The Benefits Of Home Ownership

The decision to purchase a home is exciting and a major investment for your future.  Because there is only so much of it to go around, real estate is the top choice for many investors and the desire for most families.  This article is designed to highlight some of the many benefits of home ownership and how buying a home can often turn the American Dream into a reality.

One of the most profitable markets in real estate is rentals, which means that many families are paying to live in a home that isn’t their own.  In some cases, renting a home is necessary.  For all others, the money that would be spent on rent could instead be used to pay a mortgage.  In fact, monthly rent payments often exceed that of a typical mortgage payment.  One of the greatest benefits of home ownership is putting money into something that you can call your own and knowing that the monthly payments are going toward your home’s equity.

Speaking of equity, many properties experience a growth in value as more development moves into the area or the economy strengthens through an increase in job opportunities.  If this happens, home values soar and owners can bask in the glory of their newfound profit.  When you purchase a new car, it depreciates the moment that you drive off of the lot.  When you buy a home, however, it has the potential to appreciate year after year.  There are few things in life that can offer you a return above and beyond your original purchase price, but a home can.

When you own a home, you will enjoy the freedom of decorating and making any changes that you choose without needing the permission of a landlord or property owner.  In addition, you may even be able to use your home’s equity to finance some needed improvements and/or repairs.  In some cases, these changes may even increase the value of your home.  An upgraded kitchen or bathroom, hardwood flooring or an additional room are examples of changes that could result in added value.

Another advantage of home ownership is the tax benefits that are available.  The interest paid on a home mortgage as well as most property taxes paid are tax deductible.  For additional information on deducting mortgage interest and property tax, consult the IRS or a tax professional.

In addition to providing yourself and your family with a feeling of stability and permanence, home ownership can also help strengthen your credit profile through timely mortgage payments and a steady financial history.

 

“Work, work, work, it’s a labor of love.”

The words to Sammy Kershaw’s country song may sound sweeter than the latest employment numbers that were released last week. Read on for details.

The Jobs Report for August didn’t show much love for workers as the Labor Force Participation Rate, which measures the number of people who are either employed or are actively looking for work, fell to its lowest level in 35 years. Job creations were also lower than expected, with 169,000 jobs created in August versus 177,000 expected. Many of these jobs were in the retail and leisure sectors. Compounding this number, job creations for June and July were revised lower, shaving 74,000 jobs from the previous reports.

The unemployment rate did drop to 7.3 percent–the lowest level since December 2008. However, this number was likely lowered by people leaving the labor force rather than organic job growth. It’s also important to note that outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said that planned layoffs surged by nearly 40 percent from July to August, reaching the highest level in six months.

In housing news, research firm CoreLogic reported that home prices rose 12.4 percent on a year-over-year basis in the month ended in July. This marks the seventeenth consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. However, home prices remain 17.6 percent below their peak levels, which were set in April 2006.

What does this mean for home loan rates? Weak economic reports can often cause investors to move money out of Stocks and into safer investments like Bonds, including Mortgage Bonds to which home loan rates are tied. We saw some of that dynamic late last week, as Bonds improved after the weak Jobs Report.

The Fed has said that economic data will be a key factor in when it begins tapering the $85 billion in Bond purchases it has been making each month to stimulate the economy and housing market. These purchases have helped home loan rates remain attractive. With economic conditions still wobbly and the housing recovery fragile, the Fed will be watching upcoming economic reports closely.

The bottom line is that now remains a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance as home loan rates remain attractive compared to historical levels. Let me know if I can answer any questions at all for you or your clients.

How To Care For Your Lawn

If you love your lawn, it’s only natural that you would want to give it the proper care to help give it a healthy appearance. After all, your landscape is one of the first things that people will notice when they arrive at your home. Your lawn can either make or break your curb appeal.

If you have weeds, remove them with the proper tools or by pulling them out of the ground manually. An important part of grooming your lawn is mowing it regularly to give it a manicured appearance.

You must always feed your law. Your yard gets hungry and what it craves more than anything is water. Most experts recommend that one thorough watering each week is preferable over a light misting every other day. When it comes to feeding your lawn, the best time of year to fertilize is during the spring. This is when your lawn begins to grow and its beautiful shade of green begins to come alive, which is why it’s important to make sure that it has all of the nutrients that it needs to enjoy the warm months ahead.

What happens when your lawn begins to dry out or shows signs of brown spots? It could mean a number of things, but treating it properly will help to get your yard sparkling again. One way of doing this is by planting seeds so that new grass can grow. Before doing this, make sure to loosen the soil so that the seeds will have a healthy start. Your other option is to bring in sod, which is commonly used for larger areas that are in need of a quick fix. Just as you would loosen the soil for seeding, it’s important to do the same for sod so that it can properly attach to the surface of the lawn.

Your lawn is a reflection of your home, but it’s also a potential haven for pests. It’s important to pay close attention to the plants and/or flowers that you choose for your landscape as certain types can deter pests, while others may actually attract them. If in doubt, ask a local gardening expert or a representative at your local home improvement store for more information on this topic. If you develop a pest problem, there are products designed to protect your landscape and permanently rid the pests of your space.

Cut Your Cooling Costs With These Money-Saving Tips

When it comes to keeping your home comfortable in the summer, there are a number of ways to accomplish your goal without breaking a sweat over your cooling costs. Believe it or not, the price of heating and/or cooling a home often accounts for more than 50 percent of a homeowner’s energy bill. What does this mean for you? As a budget conscious individual, it’s time to cut your cooling costs with these money-saving tips.

When the sun is up, consider pulling your shades down. Close your curtains, blinds or whatever window treatments you use to keep the sun’s rays from heating up your home. This will help to keep the interior of your home cool, which can help to cut your energy costs by not making your air conditioner work harder simply because the sun is causing excess heat. Solar screens for your windows and a radiant paint barrier for your attic are effective ways to block much of the sun’s UV rays.

If you use an air conditioner to cool your home, make sure that you adjust the temperature when you leave the house. Otherwise, you are just wasting energy on a home when no one is there. Additionally, you can also turn the unit down at night when the temperatures typically tend to cool off. This is true whether you are using a window unit for an individual room or a central system that’s used to cool the entire home.

It’s important to clean your filters and/or replace them as recommended by the manufacturer. In addition to possibly resulting in dust and other allergens being circulated into the air, neglecting your filters could prevent the cool air from properly getting into your home. Have your air ductwork inspected on a regular basis for leaks and clogs to insure your system operates at peak performance.

Not every summer day is a hot one, which means you can often take advantage of the temperatures by using a standard fan instead of your air conditioner. The latter uses a great deal more energy than a fan, so consider your needs on a daily basis when choosing how to cool your home. You can install a ceiling fan for added air circulation, or you can use a standard rotating fan.

Your kitchen oven can heat up your home in a hurry, which can make your air conditioner work harder to keep your house cool. This, in turn, results in higher cooling costs. Instead of using the oven, consider popping something in the microwave or on the outdoor grill for a change. While this may not be possible every day, it’s certainly something to consider on those sweltering summer afternoons.

Happy Labor Day!

Summertime is coming to an end and there are early signs of fall. It’s time to put away our summer clothes! Turn off the air conditioner! Hurrah! Football season has finally arrived!

For us Labor Day brings parades, festivals, speeches, and picnics. Just as Memorial Day heralds the beginning of summer vacations, to most Americans Labor Day signals the waning of summer.

On this Labor Day, don’t be a workaholic! Take a well deserved rest and enjoy your family! I hope you and yours have a fun and safe Labor Day!

Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Summer is a special time for having fun in the backyard pool, yet drowning is a leading cause of accidental death. Drowning is many times called the “silent killer” as you might not hear a cry for help or the sound of a splash to alert you that a child is in trouble. To keep your summer fun and tragedy free, follow these safety tips:

Don’t get in over your head, regardless of whether you are a beginner or seasoned swimmer, always make sure to swim in a water depth that is most comfortable for you. You should never swim in water that’s deeper than you are used to or that makes you feel intimidated.

If children are present, make sure that they are never left unattended near the pool area. If they are in the water, an adult should be nearby at all times in case help is needed. It’s also important that children be equipped with the proper flotation aid to help them remain above water.

If your pool has steps leading down into the water, make sure that there is a sturdy handrail to hold onto. This will not only help as you enter the water, but will also help to prevent slipping when you emerge from it as well.

Make sure that your pool is situated in a fenced area that remains locked when not in use. This will prevent small children from wandering into the area and being in danger of falling into the pool. This is especially important if you have young children in the home, but is also important if you live in a family-friendly neighborhood where children live.

In addition to these safety tips, make sure to keep your pool covered when it’s not in use and/or when you are away from home. It’s also a good idea to have your pool area well lit so that you can see what’s going on after the sun goes down.

One of the most important aspects of a swimming pool is cleanliness. If you have a pool, make sure that you clean it regularly or hire a professional pool service to handle the work for you. Anytime someone swims, water can get into their eyes and mouth, which is why keeping your pool clean is a must.

If you are hosting a pool party or your children are inviting friends over for an afternoon swim, make sure that you check with the parent(s) of every child present to confirm permission for their child to swim in your pool.

Backyard Summer Entertainment Ideas

When it comes to entertaining outdoors, there’s no place quite like your very own backyard. Many families enjoy the warm summer weather by spending as much time outside as possible, and one way of doing that is by making it a fun place to be.

The smell of a freshly grilled hot dog or hamburger… the unmistakable taste of a meal that’s been prepared outdoors… the excitement of getting together with family and friends for a barbecue… these are all things that you are sure to enjoy and, if you really want to get things cooking, you will get out your grill and cook up something that your entire family will love.

A cookout is a fantastic idea for summer entertainment, which means it is perfect for both small and large groups. Whether you prefer a quiet dinner with your family or you want to make your outdoor grilling adventure into a party by inviting your friends from the neighborhood, outdoor grilling is a fun way to make use of the summer heat.

If you have a pool in your backyard, there’s no better time than summer to put it to use. When the sun comes out and the temperature heats up, a pool party is the perfect way to spend the day cooling down. Before you start picking out your swimsuit, make sure that the pool is properly cleaned and ready for guests. In addition, make sure that there are flotation units for those who need a little help in the water and towels for everyone to dry off when they step out.

Hosting a pool party also means having something to eat and drink for your guests. Whether you’ve planned lunch or just a light snack for everyone, make sure that you have something on hand to curb those cravings. If you’re inviting children over for a pool party for the youngsters, make sure that you have their parents’ permission beforehand.

Believe it or not, many homeowners enjoy setting up a backyard sporting event and inviting everyone to join in. Whether it’s volleyball, horseshoes or just a friendly game of basketball, there’s no better court than home court. If you plan to create a sporty atmosphere, make sure that you have plenty of water on hand for everyone to drink. It’s also important to refrain from playing when the sun is at its peak, which is typically in the early to mid-afternoon hours. Instead, wait until it cools down before heating up your backyard with some friendly sporting competition.