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Beware Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Scammers are targeting people having trouble paying their mortgages. These so-called foreclosure rescue companies promise to stop foreclosure. But they’re out to make a quick buck, and can turn a home owner’s distress into disaster.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has resources in English and Spanish to help home owners learn the signs of a foreclosure rescue scam and where to get FREE help.

FTC Web Site

Access the FTC’s “Money Matters” website at: ftc.gov/moneymatters

Home owners can find out where to get FREE foreclosure help at HopeNow.com or by calling 888-995-HOPE (4673).

Tell Your Community

The FTC also encourages home owners, business owners, home builders’ associations and others to share these resources with their communities by downloading and putting on websites the English and Spanish-language video and Web banners.

Download “A Note to Homeowners,” the FTC’s flyer about foreclosure rescue scams, in English or Spanish.

For more tips on home ownership visit https://www.nahb.org/en/consumers/

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Add Value, Pleasure To Your Home With a Well-Tended Yard

home with lush, green lawn

Do you and your family have fun in your yard — or is it just unused space that means you have a long list of chores every weekend?

A well-planned yard gives you extra room to enjoy without adding a tremendous amount of upkeep. If your yard could use a little love, it’s time to make a master plan to add enjoyment and value to your home.

Step 1: Take Inventory

First, walk around your property. Note how your house sits on the lot, where your garage, tool shed, deck, pool or other structure is and what plants you have now.

Think about what you would like to have a year from now. Is it more trees for shade, more grass to play in, a flower or herb garden for cutting, or just reworking an area that takes too much time to maintain?

Once you know what you want, it’s time to start thinking about the plants you will need.

Step 2: Select the Right Plants

A healthy, lush and vibrant lawn or garden starts with your choice of plants. Choose trees, flowers, shrubs and other plants that grow well in your area. This may sound limiting, but by choosing plants that are native or tested to be tolerant of the weather in your area, your yard will require less work and give you better results.

Visit your local garden center, arboretum or botanical garden for advice and ideas. Look for sections that are like your yard, and choose plants that grow well there whether you want brilliant flowers, ground cover, shrubbery or herbs.

Step 3: Get to Know Your Yard

It is very important to monitor the cycles of light and moisture in your yard. Late summer is a good time to note where the sun is at different times of the day and to record how much water is available naturally. Watch for areas of day-long shade, and do not put sun-loving plants in those spots.

Likewise, don’t put shade plants where they get full sun all day. In addition, take a sample of the dirt in your yard to a county extension agent or garden center, and ask them to determine the pH and chemical composition of your soil. Your soil’s characteristics will have a significant impact on what you will be able to grow successfully.

While you are at the garden center or arboretum, listen for tips such as planting a low water-demand plant at higher elevation. Excess moisture from rain or watering will trickle down from the low water-demand plant to the thirstier plant nearby. In general, selecting disease-resistant, drought-tolerant plants makes sense no matter what you plan to do in your yard.

Step 4: Add Shape and Texture

Two key elements of a beautiful garden are shape and texture. Think of your landscape as a photograph or painting framed by plants. Larger trees and plants belong in the back of your yard, medium-sized shrubs and flowers go in the middle of the visual field and short, smaller plants go in the front.

To give shape to your garden, select a variety of plants with different shapes and sizes.

Texture comes from plants with a variety of leaves — shiny hosta, fuzzy herbs, dull azalea, prickly yucca or aloe. Also, keep architectural details in mind when you choose plants. Rough, textured plants will highlight stucco walls, but a picket fence will look better with soft flowers and gentle vines.

Don’t forget to look at your yard from all angles, including noticing what you’ll see when you look through the windows from inside your home.

By taking the time to think through what you want your yard to look like, and noting what your limitations are, you’ll have greater success with your efforts. In addition, you’ll spend more time enjoying your yard instead of working in it, and you’ll see an added benefit when you sell your home: A well-planned landscape adds value to any piece of property.

For more tips on home ownership visit https://www.nahb.org/en/consumers/

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Make Your Home Safe for All Ages

Make Your Home Safe for All Ages

Your 80-year-old aunt is coming to stay for a few days. You’re looking forward to the visit, but realize your home may not be entirely “older-generation” friendly. To help enhance the safety and comfort of your visitor, especially one who may have some of the physical challenges that come with aging, here are a few quick and inexpensive things you can do to make the time less stressful for you and more comfortable for your guest:

Consider pathways in the house. Clear obstacles, and maybe even move furniture that a person usually has to maneuver around. Move any electrical cords that are where a person might walk – perhaps taping them to a wall or using a hook. Clear stairs of any objects—shoes, books, and other personal items that tend to collect on the lower treads. Also check that railings on stairs inside and out are secure, and make repairs where needed.

Lighting is crucial. Put night lights in bathrooms, the guest bedroom, any hallways near the guest bedroom, and perhaps in the kitchen. Make sure there is a lamp or light switch within easy reach of the guest bed so that your visitor can keep a light on until safely tucked in. Well-lit outdoor walkways and entrances are also key for coming or going when it is dark.

Be sure the shower your guest will use has a non-slip floor. To enhance the traction, apply non-slip strips or a suction-attached non-slip mat, both readily available at home improvement stores.

Secure or, preferably, remove any throw rugs, including bathroom mats. Edges of rugs can be a tripping hazard, and even a slight scoot can affect a person’s balance. If there are rugs you want to secure rather than remove, non-slip pads can help, but safer still would be to apply double-sided carpet tape or even caulk to attach the rug to the floor. If you choose one of these methods, be mindful that you don’t mar the floor underneath.

soft couch

Identify seating in your gathering rooms that is appropriately firm, high in the seat, and preferably that has arms to help a person easily sit down and get up. A chair that is too soft or too low to the ground can strand a person awkwardly. If in doubt about the available seating in the room, bring a dining chair with arms into the room as an alternative.

If you are considering other more long-term home modifications for aging in place, be sure to consult a remodeler or contractor who is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. Find one in your area using the CAPS directory.

For more tips on home ownership visit https://www.nahb.org/en/consumers/