Home safety issues Whether you are a new homeowner or have owned your home for years, here are four things you should know about your house. You will be glad you know about them in an emergency.

Water Shut-off Valves

There are several water shut-off valves that you should be familiar with. There is usually a shut-off valve at each sink and toilet. So, if there is a problem, such as a clogged drain or a faucet that won’t stop running, you can shut off the water at that source until the repair can be made.

There is also a water shut-off valve for the whole house. When a pipe breaks and water starts gushing, you need to turn off the house shut-off valve to stop the water flow. Make sure you know where this valve is.

Finally, there is usually a street water valve.…

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FAQ's about Homeowners AssociationIf you are planning to purchase a new home, you will need to find out if the house is in a homeowner association. As a buyer, you will have to sign documents agreeing to be a member of the association and to abide by the association’s rules. Condominiums and townhomes have additional considerations which are addressed here.

What Is A Homeowners Association?

A homeowner association (HOA) is a group of homeowners who incorporate and form a mandatory membership organization. The purpose of the organization is to maintain common areas and to set forth rules and regulations regarding the use and appearance of the homes in the association. The association can consist of as few as two homes to as many as thousands. Most are established when new housing…

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Should you permanently close the vents in your crawl space? This is a question often debated by North Carolina homeowners, since most houses in this region are built with crawl spaces rather than basements. Homeowners most often seal their vents due to excess moisture in the crawl space, which can lead to a multitude of expensive problems (including bowing floor joists, mold and insect infestation). There are a number of important considerations here, and remediating the issue may require other steps aside from closing your vents.

During the winter months, leaving the vents open reduces the energy efficiency of your home by allowing cold air to leak in from the outside. Also, if temperatures routinely drop below freezing, pipes in the crawl space are…

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New mortgage rules in North CarolinaSignificant new mortgage rules just went into effect on October 3rd, as part of the regulations created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2013. These regulations are designed to provide new homeowners increased loan transparency as well as more protection against reckless lending standards and other lender abuses.

Homebuyers will know up front all of the details of their loans and be given three full days to review their closing settlement sheet. Last minute changes at the time of signing the closing statements will no longer be allowed and this could impact buyers and sellers who aren’t prepared, as any significant changes require a new three-day window for review. Having an experienced Realtor is going to be more critical than ever in…

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Home improvements that can help make a home safer for seniorsAs we age, most of us want the freedom and independence to live in our homes until the day we die. We do not envision our golden years living in assisted living communities and nursing homes. That seems anything but golden.

Elder-Proof Your Parents' Home

What about your parents? Do you have parents in their seventies or eighties who are living in their own homes? Are they really safe there? Or are they likely to fall because their homes lack safety features?

Falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death among the elderly. There are many features of their home that could actually be dangerous for your parents. With a few adjustments to their home, your parents could be much safer than they are right now.

Let’s take a look at some of…

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real estate disclosure statement If you are planning on buying or selling a home in North Carolina, you are required to sign a disclosure statement that in theory details all known problems with the house. The disclosure statement must be on the form provided by the state. No other disclosure form is allowed.

The form can look a little intimidating, but it’s not that hard to fill out. And the items are the same ones you would want to know about if you were buying the home. There are 31 questions on the current form, with an additional six questions if your home is part of a homeowners association or under other governing documents.

Some of the questions require you to fill in information. Others ask about any known problems. For those questions, you check “Yes” if you know of a…

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Get your home in selling conditionYou have decided to put your house up for sale. But, you want to make sure you get the best sale price possible. So, what do you do? There are several steps you can take to make your house look much better to potential buyers. The better the house looks, the more people will pay for it.

The first thing to do is take a critical look at your house. Put yourself in the position of a potential buyer. If you can’t do that yourself, ask a friend or, better yet, a local real estate agent. Go through the house and determine what needs to be done to make the house show better.

Let’s look at some items that can make your home more appealing to a potential buyer.

Improve Your Home's Curb Appeal

Check out the landscaping. Prune bushes and trees. Weed the…

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Luxury home market information in Chapel Hill, NCHave you been thinking about moving up to a more luxurious home? Have you been watching the luxury home market wonder if now might be the time to buy? Let’s take a look at the luxury home market.

When the housing market crashed in 2008, all home values suffered, even the luxury home market. Since then, the housing market has been slowly recovering. However, some homeowners are still under water. They still owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. As housing prices increase, this situation will continue to improve.

The luxury home market, however, has been improving markedly in the last several years. In the last couple of years, sales of luxury homes have been hitting record levels. And the prices for these homes have been rising…

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Front Yard Farms, Larry Tollen's GardenAs an avid home gardener who among other things enjoys growing as many of the vegetables we eat as possible I can attest that my wife and I have noticed a visible decline in the number of bees we see. Several years ago we started planting a wide variety of flowering plants specifically to attract more bees to our yard so that we could attract more bees without which our vegetables wouldn’t get pollinated. Check out this excellent article about how you can be a part of the solution to help save the bees.

Help Save Bees In North Carolina | Durham, Chapel Hill, & Cary

One of the most effective ways each of us can help bring save bee colonies is also a wonderful way to improve your own personal environment; simply plant a variety of bee friendly…

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Free things to do in Durham, NC In 2015Now that summer is upon us, we have opportunities to get out and explore our surroundings. But summer activities don’t have to be expensive. In fact, here are ten activities you can do that are absolutely free.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

These gardens are located on 55 acres in the heart of Duke University. The gardens consist of four separate gardens: the Historic Gardens, the H. L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, the W. L. Culbertson Asiatic Arboretum, and the Doris Duke Center Gardens. There is a fee for parking at the gardens, but the overflow lot has free parking and is just a 5-minute walk from the gardens. Tours are available for a fee, but maps of the gardens are free, enabling you to explore all that the gardens have to offer. The gardens are…

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