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Staging Takes Center Stage You don't have to be a star to be in Beth Ann Shepherd's show. Sheperd is one of those "to the stars" service providers, in this case, setting the stage to position a home for sale or staging. It's a smart marketing move when it's time to move a home in just about any kind of market. Staging is to the interior of a home what curb appeal is to the exterior -- nipping and tucking, furnishing and accessorizing, buffing and polishing until the place looks like a model home, without being clinical. But it can also include curb appeal. With just the right special effects, the
Mortgage Rates U.S. averages as of July 26, 2007:30 yr. fixed: 6.69%15 yr. fixed: 6.37%1 yr. adj: 5.69%30 yr. jumbo: 6.98%-->
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effort can transform a home into a house of dreams and help potential buyers visualize potential. Done wrong and a home can become more like the set of a horror movie, a real
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Seven Steps To ACredit Score Makeover You can mitigate the effect of tighter mortgage underwriting standards by improving your credit report profile and, as a result, your credit score. Just don't expect that your knee-jerk reaction to tighter money will generate overnight success. Chances are, you didn't get all those credit report blemishes during a single credit buying binge. And, if you are like many consumers, you don't even know what you are up against. BankRate.com recently found that 32 percent of Americans surveyed never check their credit reports and have no idea what shape it's in. It's time to find out and do something about it. Local lenders say the incidence of credit report knowledge is even higher when borrowers sit down to apply for home loans. "Less than 10 percent have seen their report and among those who have, most of the reports are old, many are only from one bureau and so they don't have a complete picture," said Joel Spolin, president of Absolute Mortgage in Palo Alto, CA.
Coping with HigherSummer Energy Costs Air conditioning is costing consumers more this summer. The Energy Information Administration, the statistical division of the U.S. Department of Energy, predicts that the price of electricity will climb about 2.6 percent during 2007. Demand for electric power will grow about 1.5 percent during the year, which the EIA says is normal. This means that if the typical consumer paid $150 for electricity to run central air conditioning in a 2,000 square-foot house in each of the summer months in 2006, for example, that bill will be $153.90 for June, July and August this year. That might not seem like a lot of money, but multiply that by the increase by the number of households in the United States and that means hundreds of millions of dollars. These costs fall on low and moderate income homeowners the most. Diane-Louise Wormley, who oversees a program to improve Philadelphia neighborhoods, said that a key to making homeownership affordable for younger buyers is to make these older houses energy efficient so that "everything won't be going to the gas company." Much of the housing stock in Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities was built before 1950, when energy costs were low and insulation was not part of
Head Count ShowsShifting Population The country's fifth largest city is in the desert, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates. And though it is only half the size of the next largest city, the nation's No. 1 city in terms of population has more than twice as many people as its closet rival. Yes, New York reigns supreme as the largest city in the United States, with a population of 8.2 million. The next largest city is Los Angeles, which has just 3.8 million residents. Chicago is third with 2.8 million inhabitants and Houston is fourth with 2.1 million. Phoenix, the aforementioned desert city, moved into fifth place, according to the latest count, moving ahead of Philadelphia. The head count in Phoenix in 2006 was 1.5 million. In Philadelphia, it was 1.45 million.
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