Big-Impact Ideas for Small Patio Spaces

(BPT) – Do you have a small patio? Do you think you can’t do much with the space due to its size? There’s probably a lot more potential than you think.

From the influx of urban dwellers, empty-nesters in transition and even the tiny-home movement, the trend of downsizing continues across the United States. Contrary to popular belief, you can have an impressive patio even if you have a smaller abode.

Here are a few design ideas to help bring your limited patio area to life while maximizing the space:

Rugs

Add visual interest under foot with a patterned rug. A rug properly placed under a table can break up a smaller floor, giving the illusion of more square footage. Colored rugs are readily available in a variety of designs. Pick your favorite striped, chevron or paisley variety and see what a difference it makes.

Water features

The natural elegance, gentle gurgle and sparkle of a flowing water feature can add a sense of peacefulness to any patio. For smaller spaces, easily turn a decorative waterproof container or planter into a beckoning water feature by simply adding water and a smartpond Low Water Shut-off Fountain Pump. This smart pump automatically shuts off if the water becomes too low, preventing pump burnout. It’s also a great replacement pump option to revive a decorative premade fountain that has quit working. Learn more at www.smart-pond.com.

Think vertical

To get the most out of a limited space, think upward instead of outward. Hanging plants are a classic option, but vertical wall gardens are a top trend that’s sure to be a conversation starter. You’ll enjoy plenty of greenery but also open floor space for your furniture, water feature and entertaining to ensure a welcoming area for hosting summer parties.

Built-ins

To get the most out of every inch of your petite patio, look for furniture and features that multitask to help save space while maximizing functionality. An easy solution is to opt for a table that opens to become a cooler for beverages or a bench to hold blankets and other patio extras. Just remember to keep scale in mind so you don’t overwhelm your space with massive furniture.

Mixing materials

Matching is out for 2017, so forget about perfectly paired combos and explore a variety of decor. A great way to try this trend is to add visual interest by experimenting with different materials. Inject your own personality through various finishes. One example: consider setting black resin pots next to a handwoven wicker for an eclectic blend of textures.

Vibrant colors

Don’t make the mistake of thinking a small space must have muted colors. Vibrant hues inject energy and style, often making a small patio feel larger than it is in real life. From ocean blues to ferocious fuchsia, an accent pillow here and a throw blanket there will transform your space dramatically.

From DIY water features to vertical gardens, a small patio doesn’t have to be short on style or functionality. Let these top trends guide you to create a space you’ll enjoy all year long.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office. Thank You.

5 Renovation Resolutions for Your Home This Year

(BPT) – It’s no secret that springtime is synonymous with spruce-ups. But, as is often the case, homeowners hone in on prettying-up patios and backyards with fresh florals and new outdoor furniture, leaving the inside of the home as “same old, same old.” This spring, resolve to reinvent your home from the inside out with stylish décor sure to add the wow-factor it deserves.

The five refreshing projects below will to help create a beautiful setting worthy of the new season — and beyond.

Address those kitchen cabinets. The cabinets are a major focal point in a kitchen, and even the smallest changes can have a major impact on its look and feel. Start with a subtle, functional update by replacing old hardware with modern metal accents. And, for a slightly bolder change, consider a fresh coat of paint to infuse a new design persona throughout the space.

Set the perfect scene. Take advantage of the spring weather and longer days with perfect natural lighting. Hunter Douglas’ PowerView Motorization is a sophisticated wireless operating system that allows homeowners to program their shades to automatically adjust throughout the day to make the most of natural light as it changes. Start by creating scenes — different combinations of shade positions in one room or throughout the house — to achieve perfect room lighting, window privacy and energy-efficiency. Then, schedule the scenes to activate at the times you choose, like opening to greet each morning’s sunrise, closing mid-day to deflect the heat of the afternoon sun, and closing each night to protect your privacy. PowerView motorized shades also seamlessly integrates with other sophisticated whole-home automation systems to add another level of convenience to everyday living and greater connectivity to your smart home.

Add comfort and style to hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are a popular style for any home, and adding comfort to the chic–but sometimes unforgiving–look is easy with the right accessories. Place comfortable, eye-catching rugs in key areas throughout the home, including the foyer or beneath the kitchen and dining room tables. These subtle accents will create a striking contrast, soften acoustics and add stylish comfort for your feet.

Keep cool as the weather warms. Window treatments can serve as great accessory or accent, and the right window dressings will provide beauty and function in one. With Duette Architella honeycomb shades from Hunter Douglas, sophisticated fabric choices add a modern touch to any space, while its unique cell-within-a-cell design can significantly reduce the amount of solar heat transferred through windows to keep you cooler as the summer heat kicks in. This smart upgrade lends an elegant touch to kick off air conditioning season.

Build the bathroom of your dreams. The bathroom is supposed to be an oasis, and if it’s lacking in spa-like comforts, now is the perfect time to whip it into shape. Enjoy a luxurious massage without stepping out of the house by swapping out outdated shower heads with high-pressured and multi-setting ones that transform water into soft mists, relaxing pulses, or powerful cascade indoors.

With these easy décor updates, making your home more comfortable and stylish is a bright idea sure to last all season and through the year. To learn more about PowerView Motorization and Duette Architella honeycomb shades, visit www.hunterdouglas.com.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality residential home inspection company in Miami FL, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office at (786) 477-5975.

5 Green Home Improvements That Can Help Sell Your Home for More

(BPT) – Demand remains high for energy-efficient, eco-friendly home features, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders. In fact, the majority of builders now put energy-efficient windows, heating and cooling systems, thermostats and appliances in their construction, the survey says. If you’re selling your home and hope to compete with new construction — as well as set your house apart from other resales — making green improvements could significantly pay off.

“Updating your home with green features can attract more buyers and even increase your home’s sale price,” says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. “Buyers are not only looking for cosmetic upgrades, they also want improvements that will help save them money for as long as they live in the home.”

Some green projects you can easily accomplish yourself, like replacing less efficient light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs throughout the house, or installing a programmable thermostat. Other improvements may require professional expertise but can result in even bigger payoffs.

Here are five popular green home improvements that could help boost your home’s resale value, and save you money until you’re ready to sell:

* Windows: Replacing older windows with ENERGY STAR-rated high-efficiency windows could lower your annual energy bill as much as 12 percent, according to the United States Department of Energy. What’s more, ENERGY STAR-rated windows may qualify for a tax credit of 10 percent off the cost of the windows.

* Insulation: Most homes in the U.S. don’t have enough insulation, according to energystar.gov. Adding insulation and sealing air leaks could reduce annual energy bills by 10 percent. At the time of resale, adding fiberglass insulation in the attic could recoup 107 percent of the cost, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report.

*Front door: It’s a key part of your home’s curb appeal and the last exterior feature homebuyers see before entering your house. However, a front door needs to do more than look good. Replacing an older, wooden door with an energy-efficient, secure steel door recoups more than 90 percent of its cost when you sell your home, according to the Cost vs. Value report.

*Landscaping: With warm weather approaching, it’s a great time to think about landscaping that has green value as well as cosmetic appeal. Adding trees in addition to flowers can provide shade that will help keep the home’s interior cooler in summer months. In fact, according to the National Association of Landscape professionals, planting five shade trees can return up to 100 percent of the project cost when you sell your home.

*Water: Most water heaters last about 10 years, so if your home is older, a new water heater could be a big selling point. A tankless water heater could be even more appealing; because they only heat water when it’s needed, rather than consume energy to hold gallons of water at a set temperature for hours, tankless water heaters use far less energy. ENERGY STAR says a tankless water heater could save you up to $1,800 over its usable life — which is twice as long as the lifespan of traditional tank water heaters.

When you’re thinking of selling your home, you’ll probably invest a lot of time and energy into staging. Consider saving some additional budget for energy-efficient home improvements that may help boost your home’s value. A knowledgeable real estate agent can advise you on which green home improvements can get you the biggest return on investment. Visit www.remax.com to find a real estate agent near you.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality residential home inspection company in Miami FL, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (786) 477-5975.

5 Spring Cleaning Projects to Take on Immediately

5 indoor projects to add to your spring cleaning list

(BPT) – Spring cleaning is a seasonal tradition. You’ve been setting house projects aside all winter, and now’s the perfect time to make sure the warm weather season starts with a cleaner, happier home. So open the windows, turn on your favorite song, and start your spring cleaning with these five to-dos.

* Clear the clutter. Removing excess clutter is a great cleaning tip any time of year, but finishing this task when the weather was colder may not have been as tempting. Tackle your home room by room and analyze the items you find. If you haven’t used something in a year or more, it’s time for it to go.

Spring Cleaning Projects - Clean the floors

* Freshen up the floors. After a season of tracking dirt, snow and mud, your floors could use some attention. If the damage is minor, a thorough vacuuming will do the trick. If the wear and tear is more significant, you may need a more comprehensive solution. If you have carpet, renting a carpet cleaner allows you to tackle the job yourself, saving you money over hiring a professional or purchasing your own machine. And if you have hardwood or tile floors, rent a floor buffer. It’s the easiest way to give your floors back their shine in no time.

* Pretty it up with paint. The windows are open and a gentle breeze is moving air through your home. This is the right time to cross that painting project off your to-do list. Small painting projects can be handled with a single can and a brush, but for your larger painting endeavors, rent a paint sprayer. It’s the best way to get an even, professional coat in a short amount of time so you’re finished before the breeze dies down.

* Better the baseboards. Baseboards provide a stylish accent to any room in your home, but when they’re dirty, they stand out for all the wrong reasons. To clean them, start by vacuuming your baseboards and scrubbing each with a mixture of dish soap and warm water. Dry each with a towel before wiping them with a dryer sheet. This last step will help repel dust from landing on your baseboards. Plus, it’ll give your home a fresh scent.

* Vet the vents. One of the joys of warmer weather is the increase in fresh air that flows through your home — as long as that air is clean. To improve the air quality in your home immediately, clean the vents. Dirt, hair, pollen and other debris collect there, so vacuum the vents out to remove particles from your air for good. Rent a wearable vacuum and you’ll make your reaching points easier without the complications of lugging a traditional model.

Apply some care and focus to these five spring cleaning tasks, and you’ll be happier with your home in the pleasant months ahead. To learn more about renting the tools you need for your spring cleaning projects, visit RentalHQ.com.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality residential home inspection company in Miami FL, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office.

Instilling Garage Logic in Your Kids

It’s a long-standing tradition performed at the workbench of American garages — passing garage logic to the next generation. From hammering that first nail to changing a car’s oil, the garage is a living laboratory where parents teach their kids life lessons, self-reliance and problem-solving skills. It can even be an incubator where the seeds of a future profession grow.

Today, instilling that larger vision requires a break from the small screen. Too often, smartphones and video games dominate the attention of kids, replacing time once craved from their parents. In 2016, National Public Radio reported preteens spend more than four hours per day in front of their screens, and teens spend seven, not including the time spent using these devices for or in school.

Replacing the tablet with a tool in kids’ hands requires parents to be creative and focused. Here are some easy ways to start and, in the process, create a sense of accomplishment and ownership kids won’t forget when it is their time to pay it forward.

Give a garage tool tour

Start with a tour of your tool collection, demonstrating the role each one plays. Chances are you acquired your tools over a lifetime or more, elevating their significance beyond the specific task for which they were initially forged. Some may even carry a special story — the $3 putty knife that saved a $200 damage deposit in your first apartment, or the pipe wrench that stopped a basement flood in your childhood home. Share the stories, and the glory.

Contract the kids for your next project

Projects with a variety of tasks provide opportunities for all skill levels to get involved. Just one example is maintaining a wood deck or fence. Youngsters can assist with sanding and painting, while teenagers can learn to clean fences with a Powerhorse Pressure Washer from Northern Tool + Equipment. Keep it interesting by introducing more sophisticated tools as they get older.

Keep it clean and safe

Help your children understand the importance of keeping tools and workspaces safe, clean and well maintained. Everything starts with protective gear — safety glasses, earphones, masks and gloves — appropriate for different jobs. Teach them the value of caring for your investments. Preventative maintenance, such as changing oil and checking filters, keeps equipment working better and longer, which ultimately saves money. When the project is done, stress the importance of returning everything to its place for an organized and safe shop.

Have fun

Most of all, make your garage a place kids want to be. Personalize your garage with conversation pieces, memorabilia from your local sports teams or other things that may not be welcomed inside the house. The ultimate goal is keeping kids interested and wanting to learn more ways to be helpful around the house. Assume the role of mentor, not a drill sergeant. Teach them what they need to know and how to succeed. Finally, when a job is done, make a point to celebrate with refreshments and sincere thanks. This fulfillment will keep them motivated and instill invaluable garage logic that will forever be part of their character.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (786) 477-5975.

5 Tips To Protect Your Devices From Cybercrime

protecting devices from cybercrimeYour smartphone, your tablet, your computer – they are some of your most important and most used possessions. They are the daily tools you use for research, to connect with others and make purchases. You take them everywhere and fill them with your important, personal information.

And all of that makes them the perfect targets for a cyberattack.

The number of cybercrime incidents in the United States grows each year, and as Americans move into an increasingly digital society – thanks to smart phones, smart cars and smart in-home technologies – cybercrime is expected to grow in frequency again in 2017. Protecting yourself, your family and the vital information on your devices means increasing your focus on your own cybersecurity. That starts with these five tips.

* Recognize you’re not immune. Cyberattacks increase in frequency and severity every year, so don’t make the mistake of believing it can’t happen to you. “It’s important to protect yourself by taking personal responsibility for your data; we can’t expect banks or other institutions to do it for us,” said Jim Karagiannes, Ph.D., professor in DeVry University’s College of Engineering & Information Services. “We lock our doors and take other security measures to protect our home and car. We need to also take precautions with our personal security and information.”

* Don’t store your username, password or credit card information with a website. The convenience makes it tempting, but websites are a popular target for cybercriminals because a successful hack gives them access to hundreds or thousands of files, including yours. Even storing this information on your own computer can expose it in a cyberattack, and if your credit card information is captured, criminals can use it to gather your social security number. That exposes you to identify theft. Keep this information off your devices and, instead, create complex passwords and write down all of your usernames and passwords on a piece of paper that you keep in a safe place, such as a deposit box.

* Use only a credit card, not a debit card, when making online purchases. Using your credit card instead of your debit card allows you to keep better track of the purchases you have made. It also limits the effects of any possible theft to just the one card instead of several. If you have no choice but to use a debit card for an online purchase, do not use your pin number online.

* If it feels like a trick, it probably is. Cybercriminals often engage in “social engineering” or other non-electronic methods to try and trick you into surrendering your data. If you get a phone call about a banking or credit card issue or if your computer tells you to call a number because it just caught a virus, be cautious. Do not divulge any personal history or credit card details. Hang up or ignore the computer-generated notices and call the customer service number of the institution’s website with any questions.

* Replace your existing credit cards with chip cards as soon as possible. Chip cards are becoming the new normal these days, and if your current credit card does not have a silver square chip on its front, consider replacing it quickly. Popularized in Europe, chip cards possess the necessary encrypted information to eliminate delays in the transaction process. Doing so closes the window criminals need to steal your personal information, thus protecting you from identity theft.

You have no intention of abandoning your devices, of course, so protect them. Following the tips above will help better secure your technology and personal information from the threats of cybercrime so you can enjoy your devices with greater peace of mind. – (BPT)

 

The Best Way to Prevent Cybercrime and Hacking Attempts

 

Atlantic Building Inspections has been providing Residential Home Inspections Pre-Purchase/Pre-Listing, Commercial Inspection, Chinese Drywall Visual Assessment, Mold Sampling, Four Point Insurance Inspections and Wind Mitigation Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Palmetto Bay, Coral Springs, Hialeah, Aventura, Pembroke Pines, Ft Lauderdale, Florida areas since 2000.

What You Should Know About Rising Interest Rates

rising interest ratesHomeowners planning to refinance and buyers searching for a home may have an idea of what’s in store for them with regards to interest rates, but they never really know until they lock in a rate. This is in part because rates can change direction fast, and when they rise—as they have been recently—it can cost borrowers a great deal of money and time.

The effect of rising interest rates on your home purchase

Today, the median existing home price in the United States is around $235,000, and the average mortgage interest rate is near 4 percent. If you were to buy a home at that price, an interest rate increase of half a percent would cost you an additional $70 per month on your loan payment. And that assumes you’ll put the standard 20 percent down in advance. A more dramatic rate increase—say from 4 percent to 6 percent, even over time, would increase your monthly payment by almost $300.

Home price gains

For homebuyers, it’s not just rising interest rates that can increase your payment, but so can home price appreciation. In fact, in most markets, housing prices have increased past highs previously set before the financial crisis in 2007/2008. For example, in citing this recovery, the Federal Housing Finance Agency recently increased the maximum loan amount for mortgages that meet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines for the first time in more than a decade.

The new conforming loan limits increased only slightly, to $424,100 in most parts of the country. This will enable home buyers in higher-cost areas to access larger home loan amounts and more affordable loan products, in line with local housing prices.

The home buying season may start early this year

Spring/summer is traditionally the busiest home buying time of the year as many sellers wait to list their homes after the cold winter weather is over and to coincide with the summer school break. However, with both home prices and interest rates on the rise, more buyers are expected to enter the home buying market earlier this year, making for a more competitive home buying season. Potential buyers will need to be aggressive to find the home they want at a rate they can afford.

Starting your loan search today

If you’re in the market but haven’t found the home of your dreams yet, there are tools available to guard against increasing mortgage rates. Lenders like loanDepot help customers save by giving them the opportunity to lock a quoted rate and hold (lock in) that rate for 45 to 60 days, protecting them from potential fluctuations in the market. And with rates rising, now is a great time to lock your loan at a more favorable interest rate.

If you do choose to lock your loan, you’ll need to provide an appraisal deposit which can range from $450 to $750. This is not a fee, and is returned when working with loanDepot if there is no appraisal performed on a home.

Navigating your options can seem confusing at first, but a loanDepot licensed lending officer can help. You can learn more by visiting loandepot.com or by calling (888) 983-3240 today for more information. – (BPT)

 

What Happens If Interest Rates Go Up?

 

Atlantic Building Inspections has been providing Residential Home Inspections Pre-Purchase/Pre-Listing, Commercial Inspection, Chinese Drywall Visual Assessment, Mold Sampling, Four Point Insurance Inspections and Wind Mitigation Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Palmetto Bay, Coral Springs, Hialeah, Aventura, Pembroke Pines, Ft Lauderdale, Florida areas since 2000.

Reducing Risks While Taking Care Of Business: Tips To Avoid Distracted Driving

using phone while drivingThe pace of business never seems to stop, and thanks to the convenience of cell phones, many people work on the go, even while they’re driving. Yet cell phone use is one of the most common type of distracted driving, and it claims thousands of lives and causes thousands more injuries every year.

More than a quarter of all car crashes involve cell phone use, both hand sets and hands-free, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports. In 13 percent of fatal crashes, the drivers were using cellphones, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says. The actual number of cell phone-related accidents is likely much higher, since many states don’t yet compile and report data on cell phone use following a crash.

Employers take up the issue

Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using cellphones while driving on company time.

In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. The ban also covers work related calls while commuting to and from work, even if employees are driving their own vehicles.

“There is a time and place for doing business, and it’s not while you’re driving,” says Melanie Burke, director of health and safety at Cargill, a Minnesota-based privately held company with 150,000 employees around the world.

Even Cargill’s Chairman and CEO David MacLennan is subject to the ban. In announcing the policy to employees in late 2016, MacLennan noted he was 138 days into cell-phone free motoring. “It’s been liberating,” he told employees.

NSC data shows about 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies have instituted cell phone bans, and of those, just 1 percent believe the ban affected productivity.

Replace risk, keep productivity

Taking care of business doesn’t mean you have to risk a crash. Here are six ways to keep up with the pace of business without using your cell phone in the car:

* Use an automated response app to let callers know you’re driving and can’t take their call at the moment. These free apps allow you to personalize the response and set your phone to automatically reply with a text message to incoming calls or texts.

* If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.

* Use shared calendars to block off times when you’ll be on the road and unable to answer a call. The calendar item will help alert coworkers and anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch and when they might be able to reach you again.

* Remove temptation. A study by AT&T found 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours away where you can’t see or reach it. You can place it in your purse, briefcase or messenger bag, and place the bag in the back seat. Further reduce distraction and temptation by turning your device off before stowing it.

* If you absolutely must take a call while on the road, pull over in a safe location. If a call comes in while you’re driving, allow it to go to voicemail until you’re safely pulled over, then return the call.

* Be aware of other dangerously distracting behaviors, such as putting on makeup, tying a necktie or eating while driving. Do all your dressing and personal grooming before you leave home, and if you must snack while driving, choose food that is easy to manage, like a granola bar (unwrap it when you’re stopped), rather than something messy like a burger with all the fixings.

“Before we had cellphones, if you had to take a business call while on the road, you would pull over and find a pay phone,” says Burke. “Productivity was fine and business got done. When it comes to time behind the wheel, safety is everyone’s most important job.” – (BPT)

How to Avoid Distracted Driving

 

Atlantic Building Inspections has been providing Residential Home Inspections Pre-Purchase/Pre-Listing, Commercial Inspection, Chinese Drywall Visual Assessment, Mold Sampling, Four Point Insurance Inspections and Wind Mitigation Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Palmetto Bay, Coral Springs, Hialeah, Aventura, Pembroke Pines, Ft Lauderdale, Florida areas since 2000.

 

 

 

 

5 Easy Ways To ‘Charge Up’ Your Recycling Habits

recycling batteriesAmericans generate about 254 million tons of trash annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most recent figures, and only about one-third of that waste is recycled. For many, one of the main barriers to recycling is not knowing how or where to recycle certain items.

For instance, many household cordless products we use every day are powered by rechargeable batteries. These batteries are not only recyclable, but contain materials that are potentially harmful to the environment if thrown in the trash. In fact, at least 20 percent of people are holding on to their used batteries because they know they shouldn’t be tossed out — but they don’t know where to dispose of them.

You can be part of the solution to reduce waste by learning how to properly recycle the products you use every day. Celebrate America Recycles Day — Tuesday, Nov. 15 — by incorporating the following into your recycling routine.

Check household “recyclable” items.

Aluminum cans and plastic bottles are the most commonly recycled items, but lots of other items found around the house can be recycled, as well. Start recycling plastic bags and paper towels right in your curbside bin. Pin a sign in the kitchen to remind kids they can throw napkins and sandwich baggies in, too.

Designate a separate container for rechargeable batteries from old cordless products and look up the nearest participating collection site so you know exactly where to go when the container is full.

Dump your stash.

Are you a battery hoarder? Do you have a drawer in the house filled with dead batteries? You aren’t alone. Establish a monthly routine when you sort through the junk drawer and gather up old electronics and used batteries to drop off while running other errands.

A study commissioned by Call2Recycle, Inc. found that an estimated 6.7 billion batteries were sold into U.S. markets in 2014. Of that number, 30 percent were rechargeable batteries available to be recycled. The Call2Recycle program makes it easy to be a responsible battery user with its network of more than 30,000 drop-off locations including retail stores in your own community that you may already visit regularly, like Best Buy, Lowe’s, Sears, Staples, The Home Depot and more. Find a battery collection site near you by visiting www.call2recycle.org/locator.

Buy recycled products.

Recycling gives new life to old products by turning them into new ones. By using recycled materials in their products, manufacturers conserve energy and natural resources and reduce waste in landfills. Checking the labels for products that are recycled and eco-friendly when making a purchase is the easiest way to be a responsible consumer.

Participate in a local community recycling event — or create your own.

Thousands of events are organized nationwide on America Recycles Day to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling and buying products made from recycled materials. Get involved!

Host your own battery-specific recycling drive and invite your community to contribute their battery “hoards.” Your neighbors will thank you.

Take the #BeRecycled pledge.

Take the “I Will Recycle” pledge and commit to incorporating more green activities into your everyday routine. Start by selecting a specific item you use frequently and pledge to recycle more of that item in the future. By starting small, there is a greater chance you’ll continue throughout the year. Your efforts can inspire your family and friends to take the pledge and join you in incorporating environmentally-friendly behavior into their everyday lives.

These eco-friendly activities are simple and easy to incorporate and can help you lead a greener lifestyle, not just on America Recycles Day, but all year. By including one new item into your recycling routine — such as batteries — you can make a positive impact. Not only does this keep batteries out of landfills, but when recycled, valuable materials can be recovered and used in new stainless steel products, such as golf clubs, batteries and other products. – (BPT)

 

Learning proper recycling habits

 

Atlantic Building Inspections has been providing Residential Home Inspections Pre-Purchase/Pre-Listing, Commercial Inspection, Chinese Drywall Visual Assessment, Mold Sampling, Four Point Insurance Inspections and Wind Mitigation Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Palmetto Bay, Coral Springs, Hialeah, Aventura, Pembroke Pines, Ft Lauderdale, Florida areas since 2000.

Self-employed? Tips To Help You Navigate The Mortgage Process

woman workingSponsored ad content by Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc.

When you’re self-employed, you often work harder than anyone else you know. That’s what it takes to be your own boss. While rewarding, it comes with a lot of added responsibility. This is especially true when applying for a mortgage.

“Self-employment can complicate the mortgage process for one very simple but critically important reason,” says Eric Hamilton, president of Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance. “Lenders need to know you will have the income to afford a loan payment. This sometimes requires people who are self-employed to provide more detailed information and paperwork than those who are traditionally employed.”

Proof of income

It’s not only good business sense for lenders to know a borrower can afford a mortgage before they make a loan, federal law also requires they do so. The evaluation process typically requires fewer steps for people who aren’t self-employed – those who get a salary for working for another person or company. The lender will review the applicant’s total income, existing debt, credit history and score, as well as other factors, and base the decision on that information.

However, when you’re self-employed, proving your income can be more complex. About 10 percent of people working in America are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you’re among those 15 million people, it can be more difficult for you to document your income and prove you can afford to pay back the amount you’re asking to borrow.

“Lenders may ask self-employed applicants to complete a 4506T form, which allows the lender to look at the applicant’s tax documents, including recent income filings,” Hamilton says. “They will also likely request a professionally prepared profit-and-loss statement and balance sheet for the business to show you have steady income throughout the year between tax-filing times.”

Improving your chances of approval

Fortunately, if you’re self-employed, you can take steps to be better prepared when beginning the mortgage application process. Hamilton and the team at Vanderbilt, which specializes in financing mortgages for manufactured homes, offer some tips:

* Before you apply for a loan, pay off as much debt as possible. Mortgage lenders will consider your debt-to-income ratio, which compares your total income to the total amount you owe.

* Save up a substantial down payment.

* Work to improve your credit score by paying all bills on time and reducing your debt. Payment history and credit-utilization ratio (the total credit you have available compared to the amount you’re actually using) are important factors in determining your credit scores.

“Being prepared before you start a mortgage application and getting your finances in order can help make the mortgage process go much smoother,” Hamilton says. “The mortgage application process is just one step on your journey to home ownership, but it’s an important one.”

To learn more about mortgages for manufactured homes, visit www.VMF.com.

All loans subject to credit approval.

Sponsored ad content by Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc.

NMLS Disclosure

Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., 500 Alcoa Trail, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-380-3000, NMLS #1561, (http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/), AZ Lic. #BK-0902616, Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license, GA Residential Mortgage (Lic. #6911), Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee, Licensed by the NH Banking Department, MT Lic. #1561, Licensed by PA Dept. of Banking. – (BPT)

 

Do’s and Don’ts: How to Navigate the Home Loan Process With Ease

 

Atlantic Building Inspections has been providing Residential Home Inspections Pre-Purchase/Pre-Listing, Commercial Inspection, Chinese Drywall Visual Assessment, Mold Sampling, Four Point Insurance Inspections and Wind Mitigation Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Palmetto Bay, Coral Springs, Hialeah, Aventura, Pembroke Pines, Ft Lauderdale, Florida areas since 2000.

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