Author: AdminPOM

New Home Features Trending in 2011

The current trend in home features is smaller, more intimate homes, as well as the disappearance of some of the home’s most traditional rooms. With lingering uncertainty about the economy, among other things, creating a shift in buyer priorities, homebuyers are refocusing on “green” homes (built as such from the start), as well as affordable architecture, and space-centric design that works with modern lifestyles. Here are some features that deserve special consideration for your home. The kitchen is where most designers want their money to go, since it’s one of the busiest rooms in the house. A large kitchen with an island is a must for move-up buyers; granite countertops are a plus. The most highly-touted green features in a home are energy efficient appliances and insulated high efficiency windows. Also desirable is the use of recycled materials throughout the home. Many people are opting for a home office or study area. This room is favored in lieu of a formal dining room or home theater, which are less sought after by today’s buyers. A feature gaining in popularity, especially among empty-nesters, is the main floor master suite. The rising popularity of these lower-level suites has even driven down demand for the once-popular upstairs laundry. In areas with warmer climates, ceiling fans are great savers of both energy and money. Broad choices in design and style mean they can...

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How Much Home Can you Afford? Lending Criteria

An important step during the home buying process is determining if you qualify for home ownership and how much home you can afford.  Figuring out how much mortgage you can comfortably afford is somewhat difficult because different lenders use different criteria, but you can get a fairly good idea by looking at a few different factors: A) Credit Rating Your credit rating estimates how likely you are to pay back a loan, and it’s usually expressed by means of a FICO score – in the US, FICO scores fall between 300-850, with 723 at the median.  Normally, you’d need a FICO score of 720 to qualify for a mortgage, but as you’ll see below, because you’re a first time home buyer you can get a mortgage with a FICO score as low as the mid-400s.  If your score is lower than 400, consult a financial expert for ways to improve it before you apply for a mortgage. Start by finding out what your score is.  There are three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Getting your credit report is as easy as calling and asking for one.  Once you receive your report, make sure it’s accurate.  It’s also a good idea to get copies from all three companies since any one of the three could be providing a report to your lender. Note:  Every time you...

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New Home Loan Interest Rates on the Rise

Interest rates are on the rise. For those new home buyers and investors sitting on the fence, now might be the best chance to purchase or refinance while the rates are still low. The week ending November 18th posted the highest 30-year fixed interest rate in three months. According to the weekly survey from the government run mortgage giant Freddie Mac, mortgage rates averaged 4.39% for a 30-year fixed loan in their latest survey ending Thursday, November 18. That 4.39% is up .22% from the record low posted the week prior at 4.17%. The average rates on a 15-year fixed rate loan were 3.76%, which was up .19% from the 3.57% the prior week. This average posted for the week ending November 18th is the highest average since the week ending August 19th. This average also marks the largest single week increase since June 2009; and follows a few months of an overall steady decline in rates. There were weeks where the rate would slightly increase or stay the same, but until now, rates have not significantly changed week to week. These increases will likely lead to a short-term increase in loan refinancing activity. Many of the borrowers who were waiting for rates to drop lower, or bottom out before they decided to refinance, may now want to lock in the best home loan rate possible before they lose...

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Money & Energy Saving Tips for the Home

Greening your home and following simple energy-saving tips can save you up to 50 percent on your utility bills. Most items purchased to “green” your home are inexpensive and easy to install, and many of the following tips can be implemented in no time. Money & Energy Saving Purchases If you plan to make a big appliance purchase, always look for ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. These appliances are widely available and have passed certain Federal standards, which makes them up to 40 percent more energy-efficient than non-ENERGY STAR qualified appliances, saving lots of energy (and money) over the life of the product. Seemingly small changes can have a huge effect on your energy usage. Replacing all of the incandescent bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs could save you up to 75 percent on your home lighting costs. Buying and installing low-flow shower-heads and faucet aerators can cut water usage in your home by up to 50 percent. For double effect, these low-flow shower-heads and faucet aerators also save you money on water-heating costs, because of the decrease in water usage. Money & Energy Saving Practices Making sure that your electronics are in energy-saving modes (especially computers and monitors), or unplugged when not in use can save you a great deal of money every month. These “energy vampires” continue to pull power whether they are in use or...

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Quickly Designing A Rock Garden

If you’re looking for a new way to add some beauty to your landscaping, you might want to think about a rock garden. A small rock garden can add a touch of something special, while a large one can be a defining part of your yard. Either way, there are a few steps you will take that are universal to most rock gardens. The first step is to clear the area in which you want to put your rock garden. You don’t want grass getting in the way, and you’re pretty much going to cover up the area where you’re putting your rock garden, so the ground should be free and clear of grasses and weeds. Instead of cutting the grass, heavily rake the area and then dig, flipping the grass over. You can put more dirt on top of the grass, but that might not prevent grass from growing if it gets enough water, despite the lack of sunlight from the rocks and the tarp (see below). The next step is to put plastic over the ground. Most people go with black plastic, such as heavy, thick plastic bags, but you can use white or any other color you want, depending upon the color of the rocks you’ll use in your rock garden. If you’ve smoothed the ground you’re going to cover well, this plastic water and sun...

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