Ayelet Gilad

Alpharetta Living, Real Estate and Community


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Don’t Ignore a Wet Basement

April showers bring May flowers, but did it cause any unwanted consequences?

The American Society of Home Inspectors has some pretty surprising statistics about wet basements:

  • Most new homes will develop a leak somewhere in the basement within 10 to 15 years of being built.
  • Over 60 percent of basements in existing homes have a moisture problem.
  • Around 38 percent of basements with moisture problems develop mold and fungus growth.
  • Older homes were built with waterproofing methods that are now outdated and no longer work.

 

Finding the source of the moisture is the first step toward solving the problem, but it’s a lot easier said than done.

Causes of a Wet Basement

The most common culprits of a wet basement are groundwater, rain and melting snow accumulating around the home’s foundation. From there it will seep through cracks and around joints.

Condensation is another cause of a moist basement. You’re probably familiar with condensation as the water droplets that appear when the outside cooler temperatures meet the warm glass of a window in a heated room.

This same principle applies when moist, warm air hits the cold concrete foundation or cold water pipes. The condensation can puddle, drip and accumulate.

Finding the Leak

John D. Wagner, of This Old House, offers an innovative and easy way to tell if the moisture in the basement is being caused by condensation or if it is intruding from outside. Tape a piece of foil to a wall where you’ve found moisture. Leave it affixed to the surface for a day. If the outer surface of the foil is damp, suspect condensation. If the underside of the foil is wet, water is most likely intruding from the outside.

If the cause of the moisture still isn’t apparent, do some sleuthing. Look for water damage at the area of the floor where it intersects with the wall, and in the ceiling. Any discoloration or flaking of paint is evidence of moisture intrusion.

The most common evidence of a leak in your basement is the odor or appearance of mold. If you can’t see mold, but the air smells musty or earthy, there is mold present somewhere. Find it and you’ll find the source of the leak.

Check for evidence of scaling – salty looking deposits on stone, stucco and concrete surfaces.

Other evidence of a water leak in the basement include:

  • Rotting wood.
  • Buckled floors.
  • Rusty nails or screws.
  • Rusted metal on the feet of appliances.
  • Lifting tile floors.

 

Fixing the Problem

Fixing a wet basement may be a simple task, such as airing out the basement to rid it of condensation. Or, it may be a costly and time-consuming procedure. Depending on the cause of the leak, rectifying the wet basement situation may entail:

  • Redirecting surface water in the yard by re-grading the soil or installing drains.
  • Cleaning or replacing the gutters and downspouts.
  • Filling cracks with epoxy.
  • Installing dehumidifiers, flashing and additional downspouts.
  • Installing a sump pump.

 

Dampness in the basement can cause a lot of damage to the home’s structure and integrity, and, if mold develops, the air could become unhealthy to breathe. If you can’t find or repair the leak on your own, call a professional.


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Make Sure Your Home Is Safe – Test for Radon

Radon is a cancer-causing gas, and is the second leading cause of lunch cancer in the US. As most gases – you can’t see, smell or taste it, but it may be a problem in your home! Some studies have shown that children are more sensitive to radon, possibly due to their higher respiration rate and rapidly dividing cells.

Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

Many people assume that they should only test for radon when they buy a house but this is wrong! You should periodically check for radon at your house and I’d encourage you to follow the EPA guidelines. You can even do it your self using radon testing kits that you can find at Lowes, Home Depot or even get for free.

If radon was detected in your house, you can fix it by installing radon mitigation system. There is a wealth of information on how to fix the problem on the EPA consumer’s guide to radon reduction.

Don’t want to do it yourself? Give me a buzz and I’ll happily refer you to a reliable and trustworthy inspection company that can test and fix radon problems.

For more information abou radon from the health risks to fixing high radon levels, please visit the EPA Radon website.


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Is Your Front Door Welcoming?

Creating indoor/outdoor transitions that welcome and complement your home can add to your home’s curb appeal and value. People often think only about the value of their house and what’s going on inside, but your front door is the first impression your visitors get of your home. Make it a good one.

Entries That Welcome

These days, many homeowners in the United States use their garage as their everyday entry to their home. They rarely enter their home the way their guest will, through the front door.

Have you ever been invited to someone’s home and discovered when you got there that you aren’t sure where you were supposed to enter? Or perhaps the front entry is so dark and overgrown that it feels scary and unwelcoming? One of the most important indoor/outdoor transitions at your home is the sequence people experience from the instant they arrive at the curb to the moment they enter through your front door. So, what can you do?

Make it Obvious

Guests should not have to wonder whether they should enter through your front door, a side door, or through the garage. Make the entry you want guests to use obvious by providing a clear path and making it visible from the street. Use containers of plants, lighting, or a wreath on the door to signify the importance of that entry.

Light it Up

Provide adequate outdoor lighting, not just at the front door, but along the path guests will use to walk from the street to your door. This is especially important if there are a number of stairs guests must climb and descend to get to and from your home. Your guests will appreciate a well-lit path, and the chances of someone injuring themselves on the way to your front door will be reduced. There are a wide variety of lighting options available to homeowners. You can choose anything from low-voltage and solar landscape lighting to step lights and LED rope lights that can be imbedded into concrete walls and stair risers.

Make it Safe

As mentioned before, visibility from the street is very important. This goes beyond simply allowing visitors to see the location of the front door. We often think of high fences and gates as mechanisms to keep out intruders, but once someone has breached that barrier, a high fence becomes a hiding place behind which to lurk. Fences and walls can be designed to keep intruders out while still allowing views in. High, solid fences and large evergreen shrubs near entryways should be avoided. Avoid built elements and plantings that block views or create a confined space. Your guests should feel safe when waiting for you to answer your front door.

Welcome!

The act of welcoming your guests does not start when you open your front door; it begins the moment they drive up and park their car at the curb. What does the entry sequence at your front door say about you? Walk across the street and take a look. Walk the path your guests will use several times and think about the experience. What works? What needs to change?

Do you feel welcome?


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What Are The Most Important Parts Of The House To The Average Buyer?

In continuum of our latest post about whether you should remodel your house before you sell,  we thought you should know that an upgraded kitchen and master bedroom will make your house more likable to any buyer! Nonetheless, they will like your house more, just because of that compare to any other houses with outdates kitchen and master bathroom.

Should you  renovate your kitchen and/ or the master bathroom to sell faster and for higher price? Well, in all honesty – it depended. Talk to us and will make sure to go over your specific details, your area and neighborhood.  So before you “over-improve” your house and lose the money, find out what’s suitable for your house by contacting the Ayelet Gilad Home Team today!


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Is a Debt Consolidation Home Equity Loan Right for You?

Maybe you’ve indulged in impulse shopping one too many times or actually found yourself in an emergency where paying with a credit card was the only option. Either way, if you’re a homeowner who is struggling to pay those monthly bills, debt consolidation could make sense for you.

Homeowners who have equity in their homes but whose debt load has become difficult to manage are good candidates for debt consolidation loans. A debt consolidation loan allows you to pay off high-interest consumer debt, such as credit cards, by centralizing those balances with one lender in one loan. This means that you can merge a home mortgage payment, a car payment, a student loan payment and credit card debt into a single larger loan. One way to consolidate is through a home equity loan.

What is a Home Equity Loan?

Equity is the difference between the value of your home and the money you still owe on your mortgage. Sometimes referred to as a second mortgage, a home equity loan allows you to borrow against the equity you have built up in your property. With a home equity loan, your home is used as collateral for your debt consolidation loan. This type of debt consolidation allows you to benefit from mortgage interest rates that are typically lower than rates for other types of debt.

Another benefit of a home equity loan is that in most cases, interest paid is fully tax deductible.

Uses for Consolidation Loans

A debt consolidation loan lets you lower your monthly payments by combining your debt into one loan. With lower monthly payments, you can strengthen your cash flow, which will free up money for other uses. The surplus can be used to pay down your mortgage principal, allowing you to pay off the total amount owed in a shorter period of time.

Also, debt consolidation loans often have longer terms than other loans, giving you more time to pay off the money you borrowed.

People get home equity loans for a variety of reasons, including making home improvements, paying for college education or medical expenses, or buying a new car. However, home equity loans should not be used to pay for clothing, entertainment or minor repairs, according to Kathy Sweedler, consumer and family economics extension assistant with the University of Illinois.

Costs of Refinancing Home Equity Loans

While you might hear a lender advertise for “no-cost refinance,” often no-cost refinancing simply means the costs have been included in the amount of the loan.

Home equity loans usually have the same costs and fees applied to them that buying or refinancing a house does. When you refinance your home equity loan, you will often pay closing costs, application fees, attorney review fees, appraisal fees and more. Some lenders will waive these fees. However, some costs may still apply.

Disadvantages of Debt Consolidation Using Home Equity Loans

Because you’re using your home as collateral with a home equity loan, the primary disadvantage of debt consolidation this way is that, if you can’t make the payments, your house may get foreclosed. According to Sweedler, being 60 or 90 days late on a payment can put your home into foreclosure.

Transferring all of your debt to one lender can have some drawbacks. Consolidation loans can keep you in debt for much longer periods. Additionally, if the value of your home decreases and you need to sell it, you may end up owing more on your home than it’s worth.

Before signing on the dotted line, be sure you know the terms of the loan, the interest rate and payment amount, the points and fees and what the penalties are for late or missed payments. Also, check with your lender to find out if your home loan has a balloon payment – a large sum of money due all at once. If you feel you’ve made a mistake, you have up to three days to cancel the loan after signing. This can be done for any reason and must be done in writing.


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Moving: How to Hire the Pros

 

If you are selling, buying or relocating, whatever the case is – you’ll need to move! So we though the following tips might be useful to you.

Have you ever noticed how busy your friends and family members become on your moving day? Can you blame them? Moving is tough, manual labor. The only reason that folks might be willing to help is in the hopes you’ll reciprocate when it’s their turn to move.

Being able to round up enough people to help with the move is just one consideration when determining whether to hire a moving company or just do it yourself. Here are a few other considerations:

  • Time: How much time do you have to devote to the move? If you’re relocating because of a new job and you’re on a time crunch, professional movers will save you a lot of time.
  • Distance: How far away are you moving? Interstate moves involve a lot of driving with possible overnight stops along the way. Do you feel safe leaving your belongings in the parking lot overnight?
  • Money: If you’re on a tight budget, a full-service mover may be out of the realm of possibility for you.

 

Types of Moving Companies

Moving companies have evolved from the days when the massive truck pulled up to the house and loaded pre-packed boxes and furniture for the move to a new location. Today, you have a number of choices to consider when hiring moving assistance:

  • Pack it yourself and hire professionals to load and deliver.
  • Hire professionals to pack, load and deliver. Some companies offer unpacking services as well.
  • Hire a professional with a truck. You pack, you load and he drives.

 

Of course, like most things in life, the more services you desire, the more you’ll pay.

Choosing a Moving Company

Finding the right moving company for your needs is probably one of the most challenging aspects of the moving process. Ask friends, colleagues and family members for a referral. If that doesn’t work, the National Association of Realtors® suggests that you choose a mover that is a member of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).

Interview representatives from several companies and ask lots of questions:

  • Ask about the moving company’s responsibilities if items are damaged while in their care.
  • Are employees bonded?
  • Verify the mover’s license.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the company.
  • Don’t accept telephone quotes. The only way to get an accurate quote is for the mover to assess your situation in person.
  • Ask for an itemized breakdown of all fees the company charges and explanations of any that you don’t understand.

 

Federal law requires movers to supply you with the booklet: “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” In it you will find information about your mover’s responsibilities and how to make the move go smoothly.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) warns consumers to never sign a mover’s blank documents. These papers are binding contracts and should be read thoroughly before signing. If there are blanks, other than one for the weight of your items, line them through or refuse to sign until the blanks are filled in.

For help with choosing a mover and information on how to protect yourself and your belongings during the move, visit the DOT’s website.


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A NEW Homeowner’s Guide to Securing Home Insurance

Today we are featuring a guest post by Jessica Hartley of Gillman Insurance sharing their advice for first home buyers. It contains some great advice! Happy reading,

Ayelet Gilad


Congratulations, you’re purchasing your first home!

You’ll finally be able to paint your kitchen the standout color you’ve dreamed about, make a new key without duplicating a copy for your landlord, and proudly answer “Yes!” to the question, “Are You a Homeowner?”

While it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of this first-time purchase, the process can become very overwhelming when it comes to working with your Real Estate Agent, Mortgage Broker, Banker, Attorney and a Georgia Home Insurance agent.

As a result, your metro Atlanta home insurance problem solvers at Gillman Insurance share a few tips to help with the process. After all, we aim to make every insurance experience as painless and problem-free as possible!

1. Look for a 5-Star an Independent Agency

 

When consumers shop for the best value of airfare, they’re likely to look at more than one airline. The same applies to insurance. Much like the airline negotiators that represent multiple airlines and present online shoppers with the “best deal” available, an independent agent can offer the same advantage.

Independent agencies represent multiple insurance carriers, so instead of trying to sell you one policy from one carrier (crafting “your needs” to match the policy), they have the flexibility to shop the market and find your match (crafting the policy to match your needs).

When choosing an independent agency, take a look at online reviews. More and more, customer reviews are playing a vital part in purchase decisions and can act as a great indicator as to whether or not a particular agency will be there when you need it.

2. Look for VALUE, in addition low rates

Insurance isn’t an “apples to apples” game when it comes to comparing Home insurance coverage. Homeowners are flooded with the mass-media idea that “low price” indicates great value—but this is a dangerous misconception. At the end of the day, you want low price AND the right coverage. After all, you purchase insurance to protect you. If there’s no depth of legitimate coverage, you’ll end up paying for protection that won’t actually protect you, which makes no sense at all.

3. Be aware of Replacement Value Vs. Market Value

Using “Market Value” as a home value indicator when securing home insurance is a big mistake.  Unfortunately, market value reflects depreciation and/or the original cost of building your home—oftentimes by means of low-cost, bulk-supplies and labor purchased by a construction company. Thus, it’s important to use “replacement value” when insuring your home if you’re looking for a policy that will get you back to where you were before a loss occurred.

4. Understand your Home and Personal Insurance Options

–       Homeowners Insurance: a form of property insurance that is designed to protect your home against damages to the house itself, and/or possessions inside the home. Home insurance also typically provides liability coverage against accidents. While this insurance covers most scenarios where loss could occur, some events are excluded such as earthquakes, floods, etc. It’s important you speak with your agent to determine if these additional coverages are suggested for your situation.

–       Auto Insurance: a form of protection designed to cover losses resulting from owning and operating an automobile. Losses may involve damage you cause as a result of accident to people or property and/or medical expenses incurred due to an accident.

–       Inland marine or “floaters” Insurance: this policy is designed to cover personal property deemed to be easily movable. If the owner’s property is lost, damaged or destroyed, this policy would cover the reimbursement. Examples of moveable property include electronics, jewelry, furniture or antiques.

–       Umbrella Coverage: a liability insurance policy that protects the assest and future income of the policy holder above and beyond the standard limits of his/her primary policies. It is distinguished from excess insurance, because it only goes into effect when all underlying policies are exhausted.

–       Life Insurance: a coverage plan is essentially a contract between the owner and insurer, stating that the insurer agrees to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money upon the occurrence of the insured individual’s death or other event (such as terminal illness).

–       Disability-income insurance: a form of insurance that protects the beneficiary’s earned income against the risk that disability will make working (and thus earning income) impossible. This coverage includes paid sick leave, short-term disability benefits and long-term disability benefits.

5. Take Advantage of Multi-Policy Discounts

You can save upwards of 40% on your personal insurance premiums by combining your personal insurance policies, including home, auto, umbrella, inland marine and more. In addition to getting better value for premium paid, you’ll start building a good insurance history by keeping your policies in one place—which can be leveraged when your agent negotiates your coverage and rates.

Most importantly, find a reliable agent that you trust! Your agent should act as your right arm when it comes to securing the best value of coverage for less, and keeping your policies in-line with your life changes along the way.

Request your FREE coverage assessment by contacting Gillman insurance Problem Solvers today! We make it easier to secure the most reliable coverage for less—just fill our Georgia Home Insurance online form or call 678.297.7977 to speak with a specialist!

Please Note: The content of this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor should it be viewed as legal advice. No one should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information in this website without seeking the appropriate professional counsel on his or her particular circumstances. Additionally, no one should secure or dismiss insurance coverage on the basis of any information in this website without seeking an appropriate professional counsel on his or her particular circumstances.  Although every effort is made to provide accurate and useful information, Gillman insurance Problem Solvers and any third party contributor(s) assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information disclosed on this site.