Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Rent is HOW MUCH?!

The rent may indeed be “too darn high,” but it’s only going up, according to a new report from online real estate listing service Zillow. According to new analysis from Zillow, U.S. renters paid $441 billion in rent in 2014, up $20.6 billion from 2013’s total of $420.4 billion. That represents an increase of 4.9%. Accounting for an estimated 770,000 additional U.S. renters in 2014, the average renter household spent $26 more per month in 2014 than in 2013, for a total of $312 more paid in rent this year compared to last, Zillow said. “Over the past 14 years, rents have grown at twice the pace of income due to weak income growth, burgeoning rental demand, and insufficient growth in the supply of rental housing,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries. “This has created real opportunities for rental housing owners and investors, but has also been a bitter pill to swallow for tenants, particularly those on an entry-level salary and those would-be buyers struggling to save for a down payment on a home of their own.” Humphries said that increases in rent are only going to continue. “Next year, we expect rents to rise even faster than home values, meaning that another increase in total rent paid similar to that seen this year isn’t out of the question,” he said. “In fact, it’s probable.” Source: HousingWire

Most younger renters think owning is a more sensible housing choice for financial reasons, according to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey. Seventy-six percent of young renters, defined in this study as between 18 and 39, think owning makes more sense because they’re protected against rent increases, and owning can be a good investment over the long-term. “However, a large majority of young renters have remained pessimistic over the last few years about their ability to get a home loan; in contrast, younger owners have grown more optimistic,” says Sarah Shahdad, strategic planning analyst at Fannie Mae. “Demographic differences between younger renters and younger owners may explain part of the gap in attitudes.” Younger owners are more likely to fall in the higher end of the age range, earn more, and be employed full-time compared with younger renters, Shahdad notes. “The widening of that same gap during the last few years suggests that confidence in one’s ability to get a home loan is growing primarily among those who have already met financial requirements,” she notes. Young renters consider down payments and credit scores to be the top obstacles of getting a home loan. Also, the presence of student loans heightens the difficulty, they feel. But, young renters say, one day, they still plan to buy. “Enhanced housing education and alternative approaches to housing and savings may help renters fulfill their housing aspirations in a financially sustainable way,” Shahdad says. “Educational resources and tools may help renters make more informed decisions about their housing choices and begin managing their finances early and efficiently in order to fulfill their goals.” Also, promoting alternative paths to home ownership may help. Shahdad notes that about three-quarters of younger renters and owners said a lease-to-own arrangement would make renting more desirable to them since it would lead to home ownership. Source: Fannie Mae

Americans 55 years old and older are increasingly expected to begin trading residences as they near retirement, and that has many housing analysts and homebuilders predicting a surge in active-adult homes and communities that appeal to seniors. Homebuilders PulteGroup, Lennar, and Toll Brothers are reporting higher sales in this segment. Builders also are trying to lure this age group with multigenerational amenities, such as a separate private entrance, bedroom, bathroom, and eat-in kitchen attached to a traditional home. The National Association of Home Builders’ 55+ Housing Market Index also reflects greater optimism in the 55-plus housing market. This year, the index reached its highest second-quarter reading since it began in 2008, and it posted its 11th consecutive quarter of year-over-year gains. “One of the factors contributing to the positive signs in the 55+ housing market is the slow but steady increase in existing-home sales in the past several months,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “The 55+ market is strongly driven by consumers being able to sell their existing homes at a favorable price in order to buy or rent in a 55+ community.” Source: Investors Business Daily

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10 Ways to Lower Your Heating Costs

1. TAKE THE HEAT DOWN A NOTCH

Each degree you lower your thermostat for a period of at least eight hours can make your heating bill 1 percent cheaper, theEnergy Departmentestimates.

2. INSTALL A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT

Afraid you won’t remember to turn down the heat before you go to bed or leave the house? A programmable thermostat controls the temperature 24/7. Resist the temptation to mess with the settings when you get chilly, lest you eat into the savings. Grab a sweater instead

3. REDUCE DRAFTS

You can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills by covering up drafty windows and doors and sealing air leaks, according to the Department of Energy. Drafts can affect the thermostat reading, too, so these simple fixes may solve more than one winter energy challenge.

4. INSTALL STORM DOORS AND WINDOWS

This is a more permanent way to cut down on drafts that enter the house through inefficient doors and windows. The home improvement siteImproveNetalleges this project can increase your home’s energy efficiency by 45 percent and lays out the costs, pros, and cons.

5. CHANGE FURNACE FILTERS

Dirty furnace filters can restrict airflow, making the heating system work harder, which in turn can boost your bill. Filters should be cleaned or replaced monthly during the cold season. Keeping tabs on the furnace filter can also reduce medical bills. The more efficient the filter, the more allergens and debris it will catch and prevent from circulating in the air.

6. RUN FANS IN REVERSE

Did you know that changing the direction of a ceiling fan could shave as much as 10 percent off your heating bill? Good Housekeeping explains that flipping a switch on the fan turns the traditional counterclockwise rotation that produces a cool breeze to a clockwise rotation that pushes the warm air back into circulation

7. TURN DOWN THE WATER HEATER

The Simple Dollar points out that the standard setting for a hot water heater is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can lower energy costs 6 to 10 percent by lowering the temperature to 120 degrees, which is still plenty warm. Other options, such as a tankless or solar water heater, can reduce the cost of heating water even more but require an initial investment of at least several hundred dollars.

8. KEEP MAINTENANCE IN MIND

Just like any other major appliance, afurnaceneeds regular tune-ups. Keeping it clean and properly adjusted helps it run efficiently and prolongs its lifespan. Check with your utility company or furnace manufacturer — many offer free annual inspections.

9. USE CAULK AND WEATHERSTRIPPING

Windows and doors aren’t the only spots where warm air leaks out of the house. Keep an eye out for places where two types of building materials meet — corners, chimneys, and around pipes and wires. These energy suckers can be plugged up with caulk and weatherstripping.

10. SEAL THE DUCTS

The Energy Department warns that about 20 percent of heated air can escape from the ductwork in a house. Properly sealed ductwork also better protects against dust and mold. Note that sealing ducts is not the same as cleaning them. In fact, many studies have shown that cleaning the ductwork is unnecessary unless there is an air quality issue.

Excerpt from MSNnews.com

Buying after Bankruptcy

You’ve filed for bankruptcy, now what? It’s no secret that bankruptcy can leave your credit score at the bottom of the barrel but you are not alone. On average, one million Americans file bankruptcy every year.
Today, I’m going to give you some information on buying into the American Dream, home-ownership, after filing bankruptcy. The first step is repairing your credit score. In this day and time, your credit score follows you around like a cloud above your head. We want to give you the tools to turn that cloud into a ray of sunshine instead of a black cloud raining on your head. The quickest way to rebuild credit is with either a secured credit card (a secured card gives you credit that’s limited to an amount you have on deposit with the issuing bank) or an installment loan (personal loan, student loans, etc…). This is the most effective way of letting potential lenders know that you can be trusted to pay back any money that is owed to them.
Next, you will want to review your credit report. According to ABC, one in five people have an error on their credit report. Did you know you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the credit rating agencies each year? And the Fair Credit Reporting Act provides you with a clear process for having the errors on your report corrected.
After your bankruptcy has been discharged, you can begin talking to a lender about getting prequalified for a home loan. If you are unsure of who to call, call US! The G Team (615.466.3030) will be happy to help you in the buying process. We will get you set up with a qualified lender and stay by your side every step of the way.
Generally, the waiting period to buy a home after filing bankruptcy is only 2 years. In some cases, it could even be sooner. During this time you will want to rebuild your credit, learn to budget and educate yourself. With a little hard work and planning you too can be a home owner.
Here are some tips to remember:
– Use only a small portion of your credit
– Don’t max out any new credit cards
– Don’t apply for too much credit too soon
– Pay ALL your bills on time (I cannot stress how important this is!)
– Pay more than the monthly minimum, if possible
– Stay at the same job for a good length of time
– SAVE MONEY
– Watch out for “repair your credit fast” type schemes

COMING SOON: Topics on buying after a foreclosure, money management, THDA loans, USDA loans…