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Newton Losing Some Public Transportation?

by Preservation Properties

 

MBTA Proposing to Eliminate Several Newton Bus Routes.

The routes include bus 52 (Centre St.to Parker to Dedham); bus 170 (Waltham to W. Newton to Boston) and express buses 500, 554, and 555.  All Newton bus routes are under consideration for reduction or elimination.  These changes would put more cars on our roads, increasing traffic congestion, air pollution, and noise (road traffic is the most important single source of noise in urban environments).
 
Green Decade/Newton believes good public transit system is crucial to the livability of our villages and vital to the economic, social and environmental health of our region.  We urge the MBTA to look for other alternatives that will encourage and strengthen public transit.
 
You have until March 1 to tell the MBTA what you think by e-mail to fareproposal@mbta.com; by regular mail to MBTA attn:  Fare Proposal Com., 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116; by phone 617-222-3200/TTY 617-222-5146.

 

This article comes from Green Decade Newton

What Should I Fix On My Credit Report?

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

In a recent study, 19 percent of American consumers who reported finding an error in their credit reports opted not to dispute the error, even when they were offered $5 to file the dispute!  Why not?  Well, some said they thought the error was too minor to impact their score, while others said the dispute process seemed too difficult to tackle.

The fact is, when you’re trying to qualify for a home loan, some of the items on your credit report that can pose a threat to your home finance plans might surprise you. Here are 5 surprising credit report entries you absolutely must fix, especially when you are in the process of buying or refinancing a home.

1.     Account balances you recently paid down or off. If you’ve just finished paying a bill down or off, you might not dispute the elevated balance that remains on your credit report because it’s not actually an error, per se.  But the whole point of paying the balance down was to bring down your credit utilization ratio, which is a heavily weighted factor in your overall credit score. 

Correcting the actual balances of your outstanding bills downward to account for your recent pay-down efforts poses such a large potential improvement impact for your credit score that it might even be worth paying your mortgage professional the $30 to $50 it will cost for them to initiate a Rapid Rescore, which can update your reports to reflect your slimmed-down balances in about 72 hours, compared with the 30 to 60 days you’d expect to wait to see results from a traditional dispute or update.

 

2.     Incorrect former addresses. Of the 19 percent of consumers who spotted an error on their report in the study, nearly 40 percent of those errors were in what the credit bureaus call “header data," things like the consumer's previous street address. Many elected not to dispute these sorts of line items because the error doesn't seem like it would impact their credit score.  While an inaccurate address might not have much to do with your score, it can still wave a red flag, signaling issues that can foul-up your mortgage application.

A misspelling in an otherwise correct street name should not cause you grave concern.  But if the previous addresses listed are in the wrong city or state, or otherwise come out of nowhere, they might signal that someone has used your name and/or social security number to obtain credit at a different address.  Credit card fraud and identity theft are difficult to unravel when you’re not seeking credit; they are much more complicated to resolve when the credit stakes are high and the underwriter as picky as they are in the course of applying for a mortgage.  

Also, current and previous addresses that conflict with where you’ve told the lender you live(d) can raise suspicion that you might be buying a second or rental home, rather than the owner-occupied home you say you’re trying to buy; that can provoke a lender to demand that you ante up more down payment dough, make you jump through greater hoops to prove your true address or even stop you from qualifying for the loan altogether.

3.     Bills that were never yours in the first place. As with completely bizarre former addresses, accounts listed on your credit report that you never opened in the first place can be a red flag that tips you to the fact that someone else might have stolen your identity and opened a credit card or account in your name.  If you find one of these items on one credit bureau report, but it’s currently closed or has a zero balance, you might be tempted to let it slide, thinking it can’t move the needle on your credit score.  In reality, though, if someone is using your identity to obtain credit and you fail to dispute that the bills belong to you, they might continue to use it, which can cause you real problems.  Of course, if the bills weren’t paid on time or have been placed in collection, disputing the accounts’ presence on your credit report is a must.

If they were paid on time every time, though, the analysis might be different.  Unfortunately, instituting a fraud-based credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports at the same time as you’re applying for a mortgage can complicate your own loan qualification process significantly.  If you find yourself in this situation, carefully scrutinize the rest of your report and the credit reports you receive from the other bureaus to detect whether other fraudulent accounts exist, then consult with your mortgage professional on exactly when and how you should go about disputing the accounts which weren’t actually yours.

4.     Limits listed as lower than they really are. As with closed accounts that were never yours in the first place, accounts that are listed on your credit report as having limits that are lower than they really are might seem like a battle not worth fighting.  But the fact is that only two inputs go into the credit utilization ratio that comprises about 30 percent of your FICO score: how much credit you have available, and how much credit you have used.  So, if you have account balances that show up on your credit reports as lower than they actually are (i.e., that you have less credit available to use), that inaccuracy can skew your credit score and screw up your mortgage qualifying efforts. Big time.

5.    Derogatory items that should have aged off. Very few of us are perfect, and you might have worked hard to pay your bills on time in an effort to overcome a credit ding from back in the days.  Although the impact a derogatory item has on your credit score wanes over time, it’s still your right (and your responsibility) to make sure negative items disappear from your credit report when they are supposed to – that’s 7 years for a late payment, 10 years for a bankruptcy.  If you are still seeing credit dings on your report after more than the relevant time frame has elapsed, dispute them and claim the rehabbed credit (and score) you’ve since earned.

It’s not very common that credit report disputes cause dramatic changes in credit score, but again, many borrowers aren’t disputing these sorts of items they don’t realize could make a difference in their homebuying or refinancing prospect. 

Beyond that, if you’re close to a credit tier cutoff, like 620-640 or 740-760, depending on your loan type, even a few points’ difference can be the difference in qualifying for a home or not, or paying a higher mortgage interest rate for the life of your loan.  For these reasons, it behooves every potential borrower to be proactive in spotting and correcting these 5 must-dispute errors.

Draft Bill May Hike FHA Down Payments To 5%

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee have drafted legislation that would raise the minimum down payment for FHA mortgages to 5 percent, cut FHA loan limits in most markets, and move the Agriculture Department's rural housing program to FHA's parent agency, HUD.

 


  

Though the draft bill has not been introduced, titled or assigned a number, it is expected to be the main subject of a hearing Wednesday before the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity, chaired by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill. After that, the bill is likely to be formally introduced and sped through subcommittee and committee votes and head for action by the full House.

  

By lowering maximum FHA loan limits in large numbers of local areas - well below even the limits that are already scheduled to kick in Oct. 1 - the bill would squeeze down FHA loan volume across the country, cutting a resource for some home purchasers who can't obtain a conventional mortgage. Most New England and mid-Atlantic states would end up with lower loan ceilings along with major markets in the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain states.

 

To read the full article from Inman News, click here

Water Legacy Greywater Recycling

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

google map to real pro systems

For most of us, setting up a grey water system— that is, setting up a system to recycle waste water that's only slightly contaminated to use for flushing a toilet or watering plants—is too complicated. Water Legacy aims to change that by bringing a mainstream grey-water recycling system into the home.

 

Water Legacy's residential graywater reclamation system conserves potable water by recycling spent water for safe usable purposes. Wastewater generated by homes is usually either black water, contaminated to levels that prohibit use, or graywater which can be treated and stored for non-potable reuse.


Water Legacy's system is a stand-alone system that collects used bathing greywater, filters and disinfects this water, and managgoogle map to real pro systemses the automatic supply to the toilet system. After it's installed, it requires no operator intervention.

Unlike the DIY solutions, Water Legacy uses a multi-barrier disinfection system to ensure that even the water in your toilet has been disinfected using hydrogen peroxide and UV. Unfortunately, this only supplies water to your toilet and is not designed to help you water your lawn or plants.

 

If you truly have equity and can't make the payments you want to sell as quickly as possible.  Contact 1 or 2 real estate agents who are familiar with your neighborhood and have a conversation with them about how much your home can sell for.  They should be able to tell you what your chances of success are, and that will be dependent upon how well homes are selling in your area and price range, condition of your home, specific location, and other criteria.  My point is that you want to hear from the agent the specific data that supports their estimate of your selling price.

Only after you have that probably price will you know how much equity you actually have.  Equity on paper isn't much help - you need to know how many dollars you can pull out.

If you can't sell you are going to be hard pressed to obtain the equity, if there is any.  Once you list the home for sale there is generally a 6 month waiting period AFTER you take the home back off the market before a lender will consider giving you cash out on a refinance loan.

If you have a lot of equity (say 40% or more) you may find a private investor to loan you the money but the cost would be prohibitive.  You need to focus on getting the home sold.

Save energy with landscaping

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

 

Landscaping Most homeowners carefully plan their landscaping for beauty, property value, comfort, and maybe water savings or neighborhood bragging rights. But smart landscaping also helps save on energy bills. On summer days, it feels cooler sitting under a tree or standing in the grass. Also, farmers have used lines of trees as windbreaks for centuries. There are easy ways for homeowners to use the same principles to save energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates trees in the right spots around a home can save energy consumption by up to 25 percent, easily providing a return on most landscaping projects within eight years.

Here are some basic ways to save energy with landscaping. You can cut summer cooling costs, winter heating bills or possibly affect both at the same time. For all of the following landscaping work, work around existing plants. For the most part, larger trees and shrubs are more effective at saving energy. Let them grow. Likewise, think about long-term energy savings and plant slow-growing species that will live longer and withstand harsher conditions.

Saving on Cooling Bills

The biggest factor in summer energy savings is blocking the sun’s heat blasting through windows and raising inside temperatures, boosting air conditioning demand. You can save energy by strategically landscaping your yard.

Hire a landscape designer to help plant trees at the ideal angle to block direct summer sunlight but still allow natural light into the home. Consider large, wide deciduous trees near windows on the south side of the house, and near an air conditioning unit. The trees will block plenty of summer sun, but lose their leaves in the winter and allow passive solar heat. Recommended trees for saving energy include maples, birch, and many oaks.

The west and northwest sides of the house should also be blocked at low angles to block late afternoon sun. Plant fuller trees with lower branches in these areas to save energy. Until the trees properly mature, consider vines on or near the house. They can help keep the summer sun from baking walls and heating the house. Deciduous vines will get out of the sun’s way in winter, but windy areas might call for evergreen vines to block chilly winter blasts.

A landscaper might also be able to help design a channel of plants that will funnel cooling summer breezes into the house to help you save energy.

Finally, at the most basic level, any landscaping helps cool the air in the immediate vicinity and will reduce the amount of surface and ground heat seeping into the home. Soil covered with plants and shaded by trees will remain cooler than asphalt and other heat-absorbing surfaces.

Saving on Heating Bills

The key in winter is blocking cold wind while allowing the sun to provide passive solar energy. Harnessing passive solar energy helps you to save fossil fuel energy. The latter is simple. Just get the trees out of the way of south-facing windows (possibly by using deciduous trees, as mentioned above).

Rows of dense, low evergreen trees and shrubs can help block wind. Ideal shrubs will grow to between 6 and 10 feet, such as camellia, hollies, oleander, and Viburnum.

Heating and cooling bills can be significantly reduced with well-designed landscaping, including trees that cool the air and block summer sun, and shrubs that control winter wind.

Hybrid bulbs combine CFL and halogen bulb features

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

Another complaint against compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) will have to go by the wayside with the introduction of a new hybrid bulb from GE that is able to come to immediate full brightness as soon as it is switched on. As with cars, where hybrids combine the best properties of two transport technologies, hybrids are now an option for light bulbs, combining immediate brightness of halogen with the energy savings of a compact fluorescent.

GE LightbulbThe bulb itself is in a conventional incandescent-shape. Inside that is a now-familiar coil of compact fluorescent tubing. But, at the center of that is a small halogen capsule. When the light is turned on, both the halogen and the CFL come on, so that the bulb has full brightness immediately available. Once the CFL has reached its full brightness, the halogen portion automatically turns off, so that the life of the bulb is conserved.

The hybrid bulbs have an expected lifetime of 8,000 hours, about 8x as long as incandescent bulbs, and close to the expected life of regular CFLs. Additionally, these hybrid bulbs have a lower level of mercury than most currently available CFLs. The hybrid bulbs contain just 1 mg of mercury, while most current CFLs have 1.5 to 3.5 mg of mercury.

The hybrid bulbs are available for 60- and 75-watt replacement and should now be starting to appear in retail stores, with an expected price range of $5.99 to $9.99.

This article comes from Yahoo Green

Make your yard a Certified Wildlife Habitat

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

When writing recently on native and drought-tolerant plants for California landscaping, I came across this little tidbit: The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has a program, “that helps members turn their backyards into wildlife havens.” How spectacular!Bird

Being a national organization, this program applies all over the country, not just to California. And you can certify your garden to be one of 140,000 Certified Wildlife Habitats across the U.S.!

The cost is minimal ($20 dollars and is what you’d pay for a good plant, so consider it part of the landscaping budget), and you get certified. You also become a member of the NWF with a year subscription to its award-winning National Wildlife magazine, plus a subscription to the quarterly tip-filled newsletter which will help you run and maintain your habitat, and your name will be listed in the NWF national registry of certified habitats.

The best part is that it’s not as difficult as it might sound to get your yard up to snuff. You need some basic amenities for the critters that most yards probably already have to one degree or another, stated as per NFW’s site:

  • Food sources like native plants
  • Water sources like birdbaths or fountains
  • Places to take cover like birdhouses or thickets
  • Places to raise young like dense vegetation or shrubs or nesting boxes
  • Sustainable gardening like chemical-free fertilizers and compost

This program can be instigated just about anywhere: on your college campus, at your child’s school, or in any other community garden area. Check out The National Wildlife Federation’s website for details and more information on how easy it is to turn your outdoor space into a wildlife habitat!

--Jocelyn Broyles

Headline image by Howard Cheek from TheNationalWildlifeFederation.org

All information from National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.'


This article comes from Yahoo Green

Swap Disposables For Reusable Goods

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

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Paper towels, plastic bags, to-go coffee cups…

Winning our hearts with their convenience, these disposable products have become all-too-familiar in our culture. Yet as many of us know, tossing them out after just one use, when practiced on a massive scale, does not create a pretty picture for the planet.

If you’re looking for some help transitioning away from dependence on these disposables, you may find the following list helpful.  Reuseit.com, a place where you can learn about the problems of disposables and buy products for a waste-less lifestyle, developed this list of their top products.

Here are Reuseit.com’s top picks:

  1. Biodegradable, 100-percent recycled-content garbage bags – They're infused with a natural additive that allows the plastic to biodegrade completely into natural elements.
  2. Spray bottle for DIY cleaners – Made in the USA with 40-percent post-consumer recycled content, this bottle even has recipes and instructions for making nontoxic cleaners at home printed right on the side.
  3. The original EarthTote – The best-selling replacement to paper shopping bags, it stands on its own for easy packing.
  4. Thank You and Have a Nice Day tote bags – Printed with PVC-free ink, these best-selling, dual-handled tote bags are made of hemp.
  5. Bluesign-certified Workhorse - This handy replacement for plastic bags folds into its own ultra-compact pouch attached inside the bag.
  6. Snack and sandwich bags - They're durable, easy-to-clean, and made in the USA.
  7. I’m Not a Paper Towel” and More “I’m Not a…” products – Clever replacements for paper lunch bags and paper towels. Replacements for plastic water bottles, plastic bags, facial tissue, and more coming soon!
  8. Recycled PET mesh ultra-compact tote – A smart, stylish, 55-percent recycled-content bag that folds into its own compact pouch.
  9. Recycled PET mesh produce bags, set of four + stuff sack – This is a lightweight, long-lasting replacement for plastic produce bags.
  10. Everything Cloth – Cut back on use-and-toss items like disposable napkins, tissues, wet wipes, and paper towels. These resuable versions are made with hemp and organic cotton.

 

Getting Married? A Way To Put Your Gifts To Work

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

 

Now that Spring time is approaching, you will hear about more and more people getting engaged.  I am one of those people who just recently got engaged and as I slowly plan the wedding, we have been thinking about different gift ideas and registries.  You are probably wondering when this article is going to start discussing houses or being green- I promise I will get there!

google map to real pro systemsSo, if you are going to be a newlywed who wants to then buy a house, you can tell all of your guests that you would like a gift of money.  Now, normally the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) has problems with gift money where it can't trace where the money came from... BUT you can now go to your bank and ask for a Gift Escrow account.  You then can give your wedding guests directions on how to give money through this escrow account.  Your guests can help you get into your new home and you don't have to worry about tracing where the money came from when it comes down to having your downpayment.

Plus, this is a green alternative, you don't have to worry about people using wrapping paper or never using that 4th toaster that you were given as a gift.  Nothing goes to waste.

 

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 85

Contact Information

Preservation Properties
439 Newtonville Avenue
Newtonville MA 02460
Office: 617.527.3700
Fax: 617.527.2050