? (And what’s theirs?) This is another step at which it’s critical to check in with your agent. You need to know what level of competition you’ll face – whether you are a buyer, or a seller. As a seller, you can find this out by looking at things like how many comparable homes are listed in your town or your neighborhood in your general price range (your agent will brief you on this). Sellers should also consider what type of transactions their home will be up against – the more distressed properties (foreclosed homes and short sales) with which your home must compete, the more aggressive you must be with your pricing to get your home sold.

The more competition you have, as a seller, the lower you should tweak your list price to attract buyers to come see your home. (And the more buyers come to see your home, the more likely you are to get an offer!)

Buyers should also be cognizant of the competition level they will face for homes. Believe it or not, even on today’s market there are properties and neighborhoods in which multiple offers are the name of the game. Work with your agent to understand the list price-to-sale price (LP:SP) ratio , which lets you know how much under or over the asking price properties are selling for in your target home’s neighborhood; the higher the LP:SP ratio, generally speaking, the less competition there is among buyers.

Your agent can also brief you on:

(1) (1) The number of offers – if any - that have been presented on “your” property (which the listing agent will usually, gladly tell). If there are other offers, you’ll want to make a higher offer to compete successfully against them; and

(2) (2) The number of days the home has been on the market, relative to how long an average home stays on the market before it sells – the longer it has, the more pressure is on the seller, price-wise, and the less competition the buyer is likely to have. (One exception is the sweet spot scenario, when a property that has been on the market for a long time has a price reduction and gets a bunch of offers as a result! )

4. How much do they need to sell (or buy) it? Buyers: Has the listing in which you’re interested been reduced at all? By how much? Has the listing agent informed you that her clients are highly motivated, flexible or have an urgent need to sell?

Sellers – most buyers are not in a high state of urgency to buy these days, given the long-term, high affordability of homes and interest rates, except when they have an urgent personal reason for moving, e.g., buyers who are relocating for work. Of course, all of real estate is hyperlocal, so it’s important to understand how motivated buyers are in your local market, generally speaking, before you set your list price.

· how many homes in your target property’s area have had at least one price reduction,

· how likely a home in the area is to have multiple price reductions.

The higher these numbers are, the stronger of a buyer’s market it is, and the more bargaining power buyers likely have. And if you’re the seller, the higher these numbers are for your area, the lower you may need to price your home to be successful at getting it sold.

5. How much do you want to buy, or sell, the place? Step #4 was about taking the motivations of the folks on the other side of the bargaining table into account when formulating your offer and your list price. This step is all about you – what’s your level of motivation? Now, buyers, you certainly shouldn’t offer a price way above what the place is worth (see Step #1) just because you really, really want it, unless you have the cash to throw around. But within the range of the home’s fair market value, it may make sense to move higher within that range if you are highly motivated to get that particular property.

Sellers: think of your list price as the most powerful marketing tool at your disposal. if you really want or need to sell, get aggressive about setting your price as low as makes sense for your your home's value and local market dynamics to attract qualified buyers and help your home stand out against all the competition.


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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on April 26th, 2011 11:06 AMLeave a Comment

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April 1st, 2011 12:38 PM

Magic Minimum: Cleaning Secret of Organized Families

Is it time to clean? Not for todays busy families. Between work, children's activities, and vacation plans, even the most leisurely days don't seem long enough to get everything done at home.

There's a solution for busy times! Just as your body needs a "minimum daily allowance" of vitamins and minerals, an organized home needs a minimum of maintenance and attention to keep running smoothly?

Think of this as a Magic Minimum: a short list of essential household tasks. It's a bottom-line list of chores and activities necessary to keep things running at a basic level. With a working Magic Minimum plan, the household stays afloat, even when time is short.

What's on the list? Every family has slightly different needs, but most Magic Minimum checklists provide for these functions:

  1. · basic accounting chores: bank deposits and bill-paying
  2. · meals and menus: clean dishes, grocery shopping
  3. · laundry: necessary clean clothing
  4. · home management: once-a-day pick-up, weekly cleaning of bathrooms and kitchen

To make your own Magic Minimum plan, list the rock-bottom essential maintenance chores necessary to keep the household clean, fed and on time.

A sample checklist might look like this:

Every day:

  1. · Load and run dishwasher
  2. · Tidy kitchen
  3. · Run one load of laundry, fold and put away
  4. · Family pick-up time

Every week:

  1. · Review checkbook and pay bills
  2. · Shop for groceries
  3. · Vacuum living areas
  4. · Clean bathrooms

Next step: delegate! Assign one or more minimum chores to each family member. Every family member has a stake in keeping the household functioning, so everyone should be expected to help with the chores. Working together, everyone will be free for family fun in record time.

Finally, post your Magic Minimum list in a public place. One time-honored choice is the refrigerator door, but use whatever area is central to your family.

The written list aids accountability, because everyone knows what must be done before anyone can leave for a trip to the water park.

Give your household a Magic Minimum to maximize your family's opportunities for good times!




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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on April 1st, 2011 12:38 PMView Comments (2)

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March 2nd, 2011 1:07 PM

Home prices: Up or Down?



Hey, does anyone want to buy a house?

Anyone? Anyone?

No? Perhaps not.

Home sales haven't exactly fallen off a cliff at an annualized pace of 5.36 million so far this year, according to the National Association of Realtors. But nor are houses flying off the shelves, or rather, out of the multiple-listing services.

The reasons for not buying a house vary from nonbuyer to nonbuyer, but some intriguing trends can be found in the fourth-quarter Fannie Mae National Housing Survey, which asked 3,004 people a series of questions about housing, homeownership, the economy and their personal finances.

Here are some of the highlights:

· 65 percent of respondents agreed that now is a good time to buy a house.

· 26 percent believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months.

· 52 percent believe home prices will stay the same.

· 19 percent believe prices will go down.

· 39 percent expect rents to go up, on average by 2.8 percent, or $28 per $1,000 of monthly rent.

· 64 percent believe buying a home is a safe investment. (In 2003, that figure was 83 percent.)

· 84 percent believe owning a house makes more sense than renting.

· 28 percent of renters say renting is more sensible.

· 79 percent cite schools and safety as reasons to buy a home.

· 73 percent of delinquent borrowers and 42 percent of renters say their income isn't enough to pay their expenses.

A few comments, courtesy of Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan:

More Americans believe that housing prices will remain stable over the next year. We also are seeing encouraging signs in the positive attitudes toward homeownership among younger Americans, despite the severe impact of the housing crisis on Generation Y. But most respondents to our survey continue to lack confidence in the strength of the economic recovery, and they are less optimistic about their ability to buy a home in the years ahead. This sense of uncertainty is weighing on the housing recovery today and reshaping expectations for housing for the future.


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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on March 2nd, 2011 1:07 PMView Comments (2)

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Waiting for the Bottom?
It May Already Be Gone.

Homebuyers trying to time the real estate market today may think they have it down to a science. They watch the news, read the papers, hear that prices are dropping, and assume the bottom hasn't arrived. So they wait.

There's just one problem. The bottom - at least the bottom for interest rates - appears to be gone. And it just so happens that interest rates are a very powerful determinant of how much home you can afford and what you'll pay each month - even more powerful, in some instances, than price.

Conforming 30-year mortgage rates are already a half-point above their October lows, clocking in at 4.625% heading into the second week of December. This is consistent with the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) prediction that the average rate on the 30-year loan will increase to 4.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011, and could reach 5.1 percent by the end of next year. Meanwhile, a recent forecast by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business predicts that Chicago home prices will remain near their current levels, while the U.S. economy will enjoy stronger than expected growth in 2011.

In Illinois, the economy is fighting its way back. State unemployment has gone down for seven consecutive months, and a great start to holiday shopping indicates consumer confidence is on the rise. While the Fed has stated its intention to purchase an additional $600 billion in Treasury securities, the MBA says this move is priced into current rates.

It may be hard to believe, but in the long run it makes more financial sense to buy a home at a higher price with a lower interest rate than vice versa. So instead of trying to time the bottom for prices, get the best interest rate you can on a mortgage and home that's right for you.

For more information on how interest rates affect purchasing power, please feel free to contact me. And please remember that I'm never too busy for your referrals.

Interest rates can impact your payments and purchasing power more than the price of a home.

Monthly principal & interest per $100,000 borrowed
4.25% $492
5.25% $552

Loan amount with $2,000 monthly principal & interest
4.25% $406,000
5.25% $362,120
Courtesy of Guaranteed Rate


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Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on December 10th, 2010 11:22 AMView Comments (1)

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November 16th, 2010 4:56 PM

Outdoor and Indoor Fall Home Maintenance Tips


Fall Home Maintenance Tips

October 25, 2010 - Fall is, for many, the most enjoyable of all the seasons. One reason for this time of year's popularity is its short time span. As the temperatures steadily decline and days get shorter, the cold winter days get closer and closer.
While you are out enjoying the fall colors, pumpkin farms and Halloween activities, take some time to prep your home - both indoor and outdoor - for winter with the below fall home maintenance tips!

Outdoor Fall Maintenance Tips

1. Clear debris out of you window wells, gutters, downspouts, and storm drains. This will allow the water to properly drain, minimizing standing water and stalling the freeze and thaw expansion process that often occurs during colder months.

2. Make sure the weather stripping on your windows and doors fit and is in good condition.

3. Clean your windows. Sparkling clean windows let in lots of sunlight that will help chase away winter's doldrums.

4. Look for broken or cracked glass and damaged screens or storm windows. Also, check for loose putty around glass panes.

5. Remove garden hoses from spouts, drain and store for the winter.

6. Check painted surfaces for water damage or mildew.

7. Insulate outdoor faucets, pipes in unheated garages, and pipes in crawl spaces with materials such as rags or newspapers.

8. Keep rodents out. In the winter months, all kinds of critters will be looking for a cozy spot. They don't need a lot of space to get into or under your home. Make sure all exterior vents are screened, and that there are no gaps underneath garage doors. Pet doors are another favorite access point for rodents.

9. Make sure your snow shovels and/or snow blower are in good shape. Check your shovel handle for possible cracks or breaks. Have the routine maintenance performed on your snow blower.

10. Fall is also the time to remove window screens and store in a safe place such as your basement or garage. Install storm windows to insure proper heating efficiency.

Indoor Maintenance Tips

1. Get your heating system checked by a professional.

2. Replace your furnace filter.

3. Clean out any dust that has accumulated in vents to reduce exposure to indoor pollutants and cut down on winter colds.

4. Make sure you have proper insulation in both your attic and basement. While checking your insulation, if you see any dark, dirty spots, it may indicate you have air leaks coming into your home.

5. Remove hair from drains in sinks, tubs, and showers.

6. Test all smoke alarms and clean dust from the covers. Replace batteries as necessary.

7. Test all ground-fault circuit interrupters, especially after electrical storms.

8. Check your home around windows and doors for air leaks. An easy way to check for leaks is to move a lighter around the window or door frame and see if the flame moves with a breeze. If you find a leak, you can caulk it or you may have to replace the wood frame. Repairing these leaks can save you money on your energy bill during the cold months.

9. Don't ignore your hose bibs and learn the location of your pipes as well as how to shut off the water. If your pipes end up freezing, you'll have a better chance of preventing a burst if you can quickly shut water off.

10. Clean and reverse ceiling fans. Reset fans for the winter routine by giving fan blades a thorough dusting, and then switch them to a clockwise spin in order to push warm air downward from the ceiling.


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Which home improvements give the best payback?

If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen, or finishing your basement, you probably want to get your investment back when you sell your home. But when it comes to payback value of home improvements, some are definitely more profitable than others. As a general rule, kitchen and bathroom projects usually get a nice return on investment, typically 90% or more.Things like adding rooms or finishing basements tend to pay back the least.Finishing a basement usually returns less than 50%, so it’s not a project likely to show profit at selling time.


There are a number of factors that go into determining how well a project will pay back. Payback value depends a lot on the current market conditions in your area. If the market is hot and homes are selling fast, you can expect a higher payback value than you would get in a slow market.

left

The type of project you do and how it fits in with other homes in the area can have a big influence on payback too. If you put your money into the wrong type of improvement, you won’t get your money back. But if you're smart about what you do, you can make money. The payback will be better on improvements that are in demand and conform to neighborhood standards. Adding a second bathroom in a neighborhood where most homes have two bathrooms will give a high return on investment. Building a large addition that makes your home twice as big as the other homes on the block probably won’t pay back very well. Likewise, the popularity of a project will factor into how much it pays back. An improvement heavily customized to your wants and needs won’t pay back as well as something more common to other homes in the neighborhood.

Another factor to consider is the cost of the improvements. If you can do the work yourself, you can save significantly on the cost of the project and greatly improve the chances of getting a good return on the investment.

The list below is compiled from several published surveys and shows typical payback for some popular remodeling projects:

  • Kitchen remodeling – 90%
  • Add a bathroom – 90%
  • Bathroom remodeling – 80%
  • Install central heating – 90%
  • Install central air – 75%
  • Add a deck – 70%
  • Replace windows – 70%
  • Add a room – 55%
  • Build a pool – 45%
  • Finish a basement – 40%

Posted in:General
Posted by Jasper Mangiaracina on October 19th, 2010 5:12 PMLeave a Comment

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