Spray foam insulation or crawl space encapsulation may void your termite insurance in Georgia

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black recently stated that spray foam insulation in the crawl space of your home or business may void your current (or prevent future) termite protection coverage. But let me add this caveat….many homeowners are adding spray foam to their attics under their roofs and some are encapsulating their crawl spaces and conditioning that space to prevent mold, but are they covering up hidden active termite infestation?

If you currently (or are planning to) have termite protection from a Georgia licensed pest control company, be sure to:

(a) determine if and where you have any spray foam insulation,
(b) read your termite protection policy for its effect on coverage, and
(c) contact the pest control company to discuss effect on termite protection coverage of those areas covered (or to be covered) by the spray foam insulation.

It may result in termination or voiding your termite protection in its entirety.

Spray Foam Insulation Could Impact Ability to Protect from Termites.

SPRAY FOAM INSULATION WARNING.

If you need more information, you may contact your local county extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1, or the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Structural Pest Control Division at 404-656-3641.

Source: Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin, September 26, 2018, Page 1.

References to articles, sources, products, or services are not a specific endorsement and not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the information provided is valid, or the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others……Be careful – if it sounds too good, it probably is!

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Are you being duped into replacing your HVAC system instead of just changing refrigerant?

Do you have a choice of replacement for the R-22 Refrigerant in your HVAC system?

First, I am not an HVAC expert and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn last night, but are we being duped into replacing out HVAC systems in our homes instead of simply replacing the existing R-22 in our systems?

Second, aren’t HVAC systems supposed to be “closed systems”? This means that there “SHOULD NOT BE ANY LEAKS” in the refrigerant lines….so why are there…
LEAKS IN HVAC REFRIGERANT lines? They are normally copper lines which really shouldn’t leak…

I was told by an HVAC technician years ago that HVAC systems use different metals to connect the circulation system and over time, those metals interact to develop leaks. I can’t verify that statement, but several older systems, designed as “closed systems”, mysteriously develop leaks in copper tubing or at connection points within the system.

Watch this video: What is RS-44b ( R453a ) Refrigerant and Should You Use It?

RS-44b Refrigerant is an R22 Replacement.

Also, After many years of testing and investigation, R407C is recognized as a suitable alternative refrigerant for R22 in medium and high temperature applications such as residential and light commercial air conditioning.

RS-44b Refrigerant: RS-44b is a non-flammable HFC blend. It is compatible with both traditional mineral and synthetic lubricants so that a retrofit to a different refrigerant oil is not required. The small amount of hydrocarbons in RS-44b improve the oil return to the compressor to extend the life of the compressor. (Source: rs-44b-refrigerant-r22-replacement)

407C Refrigerant: R-407c is a mixture of hydrofluorocarbons used as a refrigerant. It is a zeotropic blend of difluoromethane, pentafluoroethane, and 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane. Difluoromethane serves to provide the heat capacity, pentafluoroethane decreases flammability, tetrafluoroethane reduces pressure. R-407c cylinders are colored burnt orange. (Source: Wikipedia)

So, are there alternatives to HVAC companies “scaring you” into selecting new HVAC systems and changing out your older system to a newer one? It appears so, but if you want a more efficient HVAC system in the future, you may need to replace your current system to achieve those benefits.

References to articles, sources, products, or services are not a specific endorsement and not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the information provided is valid, or the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others……Be careful – if it sounds too good, it probably is!

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What is a bedroom?

Does a bedroom consist of a room of any size upstairs? On main level? In basement?

Does a bedroom need a door, window, and closet only?

What “DOES qualify as a bedroom?

I think this description from the April 2018 Georgia Real Estate Commission – The Appraisers Page of their monthly newsletter will BLOW REALTORS’ or REAL ESTATE AGENTS’ (yes, they are different…but not what you think) MINDS and property descriptions:

Confused? I bet most real estate agents are as well….

Let me repeat that…

Let’s define a bedroom before we go any further. A bedroom is a room of “adequate size” – which is defined as no less than 100 square feet. It must have a closet, a window, and a door; it must be heat/cooled and finished to the same quality as the rest of the house. It must be ABOVE GRADE to be counted as a bedroom. And the most forgotten or unknown factor in defining a bedroom is that it must have ready access to a FULL bathroom. A full bathroom is one that has a shower or a tub as well as sink and toilet. Think about it: if you have a bonus room finished up over a garage, it may have a closet, window, door, heating/cooling, and is finished to the same quality as the rest of the house. If you have to go down the stairs and across the house to use the bathroom, though, the room cannot function on a long-term basis as a bedroom. Another common scenario is that you might have four “bedrooms” on the second floor of a house. Three of the bedrooms have private baths. How is someone in the fourth bedroom supposed to get to the bathroom? If you answered “by going through one of the other bedrooms”, you are incorrect. You aren’t incorrect. It just doesn’t count as a bedroom. That does not function on a long -term basis as a bedroom. We would instead call it a den or office. Probably the most common scenario is as follows: let’s take a traditional two-story house. On the first floor, you have a living room, dining room, kitchen, one half bathroom, laundry and a “bedroom”. The problem here is that the “bedroom” is only serviced by a half bath. Again, this does not function on a long-term basis as a bedroom. Here is where it is valuable to have an appraiser as a consultant during or prior to the construction process of a new house.

References to articles, sources, products, or services are not a specific endorsement and not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the information provided is valid, or the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others……Be careful – if it sounds too good, it probably is!

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Home Equity Loan Tax Deductions Under 2017 Tax Law

Major question: How will “when the proceeds are used to substantially improve their residence” is defined in IRS guidelines?

One of the most misunderstood provisions in the new tax law expires in 2026 and prohibits the deduction of interest paid on home equity lines of credit and home equity loans except when the funds are used to substantially improve the taxpayer’s home. The IRS recently issued a statement clarifying that the deduction has not been removed, but is instead available under new home improvement restrictions:

“…despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labelled,” according to an IRS release.

Source: IRS Clarifies Home Equity Loan Tax Deductions Under New Law

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Escalation Clause…no..not a Mortgage Clause…A Real Estate Contract Clause

For home buyers locked in a heated bidding war, there is one weapon that may help ensure victory:

an escalation clause.

Simply put, the prospective Buyer places a clause in the offer that if any other Buyer places a bid for the property, this Buyer will pay $XXXX higher than the highest offer.

Source: WSJ February 14, 2018.

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Fee and Documentation of Donation Drop Boxes

The Cobb County Code for Donation Drop Boxes.

Before this code (Official Code of Cobb County 134-287 (1)-(4).) was enacted, I was reviewing a listing of “draft” Building Code changes issued in Cobb County and saw the attached change on last page 32 that instittutes a fee on the box itself…I’m not sure what problem this solves, other than raising county revenue to pay for Braves contract issues, or some sort of control of the proliferation of clothing, newspaper, recyclables, etc., drop boxes sprouting up all over the place (usually on private commercial properties)…Now at least we can “document” donation drop boxes and not other things or other people in this country. 😉

Source:

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Millennials are “literally” full of crap!

Yes..they are..but no wonder…the crap that fills their brains is the direct result of too many real estate articles, blogs, and advertisements designed to make them feel bad about not buying a home…

Sometimes I hate the real estate industry, and I’m in it. Every day I see 2-3 articles warning Millennials that it’s…

Too late to buy…!

Home prices are rising so you better buy now…!

Hey, you’re strapped with student loan debt but there’s still a way to buy a house!

Interest rates are expected to rise so get off the fence…!

The Dirty Secret #1: The sole purpose of all these headlines and stories (i.e., hype) is designed to “push people off the fence” to buy a house and enable someone else make money…realtors…attorneys…insurance companies….warranty companies…sellers…Home Depot and Lowes (apppliances, sales of product to home improvement remodelers and contractors, and your home improvement projects) and other housing related contractors (painters, plumbers, electricians, HVAC services) etc,.

The Dirty Secret #2: Housing related spending (whether buying houses, fixing them up, or all the related household services supporting housing) drives anywhere from 15-20% of the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Yes, they/we all want your money…

So my advice to millennials is to “release the crap and wipe away the leftover hype” before you make a mess. And make sure that when “you” are ready to buy a home, you’ve done the basic research of home values compared to what you get…and do the math, if it doesn’t pay YOU to buy a home – Don’t!

Oh, and I use the term “literally”, figuratively in this case….

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“Coming Soon” v. Stick the yard sign in yard

Fair or unfair?

Should the listing agent wait until the listing is ready to be posted for sale to plant a yard sign…or put the sign in advance of listing effective date to offer “more potential buyers” chance at the house?

These are unlisted properties that may or will be formally and contractually listed with a broker in the near future, but not currently and most often, not yet priced. These are “teasers” to gain interest once the property becomes listed.

Source: “Coming Soon” signs – Is it in the Seller’s Best Interest?.

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Home Buyer Summary Steps to Buying a Home

Hey, before you begin this nerve racking fun and worthwhile process – PLEASE be honest with yourself. Don’t swing for the fences and overpay for a house you can’t afford to furnish, maintain, or pay monthly mortgage.

Also, take a shoot from the hip 30% of your total gross income and try to stay near that amount for your total monthly mortgage payment. And don’t forget, your mortgage payment will include the following: principal loan; interest on loan; homeowner’s insurance; property taxes; and possibly some form of mortgage insurance…so don’t get a quote of Principal and Interest (called P&I) from a lender and think that’s all. And be sure to factor monthly expenses such as home maintenance, utilities, and emergency repairs into your budget…DON’T PAY TOO MUCH FOR A HOUSE and get strapped!!!

Step #1: Get familiar with the home buying process. Please review my summary of the Buying Process here. Don’t just think you go out and find a house, then go to a lender to get qualified. You will be way behind the curve. Also, don’t think the mortgage payment will be your only monthly expenditure.

Step #2: Review my summary of the steps of the Mortgage application process. Talk to several mortgage lenders within a 2-4 week period (only counted as one hit to your credit). Just don’t call lenders over several months…Use my questions to Ask Lenders worksheet for a sample of questions to ask each lender to keep track. Also, if you find one who explains things and sounds like you can work with them, great!

Step #3: Get your finances in order and get pre-approved….YES – preapproved, not just pre-qualified. This means to get your financial paperwork into the lender and let them run it through their analysis and underwriting to get approved. This weighs alot during your negotiations – you will be way ahead of the rest who just found the same house but weren’t even talking to lenders…

Step #4: Look online through several real estate websites including realtor.com, zillow.com, trulia.com, redfin.com, etc., to find homes in your price range. Are you finding any that look like possibilities? If so, that’s great….and you shouldn’t have difficulty finding a home to buy. If not, you may need to adjust something like price or desired features. You can always add features and updates once purchased.

Step #5: Talk to several real estate agents and select one. Don’t pick one because he’s cute (like me), or one of the HOT busy agents at the time since they will have little time for you. Ask questions of his/her past experience and how would they approach your buying situation.

Step #6: Once your agent knows the features, price range, and area you are looking to purchase, the agent can setup a portal of listings mailed to you daily and from all you have found interesting, can setup appointments for you to visit with your agent. They can also research features, details, and other information about the properties. Once you have a date and time to visit properties – go visit with your agent. Or, perhaps you want to perform a drive by to see what the house and area actually look like. Sometimes pictures lie and the house and area aren’t exactly what you wanted. You can visit open houses with or without the agent to see styles and layouts. But if you have already selected an agent, be sure they know you are visiting open houses and mention to the listing agent you are working with an agent and mention their name. It’s possible the open house agent will try to prevent you to use a Buyer’s Agent in some ways.

Step #7: Once the right house comes across your interest, you and your agent can sit down to draft a contract offer and start the buying process. Be sure you understand your responsibilities and your ability to exit the contract and not get stuck with the house. Normally there will be a period of time to perform inspections, negotiate any repairs, and if necessary, terminate the contract and still get your earnest money back. Also, don’t forget to negotiate the appraisal and financing contingencies of your offer.

Remember:

  • There’s always another house if the deal goes south. It may not have “been the one”.
  • See at least 10-15 houses before making any decisions. The number isn’t as important as getting to see the inside of houses and helps you to evaluate the pros and cons of the features and layouts as a basis of comparison for your decision to purchase.
  • Evaluate each home after seeing it that day and try to pick the pros and cons of each. That way you’ll know what features to expect in your price range and once you see a home that pops, then it might “be the one”.
  • Try to minimize the number of homes to more than 10 and less than 50. Be honest after the first round of showings of what features you are of primary importance and which you are willing to reject. This will keep things fresh and not let the process drag on and both (1) discourage you and (2) lose out on better homes when you spend time on losers.

References to articles, sources, products, or services are not a specific endorsement and not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the information provided is valid, or the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others. Be careful – if it sounds too good, it probably is!

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Using Georgia Native Plants

I met the author – she is very dedicated to this effort – please consider using native Georgia plants in your yard…

Here’s an excerpt from her latest post…

“I’ve been writing this blog every week for over 7 years now – the first entry was October 14, 2010. The history is all there and, since plants don’t change much, some of the older January blogs are worth reading again – especially if you weren’t following back then. The pictures may not be as good, but the words are spot on. If you find any broken links, let me know in the comments and I’ll fix them (or remove them if they don’t exist).”

Source: Using Georgia Native Plants.

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