Friday, November 16, 2012

Mortgage rates hit all-time low!

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell to fresh record lows this week, a trend that has helped the housing market start to recover this year.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says that the average rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.34 percent, the lowest on records dating back to 1971. That's down from 3.40 percent last week and the previous record low of 3.36 percent reached last month.
The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage also dropped to 2.65 percent. That's down from 2.69 percent last week and also a new record.

The average rate on the 30-year loan has been below 4 percent all year. It has fallen further since the Federal Reserve started buying mortgage bonds in September to encourage more borrowing and spending.

Low mortgage rates have helped boost sales of newly built and previously occupied homes this year. Home prices are also increasing, and builders are more confident and starting work on more new homes.

If you are in the market for a home at the lake please contact the Spouses Selling Houses team. Until next time! Ebbie :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wood Burning Tips

There is nothing like a warm wood fire crackling in the fireplace during these chilly months. Below we have listed just a few wood burning tips to enhance your enjoyment.

1. Never burn:

  • Plastics
  • Glossy magazines or newsprint
  • Painted or treated wood
  • Foil or metallic-coated gift wrap
  • Particle board
  • Household garbage (diapers, plastic bags, etc.)
  • Plywood
  • Rags or fabrics made of synthetic materials
These items release toxic chemicals into the air that can be harmful to your health and damage your stove or fireplace.

2. Split your firewood

Wood dries from the surface inward, so un-split wood dries very slowly. The more surface wood is exposed by splitting, the faster the wood will dry. Stack the wood loosely to promote air circulation.

3. Burn seasoned firewood only

The time it takes freshly split wood to become fully seasoned will vary with the type of wood, its thickness, and the weather. As a general rule, however, one should allow a year for wood to dry for efficient, clean indoor burning. Cracks in the ends of the wood are an indication that it is fully seasoned and ready for burning. You can also test whether the wood is fully seasoned by striking two pieces together. Dry wood gives a sharp ‘crack’ while unseasoned wood sounds more like a dull ‘thud’.
Unseasoned firewood provides less heat energy when burned, yet releases more smoke and contributes to hazardous creosote buildup in chimneys.

4. Store wood outside, covered on top with sides open to air

Cut, split and stack firewood in a place sheltered from the weather, but not covered on the sides, so as to optimize air circulation. Block up the bottom row of wood several inches off the ground. During snowfalls, throw a tarp over the woodpile to keep blowing snow out of the stacked wood.

5. Store only a small amount of wood inside your home.

Bringing large amounts of firewood into the home to ‘pre-dry’ is counter-productive, and may release excess humidity into the room. When lifting from the woodshed into the carrying box, or wood sling, a quick tap against a hard surface will release any spiders that otherwise will be brought into your home.

6. Split wood into pieces 4-6 inches in diameter.

Firewood will burn cleaner when more surface area is exposed to the flame. Use the smaller split pieces to get the fire started, and only use larger pieces of wood once the fire is well established.

7. Make sure your fire is getting enough air.

This will ensure it burns hot and clean. Check the air intake of your heater to ensure there are no blockages from dust balls and spider webs. If you have a through-floor intake, check to see that the screen is brushed clean and not obstructed by insect debris or spider webs.
A properly burning fireplace is hotter, produces less smoke and is more efficient. This means more warmth for less money and less impact to your health.

8. Don’t stuff too much wood inside the firebox.

Overloading the firebox can reduce the amount of air needed for ideal combustion. Refuel more often with smaller loads with the air inlet open wide to keep the fire burning briskly. If you need to shut the fire down, wait until it is well-established before turning down the damper. If you throw a fresh log in just before closing the damper, it may smolder for some time before reaching a cleaner combustion stage.

9. Let your fire go out at night.

To reduce the level of wood smoke pollution in towns and cities it is recommended that you do not burn your wood heater overnight on reduced air flow. This will save you some wood and help your stove and chimney remain cleaner for a longer period of time. It will cost less to let your wood heater go out over night and run an electric heater in the morning for 2 hours, than to keep your wood heater burning through the night.
Stay warm! if you are int he market for a home at the lake, please contact the Spouses Selling Houses team. Until next time! Ebbie :)