Green Home Cleaning Solutions to Adopt

Keep your home sparkling and benefit the planet with these green cleaning solutions.

Raised on the standard home cleaning products, many of us don’t think twice about what’s actually in them. When we see a smudge on the glass, we reach for the closest glass cleaner we have, typically Windex. Little do we know, these cleaning products are loaded with chemicals that can be extremely toxic.

Whether you’re preparing your new home or performing your daily cleaning, there are natural, everyday ingredients that you can turn into cleaning products! Skip the harsh chemicals, the toxic fumes, and dangerous ingredients for these simple, effective, and natural substitutes.

Wood Polish

  • The go-to: Pledge
    Full of hydrocarbons, this furniture polish can cause dizziness, labored breathing, stomach ache, and other symptoms if ingested!
  • The green cleaning solution: dish soap, lemon oil, and water.
    This brings out the luster of your wood tables!

Glass Cleaner

  • The go to: Windex
    While this is a common solution for cleaning your windows, Windex contains ammonium hydroxide, a chemical that can irritate your eyes. This can be dangerous and harmful if inhaled.
  • The green cleaning solution: vinegar and water.
    Use this on windows and glass surfaces with this mixture of natural ingredients will result in the same streak-free shine of Windex fame – without the ammonia!

Bathtub Cleaner

  • The go-to: Comet
    This contains over 100 chemical ingredients – enough said!
  • The green cleaning solutions: baking soda, vinegar, and liquid soap.
    This carcinogen-free scrub cuts through tough soap scum and grime.

With all of these products already in your home, cleaning has never been more natural, affordable, and effective.

To keep on top of your household cleaning and maintenance, protect your home in the best way possible! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Important Questions You Should Ask Your Lender Before Securing Your Mortgage

A little research to compare your options for a mortgage can help you get the best mortgage rate.

Use the power of choice to call two different lenders to apply for a mortgage—they may give you a different interest rate, and you can use this to your advantage. Even though information like your credit score and salary is set, financial institutions can interpret this information differently. And that can mean scoring a lower interest rate merely because of your choice in lender. Many borrowers don’t compare interest rates before selecting their mortgage, which possibly ends up costing them many years of a debt-free life. When you’re comparing lenders, here are a few questions to ask.

Will the size of my down payment impact the interest rate or fees on the loan? 

If you put down less than 20 percent when you apply for a mortgage and buy a home, you’ll likely end up having to pay for private mortgage insurance. Be sure to understand the minimum down payment and how it can affect the rest of your fees.

Are points included in the quote? 

A quote with an interest rate from your mortgage lender may or may not include points. Points are fees that you can pay to your lender when you decide on a home in exchange for a lower interest rate.

How can I lock the interest rate? 

When you get quotes for your interest rate, you need to ask how you can lock that quoted rate. If you wait too long between getting the quote and actually applying for the mortgage, the rate the lender gave you may expire, leading you to pay more in interest down the road. By locking in a rate, you’ll get what you budgeted for and can avoid having to ask for another quote with a potentially higher rate.

There is no such thing as a stupid question, especially when it’s something as important as the mortgage that’ll be with you for years. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Three Important Credit Lessons

Take active steps to improve your credit score.

A credit score is more than just a number, it is what defines your financial ability. Many lenders, credit card companies, and more look at this number and judge your whole profile on these three figures. While you may try to keep it in line, there are active steps that you can do to improve it completely.

If you weren’t aware of them before, here are four important credit lessons.

Paying interest can be tough.
Making monthly credit card payments isn’t fun. The harsh bit is when you’re paying interest on top of it. Many credit cards carrying an interest rate above 12 percent and even missing one payment can result in a large interest payment.

Credit doesn’t build itself.
Be proactive if you want to hold a good credit score – it can save you a lot of money in the long run! A great way to start building your credit is to start soon and start small. Make small purchases (that you know you can afford), and immediately pay them off. Better yet, start with a secured credit card.

Credit limits aren’t suggestions.
Opening that first credit card can often be confused with a windfall. Seeing a $2,500 limit may make your eyes open wide with excitement, but that doesn’t mean that you have this much to spend at your beck and call. In fact, credit bureaus recommend that you stick below a 30 percent credit utilization – which means that you only spend up to 30 percent of your credit line to avoid getting in too much debt.

Building your credit score to secure a good mortgage doesn’t have to be confusing. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you!

What You Can Learn From Your Neighbors Home Sale

Your neighbor’s home sale can teach you a significant amount about your future sale.

Seeing a big “Sold” sign out front of your neighbor’s house could spike quite a bit of jealousy, particularly if you’ve been thinking of selling your own home. However, if your neighbors sell, this is actually great news! It means that if they were successful, you could be, too! Better yet, your neighbor’s home sale price can teach you a lot about what to expect for your own future home sale.

Expected Timeline

Did the home sell in just a few days? Did it spend months on the market? Take note of how long your neighbor had the “For Sale” sign out front and you’ll be able to get a better idea of how long it might take your home to sell. No one likes having their home listed for months before finally getting an offer, but don’t let that discourage you. If your neighbor sold his or her home in a matter of days, it likely indicates that the buyer interest in the area is high – meaning now is a good time to list your home!

Determine the Price

If your home is similar to your neighbor’s, and in the same condition, you can get an idea of what price you could list your home for sale. At the very least, you can use it as a reference point when trying to choose a list price for your house. Even if the home sold didn’t have the same layout as yours, it could still help you know what it takes to potentially sell successfully in your neighborhood.

Figure Out Where to Focus

Release the inner nosy-neighbor in you – attend your neighbor’s open house and pay attention to what’s “wowing” potential buyers. For example, if people love the back-yard space, it may be worth touching up your own outdoor areas. Consider investing in features that will ultimately impress potential buyers with remodelled spaces, a fresh coat of paint, and TLC. Walk around your neighbor’s house to get a feel of what you should expect to do if you placed your home for sale. If they’ve prepared correctly, they should have spotless floors, a clean home, a tidy back yard, and eliminated clutter.

If you desire a “Sold” sale sign outside of your house, your neighbor’s home sale can help you to get there, believe it or not!

Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

De-Clutter Your Home to Relieve Stress

Get rid of the junk to relieve tension.

After a long day, it’s tempting to turn on the T.V. and unwind. However, this can quickly end up into a routine. While you may not want to face the piles of clutter that you have around your home, letting them go unsorted can quickly add to your stress levels. If you thought doing daily chores was therapeutic, you should know that de-cluttering your home can relieve you of all sorts of stress.

Undo stress through your environment with these tips!

Let it go. When you’re organizing your belongings, you may realize that you hold onto more items than necessary. Do you really need that book or those pair of shoes you’ve never worn? Hold each item in your hands and, if it doesn’t bring you joy, donate it.

Add green plants and fresh flowers. Living plants add fresh oxygen while removing toxins from the fresh air. Adding fresh, living plants into our home is especially important in fall as we open our windows less often. Beyond plants’ air-purifying effect, tending to plants or arranging flowers is a healthy way to let go of stress.

Eat real food. When we’re busy and stressed, it’s easy to turn to junk food out of convenience and comfort. By doing this, your health can suffer dramatically. Stock up on greens, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are packed full of the vitamins and nutrients that you need to de-stress healthily.

Leave it at the door. Make a point of putting down everything that you have in your hands as soon as you come in the front door. This will signal a shift from outside worries to the comfort of home.

Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Be Ready for These Home Selling Costs

Be prepared to undertake the fees that come along with selling your home.

For most of us, there’s no bigger purchase than buying a home. With big purchases come minor fees that, when added up, can carry a hefty price tag. Before signing the paperwork and taking on a mortgage, it’s a good idea to get educated about the process!

When you’re busy calculating costs for your home’s purchase, be sure to include these:

Lender Charges
There are two categories of charges you pay your lender to secure your mortgage. The first is the origination charge, which is the standard cost all lenders charge for the service of giving you a loan. The second charge, mortgage points, are what you can opt to pay in order to secure a lower interest rate.

Settlement Services
Closing a real estate deal requires some administrative and legal work, and that doesn’t come cheap. This includes the cost of pulling your credit report, having your home appraised, and having the sale documented by the local government. Other fees included is flood certification, title services, lender’s title insurance, owner’s title insurance, home inspection, postage, survey costs, transfer taxes, attorney, closing, and settlement fees.

Prepaid and Escrow
The final category of closing costs is what you have to pay upfront for fees you will then pay continually. Some of these are paid into an escrow account, a holding account where funds can only be accessed in certain circumstances.

Buying a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced real estate professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Things That Homeowners Must Do When Moving In

Unpacked your new home? Now do these tasks!

You’ve cleared the hurdles of hunting down the right house, securing your mortgage, and moving in – congratulations, New Homeowner! While you may have collapsed onto the sofa after a long day of unpacking, don’t get too comfortable. All is not well with your home until you’ve completed a few essential safety precautions.

Here are the top tasks for all new homeowners:

Get new keys and change the locks – You don’t know if the previous homeowner gave the key to every family member and every neighbor. Change the locks as soon as you move in and change the code to the garage door! Then, you’ve made your house yours.

Get to know your utilities – Get familiar with all of the systems in your house so that you know where the water value and power boxes are in an emergency.

Get service checks – While the house comes with nifty appliances, they may not be in the best condition. Hire professionals to inspect the appliances as well as the chimney, cooler, heater, and fireplace to make sure that they’re ready to use throughout the year!

Get new batteries – The smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be checked as soon as possible. If the batteries are running low, replace them with fresh ones so that your family and home is kept safe.

Get homeowners insurance – In addition to protecting your home with safety systems, homeowners need the right home insurance coverage in place. Obtain a policy that matches your castle, your Home-Sweet-Home, your new home!

Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

What is a Green Home Loan?

What you need to know about green home loans and how to acquire one.

If your dream of homeownership wouldn’t be complete without energy efficient appliances and upgrades, then a green mortgage might be exactly what you’re looking for. Green home loans are designed to make it easier for the borrower to access additional funds required to make green updates in the new home. As an added bonus, many of these mortgages that fall into this category offer lower interest rates or lower fees for a home already certified as energy-efficient.

The Benefits of a Green Mortgage

With an energy-efficient mortgage, you could drastically transform your new or used home, adding anything from energy-efficient windows to solar panels, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, added insulation, and more. Likewise, you can use an energy-efficient mortgage to purchase a home that already meets a high standard for efficiency and energy consumption.

Because you can wrap up the costs of these upgrades into the cost of your mortgage, you can pay them slowly over time. You may be able to secure a higher benefit if you can claim the mortgage tax deduction already.

In certain cases, you could even secure tax credits for installing certain energy-efficient appliances and systems in your home. Since the majority of these credits are for new purchases and installments only, you’re more likely to reap the benefits if you’re using a green mortgage to update an existing home.

Furthermore, you can also check your local utility company to see how your new upgrades might work in your favor. For example, some homes with solar panels can sell ‘unused energy’ back to the local utility company for a profit.

Getting Started

If you’re worried about your family’s carbon footprint and want to do everything you can preserve this planet for the next generation, building or buying an energy-efficient home is a smart move to make. With a green mortgage, achieving these goals is more affordable. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

What You Should Know About Getting Low Mortgage Refinance Rates

When you refinance you’re hoping you get the lowest mortgage refinance rates around, here are a few tips on how to get those rates.

If you’re considering refinancing your mortgage, you are likely on the edge of your seat wondering if you landed the lowest possible mortgage refinance rates. Before you start shopping for the lowest rates, there are some things that you should take care of first. You need to establish your objectives and prepare your financial situation to improve your chances of qualifying for the lowest interest rate possible.

  1. Raising your credit score

A credit score of 740 or higher puts borrowers in the best tier for a conventional loan. Most lenders require a minimum score of 620 to 640, but you’ll pay a higher mortgage rate unless your score is above that magic 740 score.

  1. Save cash for closing costs

Closing costs average about 2 percent of the home’s loan amount. You can save up and pay in cash or you can use your home equity to roll over these costs. Another option that some lenders offer is to pay a higher interest for a “lender credit” to cover these costs. This will help keep your cash to close amount lower.

  1. Lower your debt

One of the reasons that your credit score may be low is because you may have accumulated some debt over the years, and have not been yet paid it down. Lowering your debt is a good sign to lenders that you are taking financial responsibility and could positively affect your credit score.

Don’t let these three factors get in the way of the lowest mortgage refinance rates. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Top Ways to Add Value to Your Property

If Blu-Ray bonus features get you excited, then trying these three bonus features for your home will make your day.

Most people who watch home renovation shows know that the most valuable parts of a complete makeover are the kitchen and bathrooms. These projects can usually take weeks, if not, months. If you have to sell your home in the near future, you may not have the time (or the budget) for all of these renovations. Fret not! It’s very possible you have the three things you need to add value to your home. Know what these three focuses are, and get moving!

  1. Stainless steel appliances

Trends come and go. Skinny jeans, floral wallpaper, mullets, the list goes on. But, like the color black, stainless steel appliances have been known to withstand the test of time. Spending just $2,000 on stainless steel appliances will make your home sell faster, and you’ll probably double your investment.

  1. Walk-in closets

In a competitive market, any advantage you have must be exploited to the best of your ability. Walk-in closets are seen as the best kinds of closets to have; they offer much room and plenty of room for mirrors and everything else. Walk-in closets may not increase the value of your home, but they will make it sell faster.

  1. Hardwood flooring

Carpet had its time, and we shamelessly let it happen. Since then, hardwood flooring is once again rightly claiming the flooring world for itself. Hardwood floors are hard to come by nowadays, so if you have it now or under your carpeting, use it to your advantage!

Use what you have to your advantage: it’s the only way you’ll get ahead in life and in real estate.

Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to sell your home. We are happy to help you.