Daily News And Advice
How to Give Your Décor a Sustainable Makeover
Sustainability and being more eco-friendly are top priorities for many of us right now. Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune to make your life more sustainable, including your home décor.
The following are simple, practical ways you can cultivate a more sustainable interior design concept in your home for a greener and often healthier lifestyle.
Choose the Right Materials
The materials you choose for flooring, furniture, rugs, and other key items in your home can make for more sustainable design.
For example, reclaimed wood is lovely for flooring or making furniture. When you use reclaimed wood, you’re breathing new life into old materials and recycling them.
Bamboo is an excellent material to use in home design because it’s more sustainable than traditional wood. It’s one of the fastest-growing plants we have access to, and it doesn’t require the use of a lot of fertilizers or pesticides.
Cork is a sustainable material that can be made to feel and look just like hardwood and is increasingly being used for flooring.
When it comes to fabrics and upholstery, natural options like jute are eco-friendly. Jute is a strong material that grows quickly and is renewable.
If you’re going to be painting or varnishing anything in your home, choose products that have low levels of what are called volatile organic compounds or VOCs. VOCs can evaporate when they’re at room temperature and create harmful gas for your health and pollute the environment.
As you choose paints and finishes, look for products that specifically say they’re low VOC or non-toxic. Milk paint and water-based paints can also be sustainable solutions.
Swap Your Light Bulbs
One of the easiest and quickest updates you can make to your home that’ll make it more eco-friendly is to switch out your light bulbs. Get rid of your old bulbs for LED bulbs that use at a minimum 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. They also last much longer.
You can typically still keep your original lighting source and get the benefits of the new bulbs, so it’s not a major project.
We all tend to like finding a good deal on cheap, new furniture, but there are some advantages to shopping for vintage or antique options. First, it’s fun to find treasures, and you may actually save money over the cost of new items.
Old furniture tends to be well-made and stand the test of time, and you’re giving these items new life.
Consider Your Color Scheme
The colors you use in your décor can make a difference in your environmental impact.
If you use light colors, your home will reflect more light. That will help you need to use less artificial lighting compared to darker colors.
Plus, it may be easier to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home using excess energy if your color palette focuses on lighter options.
Use Window Treatments
Adding window coverings lets you control both heating and lighting.
Most of your heat is going to escape through your windows, and you may not have the money in your budget to upgrade your windows right now, so coverings can do the trick. You can keep the cold air out and the sun in by opening and shutting your coverings as needed.
Use Home Automation
If you use a home automation system like Nest, you can control your lighting and heating anywhere, improving your home’s efficiency.
Decorate with Plants
Having greenery in your home comes with a plethora of benefits. Plants and greenery can boost your mood and productivity. They can improve your immune system, and they’re good for the environment because they provide oxygen while filtering out harmful chemicals.
Your overall goals for sustainable design should be having a healthy environment for your family, reducing your reliance on non-renewable materials, cutting down your energy usage, and minimizing waste. You don’t have to achieve all of these at one time. Take small steps as you work toward a greener future, beginning with your home.
Will You Finance? How to Answer This Question
Okay so you recently listed your home and have begun to receive offers. So far, the offers have been lower than what you want so you decide to wait a little longer to see if the current list price is accepted. Pretty soon, not only did someone match your list price with their offer but also bumped it up a little bit. That’s hard to ignore, isn’t it? But there’s a caveat: the proposal asks that you finance the transaction. A classic ‘seller financed’ purchase. Should you?
The first thing to find out is why the potential buyers are wanting you to carry the note on the property. Many times it’s because the buyers have had their credit damaged and can’t seem to find a competitive mortgage program. Before you get too much further, you need to ask the potential buyers why they need seller financing in the first place. If they tell you it’s due to their low credit scores, the next question is to ask why the scores are too low. If you’re still interested in this full-price offer, you’ll next need to pull a credit report. Don’t accept a credit report supplied by the buyers, instead get one of your own.
Low credit scores typically represent a marginal credit history over time. Some late payments, recent ones, are showing up on the credit report along with various ‘late pays’ stretching out over the past couple of years. This clearly indicates a relatively low regard for credit. In this situation, it’s probably best to pass on this offer and wait for the next one. However, if the low scores are due to a recent catastrophic event that won’t likely occur again, you might want to dig a little further. For example, one of the borrowers was laid off six months ago and some payments were missed. However, the individual soon found a new job and the late payments stopped. Again, you might be getting closer to a decision.
First, you’ll need a down payment. Not just 3% or 5%, but one closer to 20% or even more. This reduces the risk at the outset and leaves you some equity in the transaction should you ever need to foreclose due to non-payment. Next, decide on what the terms of your personal note will be. A short term note of say two to three years is ideal because it gives the buyers time for their credit scores to repair to the point of being able to refinance into a conventional mortgage later on. And amortize your note over 30 years to lower the payments.
Finally, make sure they can afford your new terms. Use the same debt ratio that mortgage companies use. Including the property taxes and insurance, calculate the total monthly payment. This number should be around 30% of the buyers’ gross monthly income. Get copies of their paycheck stubs to make that comparison. If you’ve been satisfied, you should get with an attorney to put a legal note together.
If you’ve decided to say ‘yes’ to this proposal, you’ve got some upfront cash to the tune of 20% of the sales price or more, you’ve gotten a full price offer plus a little more and you have some secured monthly income for the next two to three years.
The Best Benefits of Houseplants
Having greenery in your home isn’t just aesthetically pleasing. There are a lot of great health benefits as well.
Even if you don’t have a natural green thumb, a plant here or there can still deliver the following benefits.
Who among us couldn’t do with a little less stress in our lives? This is especially true since many people are still working from home and dealing with the effects of the pandemic.
A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that if you have plants in your home or office, which may be the same for you these days, it can help you feel calmer and more comfortable.
Indoor gardening lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and plants might reduce both psychological and physiological stress.
There are a lot of different theories researchers have as to why plants might help reduce stress. For example, you might think about outdoor spaces when you see them, making you feel more patient. Admiring your plants can also make you more mindful.
Immune System Boosters
Plants can boost your immune system in multiple ways. First, if they make you feel more relaxed, you’re more likely to get high-quality sleep. Sleep helps strengthen your immunity.
Plants also have airborne chemicals and phytoncides that are released into the air and have benefits for your immune system.
A 2002 research review found that people recovering from various types of surgery needed less pain medication and had shorter stays in the hospital than people not surrounded by greenery during their recovery.
When you have plants in your home and your office, you can be more productive. This may be because plants give you something beautiful and vibrant to look at, making you feel more creative and focused.
You add color and liveliness to your workspace, giving you a mental boost.
In 2004, a study was conducted where researchers asked participants to make creative word associations. The study participants with plants in the room with them performed better.
There was a study in 2007 showing that people with plants in their work area were more productive and took fewer sick days.
Air Quality Improvements
Houseplants are excellent at absorbing toxic substances that might be floating around your home, like formaldehyde and benzene. These are artificial materials that produce gas pollutants. Researchers from Virginia Tech found houseplants can also reduce dust indoors by up to 20%.
NASA researchers have looked at these air-clearing benefits, and they recommend that you have anywhere from 15 to 18 houseplants for a house that’s 1800 square feet. Even if you don’t have that many, just one or two plants can benefit the quality of your air.
Also, plants release water vapor into the air. That, in turn, increases humidity, which can improve the health of your skin and respiratory system. If you struggle with headaches, respiratory issues or allergies, plants may help.
Plants increase the amount of oxygen in the air by absorbing carbon dioxide. They release oxygen as they go through photosynthesis. Take the most advantage of these benefits by putting plants within six to eight feet of where you usually sit or sleep.
When you have more oxygen, your energy, focus, and mood are all likely to benefit.
As humans, we have a deep connection to nature. When you bring nature indoors to surround you in your daily life, it’s going to help reconnect you to that. There are physical and psychological benefits to houseplants that are worth exploring.
Earnest Money vs. Down Payment: How Do They Compare?
There are two terms you might hear if you’re in the market to buy a house—earnest money and down payment. The two are not interchangeable, but sometimes there’s confusion between what they are, what they aren’t, and how they compare.
Understanding both earnest money and a down payment is critical to buying a home. Too often, buyers will think only about the down payment they have to make up front, but they don’t consider other costs.
What is Earnest Money?
Earnest money you might also hear referred to as an escrow deposit. Earnest money or an escrow deposit is an amount of money that you, if you’re a buyer, put into an escrow account only after a seller accepts your offer.
The objective of earnest money is to show a seller that you’re entering into this transaction in good faith.
Another way to look at earnest money is as if it’s a security deposit.
An earnest money deposit is not a good faith deposit. Under some circumstances, your earnest money might be refundable. What your earnest money does is allow you a specific amount of time to get your mortgage financing in order and also go through any other steps in the buying process, like inspections and appraisals.
Earnest money is usually calculated as either a fixed amount or a percentage. Which one you’d pay depends mainly on the market where you’re buying.
In some markets, there’s a standard, fixed amount of earnest money no matter the purchase price.
Once your purchase agreement is accepted, you submit that amount of money.
For other markets, it’s common to do a percentage of the purchase price—3% for example.
Your earnest money is deposited into an escrow account where it can earn interest.
If you’re in a competitive market, earnest money deposits are a good way to set your offer apart. You’re showing that you genuinely intend to buy, and if you can put forth a bigger earnest money deposit, you’re signaling that you might be a safer buyer. If you can put that money up early on, the seller might feel you’re more financially stable, so they can worry less about something causing the sale to fall apart at the last minute.
If you make it to loan closing, then your earnest money deposit goes toward your down payment.
Along with making your offer stand out, earnest money can also be a way to compensate a seller for taking the house off the market as you finalize transaction details.
If you don’t make it to closing, you may lose your earnest money.
To guarantee you get it back, you should have contingencies in place to protect the deposit, like a home inspection or appraisal contingency.
What’s a Down Payment?
A down payment is something that, as a buyer you can put toward the purchase of a home. The seller receives it, and then the rest of the home's purchase price comes from your mortgage.
Lenders require down payment minimums. The minimum required amount is 3% of the purchase price of a home, but 20% is best. The closer you can get to the 20% down payment, the more likely you’ll be approved for a mortgage. Also, you’ll have smaller monthly payments on your mortgage.
If your down payment is less than 20%, your lender will probably require you to buy private mortgage insurance or PMI. PMI is a way for your lender to protect itself if you default on your loan.
Both earnest money and down payment are essential parts of buying a house. Earnest money can sometimes be returned if the transaction doesn’t go through if you have contingencies.
In some cases, a seller will get to keep your earnest money if you don’t go through with the purchase.
A buyer and seller can usually negotiate on earnest money, and it can be anywhere from 1% to 2% of the purchase price, up to 10% in very hot markets.
Earnest money can accumulate interest.
A lender requires a down payment as part of your mortgage, and you don’t negotiate it with your seller. With that being said, you pay it to the seller and not the lender, and then the rest of the purchase price comes from the mortgage.
Who Qualifies for an FHA Home Loan?
A mortgage the Federal Housing Administration backs is known as an FHA loan. FHA loans are unique from other mortgages and home loans. They’re often helpful for first-time homeowners because they offer a combination of a lower down payment requirement and lower credit score standards.
The following are some of the critical factors when it comes to qualifying for an FHA loan.
Credit Score Requirements
The minimum credit score for an FHA
“If” Buyers Can Keep Their Heads…
In the midst of uncertain times, watch out for what you react to if you’re serious about buying a home.
This is an especially important caution if you are a first-time or a first-time-in-a-long-time home buyer.
We live in a “quicksand” time of shifting realities and emerging uncertainties. The pandemic overlay adds an unsettling craziness about environmental, political, financial, and personal crises.
First-time buyers are
How Do Student Loans Affect Your Ability to Buy a Home?
As of August 2021, student loan debt in the U.S. totals $1.73 trillion, and it’s growing at a rate six times faster than the country's economy. There are more than 43 million student borrowers in debt, and they have an average debt load of $39,351 each.
There are a lot of negative ways carrying student loan debt can impact your life. One of those is affecting your ability to get a mortgage and buy a home. The following are more specific things you should know about your student loan
Seven Ways to Ace a Minimalist Home Décor
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of minimalism. What started in the early 1960s as an art movement has since become a popular lifestyle choice.
Minimalism in interior design is all about emphasizing utility. A minimalist home is intentional, with muted colors and limited objects. The end goal is to showcase the essentials in a chic and organized atmosphere.
Does this sound easy enough? Think again. Acing the minimalist décor isn’t
Do You Need Perfect Credit For A Refi?
Those sub-3% mortgage rates sure look enticing. But, can you get your hands on one? If you don’t have excellent credit, the best rates might not be on the table. But that doesn’t mean you can’t refinance.
Minimum credit score
A score above 700 is generally considered to be excellent and will open up your refinance options. But, contrary to what you may think, you can have a lower credit score and still qualify.
“Credit requirements vary by
|Mortgage Rates |
Averages as of October 2021:
30 yr. fixed: 3.01%
15 yr. fixed: 2.28%
5/1 yr. adj: 2.48%