RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

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Housing Program Enhancements to Help Struggling Homeowners

December 8, 2014 2:09 am

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently announced enhancements to programs under Making Home Affordable (MHA) to better assist struggling homeowners and communities still recovering from the effects of the financial crisis. The enhancements are designed to motivate homeowners in MHA to continue making their mortgage payments on time, strengthen the safety net for those facing continuing financial hardships, and help homeowners in MHA programs build equity in their homes.

"[This] announcement signals our commitment to helping more hardworking families continue the American dream of homeownership," said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro. "These enhancements will expand the opportunity for more folks to stay in their home, stabilizing local communities and continuing our nation's positive economic momentum."

The Treasury and HUD established HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program®) in 2009 to provide relief to homeowners facing financial hardship. Through a combination of lowered interest rates and modified loan terms, monthly payments are reduced to affordable levels. In addition, many homeowners who remain current following their modification are eligible to earn up to $5,000 over the first five years of their modification, which is applied in repayment of their outstanding principal balance.

Under the revised guidelines, all homeowners in HAMP will now be eligible to earn $5,000 in the sixth year of their modification, which will reduce their outstanding principal balance by as much as $10,000. Homeowners will also be offered an opportunity to re-amortize the reduced mortgage balance, which will have the effect of lowering their monthly payment. Currently, approximately one million homeowners with HAMP modifications are eligible to earn the increased HAMP incentive.

In addition, in an effort to bolster the safety net for homeowners who face difficulty making their payments in HAMP Tier 1 or similar non-HAMP modifications, Treasury and HUD have introduced enhancements to HAMP Tier 2 and the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives® (HAFA) Program.

HAMP Tier 2 is an alternative modification that provides a low fixed rate for the life of the loan to homeowners who do not qualify for or cannot sustain a HAMP Tier 1 modification. The enhancements include reducing the interest rate for HAMP Tier 2 by 50 basis points, which will enable more homeowners to qualify for a modification, and extending the $5,000 pay-for-performance incentive to HAMP Tier 2 borrowers in good standing at the end of the sixth year of their modification.

HAFA assists homeowners who need to transition to a more affordable living situation through a short sale or deed-in-lieu. Treasury and HUD also announced that they have increased the amount of relocation assistance provided to homeowners to $10,000 to better reflect increased rents and the cost of moving in many parts of the country.

If you are a homeowner in need of mortgage assistance, please visit MakingHomeAffordable.gov to explore all options available to help you avoid foreclosure.

Source: HUD.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips to Keep Household Tools in Tip-top Shape

December 8, 2014 2:09 am

(BPT) - From painting supplies to gardening and handheld tools, buying well-made home improvement tools can have an impact on project results. The tools you use may be an investment, so you'll want to take care of them to ensure they last for more than just one project.

Painting tools – Painting is the easiest and most cost-effective way to transform a space or revive an outdated piece of furniture. It's important to clean paint brushes and reusable rollers immediately after use. A mixture of warm water and mild soap suds is the best cleaning solution for latex- or water-based paints. When cleaning oil-based paints, varnishes, lacquers and shellacs, closely follow the manufacturer's instructions to select the proper cleaning solvent, such as paint thinner or denatured alcohol. Consider using one set of synthetic brushes or rollers for oil-based products and another set for latex products.

Avoid soaking paint brushes in solvent or water as this can damage the bristles. A paint brush comb is an easy way to keep your brushes in tip-top shape after cleaning. For best results, comb both the edge and center of the brush to prevent paint buildup during use and extend the life of any brush.

It's also important to hang brushes when storing them; never store a paint brush on its tip, which can result in "curling." After washing used roller covers, string them on rope or dowels to aid in drying. To ensure a nice, smooth finish the next time you have to paint, don't stand the paint roller on its end or lay it down.

Gardening tools – After a day spent doing yard work, it's important to clean off any shovels, hoes or rakes. Moist soil on metal surfaces can result in rust, so hose off tools and towel dry them after each use. Use a wire brush or wire-steel pad attached to a power drill to remove rust or other debris from metal tool parts. Make the most of your storage space or garage and hang garden tools by their handles to prevent damage and avoid clutter.

Store smaller garden tools like shears, trowels and soil scoops in a sand-filled trough. Fill a 13-inch by 15-inch plastic or galvanized container with sand to within an inch of the top, pour in 1/4 cup of motor oil and stir. Place the tools in the sand with the handles out. The sand helps the tools stay clean and sharp while the oil prevents any rust buildup. Keep the container in your garage or shed to avoid the elements.

Handheld workshop tools - Quality hammers, screw drivers, cordless drills and the like can be costly. Given enough time, rust will damage metal permanently. For rust removal on handheld tools and corroded nuts and bolts, soak them in vinegar for a few days and rinse with warm water. Another way to remove rust is to gently scrape the tool with a wire brush.

When cleaning power tools, wear heavy duty gloves and disconnect all power cords. With a toothbrush, clean around any switches that may interfere with the proper operation of the machine. If you are cleaning a chainsaw, jigsaw or similar power tool, use an air compressor to blow out any sawdust that's collected within the crevices.

A little extra time spent cleaning and storing tools after a home improvement project can keep them looking and working their best. Protect your tool investments and be the ultimate weekend warrior with proper storage and organization.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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