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In today's real estate market, hardwood floors are a highly desired feature in a house. Potential buyers are often turned off by homes with carpeted floors because it's almost impossible to keep them clean. Time is not on your side when it comes to maintaining nice-looking carpeted floors!
No matter how careful you are, sooner or later someone's going to knock over a glass of grape juice or wine -- and that's only the short list of accidents waiting to happen! While dogs and cats can be a wonderful addition to any family, they are not a friend of floors -- either carpeted or hardwood.
In theory, hardwood floors are easier to clean than carpeting because of the absorbency factor. If your carpeting hasn't been treated with a stain-resistant chemical, it will quickly absorb stains, spills, and pet accidents faster than you can clean them up! Although the latest carpeting materials are much more stain resistant than earlier versions, spills that are not noticed and cleaned up quickly may cause permanent damage.
Spills, water, and pet urine can also wreak havoc on hardwood floors, so a quick response is essential to preventing damage. Here are a few other tips for keeping your floors looking clean and beautiful.
- Door mats can be helpful in minimizing the amount of dirt and grit that gets tracked into your home. What homeowners and even housekeepers sometimes forget is that door mats need to be shaken out on a regular basis. If they're not, dirt, soil, and other debris will accumulate on the mats, causing them to create more of a problem than a solution! Door mats need to be replaced periodically, too, when they become too worn down or wet to be of any use.
- Shoe removal: This is a difficult policy to enforce, but it will make house cleaning and floor maintenance easier and more effective. Whether you're talking about carpeting or hardwood floors, shoes are invariably going to track in dirt, grime, water, mud, and other miscellaneous contaminants!
- The right cleaning methods: Although it's always a good idea to follow manufacturer recommendations when cleaning any type of flooring, hardwood floors often need to be treated with more care than their carpeted counterparts. Since there are a lot of ways to scratch, dent, or gouge hardwood floor surfaces, it's crucial to avoid trying to scrub away spills or stains with any abrasive material. To remove potentially damaging grit, floors should be regularly cleaned with a soft dust mop or broom with soft bristles. Ideally, your vacuum cleaner should also be padded on the bottom to avoid scratching the finish of your wood floors.
The US government has been helping Americans achieve their goal of homeownership for decades. Through programs offered by the Federal Housing Authority, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, millions of Americans have been able to afford a home who would have otherwise struggled.
The focus of today’s post is one such service: loans offered through the USDA Rural Development program.
If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but are worried about being able to save up enough for a down payment or build your credit score in time, USDA loans could be a viable option.
Let’s take a look at some of the common questions people have about USDA loans:
Do I have to live in the middle of nowhere to get a USDA loan?
The short answer is “no.” rural development loan eligibility for your area is laid out on a map provided by the USDA. Most of the suburbs outside of major cities, as well as nearly all rural areas, are covered by the rural development program.
Can I qualify for a USDA loan if I’ve previously owned a home?
Yes. You may be eligible for a loan as long as you’re not the current owner of a home that was purchased through the rural development program. So, for example, if you own a home financed through the USDA and wanted to buy a second home and rent out the first one, you wouldn’t be able to finance your second home through the USDA.
How does the USDA loan guarantee work?
When you buy a home, a lender asks you to make a down payment. If you don’t have a down payment, the government (USDA, VA, or FHA) insures the down payment on your home rather than you paying it up front.
Will I have to pay mortgage insurance?
Unlike other subsidized loans, rural development loans require a “guarantee fee” rather than PMI (private mortgage insurance). The guarantee fee is 1% the total mortgage amount and this can typically be financed into the loan (so you don’t have to pay up front). In addition to the guarantee fee, USDA loans also charge an annual premium for the lifetime of a loan.
What are the qualifications for a USDA loan?
To find full eligibility information, complete the survey on the USDA’s eligibility website to find out if you qualify. However, the general qualifications are:
Buying a home in a qualifying area
24 months of income history
A credit score of 640 or higher for streamlined processing
Income high enough so that your monthly payments do not exceed 29% of your monthly earnings
What is the direct loan program?
The USDA really offers multiple urban development loans. The guarantee program, for which most single families utilize, and the direct loan program. Direct loans are designed for families who have the greatest need. You can also find out if you’re eligible for a direct loan by filling out the questionnaire on their website.