How Do we improve the air quality in our Homes?

 Usually the most effective way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate individual sources of air pollution or to reduce their emissions. Some sources, like those that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others, like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions. In many cases, source control for air quality is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation can increase energy costs.

Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Opening windows and doors, operating window or attic fans, when the weather permits, or running a window air conditioner with the vent control open increases the outdoor ventilation rate and serves as a simple form of air cleaners. Local bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors remove contaminants directly from the room where the fan is located and increase the outdoor air ventilation rate.

It is particularly important to take as many of these steps as possible while you are involved in short-term activities that can generate high levels of pollutants–for example, painting, paint stripping, heating with kerosene heaters, cooking, or engaging in maintenance and hobby activities such as welding, soldering, sanding, model making and gluing.

However, remember that for most indoor air quality problems in the home, source control is the most effective solution.

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Mortgage rates fell!

Mortgage rates fell!

imagesCAE30UQZEconomic data affects rates by motivating investors to seek out or avoid risk. Higher demand means higher prices and lower rates.  Investors are looking for clarity on the Fed’s plans regarding raising rates, among other things.

From here on out, volatility becomes an increasing risk heading into the Fed’s Announcement next Wednesday. It can either work for or against us, but the point is that if it does work against us, the potential damage is bigger than normal.

$10 Million in Grants to Aid Homeownership

$10 Million in Grants to Aid Homeownership

construction-spending-misses-expectations-falls-06The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – HUD announced Wednesday that it is awarding $10 million in grants to four non-profit organizations that will create homes for hundreds of families.

These grants are known as “Sweat Equity” grants, which combine efforts and labor from volunteers and homebuyers themselves.   The non-profit organizations recipients of these grants are: Community Frameworks  ($540,000),   Habitat for Humanity International   ($6.21 million),   Housing Assistance Council   ($1.56 million), and   Tierra del Sol    (Western States Housing Consortium, $1.68 million).

Homebuyers are required to contribute a minimum number of “Sweat Equity” hours toward the building and development of their own homes as participation for this self-help homeownership programs, according to HUD. The minimum sweat equity requirement is 100 hours for a household consisting of two or more persons and 50 hours for a household consisting of one person.

Community volunteers labor participation is also required. Sweat equity and volunteer labor includes any number of activities related         to the construction of a home such as painting, carpentry, foundation work, drywall, trim work, roofing, or siding, among others.

Consumer Sentiment: Moving Forward!

Consumer Sentiment: Moving Forward!

Consumer confidence declined in September, rebounded in October and jumped more than two points in a preliminary November estimate, beating economic forecasts and hitting a more than seven-year high.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment registered 89.4 in a mid-month reading, the best showing since July 2007. Economists had forecast the measure would hit 87.5, with some predicting as high as 89.

What factor have contributed to this improvement? The declining of oil prices and an improving job market were probably the main factors that led to this surge in consumer sentiment. A more favorable business conditions perhaps also helped the consumers’ view of the present situation. This solid increase suggests consumers have largely dismissed concerns about slowing global growth and have ignored the sharp swings in financial markets earlier this month

US consumers expect better economic growth and rising incomes in the coming months and overall positive growth in our economy, leading to a stronger dollar and making other investments more attractive. Consumers regained confidence and are more optimistic now about their future earnings potential, and with the holiday season getting closer and closer, we may see ever higher numbers in consumer’s confidence.

What about the Housing Market? Considering that the Federal Financing Housing Agency has recently opened more doors for eligibility criteria in the purchase of  homes, we expect to continue with good news about the economic outlook in general.

Opening Doors for Homebuyers!

Opening Doors for Homebuyers!

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is the first of six financial regulators to release the final version of the long-awaited qualified residential mortgage (QRM) rule. The National Association of Realtors applauds this action because it will make possible to incorporate rules that include a broad definition for Qualified Mortgage standards implemented earlier this year.

Got your House?

Got your House?

Under the QRM rule, loans are generally considered qualified if the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio is 43 percent, among other things and there is not onerous down payment requirement, as regulators had originally proposed.

The NAR strongly opposed earlier versions of the rule that included 20 and 30 percent down payment requirements, which would have denied millions of Americans access to the lowest-cost and safest mortgages

For lenders, having these two rules in alignment provides the clarity they’ve long been asking for, widening and deepening loan eligibility and availability, which has been one of the main stumbling blocks to increased home sales.

Homebuyers will have now more credit availability reflecting an increase in home purchases, and refis. Way to go!

September:  Highest Consumer Confidence

September: Highest Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence reached its highest level since the Great Recession in September, according to the Thomson Reuters and University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

consumer-confidenceSeptember’s increase in consumer confidence is the result of optimistic outlooks on the overall economy and personal incomes.  The consumer expectations index rose 5.8 percent over the month of September, while the current conditions index fell 0.9 percent.

Additionally, a growing number of consumers expect their incomes to increase over the next year. The median income growth expectation reported in September was 1.1 percent, which is the highest expectation since late 2008. At the same time, more households anticipate income growth now than at any time since September 2008.

The renewal of income growth is particularly important for sparking consumer spending, and adding pending changes to monetary policy will make income gains prompt to boost even more consumer’s confidence.

Mortgage Rates and Terms Beware!

Mortgage Rates and Terms Beware!

Mortgage rates haven’t moved much this year, and the good news is they’ve been stuck at historically low levels. However, mortgage rates are expected to move higher as we head through the fall. While various groups report national mortgage rate averages each week, the rates you get can vary dramatically from that average, depending on what product you choose and how you shop.

One of the biggest mistakes home buyers make is to take a 30 year, fixed-rate mortgage when they don’t really need it. The 30-year fixed is the most expensive of all mortgage products because the rate is the highest and you’re paying for the longest time.imprevistos

It is better to consider a product that matches how long you expect to be in your home, and make some changes later. Points are an upfront payment of interest in exchange for a lower rate. This boosts your closing costs and makes the rate appear to be artificially low.

Also, a great rate can turn into a bad one if your rate lock expires and you have to pay for an extension. Get your financials ready and provide them when asked, the sooner the better so it won’t interfere with the possibility of losing your rate lock. Documentation requirements can be arduous these days, and financial institutions are not going to waive them.

Beware of hidden fees and loan level pricing adjustments. Be sure to review a full breakdown of closing costs before committing to a lender. You can shop by rate or shop by fees, but you can’t shop for both at the same time.

Be aware about the Zero-closing cost mortgages that are sometimes available for as little as 12.5 basis points (0.125 percent) added to your mortgage rate. Your payment might raise $30-50 per month, but you’ll eliminate $4,000 in closing costs or more.

And finally, don’t let multiple lenders run your credit score. This can actually damage your score.

 

 

Why NOW is a great time to buy a house!

Why NOW is a great time to buy a house!

There has never been a better time to buy a home; the advantage is on the buyer side. Buying is cheaper than renting in most markets. More people want to be homeowners, even younger buyers.  A recent Fannie Mae survey of younger renters and buyers finds out that younger renters prefer owning. They don’t want to be renters – 90% would prefer to be homeowners. Family Savings

Mortgage rates have dropped across all loan types including FHA loans, USDA loans, VA loans, and conventional loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and 30-year rates are at their best levels of 2014.

Inventory is down but so is the buyer pool. That means prices may be coming down. You may well have less competition for homes right now, especially if you’re in the ultra-competitive first time buyer market. This means that your chances of finding a home—and getting it for the right price—look good.

Credit and affordability issues remain. If you are financially and emotionally prepared, it makes sense to write a check list of what you need to get approved for a mortgage; order your credit reports; get your FICO score; pay stubs and bank statements; shop for the best mortgage rates; cobble together a down payment; meet with your choice of lender, and find out what your monthly payments will be for the home of your dreams, then GO for it!