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Owning a home is a keystone of wealth -- both financial affluence and emotional security.   Suze Orman

Working with Contractors

Unless you are one of these all knowing TV construction wizards, sooner or later you will need to hire someone to do some work on your home or investment property. For some of the smaller or less technical projects a local handyman can do nicely. However, as Clint Eastwood once told us, “a man's gotta know his limitations.” The same applies to the people you hire.

Licensed and Insured

When you need them, the place to start is licensed AND insured contractors. This should just be the minimum to get them in your door. Don't be afraid of offending them by asking to see their certificates – and check the dates to be sure the policies are still in force. Legitimate guys have these things handy and expect to produce them.

When you need them, the place to start is licensed AND insured contractors. This should just be the minimum to get them in your door. Don't be afraid of offending them by asking to see their certificates – and check the dates to be sure the policies are still in force. Legitimate guys have these things handy and expect to produce them.

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12 Tips for Getting Most out of a Home Inspection

A proper home inspection is your best defense against buying a property that will be a home improvement nightmare. Use these 12 tips to get the most out of your home inspection

Show Up

Make sure you are present for the home inspection and be prepared to ask questions and point out specific problems you'd like to check out further. This will be the first time your home inspector has been at the property,h3> so your knowledge of potential issues is invaluable.

Use Someone You Trust

Doing your homework to find your own home inspector can really give you peace of mind. While your realtor probably has a few inspectors that he or she can recommend, you should really find your own. An impartial, third-party home inspector won't have any loyalty to your realtor and will be able to talk freely and frankly about potential issues. You may have to pay a little bit extra for a quality home inspector, but compared to the purchase price of a house, it's well worth it. When searching for an inspector, here are two good places to start: and

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How Home Appraisals Work

You've found your dream home. The asking price is $300,000 -- an amount you've already been pre-approved for by your bank. But is the home really worth that amount? That's the question at the heart of the home appraisal. The worth, or value of the property, will determine how much a lender is willing to give you to buy that particular piece of real estate.

This all-important step in getting the financing you need is the home appraisal -- an oftentimes-confusing part of the mortgage process in which both buyer and seller must depend on the expert opinion of a stranger. A real estate appraisal is simply that -- the expert opinion of a certified, state-licensed professional who determines the value of a piece of property. If your $300,000 dream home is really worth only $200,000, then the home is overpriced.

A home appraisal also protects the bank from getting stuck with property that's worth less than they've invested. And it protects you from paying too much for a house simply because it was love at first sight. The home appraisal is a no-nonsense factor in a decision that is often emotional for the buyer.

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Top 10 Plumbing Fixes You Can Do Yourself

Save money by doing simple plumbing repairs yourself. These fixes are completely DIY with basic tools and skills.

Stop Leaks in Joints

The best time to fix a plumbing leak is before it happens, by properly connecting water supply and waste line fittings. Learn the tricks that pros use to make leakproof connections.

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16 Deal-Killing Mistakes

First-Time Homebuyers & Sellers Make

Sometimes the smartest people make the silliest mistakes. In fact, when I worked as an agent in Manhattan, I watched PHDs swoon over apartments they could never afford, and investment bankers talk themselves out of great deals.

Simply put, when it comes to mistakes first-time homebuyers and sellers make, no one has a monopoly on bad decisions.

1. Giving Early Possession of Your Property

Never give early possession of a property, always wait until the property is fully closed before possession and don’t allow the buyer to leave any personal possessions at the property. If you do, you may create problems for everyone involved and open yourself up to liabilities and expenses. Always wait until after closing to hand over the keys.

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Tips to sell your own home

By listing on your own, you have more control of pricing and the showing schedule

If you’re looking to sell your home but don’t want to go through the hassle of using a listing or real estate agent, there are ways you can go about the process on your own.

This year could be a good one to sell, too. As previously reported by FOX Business, experts predict the spring purchase season should “have a lot of legs,” driven by an uptick in activity among millennials.

An existing lack of inventory is expected to be exacerbated at the entry level, which could bolster prices for individuals selling homes in that segment.

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Free Checklist

Get your free Checklist For Showing Your Home to prepare your house for sale.

Other Interesting Sites

DIY Network TV Shows, how to advice, videos, contests and remodeling ideas.

This Old House All sorts of do it yourself information for the homeowner.

Home Advisor Find trusted local pros for any home project.

The Spruce Ideas and Tips to make your bgest home.

Family Handyman A place where you learn to tackle home projects yourself.

Lowes The Blue Store - the place where you can get pretty much anything for you home projects.

Home Depot The Orange Store - the other place where you can get pretty much anything for you home projects.

Shrubs, Bushs and Trees

The Finishing Touch

Home landscaping is no different than any other kind of landscaping. It is just a matter of degree. Where the office park may have dozens of trees and shrubs around their buildings, you may need only a dozen or so. It is natural for people to want their home to look as good as possible. Who doesn't want the kind of yard that the whole neighborhood is envious of? The beauty of home landscaping is that it does not have to be hard and much of it you can do yourself.

All it takes is a bit of elbow grease and some time to design your own home landscaping. Yes, I said design. To get the best out of your investment, put some thought into the project. You will be much happier than if you just grab a little of this and a little of that at the garden center.

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Top Reasons for a Mortgage Denial

Low mortgage rates continue to push borrowing costs lower this year, but not every consumer is able to qualify. About a quarter of mortgage refinance applications are getting denied, according to a study from LendingTree of more than 10 million mortgage applications.

The top four reasons why applications were denied were debt-to-income ratio, credit history, incomplete application, and insufficient collateral.

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Measuring With Light

Laser Measuring for Speed and Accuracy

Years ago when I was a kid helping my father with projects around the house we used a wooden rule that unfolded to the desired length and broke when I bent it the wrong way. It was fragile and sometimes awkward, but in the hands of a skilled workman got the job done nicely. Later, when I began my own projects I started using the ubiquitous tape measure. I still use my FatMax most of the time and still manage to mangle one now and then. But, it gets the job done.

I know lasers have been around for a number of years and for some readers this is old news. However I don't see too many in actual use. Of course they are very good at some tasks and as useful on others as eating soup with a fork. I, like most, use the tape for cutting boards, but using a saw with a laser guide helps you hit your mark.

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Keep Those Gutters Flowing

You do have gutters, don't you? They protect the foundation and landscaping, help keep water from penetrating gaps on the siding, and direct water away from sidewalks and driveways. This last item is especially important in the frozen north where the rain can freeze and give the tenants an additional opportunity to fall and hit the jackpot with the help of the aforementioned shyster lawyer.

Trees are great to have on your property. They are nice to look at while they provide shade... and leaves that clog your gutters. There are many approaches to keeping these leaves out of the gutters and downspouts. Just as there is a variety of methods there is a corresponding variety of prices – ranging from simple styrofoam wedges to sophisticated held in place with screws. Let's look at a few of them.

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Inspectors: A Necessary Evil?

If you are buying and/or selling real estate you will come in contact with building inspectors. I'm not talking about the ones from the local government that tell you what you can and cannot do with your own property along with who can do it. That is a discussion for another day. We are looking at the inspectors buyers hire to check out a piece or real estate before they commit to closing.
They can be somewhat annoying even when checking out a property you wish to buy but they can be extremelhy helpful. They are the ones who squeeze into crawl spaces under the house and skulk about in attics so I don't have to. In fact, you will not find me creeping around two foot high caverns dodging sewer pipes, air ducts and the usual assortment of critters that populate such environments.

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9 home improvement projects

that are easier – and often cheaper – in the winter

Yard work, roofing and entire home renovations may have to wait until the warmer months. Winter, however, can be prime time for completing certain projects that otherwise would not get done.

For starters, contractors have increased availability since it’s their slowest time of the year. They’re also generally more willing to negotiate on labor costs. Materials – everything from paint to appliances – are also deeply discounted to make room on the shelves for new spring inventory.

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Tools To Keep Up Your Home Happy

We've written about some tools in the past but have not addressed the needs of the average home owner or apartment dweller who just wants to be able to take care of a few things around their home, perhaps hanging blinds or fixing broken furniture. This is not aimed at the professional contractor or even the serious amateur who enjoys his tools as much as the results of their work.

If you are just starting out or if you only have a few odd tools lying about you probably would be better off looking at a small packaged tool set. There are several reasons for this.

These packages are generally less expensive than buying the pieces individually. They reflect the experience of the professionals who put them together. By that I mean that they include things you may not pick up if you just bought bits and pieces.

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