After You Move In

The First Week
- Install new locks.
- Make extra sets of keys.
- Buy a fire extinguisher for the kitchen and garage.
- Install or check the batteries in the smoke detectors.

Who's Taking Pictures?
The first 6 months you will notice people taking pictures of your house.
They are real estate appraisers.
When you had an appraisal for your purchase, the appraiser had to take photos
of similar home sales. Lenders require photos of comparable sales used in an appraisal.
Now your house is being used as a comparable on appraisals being done for other sales
or refinancing.

Keep Your House In Shape
- Make repairs and do preventative maintenance as needed early on.
- Keep an eye open for termite droppings and wet wood condition.
- Keep rain gutters and downspouts working properly to drain water away from the house.

Home Safety Check List
- Install good sturdy handrails.
- Service all heating equipment.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors.
- Use anti-skid material under area rugs.
- Install smoke detectors in key locations.
- Install an automatic night light outside bedrooms.
- Keep fire extinguishers handy in kitchen and garage.
- Keep medicines, poisons and firearms in child secured cabinets.
- Properly store paints, solvents and gasoline in a well-ventilated area.
- Provide rope or chain ladders on upper stories if there is no fire escape.
- Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in bathrooms and by kitchen sink.

Hurricane Preparedness
- Food for a week.
- Bleach to purify water.
- Camp stove and extra fuel.
- Brace chimneys to the structure.
- Strap water heater to studs in the wall.
- Fire extinguisher and first aid kit handy.
- Know where to turn off utilities and water mains.
- Water: 1 gallon a day per person for at least three days.
- Place bed away from windows and threat of broken glass.
- Protect glassware and dishes with childproof locks on cabinet doors.
- Keep flashlights, spare batteries, matches and candles in a special drawer.

Start A House File
Keep all important house related papers, title insurance, loan information, property insurance, etc. in a central "house file" system.
Important: save all receipts for any home improvements for later "possible" tax write-offs.

Thinking Of Adding On?
- Always get permits.
- Don't over improve for the neighborhood.
- Use professionals to maximize your investment.
- Addition should blend well with the existing architecture.

Well-planned and executed remodeling jobs are a good investment and some specific home improvements even can increase the value above the initial cost. Any owner contemplating an addition and/or change to his or her property should first check with the appropriate county or municipal building department to avoid any building code violations, which will generally render a seller's title unmarketable. In addition a seller's failure to disclose such violations (they have knowledge of) may constitute a material misrepresentation, entitling the buyer to rescind the transaction and obtain the return of his or her money.

What Makes More Sense - Adding on or Buying a Bigger?
Homeowners should consider several questions before making a choice between adding on to an existing home or moving up in the market to a bigger house.
- How much money is available, either from cash reserves or through a home improvement loan, to remodel the current house?
- How much additional space is required?
- Would the foundation support a second floor?
- What do local zoning and building ordinances permit?
- How much equity already exists in the property?
- Are there affordable properties for sale that would satisfy housing needs?

Consider limitations of your neighborhood. It makes more sense to add on to the smallest house than to further improve the largest one in the area. Ultimately, the decision should be based on individual needs, the extent of work involved and what will add the most value.

Choosing a Reliable Contractor
Never hire a contractor without first taking the following 10 steps:
1. Call the Florida State License Board to verify the license number of the contractor. And ask the board if there are any outstanding complaints against that license holder.
The state license board's phone number is (850) 487-1395. Their website is
2. Contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints on file.
3. When interviewing, ask prospects about their workman's compensation insurance.
4. Get the policy number and phone number of the insurance carrier. Call to be sure the contractor is covered. If he or she is not, any work-related injury on your property could become a liability to you.
5. Check to see that the contractor has an umbrella general liability policy.
6. Always ask for references.
7. Always take the time to call and verify them.
8. Do not give in to pressure to make a decision. Believe it or not, there are more contractors than there is work to be done. If a contractor insists that you make a quick decision, move on to someone else.
9. Never pay a deposit to a contractor. If you are asked to pay a deposit fee at the first meeting, simply end the meeting.
10. If you are unsure what you are doing, call the State of Florida
at (850) 487-1395 for more information or visit their web site:

Special Government Programs for Rehab?
HUD's Rehabilitation Loan Program, Section 203 (K) is designed to facilitate major structural rehabilitation of houses with one to four units that are more than one year old. Condominiums are not eligible.
The 203 (K) loan is usually done as a combination loan to purchase a fixer-upper property "as is" and rehabilitate it, or to refinance a temporary loan to buy the property and do the rehabilitation. It can also be done as a rehabilitation-only loan. Plans and specifications for the proposed work must be submitted for architectural review and cost estimation. Mortgage proceeds are advanced periodically during the rehabilitation period to finance the construction costs.
At this time, only select lenders are participating.
For a lender list, call HUD at (202) 708-2720.

Some Home Improvement Expenses are Tax Deductible.
Mortgage interest payments on acquiring and improving a principal residence are fully deductible from income for tax purposes In addition, expenditures for permanent improvements can be added into your home's cost basis, or amount of money invested in a home, which reduces capital gains.

Save all receipts of money spent for permanent improvements, repairs after a fire, flood or storm and special property tax assessments for neighborhood improvements.

Capital gains are determined by the difference in price from the time a home is purchased and the time it is sold, minus the cost of any permanent improvements.

Thinking Of Refinancing?
- Don't list your house for sale if you are thinking of refinancing.
- Lenders usually require your house not to be listed in the recent past.
- Appraisers are required to make such disclosures if known.
- Keep your insurance up to date
- Keep records of any improvements as you have them done.
- Keep in a binder, receipts and owner's manuals of any equipment you buy.
- Take photos or video's of all your rooms and keep them in a safe place.
- Property values can rise dramatically in just a few years which is why it is important to have replacement cost insurance. Should you have a theft or fire, these will be very valuable for claims.

Know Your Neighborhood
After you are settled in, introduce yourself to your neighbors and invite them over.
Most people want to know who their neighbors are, but most are shy about making that first introduction.
Break the ice first and introduce yourself.
Get involved in the neighborhood watch program. In areas of high crime, community watch programs organized by homeowners can lower the crime rate and rid a neighborhood of graffiti. These improvements also can enhance property values.
Knowing your neighbors is why people enjoy living where they live.

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