Make These Upgrades to Save Energy amp; Boost Your Homes Resale Value
Most homeowners would benefit from a home energy audit, especially those with older homes. An audit will uncover where your home is wasting energy and how to best remedy the situation. Remodeling your kitchen, bathroom or living room may add to your homes resale value, but the following energy-efficient upgrades add value and save you money on your monthly utility bills - and youll help the environment, too.
Replace Windows amp; Roofing
If you have old, drafty windows with loose frames or gaps that let conditioned air escape, youre losing money. Replace them with energy-efficient windows. You will improve your indoor comfort and reduce heating and air conditioning costs. In addition, window treatments can keep you cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The U.S. Department of Energy DOE reports that treatments such as awnings and blinds reduce solar heat gain by as much as 77 percent, and shutters and storm panels reduce heat loss in winter.
The same principle applies to your roof. A new, properly installed roof will lower your energy costs and increase your homes resale value, according to Champion Home Exteriors. Make sure you use a >
Seal amp; Insulate
Take the time to seal your homes walls, windows, vents and any other cracks or gaps, and consider adding insulation, too. Not only does this improve comfort and save on utilities, but it also reduces outside noise, prevents an inflow of dust, pollen, insects and debris, and provides better humidity control. Brett and Elna Wells of Shelbourne, Vermont, told Mother Earth News how they added 19 inches of insulation in their attic and added foam sealant around their foundation, and not only did they lower their energy consumption, but they received a 2,900 rebate from their electric utility, too.
One of the home improvement projects with the best return on investment is replacing your current siding with new vinyl siding, according to Remodeling Magazines Cost vs. Value Report. It provides a whopping 78 percent return on investment. To realize savings on your energy bill, make sure the contractor uses ENERGY STAR-rated underlayment and corner wrap to protect your home from moisture.
Get an Energy-Efficient Furnace
Linda Barnwell is a certified eco-broker with the real estate franchise company Keller Williams. She told Fox News that an energy-efficient furnace will boost energy savings and a homes resale value. Airtight homes with newer furnaces are what homebuyers are looking for, and it can even drive the outcome of a real estate deal. Sellers whose homes have furnaces that are 20 or 30 years old may see sales negotiations stall, or buyers may demand you replace the furnace as a condition of the sale.
If a professional home energy audit isnt possible, try this energy-savings calculator from the DOE.
> Full Story
Outdoor Sofa, Mac Books and More in This Weeks Deals and Steals
If youre looking for chocolate bunnies this week, youre in luck. Theyre EVERYWHERE, and you can eat yourself into a little chocolate bunny coma for a couple of bucks. If youre looking for furniture, electronics, or home goods, this is a good week for you too. Our weekly scouring of ads and stores and more ads and more stores has turned up some great steals and deals. Check em out right here.
The IKEA ARHOLMA sofa combination offers a high-end look for outdoors at a fraction of the cost. Even by IKEA standards, this is a good deal. Their regular price of 550 is still far less than you will find outdoor sectionals like this; at 415, its definitely a steal. Thats a member price, so make sure to sign up for this free program in the store.
Throw an outdoor rug, like this Arizona Ivory amp; Brown Rug by Wildon Home, in front of the outdoor couch, and youve got yourself a good-lookin space. For just 24.99.
This is just one of the many outdoor rugs Wayfair currently has on sale for 50 percent off.
Macmalls Easter sale means some pretty cool savings on some pretty cool Apple products, like 599 off the Apple 13.3" MacBook Pro with Retina display, Dual-core Intel Core i7 3.0GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 4000 Turbo Boost up to 3.7GHz.
Light up your indoor, or outdoor area, with SONOMAs Wooden Pillar Candle Lantern, on trend and on clearance at Kohls for 29.99, down from 99.
Plus youll save up to 30 percent off by using your Kohls card and get a bonus 10 for every 50 spent basically, Kohls will pay you to take this home.
Redoing a bathroom? This VIGO Square Shaped White Phoenix Stone Glass Vessel Bathroom Sink will give you a modern look at a great price. Just 119.61, down 65 percent from the regular price of 221.79 on Overstock.
> Full Story
The Five Biggest Mortgage Mistakes You Can Make
For most buyers, the mortgage is the largest monthly expense they will have. Yet most borrowers will do little to no preparation, negotiation, or shopping to get the best deal. And they end up paying much more for their loans than they need to. You? Youre smarter than that, or you wouldnt be reading this article. Here are five of the biggest mistakes that can cost you real money.
1. Believing advertised rates are what youll pay
Unless you have perfect or near-perfect credit, most advertised rates are out of your league. To get boasting rights on a rate that good, you have to pay part of a point one percent of the loan amount a point, or more to get the best rates.
Your lender will go over your credit with a fine-tooth comb to find anything to raise the rate. That includes qualifying you at the beginning of the transaction, and then running your credit again a day or two before youre supposed to close on the home and loan. If theres been any change in your debt-to-income ratio, goodbye low mortgage rate.
2. Not comparing lenders
Just like everyone knows two or three real estate agents or more, everyone knows a loan officer or a mortgage broker. A loan officer works for a bank or savings and loan and can only offer you loan packages that the bank has put together. A mortgage broker prequalifies you just like a loan officer, and shops your deal around to various lenders.
Whether you talk to a loan officer or a mortgage broker, youre going to have to share personal financial information in order to get a realistic rate. Reputable brokers will show you what certain banks and credit unions quoted and you can pick the loan you like best.
If youd rather do your own shopping, consider talking to a local bank, a national bank, a credit union, and a savings and loan, but remember, unless you give them personal information and permission to run your credit, its just talk.
3. Not paying attention to terms
Advertised rates even for those with perfect credit arent what you will actually pay. The true cost of the loan is the APR or annual percentage rate, which includes fees from the lender.
Understanding loan terms is harder than shopping for a new mattress. There are so many ways lenders can inch up the fees. A loan origination fee is also called a processing fee. It pays the loan officer or mortgage broker, so this fee can vary widely. You may pay one lender more for an appraisal than another might charge you.
One lender may charge more for pulling your credit than another. Its all in your good faith estimate, which you dont get until youve applied for the loan.
All terms are negotiable, so dont be afraid to ask what a particular fee is for and can it be reduced or eliminated.
4. Waiting for a better rate
Its great to have bragging rights on a low rate, but you dont want to lose the home of your dreams over a quarter of a point in interest.
Theres a big picture here you could be missing. No matter what your interest rate is, youre going to pay thousands of dollars in interest up front before you make any serious gain in equity. If you go all the way to the end of your loans term, youll pay so much interest that you could have bought the same home two or three times.
Instead of focusing on the percentage rate, work on how quickly you can build equity. Make one extra payment a year. Pay 25, 100, or 500 extra per month and youll more than offset the rate youre paying.
Down the road, if rates drop through the floor, you can refinance, but even thats not an ideal solution. Youll pay loan origination fees, title search fees, appraisal fees and so on -- enough to equal the closing costs you paid the first time around.
And dont forget, youll start the amortization schedule all over again -- with most of your payments going to interest instead of principal.
5. Choosing the wrong type of loan
Many families were hurt post-9/11 when lenders opened the spigots and gave a loan to almost anyone who could sign the paperwork. Suckers bought homes that were too expensive using balloon loans with low teaser rates.
The type of loan you choose should depend on current market conditions and how long you plan to stay in your home, not how much home you want to buy.
Current market conditions favor fixed rates, because rates are rising from all-time lows. Yes, they cost more than hybrid loans or adjustable rate loans, but the base amount is fixed and doesnt change. Only your taxes and hazard insurance will cost you more over the years.
If you get an adjustable rate mortgage, you are at the mercy of market conditions. While theres a cap on how high your interest rate can go, its still a risk.
If you plan to stay in your home five years or more, get a fixed-rate mortgage. If you plan to sell your home sooner, youre taking a risk. It takes most borrowers five years just to earn back their original closing costs in equity.
Once youve narrowed your choice of lenders, ask them on the same day to give you a quote. If you wait even one day, rates may have changed, so youre no longer comparing apples to apples.
> Full Story