If you or someone you know is still on the fence about homeownership, now may be a good time to take another look at buying a home. Here’s why.
Rates – Mortgage rates are still REALLY low. While rates aren’t as low as they were a few years ago, they are still some of the best rates that Americans have seen since the 1970s. By taking advantage of these amazing rates, you can save some serious money, especially considering that renting costs are expected to continue to increase. For a look at the historic rate data, check it out here.
Building a future – Owning a home means that you are in control of your property. If you want to paint or change the carpets, you don’t have to get written permission in advance. The financial advantages of home ownership maybe appealing. Owning a home helps you build equity over time. A more immediate advantage is the potential to receive multiple tax deductions. An added bonus is that you’re paying for something that is yours, and not increasing your landlord’s wealth.
It’s personal – Beyond the dollars and cents, there is a softer side of homeownership. There is the stability of being in a community and part of the neighborhood – a kind of belonging that can often be missing in the rental world. Owning a home can also offer a feeling of comfort and continuity. After all, there’s no place like home.
Colder temperatures are approaching, but there is still time to make updates to your home so you don’t feel the chill this winter. Here are some suggestions for making home improvements - some of them won’t even cost you anything!
- Close the curtains. Making sure your curtains are closed after the sun goes down can help prevent heat from escaping through windows during the evening. You can even use blankets to cover windows and doors if you don’t have window treatments.
- Shut doors to rooms you don’t use. By keeping doors shut, air doesn’t circulate as easily, which means cold air doesn’t move around the house. And by closing air registers in those rooms, that extra warmth is distributed throughout the house.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Today’s programmable thermostats offer multiple settings for each day of the week. That means you can plan out your heating needs based on your specific schedule. Setting the temperature lower while your away means that you won’t be wasting energy. You can save even more money by installing the thermostat yourself.
- Use a door draft blocker. Draft blockers are very easy to make with patterns available online. If you’re not feeling particularly crafty, they are also available for purchase for around $10.
- Fill gaps between baseboards and windows. Sealing gaps around windows and baseboards with caulk helps prevent drafts. Using a caulking gun is relatively easy and if you use a paintable product, you can paint over where you sealed so it matches your walls.
- Cover hardwood floors. Putting a rug on your hardwood floors adds insulation and prevents heat loss. There is also the benefit of keeping your feet warm when you walk around.
- Seal pet doors. Sorry Fido, but you won’t be able to come and go as you please, at least not during the winter. You can cover pet doors with plastic or fabric to seal them.
If you decide to undertake some larger energy improvements, you may be eligible for and Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) from Homestead Funding! EEMs are an available option that can help you make the energy efficient improvements you’ve been thinking about, like replacing your old furnace and windows or adding insulation.
For more energy saving ideas, check out the US Department of Energy’s website: http://www.energy.gov/public-services/homes/home-weatherization
For more information about the EEM program at Homestead Funding, click on the following link: https://homesteadfunding.com/pages/energy-efficient-mortgages
Apple season is upon us! With apples in abundance, there are plenty of opportunities to cook with this versatile fruit. And while there are lots of ways to use apples in your culinary adventures (and beyond!), we think that some of the more traditional recipes always seem to hit the spot. Plus apple crisp can be even easier to make than pie. Happy baking!
4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup instant oatmeal
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or to taste)
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg (or to taste)
Preheat oven to 375°F and grease the bottom and sides of an 8x8 inch baking pan.
Place apple slices in baking pan. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Spread mixed ingredients over the apples. Bake for 30 minutes or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown.
Serve with ice cream if desired.
S’mores are one of the quintessential summertime treats. For generations, people have made this delicious dessert around bonfires, camp stoves and gas grills alike. Now you can enjoy s’mores year-round with this easy to make dip - no campfire needed!
Bonus s’mores fact: National S’mores Day is on August 10th (It’s the perfect time to try out this recipe!).
12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 ounce bag of large marshmallows
14.4 ounce box of graham crackers
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Empty the bag of chocolate chips into an oven-safe pan or skillet. Completely cover the chocolate chips with marshmallows then bake for 10 minutes. While your chocolate and marshmallows are baking, break up the graham crackers into pieces. Once the marshmallows are golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and serve immediately.