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Don’t Turn On Your New Home’s Fireplace Until You Read This

The charming fireplace in your new home is one of the details you love most. No doubt you’re eager to enjoy its warm glow with family and friends. But before you light up the first log, it’s important to make sure that both your fireplace and chimney are in safe working order.

Look for any cracks, gaps, or signs of wear in the lining of the firebox (the interior of the fireplace). If the lining has deteriorated to the point that the steel body beneath it is visible, you’ll need to have it professionally repaired. Otherwise, excessive heat can build up inside your fireplace and cause permanent damage, says Tom Spalding of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

Look for Telltale Smoke Stains

Smoke stains can be another signal that your fireplace isn’t functioning properly. If you see stains on the ceiling, smoke could be escaping from a gap between the hearth and the firebox, warns Spalding. This is most likely because the hearth has settled — not an unusual occurrence in an older home. When this settling occurs, sparks that fall into the gap can send up smoke, “essentially acting as a secondary chimney,” Spalding says. You’ll need a mason, skilled handyman, or fireplace professional to fix this.

You may also notice smoke stains above the fireplace opening. In this case, the problem may be the flue damper, a mechanism with a hand-operated lever that helps you control the air flow into the fireplace. If the lever is damaged or caked with gunk, you may not be able to open or close the damper completely, which can cause smoke to leak out of the fireplace. Again, a professional can determine if the mechanism can be fixed or if it needs replacing.

Is the Grate Too Large?

When it comes to your fireplace grate, bigger isn’t necessarily better. According to the CSIA, a metal grate used to hold burning firewood should be no more than two-thirds the size of your fireplace opening. An oversized grate may tempt you to pile on too much wood, and the resulting flames can dangerously overheat your fireplace. If your grate is too large, replace it with a smaller one that’s more appropriate for your needs.

Check Your Chimney

You may not want to climb up on your roof to peer into the chimney. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Getting your chimney inspected is one of the most important steps you can take before using your fireplace.

“The biggest mistake homeowners make is to simply assume that their chimney is in working order,” says Spalding. In fact, that kind of guesswork helps to account for an average of 22,700 chimney fires annually between 2010 and 2012, according to the CSIA.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends an annual inspection of your chimney by a qualified professional. You can expect to pay between $100 and $300 for the service, depending on your location. The findings can clarify whether your chimney needs cleaning or repair.

Last But Not Least

Once the fireplace and chimney in your new home are in tiptop shape, you’re almost ready to build your first crackling fire. Before you do, remember a couple of safety tips: Always know where your fire extinguisher is, and make sure it’s fully charged and ready to use (the CSIA recommends a 5-pound model with a flexible hose). Remember to always open the flue before you start a fire. Close it when not in use to save energy. Finally, make sure you’ve stocked up on enough seasoned firewood to enjoy your new fireplace whenever the mood strikes.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fireplaces-chimneys/dont-fire-your-new-homes-fireplace-until-you-read/#ixzz3o7kgPi7F 

Featured post

7 Trends Spicing Up Kitchen Designs

Check Out These 7 Trends Spicing Up Kitchen Designs.

Mediterranean Kitchen | Pet Friendly

Top Kitchen Features in Demand:

• Induction cook-tops
• Steam ovens
• French-door refrigerators
• Bottom freezer refrigerators
• Touch-activated faucets
• Electronic (no touch) faucets
• LED lighting

Source: Realtor.org (the trends were determined by the NKBA study)

JenniferCarlsonRealtor

May 11, 2014

OPEN HOUSES are the gold standard in Real Estate!

Find out why open houses have been around for so many years, and what to expect from them in the future of real estate.

Try using some of the following tips/trends on your next open house visit OPEN HOUSE TRENDS

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Minneapolis is ranked #5 on list of “Top 10 Cities With Jobs For Recent College Grads!”

Minneapolis recently ranked #5 on list of “Top 10 Cities With Jobs for Recent College Grads”

Top 10 Cities With Jobs For Recent College Grads | Minneapolis, MN (ranked #5)

10-Step Guide to Buying a House

http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/10-step-guide-to-buying-a-house/

  1. Are you ready to be a homeowner?
  2. Hire a Realtor®
  3. Get pre-approved
  4. Look at homes
  5. Choose a home
  6. Get funding
  7. Make an offer
  8. Get insurance
  9. Closing!!
  10. What’s next?!

5 Lessons From First-Time Home Buyers

http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/5-lessons-from-first-time-homebuyers/

5-things-learned-costs-1024x682

  1. Mortgage meltdown — never count on your financing until it’s final/closed…
  2. Count your costs — keep track of your mounting costs and fees…
  3. Budget time & money for repairs — they’ll cost you, in more ways than one…
  4. Multiple visits are okay — don’t be shy if you want to re-visit the home…
  5. Learn (& love) thy neighbors — it can make or break your living situation…

$3Million lake retreat in Golden Valley

$3Million lake retreat in Golden Valley is ‘cabin’ in the city | http://ow.ly/LcF1e http://ow.ly/i/aemtj | #StarTrib #MN #Home #Cabin

Protect Your Family: Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

•Carbon monoxide (CO) exposure incidents increase during the winter months and CO is often called the ‘silent killer’.

•CO is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that, when inhaled, combines with the blood and prevents it from absorbing oxygen, which can lead to illness or death.

•According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, municipal fire departments across the country respond to more than 60,000 CO incidents each year.

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Click on the link below to read more:
VIEW FULL ARTICLE LINK HERE
[via Lakeshore Weekly Newspaper]

Homeowners File Fewer Auto Claims | Wall Street Journal

According to an auto-insurance comparison company/site (www.insurance.com), a performance study of their data/statistics suggests a direct comparison between people who own a home, and resulting in being a better driver…

Insurers have long observed that, on average, drivers who own their homes file fewer auto-insurance claims than renters. And, in fact, many companies take homeownership into account when calculating a customer’s premiums, says Des Toups, managing editor of Insurance.com

To determine whether homeowners or renters are most likely to file a claim, Insurance.com analyzed data from more than 700,000 drivers who completed an online questionnaire between Jan. 1, 2012, and July 14, 2014. The company then broke out the numbers both by state and by age group. Data weren’t available for Alaska, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Most likely to file an auto claim are drivers between 18 and 24 who live with their parents. According to Insurance.com data, 24.4% of drivers in this group have filed a claim in the past three years. Meanwhile, 19.7% of renters 18 to 24 have filed a claim, while 17.6% of homeowners 18 to 24 have filed a claim.  The effect persists well into drivers’ 40s and 50s, albeit at lower levels. For instance, 15.2% of drivers 45 to 54 living with their parents filed claims, compared with 14.1% for renters and 13.4% for homeowners in the same age range.

As the saying goes, correlation doesn’t imply causation, and, Mr. Toups notes, the numbers don’t provide any explanation for why homeowners are less likely to file auto claims.  Asked to speculate, he says that income probably plays a partial role. “It’s also probably a function of stability”, but added, “we can’t look at this data & claim that to be true.”

When looking at the state level, Insurance.com identified Nebraska as home to the largest disparity between owners and renters, with 15.2% of owners filing auto claims compared with 22.6% of renters.  A few states, however, bucked the trend. In Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan and Oklahoma, homeowners were more likely than renters to file a claim.

And then there is old age—the great leveler. Owners and renters 65 to 99 are equally likely to file a claim, with 14.7% of both groups reporting one.  In fact, the safest drivers overall—with only 11% filing a claim—are those 65 to 99 living with their parents. Something tells us they probably aren’t sneaking beers in the basement.


http://www.wsj.com/articles/homeowners-file-fewer-auto-claims-1420038394?mod=residential_real_estate

How the 2014 Housing Market Will Shape 2015:

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How the 2014 Housing Market Will Shape 2015.
Here are some of the trends realtor.com® notes from 2014 that will help drive a stronger 2015:

An improving economy: “After an especially harsh winter earlier in the year, the economy picked up steam and produced a banner year for new jobs,” realtor.com® notes in its report. “The GDP this year was higher, and is still trending higher, resulting in stronger consumer confidence.”

Low mortgage rates: Despite the end of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing this year, mortgage rates continued to decline and helped to lower borrowing costs of home buyers. In recent weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 4 percent.

Returns to normal price appreciation: “After two years of abnormally high levels of home price appreciation in 2012 and 2013, price increases moderated throughout 2014,” realtor.com® notes. “We are now experiencing increases in home prices consistent with long-term historical performance.”

Distressed sales decline: Foreclosures and short sales fell throughout the year. Foreclosures are projected to be down 30 percent year-over-year at the close of 2014.

Investor activity lessens: Coinciding with the drop in distressed sales and higher home prices, large-scale investor purchase activity in the single-family market decreased. Less competition from investors may offer more room for traditional first-time buyers to squeeze into the market.

However, the realtor.com® report notes several factors that continue to plague the housing recovery and prevent it from being stronger, including:

Tight credit standards: “Despite historically low rates, many households were prevented from capitalizing on mortgage access because of overlays lenders added to qualification standards in order to limit put-back risk,” realtor.com® notes. “A tight spread between approved and declined FICO scores shut out nearly half of the potential population this year. As a result, mortgage credit availability did not improve in 2014.”

Tight inventories of for-sale homes: Inventories did rise this year, but supply failed to outpace demand. The monthly supply of new homes and existing homes continued to fall beneath normal levels, and the age of inventory was down year- over-year.

Fewer first-time buyers: The share of first-time buyers dropped to the lowest level in nearly 30 years, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. “But the first-time buyer share is showing signs of modest improvement by the year-end,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. Federal policy actions, such as revised regulations for lenders and new low down-payment programs introduced in December, are believed to have a positive impact in increasing first-time home buyer share in 2015.

Record levels of renters: The home ownership rate continued to fall this year as the number of renters increased. Rent increases have become an inflationary concern this year, and the pace of rental increases does not appear to be slowing down.

Sluggish new-home building: Single-family new-home starts barely budged in 2014 compared to 2013. New home sales remain far from normal levels. They are typically near 16 percent and instead remain around 9 percent. Still, new home prices rose substantially again this year, revealing that higher priced product is limiting the demand.
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(Source: REALTOR MAGAZINE)