Five Easy Home Winterization Tips

An iced over house.With the winter season upon us, cold temperatures and frozen precipitation will be the norm for the foreseeable future. It’s important to prep your living space for winter’s wrath. By following some simple tips, you can successfully winterize your home, saving energy and money and perhaps even qualifying for a tax credit.

  1. Be draft-free. An easy way to prepare your home for cold weather is to block openings that are causing drafts. Cold air can seep in through window and door frames, recessed lighting, and electrical outlets. Find these leaks and block them using door sweeps, caulk, outlet gaskets, and draft snakes.
  2. Do a furnace check-up. A healthy furnace should be odor-free. If yours is not, schedule a professional tune-up; if it is, be sure the filters are clean and being changed monthly for efficient airflow and less demand for energy- electrostatic or genuine HEPA filters are the way to go.
  3. Insulate. Keep windows, walls, attics and basements insulated to ensure warmth, as well as money and energy savings, during winter months. Window insulation kits are an inexpensive alternative to hiring a professional.
  4. Layer up. Dress for the weather, even indoors. By throwing on a cozy sweater, blanket, or pair of slippers, you can raise your body heat without raising the thermostat or the heating bill.
  5. Winterize windows. Storm windows mean warmth. Replace any screens with storm windows if you have them. If you don’t, consider changing out your drafty windows for energy-efficient windows.

Top Ten Reasons Why You Need an Amortization Schedule

 Top Ten Reasons Why
You Need an Amortization Schedule

1. Verify the interest factor used in your mortgage.

The interest factor is a number that is used at the end of each payment period to perform an interest calculation of what you owe in interest. The interest factor is also used to calculate the effective interest rate. The effective interest rate is the only way of comparing a mortgage to another financial vehicle, such as a GIC or mutual fund.

Continue reading “Top Ten Reasons Why You Need an Amortization Schedule”

What are closing cost?

When you are buying a house you need to take closing costs into consideration to budget the amount of money you need to have on hand. But what are closing costs? Most of the costs are generated as a result of applying for you loan. 

Here is a short list with some typical costs :


APPRAISAL(S), 455.00
FHA UPFRONT MIP,  1,958.95

When To Shred

With more in the news about securing your personal information, you will find this article helpful.

When Should You Shred Your Financial Documents?

Nov 5th, 2013 

by tjp0594.


When Should You Shred Your Financial Documents?How do you know what happens to your documents when you put a piece of paper in the trash? It can be difficult to know who is seeing it and what they are doing with it. It isn’t very common to burn trash anymore; therefore you can be sure that your paper garbage or recycling is likely to pass through several hands on its way to a landfill or recycling center.

StepByStep, Your Documents Can Get Pilfered

Every step that occurs once the trash leaves your control has risk that someone will find personal information they can use to cause you harm. One way to safeguard personal information is to shred it before it goes into the trash.

Shredding devices are available at most office supply stores. Cross-cut shredders provide more security than strip-cut shredders. You may want to consider one depending on your level of concern. Shredding services or shredding events are often offered by financial institutions or community organizations.

Properly destroying sensitive personal information is a key step in helping to keep your identity secure. You really should shred any documents containing personal information, but be cautious not to shred financial documents that you may still need.

To Shred Or Not To Shred, That Is The Question…Or Maybe Its When To Shred

The Better Business Bureau offers these guidelines on when to shred:

  • Deposit, ATM, credit, and debit card receipts can be shredded once the transaction appears on your statement
  • Canceled checks, credit card statements, and bank statements with no long-term significance can go through the shredder after one year; if used to support tax returns, keep them for seven years 
  • Monthly bill statements can be shredded one year after receiving, to allow for year-to-year bill comparisons (another good way to monitor your budget!) 
  • Credit card contracts and loan agreements should be saved for as long as the account is active
  • Pay stubs can be shredded yearly after reconciling with your W-2 or other tax forms
  • Documentation of investment purchases or sales should be kept for as long as you own the investment and then seven years after that; shred monthly investment account statements annually after reconciling with a year-end statement
  • Always shred documents with Social Security numbers, birth dates, PIN numbers or passwords, financial information, contracts or letters with signatures, pre-approved credit card applications, medical and dental bills, travel itineraries, and used airline tickets.

Housing Equity Assessment For 2013

Housing Equity 2013

On December 20, 2013, in Economist Commentaries, by Ken Fears, Manager, Regional Economics and Housing Finance Policy

With the end of 2013 closing in, it is time to take stock of the impact from the strong 2013 housing market. Home price growth was robust in 2013 compared to 2012 and is currently forecast by NAR Research to finish the year 11.3% stronger. This improvement is important for the market as it has created equity for homeowners, boosted buyer confidence, and pulled many underwater homeowners into positive equity positions.

A borrower who purchased a median priced home[1] in 2004 and held it for nine years, the current median tenure of a homeowner according to NAR’s annual Profile of HomeBuyers and Sellers, would have $28,114 in equity from the combined benefit of price appreciation and paying down the mortgage principle. A borrower who bought a median price home in 2012 would have more than $23,000 in equity.

It is important to note that borrowers who purchased in 2006 and 2007 at the peak of the market and thus those who experienced the sharpest price declines are now nearly in positive equity. A person who purchased in 2006 and owned through 2012 (not pictured) would have been underwater by roughly $28,200, but by 2013 this gap was down to $4,700. Continued price growth in 2014 will help to further ameliorate this gap. Homeowners who purchased since 2007 are in positive equity.

Even through the visitudes of the great recession, for most homeowners housing remains an effective vehicle for building equity and wealth.

[1] With a 10% downpayment at the prevailing average 30-year fixed mortgage rate

What Type of Loan Do You Want?

The FHA Home Loan Program: A great program for many first time home buyers or buyers without perfect credit or limited funds for down payment.
•  640 minimum credit score required
•  Low down payment
•  No maximum income limitations
•  Buyer can receive gifted funds for down payment
•  Non-occupant co-mortgagors are allowed
•  Fixed-Rate and Fixed-Period ARM options
•  Term options available
The Military Home Loan Program (VA): Active, retired and spouses of military personnel may qualify for this program.
•  Loan amount based on program guidelines
•  Eligible applicants may qualify for no down payment
•  No monthly mortgage insurance required
•  Ability to pay the loan off early without penalty
The USDA Rural Development Home Loan Program: For buyers interested in purchasing a home in a rural area as determined by the USDA.
•  No down payment
•  Low monthly mortgage insurance
•  Low closing costs
•  No minimum contributions from buyer
•  No first-time homebuyer requirement
•  Gift funds allowed
The Jumbo Home Loan Program: Offers the most flexibility for those looking to finance a larger real estate loan.
•  Loan amount up to $2,000,000
•  Single family, owner occupied, second homes and approved condos
•  Both fixed and adjustable rate loans available
•  60 day lock policy with up to a 30 day extension
The 80/10/10 Home Loan Program: An 80/10/10 means that you finance 80% of the purchase price with a 1st mortgage, 10% of the purchase price with a low fixed rate 2nd mortgage, and make a 10% down payment.
•  Low down payment
•  Loans up to $625,000 on the 1st mortgage and $78,125 on the 2nd mortgage
•  Save money with no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
•  Flexible term options available
•  Exceptional fixed rate 2nd mortgage
The Native American Home Loan Program: Reserved for members of federally recognized tribes.
•  Low down payment
•  No monthly mortgage insurance
•  For purchase of an existing home
The Lock and Build Program: The best free lock option for those who want to build a new home.
•  Buyer can “lock-in” their fixed interest rate for up to 270 days
•  One “rate drop” allowed to the current market rate within 45 days of the lock expiration or when the home is completed, whichever comes first.
•  Applies to 10-30 year conforming fixed rate mortgages and 30 and 15 year fixed rate FHA and VA loans.

Continue reading “What Type of Loan Do You Want?”

Up to $500 for Doing Home “Work”

The energy-efficient home upgrades tax credit is scheduled to expire on December 31st this year.  If you need to make improvements to your home, this could be an incentive to do it before the end of the year.  If you have already made qualifying improvements without realizing the tax credit is available, it may seem like a holiday gift you weren’t expecting.

The equipment must be installed to qualify for the credit which can put you under a time crunch.  Heating and cooling systems, insulation, windows, doors, skylights, water heaters and home weatherization may qualify.

The Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit has been available for purchases since January 1, 2011.  The tax credit is 10% of up to $5,000 of qualifying improvements which would make a maximum of $500 tax credit.

The cumulative maximum amount of tax credit that can be claimed by a taxpayer in the different years this law has been in effect is $500.  If it has been claimed in previous years, the taxpayer is not eligible for this credit for additional new purchases.

For more information, see or talk to your tax professional.

Are you using your Fireplace?


During the winter months, many people use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances to heat their homes. Heating fires account for 36 percent of residential fires in rural areas each year. These fires are often due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. The U.S. Fire Administration encourages these steps and more to keep your home fires burning safely:

  • Have your chimney/wood stove inspected and cleaned yearly by a certified chimney specialist
  • Leave glass doors open while burning a fire to prevent creosote buildup
  • Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures

Do you know how to properly build and maintain a fire to heat your home? Watch the video series hosted by the National Fire Academy Deputy Superintendent to learn fire safety techniques. Taking a few fire safety actions will reduce the number of home fires and injuries to make your holiday season disaster free!