Monthly Archives: September 2012


So you are chopping and stacking wood for that pleasant evening fire this winter. When is the last time you had your chimney cleaned. Here is some information on chimneys that may be of interest to you .

As wood burns not all of it is consumed, and what isn’t consumed goes up your chimney in the form of creosote and soot. Creosote is a thick, oily (oil burns when it reached a certain temp) material that results from the distillation of wood smoke which solidifies as it cools. Soot on the other hand is basically particles of partially burnt material that builds up in chimneys. If enough soot and creosote buildup they can clog your chimney. That’s not good, but what is worse is if the temperature in the chimney gets hot enough the buildup of creosote in the chimney can ignite. I have seen chimney fires destroy entire homes. Since the fire usually starts in the attic area it can go unnoticed until it is too late.

What’s the solution? Either clean the chimney yourself or hire a qualified chimney sweep. Notice I said “qualified”. Make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured. I had a neighbor once have an unqualified sweep clean his chimney and he ended up with a house full of black soot.

So you want to do it yourself!!! You can probably get the supplies you need at any fireplace shop or hardware store. Go on line and Google “how to clean a chimney” and follow the directions. However, don’t be surprised if you end up with house full or black soot.

How often should you clean your chimney? Depends!! If you are in the habit of damping your fire down and depriving it of oxygen (bad idea) so it will burn longer the result will be more smoke and more partially burnt solids. These solids can build up rapidly and the chimney will get much dirtier more quickly. So you clean more often. Make a visual inspection to determine what’s appropriate for your situation.



Home, a real estate services website revealed that 76% of homeowners believe their home is worth more than the list price recommended by their real estate agent – what the heck, my home is worth more just because I live in it!!

Home buyers usually have a better grasp of current home values where they are looking to buy than sellers who live there do. Buyers look at a lot of new listings – they make offers, know what sells quickly and for how much – AND they know what doesn’t sell and why.

Soooo- your home is worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it given current market conditions. Unfortunately, this may not be the same as your opinion of what your home will sell for, or what you hope it is worth. Relying on emotion rather than logic when selecting a list price for your house can lead to disappointing results.

Your home will be most marketable when it is new on the market. Buyers wait for new listings, and usually it’s the new listings that receive the most showings and have the busiest open houses. So don’t forget that when your house is newly listed it’s the best opportunity for your agent to show your house off – but don’t forget it’s the list price that will entice the buyer to look.

When establishing a list price for your house it helps to understand how real estate professionals and appraisers establish an expected selling price or price range for your home. Both research the recent listing inventory of homes similar to yours that have sold in the past 12 months and then they make plus and minus adjustments for the differences. So, let’s say that the house next to yours which sold 3 months ago for $150,000.00 is an exact duplicate except that yours has a fireplace. They would add the value of the fireplace (say $2,500.00) to the $150,000.00 and arrive at a probable value for your home of $152,000.00. It can be a little more complicated than that but it gives you some idea of the process.

It’s sometimes difficult for sellers to step back and take an attitude of detached interest in their home. But, it’s essential to do so if you want to sell successfully in any market. Don’t rely on rumors circulating in the neighborhood about how high a home sold. Prices tend to get inflated when passed from one person to another. Select your price based on facts. Beware of the agent who is willing to take your listing at any price!! They are not working in your best interest.


Have you ever heard of the term “strategic defaulters”?? They are considered underwater homeowners (for whatever reason) who walk away from their mortgages even though they still have the means to pay. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Federal Housing Finance Agency is trying to find them so they can collect on what they still owe.

It is estimated that 20% of all foreclosures are from “strategic defaulters”. The OIG estimates that “strategic defaulters” owe more than $1 billion to Fannie and Freddie and they are ready to collect it. They are looking!!! They are working with Fannie and Freddie to develop a way to identify these culprits.

Here is a recent warning from the OIG in regard to “strategic defaulters” – Walking away from a mortgage that you can afford to pay constitutes mortgage fraud and those responsible will be referred for criminal prosecution. Says Heather Wolfe, OIG assistant inspector general “We are going to lock people up”.