SELLERS’, BUYERS’ & HOMEOWNERS’ ADVICE
Remove Pet Stains from Hardwood Floors
A hardwood floor’s finish is designed to protect it from unwanted moisture, but pet stains are trickier to clean. Even if pets have never wet the floor, they may think they have to mark over pet stains from previous households. Pets will also return to their own previously “marked” areas.
If you get there in time, you can blot the stain with paper towels and rinse the area with white vinegar. Follow with a pet stain cleanser (specifically formulated for hardwood floors) and blot up the excess.
Most stains can be removed by scrubbing or sanding the wood to remove the protective finish, (the sheen). Start with #000 steel wool and wax. Once the stain area is stripped, you can apply mineral spirits to cut the grease or oil within the stain, and then rub it dry with a soft cloth. You may have to retreat with bleach or vinegar, and soak the spot, rinse, apply a dry cloth, re-sand, stain, wax and hand-buff.
Older pet stains may have seeped through the wood and into the subflooring, necessitating removal and replacement of the wood planks and subflooring. You’ll have to stain and finish new wood to match the rest of the floor, which could possibly involve hiring a professional.
Other remedies are also tried and true, including hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and bleach that you can use as cleansing agents. Just be careful when you are mixing cleaning agents with water not to over-soak the wood.
Hiring a General Contractor
When you hire a general contractor to remodel your home, it’s helpful to know what to expect, so start with the design you want. Are you doing a complete remodel? Updating a kitchen or bathroom? Adding square footage or moving walls and plumbing will require professionals to ensure the project turns out the way you want.
If you hire an interior design firm, or kitchen design firm, the company will have excellent resources, including general contractors. The designer wants a seamless, trouble-free project as much as you do, so s/he knows which contractors to hire, what they’re especially good at, and who to avoid.
The general contractor is in charge of scheduling, hiring, material estimation and acquisition, tear out, installation, waste disposal, permits, and insurance. All of the sub-contractors and their workers will report to him or her.
Ask for references. Most clients are happy to tell others if they had a good experience, and they understand your need to check referrals. Certifications can indicate standards of professionalism and values. NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) offers the Certified Remodeler, Certified Remodeler Specialist, and Certified Lead Carpenter designations.
Hiring a general contractor can protect you by knowing the latest building codes and getting the proper building permits so your job is insurable by your homeowner’s insurance. The firm will also provide worker’s compensation to cover workers who might get injured on your property.
Make certain the scope of the work is detailed in the estimate, so you know what, when and where work will be done.
You can check a Florida contractors’s licenses at myfloridalicense.com
Housing Forecast for 2018
There’s nothing like a new year to pump enthusiasm into your life, so what do the experts say about the housing forecast?
Unemployment remains low: Despite tens of thousands of people losing their homes as well as businesses and hospitality services crippled due to the storms, the unemployment rate remains at a low 4.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Buyers have the income to shop for homes.
New home construction lags demand: Due to costly governmental oversights, lack of skilled construction workers, and increased enforcement of undocumented workers, homebuilders are unable to meet demand for new homes, according to the U.S. Census. There’s currently five month’s worth of supplies at today’s rate of sales.
Millennials favor homeownership: Pew Research found that millennials are the largest living generation and are disproportionately renters compared with previous generations. As the generation matures (the oldest are at 34 years of age), seventy-two percent wish to become homeowners.
Demand is outpacing supply: According to Freddie Mac research, the hurricane season that hit the southern and eastern coastal areas, is exacerbating a market already short on homes, particularly in the affordable price ranges. Home prices are predicted to rise 4.9 percent.
Mortgage rates drop under four percent: Nationally, the average interest rates on conventional purchase-money mortgages decreased in the fall to less than four percent, reported the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Market conditions suggest near-term winter and spring homebuying will remain brisk. You might be encouraged to buy before the summer rush!
Using Gifts for A Down Payment
Merry Christmas, homebuyer! Don’t cash Mom and Dad’s check yet! Your loan could be denied if the money isn’t carefully documented.
Why? Gifts can cause confusion. Is your parents’ money a gift or a loan? Unless the terms are clearly defined, don’t mix the gift with your own funds. It alters your bank statements and raises your income both of which could muddy your financial picture.
Lenders require a paper trail for all monies, so no phone deposits. They also limit the size of gifts in relationship to the total down payment. Some loan programs require the borrower to contribute at least 3% to 5% of the down payment if the down payment is less than 20%, while other programs allow the entire down payment to be supplied by a gift.
To avoid questions, provide a certified down-payment gift letter or sign an affidavit that explain:
- The amount of the gift, accompanied by a corresponding cashier’s check, including a photocopy of the check
- The name and address of the gift-giver and relationship the gift-giver has to the homebuyer
- The purpose of the gift – to be used only as a down payment on the subject property, complete with the property’s address
- A statement confirming that the gift is not a loan, and does not need to be repaid
- Signatures of the borrower and the gift-giver
If you’re planning to use a gift as part or all of your down payment, ask your lender how to meet all the appropriate requirements.
Whether you are looking to buy or sell, I can offer the highest levels in real estate expertise and professionalism. Don’t hesitate to contact me and allow me to help guide you through that process!