Friday, April 8, 2011

Easy Energy-Saving Ideas for Spring

Spring is finally upon us, which means things will be heating up in no time...including your electric bill.  In today's economy, it's important to reduce expenses wherever possible, especially those costs related to your home. I have seen how seemingly small steps in home maintenance can yield big results in terms of savings. Whenever working with clients, therefore, I make sure to point out the various ways they can save energy. Not only is it good for the environment, it's good for your household budget as well. Here are some great energy-saving ideas to look at this spring:

Friday, April 1, 2011

How to Qualify for a Mortgage in Today's Credit Crunch

There may have never been a better time to buy a home than right now. Earlier this month, interest rates dropped again -- the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.79% from 4.93%, according to -- and there is still plenty of inventory, keeping home prices relatively low in our area. Those positive factors, however, are often offset by tighter lending standards, causing many to shy away from applying for a mortgage. As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, however, I have learned that it really boils down to four main factors that will impact a lender's decision:
  • Your ability to make a downpayment - usually between 3% and 20% of the purchase price -- of course, the larger the downpayment, the better your odds of securing the mortgage.
  • Two years of steady employment - at the same job or in the same field.
  • Good (but not necessarily perfect) credit score - these days, around 660 may do it.
  • Monthly income between two and three times the estimated monthly mortgage payment.
I have had many clients, however, who have qualified for a mortgage without completely meeting the above criteria ... so don't rule yourself out too soon. There are several other steps you can take to secure a mortgage, such as these ideas from BusinessWeek: