• Saving Lives and Property with Fire Sprinkler Systems

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    John Rensten/GettyAbout 2,600 people die in home fires in the U.S. each year, and fires caused $7.2 billion in residential losses in 2013.

    It seems like there is another deadly fire every night on the 6 o’clock news. It’s a homeowner’s nightmare — a house fire caused by faulty wiring, a kitchen accident, an act of nature or simple carelessness. Yet many of those fires could have been less disastrous if there were fire sprinkler systems in the houses or apartment buildings.

    About 2,600 people die in home fires in the United States each year. However, smoke alarms and fire sprinkler systems reduce the risk of death in home fires by 82%, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

    House fires also cause immense property damage, and the numbers are staggering. The NFPA reported $7.2 billion in residential property losses in 2013. Property loss was shown to be significantly reduced In homes with sprinkler systems, from an average of $45,000 for unsprinklered homes to $2,166 in those equipped with sprinkler systems, according to the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

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  • 6 Things to Know Before You Become a Landlord

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    By AJ Smith

    As the housing market continues to recover, you may hear about renting mavens who capitalize on the increasing rental market. Renting can be a great way to make some extra income, but it’s important to consider the appropriate preparations before you get on board. If you are thinking about renting out your home, here are some tips to consider.

    1. Know the Laws

    Not every state operates with the same landlord and tenant laws so be sure you know the laws that will govern your property before listing it. Your neighborhood may also have rules about rentals. Not only is your responsibility a huge obligation, but there are legal implications involved in becoming a landlord. It’s a good idea to study up on your rights and what you can or cannot demand from your tenant, including when you can legally enter the home. (Also keep in mind that federal housing law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability …read more  

  • 7 Common Mistakes of First-Time Home Buyers

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    Buying your first home can be an exciting experience — but it can also be complex, confusing and time-consuming. To make sure you do it right, here are seven common traps first-time home buyers fall into that you should avoid.

    1. You’re Not Sure How Much You Can Really Afford

    “How much can I borrow?” is not the same as “How much should I borrow?” The mortgage that you qualify for isn’t necessarily the amount you can actually afford. To see what size loan you might qualify for, try these mortgage calculators — but remember that maxing out your mortgage might not be wise.

    How much “should” you borrow? The answer depends on the type of lifestyle you want to enjoy. Are you a homebody who spends every Friday and Saturday night reading books and watching movies at home? Or do you want to spend the next few years traveling to Europe, Asia and Latin America, dining at foodie restaurants, taking scuba-diving lessons and enjoying other adventures?

    If you’re a homebody, spending 28 percent of your …read more