Moving? 5 Ways to Minimize Surprise Costs

As if moving weren’t stressful enough, it can also carry with it a host of unanticipated costs. Prepare yourself with our rundown of surprise fees and hidden expenses.

In the weeks before you close on a new house, it’s tempting to think you’ve overcome the most challenging financial hurdles of real estate. The truth is that in the run-up to moving day—and heck, even after you’ve completely relocated—unexpected fees and expenditures can pile up. Here are a few steps you can take to keep costly surprises to a minimum.

1. Protect Your Credit
Moving involves a litany of expenses that can have you reaching again and again for your Visa or MasterCard. Be careful: Eating up your available credit can throw off the assumptions that shaped the terms of your pending mortgage. If you start maxing out your credit cards, your lender might be forced to deem you a greater risk, which could in turn make your mortgage rate go up. So hold off on charging any big-ticket items (for example, new furniture) until after you close.

2. Research Municipal Fees
Believe it or not, some municipalities require a payment from outgoing homeowners, while others slap a fee on those who are just joining the local population. You might even get dinged by both the place you are leaving and the place you are moving to. There’s no way around municipal fees like this, but because they can amount to thousands of dollars, take the time to determine whether you’ll be facing any.

3. Avoid Building Fines
If you’re moving out of a condominium or apartment building, check with the board or management company well in advance of your move. Outgoing occupants are most likely required to follow an established procedure. It’s possible, for example, that your building enforces quiet hours or that moving trucks are permitted to park only in designated spots. Failing to observe the rules could mean a hefty fine, so be sure to find out what the regulations are.

4. Beware of Outstanding Payments 
Directly question the home seller about any outstanding or impending fees, assessments, special taxes, or improvement costs. If there is money owed, it’s not your obligation to pay it—at least not prior to the closing. Settle all questions of debt before taking formal ownership of the property, or else you could be stuck picking up the previous owner’s tab.

5. Expect Mortgage Add-Ons
Thanks to the ongoing realignment of lending norms, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has boosted the fees it charges buyers at closing. The FHA guarantees about one-third of mortgages each year, so don’t assume that your new loan is going to resemble your old one. Identify the differences between the two and know what you’re getting into.

Finally, a tip about tips: Don’t forget to have plenty of cash on hand for those folks who will make your life a bit easier as you go about the always-tedious task of moving. Everyone appreciates a little appreciation.

source: http://www.bobvila.com/

#DIYFriday: Boost your lawn this weekend

1. Rough up the current ground cover. The roots from the sod need to make contact with dirt, so use a rototiller or similar tool to expose the soil beneath.

2. Add some lime. Lime promotes lawn health by providing nutrients and improving soil structure. Because lime is absorbed slowly, add it prior to the sod.

3. Fill in the gaps. After fitting the sod pieces closely together, cutting and trimming as needed, fill in the joints with a mixture of soil and grass seed.

4. Compact and water. Compact the sod using a roller—or by driving over the installation with a pickup truck! Water for 20 minutes in the early morning (before the sun gets too high) and 20 minutes in the evening (after the sun has set).

A month later, the sod we would have sent to some refuse center is living on and looking great.  Both we and our neighbors couldn’t be happier about that.

For more on lawns, consider:

Top 5 Tips for a Greener Lawn
Bob Vila Radio: Lawn Care Hell
Keep Off the Grass: 5 Traditional Lawn Alternatives

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source: Bob Vila

Bob Vila’s 5 ‘Must-Do’ Tasks for March

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On the cusp of spring, March is the month to start readying your house for the warm weather ahead, as well as to address any projects you put off over the winter.

Get a jump on spring

Even if you’re diligent about cleaning year-round, spring is the traditional time to address those areas of the home missed by your regular cleaning routine. Dust or vacuum out-of-the-way nooks and crannies — the tops of wall-mounted cabinets, for example, and the floor beneath large appliances. Launder or dry clean fabric draperies, and use a damp cloth to clean wood and vinyl blinds. Vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses, and if you have area rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting, think about renting a carpet cleaner. In short, the goal is to remove dust, mites, and allergens wherever they have settled in order to achieve a healthier home.

Grease residue lingering in the kitchen? Consider washing your cabinets, backsplashes and walls with a mixture of warm water and mild detergent. The same goes for the bathroom, where soap scum, mold and mildew are persistent nuisances. While you’re cleaning tile, look for areas of worn or missing grout, as these may lead to more serious water damage if not repaired.

And just as you readied your furnace for fall, now is the time to make sure your air conditioning unit is in good working order. Change the filter, examine hose connections for leaks, and verify that drain pans are draining freely. If you suspected problems with efficiency or performance last summer, call in a professional to check things out before the warm weather arrives.

Spring cleaning is by no means confined to the indoors. Take a walk around the exterior of your house to evaluate the condition of your home’s roofing, siding, and foundation. Snow, ice, and fluctuating temperatures can all take their toll on shingles and other exterior architectural elements. If you have a deck or patio, give it a good sweep, in the process checking for any minor issues in need of repair. You can get a year’s worth of grime and mildew off your deck and siding in minutes with a pressure washer and an oxygen-based bleach solution.

Organize a closet or two

Though many of us would rather keep the door closed on the subject of closet organization, cleaning up your act storage-wise can yield abundant daily and long-term benefits. Pick one closet as a starting point for your efforts and set a goal for what you wish to accomplish. List what you want to store in this closet and identify the ways in which it’s currently letting you down. Big box stores and specialty shops offer storage options running the gamut from strictly functional wire systems to highly decorative cabinetry. Budget, style, and the amount of space you have available should all factor into your decision-making.

Start planning your garden

While it may be too early in most parts of the country to start planting your garden, it’s never too early to plan! Consult seed catalogs or online retailers to find new varieties to experiment with. After all, nurseries and home improvement chains only have room to stock the most popular plants. So if you are looking for heirloom or rare varieties — anything to make your yard truly distinctive this summer — seed catalogs are the way to go. If you’re anxious to begin any way that you can, consider starting your tomatoes from seed indoors.

Paint something — anything!

There’s nothing easier or more rewarding than applying a fresh coat of paint to a room or piece of furniture. Would any room in your house benefit from a totally new hue or just a touchup? The answer is probably yes. If you’re interested in adding bright colors to your home’s palette but aren’t sure where to begin, don’t miss these expert tips on boosting color confidence. And there’s no need to stop at the walls; you can use paint to give new life to an old piece of furniture, worn-out cabinets, or a lackluster stairway.

Create a home office that works for you

Making the right design decisions in your home office can mean the difference between working hard and hardly working! Even if you already have a home office, consider whether there may be a better place for it. Two important questions to ask: Will you actually work in this space (steer clear of bedrooms, which our minds associate with rest), and will there be few distractions (laundry hampers, kitchen sinks, and anything else that might compete for your attention should be out of sight)? Be sure you have room for everything that is essential to the work you do. If your work area is small, take advantage of vertical space by installing shelves above your desk or tall adjacent bookcases. A home office should work for you, so if the setup you have isn’t working, change it!

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

source: zillow

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