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Minnesota is already known for being “nice”, but a local company called ecoEnvelopes is bringing nice to the world and attempting to turn corporate America green by helping businesses reduce their company’s environmental impact AND save money in the process.

After working for years to perfect the design and obtain the US Postal Service’s approval, ecoEnvelopes has developed an innovative line of reusable envelopes that simply zip open, allowing users to insert their response or payment and seal them up again just like a regular envelope. With 81 billion return envelopes being sent through the US mail each year, ecoEnvelopes stands to have a great impact on the environment by helping  to reduce the estimated cost of envelope-excessive corporate America’s 1 billion pounds in greenhouse gas emissions and more than 71 trillion BTUs of energy.

Not only can everyone participate in environmental stewardship and feel good about their part in greening the mail (the envelopes are also made with up to 100% post-consumer recycled content!), but by eliminating the need to print, store, handle, insert, track and include a separate reply envelope, ecoEnvelopes can cut mail costs 15% to 45%, the company says.

Not a bad way to “green” our real estate businesses, I say! 🙂  ecoauditimage.jpg

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With the constant barrage of negative media surrounding real estate these days, it’s no wonder that newlyweds and other first-time home buyers are putting their dreams of buying their first home on hold. But 2008 promises to be as good a time as any to buy your first home and here’s why:

It’s a buyer’s market

With foreclosures adding houses to a market already hungry for buyers and economists predicting that residential housing sales and prices will not pick up until 2009, sellers who need to sell are lowering prices and often throwing in additional incentives.

Perfect timing is rarely achieved

Although you should educate yourself and use caution when buying into a declining market, a buyer waiting for prices to hit absolute bottom, usually waits too long and then pays the cost of buying into a rising market with increased home prices. If you’re planning on staying put for a while, now is a great time to buy your first home because the market will eventually balance itself and turn once again to a seller’s market and when it does, your home’s value will increase too.

Interest rates are low

Recent Federal Reserve decisions have lowered interest rates yet again making the Federal funds rate drop to 2.25% (down from 5.25% a year ago) and the prime rate drop to 5.25%. And today a Bankrate.com index showed that the national overnight average for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is being offered at 5.74% and a 15-year fixed at 5.09%, both of which are buyer-friendly rates.

Labor and materials are readily available

Even if you don’t qualify for enough financing to buy the home of your dreams due to tightening lending practices, it’s easier than ever to fix-up and maintain properties with the number of home improvement stores, tips, do it yourself classes and handymen readily available. And because new construction has slowed down in most markets and all trades that depend on it are eager for employment, buyers are likely to get better work, done faster and maybe a little cheaper in 2008 than at anytime in the future.  

A need to sell makes sellers flexible

Remember, sellers who don’t need to sell right now generally don’t have their properties for sale. And those who do need to sell tend to be more flexible in negotiations, so buyers should consider proposing terms that ask sellers to help make the deal work beyond just lowering their price. Sellers may have the ability to finance part of the purchase price to make it easier on the buyer, they may be able to fix or replace something that needs updating, and they can always pay more than the customary share of closing costs and taxes.

 

Happy House Hunting!! 🙂