Monday, October 12, 2009

A Historic Time to Buy

Young people just starting to invest and buying their first homes are potentially the winners in this recession.

First-time homebuyers, most between the ages of 25 and 45, accounted for about 45 percent of home sales from January through July 2009, according to the National Association of REALTORS®

"This is a historic time," says George Jaramillo, a 35-year-old business analyst in Atlanta, who recently bought three homes, two of them foreclosures. "It's a great opportunity to make some great gains in the future."

A study by investment company T. Rowe Price points out that investing when prices are low can result in amazing gains. For instance, between 1970 and 1990, the annualized rate of return for the S&P 500 was 11.5 percent.

"We need to be shouting from the rooftops that this is not the time to get out of the market if you're young," says Christine Fahlund, a senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price. "This is the time to be in the market."

Source: The Associated Press, Chip Cutter

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lower your energy costs with an insulated garage door

(ARA) - A leaky, un-insulated garage door may not be an obvious culprit in rising monthly utility bills, but it’s worth a second look if you have an attached garage.

Replacing an older garage door with a new, energy-efficient model can reduce energy loss through the garage door by up to 71 percent, according to a comparison study conducted by Clopay engineers.

“Since attached garages typically share one or two common walls with the house, any hot or cold that travels through a door will ultimately affect the adjacent living areas,” says Mark Westerfield, director of product development for garage door manufacturer Clopay Building Products. “An insulated garage door can help stabilize temperatures in the garage to reduce heat losses or gains from common house walls.”

Depending on the specifics of your home and attached garage construction, a well-insulated door can help keep your unheated garage 10 to 20 degrees warmer on a cold winter day. “That can have a significant impact on the comfort of family rooms or bedrooms located above or next to the garage,” says Westerfield.

Homeowners who purchase an energy-efficient garage door now through Dec. 31, 2010, will not only save on their heating and cooling bills, they may qualify for up to $1,500 in federal tax credits, thanks to the new stimulus legislation. Certain criteria apply.

Helpful tips

More than 40 percent of the current housing stock was built prior to the era of energy efficiency, according to a report by The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. If your garage door is a hold-over from the dark ages, here are some things to look for when making an upgrade:

* Two inch-thick, three-layer "sandwich” construction including environmentally safe, chlorofluorocarbon-free insulation layered between two sheets of heavy-duty galvanized steel.

* R-value or U-factor – these are measurements of the thermal efficiency of a door’s insulation. The higher the R-value, or the lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the insulation.

* Energy Tax Credit eligible – available for garage doors with a minimum factor of 0.30 installed on a homeowner’s primary residence.

* Insulation type – There are two different types of insulation used in garage doors; expanded polystyrene and polyurethane. Doors constructed using either kind qualify for the Energy Tax credit, and both are strong and durable.

* Design – Get the most out of your garage door upgrade. Choose a model that complements your home’s architectural style.

Courtesy of ARAcontent