Homes cost a lot of money to maintain. Are you spending extra money unnecessarily on the upkeep of your home? Here are 10 of the most expensive mistakes you could be making.
1. Using Traditional Light bulbs
If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its lifespan, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home's bottom line.
2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet
A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.
3. Using the Wrong Air Filter Size
We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems, or accidentally buy the wrong size. Using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system, and set a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time. You won't ...

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has lowered its owner-occupancy requirement for condominiums, marking progress in an issue believed to be preventing homebuyers from entering the real estate market. The action, announced in a mortgagee letter issued this week, lowers the requirement from 50 percent to 35 percent, effective immediately.
Condo projects older than 12 months with at least 35 percent owner occupancy (and less than 50 percent) can qualify for FHA certification, provided other conditions are met. From FHA’s letter:

  • Applications must be submitted for processing and review under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Review and Approval Process (HRAP) option;
  • Financial documents must provide for funding of replacement reserves for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance in an account representing at least 20 percent of the budget;
  • No more than 10 percent of the total units can be in arrears (more than 60 days past due) on their condominium association fee payments; and
  • Three years of acceptable financial documents (defined in the letter) must be provided.

The action is a win for the real estate industry, which has been advocating for changes, and homebuyers, especially first-time buyers for whom condos are the most affordable housing ...

Halloween can be scary, but having the right insurance coverage can take some of the fright out of the night. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), your insurance policies provide financial protection for a host of disasters whether they occur on Halloween or any other day.

“If you’re worried about Halloween tricksters who may cause damage to your home, there’s probably little to fear,” said the  Insurance Information Institute. “But do contact your insurance professional with questions or concerns about your homeowners or renters insurance policy.”

Standard homeowners and renters insurance will provide coverage for the following:

Vandalism – In the event your home or your personal possessions are damaged by neighborhood tricksters, homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for vandalism and malicious mischief. You are on your own, however, when it comes to removing the toilet paper from your front yard!

Fire – If a jack-o-lantern or other decoration goes up in flames and damages your property, your homeowners or renters policy will cover fire-related losses. And, should the blaze make your home uninhabitable, additional living expenses (ALE) coverage will pay for alternate accommodations, such as a hotel, while your home is being repaired.

Injuries – The liability portion of a homeowners or renters policy comes ...

The start of a new season means that it's time to clean up the house, swap out clothes in your closets, and break out the seasonal tools in the garage. Check out the following tricks that will prepare any homeowner with the organizing skills necessary to keep everything tidy year-round.

Store It In The Fall

1. Garden tools and pots: Hose off dirty gardening gear and stack pots in tiers. For pots with fragile surfaces, layer newspaper between vessels to protect from scratches and chips. Outdoor garden storage benches and cabinets are also great for storing tools and pots over the winter. To find gear easily come spring, group like items together.
2. Summer clothes: To free up precious closet real estate, measure the number of feet of hanging space your clothes take up and get a garment rack wide enough to accommodate it all. Stow in a dry basement or attic. And be sure to clean clothes before putting them away—even if they look spot-free. Stains that seem invisible can oxidize over time and be hard to get out if left untreated.
3. Beach towels, picnic blankets, outdoor linens, and tableware: Clear the linen closet of summer beach towels and outdoor tablecloths and place mats; stash in giant plastic tubs. Cradle outdoor dishes and cups on top. Park the bin in a basement or attic.

Store It In The Winter

1. Garden rakes: Hang long-handled rakes and garden tools from ...

The Plan Collection (TPC) notes that having a haunted-looking house might be just the look you want once a year, but what about once Halloween's over? The company shares their list of the top 10 elements of a house plan design that can make any home the scariest in the neighborhood along with advice on how to fix them.

1. Lifeless Color Scheme. Dark paint colors, when used as the primary exterior color, can make almost any home look dreary, uninviting. Lighter paint colors that complement the design of your house are often the better choice for the exterior of your home. Reserve your use of darker color to areas that emphasize special features such as the trim or windows.

2. Ghostly Lighting. No one wants to knock on the door of a house without exterior lighting, but lighting features that cause heavy shadows along walk-ways or at entry points - creating that fear that something or someone might be lurking just ahead -- can be even worse. Redirecting the light features or using lower wattage bulbs is often an easy way to chase the ghosts away. If investing in new lighting, consider lamps that emphasize the beauty of your home's exterior features.

3. Eerie Architectural Style. Remember the rather "unique" look of the home in The Addams Family? Norman Bates' house on the hill in Psycho? Certain architectural styles - such as Victorian and the Second Empire style with ...

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