Smart Homes of the Future

What is a smart home?

When you think of smart homes, you might think of the Jetsons. Everything is automatic, from taking a shower to Rosie the housekeeper. A house like the Jetsons isn’t just a futuristic idea. Most components of a home can be automated, including lighting, heating, air conditioning, locks, doors, and appliances. A smart home can improve your daily life. A smart home may also allow the elderly and disabled to live safely and conveniently.

History of Smart Homes

Frigidaire Kitchen of the Future

Courtesy of x-ray delta one

Homes of the future have been around since the early 20th century. World Fairs of the 1930’s depicted automated homes. In 1956, Frigidaire showed off the kitchen of the future which featured a computer screen showing a completed recipe (see video below). From 1957 to 1967, Disneyland featured the Monsanto House of the Future. The home was set in the year 1986 and featured a microwave oven. It was a round, Jetson-like home made almost entirely of plastic.

Setting Up a Smart Home

Early adoption of automated homes was limited to the more affluent. One of the major reasons was the early stages of electricity. Automating a home into a smart home can be as simple as setting up an automatic coffee maker to brew your pot of coffee so you awake to selecting your daily preferences on a smart grid. No matter what your budget, there’s so much you can do to begin automating your home today!

Stats on Smart Homes

Smart phones and tablets are driving the growth of smart home technology. A 2011 Parks Associates Research study showed that 77% of consumers surveyed would like the ability to remotely monitor their home while away. A 2012 study by Juniper Research predicted the value of the smart home market at $60B by 2017 with the smart entertainment segment at 82%.

Be sure to follow my weekly series on smart homes as we discuss various products and trends!

ABQ Open Houses

Even though the weather is a little bit chillier this weekend, there are still 97 homes in the Albuquerque area that are being held open. So bundle up and go look at some homes! You can view all the open houses in Albuquerque that are listed in the SWMLS.

Price range: $65,000 – $850,00
Bedrooms: 1-6
Bathrooms: 1-3

Open House Tip:
It’s okay to open the closets and cabinets to make sure there is enough storage space, but it’s never acceptable to start digging through the current home owners stuff! And you never need to open up drawers in furniture that isn’t built-in.

Our featured home this week is from Anita Mora with Coldwell Banker Legacy.

1416 Dorothy St Albuquerque NM 87112

1416 Dorothy Street Albuquerque, NM 87112

Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Est. Square Feet: 1,735
Price: $167,000
Listing # 805703

Open House on Sunday 3/2 from 2-4.
Contact for info:
Anita Mora, Associate Broker
Coldwell Banker Legacy
8200 Carmel NE
Albuquerque, NM 87122
Cell: 505-400-8105
Direct: 505-292-8900
Office: 505-292-8900

Albuquerque Open Houses

This weekend there are 93 homes in the Albuquerque area that are being held open. With that many to pick from, there’s something for every home buyer! You can view all the open houses in Albuquerque that are listed in the SWMLS.

Price range: $99,000 – $750,00
Bedrooms: 2-6
Bathrooms: 1-4

Open House Tip:
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You know those beautifully staged homes you see? Some of them are using false furniture! It’s a great way to stage a home, but you don’t want to sit on the bed and find out it’s a cardboard box! Be sure to ask if it’s okay to rest a spell first!

Our featured home this week is from Anita Mora with Coldwell Banker Legacy.

8215 TIERRA LINDA PLACE Albuquerque NM

8215 Tierra Linda Place Albuquerque, NM 87122

Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3
Est. Square Feet: 2,542
Price: $362,000
Listing # 806077

Open House on Sunday 2/23 from 1-3.
Contact for info:
Anita Mora, Associate Broker
Coldwell Banker Legacy
8200 Carmel NE
Albuquerque, NM 87122
Cell: 505-400-8105
Direct: 505-292-8900
Office: 505-292-8900

6 Tips for Getting a Mortgage

loan applicationPotential homebuyers often hear mortgage lending standards are so tight these days that it’s next to impossible to qualify for a mortgage without perfect credit. But that’s hardly the case. If you’re willing to commit to living by a few good-practice guidelines, in the long run, you’ll stand a much better chance of landing the home you’ve always wanted! Here’s how.

1. Start Saving!
Start saving for a down payment and closing costs as soon as possible. Down payments can range from 3.5-20%. For example, a home at $200,000 at 3.5% will require a $7,000 down payment plus closing costs.

2. Keep a paper trail.
Make sure you have all the records to properly document your finances. This inclues tax returns, bank statements, W-2’s, investment accounts, and other assets. Also, be sure any cash gifts are documented.

3. Protect your credit.
Your credit score will determine if you get a home loan and what the rates and closing costs will be. Be sure to monitor your credit so there are no surprises.

4. Know how much you can afford.
Before you go house hunting, make sure you know you can afford the homes you are looking at. Lenders will look at your debt-to-income ratio. Try to keep it below 43%, including all debts, mortgages, and property taxes.

5. Get pre-qualified.
Many real estate brokers will want to make sure you can buy a home before showing you any. Getting pre-qualified also means you know how much you can get a loan for and are ready to move on an offer when you find the right home. You really need to get a Letter of Pre-Approval.

6. Don’t Spend.
Once you are pre-qualified, it’s important not to make any changes to your financial situation. Don’t open or close any credit cards or lines of credit. Don’t purchase anything new — no cars or furniture.

If you think you missed out on lower rates, think again. Rates are still affordable and when you compare them to the 18.45% in October of 1981, they seem like a steal!

When you’re ready to speak to a lender about getting pre-qualified for your new home, contact any of our professional mortgage brokers.

Mortgage Underwriters’ Most Common “Nitpicks”

Home Loan ApplicationThe mortgage stories in the news that continue to dominate the headlines always revolve around the “tightening” of credit and how hard it is to obtain a mortgage these days.

We still field phone calls daily where the person will say, “The last time I did this, it was not this hard and they did not ask for all of this information.” Keep in mind that it has been this “way” now since 2008. Almost 6 years!

I have listed below the most common items an underwriter asks for that drives people nuts.

Bank Statements

• In this internet/tech-savvy world we live in, folks always want to use internet printouts of their bank accounts instead of actual bank statements. These printouts typically do NOT show your account number and/or your actual name for security purposes. You can usually pull your actual statements from most banks online, but if not, you will need to make a trip down to the bank. If the bank will only provide printouts, then each page must be signed, stamped, and dated by the bank representative.

• All large deposits not direct deposited from your payroll must be proved with a paper trail and explained. For example, if you have $500 deposited into your savings account, be prepared to show a copy of the check that was deposited and write a quick explanation of what it was for. You may have to go to your bank to obtain a copy of the check. Read more about how large deposits can affect your mortgage approval.

• Most bank statements have a blank last page or perhaps a page two with either nothing on it or nothing you would consider relevant. This page will be required from the underwriters.

• Your Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) check must clear your account if you want credit for it at the closing table. Make sure your realtor has deposited the EMD check ASAP, since some agents will hold onto the check for a period of two or three weeks without you knowing about it.


• When providing copies of tax returns, most people want to send only the first two pages of the Federal 1040. All schedules of tax returns are required and page two must be signed and dated.

• Many pay stubs provided do NOT show a current year-to-date income. If they don’t, the lender will be required to obtain a written verification of employment form to be filled out by your employer. The underwriter must ensure that your current pay is stable.


• You’d be surprised how often the drivers license provided is expired or will be expiring in the next month prior to your loan closing. You must have valid identification at the time of closing.

• It’s a problem when the address on the drivers license does not match the address that the borrower states they live at on the mortgage application. Sometimes all that’s needed is visual verification of the sticker on the back of the ID showing the address change. If you have not updated your address, you may be required to do so or write a letter of explanation of why you haven’t.

These items should be discussed with your loan officer upfront at the time of application. This may require a few extra conversations or some back-and-forth until there is a clear agenda of what needs to be done. Again, your local mortgage broker has the experience and customer service background to help you so you don’t feel like you’re getting the runaround.

This guest post was written by Kirk Chivas. Kirk is a licensed Loan Officer and co-owner of First Commerce Financial, LLC, a mortgage brokerage based in Wixom, Michigan. With over 17 years of experience, Kirk has committed to providing Michigan residents with accurate and honest mortgage advice. If you have any questions about your current or future mortgage needs, please feel free to ask Kirk a question on Twitter.

Principle Reduction and the Robo-signing Settlement – What Is Occurring?

home mortgagesThe Robo-signing settlement was finalized in February of 2012, and the major benefactors were supposed to be homeowners in need of mortgage relief as well as people who lost their homes to foreclosure, potentially because of mortgage and bank errors. It was discovered that mortgage companies and banks were rushing through the process on many of the homes they foreclosed on, neglecting to check important paperwork and take care of their due diligence. Homeowners were assured they would get relief as a result of this settlement, either by modifying their mortgages or unloading their homes through short sales instead of foreclosure and other remedies. There has been little news about how advantageous this settlement has been to homeowners who are still struggling with mortgage payments and those who lost their homes anyway.

The National Mortgage Settlement Act required the country’s largest banks to help their borrowers stay out of foreclosure. However, the housing situation is still so volatile and confusing, many homeowners are unsure about what they qualify for and what options are on the table. Most of them are hesitant to approach their lenders for any kind of modification, and refinancing is difficult because home values remain low while mortgage payments and costs continue to soar.

Homeowners who have not yet taken advantage of the robo-signing settlement should do what they can to benefit from this national action. Unlike the Home Affordability Modification Program (HAMP), this program is paid for entirely by the banks. If you asked for a modification before this settlement was reached and you were denied, ask again. The country’s largest financial institutions have been called upon in the courts to make it easier for you to keep your home. If loan modification is not enough to help you, talk about the option of a short sale so you do not have to endure a foreclosure. When you sell your house in a short sale, you will still be without a home to live in, but the credit damage and the blow to your financial security will be slightly less with a short sale. You can also work with your bank on negotiating your move-out date and, in some cases, getting a bit of financial help to find a new place to live, especially if you leave your house in good condition.

Politically and financially, nearly everyone agreed that the robo-signing settlement was a good thing for consumers, homeowners and the country as a whole. The only flaw has been in the administration of the settlement. Funds are available for the banks and mortgage companies to modify loans and work with their borrowers to keep them in their houses or release them through short sales, but the programs are not being utilized as much as they could be. If you find yourself struggling with your mortgage because of an interest rate that is too high, monthly payments that are out of reach, or any other reason, talk to your lender and ask for help.

This post was written for Growing Money by Stephen K Hachey. Stephen is a licensed Tampa real estate lawyer specializing in loan modifications, short sales, foreclosure and much more. He is also the owner of his own practice, the Law Offices of Stephen Hachey, PA. This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at

Mortgage Modification Programs: Find Out Which is Best!

This article was contributed by Selena Cowell. She is a professional writer for Mortgagefit Community. She has written many of her articles on mortgages, refinancing, loan modification, real estate trends, real estate markets, and more!

Home MortgageHousing is one the major issues concerning the U.S. government recently. For that reason, several preventive measures have been developed to keep the soaring number of foreclosures under permissible limit. Some of the more prominent ones are discussed in this article.

Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)

Under the leadership of U.S. President Barack Obama, a number of mortgage relief programs were floated in February 2009 so as to rescue the millions of underwater borrowers from an impending foreclosure. One such pro-consumer relief program is the HAMP. According to the mandate set by the Obama administration, HAMP is supposed to provide the following advantages to struggling mortgage borrowers:

  • Lenders are liable to cut down on the interest rate charged by them on the mortgages taken out by the existing underwater borrowers. It should be noted that the modified payment amount can never be in excess of 38% of a borrower’s income.
  • Lenders will have to further reduce the monthly payable amount to the tune of 31%. In this case, lenders will get the necessary assistance from the Treasury. However, for that, they’ll have to reduce the principal amount owed to them by the borrowers.

Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA)

Borrowers who are unable to get a stable loan modification done but are eligible for the HAMP can take advantage of this mortgage relief program (i.e. HAFA). Moreover, people who are looking into the eyes of a foreclosure can also come under the HAFA program. It will provide financial assistance to those borrowers who are intending to opt for a short sale or Deed-in-Lieu (DIL) of Foreclosure as a last resort. Here are some of the advantages that HAFA provides to the underwater mortgage borrowers:

  • Borrowers will be allowed to opt for a DIL or Short sale. In this regard, lenders cannot oppose such moves of the struggling borrowers prior to initiating any sort of foreclosure proceedings against their properties.
  • Eligible borrowers are liable to receive $3,000 as monetary assistance from the federal government. This is a relocation compensation for the outgoing homeowner.

Safe Haven Program

This mortgage relief program is aimed at those borrowers who are not in a position to afford their existing homes, but have a considerable amount of income. The Safe Haven program is conducted by the HUD-approved housing counselors. In this program, housing counselors work out a debt repayment plan after reviewing the financial condition of the underwater borrowers. Here are some of the advantages of the Safe Haven Program:

  • These non-profit housing counselors will negotiate with the borrower’s lender and plead with them to reduce the existing monthly mortgage payment amount. Moreover, they also assess an action plan of 90 days in duration on behalf of the borrowers.
  • They’ll also create a budget for the borrowers based on the financial information provided by them. Under this program, housing counselors evaluate the performance of the borrowers for a period of 90 days.

Apart from that, housing counselors will refer a borrower’s case to his/her lender.

Tool Kits for the Home


Even if you have a handyman on speed dial, having a basic set of tools in your home is always a good idea.

Take stock of your current tools. If you just purchased your first home or don’t consider yourself very handy, you may find you don’t have sufficient tools to start with. It can be overwhelming when you see hundreds of tools on display in hardware stores, but you really need only a few basic ones in your toolbox.

  • Hammer
  • Rubber Hammer or Mallet – Great for tapping together self-assembled furniture.
  • Tape Measure – Generally, a 25ft one should be fine.
  • Staple Gun – Comes in handy for tacking down loose upholstery.
  • Level
  • Utility Knife
  • Scissors
  • Safety Glasses
  • Flashlight – Carry an extra set of batteries.
  • Putty Knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdrivers – Both Flat and Phillips
  • Drill – Include screwdriver bits.
  • Tape – Duct tape, electrical, and packing tape.
  • Pliers
  • Ice Pick or Awl – Can open some locked doors.
  • Wrenches
  • Nails and Screws – Assorted

If you’re still overwhelmed, you can always just pick up a ready-made kit, such as

Stanley 94-248 65-Piece General Homeowner’s Tool Set

How Much Home Can I Afford?

Home FinancesQ  How much home can I afford?

A  You may be able to afford more home than you wish to spend. Start out with an idea of how much of your income will be left after the mortgage payment and utilities. This is the amount you will have for everything else you want and need your income to cover: food, clothing, car payments, insurance, social activities, etc.

Your mortgage lender will determine what mortgage payment you qualify for by using your income, credit score, current debt (car payment, credit cards, etc.) and the down payment you will be making. The amount the lender decides you qualify for should include hazard insurance, taxes, and mortgage insurance, if applicable. There are guidelines as to the percentage of income that should be used for fixed monthly payments, including the mortgage payment. These vary according to mortgage programs. A conservative amount for your debt-to-income ratio, including the mortgage payment, is 36%. This is the percentage of your income used for house payment, credit cards, auto and other installment payments. You could be approved for a mortgage with a much higher debt ratio.

Find a mortgage lender you feel you can trust and are comfortable with during the transaction. This is one of the most important relationships you will build involving what could be the largest investment of your life!

For more information on home financing, contact one of our mortgage brokers today.

In Today’s Mortgage Market, Don’t Take “No” For an Answer!

loan applicationWhat’s really out there these days? Ghosts? Goblins? Mortgages?

Between the news, friends, family, talks in shopping lines, etc., does anyone know if they even want to consider buying or refinancing a home for a lower payment? It can be a challenge. Many changes have occurred in the industry with more to come.

Even with the best case scenario: high credit score; assets; low debt; good job; the process may not be as easy as you remember. Indeed, the process takes longer and sometimes requires more documentation. When you think about it, someone who doesn’t know you is going to give you their money or someone else’s money that was entrusted to them.

Don’t take “no” for an answer. Find out why they think “no” is the answer. Work around the issues. If the debt-to-income ratio is too high, ask about lowering it. There are ways to do this that don’t require cash. Ask, “What can I do to change the outcome?”

Your credit score can be re-scored for the better through the credit agency used by your mortgage professional. In the end, be sure you entrust your loan to someone willing to do everything possible to make the experience a happy one!

For more information on home financing, visit my mortgage blog.

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