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RICHARD J BENEDETTO
800 Fairmount Ave, W.E.

Jamestown NY 14701

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Todays Home Wisdom

Live in a Loud Area? Here’s How to Reduce Sound Inside Your Home

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Have you ever wished you lived on a remote island somewhere? A tranquil, calm and—most importantly—quiet place just for yourself? If so, you’re certainly not alone.

Depending on where you live, whether in an urban city or in the suburbs, overpopulation remains an issue, and dealing with noise pollution has become a real responsibility.

Whether sound comes from loud neighbors, lumber trucks, domestic animals or construction workers, we live in a noisy world which can affect us where we need it least—in our homes. These days, we barely even notice the sounds of everyday occurrences such as lawnmowers and nearby roads, but if you think back to pre-industrial times, this amount of external stimulation would have made our distant ancestors nervous wrecks.

Take a moment to consider what you deal with every day regarding external noise. Perhaps it might be time to take action through these easy steps to protect you and your loved ones from unnecessary stress, or even poor sleep.

Close Up Your Gaps
The old advice rings just as true today as it did when you first heard it: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” Ensuring as tight an envelope as possible is imperative to reducing the external noise in your neighborhood from invading your privacy and comfort, and this means closing all possible gaps.

Starting with the obviously visible holes and cracks, grab some flexible polyurethane or latex caulk to make your walls and window gaps airtight. Even the slightest of open areas around windows will allow sound to infiltrate. Be as thorough as possible in closing them all up. Perhaps you have an issue with exposure around the openings for pipes and wires where they enter the house—if so, use expanding foam or putty to tighten up your house.

Invest in High-Quality Windows
High-quality windows are one of the most important elements for a soundproof home. Opting for models with seriously thick glass will be your saving grace, and that’s why many noise-conscious individuals choose storm windows with sturdy frames and decent weather stripping.

Some things to watch out for: the larger the airspace between your original window and the storm window, the better (i.e., three to four inches). DIY-ers with double-hung and gliding windows tend to gravitate toward storm windows, as they allow the easiest installation; however, there are various options to make window installation an easier job, regardless of the category of your existing windows.

Shape Up Your Insulation
Not only for the sake of your heating and electricity bills, good quality insulation in your home will significantly reduce the internal disturbance from external noise pollution. Attics and walls are usually most vulnerable to noise infiltration due to under-insulation—start there first! Once again, quality, as opposed to speed, is of the essence with this procedure, as only meticulously installed fiberglass batt and blown-in insulation will ensure your sound pollution from the environment remains low.

Of course, installing insulation can still be a bit of a procedure, but there are plenty of guides online to help you perform a world-class job at a fraction of the price.

Homeowners with DIY abilities often choose to install insulation between floor joists, and as long as you pay particular attention to safety such as dust masks, safety goggles, gloves and protective clothing, you should be good to go.

Consider Your Own Noise Contribution
In the process of fixing up your house to protect it from future external sound infiltration, you will require the use of power tools. Spare a thought for your neighbors and choose your weapons wisely. We sometimes can be so accustomed to tolerating a noisy environment ourselves that we become oblivious to our own contribution to noise pollution.

The additions to your home can be a labor-intensive process, and power tools will certainly make your renovations much faster and easier. Chris Knuffman, reciprocating business line manager at Quincy Compressor, explains how you can be efficient while keeping home improvement noise to a minimum.

“Pneumatic tools powered by compressed air help complete tough and noisy jobs faster and more efficiently than manual options,” explains Knuffman. “Robust air compressors properly sized for such tools offer quicker recovery and are quieter work site solutions, delivering lower decibels and less fatigue than misapplied models.”

External noise has more of an effect on your quality of life than you think, and taking these simple steps will surely make a considerable difference to your comfort and sense of security in your own home. As the jobs are relatively easy within the world of active DIY-ers, the trick is ensuring you are as meticulous as possible with each alteration, as sound certainly does travel.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Live in a Loud Area? Here’s How to Reduce Sound Inside Your Home appeared first on RISMedia.

Fall Maintenance for Your Rental Properties

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Do you own a rental property or several rental properties? Routine maintenance will ensure that your properties are protected from the harsh fall and winter elements, and most can be done without detracting too much from your time or pocketbook.

Begin With a Tenant Check-In

It’s important to consistently check in with tenants and ensure that they are maintaining the rental unit to lease standards. Seasonal maintenance is the perfect time to inspect the unit for issues that should be addressed. Ask tenants if they have questions or concerns.

Checking in is also the best way to establish open communication. Good communication is the foundation of a healthy tenant-landlord relationship. Not to mention, when a tenant feels that there is a direct line of communication, they are much more likely to report on a minor but time-sensitive issue before it becomes an expensive repair.

Complete Indoor Maintenance

  • Windows and Doors:Apply weather stripping or caulk to any needed areas along windows and doors. This will prevent against overtaxing your heating system on those blustery fall days, and will keep your tenant’s utility bills down, ensuring satisfaction with the unit.
  • Fireplace:If your unit has a fireplace, check that the chimney is swept and free of debris. A blocked chimney is an easily avoidable a fire hazard and a smoke inhalation risk. If you don’t already have one, take the time to install an animal-proof chimney cap to prevent further blockage from nesting critters.
  • Smoke and CO Alarms:Regardless of whether you require your tenants to change the batteries, it is crucial to check that they have indeed kept up with the task, and, moreover, did not remove them altogether. Ensure your tenant’s safety—and your legal protection—by ensuring that the alarms are in working order.
  • Attic:Check your attic’s insulation. Poor insulation can lead to expensive roof repairs. Inspect for signs of small animals that can sneak in looking for a warm place to nest—they can destroy crucial insulation that prevents against ice-damming on your roof.

Complete Exterior Maintenance

  • Gutters:Fall leaves can lead to clogged gutters. Clogged gutters can create ice dams in freezing weather, and this can cause the gutters to break entirely. Trim trees or install gutter guards where necessary to ensure that your gutters will appropriately channel water away from the property and prevent water damage to the foundation or structure.
  • Animal-Proofing:Attics and basements are very enticing to rodents and small animals who seek shelter from the cold weather. The Humane Society has recommendations to prevent nesting in your property: ensure animals are not inside the home already (you don’t want to seal them in) and then caulk small holes and staple hardware cloth over larger holes. To stand up against stronger animals, opt for 16-gauge, 1×1 steel mesh.
  • Stairwells, Walkways and Patios:Verify that all supports, stairs, and handrails are secure. Make sure that the handrails can support a person who is slipping due to rain or sleet.
  • Irrigation Systems:Fall weather means that sprinkler systems can often be reset, since seasonal rains will keep the foliage appropriately hydrated. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions to winterize your sprinkler and irrigation systems. This will protect the functionality of the system and ensure your property looks its best.
  • AC Units:Depending on where your rental unit is located, be prepared to wrap the outside box units in order to protect it from rust or weather damage.
  • Trees and Shrubs:Now is an excellent time to trim any branches or vegetation that touches the exterior of the building, as they can lead to damage over time. Protect your investment and ensure that all foliage is maintained before the wet season gets in way.

Hire a Professional

For some costly items on your list, it will pay to have a professional inspect them. Big-ticket items like your HVAC system and your roof should be inspected yearly to ensure that any slight damage is dealt with proactively, before a serious issue occurs.

HVAC: Have it serviced, inspected and cleaned. Proper maintenance will extend the life of the furnace, so be sure to remind your tenants to change the filters. To be certain the task is done, consider supplying some extra filters yourself. This makes the task simple for tenants, and is a minor expense for you compared to an expensive system replacement.

Roof: Extreme temperatures and general exposure to the elements can wreak havoc on your property’s roof. Have a licensed, certified roofing professional inspect the condition of your roof. Simple repairs like loose or damaged shingles can lead to water exposure that can lead to deterioration of insulation, wood and drywall, or make electrical or plumbing systems vulnerable. It’s much simpler to deal with a repair now than an emergent leak come winter.

Seasonal maintenance is a chore, but being proactive will ensure that your rental property remains in good shape and your investment is protected for years to come.

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Brentnie Daggett is a contributor for Rentec Direct.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

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How to Qualify for an FHA Mortgage

(TNS)—If you’re concerned about getting approved for a conventional mortgage, keep your dreams of homeownership alive by considering a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration. For borrowers who meet FHA requirements, this mortgage alternative is a terrific way to buy a home with a low down payment and less-than-perfect credit.

What Are the Requirements for an FHA Loan?
In order to obtain approval for an FHA loan, the borrower must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Steady Employment History – Borrowers typically must have been regularly employed within the past two years. Self-employed borrowers have to prove that their business has drawn stable income for at least two years; verification, such as tax returns or company documents, is required.
  • Ability to Pay – This is determined by two formulas: the front-end ratio and the back-end ratio. The front-end ratio refers to the entire amount that the borrower spends on housing costs, and it must be less than 31 percent of the borrower’s gross income, with some exceptions that push limit up to 40 percent. This includes expenses such as the principal, interest, property taxes, homeowners association fees, mortgage insurance, and homeowner’s insurance. A borrower’s back-end ratio, also known as the debt-to-income ratio, encompasses all of the borrower’s debts, including the mortgage payment, credit debt, and personal loans, and it should be less than 43 percent.
  • Financial Soundness – The borrower must have a credit score of at least 580 and be able to afford a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent. Some institutions may accommodate lower credit scores if the borrower is able to pay a larger down payment. She must be a minimum of two years out of bankruptcy and not have a foreclosure in the past three years. All her federal student loans and income taxes must be current.
  • Residency – The borrower must be a lawful U.S. resident with a valid Social Security number, and she must be the occupant of the home.

What Costs Are Associated With an FHA Mortgage?
Like conventional mortgages, there are costs associated with FHA loans that the borrower has to pay when the loan closes, including lender fees, prepaid interest, inspection expenses, and attorney fees. The FHA mortgage program permits lenders and property sellers to pay some or all of the buyer’s closing costs.

To insure the mortgage against default, the borrower must also pay an annual mortgage insurance premium. The MIP varies based on the terms of the loan, including the principal, loan-to-value ratio, and term. On average, expect to pay 0.85 percent of the loan amount each year.

Borrowers may be required to pay a one-time additional mortgage insurance fee at the time of closing, called the Up-front Mortgage Insurance Premium. As of 2017, the UFMIP is equal to 1.75 percent of the mortgage.

Want to learn how long it’ll take you to pay off your mortgage? Run the numbers through Bankrate’s mortgage calculators.

What Are the Disadvantages of an FHA Mortgage?
Since an FHA loan permits a lower down payment, you can expect to pay more interest over the life of the loan than you would with a conventional mortgage that necessitates a larger down payment.

Visit Bankrate online at www.bankrate.com.

©2017 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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