Increase Comfort and Lower Energy Bills for the Warmer Months

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As the warm weather creeps in and the country heats up, now is the time for homeowners to make sure they’re doing their part to help increase comfort and reduce energy bills.

From the exterior to the interior, the consideration of a few simple tips could mean the difference between a summer that’s hot and expensive and a season that’s comfortable and won’t break the bank.

A real “pane” – Use windows to your advantage. Turn off the HVAC if you’re in a climate that cools off at night and open a window. When morning comes, shut the window, and lower the blinds to capture cool air.

Seal it up – Keep the cool in and the hot out. Homeowners are encouraged to take a walk around their home and look for cracks and openings that could let hot air in. Seal up those areas with caulk or weather stripping to increase efficiencies inside.

Plant some trees – According to the Arbor Day Foundation, large deciduous trees (maple, oak, elm, birch) planted on the east, west and northwest sides of a house not only provide cooling shade, but also can reduce summer air conditioning costs by up to 35 percent.

Insulate for the win – According to a recent survey, 46 million homes in the U.S. lack proper insulation. That translates to higher energy bills and uncomfortable residents. CertainTeed, a leader in insulation, has just the thing for homeowners with their new Insulation Selector Tool. The Insulation Selector Tool works by recommending a personalized selection of insulation solutions based on climate data, budget and the homeowner’s specific needs for their home and family. The tool considers a wide range of variables that impact comfort, including creating consistent indoor temperatures, helping reduce family allergies, moisture and mold, and providing noise control.

CertainTeed offers insulation, drywall, siding, roofing, decking, railing, exterior trim and fence product lines, all proudly made in the U.S.A. For additional home improvement ideas, building solutions and inspiration, visit www.certainteed.com.

Easy Breezy: 5 Ways to Make Summer Lawn Care Projects Easier

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Summer is here and your lawn is a source of pride. However, it can also be a source of hard work, sweat and even frustration. So ask yourself this question: Would you be interested in maintaining your yard’s beauty with fewer headaches?

If the answer is yes, then you’re in luck, because this article is all about helping you find ways to maintain a beautiful lawn without all the unnecessary effort. Apply these five tips today and you’ll have more time to enjoy your well-cared-for yard.

• Be smart about seeding. The dog days of summer are not the ideal time to reseed your lawn, so don’t waste the effort. Seed growth is more successful during cooler months, so if you didn’t seed in the early spring, wait until later in the season before doing so. You’ll get the same results without wasting the effort on an inefficient seeding.

• The perfect cut. Your lawn is the centerpiece of your yard, and nothing improves its overall appearance like the perfect cut, especially when that cut comes easy. Greenworks 60-Volt Mower is a lithium-ion battery-powered mower that eliminates the need to mix and pour gas, letting you put that time back into making your lawn look great. Finding the perfect cutting height is easy with its seven different blade positions, while Patented Smart Cut Technology maximizes run-time by keeping the blade speed at an optimal level based on the thickness of the turf.

• Water smart. Just as with seeding, successfully watering your lawn is all about timing. And, like seeding, dragging a sprinkler around your yard during the peak hours of the day will result in the water you expend being burned off before it does any good. To make the most of your watering sessions, water your lawn at dawn or dusk when temperatures are cooler. This increases the possibility that the water will stick around long enough for the grass to absorb it.

• Trimming made easy. A well-cut lawn is perfectly complemented by manicured bushes and shrubs, and tackling these tasks with the Greenworks 60-Volt Cordless String Trimmer and Hedge Trimmer is easy. Each tool utilizes push button start technology, eliminating the need for pull cords, while the battery-powered brushless motor offers an environmentally friendly, gas-alternative, and neither lacks for power or options. Tackle large projects with the string trimmer’s 16-inch cut path or use the hedge trimmer’s lightweight, rotating handle to reach every angle and you’ll get the perfect trim in no time.

• Add mulch to control weeds. The most beautiful planting beds lose their luster if their base is crowded with weeds. To eliminate this problem – and to save on the wear and tear of pulling the weeds yourself – add a 4-inch layer of mulch to the top of your beds. This mulch blocks out the sun, making it hard for weeds to grow. It also reduces your need to water these beds by slowing water’s evaporation rate.

Summer is here, and while your lawn care is ongoing, there’s still plenty of time to make those chores more efficient to benefit yourself and your lawn. To learn more about the lawn care tools available from Greenworks, visit www.greenworkstools.com.

Forecast for the Week: Did home sales heat up in May? Find out.

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April Existing and New Home Sales data disappointed. We’ll find out if May’s data heated up.

Existing Home Sales will be shared on Wednesday followed by New Home Sales on Friday.
• As usual, weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be released on Thursday.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.

To go one step further, a red “candle” means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green “candle” means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, the Mortgage Bond market saw volatility this past week. Home loan rates remain near historic lows.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Jun 16, 2017)

Last Week in Review: The cha-ching didn’t register at retailers in May. Housing Starts disappointed. Inflation remained tame.

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Retail Sales in May saw the biggest decline since January 2016, the Commerce Department reported. Retail Sales were down 0.3 percent from April, in contrast to the 0.1 percent increase expected. Sales for motor vehicles and discretionary spending both fell. But, on a positive note, Retail Sales are up nearly 4 percent from a year ago.

Housing Starts fell 5.5 percent in May from April to an annual rate of 1.092 million units, below expectations per the Commerce Department. It was the lowest rate since September 2016 and the third straight month of declines. Single-family starts, which account for the biggest share of the residential housing market, fell to the lowest level in eight months. Builders cited a lack of skilled workers and a rise in building materials for the decline. Housing Starts are also down 2.4 percent from May 2016. Building Permits, a sign of future construction, fell 5 percent from April to May.

Consumer inflation remained tame in May. Year over year, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell to 1.9 percent after hitting 2.7 percent four months ago. Wholesale inflation as measured by the Producer Price Index was unchanged in May due to lower energy costs.

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark Fed Funds Rate by a quarter percent after its June meeting, as forecasted, bringing the new target range to between 1.0 and 1.25 percent. This is the rate at which banks lend money to each other overnight and it does not directly impact long-term rates like home loan rates.

Despite recent volatility in the Bond market, home loan rates remain near historic lows.

If you or someone you know is in the market for a home, please contact us today. We’d be happy to answer any questions about home loans.

3 Easy Ways to Combat Water Damage in Your Walls and Ceilings

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Ask any homeowner what they dread the most when it comes to home ownership, and it’s likely to involve some type of undetected water damage that could result in mold and mildew in their walls and ceilings – and the problems that follow.

Most water damage in homes is associated with pipes and appliances, especially those that are not regularly maintained. Left unchecked, resulting mold and mildew can potentially cause health problems.

Six of the most common causes of water damage include:

Window or roof leak that causes water to run down inside the cavity of the wall or ceiling

Gutter clog that can cause rainwater to back up into your home

Icemaker water line to the refrigerator that leaks, causing mold in the cavity or on the surface of the wall

Washing machine or dishwasher water hose failure that can cause mold within the wall

Air conditioner unit clog or drip pan overflow that can cause water to run down the interior wall or ceiling

Nail in PVC pipe that results in water leak or bursting pipes

“Homeowners need to realize that the effects of water damage in their homes aren’t always visible – and once you find them, it’s likely mold growth already has occurred and can affect everything on the wall surface and behind it,” said Anitra Mecadon, TV personality and award-winning interior designer.

There are three main ways to protect against water damage and the issues that follow:

Use drywall with extra protection for your walls and ceilings – such as moisture-, mold- and mildew-resistant PURPLE XP drywall by National Gypsum – whether you’re building a new home, or remodeling or restoring the one you have. PURPLE XP products are GREENGUARD Gold Certified for indoor air quality while aiding in the creation of healthier indoor environments.

Routinely inspect vulnerable areas to prevent water damage before it occurs. Every few months grab a flashlight and do some sleuthing under sinks, behind appliances and around windows to check for moistness, rust, kinks or damage in water lines and hoses, and a musty odor. On a regular basis have professionals check things out, especially your air conditioning unit.

Act quickly to minimize damage from water intrusion, because mildew and mold can begin to grow within 24-48 hours of water exposure.

“I don’t know a single homeowner that hasn’t had a water problem of some kind at some point in the history of living in their home,” Mecadon says. “My advice is simple – be prepared. Walls and what they’re made of are important and they’re not all the same. When you can, choose PURPLE XP drywall for performance, value and peace of mind that lasts.”

For more information, go to www.AskForPurple.com.