February 2013

Making a Basic Tool Kit

There is no doubt that, at some point, you will need to use a tool kit when you move into your new Ball home. From hanging pictures on the wall, to installing new curtain rods, make sure you’re prepared for anything life (and possibly your decorating style) throws at you by assembling a basic tool kit for your home.
There are a couple of different ways you can go about assembling a tool kit. Many stores offer a complete set of tools in an already assembled kit, or you can purchase individual tools as you need them. Depending on your budget at the time, one option might be easier than the other. The most basic tools will often get the most wear and tear, so make sure you buy tools that are of good quality.
·         A tool box, bag, or bucket to put everything in
There’s nothing worse than not being able to find the tool you want when you need it because everything is scattered all over the place. Make sure you have a large box or bag to put all your tools in at the end of the day. Don’t worry about buying a container that is too big--you’ll fill it up eventually.

·         A claw hammer
A claw-style hammer is used to drive and pull nails. This style of hammer will more than likely accomplish any job you need around the house. The more you use one, the more you’ll appreciate a cushioned grip.

·         Screwdrivers
There are many types of screwdrivers out there. The most common ones you will need are varying sizes of a flathead screwdriver (the one with a straight edge) and a Philips head screwdriver (the one with a + at the end). If storage is tight, buy a screwdriver with interchangeable tips.
·         Measuring Tape
Purchase a model that has a blade lock on it, so you can measure what you need without it snapping back on you. The blade should be at least 3/4” thick to keep the tape from buckling when you’re measuring longer lengths. 

·         Flashlight
A flashlight is vital if the power goes out or you are working in a tight area. For starters, any sturdy flashlight will do for your collection, but eventually, you can include other lights of various sizes or ones that can bend or tilt.
·         Pliers
Standard pliers and needle nose pliers do different types of the same job. Needle nosed pliers are handy when you are working with something small and need to grip or bend wires.Heavy grooved pliers are better for removing nails or large staples. Your hands will thank you for getting pliers with padded grips.

·         Utility Knife
It is important to have a sharp, sturdy utility knife. These knives work well for trimming or slicing and the blade can be used to open many types of products. A better option would be to get a knife with a retractable blade, for safety and storage convenience.
·         Level
A level is a must for straightening up pictures, drilling holes in a level line, checking tabletop alignment, or mounting towel bars perfectly. It's important to get an accurate level for accurate positioning. A good sturdy level will last a lifetime, so make sure you go with a quality brand.
·         A variety of hardware
Finding the right size screw, nut, or bolt can be intimidating. Luckily, most hardware stores sell handy kits full of the most common sizes. Alternatively, get a few screws, bolts, and nails in small, medium, and large sizes to keep on hand. Having some in silver tones and some in gold tones is a good idea, too. In all events, hardware stores are usually staffed with friendly experts who can answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
·         Power drill
As the unquestioned king of the power tools, a power drill will save you lots of time and offers versatility. You can use a cordless drill for light home maintenance and repair jobs.
Besides drilling holes in a variety of materials, it can be used for grinding, sanding, polishing, and mixing paint. If possible, buy a variable speed drill. You'll find this particularly useful for driving screws, and if the drill also has a reverse switch, you can remove screws as well.
This list is, by no means, all-inclusive. As your life changes, you may find that your tool needs change as well.

Big Changes to FHA Loans

This post is brought to you by Mike Dunn and Jeff Sharp of Walden Mortgage Group.

There are two big changes going on in the mortgage world in the next few months. One of the most popular types of low down payment mortgage loans known as a Federal Housing Administration loan, or FHA loan for short, will be making changes to the mortgage insurance premium collection policy (you may know it as mortgage insurance, or MI). 

If a new borrower’s MI is not ordered before April 1st (meaning the final contract is completed), the annual MI, which is included in the monthly payment to the lender, will increase by .10%. That means that if you have a loan amount of $180,000, you would pay an extra $15 per month on your mortgage payment and, more specifically, towards your MI, if your MI is not ordered before the April 1st deadline.
So what do you need to do?
If you are already in a loan, locked in, and not looking to refinance, these changes do not affect you. If you are in the process of buying a house and need FHA financing or you are planning on refinancing, you need to speak with your Walden Mortgage Group loan officer as soon as possible to lock in the lower MI.  You must have your final contract completed by Friday, March 22nd at 5:00pm to ensure proper processing turn times are allowed for what will surely be a busy last week of March. 
The second, and possibly more impactful change, will occur for new borrowers who do not lock in their MI before June 3rd, 2013. Currently, if you are paying MI, you can drop this added monthly fee after 5 years of owning your home, as long as you have made on-time payments and have paid the loan down to 78% of the original sales price. For those who miss this deadline and still
desire to use FHA financing, you will be required to pay the higher MI for the entire term of your loan!  After the 5th year in your new home and with a loan amount under 78% of the original sales price, you would have to refinance your loan to drop the MI, but likely to a higher interest rate as rates will likely not be as low as they are today. In order to lock in your MI before the June 3rd deadline, a completed contract is needed before Friday, May 24that 5:00pm
These changes can be confusing. Walden Mortgage Group is here to help. If you have any questions regarding FHA loan changes, mortgage insurance or today’s interest rates, contact your Walden Mortgage Group loan officer at 859.514.4444 or visit our website.

Realtor Profile: Ben Brown

Ball Homes is proud to have a group of Realtors who specialize in making the Ball Homes experience one that is smooth and worry-free. Each month, we will be highlighting one of our members of our Ball Homes Sales Team in the Lexington, Louisville, or Knoxville areas, recognizing the hard work they do for our company and the people we serve.
As a Ball Homes Specialist, Ben Brown was the Top Producing Agent in the Lexington area for January 2013. With over 15 years’ experience in the real estate business and a 25 year career in law enforcement, Ben says that his experience working with people and understanding people and cultures has helped him relate to the people that he meets and works with on a daily basis. He admits that, while he doesn’t necessarily have a sales background, he does have a “people and relationships background”, which is what the real estate business really comes down to.
Ben understands the importance of connecting with people. As a Realtor, Ben has made it his mission to help people realize their dream of homeownership. You will frequently find him working late, helping new clients with questions and finding answers to problems. “I enjoy working with people; ‘Working for your Dream’ is my personal work statement.” Active in both his church and community, Ben is always willing to give of his time and expertise to help the people he comes across. He was recently awarded the Bob Osbourn award for his active service to his community and his discipline in his real estate career.

Ben is a member of the Ball Homes Sales team in the Lexington and Versailles areas. Trained in the Floyd Wickman Marketing program, Ben is also a member of Build Lexington, and an active member of the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors. To contact Ben, visit our website.

Louisville Top Producer Luncheon

We, at Ball Homes, are so blessed to have a wonderful group of Realtors who work diligently for our company on the Ball Homes Sales Team. Members of our Louisville Ball Homes Sales Team from Prudential Parks and Weisberg were honored at their annual awards luncheon last week for their sales and service to our company over the past year. Award receipients included Louise Miller, Daniel Spanyer, and Sherry Spanyer.

Louise Miller was the top award winner company-wide, winning the Prudential President's Circle award for her sales throughout 2012.

Daniel Spayer won the Prudential Leading Edge Society award for his sales. Sherry Spanyer also won the Charles Weisberg award for benevolence to the community and real estate industry.

Ball Homes and Prudential Parks and Weisberg have had a long-standing relationship and we are so proud of their accomplishments and their commitment to excellence. Congratulations!

Organizing Tips for Your Laundry Room

Laundry rooms seem to be a catch-all for many homes. Your living room, kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms normally get a deep clean every now and then, but the laundry room seems to get overlooked. While you wait for your dream to come true that the laundry fairy would come for a visit at your house, make sure you’re getting the most out of your laundry area by making sure it’s clean and organized.
Make sure everyone in the family puts their laundry in the dirty clothes hamper. It will save time by not having to pick up clothes off the floor and sort them. If you have enough space where you store your hamper, get a basket with multiple sections, like this one from Target, so that your family can separate their clothes as they drop them in the bin.
Cleaning Supplies:
Cleaning supplies don’t really work unless you can find them when you need them. Store your bottles and containers together in a plastic caddy and stick it on an easy-to-reach shelf. If you have wire shelving, the caddy will help keep bottles from spilling. If you make your own cleaning supplies, make sure each bottle is clearly labeled.
Stain Chart:
Spill wine on your favorite sweater? White t-shirts not so white anymore? Keep all your stain removal tips in one place, so you won’t have to go searching for the ingredients to rid your favorite pair of pants of that unwanted blemish. We really like this printable stain chart from Martha Stewart. Laminate it and tack it up on the wall or a cabinet where it will be easily seen.
Lost and Found:
Who hasn’t lost a sock to the dryer every now and then? Use clothes pins to tack the remaining mate to the outside of your laundry basket until the other one has been found. Keep a small basket on top of the washer to hold change and other miscellaneous items you find in pockets. Consider keeping a small trashcan next to your dryer to throw your used dryer sheets or the contents of the lint trap.
How do you keep the laundry area clean and organized at your house? Let us know on our Facebook page!