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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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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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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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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When House Hunting, How To Assess A Neighborhood

July 20, 2014

in Tips

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When you buy a house, you aren’t just buying a house. In a way, you’re buying a neighborhood. After all, you’ll likely choose a home partly because it’s close to work, the schools are great or it’s walking distance to restaurants and stores – or maybe you love that it’s nowhere near retail establishments. In fact, you could argue that picking the right neighborhood is more important than picking the right house. The last thing you want is to buy property in a place everyone is trying to leave. So if you’re looking for a home for your house, here are some things to consider. For example, if exercise and a sense of community are important to you, find a house near the establishments you’ll be frequenting. [Read this article]

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5 Steps To Sell A House That Won’t Sell

July 7, 2014

in Tips

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If that “for sale” sign has been on your front lawn a lot longer than you expected, you may be wondering: What do most homeowners do in this situation? Lowering the price is the most obvious suggestion, but price is often the problem. “Often sellers make the mistake of factoring in what price they need in order to sell the property,” says Rob Anzalone, co-founder of Fenwick Keats Real Estate, a New York City residential brokerage and property management firm. “Need is desire and isn’t a factor in establishing market value.” Another reason sellers price their home above the market value, Anzalone says, is because they’re afraid they’ll sell for too low of a price and then look like a sucker. But he adds: “It’s very difficult to underprice a property. If the price is too low, buyers will bid it up to market value with multiple offers.” [Read this article]

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How Student Loans Affect Your Credit Score

July 7, 2014

in Tips

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College-bound students and their parents need not despair. Student loans – when handled correctly and responsibly – can actually serve as a major asset in building a student’s credit history and credit score. They can result in a graduate being able to qualify for his or her first apartment, first car loan and, very often, first unsecured credit card. Paying off student loans is an effective way (and often, the only way) for young people to boost their credit scores. In other words, there is a silver lining to student debt. As with most other loans, you can give your credit score the biggest boost by making your student loan payments on time. At the end of the day, your credit score benefits the most from on-time, regular student loan repayments. After spending four years stressing out about your GPA, your credit score shouldn’t become your newest three-digit obsession. That said, you should know what it is, and take steps toward improving it if it needs a boost. [Read this article]

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5 Factors That Influence Your Home’s Resale Value

July 7, 2014

in Tips

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While home sellers hope to get top dollar for their property – and some have an inflated idea of what to expect – establishing a home’s value can be a complex, multifaceted process. Do home renovations really pay off? And which is more valuable: a three-bedroom or a four-bedroom with the same square footage? We talked to real estate insiders to find out. “Buyers increasingly value community in the community where they’re buying,” says Amy Anderson, an agent with Davidson Realty, Inc. in St. Augustine, Florida. “They come to me not looking for a house for four years, but focusing much more on the community, the activities and the school district.” As Americans scale back their dependence on automobiles, some homebuyers seek out communities that don’t require cars to get around. Layout is a key factor because an open-concept design can look much more spacious than a boxy space of the same size. The number of bedrooms also influences a home’s value, so think twice before putting up a wall and subdividing one room into two. [Read this article]

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