Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day Weekend In Columbus, Mississippi

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the summer. There are a few events taking place in Columbus, Mississippi during the 3-day weekend. Let’s see what is happening.

Let’s start off by talking about a major event not in Columbus but rather in nearby West Point this weekend.

The 19th annual Howlin' Wolf Memorial Blues Festival is Friday at 7:00 p.m. on the Mary Holmes College campus on Highway 50 less than a mile west of US-45 Alternate.  George Porter, Jr. and the Runnin' Pardners, Carolyn Wonderland and Mr. Sipp are just some of the entertainers performing.

For the last 35 years the Saturday before Labor Day is the Prairie Arts Festival in West Point’s downtown business district. The festival is one of the top ten events in the south and also one of the largest arts and crafts festivals in the country.

The event kicks off with the 5K race at 8:00 a.m. Not wanting to run? Come an hour later to see more than 600 fine arts and crafts exhibits, down-home southern cooking, four stages of live music, classic cars, Kidsville and much more. The show goes on rain or shine. So drive over to West Point and enjoy the day!

The Columbus High School Falcons officially open their football season against the Noxubee County Tigers Friday night. Prior to the game there is a city-wide tailgate party in the stadium parking lot on Warpath Road beginning at 5:00 p.m. Come eat supper and stick around to enjoy Falcon football.

The New Hope High School Trojans travel 30 miles north on Highway 45 to play the Aberdeen Bulldogs. The Caledonia Confederates make a short trip into southern Monroe County for their annual rival game with the Hamilton Lions. The Heritage Academy Patriots host the West Lowndes Panthers in final game of the season featuring two local schools – one a private school the other a public school.

The Columbus Christian Academy Rams have their home opener this week against the Winona Christian Stars. CCA was Immanuel for many years.  The Victory Christian Academy Eagles travel to Montgomery, Alabama for an 8-man game versus the Ezekiel Academy Knights.

Not interested in any of the above? Enjoy a delightful dinner of Thai specialties paired with wonderful craft beers from Crooked Letter Brewing. Visit the Thai by Thai restaurant on Wilkens-Wise Road just off US-45 North. They have a four-course menu – appetizer, soup, entree and dessert. Each course comes with a different Crooked Letter brew.

Need some fresh vegetables? There is only one place to shop. Visit the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market on the corner of Second Avenue North and 2nd Street. Local farmers sell the freshest tomatoes, peppers, squash, radishes, eggs, honey, fresh cut flowers, blackberries, blueberries, peaches and watermelons around. Plus there are baked goods and arts and crafts vendors.

The Coffee House on 5th Street donates the coffee each Saturday morning for market shoppers. There is a juice bar with watermelon and apple juice, peach and carrot juice, kale, pineapple and cucumber juice or apple, carrot and ginger juice.

Bring the kids this weekend. The Mississippi University for Women Health and Kinesiology Department has a Kids Wellness Zone. Strive to live healthy with physical activity, sports, and exercise. The market opens at 7:00 a.m. Saturday and is also open Monday after work and Thursday before work.

Saturday is the final day for youth artisans to bring their work to the Rosenzweig Arts Center on the corner of Main and 5th Streets in the middle of downtown Columbus. That is if they want that piece featured in the RAC’s Artisan’s Alley exhibit in September. Any person under age 18 meets the age requirement to enter a piece for this exhibit. The exhibit officially opens next Thursday at 5:00 p.m.

Saturday is the first official day of college football. Three major universities with membership in the Southeastern Conference surround Columbus. These schools are within a 2-hour drive (or less) of Columbus.

Mississippi State University celebrates 100 years of playing football at Scott Field by showcasing an expanded stadium in nearby Starkville. The Bulldogs host the University of Southern Mississippi from Hattiesburg on Saturday evening. That is the only game played locally.

The Alabama Crimson Tide opens their season in Atlanta versus the West Virginia Mountaineers. This is a mid-afternoon national telecast. The Ole Miss Rebels began their season on Thursday in Atlanta. The Rebels struggled for the first three quarters before wearing down the Boise State Broncos earning a 35-13 win.

The “Black Ice” of the Magnolia Speedway has a special program for Labor Day. It’s Sunday racing, rather than the traditional Saturday night races. This week’s feature race is the NeSmith Late Model National Touring Series with $2,000 awarded to the winner.  The RockAuto.Com Super Late Models, the hard-charging NeSmith Street Stocks, and Mini Stocks also compete for prize money in preliminary races.  The grandstand gates open at 5:00 p.m. with racing at 7:30pm. The Mag is on US-45 South just south of US-82 West. Take the first exit after the Tenn-Tom River.

Monday is the first day of the migratory game bird (better known as dove) hunting season. This year Mississippi hunters get to enjoy 90 days of hunting divided into three small seasons. There is a 15-bird daily bag limit for mourning and white-winged doves. The possession limit is 45 birds. Do two important things before heading into the field. Make sure you have a valid hunting license. Second is gaining permission to hunt on private property. It’s also easy to buy a permit to hunt on Army Corps of Engineer land along either side of the Tenn-Tom Waterway or other public land.

Anyone have a real estate need this Labor Day weekend? Please make a private preview appointment least 24-hours in advance. Your REALTOR® knows how to do that. Next blog is Tuesday.
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Andy Kalinowski is a REALTOR®, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative®, a Sales and Foreclosure Resource® and a Military Relocation Professional with CENTURY 21 Doris Hardy and Associates, LLC in Columbus, Mississippi. He has a Mississippi Real Estate license. Andy is also a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Contact him by cell (or text) phone – 662.549.3421 or by e-mail – andyk@dorishardy.com.  He is also available for web video chat.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Best Way to Save Energy: To NOT Think About It

Let these energy-monitoring devices do the work for you.

Here’s a head scratcher: In spite of all the energy-efficient technologies available that can reduce home energy use by up to 20%, Americans’ energy-saving habits are on the decline.

We’ve been covering energy efficiency for a while here at HouseLogic, and it’s clear many folks are overwhelmed and bewildered both by how best to save energy and by the infernally rising costs of energy.

We feel so powerless, says Suzanne Shelton, CEO of The Shelton Group, a marketing and advertising agency that specializes in energy-efficiency issues, that we’re making fewer energy-efficient improvements.

Certainly things like better appliance labeling and the ballyhooed smart grid, which won’t become a reality for at least a decade, would help us all. But in the meantime, we’ve created three different energy-management strategies you can choose from based on your lifestyle and budget.

Need a little convincing to get started? The types of systems we suggest can help you control energy use by making energy efficiency part of your routine. And best yet, some practices can trim up to 20% off your annual power costs.

1. The Set-It-and-Forget-It Homeowner

Lifestyle profile: You’re happy to save energy as long as you don’t have to think about it. Demographer and business consultancy McKinsey & Co. calls you “non-green selective energy savers.” Bottom-line: You like options that do most of the work.

Your energy-management solutions:

Smart programmable thermostat. If you’re one of the majority of Americans who hasn’t programmed your thermostat, a thermostat that learns your behaviors is for you.

How does it work?

 – Although each brand’s product operates differently, these self-programming devices turn themselves off when they sense no one is home and self-adjust based on humidity levels.

 – Since they’re also Wi-Fi enabled, you can operate the thermostat remotely using an app on your mobile device.

Potential energy savings: Up to 15% with a heating and cooling strategy, according to Energy.gov.

A programmable timer switch lowers electricity consumption by turning on lights and electronics when you need them.

How does it work?

 – Program an on-off schedule or use a preset schedule. Newer models come with a motion-control sensor. Brand names include: Belkin, Honeywell, and Lutron.

 – For lights and appliances that plug directly into outlets, you’ll need a plug-in switcher. This one by Belkin can be programmed using a mobile app or a motion-control sensor.

 – For hard-wired lights, you’ll need to replace your current light switch with a wall-mounted programmable switch. They typically offer preset scheduling, such as auto on/off at sunrise and dusk, and can be operated manually.


Potential energy savings: Although Energy.gov doesn’t quantify savings, the Feds recommend timers because they keep lights on only when needed. Some manufacturers suggest that with timed or motion-sensing lighting you could save up to $100 per year.

Tradeoffs if you want easy: Set-it-and-forget-it comes at a price. Programmable timer switches start at about $40 and only control a single electrical device, so you might have to buy several. Smart thermostats cost around $250. Extra charges may apply if you need a pro install.

Set-it-and-forget-it tip: Using dimmer switches can reduce a light’s energy consumption. The amount varies depending on which source you consult — some say by as much as 20%.

Dimmer switches also extent lightbulb life: Incandescent and halogen bulbs will last up to 20 times longer when used with a dimmer, says Energy.gov. Make sure to buy CFLs and LEDs specified for use with dimmers.

2. The Penny-Wise Homeowner

Lifestyle profile: You’re motivated by cost savings. Period. Demographics analyst McKinsey refers to you as a “traditional cost-focused energy saver.”

You energy-management solutions:

Digital programmable thermostat. It costs significantly less than its smart counterpart, but programming it is one of the top-five things you can do to take back your energy bills.

How does it work? You input a heating and cooling schedule based on your needs and lifestyle. Use HouseLogic’s guide to program your thermostat for real savings.

And here’s a video primer:


Potential energy savings: The EPA pegs savings at up to $180 per year. Other government sources say as much as 15% or $330, assuming an annual average household utility cost of $2,200. Either way, with thermostat prices ranging from $20-$120, the payback is short.

A home energy monitor gives you the big picture about what your electricity usage costs you per hour. That way you can identify the behavioral changes that will save you money.

There are also portable, handheld monitors, like Kill A Watt, but they tell a limited story — for instance, how much energy a particular lamp is using when it’s on.

How do energy monitors work?

 – A wireless system ties into your home’s breaker panel so you can monitor real-time electricity use via a computer, mobile device, or the system display screen.

 – These systems let you measure consumption three different ways: by your home’s total use, by individual circuit, and by individual room and appliance based on your electrical setup.

Here’s an example of how such a system works.


Potential energy savings: Up to 15% per year on electricity costs, assuming you make behavioral changes, according to Energy Circle, which studies energy efficiency.

Tradeoffs if you want to boost savings:

 – You have to spend money to save money in this case. Monitors cost around $150-$200 for homes with one electrical panel. If you’re not comfortable installing your own digital programmable thermostat, it can cost up to $200 for pro install.

 – A monitor itself won’t save you energy. You have to make changes based on what you learn from it.

Penny-wise tip: Curb your runaway standby power consumption by unplugging ubiquitous devices like tablets, computers, cell phones, and DVRS. Americans spend about $100 per year on passive energy use, says Energy Star.

Bonus tip: Check with your utility about whether it offers off-peak rates so you can run appliances like washers and dryers when customer demand for power is low. 

3. The Tech-Savvy Homeowner

Lifestyle profile: You’re interested in home technologies that focus on comfort, control, and convenience, So it’s a bonus if those technologies also help you consume less energy. McKinsey dubs you “home-focused selective energy savers.”

Your energy-management solution:

Home monitoring system. These systems offer energy-saving features, like remote lighting controls, and home security features, such as remote door locking.

How does it work? You can pick and choose what you want to monitor — from your electrical consumption to the comings and goings at your front door via video. Of course, more stuff means more add-on costs.

Among your options:

DIY home management starter kits offer basic security and energy-efficient features, like window and door sensors and a smart thermostat that you can program via your computer or personal device. Kits like these cost around $170, and they’re available from some big-box retailers.

If you’re interested in more sophisticated features, like real-time energy reports, you’ll need to buy a $150 meter reader, basically an energy monitor that plugs into your circuit breaker. Though some systems offer basic monitoring and scheduling, there are limits. For instance, you can’t see your system history — that is, how much energy you used last month. You can only see a few days at a time.

If you want to use advanced system features, like voice control, or access your entire system history, you pay a monthly fee. For example, the Iris by Lowe’s kit is $299 with a monthly fee of $9.99. 

Subscription packages from local cable providers, like Intelligent Home from Time Warner, let you customize a home management system. The standard TWC Intelligent Home package (which they’ll install at no cost) includes items such as a system display screen, two wireless door/window sensors, and one wireless motion detector. Additional features like smoke detectors, a thermostat, and programmable lighting modules are extra. Monthly subscription fees start at $33.99 for the standard home package.


Subscription packages by home security companies. As with cable packages, you can pick security, energy-efficiency, and home automation options a la carte. For example, Alarm.com offers a package that lets you manage your electricity use. Its geo-services feature tracks your location via your cell phone so the system can automatically adjust thermostat settings when you leave or return home.

Installation costs can start at $400 and monthly fees can be more than $30. 

Tradeoffs for having comfort, control, and convenience:

 – If your Internet connection goes down and your DIY kit system is on Wi-Fi, it’ll go offline. If the control panel runs on batteries, the system can shut down when the batteries run out of juice. 
 – Cable and security packages are pricey.
 – Energy management systems use energy, though Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory spokesperson Allan Chen isn’t aware of any studies on how much — it may be nominal. So if the energy-monitoring components of these systems are important to you, what matters is whether you can make behavioral changes to at least recoup any added costs.
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Deirdre Sullivan wrote this copyrighted article that appeared on National Association of Realtors® web site and is used with permission. She is an NYC-based writer who’s obsessed with maximizing every inch of her urban dwelling. She’s a former fashionista who has worked for Lucky Magazine and InStyle. She recently traded her high heels and Fashion Week pass for a drill and bandsaw. Follow Deirdre on Google+.

Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.


Andy Kalinowski is a REALTOR®, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative®, a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource® and a Military Relocation Professional with CENTURY 21 Doris Hardy and Associates, LLC in Columbus, Mississippi. He has a Mississippi Real Estate license. Andy is also a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Contact him by cell (or text) phone – 662.549.3421 or by e-mail – andyk@dorishardy.com.  He is also available for web video chat.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Survey Reveals Majority Of Single Homebuyers Know The Importance Of Buying

CENTURY 21 Real Estate, the iconic brand and franchisor of the world’s largest residential real estate sales organization, announced last week the results of the CENTURY 21® commissioned “Singles Homebuyer Survey.” There are some key findings in the survey. Three-quarters (75 percent) of single homeowners aged 25-50, believe being a homeowner is at least fairly important. Almost half (45 percent) of single homeowners said being a homeowner was “very important” for them.

Buyer Motivation – Single homeowners had three main factors that best described their motivation for purchasing a home. They viewed the purchase of a home as an investment in their financial future. They got tired of paying rent. They felt now is the right time to buy a home. In addition, nearly two-thirds of single homeowners (64 percent) say they overcame a roadblock in order to purchase their home.

“We are in the midst of a shift in the home-buying population,” said Rick Davidson, president and chief executive officer of Century 21 Real Estate LLC in a press release. “This survey shows that homeownership is a major life decision for singles, and that it is just as important a part of the American Dream for singles as it is for married couples.”

According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), nearly one-third (32 percent) of all real estate purchases in 2013 were made by a single homebuyer. NAR also reported that one-person households rose from 17 percent in 1970 to 27 percent in 2013. Not only are people getting married at an older age than previous generations, they are more apt to live by themselves, as shown by data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Real change, innovation and market growth stems from understanding consumers’ drive, motivation and sentiment, and how these can shift from person to person,” added Davidson. “Knowing this, CENTURY 21 affiliated sales professionals are able to build customizable action plans that better meet the needs of today’s buyers, sellers and investors.”

Paying For The Home – According to the CENTURY 21 survey singles are finding ways to achieve homeownership even if that means making certain lifestyle sacrifices. As an example, three in five (60 percent) of single homeowners say they would dine out less to purchase a home. Over half would cut back on entertainment (54 percent) and spend less on vacations (51 percent).

There are also gender differences. Single female homeowners are more likely than single male homeowners to say they would cut down on clothes (48 percent versus 36 percent). Interestingly, one out of four (24 percent) of single buyers indicated they wouldn’t make any lifestyle sacrifices to achieve homeownership. This compares to one out of five married buyers (19 percent) who felt the same way.

Important Decision Factors – Among the most important home buying considerations for single homeowners were space and square footage (59 percent). The yard (57 percent) and proximity to work or school (47 percent) are also important factors in deciding which home to buy.

Another theme that CENTURY 21 discovered in the survey is that many single homeowners found certain aspects of the home buying process are intimidating. The most intimidating part of buying a home to a single home buyer is making an offer and negotiating a price with the seller (38 percent).  Obtaining a mortgage intimidates more than a third (36 percent) of single home buyers. Moving (31 percent), the closing (30 percent) and searching for and locating a home (25 percent) also scares single home buyers.

Surprising Decision Point – Single homeowners aged 25-35 were also more likely than those aged 36-50 to say an important consideration when looking for a home was good cell service (28 percent vs. 11 percent) and proximity to public transportation (19 percent vs. 11 percent).

Not surprisingly, single homeowners aged 25-35 are more likely than those aged 36-50 to use an online real estate website on their phone (21 percent vs. 9 percent) or used an app on a mobile phone (14 percent vs. 5 percent).

“With Century21.com attracting more unique visitors than any other real estate franchise brand website, and cross-platform mobile apps, CENTURY 21 sales associates are positioned to meet the needs of these online and mobile consumers,” explained Davidson. “Simplicity and mobility are the keys, and we make the process of searching for a home clear, simple and convenient.”

Methodology – CENTURY 21 conducted this survey online within the United States between May 27 and June 13, 2014. A total of 1,462 respondents aged 25-50 participated. Of the 1,642 respondents, 675 were single homeowners. Harris Interactive conducted the survey on behalf of Century 21 Real Estate LLC. Harris weighed the figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. They used propensity score weighting to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.
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Andy Kalinowski is a REALTOR®, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative®, a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource® and a Military Relocation Professional with CENTURY 21 Doris Hardy and Associates, LLC in Columbus, Mississippi. He has a Mississippi Real Estate license. Andy is also a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Contact him by cell (or text) phone – 662.549.3421 or by e-mail – andyk@dorishardy.com.  He is also available for web video chat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Casual Versus Serious Home Buyers

Real estate professionals have a very easy time identifying a serious home buyer with a real intent to purchase a house versus someone who is only “looking” or “window shopping.” A serious buyer has a mortgage pre-approval letter. One that “wants to find the house I like and then get pre-approved” is a casual buyer. The second type of buyer wastes everyone’s time, including their time. Let’s examine some common misconceptions about the pre-approval process.


Why Is Home Buying Different Than Buying Other Things – Actually mortgage pre-approval is no different than buying any other good or service. It just seems different. How many times have you walked into a shoe store? Probably plenty of times. That makes this a good example. You have experience buying shoes.

Suppose you have no money in your wallet. Sure you can look at the different styles of shoes. That is where it stops. How many times did you take off your shoes try on a new pair of shoes? Probably never. How many times would you try on different styles of shoes without any money to buy any pair of shoes? Probably never. Why?

Because you’d be wasting your time trying on shoes that you cannot buy. What does a person actually do when they try on shoes? They are giving it much closer scrutiny than just a casual looker with no intent to buy. Why? Because they are going to exchange something of value (money) for something of equal or greater value (shoes).

Isn’t pre-approval the same thing? Let’s stay in the shoe store, but now you suddenly found some hidden money.

Do you try on the shoes and walk around to see if they fit? Sure! Are you obligated to buy shoes there? Of course not. You may want to look in a different store before making a final selection.

The money you found is your pre-approval to buy shoes. We just never think of it that way. All the money in your wallet really does is separates a casual looker from a serious buyer. You have assurance you can buy a pair of shoes.

What Pre-Approval Is Not – Mortgage pre-approval is not a formal and legally binding loan application. If it were, the lender would need the actual street address, the actual purchase price, the anticipated final purchase date, the type of mortgage, any terms of the sale and so forth. There is something else a lender needs – and at this point the buyer does not have it. The lender needs the seller’s signature on a contract stipulating all the items in the previous sentence That’s the formal loan or mortgage application.

Pre-approval is just a written commitment that is valid for a specific period of time. That commitment states the lender examined certain financial records the borrower provided. Based on those records the financial institution promised to lend a certain amount of money, when the time is right.  Here is why that is important.

Importance Of Pre-Approval – Pre-approval shortens the time it takes to buy a house. Let’s use this example.

Suppose there is a nice looking house with a “for sale” sign in the front yard. The seller wants $175,000 for it. The buyer fell in love with it. The buyer went to a bank. The bank will loan only $125,000 to the borrower based on financial information and did not know the address of the $175.000 house. Clearly this $175,000 is unaffordable to this buyer/borrower.  The buyer must now look for a less expensive house knowing that the features in the house priced below $125,000 are inferior to the house costing $50,000 more. This buyer just wasted his time and the time of the seller.

Advantage of Pre-Approval – Pretend for a moment that you are the seller. You have two purchase offers in your hand. They are basically identical except that one has a pre-approval letter and one does not. Which will the seller likely accept? The one with the pre-approval letter is a stronger offer because the seller knows this is a serious buyer with the financial ability to buy the house.

Let’s change the example slightly. You have two purchase offers in your hand. They are basically identical except that one has a pre-approval letter but also states purchase price is $10,000 less than the list price. The one without the pre-approval letter is for the full list price. Which will the seller likely accept?

Why should a seller negotiate with a person that might not have the financial ability to buy the house? In this example, the seller will probably negotiate with the pre-approved buyer, even though it is for less than the seller wants.

Suppose the seller and buyer agreed to split the price difference. The buyer came up $5000 and the seller went down $5000.  Why should a seller reveal his true bottom line to a buyer that can’t afford the house anyway? Why should a seller risk losing a pre-approved buyer who might purchase a competing listing just to please a casual buyer?
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Andy Kalinowski is a REALTOR, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative®, a Short Sales and  Foreclosure Resource® and a Military Relocation Professional with CENTURY 21 Doris Hardy and Associates, LLC in Columbus, Mississippi. He has a Mississippi Real Estate license. Andy is also a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Contact him by cell (or text) phone – 662.549.3421 or by e-mail – andyk@dorishardy.com.  He is also available for web video chat.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rural Development Mortgage Gets Tougher To Obtain

One of the two mortgages that require no money down from the buyer is now a bit tougher to obtain. That is because the US Department of Agriculture, who administers the Rural Development Mortgage changed their loan guidelines to make it more difficult to get 100 percent financing. Let’s to the rationale and also the changes.

Rationale – Like all loans, many existing borrowers who obtained a Rural Development mortgage ended in foreclosure. No one buys a house thinking foreclosure will happen to them. Foreclosure happens to someone else. That is just not the case. Factors change with regard to employment, salary, marital status and so forth to everyone. No one is immune.

If a mortgage borrower stops making a mortgage payment, the lender has no alternative. They must foreclose. The lender does not really want the house. It’s really a liability in their financial portfolio. The house should be making money based on the loan interest. It no longer is because the borrower stopped making payments that include repaying the debt and also the interest on the unpaid debt.

Identifying Common Traits – Before USDA announced the change, the reviewed every recent loan. Every loan means the good ones. It means those that got behind on their payments. It means those that ended in foreclosure.

A trend does not necessarily mean that a borrower will or will not go into foreclosure. It does forecast the likelihood that a borrower with certain financial characteristics or financial patterns has a certain percent chance of honoring his entire loan or breaking the repayment promise. What are those traits?

Changes To Future RD Loans – A borrower needs a solid credit history that is actually theirs versus someone else’s. Let’s explain that sentence.

Getting a credit card and repaying the monthly debt is a great way to establish good credit. That is exactly what borrowers want. Here is what they don’t want.

A parent adds an adult child to an existing credit card account as an authorized signature or as a co-signer. In the eyes of USDA this is no longer an acceptable form of credit if the child wants to buy a house with a Rural Development Mortgage. Why?

Its mom or dad’s credit history being evaluated, not the younger borrower. If that younger person cannot get his own credit card and also demonstrate a pattern of prompt debt repayment, why should USDA risk making a 100 percent purchase price loan probably worth six digits of money?

There is more. USDA instructed underwriters to evaluate a minimum of 12 months repayment history. The instructions also stated that it is no longer acceptable to include “closed” accounts into the lending decision-making equation.

USDA instructed underwriting to “ensure open authorized user trade lines reported on the credit report are an accurate reflection of the applicant’s independent approach to credit repayment and credit history.”

If underwriting must remove a portion of credit history from the loan application, there is a cost. The cost of reevaluation is time. That cost might severely impact others. A buyer planning to close at the expiration of a lease might have a problem with a landlord.

Also remember the forgotten person who has a keen interest to close. It’s the seller. Most sellers are not rich. They have to sell in order to buy something else. The delay in this closing can have a ripple effect of multiple other closings.

Minimum Credit Score – It becomes easier to qualify for a Rural Development mortgage the higher the credit score.  At the present time, 640 is the minimum credit score required. That does not mean a borrower with a 640 credit score has the right to a Rural Development mortgage. The 640 is the minimum threshold. It is possible that someone with a 650 or even a 660 may not qualify for a Rural Development mortgage. Why? Underwriters look at other factors such as the debt to income ratio, length of employment and amount of savings before making a decision.

Immediate Impact – Expect local mortgage originators to give even greater scrutiny on USDA loans in the future. Remember, this is nothing personal. It is business. There is another advantage to working with a local mortgage lender. They know of other mortgage options that require an extremely small down payment. One of these options is available only to local lenders, rather than out-of-state lenders but licensed in Mississippi.
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Andy Kalinowski is a REALTOR®, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative®, a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource® and a Military Relocation Professional with CENTURY 21 Doris Hardy and Associates, LLC in Columbus, Mississippi. He has a Mississippi Real Estate license. Andy is also a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Contact him by cell (or text) phone – 662.549.3421 or by e-mail – andyk@dorishardy.com.  He is also available for web video chat.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Return On An Old Friend

Summer is almost over. Next weekend is Labor Day. That means there are only a few activities in Columbus, Mississippi this weekend. Let’s see what is on tap.

There is a huge social occasion locally each Friday night. If’s high school football. The season actually kicked off last night with two local teams meeting each other in a rare public school versus private school game. The Heritage Academy Patriots visited the Caledonia Confederates. The Feds came from behind to win 32-26.

Tonight the Montgomery County Hornets of Kilmichael visit the West Lowndes Panthers.  The Columbus Christian Academy Rams travel to Marks, Mississippi for their season opener with the Delta Academy Raiders. The Hebron Christian Eagles come to New Hope for the season opener with the Victory Christian Academy Eagles. The Columbus High School Falcons and the New Hope High School Trojans take the week off.

Here is something to get the blood pumping early Saturday. The Wicks Community 4-H Club hosts a 5K walk and health fair on Wicks Road, which is off Gilmer-Wilburn Road in the southern part of Lowndes County. Walk pre-registration begins bright and early at 6:00 a.m. The walk starts an hour later with the health fair following the walk. Vendors will provide everything from blood testing, diabetes education, sight screening and many other health related issues.

Need some fresh vegetables? There is only one place to shop. Visit the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market on the corner of Second Avenue North and 2nd Street. Local farmers sell the freshest tomatoes, peppers, squash, radishes, eggs, honey, fresh cut flowers, blackberries, blueberries, peaches and watermelons around. Plus there are baked goods and arts and crafts vendors.

The Coffee House on 5th Street donates the coffee each Saturday morning for market shoppers. There is also a juice bar with watermelon and apple juice, peach and carrot juice, kale, pineapple and cucumber juice or apple, carrot and ginger juice.

While talking to the farmers and meeting your friends there, enjoy the music of Aidan Dunkelburg. The market opens at 7:00 a.m. Saturday and is also open Monday after work and Thursday before work.

It’s time for the annual Southern Cruisers car show at the Stennis Lock and Dam on Wilkens-Wise Road off US-45 North all day on Saturday. Stop by and join the 24th annual pride and joy cruise. The show features King of the Hill Gravity Slow Drag Races, commode races, poker walk, concessions and more. Proceeds benefit area charities.

Columbus Speedway hosts the Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series (MSCCS) with Super Late Models battling for $3,000-to-win/$400-to-start.

In addition there is added bonus money for the top three highest combined point finishers from Friday night's races at the North Alabama Speedway and Saturday night's Columbus Speedway event. The bonus money pays $500 for 1st, $300 for 2nd and $200 for 3rd.

The 602 Late Models, Street Stocks, Limited Late Model, and Mini Stocks are also competing at the Baddest Bullring in the South. The drivers meeting starts 7:00 with hot laps an hour later about two miles north of US-82 near the Alabama state line.

Anyone have a real estate need this weekend? Please make a private preview appointment least 24-hours in advance. Your REALTOR® knows how to do that.
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Andy Kalinowski is a REALTOR®, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative®, a Sales and Foreclosure Resource® and a Military Relocation Professional with CENTURY 21 Doris Hardy and Associates, LLC in Columbus, Mississippi. He has a Mississippi Real Estate license. Andy is also a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Contact him by cell (or text) phone – 662.549.3421 or by e-mail – andyk@dorishardy.com.  He is also available for web video chat.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Use a Programmable Thermostat to See Real Savings

A programmable thermostat can help you rake in the energy savings, but there’s a hitch: You’ve got to pick one you’ll actually use.

It’s official: The programmable thermostat is the VCR of our day. Why? We think they’re too complicated.

According to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, nearly 90% of Americans say they’ve rarely (or never) programmed their thermostat because they’re not sure how to do it.

But it’s really not that hard, and it’s definitely worth doing because it can save you up to 15% a year on energy costs.

The first step is to pick the thermostat that best suits your scheduling needs so you can “set it and forget it,” an approach the U.S. Energy Department advocates to get the most savings.

Picking the Right ThermostatThere are four types of programmable thermostats, each with a distinctive scheduling style:

 – 7-day programming. Best for individuals or families with erratic schedules, since this is the most flexible option. It lets you program a different heating/cooling schedule for each day of the week.  Average price range: $55-$125.

 – 5-1-1 programming. One heating/cooling schedule for the week, plus you can schedule a different heating/cooling plan for Saturday and Sunday. Average price range: $35-$78.

 – 5-2 programming. Same as 5-1-1 programming, except Saturday and Sunday will have the same heating/cooling plan. Average price range: $28-$30.

 – 1-week programming. You can only set one heating/cooling plan that will be repeated daily for the entire week. Average price range: $20-$23.

You’ll need a program for both the cooler months and the warmer months.

TIP: Before buying a programmable thermostat, identify the type of equipment used to heat and cool your home so you can check for compatibility. For example, do you have central heating and cooling, or just a furnace or baseboard heating? Otherwise, you may not reap the rewards of energy savings and may risk harming your heating and cooling equipment.


Need to convince someone to program the thermostat for savings? Here’s how to convince the doubtful about energy efficiency.

Programming the ThermostatMost programmable thermostats have a pre-programmed setting that’s supposed to be for the typical American family. But what family is typical these days? You need to adjust the thermostat’s settings so it’s in sync with the life you and your family lead instead of some mythical family.

Programming options are based on:
 – Wake Time
 – Sleep Time
 – Leave Time
 – Return Time

The U.S Department of Energy suggests the following settings in order to shave up to 15% off your energy bill:

Winter months
 – For the hours you’re home and awake, program the temp to 68°F.
 – Lower by 10° to 15° for the hours you’re asleep or out of the house.

Summer months
 – For the hours you’re home, program air conditioning to 78°F.
 – For the days you don’t need cooling, manually shut off the AC. Keep in mind, it will kick back on if the house gets too warm.
 – Program the AC to shut off during the hours you’re out of the house.

Here are a few programming timing tips that can help you create the best set-it-and-forget-it heating and cooling schedule for your home:
 – Shut down heat or air conditioning 20 to 30 minutes before you leave home each day.
 – Turn on heat or air conditioning 20 to 30 minutes before you come home each day.
 – Reduce the heating or cooling 60 minutes before you go to sleep each night.
 – Increase heating or cooling about 30 minutes before you wake up each morning.

Spend time tweaking your program for a few days to make sure it feels right.
TIP: With a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature while on the go. That way, you’re not wasting energy if you’re running late or forgot to create a new program before going on vacation.

FYI: A furnace does NOT have to work harder to warm a house after the temperature has been set low during the day.

Thermostats That Make Programming EasierWant something that’s simpler? Newer more high-tech models have simplified the process:

The Nest Learning Thermostat: It creates a custom heating and cooling schedule for your home based on motion detection technology. Plus since it is Wi-Fi, it can be controlled remotely. Price: $250.



Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat: This device makes it easy to create a custom heating and cooling plan. Unlike conventional programmable thermostats, it has a large color interface that displays a simple menu that walks you through all the programming steps. It also “learns” your home and will send you personal notifications if the temperature is not right, or if there’s a power outage. Price: $199.



FYI: Thermostats made prior to 2001 may contain mercury. To see if your programmable thermostat contains mercury, check with the manufacturer. If you decide to dispose of a thermostat that contains mercury, check out how to do so safely in your area at Thermostat Recycling Corporation. (Not sure why mercury is so bad? Here’s the skinny: It’s toxic and it never breaks down. When it enters the waste stream, it permanently damages the ecosystem.)

Related:

Have questions or need help programming your thermostat? Below are tech support numbers for popular manufacturers:

Honeywell: Wi-Fi Models: 1-855-733-5465
Honeywell: All other thermostats: 1-800-468-1502
Hunter: 1-888-830-1326
White Rodgers: 1-800-284-2925
Trane: 1-877-288-7707
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Deirdre Sullivan wrote this copyrighted article that appeared on National Association of Realtors® web site and is used with permission. She is an NYC-based writer who’s obsessed with maximizing every inch of her urban dwelling. She’s a former fashionista who has worked for Lucky Magazine and InStyle. She recently traded her high heels and Fashion Week pass for a drill and bandsaw. Follow Deirdre on Google+.

Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.


Andy Kalinowski is a REALTOR®, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative®, a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource® and a Military Relocation Professional with CENTURY 21 Doris Hardy and Associates, LLC in Columbus, Mississippi. He has a Mississippi Real Estate license. Andy is also a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Contact him by cell (or text) phone – 662.549.3421 or by e-mail – andyk@dorishardy.com.  He is also available for web video chat.