David Higgins' Blog
I'm interested in solar. Where do I start?Before you call a local solar provider and start getting sales pitches it's useful to know some background information on solar in your area. Do some research on your home state to see if your local government has incentivized solar in any way. Some states have provided funding to banks to offer loans for home solar systems. You should also consider some details about your home, your current energy provider, and the amount of time you're going to spend in your home. If you plan on moving anytime soon, leased panels may not be something you want to put up on the roof. Some buyers will happily take over the lease; others won't be so sure or may see it as a headache. You'll also want to learn about net metering from your current electricity provider. The electricity market is now in flux due to the increase of solar. As solar makes electricity more accessible, it could make electricity costs go up from your local utilities company. Net metering is the way that power companies measure how much electricity your panels put into the grid during the daytime which will be discounted from your monthly utility bill. Finally, you'll want to consider how beneficial the panels would be to your bill. If your home doesn't receive a lot of sun or have enough viable roof space, solar panels might not be worth it. If you can buy the panels flat out, however, they'll likely save you a lot of money in the long run.
Buying, leasing, and financing your panelsBuying, leasing, and financing all have their advantages and disadvantages which you'll want to weigh before committing to one option. For example, even if you have the funds to buy outright you might prefer the leasing option for the maintenance and repairs guarantee. Maybe you want to buy or finance to take advantage of local and federal tax incentives. Another thing to consider is the changing technology itself. As solar power improves, so does the technology that makes it possible. If you're thinking of moving within the next few years it might be in your best interest to wait for the next generation of panels for your new home instead of buying panels that will be outdated in the home you're in.
Making the callsOnce you've decided you want to go ahead with solar panels on your home you have another round of research to do. Compare providers in your area. Get quotes and setup options to find one that you're happy with. Get a sample contract and read all of the fine print. Finally, check out the customer reviews to make sure you'll be happy with this provider--especially if you're leasing and will be dealing with them for the next 15-20 years.
Quick fixesIf you don't want to go out and buy anything new to iron your clothes, you're in luck. Many thrifty homeowners have discovered ways to de-wrinkle their clothes quickly or on-the-go. Some of the most effective:
- Steamy bathroom. If you're getting ready for work in the morning but notice your clothes are wrinkled before you hop in the shower you can use the steam from your shower to de-wrinkle them. Don't turn on the fan or open any windows and make sure the water is hot enough to create a lot of steam. Hang up your clothes on the shower rod or on a coat hanger that's hanging on the rod. Make sure they're not near the water because you don't want your clothes actually getting wet. The steam will take 10-15 minutes to fully de-wrinkle your clothes.
- Hair dryer. If you only have a few wrinkles on your shirt that you need to get out the hair dryer method is a great quick fix. Lay the piece of clothing down on a clean surface, and use the hair dryer on the hottest setting for a few seconds, moving it up and down the wrinkled area. Don't use this method excessively because you can easily damage some fabrics. For a stubborn wrinkle, try dabbing it with a wet towel before hair drying it.
- Moist towel. If you have an hour or so before you need to leave the house but need to de-wrinkle your clothes, the wet towel method is a good solution. Dampen a towel with hot water and lay it out over the wrinkled article of clothing. Make sure the clothes doesn't have any folds or creases. Remove it after a few minutes and hang up your clothes for at least 20 minutes to dry them out.
Ironing board alternativesIf you're looking for a more permanent solution to your wrinkle problem, these methods have you covered.
- Wrinkle remover spray. Many stores sell a wrinkle-releasing spray that you can use on your clothes. Alternatively, you can mix your own by using a water-vinegar solution.
- Dryer to hanger. The best way to avoid wrinkles is to take your clothes out of the dry immediately when the cycle finishes and hang them up. For t-shirts and pants, neatly rolling them and storing them in your drawers will keep them from getting wrinkled.
- Invest in an ironing pad. If your main objection to ironing is the board itself, many stores sell small, roll-up pads that you can put on top of most surfaces to do your ironing.
- Garment steamer. The steam method has been perfected and mass-produced in the form of garment steamers. Simply hang up your clothes and run the steamer over them to release wrinkles.
The biggest area of your life that you need to understand before you buy a house is your own finances. Before you know what kind of house you can buy, you’ll need to understand your own buying power. While things like square footage, how many bedrooms you need, and finding the right neighborhood are important, you can’t go very far without some type of financing. While understanding how much you can spend on a property is one of the more serious parts of buying a home, it’s something that you’ll want to do. Knowing what you can spend on a home is a step to helping you land a home you love. If you understand your own numbers, you’ll know the chances that you have of an offer being accepted on a place you love.
The Elements Of Your Buying Power
Your Credit Score
This little three digit number has a lot of meaning behind it. This is the most basic piece of information that lenders use to determine your loan worthiness. The factors that influence your credit score include:
- Payment history
- How much you owe
- Length of your credit history
- Mix of credit accounts
- How much new credit you have opened
A low credit score is somewhere under 620. Having a score this low doesn't necessarily mean that you’ll be denied for a loan, but the type and amount of the loan you’re offered can be impacted. You’ll also face higher interest rates because of a low credit score. This means your mortgage could be considerably more expensive than if you had a higher credit score.
The 20 percent down as a rule of thumb actually offers many benefits to your buying power. This means that you’ll need 20% down of the purchase price of the home in cash. If you put this amount of money (or even more) down on a home, it eliminates the need for you to have to buy PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). You’ll even be able to negotiate a lower interest rate. A large down payment may be especially helpful in competitive markets where there is a lot of buyer competition.
How Your Financial Picture Appears
Your assets and your debt-to-income ratio are also important factors in your financial picture that you present to the lender. Basically, all of these numbers let both the lender and the seller see how committed you are to buying a home. It is one of the biggest financial undertakings of your entire life. If you can’t show financial responsibility, then it may be a bit difficult for lenders to see that you’ll actually pay your loan back in a timely manner.
The better all of your financial numbers are, the more buying power that you’ll have. If your numbers are good, you’ll be able to afford more house. While it may not be the most exciting thing to look over all of your financial numbers, it’s a vital step in the process of your journey to home ownership.
Although a slow, gradual approach to selling a house often proves to be ideal, there may be instances when you need to work quickly to list your home. In fact, some of the primary reasons why an individual may try to accelerate the home selling process include:
1. You are planning to move to a new house right away.
If you recently submitted an offer on a house that is contingent on selling your current residence, you may need to act fast to sell your present home. Otherwise, you may miss out on the opportunity to finalize the purchase of your dream residence.
For home sellers who face a time crunch, there is no need to worry. If you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can get the help that you need to enjoy a quick, seamless home selling experience.
Typically, a real estate agent will learn about your home selling goals. This housing market professional then will craft a strategy to help you sell your house within your designated time frame. That way, you can boost the likelihood of getting the best-possible price for your residence, regardless of how much time is at your disposal.
2. You know exactly what your house is worth.
A diligent home seller likely knows all about the condition of his or her residence. Thus, this seller should have no trouble setting a competitive price for his or her house, increasing the possibility of a fast home sale.
To determine a "fair" value for a home, it generally helps to conduct a house appraisal. During an appraisal, a property expert will examine a residence and provide a valuation. Next, you can use this valuation to establish a competitive price for your house.
Also, it may be beneficial to complete a home inspection prior to listing a residence. An inspection will help you identify any "hidden" home problems and ensure you can address these issues before they escalate.
3. You understand the local housing market.
The real estate market can be complex, particularly for home sellers who face pressure to sell their residences as quickly as possible. Luckily, a home seller who knows the ins and outs of the housing market can improve his or her chances of achieving the best-possible results.
To learn about the housing market, you may want to consult with a real estate agent. In addition to guiding you along the home selling process, a real estate agent can teach you about the local housing market. By doing so, a real estate agent can help you make informed decisions at each stage of the home selling journey.
Furthermore, a real estate agent is available to respond to your home selling concerns and questions. And if you're ever uncertain about whether to accept an offer on your house, a real estate agent is happy to provide expert recommendations.
Want to list your house? Plan ahead as much as you can, and you can quickly navigate the home selling cycle.
- Make a list: If you don't have a to-do list that you revise and update on a daily basis, then many of your objectives and goals will fall by the wayside. When you commit something to writing and place it high on your list, it has a much stronger likelihood of getting done. Maybe it's the "squeaky wheel" principle or just the power of suggestion, but when you're reminded to do something on a daily basis, you almost feel compelled to take action and get the process underway. (The exception to that would be if you're opposed to doing it for any reason, or you're being nagged.)
- Invite friends or relatives over: For some people, nothing motivates them to mow the lawn, paint the bathroom, or clean the house more than knowing that company's coming over in a few days! Since most of us have been conditioned to care about what other people think of us, then why not use that impulse to your advantage? (Maybe that's the reason some people tidy up before the cleaning person arrives.) Schedule an upcoming dinner party, family gathering, or backyard barbecue, and watch how fast that lingering project gets prioritized, acted on, and completed!
- Announce your intentions: If you tell your spouse, your parents, or your best friend that you're going to tackle an overdue project, this weekend, then you almost have to do it -- or your credibility will be at stake. When you share your intentions with someone else -- especially a person whose opinion you care about -- you're taking accountability for your plans. It's a technique that's often used for getting started on an exercise program or diet, but it could be equally effective for motivating yourself to fix the back steps or clean the garage.