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Short Sale Explanation

5/6/2016 Breathing Easy In Your Home With Clean Air

May is Clean Air Month so in this week’s post, I will let you know what risk factors are in your home and what you can do to reduce those risks. In order to improve the quality of air in your home, first take a look at the types of appliances you have as well as cleaning products and chemicals you use. Gas appliances like water heaters, fireplaces, and stoves must be correctly vented outside the home in order to reduce leakage. It is a good idea to periodically examine these vents for any possible problems or maintenance issues.

 

The types of cleaners you utilize can also affect the air quality in your home. Cleaners and chemicals that emit a strong smell need to be used with adequate ventilation. Open windows and have fans blowing to circulate the air, if possible. Painting, along with other renovation projects, also call for fresh circulating air. New carpet and even new furniture has the capability of releasing strong smells. If you can, allow new furniture to air out in a garage or other area away from your living space before putting it into use.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that people spend about 90 percent of their time inside a building, whether it be home or work. Because of this, the EPA outlines the health risks associated with poor air quality and how to deal with them.

 

The EPA has many ideas on how to look for and test your risk of exposure to indoor and outdoor elements. The EPA provides risk assessment and solutions for individuals and corporations alike. Be sure to check out their recommendations.

 

Take a detailed look around your home to look for any leaks or water issues. Areas that you should check are attics, basement or crawlspaces, and under sinks. If water is leaking or dripping, even for a short amount of time, it can be of great concern in regards of breathability. Mildew and mold can form in a very short period and cause great distress for those with asthma or allergies.

 

When it comes to air quality in your home, the most important thing is avoiding the introduction of carbon monoxide into your home air source. Carbon Monoxide is colorless and odorless and is the byproduct of gas burning engines. Cars, gas powered generators, gas powered chainsaws and power washers, etc. are deadly if used in an enclosed area that humans have access to. Carbon Monoxide detectors, when correctly installed, can alert you and your family to the presence of the unwanted gas. Carbon Monoxide detectors can be purchased through Consumers Energy and also hardware stores.

 

Radon is another gas that can effect indoor air quality. It is naturally occurring and is odorless and colorless and can seep into your home through sump pumps, cracks and basements. The only way to determine if your home has radon is to do a test. A list of radon test resources can be found here.

 

Be sure to follow these tips to keep your family healthy and safe. If you decide you are ready to sell your home, remember that when real estate is involved, "Dave is the Man"! Call Dave Taljonick, RE/MAX Right Choice at 810-686-3900

4/29/2016 Spring Cleaning Tasks for Your Home

According to the calendar, spring has been here for a while now, but the weather is just now beginning to inspire spring cleaning projects outside the home as well as inside. Regular spring cleaning will ensure your home is in proper order and will help you recognize if something is in need of repair. Through this post I will outline some basic, yet necessary projects to help make selling your home easier, if and when you decide to move.

 

On the outside of your home you will want to wash your windows. A bucket filled with window cleaner and a squeegee on a stick will make quick work of the task. Consider using wadded up black and white newspaper to wipe away any cleaner left on the window. This is great way to reduce paper towel waste and most importantly, will leave your windows streak free.  Washing interior windows can also be done in this manner. Cleaning your window screens is just as important as the windows themselves. Remove the screens and wash with a mix of water and mild detergent. Use a soft scrub brush to remove the dirt and be sure to rinse thoroughly before reinstalling.

 

A few quick steps outside can increase the curb appeal of your home. Take a look at your flower beds and around your steps for leaves you may have missed in the fall or that may have blown into your yard. Simply raking the leaves and picking up large twigs can make a big improvement. Once that is complete, it is the perfect time to bring out any yard décor such as bird baths, flags, and gnomes.

 

Inside, start by wiping down walls and ceilings. A vacuum with a hose extension can greatly aid in this task. Pay attention to grease magnets in the kitchen…on top of the refrigerator, the range hood, and the tops of cabinets that don’t reach the ceiling. You can use a gentle degreaser (just make sure to test an inconspicuous area first) or search online tutorials on how to make chemical free all natural cleansers.

 

Now is a good time, too, to shampoo or steam clean rugs, carpets, and furniture. If you do not have a shampooer, they are generally available to rent at hardware stores and home improvement centers. Don’t forget to wash, dry clean or vacuum your draperies or other window treatments.

 

Some less obvious areas for spring cleaning are the medicine cabinet and pantry.  Check medications (both over the counter and prescription) for expiration date and usefulness. If you find you have medicines you no longer need, please dispose of them properly. Do not discard in the trash or flush down the toilet. The list of Genesee County drop off locations can be found here. In addition to the regular medication drop off sites, you can drop them off at one of the two Household Hazardous Waste collection sites on May 21st along with other unwanted household items like paint, batteries, chemicals, etc. A full list of acceptable items can be found at the above Household Hazardous Waste link.

 

Go through your pantry items and throw away any expired products. If you have items that are NOT expired, but you know your family will not use, donate them to a food pantry.

 

These tasks can seem overwhelming, so take it slow and do one room at a time. Enlist help and delegate tasks if possible. It is okay to complete this work over the course of several days or weeks.

 

If, after you finish your spring, cleaning, you have decided to sell your home, contact me Dave Taljonick, RE/MAX Right Choice at 810-686-3900.

4/22/2016 Uses for Your Escrow Account

One of the most confusing parts of a mortgage for homeowners to understand is the escrow account. These accounts are also known as impound accounts.  The accounts are set up when the mortgage is generated and are used to pay things such as real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and other costs associated with the mortgage.  In this week’s post I am going to help you better understand your mortgage’s escrow account.

 

The amount of funds maintained in your escrow account can vary depending on the bills that will be paid out of it.  Some mortgages will have private mortgage insurance (PMI) while others will not have this cost.  Almost all escrow accounts will be used to pay property taxes and homeowner's insurance on your home. 

 

When you first purchase your home, you will be required to pay in advance for one year of the homeowners’ insurance to be kept inside the escrow account.  After the initial deposit, the account will be calculated to keep an approximately two-month surplus to cover payments throughout the year.  

 

The federal government does limit the amount of money your mortgage company can keep in the escrow account.  Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the lender is limited on how much they can keep in the account.  If your account has a surplus, the mortgage company will send you a check refunding the difference.   

 

On your monthly mortgage bill the amount of your escrow payment will be broken out showing you exactly how much is being used for these expenses.  The lender will then pay your insurance company and your municipality to cover taxes.  The guaranteed payment of these bills protects your property from potential loss. 

 

There are conditions where an escrow account is not added to a mortgage.  If you finance less than 80 percent of the property’s value than you may not be required to maintain this type of account.  However, the addition of an escrow account to your mortgage can be a great saving mechanism for homeowners.  It will help you save up the cost of taxes and insurance which may only be due a few times per year.   An escrow account can be voluntarily added to the mortgage if not required by the lender.

 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides a comprehensive overview of escrow accounts.  As your preferred Genesee County RE/MAX realtor I can put you in touch with local lenders who will help you understand all aspects of your mortgage.  Remember when it comes to real estate in the greater Flint area, Dave is the man!  -  Dave Taljonick, RE/MAX Right Choice, 810-686-3900.

4/15/2016 Families Can Find Abundant Fun at Area Farmersí Markets

Spring is finally making an appearance and the season lends itself to visiting farmers’ markets. Some markets are open seasonally while others are open year round.

Davison Farmers' Market

The Davison market is located at 8110 E. Court St. in Davison. It is open year round on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The market is home to more than 70 vendors that come from various parts of Michigan. From kettle corn to barbecue and dog treats to rocks and minerals, there is sure to be something for the whole family. On top of the fine foods, gifts, and produce, the market also hosts other activities  throughout the year.

Flint Farmers' Market

The American Planning Association named the Flint Farmers’ Market one of six Great Public Places in 2015. Upon visiting, you will see why. The market, located at 300 E. First Street, is filled with numerous one of a kind restaurants and eateries in addition to the vendors. The market also boasts a mini branch of the Flint Children’s Museum, regular cooking demonstrations, meeting rooms, and other various events. You can find event listings on their online calendar. The market is open year round on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Frankenmuth Farmers' Market

The market in Frankenmuth is celebrating its opening in its new location on May 14 at 8 a.m. The new facility is located at 534 N. Main Street. The 2016 market days and hours of operation are Saturdays from May 14 to October 15 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Wednesdays from June 8 to October 12 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.  The market has space for 50 vendors in the outdoor covered pavilion. They are also proud to have a “Gathering Barn” available for relaxing while shopping, classes, events and rentals. While they have yet to schedule any special events, make sure to check their calendar for updates.  You will also find their Farm Store filled with unique products for farming and gardening as well as locally made items.

 Some smaller and up and coming markets include Grand Blanc, Linden and Fenton. These locations are open during the summer months on various days.  Visit your favorite farmers’ market and perhaps enjoy exploring the ones that are new to you. Your family will enjoy the fresh produce, delicious foods, inspiring crafts, and community fun.  There is sure to be something for everyone.   

Farmers’ markets are a great asset to any neighborhood and may make an area more attractive for potential buyers. If you are considering selling your home, don’t forget that “Dave is the Man!” when it comes to real estate.  - Dave Taljonick, RE/MAX Right Choice at 810-686-3900

4/7/2016 Keeping Your Family Safe During a Tornado

Every April, Tornado Awareness Month is recognized.  In this week’s post, I want to provide some useful information to protect your family in the event of a tornado hitting near your home.  The three things I will review include knowing how one may be striking near your home, facts about Michigan tornados and how to protect yourself if one hits near your home.

 

When severe weather hits, the National Weather Service (NWS) will issue tornado warnings and tornado watches based on the current weather conditions. Watches are issued when conditions are favorable to develop a thunderstorm with the possibility of leading to a tornado. A warning is issued by the NWS when a severe thunderstorm is capable of producing a tornado or if an actual funnel cloud has been observed in the area.

 

Once a warning is issued by the NWS, local media outlets will alert the public of the warnings/watches. Sirens are also set off throughout Genesee County.  There are 80 warning sirens located in the region. The sirens will go off when a tornado warning is issued for a storm with winds 70 miles per hour or higher. It is important to recognize not all storms will trigger the sirens if they do not reach the required speeds. When a warning has been issued take shelter in your home.

 

Michigan has an average of 15 tornadoes each year. Since the 1950s there have been almost 1,000 tornadoes in the region. Typically these storms occur in May, June, July and August, but it’s possible for them to take place at other points during the year.  In fact, in December 2015 we had the first tornado on Michigan record for that month.  Our county has tornadoes compared to any other Michigan county. Genesee County has recorded 45 tornadoes since 1950. Although 2015 did not bring any tornadoes to Genesee County, we cannot expect the same this year.  To learn more, follow the Severe Weather Toolkit link located the bottom of this post. Page 5 will give you the numbers of Michigan tornadoes by county from 1950 to 2015.

 

Because you know the facts about tornados in Genesee County, it is important to learn ways to protect your family in case of a storm.  First, put together a disaster supply kit for your home.  Make sure to include first aid materials along with prescription drugs taken by members of your family. In addition to the first aid items, always keep flashlights,  a battery-powered radio along with batteries and blankets.  Periodically check the contents of your disaster supply kit to ensure everything is still in working order. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says you should always have non-perishable food items and a three-day supply of water on water. In the event of an emergency, grab your wallet and keys when taking shelter.

 

Preparing for severe weather can be overwhelming for families. Join the "Do 1 Thing" program; a website that helps you and your family prepare for one thing every month.  At the end of a year, you will well prepared in the event of an emergency. 

 

Remind your family the importance of executing your emergency plan quickly and efficiently. Make plans by finding a safe place like a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest level of your home with no windows. Have family tornado drills to make sure everyone knows where to go in your home in case of a tornado. Designate one person in charge of bringing your animals to the shelter area. In the event of an emergency, make sure pets are only brought when time allows. While pets are beloved members of our families, make sure all the people in your home are safe first.

 

Severe Weather Awareness Week starts on Sunday in Michigan. Download the Severe Weather Toolkit here. Prepare your family for severe weather by following these simple tips outlined in this week’s post. Remember if you are looking to move to a new home I can help.  Contact my office today- Dave Taljonick of RE/MAX Right Choice, 810-686-3900.

4/1/2016 Volunteer Opportunities in Genesee County
In honor of National Volunteer Month, I want to share with you volunteer opportunities available for you and your family in Genesee County. Each year, in April volunteers are honored for their service across the country. Perhaps you and your family already volunteer or you are looking for new opportunities, either way I hope this post provides you with valuable resources.
 
Hands on Genesee – United Way of Genesee County
The United Way of Genesee County provides a searchable database to help you find volunteer opportunities in the area. You are able to search upcoming events along with an option to search agencies. Inside the search portal, you are able to filter by cause, partners, distance or name.
 
Agency List University of Michigan-Flint
The University of Michigan-Flint has gathered a comprehensive list of agencies and organizations throughout Genesee County who are seeking volunteers. The list includes a contact phone number along with a link to the agency’s website.
 
A national website that allows you to search local and virtual volunteer opportunities is VolunteerMatch.org. Filters for your search allow you to narrow by cause area and event by age range. You can complete a short registration process to activate a volunteer account. By registering you can have volunteer opportunities emailed directly to your Inbox based on specific criteria you select.

Many people think about volunteering around the holiday season, but remember there are plenty of area organizations who are need of help all year. Consider connecting with one of the organizations outlined in the links above or reach out to a local organizations where you already donate money to see how you can also volunteer your time. To those of you who are already volunteers, thank you for your service. - Dave Taljonick of RE/MAX Right Choice, 810-686-3900.

3/25/2016 Spring Break Fun for Kids at Home

For most schools, spring break is just around the corner. For those of you who are not able to head out of town I wanted to provide some information about fun events happening in Genesee County.

 

Flint Institute of Arts

The FIA is offering two programs the week of April 4 through 8. Both of the programs are free of charges and are targeted at different age groups. The institute is located in the Cultural Center in downtown Flint.

 

The first “Spring into Art” will run Monday through Friday of that week from 1 to 4 p.m. in Studio 1. Drop by any time during the three-hour window to make different projects. The workshops are designs for ages 5 to 10.

 

The second program “Storytime with Art” will take place on Tuesday, April 5 and Thursday, April 7 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Galleries and Studio 1. A story will be shared and then kids will have the chance to make a piece of artwork on their own. Different stories will be shared each day and the program is recommended for ages 3 to 5. To learn more about either experience, visit their Facebook event page.

 

Longway Planetarium

Every day the Longway Planetarium features a show in the dome with additional programs offered on Friday and Saturday. Monday through Thursday shows start at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. The cost for children ages 2 to 11 is $4 and adults are $6. Check out their online programming schedule.

 

For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum

Spring Break Camps are being held Tuesday, April 5; Wednesday, April 6; and Thursday April 7. The cost ranges from $5 to $10 per child and features a different theme and targeted age group each day. Themes include “Bug Crazy!”, “ARRRRR You Ready to Become a Pirate”, “Animal Team Builders” and “Wilderness Survival”. Learn more about the programs through their calendar.

 

YMCA Camp Copneconic

Head to Fenton for the day camp which runs April 4 through 8. The superheroes camp features an array of activities including a visit to the reptile house, the YMCA for swimming and other activities such as archery. The camp is geared for children ages 4 years old through 8th grade. The cost is $175 for the first camper and $150 for the second camper for the entire week. Learn more about this super week through their Facebook page.

 

Take the kids out to enjoy one of these great programs while they are off from school over spring break. Oh by the way, I am never too busy for your referrals. - Dave Taljonick of RE/MAX Right Choice, 810-686-3900.

3/18/2016 Spring Planting Tips

The first official day of spring is this Sunday, so I wanted to share some gardening tips with you. Hopefully, you have attended or will be attending one of the home and garden shows I shared with you a few weeks ago to help you gain inspiration. Now is the time to start making plans for your spring planting.

 

Remember planting done in the spring is for bulbs that will produce blooms in the summer. Some of the more popular bulbs to plant at this time of year include dahlias, gladiolus, day lilies, irises and begonias.

 

Typically, you should wait to plant these bulbs once the soil begins to warm up. Some heartier bulbs like irises and day lilies can be planted when the soil is still a little cooler. However, you will want to wait until later in the spring to plant dahlias, gladiolus and begonias.

 

There are a variety of online tools to help you determine decide what you want to plant and when the items need to be planted. The United States National Arboretum provides an easy to use plant hardiness zone map online to help you see what can survive in Michigan.

 

In addition, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a guide to help you decide the best dates to plant in Michigan. The gardening calculator covers over 30 varieties of plants. The tool utilizes information from area weather stations and allows you to set up reminders to help with planting.

 

Even though we should be seeing daffodils and tulips start to bloom soon, remember these types of bulbs are actually planted in the fall. Experts say the best time to plant these blooms is from mid-October to early November. So, if you want to grow your flowerbed with these blooms next year mark your calendar to plan them in the fall.

 

As the ground begins to warm up start making your plans for spring planting. Remember there is still time to gain inspiration at the upcoming home and garden shows in Saginaw and Flint (see my 2/26 post). - Dave Taljonick of RE/MAX Right Choice, 810-686-3900.

3/11/2016 Easter Events in Genesee County

Mark your calendars now for the following Easter events. Several cities throughout Genesee County will play host to a variety of fun activities from crafts to egg hunts to photo opps with the Easter Bunny.

 

Davison

There are lots of great Easter events happening for families in Davison. First, on Saturday, March 19 start the day the Davison Area Library for the Egg-stravaganza from 2 to 3 p.m. Register online here. The Davison Farmers Market is also hosting an Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 19 and will be having Easter Crafts for Kids on Saturday, March 26.

 

Then on Saturday, March 26 Wojos of Davison will be hosting an Easter egg hunt through the greenhouse from 10 to 11 a.m. Make sure to bring something for your child to hold their eggs. There is no charge for this event.

 

Fenton

The Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting a day of Easter fun on Saturday, March 19. The event will take place at Linden Middle School located at 15425 Lobdell Rd. in Linden from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

 

Fenton School Board Member Drew Shapiro will also be hosting a meet-and-greet and free photo with the Easter Bunny at Johnny’s (John’s) Pizzeria located at 1492 N. Leroy St. The free event will be held from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 19.

 

Burton

The Burton Parks and Recreation will be hosting their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. The hunt will take place behind Atherton Elementary School on Genesee Rd.

 

Afterwards, head over to the Burton Eagles Club located at 3317 E. Bristol Rd. to visit the Easter Bunny and to get a free photo. The meet-and-greet is hosted by County Commissioner Jamie Curtis and will run from 3 to 4 p.m.

 

Clio

The Clio Lions Club will host their annual Easter Egg Hunt at Clio Park on Saturday, March 19. The hunt kicks off at 10 a.m. and is free to children ages 2 to 10.

 

The Easter Bunny will end his rounds later that day when County Commissioner Mike Lynch will be hosting a meet-and-greet. Families are invited to visit the Easter Bunny at Twins Pizza located at 4195 W. Vienna Rd. The free event will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. and each child will receive a free photo.

 

Remember family is important, so make time to spend with your loved ones at one of these upcoming Easter events. - Dave Taljonick of RE/MAX Right Choice, 810-686-3900.

 

 

3/4/2016 FHA Government Loans Help Potential Buyers

Did being cooped up in your house with your family last week make you realize it’s time for a bigger place? Saving for the down payment on a home can be difficult for families, so you may think you cannot afford it. However, there are options to help you reach your goal of owning a home sooner through a government loan program. Loans through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) usually only require 3.5 percent in a down payment.

 

FHA loans help buyers avoid having Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) added to their monthly payments when they are not able to make a 20 percent down payment on a traditional loan. In order to take advantage of the low down payment, potential homebuyers need to have a FICO score of 580 or better. If your credit score is below this level, you may still qualify for a FHA loan, but the percentage of your required down payment may be as high as 10 percent.

 

Even if you have a questionable credit history it is possible to qualify for FHA. Credit problems may include lower credit scores, bankruptcies or foreclosures. FHA requires anyone with these issues to have a record of re-establishing their credit and a good payment history.

 

As you work towards improving your credit to qualify for a FHA loan make sure to monitor your credit report. Many banks and credit card companies now include your credit score on monthly bills. In addition, copies of your report are available from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion at no cost. If you notice an issue on your credit report, you have the ability to dispute these inaccuracies. Another added perk of applying for a FHA loan, you can receive credit support through the consumer credit counseling programs.

 

Some buyers have the opposite problem, instead of having bad credit history potential homeowners may have little to no credit history. Applicants for FHA loans are required to have a minimum of two lines of credit to qualify for FHA funding. However, there is a substitute application form that can be used for anyone without sufficient credit history.

 

If you are not able to qualify for a traditional loan, remember there are other lending options available. FHA loans are just one option to help make your dream of owning a home a reality. As your realtor, I can put you in touch with a lending professional to help you explore your different loan options. Dave Taljonick, RE/MAX Right Choice, 810-686-3900.

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