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Guide to Buying a Home

Tuesday, June 14 2016 10:52 AM
Categorized In Default News Article Category

If you are thinking of buying a new home, you must pay close attention to many details to ensure that you find one that will suit your needs and preferences.  Before you start shopping, you should sit down with the members of your household to discuss your preferences and the many options available to you.

Here are some things you should consider:

Step 1: Financing Your Home

The first step in the home buying process is determining how much you can afford.  Check out our “Advice for Financing Your First Home” to learn more about how you can prepare for the financing process. To ensure that the financing process goes smoothly, buyers should consider pre-qualifying for a mortgage and having a financing commitment in place before shopping for a new home.

Step 2: Prioritizing Most-Wanted Features

Before you start shopping, you should sit down with the members of your household to discuss your preferences and the many options available to you.
An easy way to organize your thoughts is to write each separate feature that you want on a 3X5 card, and arrange the cards in order of their importance to you. For instance, if you like to cook, you may want a home with a large, well-equipped kitchen. Or you may settle for a small kitchen, so that you can have extra space for a library, office or playroom. Some home buyers seek large, open interior spaces, while others prefer traditional rooms that afford more privacy. While looking for a home, consider whether your needs are likely to change over time. If you plan to add rooms, find out if there is enough space on your site for such expansion and whether such additions are permitted by your local jurisdiction.

Step 3: Selecting the Type of Home

Options include single-family homes and condominiums. Some home buyers prefer homes with large yards. Others opt for condominiums where they can avoid yard maintenance entirely. With a single-family home in a development, you'll be responsible for your own yard and home, but may be restricted to certain design elements or other regulations if there is a home owners association. A condominium is a home in a multi-unit complex, such as an apartment building or a townhouse cluster. You own the home, and you and your neighbors jointly own the common elements, such as the land around the complex, the parking areas, building exteriors, hallways, utility pipes and recreational facilities. A condominium owners association is responsible for maintaining the jointly owned elements. The day-to-day business of the complex is generally handled by a managing agency. Learn more about the types of home construction

Step 4: Starting Your House Hunt

Now that you know the type of home and features you are looking for, and how much home you can afford, you're ready to begin searching for your perfect home. Whether you use a realtor to find an existing home or work with a builder to buy a new home, you'll be more focused with your search.

Routine Home Maintenance

Thursday, May 19 2016 3:54 PM
Categorized In Default News Article Category

Your home may be the biggest investment you will ever make. Taking good care of it with regular maintenance is necessary to preserve its value and ensure it will provide a comfortable, safe shelter for you and your family for years to come. 

Maintenance Inside the Home

Home owner fixing a sink

Air Filters

  • Many types of heating and air conditioning systems contain filters to remove dirt and dust from the air. Check the instruction book or search online by model number: In many cases, the home owner should change filters at least every three months.

Sinks

  • It's also a good idea to clean your faucet's aerator — which is the spring inside the end of the faucet — every three to four months.
  • To maintain your garbage disposal, you should run cold water through it during use.

Fireplaces

  • When you're ready to use your fireplace, be sure to build the fire on the andirons or grate, never on the fireplace floor.
  • To prevent soot and to add color to the fire, throw in a handful of salt.
  • Store your firewood outside, away from the house and not directly on the ground.
  • Have a CSIA-Certified chimney sweep inspect your chimney and fireplace annually, especially if you build a lot of fires in the winter.

Floors

  • To maintain unpainted concrete floors in your basement or garage, first apply a concrete sealer, which makes them easier to clean. When you're ready to clean them, use a solution of four to six tablespoons of washing soda in a gallon of hot water. Add scouring powder to the solution for tough jobs.
  • For hardwood, be sure the floors have a polyurethane finish before cleaning with water. Hardwood floors that do not have a polyurethane finish will need to be waxed periodically. Use liquid or paste "spirit" wax.
  • The best polish for vinyl floors in water emulsion wax.

Walls

  • Masonry walls sometimes develop a white powdery substance. This is called efflorescence, a crystallized soluble salt that can be removed by scrubbing with water and a stiff brush.

Safety and Security

  • If you have a home security system, regularly check the alarms and circuit breakers to ensure they are in working order. Inspect the sensors one by one. 
  • The batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should also be checked twice a year to ensure they are operable. Hard-wired and battery-powered detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

 

Maintenance Outside the Home

 Roof, Gutters and Downspouts

  • A qualified roofer should inspect your roof every three years. Skylights should also be inspected each time your roof is inspected so leaks don't develop from cracks and interruptions around the seals, caulking and flashings.
  • Make sure that gutters and downspouts do not get clogged with leaves or other objects.

Windows and Doors

  • Inspect exterior windows and doors yearly to see if the caulking around them has split and cracked. If so, replace the caulk and clean any mildew.
  • For a simple solution to wash extremely dirty exterior windows, combine equal parts vinegar and water or three tablespoons of denatured alcohol per quart of warm water. Use a piece of crumbled newspaper to wash the glass to avoid lint left behind by paper towels.
  • To help a window slide easily, rub the channel with a piece of parrafin.

Siding

  • Inspect your siding yearly to determine if your wood-sided home needs to be repainted. Trim shrubbery away so that it does not touch the siding.
  • The exterior of your house is built to withstand exposure to the elements, but a periodic cleaning will improve the appearance and, in many instances, prolong the life of siding and other exterior products.

Garage

  • The moving parts of garage doors should be oiled every three months.

Simple Repairs

 Faucets, Sinks and Toilets

  • If you have a water leak, the washer in your faucet usually needs to be replaced.
  • For clogged drains, use a plunger and/or a plumber's snake.
  • To unclog a toilet, use a coil spring-steel auger, which can be found at hardware or home-improvement stores.

Pipes

  • Noisy water pipes should be fixed promptly. The condition that causes noisy pipes may be accompanied by vibration that can cause fittings to loosen and leak.
  • Frozen pipes should be thawed slowly to prevent the formation of steam, which could cause the pipes to burst.

Walls

  • Use spackling to fill nail holes and cracks in plaster walls and gypsum wallboard.

9 Overlooked Spring Cleaning Jobs

Thursday, May 19 2016 3:41 PM
Categorized In Default News Article Category

With winter finally leaving and warmer weather on the way, it’s time to tackle all that spring cleaning!

It can be a lengthy process but it’s important that you don’t miss these often overlooked steps.

Exterior Jobs

Winter can be rough on the exterior of your home. So you should start on the exterior before the spring rains cause more problems.

1. Clean out the gutters of any debris leftover from the winter storms and check to make sure your gutters are still securely fastened.

2. Clear away all the debris from your exterior drains. This will allow the heavy spring rains to properly flow and prevent back ups.

3. Check your windows for any cracking or splitting from the caulk. If so, clean off the mildew and replace the caulk.

4. The warming weather will inevitably lead to outdoor entertaining, so don’t forget to clean off your patio furniture using a mild soap and warm water. Gently scrub away any dirt that has collected over the winter. If you have wrought iron and rust has started forming, gently sand it off.

Now, wipe off your shoes and head inside.

Interior Jobs

5. Unplug your refrigerator, slide it away from the wall and vacuum the dust that has accumulated on the condenser coils. This task may seem small, but can greatly extend the life of your refrigerator.

6. Vacuum out the dust that is sticking to your air vents. After the vents are clear of dust, apply a thin layer of car wax on all surfaces of the vent to prevent dust from sticking and to allow for easier airflow.

Call in the Pros

There are still a few things left that should be done by professionals.

7. If you built a lot of fires over the winter, have a CSIA-Certified chimney sweep inspect your chimney and fireplace. This should be done annually to prevent house fires. As a bonus tip, throw a handful of salt into a fire to prevent soot and add some color to the flame!

8. Have a contractor certified by National Roofing Contractors Association inspect your roof for any missing, warped or loose shingles and check for loose seals on your skylights.

9. Before the weather warms up too much, have your HVAC system inspected by a qualified technician and, if needed, replace your filters.

Now that you've checked these jobs off your list, you can start enjoying the spring!

Your 2016 Home Maintenance To-Do List

Thursday, April 28 2016 3:15 PM
Categorized In Default News Article Category

Homeownership is the American dream, but it’s also a lot of work. Your home is a significant investment and requires a consistent level of upkeep to maintain its efficiency and to protect its value.

As you make new resolutions for 2016, set aside some time to build a schedule of your ongoing home maintenance duties. Creating a calendar of anticipated maintenance needs will help you remember key milestones and better prepare for any big expenses.

The following examples of typical home maintenance should be completed at least annually. Consider your home’s specific needs to determine the relevance and timing of each task, and mark your calendar appropriately. 

In the spring:

  • Inspect the roof for snow damage.
  • Examine the condition of glazing compound, caulking, and interior and exterior paint.
  • Check for broken glass and screens in windows and storm doors. (It’s also a good idea to do this the fall.)
  • Look for evidence of termites such as sagging floors and ceilings or dry, brown tunnels in the ground near the home’s foundation.
  • Seed and feed the lawn, plant annuals and trim perennials that need pre-growth pruning.

In the fall:

  • Add mulch around perennials that need protection from winter weather.
  • Clear the lawn of leaves and reseed patchy areas.
  • Inspect the driveway for any cracks, and repair any damage with driveway filler and coat with a commercial sealer.
  • Look for any cracks or damage to the fireplace, and have the chimney cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep.

Before winter:

  • Inspect the roof, address any damaged shingles or flashings, and remove any debris.
  • Ensure gutters are securely fastened to the fascia board and clear them of any debris or build up that could inhibit proper drainage. 
  • Remove hose connections, then drain and store hoses to keep them from freezing.
  • Empty clay pots and planters of all soil, which can freeze and cause the pots to crack.

Anytime throughout the year:

  • Check all electrical connections for potential hazards. Pay special attention to any overloaded extension cords, and repair or replace any worn or frayed cords of electrical appliances.
  • Test your carbon monoxide, radon and smoke detectors. Clean each unit with a vacuum or cotton swab and replace batteries and light bulbs, if needed.
  • Have your heating and air conditioning system(s) inspected and cleaned. If your system has a filter, replace it once every three months.
  • Inspect all doors and windows for proper operation and ensure the weather stripping is not cracked or torn.  
  • Inspect the attic insulation to ensure the entire ceiling area is covered. Insulation should not touch the underside of the roof sheathing, nor should it block vents in the eaves, which could cause condensation buildup and poor air circulation.
  • Oil the motors of appliances as directed in their instruction manuals.
  • Periodically check storage areas, closets and the basement to ensure that any oily rags, gas cans, paint supplies, cleaning materials or other flammable items have been stored properly.
  • Check the functionality of your security system, inspecting each sensor and confirming the primary and backup batteries are in working order.
  • Inspect interior stairs and exterior steps for any damage that could cause someone to fall. Make sure handrails and railings are sturdy and securely attached.

The joys of homeownership come with a long list or responsibilities. But staying on top of these duties will help keep your home healthy as the seasons change and the years pass.

How to Evaluate Online Reviews When Choosing a Remodeler

Thursday, April 28 2016 2:57 PM
Categorized In Default News Article Category

Embarrassed by your outdated kitchen or tired of that ugly bathroom, but aren’t yet ready to move to a new home? Remodeling those rooms is your next best option. And there is no better time to consider a remodeling project than during National Remodeling Month in May!

But beware that even a seemingly simple modification to your home could become a dangerous task for even the most confident do-it-yourselfer. By first consulting with a professional remodeler, you could save yourself a lot of time, money and headache by getting the job done right the first time. Yet with so many remodelers to choose from, how do you find the right one for you and your home?

The easiest way to begin your remodeler reconnaissance is by going online.

 Proceed with Caution

The Internet makes it easy to find a wealth of information with just a few quick clicks of the mouse. Much of what you find will provide some useful background, but you can’t believe everything you see or read. When looking through customer rating sites, use good judgment to weigh the value of certain online reviews (positive or negative).

 Keep in mind:

  • Customers who had any sort of negative experience are much more motivated to post an online review than those who had a thoroughly positive experience.
  • A few negative reviews of a less-experienced remodeler carry far more weight than the same number of negative reviews of an established remodeler with several years (or decades) of experience.
  • An abundance of positive, brief, non-descript reviews can often indicate phony reviewers.
  • The Better Business Bureau, www.bbb.org, is a good resource to ensure the business doesn’t have any unresolved complaints. Other sites worth noting include Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Houzz, etc.

Remember, the most accurate customer review will always come directly from the mouth of a previous client. If you don’t happen to know any former clients of the remodelers you are considering, simply ask those remodelers for references of recent projects.

To find a reliable Remodeling Council contractor that is a member of The Wichita Area Builders Association, click on “Find a Member” and then “Remodelers Council.” You will find a list of current members of the Council. Another good resource is our “Remodelers Council Directory and Resource Guide” which you can also access through our website at www.wabahome.com.

2016 Spring Parade of Homes Winners Announced

Tuesday, April 12 2016 11:39 AM
Categorized In Wichita Parade of Homes

The judging for the 2016 Spring Parade of Homes winners is completed and you can click below to see a complete list of the winners.

In addition to these winners, there are many great homes to look at during the Parade of Homes that you won't want to miss.

Pick up a Parade of Homes magazine from area grocery stores, Parade homes or download it from this website for more detailed information and a map of locations.

The Parade of Homes hours continue from Noon to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 16 & 17 and 23rd & 24th!

Come and see the home of your dreams!

 

 Spring 2016 Parade of Homes Winners.pdf

New Homes Attract Consumers Looking to Save on Energy Costs

Wednesday, April 6 2016 8:46 AM
Categorized In Default News Article Category

The home building industry celebrates New Homes Month in April by sharing the top features that will be seen in typical new homes built in 2016. Once again, builders are responding to what home buyers want by offering greater efficiency in the design and function of the home.

"Today's new homes include features that will help homeowners reduce energy consumption and enhance the conveniences of modern living," said Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. "Our builders are telling us that energy efficiency continues to be a top demand from consumers."

 NAHB recently surveyed builders about the features they are most likely to include in new homes they build this year. Four of the top 10 features focused on energy efficiency: low-E windows, Energy Star-rated appliances and windows, and programmable thermostats.

 These features correspond to the list of features that consumers say are most important to them, as well. According to NAHB's latest survey of home buyer preferences, Energy Star appliances and windows, as well as an Energy Star rating for the entire house, are among the top five most-wanted features.

 In fact, home buyers are willing to pay more for a home if they can get lower utility costs in return. On average, they will pay an additional $10,732 up front to save $1,000 a year in utilities.

 Other popular features that builders said they are most likely to add to their homes include a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, laundry room, great room (kitchen-family room-living room) and a central island and granite countertop in the kitchen.

Top 5 Reasons Why Millennials Should Enter the Housing Market Now

Thursday, March 17 2016 3:09 PM
Categorized In Default News Article Category
With the economy and housing market still recovering, some potential first-time home buyers may be hesitant to invest in a new home.  Yet there are several reasons why now is a great time for Millennials and other first-time home buyers to start building their American Dream.

Interest rates are low.
Today's historically low interest rates are helping first-time home buyers find affordable housing options. Average weekly interest rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage remain under 4.5%.But it's important to keep in mind that interest rates are sensitive to market forces and can change quickly. There's no indication that rates will suddenly surge upward, but even a slight rate increase can push monthy payments to the point that a buyer might miss out on their first choice for a new home.
 
Huge downpayments are not necessary.

While lenders are looking more closely at borrowers today than in recent years, there are options for purchasing your first home without a 20% downpayment. For example, the FEderal Housing Administration (FHA) offers loans to first-ime home buyers with downpayments as low as 3.5%. However, these loans require mortgage insurance.To ensure that the financing process goes smoothly, buyers should consider pre-qualifying for a mortgage and having a financing commitment in place before shopping for a new home. Buyers also may find that some home builders have arranged favorable financing for their customers or offer financial incentives.

New homes are built to fit your lifestyle.

Designed to accommodate today's busy lifestyles, new homes - including urban condos and single-famiy homes - feature open floor plans, flexible spaces, low-maintenance materials and other amenities that appeal to younger buyers.With energy costs newar the top of consumer concerns, it's good to know that new homes can be more energy efficient than ever. Innovative materials and construction techniques mean that today's new homes are built to be much more energy efficient than homes constructed a generation ago.  Not only can they be more affordable to operate, new homes also are significantly more resource efficient and environmentally friendly.

Technology makes house shopping fun and easy.

Today's tech-savvy home buyers use mobile apps to quickly gather all of the key information on a property and to see extensive photos from their cell phones or tablets.  For example, Homesnap allows you to snap a picture of any home and get all the relevant property details, including any interior photos for homes on the market.If you're just beginning  your search, Realtor.com is a popular app becuase it generally contains the most accurate information gathered from more than 800 local MLS's (multiple listing services).There are also several free mortgage apps to help you determine how much you can afford and to compare real-time rates from multiple lenders.  Popular mortgage calculator apps include Zillow and Trulia.

Owning a home can help young families build wealthy and combat rising rents.

For most Americans, homeownership is a primary source of new worth and is an important step in accumulating personal financial assets over the long term.  Although property values have declined in many markets, Americans have more than $10.8 trillion of equity in their homes, and for most families, home equity represents the largest share of net worth.  At the same time, rent prices continue to climb - 2.8 percent in 2013 - as rental vacancies dropped to their lowest po int since 2000, according to a recent report from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. That makes now a great time to start investing in your future - insead of your landlord's.

Creating a Home Office that Works for You

Wednesday, September 2 2015 10:02 AM
Categorized In Press Releases
Home offices are becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity with more people telecommuting or running their own businesses from their homes.  It is estimated that one in five Americans work from home. And with the fluctuating cost of gas and increased traffic causing longer commutes, that number is likely to grow even more every year.

Work space is no longer relegated just to the kitchen table or a corner of the guest bedroom; it has been promoted to a room of its own in the home. If you are looking to create a home office, or revamp an existing one, keep the following points in mind:

Separate Your Space
Although you are physically working in the house, it is important to set up your home office so that the lines between your home life and your work life do not get blurred.  By creating a barrier, you will be less tempted to take a television break in teh middle of your work day or work on spreadsheets when you are supposed to be "home form the office."

Design Your Office to Match Your Work Style
When choosing the furniture and layout of your office, make sure it fits the way you choose to work. For example, if you believe in "a place for everything and everything i its place," be sure to allot enough space for adequate storage and file cabinets. If you work on several different projects, set up separate, smaller work stations dedicasted to each task.

Show Off Your Style
There is no such thing as "one design fits all." While one person may prefer the look of dark woods and rich colors, comeone else may favor a more shimsical look with bright colors and clean lines. This is your chance to bring in designs and tiems that best reflect your personality and interests. Dont be restricted by what you think a home office should look like. Make it your own since you will be the one spending the most time there.

Make it Comfortable
When choosing the furniture and amenities for your office, make sure that you are physically comfortable and that your work space is conducive to productivity.

     *  You chair should be adjustable with adequate seat cushioning.
     *  Add a couch or armchair to allow for additional seating for guests or to provide a place to read away from your desk.
     *  Install recessed lighting which is less harsh on your eyes.
     *  Buy smaller desktop lights focused on task areas that are used for reading and writing to reduce eye strain.