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Heat Up Your Fireplace!


It’s winter, and in some places it’s rather cold, and fireplaces are a necessity. Here in Southern California it’s still warm and sunny, but I still like to have a fire going once and awhile. However, if I have an inefficient fireplace, I might as well be burning dollar bills. Most of the warmth generated from the fireplace is being sucked up the chimney and headed right outside. If you have an open masonry fireplace, it’s only about 15% effective, and you’re wasting your money. Plus, if you keep the damper left open when there is no fire, it actually negatively affects your house’s temperature.


So how can you actually make a fireplace worth it? Well it all starts with the type of fireplace, for instance wood burning fireplaces have poor efficiency whereas a gas or electric fireplace is more efficient. Plus, if you decide to sell your home, wood burning fire places don’t looks as good as a gas or electric fireplaces. You get a better return with electric or gas.


If you already have a fireplace there are plenty of things you can do to increase efficiency. First make sure your chimney is clean, after that it’s mostly about your actual fireplace features, features like doors. Without doors, your fireplace will suck heat from your house and send it up the chimney, there are endless designs of ceramic doors that let heat from the fire ebb into the house without the heat inside escaping. Doors can also add a little safety, especially when there are kids around.


You could also look into dampers. There are two main categories of dampers. First there are throat dampers, which are typically made of cast iron, and sit near the bottom of the chimney regulating air flow. However, they can warp or rust over time, compromising the seal and becoming less effective. The other type would be the more typical top mount, which sits atop the chimney and is preferred by some experts.


You can also look into steel grates, but they have a tendency to warp and wear out. If you’re going that route be sure to get a heavy duty cast iron version. Another possibility is to purchase one with a blower on the bottom that sends heat back into the room. This allows for an enormous increase of efficiency as it helps heat the house. You can also buy grates that are made of metal tubes that draw in the room’s cold air, heat it with the fire and push it back into the home, which increases efficiency.
However, no matter how efficient your fireplace is, it won’t work well if your home is inefficient. If your window and their seals are cheap or old you’ll lose heat there. If your attic isn’t insulated, or you keep doors open, you’re wasting heat. If you ignore the rest of your house, it does not matter how efficient your fireplace is, you won’t really even notice a difference.

As always, if you want help with your fireplace or if you’re considering a home don’t hesitate to call National Realty Group at (800) 406-9606, visit us at or stop by our office. We’ll find you and agent that help you get the best burn out of your fireplace, keeping you from burning your cash.


3 Tips to Get Your Hard Money Loan Approved


Plenty of people take out hard money loans as opposed to your traditional bank loans. Hard Money Loans are easy to obtain, and can be processed in a day, whereas a traditional bank loan can take over a month. Hard money lenders can still provide funding if the borrower has issues such as low credit scores, no income history or recent foreclosures, loan modifications or short sales. These issues would keep a traditional lender from giving out a single cent, but as Hard Money Loans are easier to receive, they do have some requirements. Keep in mind the rate will be higher, but is an option many don’t consider.

First off, you need a down payment. Many hard money loans are denied because the borrower lacks funds he or she needs to purchase the property, or they don’t have enough equity in the property they currently own. If you expect 100% financing you’ll be laughed at. Most hard money lenders expect the borrower to have somewhere around 30% equity invested before the loan is even considered.

Secondly, make sure you have enough money to make the monthly payment. This is usually common sense but plenty of people think they can get around this. Your lender will analyze your potential to make payments. This means you need to prove good income, and at least some money in the bank. If you’re short on cash, you may need to partner up with someone who can prove reliable income. Otherwise your loan won’t be approved.

Lastly, make sure you have an exit strategy. Hard money loans are typically for short term uses, anywhere from one to three years. This means the remainder balance will be due at the end of the term. A good exit strategy will typically be needed to pay off the remainder of the loan, and many lenders will want to know what this plan is up front. An exit strategy could include: selling the property, selling a different property, refinancing the property with a conventional loan, and even refinancing with another Hard Money Loan.

It’s not terribly uncommon for a person to use a hard money loan when their credit is a mess. Hard Money loans can help you get on your feet while your credit recovers so you can actually be qualified for a conventional loan. As long as you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be that much closer to a hard money loan approval.

So if you’re curious about a Hard Money Loan, don’t hesitate to call National Realty Group at (800) 406-9606, visit us at or stop by our office. We’ll set you up with an agent who will answer all the questions you have and help you on your way to a loan.

Does A Home Gym Increase Your Home’s Value?


It’s January, that means it is gym season. With everyone dedicating their lives to the gym for the New Year, gyms are overwhelmingly crowded. I personally hate crowds, so instead of going to the gym, why not have one at home? I mean gyms are cool right? You can brag to your friends about your in home gym, you won’t have to deal with memberships, and there won’t be a guy screaming to the top of his lungs as he dead lifts. Plus since it’s winter, why go outside in the cold to drive to the gym? You could slip on ice and die!

So the dying thing is rather unlikely, but still, how about just building a gym in your home? As a society we are not very healthy and many people are overweight. To combat this there has been a plethora of movements to help prevent obesity. One such movement has been the increase in home gym ownership, but it’s expensive. If you were to buy all the necessary new equipment, like weights and some sort of cardio machine, you would be spending upwards of three thousand dollars. So if it interests you you might want some justification, and may ask yourself; “Would a gym increase the value of my home?” The short answer is no, it would not.

Why? Well having a gym will not increase the value of your home the same way a nice couch, or new TV doesn’t. Instead it increases the desirability of your home to a certain set of buyers. It makes buyers look at the possibility of a gym, and to some the immutability of the room’s purpose as a gym. In essence your home gym, to buyers, is only a differentiator. Helping them decide between the house with the gym, and the house without one. In essence the only investment in a gym in your home would be your health, which is one of the best investments you could ever make.

So if you’re curious about your home’s value or considering a home with room for a gym, don’t hesitate to call National Realty Group at (800) 406-9606, visit us at or stop by our office. We’ll set you up with an agent who will find you the home that best fits your lifestyle.


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