Memes. You’ve probably seen them, laughed at them, and shared them with friends. Of course, as with most things, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to memes. But when they’re good, they turn a sometimes ordinary photograph into something that is often both insightful and cleverly hilarious.
In a similar way, when you add solar panels to your house you can turn an ordinary home into a money saving power plant. But are solar panels right for everyone.
Here are a few pros and cons you can ponder.
Pros: The greatest impact is your electricity bill. Not only will you save money each month you can even save so much the electricity company can actually pay you for energy your panels have generated but you don’t use.
Solar panels make zero noise. There is no turbine that turns or wheels that spin annoying both you and your neighbors.
Solar panels can be used anywhere. In rural areas, it takes quite a bit of effort and cost to bring electricity to a remote area.
It’s green. There is no coal-powered plant involved.
Cons: They’re a bit on the expensive side to install but you can compare the cost of installation with how much you’ll save on electricity over time. In most places panels pay for themselves.
It is called solar for a reason. If there is no sunlight, there is no energy produced. That means during cloudy days, storms and at nightfall.
You can store the excess energy but the storage batteries are still relatively expensive.
You’ll need to properly maintain the panels which means keeping the panels free from debris and dust. During a heavy storm or hail, panels can break and will need to be replaced.
Washington, D.C. October 3, 1863 By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth. By the President: Abraham Lincoln William H. Seward, Secretary of State
How to Research Real Estate DataThanksgiving is a time for us all to sit back and reflect on the blessings we’ve received over the past year. A new job. A new family member. Or perhaps most importantly our health. Families across the nation will celebrate this traditional holiday together and officially kick off the holiday season. For home buyers, they can also be thankful there is a wealth of information out there that helps those search for the right school, neighborhood and even crime rates for a local area. There is simply too much information out there not to be tapped into when buying a home. Here are some tips you can use that will make your research much easier. One of the first places to start just might be the Department of Housing and Urban Development at hud.gov. There are various federal programs that can help current and future homeowners as well as information about the FHA home loan program. For school ratings from K-12, both public and private, visit the site at greatschools.org. Simply type in a city, zip code or even a particular school you have in mind and you’ll get a wealth of information along with a rating from 1 to 10. There are also public ratings as well along with the experts at greatschools.org. Should you so choose, you can also look at listings in the area around the schools you select.
Crime statistics?Most cities release crime data through the local police department yet there is a navigable site called neighborhoodscout.com which allows users to click on an area in a map and receive instant crime data ranging from property crime to rates as well as violent crime statistics and you can compare neighborhoods at the same time. Yet if you want more localized data, your best bet is with an experienced real estate agent. Instead of researching all the information on your own, let your real estate agent know what you’re looking for as well. Let Lionsgate Real Estate Group help you find your best home. We have the tools and experience you need to help make you a home buying hero.
Downsizing Best Practices
We hope you were able to glimpse the recent “supermoon.” So-called because the full moon that drifted across America at night was the closest it has been to the earth since 1948. That’s a long time ago but if you missed it, you’ve got a long wait until the next one. According to NASA, the next supermoon of this magnitude won’t occur until the year 2034. The latest supermoon was the biggest since Harry Truman was president. Yet on the other side of the scale, there are those who are searching for something smaller, not larger. They’re retirees or “empty nesters” who are looking for a smaller place to live. Here are some tips when considering downsizing.
Where you want to live is really an open canvas. You can live anywhere you want given your income and expenses but when retiring it’s important to consider the local climate. If you’re looking in the northern part of the country be prepared for colder winters and less sunshine. That will mean higher heating costs in the winter. In the south, it can get pretty hot in the summer and you can expect higher cooling bills as well. Try and locate a more temperate year-round climate for both comfort as well as cost savings.
Okay, you downsize from a four bedroom home to a two bedroom property. What do you do with all your stuff? It can be hard to let some things go that has been in your family for years but if you don’t decide to part you’ll end up paying unnecessary storage fees. Instead, try giving the pieces you hate to part with to family members. At least it stays in the family. Otherwise, it’s time for a garage sale.
Consider property maintenance as well. With a condo you won’t have a lawn to mow and property maintenance is covered by monthly homeowner association dues. Make sure you research the management of the condo or PUD to make sure the finances are stable. Yes, condos and managed neighborhoods do have a homeowners’ association fee but with a condo you don’t have to have a hazard insurance policy, either.
Buying smaller also means having a smaller monthly payment if you intend to finance your next home. Speak with a financial planner about the implications of financing a smaller home along with a mortgage payment or paying with cash from the proceeds of the sale.
Finally, once your priorities are set, it’s time to talk to your real estate agent. After a conversation about your requirements and what you’re looking for, the agent does the rest.
For Sale By Owner vs. Listing Agent
If you don’t have an election hangover it’s probably because you didn’t realize there was presidential election going. But of course that’s impossible. In fact, millions are still trying to figure out what happened. It was a contest between Trump and Hillary that will last the ages and people had the choice of one or the other. Another choice that consumers have is how to sell a home, either on their own or use a real estate agent.
The real estate industry refers to a property for sale by the owner as a FSBO (FIZZ-bow). The owner’s thinking here is to save some money at the closing table by eliminating the real estate agent’s commission which might represent 6.0% of the sales price. That’s a lot of money in the owner’s eye and it is real dollars. On a $500,000 sale, that represents $30,000 that goes to the real estate brokerage. Who wouldn’t want to hold onto that kind of money? Yet it’s really short sighted. The owners, trying to save money, could very well lose much more by selling on their own. How?
The real estate agent knows how to sell real estate at the highest price and for the best use. This isn’t guesswork on the agent’s price but as a result of experience, marketing and access to data the everyday consumer simply doesn’t have. The agent knows how to prepare a home for market for its best possible appearance. How does the home look from the street? Is the interior too cluttered? Does a fresh coat of paint sound like a good idea? The agent will construct a thorough Comparative Market Analysis using data from previous sales, demographics and trends. It’s in the agent’s best interest to sell the property for the highest price. But also at the right price.
With a FSBO, the only data an owner has access to is recent sales and other listings obtained online, typically from another real estate agent’s website. Yet owners can get too emotional when establishing a list price and be rather stubborn on the price when an offer is made. If the price is too high, the home will sit. If the home is priced too low and an offer is made within a day of the hone going on the market, the home was priced way too low and the owner lost thousands.
With a FSBO, there is no way to match the marketing prowess a real estate agent has. A FSBO can’t list the home on the local MLS. A FSBO doesn’t have the database of potential buyers already in their database. A FSBO can’t bring in the number of potential buyers. It’s interesting to note that in some markets, sellers will offer a higher commission than what is customary for the area to draw more interest from other buyer agents. You’re a professional at what you do, let the professional agent do what they do best- sell your home.
What Credit Score Do You Need to Purchase or Refinance a Home? Do you follow Michigan Wolverine football? Are you a college fan at all? Then you must know how well the Wolverines are playing so far this year. They have a fantastic offense that knows how to score as well as a stifling defense which keeps opponents out of the end zone for a considerable score discrepancy. So far this year, Michigan has held its Big 10 opponents to just 51 points in six games while racking up 273 of their own. No wonder they’re near the top of all polls. And speaking of scores, what kind of credit score do you need in order to qualify to purchase or refinance a home? Credit scoring has evolved over the years and mortgage loan guidelines do typically require a minimum credit score. This score, the one issued by FICO, is a three digit number ranging from 300 to 850. Anything greater than 740 is generally considered “excellent” credit and any score below 580 is considered “poor” or “bad.” So what is the minimum score you need? That depends upon the type of loan program your loan officer suggests for your situation, the amount of your down payment and your score. While most mortgage programs don’t require a minimum score, lenders do. For conventional loans with a credit score of say 620, you might be asked to make more down payment compared to someone with a credit score of say 750. Yet in general, most lenders ask that a credit score be at least 620 for most loan programs, either a purchase or a refinance yet individual lenders may offer more flexibility than others. For FHA loans for instance, the minimum credit score might be 600 or even 580 in certain instances. One final note- lenders use mortgage scores from the FICO Company. You, the consumer, don’t have the same access for these scores like lenders do. Score minimums can change so make sure you don’t get too far into the process and come to the conclusion your scores are too low. Contact a loan officer for guidance instead.