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mortgage_for_you(TNS)—Know these three loan types before you go mortgage shopping.

Conventional Loans:
Who they’re for: Conventional mortgages are ideal for borrowers with good or excellent credit.

How they work: Conventional mortgages are “plain vanilla” home loans. They follow fairly conservative guidelines for:

—Borrower credit scores.
—Minimum down payments.
—Debt-to-income ratios.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

Percentage of monthly income that is spent on debt payments, including mortgages, student loans, auto loans, minimum credit card payments and child support.

Cost: Closing costs, down payments, mortgage insurance and points can mean the borrower has to show up at closing with a sizable sum of money out of pocket.

What’s good: Conventional mortgages generally pose fewer hurdles than Federal Housing Administration or Veterans Affairs mortgages, which may take longer to process.

What’s not as good: You’ll need excellent credit to qualify for the best interest rates.

FHA Loans
Who they’re for: Federal Housing Administration mortgages have flexible lending standards to benefit:

—People whose house payments will be a big chunk of take-home pay.
—Borrowers with low credit scores.
—Homebuyers with small down payments and refinancers with little equity.

How they work: The Federal Housing Administration does not lend money. It insures mortgages.

The FHA allows borrowers to spend up to 56 percent or 57 percent of their income on monthly debt obligations, such as mortgage, credit cards, student loans...

Read more: Which Mortgage Is for You?

Question: Our condominium board of directors intentionally excluded a director from attending a finance committee meeting, which she was entitled to attend. At the annual meeting, the president said it was done because the board was discussing personnel compensation. No such matters were discussed or on the table to be discussed. Personnel matters are always discussed in executive session after a duly noticed meeting where directors are present.

Against our covenants, conditions and restrictions, the board gives bonuses to all employees and vendors. Owners have not voted on these disbursements, and we want the money to go back to the owners who paid it to the association through our assessments. Are there negative implications for the board's actions?

Answer: It is a breach of fiduciary duty to shut out any director from a board meeting. All directors have a fiduciary duty to competently represent the association, and they can do this only if they have the information they need regarding its governance.

The board is not in a position to give any money to third parties. The association is probably a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation with a tax-exempt status. Improper handling of association funds could jeopardize that status and have serious ramifications for the association and all its titleholders. If the board members want to give money away, they should pass the hat among themselves and donate their own money to whomever they choose. That way the association steers...

Read more: Excluding a director from a meeting is a breach of fiduciary duty

In an off-court pass of sorts, reality television personality Scott Disick has sold a contemporary-style home in the Beverly Crest area to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook for $4.65 million outside the Multiple Listing Service.

Disick bought the residence, rebuilt and expanded by the Stewart-Gulrajani Design Team, last year for $3.699 million, public records show.

The two-story house, designed for indoor-outdoor entertaining, features glass doors and windows and a saltwater swimming pool. Views take in the cityscape, canyon and Santa Catalina Island.

Within the 4,095 square feet of open-plan space is a living room with a wall fireplace, a dining area, a den and a sleek kitchen with a wide island/breakfast. The master bedroom has a walk-in closet, a rain shower and a soaking tub for a total of five bedrooms and six bathrooms.

Glass doors open off the main level to an outdoor lounge, a sun deck and swimming pool with a spa. Walkways, fountains and formal landscaping complete the third-of-an-acre setting.

Disick, 32, is the longtime partner of TV personality Kourtney Kardashian. Their relationship is often the subject of storylines on the series "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," in which they both appear.

Westbrook, 27, has deep ties to Los Angeles, having starred at UCLA and before that at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale. The four-time NBA all-star is in his eighth season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Mayor tidies up his portfolio

Los Angeles Mayor Eric...

Read more: Scott Disick keeping up with NBA star Russell Westbrook

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By Alan J. Heavens

Heating thermostat with piggy bank and money(TNS)—Where does the time go?

Just when you finally get the central air-conditioning working well enough to make the house comfortable, cold weather threatens to show up.

Here are some ideas that might help cut your energy costs this winter, courtesy of Sunnova, the solar-power company:

  • Does your house really need hot water when no one’s home? Probably not. Consider installing a timer on your water heater, to turn it off when you’re not there.
  • Use cold water instead of hot when washing clothes. The EPA’s Energy Star program says almost 90 percent of the energy consumed by washing machines goes to heating the water.
  • Put electronics—your computer, for example—in sleep or hibernation mode when you’re not using them.
  • Unplug certain electronics and appliances to avoid their consuming “phantom power,” which means they’re still sucking in energy from the outlet even though they aren’t in use.
  • Cut as much as 50 percent of energy consumed to prepare a meal by putting a slow cooker and microwave to work, rather than a range and oven.
  • If you are going to use the stovetop, match the pan size to the diameter of the heating element, to eliminate wasted heat. A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner can waste more than 40 percent of the energy delivered by the appliance.
  • To improve refrigerator efficiency, consider one with a bottom freezer, keep the fridge between 36 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer between zero...

Read more: Your Place: Ways to Hold Down Winter Energy Costs

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