Monthly Archives: December 2017

Painting Your Brick Exterior Can Help Freshen Your Home’s Appeal

painting your brick exterior

Have you considered painting your brick exterior?

The Brick Industry Association touts brick for its strength, energy efficiency and low maintenance, but sometimes brick can appear dated or downright ugly. Painting your brick exterior can go a long way toward updating your home.

Whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a professional, the same steps, particularly careful preparation, should be followed.

Clean the bricks: Use a wire brush, soap and water to clean the bricks, or use a power washer. For hard to remove stains, you can mix water with phosphate-free trisodium phosphate (TSP). Use approximately one-half cup to a gallon of water. For mold, mix one-part bleach to three parts water and scrub with a wire brush.

Repair cracks and missing mortar: If you’re painting the brick for the first time, buy a premixed mortar patch, then caulk and seal any cracks in the brick as trapped moisture can cause paint to peel.

Use masonry primer before painting: Like TSP, latex masonry primer is made for hard surfaces like brick. Allow the primer to dry before you begin to paint. Apply two coats of paint for coverage, and wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second.

Best Ideas for Christmas Tree Disposal

Christmas Tree Disposal

You love having fresh Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths, but now the holiday season is over. Christmas Tree Disposal and decoration disposal should happen safely and responsibly, but how?

Most communities have drop-off locations for garlands and trees or they provide scheduled pick-up service. Call your community’s environmental service (city trash or yard debris service) and ask these questions:

  • When can you put your tree on the curb for pickup?
  • Do you need to put the tree in a bag? (You can find tree disposal bags at Home Depot or Lowes.)
  • Are there any size restrictions? (For example, the city of San Diego requires that trees over four feet in length be cut in half.)
  • Are there special disposal requirements for flocked or glitter-sprayed trees?

Your homeowner’s association may have regulations about tree disposals, so look at your covenants or call a board member for guidance.

If you’re eco-conscious, you can take your tree to your local county recycling center where it can be ground into chips for animal habitats or mulch.

Look for a local community group that may be sponsoring a tree removal fundraiser, such as the Boy Scouts. It will cost you a little more, but it’s all for a good cause. Check your local newspaper or official city website for other disposal options.

Before you take the tree outside, double-check for overlooked wire, tinsel, ornaments, hooks and lights. Don’t burn branches in the fireplace if the tree has any chemical retardants or preservatives.

Millennial Must-Haves

Millennial Must-Haves

Born between 1980 and 1995, the millennial generation is now prime home-buying age. With unemployment just over four percent and lenders touting low-cost loan programs for first-time buyers, more millennials are buying homes. So who are they and what do they want in a home?

As the most educated generation in history, millennials trust their own judgment. They know how to conduct research and make the best choices accordingly, and tend to be savvy consumers. Even the 66 percent who are first-time home buyers tend to know more about the housing market than previous generations.

According to the National Association of REALTORS,® forty-nine percent of homebuyers 36 years and younger have children under the age of 18, 66 percent are married couples, 17 percent are single women, and 13 percent are unmarried couples.

As they grow with their families, they seek homes built with quality materials and sustainability in mind. Eight-foot ceilings are back in vogue for this group, as they seek to downsize their ecological footprint.

Social media, technology and demographic shifts are pushing trends faster than any other time in history, says the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Millennials want clean, contemporary lines and many are willing to sacrifice space for style. Lack of ornamentation is significant and intentional, says the NAHB, so sellers marketing to millennials should clear away clutter and excess furniture.

Millennial home-buyers choose older homes for the lower prices, but they want them to be as close to new in appearance as possible.

Using Gifts as a Down Payment

Merry Christmas, homebuyer! Don’t cash Mom and Dad’s check yet! Your loan could be denied if the money isn’t carefully documented.

Why? Gifts can cause confusion. Is your parents’ money a gift or a loan? Unless the terms are clearly defined, don’t mix the gift with your own funds. It alters your bank statements and raises your income both of which could muddy your financial picture.

Lenders require a paper trail for all monies, so no phone deposits. They also limit the size of gifts in relationship to the total down payment. Some loan programs require the borrower to contribute at least 3%down payment gifts to 5% of the down payment if the down payment is less than 20%, while other programs allow the entire down payment to be supplied by a gift.

To avoid questions, provide a certified down payment gifts letter or sign an affidavit that explain:

  • The amount of the gift, accompanied by a corresponding cashier’s check, including a photocopy of the check
  • The name and address of the gift-giver and relationship the gift-giver has to the homebuyer
  • The purpose of the gift – to be used only as a down payment on the subject property, complete with the property’s address
  • A statement confirming that the gift is not a loan, and does not need to be repaid
  • Signatures of the borrower and the gift-giver

If you’re planning to use a gift as part or all of your down payment, ask your realtor how to meet all the appropriate requirements regarding down payment gifts.