Archive for March, 2015

ACCEPTABLE SOURCES OF DOWN PAYMENT
March 23, 2015

When considering buying a home, one of the first topics of conversation is the down payment (and closing costs) – how much is needed and where is it coming from. Do you know what’s OKAY and what’s NOT okay? While not everything is covered here, these are the most common money sources mentioned.

house_money_pile_shutterstock_83573653Acceptable Sources of Money

  • Deposit accounts, vested retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, trust funds
  • Gifts (minimum investment requirements)
  • Sale of asset (home, car, boat – proof required)
  • Secured loans: Vehicle, 401k, home equity
  • Rent-to-own: Credit toward down payment cannot exceed the difference between Market Rent and the Actual Rent paid for the last 12 months.
  • Seller contributions: Certain percentage of the sales price depending upon LTV (loan to value ratio) & Occupancy
  • Down payment assistance: Grant funds or community loans

Money in MattressUnacceptable Sources of Money

  • Undisclosed, interested-party contributions
  • Payment abatements
  • Sweat equity
  • Funds that have not been vested
  • Personal unsecured loans
  • Cash

The bottom line – Buyers will have to PROVE with documentation the source of their Down Payment funds. “Unacceptable sources” of these funds make it difficult to get approved for a mortgage loan. For this reason, speaking with a loan professional should be at the top of your To-Do list when contemplating the purchase of a home.

Rich and Jan McMillen
http://www.TOHomes.com/

WATER HEATERS TARGETED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
March 21, 2015

Water Heater 1Effective April 16, 2015, higher energy factor ratings will be required by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) on virtually all residential gas, electric, oil and tankless water heaters.

For homeowners, these changes will ultimately result in a better, more efficient product with lower operating costs, but the upgrades come with some cost. Changing the capacity and insulation factor of the water heater increases overall size of the unit. If your water heater is installed in a tight space now, there is a good chance that the new models will not just slide into place. This might mean relocating the water heater to a new location or retrofitting the current space to accommodate the upgraded model. Upgrading the venting to the new standards also affects replacement; expect increased installation times to adapt current venting to new EF requirements. The addition of the new electronics could result in increased maintenance costs due to increased complexity of design. Expect a few extra visits to fine-tune the water heater for optimum performance and possibly working out the bugs in new technologies.

When products become more complex, it is less likely that they will be purchased and installed by the do-it-yourself consumer. Also, some homeowners may now take notice of tankless technology as it already incorporates the demands of the new NAECA guidelines. The units are wall-hung, meaning that they will readily fit into tight spaces that cannot accommodate the new and larger tank water heaters.

 Rich and Jan McMillen
www.TOHomes.com/

HOME IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2015
March 16, 2015

• Small changes can make a big difference. Tour your home and make a punch list of all the little items needing repaired (e.g. broken or missing faceplates on outlets and switches) or could be updated (e.g. changing the outdated color of the family room or ratty towels in the guest bathroom). Then, start tackling them one at a time. You’ll feel a sense of pride when finishing each task and you’ll also feel better about your refreshed home.
• Make a major improvement. Remember a home should always be a work in process so update the kitchen countertops, change out that nasty shower stall, replace those 40-year-old cloudy windows with energy-efficient dual-pane ones, or add central air conditioning . If not now, when?
• Surprise by design. Change you child’s nursery to reflect the princess she has become or the superhero he wishes to be!
• Stop and smell the roses or some other flowery delight. Plants and flowers are known mood lifters. Attractive landscaping is key for adding curb appeal to your home and is a gift to your neighbors too. Bring nature inside as well to improve air quality and to treat yourself to spring all year long.
• Light up your home. Update light fixtures starting with outdated chandeliers in the entry and dining room. Install recessed lighting in living rooms, family rooms and kitchens to increase your home’s value.
• Reclaim your garage. Jerry Seinfeld quipped that once items move to the garage, they never make it back into the house. So take some time to decide between donating that old couch to an organization that could make good use of it or sending it to the landfill.
• Learn a new skill. YouTube videos can teach you how to lay tile in a bathroom and install a closet organizer in a home office. A well done Do It Yourself project will bond you to your home.
• Rekindle the romance with your home. Your most valuable asset and the place you spend the majority of your time is probably your home. Treat it with love.

Paint

Rich and Jan McMillen
www.TOHomes.com