Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Did You Know? Considerations for New Home Purchases

There are several factors to consider in determining the affordability of your potential home purchase. The first is, of course, the actual price of the home itself; however you should also consider any repairs needed prior to occupancy, unfinished work still to be done before the home is to your standards and any future improvements that you think will have to be done within the next five years. The second factor to consider is the interest rate charged by the bank. This factor seems to be simple but one must consider whether the loan is a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage. You must also consider whether or not the bank is going to charge PMI insurance as this adds an additional monthly expense to your potential payment. If the loan is an adjustable mortgage there are several factors to consider including the index, the margin, and the frequency of adjustments. Another affordability factor is your current and future job salary and job security. Are you anticipating any increases in pay, any bonus anticipated, are you going to be receiving commissions. On the other hand you must also take into consideration your long term employment possibilities.

Currently, houses are priced at historic low prices and interest rates are very favorable. This may be a great time for you to purchase the home of your dreams. If it is, please contact one of our qualified loan officers for further information on affordability and for all of your mortgage questions at 763-784-3400 or visit our website at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Home Safety Tips

Here are some tips for homeowners:

Purchase a smoke detector if you do not have one. Smoke detectors are inexpensive and are required by law in many localities. Check local codes and regulations before you buy your smoke detector because some codes require specific types of detectors. They provide an early warning which is critical because the longer the delay, the deadlier the consequences. Read the instructions that come with the detector for advice on the best place to install it. At a minimum, detectors should be located near bedrooms and
one on every floor. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper maintenance. Never disconnect a detector. Consider relocating the detector rather than disconnecting it if it is subject to nuisance alarms, e.g. from cooking. Replace the battery annually, or when a "chirping" sound is heard.

Be sure that the chimney and stovepipe were installed correctly in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations and local codes. If there is any doubt, a building inspector or fire official can determine whether the system is properly installed. Minimize creosote formation by using proper stove size and avoiding use of low damper settings for
extended periods of time. Have the chimney checked and cleaned routinely by a chimney "sweep" at least once a year. Inspect it frequently, as often as twice a month if necessary, and clean when a creosote buildup is noted.

Never use charcoal to cook or provide heat inside enclosed areas such as tents, campers, vans, cars, trucks, homes, garages, or mobile homes because the carbon monoxide can kill you.

Establish advanced family planning for escape. It is an important partner with smoke detectors and it will prepare you for a fire emergency.

Arrange furniture so that outlets are available for lamps and appliances without the use of extension cords. If you must use an extension cord, place it on the floor against a wall where people cannot trip over it. Remove cords from under furniture or carpeting. Replace damaged or frayed cords. If the rating on the cord is exceeded because of the power requirements of one or more appliances being used on the cord, change the cord to a higher rated one or unplug some appliances.

Remove rugs and runners that tend to slide. Apply double-faced adhesive carpet tape or rubber matting to the backs of rugs and runners. Purchase rugs with slip-resistant backing. Over time, adhesive on tape can wear away. Rugs with slip-resistant backing also become less effective as they are washed.

Telephone numbers for the Police, Fire Department, and local Poison Control Center, along with a neighbor's number, should be readily available. Write the numbers in large print and tape them to the phone, or place them near the phone where they can be seen easily.

Have at least one telephone located where it would be accessible in the event of an accident which leaves you unable to stand.

Unusually warm or hot outlets or switches may indicate that an unsafe wiring condition exists. Unplug cords from outlets and do not use the switches. Have an electrician check the wiring as soon as possible.

Unvented heaters should be used with room doors open or window slightly open to provide ventilation. The correct fuel, as recommended by the manufacturer, should always be used. Vented heaters should have proper venting, and the venting system should be checked frequently. Improper venting is the most frequent cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, and older consumers are at special risk.

If you don't have a step stool, consider buying one. Choose one with a handrail that you can hold onto while standing on the top step. Before climbing on any step stool, make sure it is fully opened and stable. Tighten screws and braces on the step stool. Discard step stools with broken parts.

For all stairways, check lighting, handrails, and the condition of the steps and coverings. Stairs should be lighted so that each step, particularly the step edges, can be clearly seen while going up and down stairs. Consider refinishing or replacing worn treads, or replacing worn carpeting. Worn or torn coverings or nails sticking out from coverings could snag your foot or cause you to trip. The lighting should not produce glare or shadows along the stairway. You should be able to turn on the lights before you use the
stairway from either end. If no other light is available, keep an operating flashlight in a convenient location at the top and bottom of the stairs.

People can trip over objects left on stairs, particularly in the event of an emergency or fire. Remove all objects from the stairway.

Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. In children, lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage and can impair mental functioning. In adults, it can cause irritability, poor muscle coordination, and nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body. If you have lead-based paint, you should take steps to reduce your exposure to lead. Avoid activities that will
disturb or damage lead-based paint and create dust. Contact your state and local health departments' lead poisoning prevention programs and housing authorities for information about testing labs and contractors who can safely remove lead-based paint.

Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder. Call your local health department or water supplier to find out about testing your water. You cannot see, smell, or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead. If you think your plumbing might have lead in it, use only cold water for drinking and cooking. Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours.

Regularly have a professional check your spa or hot tub and make sure it is in good, safe working condition, and that drain covers are in place and not cracked or missing. Check the drain covers yourself throughout the year. Know where the cut-off switch for your pump is so you can turn it off in an emergency. Be aware that consuming alcohol while using a spa could lead to drowning. Keep the temperature of the water in the spa at 104 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

If possible, change the water in your room humidifier daily. Empty the tank before you fill it. Clean your room humidifier well and often during the heating season. Be sure to unplug the humidifier before cleaning. Follow the manufacturer's suggested cleaning methods. If chlorine bleach or other cleaning product or disinfectant is used, make sure to rinse the tank well to avoid breathing harmful chemicals.
Operate portable electric heaters away from combustible materials. Do not place heaters where towels or the like could fall on the appliance and trigger a fire. Avoid using extension cords unless absolutely necessary. If you must use an extension cord with your electric heater, make sure it is marked with a power rating at least as high as that of the heater itself. Keep the cord stretched out. Do not permit the cord to become buried under carpeting or rugs. Do not place anything on top of the cord. Never place
heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture or the like. Never use heaters to dry
wearing apparel or shoes.

Always check to see that cigarettes are extinguished before emptying ashtrays. Stubs that are still burning can ignite trash.

Look for furniture designed to reduce the likelihood of furniture fire from cigarettes. Much of the furniture manufactured today has significantly greater resistance to ignition by cigarettes than upholstered furniture manufactured 10 to 15 years ago. This is particularly true of furniture manufactured to comply with the requirements of the Upholstered
Furniture Action Council's (UFAC) Voluntary Action Program. Such upholstered furniture may be identified by the gold colored tag on the furniture item.

The legend on the front of the tag in red letters states -- "Important Consumer Safety Information from UFAC."

Always check the furniture where smokers have been sitting for improperly discarded smoking materials. Ashes and lighted cigarettes can fall unnoticed behind or between cushions or under furniture.

Do not place or leave ashtrays on the arms of chairs where they can be knocked off.

Consider fabrics such as 100 percent polyester, nylon, wool and silk that are difficult to ignite and tend to self extinguish. Consider purchasing garments that can be removed without having to pull them over the head. Clothes that are easily removed can help prevent serious burns. If a garment can be quickly stripped off when it catches fire, injury will be far less severe or avoided altogether.

Please contact Contractors Capital Corporation with any questions you may have if you are renting and looking to buy or build or have sold your home and would like to purchase one of our bank owned properties, build your own home, or work with one of our builders to build your own home. Contact us at 763-784-3400 or visit our website at

Friday, October 16, 2009

House Maintenance Tips

Just like a car and oil changes, there are things you should maintain in your home regulary. Here is a list of a few of those things to post as a reminder.

Every couple months:
Clean/replace your furnace filter / A/C filter
Clean and check your ventilation system

Clear snow from air intakes, exhaust areas, and meters
Remove snow build-up to prevent ice dams
Check humidity levels to prevent excessive moisture
Clean/check sump pump basket
Clean range hood filter
Inspect pressure and temperature valve on water heater
Clear faucet aerators and turn infrequently used faucets on
Put water in floor drain to maintain the traps water barrier

Check/clean gutters and downspouts
Inspect basement/crawl space for seepage/leakage
Check ground settling after the spring thaw
Check and repair any window screen damage
Adjust thermostat for seasonal temperature change
Adjust humidifier (if you have one) for seasonal temperature changeOpen valve to outside hose connection

Check, clean A/C unit & system and clear air intakes, exhaust, unit of any debris
Check/clean gutters and downspouts
Air out damp spaces with fans or dehumidifier
Seal coat and repair asphalt driveway if needed

Inspect pressure and temperature valve on water heater
Adjust thermostat for seasonal temperature change
Check - smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, door & window locks
Clean dryer vent
Winterize irrigation system
Close valve to outside hose connection
Check exhaust fans
Check doors for adjustments in thesholds

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Home Before the $8000 Tax Credit Expires

Are you tired of hearing about the housing economy and downturn? Well, take heart. Change is on the horizon, and you’re the driver. Our aim and goal is to provide you with the financing you need in a troubled time; and answers to your unanswered questions.

Don’t hesitate to call. We are here to help you, our customers, find, build or purchase the home of your dreams. With winter coming up and thoughts of nestling next to the fire; perhaps you could envision yourself next to that fireplace.

We have vacant lots you could build your dream home on; newly built foreclosed homes which are available to you thru a couple of financial options which are at hand; and even rental properties to reside in or to purchase for an investment. If you haven’t had an opportunity yet, please check out our website: to view the property and lots that are just waiting for you.

Don’t wait too long to make the decision. The deadline for the $8,000 tax credit is approaching quickly.

Contact Contractors Capital Corporation if you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas at 763-784-3400.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Making Home Affordable

The Obama Administration has introduced a comprehensive Financial Stability Plan to address the key problems at the heart of the current crisis and get our economy back on track. A critical piece of that effort is Making Home Affordable, a plan to stabilize our housing market and help up to 7 to 9 million Americans reduce their monthly mortgage payments to more affordable levels.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program gives up to 4 to 5 million homeowners with loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac an opportunity to refinance into more affordable monthly payments. The Home Affordable Modification Program commits $75 billion to keep up to 3 to 4 million Americans in their homes by preventing avoidable foreclosures.

Our consumer website,, provides homeowners with detailed information about these programs along with self-assessment tools and calculators to empower borrowers with the resources they need to determine whether they might be eligible for a modification or a refinance under the Administration's program. Through this website, borrowers can also connect with free counseling resources to help with outstanding questions; locate homeowner events in their communities; find a handy checklist of key documents and materials to have ready when making that important call to their servicer as well as FAQs from borrowers in similar circumstances; and much more.

If you find you qualify, we can assist with finding a lender that will offer the rates/terms that will make your refinance possible. Please contact us for more information at or call us a 763-784-3400.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Time is Running Out!

Time is running out for first time home buyers (those who haven’t owned a home in the past 3 years) if they want to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit. The deadline is November 30, 2009. If you want to get the credit you may want to look at repossessed or foreclosed homes vs. short sales as a short sale will most likely take too long to close and you’ll miss your opportunity to get the tax credit.
Contractors Capital has homes for sale (click on the “foreclosed homes for sale button” on the home page) and since we are the bank holding the title on the homes there IS time to execute the closing so you can take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit. We also have homes for rent, rental properties available for investment purchase and some of the homes can be purchased on a contract for deed. Please give us a call at 763-784-3400 or 651-289-6400 for more information or visit our website at