Home Refinance & Modification Help

Getting Started

Refinancing or loan modification can save homeowners a significant amount of money. Understanding the ins and outs of refinancing a loan and loan modification will help you to make the decision of whether or not refinancing or loan modification is right for you.
 

What is Refinancing?

In the financial world, refinancing means changing the terms and conditions of a mortgage. This method is popular with homeowners in times when interest rates are unusually low. Essentially, you pay off your original mortgage with a new mortgage that has a lower interest rate than your first. The refinanced loan is a new one with a lower interest rate, allowing the homeowner to pay a lower rate of interest over the life of the original loan. Depending upon the duration of the new mortgage, refinancing may be able to reduce monthly mortgage payments substantially.
 

Calculating Refinanced Mortgage

There are several mortgage calculators available on the Internet that allow you to calculate your monthly payment on a refinanced mortgage. Consumer Reports also provides the following examples of how to calculate a refinanced mortgage:

 30-year mortgage. As an example, if you hold a 30-year mortgage on a home of $200,000 at an interest rate of 6.7 percent, your monthly payment would be about $1,300/month. If you refinance the remaining balance of $188,000 over 25-years at a rate of 4 percent, you save $90,000 over the life of the loan.

 15-year mortgage. If you refinance the 30-year mortgage in the example above to a 15-year mortgage at 3.3 percent, your monthly payment will increase by about $30.00/month, but you would save $149,000 in interest and pay off your mortgage ten years earlier.

 Another 15-year. Let's say you only have six years left on your 15-year mortgage at an interest rate of 5.5 percent, and you refinanced it to a 15-year mortgage, but with an interest rate of 3.6 percent, you would lower your monthly payment by $922/month. Adding $850/month to the $922/month payment would save about $6,800 and pay off the refinanced loan in six years.
 

When To Refinance

Refinancing is not for everyone. Some of the signs suggest that refinancing could be a beneficial decision for a homeowner:

 Good credit score.

 Know the current value of the home.

 Cash on hand to pay refinanced loan closing costs.

 Have an adjustable rate mortgage and want to switch to a non-adjustable rate.

 Eliminate FHA mortgage insurance.

 Settle a divorce.
 

When Not To Refinance

There are also times when it is not a good idea to refinance a mortgage. If any of these situations are applicable, waiting to refinance is worthy of consideration:

 Only a few years into paying off your mortgage.

 Bad credit rating.

 Do not have cash on hand to pay for closing costs.

 Break-even point calculation isn't favorable.

Here is an example from bankrate.com:

Let's say the lending institution requires the homeowner to pay $3,000 in closing costs. By taking $3,000 and dividing it by the $100/month saving from refinancing, it will take 30 months to break-even.

If the homeowner is planning on staying 30 months or less in their home, then it is probably best not to refinance.

Here is another example from bankrate.com:

Let's say the homeowner borrowed $186,000 on their first mortgage at 5% interest. Their monthly payment has been $998/month. Staying with the first mortgage and not changing the interest rate, the homeowner will be paying $239,520 over the next 20 years.

If they refinance a new mortgage for 30-years at an interest rate of 4%, they would be paying $250,920 or more than the original $239,520.

However, if they refinanced their mortgage for 15-years at an interest rate of 4%, they would pay $212,400 or less money than your original mortgage.

Also, the homeowner may or may not want to pursue a cash-out refinance. People often do cash-out refinance loans to pay off credit card debt. It's important to run the numbers, however; even though the homeowner will pay off a credit card at a very high rate of interest, their refinanced loan may take an additional 15- to 30-years, resulting in paying thousands more than what the homeowner needed to pay off the credit card balance.

Another huge risk in having a cash-out refinance loan is moving from unsecured debt with a credit card company to secured debt with a financial institution. With unsecured debt, credit card companies will call you frequently asking for payments if you do not pay back your credit card balance and your credit score will be lowered. If you miss a mortgage payment, the financial institution holding the refinanced mortgage can foreclose on your home, a much more dangerous set of consequences. Weigh all potential scenarios and consult a professional before making any decisions.
 

Ready To Refinance

If now is the right time to refinance, there are several steps to take. According to NerdWallet.com, here are some things to do when you are ready to refinance:

 Obtain your current credit score. According to federal government regulations, you can obtain your credit report for free once a year.

 Find out what your home is worth. You can start with like Zillow, but you will need to have a formal assessment of your property before refinancing.

 Research the Internet to find out which financial institutions will give you the best refinance interest rates, terms, and conditions. Searching a site like Lending Tree enables you to retrieve refinancing information from several financial institutions at one time.

 Know all the fees and other costs you will need to pay. Most mortgage companies require you to pay closing costs that may end up being in the thousands of dollars.

 You will need to pay closing costs and any other fees with cash. Find out how much money you will need and make sure that you have cash on hand before closing.

 Make sure that you have all the paperwork required to refinance your mortgage.

 Finally, lock in your interest rate. Interest rates change on a daily basis, so if you find a favorable interest rate, begin the process of refinancing right away to take advantage of the opportunity.
 

What about loan modification?

Loan modification is somewhat similar to refinancing. Any loan (e.g., a mortgage, auto loan, student loan, etc.) can be modified. Sometimes loan modification is also referred to as debt rescheduling.

Loans from financial institutions contain specific payment terms and conditions stated in loan documents, such as in a mortgage document. Any changes to terms and conditions of the loan are known as loan modifications.

Modification of loans, specifically mortgages, became popular after the recession in the U.S. in 2007. In response to homeowners who were having significant difficulty paying their monthly mortgage payments, the federal government created different loan modification programs, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP. Loan modification programs change the terms and conditions of paying back the loan or mortgage to make it easier for the homeowner to pay off the loan.

Adjustments may include a lower rate, moving from an adjustable rate to a flat rate, / or lowering of the monthly payment or a combination of these. These changes give homeowners threatened by foreclosure a better chance of retaining their homes, and allows lenders to keep receiving payments.

You will have to assess your situation carefully to decide whether these steps are right for you, but in the right circumstances refinancing or loan modification can save money and even make the difference between losing a home and keeping it. That makes them worth consideration by any homeowner who is feeling the stress of mortgage payments.

 

Foreclosure Assistance Programs

Getting Started

Foreclosures, unfortunately, are still very commonplace. According to RealtyTrac, just over one million people were involved with foreclosure of property in 2015. Amazingly, this is still three percent less than the year before AND the lowest it's been over the last nine years!

The number of foreclosures rose significantly during the economic downturn in 2008. During this time, a drastically high number of mortgages were given to individuals by banks and other lending institutions – individuals that, under normal circumstances, would not be given a large mortgage or even a mortgage at all. The economic crisis left thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure and, thus, the loss of their home and a place to live. As a result, the federal government stepped in to help individuals facing foreclosure by developing several programs.

Foreclosure assistance programs, may, in certain circumstances, help you to avoid foreclosure. They typically help the homeowner to reduce their monthly mortgage payments by modifying the original loan in some way. There are programs available through the federal government as well as programs offered by other entities. In this guide we will introduce you to a few options and provide you with links to investigate further.

Government Options The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) describes several federal government programs to assist individuals facing foreclosure. These programs come under the broad umbrella of the Making Home Affordable (MHA) Program. This was established by President Obama's administration and has three primary goals: 1) improve the economy, 2) stabilize the housing market, and 3) assist homeowners to avoid foreclosure.

There are five broad categories under the MHA. These include help for Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured homeowners; programs to manage your exit from real estate; assistance to homeowners who are unemployed; programs if your mortgage is "underwater" (this is when you owe more on your house than what your house is worth); and programs to refinance or in some way modify your loan in order to lower your monthly mortgage payments. There are several options under each of the five main categories.

 Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP): Most homeowners who are eligible to partake in HAMP usually lower their monthly mortgage payment about 40 percent with many reducing monthly payments by $1,000.

 Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP): If your home's value is less than what you owe on your mortgage and you are current on your mortgage payments, you may be eligible for the HARP program. Through HARP you can refinance your mortgage with a lower interest rate.

 Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP): The UP program works with homeowners that are unemployed. Under UP, you stop making your mortgage payments or your monthly payments are reduced for up to one year while you look for a job.

 Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA): If you are simply unable to make your mortgage payments and desire to move into housing that is more affordable, you may be able to sell your home under a short-sale option.

These are some of the programs frequently used by individuals facing possible foreclosure on their property. The federal government offers a great many other programs. Descriptions can be found on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's website here.
 

Other Support Programs

In addition to the above programs that can help with working through a foreclosure process, there are numerous other support programs to assist with facing foreclosure on property. USA.gov is an excellent website when looking for programs that help in facing a potential foreclosure. Almost every state has counselors who are experts in the process. USA.gov provides an interactive map of the United States where you can search for counselors by state. In addition, the National Council of State Housing Agencies provides access to Housing Finance Agencies. It also has an interactive map of the U.S. in order to locate a housing finance agency in your state. If you have a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage, you can contact the FHA for assistance. In addition to government initiatives, there are organizations located across the country that provide assistance. Some of the better known organizations include: Catholic Charities, The Alliance for Stabilizing Our Communities (ASC), Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, and the NID-Housing Counseling Agency (NID-HCA). On the next page we will discuss possible steps an individual can take when facing foreclosure.

 

Grants & Assistance Programs (Low Income)

Getting Started

Low- and moderate-income families have options when it comes to purchasing a home. Government agencies at the federal and state levels, as well as non-profit organizations provide a wide variety of programs to assist you with everything from down payments to obtaining a mortgage to acquiring funding to renovating your home to helping with paying utility bills. This article is specifically for low-income families who own a home or plan to buy a home.
 

Financial Assistance for Home Ownership

Fortunately, today, there are numerous programs (both government programs and those offered by nonprofit organizations) to assist low- and middle-income individuals and families achieve their dream of owning their own home. Here are some more of the more popular programs:

 Housing Choice Vouchers Program - This very popular U.S. federal government program is available for very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. The Housing Choice Vouchers Program helps those individuals that fall within these categories to find affordable housing (including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments) by helping with rent or a mortgage. Public housing authorities located in each state oversee the Housing Choice Vouchers Program.

To be eligible for this program, you need to be a US citizen or meet specific immigration status requirements. The public housing authority that you work with will verify your total gross income, the size of your family, and any assets you own with banks and your employer. Your income must fall within a certain range of eligibility. Typically, this is income of no more than 50% of the medium income in the area where you want to live. The Housing Choice Vouchers Program is very popular so do not be surprised if you are put on a waiting list.

To learn more about low income housing related programs visit our sister site here.

 The USDA Home Loan Zero-down Program - This Program helps you purchase property in rural areas that USDA has identified. Started in 1949, this program has helped thousands of individuals and families purchase a home. Known as the Section 502 USDA Direct Loan program, it offers loans for low-income families. Your income must be 50% - 80% below the area's median income where you want to live. In addition, mortgages can be longer loans than a traditional 30-year loan, up to 38 years. Individuals may also qualify for payment subsidies, too. In order to be considered for the USDA Home Loan Zero-down Program, you need to submit an application through the USDA website. To learn more about rural housing help go here.

 Federal Housing Assistance (FHA): The Federal Housing Authority (commonly referred to as FHA) is a federal government agency that offers different programs for low-income people who want to become homeowners. For example, the agency offers the FHA Fixed Rate Loan program that is designed for lower income individuals who have not been able to save for a down payment. There is also the FHA Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) program also for low- and moderate-income families. To learn more about applying for an FHA loan visit here.

If you have served in the military, you may be eligible for a Veterans Administration (VA) Mortgage. Under this program you do not need a down payment to obtain a mortgage. The seller of the property pays most or all of the closing costs. Monthly mortgage rates are kept low because you do not need to pay monthly mortgage insurance. To learn more about grant programs for veterans visit our sister site here.

The Good Neighbor Next Door Program (GNND) is offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This program is for those who are engaged in public service (teachers, EMT's, firefighters, and law enforcement officers). If you are employed in one of these professions, you may be eligible for a 50% discount on list price of specific eligible properties. GNND requires you to bid on the property you are interested in purchasing.

On the next page we will cover programs that assist with home repair, help solutions to deal with home utility costs as well as some additional programs that may assist you in saving money.

 

Grants & Assistance Programs (Rural)

Getting Started

Thousands of individuals and families live in rural locations across the country. Unlike urban and suburban areas, affordable housing is somewhat limited in the farmlands and less populated areas nationwide. As a result, the federal government has tasked the United States Department of Agriculture to provide various financial options to assist individuals, families, organizations, and for-profit organizations to create, renovate, and live-in affordable housing. This article describes some of the various loan and grant programs available for those living in rural locations.
 

Rural Rental Assistance

The purpose of the Rural Rental Assistance program is to reduce monthly rental payments for low-income households. Individuals and families must live in eligible Rural Rental Housing (RRH) as well as Farm Labor Housing (FLH) buildings or dwellings. Buildings and dwellings are financially supported by the USDA's Rural Housing Service program. To qualify for the Rural Rental Assistance program, your monthly rent must be more than 30% of your family's adjusted monthly income.

How are you able to receive RRA? First, you must live in rural location, you must rent (not own) housing, and you must have low/very low income. Next, your rental property must be located in a RRH or FLH facility. If you think you and your family qualify, contact the owner or manager of the property directly to confirm that the building/unit is actually eligible for rental assistance. Finally, submit an application by contacting the USDA Rural Development field office: Visit here to locate the USDA Rural Development field office closest to you. You can also find more information at through the USDA here.
 

Rural Rental Housing Loans

The U.S. government passed Section 515 of the Housing Act in 1949 to assist both nonprofit and for-profit organizations with financing the purchase, renovation, and/or construction of rental housing and associated facilities in rural locations. Known as the Section 515 Multifamily Rural Rental Housing Loan program, organizations are able to borrow funds at a rate of one-percent. Originally, a loan could be paid over 50 years, however this has been decreased to 30 years.

Developers primarily participate in this program, financing rental properties with a combination of rental assistance, tax subsidies, as well as the Rural Rental Housing Loan Program. Most projects under this program are on the smaller side with most have about 28 units on average.

Those individuals and families who rent units in eligible buildings have an annual income of around $9,200. Rents are low (about $325/month), however those who rent often participate in some type of rental assistance program, such as the Housing Choice program, through vouchers, and/or by obtaining project-based rental assistance.
 

Rural Housing: Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants

The Rural Development arm of the USDA also offers Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants. This program is specifically for farmers, family farm corporations, farmer associations and nonprofit organizations, and associations comprised of farmers themselves, as well as state and local governments, and tribes that are formally recognized by the federal government.

Known as Program 101, those who are not able to obtain commercial credit – credit that enable entities to rent property or unit, that is affordable to low-income individuals and families, can apply. In addition, the loan and/or grant must be applied to housing to be built in rural (or urban) locations where a demonstrated need for such housing exists. Low interest loans as well as grants based on need are the financial options available. Grants must not go over 90% of the project's cost.

Fair Labor Housing Loans and Grants can be applied to more than just new construction of housing. Renovation, repair, reconstruction, as well as actually purchasing housing for domestic farm laborers are covered under this program. Depending upon the proposed project, funding may also be available to pay for purchasing and improving land, buying furnishings for housing, and putting funding toward construction loan interest.

The housing itself is open to various groups of individuals and families including: very low- to moderately-low income households, retired and/or disabled farm laborers, and domestic farm laborers (such as those working in on-farm processing as well as those working on fish and oyster farms). All individuals must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The loans carry specific terms. Borrowers have up to 33 years to payback the loan at a fixed rate of one percent interest. A portion of the total funds allocated by the federal government for this program is set aside for on-farm labor housing. These funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are two-steps to apply for the Rural Housing: Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants program. First, a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is posted in the Federal Register annually stating when pre-applications can be accepted. Second, the Program reviews the pre-applications. Applicants that have submitted applications that have the most potential for success are invited to submit a final application.

More information about the Rural Housing: Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants Program can be obtaining through your local RD State office (and/or through the USDA's Rural Development Multi-Family Housing Rentals website.
 

Rural Housing: Housing Repair Loans and Grants

The USDA manages the Rural Housing: Housing Repair Loans and Grants program. The purpose of this program is to assist very low-income homeowners financially so that they can renovate, update, and improve their homes and/or remove health and safety hazards that exist. Individuals have up to 20 years to pay back the loan at a flat rate of one percent interest.

Rural Housing Repair Grants are available to individuals 62 years old and older so that they can pay for improvements and repairs to their homes in order to get rid of health and safety hazards. If applicants have the ability to pay a portion of the cost, a combination of a loan and a grant may be available.

Eligibility for the loan portion of this program is limited to homeowners with very low income. In addition, you must live in a rural area in the U.S., and be a United States citizen or be a permanent resident of the U.S.

Applying for the Housing Repair Loan and Grant program is relatively simple. You have two options for the first step. You can either apply for a loan or grant directly online here. Or, you can contact your local areas State Rural Development field office that you can locate on the website here.

Very low-, low-, and moderately-low income households who live in rural areas throughout the United States have a wide variety of options when it comes to obtaining financial assistance with housing costs. Either through flat rate interest loans payable over decades and/or through grants that do not be to be re-paid, by participating in the programs provided above, housing options are available. Those who construct, renovate, and/or update affordable housing in rural locations are also able to participate in these programs in order to build, renovate, and offer affordable housing in locations that traditionally do not have a variety of living choices.

 

Grants & Assistance Programs (Rural)

Getting Started

Thousands of individuals and families live in rural locations across the country. Unlike urban and suburban areas, affordable housing is somewhat limited in the farmlands and less populated areas nationwide. As a result, the federal government has tasked the United States Department of Agriculture to provide various financial options to assist individuals, families, organizations, and for-profit organizations to create, renovate, and live-in affordable housing. This article describes some of the various loan and grant programs available for those living in rural locations.
 

Rural Rental Assistance

The purpose of the Rural Rental Assistance program is to reduce monthly rental payments for low-income households. Individuals and families must live in eligible Rural Rental Housing (RRH) as well as Farm Labor Housing (FLH) buildings or dwellings. Buildings and dwellings are financially supported by the USDA's Rural Housing Service program. To qualify for the Rural Rental Assistance program, your monthly rent must be more than 30% of your family's adjusted monthly income.

How are you able to receive RRA? First, you must live in rural location, you must rent (not own) housing, and you must have low/very low income. Next, your rental property must be located in a RRH or FLH facility. If you think you and your family qualify, contact the owner or manager of the property directly to confirm that the building/unit is actually eligible for rental assistance. Finally, submit an application by contacting the USDA Rural Development field office: Visit here to locate the USDA Rural Development field office closest to you. You can also find more information at through the USDA here.
 

Rural Rental Housing Loans

The U.S. government passed Section 515 of the Housing Act in 1949 to assist both nonprofit and for-profit organizations with financing the purchase, renovation, and/or construction of rental housing and associated facilities in rural locations. Known as the Section 515 Multifamily Rural Rental Housing Loan program, organizations are able to borrow funds at a rate of one-percent. Originally, a loan could be paid over 50 years, however this has been decreased to 30 years.

Developers primarily participate in this program, financing rental properties with a combination of rental assistance, tax subsidies, as well as the Rural Rental Housing Loan Program. Most projects under this program are on the smaller side with most have about 28 units on average.

Those individuals and families who rent units in eligible buildings have an annual income of around $9,200. Rents are low (about $325/month), however those who rent often participate in some type of rental assistance program, such as the Housing Choice program, through vouchers, and/or by obtaining project-based rental assistance.
 

Rural Housing: Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants

The Rural Development arm of the USDA also offers Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants. This program is specifically for farmers, family farm corporations, farmer associations and nonprofit organizations, and associations comprised of farmers themselves, as well as state and local governments, and tribes that are formally recognized by the federal government.

Known as Program 101, those who are not able to obtain commercial credit – credit that enable entities to rent property or unit, that is affordable to low-income individuals and families, can apply. In addition, the loan and/or grant must be applied to housing to be built in rural (or urban) locations where a demonstrated need for such housing exists. Low interest loans as well as grants based on need are the financial options available. Grants must not go over 90% of the project's cost.

Fair Labor Housing Loans and Grants can be applied to more than just new construction of housing. Renovation, repair, reconstruction, as well as actually purchasing housing for domestic farm laborers are covered under this program. Depending upon the proposed project, funding may also be available to pay for purchasing and improving land, buying furnishings for housing, and putting funding toward construction loan interest.

The housing itself is open to various groups of individuals and families including: very low- to moderately-low income households, retired and/or disabled farm laborers, and domestic farm laborers (such as those working in on-farm processing as well as those working on fish and oyster farms). All individuals must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The loans carry specific terms. Borrowers have up to 33 years to payback the loan at a fixed rate of one percent interest. A portion of the total funds allocated by the federal government for this program is set aside for on-farm labor housing. These funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are two-steps to apply for the Rural Housing: Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants program. First, a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is posted in the Federal Register annually stating when pre-applications can be accepted. Second, the Program reviews the pre-applications. Applicants that have submitted applications that have the most potential for success are invited to submit a final application.

More information about the Rural Housing: Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants Program can be obtaining through your local RD State office (and/or through the USDA's Rural Development Multi-Family Housing Rentals website.
 

Rural Housing: Housing Repair Loans and Grants

The USDA manages the Rural Housing: Housing Repair Loans and Grants program. The purpose of this program is to assist very low-income homeowners financially so that they can renovate, update, and improve their homes and/or remove health and safety hazards that exist. Individuals have up to 20 years to pay back the loan at a flat rate of one percent interest.

Rural Housing Repair Grants are available to individuals 62 years old and older so that they can pay for improvements and repairs to their homes in order to get rid of health and safety hazards. If applicants have the ability to pay a portion of the cost, a combination of a loan and a grant may be available.

Eligibility for the loan portion of this program is limited to homeowners with very low income. In addition, you must live in a rural area in the U.S., and be a United States citizen or be a permanent resident of the U.S.

Applying for the Housing Repair Loan and Grant program is relatively simple. You have two options for the first step. You can either apply for a loan or grant directly online here. Or, you can contact your local areas State Rural Development field office that you can locate on the website here.

Very low-, low-, and moderately-low income households who live in rural areas throughout the United States have a wide variety of options when it comes to obtaining financial assistance with housing costs. Either through flat rate interest loans payable over decades and/or through grants that do not be to be re-paid, by participating in the programs provided above, housing options are available. Those who construct, renovate, and/or update affordable housing in rural locations are also able to participate in these programs in order to build, renovate, and offer affordable housing in locations that traditionally do not have a variety of living choices.

Go Solar & Save On Electricity Bills!

Join the Solar Revolution

Solar power on your roof used to be the stuff of science fiction. Times have changed. Solar panels have appeared on rooftops across the American landscape as environmentally-conscious homeowners took on the risk of installing these innovative energy providers on their homes.

The growing commitment to renewable energy has led to advances in technology and financing options that make residential solar systems viable for millions of consumers. Are you ready to make the switch? Here are some of the reasons to go solar.
 

Slash Electric Bill

Generating electricity on your roof can decrease or even eliminate your electric bill. Depending on your local rules and utility policies, you may even be able to feed the grid with your system to earn credit toward those times when you do still depend on "grid" electricity. With Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC), any surplus solar energy you generate is fed into the local power grid. Home systems help power companies comply with laws that require them to produce a fixed percentage of energy from renewable sources. You get compensated for providing renewable energy through your residential solar system.
 

Go Green

Solar energy is clean, sustainable, and socially responsible. There are no harmful emissions, minimizing your carbon footprint. Sales of rooftop solar systems have risen steadily as American consumers have gotten serious about what they can do to address growing concerns about the environment. As a society, we believe "every little bit helps". That core belief is translating into individuals taking action to make changes on their little piece of real estate in this world.
 

Make a Home Investment

When you start looking at the cost of a home solar system, it can be helpful to consider installation as an investment instead of as an expense. Yes, the systems are expensive upfront--$20,000 or more, but the benefits of living in a home with solar-generated electricity and the possibility of recouping the costs if you sell your home may change your perspective.
 

Lock Down Energy Cost

Power costs will continue to rise. When you switch to solar, you can lock down your costs and avoid fluctuation in the market. Because your system is self-generating, your expenses don't increase in proportion to the price of coal, additional energy taxes, or your utility company's need to upgrade their grid.
 

Receive a Tax Credit

The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy recognize the benefits of home solar systems. They also see that, even with installation costs down 50% in some areas, such a system can be too expensive for many American families. To help offset the expenses, Congress has issued the Residential Renewable Tax Credit. Homeowners can receive credit for 30% of the cost associated with home solar, including both equipment and installation costs. TurboTax clarifies that a tax credit is not the same as a rebate. The Government will not pay you to install a residential solar system. The credit can offset federal taxes that you owe during the year of installation or can carry over to the next year.

States and some communities offer additional incentives. You may be eligible for a tax break, a rebate, a grant, or a low-interest home improvement loan.
 

Go "Off Grid"

Some electricity customers want to move off the grid completely. You may like the idea of being self-reliant. You may be paying too much for services and be looking for a lower rate. Installation of solar panels and a battery storage system at your residence gives you a personal power plant.
 

Boost Energy Independence

You may be looking for steps you can take to decrease US dependency on foreign resources. By installing solar panels on your residence, you can move your energy source back home. When neighbors and communities join the cause, the US becomes increasingly energy independent and less dependent on foreign materials.
 

Lease to Defer Upfront Costs

If you're planning to install solar panels, you can expect to pay $20,000 or more. You may encounter additional costs if your home electrical box or wiring is not compatible. This high upfront expense has previously placed solar firmly outside the reach of all but affluent families. Energy companies are changing that by offering leasing and power purchase agreements (PPAs). The programs are similar in that the homeowner does not become the owner of the equipment and is not responsible for maintenance. The homeowner still gains significant benefits. Most agreements are set up for 20-year terms, allowing both owner and user time to reap the benefits.
 

Stop Brownouts and Blackouts

You may live in a rural area that experiences inconvenient blackouts or brownouts. You may have concerns about the sustainability of your current energy source supply. With today's technology, a home solar system is a viable option. Solar panels are no longer reliant strictly on direct sunlight and can collect indirect or scattered sunlight.

Even the Pacific Northwest and other regions which were previously excluded from reliable solar power now have solar capabilities.
 

Support Local Economy

Installation and maintenance of solar panels cannot be outsourced, and your choice of solar energy means jobs in your local community. Residents of small towns that have experienced steel mill and mine closures know that local energy jobs mean stability to the local economy and families.

Economists and scientists agree that it is a good time to go solar. Technology will continue to improve, but the current equipment is efficient and affordable. You can begin saving and make a statement about your commitment to personal and national sustainability and self-reliance by installing electricity-generating solar panels in your home.

 
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