The Home Column

Home is where the heart is, right? I bought a home in 2005, about six months before the peak of the housing market boom, and chronicled the entire home buying journey. Since then, I’ve kept up to date on all things related to housing, mortgages, and taxes in this column.


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 The Home 
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Frugal Home Security Tips

Those who grew up a generation or two ago lament about the good old days when they used to leave their windows open at night and their homes unlocked, even when they weren’t home. Those days are gone, yet even with locked windows and doors, burglars still invade homes.

You may picture a thief breaking a window or kicking in a door, but they are usually more sophisticated than that. My mom’s home was burglarized; the group of men came in a work van and used a ladder at the side of the house to jimmy open the window. A neighbor actually walked by and thought my mom had hired a work crew; instead, all of her possessions of any worth were stolen.

If you want to protect your home but don’t want to spend money on a pricey security system, there are plenty of techniques you can use.

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 The Home 
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America’s Biggest, Most Expensive Homes

The Neptune PoolWe often think that the very rich live differently from the rest of us. And when you look at some of their homes, it seems obvious that they are a world apart. The homes of the super wealthy aren’t just homes; they’re practically works of art in some cases.

Right now, the world’s most expensive home is valued at $1 billion and located in India. It’s also 27 stories high, and has 400,000 square feet, and is called Antilla. It’s even possible to live in the world’s most expensive apartment building at One Hyde Park in London, with apartments costing about $11,000 per square feet.

But America has it’s own share of expensive homes, even though there aren’t any that are at the $1 billion mark. Some of the most expensive homes in the United States include:
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 The Home 
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Reasons to Wait on Buying Your First Home

Real EstateIf you’ve been thinking about buying a home, you’ve probably heard or read, in about a million difference places, that now is a fantastic time to buy a home. Interest rates are absurdly low, with 30-year fixed mortgages well under 4%, inventory is high, and it’s a great time to be a buyer. I don’t, and I don’t think anyone can, dispute any of that. It really is a fantastic time to buy a home, whether it’s your first, second, or fifth house; but before you pull the trigger, I have a few words of advice from a homeowners (we bought seven years ago) for those of you who are looking at buying your first home.

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 The Home 
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Where to Buy Boric Acid

Longtime Bargaineering readers know that every spring we have our annual battle with ants trying, successfully, raid our kitchen area in search of food. We’ve tried almost everything, from traps to a service, and the most effective way, besides keeping things as clean as possible, has been boric acid as suggested in our post on how to get rid of ants safely. This year, we continued the annual struggle and we turned to boric acid again because it’s the safest of all the things you can use. Just mix it 50-50 with sugar into a slurry and put it in places you know the ants, or other insects, go and watch them munch their elixer of death (or is it slurry of death?).

You can buy boric acid at most drug stores, whether it’s superstore like Wal-Mart or some place smaller like Walgreens. If not there, home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot always have it too.

If you want to simplify things, home improvement stores will also probably sell commercial products that use boric acid as a way to control ants, roaches, etc. That might be easier than making the slurry yourself, just read the label to see what else they use. We use boric acid because it’s pet safe in very small quantities, the commercial products may not be.

 The Home 
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Could You Live in a Tiny House?

Tiny HouseOne of the movements that has been gaining some traction since the financial crisis of 2008 is the tiny house movement. Many consumers are becoming disenchanted with the idea of living in large homes filled with stuff. Instead, the idea is to turn to tiny houses.

Most of these tiny houses have between 65 and 874 square feet. Tiny houses take “small” to a whole new level. I know that some people would say that my home, at 1760 square feet, is small, but even the largest tiny house is half the size of my home. I’m trying to imagine living in a space that is half the size of my current home, which I am fairly comfortable in, and I’m not sure I could do it — although the idea of a tiny house, and the simplicity that comes with it, is intriguing.

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 The Home 
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8 Items to Have in Your Emergency Preparedness Kit

Recently a severe storm ripped through our area with 80 to 100 mile per hour wind gusts. Our windows rattled and the hail started falling, so we found ourselves under the basement stairs, away from the windows. In that moment, we realized how unprepared we were for any type of emergency.

Had there been a tornado, or had we been without power for any significant amount of time, we would have been in a difficult position. Don’t let wild weather find you unprepared; instead, take the time to create an emergency preparedness kit. You may want to include:

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 Banking, The Home 
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Victim of Foreclosure Abuse? Consider a Foreclosure Review

Foreclosure SignsMany homeowners found themselves facing foreclosure due to circumstances beyond their control — and even through mistakes made by lenders. Shady practices by various lenders have resulted in foreclosure abuse that has been coming to light. Earlier this year, a number of lenders reached a $26 billion settlement that requires them to take steps to redress some of the abuses that some homeowners have experienced.

That news made big waves while a smaller program was mostly overlooked. This other program allows homeowners to sign up for an Independent Foreclosure Review. That review, conducted according to guidelines set forth by the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency, could result in up to $125,000 for homeowners who have suffered from foreclosure abuses.

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 The Home 
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Ooma Review: Frugal VOIP Home Phone Service

Home phone service can be costly, running a minimum of $25 to $30 a month. Once you add in long distance, you are looking at $35 or more a month. Some people try to eliminate this cost by moving entirely to a cell phone for both their mobile and home needs. However, if you want to keep a home line, consider using a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system; one we have used (and are still using) is Ooma Telo.

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