Thursday, July 28, 2011

What You Must Know About Home Appraisals

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What You Must Know About Home Appraisals

Article From
By: G. M. Filisko
Published: March 12, 2010

Understanding how appraisals work will help you achieve a quick and profitable refinance or sale.

1. An appraisal isn’t an exact science

When appraisers evaluate a home’s value, they’re giving their best opinion based on how the home’s features stack up against those of similar homes recently sold nearby. One appraiser may factor in a recent sale, but another may consider that sale too long ago, or the home too different, or too far away to be a fair comparison. The result can be differences in the values two separate appraisers set for your home.

2. Appraisals have different purposes

If the appraisal is being used by a lender giving a loan on the home, the appraised value will be the lower of market value (what it would sell for on the open market today) and the price you paid for the house if you recently bought it.

An appraisal being used to figure out how much to insure your home for or to determine your property taxes may rely on other factors and arrive at different values. For example, though an appraisal for a home loan evaluates today’s market value, an appraisal for insurance purposes calculates what it would cost to rebuild your home at today’s building material and labor rates, which can result in two different numbers.

Appraisals are also different from CMAs, or competitive market analyses. In a CMA, a real estate agent relies on market expertise to estimate how much your home will sell for in a specific time period. The price your home will sell for in 30 days may be different than the price your home will sell for in 120 days. Because real estate agents don’t follow the rules appraisers do, there can be variations between CMAs and appraisals on the same home.

3. An appraisal is a snapshot

Home prices shift, and appraised values will shift with those market changes. Your home may be appraised at $150,000 today, but in two months when you refinance or list it for sale, the appraised value could be lower or higher depending on how your market has performed.

4. Appraisals don’t factor in your personal issues

You may have a reason you must sell immediately, such as a job loss or transfer, which can affect the amount of money you’ll accept to complete the transaction in your time frame. An appraisal doesn’t consider those personal factors.

5. You can ask for a second opinion

If your home appraisal comes back at a value you believe is too low, you can request that a second appraisal be performed by a different appraiser. You, or potential buyers, if they’ve requested the appraisal, will have to pay for the second appraisal. But it may be worth it to keep the sale from collapsing from a faulty appraisal. On the other hand, the appraisal may be accurate, and it may be a sign that you need to adjust your pricing or the size of the loan you’re refinancing.

More from HouseLogic

Other web resources

More information on appraisals 

How to improve the appraised value of your home 

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s had more than 10 appraisals performed on her properties in the past 20 years. A frequent contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tips for Backyard Playground Safety

Let's Play! -- 7 Tips for Backyard Playground Safety

1. Plan Ahead

One of the best ways to stay safe is to start with some careful planning. Think about the space where you'll place the play equipment, your child's age, even where the sun will be shining. An article on the suggests, "Make sure toddler swing sets are at least 2 feet above ground (so kids can't use it on their own), at least 6 feet away from any building or fences, and in a shaded area, so that surfaces won't get too hot to the touch."

2. Avoid Pressure Treated Wood

Never construct or buy playground equipment made with pressure-treated wood containing chromated copper arsenate, also known as CCA. You'll know pressure treated wood by its greenish tint. There are other chemicals that can be used to treat wood, but they are still rare and more expensive, so CCA has been the principal chemical used to pressure treat wood. Good alternatives include untreated woods like cedar or redwood, and non-wood alternatives such as plastics, metal, and composite materials (like Trex).

3. Inspect Your Equipment

Always check the play equipment for any sharp points or edges (screws that stick out, splinters, rough wood, etc.). Check the equipment often as its condition can change. Make sure equipment is firmly anchored in the ground.

4. Bigger Is Not Always Better

While we may be dreaming of a large play-scape to really wow our kids, remember the higher the equipment the harder the fall. Research shows equipment taller than 6 feet doubles the possibility of injury. 

5. Avoid Dangerous Sand

Not all play sand is safe. In fact, the soft, fine sand that is marketed as "play sand," is one some say we should avoid. According to play sand is sometimes made of crushed rock instead of beach or river sand. This crushed rock or crystalline silica is a known carcinogen according to the EPA and OSHA. Some brands of sand even contain asbestos tremloite which can put you and kids at risk of lung cancer. Avoid play sand that creates airborne dust that can be easily breathed by kids. Read up on Sandtasktic or SafeSand as possible alternatives, as those brands are silica and quartz-free.

6. Create a Cushion

Falls account for nearly 80 percent of playground injuries. Be sure to use proper ground cover for under play equipment to prevent this. Ground cover includes sand, pea gravel, rubber, or wood chips. Donna Thompson, Ph.D., and Director of the National Program for Playground Safety, recommends that the cushion be a minimum of 12 inches deep in order to be effective. ÒMany people use the right materials, but not enough to truly cushion a fall,Ó she says.

7. Practice Basic Safety

Children under 3 should be in toddler swings with support on all sides and safety straps and children under 6 should never play unattended. Those older than 6 should be checked on frequently.

Playground Rules To Teach Your Children

- Never stand or kneel in the swing, and hold tightly with both hands.
- Always stop swinging before getting off the swing.
- Only one person should be in one swing at a time.
- Do not push anyone else in the swing or let others push you (that's a job for grown-ups).
- Don't swing empty swings, and never twist swing chains.

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