Alice Ann Kuder is an author. Her most recent novel is "Since I Last Saw You." She is also a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices NW Real Estate in Seattle, Washington. Known as Seattle's Single Minded Realtor, she works a great deal with single buyers and sellers, primarily in West Seattle.
Professional home energy audits are often available for free or at reduced prices through the City of Seattle and from Puget Sound Energy. Energy Star is another source of helpful information and resources.
If you’d rather conduct your own, here’s where to download a PDF with instructions for doing just that.
Ever heard of an EEM (energy efficiency mortgage) loan? Making your home more energy efficient may reduce your utility bills for the long term, but paying for the upgrades upfront can be a challenge. EEM’s can be one source.
Another potential source of funds is a traditional HELOC (home equity line of credit). Check with your bank, credit union or mortgage servicer for details and rates.
There are a number of financial institutions with programs specifically designed for financing energy efficiency upgrades. These are often called EEM loans (Energy Efficiency Mortgages).
Homeowners can take advantage of EEM’s to either finance energy efficient improvements to existing homes, including renewable energy technologies, or to increase their home-buying power when purchasing a new energy efficient home.
If you’d like ideas and information about the variety of energy efficiency projects you might want to take on, consider attending The Northwest Green Home Tour on Sunday, April 28th and 29th. This is a multi-location event and free tickets are available (though a $10 donation is suggested). For a location map and more detailed information, go to: www.nwgreenhometour.org.
Colorful flowers and shrubs for your gardening pleasure
Of all the reasons home owners give for choosing to stay in their current home — even though they might like to move — the most perplexing is the question of, “Where would I go?”
Sellers realize that even though they may get a terrific price for their home, they will then become a buyer — a less enviable postion in the current real estate market.
Where would you go? Here are some potential answers to that question:
> Downsize: If your family is no longer growing, the money from the sale of your current home may enable you to purchase a smaller with upgraded features and/or in a more desirable location.
> Rent (temporarily): Plan to move to a short-term (3-6 months) rental once the sale of your home closes. Moving twice isn’t ideal, but it can be a good alternative to making a hasty purchase.
> Stay with friends or family: You may have friends of relatives with a Mother-in-Law apartment or empty finished basement. Pay them a reasonable rent so everybody benefits.
> Consider “Extended Stay”: Many “name brand” hotel chains offer this option.
> Consider “Lease to With Option to Buy”: One company that offers such a program is Home Partners of America. (homepartners.com). In a nutshell, you identify a house you want to buy. Home Partners buys the house and rents it to you at market rates. You have five years to decide if you want to buy it from them.
> “Rent Back” from Buyers: Make an agreement with the buyers of your home, that you will be allowed to stay and rent it from them for a pre-determined length of time after closing (usually 2-3 months) while you look for your new home.
> Buy Contingent: Find a seller who is willing to accept an offer that is contingent on the sale of your home. This is rare in this market, but I’ve been successful in negotiating such purchases for my clients. I can do the same for you.
> Get Creative: The options I’ve outlined here are not the only possibilities. Unique circumstances often give birth to creative solutions. Call me today to discuss your situation and let’s work together to achielve your dreams. 206-708-9800
What is a Time Bank?
“Who” is a Time Bank is a better question.
We are friends and neighbors sharing time and talents.
Our Time Bank has three main goals:
> Strengthen our communities and meet real needs of community members.
> Serve people and give them a means to serve.
> Establish new relationships.
Each person has talents to share. When neighbors help one another, the overall community is strengthened. For every hour that you help meet the needs of another member, you earn a time credit. This time credit can then be used for services from others. And the never-ending cycle of sharing and exchanging services continues.
The mission of TimeBanks USA, our charter organization, is to promote equality and build caring community economies through inclusive exchanges of time and talents.
A new program allows employers to help workers put a down payment on a home, similar to how companies contribute to a 401(k).
HomeFundMe, a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-approved down payment crowdfunding platform, allows borrowers to crowdfund their down payment from several sources, including their employer. CMG Financial, a mortgage banking firm, created the HomeFundMe program. Employers can contribute directly to employees’ HomeFundMe accounts to help raise funds for a down payment on a home.
HomeFundMe explains: “The HomeFundMe Affinity Portal allows employers to add HomeFundMe to their benefit packages, with the option to elect to match donations in any amount. Employers simply have to share the customized crowdfunding platform with employees, and HomeFundMe will provide all the materials necessary to communicate the benefit.”
Some loans may also be eligible for a lender contribution of $2 for every $1 crowdfunded, up to $2,500 or 1 percent of the purchase price. Buyers who have incomes above the average median income can receive a lender contribution of $2 for every $1 crowdfunded, up to $1,000 or 1 percent of the purchase price.
HomeFundMe loans are also eligible for a buyer or listing agent contribution of 1 percent toward the down payment.
All crowdfunded money is held in escrow until settlement.
“More than ever, employers are looking for ways to retain and attract the best and brightest talent and millennials are looking for the lifestyle perks that will help them achieve their goal,” says Chris George, president of CMG Financial. “The Affinity Portal helps to bridge that gap by giving employers the ability to give their employees the benefits that matter most to them.”
Fur babies, four-footed-friends, companions — whatever you call your pets, you probably make many concessions for their comfort and welfare. That may or may not extend to looking for specific features in a new home, but if it does, here are some things to consider that will make your home pet-friendly.
If you are thinking of updating or remodeling your home, here’s some insight into the latest design trends for 2018. On the other hand, why not create something totally new and unique and become a trend-setter yourself?