Responsibilities of Owning a home

Homeownership 101:

Do we come hardwired to be home owners?  Were we lucky enough to have very responsible home owners in our parents?  So we can learn by their example? For some practical information we need in life such as how to be happy, how to care for others, how to care for a home, we don’t usually get it through our educational system.

However, these days of the Internet, almost any information is available to you just for the asking.  Keep search homeowner tips.

The articles below provide some guidance for homeowners that you may find helpful.

  1. How’s Your Memory?
  2. Which Filter to Use?
  3. Money Down the Drain
  4. Every Homeowner Needs One

How’s Your Memory?

How old is your bedroom furniture and what did you pay for it?  Don’t know?  That’s okay, let’s try an easier question.  When did you buy the TV in your family room and is it a plasma, LCD or a LED?

Whether you are the victim of a burglary, a fire or a tornado, most people are comforted they have insurance to cover the losses.  However, unless you’ve filed a claim, you may not be familiar with the procedures.

The adjustor will want to know the date and how the loss occurred.  Assuming you have contents coverage, the claim for personal belongings is separate from damage to the home.

You’ll be asked to provide proof of purchase, like receipts or cancelled checks, or a current inventory.  If they’re not available, you can reconstruct an inventory from memory.  The challenge is trying to remember things you may not have used for years and may not miss for years more.

Relying on memory can be a very expensive alternative.  A prudent homeowner will create a home inventory with pictures or videos while all of their belongings are in the home and they can see them.

Download a a home inventory to make your project a little easier.

Which Filter to Use?

A dirty air filter decreases the effectiveness of your HVAC system because it inhibits airflow and allows dirt, dust, pollen and other materials to blow through the system.

The challenge is how often it should be changed to keep the system working efficiently and extend the equipment life. Too often you’re wasting money or by not changing often enough you may be  increasing the operating and maintenance costs.

Fiberglass panel filters are inexpensive and easy to find but they’re not very efficient and they allow most dust to pass through. They were popular years ago but there are much better products available currently.

Pleated air filters are available in MERV ratings from 5 to 12. As these filters collect dirt and other particles, they become less efficient to the point of impacting air flow. Allergy sufferers can benefit from this type of filter. These should be changed every two to three months based on local conditions.

HEPA filters stand for High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance. They are very efficient and more expensive than previously described filters. Since they are very efficient, they require changing more frequently; possibly, every month.

Electrostatic air filters are permanent and washable. They generally cost more initially but the savings will be based on how long they last. This type does not add to landfill issues or produce ozone.

Improperly maintained filters will lower the quality of the air in the home, have a negative impact on air flow, cause it to use more electricity and eventually require maintenance to the systems.

In an attempt to easily comparing filters, a rating system was created called MERV, an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The rating from 1 to 16 indicates the efficiency of a filter based on standards set by ASHRAE .  Higher ratings indicate a greater percentage of particles are being captured in the filter.

To create a system to remind you when to change your filters, set a reminder on your electronic calendar to recur for whatever frequency you determine is best for you. Be sure to keep a supply of filters on hand to be ready to change them out when the time comes.

Money Down the Drain

Private mortgage insurance is necessary for buyers who don’t have or choose not to put 20% or more down payment when they purchase a home.  It is required for high loan-to-value mortgages and it provides an opportunity for many people to get into a home who otherwise would not be able.

The problem is that it is expensive and a homeowner’s goal should be to eliminate it as soon as possible to lower their monthly payment and avoid putting good money down the drain.

FHA loans made after 6/1/13 that have 90% or higher loan-to-value at time of purchase have mortgage insurance premium for the life of the loan.   FHA loans made prior to 6/1/13, can have the MIP (mortgage insurance premium) removed after five years and if the unpaid balance is 78% or less than the original loan-to-value.

VA loans do not require mortgage insurance.

In contrast, conventional loans with higher than 80% loan-to-value would involve mortgage insurance.  The premium adds between $100 to $200 a month, based on a $250K mortgage. If you look at your monthly mortgage statement you should find the figure for the mortgage insurance. Unlike interest that is deductible, most homeowners are not able to deduct mortgage insurance premiums. Conventional loans, in most cases, with higher than 80% loan-to-value require mortgage insurance.  The cost of that insurance varies but with a $250,000 mortgage, it could easily be between $100 and $200 a month.

Your monthly mortgage statement should itemize what your monthly fee is for the mortgage insurance. In contrast, conventional loans with higher than 80% loan-to-value would involve mortgage insurance.  The premium adds between $100 to $200 a month, based on a $250K mortgage. If you look at your monthly mortgage statement you should find the figure for the mortgage insurance. Unlike interest that is deductible, most homeowners are not able to deduct mortgage insurance premiums.   Unlike interest that is deductible, most homeowners are not able to deduct mortgage insurance premiums.

If you plan to remain in the home or to stay there for a considerable number of years, the solution may be to refinance the home.   If the home has increased since it was purchased, the loan-to-value at its new appraised value may not require PMI.  You might even be fortunate enough to obtain a lower rate than you currently have.

Every Homeowner Needs One

Heard of a water meter key?  It’s like insurance:  the advice is to buy it even if you think you may never need it.

What would you need one?  If a pipe bursts, water would be everywhere. You’d first think of finding the cut-off valve for the distressed area, e.g., the sink. But perhaps that’s not the solution, you’ll want to use the master cut-off valve.  But where is it?  The last resort?  Cut off all water to the house at the meter.

So this is where the key come in because it’s usually needed to get to the meter.  At this point, there’s no time to get a plumber or go to the store to purchase one.

Wouldn’t you want to be prepared for such an emergency?  When you plan for them in advance, you can gain a sense of safety—even if you may need to meter key. need it.

1. Determine what kind of key you need to open your water meter.
2. Purchase it at the home improvement or hardware store.
3. Practice opening the meter to be able to do it quickly and easily.
4. If your meter key doesn’t have a wrench on one end, you need a wrench to turn the water valve.
5. Practice turning the water off just to see how it works and feels.
6. Put the key in an obvious and conspicuous place.
7. Have the phone number of an emergency plumber, just in case you need it.

While you’ve planned for an unexpected event you might want to share other members of the family:  have a drill for all to learn how it works, and make sure everyone knows where the key is kept.

If you have any questions about home ownership, please contact us .  If we don’t have the answer, we will direct you to the best resource.