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The Top 10 Online Tools for Homeowners

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Online resources for the homeowner abound, some more obvious than others. Here are 10 tools you ought to know about if you own a home.

1. Zillow.com: It’s a handy resource if you want to get a ballpark idea of what you’re home’s worth. Keep in mind, though: those are estimates generated by computer algorithms and may not necessarily take into account certain home improvements, additions and so forth. Take the data with at least a small grain of salt.

2. Rentalic.com: Here’s a cool site where you can rent, for usually only a small fee, something you’re not inclined to buy yourself.  (Or rent out something yourself). Need a wheelbarrow for a day? Rent one here for $5, or whatever someone in the community hopes to get for it. It’s still a new site, but growing every day. In some areas there’s already a decent inventory.

3. ThisOldHouse.com: The venerable PBS series has a site that offers a wide range of how-to videos and step by step guides to do-it-yourself projects, from installing a garage door to laying a gravel path.

4. PaintQuality.com: Rohm and Haas, which makes the ingredients in most paints, runs the Paint Quality Institute and has the most practical information any homeowner will be able to find when it comes to painting.

5. Etsy.com: If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind items or the kind of stuff you will never see at Walmart, Etsy is great place to check out. Sure, it’s known for its arts and crafts, but there are really cool furniture pieces and other elements of home decor, including a handcrafted “timeout” chair and a table made from a crate with a vintage Coca Cola logo on the front.

6. Freecycle.org: Looking to get rid of something that someone else can use? Want to get something you want for free that someone else has no use for for? This is the place for you. It’s a community built around sharing and keeping the dump from filling up with stuff people can still use.

7. HGTV.com: This site borrows from the wide range of shows it airs that are all about being a homeowner. You can get design ideas for remodeling your kitchen or see some examples of how to improve your “curb appeal.” As you might expect, there are videos aplenty.

8. CreditSesame.com: This online service will not only give you your credit score for free and update it each month, no strings attached, but will also monitor the mortgage market daily and alert you if it finds a way for you to save on your own mortgage or other loans — based on your credit profile and home equity, so you won’t have to weed through or even apply for loans for which you don’t qualify.

9. Recalls.gov: So many things can go wrong when it comes to household products, medications, even pet food. All the federal government sites that publicize recalls are collected here and provide a one-stop-shop for consumers to find out which things they have in and around their house could be dangerous.

10. Stretcher.com: It’s definitely not the prettiest site, but it is chock full of information about how to save money and has a community of cheapskates that comes with it to help anyone creatively cut corners.

Start with these sites and you’ll have a pretty good line of attack on most issues that homeowners deal with.

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