March 2020 Newsletter
Many homeowners believe spring maintenance is only about the cleaning. While it’s true that spring cleaning comprises a big chunk of any spring home-maintenance schedule, the maintenance aimed at various structures, appliances, and systems within the home is, arguably, just as important. Nearly all homeowners love to see spotless windows for that first sunny, 70-degree day, but you can’t forget that your outdoor spring maintenance is waiting. Follow this spring maintenance checklist to ensure your home is in optimal condition for the rest of the year.
Spring Maintenance Checklist
Here is a basic list of everything outside your home that you should inspect to ensure things will be in great condition for the rest of the year. If you are not sure how to perform some of these preventative maintenance procedures, the great news is there are plenty of handyman services in your area that will be happy to assist you.
Gutters and downspouts: Pull leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts. Reattach gutters that have pulled away from the house. Run a hose on the roof and check for proper drainage. If leaks exist, dry the area and use caulking or epoxy to seal the leak.
Siding: Clean siding with a pressure washer to keep mold from growing. Check all wood surfaces for weathering and paint failure. If wood is showing through, sand the immediate area and apply a primer coat before painting. If paint is peeling, scrape loose the peeling paint and sand smooth before applying new paint.
Exterior caulking: Inspect caulking and replace it if it’s deteriorating. Scrape all the eroding caulking off and recaulk the needed area.
Window sills, door sills, and thresholds: Fill cracks, and recaulk the edges of your sills and thresholds. Repaint or replace them entirely if necessary.
Window and door screens: Clean your screening and check for holes. If holes are bigger than a quarter, that is plenty of room for bugs to climb in. Patch the holes or replace the screen. You can save a bad screen to use for patching any holes you may find next year. Tighten or repair any loose or damaged screen frames and repaint them if necessary. Replace broken, worn, or missing hardware. Wind can ruin screens and frames if they are allowed flap and move, so make sure they are securely fastened to your house. Lastly, tighten and lubricate door hinges and closers.
Drain waste and vent system: Flush out your system.
Water heater: Lubricate the circulating pump and motor.
Air conditioner: Clean the unit, check belt tension and adjust if needed. Replace the belt if it is cracked or worn.
Heat pump: Lubricate the blower motor.
Foundation: Check foundation walls, floors, concrete, and masonry for cracking, heaving, or deterioration. If a significant number of bricks are losing their mortar, call a foundation professional. If you can slide a nickel into a crack in your concrete floor, slab or foundation call a foundation repair professional near you immediately.
Roof: Inspect the roof surface flashing, eaves, and soffits. Perform a thorough cleaning. Check flashings around all surface projections and sidewalls.
Deck and porches: Check all decks, patios, porches, stairs, and railings for loose and/or deteriorating parts. Open decks and wood fences need to be treated every 4-6 years, depending on how much exposure they get to sun and rain. If the stain doesn’t look like it should or water has turned some of the wood a dark gray, hire a deck professional to treat your deck and fence.
Landscape: This is a natural for spring home maintenance. Cut back and trim all vegetation and overgrown bushes from structures. Limbs and leaves can cut into your home’s paint and force you to have that side of the house repainted. A little trimming can save a lot of money and time.
Sprinklers: Check your lawn sprinkler system for leaky valves, exposed lines, and improperly working sprinkler heads. If there is an area of your yard that collects too much water or doesn’t get enough, run the sprinklers to figure out the problem. If it’s not something you can fix yourself, call a professional before your lawn needs the water.
While the first sign of good weather makes it tempting to want to go out and play outdoors, spending a little bit of time upfront ensuring all these items are well taken care of and operating will ensure that you will have a worry-free, enjoyable time all spring and summer long.
Finances – When Credit Inquiries Matter
A credit inquiry is when an individual or a business requests a credit report from one or all three of the main credit reporting agencies. These agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. All three use a very similar algorithm when calculating your credit scores.
There are many different things that might trigger a credit inquiry. For instance, applying for a new credit card or line of credit at a bank, applying for a loan to purchase a new car, or even applying for a home loan are all examples of things that would trigger credit inquiries.
For most mortgage loan programs, a minimum credit score is required. There are five factors that go into calculating these scores. The score is comprised of someone’s payment history, their account balances, the different types of credit they are utilizing, how long they’ve used credit and any requests for new credit that have been made. When a request for new credit is made, that is referred to as a credit inquiry.
There are two primary types of inquiries, a hard and a soft inquiry. A hard inquiry will have a direct and almost immediate impact on your credit scores whereas a soft inquiry will not. A hard inquiry would be one where you have made a direct request for new credit. For instance, this can be for a new automobile loan, an installment loan or a credit card. If this request is a single, somewhat isolated request for new credit, it will have a marginal impact on your credit scores.
However, if you make multiple requests for credit during a short period of time, the requests will eventually harm your credit scores. The algorithms the agencies use basically kick into “alert mode.” They look at the multiple requests in a short period of time as an indicator that you are currently, or will soon be in some sort of financial trouble, and the new credit accounts could act as a cushion until the financial issues are resolved. When you make varied, multiple requests, it can keep companies from issuing new credit to you.
A soft inquiry, on the other hand, is relatively harmless. A soft inquiry won’t affect scores at all. A common example of a soft inquiry would be if you requested your own credit report for an annual review, for instance. A soft inquiry can be made by a potential employer as well. A soft inquiry could even be made by a company seeing if you are eligible to apply for their credit card. None of these scenarios will hurt scores.
Where this can sometimes get tricky is during the home purchase process. Let’s take an example of someone who’s applied for a new home loan. The application is submitted, but after a few days, the applicant gets a little worried. There’s been no documentation sent, no phone calls returned and a vacant loan officer. After two weeks, the applicant thinks it might be a good idea to apply for a mortgage at another lender, but decides not to because an additional inquiry will drive scores down even further, right? The truth is, that actually isn’t the case.
The guidelines set forth by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, have ruled that multiple requests for the same type of account within a 45-day period count as just one inquiry. That’s the key phrase here is “the same type of account.”
So in our example, the applicant with the non-responsive loan officer makes another application with a new company after two weeks and there is no adverse effect on their credit scores. That is because it’s the same type of account and it’s within a 45 day period.
Hopefully, these tips will help put your mind at ease the next time you consider whether or not to fill out a credit application for a potential big-ticket purchase.
This article is for information, illustrative and entertainment purposes only and does not purport to show actual results. It is not, and should not be regarded as investment advice or as a recommendation regarding any particular investment action.
Personal Interest – Four Tips for a Healthy Spring Lifestyle
After weeks of waiting with bated breath for spring to arrive, it looks like it’s finally here! As the sun begins to show it’s face more often, many people are eager to get back on track with healthy lifestyle habits. From a brisk walk in the park to bike riding through the neighborhood, now is an ideal time to get motivated and get moving.
Here are four fun, healthy lifestyle activities you can do this spring:
Get Moving. Whether the sun is shining or the spring rains are coming down, there are all kinds of engaging activities you can enjoy both indoors and outdoors. If you are outside, try walking around the neighborhood, playing basketball in the driveway, bicycling or rollerblading at a nearby park or hiking the trail at a state park.
If you prefer to stay inside, check out the latest moves from your favorite workout guru, explore yoga and meditation, or dust off the exercise equipment that hasn’t been getting the use it should be getting.
Eat Fresh. Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful at your local farmer’s market and grocery store during this time of year. Although they’re most potent when raw, there are lots of healthy ways to steam, season and serve up the fresh foods you love.
Check out online recipes that add flavor and flair for your taste buds. Canning fruit, making fresh-baked desserts or preparing homemade ice cream are also some great ideas for you and the kids to enjoy quality time with fresh foods.
Give Your Pets Some Attention. After being cooped up inside through the bad weather of winter, your pet is probably ready for some outdoor fun, too! From your backyard or community playground to the area dog park, think about the ways you can bring your pet along for some fun in the spring sun. Grab the leash and take a longer than normal walk around the block or pull out the wagon to pull your fuzzy loved one along for a great outdoor ride you will both benefit from.
Give Your Brain a Workout. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle also means keeping your mind active. Activities like reading, playing board games, working on DIY projects and doing brain teasers are meaningful ways to keep your brain healthy and engaged.
Consider brain-stimulating activities like drawing a map from memory, doing math in your head, learning a foreign language, creating word pictures, learning to play an instrument or completing crossword or Sudoku puzzles.
Ready, Set, Go!
With so many interesting and meaningful activities to choose from, we hope your only dilemma will be choosing a few that are right for you and your family.
Thank you and have a great month!