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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Four Reasons The Housing Market Could Improve In The Second Half Of 2014

July 23, 2014

in News

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The housing market’s performance over the first six months of the year left a lot to be desired. But while the Federal Reserve says the housing market has “lost traction,” based in large part on this year’s underperformance in residential construction and low household formation, Redfin expects the market in urban areas to regain its footing over the second half of 2014. The pace of sales, prices, foot traffic and inventory all point to steady progress into late summer. After an abysmal first quarter that drove a disappointing first half, housing will be playing catch-up for the year. It’s true that the market looks stunted compared with last year’s high investor activity, double-digit price appreciation and near-record inventory lows. But there’s a big difference between 2013’s abnormal real estate market and the market now, which is beginning to look more balanced. Though it won’t be a seamless transition, we believe the housing market is positioning itself for a stronger finish in the second half of the year. Here are four reasons. [Read this article]

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Housing Buoyed By 20-Year High For Vet’s Loans

July 23, 2014

in News

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During his third deployment in Afghanistan, Air Force Staff Sgt. Claude Hunter was so eager to return to the U.S. and buy a house that he signed a contract for a property that his agent showed him over Skype. Hunter got back in time to close the deal, paying $219,000 in May for the four-bedroom Waldorf, Maryland, house that he financed with a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs mortgage. It didn’t require a down payment. “On Facebook, my friends have started posting: ‘I got my VA loan, I got my house,’” said Hunter, 31. “Everybody is just ready. A lot of them have done their jobs overseas and are coming home.” America’s fragile housing recovery is getting a boost from military buyers using VA mortgages as the U.S. draws down troops after more than a decade of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 4.7 million full-time troops and reservists served during the wars and many are now able to take advantage of one of the easiest and cheapest paths to homeownership. The program’s share of new mortgages, at a 20-year high, is also increasing as other types of government-backed loans have grown more costly. [Read this article]

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10 Surprisingly Hot Markets For Millennials

July 23, 2014

in Markets

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Many millennials like to be in the middle of the action, yet they’re not (necessarily) seeking excitement in big cities. Surprisingly, millennials are suburbanizing. Recent Census Bureau findings show that millennials are flocking to big-city suburbs and lower-density cities. Recently ranked No. 11 on Forbes’ Best Places for Business and Careers, San Antonio also took ninth place for job growth potential. There’s lots to see and do in this popular tourist city, including The Alamo, SeaWorld, and the recently restored River Walk, which features plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops. Other cities included among the list of the top 10 metros for millennial population growth are Denver, Seattle, Cape Coral/Fort Myers, Houston and Orlando. [Read this article]

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When It Comes To Housing, Maybe Millennials Aren’t So Different After All

July 23, 2014

in News

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Millennials get flack for postponing marriage, living with parents and shying away from homeownership. But what’s less discussed is how, to some extent, they’re just responding rationally to their local housing markets. Nearly half of Americans between the ages of 23 and 34 who lived in metro areas with “ideal housing conditions” in 2012 were married (46.1%), versus around a third who lived in “unfavorable” housing conditions, according to a new study. In a separate study last week, Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia Inc., argued that demographic changes, such as delaying marriage and parenthood, account for nearly all of the declines in homeownership among young adults. But many of these demographic shifts may simply postpone home-buying, rather than eliminate it. Like mom and dad, many millennials, once they finally marry and have kids, may want that white picket-fence, too. “There probably hasn’t been a huge shift in millennials’ attitudes toward homeownership,” Mr. Kolko says. [Read this article]

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12 Simple Ways To Raise Your Credit Score

July 21, 2014

in Tips

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Could your credit score use a boost? There’s a lot at stake with those three digits. Your credit score can influence whether a landlord approves your rental application, how much you’ll pay in home and auto insurance rates, and the interest rate on your mortgage. And the higher your credit score, the more money you can save. To start improving your credit health, request a copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com. You’re entitled to one free copy from each of the three credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – once per year. Once you have your reports, check for any errors. A 2013 Federal Trade Commission study found one in four consumers had errors on their credit reports that could affect their credit score. So it’s a smart idea to regularly review your report. Check for correct information about your identity (the spelling of your name, address, etc.) and that your proper credit limits are listed. Also make sure there are no fraudulent accounts you do not recognize. If everything looks right, it’s time to adjust your financial habits to boost your score. Here’s how. [Read this article]

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The Best Way To Loan Your Child Money To Buy A Home

July 21, 2014

in Tips

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With real estate prices rebounding strongly in many areas and interest rates still low, now could be a good time for a young person starting out to buy a first home – before prices get out of reach. But buying without some family assistance might be tough. The solution? For parents and grandparents to step up and loan the adult child enough money to make the purchase. Obviously, this idea isn’t for everyone, but if you can afford to consider it, here’s what you need to know to avoid unwanted tax complications. The current low-interest-rate environment makes the idea of loaning money to your child (or grandchild) to help with a first-time home purchase look really good from the borrower’s perspective. But time may be of the essence here, because there’s no guarantee that interest rates will stay this low for too much longer. [Read this article]

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