Green Living: Water Saving Tips for SpringWater is the planet’s most precious resource. Access to clean water is a privilege that, unfortunately, many people still take for granted.

By utilizing new water efficiency technologies and age-old conservation methods, we can help preserve the water supply for future generations. Cutting down on consumption whenever possible is something that everyone can do to live a little greener.

Making Sure Your Home Holds Water

The first stop on your journey to save water is to ensure your home is free of water leaks. Make your way through your home, and properly shut off the water at all fixtures and faucets. Air-cooling systems and other devices that use water should also be shut off.

Read your water meter, wait two hours (without using any water), and check it again. If your water meter gives you two different readings, you are losing water somewhere, and the problem needs farther investigating.

If you find yourself flooded with problems, it may be time to call your local real estate professional. Most issues are easily repaired or upgraded, but sometimes a fresh efficient start may be a simpler solution.

Air It Out And Get In the Flow

Installing aerators on faucets and shower heads reduce their usage by half. These contraptions are inexpensive and easy to install. By injecting air into the water flow, you keep the same water pressure, but use less water.

If you are in the market for a new toilet, complete your water saving bathroom makeover with a low flow, water efficient model. These toilets can save about 9,000 gallons of water a year.

If a new toilet is not in your near future, a simple homemade contraption can cut down on water being flushed away. Fill a water bottle with some pebbles so it sinks, and fill the rest with water. Place the bottle in the cistern of your toilet. By displacing some of the water in the tank, you can save around 500 gallons of water a year.

Obtain A Lush Lawn With Less Water

Over-watering your grass is wasteful and counterproductive. Watering your lawn two times a week is better for grass than daily sprinklings. Giving your lawn a good soaking with an inch of water every few days will keep it lush and save water. You should also avoid over-mowing.

Grass is happiest at two to three inches tall. Over-mowed grass tends to have weak roots, and requires more water to keep it growing strong. Let Mother Nature take care of the watering on occasion, especially during the spring.

Mulch Landscape To Lock In Moisture

Mulch around the trees and shrubs in your yard. Mulch holds in moisture, and will keep the water in the ground longer. There are also water bags on the market that do a great job of keeping young trees hydrated.

Make sure your sprinklers are putting water where it is needed, and not unnecessarily watering the sidewalk. When the sidewalks and patios need a sweeping, make sure you reach for the broom and leave the hose on standby.

By making a few informed decisions to cut down on water consumption, you can feel good knowing you are doing your part to conserve. When water flows freely, it is easy to forget how precious it is.

Remind yourself that water is a resource that needs to be saved, and should not be wasted. Access to clean water is something no one wants to see lost. Keep looking for solutions, and find answers to your water-saving questions by calling your local real estate professional today.

Condo vs House: Which is Best for Your Lifestyle?Some people love living in condos, while others swear by detached homes. When it comes to deciding between the two, however, you can’t always rely on someone else’s word.

Sometimes it’s as simple as understanding and assessing your lifestyle to make the best choice, since condo living and home ownership are two radically different experiences, and thereby serve two very different types of lifestyles and personalities.

Here are a few considerations if you’re trying to decide whether you should invest in a house or a condo.

House: Best If You Have A Furry Friend

Do you have a furry friend or two that are an integral part of your family? Depending on their size and species, you may want to consider a detached house over a condo, simply for the amount of space available.

If you have dogs, you should consider that many condominiums don’t allow certain numbers, sizes, or breeds, and this could be just another reason you opt for a house. Having a backyard for your dogs to play in, and being able to avoid the daily elevator rides, are just more reasons to add to the list.

Condo: Best If You’re A Busy Business Person

If you’re a busy businessperson who’s rarely ever home, you may want to consider condo-style living. Firstly, you will be able to save on mortgage costs, which will certainly help you reach your financial goals, and you will have fewer worries involved than you would if you owned a detached home.

Full size houses require significant upkeep, which is a major time investment. In contrast, a condo is a turnkey living space that gives you the amenities you need without the responsibilities of home ownership. If you hardly entertain and would like a space to enjoy yourself during your off time, living in a condo might be just the perfect setup for you, the busy business-minded individual.

House: Best If You Like Privacy And Control

If you’re someone who adores your privacy and likes to be in complete control of the maintenance and care of your home, a detached house is certainly the best option for you. Having your own detached house means living with added privacy, as you won’t have neighbors as close by as would be the case if you were living in a condominium.

You’ll also be pleased to be the sole decision maker when it comes to the upkeep and maintenance schedule of the various aspects of your home. Rather than ask a strata manager for permission to, say, paint your front door, you can simply paint your front door.

Condo: If You’re A Single Minimalist

Condo living can be great for single people and minimalists. If you prefer to live on the lighter side, with fewer responsibilities and chores, a condo setup can be extremely rewarding. All of the big stuff will likely be taken care of, and all you’ll have to worry about is the minimal space inside of your four walls.

If you decide to travel for an extended period, it’s much easier to find short-term tenants for condos than for houses.

It can be difficult to decide whether a house or a condo is best suited to your lifestyle. Don’t be shy to ask your friends and family what they think of your personality, and do your due diligence to discover which home is best to accommodate your daily life. Once you’ve made your decision, contact a real estate professional and find the home that fits your lifestyle.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 4-14-14While little housing-related news was released, last week’s economic news showed signs of a brighter economic picture.

Labor statistics were stronger, with job openings up and new jobless claims filed lower than expected.

Mortgage rates fell, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index was higher than expected.

More Jobs Available, Fewer New Jobless Claims

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that February job openings rose to 4.20 million, which exceeded January’s reading of 3.9 million jobs. New jobless claims were lower than expected with 300,000 new jobless claims filed against expectations of 316,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 332,000 new jobless claims filed.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve released minutes of its meeting held March 18 and 19. The minutes noted that payroll jobs expanded, but the unemployment rate remained elevated, and inflation was below the committee’s goal of 2.00 percent. Indicators of longer-run inflation expectations were seen as stable.

Severe winter weather was viewed as a cause for slowing economic activity. FOMC noted that it would be difficult to determine the effects of winter weather on the economy as opposed to slower economic growth caused by unemployment or other negative factors.

Housing Starts and Building Permits were lower, but FOMC noted the impact of winter weather on these reports. FOMC asserted its intention to continue reducing its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion per month as economic conditions permit.

The FOMC emphasized its commitment to continuous review of financial and economic news as it makes month-to-month decisions concerning asset purchases.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Consumer Sentiment Rises

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.41 to 4.34 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 3.47 to 3.38 percent, and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by three basis points from 3.12 percent to 3.09 percent.

Discount points were unchanged at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively. Lower mortgage rates may encourage more buyers into the market as the spring and summer buying season gets under way.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index for April rose to 82.60 percent against the March reading of 80.00 percent and the projected reading of 80.80 percent. If expectations prove correct, this week’s economic reports are expected to bring more good news.

Whats Coming Up This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales for March, which are expected to show a gain, the Consumer Price Index which is expected to hold steady, and the Home Builder Index, which is expected to rise.

Projections for Housing Starts are also higher. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to give a speech in New York on Wednesday, and the Fed Beige Book report will also be released. This week’s economic reports will wrap up Friday with Leading Economic Indicators.