The history of barbecuing, or cooking meat by grilling over fire, dates back to our ancestors more than 100,000 years ago. (No, dinosaurs were not around to share the meal.) Today, barbecuing is an art, science, and a summertime passion. And it goes far beyond steak. Fish, for example, explodes with flavor when grilled. The following recipe for Grilled Cajun Salmon will introduce you to a spice rub that will surely become a favorite, and it will send you shopping for two accessories to add to your barbecuing paraphernalia (if don’t already have them): the electric spice mill and the fish grilling basket.
Spices have a tremendous impact on the outcome of the dish. Without spices, you might as well not bother grilling. Beware, though. The aroma and flavor of spices decreases as freshness decreases. This is terrible news considering that some spices are ground and packaged months or even years before you buy them! Whenever possible, buy whole spices that you can grind yourself, or buy small amounts of freshly ground spice. New accessory #1 to add to your Barbecue collection: the electric spice mill.
A spice rub replaces the time required for marinade or the fuss of a baste. Just rub then grill, and you’ll create a spicy crust that nicely contrasts the inside of the meat. The resulting flavor is intensified because the spices are not diluted by liquid. The possible flavor combinations for spice rubs are endless.
Are you thinking that it’s time to do some renovations around the house? From simply putting up shelves to building an entire addition on your home, homeowners face the common problem of knowing where to start and what to do. Can it be a DIY (do-it-yourself) project or should you hire a professional? This is just one of many questions to consider. Today there is an overwhelming amount of renovation information available online, in magazines, on TV, Youtube videos, and home design fairs. Along with all of this, one also needs to face the big box reno stores that seem to sell just about anything you could imagine. How does a person sort through all of the information, products and services available? Here are some crucial stages to follow to help make your renovation experience easier and more successful whether you choose to do it on your own or hire someone else.
Stage One: Programming
Knowing what you want is the first consideration in any design project. Seems simple, but upfront planning of how you need the space to function is critical. Designers call this the programming stage of the project. This is where you take a hard look at what it is you are going to need to make your project work. For example, if you are building storage shelving, you need to consider what will be stored. Installing generic shelving that is not the right size to hold what you need to store will not make for a successful project. By the same token,...
It’s that time of year… Property listings have spiked, and so have sales. It’s a bustling time of year when “for sale” signs immediately change to “sold”, and both sellers and buyers must make important financial and lifestyle decisions in a short period of time.
Sellers, be ready.
Amp up your regular spring cleaning. Make an extra effort to de-clutter so that your storage and living areas appear spacious and organized. Prioritize small fixes, those that will translate into the best return on investment. This is not the time to build a new deck or renovate your kitchen. Pay attention to details, such as paint touch-ups, new shower curtains, and making sure faucets are working. Wash windows, wipe baseboards and freshen your décor with a few key items. Also, remember curb appeal. Tidy your flower beds and lawn, repaint your front door, and maybe plant a new tree. Your real estate agent can advise you on where to best channel your energy and efforts in making your home presentable for viewing.
Buyers, be ready.
Clear your schedule for house hunting. It is a time-consuming, emotional endeavor that requires your wholehearted attention. Free up your evenings and weekends for home viewing appointments with your real estate agent. Inventory moves quickly, multiple buyer situations are common, and it takes time to carefully consider the pros and cons of each home. View each home with your list of needs and wants in hand. Financially, have your ...
There is no doubt that mortgage credit availability is expanding, meaning it is easier to finance a home today than it was last year. However, the mortgage market is still much tighter than it was prior to the housing boom and bust experienced between 2003 - 2006.
The Housing Financing Policy Center at the Urban Institute just released data revealing two reasons for the current exceptionally high credit standards:
- Additional restrictions lenders put on borrowing because of concerns that they will be forced to repurchase failed loans from the government-sponsored enterprises or Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
- The concern about potential litigation for imperfect loans.
What has been the result of these concerns?
6.3 Million Less Mortgages
The Policy Center report went on to say:
“It was so hard to get a mortgage in 2015 that lenders failed to make about 1.1 million mortgages that they would have made if reasonable lending standards had been in place. From 2009 to 2014, lenders failed to make about 5.2 million mortgages thanks to overly tight credit. In total, lenders would have issued 6.3 million additional mortgages between 2009 and 2015 if lending standards had been more reasonable.”
In an interview with DSNews, Laurie Goodman and Alanna McCargo of the Policy Center further explained:
“Our Housing Credit Availability Index...
If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.
Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is actually a good time for you to buy in today’s market.
1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?
This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.
For example, a recent survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”
This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:
- A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
- A place where you and your family feel safe
- More space for you and your family
- Control of that space
What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.
2. Where are home values headed?
According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home values are projected to increase by 5.3% over the next 12 months.
What does that mean to you?...
A recent study of more than 7 million home sales over the past four years revealed that the season in which a home is listed may be able to shed some light on the likelihood that the home will sell for more than asking price, as well as how quickly the sale will close.
It’s no surprise that listing a home for sale during the spring saw the largest return, as the spring is traditionally the busiest month for real estate. What is surprising, though, is that listing during the winter came in second!
“Among spring listings, 18.7 percent of homes fetched above asking, with winter listings not far behind at 17.5 percent. While 48.0 percent of homes listed in spring sold within 30 days, 46.2 percent of homes in winter did the same.”
The study goes on to say that:
“Buyers [in the winter] often need to move, so they’re much less likely to make a lowball offer and they’ll often want to close quickly — two things that can make the sale much smoother.”
If you are debating listing your home for sale within the next 6 months, keep in mind that the spring is when most other homeowners will decide to list their homes as well. Listing your home this winter will ensure that you have the best exposure to the serious buyers who are out looking now!
The study used the astronomical seasons to determine which season the listing date fell into (Winter: Dec. 21 – Mar. 20; Spring: Mar. 21 –...
There are many potential homebuyers, and even sellers, who believe that they need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home or move on to their next home. Time after time, we have dispelled this myth by showing that many loan programs allow you to put down as little as 3% (or 0% with a VA loan).
If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have saved enough for your closing costs.
Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:
“Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage. These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”
We’ve recently heard from many first-time homebuyers that they wished that someone had let them know that closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment.
Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:
- Government recording costs
- Appraisal fees
- Credit report fees
- Lender origination fees
- Title services (insurance, search fees)
- Tax service fees
- Survey fees
- Attorney fees
- Underwriting fees
Is there any...