The Importance of Home Equity to a Family

The Importance of Home Equity to a Family | Keeping Current Matters

There has been much written about how dramatically home values have increased over the last several years. With the increase in values, comes an increase in the equity each home owning family now has. The Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University recently reported that, after taking inflation into account, aggregate home equity has increased 60% since 2010. Home equity is the major component of most family’s overall wealth.

Why is this so important?

Throughout history, families have tapped into their homes for many important reasons. Perhaps it was to get seed capital to start a new business; perhaps to help finance their children’s college education; perhaps to get needed medical attention not covered by insurance.

Up to ten years ago, families were able to use the equity in their homes to better the living situation for themselves and their family. More small businesses were created. College students weren’t forced to take on massive student debt. People could get needed medical care.

This hasn’t been the case over the last ten years as families found themselves in a position of having zero equity or, even worse, negative equity post the housing collapse. However, that is about to change.

Using your home as an ATM is not a good idea.

We realize that there are inherent risks to tapping into the equity in your homeespecially if you do it for the wrong reasons. Back in 2005-2007, homeowners were using their homes as their own personal ATM machine to buy depreciating assets like cars, boats and jet skis. This reckless behavior should never be repeated.

However, using your equity (aka family wealth) to invest in yourself, your children or other family members that could use help still makes sense. And the good news is that more and more families can do this as home values continue to increase.

Bottom Line

Home equity gives families an additional financial option when money is needed. The proper use of this family wealth can be used to grow generational wealth.

As Julián Castro, U.S. Secretary of HUD, recently explained:

“Generation after generation, the primary vehicle to create wealth in our country has been through homeownership. In the U.S., homeownership has provided an opportunity for one generation to hand over to the next that opportunity and that wealth.”

Tackling Tricky Cleaning Jobs: 7 Jobs Just Got Easier

clean house funnyThere are a few tricky cleaning jobs universally dreaded for being time-consuming, hard, or just plain confusing. How are you supposed to clean off a ceiling fan without getting dust all over the house and your head? How do you clean a fireplace without creating an indoor dust cloud? The tips below won’t make any of these jobs fun, exactly, but they will make them quicker, easier, and maybe even tolerable.



Ceiling FanCeiling Fans
Put a drop cloth or old sheet on the floor and furniture over an area about twice the radius of the fan blades. If you want to keep your hair dust-free, pop on a hat as well. Use an old pillowcase to dust blades, sliding the case around the blade so the dust falls into the case. Make a second pass over each blade with a new pillowcase, this time spraying each blade first with a cleanser (a spray bottle of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar works too.) Hop on a sturdy chair or ladder and wipe around the rest of the fixture with a dust cloth or use a long handled micro-fiber duster.

To clean the interior, first take everything out the fridge. Remove shelves, bins, and drawers and wash in warm soapy water (don’t plunge cold glass shelves directly into hot water because they might shatter). Wipe down interior with a mixture of two tablespoons baking soda and a quart of hot water. For extra cleaning power, let mixture sit for a few minutes before wiping off. Use a plastic–not steel wool–scouring pad for stuck-on food and spills. Clean seals with a baking soda paste or undiluted hydrogen peroxide, getting into crevices with cotton swabs. While interior parts are drying, wipe down jars and containers, removing drips and spills. Check expiration dates and toss any out-of-date items. Follow the same procedures for the freezer, adding a plastic scraper to remove frozen-on ice or food.




refrigerator interiorRefrigerator—Exterior
For the exterior of the fridge, wipe down the outside surfaces with soft cloth and a gentle cleaner. Use a toothbrush or plastic scouring pad for grime on handles. Unplug the fridge to clean the condenser and coils. Remove the trim panel from below the door (you may need to unscrew it.) Vacuum or dust the panel, or if it’s plastic, soak it in warm soapy water to loosen dirt. Using the brush or crevice attachment, gently vacuum dust from coils and condenser. You might need to move the unit away from a wall to get at the back. When you put it back, make sure to leave enough space between coils and wall so the unit can run efficiently.


Make a first pass over the boards with a dust mop, vacuum or a dusting cloth. If there’s leftover grime, wipe down with damp cloth and mild detergent. Use wood cleaner for wooden baseboards. Try a cotton swab to get at intricate designs and corners. Touch up scuffs and scrapes with a bit of matching paint. Finish off by wiping down clean, dry baseboards with dryer sheets to repel future dust.

Prepare for the job by donning old clothes and a pair of gloves. Cover the area around the fireplace with old sheets or newspaper. Remove grate and andirons and put outside on a tarp. Put a handful or two of used coffee grounds into the ashes to minimize flyaways, then shovel out the old ashes and put in a double-bagged trash can. Use the fireplace brush to sweep up remaining ashes. You can scrub the inside further by scraping with a wire grill brush and a fireplace cleaner, if desired. Clean the andirons and grate with the wire brush and a hearth cleaner or a paste of baking soda and warm water. Let everything dry thoroughly before putting back in.

Grout can be a challenge to clean because it’s porous and often light-colored. To clean, you will need a cleaning agent and a scrubbing tool, like a scrub brush or toothbrush. Use a baking soda and hydrogen dioxide paste, a half and half solution of white vinegar and water or a mix of oxygen bleach and warm water. Spray or apply the solution to the grout and let sit for about 20 minutes. Scrub the grout, reapplying the solution for tougher stains. For mold that won’t come off, you can use a chlorine bleach spray, but the bleach will weaken the grout over time. To maintain your grout and delay another deep cleaning, spray weekly with vinegar and wipe clean.

Gentle vacuuming with a brush attachment works for all types of blinds, including cloth, wooden, and metal/vinyl blinds. Close the blinds so they’re fully extended and brush each slat individually, working downward. Swivel the slats to do the other side, again moving downward. You can also dust with a micro-fiber cloth or a duster. Again, you have to go over each slat, front and back. For dingy vinyl and metal blinds, make a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water and go over each slat with a dampened cloth or, for more flexibility, an old sock turned inside out and worn on your hand. Cloth blinds can be spot treated with a damp cloth and a bit of dishwashing liquid. You can cut down on scrubbing time by removing metal and vinyl blinds and taking them to the bathtub or outside to hose them down, then scrubbing with warm soapy water, but you run a greater risk of bending or breaking the blinds. Make sure the blinds are fully dry before rehanging.

6 Things Homebuyers Should Avoid Once They are Preapproved for a Mortgage

black couple loan approved

You have done the hard part in the home-buying process and chosen a lender and a real estate agent to work with. You have also gone out and found the home of your dreams! Best of all, your team has done a great job of negotiating the best deal for you.

Now, as a buyer, all you have to do is sit back and wait for your loan to close … right? Wrong!!

Getting a home loan these days is a very interactive process. I am always amazed by how many clients I work with who come to me unaware of all the pitfalls they face during the loan process. To help avoid any surprises while waiting for final approval, I provide my clients with a short list of “do’s and don’ts” to follow.

Let’s start with the “do’s” …

  1. Do keep the process moving by responding to your loan officers’ requests for documentation as soon as possible.
  2. Do make decisions as soon as is reasonably possible.
  3. Do convey questions or concerns you
  4. Do continue to make all of your rent or mortgage payments on time.
  5. Do stay current on all other existing accounts.
  6. Do continue to work your normal work schedule with no unplanned time off.
  7. Do continue to use your credit as normal.
  8. Do be prepared to explain any large deposits in your bank accounts.
  9. Do enjoy purchasing your home but remain objective throughout the process to help make decisions that are best for you.

After you have been preapproved for your mortgage you will want to refrain from the following…

  1. Do not make any major purchases (car, boat, jewelry, furniture, appliances, etc.).
  2. Do not apply for any new credit (even if it says you are preapproved or “xxx days same as cash”).
  3. Do not pay off charges or collections (unless directed by your loan officer to do so).
  4. Do not make any changes to your credit profile.
  5. Do not change bank accounts.
  6. Do not make unusual deposits into your bank accounts or move money around from one account to another.

Follow these simple rules and you will help to make your loan closing as smooth and hassle-free as possible! Good luck!

Dress Your Home For Success

Whether it’s an Open House, or simply presenting your home in the best light, it is necessary to view it from the eyes of a buyer!  Any money spent in this area may result in increased profits and a faster sale.

Maximizing Curb Appeal
Before potential buyers even see what the home has to offer, they view its exterior.  As a result, an unkempt or unattractive view of the outside of the home could potentially result in a missed opportunity.  To show the house in its best light, consider the following:

* Move all materials, including garbage cans and gardening supplies, from the front yard and into a garage or shed

* Mow the lawn and weed and maintain all planted areas

* Replace any outdoor light bulbs that are not working

* Sweep walkways and steps, and remove all small items from the porch or patio

* Replace worn or badly stained door mats

Once a potential buyer enters the home, they need to determine if it will meet their needs and expectations.  Give them the best view of the home’s interior by following these steps:

* Remove the home of any clutter by limiting decorative objects and clearing all unnecessary appliances from the kitchen countertops

* Rearrange or remove furniture to highlight the space in a room

* Review each room and clean or vacuum if necessary

These tips can help ensure you receive the highest price possible for your home.

Foreclosure: What It Really Means & How To Avoid It

Foreclosure: What It Really Means & How To Avoid It.

City of Elk Grove Lands 1,500 New Jobs

Elk Grove, CA – Elk Grove will soon be home to a state agency headquarters, bringing more than 1,500 high-quality jobs to the Elk Grove economy and helping balance the city’s jobs-to-housing ratio.

The California Correctional Health Care Services announced the new location for its

headquarters in the Laguna Springs Corporate Center at 9260 Laguna Springs Drive. The city estimates that the jobs will generate up to $4 million dollars in economic benefit to the City.

“California Correctional Health Care Services selecting Elk Grove as their new home means high paying, high-quality jobs for the City of Elk Grove, and is a tremendous shot in the arm for our local economy,” said Mayor Steven Detrick. “This is a significant accomplishment for the city, and represents a true collaboration between the Elk Grove City Council and city staff.”

For more than three years, Mayor Steven Detrick and Councilmember Gary Davis served on an Ad Hoc Committee tasked with attracting state agencies to Elk Grove.

According to state officials, the headquarters moving to this location spreads more of the state business throughout the region, helping to balance commute routes. Approximately 700 cars will be removed from heavy northbound 99 and I-5 commutes. Roughly 50 percent of Correctional Health Care workers already live in Elk Grove, South Sacramento and the Pocket area.

“Consolidating headquarters operations for Correctional Health Care will increase our efficiency, reduce expenses, and contribute to building the health care culture I believe we need for the organization to succeed. The selection of this location is the first step in these efforts,” said Federal Receiver J. Clark Kelso.

Correctional Health Care officials were drawn to the site because of free parking, plenty of retail and consumer services within walking distance, and public transit services.

“With nearly one out of every three workers in Elk Grove employed by the State of California, the city has worked tirelessly to bring state offices to Elk Grove,” said Councilmember Gary Davis. “The new California Correctional Health Care Services facility located in Elk Grove will relieve traffic on the freeways, improve air quality, and be an impetus for even more job creation.”

The City of Elk Grove has been focusing efforts to balance the job-to-housing ratio and attract state jobs to Elk Grove. The city has sponsored legislation requiring state agencies to take into account the location of employees when considering a move.

The city was also the first in California to introduce an incentive program targeting state office buildings. The program is designed to bring state jobs closer to where their employees reside by offering incentives that may be used towards relocation costs, fee reductions, construction costs, building improvements, monthly rent, or even transportation or other quality of life subsidies for the employees. The program was recently expanded to include federal office buildings.

California Correctional Health Care Services is in negotiations with the Laguna Springs Corporate Center. If the negotiations are successful, it’s anticipated a new lease will be executed and the phased move will begin next year.

For more information about the City of Elk Grove’s economic development program, visit or contact Heather Ross at 916-478-3686 or

For more info about CCHCS jobs go to

President Obama to Announce Comprehensive Plan for Regulatory Reform

President Obama to Announce Comprehensive Plan for Regulatory Reform

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June 17, 2009

President Obama to Announce Comprehensive Plan for Regulatory Reform

WASHINGTON – President Obama will lay out a comprehensive regulatory reform plan this afternoon to modernize and protect the integrity of our financial system. While this crisis has had many causes, it is clear now that the government could have done more to prevent these problems from growing out of control and threatening our overall economy.

The President will be joined by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, representatives from the regulatory community, consumer groups, the financial industry and me mbers of Congress for an event in the East Room later this afternoon.

The President’s plan will:

– Require that all financial firms that pose a significant risk to the financial system at large are subjected to strong consolidated supervision and regulation
– Increase market discipline and transparency to make our markets strong enough to withstand system-wide stress and the potential failure of one or more large financial institutions
– Rebuild trust in our markets by creating the Consumer Financial Protection Agency to focus exclusively on protecting consumers in credit, savings, and payment markets.
– Provide the government with the tools needed to manage financial crises so it is not forced to choose between bailouts and financial collapse
– Raise international regulatory sta ndards and improve international coordination

Below are Links to the White Paper and Fact Sheets:

White Paper: Financial Regulatory Reform:

Fact sheets:
Requiring Strong Supervision And Appropriate Regulation Of All Financial Firms
Strengthening Regulation Of Core Markets And Mar ket Infrastructure
Strengthening Consumer Protection
Providing The Government With Tools To Effectively Manage Failing Institutions
Improving International Regulatory Standards And Cooperation