TOP IT OFF RIGHT Kitchen Countertops Set A Whole New Style | Wilmington NC real estate

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Kitchen remodeling is among the most popular projects undertaken by homeowners — and the most profitable in terms of recouping the investment when the home is sold. One of the major decisions faced by anyone remodeling a kitchen is choosing a countertop.

Ideally, countertops will resist damage from heat, cold, acid burns, cuts, salt, water and various types of stains — and be easy to clean and maintain. It’s a tall order to fill, but a variety of choices are available these days that meet many, if not all, of those requirements.

Plastic Laminate And Ceramic Tile
These materials have long been popular choices because of their relatively low cost and easy installation. Laminates now come in many designs, including granite look-alikes. This variety makes it easy to coordinate a laminate top with wood cabinetry, metal details and other custom features. It is, however, susceptible to burns and scratches. And because laminate is not a solid surface, replacement may be necessary if damage occurs.

Ceramic tile has a classic look about it, provides a durable surface, and offers great variety in color and design. On the down side, its uneven surface makes it harder to keep clean, especially in the grout joints. Acrylic sealers have been developed to help resist grout staining.

Solid-Surface Materials
Countertops of solid-surface materials (e.g., Corian®) have become a popular, if more expensive, choice. Because color and pattern run all the way through this material, repairs are possible when damage occurs.

Other Options
Natural stone (granite is now popular, though expensive), butcher-block wood, stainless steel, poured concrete, and “labtop” (fiber-reinforced cement) are also being used in today’s kitchens. They’ll cost you more but look good and last for decades.

Costs
The cost of countertop materials varies greatly from as little as $1 per
linear foot for inexpensive ceramic tile to $150 per linear foot for high-grade stainless steel. Don’t forget to consider the cost of installation, as well, which generally increases with the cost of materials.

Look on www.cbbaker.com and visit some listings to get a view of some of the awesome kitchens.   Happy Homeowning!

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ENERGY FIX UP: Give Your Home An Energy Check-Up | Wilmington NC real estate

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If you’re looking for more room in your budget, take a good look at your home. Energy costs have shot up, and you may be paying a lot more than necessary to be comfortable in your home throughout the year.

Most homeowners have a number of easy, inexpensive options for reducing energy consumption and energy bills. The older your home, the more likely it is you can dramatically cut your utility costs, improve your comfort level and be environmentally responsible in the bargain.

Here’s where to look for opportunities to save as much as $500 a year on energy expenses:

 

Heating And Cooling Systems

  • How old are your systems? If brand-new, you’re likely to have super high-efficiency units. If less than five years old, they’re likely to be high efficiency and certainly worth keeping. Older systems may or may not be costing you more money than necessary. If yours are 20 years old or more, replacing them could keep you more comfortable and cut your utility costs by a third or better. You may want to look at solar heating (free energy!) as part of a heating system upgrade. Though the initial investment in any new system may seem steep, consider that dramatically lower bills will recoup your cost in just a few years. After that, it’s pure savings.
  • Make sure your heating and cooling systems get a tune-up every year. For under $100, a professional cleaning and maintenance check annually should more than pay for itself.
  • Do you change your systems’ air filter monthly? Doing so costs little, but improves system efficiency, thereby saving money.
  • Do you have an electronic thermostat? If not, install one and program it to use less energy (higher temperature in summer, lower in winter) while you’re away from home during the day, and at night while you sleep.
  • Before going on vacation or a business trip, turn the thermostat down to 55°F in winter, or up to 80°F in summer. That’s comfortable enough to keep indoor plants alive, and to keep pipes from freezing during cold weather.

 

Hot Water

  • How old is your water heater? Is it a high-efficiency unit? If your heater has given you 10 or more years of service, you would probably save money by replacing it.
  • What temperature is your water heater set to maintain? Most factory settings are at 140°F, usually higher than necessary for a ready supply of hot water. Experiment with turning the temperature down and see if you even notice a difference. Start with 130°. If you find that adequate, drop it to 120°.
  • Don’t forget to turn the water heater way down (preferably off) when you’re away from your home on business trips or vacation. Why pay for hot water nobody is going to use?
  • Does your water heater have an insulating blanket? Are exposed hot water pipes wrapped in insulation? Keep them wrapped and you’ll spend less.
  • Have you installed low-flow shower heads? Again, the cost of the fixtures will be repaid with annual savings, not only in reduced energy to heat the water, but also in lower water bills.

 

Air In/Air Out

    • Do your outside walls and attic have insulation in them? To check the walls, remove a cover plate from an electrical outlet on an outside wall. If you can’t find any insulation, make the investment to minimize the amount of expensive “conditioned” air that escapes your home. Also consider adding attic insulation if you have 3″ or less. Go up to 12″.
    • Do some of your air ducts run through your attic or basement? Make sure they’re wrapped in insulation.

  • Does your home have more than one return register per floor? It probably should. No matter how many you have, make sure they are not blocked by furniture or curtains.
  • Do you use your old fireplace? Though charming, fireplaces are certainly not energy efficient in today’s homes. Consider replacing it with an airtight woodstove or fireplace insert that sends heat back into your home.
  • If you must use your old fireplace, make sure it has a flue that closes tightly and keep it closed when you are not using the fireplace.
  • Does your home have new, energy-efficient windows, doors and storm doors? If not, consider investing in replacements with low-E or thermal-paned glass.
  • Do windows and doors have properly installed weather-stripping and caulking in good repair? If not, it’s an inexpensive fix that takes a little bit of time but pays high rewards in savings.

 

Appliances

  • Is your refrigerator less than 2 years old and energy-efficient model? Consider replacing refrigerators over 10 years old. At the very least, replace gaskets if they no longer fit tightly.
  • Does your dishwasher have an energy-saving feature? Be sure to use it!

 

Lighting

  • Consider replacing often-used incandescent light fixtures with fluorescent fixtures.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Use lower-wattage bulbs throughout the house.
  • Replace outdoor security lights that stay on all night with motion-sensitive fixtures.
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Have You Lost Your Job and Can’t Make Mortgage Payments? Help Might Be Available to You In NC.

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The Cape Fear Regional Community Development Corporation, a non-profit group affiliated with the NC Housing Finance Agency.  The NC HFA has money in the state’s Foreclosure Prevention Fund to help homeowners.  There is a loan program they have is  the Mortgage Payment Plan (MPP). This program helps homeowners in NC get caught up on their loan payments. 

There are qualifications and specifics that need to be addressed, but it might be worth your while to contact them to see if they can help. Income levels count in the loan process.  If you lost your job through no fault of your own, and are looking for a job now, this will count in your application process.  The loan does not have to be paid back if you have to sell your home at a loss.If you stay in your home for 5 years the loan is partially forgiven.  If you stay in your home 10 years, the loan is forgiven.  For more details and to see if you qualify, please call:

Cape Fear Regional Community Development Corporation

910-202-3490 or 910-762-7555

www.cfrcdc.org

We also have a Short Sale Certified Distressed Property Expert on our team if you have any questions.  Robin Jones – robinjones@ec.rr.com.

Good luck with the process.

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Do You Know Where Your Mortgage Money Comes From? | Wilmington NC real estate

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Mortgage companies and banks are working overtime these days processing new mortgages – which raises an interesting question: Will they ever run out of money to lend?

The chances of that happening are virtually nil, thanks to a highly complex investment market for mortgages that has grown immensely since the 1970s. The key players in this game are “Fannie Mae” (Federal National Mortgage Association), “Ginnie Mae” (Government National Mortgage Association), and “Freddie Mac” (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.). These agencies, along with several private companies, turn homeowners’ mortgages into investment vehicles for individuals, pension funds, insurance companies and other large institutions. Altogether, these investment groups make up the bulk of what is known as the “secondary market.”

When a bank or mortgage company writes a mortgage, the loan is lumped with other mortgages in a bundle (or “pool”) that is often sold to one of the agencies. With the sale of the mortgage, the bank or mortgage company again has money to lend to another home buyer.

Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae, and Freddie Mac differ as to the type of mortgage bundle they buy and in the type of investment vehicle they use to attract investors. But the process they use is the same: Assembling large packages of mortgages and issuing securities backed by the mortgages.

While the original lending bank may no longer hold the mortgage it gave to a home buyer, it still services the loan. That means collecting the monthly payments, keeping escrow accounts to pay for insurance and property taxes, and – through the agencies or companies that issued mortgage-backed securities – paying investors.  Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage is a full service real estate company with in house mortgage brokers from Alpha Mortgage.  Contact  us about all your Wilmington NC real estate needs.  Visit www.cbbaker.com to search or catch us on mobile at mobile.cbbaker.com

 

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Copyright © 2017 Wilmington NC Real Estate Guide. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: All content on this blog is my own opinion and should not be treated as fact or relied upon when purchasing or selling real estate.