Home Refinancing After Bankruptcy

Refinancing can be a handy tool for homeowners looking to get a better interest rate, to consolidate debts, or to make use of equity they have in their home.  Some homeowners use equity gained to finance home repairs, vacations, or other financial uses.  Homeowners who are considering bankruptcy may find home refinancing to be extremely helpful in altering their financial situation and it may help them avoid bankruptcy altogether.

For homeowners looking to refinance their homes after a bankruptcy should be sure to properly organize, research, and plan before taking action. There are several considerations to take into account that may help you get the best possible rate when refinancing your home, including repairing your credit, researching lenders and rates, and considering the use of equity.

It is recommended that individuals looking to refinance their home after bankruptcy consider waiting to refinance their home until their credit has been repaired.  It may take a few years to restore your credit to normal ratings, but patience and hard work typically results in much better rates and terms for your new loan.  Many homeowners consult credit-repair companies, attorneys who specialize in credit repair, or follow their own plan for credit restoration.  Once the homeowner’s credit rating has improved significantly, they typically have more success finding an acceptable refinance rate.

When lenders consider a refinancing application, they typically examine the applicant’s assets and the amount of money they have in savings.  Lenders are more likely to lend to individuals who have money in savings, so it is important to build up cash reserves if you are applying for a refinance loan.

Conducting the proper research on lenders and loan rates is important before refinancing your home.  Make sure to consult different lenders to find the right package and rate for you.  It is important to remember that the more inquiries that are made regarding your credit, the lower your score will be for a period of time, so make sure not to have your credit pulled by everyone you consult. Reserve the credit check for lenders that you truly intend to work with.  

Homeowners are also encouraged to consider whether or not they would like to use some of the equity in their home.  People who choose not to “cash out” any equity often find that their credit can improve.  Some homeowners see value in using cashed out equity to pay for necessary repairs or upgrades to the home, which will in turn increase value in the long run.

Convert Your Fireplace and Save

If you have a home where some or all of the heat comes from your fireplace or wood stove, you may want to consider investing the money in a conversion or improvement to get the most out of your fuel. There are a number of ways to do this. Some of them may require an outlay of cash, but they will end up saving you many times that amount in heating bills, wood purchase and time.

The first way to improve your fireplace’s efficiency is the simplest: clean it! Chimneys blocked by creosote and soot not only endanger your home through the risk of chimney fires and dangerous gas emissions into the home, they also prevent the fire from getting the oxygen it needs. Consequently, it takes more energy for the fire to provide heat to a room or home.

You might think that chimney sweeps disappeared with the Industrial Revolution, but the profession is still alive and well. A professional chimney sweep can clean your chimney and give you some good advice on how to keep it cleaner. If you choose to clean the chimney yourself, be prepared for several hours of dirty, hard work! Take some measurements of your fireplace and chimney with you to the fireplace/wood stove supply store or online to get the correct size cleaning tools.

A “draft eliminator” is an inflatable balloon that you can pop inside your fireplace when it’s not in use. This will save you a good chunk of money when it comes to stopping cold air from entering your home through the chimney. It can also guard against wildlife paying you a visit through the chimney. The inflatable nature of the product enables it to effectively seal most of the chimney and stay secure. It is not as efficient as a damper, but it is cheaper and a great temporary solution to a broken damper.

Installing a damper is a really good permanent solution to drafts from the chimney. It is more efficient than a draft stopper and more suitable for a home where the fireplace is used frequently. With regular maintenance, a damper can virtually seal your fireplace and chimney from drafts and unwanted pests and will be serviceable for years.

An outside air intake next to the fireplace can help the fire get oxygen without pulling cool air from all areas of the house to the fireplace. It can also reduce drafts and your gas/wood usage. An easy source of cool air will make the fire heat your whole house more efficiently.

By installing an outside air intake next to your fireplace you can reduce the amount of space that the cool air has to travel through the home and reduce uncomfortable drafts. Just like any fire, your fireplace requires oxygen for the wood to burn. When in use, your fireplace will draw inside air to combust the fire. Whether it be heated air sitting dormant in your home or pulling in outside air from the small cracks in your doors and windows, this situation is very inefficient. The best way to solve this problem is controlling where the outside air is drawn in from to eliminate uncomfortable drafts and high gas bills. 

A fireplace insert is one of the best ways to improve your fireplace’s efficiency. With a radiant glass door, fireplace efficiency can be improved up to 90%. Plus, a glass cover means you can enjoy the warmth and beauty of fire without worrying about sparks and the influx of dirt. EPA-certified inserts are even more efficient at containing warmth and toxic fumes.

If you really want to up your fireplace’s efficiency and don’t mind how you do it, an EPA-certified wood stove may be a good solution. Inserting an energy-efficient wood stove into your fireplace can instantly pay off in terms of heating and emission control. Plus, as wood and pellet stoves become more popular, there are more options for converting your fireplace to accommodate a good stove. Plus, you’ll have something to warm hot chocolate up on!

There are many ways you can up the efficiency of your fireplace. With a wise outlay of money, you could find yourself using significantly less fuel and heating your home for longer using this form of sustainable heating.

Greening Up Your Kitchen

As eco-conscious habits become more and more part of our collective culture, many people are taking to making their own homes more environmentally friendly. One of the best places to start the eco-journey is in the kitchen.

One of the biggest ways you can change the eco-friendliness of your kitchen is by being more aware of what you bring into it on a weekly basis in the form of groceries. Most North Americans buy a lot of pre-made, overly packaged foods every week; the majority of product packaging ends up dumped in landfills after each garbage day.

One of the best things that you can do for yourself and for the environment is to buy food that’s as close to its natural state as you can. This isn’t to say that you should buy raw wheat grains and grind them yourself, but you should buy uncooked, unseasoned meats and raw fruits and vegetables and cook them yourself. Not only will there be less in the way of packaging, but there will be less salt and preservatives going into YOU. Make sure to compost your uncooked, non-meat food scraps as well!

What you use to carry your groceries home makes an impact as well. Many grocery stores across the continent are not offering plastic bags to patrons any longer, instead actively encouraging them to purchase inexpensive reusable bags, bring recycled bags, or offering a biodegradable alternative. If you like a higher quality of reusable bag, check out your local shops or look online; some companies even offer a reusable produce bag for your fruits and veggies.

Another great way to green up your kitchen is by buying only really good quality cooking tools that will last a long time. A few good quality stainless steel pots and pans, a good cast iron frying pan, and some sturdy wooden utensils can last you a lifetime if you take care of them. Avoid Teflon coated pans as they have a limited life-time and there are some health concerns over the use of Teflon. Quality, energy-efficient appliances will help make your kitchen more eco-friendly as well.

The finishing touch on any green kitchen is, of course, in the cleaning; make sure that you don’t use harsh corrosive chemicals when you’re cleaning your eco-kitchen.

Once you’ve greened up your kitchen, it’s easy to move into greening the rest of your home, one room at a time!

Before You Move – Down-Size Your Belongings

When you decide to sell your home, even before you get around to staging it for sale consider downsizing your belongings. As someone who’s moved numerous times both with and without children, I’ve come to appreciate a somewhat minimalist lifestyle when it comes time to move. However, that minimalist style can also be extremely useful when you’re looking to sell your home and can even make living in your house more comfortable in the meantime.

There are a great variety of reasons why you should regularly go through your piles of stuff and eliminate the unnecessary. First, less stuff in your home makes for less to keep clean; it’s easier to tidy and organise your space with less in it and way easier to keep it dusted. Secondly, if you’re looking to sell your home you’re going to be moving; less stuff makes for an easier move. Next, in order to sell your house you should either have a professional stage your home, or stage it yourself; either way, you will need to clear out the excess clutter and leave your home with a clean minimalist look so that prospective buyers can actually see what your house is all about.

There are a wide variety of items that people tend to hoard in their homes. Some people never toss out old items of clothes while others might store vast quantities of old magazines and clippings. Some items that people collect are actually quite useful and should be organized and stored properly, however many other items that are collected are mostly useless or unused by the owner.

Organizing and downsizing is best done room by room. If you start with your storage areas you can clear out things that you don’t need any more as well as make room for things that you want to keep that require storage like camping gear and holiday decorations. Clean out your closets. Go through all the clothes in your closets and take out anything that you haven’t worn in a long time and anything that’s starting to wear out. Toss out towels and bedding that’s getting worn out as well. Go through your children’s toys and clothes and sort out anything that they don’t use or doesn’t fit anymore.

Consider pieces of furniture that you no longer need or don’t fit with your home style as well. Often we hang on to furniture that no longer works with our homes just because it has sentimental value. Get rid of it if it no longer works.

Once you’ve sorted all the junk (or treasures) out of your house one of the best things you can do is have a garage sale. Some items may also do well in a consignment store if they are more valuable than garage sale material. Anything that you have left over after that is best donated to a thrift store or a battered women’s shelter.

You will find that once your home is all sorted out, it’s much easier to organize the remainder for more comfortable living as well as easier staging your home for sale. Prospective buyers will be able to see for themselves the character in your home when it’s clutter free!