Archive for March, 2010

Factors that determine the amount you can borrow for a mortgage

The question that comes most often when you start the house buying process is how much can I borrow for a mortgage The main factor that determines such a situation is that how much mortgage payment you can handle depending on your monthly income and your monthly debt or obligations.

How much can you borrow?

When you ask yourself the question of “how much can I borrow for a mortgage”, it will depend on the following major factors:

• Monthly income: Usually housing expenses do not exceed 25% – 28% of the homeowner’s gross monthly income. The housing expenses include monthly mortgage payments with interest, property taxes and home owners insurance, if any. You can also consider the overtime bonus and commissions, income from self employment, interest and dividend income, rental income, as income, if not your steady employment.

• Debts: Your monthly debts and obligations will also be taken under consideration by the lenders. Your housing expenses and your long term debts should not exceed 33% – 40% of your gross monthly income. Long-term debt is usually considered by the lenders as monthly expenses. So it is advisable that you pay off as much debt as possible before you apply for a mortgage.

• Down payment and closing costs: Lenders will expect you to have enough money available to make the down payment, which is usually 20% of the price for the house. They also expect to get closing costs which is 3% – 6% of the loan amount. The sources for a down payment may be savings, stock and bonds, mutual funds, etc. There are some mortgage programs that allow using a gift of money or grants, (which need not be repaid), as a part of your down payment.

• Credit score: If your credit score is not good, then you will not get the approval of getting a mortgage from the lenders.

So, answering the question, “how much can I borrow for a mortgage” is not as easy as one might think. It depends mainly on your current financial situation. You have to calculate your monthly expenses and income to calculate the maximum mortgage payment that you can afford. There are also many other factors that lenders take into consideration. You should fully understand those factors in order to determine how much mortgage you can really afford to take.

What choices you should think about when remodeling a room

When remodeling a room in your home there are many choices to think about before starting this task. You should consider your home’s equity, your home’s needs, beautification, the time you have on your hands, and your budget. When remodeling a room or your home as a whole, each of these components plays an important role on what choice to make in remodeling.

Let’s say you want to update your bathrooms appearance to increase the equity of your home but your kitchen needs work done as well, not for beautification but because your kitchen needs major repairs. Naturally, the kitchen repairs would be more important then increasing your equity by updating your bathrooms. Your home’s needs always come before wants in this scenario.

The time you have on your hands and the budget you have to work with are of great importance in choosing which room to remodel and how the remodeling should be done. Your bedroom may be too small and your bathrooms may need updating. When do you want the overall work done? How much is each job going to cost if done one at a time? Can you get a discount if you hire the same person to do all the work at once? These are important decisions to work out before you get started on remodeling any room in your home.

Having a plan, your budget worked out, knowing what you want done, and how you want the remodeling done before getting started will make the process of remodeling less stressful. Using these strategies in choosing what room to remodel or how you want the room remodeled will also help you make the process of remodeling a room simpler and more efficient saving you time and money.

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Do it yourself or hire a professional?

Remodeling a room in your home or doing something as simple as cleaning your gutters, some jobs warrant a homeowner doing it themselves and some jobs warrant hiring a contractor. Taking into consideration the job at hand, the cost, supplies need to do the job, and the risk involved if the job isn’t completed correctly is vital in deciding which to do; hire a contractor or just do it yourself.

For example, your rain gutters need to be cleaned, do you hire a professional or do the job yourself? Considering the job, cost, supplies, and risk involved will give you the answer as to who should clean the gutters. If you have a ladder, gloves, and a hose then the cost to clean your gutters is practically free. What about the risk involved in cleaning your gutters? Are your gutters too high to reach with your ladder safely? Do you have any health risk in which you shouldn’t be on a ladder? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions then this otherwise simple job should be done by a professional or by someone who can get the job done safely.

Now let’s talk about remodeling your kitchen, do you hire a contractor or do you do it yourself. The answer to this is more obvious. Taking the job, cost, supplies, and risk into consideration will let you know what to do when remodeling your kitchen. Do you have experience in remodeling kitchens? The cost could be pricy when remodeling your home, and more supplies are needed to remodel a kitchen then to clean your gutters, also, the risk are more costly if you can’t complete your remodeling job or if you make a mistake. In this case, hiring a professional would be a better choice when it comes to remodeling your kitchen.

Assess the situation, the job at hand, cost, supplies needed, and the risk in doing work around your home yourself. Doing so will help you to make the right decision on working on your home yourself or hiring a professional

Top 5 things to avoid when choosing a contractor

How many times have you watched a court television program or witnessed a case involving a homeowner and a scamming contractor? Don’t let that homeowner be you, be aware and do your research prior to hiring a contractor to do work on your home.

Here I provide the top 5 things to avoid when choosing a contractor for your home:

1. Never hire a contractor that wants more then half of your money up front or is offering a price that is too good to be true – this contractor is either hurting for money or is going to run with your money!
2. If this contractor doesn’t have a listing in your local phone book nor has a listing of only a P.O. Box for their address, you may want to turn the other way – chances are this contractor isn’t as serious about their business as you’d want them to be.
Did your prospective contractor come to you by knocking door to door? If so, tell this contractor, “No thank you,” and shut the door! You should shop for your contractor; your contractor shouldn’t shop for you.
3. Don’t hire a contractor that doesn’t have their license, and make sure it’s still in good standing before hiring them to do work on your home.
4. Don’t choose a contractor that doesn’t have good references that you can contact – you want to make sure that the contractor has completed quality work and checking references is a great way to be sure you’re hiring the right person.

Do your research and make sure the contractor you hire is reasonable, and get your agreement in writing. Taking these steps will ensure you aren’t scammed by hiring the wrong contractor.

Gardening as a form of exercise

Is gardening exercise?

When gardening you’re benefiting yourself with more then relaxation, you’re reaping the rewards of exercising because you’re actually getting a great work out as well. While gardening, you’re working out many parts of your body and relaxing at the same time, imagine that!

How is it that a hobby that brings forth relaxation could be a sole source of your daily workout regime? When gardening, you’re shedding calories just as if you were stretching, weightlifting, and doing moderate cardio. Raking the lawn works as a leisure bike ride would, trimming trees and shrubs works just as well as walking at a moderate pace, clearing brush and stacking wood benefits you as a light aerobic class would, turning compost is just as well for you as lifting weights, and raking is like jumping on a row machine.

For those gardeners that want to lose weight, what better way to lose weight then to be informed. provides a comprehensive list of what counts when gardening in regards to how many calories are being lost while you work. A few examples, go dig for one hour and shed approximately 340 calories, or plant seedlings for an hour and you will lose about 306 calories.

Spring is near, a perfect time to reap the benefits of gardening. Grab your gardening supplies, enjoy the sunshine, relax, and burn some calories. What will you be doing in your garden today?

Deciding which vegetables to grow for beginner gardeners

Choosing the right vegetables to grow in your garden is dependant on many factors, today we will address what vegetables to grow for beginner gardeners. Let’s face it; some vegetables are easier to grow versus other complex vegetable varieties. We aim to set you up for gardening success not failure.

There are many great vegetables for beginner gardeners that you can start growing with ease as seeds. A few examples of vegetables to start from a seed and can be planted directly into the ground are beans, cucumbers, summer squash, radishes and lettuce. These vegetables will not only be simple for you as a beginner but these vegetables require little maintenance and grow fairly quick.

Vegetables that are great for beginning gardeners for summer harvest are plenty. You can start with the vegetables as followed: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, and Cucumbers. Dependant on space, corn is ideal for gardening ease and summer harvest as well.

It is encouraging to look forward to new vegetables year round. What about vegetables great for the beginner gardener for spring and fall harvest? Lettuce (mentioned above), Broccoli, Spinach, and Peas are great for spring and fall harvest.
All in all, do your homework, plant what vegetables you fancy most, and enjoy yourself. For those of you that have vegetable gardens, please share what vegetables you recommend our beginner gardeners to start with to lead them to gardening success by commenting below.