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How a Credit Score Affects Your Interest Rate
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Each year thousands of prospective homeowners are shocked to discover their credit history will hinder their ability to own their dream home.

The very first thing that your loan officer checks when you apply for a mortgage or any kind of credit is your credit score. You are rated in terms of the score which in most cases influences the amount you can borrow. Understanding your credit score in a better way enhances your chances to develop a higher score and thus benefit from loans at better terms and conditions.

A credit score consists of many factors: your payment history, your credit card balances, bank accounts, including savings and checking accounts, and any other form of credit including all outstanding personal loans, mortgage loans, store credit cards, etc.

Credit scores are calculated from many different forms of credit data in your credit report. Each credit reporting bureau has their own standards and formulas that they use for the purpose of calculating a consumer’s credit score. The following is a generalized classification of a credit score rating:

Excellent credit rating - No late payments, no collection notices, no bankruptcies or repossessions.

Good credit rating - May contain a late payment within the last two years.

Fair credit rating - More than one late payment. May or may not have a bankruptcy or repossession in the last two to three years.

Poor credit rating - Recent collection attempts, late payments within the last year, bankruptcies and/or repossessions within the last two to three years.

The reason why a credit score is important is that it will determine your eligibility for a loan. A low credit score may hinder approval, and it will also impact the interest rate you will have to pay for the money that you borrow.

Since individuals with less than perfect credit traditionally present more of a risk of defaulting on a loan. Lenders are able to justify charging more interest to those consumers. The extra interest the lender earns on the loan is intended to compensate the lending agency in the event the consumer defaults on the loan. Over the course of a 15 or 30 year mortgage, those extra interest points can add up to an astounding amount of money.

Your credit score is the indication of your financial health. You should do your best to avoid damaging your credit history with late or missing payments, too many outstanding loans or too many loan requests. Watching your credit score closely especially before you make any major purchases will help you avoid unwanted surprises

Home Energy Saving Tips
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As the summer season comes to a close and many activities move indoors, there's no better time to begin incorporating energy-efficient products into your home. The latest “green” products are designed to not only help the environment, but to also help you save money.

Here are some tips to help you save energy, save money, and do your part for the environment.

Reduce electricity use

  • Turn off lights, TVs and other appliances when they are not needed.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). These bulbs save up to 78% on lighting costs and last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • Use motion sensor lights for outdoor lights, and adjust the sensitivity to suit the environment.
  • Install a programmable light switch to turn off lights automatically. The switch can turn lights off when no one is home during the day and turn off lights that are accidentally left on.
  • Turn on the energy-saver option on your computer, and turn off the computer and all its accessories if they will not be used for a long period.
  • Consider replacing your old appliances with new Energy-Star compliant devices.
  • Run your washing machine using cold water. Wait for a full load of wash or use the small-load setting, and hang clothes outside to dry.

Reduce heat loss

  • Turn back the furnace thermostat at night and during the day if you are not at home. Every 1°C set back can save up to 2% in energy costs.
  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat, set the thermostat to 21ºC during the day and to 18ºC when you are sleeping and 15ºC when you are out.
  • Clean the furnace filter monthly and replace it every three months.
  • Check air vents regularly to ensure nothing is preventing the air from circulating freely.
  • Check all doors leading to un-insulated and/or unheated areas such as garages, cold storage rooms and basements. Replace with insulated doors if necessary.
  • Open draperies during the day on south-facing windows and let the sun heat your rooms naturally. Close your drapes and blinds during the night to reduce heat loss.
  • Locate and seal any air leaks (walls, ceilings, around windows and doors, floors and basements) and avoid heating un-insulated areas such as the garage, crawlspace or attic.
  • Check the weather-stripping on all windows and doors. Replace if worn or damaged.
  • Keep all air registers/radiators clean and free of obstructions.

It's a simple scientific fact: heat moves toward cold. In winter, heat moves toward the windows and doors and if your home windows are not isolated properly, up to 50% of all heat inside a home could be lost. Having thermally isolated windows and a thick window covering will help reduce heat loss considerably.

Energy saving is a hot topic! Talk about it with your friends and family. Discuss and share ideas and learn about how each of you can do better. Most likely you will come up with some creative ideas that are fun and can save you up to hundreds of dollars each year. Learn about how this topic fits into broader scale environmental initiatives and the role we as energy consumers could play to save mother earth.


9 Ways to Visually Create More Space
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Many people think of adding square footage to create more space. But that doesn't have to be the case! You can make your home appear bigger without going through the hassle of renovating and remodelling. With just a few home modifications , it is possible to make more from less. And remember, often what the eye needs is the illusion of spaciousness not actually more space.

Here's how to create the illusion of space without adding square footage.

1. Think diagonal views. Think back to geometry and how the hypotenuse of the triangle was the longest of the three sides. Apply that to the sightlines within your small-house design. Your house will appear much bigger than it actually is if you are able to stand at one corner of the house and look to the far corner without any obstructions. Also, if you have a room that will be tiled, place the tiles on a diagonal. It makes the space seem larger visually, pushing the walls out. Great trick!

2. Think like a sailor. Sailboats usually have no wasted space and that's what you should aim for. Look for opportunities for built-ins, such as building bookshelves in staircases, unique space-saving cabinets, drawers under beds, etc.

3. Lighting will open up space and add interest. In creating the feeling of more space, it is important to give your house an airy feel. Use simple window dressings to bring in natural light and steal space from the outdoors and give it to the interior of the house.

If possible, use recessed spot lights as they are both visually appealing and have a low profile that is perfect for a small space.

4. Play with the furniture. Try to move furniture away from the walls if the space allows. It will give a feeling of more openness when a sofa isn't butted against a wall. If you're buying new pieces, try to purchase items that are on legs versus feet. The higher a piece sits from the floor, the more visual space is present. Also, armless pieces give an illusion of extra space so consider an armless sofa or slipper chairs.

5. Accessorize. The bigger a piece of artwork is, the bigger the feeling of a space. A wall filled with many small pictures seems cluttered and less dynamic versus a wall with a large piece of art, which makes a bold statement. Also, "lighten up" your corners by using lights and plants. It will look stunning at night, casting shadows on the ceilings and giving an illusion of more space.

6. Mirrors to reflect light. When using mirrors in a space, make sure that whatever the mirror is reflecting it is pleasing to the eye, or at least doubles the amount of light let into the space. In addition to mirrors, use other materials that reflect light and space (stainless steel, chrome, etc). A glass table with stainless steel legs will allow light to bounce off it.

7. Colour your world. The colour of a room’s walls has the power to create a mood and affect the room’s appearance. Use just one or two colours per room for visual simplicity that expands a space. Also keep in mind that white, neutral or pale colors best reflect light, visually "pushing back" walls. Cool blue and green hues will make a space seem larger and airier. Warm reds and yellows cozy a room and can make it appear smaller.

8. Let there be height. Use at least one tall element in a room to draw the eye upward, towards the ceiling. Not only does this maximize the vertical space in the room, but it also draws the eye up to the less crowded ceiling space above.

9. Minimize the amount of furniture you have in each room. It is both wise and essential to select furniture and accessories that perform multiple tasks. The smaller your space, the more this applies, especially with furniture. Storage is an obvious second job for many pieces of furniture.

Every room has good proportions which make its space flexible enough to create any environment you wish. Compromises in decorating, colour techniques, furniture arranging and lighting considerations can all contribute to the illusion of space. By following some of the tips above, you can create a visually larger room.

How to Avoid Home Buyer’s Remorse
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Buyer's remorse is an emotional response that many home buyers experience during the course of a real estate transaction. The response can take various forms such as feelings of regret, fear, depression or anxiety. Many doubtful questions may arise: Did I buy the right house? What if I lose my job? What if home prices drop? Did I overpay? Is this really the neighbourhood I want to live in? Can I really afford the mortgage payments?

There are hundreds of questions that will run through your mind during the period leading up to closing: the day you actually become owner of the home. Most of the questions will be simple ones that are easily answered, but sometimes doubts creep in, making you uncertain if you want to proceed with the purchase.

When you decide to buy a new home, you're forced to step outside your current comfort zone and confront the unknown. Your mind may try to compensate psychologically for feelings of uncertainty by mentally undoing the event. In other words, you may try to talk yourself out of buying your dream home. Add feelings of uncertainty to the fear of making a long-term commitment, and it's easy to understand why home buyers can suffer from bouts of anxiety.

Here are some tips that can help you battle home buyer’s remorse:

1. Prepare yourself
The best way to cope with buyer’s remorse, and minimize its destructiveness, is to make sure that you are well informed. You should find out as much as you can about the home buying process, local home prices and home mortgages.

It's a good idea to study a sample purchase agreement before you buy. Read the contract carefully to make sure that you understand it, and that it says what you think it should. If you have any questions about the purchase agreement, talk to your agent, or real estate attorney.

2. Choose the right agent
In order to make sure that the purchase transaction goes smoothly it is important that you choose the right agent to represent your interests. The right agent will be someone whose experience, knowledge and personality is trustworthy and will allow you to feel comfortable with the whole transaction. Try to find an agent that is familiar and knowledgeable about the neighbourhood and community that you plan to move into.

3. Make sure the property meets your needs
Get out that list of wants and needs you made back when you first starting the home shopping process. Does the home you selected include the important features? Provided that you saw a number of homes and thoroughly evaluated what each home had to offer, it’s likely that house you’re about to buy is the best choice for you.

4. Is the price right?
Feeling certain about the price you are paying for a home is one of the most important factors that can reduce uncertainty and increase your comfort level. If your agent didn't prepare a comparative market analysis for you on the home you are buying, have him or her prepare one for you now.

4. Consider the resale value
As you look at houses in an area, think about what all of the houses have in common. Most neighbourhoods are usually built at the same time by the same construction company; therefore, they will have similar floor plans and similar amenities (excluding possible owner upgrades). Before you consider buying the house with the most upgrades, consider whether or not you want to tackle a remodel. Don’t just consider the cost of the remodel, but also think about the amount of time and headache you can handle. No remodel goes smoothly! If a house with a newer kitchen cost $20,000 more than a house with an older kitchen, and you do not have the time to renovate, it may be still worth buying the house with the new kitchen.

5. Ask questions
No one knows the home better than the seller of the property. If you can find out the seller's motivation for selling you might be able to negotiate a better deal on the house. Try to find out the last time service was performed on the roof, furnace, plumbing and water heating. Asking the right questions upfront can end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.

6. Get a home inspection
Save yourself a lot of time in future litigation and renovation by bringing in a licensed, professional home inspector to inspect the home before you buy. If any major problems are found, it will steer you away from a bad decision and/or it will help you negotiate a better price at the negotiating table.

7. Review your finances
You may want to review your finances to confirm that you can afford to make the purchase. Your feelings of remorse are probably unfounded, so the more rational things you can do to put your decision into the proper perspective, the better.

8. Discuss your concerns with your agent
Your agent has seen plenty of cases of homebuyer’s remorse and he or she can help put your fears and doubts into perspective.

Remorse is a common feeling during the home buying process. Following the above tips will help you make an educated decision and reduce any remorse you may have.