Gunning Daily News

Site Has Many Viable Options to Aid Troubled Mortgage Payers

August 29, 2013 8:06 pm

I previously talked about the Streamlined Modification for mortgage holders who are delinquent in their payments by 90 days to 24 months. But there are many other options for homeowners in various other situations, who are looking to lower their payments or get out of rough financial waters.

Knowyouroptions.com, a site operated by Fannie Mae, lays out the following options for homeowners:

Refinancing - A new loan, with new terms, interest rates and monthly payments, which completely replaces the current mortgage. Even if a home value has decreased or the owner owes more than the home is worth, they may be able to refinance their loan as part of the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). HARP makes payments more affordable by lowering the interest rate or adjusting the terms of a loan, and it creates no negative activity or event on your credit history.

Repayment plan - An agreement between the owner and the mortgage company that lets them pay the past due amount - added on to the current mortgage payments - over a specified time period to bring the mortgage current. The reayment plan resolves the delinquency; lets homeowners catch up on past due payments over an extended period of time; and is less damaging to a credit score than a foreclosure

Forbearance - An offer by a mortgage company to temporarily suspend or reduce the monthly mortgage payments for a specified period of time, providing a homeowner time to improve their financial situation. This option is less damaging to the credit score than a foreclosure

Modification - An agreement with a mortgage company to change the original terms of a mortgage - such as payment amount, length of loan, interest rate, etc. Candidates may also be eligible for the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

Deal for Lease - A program that allows the homeowner to temporarily lease the home by transferring the ownership of the home to the mortgage company (called a Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure) in exchange for a release from the mortgage loan and payments. the former owner can then rent the property back - at an affordable rate - and remain in the home as a tenant.

 


8 Ways to Cook Healthier Meals

August 29, 2013 8:06 pm

Some Moms sneak veggies into their picky eaters’ diets by grating a little carrot into the tuna salad or even zucchini into chocolate cookies. Nutritionist Rachel Warren suggests eight more easy ways to make all your family meals more nutritious:

Split the fats and spare the sugar – Most recipes don’t need to be followed exactly. Sautee ingredients in a mixture of butter and olive oil instead of butter or corn oil – and you can shave a quarter cup of sugar from most cake and cookie recipes without sacrificing taste.

Dress chicly – Instead of using dressings made with oil, puree an avocado with herbs of your choice and pour it over your salad. Or use a little balsamic syrup (thicker and sweeter than balsamic vinegar) to dress salads or drizzle on meats before grilling.

Skim the cream -  Take fat and calories out of classic comfort foods by mashing potatoes with unsweetened almond milk and roasted garlic – or creaming spinach of other vegetables with tapioca flour and unsweetened almond milk instead of butter and heavy cream. You can even halve the suggested amount of cheese without giving up much flavor.  

Tenderize with yogurt - The naturally occurring lactic acid in Greek yogurt helps break down protein to make meats, fish, and even veggies more flavorful and tender. Combine nonfat plain Greek yogurt with fresh herbs and seasonings to create an oil-free marinade and save about 110 calories per tablespoon.

Add a leaf to the beef – Boil or steam kale, a nutrient-rich veggie, then chop finely and add a half cup to a pound of ground beef for delicious, more nutritious meatballs.

Pick the right pan – Using a good quality non-stick pan will enable you to cook with  less fat and still keep foods from sticking.

Turn up the heat on veggies – Cut up assorted veggies, toss them with a bit of olive oil and herbs on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes. Yummy flavor with crunchy, toasted edges and without any butter at all.

Curb the carbs - Lighten pasta dishes and boost nutritional content by replacing half the noodles with lightly sauteed julienne vegetables like peppers, snow peas, and mushrooms.


Energize your Home's Exterior with Vibrant Colors

August 28, 2013 7:48 pm

(BPT) - Chances are you've thought about adding a splash of color to the exterior of your
home, and you're not the only one. Many people have the same idea, but they don't act
because they're worried they will choose poorly. Selecting the wrong color for your home's
exterior isn't only costly, it's embarrassing as well.

"Many homeowners are afraid to add color to their home's exterior because they don't want to
make a mistake," says Sensational Color's Kate Smith, Color Marketing Group (CMG), a
career color trend forecaster. "Especially when people look at the style of their homes, they
can become confused by what colors will enhance their exteriors."

One common mistake homeowners make when seeking to add color to their home's exterior is
they fail to identify a full color palette. They set out to choose that perfect color for their home
without thinking about how it will interact with the newly-installed window frames or new roof.

Smith says the selection of your main color should take into account the colors of fixed
features related to your home, such as the brick, stone or stucco found on your foundation,
porch or walkway. Selecting color options for the trim, shutters and the front door should only
come after the main color has been selected.

Smith, author of the free 36-page ebook "FRESH Color Schemes for Your Home Exterior,"
advocates for taking a "top down" approach to adding eye-pleasing color palettes to the home
exterior. She says people who are interested in making a color change to their exterior should
start with the roof color and work their way down, taking into account the siding, window
frames, front entry door and trim.

The ebook includes specific tips for home styles including: ranch, colonial, bungalow,
Victorian, Spanish mission, European and new American homes. Smith provides several
color combinations for each home style as well as tips for making the homes complement their
neighborhoods.

"One of the hottest trends in the marketplace right now is to 'shake up' home exteriors with
color," says Smith. "This tutorial provides guidance on understanding the home's exterior
features and playing off them with color accents."

"No homeowner should feel locked into blah or standard colors on their home's exterior," says
Smith. "A shake or slate polymer roof can have an appealing blend of colors, such as browns
and autumn tones. Low-maintenance vinyl window frames and grids come in pine green,
chocolate and even brick red to add pizzazz to the home. And, homeowners can create a
welcoming front entrance by painting a fiberglass door a striking accent color. Tie that all
together with painted urethane trim pieces that add the 'icing on the cake' for the home and
you can really make a home more appealing with coordinated colors."

Source: www.sensationalcolor.com.
 


Legal How-To: Canceling a Contract within 3 Days

August 28, 2013 7:48 pm

Many of us have buyer's remorse after completing a purchase or closing a deal. But luckily, there are some situations in which you can cancel the deal within three days.

Caveat emptor (buyer beware) no more with these easy steps to cancel a recent contract:

1. Contact the Company

Before you use your state and federal law options for canceling your contract, you may want to try simply contacting the business via mail or email to release you from the contract. Depending on the type of contract, you may be able to cancel for free or possibly a small fee.

2. Check State Laws

Many states, like California, grant consumers a statutory "cooling off" period, typically three to five days, during which a consumer can cancel a contract for any reason by sending the seller a written cancellation notice.

Each state has its own methods and official forms for giving cancellation notice, but in most cases, a contract can be cancelled within three days if notice is sent by certified mail before the third day.

3. Determine FTC Options

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put in place several safeguards to protect consumers from making hasty contract decisions. In particular situations, there is a three-day cooling-off period during which a consumer can cancel a contract.

This FTC cooling-off period only applies to purchases made in a buyer's home or a location outside the seller's permanent place of business (e.g., at a trade show).

Regardless of the location, a buyer cannot cancel a contract under the cooling-off period for a transaction that:

  • Totals less than $25;
  • Involves business or education goods (i.e., not personal or household goods);
  • Involves cars (even if it's at a car show);
  • Involves arts and crafts at a fair-type venue; or
  • Involves real property, insurance, securities.

4. Send a Cancellation Notice

If your contract is eligible for the three-day cooling-off period -- or even a longer period under state law -- you need to give cancellation notice to the seller.

Some businesses may offer their own cancellation forms, but you can always draft your own cancellation letter. Just make sure your notice includes:

  • Your name, address, and contact information;
  • Identifying information for the goods or services you're wishing to cancel (e.g., order number, account number, etc.); and
  • An unequivocal statement that you are canceling the contract.
  • As long as you send the notice by mail -- or even better, hand delivery -- within three business days of the sale, the company may not sue you for breach of contract.

Source: FindLaw.com


Tips for Renting a Car over Labor Day Weekend

August 28, 2013 7:48 pm

Labor Day weekend offers a chance for a final summer escape before the arrival of fall. An estimated 34.1 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this Labor Day weekend, the highest turn out since 2008, when the recession was at its peak, the American Automobile Association reports. Gas prices are also down, nearly 5 percent, another plus for vacationers. However, for those renting a car, it can be confusing, frustrating and downright daunting. Unfortunately, many consumers do not even think about car rental insurance until they get to the counter, which can result in either wasting money by purchasing unnecessary coverage or having dangerous gaps in coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Before renting a car, I.I.I. suggests that you make two phone calls—one to your insurance professional and another to the credit card company you will be using to pay for the rental car.

Insurance Company

  • Find out how much coverage you currently have on your own car. In most cases, whatever coverage and deductibles you have on your own car would apply when you rent a car, providing you are using the car for recreation and not for business.
  • If you have dropped either comprehensive or collision on your own car as a way to reduce costs, you will not be covered if your rental car is stolen or damaged in an accident.
  • Check to see whether your insurance company pays for administrative fees, loss of use or towing charges. Some companies may provide an insurance rider to cover some of these costs, which would make it less expensive than purchasing coverage through the rental car company. Keep in mind, however, that in most states diminished value (the reduction in a vehicle's market value occurring after a vehicle is damaged and then repaired), is not covered by insurers.

Credit Card Company

  • Insurance benefits offered by credit card companies differ by both the company and/or the bank that issues the card, as well as by the level of credit card used. For instance, a platinum card may offer more insurance coverage than a gold card.
  • Credit cards usually cover only damage to or loss of the rented vehicle, not for other cars, personal belongings or the property of others. You may not have personal liability coverage for bodily injury or death claims. Some credit card companies will provide coverage for towing, but many may not provide for diminished value or administrative fees. Some credit card companies have changed their policies, too, so you may not have as much coverage as you thought.
  • To know exactly what type of insurance you have, call the toll-free number on the back of the card you will be using to rent the car. If you are depending on a credit card for insurance protection, ask the credit card company or bank to send you its coverage information in writing. In most cases, credit card benefits are secondary to either your personal insurance protection or the insurance offered by the rental car company.
  • If you have more than one credit card, consider calling each one to see which offers the best insurance protection.

At the Rental Car Counter

Since insurance is state regulated, the cost and coverage will vary from state to state. Consumers, however, can generally choose from the following coverages:

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)

Also referred to as a collision damage waiver outside the U.S., an LDW is not technically an insurance product. LDWs do, however, relieve or "waive" renters of financial responsibility if their rental car is damaged or stolen. In most cases, waivers also provide coverage for "loss of use," in the event the rental car company charges the renter for the time a damaged car cannot be used because it is being fixed. It may also cover towing and administrative fees.


Waivers, however, may become void if the accident was caused by speeding, driving on unpaved roads or driving while intoxicated. If you already have comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car, check with your personal auto insurer to make sure you are not duplicating coverage you already have. Should you decide it is necessary, this coverage generally costs between $9 and $19 a day.

Liability Insurance

By law, rental companies must provide the state-required amount of liability insurance. Generally, these amounts are low and do not provide much protection. If you have adequate amounts of liability protection on your own car, you may consider forgoing additional liability protection. If you want the supplemental insurance, it will cost between $7 and $14 a day.

An umbrella liability policy, however, may be more cost effective. Umbrella liability insurance is so named because it acts like an umbrella, sitting on top of your auto and homeowners (or renters) liability policies to provide extra protection, including accidents, while driving your own car or one that you rent. These policies, usually sold in increments of a million dollars, cost as little as $200 to $300 annually for a million dollars worth of coverage and another $50 to $100 for each additional million.

Those who do not own their own car and are frequent car renters, can also consider purchasing a non-owner liability policy. This not only provides liability protection when you rent a car, but also when you borrow someone else's car.

Personal Accident Insurance

Personal Accident Insurance offers coverage to you and your passengers for medical and ambulance bills for injuries caused in a car crash. If you have adequate health insurance or are covered by personal injury protection under your own car insurance, you may not need this additional insurance. It usually costs about $1 to $5 a day.

Personal Effects Coverage

Personal Effects Coverage provides insurance protection for the theft of items in your car. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy that includes off-premises theft coverage, you are generally covered for theft of your belongings away from home, minus the deductible. If you purchase this coverage through the rental car company, it generally costs between $1 and $4 a day.

If you frequently travel with expensive items such as jewelry, cameras, musical equipment or sports equipment, it may be more cost effective to purchase a personal articles floater under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. With such a floater, your valuable items are protected at home as well as while traveling anywhere in the world and the coverage is broader.

Source: www.iii.org.  


Word of the Day

August 28, 2013 7:48 pm

Plat. Map or survey showing the location and boundaries of individual properties and how they have been subdivided into lots and blocks.

 


Q: What Can I Do If I Am Turned Down for a Loan?

August 28, 2013 7:48 pm

A: Unless your credit is absolutely abysmal – with all kinds of judgments, liens, excessive delinquencies or non-payments, foreclosures and bankruptcies that show no attempt on your part to make progress – you can generally get a loan.

More and more borrowers are finding ways to become homeowners despite past credit problems, a lack of a credit history, or debt-to-income ratios that exceed traditional limits.  This is because a greater number of lenders are willing to take a chance with borrowers today that they once turned down for home loans.

If you are denied a mortgage, ask the lender for a full explanation.  If you feel you are creditworthy, then appeal the decision in writing.


If You're Moving For Work, Go Where the Jobs Are

August 27, 2013 5:54 pm

One of the major drivers behind people relocating is to pursue or improve their employment situation. So why not target your relocation to where the biggest pockets of job growth are occurring, and avoid areas where job growth is stagnant or retracting.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its July metro area employment data and the results were on par with the month prior, as 42 of 52 metros saw payrolls rise in July.  Zooming out, the picture gets more encouraging, as just five metros have seen employment fall over the last three months while only two remain flat; there are only five metros with lower payrolls than six months ago and only Cleveland has seen employment fall from a year ago.

Here are some details from that report, courtesy of The Hoyt Organization out of Orange County, CA:

  • Minneapolis continued leading the Midwest region in July, and leads all metros in employment growth over the past three months. The metro added 13,700 jobs in July and ranks third among metros in growth over the past six months. Minneapolis employment is also up, with growth accelerating 5.2 percent over the past three months.
  • The DC area shed 300 jobs in July, and is now one of very few metro areas showing longer-term declines as well. Suburban Maryland has was one of just ten major metros that contracted payrolls in July, losing 600 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Meanwhile, Northern Virginia has seen jobs grow in five of the past six months, adding 400 jobs most recently in July.
  • Portland has been posting impressive job gains recently, topping the six-month growth chart among major metro areas and adding 4,000 jobs in July, and more than 4,000 jobs or more in each month since May. Portland has also seen payrolls grow 2.4 percent over the past year.
  • While most of the other long-struggling metros have gained traction on their road to recovery, Cleveland lags behind. Cleveland’s economy has shed jobs in four of the past five months and it is the only major metro still reporting employment declines from a year ago.

Top Winterizing Tasks for Your Home

August 27, 2013 5:54 pm

BPT—If you shudder at the thought of shivering through another frigid winter, building industry experts say now is the time to consider winterizing your home. Several simple and cost-effective measures can yield both immediate and long-term benefits.

  • While instinct may prod you to increase the heat during winter and keep your home toasty all day long, that's not always cost-effective. Investing in a programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature remotely, lowering the setting when the house is empty, and save money in the process. Modern thermostats let you monitor the indoor temperature of your home remotely via your smartphone or online. By keeping the temperature low when no one is home and programming the thermostat to increase the temperature when everyone arrives home, you could notice a 10 percent drop in your heating costs.
  • Fall is also an ideal time to ensure your furnace is functioning optimally. Schedule an appointment for a professional to inspect and clean your furnace once a year. By doing so, you'll help your furnace function more effectively and last longer.
  • If ice damming on the roof is an annual problem, consider taking measures to completely stop dams from forming. Major damage can result from ice damming, so it's never too early to start thinking about a long-term solution. Ice damming occurs when warm, indoor air escaping through the roof melts snow on the shingles. The water then refreezes as it runs off the roof, creating a barrier of ice at the edge. Shoveling snow or chipping ice away can threaten life, limb and roof, so it's best to consider more permanent solutions.
  • While caulking or weather-stripping can help address the gaps allowing the air to escape, the U.S. Department of Energy's Home Energy Saver website says that proper air sealing, insulation and attic venting are the best methods to stop ice damming from occurring. Spray foam insulation is one modern material that both insulates and seals to stop ice damming. Installed by professionals, spray foam insulation works well in all climates to completely seal the building, filling every gap to stop air leakage and stop ice dams from forming.
  • As a long-term solution, spray foam insulation helps maintain a comfortable temperature year round while helping to control monthly heating and cooling expenses. Thanks to spray foam insulation's air-sealing qualities, homeowners can reduce the size of their heating and cooling equipment since less effort is required to heat or cool the home, according to InsulationSmart.com.
  • While air leakage can cause energy bills to sky-rocket and ice damming to occur, a well-insulated home and economical winterizing can help you get through the cold winter months.

Source: icynene.com.  


Choosing a Home with Your 'Blended' Family in Mind

August 27, 2013 5:54 pm

With 1,300 new stepfamilies forming each day, there is a constant flow of families starting over in a brand new home. The interior decorators with Decor&You, one of America's leading, full-service interior decorating franchises, understand how difficult moving can be and share four key tips on how to handle one of life's toughest transitions.

"The process of starting a life over with a stepfamily in a new home can be both exciting and challenging," says Decor&You Founder and CEO Karen Powell. "Whether you are moving across the country or across town, the pressures of blending two families can be stressful on everyone. It's important to make sure every family member has a voice in choosing the new residence and creating an environment that everyone can call home."

Decor&You shares the following tips on how to create a smooth transition into a new home while taking your "blended family" into account:

1. Carefully consider the size and floor plan of the home you buy. While there is no single "right" home for a blended family, a house with as many bedrooms as bathrooms will allow the family the opportunity to learn how to live with each other without feeling too crowded. Allow the children to decide if they prefer to have their own bedroom or to share a bedroom with a sibling.

2. Turn a first-floor den into an extra bedroom. Turning the lower-level room into a bedroom allows teenage children or college students to feel independent and maintain their privacy.

3. Consider a renovated house with bedrooms at both ends. Buying a home with bedrooms on both ends and a common living space in the center allows blended families to maintain a degree of physical distance, while still meeting in the middle at mealtimes or for recreation.

4. Include everyone in the decorating process. Involving the entire family in decorating the new home makes starting over much easier and allows all members to feel included. Give a few options for different elements of shared spaces and let each family member share their opinion.

Source: http://www.decorandyou.com.