How to Make Your Home More Environmentally Friendly

This month, we celebrate World Environment Day – dedicated by the United Nations to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. 

If you’re inspired to do your part to help Mother Earth, one of the best places to start is with your own home. With a few simple updates, you can help the environment and even see some cost and energy savings.

Here’s some tips to help make your home more environmentally friendly:

Consider an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) Loan

If you’re looking to finance energy efficient home upgrades and improvements, learn more about Inlanta’s EEM program. Find a loan officer in your area or contact us for more info. 

Make Small Swaps

Sometimes little changes make a big impact both for the environment and your wallet. Swap out your current light bulbs for LEDs, set your heating/AC systems on a timer to use less energy when you’re not home, or swap out your showerhead to a low-flow one to help conserve water.

Use Reusable

Save the landfills by using rags over paper towels, cloth napkins over paper, and a reusable water bottle over plastic.

Water at Night

Watering lawns or plants during the day wastes water through evaporation. By watering at night, you’ll use less water and have healthier foliage.

Add Window Treatments

Don’t let all of the heat or cold air escape through bare windows! Add window treatments to help insulate your home and keep costs low.

Maximize Appliance Use

Don’t run your dishwasher or laundry half full. It’s better to run your appliances when full, and let dishes ai­rdry rather than use the heated dry, or even go old school and dry clothes on a clothesline. Not only will you save energy, you’ll prolong the life of your dishes and clothing too!

Unplug

Your cell phone charger could be costing you more than you think. Make sure to unplug all of your cords when they are not in use.

Reduce/Reuse/Recycle (RRR)

It’s a great time to make simple changes around your home to help the environment while saving money and energy. There are many more ways to RRR such as installing solar panels, using rain barrels, shopping with reusable bags, donating unwanted items and even learning how to recycle properly or compost.

Help keep the world – our home – a beautiful place!

For more tips on ways to help preserve the environment and our natural resources, visit the United States of Environmental Protection Agency website today.

This June, Celebrate National Homeownership Month

June is National Homeownership month. Americans often think of their homes as more than just a place to “hang their hats.” Homeownership has long been considered part of the greater “American Dream” that includes “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as mentioned in our country’s Declaration of Independence.

Here’s a rundown of key events related to homeownership dating back to our nation’s infancy:

The man who was the second vice president and third president of the United States believed that property ownership was a citizen’s right. Thomas Jefferson pushed for legislation that helped define property lines and a system for purchasing land that was the basis for how real estate and ownership are described and transferred today, called the Land Ordinance of 1785.
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law, which helped establish the western part of the country through migration. Settlers who paid a filing fee and completed five years of continuous residence received ownership of 160 acres of public land. Homesteaders also had the option of purchasing the land from the government for $1.25 per acre. The Homestead Act led to the distribution of 80 million acres of public land by 1900.
Bank collapses, millions of jobs and life savings lost during the Great Depression resulted in up to a quarter of the nation’s mortgages going into default. The number of mortgages dropped dramatically from nearly 6,000 in 1928 to under 1,000 in 1933. U.S. homeownership dropped to its lowest levels of the century in 1940.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was formed and provided access to flexible mortgage financing. Prior to establishment of the FHA, mortgages required 50% down payments and terms were generally five or ten years long and usually had large balloon payments due at the end.
Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act – more commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights. The GI Bill helped veterans pay for college and buy homes. The Veterans Administration (VA) still insures low- to zero-down payment loans for veterans, active-duty service members and their spouses.
A storm was brewing as lending thresholds and interest rates dropped, making mortgages easy to get and driving home prices up.
The nationwide real estate bubble that formed due to frenzied demand amidst loose lending practices burst, and home prices began a multi-year decline that led to approximately eight million foreclosures.
First-time home buyer tax credits and other housing stimulus programs were established to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
U.S. housing prices bottomed out in March, having dropped by 33%.
U.S. housing values recovered all $9-trillion dollars lost in the housing crisis of the prior decade.
After a long-anticipated span of rising mortgage interest rates that began in 2018, rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages experienced the sharpest one-week drop in over a decade in late March, setting the stage for higher affordability heading into the traditionally busy home buying and selling season.
Questions about home values, mortgage interest rates or the path to homeownership?
We can help! Contact us today!
Sources: Library of Congress, CoreLogic, Freddie Mac, Zillow

Renting vs. Owning a Home

Rent vs. Own

Dogs vs cats, Netflix vs Hulu, pancakes vs waffles… rent vs own? These are some of the great debates of our time and while we understand that renting makes sense for certain situations – we want to make clear that we are totally Team Own on this one. Here’s why:

Owning a Home is More Attainable than you Think

We’re sure you’ve heard this before: you need 20% down to buy a home. We’re here to tell you that statement is not a fact. While putting 20% down on a home allows you to skip the extra PMI payments, today you can put as little as 3.5% down on a home or even no down payment at all if you are a veteran or active military personnel. To put things in perspective – 3.5% down on a $200,000 home is $7,000. 20% down on a $200,000 is $40,000. While some of you may have $7,000 already in your savings, chances are, that $40,000 is way more out of reach.

Owning a Home is an Investment

Some say that when they are renting, they feel like they are throwing money out the window. It may feel this way for renters because their payments are going directly into the pocket of their landlord instead of into something that has ROI. Owning a home allows you to build equity and invest in your future as home values and prices tend to generate upwards.

Owning a Home Offers Fixed Payments vs Rising Rent

It’s no secret – rents can change and are likely to increase over time. One of the many benefits of homeownership is being able to get a hold of your budget by having a fixed mortgage payment each month giving you the security of knowing exactly how much you will spend while avoiding surprise rent hikes from your landlord.

Owning a Home Allows you to Plant Roots

Renters – here are some freeing words for you: when you own a home, you are your own landlord! Want to re-do your kitchen, paint your ceiling, or even remodel your home to take after your favorite childhood cartoon? You can! Owning a home allows you to put roots down in a place that’s yours offering stability, comfort, and community.

Owning a Home is like a Forced Savings Account

Do you set aside money for a 401(k) or a “rainy day” fund? You may be interested to find out that owning a home is similar! Instead of spending your money on rent or other things without return, having a mortgage is like putting aside money into a savings account each month as home values/the equity in your home tends to increase over time.

Bottom line: rates are still at historic lows making now the perfect time to take advantage of the market and invest in homeownership today. Get started now by getting pre-approved with one of our local Inlanta Mortgage loan experts or click this link to apply today with our short/easy online app!

Top Tips to Build and Maintain Healthy Credit

7 Tips to Build and Maintain Healthy Credit

Building and maintaining healthy credit is important. A good credit score can help you achieve some of your biggest financial dreams, like owning a home or even starting your own business.

If you’re like most people, your credit score isn’t perfect – and that’s ok! There are plenty of steps you can take to begin building and maintaining solid credit.

Here are our top tips to help you build and maintain a healthy credit score:

  1. Swipe Responsibly

    A good rule of thumb for building solid credit is to only borrow what you can afford to pay back. This means, only using your credit card if you have enough available in your bank account to pay the balance off in full right away. It is also good practice to leave your credit card at home if you’re heading out shopping or somewhere you will be tempted to spend.

  2. Stay Below Your Limit

    Experts recommend keeping your credit spending at about 30% of your maximum balance. Avoid maxing out your credit cards to keep you in a good place financially and out of debt.

  3. Start Small

    If you are just starting to build your credit, do your research and begin with opening only one card. The last thing you will want to do is open a number of new cards, creating additional debt to keep track of.

  4. Never Miss a Payment

    Missed credit card payments not only leave you behind in debt but also show lenders that you have a track record of being financially irresponsible. This can negatively affect your future when it comes to, for example, wanting to purchase a home as you are more likely to be approved if you have a healthy credit history and a higher credit score.

  5. Pay More than your Minimum Due

    If you’ve had a credit card for some time now, it is likely you also have built a balance on that card. This is not necessarily a bad thing for building credit, as long as you are consistently making payments on-time every month. If you are unable to pay off your balance in full, you’ll want to make sure you are paying more than the minimum payment due in order to pay off your balance as quickly as possible to help improve your credit score and avoid pesky interest payments.

  6. Build a History

    If you’ve just opened a new card, plan to keep it long-term to help you display a solid history of creditworthiness. Lenders appreciate at least a few years of experience in maintaining timely payments and the longer you keep your card, the more likely your credit score will increase.

  7. Regularly Review your Account History

    Take some time to review what you are spending money on. If you find yourself swiping your card every time you grab a latte in the morning, you likely aren’t using your credit wisely. Try designating your credit card for emergencies or basic needs such as groceries and gas to help promote good spending habits. Also, keep an eye out for any types of fraudulent purchases; if you notice anything strange, notify your credit card company immediately to save yourself from financial distress.

5 Great Ways to Celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, you may be scrambling to find the perfect way to express your appreciation and gratitude for the Mom in your life. While no gift, regardless of price, can thank her enough, there’s plenty of ways to thank the woman who helped raise you without breaking the bank. After all, it’s the thought that counts right?

Consider doing one of these five things for Mom this Mother’s Day:

Breakfast in Bed: A Mother’s Day tradition that never goes out of style. This Mother’s Day, show your thanks by waking up before her and bringing her breakfast in bed. There’s no doubt she’ll be overjoyed to spend a morning relaxing and enjoying a meal in the comfort of her own bed, and it’s a perfectly sweet way to show your gratitude.

Frame Favorites: Be prepared, this may bring on the water works! Show your mom how much you care by giving her a framed photo of you both of a special time you spent together. Or, if you’re feeling creative, take the time to hand-write a personal poem or a heart-felt letter, then frame it for her instead!

Give Her the Day Off: Flip the script and take on the Mom duties! From the moment she wakes up, give her the day to herself to enjoy and relax. Then, take on her usual tasks and tackle any chores she completes throughout the day. She’ll be moved by your thoughtful gesture and feel cherished on her special day, but most of all, she’ll enjoy a leisurely day off!

Spend the Day Together: As you grow older and your own life becomes busier, finding time to spend with mom can be a challenge. Devote this Mother’s Day to spending it with your mom doing what she likes to do. Take her to a movie, out to brunch, shopping, or just relax at home and catch up on life. Remind her how grateful you are for having her in your life, and thank her for helping make you the person you are today.

Pamper Her: Treat your mom to a spa-like experience to give her some deserved R&R. You can save money by turning your living room into an at-home resort using candles, music and a variety of lotions, oils and beauty supplies. Or, surprise her with a scheduled day of pampering at your local spa. This thoughtful idea will surely give her a Mother’s Day she won’t forget!

Thank you, moms, for all that you do! And to all of our friends and families in the communities we serve, we wish you and yours a Happy Mother’s Day!