The world that millennials have grown up in is a lot different than the world the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers knew. The digital revolution, widespread use of smartphones and adoption of disruptive technologies such as ride sharing and vacation rental apps are just a few of the factors that have altered the social landscape.
Unfortunately, rising student debt, rising home prices and other economic factors have hit many millennials and left them to believe that they cannot afford a home. Many feel as though they have been priced out of the American dream and they will never be able to buy a home.
But no matter what your age, there are plenty of ways to become a homeowner, you just have to think a little more creatively.
The rise of the rental
Looking at current trends, a recent research study found that more U.S. households are now renting than at any time in the last 50 years. With a rising number of renters, many have worried that we are becoming a nation of renters rather than a nation of homeowners.
This is most evident with the younger generation, people under 30, who the National Multifamily Housing Council have found now account for 50 percent of all renters in the U.S.
They aren't renting because it's a more affordable option, either. As many residents know throughout the country, rents are going up and up. Between 2012 and 2015, the median gross rent has gone up 8.24 percent, rising to $959. When you combine that with the utilities, a deposit and first and last month's rent, it's a lot of money to spend on something you will never own.
So why do people choose to rent? One reason is that many don't realize that just like phones, cars and countless other things we use on a daily basis, homes have changed.
New priorities mean a new solution
As demand for housing increases, and prices on new and existing homes continue to rise, manufactured housing has adapted to the standards of today's first-time homebuyers and provides a solution for a market in short supply of quality, affordable options.
In 2016, the average sales price for a manufactured home without land was around $70,600 - that's an average of $48.82 per square foot - making them an affordable solution to renters looking to become homeowners.
"We believe manufactured homes offer a great solution for many households seeking affordable housing," says Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance Inc. President Eric Hamilton. "We work with our customers to help find financing options that fit their needs and circumstances."
Renters don't have to continue doling out a monthly check for something they'll never own. The housing market has changed and with this change, manufactured homes have brought forth new opportunities to become a homeowner.
Source: BPT - Sponsored Content from Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc.
Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., 500 Alcoa Trail, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-380-3000, NMLS #1561, (http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/), AZ Lic. #BK-0902616, Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license, GA Residential Mortgage (Lic. #6911), Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee, Licensed by the NH Banking Department, MT Lic. #1561, Licensed by PA Dept. of Banking.
Moving into your own place is a milestone that makes you feel like a grown-up. Before you sign that lease for your first apartment, here are some important tips to consider:
Pick Your Place
Every property offers different features, so do your homework before locking into a lease. Compare amenities for each rental to decide which fits your needs best. Is location the most important factor? Does a big bathroom top your list? Will you have a set parking spot or on-site laundry?
Next, shop around. Websites like Trulia can keep you on budget by offering quick and easy cost comparisons. Consider living with a roommate to split rent and other expenses.
Make sure you understand the contract before you sign. Who pays for utilities? Who is responsible for repairs? What happens if you break the lease? Read the contract thoroughly, and ask the right questions.
Peace of Mind
Once you’re moved in, find a secure place for valuables like jewelry and electronics such as laptops and tablets. Your landlord may require you to have renters insurance in case of theft or damage to your property, but, if not, it’s a good idea to review your options.
Often times your personal items are covered under your parents’ existing homeowners policy but not always.
At Erie Insurance, for example, single, full-time students under 24 are automatically covered. But, part-time students or students 24 and older may need to get their own renters insurance.
A renters policy can cover your personal property inside and out of the home. So, your laptop or bicycle would be covered if it was stolen while you were at a coffee shop or anywhere else.
In addition to damage or theft, renters insurance can cover additional living costs caused by a covered property loss, beyond your normal living expenses -- even if it’s not your fault. For instance, your neighbor could accidentally start a fire or overflow a bathtub, ruining your apartment and its contents. Renters insurance can offer a place to stay during these unforeseen circumstances.
And in case you’re concerned about the cost of renters insurance, it may be less than you think. For example, if you have a car, you may be able to bundle your auto and renters insurance together for a multi-policy discount, which in some cases may add only a few dollars a month to your total cost.
Protect Your Ride
Sharing your ride with a friend for a grocery run? Remember insurance usually follows the car – not the driver. That means you should be covered if your friend gets into an accident with your vehicle. But be sure to review your policy before giving anyone the keys.
Consider a parking plan if your rental agreement doesn’t include a designated spot. Find a well-lit area, ideally with some form of security. Don’t forget to lock your car, and always store packages or valuables in the trunk or take them with you.
Another option? Leave your car at home if it’s easy to get to work or school on foot or by public transportation.
Getting your own place can be an exciting new adventure. Take some time to plan ahead for a smoother transition.
As homeowners become increasingly aware of the impact their homes can have on the environment – and on their health – making eco-conscious choices is as important as ever. From controlling the types of materials used within your home to keeping an eye on indoor air quality, these tips can help you create a healthier, more earth-friendly indoor environment.
Use a water filter. Depending on where you live, different contaminants could reside in your tap water. Rather than risk consuming these contaminants or drinking bottled water, which can generate significant waste, consider purchasing a refrigerator with a filtered water option, attaching a water filtration device to your faucet or using a filtered water pitcher.
Ditch plastic food containers. Some plastics are not as high quality as many think and may contain toxic materials, making them potentially harmful – especially when used for storing food. Instead, opt for glass, silicone, cloth or stainless steel storage containers, which are friendlier to the environment and pose fewer toxicity risks. Plus, many of these containers can be placed directly in an oven or microwave to safely reheat food.
Install eco-friendly insulation. Certain materials in your home, such as insulation, can be replaced with sustainable options that also improve indoor air quality. Consider replacing your existing attic insulation with sheep’s wool insulation, such as all-natural options from Havelock Wool. This renewable, high-performing and safe-to-handle material excels at managing moisture while improving indoor air quality through the absorption of formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide and other harmful substances. Learn more at havelockwool.com.
Clean “green.” Cleaning products can be made with ingredients that are harmful to the environment, as well as your family’s health. Make sure you know what is in your household cleaners before using them and, whenever possible, look for cleaners that have been certified as green.
Deal with dust. Even if you don’t struggle with allergies or asthma, over time, dust particles can be unhealthy for you and your family. Vacuum frequently and use a wet mop on floors without carpet to limit the formation of dust bunnies throughout your home. Clean and replace your vacuum’s filter frequently to ensure you’re trapping maximum dust. Also regularly wash towels, linens and other textiles, including window treatments.
Replace air filters. Older, dirty air filters can circulate dust, pollen and other particles throughout your home. They can also cause your air conditioner and heater to run less efficiently, which can result in higher energy consumption. Rather than pushing potentially harmful dust particles into your house and causing your systems to work overtime, inspect your air filter often and change it regularly. You might also want to consider installing a whole-home air purifier or placing portable air purifiers in frequently used rooms.
Reduce energy and natural resource usage. Try installing timers on your lights so they turn on only at specified times. To take it a step further, consider installing lighting with vacancy sensors that automatically shut off the lights when a room isn’t being used. Choose energy-efficient appliances, low-flow toilets and consider adding a rain barrel outside to collect rainwater, which can be used for chores such as watering plants, irrigating the lawn or washing your car.
Although it may not be practical to implement all of these ideas at once, little by little you can make small changes that add up to a big difference.
Source: Family Features | Havelock Wool
Upgrade Your Home Before Extreme Weather Hits Again
If you're looking for ways to improve your home but don't have the budget for a full-scale renovation, look at upgrades that add instant value with a smaller investment.
Projects that enhance existing features or add new functions to the home are smart ways to spruce up the aesthetics and improve livability without breaking the bank. In between extreme weather seasons is the perfect time to tackle home improvement projects, so this fall consider some small-scale projects that can make a big impact on your home.
Revitalize worn woodwork. Nothing ages a home's appearance faster than tired, weathered woodwork on the front porch or back deck. These structures are typically major focal points of a home's exterior, so sprucing them up can go a long way toward transforming the overall aesthetic. A fresh coat of stain or paint is a minimal investment to bring fresh life back into your entryway or backyard living space.
Pull out a new kitchen look. If changing out the cabinets isn't an option, you can still create a new look with a minimal investment. Wipe down cabinets thoroughly and apply a coat of paint to make them look their very best, then look for subtle changes that bring a wow factor, such as new hardware. Simply changing out dated pulls for a more contemporary look in a new color can bring a new mood to the room. Clear away clutter and add some fresh accessories for a whole new look.
Punch up the power. Adding function can be as valuable as aesthetics when it comes to enjoying your home to the fullest. When bad weather or other factors interrupt your power supply, a standby generator lets you run appliances such as air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, clothes washers/dryers, lights and electronics, minimizing the inconvenience of a power outage. For extended outages, a generator can even save money, preventing unexpected costs from spoiled food or hotel stays. Hooked up to a home's existing propane or natural gas line, a standby generator system, oftentimes called a home generator, switches on by itself when power fails. Models such as Briggs & Stratton's newly redesigned 12 kilowatt standby generator provide whole-house power in a small footprint that maintains curb appeal. Plus, the price point of standby generator systems is continuing to drop because power management systems like Symphony® II continue to get smarter. Symphony II power management, which can be included with all Briggs & Stratton generators, automatically balances the power needs of a home's electrical loads — including high-wattage items. Therefore families get uninterrupted, whole-house power with a smaller — and, thus, more affordable — standby generator.
Look at new lighting. The lighting in a room has a significant impact on its overall feel: a bright, airy room exudes energy while a dimmer, soft illumination evokes a cozy impression. Changing up the lighting can completely transform a space. Use window treatments such as drapes and blinds to control natural light and lend a stylish addition to the room. Floor and table lamps are ideal for more subtle task lighting, while overhead fixtures can make a stronger statement.
Explore a new floor. Over time, the rich pile of new carpeting loses its inviting spring, and once-sharp grout lines fade and crumble. If a thorough cleaning still leaves your flooring looking drab, it may be time to explore alternatives. Replacing heavily worn carpet in high traffic areas with a more durable option such as wood or tile may not only improve the look, but also prove a smart investment as it wears better in the future. If you still enjoy the look of your tile, consider removing and replacing the grout, then sealing it to protect the finish. Don't feel beholden to the original color; a new shade can introduce a whole new color dimension to the room.
Making updates to your home is a natural part of ownership and a good way to protect and grow your investment. Fortunately, making a big difference doesn't always have to come with a big price tag attached.
Plan Ahead to Save
For more information about the entire line of Briggs & Stratton standby generator systems, visit www.powernow.com.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images (kitchen and living room)SOURCE: Family Features |Briggs & Stratton
Home upgrades that reduce energy reliance
Enhancing your home’s energy-efficient features is a savvy way to make the space more livable while also making a smaller impact on the environment and your bank account.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the average American homeowner spends about $2,000 a year on energy for heating, cooling and other power needs throughout the house. However, inefficiencies caused by poorly operating systems, drafts and other energy drains may account for as much as 10-20 percent of wasted money each year.
Whether your motivation is reducing home energy expenses, creating a more earth-conscious lifestyle or both, there are numerous ways you can make a significant impact on your home’s energy efficiency.
If a complete window replacement is out of your budget, there are still numerous ways you can improve the energy efficiency of existing windows. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that adding storm windows can reduce the amount of heat lost through windows by as much as 25-50 percent. Caulking and adding weather stripping around windows can also make a noticeable difference, as can window coverings such as blinds or drapes that minimize the transfer of heat and cold through window panes.
If you add new windows, there are several variables to consider. Generally, the goal is to optimize heat gain during colder months and reduce heat gain in the summer. Energy performance ratings can help you understand how particular windows transfer heat and light so you can make the best choices for your home’s location, including the climate and orientation to the sun.
Fifth Wall (a.k.a., the Ceiling)
“Skylights bring much more than natural light into a space. They give occupants the feeling of being outdoors with elements like a sky view, gentle breezes and the smell of fresh air,” said Ross Vandermark, national product manager for Velux America.
Skylights engage all of the senses while providing balanced, natural light that reduces reliance on powered light and ventilation fixtures. In addition, skylights can work in concert with vertical windows to create the “chimney effect” where cool, fresh air enters through vertical windows and warm, stale air escapes from the skylights, cooling your home without using electricity.
Learn more about making the fifth wall part of your energy-saving plan at whyskylights.com.
A consultation with a certified technician can help you determine the right system for your home, as well as supplemental heating and cooling options like attic fans that can reduce your overall energy reliance.
Optimize Energy Usage
SOURCE: Family Features | Velux
City dwellers often think gardening is only for those who live in suburbs or rural communities, but planting an urban garden can be easy. Whether you are planting a garden for yourself or your family, you can do your part to create a more sustainable and green future.
These simple steps recommended by Arjan Stephens, executive vice president at Nature’s Path Organic Foods, can help you on your way to greening your thumb and the planet:
Grab your container, select your seeds and see how beautiful, nutritious and delicious your results could be. Find more details about Gardens for Good and urban gardening at naturespath.com.
SOURCE: Family Features | Nature’s Path
(Family Features) For hundreds of years, women have been a key pillar of the agriculture industry, accounting for one-third of the country’s farmers according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
While not always thought of in a traditional “farmer” role, women make an impact in the industry and in helping feed the rapidly growing global population. These “farm moms” play vital and integral roles on the farm, with their families and in their communities.
Susan Brocksmith – named the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year, sponsored by Monsanto – has been involved in supporting Helping His Hands and both the North Knox and South Knox County FFA chapters for many years, and while she finds the experience incredibly rewarding, she also recognizes juggling these responsibilities on top of work and family can be difficult. She offers these tips to other women who are looking for simple ways to get involved in their communities:
“I am humbled and blessed to be named the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of Year,” Brocksmith said. “I was raised on a family farm and was able to raise my daughters on our family farm. I have strived to instill the core values of faith, family and agriculture into my daughters, as well as my college students. Thanks to the support I received from family, friends and the community, I was able to receive this award. This outpouring of support proves anything is possible. Thank you Monsanto for providing this outreach opportunity.”
Brocksmith’s America’s Farmers Mom of the Year award, which honors the significant contributions women make on their farms and in their families, communities and beyond, gifted $4,000 to be divided among the three organizations she is involved with Helping His Hands is a disaster relief organization and local food pantry. Both North Knox FFA and South Knox FFA are long-standing chapters that make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
“Farm moms like Susan are not only respected leaders in the agriculture industry, but also a critical part of the ecosystem that supports rural communities across America,” said Jessica Lane Rommel, Monsanto business communications manager. “We’re excited to celebrate Susan and all of the women who play such a vital role in rural communities.”
Since the program began in 2010, America’s Farmers Mom of the Year program has recognized 40 individuals for their roles in American farms, families, rural communities and the agriculture industry. To learn more about the program, visit AmericasFarmers.com.SOURCE:
(Family Features) When it comes to buying a mattress, individual needs and preferences vary across the board. Just like there is no “one size fits all” for jeans, there is not one mattress for everyone. What might be comfortable and supportive for one person may not be the best fit for someone else.
Having a wide variety of options is key to picking out your new mattress because you can mix and match different levels of comfort with size and adjust your pick based on your sleeping position and surrounding factors. When choosing the mattress that’s best for you, consider these factors.
“The Comfort by Color system makes it easy for customers to come into a store and immediately see which mattresses fall into the category they’re looking for,” Mattress Firm CEO Ken Murphy said. “Whether they’re looking for a pillow top or a firm mattress, the variety of options helps customers pick a bed that’s specifically tailored to their needs.”
For more information, visit MattressFirm.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
(Family Features) Protecting your personal safety is the first priority when severe weather emerges with homes and personal property often running a close second. After all, the home is not only a place for comfort and sanctuary – it could be your single largest investment.
As temperatures soar, so do the chances for tumultuous weather. The Department of Energy reports that nearly 90 percent of major power outages are caused by severe storms. With these tips, you can help ensure that your home is ready for anything Mother Nature has to offer.
Maintain vegetation. Falling trees and branches can wreak considerable havoc on a home’s exterior, along with possessions like vehicles or patio furniture. Keep trees and shrubs well-pruned so strong winds are less likely to grab hold of a wayward branch. If necessary, consult with an expert to ensure trees are trimmed back away from the house adequately to minimize your risk.
Secure potential flight risks. There are plenty of items that can either become damaged or cause damage if they are swept up in a strong wind. Top-heavy items like grills can topple over, and patio furniture could blow out into the yard or even into your home. Don’t overlook smaller culprits, such as gravel or landscaping rock, which can be tossed around and cause serious destruction.
Make time for maintenance. Home repairs that seem minor can become much bigger problems if a storm exacerbates what’s broken. Loose roof shingles or shutters are especially susceptible to storm damage, as are ill-fitting screens. Regularly scanning your home for defects and taking immediate steps to fix them can help prevent relatively small issues from becoming major projects. Be sure to keep gutters and downspouts on your checklist; a heavy storm can produce enough standing water to flood your home in minutes if proper drainage is hampered.
Install backup systems. Power outages are one of the most common afflictions of storm season, but with the proper equipment you can avoid the danger and inconvenience. A premium standby generator like the Briggs & Stratton Fortress system delivers ultimate peace of mind. The system, which is permanently installed and runs on natural gas or liquid propane vapor, turns on automatically to power selected electrical circuits and appliances. The systems are also compatible with wireless monitoring apps that allow homeowners to verify the generator is ready before a storm strikes. Learn more at briggsandstratton.com.
Review insurance coverage. Revisiting your insurance coverage at least every six months can help ensure you know what exclusions exist and where you may need to add supplemental policies or increase your limits. This is also a good time to update an inventory list that documents all your major possessions and valuables; store the list in a safe place such as a weatherproof home safe or electronically via email or a cloud-based server.
In many parts of the country, storm season is inevitable, but taking the proper precautions can help ensure your family and home are ready to handle whatever the season brings.SOURCE:
Briggs & Stratton
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