Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Energy Tips and easy ways to SAVE money

SAVE ENERGY and SAVE MONEY.. HOME MAINTENANCE TIP..Has your energy bill got you hot under the collar? The best way to reduce your air conditioning bills this summer is to reduce heat in your home

1.Reserve heat-generating activities such as cooking, washing or drying clothes, and running the dishwasher until late evening or early morning, when it is cooler outside.

2.Install mini-blinds or solar film on your windows to cut down on the heat from the sun.

3.Switch over to compact fluorescent light bulbs - not only do they use less energy, but they produce very little heat.

4.Set the thermostat a few degrees higher - most people can be comfortable with a setting of 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit; plus, you'll save 7 to 10 percent of your cooling costs for each degree above 78!

5.Try using a ceiling fan or portable fan to supplement your air conditioning. A fan can make you feel three to four degrees cooler and only costs pennies per hour to operate.

For more tips and suggestions on how to save energy or to get a better energy star home email or call me anytime. If you have other ideas, add them to this list with comments...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

8 Signs You're Ready to Purchase a Home

No. 1: You have a budget — and you know how to use it
Understand that buying a house comes responsibilities and additional unexpected cost. Having a budget will allow for these unexpected costs. A manageable budget is a key element to help determine if you can or can not afford a home.
No. 2: You have a sizable down payment
There are many ways to buy a house with little or no down. FHA will allow a down payment as low as 3.5%; conventional loans are min. of 10%. This being said, there are allows extra cost at closing. Allow for at least 5% of the sale price for down payment and closing cost, including prepaid taxes, insurance and escrow.
No. 3: You have a reliable source of income
Income is a key element in buying house, though a reliable source of income is a lot more important. There is a reason the mortgage industry wants proof of a minimum of one year of income with the same employer. This income will determine your budget and support not only the reoccurring house payment; but, will also be counted on for the the unaccounted expenses.
No. 4: You have an emergency savings fund
This emergency savings fund can be either a savings account, a 401k or any other non-liquid assets. When owning a home, something can always go wrong. Just because you have insurance, there is typically a 1% deductible. Be aware that filing an insurance claim, still cost money. This money should be set aside as emergency only; including the emergency that you loose your job. This way you can still afford your new home during an unexpected emergency.
No. 5: You have your debts under control
We all have some sort of debt, and just because you have a debt or owe people, does not mean you can not own a home or purchase a home. The key point here is to have them under control. Make sure when putting together your budget your debt is accounted for. As long as they are under control and are manageable, do not allow this to be a deterrent from buying a new home.
No. 6: Your credit report is in good shape
What is good credit? Well, to be honest, this is not up to you. Good credit is completely up to the credit bureaus, which are constantly changing the way scores are created and looked at. Great credit is in the 700's and anything over 600 can get you a home, though credit is also something that needs to be personally evaluated. Credit scores are determined with many things, including not only what you owe, but also how many people you owe and how much credit availability do you have. If your score is low, find out why and ask yourself, "Will this affect me financially?" and "Are these debts something I can manage and take care of"
No. 7: You can make a long-term commitment
Long-term commitment, well in this case we are talking about 3-5 years. With the way payments are set up, it takes about this long just to recoup the closing costs of buying and selling. When you sell a home it will cost you fees, so make sure these fees are also considered when thinking about buying a home. This also has to do with how much money you put down and how much equity is in the home. Typically though, renting is better if you have to buy and sell a home in less than 3 years.
No. 8: You are prepared to become your own landlord

When owning your home, you are your own landlord. This means the lawn, the repairs, the upkeep. Now most homeowners I know like doing these things, because it is a means of accomplishment and pride in ownership. Just beware and acknowledge that you are not the landlord.