June 25th, 2015

The condition of your air conditioner

Posted by at 3:40 pm

  In case you’ve missed the reports, summer is here, and it’s hot. As the mercury rises across the country, Americans rise as one to flick on the air conditioner. When the air conditioner works properly, life indoors is simply heaven. When it doesn’t, well, you know. Repair or replace In the South and Southwest, where the AC has achieved quasi-religious status, there aren’t many businesses, homes or public places where the air conditioning isn’t running 24/7 during the warmer seasons. Out of necessity, they spend a lot more on maintenance, and tend to follow manufacturer recommendations to replace the units every 10 years or so. Even in the more temperate North and West, many homes are outfitted with central AC. Nearly 90 percent of new construction nationwide includes one of the ubiquitous units. It just doesn’t get flipped on...
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May new home sales surge

Posted by at 7:29 pm

  Outpacing modest predictions, new U.S. single-family home sales surged 2.2 percent to a 7-year high in May, further brightening the outlook for the housing market and the broader economy. The Commerce Department says new home sales rose a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 units, the highest level since February 2008. April’s sales pace was revised to 534,000 units from the previously reported 517,000 units. Economists had forecast a mild increase to a 525,000-unit pace in May. The new home sales report added to strong retail sales, consumer sentiment and employment data in the second quarter of 2015, after output slumped at the start of the year. New homes sales surged 87.5 percent in the Northeast, the largest increase since July 2012. Sales increased 13.1 percent in the West, the biggest gain in nine months. In contrast, sales fell...
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First timers make May sales shine

Posted by at 10:24 pm

  April’s gloomy sales bloomed into exciting May numbers released by the National Association of Realtors this week, raising hopes that the housing market is poised for a big second half of 2015. Sales of existing single-family homes, condos, townhouses, and co-ops were up 5.1 percent above April’s numbers to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million units. The previous rate for April was revised up a bit as well, from 5.04 million to 5.09 million units. First-time homebuyers led the way, making 32 percent of recorded purchases, their highest share since September 2012 and 5 percent higher than May 2014. With strong job gains among young adults and the prospect of rising mortgage rates in the near future, more first-timers are deciding to enter the market, and take advantage of low down payment programs. Sales are now at their highest...
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Building hope for a 2015 housing revival

Posted by at 6:00 pm

Builders are hopeful new housing is due for a strong second half of 2015 after dipping precariously in May. May new home sales fell 9 percent after a 6.8 percent surge in April, but builders believe the weak month was a seasonal snap, and are as confident in new demand as they’ve been in a decade. The National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo Bank Housing Market Index (HMI) increased five points to 59 in numbers released June 15, indicating a growing optimism among builders that housing will continue to strengthen in the months ahead. The HMI indices are based on perceptions of prospective buyers visiting job sites and builder offices. Builders believe shoppers are more serious and committed, and recent government data shows new-home sales and single-family construction are gaining momentum. Housing is being buoyed by a strengthening jobs...
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June 10th, 2015

Homework for home improvement

Posted by at 6:54 pm

  When it comes time to do those little household upgrades and improvements, many homeowners struggle with whom to hire or how much too spend. Most eventually fall into one of two categories: One: You begin a rigorous process of evaluation, setting a list of priorities about what needs to be done, balanced with what you can afford. When you have done your due diligence, you make a reasoned decision based on what you have learned. Then live with the consequences. While things can still go sideways on you, at least you can take solace in the fact that you tried your very best. Or two: you tremble like a leaf at the prospect of spending money, worry about all the things that could go wrong, and just abandon ship before things really start sinking. But let’s hope you opt...
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June 3rd, 2015

Want to play urban chicken?

Posted by at 9:29 pm

  Question: Why did the urban dweller cross the road? Answer: Because he wanted to go to the feed store to buy some baby chicks to raise into backyard chickens. Okay, so the comic timing might not be the best, but there’s no doubt the phenomenon of raising chickens in urban locales is growing around the country. Most people are just looking for the reward of farm-fresh eggs for their family and friends, though many backyard birders have graduated to selling eggs to co-workers and the community at large – some for a healthy profit. One of the lesser-known side benefits of having chickens is that they eat all the unwanted bugs and spiders that lurk in the yard. It is almost unheard of to have bug infestation when chickens are about. But before taking the plunge, prospective home poultry...
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