Radon And Well Water

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What is radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless, water-soluble gas produced by the radioactive decay of radium. Radium, which emits radon gas, is a radioactive metallic chemical element found in pitchblende and other uranium minerals. It is common in the earth’s crust.

Radon breaks down in a natural, spontaneous process or “decays” to form other elements. The rate of radon’s radioactive decay is defined by its half-life, which is the time required for one half of any amount of the element to break down. The half-life of radon is 3.8 days.

All rocks contain some trace uranium concentrations. The highest concentrations are in plutonic rocks, such as granite. Because the source of radon is the radioactive decay of uranium, higher radon amounts are commonly detected in areas underlain by granites, dark shales, light-colored volcanic rocks, sedimentary rocks containing phosphate, and metamorphic rocks. High levels of radon have been found in all 50 states.

What is the measurement of radon?

Radon levels are measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Measured levels range from 1.5 million pCi/L (an activity of one pCi/L is about equal to the decay of two atoms of radon per minute in each liter of air or water).

What radioactive contaminants can be found in water?

Certain minerals are radioactive and may emit forms of radiation known as photons and beta radiation and some may emit a form of radiation known as alpha radiation. Some people who drink water containing alpha emitters in excess of the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

Why do we test for radon?

For every 10,000 pCi/L, about 1 pCi/L is released to indoor air, depending on the conditions, and these are the levels at which health concerns typically begin. Fortunately, radon in air and in ground water, once identified, can be eliminated.

Exposure to radon has been recognized as a health risk. The two diseases of principal concern are stomach cancers from ingestion of radon and lung cancer from inhalation of radon byproducts.

Radon gas can cause lung cancer if inhaled because the products of its decay can accumulate in the lungs and damage lung tissue. As it decays, radon produces several short-lived elements that are also radioactive. Radon and these decay-products emit alpha particles that, because of their high energy, can damage lung tissue. Although most radon is exhaled before it can do much damage, the decay-products can remain trapped in the respiratory system, attached to dust, smoke, and other fine particles from the air. Eventually, the concentration of these radioactive elements in constant, close contact with lung tissue can cause cancer.

The health risk of radon inhalation is believed to be many times greater than the risk resulting from direct ingestion of radon contained in water, although it has been estimated that there is an increased lifetime stomach cancer risk of between 0.25 – 1.0 percent per 100,000 pCi/L in a water supply. There is no direct evidence of cancers of the internal organs of man being caused by the ingestion of radon in drinking water; however, there is strong evidence that high levels of airborne radon in uranium mines cause lung cancer. Therefore, estimates of any health risks from the ingestion of radon must be based on indirect evidence.

The lifetime risk of developing lung cancer from household water that contains 1,000 pCi/L of radon is roughly 3 to 13 in 10,000; from water with 10,000 pCi/L of radon, the risk is approximately 3 to 13 in 1,000; for water containing 100,000 pCi/L is about 3 to 12 in 100.

The chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on how much radon is in your home; the amount of time you spend in your home; and whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) estimates that 1,800 lung cancer deaths a year are caused by inhaling radon emitted from the water.

Some people who drink water containing radium 226 or 228 in excess of the MCL over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer. Radium is a known cause of bone and nasal cancers. It is especially dangerous to children who have developing bone tissue. When a person ingests radium, the body interprets the radioactive element as calcium and deposits it in bones. Because it accumulates in the body, radium is considered to pose a greater cancer risk than most other radioactive elements.

How does radon enter my house?

Although you can’t see it, taste it, smell it, or feel it, the EPA estimates that nearly every home in America has some level of radon in the air. Since air is moving in and out of the soil, radon is able to pass through fairly easily. Radon gas can enter the home in a variety of ways, including dirt floors, cracks in concrete floors and walls, floor drains, sumps, tiny cracks or pores in hollow walls, and from the ground water supply. In other words, radon is most concentrated in the lowest level of the home.

A recent survey by the EPA estimates that 10 U.S. states had 25 percent or more of the homes test at high radon levels (greater than 4 pCi/L). Those states include Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

How much radon may be in my house?

Radon levels in outdoor air, indoor air, soil, air, and ground water can be very different. Outdoor air ranges from less than 0.1 pCi/L to about 30 pCi/L, but it probably averages about 0.2 pCi/L. Radon in indoor air ranges from less than 1 pCi/L to about 3,000 pCi/L, but it probably averages between 1 and 2 pCi/L. Radon in soil air (the air that occupies the pores in soil) ranges from 20 to 30 pCi/L to more than 100,000 pCi/L; most soils in the United States contain between 200 and 300 pCi/L of radon per liter of soil air. The amount of radon dissolved in ground water ranges from 100 to nearly 3 million pCi/L.

How does radon enter a water system?

While radon can enter a home through well water, the risk of radon entering homes through water is small compared with that of radon entering through the soil. It is uncommon for water in a house to have extremely high levels of radon. Radon can be released into residences when the water is used for household purposes, such as washing dishes and showering. On average, radon in water contributes about five percent of the total indoor air concentration in homes served by wells.

The U.S. EPA has not established a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for radon in drinking water. The Agency proposed an MCL of 300 pCi/L, but withdrew it on July 30, 1997. Levels of radon in household water compare to indoor levels at the rate of 10,000 (pCi/L) in water to about 1 pCi/L in air. At water levels above 2,000 pCi/L the consumer should consider taking some action.

One way radium gets into the water is because of pollution from fertilizer and lime used on residential and agricultural land. When chemicals from fertilizers seep into an aquifer, they help move radium deposits into the water.

Is my private water well at risk?

Higher levels of radon are generally found in private well water supplies than in municipal water systems. The reason for this is the short half-life of radon. Radon in public water supplies usually decays to low concentrations before the water is delivered to users, especially if the water has been treated. Because a private well system delivers only to one or two households, there is a greater chance the radon will not dissipate before the water is consumed.

Since radon will decay, storage alone can allow radioactivity to diminish. However, a household using 150 gallons of water per day would require 1,800 gallons of storage to achieve 90 percent reduction and 3,700 gallons to achieve 99 percent reduction.

What requirements do public water systems have for dealing with radon?

The U.S. EPA has not established a Maximum Contaminant Level for radon in drinking water supplied by public systems. Radon likely is released to outdoor air before reaching home faucets.

Some public water systems mix their water supplies that have elevated radon or radium levels with other sources to lower the percentage in the drinking water. Such mixing does not eliminate the radon or radium, but can bring it within acceptable EPA levels. When water is supplied by a municipal system, radon is generally released while the water is being treated in the system. In addition, when water is held in a storage area, the possibility of high levels of radon is minimized because radon quickly escapes into the open atmosphere. Radon in outdoor air is diluted to insignificantly low concentrations.

For radium, the Agency has set 5 pCi/L of water as the maximum contaminant level permissible for public water systems. At 5 pCi/L, one in 10,000 adults who drink the water over their lifetime risks fatal cancer, according to government calculations. As the amount of radium increases, so does the risk factor. A 1997 General Accounting Office (GAO/RCED-97-123, June 1997) investigation on the quality of community water systems reported that fewer than one percent of the systems investigated exceeded the radium standard in any one year.

What types of treatment devices will make the water safe for consumption?

Radon problems in water can be easily fixed. The most effective treatment is to remove radon from the water before it enters the home by aeration or carbon adsorption.

Packed tower aeration seems to be the preferred treatment option for radon among public water system operators because: 1) Granular activated carbon (GAC) radon removal efficiency is affected by degraded water quality, and; 2) the GAC can become low level radioactive waste through the buildup of radionuclides.

GAC adsorption is extremely effective for the removal of radon from water supplies and it is the most common way to reduce waterborne radon. The activated carbon, which will reduce other contaminants in the water as well, dissolves radon gas from water as it enters the house. Most of this equipment is installed in the incoming water line to the house.

Typical usage of GAC beds will require occasional backwashing or replacement, both of which create the environmental problems of radionuclide discharge, as well as disposal of the spent GAC. Spent radon-contaminated GAC should be shielded for 12 days for 90 percent radon reduction to occur. GAC filters can become significant gamma radiation emitters, requiring shielding or installation outside of the occupied structure.

In addition, frequent backwashing reduces the effectiveness of the GAC’s ability to reduce radon.

A household of four people with 6,000 pCi/L of radon in their water using a GAC system could expect 95 percent removal. They could also expect the GAC system to reach the level where it becomes radioactive waste in about 15 years.

Aeration, another popular way to reduce radon, may present a more costly choice for home point-of-use treatment, but may be especially applicable for small community water systems serving multiple households.

Aeration removes radon by degassing the radon from the water and venting to the atmosphere. These units do not accumulate radioactivity, and no backwashing or bed disposal is required. Aerators have to be installed ahead of any filter or exchange bed, such as a softener, or the bed will become radioactively “hot.” Well-designed bubble aeration units for single-family use remove 95 percent of the radon present. Aerators will require occasional cleaning, primarily to deal with hydrogen sulfide, iron and/or bacteria. If a ventilating fan is operated during service, there should be no exposure to radon.

Retesting and reevaluation of radon levels are suggested to determine that radon levels in the water are being sufficiently reduced.

Also, an ion exchange device at a cost of between $400 and $600 can remove radium. If an ion exchange device is added to your system, test your water after installation to make certain it is working to remove radium.

Should I have my water tested?

Although radon concentrations in ground water are more likely to be higher in certain geographic areas, the only way to be certain of the radon concentration in the water supplied by any given well is to have the water tested. Prediction of radon concentration at an individual well is very difficult and imprecise. A high level tested in a neighbor’s water does not mean your water will also test high.

Because radon in indoor air is the larger health concern, the U.S. EPA recommends that you first test the air in your home for radon before testing for radon in your drinking water. EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend testing all homes for radon in indoor air (and apartments located below the third floor). EPA recommends that you take action to reduce your home’s indoor radon levels if your radon test result is 4 pCi/L or higher. The EPA also recommends that people who receive their water from private wells check their water for radon at least once during the lifetime of the well.

Opinions vary with regard to levels of radon and when to take treatment action. EPA is proposing to require community water suppliers to provide water with radon levels no higher than 4,000 pCi/L, which contributes about 0.4 pCi/L of radon to the air in your home. This requirement assumes that the State is also taking action to reduce radon levels in indoor air by developing EPA-approved, enhanced state radon in indoor air programs (called Multimedia Mitigation Programs). This is because most of the radon you breathe comes from soil under the house, according to the EPA.

For states that choose not to develop enhanced indoor air programs, community water systems in that state will be required to reduce radon levels in drinking water to 300 pCi/L. This amount of radon in water contributes about 0.03 pCi/L of radon to the air in your home. Even if a state does not develop an enhanced indoor air program, water systems may choose to develop their own local indoor radon program and meet a radon standard for drinking water of 4,000 pCi/L.

If a large percentage of the radon in your house is from your water, the EPA recommends that you consider installing a water treatment system to remove radon. Both homes and water supplies can be treated to reduce radon.

Learn more about water testing recommendations.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about radon or radium in water contact the U.S. EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791. The National Radon Hotline is (800) 767-7236. The National Ground Water Information Center at (800) 551-7379 also has literature on radon occurrence and treatment. You can also get more information from an NGWA-member ground water contractor in your area.

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http://wellowner.org/water-quality/radon/

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What Is the Benefit of a Reverse Mortgage?

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For seniors who own their homes but who may not have many other assets, a reverse mortgage is an option. A reverse mortgage is a home loan that turns your home equity into cash. Instead of you paying a mortgage each month, the mortgage pays you. What makes a reverse mortgage different from a home-equity loan is that you don’t have to repay until you move out or pass away. Also, unlike traditional mortgages, there is no income requirement. While you can use the money for whatever you want, many people obtain a reverse mortgage to supplement their monthly income. Because interest accrues during the life of the loan, this loan is suited to those who are interested in obtaining larger amounts to use over time rather than a short-term smaller loan.

If you are a home owner age 62 or older, and if you either own the home in full or have paid down a significant amount and are currently living in the home, you may participate in FHA’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program. The HECM lets you withdraw funds from your home in a fixed monthly amount, a line of credit, or a combination of both. Many reverse mortgages are HECM loans.

There are drawbacks to a reverse mortgage, the most important being that you may not be able to get out of the loan without selling your home to pay off the debt, and you will be using the equity in the home. This can be a concern for those who dreamed of leaving the home to their heirs unencumbered. No debt is passed along to the heirs, and any remaining equity is transferred to them, but the loan plus interest accrued will need to be paid off, or the house will have to be sold to satisfy the debt. All proceeds beyond the amount owed belong to the estate.

Loans through traditional lenders may also be subject to origination fees, closing charges (such as appraisal), title search and servicing fees. Generally, these costs can be added into the loan itself. According to information from the National Council on Aging, borrowers who select a traditional HECM Standard reverse mortgage also must pay an FHA mortgage insurance premium that can be as much as 2 percent of the value of the home. The insurance makes sure that you (or your heirs) don’t have to repay more than the value of the home, even if the amount due is greater than the appraised value. The HECM Saver reverse mortgage eliminates the up-front insurance fee, but borrowers get a smaller loan amount with a HECM Saver than with a standard loan.

If you are interested in obtaining a reverse mortgage, you may want counseling first to make sure the decision is right for you. Counselors provide information on reverse mortgages and alternatives, including home-equity loans. Counselors can also help seniors discuss the decision with family members. For HECM reverse mortgages, federal law requires mandatory counseling by a HUD-approved counseling agency. The National Council on Aging offers this counseling through its Reverse Mortgage Counseling Services Network, one of nine national counseling groups approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There is an up-front fee of $125 for this service.
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Beautiful Property $10,000 Price Reduction

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This home nestled in the trees sits on 3.73 acres of park like land with marketable timber that boarder Starker Forest. This home is a sportsman’s dream with rustic finishes inside, great master suite with dual vanities & walk in closet, fireplace, 50’ covered wrap around deck & more! 36×36 Finished Shop with 2 oversized bay doors for RV Parking. New roof, gutters & skylights in 2010. Great location to grow Christmas Trees or build a treehouse for the kids, or create your own relaxing adult get-a-way up by the pond site. Enjoy the many fruit trees, bing & royal anne cherries, braeburn apples, plums & grapes while watching the abundant resident deer, wild turkeys & other wildlife! Very nice flat building spot at the top of property with power available. Don’t miss out on this amazing property!

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The DIY Essential Handyman’s Toolset

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The 15 tools every homeowner should own

Here’s a smart investment every homeowner should make. These 15 tools are the absolute basics for a kit to last a lifetime. And you can buy them all for about $200.

THE ESSENTIALS
1. Toolbox: $30
Let’s start with something to fill, shall we? A good, usable toolbox can save as much time on a job as having the right tools inside. “A lot of people don’t get one and their stuff is all over the place and it takes them a half-hour of frustration to get what they need for even the simplest job,” says Tenenbaum. He prefers a soft canvas bag with lots of pockets that drapes over a five-gallon bucket. Rubber-bottom soft bags are a slightly heavier alternative.

2. Hammer: $15 Zarek prefers a steel-shaft version with a vibration-dampening rubber grip. Tenenbaum suggests a 16-ounce steel- or fiberglass-shaft hammer with a smooth (not checkered) head to avoid unnecessary marring. Choose a model with a straight or “rip” claw, not a curved claw; they’re much more useful for demolition. “And sandpaper the face of the hammer once in a while so nails don’t slip off,” Tenenbaum adds.

3. Pry bar: $15
“A 12- to 15-inch pry bar is incredibly handy,” says Tenenbaum. “There is one made of hexagonal steel that is infinitely superior to ones that are made of spring steel, which tend to bounce when you hammer them.”

4. Vise grips: $10
Also known as locking pliers, vise-grips are the pit bull in your toolbox: Simply adjust the screw drive in the handle and clamp it on to anything that needs viselike stabilizing, typically metal or PVC pipes. When you’re done, the lever in the opposite handle releases the jaws. Channel-lock pliers are a good second choice.

5. Needle-nose pliers: $8
The long, tapering, forged head that gives needle-nose pliers their name is particularly useful in electrical work where spaces can get tight. Get a pair with a wire-cutting blade near the hinge.

6. Screwdrivers (mixed set): $20
You’ll save money and get the most use out of a good-quality mixed set that includes 1/4- and 3/8-inch flat heads and No. 1 and No. 2 Phillips head drivers. Magnetic heads come in handy, too. Tenenbaum advises against cordless electric screwdrivers; instead, he uses screwdriver bits with his corded electric drill, which provides more torque and never needs recharging.

7. Wire cutter/stripper: $10
Tenenbaum regrets the years he spent without this handy plierlike tool that scores and strips the casing off varying gauges of wires to speed electrical jobs. “I tried to strip wires with diagonal pliers for years, and it’s so easy with wire strippers,” he admits. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”

8. Tape measure (16-foot): $4
You’ll thank yourself for getting a good-quality, easy-locking, 3/4-inch-wide model. The half-inchers just don’t stay in place when extended; the one-inchers are overkill.

9. Electrical tester: $2
Forget the fancy gadgets with dials and displays: You only need the cheapie with two probes and a light to indicate that an electrical current is present. “Remember to test it in a working outlet each time before you use it to make sure it’s still working,” Tenenbaum warns. “Remember: If it’s dead, you’re dead.”

10. Reversible drill with bit set: $40
This 3/8th-inch reversible drill is the only electrical tool that you absolutely, positively have to have. Although stores are filled with cordless varieties, stick with a corded model: They’re lighter, cheaper and never run out of juice.

11. 1/2-inch steel chisel: $10
One of the most ancient tools is also essential as well. When you need a chisel (and you will), there’s really no acceptable substitute. And forget the plastic- and wooden-handled varieties. “The expectation that you’re going to go and find a mallet to hit your chisel is just ridiculous,” says Tenenbaum. “You’re going to reach for a hammer.”

12. Utility knife: $4
Having a utility knife with replaceable blades comes in awfully handy, and again, when you need one there’s really no substitute.

13. Handsaw: $15
If you invest in a circular saw, you may find few situations in which you’ll need a handsaw. But Zarek says many power-averse folks will feel more comfortable with a short handsaw. A good choice is the 12-inch FatMax by Stanley; it’s lighter and cuts straighter and faster than traditional handsaws.

14. 9-inch torpedo level: $9
These palm-size levels with the bubble that floats to center are essential to leveling everything from picture frames to kitchen cabinets. If you need to level something long, simply add a board to the level. And don’t be tempted by the various laser levels on the market. “I was given one and I’ve never used it at all,” says Tenenbaum. “I don’t understand it. Bubbles are incredibly accurate.”

15. Safety glasses: $6
There simply is no substitute for effective eye protection.

6 NICE-TO-HAVES

1. 7-1/4-inch circular saw: $80
Once your projects grow beyond a certain scale to include things like decks and fences, you won’t hesitate to invest in a circular saw, which speeds up any project involving numerous cuts. This is also one of the most dangerous tools to own. Take extra care to keep kids and pets well away from your work site when operating a circular saw, never cut on an uneven or unstable surface, use protective eyewear and ALWAYS unplug the saw when not in use.

2. Electronic stud finder: $10
Looking for the studs behind your walls to support shelves or other fixtures? This electronic device will locate them for you quickly and accurately.

3. Carpenter’s square: $6
Despite its name, a carpenter’s square isn’t square at all, but rather triangular in sort of a gun shape. It enables you to cut squarely when you use it to measure and mark a straight line at a right (90-degree) angle from any straight edge.

4. Random orbital sander: $55
At some point, you’ll likely need to remove a finish or sand smooth a large surface (table, cabinet, etc.). This is just the tool. Its random motion sands evenly from rough to smooth with optimal control.

5. Staple gun: $17
A staple gun comes in handy for a variety of home projects that require fast tacking, such as upholstering.

6. Clamps: $2-$40Tenenbaum admits clamps are as useful as they are problematic. “They all have different uses: Some of them are fast, some of them are strong, some of them are heavy, some of them are too long except when you need that length,” he says. “But clamps are really handy because you can clamp something down while you work on it or glue it or fasten it. They’re also good for personal safety when you’re trying to cut something that’s wandering all over the place.”

courtesy of

http://realestate.msn.com/the-15-tools-every-homeowner-should-own

7 Moving Expense Tax Deductions

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7 Moving Expense Tax Deductions You Need To Know Before Your Next Move

Moving can be a costly ordeal. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct certain expenses from your taxes, so long as certain criteria are met.

1) Do You Qualify?
The IRS only allows you to write off your moving expenses if the move is for job-related reasons. If you are moving because of convenience, you will not be able to receive tax deductions for your expenses.

2) 39 Weeks
The IRS requires that you be employed full time for 39 weeks of the first 12 months of your move in the area of your new job location in order to qualify for moving deductions. It is not required to have spent the 39 weeks at the same job, but rather a full-time job in the area. You will not be penalized by the IRS if you are laid off or transferred again.

3) 50 Miles Rule
The IRS requires that your commute from your old home to your new job location be at least 50 miles longer than your commute from your old home to your old job. To give an example, if you lived 10 miles from your previous job site, your new job location would have to be 60 miles or greater from your old home. Anything less than the 50 miles rule and you will not be eligible to deduct your moving expenses, per IRS guidelines.

4) Employer Assistance
If your employer is footing the bill for your move, it will impact what moving expenses, if any, you are able to deduct from your taxes. If your employer is paying only a portion of your moving expenses, be sure to keep track of the costs.

5) Self Employment
You can still deduct your moving expenses if you are self-employed. If you own your own business, you will need to meet the standard 39 weeks/50 miles guidelines. If you are self-employed, you will likely be required to meet the 50 miles guideline, as well as a longer 78 weeks rule, meaning you will need to work full time in the new location for roughly 20 months to be eligible to write off your moving expenses.

6) Married Couples
For married couples, only one spouse needs to meet the aforementioned IRS criteria to qualify.

7) Deductible Moving Expenses

The IRS has a short list of allowed moving deductions. Here is an outline of what moving expenses you will want to keep track of to write off as tax deductions later on:
◾Cost of packing and transporting household good and personal effects, whether you are moving yourself or hiring professional movers.
◾Cost of insurance for your move.
◾Costs to connect and/or disconnect utilities because of the move.
◾Cost of one-days lodging expense at your old residence after your belongings have been moved.
◾Cost of storing your belongings at a location that is not your old residence. This applies to storing belongings with a family member or in storage in another city where you had lived previously.
◾Cost of storing your belongings for no more than 30 consecutive days after the move.
◾Cost of one trip for you and your household members. You and your household members are not required to travel the same way or the same time.
◾Costs of car travel; you can deduct your expenses for gasoline, oil, lodging parking fees and tolls. You can either itemize your expenses or choose to deduct 18 centers per mile. Deductions for meals, sightseeing or repairs, maintenance, insurance or deprecation on your vehicle are not allowed.

For more info on moving expenses and your taxes, visit the IRS Web site.
Courtesy of
realtor.com

http://www.realtor.com/blogs/2013/05/17/moving-expenses-tax-deductions/?utm_content=buffer360c6&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=linkedin&utm_campaign=Buffer

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Renovations That Could Hurt Your Home’s Resale

douglashall2013:

Good information

Originally posted on SOLD BY CATHY:

Unlike the homeowner of 25 years ago, today’s typical buyers plan to live in their homes for just five to seven years. So it’s more important than ever to consider resale when making home improvements. Even if you’re a buyer, it’s important to think like a seller, too, from the time you sign the purchase contract through any home improvement or renovation projects. The goal: Think about how your improvements might affect the sale of your home down the road. Below are five home renovation/improvement projects that could actually hurt your home’s resale.

1. Going Overboard On Landscaping or Gardens

A homeowner/seller may have a green thumb and be really proud of the time spent on the garden, the hedges or landscaping. But the next buyer might see it as too much maintenance, especially if you went overboard with your green thumb. Potential buyers may not be willing to pay for it (as part of the…

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Financing Green Remodels: The Ins and Outs of Energy Efficient Mortgages

greenhome

By Mark Scheets, Guest blogger

What is an Energy Efficient Mortgage?

Energy efficient mortgages (EEMs, sometimes known as “green mortgages”) are loans that allow home owners to finance energy-efficient upgrades for their current home or in a new home purchase. The cost of the upgrades is rolled into the mortgage so that multiple loans are not needed.

An EEM allows lenders to extend borrowers’ debt-to-income qualifying ratio, which means that they may be able to take out a larger home loan than would be allowed with a traditional mortgage. With an EEM, upfront costs may be higher than with a typical home loan. The reason for this is because improvements need to be made to a home to make it “energy efficient”. Despite the upfront cost, an EEM should save home owners money in the long run through lower energy costs. In order to qualify, the energy efficient home must undergo an energy audit by an approved inspector.

3 DIFFERENT TYPES OF EEMS

Conventional EEM:

A conventional EEM is the most commonly used green mortgage option. With a conventional EEM, the lender will be able to credit the borrower’s income by an amount equal to the amount of energy that will be saved with the renovations/upgrades.

For instance, if a borrower makes $75,000 per year and stands to save $2,000 a year in energy costs by upgrading their home, their income will be $77,000 for underwriting purposes. This enables the borrower to buy a more expensive home than he would otherwise be eligible for.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) EEM:

FHA EEMs provide mortgage insurance to a borrower who is looking to purchase or refinance their home and incorporate the costs of energy efficient improvements into their mortgage. In order to qualify, the borrower must meet all the normal underwriting conditions for an FHA loan.

With an FHA EEM, the borrower can borrower the lesser of:

· The total cost of the improvements plus report and inspections; or

· The lesser 5 percent of the value of the property, 115 percent of the median area price for a single family house, or 150 percent of the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit.

In addition, the energy improvements must cost less than the total amount saved over the life of the improvements. Further, the improvements must be made after the loan closes. The funds for the improvement are put in an escrow account and released when the borrower’s loan closes.

Veterans Administration (VA) EEMs:

These green mortgages are available to veterans who qualify for financing through the VA. VA EEMs allow buyers to upgrade an existing home. Typically these loans are capped at $3,000 to 6,000 maximum.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Scheets is a writer Total Mortgage Services.
Courtesy of
Styled Staged & Sold

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