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Q: What is Freddie Mac?

by Nuvia Rivera & Associates

Q: What is Freddie Mac?

A: Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae's counterpart, also offers low or no-down-payment home loans through partnerships it forms with various state governments to expand homeownership opportunities across the country, particularly for those persons with low or moderate incomes.

Coming up with a down payment has traditionally been one of the biggest obstacles to buying a home. Freddie Mac also works with lenders through its Alt 97 program to make mortgages that require only a 3 percent down payment available to borrowers. The program is not restricted to low or moderate income buyers.

Want to Save Money This Winter? Preparation now is the Key

by Nuvia Rivera & Associates

Last winter hit hard across much of the United States, blanketing the country with snow and sending temperatures plummeting. If early weather prognosticators are correct, this winter could see even colder temperatures thanks to resurging La Nina weather conditions. Colder than normal weather often means greater energy usage and higher utility bills.

MXenergy, a Constellation company, is encouraging homeowners to act now to help protect their homes and wallets when winter approaches.

"Just as in so many other areas in life, when it comes to energy savings preparation is the key," says Marjorie Kass, MXenergy managing director of marketing. "The time to make your home more efficient for winter and lower your energy costs is not when brutal temperatures are here but rather now in order to maximize savings."

Winter Efficiency Tips
Seal It Up:
Proper insulation is one of the most effective efficiency improvements homeowners can make. Check doors and windows for drafts and install weather-stripping where needed. Check to make sure your attic has adequate insulation and that the attic hatch is properly sealed. Don't forget to examine air ducts and electrical outlets for drafts and seal leaks.

Take Care of Your Furnace: A properly maintained furnace is a much more efficient one. Have your furnace serviced annually by a licensed professional. Change filters at least once a month and should your furnace need replacing make sure to look for a high efficiency Energy Star model.

Simple Steps: Cutting energy costs doesn't have to cost you money. Simple actions such as closing off empty rooms, closing your fireplace flue, and opening blinds in the morning to let in the sun and closing them at night can all help decrease costs. In order to prevent trapped ceiling heat, run ceiling fans during the day in a clockwise direction to properly disperse heat throughout the room. Consider landscaping on the northern and windward sides of your home for added protection.

Maximize Your Savings: Many parts of the country have restructured energy markets that enable consumers to shop for energy. If you have a choice in energy providers, now is a great time to research available rates and lock in savings for the coming winter.

"Locking in a low fixed rate now with a reputable energy provider ensures price stability and protects against potential price increases when cold temperatures do arrive," says Kass.

For more information, visit www.mxenergy.com.

How to Make Your Backyard Party Eco Friendly

by Nuvia Rivera & Associates

Having backyard get togethers is a great way to reconnect and spend quality time with friends and family while enjoying delicious food. Please keep the environment in mind while planning a get together. Below are some steps to tread lighter on Mother Earth while enjoying your party.

1. Consider sending an e-vite rather than a paper invitation. This saves time, money and the environment. www.Evite.com and www.mypunchbowl.com are some favorites for their unique e-vites.

2. While preparing for the big (or small and intimate) bash, think about what you can use from your home and/or garden to decorate. Take a cue from Martha Stewart by using fresh cut flowers from your garden, an empty vase full of lemons and limes, rocks or pine cones as a centerpiece.

3. Instead of buying disposable plates, cutlery and cups, consider using your own from your cupboards. Not only does this look more elegant, it saves many disposables from going to the landfill. Also, consider using cloth napkins (in bright, fun colors preferably). If you cannot even contemplate doing the dishes after your soirée, please use compostable/biodegradable or recyclable items. (http://www.ecowise.com). Don’t forget to put out a bin so people recycle the recyclables!
4. When deciding the menu for the party, keep the season in mind and what is available locally. Check out your local Farmer’s Markets or www.localharvest.org to get delicious, in season produce that is sure to wow your loved ones.

5. Consider buying your meat from a local source who raises and slaughters their animals humanely. Grilling meat is quite toxic and produces carcinogens. If you want to learn how to make your meat less toxic while grilling, check out this article: (http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Outdoor-Grilling-Healthier)

6. Let’s not forget the drinks! For adult parties, Sangria is a delectable option especially if using local, organic fruit and even possibly local, organic wine. (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/classic-spanish-sangria/Detail.aspx)

7. Consider having your backyard bash during the day to take advantage of the natural light. If the evening is the best time for your get together, using natural soy candles to light the way would be an eco-friendly option.
Following the above suggestions will help you reduce your carbon footprint while throwing your fun-filled bash. Sharing food with loved ones can be a source of great pleasure, an expression of caring for others, and a way to slow down the sometimes frenetic pace of our lives. Sharing food is a tangible way to express our desire for community and our willingness to nurture others and be nurtured in turn. Because food is closely connected to our cultural heritage, sharing also allows us to celebrate and experience diverse culinary traditions. Enjoy your eco-friendly soirées!

Winterize Your Yard and Garden

by Nuvia Rivera & Associates

As the days become shorter and the leaves begin to change color, now is the time to prepare your yard and garden for winter. There are a number of simple tasks that will not only protect plants and lawn from the cold, but will make for an easier spring.

Troy-Bilt®, a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, offers these tips to winterize your yard and garden for the cold months ahead:

"Tending to your lawn and garden in fall can ensure that it has every chance to develop through the colder months," says Heidi Ketvertis, director of marketing communications for Troy-Bilt. "Also, winterizing your equipment will make for a better spring start."

• Evaluate. Before you start your preparations, take a moment to review what worked and did not work in the garden over the past season and jot down notes in a garden journal so you remember a year or two from now. Fall is the best time to move plants because roots are given ample time to establish.
• Clean up. Removing leaves and debris reduces the likelihood of future problems since they can harbor pests and diseases. Using a leaf blower can save time and effort.
• Repair damage. Fall is the best time to reseed a lawn that's been damaged by summer heat. Top-dressing the seed with up to one-quarter inch compost or soil will help it take root.
• Don't put away the hose. Continue to water plants and lawns in the fall, as the rainfall tends to slow down. Plants need to stay hydrated to properly retreat to their winter states. However, as soon as freezing temperatures hit, make sure to drain garden hoses and store them in a sheltered place where they will not freeze and crack.
• Fertilize. Despite what many people might think, autumn–not spring–is the most crucial time to fertilize lawns and gardens. Renewing the mulch in flower beds, especially the top two or three inches, will protect many plants from harmful freezes.
• Go easy on pruning. Pruning promotes growth. It's important to prepare plants to go dormant during the winter rather than growing.
• Think spring. Some spring bulbs, such as crocus and grape hyacinth, should be planted in the fall. Larger bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, should be planted in the fall but won't bloom until spring. Many vegetable plants, like beets, broccoli and cabbage grow best in the winter.
• Cover plots. Covering a garden bed with burlap keeps weeds at bay. Another option is to plant a nitrogen-rich cover crop, like clover, which can be easily turned under when spring arrives.
• Tune-up tools. After completing all preparations, clean, oil and sharpen tools, and then store them in a dry place to prevent rusting.
• Winterize your power equipment. Make sure to drain the gas from your lawn mower and other gas-powered equipment after you've finished using them for the season to keep the engine running smoothly next year.
• Know when to stop. When frost is in the forecast or the temperature drops below 40 degrees consistently, usually around late October or November, it's time to close down the garden. Although it may seem like a hassle, winterizing your garden will make for less work come springtime. Consider these practical ways that will protect and care for your yard and garden so they can survive the winter, and thrive for seasons to come.

For more information, visit http://www.troybilt.com.

Q: Will I be able to buy again after losing a home to foreclosure?

by Nuvia Rivera & Associates

Q: Will I be able to buy again after losing a home to foreclosure?

A: It can happen. But a lot will depend on your circumstances and the mortgage interest rate you are willing to pay. Generally, most lenders will consider your request for a home loan two to four years after your foreclosure. Predatory lenders will issue a home mortgage in less time. But beware—they routinely charge high mortgage interest rates, fees, and penalties for this privilege.

A quality lender will expect you to show that you have cleaned up your credit. Providing a reasonable explanation about the circumstances that led to the foreclosure—such as exuberant medical expenses—is also helpful

Low-Cost Tips to Improve Your Home's Appeal - Part 1

by Nuvia Rivera & Associates

When selling your home, the goal is to sell it quickly for the highest price while investing as little as possible in renovations. With a limited budget and a little effort, you can greatly increase your home's appeal by focusing on what prospective buyers can see on their first visit. Take the following recommendations when preparing a house for sale and staging it for showings.

Tip No. 1: Refresh the exterior
First impressions count when it comes to selling a home. Most buyers won’t even leave their car if they don’t find the exterior appealing. The best ways to improve your home’s exterior include:

-Repairing and/or replacing trims, shutters, gutters, shingles, mailboxes, window screens, walkways and the driveway.
-Painting siding, trim and shutters and lamp and mailbox posts.
-Pressure washing vinyl siding, roofs, walkways and the driveway.
-Washing windows.

Tip No. 2: Spruce up the lawn and landscape
Home buyers associate the condition of your lawn and landscaping with the condition of your home’s interior. By improving the outside, you affect buyers’ impression of the entire property. The best ways to enhance the yard include:

-Mowing and edging the lawn.
-Seeding, fertilizing and weeding the lawn.
-Keeping up with regular lawn maintenance by frequent watering.
-Trimming and/or removing overgrown trees, shrubs and hedges.
-Weeding and mulching plant beds.
-Planting colorful seasonal flowers in existing plant beds.
-Removing trash, especially along fences and underneath hedges.
-Sweeping and weeding the street curb along your property.

Tip No. 3: Create an inviting entrance
The front door to your home should invite buyers to enter. The best ways to improve your entry include:

-Painting the front door in a glossy, cheerful color that complements the exterior.
-Cleaning, polishing and/or replacing the door knocker, locks and handles.
-Repairing and/or replacing the screen door, the doorbell, porch lights and house numbers.
-Placing a new welcome mat and a group of seasonal potted plants and flowers by the entry.

Tip No. 4: Reduce clutter and furniture
A buyer cannot envision living in your home without seeing it. A home filled with clutter or even too much furniture distracts buyers from seeing how they can utilize the space your home offers. If you have limited storage space, you may want to consider renting a temporary storage unit to place items you wish to keep. The best ways to declutter your home include:

-Holding a garage sale to prepare for your move, getting rid of unnecessary items.
-Removing clutter such as books, magazines, toys, tools, supplies and unused items from counter tops, open shelves, storage closets, the garage and basements.
-Storing out-of-season clothing and shoes out of sight to make bedroom closets seem roomier.
-Removing any visibly damaged furniture.
-Organizing bookshelves, closets, cabinets and pantries. Buyers will inspect everything.
-Putting away your personal photographs, unless they showcase the home. Let buyers see themselves in your home.
-De-personalize rooms as much as you can.

Tip No. 5: Clean, clean, clean
The cleanliness of your home also influences a buyer's perception of its condition. The appearance of the kitchen and bathrooms will play a considerable role in a buyer's decision process, so pay particular attention to these areas. The best ways to improve these areas include:

-Cleaning windows, fixtures, hardware, ceiling fans, vent covers and appliances.
-Cleaning carpets, area rugs and draperies.
-Cleaning inside the refrigerator, the stove and all cabinets.
-Removing stains from carpets, floors, counters, sinks, baths, tile, walls and grout.
-Eliminating house odors, especially if you have pets.
-Considering air fresheners or potpourri.

Source: BuyOwner.com

Home Appliances are a Leading Cause of Residential Water Damage

by Nuvia Rivera & Associates

A recent study by the Insurance institute for Business and Home Safety found that water damage related to home appliances were one of the top 10 reasons given for residential water loss, with failures costing an average of $5300 after the deductible was paid. 

After reviewing over 500 washing machine related claims, it was determined that over half of the problems reported occurred when the supply hose (which carries water into the machine) failed. Machine overflows and drainage failures accounted for the next 28%.

The life span of the washing machine has to be taken into account when looking at the failure rates, especially as it relates to internal component failure, machine leaks, or burst hoses.

These three elements combined account for two thirds of all washing machine failures. Most appliances were about 8 years old when the first failure occurred. Since most hoses are not replaced until they fail, it was determined that the age of the failed hose was approximately the same as the machine it serviced.
Most machines are only slightly older when their internal components begin to break down. The motor/pump assembly was the usual culprit, accounting for 40% of all claims that were examined.

For reasons unknown, the rate of damage claims was higher in the southern region of the country, as much as 67% higher than those found in northern states.

It was also determine that the location of the washing machine in the home can have an effect on the frequency and severity of the loss when failures do occur. For machines located in lower levels or basements, the presence of sump pump or other drainage device often prevented more serious water damage from occurring. Units located on upper floors put them in close proximity to valuable electronic or furniture items, which can substantially increase the cost involved with any water damage event.

Water Damage Local.com recommends installing washing machines either in the basement or upper floors of the home. Machine failures on the first floor of a home account for 30% greater losses due to their position relative to other valuable items.

In order to minimize the damage caused by a malfunctioning machine:
• Look for signs that the supply hose may be ready to fail. If the tube is worn or there are visible “blisters’, go ahead and replace the hose.
• When replacing the supply hose, opt for a reinforced steel braided hose.
• If the connections are loose, tighten them down. Loosening often happens as the result of a move or relocation of the unit.
• Replace hoses every five years, whether you think they need them or not. This lets you stay ahead of any wear and tear.
• Be sure and turn the water valves off completely if you are going to be gone for a period of several days.
Finally, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to reduce the risk of other types of washing machine related water losses. Never overload a machine, always use a detergent designed for this type of use and try to operate washing machines when someone is home.

For more information, visit www.waterdamagelocal.com.

Q: What causes a foreclosure?

by Nuvia Rivera & Associates

Q: What causes a foreclosure?

A:
A lender decides to foreclosure, or repossess, a property when the owner fails to pay the mortgage. Unfortunately, thousands of homes end up in foreclosure every year.

Many people lose their homes due to job loss, credit problems, divorce, unexpected expenses, and during periods of economic instability.

Failure to pay property taxes may also cause a homeowner to lose his home. Trouble can also arise when owners neglect to pay local water bills and home insurance premiums.

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

Contact Information

Photo of Russell Bryant Real Estate
Russell Bryant
Nuvia Rivera & Associates
244 Louisa Avenue
Virginia Beach VA 23454
Office: 757-383-6368
Direct: 757-748-4087
Fax: 757-394-3112