Wendy Cole is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.
HouseLogic Inspires Smarter Choices
NAR's new consumer Web site is the go-to resource for proactive home owners.
February 1, 2010
New Web site helps home owners make the most of their investment every day.
When a refrigerator goes kaput, home owners face an immediate quandary. Should they fix it or replace it? It often depends on what the first service person who calls back has to say. When rain storms frequently lead to basement seepage, home owners make a similar leap of faith in paying for repairs. And consumers who’ve heard something about a tax credit for swapping out their old windows sometimes miss out on significant savings because they can’t find the relevant details.
Becoming a well-informed home owner has just become a whole lot easier. HouseLogic, NAR’s new consumer Web site, is becoming the go-to resource for owners. And through a members-only portion of the site, the REALTOR® Content Resource, you can find ready-to-use content for your own Web sites, blogs, and newsletters to enhance communications with clients long after a sale (Visit: www.houselogic.com/members; you’ll need your NRDS ID number).
Here’s a sampling of the site’s expert advice:
Good questions to ask before hiring a contractor. Will you itemize your bid so it’s clear what you’re charging for each aspect of the job? Is the bid an estimate or a fixed price? Who are your main suppliers?
When to make an insurance claim and when to skip it. Generally, it makes sense to file an insurance claim for damage that exceeds your deductible. But there are exceptions: If you report significant water damage up to $10,000, some insurers will notify you they’re cancelling your policy at renewal time because of mold concerns.
Signs of energy leaks. Check for drafts around windows, doors, electrical outlets, and range hoods by holding a lit candle or stick of incense near them. Look for stains in insulation, which may indicate a nearby air leak from a duct hole or crack, in an exterior wall.
How to plant trees in the right spot. Planting a deciduous tree on the west side of a house provides cooling shade in the summer. In winter, after it loses its leaves, the same tree lets in sunlight that cuts heating and lighting bills.
Right tools and methods for bathroom cleaning. Unleashing a chemical onslaught isn’t necessary. A pumice stone and rubber gloves are sufficient for removing mineral deposits in bathrooms. For additional scouring power, mix baking soda with vinegar.
How to start a neighborhood letter-writing campaign. When you’re seeking action from local public officials about your desire for speed bumps or a new library branch in your neighborhood, contacting the right people can be very important. Avoid form letters: Personalize the letter or e-mail. Explain why you care about the issue.