Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring Has Sprung a Leaky Roof

That gentle spring rain is great for your garden, but it's not so nice when you're dealing with a leaky roof. If you've noticed peeling wallpaper, cracked paint, stains on the ceiling or actual drips that you have to catch in buckets or pots, you need to think about fixing your roof.

A few things you should know about roof repairs

The best-case scenario is that a section of your roof will require patching or repair. The worst-case scenario is an expensive recovering or replacement of your entire roof. When determining which scenario applies to your roof, interview some quality roofing professionals and consider these facts:

- A roof needs to be replaced every 20 to 30 years, on average, depending on materials, installation, weather and maintenance

- Finding the source of a leak can be challenging, even for roofing pros, and repairs can get pricey if you have to keep calling them back for additional fixes

When a new roof is your only option
Your chosen roofing professional has advised you need a new roof. Now, you have a number of new questions to answer:

1. Replace or recover? Outright replacement means tearing off the roof and installing a new one. Recovering involves installing new shingles over an existing roof. Depending on building code in your area, you may not be allowed more than one roof recovering before a complete replacement is necessary

2. What materials do you want to use? While most people choose cost-effective asphalt shingles, which come in a variety of grades and colours. You can also choose shingles made of wood, ceramic, slate, metal, or synthetics made to look like slate or wood

3. How's your attic ventilation? Proper ventilation can save energy, prevent structural damage caused by moisture, prolong the life of your roof, and make your home more comfortable. Have your roofing professional check it out before any works begins

Once your new roof is installed, maintain it diligently. Inspect it every spring and fall, as poor maintenance is the leading cause of damage and leaks. Replace damaged shingles and take note of sagging or other damage. Careful maintenance of a new roof will keep you and your family leak-free and happy - at least for the next 20 to 30 years.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Get Started On The House Hunt

Mortgage interest rates dropped recently and home prices have moderated in many areas, making it a good time to buy. If you've never bought a home before or if you currently own a home but have never bought and sold at the same time, the process can seem intimidating.
You can ease your anxiety by formulating a game plan and by assembling the best team of professionals you can find, including a mortgage person; a real estate agent or two if you're buying and selling in different locations; inspectors; an insurance agent; a closing agent or escrow officer; and an attorney, depending on where you're buying.

The two key players on your team are the mortgage person and the real estate agent. Once you have these selected, they can help you line up the additional help you need. The best recommendations for real estate professionals are from acquaintances who recently had a good experience buying in your area. Be sure to ask if they would use their agent or mortgage person again.

The first step is to find out how much you can afford. Most buyers need a mortgage in order to complete a home purchase. A lender will qualify you for a certain loan amount depending on how much cash you have available for a down payment and closing costs -- the various fees associated with buying or selling a home.

Other relevant factors are your credit score, your verifiable income and what type mortgage you decide to use for your purchase. There are a lot of different mortgage options: 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 15-year fixed, interest-only, as well as various types of adjustable-rate mortgages.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: You can work with a mortgage broker who will shop the mortgage market for you and place your loan package with the lender that offers the best deal. Or, you can work directly with a lender, such as Bank of America or Citibank. Just make sure that you understand what kind of loan is being offered. You might want to consult with an independent party like your accountant or financial advisor to determine which kind of financing is best for you.

Once you know how much you can afford, ask your mortgage broker or lender to have you preapproved for the financing you need. This requires that you complete a loan application and have your credit checked. This will put you in a good bargaining position with the seller.

While you're checking on financing, you should also find a real estate agent. If you've never bought a home before, you should use an agent who is a good communicator and who will take the time to explain the process. Also, keep in mind that your agent will be interfacing with the other parties in the transaction. You want someone you trust and who you are sure will represent you professionally and work diligent on your behalf.

Repeat home buyers who will be selling and buying using the same agent will also want to make sure that the agent has good marketing skills. It's a benefit if the agent is organized and has good resources.

A good seller's agent can help you get ready to sell your home by creating a task list of the things that need to be done before your home goes on the market. Your listing agent should be able to give you the names of reputable people who can assist you with cleaning, painting, hauling, storing, inspections, staging, landscaping and whatever else you need to prepare your home for a profitable sale.

THE CLOSING: With this ground work completed, you are ready to seriously hunt for a home.
Dian Hymer is author of "House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide," Chronicle Books.

Copyright 2007 Dian Hymer
Distributed by Inman News

Monday, February 11, 2008

Economic prospects continue to encourage housing starts in Prince George

The city's record for job growth will draw more people to Prince George and encourage more new home construction, says Serena Teakles, market analyst for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Job creation in the city was up 6.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2007, she noted.
UNBC, an inland port in Prince George and the airport expansion have created a lot of positive publicity for the city.

"That's attracting a lot of people,"Teakles said Friday. "Increased numbers of people going to work means more will be able to buy a home.

"New home construction will be fuelled by that increased demand."
A strong local labour market, job growth in the city and continuing reasonable mortgage rates are driving housing demand, Teakles said.

Last month's total of 17 starts -- all for single, detached houses -- was a 31 per cent increase over the 13 seen in January 2007, she said. Yet one month is not enough to establish a trend. Last December there were only three starts, down dramatically from the 17 recorded in December 2006. With such fluctuations, month-to-month comparisons are not always statistically useful, Teakles said.

However, the CMHC predicts 340 starts on new homes for the whole of this year, up 3.7 per cent from the 328 recorded last year, she said.

As to the resale or used housing market, the CMHC expects the number of sales transactions to slow slightly.

"We've been at historic highs recently, so it will be more of a moderating trend," Teakles said. "But we still expect prices to be rising."

Published by The Prince George Citizen