Energy Saving Dishwasher Tips

Home Maintenance Tip- Dishwashers
Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for heating water. The Energy Guide label attached to new dishwashers estimates the annual power needed to run the appliance and heat the water based on natural gas and electricity costs.Dishwasher Tips

  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120°F).
  • Scrape, don’t rinse, large food pieces and bones from dishes. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food.
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded, when you run it.
  • Avoid using the “rinse & hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water for each load.
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn the control knob to “off” after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.

Long-Term Savings Tip

  • When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for the ENERGY STAR label to find a dishwasher that uses less water and 41% less energy than required by federal standards.

Excerpted from U.S. Department of Energy.

Five Maintenance Issues Owners Shouldn’t Ignore

Consumer Reports magazine advises home owners not to put off important maintenance projects, noting that waiting until the economy rebounds could end up making the repairs more costly while putting a family’s health at risk.

The magazine identifies five crucial maintenance issues:

  • Check the gutters: Clogged gutters, broken fasteners and separations where the gutters meet the fascia board will lead to roof leaks if they haven’t already.
  • Inspect the roof: Cracked, curled and mussing shingles mean a roof is nearing the end of its useful life. Cracks around chimneys, skylights, and roof valleys can also suggest the roof might be leaking.
  • Look for bugs: Termites and carpenter ants can bore through a home in a few short years. Probe the sill plate on top of the foundation with a screwdriver to check for rotten wood. Also look for carpenter ants and termites along windowsills and walls.
  • Avoid mold: Mold and mildew can cause musty odors, dank air, and make residents sick. Check under carpets and around windows for visible mold or mildew.
  • Don’t ignore cracks: Foundation cracks wider than 3/16 of an inch can be a problem. These require examination by a structural engineer.

Source: Consumer Reports

Tread Carefully When Making a Low-Ball Offer

These days, it’s easier to make a low-ball offer than it used to be, but still it’s important to be smart. Here are some things that a real estate practitioner and would-be buyer should consider when contemplating such an offer:

Use foreclosures as comps carefully. Look realistically at the prices foreclosures in the neighborhood brought. Foreclosures aren’t good comps if the homes were stripped of appliances, pipes, HVAC, etc.
Examine details of short sales critically. How many liens were there against low-selling short sales? If there were no secondary liens, the lender had considerable flexibility.
Establish realistic time frames. Even in the best of circumstances, foreclosure takes a long time. Will the seller play the waiting game? How long have houses whose owners have equity stayed on the market? Is the buyer in a hurry?

If your buyer makes a low-ball offer, the bank probably won’t be in any rush to take it. They’ll likely just keep soliciting offers without coming back with a counter. Ultimately, the property is likely to sell for a higher price and, chances are, you and your buyer won’t know it until the deal is done.

Source: ThinkGlinck, Ilyce R. Glink (03/30/2009)

The Fed: Coming to a Theater Near You

The Federal Reserve is taking over the big screen, showing ads at movie theaters that warn against foreclosure fraud.

The spots will run in 14 cities with high-foreclosure rates and an abundance of financial scam artists who often result.

The ads last 30 seconds and feature photos of individuals and families. They open with the question, “Are you facing foreclosure?” and close with the reassurance, “It shouldn’t hurt to get help!” Before the fade, there are foreclosure tips.

“Everyone goes to the movies at some point,” says Sandra Braunstein, director of the Fed’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs “The more attention we can put on this, the more consumers can protect themselves from scam artists.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Sudeep Reddy (03/27/2009)

4 Tips to Getting a Loan

These days one of the biggest impediments to closing a real estate sale can be the buyer’s ability to get a mortgage.

Here are some tips for anyone who hopes to land a loan:

  • Turn to the government. The biggest source of loans these days is the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Veterans Administration (VA). These programs accept borrowers with lower credit scores and allow them to put down as little as 3.5 percent of the purchase price.

  • Document, document, document. Borrowers will need bank statements, brokerage statements, W-2 forms and tax returns.

  • Boost credit scores. Borrowers should avoid having more than one-third of their maximum borrowing capacity outstanding on one credit card. If necessary, rotate the debt among several cards.

  • Work your connections. Comparison shopping is easy online, but if your customer has an established relationship with a local bank, suggest they try that lender first.

Source: BusinessWeek.com, Christopher Palmeri (01/23/09)