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How Radon Gas Enters A Home

How Radon Gas Enters A Home!

We’ve had reason in recent days to re-investigate the risks of radon gas to our health. We got a lot of help from Elizabeth James, radon maven. [Thanks, Liz!]

The news is not good!
Radon, you will remember, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas—the product of decomposing uranium deep in the earth.
Radioactive?
That can’t be good.
You’re right, it’s not.

According to the U. S. EPA online radon is a very serious threat to our health.                                                                     

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.  Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. [emphasis mine, ed.]                  

It’s everywhere.  But, mostly, it’s in your house!

A silent, invisible, odorless, tasteless, radioactive killer gas is sneaking into my home to give me cancer? R-I-G-H-T!
Sounds like another eco-maniacal greenie off the deep end doesn’t it?

It’s not.

(BTW, our sincerest apology to all ecologically concerned individuals whom we may have just offended. We’re just trying to drive home a point here—not make a political statement. Really.)

And there’s more bad news.

You are at a greater risk of dangerous exposure to this killer stuff here in central Ohio than most other places!

Uh Oh!

This is serious business, and you need to find out more about the risk to you and your family and what you can do about it.

Do it because there are reasonable ways to reduce exposure. Do it because you want to be here for your grandchildren. (Okay, here’s the real reason. Simon says “Do it.”)

The EPA has a free booklet available on line that provide excellent general information. There is an additional free publication that addresses the special concerns of those considering buying or selling a home.

Possibly the best source of good information about radon in the central Ohio area is our new friend Elizabeth

How We Are Exposed To Radon Gas!

How We Are Exposed To Radon Gas!

James at the Ohio Department of Health. (You were wondering when we were going to get back to her, didn’t you? Thanks for staying with us.)

Call Liz at 800-523-4439 and ask her some questions about this stuff. She’s an expert. Find out how serious this really is…and what you can do about it.

Go ahead call her…she’s really nice.

Tell her we said “Hi”.

You smokers with children. [You know who you are.] Stop smoking now and call Liz. Your risk is like 100 times worse! No kidding. Do it right now.

Buyer Agent George

 (This health safety blog story was reproduced from the Buyershome Journal”  blog – July 31, 2007)

 

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Taxes

Taxes

Franklin County has a great automated monthly prepay system for paying your real estate taxes that will pay you interest.  The Franklin County Treasurer will pay the “average Joe” home owner the same interest rate that the Treasurer earns on its multi-million dollar portfolio.  This is really a groundbreaking achievement for the Franklin County Treasurer’s office.  The Treasurer sought and obtained a change in state law that allowed them to pay interest on monthly tax payments by home owners.  Banks are still NOT allowed to pay interest on escrow accounts that collect property tax payments.

The interest rate that you can earn from the Treasurer’s office will be a better rate than most short-term bank accounts (checking, savings or money market accounts).  For example, in 2007, the Treasurer’s interest rate fluctuated between 3.5% – 5.5%.  Last year, I had a so called “high yield money market account” with an investment company that only earned between 1.75% – 2.25%.  I think the Treasurer’s new monthly prepay system for real estate taxes that also pays interest is a first-rate service.   Many homeowners in Franklin County are not even aware of this service.

A  Franklin County home owner could possibly earn a couple hundred dollars a year.   For example, a $265,000 home in Franklin County with yearly real estate taxes of $5,000 a year would have approximately earned $200 – $220 in an interest credit for 2007. The interest that you earn will be credited back against your real estate taxes, to LOWER your taxes!  To get more info, you can visit the Franklin County Treasurer web site.  The process is very simple and easy to set up.  You just have to fill out one simple form.

If you are currently escrowing your real estate taxes with your lender then you will need to check with your lender to see if you are eligible to stop the escrow of real estate taxes.  Most lenders will allow you to stop escrowing for real estate taxes if you have 20% – 30% equity.  But, every bank has different policies and procedures, so before you do anything make sure you first check with your mortgage lender.  You want to make sure you are eligible and there are no fees or costs involved to stop escrowing for your real estate taxes.

As of right now, Franklin County is the only local county in central Ohio that offers this great service.  If you have questions, you can contact The Treasurer’s office for more information  (614) 462-7515. 

I think this is a wonderful service by our Treasurer’s office.  A great benefit for being a home owner in Franklin County.  You have the “worry free” convenience of automatic monthly payments of your real estate taxes that also pays you a great short term interest rate that you probably can’t get at any bank.  And best of all, the Treasurer’s program is FREE.  There is no fee or set up charge to join the program.

Shake Down!

Shake Down!

Don’t let the “Tax Man” shake you down!   Click here for other possible ways to reduce your property taxes and/or save some “greenbacks”! 

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

 

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Save Moolah!

Even a small amount ($25, $50, $100) added to your mortgage payment each month when applied to the principal can have a significant impact on the total amount of interest you pay as well as how long you pay it.

For example, if you divide your monthly mortgage payment by 12 and add that amount to your monthly payment each month by the end of the year you will have paid the equivalent of an extra mortgage payment for the year—a 13th payment—all invested in principal reduction!

That 13th payment can make a big difference. For example, let’s say you borrowed $200,000 at 6.5 percent interest with a 30 year term. Your monthly payment would be a shade over $1,264 a month for principal and interest. By adding an extra $100 per month ($1,200 per year) you would pay off your mortgage in just over 23 years, knocking almost seven years off the loan and saving over $73,000 in interest.

Contact your lender to find out how they apply extra payment money from you. Some lenders may apply your extra money that you pay above your monthly payment amount automatically to your principal.

However some may appy it to your escrow account to pay taxes or insurance which is NOT what you want them to do! Make sure you read the fine print, and call (or write) your lender to confirm what they will do, or how you can assure that the extra money goes to reducing your principal balance.

Tip: Sending a separate check and clearly marking the “memo” field with your loan account and the phrase, “Apply to Principal”will help assure proper credit and provide strong documentation of your extra payments. Again, check with your lender.

Tip: Don’t bother with offers from your lender or 3rd party companies that offer to charge you money (often as much as $200-$300) to set up a bi-weekly payment program—you can accomplish the same thing yourself without their help—for free.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although this is a great strategy to accomplish the twin goals of saving money and increasing equity in the capital asset that is your home, this may not be the best use of your financial resources.

Interest rates for home mortgages tend to be lower than most other consumer loans and your financial profile may suggest a better use for this money—like paying off higher interest consumer loans first.

Anytime you pre-pay extra money on any installment loan it has the same effect as investing your money at that interest rate. So if you had an extra $100 should you pre-pay it on a home loan at 6.5% or a consumer loan at 10%, for example? And don’t forget that mortgage interest is usually fully tax deductable, whereas other consumer interest is not.

Therefore, we recommend consulting a qualified financial advisor for a proper evaluation of your total financial picture before proceeding with this strategy.

Buyer Agent George

(This money saving blog story was reproduced from the Buyershome Journal”  blog – April 12, 2007)

 

 

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After years of failed attempts, it finally looks like we will have some licensing regulations in place for Home Inspectors in the State of Ohio by 2009.  House bill (HB) 257 recently passed the Ohio House of Representatives by a wide margin (83-11).  The bill will be reviewed by the Ohio Senate later this year when the legislature reconvenes after the November 4th election.

With all the problems in the last few years in real estate, it would be “political suicide” for any political official (wink, wink Gov. Ted Strickland) not to pass some positive legislation.  Legislation designed to regulate & license Ohio’s home inspection industry is long over due.

For too long, any “Joe Schmoe” could print up a business card on their home computer and start a home inspection business.  Because of this reason, there are inexperienced, unqualified inspectors in our area.  This is a problem for a potential home buyer.  The problems we have had in the home inspection industry are really “small potatoes” compared to all the other major problems in real estate (lenders, fraud, greed, non-disclosure, foreclosures, etc.).  But, this is a good thing.  This means legislation will probably get passed in the State of Ohio.

The new Home Inspection Licensing will probably include the following provisions:

1.  Criminal penalties for performing home inspections without a license.

2.  Creation of a process for investigating complaints filed against inspectors.

3.  Creation of the Ohio Home Inspection Board to regulate the industry.

4.  Creating minimum standards and guidelines for performing inspections.

Hopefully our state legislature will have the home inspection bill passed soon.  I am confident that home buyers in 2009 will have the protection of home inspection regulation and licensing.
Home Inspector

Home Inspector

Check out my previous past about “Home Inspection Nightmares”.  This blog post also has good links to find qualified home inspectors in your area via The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI)

Good luck out there!

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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Representing People, NOT Property in Columbus, Ohio. If you are a home buyer, then you need me to protect you. I can help you get the best price and terms for your next home purchase. You must use a true Buyer Broker! 1.614.805.7607

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