5 Uncommon Ways To Raise Your Credit Score

October 7, 2014

in Tips

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When it comes to cultivating a credit score, you’ve probably got the good citizen routine down cold. You pay on time, try to wipe out the entire balance every month and never close too many accounts at once. Beyond the basics, though, many consumers are still in the dark about what makes their credit scores go up and down. Consumers understand that the credit utilization ratio – the total amount of revolving credit someone uses in a month, compared with the amount of available credit they have – is a major factor in calculating a score. But did you know that it’s calculated from the total on the statement date, not the due date? So even if you pay balances in full every month, a card issuer may report a balance. And that can hurt your credit score. Here are five ways you can use that bit of knowledge, along with some other expert know-how, to boost your credit rating. [Read this article]

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The Fading Distinction Between City And Suburb

October 7, 2014

in News

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Most of us who are sometimes labeled “urbanists” believe the new age of the city is squarely upon us. Cities and urban neighborhoods once counted for dead are adding people, in some cases faster than the suburbs; at the same time, we’re seeing shortages of affordable housing in some of America’s largest and most vibrant cities. This is what Alan Eherenhalt dubs “the Great Inversion” – a reversal of fortunes in which cities grow as suburbs decline. But a recent study indicates that the traditional suburban lifestyle continues to be widespread. The study, by Markus Moos of the University of Waterloo and Pablo Mendez of Carleton University, found that key features of suburban life not only remain commonplace in the suburbs but are often continued by high-income people evenafter they move to cities. Richer people, the researchers found, tend to own single-family homes and drive cars even when they live in highly urbanized neighborhoods. [Read this article]

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Watch Out For These Credit Score Scams

October 5, 2014

in Tips

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With more people getting their free credit scores online from legitimate companies such as CreditKarma.com, CreditSesame.com and Mint.com, credit score phishing emails are also becoming more prevalent. These fraudulent emails masquerade as legitimate ones, and lead you to a website that asks for your personal information. As soon as you enter it, the fraudster behind the scam has your information and can use it to steal your identity or money. Here are some ways to make sure you don’t get caught up in a phishing scam. For example, always check the domain name by making sure any emails that you receive that claim to be from specific companies are actually coming from the domain name they claim to be. Also, the Better Business Bureau recommends a general attitude of skepticism toward unsolicited emails, especially ones that ask you for any information. [Read this article]

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The Smart Home Goes Mainstream

October 3, 2014

in Green Living,Lennar,News

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The affluent have enjoyed the technologies that make their homes smarter, more convenient, more efficient, more secure and more entertaining for some time. Today, the masses are demanding these technologies – causing a fundamental shift in the way homebuilders envision the standard home. Homebuilders are now thinking beyond granite countertops to smart home automation systems that set their homes apart, and looking to offer technologies such as solar, home automation, and ultra-high-speed Internet connectivity as standard. Lennar Homes, Taylor Morrison and regional builders like Frankel Building Group in Houston, Texas, Copperleaf Homes in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Landmark Homes USA in Scottsdale, Ariz., offer home automation systems as standard. Lennar’s Landmark development in South Florida will feature boomerang baby suites and Savant Systems’ Smart Series home systems that cater to the younger generation’s interests in technology. [Read this article]

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A Tip A Day: 7 Weekly Habits For A Healthier Home

October 2, 2014

in Tips

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If you stop and really think about all the nasty germs in your house, and all of the semi-gross things that you touch everyday, there’s a decent chance you’ll have a freak out. Don’t do it! Make the problem manageable by focusing on one “healthy home” task a day. If you can stick to this weekly schedule, you’ll go a long way towards living in a wholesome, non-freak-out-inducing place. For instance, wash your pillows and sheets in hot water. This will kill germs and reduce dust. Do a refrigerator check, and a quick audit for any expired meats, dairies or other perishable items. Leftovers that are more than four days old need to go, too. Toss your sponges in the dishwasher and run on the hottest cycle to disinfect them. Use a disinfectant spray to clean your light switches and fridge handle. [Read this article]

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5 Reasons New Homes Are Still Getting Bigger

October 2, 2014

in News

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Combined with America’s aging, “empty nester” population, increasing environmental concerns and smaller household sizes, you might think the U.S. would want to build smaller houses. We haven’t. As of the last Census, the median house was 2,384 square feet – in between the sizes of a single and a doubles tennis courts. That’s up from 1,525 square feet in 1970, with a rise punctuated only by a brief stall during the recession. Over the last decade the median house size has increased on average about 25 square feet per year, and the share of new homes with 4+ bedrooms and 3+ full baths is going up. Why are new houses still getting bigger? According to data from both the NAHB and Trulia, Americans usually want bigger houses – 17% more space than they have. “As incomes go up, people are able to consume more housing, more entertainment, more tech and everything else,” according to Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist. [Read this article]

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Are Free Credit Scores Really Free?

October 2, 2014

in Tips

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Consumers tend to regard the offer of “free” stuff suspiciously, and rightly so, especially when it relates to credit cards. In the past, companies that have offered free credit scores or free credit reports have enrolled unsuspecting consumers into monthly programs that charged fees. The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers that “impostor” websites claiming to offer “free credit scores” are not part of the government-required program that allows people to access their credit report at no charge once a year, through AnnualCreditReport.com. Now, though, legitimate companies are increasingly offering consumers access to their credit scores for free – no strings attached. Consumer advocates say getting your score can be a useful exercise and offer the motivation to shore up your score if necessary, especially before taking out a big loan. After all, lenders can access your score to judge whether you’re fit to receive a loan, so shouldn’t you know what it is, too? Here are six things you should know before accessing your free credit score from companies. [Read this article]

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Public Transit Drives Americans’ Home Buying Decisions

September 30, 2014

in News

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A first-of-its-kind study about attitudes toward public transportation reveals the growing importance of mixed-use, transit-oriented residential development. Who’s on Board: The 2014 Mobility Attitudes Survey from Transit Center is the first to compare rider and non-rider attitudes by age, income, education, family status and ethnicity, and to examine both cities and suburban areas across various regions of the U.S. The study found that although there is a high demand for quality public transportation nationwide, there is a high unmet demand for transit-friendly neighborhoods with a mix of housing, retail, and commercial space. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents said their ideal neighborhood contained “a mix of houses, shops, and businesses,” but only 39 percent currently live in that type of neighborhood. [Read this article]

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Increase In Doubled-Up Homes Isn’t Just Young Adults Moving In With Their Parents

September 29, 2014

in News

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With the economy growing in fits and starts, an increase in “doubled-up” homes isn’t just young adults moving into their parents’ basements, according to a recent economic research note. The number of in-laws and nonrelatives added to family households picked up last year, housing economist Thomas Lawler wrote. Lawler found that in 2013, the population of family households (homes that contain families and may include other individuals) added 577,000 householders, spouses and children – down 49% from an average annual increase of 1.1 million between 2010 and 2012. Meanwhile, the number of in-laws and other relatives added to family homes hit 663,000 in 2013, double the recent average, and non-relatives rose more than 700% to 372,000. [Read this article]

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Why Everybody Is Moving To Texas

September 29, 2014

in Markets,News

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More Americans moved to Texas in recent years than any other state: A net gain of more than 387,000 in the latest Census for 2013. And Austin was the fastest growing major city. Jobs is the No. 1 reason for population moves, with affordable housing a close second.”It take two things to draw people inland in big numbers: jobs and housing affordability,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist for the real estate broker Redfin.Texas and other heartland states have two advantages that translate into affordable housing: Plenty of cheap land around cities and easy regulations that enable developers to build quickly.Five Texas cities – Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth – were among the top 20 fastest growing large metro areas.Jobs was the main driver in Austin, where population rose by 2.6% between 2012 and 2013. That’s nearly four times faster growth than the United States as a whole. [Read this article]

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