Archive for November, 2009

Saving Money by Cutting Home Energy Losses

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Prices are going up in many of the areas that affect how you live. Significant changes are found in groceries, the price of energy and almost everything else you can think of. Maybe you can’t cut back on your insurance premiums, but you can do a lot to cut back your homehousehold [sic] energy costs. In most cases, you don’t need to spend a penny to start on the savings. Use these simple suggestions and you’ll find you can start saving money right away.

Tighten leaky faucets. A leaky faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water each year. Worse yet, if the faucet leaks hot water you are sending a lot of money literally down the drain. The cost of heating water typically accounts for about 10-15% of household energy costs. Those little drips can add up to a big cost and they are easy to avoid.

Don’t leave your flue damper open. When you don’t have a fire going in your fireplace, make sure the damper is closed. This will keep heated air from getting lost out the chimney.

Install a showerhead with a restricted flow design. It will save water and also the energy to heat that water. You can get one for under $20. Installation is usually very easy.

In the summer, set your temperature to 78 degrees. You can save a lot by increasing the temperature to 78 from 72 degrees. Your AC is probably your home’s most energy intensive system, so even small decreases can offer big paybacks.

Lower your temperature control to 68 during the winter. You can save up to 5% on your heating bill by reducing your temperature setting from 72 to 68 degrees.

Do your laundry in cold water. About 90% of the energy used for washing clothes is in heating the water. Eliminate this unnecessary cost by using cold water for the laundry. Restrict your use of warm water to when you’re doing a load of whites. Modern detergents do a pretty good job so it’s not like in the old days.

Use window treatments to regulate your home’s temperature. In the summer, close your south and west facing curtains or blinds. Keeping direct sunlight out of your home will reduce the burden on your air conditioner. It will make your rooms cooler. During the winter, do the opposite. Open your blinds and curtains on sunny days to let the sun’s rays warm your rooms. As the sun goes down, close them again to keep the warmth from escaping.

Only run the dishwasher when it’s full, so you won’t run it so often. The dishwasher accounts for about 2% of your home’s overall energy usage. Don’t ever run partial loads with it. Wait until it is as full as possible before you turn it on.

Run vent fans only when you really have to. Your bathroom’s ventilation fans can replace all the air in your home in as short a time as one hour! Letting the exhaust fans run for extended periods will suck your cool or warm air from your house and replace it with more air from outside. This will boost your cooling and heating costs significantly.

To learn about Longmont CO homes for sale, click here.

Saving Money by Cutting Home Energy Losses
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Tracy Foreclosures – Tips On The Foreclosure Process

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Thanksgiving is over and the winter holidays are on their way, but that doesn’t mean you should take a holiday from house hunting.

There are a plethora of deals out there; you just need to know where to look.

The foreclosure market in Tracy, CA is still going strong, with new listings being added every day. From fixer-uppers to homes practically brand new, the REOs in Tracy span the whole spectrum.

There are homes for sale in Tracy, California that are perfect for investors, and there are homes perfect for a growing family; some require a lot of work, while others are move-in ready.

Let me know when you’re ready to start looking at foreclosed properties; it can be an overwhelming process – I’m here to set your mind at ease and ensure a smooth transaction.

What is Foreclosure Process and What are the Benefits of Buying Foreclosure Homes
Written by Melanie Hogeveen

Foreclosure process is a procedure which starts when a home owner is unable to pay the loan amount unpaid to the lender or is unable to pay taxes outstanding to the government departments. In both cases the Lender or Government issues a Lis pendens which is a notice for the start of the pre-foreclosure process.

Home Owner is given a certain time after the lis pendens is issued to either sell the home themselves through short sales or settle the due amount. After the notice period the foreclosure process starts and the property is put up for auction by the Banks or Government Departments.

Benefits of Buying Foreclosure Homes

There are several benefits of buying foreclosure homes like

1. Cash benefit – The property is available at 30 to 50% discount as the Lender wants to recover their loan amount and they do not have any profit making motive.

2. No Legal Hassles – There are no legal hassles when buying a foreclosure home through banks or government departments as all the legal formality has already been taken care of these institutions in a professional way.

3. Furnished House – Sometimes you may get a fully furnished house and you save a lot of time otherwise involved in furnishing of the house. Only minor repairs may be required which is very minute.

4. Good Locality – You can find a foreclosure home in good locality which would have been difficult otherwise to purchase a home in already developed area due to high rates or unavailability of land.

5. Easy Loans – When you are buying a foreclosure home through bank foreclosures they offer you easy loan facility from their bank. The process of getting loan is easy as the bank will also have dual benefit of selling a foreclosure home, which is their liability and also getting a client for taking loan for a safe transaction.

6. Lower interest rates – You may get the loans at lower interest rates from several banks to buy foreclosure homes.

How to Buy Foreclosure Homes

1. Make a list of all suitable foreclosure homes in your area.

2. Visit at least 5 short-listed properties from your list

3. Check the title of property, whether it is a clear title property

4. Check that all taxes and dues are clear.

5. Check the asking price of the property by similar properties in the neighborhood areas.

6. Negotiate with the seller for lower down payment and final price.

Foreclosure process is beneficial for first time buyers as you can live in a good locality by purchasing a home at much less price than the normal rates prevalent there. It is also beneficial for investors as you get a property at a highly discounted price which you may sell later at a good margin.

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About the Author:
Melanie Hogeveen is an expert writer in the field of real estate especially foreclosures and has been doing research on foreclosures for the past several years. She is renowned for her advices and tips on buying foreclosures. For more details please visit forclosures [sic].

tracy foreclosures homes for sale in tracy ca
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Understanding Loan Programs – Fixed Rate vs Adjustable

Monday, November 16th, 2009

With a fixed-rate loan, the amount of your monthly payment of principal and interest remains the same for the life of your loan.

Your property taxes may go up, and so might your homeowner’s insurance premium part of your monthly payment, but generally speaking, with a fixed-rate loan your payment will be stable.

Fixed-rate loans are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes: 30-year, 20-year, 15-year, even 10-year. Some fixed-rate mortgages are called “biweekly” mortgages and shorten the life of your loan. You pay every two weeks, a total of 26 payments a year — which adds up to an “extra” monthly payment every year.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a much smaller part toward principal. That gradually reverses itself as the loan ages.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan if you want to lock in a low rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can give you more monthly payment stability.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages come in even more varieties. Generally, ARMs determine what you must pay based on an outside index, perhaps the 6-month Certificate of Deposit (CD) rate, the one-year Treasury Security rate, the Federal Home Loan Bank’s 11th District Cost of Funds Index (COFI), or others. They may adjust every six months or once a year.

Most programs have a “cap” that protects you from your monthly payment going up too much at once. There may be a cap on how much your interest rate can go up in one period — say, no more than two percent per year, even if the underlying index goes up by more than two percent. You may have a “payment cap,” that instead of capping the interest rate directly caps the amount your monthly payment can go up in one period. In addition, almost all ARM programs have a “lifetime cap” — your interest rate can never exceed that cap amount, no matter what.

ARMs often have their lowest, most attractive rates at the beginning of the loan, and can guarantee that rate for anywhere from a month to ten years. You may hear people talking about or read about what are called “3/1 ARMs” or “5/1 ARMs” or the like. That means that the introductory rate is set for three or five years, and then adjusts according to an index every year thereafter for the life of the loan. Loans like this are often best for people who anticipate moving — and therefore selling the house to be mortgaged — within three or five years, depending on how long the lower rate will be in effect.

You might choose an ARM to take advantage of a lower introductory rate and count on either moving, refinancing again or simply absorbing the higher rate after the introductory rate goes up. With ARMs, you do risk your rate going up, but you also take advantage when rates go down by pocketing more money each month that would otherwise have gone toward your mortgage payment.

understanding loan programs

What To Expect In Your Closing Costs

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Escrow and Interest Fees include any or all of the following:

  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Loan Interest
  • Private Mortgage Insurance
  • Real Estate Taxes

Lender Fees cover charges for:

  • Loan Processing
  • Underwriting
  • Establishing an Escrow Account

Third-party Fees are for such things as:

  • Hazard Insurance
  • Title Searches
  • Property Inspections

Government Fees include:

  • Deed Recording
  • Local Mortgage Taxes
  • State Mortgage Taxes

Never sign off on any closing costs that you do not understand; always ask your Realtor to fully explain each fee to you.

real estate closing costs what to expect

Understanding The Loan Process

Monday, November 16th, 2009

The loan process is probably the most important part of buying a home, and yet it can be the most difficult to understand.

There are four main steps involved when obtaining a loan.

First: Determine how much you can actually borrow.
How much of a monthly payment can you afford? Given your unique credit and employment history, income and debt, how much will a lender loan you?

Second: Pre-quality for your loan.
After a review of such things as your credit, employment history, assets, and residence history, your Realtor will work with a lender in obtaining a pre-qual letter. The letter is used when making offers to show the seller you are able to afford the house.

Third: Apply for your loan.
When your offer is accepted it’s time for you to apply for your loan.

Fourth: Funding your loan.
Working with the lender and an escrow/ title company, your Realtor completes the home purchase process by making sure all the paperwork is complete and all deadlines are met.

When funding is achieved, the sale of the home can be recorded – making you the official owner.

As with all other parts of the home buying process, be sure to ask your Realtor plenty of questions, and don’t move forward unless you fully understand everything that is going on.

understanding the loan process

Understanding The Federal Housing Tax Credit

Monday, November 16th, 2009

The $8,000 First Time Home Buyers tax credit has been extended – and expanded – the Government is now offering a $6,500 credit to repeat buyers.

I know a lot of people are confused about the details, so here’s a little help in understanding all the ins and outs of the Federal Housing Tax Credit.

For complete information and answers to your questions visit

$8,000 First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit at a Glance

  • The $8,000 tax credit is for first-time home buyers only. For the tax credit program, the IRS defines a first-time home buyer as someone who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase.
  • The tax credit does not have to be repaid.
  • The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.
  • The tax credit applies only to homes priced at $800,000 or less.
  • The tax credit now applies to sales occurring on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. However, in cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, a home purchase completed by June 30, 2010 will qualify.
  • For homes purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before November 6, 2009, the income limits are $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly.
  • For homes purchased after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010, single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000 qualify for the full tax credit.

The $6,500 Move-Up / Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credit at a Glance

  • To be eligible to claim the tax credit, buyers must have owned and lived in their previous home for five consecutive years out of the last eight years.
  • The tax credit does not have to be repaid.
  • The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $6,500.
  • The tax credit applies only to homes priced at $800,000 or less.
  • The credit is available for homes purchased after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. However, in cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, the home purchase qualifies provided it is completed by June 30, 2010.
  • Single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000 qualify for the full tax credit.

federal housing tax credit

Accentuate The Little Things When Selling Your Home

Monday, November 16th, 2009

As a general rule, it’s a good idea not to sweat the small stuff. But when it comes to selling your house, the small stuff is exactly what you need to focus on.

  • The front door greets the prospect. Make sure it is fresh, clean, and paint the trim.
  • Keep the front lawn trimmed and edged, and the yard free of garbage. Reseed the lawn and fertilize if necessary, weed the gardens, and add mulch. Deep green grass makes a lasting impression. In winter, be sure snow and ice is removed from walks and steps.
  • Faded walls and worn woodwork reduce appeal, freshen things up with neutral paints or wallpaper.
  • Open draperies and curtains and let the prospect see how cheerful your home can be.
  • Make sure all the appliances work properly and are sparkling clean. If any faucets drip, fix them – dripping water discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing.
  • Repairs can make a big difference. Loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers and other minor flaws detract from home value. Have them fixed.
  • Keep stairways clear. Avoid cluttered appearances and possible injuries.
  • Pack excess linens and clothing to make closets look bigger. Neat, well-ordered closets show the space is ample.
  • Bathrooms help sell homes. Check and repair grout in bathtubs and showers. Make this room sparkle.
  • Arrange bedrooms neatly. Remove excess furniture. Use attractive bedspreads and fresh looking window coverings.

It’s important to price your house correctly and market it right, but it’s the little things that will leave the lasting impression.

prepare your home for sale