Coming up with a down payment in today’s economy can be difficult.  In most cases the down payment is expected to be 20% of the purchase price, and in some markets where housing prices are high that can be nearly impossible for the average person to save.  So are there ways to get around this?  Can you buy a home even if you don’t have the down payment?  There are a few ways to get into a home in spite of lacking the required 20%. The 80/20 Loan Also known as a piggyback mortgage, an 80/20 loan is a simple way to get a home without a down payment, but it can be a bit more expensive-or a lot more.  Basically, you take out a separate loan for the 20% portion of the purchase price.  You are financing your down payment.  You then take out a larger loan for the remaining 80%.  The interest rate on the 20% loan is usually a lot higher than the larger loan, so the best bet for any homeowner is to pay it off as quickly as possible. The 20% portion of the loan is usually on a shorter term than the larger portion […]
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    Set the timer: Program your thermostat to reach lower temperatures while you’re sleeping or out of the house. This simple action can save you a lot of money—and will ensure that your house stays at a comfortable temperature at all times. Open and shut: During daytime hours, keep your blinds, draperies and other window coverings open. This will enable your home to absorb the warm afternoon sunshine and will effectively add heat to the entire house. Close all window coverings at night to keep the heat in! Installation time: If you have a window or two that feels drafty no matter what you do, consider installing tight, insulating shades to those particular windows. You’ll be surprised what a little bit of extra insulation can accomplish! Light a fire: A fireplace is an easy solution to add extra heat to your home without adding to your energy bill. Capable of warming the entire room, you and your family can relax at home while keeping the thermostat at a lower temperature. No leaks allowed: Check doors and windows for drafts and places where air might escape. Weatherizing windows and doors is a simple task that you can perform; your local home improvement warehouse will have all of […]
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    Roof repairs: If you can safely get onto your roof to inspect for missing shingles or other factors that may lead to a leaky roof, now’s the time to do it! If not, call in a professional organization and have them take care of the rooftop work for you. Seal it off: Inspect doors and windows to ensure that the weather-stripping is in good condition. This will keep your house warmer and cozier in the winter months. Hot stuff: Make sure that your heater and ventilation systems are in good working order! Clean out accessible ducts and replace filters where necessary. Chimney sweep: Creosote, a black substance that builds up in the chimney when wood is burned, can cause chimney fires. Inspect your chimney for creosote and call a chimney sweep to keep your fireplace safe and functional. Gutter check: Now’s the time to clean out those rain gutters again! If you want to do it yourself, make sure that you can safely access the gutters and then scoop out any debris, blast the drains clean with a high-powered hose, and repair any leaks you may find along the way. Image Credit: @maginnis via Twenty20
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    Spin it: Ceiling fans are an excellent way to keep everyone cool, and they’re beautiful as well. But did you know that they can also help you save on your energy bill? By circulating cool air throughout your home, you won’t need to keep the thermostat set as low as you would without the help of one, two or more well-placed fans. Green is good: There’s no debating how refreshing a large patch of shade can be on a hot summer day…so why not invest in some shade of your own? Planting trees is an excellent way to ensure shade and to keep your house cool in the warmer months. Already have some? Make the most of the summer foliage by relaxing beneath a large tree and sipping some cool lemonade. Clear as a bell: Window manufacturing and supply companies now offer an invisible way to keep you cool: by installing a transparent coating to windows that effectively blocks heat. Adding this type of treatment to your sunniest windows is a smart and easy way to save a few dollars on your energy bill. Program and relax: If you have a programmable thermostat but haven’t gotten around to figuring out how to use it, […]
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    When you first move into your new home it is a good idea to take care of a few small things that can make a big difference when it counts. Change the locks on all your exterior doors. Unless your house is brand new you never know how many strangers may have a key to your front door. Replace the batteries in all the smoke detectors in the house. Record the date in your calendar so you will remember to do the same thing next year! Unless your heating/air units are new, have the vents and filters cleaned or replaced. Create a fire-hazard plan with your family and conduct a practice drill with the children. Replace or clean the exhaust hood filter above the range. Check all your electric outlets for loose-fitting plugs, as these can pose a fire hazard. These outlets are inexpensive and fairly easy to replace. Have the fireplace chimney cleaned. While you are at it go ahead and install a rain cap and a screen to keep the birds out of your chimney.
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    We all want to feel safe in our own homes. Accidents, especially tragic ones, aren’t something we want to think about. But when it comes to accidents, the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is doubly true! I thought I would share with you some precautions against some of the most common household accidents. Never leave standing liquids unattended. Stay within arm’s reach while your child is bathing or is near any container of water. If the phone rings, let it ring; stay with your child. Prevent tap water scalds by adjusting the temperature on your hot water heater to 120° F. Keep medicines and hazardous household chemicals locked up and out of sight. Use child-resistant packaging for medicines and hazardous household chemicals, and call 1-800-222-1222 if a poisoning occurs. Cut the loops on window-blind cords and call 1-800-506-4636 for a free repair kit. Make sure your hairdryer has a large rectangular plug. The immersion protection device prevents electrocution if the hairdryer is dropped in water. Change the battery in your smoke alarm when you change your clock’s setting in October or November. Have a professional check your furnace for carbon monoxide leaks and […]
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