Archive for October, 2011

Don’t Miss the Halloween Show on Property Source Radio – 10/29/11

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

House & Coyne have their hands full this Saturday with their FAMOUS Halloween show. Tune in as they invite Paranormal Researcher Joe Burkhart and Psychic Medium Cindy Lee from Beyond-Known.

The subject: Real life ghost stories and haunted houses in the area.

Pat Coyne also makes his picks for this weekends Buffalo Bills game in Toronto.

Property Source Radio is Saturday mornings from 9-10am. You can listen on the radio at Sportsradio 950AM ESPN or stream the show from our website.

Beware of this show and Happy Halloween!

Can Remodeling Spook Sleeping Ghosts?

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

As Alex reported 10/29/2011 on Property Source Radio. – By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
| October 18, 2011

Sometimes home owners don’t know their houses are haunted until a remodel disturbs the spirit world.

Over the years, I’ve had more than one friend tell me their house is haunted. Usually, the ghosts are harmless pranksters who move items on a dresser, or leave small toys in a house that hasn’t seen kids in years.

What prompts this supernatural silliness? It may be a recent home improvement project.

“When you remodel, you change the restful spirits’ environment, and it may not be comfortable with the outcome,” according to David’s Ghost Hunting Blog, which collects ghost stories. “Some may bother you just to let you know, ‘Hey! You may have changed the house, but I’m still here!”

We at HouseLogic want you to get the most out of your remodel project. Occasionally, that may mean more than you bargained for. Get your Halloween spirit stirred up and check out these spooky renovation tales:


1. After a major kitchen remodel, a Virginia home owner believes a ghost repeatedly locks her son in the basement, even after she has removed all keys from sight.

2. Soon after a young couple bumped out the front of their house, an otherwise friendly ghost began making trouble. The ghost stole tools, pulled down drywall, and pushed workers.

3. Through the years, claims have surfaced that the White House is haunted. Mysterytopia has pictures of a 1950 remodeling that shows, if you look hard enough, an apparition supposedly standing in the middle of the renovation.

4. The moment a South Dakota woman walked into her 1910 home, she felt that the kitchen was backwards, even though she’d never been in the house before. When the real estate agent confirmed that during a previous kitchen remodel, the configuration had indeed been reversed, the new home owner wondered if she had been receiving messages from another world.

5. Soon after remodeling began on the historic Felt Mansion in Holland, Mich., shadowy figures appeared and doors opened and closed themselves. Click on this video and decide for yourself if the mansion is haunted.

Read more:
Have you disturbed the ethers during a remodel at your house? Share your otherworldly story!

What Your Clients Can Do If Rejected for a Loan

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

As Alex reported 10/1/2011 on Property Source Radio.  – Daily Real Estate News | Mon, Oct 17, 2011

With the tightening of credit standards, more home buyers are finding themselves rejected when they go to apply for a loan. But after just one rejection, lending experts say buyers shouldn’t give up — they may still be able to qualify for a mortgage if they keep trying.

But buyers shouldn’t give it another try until they take a close evaluation of why the original mortgage application was turned down in the first place, and find ways to address those issues in their second or even third attempt, Marisol Torruella, a loan originator with the New York Municipal Credit Union, told The New York Times. Applicants can, by law, find out why they were rejected in a mortgage application. The Equal Credit Opportunities Act requires lenders within 30 days to give applicants, in writing, the specific reasons why they weren’t given a loan.

For some rejected borrowers, they may need to save up for a larger down payment or take steps to improve their credit score.

Some applicants may find shopping around for other lenders can help (particularly if the applicant has been a longtime member at a credit union) or discussing more alternatives with a lender. Applicants might find a better option is a loan from the Federal Housing Administration, which have less stringent requirements, but some surveys show that most borrowers aren’t aware of FHA loans.

Torruella says one of the main reasons home buyers get turned down for a loan is that they are trying to purchase more home than they can really afford, based on their income. So applicants may need to get more practical with their home purchase too.

Source: “Mortgages: After a Rejection,” The New York Times (Oct. 13, 2011)

Furnace Filters

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

By Tom Wurzer Warren Engineering

Homebuyers frequently ask us questions about furnace filters.

• How often should I change my filter?

• What type of filter is the best one to use?

• My kids have allergies. What filter should I use?

• Are electronic air cleaners superior to standard filters?

The Purpose of the Filter

The furnace filter is a critical component of a forced air heating and/or air conditioning system. The primary purpose of the filter is to protect the mechanical equipment (i.e. the furnace fan, the heat exchanger, the air conditioning evaporator coil, etc.). The filter prevents dust and debris from entering the equipment and it is located on the return air side of the system. It is the first component of the system that the air from the house goes through.

Diagram shows the position of the filter to the left of the fan

Many allergists will recommend better, high-efficiency filters for your furnace to try and reduce dust, pollen and other allergens in the home. There is very little evidence that a better filter will reduce allergens in the home. It may slightly reduce the number of smaller sized particles, but most sources do not report that it will reduce dust in the home. Regular vacuuming with a high-quality vacuum and general good housekeeping provide greater benefits in this regard.

Frozen air conditioning coil

If the filter is not maintained and changed or cleaned at proper intervals, the heating and cooling equipment can be damaged. A dirty filter will reduce the amount of air that flows through the system. This will reduce the efficiency of the system and increase utility costs. If the air flow is blocked too much, the filter can collapse. Low air flow can lead to excessive heat and premature cracks in the heat exchanger, frozen air conditioning coils, and other equipment problems.

Extremely dirty furnace filter

Types of Filters

When furnaces come from the factory, many come with a filter. These are typically low-efficiency washable filters that are meant to keep large construction dust and debris out of the unit. These are often referred to as “construction filters”. Although you can continue to wash and use these, we typically recommend removing them after construction or renovation is complete. Replacement with a higher efficiency filter that removes smaller dust particles is typically recommended.

Examples of washable filters that come with some furnaces

Standard residential furnace and air conditioner filters are typically one-inch thick and with varying dimensions for width and height. Typical sizes include 16”x24”x1” or 16”x20”x1”, but there are many, many sizes. With the ease of today’s internet shopping, one can quickly search on-line for retailers that carry the specific filter size that you need.

Standard filters typically range from what is known as a 30-day filter, to a 90-day filter. Flat fiberglass filters are usually the 30-day type. If homeowners are religious about changing their filters, these can work adequately. However, the pleated 90-day filters allow more room for error, in terms of forgetting to change the filter at regular intervals. The greater surface area created by a pleated filter actually reduces the pressure drop through the filter, as opposed to a flat filter.  The pleated filter can hold more dust and dirt prior to needing a change.

For even more surface area, thick pleated filters are used. Typical brands include Air Bear®, Space Guard®, Aprilaire®, Honeywell®, Skuttle®, and more. With the increased surface area of a 4 or 5-inch thick pleated filter, the filter material can be a tighter weave that removes smaller particles. This greater surface area allows the filter to only require a change every 12 months under typical operation and every 6 months if running the fan continuously.

Examples of clean and dirty thick pleated filters

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, electronic air cleaners (also called electrostatic precipitators) gained popularity.  Relatively few of these filters exist today. They are considered relatively ineffective as filtration devices. Once the metal plates in these units are dirty, most dust and dirt passes right through them, into the furnace. Further, these devices generate non-adjustable levels of ozone. This could be an irritant to people with asthma, and there is debate regarding whether or not ozone could be a carcinogen. We typically recommend replacing the pre-filters and filter cells in these older electronic air cleaners with a thick pleated filter designed to fit on the same housing.

There are some newer electronic air filters on the market with more measurable ozone generation levels that use a combination of washable filters and electronic grids to filter the air. These are still relatively rare in the marketplace and the jury is still out in terms of the effectiveness and reliability of these filters.  They do require periodic cleaning maintenance.

Old and new style electronic filters

Filter Ratings

High efficiency thick pleated filters, and some 1-inch filters, carry an efficiency rating known as the “MERV” rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). The MERV ratings for home furnace filters vary from 1 to 16.  Higher MERV ratings correspond to a greater percentage of particles captured on each pass of air through the filter. Unless engineered properly, with a greater efficiency (i.e. higher MERV rating) comes a greater pressure drop through the filter.

Low-efficiency fiberglass filters typically have MERV ratings of 4 or less. Pleated furnace filters will have MERV ratings ranging from 5 to 16. Typically, a MERV rating of 5 to 8 is adequate for most homes and brings less risk of excessive air pressure drop through the system.  Higher MERV ratings of 11 to 16 can be used, but one must be sure that the filter rack or housing, and the furnace, are designed to use such filters properly. One must also be more careful to change the filter at regular intervals.

Duct build-up on furnace fan from lack of a proper filter

The Basics

In general, furnace filters exist to protect the furnace and the air conditioning coil.  Minor benefits from a good filter might include a slight reduction of allergens in the home, but this is debatable. Main points to remember include:

• Make sure the furnace has a properly installed filter. Many furnaces we inspect have no filter at all, or they do not have a rack or clip to hold a filter. Many times the filter is sitting loosely in the fan cabinet and almost all of the air flowing through the furnace is bypassing the filter. Seal off gaps around filters to prevent air from bypassing the filter.

• Change the filter as frequently as recommended by the filter manufacturer. This is typically a 30-day, 90-day, 6-month, or 1-year interval. If the filter is washable, such as original furnace filters or electronic air cleaners, make sure cleaning is done at recommended intervals.

• Consider replacing older electronic air cleaning pre-filters and filter cells with a thick pleated filter. These pleated filters are actually more effective in most cases and have less maintenance associated with them.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can be of assistance in this regard, or in regards to other issues related to home inspections.

Happily Ever After

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

By Lana Torre

Have you ever thought about how you would negotiate your older years? Do you have long-term plans for your housing? Will you remain in your home, or do you plan to move into an assisted living facility?

I know what my answer is. Simply, “there is no place like home”.

The Property Source is delighted to have a new advertiser. He is Dennis Draper, COO of “Home for Life” Renovations. Dennis is an accomplished architectural designer and home builder in the Rochester area. I am proud to say we have collaborated on many residential projects throughout our careers.

His company, very forward thinking, will assess and evaluate your needs and then create a design especially for you and your current home so you can live safely and comfortably as you age. Another term for this is “aging in place,” which is simply modifying your home to negotiate your needs as the years pass. His company will work with you throughout the total process from inception to completion.

The trend is to stay in your home and avoid nursing homes and assisted living centers for many reasons. One reason is comfort, to be able to stay in your familiar environment. I know that I just couldn’t be without my garden! Our homes are our palaces, full of memories. Another reason is cost. We all know how pricey private facilities are and the cost is mounting. Many times the monthly fee for assisted living is $2,000 to $6,000, so renovation of your current home is absolutely more cost-effective.

Home for Life Renovations provides a team of professionals including architects, physical therapists, interior designers, licensed contractors, and aging-in-place specialists. This team can design and implement internal ramps, barrier-free entries, adjustable sink heights, handrails, elevators, roll-in showers, voice-activated light switches, any and all solutions for accessibility.

This concept of aging in our homes is the perfect solution for most of us. Personally, I have broken my leg several times and was a prisoner in my own kitchen. Having accessibility would have made my recuperation much easier. I did remove my slate and brick walkway and replaced it with a beautiful winding exposed aggregate ramp. The ramp served me well to get in and out of the house and also looks just perfect in my rustic garden.

If staying in your home as you age is your perfect solution, call Dennis at 585-444- 0300 or visit his website at for a free in-home consultation.

May you live in your home happily ever after!

REALTORS to provide housing assistance grants to victims of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
The New York State Association of REALTORS® (NYSAR) has partnered with the national REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF) to bring disaster housing assistance to those affected by Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.
New York’s REALTORS® have a long-standing commitment to the communities they serve and to helping their neighbors in times of need. We know people in our state have lost everything, and that many homeowners will be obligated to make mortgage payments on homes that no longer exist or will not be habitable again for many months, while at the same time paying for temporary housing.
Under the joint program with the RRF, assistance will be available to qualified applicants towards one of the following options: 1) Monthly mortgage expense for the primary residence that was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene/Tropical Storm Lee or; 2) Rental cost of temporary shelter due to displacement from the primary residence resulting from the storms. Relief assistance is limited to a maximum of $1,500. All grants are contingent upon the availability of funds, and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline to submit an application is October 31, 2011.  Visit for applications.
With the funds available today, we will only be able to help a limited number of families.  We are reaching out to REALTORS® throughout New York and REALTOR® organizations throughout the country to raise additional funds.  Members of the public may also contribute to the fund via a link at  These donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of the funds raised are distributed to disaster victims, he added.
The New York State Association of REALTORS® is a not-for-profit trade organization representing more than 51,000 of New York state’s real estate professionals. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark, which identifies real estate professionals who subscribe to a strict code of ethics as members of the National Association of REALTORS®. These REALTORS® are also members of the New York State Association of REALTORS® as well as their local board or association of REALTORS®.
The REALTORS® Relief Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing emergency housing-related expense assistance to victims  of disasters declared at the federal, state or local levels of the U.S. and its territories.  One hundred percent of the donations received into the foundation are distributed to directly help victims of disasters.

Getting Cozy

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
By Lana Torre
When I think of autumn, I think nesting. I so look forward to getting cozy in the house, cooking up a pot of lentil soup, finding my lost furry flip flops, adding a large bowl of polished red apples to my kitchen table, and preparing the super soft flannel sheets for duty.
Since we spend one third of our lives sleeping, the bed and bedroom should take high precedence in your home.
Let’s talk paint. As many designers believe, the bedroom should be a calming place to rest. Using bright, bold colors could conjure up nightmares or screaming matches with your honey. Softened blues and greens are soothing watery colors, and would be perfect choices for your bedroom wall color. Neutral shades of beige, ivory, natural, and sand with trim painted in a soft off white is a good canvas for adding colors in sheets and duvets. I love an all white bedroom, using white, but in different shades, from creamy to whipped creamy [yes, totally different].
Good quality sheets are a must [no exceptions here]. Buy by the thread count, which translates to how many threads are in one square inch. The more threads, the better the sheet, and usually softer too. I am a huge fan of organic sheets, which means the cotton has not been sprayed with insecticide and the fabric has not been synthetically dyed.
Plan to always purchase sheets of greater than a 300 count, and if you really want to indulge, look for 700 or 800 count, and of course, all cotton. A down comforter is a certain pleasure for good sleeping. Buy one with channels to keep the down in place. If you are allergic to down, some have feathers that are washed and washed again to cleanse all the dirt and debris so some people find these tolerable for their allergies. For the ultimate nest, place a down featherbed over the mattress and under the sheets. It is like sleeping in marshmallow fluff.
Keep your bedroom spacious and simple. Try not to overcrowd furniture here. Have plenty of space to make the bed. I think the perfect bedroom should have only a bed and nightstands and everything else stored in a huge master closet.
Think Feng Shui placement. The bed should greet you when you enter the room, but most people find a pleasing layout of centering the bed between two windows.
Window treatments here are a must. Most people find room darkening shades to be the perfect solution to negotiate natural light and privacy. Imagine simple roller shades made of fabric to match the window trim. Blinds that open and close and move up and down are another choice. Plantation shutters look clean and southern and are available in various slat widths and can be mounted inside the window case and outside.
Use muted patterns for duvet covers and comforters. Remember, go Zen. Use natural leaves and vines, and soft florals. Solid colors upon solids will always give your space a classic look, try charcoal greys and cream.
Give yourself and your honey the gift of a good night sleep. Prepare the nest, close your eyes. Sweet Dreams.

Scam Dupes Home Owners into False Loan Audits

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

As Alex reported 10/1/2011 on Property Source Radio.  – Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, Sept 27, 2011

More home owners are being tricked into a forensic loan audit, a new scam that targets struggling home owners looking for a loan modification to save their home from foreclosure.

Several organizations, usually linking themselves to attorney and auditor organizations, have popped up in the last two years offering forensic loan audits. The Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau say complaints about these “loan audit” companies have skyrocketed since the beginning of the year.

In the scam, the organizations claim to review a home owner’s mortgage documents to determine whether their lender had complied with state and federal lending laws. They then promise to get the home owner a quick loan modification and possibly a principal reduction on their mortgage too. Home owners pay an upfront fee—usually about $3,000.

However, home owners say that they aren’t getting a loan modification and usually nothing happens after the audit, even when errors in loan documents are revealed.

“They lure consumers to believe that by hiring them for a review of a loan modification package, they can expedite the process and get better results, or they make false promises that they can get a loan mod or principal reduction,” Josh Fuhrman, FTC’s senior vice president of community affairs, told AOL Real Estate News. “Home owners are not typically getting any results. [Scammers] are just stringing [home owners] along, or they disappear.”

Source: “Home Owners Beware: Forensic Loan Audit Scam,” AOL Real Estate (Sept. 26, 2011)