New Homes and Houses

 
     
 
Read on about:
  • Taking Title of Your New House
  • Old House? New House? Weighing Your Options
  • Learn How You Can Repair Your Credit & Get Out Of Debt Faster - Before Buying Your New House!
Get tips about landscaping and getting a beautiful yard (later)

Taking Title of Your New House

By Raynor James

How you take title in your new home is key decision. Unfortunately, in the euphoria of the moment, many new homeowners don’t put much thought into it.

Title
When purchasing a new home, you become the title owner of record. Essentially, this means you are listed in public records as the legal owner. This may sound like a simple concept, but how you’re classified as an owner can impact legal and tax issues. Here are some issues to consider when taking title.

Single Owner
If you are purchasing the property on your own, there is really only one title choice. Yep, you are going to be listed as the sole owner, to wit, in your own name. If you are investing in rental or commercial properties, you should speak with a lawyer about purchasing the properties through a limited liability company to limit potential liabilities.

Two or More Owners
If you’re married, many states require you to take title in a property as community property. In such states, you and a spouse are automatically considered to be joint owners regardless of any other factors. Community property title can have tremendous but macabre tax benefits. If one spouse dies, the living spouse gets a “step up” basis for tax consequence and huge capital gains taxes. For instance, if you purchased a home for $200,000 and it is worth $400,000 when a spouse dies, the remaining spouse gets to figure any capital gains using $400,000 as the cost of the house instead of $200,000.

Joint Tenancy
In some states, spouses are not required to take community property title. Instead, they and any collection of two or more owners may take title in joint tenancy. The advantages of joint tenancy are twofold. First, you get the step up basis mentioned above. Second, title in the property automatically transfers to surviving owners upon the death of one owner. This means you get to avoid probate, an expensive and lengthy court process.

Taking Title

When buying a home, don’t just pick title willy- nilly. Take the time to explore the options in your state and pick the best one for you.

Raynor James is with http://www.fsboamerica.org - providing FSBO homes for sale by owner. Visit our "sell my home" page at http://www.fsboamerica.org/seller.cfm to list and sell your home for free for one month. Visit http://www.fsboamerica.org/buyer.cfm to see homes for sale by owner.

Old House? New House? Weighing Your Options

By Neda Dabestani-Ryba

Maybe it has something to do with a childhood home we fondly remember. Many of us long for old homes built with solid construction, quality craftsmanship and beautiful details. We wax poetic and wistfully recall the hand carvings, plaster walls and eyebrow dormers of homes we’ve known. On the other hand, how do the old homes we admire compare with newly minted models—and what should we consider before deciding which to buy?

Location.
Typically, old homes sit on generous plots of land in or near town. The neighborhoods are established and usually more central to schools and shopping. Mature trees and plantings provide shade and beautify the property and neighborhood streets. New homes are generally found in new developments outside of town and homeowners who buy into an early can expect to contend with dust and construction sights and sounds as the remaining phases are being built. Landscaping may be skimpy or nonexistent, but a buyer has the opportunity to design the décor from scratch.

Layout.
New homes tend to have a more spacious functional layout with higher ceilings, bigger windows, family kitchens, walk-in closets, and family rooms. Some even have media rooms and come pre-wired for cable and computers. On the other hand, older homes were designed for a more formal lifestyle, which is reflected in the formal dining and living areas and many cozy rooms, including small bedrooms, closets and bathrooms.

Energy efficiency.
Those eight-over-eight single pane wood windows add character to an old home, but even with storm windows, they’re not nearly as energy efficient as modern dual-glazed or thermal windows. While most old homes lacked insulation in outside walls and attics, homes built today insulate against high heating and cooling costs. Although the bigger windows, higher ceilings and larger rooms, common in new homes, can also cause high utility bills.

Maintenance.
With older homes, upkeep could be more expensive because of older appliances, plumbing and electrical systems—not to mention the roof—may need to be replaced. A turn of the century home may have outdated knob-and-tube wiring, and even a recently built home may have an inadequate fuse box-style panel that falls short of the energy demands of 21st century families. But new homes generally come with warranties that will cover the cost for most major problems.

Price.
Older homes are usually less expensive per square foot. In addition the tax structure is more predictable because the neighborhood is already established with amenities that newer neighborhoods are still in the process of gaining, such as schools, police and fire services, and infrastructures (roads, sidewalks, etc.). However, with restoration costs a possibility for older homes, your dollars may very well be spent on the back-end rather than upfront.

If the charm and beauty of an old home wins your heart, hire an inspector to evaluate the home for lead paint, insect and water damage, lead and/or galvanized pipes, outdated wiring, foundation problems and energy efficiency, including windows as well as heating/cooling systems and insulation. After you get the all-clear, you have one last consideration: Does the home fit your lifestyle or would the conveniences of a newer model suit you better? Only you and your family have the answer.

Neda Dabestani-Ryba is a licensed Realtor in Maryland. She is a member of the President's Circle of Top Real Estate Professionals. She can be reached at (800) 536-3806 or visit her website for more information: http://neda.dabestani.pcragent.com/ Prudential Carruthers REALTORS is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity

Learn How You Can Repair Your Credit & Get Out Of Debt Faster - Before Buying Your New House!

By Kris Bickell

Most people think – mistakenly – that if you have credit problems, you have to wait 7 years for them to go away. Well, that's not always true.

Credit repair can help you...once you know how to do it. The time to clean up your credit and pay off your debts is RIGHT NOW, before you start looking for houses and applying for mortgages. Cleaning up your credit and lowering your debt will help you:

get a better interest rate
borrow more money
and save lots of money in interest

Clean up your credit report

These days, getting credit is easy. Unfortunately, so is getting into debt or financial trouble. But just because you’ve had some money problems does NOT mean you can’t get a mortgage and buy a house. There are all kinds of loans:
loans for first time homebuyers
loans for people with bad credit
loans for people with perfect credit
and loans for people without a lot of money for a down payment

So, most people can get a loan these days. The question is, HOW MUCH will you pay in the long run for higher fees and interest rates?

A lot of people think that if something bad goes on your credit report, that it must stay there for 7 years, or longer. But that’s not always true. Credit repair can work, if you know how to do it.

And, you can do it yourself.

For example, I had lots of debt (from a business idea that did not work) and got a lot of bad credit listings while getting myself out of debt.

And within 6 months of paying off my last credit card bill (remember, even if you have some debt you might still be able to get a house loan) I repaired my credit to the point that I got both a car loan and a mortgage. More importantly, I got the LOWEST POSSIBLE interest rates, which over the life of a 30-year loan could save me tens of thousands of dollars!

How did I repair my credit?

I got a copy of all my credit reports, and kept writing letters asking the credit bureaus to remove the bad credit.

So it CAN be done. (And I had some pretty bad stuff on my credit reports.) The worst that can happen is that the credit bureaus can say “no” to your request. The best that can happen is that your credit score will improve, and you’ll pay a lower interest rate, get a bigger mortgage, or both!

So, how do you clean up your credit report?

The first step is to get a copy of your credit report from the 3 credit bureaus, listed below. You might have to pay a few dollars, but it is well worth it. If you moved, changed jobs, and had any other personal info change recently, you can send it to the credit bureaus, and request a free copy.

NOTE: You are now entitled to one free credit report each year from http://www.annualcreditreport.com.

The next step is to circle or highlight the bad credit items, and write a letter to each credit bureau asking them to remove the item. If you have a lot, focus on one or two at a time. Then, wait a month or two, and ask for another one or two items to be removed.

It might take a few tries.

But if you keep trying, eventually most (or all) of the items will be removed.

In the worst case - even if you only get a few removed - it might still improve your credit score, reduce your interest rate, and lower your monthtly payment!

So don’t give up.

It might take a little time to repair your credit - especially if you’ve had quite a few money problems. But every little bit helps your credit score, your interest rate, and the amount of money you can get.

Then pay off as much debt as possible.

I know, when preparing to buy your new home money is real tight. But if you have any extra money – any at all – try to pay off as much debt as possible. This will help you:
Be more likely to be approved for a mortgage
Be able to borrow more money
Have one (or more) less bill to worry about once you start having to pay a mortgage every month.

If you can’t pay off your debt, you might want to consider waiting before buying your new home. Or, look into a debt reduction program that can help you get out of debt faster. There are no rules that say you can’t have some debt and still buy a house!

But think very carefully about your financial situation. And TRY to pay off as much debt as possible before buying a house.

There is enough to worry about as a new homeowner, without having to worry about paying your credit card bills.

At the very least, if you do have any debt, MAKE SURE you can comfortably afford to pay your credit card bills as well as your mortgage, before getting started!

Kris Bickell is the owner of HouseBuying-Tips.com, a site that helps first time home buyers avoid the costly mistakes that many new homebuyers make. For more tips on buying a house, getting a mortgage, finding a realtor, and getting out of debt, sign up for the free “How To Avoid These 10 Costly Mistakes When Buying Your First Home” email course at: http://www.HouseBuying-Tips.com/course.html © 2005 HouseBuying-Tips.com

Home Energy Savings: New House Design and Energy Conservation

By James Todd

Consumers in North America are getting ready for the 2005 / 2006 winter season as we write this report and most are bracing themselves for larger energy bills during the coming winter heating season than past years. Recent spikes in energy costs for all types of energy including gasoline, heating oil, electricity and natural gas are causing many consumers to begin thinking about how they heat their homes and whether they can save money. In our discussion we will use the term “energy” to refer to all of the previous forms of fuel that is used in our homes.

Energy conservation begins with the design and construction of a new home and carries through to your daily living habits. Consumers who have the most success in terms of reducing their energy bills have made energy conservation a way of life, while enjoying their new homes in comfort.

Many homeowners have the potential to reduce their heating bills by as much as 50% or more. They can achieve these savings with a logical, well planned approach beginning with the design of the home, proper construction techniques, well insulated windows, doors, and walls and then follow through with daily, monthly and annual operational techniques.

Consumers who have designed and insulated their home with energy conservation in mind will be able to maximize their savings if they make energy conservation part of their every day life. The common objectives of living in a comfortable home and managing your energy consumption can easily be met by following a few simple rules.

Systems Approach to Energy Savings

Our homes are really a complex environment that must be managed to ensure that we live comfortably, have sufficient fresh air, while controlling our energy consumption at the same time. Essentially, a well planned home will take into account the amount of energy intake from energy sources such as our heating system as well as solar heating vs. energy loss from the effects of cold weather, heat loss through windows, doors, walls and floors as well as heat reduction when we use air conditioning systems in hot climates.

In the winter we are concerned about the cost of heating our homes and the loss of heat to the outside through leakage of cold air into our homes. The summer brings the reverse when we must cool our homes and manage the cooling during hot summer days. In both cases solar heat plays a part in the equation as well as how well sealed our homes are. Consumers living in colder climates will be more concerned about winter heating costs while consumers living in southern areas of the continent will worry about the cost of air conditioning.

Taking a systems approach to managing your energy costs is one way to ensure that you maximize your savings and make a positive contribution to the environment through reduced energy usage. Energy conservation and home design begins with the orientation of your home to maximize the heating of your home by natural solar heating in colder climates and avoiding solar heating in hot climates. Next, consumers can take advantage of natural shade or by adding trees to provide shade during hot summer days and also act as wind breaks to reduce the impact of the cooling effects that the wind can have on the amount of energy they use.

Once you have considered these elements, consumers should use the latest techniques in designing their homes with high insulation values in the walls, energy efficient heating and cooling systems as well as energy efficient appliances. For example your air conditioning unit should be energy efficient and placed were it will be in the shade as much as possible to maximize its efficiency. Selection of fluorescent lighting, taking advantage of natural lighting are additional elements to be considered in the design of your new home. Visit our home energy checklist for more details on steps you can take to reduce your energy costs at the design stage of your home.

Consumers may also want to invest in an energy audit of their homes design before agreeing to the final design. A relatively low cost audit can sometimes save thousands of dollars in energy costs over the life of their home.

Our Home Energy Checklist

We have assembled a home energy checklist with both the new home buyer / builder in mind as well as items to check after you have moved in. Our objective is to assist you in saving energy, which means money in your pocket during the design as well as after you have moved into your new home. Saving energy can be divided into four areas: Home Design; Appliance & Lighting Selection, Energy Conservation – A Way of Life. This total systems and life style approach is really geared to maximizing your energy savings.

You might have the most efficient energy saving home built, however if you move in and leave all of the lights on all the time, leave the windows open when you are heating the house or cooling, your energy saving initiatives will not be as affective as you might have thought.

With this in mind our energy savings checklist applies to the design phase as well as after you have moved into your new home. Even consumers who have been in their homes for a few years will find this checklist useful for managing their energy consumption.

Designing New Homes and Energy Conservation

Most home designers and architects are up to date on energy conservation techniques, however they are also geared to meeting their customers needs and priorities for their home designs. Many consumers will consider home energy management almost as an after thought when it is too late to incorporate energy savings concepts into their new home design. As you and your home designer or architect discuss your plans and your objectives for your new home, always emphasize that energy management and home comfort are a very important element of the final design that your are looking for.

Designing a new home actually begins with site selection and orientation of your home on the property. Depending on the climate consumers will want to orient their homes on the property to manage the amount of solar heating that the house will be exposed to. A common theme throughout this report is to orient your home so that the sun can heat the home naturally in the winter, while minimizing the effects of solar heating during hot summer days. Adding trees or shrubs to provide shade and taking advantage of natural land formations to provide shelter from prevailing winds is the first step in managing your energy costs.

Construction of the foundation for homes varies a great deal across the continent. In some locales a below grade basement is mandatory, while in other locations a concrete slab is standard. In both situations, insulation is a key component to maintain comfortable living conditions while reducing your energy costs. Insulation can be added below the slab of concrete and all basement walls should be properly sealed and insulated to at least R20 levels. All exposed hot water pipes can be insulated as well in addition.

Walls should be insulated to at least R20, while attics should have insulation to a level of R40. Floors over crawl spaces will be warmer and you will lose less energy if the floors are also insulated. Many customers will select wall to wall carpeting for additional insulation and warmth, however if you prefer ceramic, marble or hardwood floors, area rugs can be used as decoration as well as providing a warm surface to walk on. Ceiling fans are another inexpensive way to distribute naturally heated air.

Consumers can select windows and doors that are energy rated with triple pane windows and insulated steel doors. Adding a storm door to the outside increases the level of insulating and energy savings that you can achieve. During the winter consumers will enjoy the warmth of the suns ray’s through the windows, while summer months the windows can be covered to reduce the heating affects of the sun. Selection of window coverings, while meeting aesthetic requirements can also support energy saving concepts as well.

The selection of lighting fixtures with fluorescent lighting and also taking into account natural lighting can reduce your lighting costs significantly. Incorporate timers, motion detectors, photo cells at appropriate locations in your home to assist in managing your lighting needs as well as energy usage.

Bathroom design as well as all areas were water is used should incorporate flow restrictors to minimize the use of cold and hot water.

Everyone loves to have a fireplace in their home. A fireplace can generate a huge loss of energy if not managed properly and designed with energy conservation in mind. Natural wood burning fireplaces have the lowest efficiency, while sealed gas fireplaces can be very efficient, while still providing the ambiance that many consumers are looking for.

The selection and use of your appliances can have a significant impact on your energy costs. Old appliances may be energy guzzlers, while new appliances should be chosen based on their energy ratings. Selecting a high efficiency furnace, air conditioner and water heater is a first step. Consider purchasing new appliances instead of moving your appliances from your last home. Electronic ignition of gas appliances, taking advantage of shade for your air conditioner and using a digital thermostat that allows timed control of your homes interior temperature are all elements of the energy design of your home.

One final comment about new home design is in order. Consumers may also want to arrange for an energy audit of their home before they agree to the final design. Suggestions by an expert quite often will pay for the cost of the audit in terms of energy savings.

Energy Conservation – A Way of Life

Consumers who go to the time and expense of designing and building an energy efficient home may be disappointed with the savings that they obtain if they do not practice energy conservation in their daily lives. For example, you may have paid for a well insulated home, sealed all the cracks, used caulking were you were supposed to and installed the best windows and doors. If you then leave windows open, forget to turn down the thermostat on cold winter days when you are not at home or turn up the thermostat on hot days, you may not achieve the savings that you were expecting. Leaving lights on, running appliances with partial loads e.g. the dishwasher etc can also increase your energy consumption beyond what you may have been expecting.

Our home energy checklist covers many items that home owners can consider as a means of taking advantage of all of the energy efficient attributes of their home to reduce their energy consumption even further. Making this approach part of your lifestyle will ensure that your energy savings continue after you have moved in to your new home and lived there for sometime.

Many people are also concerned about the impact of conserving energy on their comfort and may be afraid to implement some energy saving concepts. We would like to politely point out that replacing an incandescent light with a fluorescent light will not only save you energy, but provide you with a more comfortable light in your home as well. Filling up the dishwasher or the clothes washer before running them takes no additional effort on your part and saves you energy usage at the same time. There are many examples such as these that will reduce your energy consumption and not impact your comfort. In fact plugging leaks and designing ceiling fans into the home can positively improve the aesthetics as well as reduce drafts.

Review our home energy checklist and apply those items that impact your situation. You will be amazed at how much you can save by following a few simple steps!

House N Home Building (http://www.house-n-home-building.com) is an indespensible resources for anyone building a new home. The site features, money saving, convenience, healthy house building and energy saving tips. It is packed with useful and practical tools such as a lot/land checklist, builder's interview guide and checklist, comprehensive punchlist, a sample building contract, example specifications, home energy checklist, a free house plan and a free monthly house building newslettter.


 
 
www.NewHomesAndHouses.com