Budgeting Tips for New Homeowners

28 January 2016

Jeff RuttA new home is a substantial investment, and new homeowners don’t always get it right the first time around. To avoid financial troubles and maximize monthly funds, here are the expenses to know well to optimize a budget.

1. Principal/Interest – This is the most substantial payment homeowners will make. Easily the largest hit to a bank account, a monthly mortgage payment will be a payment made for the life of the mortgage: between 15 to 30 years.

2. Insurance – A new home can require a variety of different risk mitigation policies. These insurance policies include homeowners insurance, hazard insurance and even appliance insurance. All of these policies will be a hefty cost, but they’re necessary. Be sure to shop around for the best policy in regards to price and coverage. Another expense in this category is\

3. Taxes – Two things in life are certain: death and taxes. Be certain that taxes on a new home are not cheap.  Although property tax is usually paid twice a year, depending on your location, this tax can fluctuate and changed based on the state. (more…)

6 Home Buyer Tips for 2016

25 January 2016

Jeff RuttIn 2016, the real estate market is continuing to move in a positive direction. With this positive direction, interested home buyers and sellers are rejoining the market. Stay informed about real estate in 2016 with these 6 tips:

  1. Set a Budget – Knowledge is power. Sit down and write out monthly expenses; from here, figure out an affordable monthly mortgage payment. This will make the home search more effective because home buyers will know what they can and cannot afford, which will narrow the home search. Don’t forget to include additional costs such as property taxes, insurance premiums, HOA dues, etc. (more…)

Mortgage Tips for 2016

19 January 2016

Keystone Custom HomesA New Year, for many Americans, means a new home and resolutions for a better quality of life. Before making the decision to invest in a new home for 2016, check out these tips to make a mortgage lending and home buying experience quicker and easier.

1.    Talk to the pros – Home buying is challenging and can be rather difficult. However, everything can be easier with the help of someone who knows this process well. Consult with a real estate agent or lender for information, and be sure to talk to a housing counseling agency approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
2.    Increase your credit score – Creditworthiness is extremely important to a lender, and it can be the make or break your loan. Use services such as Credit Karma or Experian to find your credit score, and, if it’s low, find out how to increase it. Pay down all debts as much as possible. Pay bills on time Pay more than the minimum when possible, and get a debt-to-income ratio of 36 percent or less.
3.    Get preapproved – Before the house hunting begins, go to a lender and get preapproved for a mortgage. The preapproval process provides valuable information about how much a lender will offer a borrower. This information is crucial because buyers can then tailor their home searches based on the amount of money they’ll receive. Preapproval helps set realistic expectations when house hunting. (more…)

A New You Resolution from Andy Stanley

4 January 2016

Jeff RuttNew Year equals a new you, right? That is what we always tell ourselves, but many Americans struggle to keep their resolutions. Andy Stanley contends that there is something much more important than keeping a New Year’s resolution.

Andy Stanley, senior pastor of numerous churches in Atlanta, Georgia, challenges many of us to do more than keep a New Year’s resolution.  “It is always a mistake to decide what you want to accomplish before you first determine who you want to be,” said Stanley in a recent sermon. His message is a challenge; he’s challenging people to set goals that begin with who we are before we set goals of what we want to do.

Building a strong, healthy foundation is the solution to many problems in life. For example, to avoid gaining weight, set a solid and healthy diet. Instead of focusing on the foundation, many of us tend to focus on the consequences of a poor foundation and then try to fix those. However, this is merely treating the symptoms and not the cause. Think about these types of goals as “be” goals rather than “do” goals. Who do you want to be rather than what you want to do in life. (more…)

Homeowners Insurance: Features and Benefits

30 December 2015

Jeff RuttHomeowners insurance is something that is often disregarded in today’s society. Most people do not think about the benefits of a homeowner’s policy, and therefore do not look at how much it is actually worth. Given all of the expenses that come with owning a home, it is reasonable to wonder if homeowners insurance is just a seemingly useless expense. However, homeowners insurance is far from useless, it is essential.

Even if you have a relatively new home, homeowners insurance will help you in situations that may not be preventable. A superior policy can save you money in the event that something happens to your home and or belongings. Without homeowners insurance, we could not get by seeing as the expenditure of damages is usually very costly to pay. Financial Web posted an article titled, “What Are the Benefits of Homeowners Insurance Worth?” This article covers a variety of features that contribute to the value and benefits of a homeowner’s policy.

One of the things that homeowner’s insurance policies cover is accidental damage to the interior of a home. This ranges from water damage, fire, paint spills, theft, and even broken glass that can be covered by your homeowner’s policy. Without homeowners insurance, these damages can add up to a very high sum.  The average water claim involving frozen pipes can cost around $5500, and the average theft claim is $2500. Without homeowners insurance, interior damages add above $4000 per claim. The probability of something occurring at some point to the interior of a home is extremely high. (more…)

Stop by HOPE’s Booth at Urbana 15

28 December 2015

Jeff RuttStudents are the future. More specifically, students that want to grow in ministry are the future of HOPE International. That is why the organization will be joining over 250 other exhibitors at Urbana 15 on December 27, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Urbana, one of the largest student missions conferences, brings together a vast mix of college and graduate students, faculty, pastors, church ministry leaders, and exhibitors. Over the last 70 years, generations have heard from God and followed His call on their lives.

At Urbana, students are informed, counseled and encouraged to work for organizations that can help advance His kingdom. This year’s program includes seminars on starting small businesses, how to use social media to further God’s global mission, the power of technology, spiritual warfare, people on the move, and much more. There will also be Bible studies, prayer, worship and, of course, time to explore all of the exhibiting organizations. (more…)

Keystone Custom Homes Supports Homes for Hope

14 December 2015

Jeff RuttAs the CEO of Keystone Custom Homes and the founder of HOPE International, I ensure that Keystone supports Homes for Hope. This nonprofit mobilizes the homebuilding community to build and sell a Home for Hope, the profits of which are donated to HOPE International and other likeminded organizations working to alleviate poverty in some of the most underserved places on earth. Over the years, Keystone Custom Homes has built 100+ Homes for Hope in support of HOPE International.

When building a Home for Hope, builders like Keystone recruit partners—subcontractors, suppliers and consultants—willing to donate or discount the cost of their labor, materials, and consulting services. Others associated with building a home, such as banks, title and escrow companies, and other service firms, may also be involved by waiving fees or making financial donations in support of Homes for Hope projects. Once the home is sold, the profits are donated to Homes for Hope in support of HOPE International. (more…)

HOPE International Stakeholder Video Conference

11 December 2015


In a recent stakeholder update, Peter Greer, HOPE International’s president and CEO, took a look back at 2015 and shared the following: an update on HOPE’s strategic plan, a celebration of God’s provision in 2015, success metrics from the year, and an explanation of the HOPE International model.

Peter begins by sharing the donor goal and number of donors in the organization. Currently, the number of HOPE International donors is 3,999; the goal is 5,969. This is 67 percent of the goal, but Peter remains optimistic about year-end giving. The current number of donors is a huge increase from when Peter started at HOPE, when the organization had around 200 supporters. Donations have helped the HOPE network grow to serve 847,449 families worldwide.

Charity Navigator certified HOPE International as a four-star charity for the ninth year in a row. HOPE received their highest rating, which fewer than 1 percent of charities have received for nine consecutive years. (more…)

You’re Heating Cost is Guaranteed with Keystone Custom Homes

30 November 2015

As a builder, just saying our homes are energyEnergy Plus Home-efficient isn’t enough. That’s why Keystone Custom Homes provides a $490 heating cost guarantee.

This means that the cost to heat your home will not exceed $490 per year for the first two years of homeownership.* In a big picture look, that’s a savings of up to $1,500 a year compared to a used home! Imagine what you can do with the extra money. (Hint: Christmas is almost here!)

How is this possible? It starts with the design. Keystone uses Low Emittance (Low-E) coated windows to reflect heat and block harmful UV light, insulated doors to keep out the cold, High R-Value (r-21) insulation, a house wrap with an additional layer of protection that keeps the framed walls from moisture and air infiltration, properly vented attics, energy-efficient cooling systems, HVACs designed for each home, engineered roof trusses and floor joists, programmable thermostats and a “Super Seal” method to seal wooden joints and block drafts. See our energy plus interactive home here. (more…)

You’re Invited: Ten Thousand Villages Fundraiser

27 November 2015

Ten Thousand VillagesWant to help support HOPE International? In addition to praying, engaging your church, or donating, now you can shop! That’s right. This December 3, HOPE will receive 15 percent of the proceeds from all purchases at Ten Thousand Villages at Rockvale Outlets in Lancaster, PA, between 4 and 8 p.m.

If you have never heard of Ten Thousand Villages, it is a fair trade source for handmade home decor, personal accessories, and gift items crafted by artisans around the world. You can shop for unique gifts including baskets, jewelry, crafts, and other items.

Ten Thousand Villages was started more than 60 years ago by Edna Ruth Byler, a revolutionary businesswoman. She witnessed devastating poverty during a trip to Puerto Rico in 1946 and sought to take action. For the next 30 years, she connected entrepreneurs in developing countries with market opportunities in the U.S. Now, Ten Thousand Villages is a global network of social entrepreneurs working to empower and provide economic opportunities to artisans in developing countries. (more…)

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