Price reduced: Parker Court in Visalia $164,900

Listed at $164,900
This beautiful home with an open floor plan is near excellent schools in northeast Visalia.

The home features a vaulted living room and owner's suite. The owner has replaced the gas range, microwave, and dishwasher with stainless look appliances. There is new carpet, paint, and commode. New lighting and ceiling fans were added in 2005.

The large kitchen has a breakfast bar and corner window. The fireplace has a mantel.

There is a spacious laundry area. The owner's suite has a large window overhead, walk-in closet, and dual sinks.

The garage has a workshop area at the rear, plus a separate shop/storage building in the backyard. Also in the backyard is a sparkling swimming pool.

La Vida home on the market

Listed at $185,000
Park-like living on a cul de sac
    Enjoy a comfortable home with serene surroundings in this southwest Visalia home. With 3 bedrooms and two baths in 1,779-square-feet of living space, you have all that you need in this decked out home.
   There are newer features throughout this home: heating and cooling, gunite and tile in the pool, exterior paint, dishwasher, microwave oven, 5-burner gas range, garage door opener, and water heater have all been updated in recent years.
   The kitchen opens to the dining room. The spacious great room has a sliding glass door to the pool and trek deck with railing. Most light fixtures are newer.
   See more details for this home at a custom website just for this listing HERE.

Good fences

A mural can add beauty to your fence and landscape
You have heard it said that good fences make good neighbors. Well, in addition to that good fences also add to your home's curb appeal.

In fact, bad fences - weathered, broken, leaning - also take a lot away from the look of your home as well.

We don't often think of our fences until it's time to do something about them. Most of the year they just help frame our yard. Most likely you share your fence with one or more neighbors, so you can't make radical changes without consulting a number of other homeowners.

Still, there's plenty you can do to dress up the part of the fence that's yours.

Step one for fence maintenance is repairing any broken wood, especially fence posts that have rotted in the ground. Leaning fences leave a poor impression of your home.

Fixing a fence post is inexpensive and easy to do in one day. Your local home improvement store will have all the supplies you need, as well as advice on doing it right. Make sure you purchase the same used throughout your fence line.

Paint and stain
Some fences are painted. Some fences are stained. Most are left untouched from the day they were constructed. If you have a painted or stained fence, put a fresh coat on the wood and any sealant that will help it last through the wet season. If sprinklers wet your fence boards on a regular basis, adjust them away from the wood.

If you want to dress up your untreated fence, buy samples of paints and stains that appeal to you  and try them out on an inconspicuous portion of the fence.

Vines and shrubbery
We often plant vines and shrubbery to hide or soften portions of our environment. Over the years, fences can become overgrown with plant life. Trim away the overgrowth and make sure portions of the fence can be seen.

Well maintained landscaping and fencing work well together and give your home a more inviting look.

A trellis can add style to your fence
Dress it up
There are many ways to dress up your fence. Some people pay muralists to paint beautiful designs and scenery that complements the backyard. Other people  install trellises, lamp stands, and other decorative hardware on or along their fence to incorporate it into the overall look of the backyard and home.

Mortgage insurance premiums increase soon

If you plan on buying a home with a Federal Housing Administration-backed loan (FHA), time is running out for you to close the deal before the monthly mortgage insurance premiums go up in October.

What this means to future borrowers is that on a $100,000 30-year mortgage with a 3.5 percent down payment your monthly FHA mortgage insurance premium will be about $70 instead of today's rate of $42.

The reason for the change is that the number of FHA-backed mortgages has jumped dramatically in recent years - and so have the defaults. The insurance pool covering the loses struggled, so Congress authorized the cap increase on the mortgage insurance premium. FHA mortgages are popular, in part, because of the lower down payment requirement.

While the monthly mortgage insurance premium has increased, Congress also lowered the up-front premium payment when you initially take the loan.

So, with mortgage insurance premiums going both up and down, how do you decide when to buy? It depends on how long you think you will be in the home.

If you plan to be in the home for more than four years, which most people do, then it makes sense to buy before the October mortgage insurance increase. Even though the up-front premium is higher, the lower long-term monthly payment will actually save you money after four years.

If you wait to buy a home after the new mortgage insurance premiums go into effect, you will save money in the short run. But after four years the savings you saw from the lower one-time premium will be eroded by the higher monthly premiums.

Is refinancing right for you?

Earlier this summer mortgage rates hit their lowest level since the 1950s: 4.69 percent. And they remain at historically low levels.
There are good deals to be had, and for those of you already in a home at a higher interest rate, such a rate could mean a lower mortgage payment each month.

But is refinancing always a good idea? It depends. You have to weigh your personal situation carefully.

Refinancing your mortgage will save you money in the long run, but it will cost you money up front. Refinancing a mortgage will cost thousands of dollars. You must pay the mortgage broker or lender, plus the title company, appraisal costs, and fees to cover document processing, among other expenses.

What to buy - the pro and con list

Buying a home is a big decision and shouldn't be taken lightly. Beyond talking with people whose opinion you value, it's also a good idea to look at buying a home from every angle possible. Should you buy in the country or city? Do you need to be near schools, medical centers, or shopping? What about traffic near your home?

Sorting out all the variables to determine what's most important to you can seem a bit overwhelming. Consider making a list of pros and cons for your choices and rank them as you like to see which homes currently on the market best fit your needs.

Here's some categories and things to consider as a way to get you started (by no means is this a comprehensive list):