Future Home is Here

15 07 2004

What will the house of the future look like? Maybe like The New American
Home being built by Goehring & Morgan Construction in Orlando’s Baldwin
Park in time for the National Association of Home Builders’ 2005 convention,
to be held in Orlando in January. The 6,000-square-foot, $1.8 million property
will be positioned around a pool, complete with a waterfall originating above
a fireplace. But the home’s main selling points will be its high-tech features.
Technology from Lutron Electronics Inc. will link a dozen televisions
scattered throughout the house with telephones, computers, lights, and security
and audio systems, which can easily be controlled via touch-screen keypads
and remotes. The computers and televisions can be used interchangeably.
Moreover, homeowners will be able to program the lights, control the
shades, monitor the front door, activate the sprinkler system, turn on the
whole-house vacuum and chlorinate the swimming pool from
anywhere in the house.

Borrowing from a 401(k)?

15 07 2004

Many young homebuyers cash out their 401(k) retirement plans and use
the money as a downpayment without considering the negative long-term
consequences: They can be hit with income taxes, a 10 percent penalty
triggered by early withdrawal and the loss of future tax-deferred earnings.
Experts say that even borrowing from a 401(k) plan isn’t a good idea
because the holders of the retirement account lose tax-deferred savings and
risk selling investments before the stock market completely recovers. Instead,
buyers with steady sources of income might want to consider obtaining
piggyback loans, which combine first mortgages for 80 percent of the property
price and second loans to cover the remainder, minus the downpayment.
Those who decide to dip into their retirement accounts even after serious
consideration, should do so only if they can still make their regular
contributions as well as the loan payments.

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