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Pros and Cons of Renting a Home

Home ownership is almost an expected step that people consider at some point in their lives, but not everyone should necessarily make such an investment. There are times when renting a home is a better option. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of renting to help you make a more informed decision.  Less Expensive When you rent a home, you sign a lease as you would in an apartment. This means your monthly rent is typically lower than a mortgage because you do not have to pay property taxes or insurance. The con to moving into a rental home is that the deposits can be steep. You generally pay first and last month’s rent, along with any pet deposits. This can be quite a bit of money upfront. Maintenance When you rent a home, you are not responsible to fix any maintenance issues. If the roof begins leaking, it is your landlord’s responsibility to fix it as well as anything else that may break during the course of your lease. The disadvantage is that not all landlords are responsive to your request, which means you may end up putting buckets out to catch the water from the leak in the roof until your landlord fixes the issue. Under the law and the agreement of the lease, the landlord is responsible to fix maintenance issues, but it does not mean that he will fix them as fast as you would like.  Personalizing the Home A disadvantage to renting is that you cannot decide to knock down walls or start pulling up the flooring and replacing it as you could if the home belonged to you. However, you can often negotiate the price of the rent prior to moving in by offering to paint the walls with approved colors. A fresh coat of paint in a color you like can make the home feel more personalized. No Ties to the Neighborhood If the neighborhood suddenly begins to attract noisy neighbors, you can move out at the end of your lease agreement, with no obligation to the home. This is also useful if you get a job offer in another state. Moving from a rental is easier than selling your home when you need to move quickly. On the downside, if you live in the rental for a number of years and leave, you have built up no equity in the home.

 

By: Teri Schneider,  experts.merchantcircle.com

Category : Blog &Latest News

Using a Property Management Company

There are many advantages to using a property management company to care for your rental property. A property manager deals directly with the tenants and prospective renters. He saves the property owner money, time and worry by advertising the rental property, collecting rent and late payments, handling maintenance of the property, answering tenant complaints and evicting tenants who default on their rent payments.

When to Use a Property Management Company

  • A property manager can be of benefit if you own property and do not live close to it, or if your time is limited and being a landlord is not your day job.
  • Hire a property manager when rental properties are your business and you need help to manage your properties efficiently.
  • If you do not wish to be an employer, contract with a property manager. The manager is an independent contractor, which means you do not have to deal with payroll or the legalities of hiring employees.
  • If you participate in an affordable housing program, contract a property manager with experience in this type of housing.

 

Advantages

  • A property manager thoroughly screens applicants by looking at applications and checking a tenant’s background. This can result in less problematic tenants who pay on time and cause less wear and tear to the rental property. Having a property management company take care of screening tenants protects you from rental scams and discrimination lawsuits that may arise from the screening process.
  • Property managers have knowledge and experience with landlord-tenant laws. State and federal laws cover tenant screening, safety and conditions of the property, evictions, inspections, lease addendums, lease terminations, security deposits and rent collection. Avoiding lawsuits can spare you anxiety.
  • A property manager helps you prepare your property for rental, including making cosmetic improvements. She also helps you determine the best rental rate because a property manager usually knows the local market and has access to rental rate tools. This person can also advertise your property to attract a large pool of candidates in a short period of time.
  • The property manager can ensure better rent handling. He is the one in charge of listening to tenant excuses and chasing down rent payments and evictions, if necessary.
  • Property managers can help you with the necessary tax forms and documents to claim deductions. The property management fee is tax deductible.
  • The property management company has in-house maintenance staff and has access to contractors that can take care of maintenance issues, which may cost you less in repair costs.
  • Using a competent property manager gives you more freedom. You are not obligated to live close to your properties. Leaving the rental details in the hands of a property manager leaves you more time to spend with family and friends.

 

Disadvantages

  • Cost: Hiring a property manager can be costly; some charge a percentage of your income and may charge a leasing broker fee.
  • An incompetent property manager can cause you stress. An uncaring manager may be negligent and irresponsible when it comes to making repairs and informing you of serious problems with the property.

 

By: Maria Benton, experts.merchantcircle.com

Category : Blog &Latest News

Bed bug awareness & prevention

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Bed bugs should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard. Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • a sweet musty odor.

 

How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html

Category : Blog &Latest News

10 home maintenance tips for spring

The sun is peeking out and the plants are starting to blossom, so it must be about time for spring chores again. Here’s my annual spring checklist of important issues to tend to around the house.

1. Roofing repairs: If you suspect winter storms may have damaged your roof, it needs to be inspected. (If you’re not comfortable with the height or steepness of your roof, hire a licensed roofing contractor for the inspection.) Look for missing or loose shingles, including ridge-cap shingles.

Examine the condition of the flashings around chimneys, flue pipes, vent caps, and anyplace where the roof and walls intersect. Look for overhanging trees that could damage the roof in a wind storm, as well as buildups of leaves and other debris.

If you have roof damage in a number of areas, or if older shingles makes patching impractical, consider having the entire roof redone. Also, remember that if the shingles have been damaged by wind or by impact from falling tree limbs, the damage may be covered by your homeowners insurance.

2. Check gutters and downspouts: Look for areas where the fasteners may have pulled loose, and for any sags in the gutter run. Also, check for water stains that may indicate joints that have worked loose and are leaking. Clean leaves and debris to be ready for spring and summer rains.

3. Fences and gates: Fence posts are especially susceptible to groundwater saturation, and will loosen up and tilt if the soil around them gets soaked too deeply. Check fence posts in various areas by wiggling them to see how solidly embedded they are.

If any are loose, wait until the surrounding soil has dried out, then excavate around the bottom of the posts and pour additional concrete to stabilize them. Replace any posts that have rotted.

4. Clear yard debris: Inspect landscaping for damage, especially trees. If you see any cracked, leaning or otherwise dangerous conditions with any of your trees, have a licensed, insured tree company inspect and trim or remove them as needed.

Clean up leaves, needles, small limbs and other material that has accumulated. Do any spring pruning that’s necessary. Remove and dispose of all dead plant material so it won’t become a fire hazard as it dries.

5. Fans and air conditioners: Clean and check the operation of cooling fans, air conditioners and whole-house fans. Shut the power to the fan, remove the cover and wash with mild soapy water, then clean out dust from inside the fan with a shop vacuum — do not operate the fan with the cover removed.

Check outdoor central air conditioning units for damage or debris buildup, and clean or replace any filters. Check the roof or wall caps where the fan ducts terminate to make sure they are undamaged and well sealed. Check dampers for smooth operation.

6. Check and adjust sprinklers: Run each set of in-ground sprinklers through a cycle, and watch how and where the water is hitting. Adjust or replace any sprinklers that are hitting your siding, washing out loose soil areas, spraying over foundation vents, or in any other way wetting areas on and around your house that shouldn’t be getting wet.

7. Check vent blocks and faucet covers: As soon as you’re comfortable that the danger of winter freezing is over, remove foundation vent blocks or open vent covers to allow air circulation in the crawl space.

While removing the vent covers, check the grade level around the foundation vents. Winter weather can move soil and create buildups or grade problems that will allow groundwater to drain through the vents into the crawl space, so regrade as necessary. Remove outdoor faucet covers. Turn on the water supply to outdoor faucets if it’s been shut off.

8. Prepare yard tools: Replace broken or damaged handles, and clean and condition metal parts. Tighten fittings and fasteners, sharpen cutting tools and mower blades, and service engines and belts in lawn mowers and other power equipment.

9. Change furnace filters: Now is the time to replace furnace filters that have become choked with dust from the winter heating season. This is especially important if you have central air conditioning, or if you utilize your heating system’s fan to circulate air during the summer.

10. Check smoke detectors: Daylight Savings Time snuck up early again this year, and that’s usually the semi-annual reminder to check your smoke alarms. So if you haven’t already done it, now’s the time. Replace the batteries, clean the covers, and test the detector’s operation before it’s too late.

If you have gas-fired appliances in the house, add a carbon monoxide detector as well (or check the operation of your existing one). CO2 detectors are inexpensive and easy to install, and are available at most home centers and other retailers of electrical parts and supplies.

Remodeling and repair questions? Email Paul at paulbianchina@inman.com. All product reviews are based on the author’s actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.

Written by: Paul Bianchina/ InmanNews.com

Category : Blog &Latest News

Correcting low water pressure in the kitchen

Q: Your recent column, “Fix leaky faucet in 8 easy steps,” has inspired me to fix a slow leak in my bathroom sink. But I have a problem in the kitchen that also needs addressing.

Both the cold and hot handles provide a minimal water stream when first opened. I get a normal stream only after leaving one or both handles fully open for at least several minutes. It’s frustrating to have to always wait for a normal stream to produce sufficient amounts of water to wash the dishes. I thought maybe the problem would just go away, but after several weeks there’s been no improvement.

Do you have any idea what’s wrong and what the solution is?

A: Kudos to you for taking on the bathroom sink repair. It’ll cost you pennies and a little time, but save you many dollars you would have spent on a plumber.

The slow stream in the kitchen faucet might be a washer problem, too. But there might be other causes. One thing’s for sure: The lack of water pressure is the result of an obstruction of some kind between the water line entering under the sink and the spout emptying into the sink.

The fix requires a little trial and error.

Based on your question, we presume the kitchen faucet is a stem type, similar to your bath faucet. If not, there are a number of other types of faucets. All have rubber or neoprene washers, but the repair methods differ. Get the Web address of the manufacturer and go online to view a schematic of the parts and pieces and get some information on troubleshooting.

Repair a stem faucet from the top down by following these steps:

1. Remove the aerator from the spout of the faucet and turn on the tap to test the flow. The problem could be as simple as a clogged aerator. That would be great. If not, proceed to the next step.

2. Turn off the water by closing the valves under the sink.

3. Disconnect the spout from the faucet. Inspect the spout and the hole where the faucet was seated. This is a good time to replace the “O-ring” at the base of the spout. Leave the handles in the full off position. Wrap a towel around the base of the faucet. Turn the valves under the sink on and slowly open the cold faucet. Repeat the procedure with the hot faucet.

Hopefully this will dislodge any gunk in the body of the faucet and water will flow freely. If the flow remains restricted, the problem is further upstream. If the flow is unrestricted and there is no gunk, the problem is in the spout itself.

Run a stout wire through the spout to clear any obstructions. A straightened clothes hanger works. Replace the spout and test the flow. If the problem persists, go to the next step.

4. Pull the stems as you did to replace the washer on your bathroom faucet. Test the flow by wrapping a towel around the base of the faucet and slowly turning the under-sink supplies on.

Again, a low flow means the restriction is further upstream. If water flows freely, replace the washers.

The final place where a restriction might be is in the valves under the sink. If the valves are old, replace them.

5. Turn off the main water supply to the house (either at the meter or at the valve located where the water service enters the house.

6. Drain the system by opening all faucets and hose bibs. When the system is drained, remove and replace the valves under the sink. If the piping is threaded galvanized pipe, make sure to use a pipe wrench to stabilize the supply pipe while unscrewing the valve. This prevents possibly breaking the pipe threads in the wall.

If the supply pipe is copper, you may have to cut the valves and compression nut off, although we’ve had success using the existing nut and compression fitting with a new valve. This job rates about a “B” on the skills chart, so unless you’ve had some experience with copper pipe fitting, consider calling a plumber.

Written by: Bill & Kevin Barnett @ InmanNews.com

 

 

Category : Blog &Latest News

Vapor barrier tips

First of all, understand that moisture in your home’s air is a fact of life. Some of it is there naturally, as a product of the humidity that’s in the air, and the more humid the climate you live in, the higher the moisture level that may be inside your home.

Then there’s the moisture that you generate yourself: That can come from a wide variety of sources — anything from showers and cooking to house plants and even breathing.

During the winter months, you keep the air inside your home at a higher temperature than the air outside. Air has a natural tendency to move from a warm area to a cold area, so the heated air in your home is always trying to move toward the ceiling, the floor and the outside walls, carrying moisture vapor with it.

Also, our homes tend to be at a slightly higher air pressure than outside, and that slight overpressure is again pushing the air and moisture toward the ceiling and the exterior walls.

So what is a vapor barrier?

In simple terms, a vapor barrier is a material that won’t allow moisture to pass through it, such as plastic sheeting. A very simple experiment to show how a vapor barrier works is to lay a plastic garbage bag down on some damp soil.

Pick the bag up a little while later, and you’ll see that the underside of the bag is covered with moisture. The damp soil was trying to give off its moisture to the surrounding air, but the bag — the vapor barrier — prevented that from happening.

Once again, remember that the warm air in your home is trying to escape through the exterior walls, carrying moisture vapor with it. If it gets into the exterior walls, some of it will remain in the walls and condense back into a liquid, creating all kinds of problems.

So one of your home’s most common vapor barriers — and one of the most important — is the one used over the insulation in your exterior walls. It’s designed to stop the moisture before it can enter the wall cavities.

There are two basic types of vapor barriers used with exterior wall insulation. The most common is paper-faced insulation. This type of insulation has a Kraft paper face with two flanges. The insulation is installed into the wall cavity with the paper facing into the house. This is very important — the paper, which is the vapor barrier, always faces the warm side of the house.

That’s because that’s where the moisture is coming from. After the insulation is pushed into the wall cavities, the paper flanges are unfolded, then they’re stapled to the face of the studs. Done correctly, that creates a continuous vapor barrier across the face of the entire wall.

The second method is to fill the cavities with unfaced insulation, then cover the face of the wall with 4-mil clear plastic sheathing. The plastic sheathing is the vapor barrier, and has the advantage of having fewer gaps and openings than the paper-face method, and it’s also easier for the drywallers to see the studs during installation.

For the ceiling, if you’re using batt insulation it’s important that the insulation be installed with the vapor barrier facing down — again toward the heated space. If you’re upgrading old batt insulation by adding a second layer of batts on top of the first, never use faced batts for the second layer. If you do, you run the risk of creating a double vapor barrier; any moisture that passes through the first layer of insulation can get trapped by the vapor barrier on the second layer.

For the most part, attics are insulated with blown-in insulation. So you might be wondering where the vapor barrier is. Actually, there isn’t one in that case, other than the drywall and paint on the ceiling. The difference between the attic and the exterior walls is that the attic isn’t a closed cavity. It’s open to the outside, and has ventilation to allow the moisture to escape. That’s why it’s critical that attics be properly ventilated, and that exhaust fans not be vented into attic spaces.

The last area to consider is your crawl space, which actually has two vapor barriers to be concerned with. In the typical crawl space with a dirt floor, a 6-mil plastic vapor barrier is used to prevent moisture from the soil from coming up into the crawl space area. That vapor barrier is laid directly on the dirt, and the seams are overlapped at least 12 inches.

The other vapor barrier is created with your floor insulation. One common mistake people make when insulating a floor is to install faced batts between the floor joists with the Kraft paper facing down, so they can staple the paper to the joists to hold the batts in place. Remember, the paper is the vapor barrier, and it has to face the heated part of the house, which means it has to face up. Always install batt insulation between the joists with the paper facing up against the underside of the subfloor, then hold the insulation in place with lath, wire or other means.

Source: Inman News

 

 

Category : Blog &Latest News

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Founded in 1988 by Bert A. less, Leco Realty has a staff of seven full time employees and a full complement of crafts and maintenance vendors. Still a family owned operation, the company manages over 1,500 units in the Memphis metropolitan area. Read More

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