Hello again, mohrct-ga.
Thanks for getting back to me with the clarification of your question.
I'm glad you decided to tighten the focus a bit, as I think you'll be
pleased with the results.
First of all...you're absolutely right. The US government is a gold
mine of information that is free and ready for the taking. Since it
is federal government information, it is in the public domain, not
copyrighted, and available for you to use however you see fit.
A good starting point for exploration is the federal government's own
information portal, FirstGov.gov. Their Family, Home and Community
page is here:
and the housing related information is about two-thirds down the page:
Homes and Housing
Disaster and Emergency Preparation and Response
Energy Information for Consumers
Facts About Your Home and Community
Fair Housing ? It's Your Right
Home and Community Information, by State
Home Buying, Financing and Selling
Home Energy Saver
Home Energy Saver
Home Improvement Tools
Home Ownership: President's Agenda to Expand Opportunities
Home Safety and More Consumer Information
Homes and Real Estate for Sale from the Government
Household Products with Chemical Ingredients ? Health effects and
Housing and Home Maintenance Publications
Mortgages ? Federal programs, refinancing, mortgage calculator...
Mortgages for Home Buyers and Homeowners
Radon ? Frequently Asked Questions
Renting a Home ? Renter's Kit
Each topic listed is a link to a whole bunch of free information.
For instance, clicking on "Home Buying, Financing and Selling" takes
you to the general page for Department of Housing and Urbann
which -- by itself -- isn't that helpful, but with a bit of exploring,
you'll find the HUD site is also goldmine of information. For
instance, check out a few of their consumer advice pages:
Buying a Home
Common Questions from First-time Homebuyers
Find out How Much Mortgage Can You Afford
You can save yourself a lot of wheel-spinning if you take a minute to
figure out how much mortgage you can afford. Generally, a lender will
want your monthly mortgage payment to total no more than 29% of your
monthly gross income (that's your monthly income before taxes and
other paycheck deductions are taken out.) You also need to consider
current loan interest rates. The lower the interest rate, the more
expensive the home you'll be able to afford. Follow our tips and use
these simple calculators to see how much you can afford in a mortgage
Don't Be A Victim Of Loan Fraud
Protect Yourself from Predatory Lenders
Buying or refinancing your home may be one of the most important and
complex financial decisions you'll ever make. Many lenders,
appraisers, and real estate professionals stand ready to help you get
a nice home and a great loan. However, you need to understand the home
buying process to be a smart consumer. Every year, misinformed
homebuyers, often first-time purchasers or seniors, become victims of
predatory lending or loan fraud.
Looking for housing options for yourself, an aging parent, relative,
or friend? Do some research first to determine what kind of assistance
or living arrangement you need; what your health insurance might
cover; and what you can afford. Then check here for financial
assistance resources and guides for making the right choice. Talk to a
HUD-approved housing counselor if you have questions about your
100 Questions & Answers About
Buying A New Home
Part I Getting Started
Part II Finding Your Home
Part III You've Found It
Part IV General Financing -- Questions:The Basics
Part V First Steps
Part VI Finding The Right Loan For You
Part VII Closing
Part VIII How Can HUD And The FHA help Me Become a Homeowner
Part IX Mortgage Insurance
Part X FHA Products
Funds for Handyman-Specials and Fixer-Uppers
The purchase of a house that needs repair is often a catch-22
situation, because the bank won't lend the money to buy the house
until the repairs are complete, and the repairs can't be done until
the house has been purchased....HUD's 203(k) program can help you with
this quagmire and allow you to purchase or refinance a property plus
include in the loan the cost of making the repairs and improvements.
There are hundreds more pages at the HUD site that offer valuable
materials that you could use on your own site.
As I said earlier, these materials are totally in the public domain,
which means you can use them as you see fit, without any restrictions.
Many people who use these materials will cite HUD as the source --
this is both a matter of professional courtesy, and also gives the
material certain credibility. However, it is not mandatory to do so.
You can easily check to see how other websites are using the HUD
material. Just find a HUD page of interest to you, copy a phrase from
the page exactly as it appears, and Google the phrase USING QUOTES.
Here's what I mean. From the Buying a Home that page that I cited earlier:
I pulled off this phrase:
You can save yourself a lot of wheel-spinning if you take a minute
put it in quotes:
"You can save yourself a lot of wheel-spinning if you take a minute"
and then did a Google search on the phrase in quotes. Sure enough, I
got 99,100 search results for that precise phrase, most of them
commercial real-estate sites! Here's just one of them so you can have
a quick look:
Of course, HUD isn't the only government site offering information for
the taking. Using the firstgov link as my starting point, here are a
few others that turned up after just a click or two:
Tools You Can Use
Home Sweet Home Improvement
Looking for the Best Mortgage
Shopping around for a home loan or mortgage will help you to get the
best financing deal. A mortgage?whether it's a home purchase, a
refinancing, or a home equity loan?is a product, just like a car, so
the price and terms may be negotiable. You'll want to compare all the
costs involved in obtaining a mortgage. Shopping, comparing, and
negotiating may save you thousands of dollars.
Some of the government sites provide links to commercial sources of
information. DO NOT COPY AND USE ANY INFORMATION from a site that is
not a US government site. If you stick with a source that you know is
a US government agency, you're on firm ground.
Secondly, even at a US government site, they may occasionally post
materials that were not created by the government per se, but are
materials from the private sector. Such materials will ordinarily be
clearly identified as such, and should also have a copyright
statement. Obviously, these materials are not for public use.
I trust this information fully meets your needs. But before rating
this answer, please let me know if you need any additional
information. Just post a Request for Clarification, and I'll be happy
to assist you further.
Best of luck with your site,
Clarification of Answer by
06 Dec 2004 06:55 PST
Well, well, well...I learn something new every day.
There is, in fact, a non-government source of copyright-free
information that should meet your needs.
A service calling itself ARAContent provides exactly that --
copyright-free information that anyone can use. You only need to
register at their website, and there is no charge for registration:
As it says on their homepage:
"ARA Content (ARA) provides FREE CONTENT to the print and online
media. As a registered member, you can download COPYRIGHT-FREE
articles and images or have them immediately e-mailed to you..."
You'll have to explore their site to find content that best meets your
needs (they offer both articles and images), but here's a sample of
one of their copyright-free selections:
Preparing Your House for Sale -- Help Prospective Buyers Picture
Themselves in Your Home
(ARA) - Between 2002 and 2003, more than 14 percent of the U.S.
population changed dwellings. The most common reason for moving was
the need for more space (43 percent). When you decide to put your
house on the market, it?s important that you present a spacious, clean
living space in which prospective buyers can imagine themselves
living. A new Web site from The Home Depot, www.homedepotmoving.com,
offers some general tips for preparing your house for sale and
suggests taking a look at nine key areas when preparing your home to
show prospective buyers. More tips on preparing your home for sale,
including information on the return on investment (ROI) you can expect
for various home improvements, can be found on the new Web site as
* Clean everything thoroughly.
* Put out clean towels, new soap, a nice tablecloth and fresh flowers.
* Don't be at home during a showing or open house.
* If you do stay, be polite, but let your real estate agent do the talking.
* Don't apologize for the condition of your home.
* Make sure your kids and pets are out of the house.
* Eliminate clutter from all areas of your home to create an
impression of spaciousness and plentiful storage space.
* Nothing makes a home look new more quickly than a fresh coat of
paint. Neutral colors suggest newness and cleanliness.
Nine Key Areas for Consideration
One of the first things a buyer looks at in a home is the storage it
offers. A general rule of thumb for sellers is to take out half of
what's in the closets and storage areas to make them look more
spacious. Remove excess furniture to make rooms seem as spacious as
possible. Consider throwing out, donating, selling or storing things
you no longer want. Make sure that storage areas in your basement,
attic or garage also are well organized, thus giving prospective
buyers the impression that there is room for all of their belongings.
Ask homebuyers what area or room of the home they consider most
important, and chances are they'll say the kitchen. When prospective
buyers look at your kitchen, they will pay particular attention to its
cleanliness, layout and storage capacity. If major appliances are
being sold with the home, make sure they are spotless, odor-free and
in good working condition. Polish chrome surfaces and fix any leaky
faucets, loose cabinet hardware, drawer handles and outdated or
inefficient light fixtures. Make more efficient use of drawers and
cabinets with dividers and cutlery trays.
Repair any cracks or holes in the walls and ceiling and repaint if
necessary. Strip outdated wallpaper.
Clean interior and exterior windows and screens. Repair cracked panes,
torn screens, broken sashes and ropes or cords as well. When your home
is being shown, open your curtains to let daylight in, especially if
the view is noteworthy. While you're at it, wash all the mirrors in
the house too, and launder or dry-clean your curtains and drapes.
Carpeting has a major impact on the look of a home. Prior to showing
your home to prospective buyers, vacuum thoroughly or have carpets
steam-cleaned. If the carpet is badly worn, outdated or stained,
consider having it replaced despite the expense. Check wood floors to
see if they need to be refinished. Scrub and wax tile floors and
repair or replace cracked tiles.
Make sure light fixtures, switches, switchplates and outlet covers are
clean and in good working order.
It's true that first impressions are often lasting so take a good look
at the paint on the outside of your house. Is it cracking, peeling or
chipping? If it is, a fresh coat for your exterior may cost you a bit
of time and money but may elevate your home from "fixer-upper" to
"move-in condition." If you decide your home needs painting, choose
colors that are appropriate for the style of your home and that blend
in well with your neighborhood.
Buyers will pay close attention to the condition of your roof. You
should re-patch or re-shingle where necessary, and fix leaky, corroded
downspouts and gutters. Inside, a watermarked ceiling is a sign to
buyers that the roof has leaked -- even if the damage has been
A neat and clean entryway creates a positive first impression, and a
freshly painted door and trim with sturdy hardware add a welcome
touch. Replace faded house numbers with new ones. Make sure the
doorbell is in working order.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Not bad for a complete freebie, eh...?
Anyway, hope this does the trick for you. But as always, just holler
if there's anything else I can do for you on this one.