Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

With summer officially over a week old, it’s probably time to start planning out your maintenance schedule. For some of you, this may be an annoying chore; for others, an exciting opportunity to spend some quality time on the DIY projects you love so much. But, whichever side of that line you’re on, the fact remains that home maintenance needs to be done, and it’s often best and easiest to break it up into seasonally-appropriate projects. Here’s a checklist to make sure you get to everything you need this summer (as a bonus, price estimates are included!).

Big Banks Still Not Playing Nice

As everyone learned in 2008, the bank that issues your initial mortgage may not keep it for very long. Banks sell bundles of mortgages, and the servicing of mortgages. Unquestionably, much improvement has come since the big meltdown. However, many big banks still aren’t complying with customer-service standards imposed in 2011. But it’s not all bad news. Although regulators have now restricted Wells Fargo, Chase, U.S. Bancorp, Santander Bank, EverBank Financial Corp. and HSBC Holdings; they’ve also lifted restrictions on 3 large banks that have made improvements.

13 Ways to Save on Your Next Home Project

To be completely honest, we’ve never heard of the website Networx, but if you’re into home remodeling, it might not be a bad place to start. They have a giant section devoted to it — in fact, they have fifteen sub-sections! This article, with 13 tips on how to save money during your next home improvement project is a good example. It breaks the tips down into four categories: Getting Started, Materials, Labor, and Financial Help. Each contains a few good tips, so if you’re planning a project, check out the article, and the site in general.

One More Reason Not to Try And Time The Mortgage Markets

So far this week, mortgage rates are generally up. But last week, they were down because of the threat of Greece defaulting on its debts. Everyone knows that even the experts are terrible at market timing, but in today’s global economy, where tiny blips on the other side of the world can impact things here at home, it’s particularly crazy. 

Dot Your ‘i’s, etc…, or Your Mortgage May Suffer!

It may seem unnecessary to point out that any information you submit on your mortgage application needs to be accurate — nevertheless, it bears repeating. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out, seemingly trivial errors (the dot your ‘i’s and cross your ’t’s sort) can not only impact the success of your mortgage application, they can have long-term consequences on your credit. Differences like, for example, whether your name is hyphenated the same everywhere make a difference to the computers that compute credit scores. Take the extra time to double check everything — it’s time well spent.

Preparing for Summer Guests

Now that it’s officially summer, and the kids are all on vacation, people are starting to travel. And traveling people means one thing for sure — house guests! Good Morning America has put together a list of 5 expert tips for providing great hospitality to your guests. On the one hand, they’re fairly self-explanatory, but on the other hand, it’s always good to have a list! Plus, the article links to lots of other suggestions, from cleaning tips to self-improvement ideas. Overall, it’s a surprisingly good site to spend some time reading when you need a few minute break.

How Much of A Rate Hike Would It Take for You to Stop Shopping?

Yesterday, Laura Kusisto wrote a fairly extensive piece on the current and projected state of the housing market in light of the likelihood that interest rates will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. It’s a good read, and this is oversimplifying, but, to put it in a nutshell — consensus seems to be that, given the rate at which rents have increased, modest increases in interest rates are unlikely to knock home shoppers out of the market in all but the most expensive cities around the country. What’s your take? How much would rates have to rise before you were no longer house shopping?


Do You Have Sprinklers in Your Home?

If not, you may want to consider having them installed. These days, the world changes so quickly, things can become “normal” before we even know that they’re a thing at all. This article was written in St. Pete, Florida, but the changes they’re talking about are things that homeowners love everywhere nowadays — open concept floor plans and modern furnishings. It turns out these new things are having a surprising effect: home fires are spreading 10 times faster than they used to. It turns out, having a sprinkler system in the home makes a big difference; maybe the difference between life and death for you and your family.

Get Out Into Your Backyard!

One of the great things about owning a home is the ability to go out in the back yard, grab your favorite beverage, and watch the sky do amazing things. Over the next two weeks, Venus and Jupiter are converging, and you’ll have a chance to watch them get closer and closer. Tomorrow night is probably the best time to start, as they’ll form a perfect isosceles triangle with the moon, to give you a nice way to locate the two planets. The Washington Post provides some great instruction on how to watch them from your back yard, and what you can expect to see.

Women, Are You Being Treated Fairly by Your Lenders?

Later today, the Woodstock Institute is scheduled to release a report which claims that in the Chicago Area, women are less likely to receive a mortgage than men. But since the report isn’t out, it’s hard to say either how credible it is, or how much one can generalize from it — so, the search was on for more, better data! It turns out, there was a much broader, fairly detailed study published last October. The net result is that there does seem to be a bias that can’t be completely explained away by other borrower characteristics, so — women, choose your lender wisely!