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The Low Down On Heating And Cooling Your Home

If the temperature in your home is too hot at night, then you can’t sleep. If it’s too cold during the day, then you have to wear excessive layers. Everyone has his or her own idea of the ideal temperature, but to keep it on that perfect number can get expensive. So, below we’ve outlined five ways you can take care of your heating and cooling system and help it run more efficiently. 1. Set It And Forget It To maximize the effectiveness of your heating and cooling systems, you need to program your thermostat and refrain from changing it. Adjusting the thermostat makes your system work harder. The best way to avoid tempting temperature changes is to choose a thermostat that fits your schedule, such as one with 7-day, 5-1-1, 5-2 or 1-week programming options. 2. Clean The Air Ducts Even though your air filter catches most dust, over time debris can build up. The accumulation of dirt can restrict airflow throughout your ducts and even start blowing particles out of your registers. C
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Overpay On Your Mortgage Or Add To Your Savings, This Is The Question

So you find yourself with a little bit of extra money – perhaps due to a raise, an inheritance or an unexpected windfall? Should you put all of your money toward paying down the mortgage on your home? Or would you be better off placing your extra cash into a savings account? Deciding whether to pay down your mortgage or add to your savings is a complex choice and it depends on a number of factors in your personal financial situation. Here are some of the things that you will need to consider when making the decision: How Much Are Your Savings Earning? Take a look at the savings accounts where you are keeping your money and assess the interest that your savings are earning. Is your money earning more in savings than you would save by paying down your mortgage earlier? Does Your Mortgage Have Overpayment Penalties? Some mortgage lenders will charge you a fee if you try to repay your mortgage earlier than the agreed upon term. Check with your lender to find out and calculate whether th
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 02-10-2014

Residential Construction Spending Up Last week’s mortgage and housing-related reports began with Construction Spending for December, with a reading of 0.10 percent or a seasonally adjusted $930.5 billion. December’s reading fell short of an expected increase of 0.40 percent. Spending for private sector projects rose by 1.00 percent; of this amount, residential construction spending increased by 2.60 percent and private sector spending for non-residential construction fell by -0.70 percent. Although construction spending posted a fractional gain, the good news is that construction spending is currently dominated by residential construction and that due to inclement winter weather, any gain in construction spending during December could be considered positive. Jobs and Unemployment Data Mixed Employment related reports dominated the week’s economic reports. The ADP employment report for January indicated that only 175,000 new private sector jobs were added for the lowest reading i
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Case Shiller Price Index Shows Homeowners A Rise In Home Equity

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices released Tuesday, the U.S. Housing Market is on a roll based on year-over-year increases in average home values, but month-to-month results were mixed. The 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices showed year-over-year growth of 13.80 and 13.70 percent respectively. Highlights Include: Dallas, Texas posted its highest rate of annual growth since 2000. Chicago’s average home price rose by 11.00 percent, its highest annual gain since December 1988. The 10 and 20-City Indices posted their best November home prices since 2005. Top year-over-year gains in home prices included Las Vegas, Nevada at 27.30 percent, San Francisco, California at 23.20 percent, Los Angeles, California at 21.60 percent and San Diego, California at 18.70 percent. Atlanta, Georgia rounds out the top five cities with a year-over-year increase in home prices of 18.50 percent. The annual readings for the S&P/Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Housing Market Indice
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Existing Home Sales Reach Highest Level In 7 Years

The NAR provided great year-end news as existing home sales in December pushed 2013 sales of existing homes to a 7 year high. December’s reading of 4.86 sales of pre-owned homes came in at 4.87 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Although projections had been for 4.89 million sales, the December reading topped November’s revised sales of 4.82 million pre-owned homes. December’s reading showed the first gain in existing home sales in three months. NAR reported that existing home sales for 2013 reached 5.09 million, which represented a 9.10 percent increase over 2012. More Good News: Median Price Of Existing Homes Rises NAR reported that the national median price for pre-owned homes increased to $198,000, a year-over-year increase of 9.90 percent. The average price of an existing home for all of 2013 was $197,100. This was the strongest growth in existing home prices since 2005 and represented an increase of 11.50 percent. There were 1.86 million pre-owned homes for sal
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Kitchen Design Dos And Don’ts For 2014

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms of your home. It is where you prepare all of your meals and it is often a hub of family activity. When you host a party, the action often ends up in the kitchen. Where drinks and snacks are enjoyed into the early hours of the morning. It’s crucial that your kitchen functions well because you will use it every day, but you also want to make it beautiful and stylish. Renovating and decorating your kitchen can also be one of the best ways to increase the resale value of your home. If you are planning on a kitchen makeover: Here Are Some Dos And Don’ts To Keep In Mind: Don’t forget to consider the proportions of everyone who will use the kitchen. Don’t choose kitchen stools that are too high for your kids to sit on, or cabinets that your wife cannot reach. Think carefully about storage space. What do you need to store and how much room do you need? You might want to store away your blender and toaster and other small appliances as wel
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Improve Your Curb Appeal This Winter

After all of the excitement of the holidays, the sparkle of the lights and the over-stimulation of decorations, the rest of winter can seem lackluster. Don’t let your home add to the dreariness of the season. Spruce up your curb appeal with the tips below and inspire your neighbors to create well-groomed street that will make drivers passing through smile. Tend The Plants If you’re currently located in a winter wonderland, then dig up any dead plants that won’t grow back. Replace them with cold-loving flowers, such as snowberry or lambs ear. In warmer climates, this is the time for any landscaping changes you’d like to make. It will give your plants a chance to flourish by spring and have solid roots before the harsh heat of summer. Light The Way With daylight hours dwindling, well-placed outdoor lighting will help highlight your home’s best features in the evening. Not only do they make your home look warm and cozy, but they also provide much-needed walkway lighting so that
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – 01-27-14

Last week was an action-packed week for economic news, and all of it was packed into Thursday: Weekly Jobless claims came in at 326,000 which was lower than the expected 330,000 new claims. This week’s claims were higher than the prior week’s 325,000 new jobless claims filed. The NAR released its Existing Home Sales Report for December; sales of existing homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.86 million. December’s reading fell shy of estimates of 490 million existing home sales, but the estimate was based on November sales that were later adjusted downward to 4.82 million sales of existing homes. Existing home sales for 2013 came in at 5.09 million sales, a 9.10 percent increase over 2012 sales. The median price of a pre-existing home reached $198,000 in December, with the median price for all of 2013 at $197,100, which was an increase of 11.50 percent over the average price for an existing home in 2012. Pent-up demand and a lingering shortage of available homes l
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Pros And Cons Of Adjustable Rate Mortgages

When you are in the market for a new home, you may be faced with numerous options for financing your home. One of the choices you will have to make is whether to apply for a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage. In some cases, an adjustable rate mortgage may be your best option, but keep in mind, they are not the answer for everyone. Adjustable rate mortgages can be risky for some borrowers and it’s important to understand both the pros and cons. When To Consider An Adjustable Rate Mortgage Perhaps one of the best things about ARMs is they typically have a lower starting interest rate than fixed rate mortgages. For some borrowers, this means it is easier for them to qualify for a loan. ARMs Are Beneficial For Borrowers Who: Anticipate an income increase for borrowers who are anticipating their income to increase over the next year or two, an ARM may be the right option. Will be reducing their debt those borrowers who have automobile loans or student loans that will be paid off in the n
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Should I Shorten My Mortgage Term

When you first bought your home a few years ago, perhaps you started off with a 30 year mortgage. Now, you are considering refinancing and changing it to a 20 year or even a 15 year mortgage. Shortening your mortgage term and refinancing can be a smart financial move, but before you make this decision there are a number of factors that you should consider. Switching to a shorter mortgage will mean that your monthly payments will be higher, but you will be 100% paid off much sooner and you will save thousands of dollars in interest rates. Here are a few of the factors to consider before making this decision: Has Your Situation Improved? Perhaps you have moved to a higher paying position, allowing you to earn a higher income and pay off more of your mortgage every month? Or maybe you have received an inheritance, which will help you to make the payments? Perhaps your expenses have gone down and you will have more money left over from your wage? Whatever the reason, if your financial sit
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Build A Home Gym For Your New Year’s Resolution

While many people claim every January that they are going to exercise more, a lot of them give up after the first couple of months. It takes a great deal of effort to make it to the gym before work or have the energy to go afterward. So don’t make a New Year’s resolution you know you won’t keep. Set yourself up for success by bringing the workout to you. Build your own home gym. Designate A Space The ideal situation would be to dedicate an entire room to your new home gym. That way you can close the door, crank up the music, block out the children arguing and focus on you. However, a section of your garage or the back of your basement will also work. You just need enough room for a set of weights, a mat, a bench and a cardio machine, if you have one. Prepare The Area Put down a rubberized floor, especially if you’re in a basement or garage with concrete surfaces. You can purchase them pretty cheaply in foot-by-foot interlocking squares. Then hang mirrors. This is important so
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3 Considerations When Making A Down Payment

One of the challenges you will face when deciding how much money to put down on your new home is whether to put down a larger down payment or to take a bit of money from your down payment and use it to pay “discount points” to lower your interest rate. There are pros and cons to doing both and each borrower’s situation will be different so it’s important to understand which option is best for your individual need. Some Factors You Should Consider Include: Cost Of Borrowing - generally speaking, to lower your interest rate will mean you pay a premium. Most lenders will charge as much as one percent (one point) on the face amount of your loan to decrease your mortgage interest rate. Before you agree to pay discount points, you need to calculate the amount of money you are going to save monthly and then determine how many months it will take to recover your investment. Remember, discount points are normally tax deductible so it may be important to talk to your tax planner for gui
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 01-13-2014

The first post-holiday week of 2014 brought mixed economic and housing-related news. CoreLogic reported via its Housing Market Index that November home prices grew by 11.80 percent year-over-year. This was just shy of October’s year-over-year reading of 11.90 percent. As with Case-Shiller’s recently reported Home Price Indices, a slower rate of home price growth suggested to analysts that the housing market is cooling down. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes from its December meeting. The minutes reiterated the Committee’s decision to begin tapering its asset purchases this month. The Fed announced that it would reduce its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion. As always, the Fed indicated that it would continue monitoring economic data for determining future actions concerning monetary policy. Mortgage Rates Mixed Freddie Mac’s Primary Market Survey reported mixed results for average mortgage rates last week. The rate fo
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Can I Get Cash Out From My Home Right After I’ve Purchased It?

Generally when you are purchasing a home, you are buying below the appraised value and you are making a down payment. The good news is this means you have “instant equity” in your home. For some homeowners, this means may be considering taking cash-out from your home equity in order to pay off credit card bills, purchase a car or pay for college for one of your children. However, it is important understand, this may not be as simple as it sounds. Cash Out Refinance, Equity Loan Or Second Mortgage There are three basic ways to access the equity in your home which are common these include: Cash Out Refinance – you refinance your current mortgage and you request cash-out for the equity. For example, if your home is worth $200,000 and you have a current mortgage of $100,000 you may be able to access an additional $60,000 to $70,000 in cash depending on your lender’s requirements. Home Equity Loan a home equity loan is typically a line of credit that you take out with your local ba
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FOMC Statement Shows Tapering Of Quantitative Easing Purchases

According to a statement provided by the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve, the committee has approved another reduction of the Fed’s monthly asset purchases. The adjustment will be made in February and cuts monthly purchases of mortgage backed securities from $35 billion to $30 billion and monthly purchases of Treasury securities from $40 billion to $35 billion. FOMC began reducing its asset purchase under its quantitative easing program in January, when the monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury securities was reduced from $85 billion per month to $75 billion. Citing its goals of maximum employment and price stability, the FOMC said that it has seen consistent improvement in the economy and specifically mentioned a lower, but still elevated unemployment rate. The statement also indicated that the FOMC expected labor markets to improve. FOMC Asset Purchases: How They Impact Mortgage Rates The Fed initiated the QE program in an effort to cont
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3 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Plumbing

Everyone wants their pipes to last as long as possible, but there are a couple of simple problems that might be sucking the life out of your plumbing. Long-term stress is the enemy when it comes to your water system. The three most common enemies are high water pressure, mineral-laden hard water, and grease. Avoid these three mistakes, and your water system will last years longer. Take The Pressure Off Your Pipes You might enjoy high water pressure when you’re taking a shower, but your pipes aren’t enjoying it at all. Over time, this high pressure stresses your plumbing system and can lead to leaks. Is your high-pressure shower worth an expensive plumbing leak? To test your water pressure, you’ll have to hire a professional. Proper pressure should be somewhere between forty and eighty pounds per square inch. To have a plumber reduce your water pressure should cost no more than about three or four hundred dollars. That sounds expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than a leak. Soft
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What’s Your Home’s Real Value?

As a society, it seems like we’ve gotten away from appreciating our homes for their emotional and sentimental worth. Instead, we focus solely on their monetary value. An Appraiser Can Estimate A Home’s Monetary Value, But To Gain A True Concept Of Your Home’s Worth, You Must Also Take Into Consideration: Pride Of Ownership. You don’t buy a pair of Prada shoes because you’re going to be able to resell them and make a profit. You buy them because they make you look good and feel good. Security And Stability. Your home provides a roof over your head that’s in your control. You can decorate it how you want. You don’t have to worry about a landlord selling the property or asking you to move out. In the “olden days” (or should I say “golden days”), we called our homes our castles because, as owners, we felt like the kings and queens of our homes. You can still feel that way! Claim your castle and crown yourself king or queen today. A Safe Haven. After a tough day at wo
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – 02-03-2014

Last week brought mixed news; while the Department of Commerce reported a dip in new home sales, mortgage rates also fell. The Federal Reserve’s FOMC statement revealed that quantitative easing would be further reduced by an additional $10 billion monthly. New Home Sales: Y-O-Y Reading Best Since 2008 December’s reading of 414,000 for new home sales fell short of November’s revised reading of 445,000 new homes sold as well as expected sales of $455,000. The consensus figure was based on November’s original sales reading of 464,000 new homes sold. The inventory of new homes available rose from last month’s level of 4.70 month supply to a 5 month supply in December. Cold weather was cited as a cause of lower new home sales. New home sales increased by 4.50 percent year-over-year; this was the highest reading since 2008. The median price of a new home rose by 0.60 percent in December to $270,299. The national median home price was $265,800 in 2013, an annual growth rate of 8.40
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Top 10 Indoor Houseplants For Your Air Quality

Houseplants are great for decorating. They can brighten up any room. Plus, houseplants can increase the air quality in a room. That makes you happier, healthier and reduces stress. Speaking of stress, these plants won’t create any at all. All of the plants on this list are great at producing oxygen and require very little care. 10. Heartleaf Philodendron A tough plant that’s a good filter for toxins like formaldehyde, Heartleaf Philodendron makes a great houseplant. The only downside is that it’s toxic to eat, so it may not be the best choice for those with kids or pets. But if you can control your appetite, the Heartleaf Philodendron is an excellent indoor houseplant for air quality. 9. Snake Plant Also called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, the Snake plant thrives in the bathroom. It loves the steamy conditions and can do without much light. It’s a great air filter as well. 8. Bamboo Palm It thrives indoors and requires little maintenance. The Bamboo Palm even produces flowers and
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Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac, How They Impact Real Estate

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been in the news quite a bit over the past few years, so it’s a good time to do a refresher on who they are and what role they play in the real estate market. Who Are Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac? Fannie Mae is the Federal National Mortgage Association. Freddie Mac is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. They were originally created to raise homeownership levels and increase the availability of affordable housing. Fannie and Freddie don’t sell mortgages directly to homeowners. They buy mortgages from lenders, so the lenders can use the money to issue new home mortgages. In 2008, due to mismanagement resulting in billions of dollars of losses, Fannie and Freddie were taken over by the government. How Do Fannie And Freddie Impact Real Estate? They contributed to the financial crisis and real estate downturn, by loosening underwriting standards, buying and guaranteeing risky loans and increasing purchases of mortgage-backed securities. They are ke
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Simplest Ways To Lower Your Heating Bill This Winter

When the holiday season starts and the winter chill comes around, the heating bill at your property will naturally increase as you keep yourself warm and cosy. However, if your home is not being heated efficiently, you are essentially letting your hard earned dollars escape into the air as wasted energy. What are some simple and inexpensive ways that you can cut down your heating expenses this winter and save yourself some money? Only Heat The Rooms You Are Using If you work from home and are spending eight hours of the day sitting in your home office, there is no need to keep the rest of the house toasty warm. If you have heaters that you can turn on and off for each room, you can direct the heat to the room that you are using. 0If you have a spare bedroom, you don’t even have to heat it at all unless a guest is coming to stay over. Change The Air Filter On Your Furnace If the air filter on your furnace is getting old and clogged up, it will block the airflow from the furnace itsel
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Flaws You Cannot Hide By Staging Your Home

When you sell your home, you want it look as good as possible. To do this, your real estate agent will help you stage your home or, if needed, help you find a professional to stage your home. This means de-cluttering your home, re-arranging furniture, and de-personalizing each room. A staged home is more appealing to buyers and helps to highlight your home’s positive features. However, staging is not meant to cover major flaws in your home. Some things just have to be repaired. Roof Problems It doesn’t matter how pretty your home is, your buyer is going to expect you to fix roof problems or adjust your price to cover them. Your roof is one of the most important parts of your home. Cracked Tile Of course, you can use throw rugs to cover cracks in your tile, but chances are your buyers are going to look under them. Then they may think you are trying to hide a serious problem like a shifting foundation. Save yourself the headache and have your floors fixed. Broken Windows You have to
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – 01.20.2014

Welcome news arrived last week as lower mortgage rates and a higher number of housing starts were reported. Other economic news was mixed: The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book Report released last Tuesday indicated modest economic growth throughout the 12 Federal Reserve districts. Analysts predicted that this would cause the Fed to further reduce the volume of monthly asset purchases made under its quantitative easing program. The Atlanta, Cleveland and Kansas City districts reported slower home sales, which supported recent expectations of slowing gains in home prices. Mortgage Rates Dip, Housing Starts Up According to Freddie Mac, average mortgage rates fell last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 4.51 to 4.41 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.45 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.56 percent. Discount points rose from 0.60 to 0.70 percent. The average rate fo
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Dodd-Frank Update For 2014: The Qualified Mortgage Rule

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s latest provision – the Qualified Mortgage rule – is going to effect on January 10, 2014. While, like many of Dodd-Frank’s other features, its ability to protect customers remains to be seen, one of its impacts is already clear. Taking out a home loan just got harder. The QM rule contains a set of provisions that, if followed, may protect lenders from lawsuits. They will also make it harder for customers to qualify to borrow money to buy a house. Verifying Incomes Lenders now have to follow stringent procedures to verify that borrowers can repay their loans. While many home loan lenders are already verifying and documenting borrower incomes, assets and debts, they will have to create additional paperwork to prove that they did their jobs. DTI Caps For a loan to be considered a qualifying mortgage, the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio can be no more than 43 percent. This means that if a borrower has $4,500 in gross
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Case Shiller Price Index Shows Highest Year-Over-Year Gains Since 2006

The Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices for October were released on December 31. Although home prices in most cities continued to show year-over-year gains, the pace of home price appreciation is expected to slow in 2014. Year-over-year increases have been in double digit territory since March 2013, but month-to-month readings suggest that the rate of increasing home prices is slowing. According to David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, “…the monthly numbers show that we are living on borrowed time and the boom is fading.” The 10 and 20 city indices are showing that home prices some cities that were showing little or no growth in 2013 are posting higher rates of appreciation, while growth in cities that have shown very high increases in home prices are beginning to lose momentum. Year-over-Year Growth In Double Digits The 10-and 20-city indices each posted year-over year gains of 13.60 percent between October 2012and October 2013. Th
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