Is It Really That Hard to Get A Mortgage?

July 25, 2014

in News,Tips

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It has become a common refrain: “It’s too hard to get a mortgage.” But is it true? If it’s possible to get a mortgage with a 3.5% down payment and a credit score in the mid-600s, how could anyone say that credit is still tight? Wage earners who have decent credit, stable and easy-to-verify incomes and who are seeking loans on simple single-family dwellings can qualify for FHA-backed loans with the minimum 3.5% down payment. Getting a mortgage for this group of buyers might be easier than is commonly believed, although FHA mortgage insurance has become more expensive. When people talk about “tight credit,” they may instead be referring to people who may have irregular or harder-to-document incomes: A salesman who earns a lot of his income in commission; a consultant who had meager income two years ago; or a small business owner who took lots of tax deductions to lower her taxable income. And it could include retirees who have meager incomes despite having lots of assets. [Read this article]

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CoreLogic: Student Loans Not Depressing Home Ownership

July 25, 2014

in News

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One of the pet reasons for explaining the lack of demand for houses among millennials is the presence of ever-escalating student loan debts. The thinking goes that college graduates are so mired in debt that they either cannot afford to buy or are too afraid to run up more debt, and so they stay living with their parents or find cheap places to rent. However, Mark Fleming, chief economist atCoreLogic, draws the conclusion that while student loan debt undoubtedly affects financial decisions for those post-college, there is zero empirical evidence to back up the claim that these debts are keeping young people from buying their first homes. For one thing, Fleming says, the monthly payback amount anyone has to spend on a student loan is based on a percentage of income. This percentage has remained virtually unchanged since the mid-1990s, but then, so have earnings – and members of Generation X didn’t shy away from buying houses just because of these obligations. “Going to college still increases one’s earning potential,” Fleming said. “For those who had to finance college with loans, the burden of repayment relative to income remains the same today as in the 1990s.” [Read this article]

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Selling Your Home? Always Highlight These 7 Perks

July 25, 2014

in Tips

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Looking to sell your place? When dealing with prospective buyers, think beyond the obvious – what you take for granted about your home may seal the deal for them. USA Today highlighted 7 features you shouldn’t skip when marketing your property. For example, many first-time homebuyers will be comparing your house to smaller rental properties that they’ve lived in. Even what you consider standard may appear luxurious to your buyers. If you have built-in storage, a separate kitchen pantry, or extra closets, be sure to highlight these features. Also, your built-in bookshelves and garage storage system are attractive to buyers with clutter-free dreams. And just because you’re familiar with your neighborhood doesn’t mean everybody is. A buyer may not know to research your zip code, and therefore may not know about the local perks, like nearby dining and shopping centers, or convenience factors, like proximity to multiple highways or major employers. [Read this article]

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The Porch Is Making A Comeback

July 25, 2014

in News

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Decades after it began disappearing from the American architectural landscape – felled by the advent of cars, air conditioning, and the backyard barbecue – the porch is back. In June, the Census Bureau reported that 63% of new single-family homes completed in 2013 had porches – up from 42% in 1993. “The wealthier we feel, and the more feature-rich we desire our homes to be, the more likely they are to have a porch,” said Ed Hudson, marketing research director of Home Innovation Research Labs, a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders. More than an exercise in nostalgia, the return of the porch signals a deep need for social connection, according to Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture and a pioneer of new urbanism. “The porch friendlies up the house,” said Mr. Stern, who describes it as “a place between the privacy of the house and the public world of the street.” [Read this article]

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Healthy Housing Today: A View From The National Healthy Homes Conference

July 25, 2014

in News

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The modern American healthy housing movement has its origins in late 19th century New York City, when reformers worked to improve the unsafe and unsanitary living conditions in tenement buildings, particularly for immigrants living on the city’s Lower East Side. Since that time, knowledge of indoor air quality has expanded exponentially. But we still have a lot to learn and accomplish, and we are now also focused on newer issues, such as the effects of climate change on our homes, pest management, asthma prevention, and recent technologies to save energy and manage pollutants. Lead paint, banned in 1978 but still present in older homes, is a “classic” healthy-housing problem that has been the focus of government attention for decades and remains a pressing issue affecting Americans at all income levels. [Read this article]

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By 2060, The American South Could Be Three Times As Urbanized

July 25, 2014

in Markets,News

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Southern city planners and conservationists, look alive: New predictions map the future spread of urban sprawl in Dixie, and it is immense. Basing their model on past growth patterns and locations of existing road networks, researchers at North Carolina State University projected the region’s expansion decades into the future. According to their forecast, the Southern urban footprint is expected to grow 101% to 192%. The South’s explosive population growth over the past 60 years can only be expected to continue, the researchers report. And more likely than not, so will its typical development pattern of sprawling, automobile-dependent suburbs. Planners and city leaders should start acting now to managing infrastructure and natural resources in the area. [Read this article]

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6 Ways To Beat The Heat Without Making Your Wallet Sweat

July 25, 2014

in Green Living,Tips

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Now that the high temperatures have really kicked in, it’s only natural to want to stay as cool as possible. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the money to spend blasting the air conditioning all summer long. You can quickly cool off – and stay refreshed all day and night - without spending a bundle, or even anything at all. Although appliances help you run your household, they also warm it up fast.Run clothes dryers and dishwashers at night to avoid peak energy rates and the humid heat they generate. Prolonged baking or stovetop cooking also makes the AC work overtime. Take advantage of summer weather, and cook outdoors when possible. Try unplugging small appliances whenever you can, and especially before you leave on vacation or for extended periods of time. Computers, cellphone chargers and other electronics often continue to use power - and radiate heat - even when turned off. With a little bit of planning, you can easily reduce energy consumption and save money at the same time. It’s a win-win for you and the environment. [Read this article]

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How To Clean Windows Naturally

July 25, 2014

in Green Living,Tips

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These days, harsh chemical cleaners are so passé. A natural, eco-friendly cleaner exists for almost everything under the sun, and your windows are no exception. The secret to cleaning windows is in the cloth you use to wipe them dry. A regular paper towel or cotton cloth will often leave lint and residue on the glass, even after you’ve wiped off all the fingerprints. A lint-free microfiber cloth or a chamois cloth will ensure that your sparkling windows stay sparkling after you clean them. The chamois cloth works really well when windows are dusty but not actually dirty. Gently dampen the cloth and wipe the dust off, no harsh chemicals necessary. A chamois (pronounced sham-wa, but often called a shammy) is actually a leatherlike cloth used to dry cars and is a great tool for the windows in your home, as well as your car. [Read this article]

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The Foreclosure Fade, And What It Means For The Housing Market

July 23, 2014

in News

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The U.S. housing market appears to be finding its footing after a sharp rise in mortgage rates last summer. The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously owned homes rose 2.6% in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million units. That’s the third straight monthly gain and the highest level since last October. Housing became less affordable last summer after rates jumped from around 3.5% in May 2013 to 4.5% by July 2013. Since then, however, rates have drifted a little lower, and buyers and sellers have had time to readjust their expectations. There’s another important factor that explains the housing market dynamic right now: the foreclosure crisis has faded. So-called “distressed” sales accounted for just 11% of sales in June, down from 15% last year, 25% in 2012, and 30% in 2011. The foreclosure fade is great news for the housing market, as it means homeowners don’t have to compete with banks to sell homes – and eventually, builders will have to ramp up construction to satisfy new demand if job growth continues. [Read this article]

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Where 3 Generations Of Americans Are Moving

July 23, 2014

in News

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More and more millennials are settling into the suburbs, while baby boomers and toddlers are enjoying city living. You’d think millennials, the tech-savvy generation roughly ages 20 to 34, would favor big cities. But America’s young adults were actually more drawn to the outer suburban rim of major metropolitan areas in 2013 than the year prior. Whether they’re seeking more affordable housing or more living space, millennials clearly favor commuting to major cities like Houston and Orlando rather than living in the heart of downtown. The number of millennials living in big-city suburbs and small cities grew about 1.3 percent, versus about 1.2 percent in big cities. As for America’s baby boomers, they’re heading to cities with warmer climates as they begin retirement and start downsizing. Their numbers are growing most heavily in both big cities and their dense suburbs, where their population in each area rose about 2.1%. [Read this article]

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