Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3

How to Prepare Your Home for Fire Safety

by RISMEDIA

Many people think a fire won't happen to them. But what happens if it does? And what if there are children in the home? Will they know how to react to the sound of a smoke alarm?

"Tragically, about 436 children ages 14 and under die each year nationally in residential fires, said Allyson Fulton of Safe Kids Pennsylvania. "A properly functioning smoke alarm will cut the risk of dying in a residential fire by nearly 50 percent. Yet, smoke alarms are either not working or present in approximately 75 percent of the homes where a child has died in a residential fire."

Safe Kids Pennsylvania offers these "Tips for Parents" to prepare their home and their children in case of a residential fire.


The Right Way to Use Smoke Alarms

* Install smoke alarms in your home on every level and near each sleeping area or bedroom. Test them once a month, replace the batteries at least once a year and install new alarms every ten years. (Ten-year lithium alarms do not require battery changes each year.)

* Familiarize your child with the sound of your smoke alarm. Plan and practice several escape routes from each room of the home and identify a safe outside meeting place. Practicing an escape plan may help children, who can become frightened and confused, to escape to safety.

* Interconnect the alarms if possible so that when one sounds they all sound. If you cannot hardwire them, you can buy alarms that will broadcast a signal to each other.

* Place smoke alarms on ceilings or high on walls. Smoke rises, so alarms should be placed as high and as close to the middle of the room as possible.

* Do not place the smoke alarm on a wall that faces the outside if you live in a poorly insulated or mobile home. The temperature of the wall may vary depending upon the season and cause the alarm to malfunction.

* Place the alarm away from cooking or furnace fumes, fireplace smoke and dust. This will reduce unwanted alarms. The best location is at least three feet away from forced-air supply registers and not near windows or exterior doors since they can inhibit the alarm's ability to sense smoke.

* For the best protection against different types of fires, consider installing both ionization alarms (better at sensing flaming fires) and photoelectric alarms (better at sensing slow, smoky fires) or dual sensor alarms.

* If someone in your home is hearing-impaired, there are smoke alarms that use strobe lights.


How to Maintain Your Smoke Alarm

Most smoke alarms currently on the market are battery powered. However, 10-year lithium cell-powered smoke alarms are now available, eliminating the need to replace dead or missing batteries. Safe Kids USA offers the following guidelines for the proper maintenance of battery-powered and lithium smoke alarms:

* Test all alarms once a month. Testing is a simple process that can be done several ways. Most models have built-in test buttons that activate the alarm. For those alarms without built-in test buttons, follow the manufacturer's guidelines for testing and maintaining your smoke alarm.

* Vacuum your alarms regularly. Regular cleaning is imperative. Dirt can "confuse" the alarm and lead to false alarms or impair its functioning.

* Replace the batteries at least once a year. Even if your battery-operated alarm has never sounded, it is important to replace the batteries. In most battery-operated models, a "chirping" noise will sound for approximately 30 days when the battery needs replacing, but it is best to replace the batteries annually.

* Replace your smoke alarm, regardless of the type, at least every 10 years. Smoke alarms deteriorate over time, so they need to be replaced.

* If you have a problem with nuisance alarms, there are a few options you can try:

• Vacuum the smoke alarm more often.

• Move the smoke alarm farther away from the nuisance source, which is often cooking fumes.

• Switch to a photoelectric unit or an ionization unit with a hush button.

Top 5 Tips for Buying a Newly Built Home

by Dan Steward

Newly built homes, often in recently developed communities, are regaining popularity and are more affordable than in years past. New homebuilders are using desirable, open floor plans and are helping buyers get into new homes despite the nationwide credit crunch.

As with any major transaction, it’s critical that the buyer enter the home purchase fully informed and educated. Follow these important tips in a new home transaction to ensure that the outcome is a success.


1. Choose a Realtor Who Has New Home Sales Experience

Hire a buyer’s agent to represent you. Most of the time, your agent will be paid by the seller, but sometimes the responsibility for the agent’s fee is open for discussion. Even if you have to directly pay your agent, you can probably add that fee to the sales price, which would be worthwhile since a strong Realtor negotiating on your behalf can save you thousands more than the commission.

The builder’s sales agents are paid to represent the builder, regardless of what they may tell you. Many will use high pressure tactics to persuade you to sign the contract. Due to the high volume nature of brand-new home sales, lots of builder’s agents are paid less than a traditional commission; some earn a salary plus incentives, so turnover is important to their livelihood.

Your own agent will represent you, act as your fiduciary and disclose the positives as well as the negatives about the transaction. Builder’s agents don’t discuss drawbacks.

If your contract contains a contingency to sell your existing home before buying, again, hire your own seller’s agent to list your home. Be aware that buying before selling is not always in your best interest as hard bargaining goes out the window once you’ve emotionally already left your home.


2. Carefully Evaluate the Seller’s Lender before Committing

Builders often prefer their own lender because the builder will be kept fully informed of your personal progress; it’s one-stop shopping for a builder. However, a builder’s lender might not offer you the best deal. This is particularly true if the builder actually owns the lending company.

Builders will offer huge incentives to get you into your new home; sometimes up to 15% of the value of the home. However, they will often put one big stipulation on those incentives – that you use their lender. There are many problems that may crop up when you pigeon-hole yourself to one lender – higher rates and higher closing costs are the two biggest.

Ask to see a copy of your credit report and FICO cores. You can also order your own free credit report before shopping for a new home.

Insist that your lender guarantee its Good Faith Estimate. If the lender balks or makes excuses, go elsewhere. Reputable lenders will honor that request, even though it’s not required by law.

 

3. Check out the Builder’s Reputation

If a buyer has a bad experience with a builder, word spreads rapidly throughout a community. However, accurately and fairly assessing a builder’s history is the appropriate path—check public records for lawsuits or complaints and evaluate their resolutions.

Talk to the neighbors and scrutinize the construction quality of surrounding homes. Is the builder consistently building same-sized or larger than existing properties, or are homes shrinking in size, which could reduce neighborhood value?

Learn if the builder limits investor purchases – this ensures that the neighborhood doesn’t turn into a “rental” neighborhood, which may appear less well-maintained and reduce property value.


4. Hire a Home Inspector

Many people who buy new construction homes don’t bother to get a home inspection. Most new homes come with a one year “bumper-to-bumper” warranty that includes everything, and many home buyers feel that they can find out if there are any construction flaws during those 12 months. The problem is that many problems won’t surface until well after the 12-month warranty has expired.

If the inspector calls for further inspection by another professional contractor, find out if the inspector is telling you there could be a serious issue or if the inspector isn’t licensed to address that issue.

An inspection provides education about the property, and offers the validation of a trained, independent third party assessment of the structure and systems.


5. Obtain Legal Advice before Buying a Brand-New Home

Before you sign a purchase contract, talk to a real estate lawyer. Standard purchase agreements are designed to keep everybody out of court, but they don’t necessarily contain language that protects the buyer.

Ask questions about removal of contingencies and your cancellation rights. Make sure you understand your liability and commitments.

Find out if the materials used by the builder contain chemicals that are hazardous to your health. If your contract contains a warning about health issues, it’s probably because it’s a valid concern and other buyers have gone to court over it.

 

2010 Ulster County Real Estate Statistics

by Team Ulster

The following statistics were taken from the Ulster County Multiple Listing Service (MLS). These statistics include all single family homes sold in Ulster County that were listed on the Ulster County MLS. We will be comparing statistics for the full 2010 year with the previous year’s statistics.

There was little change in Ulster County real estate statistics from 2009 through 2010. Average and median prices for single family homes changed very little, as did the number of listings, number of listings sold, days-on-market, and the sale price to list price ratio.

The average sold price for single family homes decreased by about 1% from 2009 to 2010, from $246,729 to $243,537.

The median sold price for single family homes stayed the same from 2009 to 2010, at $215,000.

The number of days a sold house was on the market from the time it was listed until the closing date, increased by 3 days (about 2%) from 2009 to 2010, from 171 to 174.

The sale price to list price ratio increased by less than 1% from 2009 to 2010, from 93.33% to 93.68%. That means that in 2010 the average single family home sold for about 6% less than the final listing price for that home.

The number of single family homes listed in 2010 increased by about 1% from 2009, from 2,798 to 2,826.

The number of single family homes sold in 2010 increased by about 2% from 2009, from 972 to 989.

In 2011, with stable prices for single family homes and low interest rates that are slowly on the rise, this is a good time to buy.

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3

Contact Information

Photo of Laurel Sweeney Real Estate
Laurel Sweeney
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nutshell Realty
1209 State Route 213, PO Box 452
High Falls NY 12440
Office: 845-687-2200
Toll Free 877-468-5783
Fax: 845-687-4162

© 2016 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.®.  Equal Housing Opportunity.