Monthly Archives: December 2016

TIPS TO GET GREEN AND HEALTHY HOME

Not all home inspections are created equally. Ensure you’re getting a green-focused inspection by asking for the right certifications upfront. A reputable green home inspection company should use InterNACHI Standards of Practice. Look for information on their website, and ask for more information about their qualifications.

Remember that certifications extend to other crucial areas of the home, such as pest control. Orkin holds a variety of industry certifications, such as the GreenPro certification from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Orkin uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs to take a holistic approach to pest management and eco-friendly techniques, such as fly lights, sanitation and insect growth regulators.

Confirm the Use of Green Materials

How do you really know if a home is made from sustainable materials like a seller claims? A green home inspection can determine the validity and quality of sustainable materials and practices. Green homes should be made from low-energy materials, which indicates that the production and delivery of the materials took less energy. These materials could include fast-growing trees that are harvested for green construction. A green home inspector also can confirm if a home has photovoltaic systems and VOC-emitting materials.

Ask for an Energy Audit

Lowering your energy bills is just one advantage to living in an energy-efficient home. A green inspection can check on the HVAC equipment, indoor air quality and humidity levels, all of which contribute to the home’s environmental friendliness. An audit determines how all the systems of the house work together and how you can improve its energy usage.

If you’re purchasing an Energy Star-rated home, a Home Energy Rater can complete a final site inspection to ensure all the requirements have been met and the home is properly certified. The inspection includes energy efficiency and proper use of energy-efficient materials.

Look Behind the Walls

There’s more going on with your home than what meets the eye. An inspector with a Certified Level Thermographers can use thermal cameras to view wall cavity insulation, ceiling insulation and any issues with moisture and air leakage. Catching issues behind walls helps prevent future costly repairs and further determines the validity of green practices.

Consider Energy Enhancements

Once a green inspection is complete, the inspector may have other energy enhancement suggestions. One common recommendation is to plant trees because they help with air quality and reduce exposure to direct sunlight that can overheat your home. Furthermore, according to the North Carolina Urban Forest Council, if every family planted one tree, CO2 in the atmosphere would be reduced by one billion pounds annually.

FIRST HOME OWNING

“The annual fees the Federal Housing Administration charges to guarantee mortgages it backs are being cut by a quarter of a percentage point,” said Bloomberg of a statement released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “With the reduction, the annual cost for most borrowers will be 0.60 percent of the loan balance.”

According to HUD, “The fee cut would save new FHA-insured homeowners an average of $500 this year. The cut would take effect on Jan. 27.”

What other factors should you be paying attention to if you’re looking to buy your first home?

Mortgage rates

Yes, rates are up from their lowest point. But the average 30-year fixed-mortgage rate right now is 4 percent, down a bit this week and waaaaaay down from decades ago when they were in the teens. You’ll pay a few bucks more per month now than you would have at this time last year, but, if you’re getting an FHA loan, those new mortgage interest cuts will help.

More than anything, it’s important to be realistic. We’re not anywhere near gloom-and-doom time, despite some of the more hysterical talk out there. In fact, today’s rates are still near historic lows, which make buying a home more affordable than rent in many cities.

But, if you need to find a way to lower your monthly payment on your future home, and you’re not eager to search for less expensive homes, remember that your credit helps determine your mortgage-worthiness, and the better it is, the better your interest rate. If you’re not being offered the best rate out there, it’s time to…

Get your credit in order

Have great credit? Great! Your lender will be pleased and, presumably, you will be, too. But many of us need some help in this area, and even a small bump in your score can make a big difference not just to the rate you get but also whether you will qualify for a loan at all.

“The homebuyer’s credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a loan these days,” said Bankrate. Your lender will be able to give you tips for improving your score, which can range from checking your report for errors to paying off old delinquent accounts.

It’s also important to keep in mind that what you consider to be responsible credit management may not necessarily be seen as a positive when you go to qualify for a loan. “Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn’t mean your credit is stellar,” they said. “The amount of credit you’re using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score. The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.”