Friday, December 12, 2014

Staging Your Home During The Holidays

When you're selling your home, first impressions always matter. However, the holidays require special attention when it comes to staging. The more well-staged your home is, the higher the price it will fetch, and the faster it will be off the market.

Simply put, home staging means uncluttering your home, removing certain personal items and enhancing your décor to appeal to buyers. Do not allow the thought of selling your house during the months of winter dampen your holiday moods. With just a little effort, you can create a festive and buyer-friendly environment using the following timeless staging tips:

Use neutral holiday adornments

The key to holiday home staging is to accessorize smartly. If you are used to being overboard with elaborate décor every holiday season, you need to tone it down a little. A recent study has revealed that majority of realtors recommend sellers to use non-religious holiday décor during an open house, to avoid putting off some potential buyers. You can keep your décor festive without going all out, with simple non-religious touches such as an evergreen wreath, a pinecone centerpiece, or a few eye-catching ornaments above your fireplace. All holiday accessories must complement your usual décor.

Get your lighting right

No doubt, outdoor holiday lights are especially beautiful in the winter season, and really add to the appeal of your home, but only if you do them right. So rather than hanging up every string of multi-colored lights in your possession, map out a plan. Only use light colors that will enhance your home’s appearance. You do not have to throw up lights on every corner of your home. You could simply highlight a gorgeously designed roofline or shed light to a beautiful tree in the compound. Warm colors give your house a welcoming feel during the dark nights of December, which is when buyers are more likely to see your home. 

Blaze up your fireplace

During the cold winter holiday, it is essential to keep your home warm day and night. In fact, according to statistics, it’s one of the fast things potential buyers will notice. The trick is to make your home cozy by cranking up the heat by a few degrees, so that when buyers enter, they can immediately feel the warmth after being out in the cold. However, a simple yet alluring way to maintain the warmth is to light your fireplace. The warmer buyers will feel, the longer they will remain in your home admiring its homeliness. 

Entice with winter fragrance and tasty bribery

Most realtors advise home sellers to use winter home fragrances before opening up their homes to potential buyers to make it smell lovely and desirable. You can also get buyers to stick around a lot longer and endear yourself to them by serving delicious snacks and drinks. You can kill two birds with one stone by serving freshly baked cookies with hot chocolate. The aroma from these tasty treats will create a comfortable and homely experience, and help potential buyers picture their future in the house. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Should You Buy a Historic House?

There is nothing quite like the quaintness and uniqueness of a historic home. Many homebuyers and investors fall in love with historic houses because they are richly attractive pieces of historical beauty. They are also known for their established neighborhoods. But are historic homes worth the purchase?

If you have been considering buying a historic home, there are some things you should consider. This article from Total Mortgage  discusses factors that you need to think about before making an offer. Some of these factors include higher property taxes, possible repairs, and the cost of keeping the historic home looking authentic.
According to the article, you may pay more for a historic home in the long run, but your home value will be higher. Plus, you can enjoy the beauty and charm of your historic home!

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Sell Your House Without a Real Estate Agent


Most people rely on a real estate agent when they want to sell their house, but it is possible to get a buyer on your own. It may take a little more effort but you will end up saving the commission you would have paid to the agent. Here are a few tips to help you make the sale:

Do your research

The first step towards a successful house sale is to know about real estate operations. Master the language used during the transactions by reading through your home’s contracts and other documentation. You need to have all the paperwork required to make a sale including legal documents, disclosures, and insurance documents. 

You also need to identify professionals who will help you with the sale process such as appraisers and estate attorneys. A title company may also be necessary in some situations. 

It is also important to determine how you will structure the sale. Do you intend to offer any incentives to attract buyers such as lease-to-own or owner financing. Learn how each incentive option works to determine how it will apply in your situation. 

 Organize your house

Once you have completed your research, you need to organize your house and make sure it is ready for a sale. Fix any functional problems in your house. Paint the entire house in bright colors, refinish floors, and replace your carpeting. Identify any items that need to be repaired or replaced such as heating, roof, appliances, and air conditioning.
 
It is also essential to get rid of clutter and stage the house. Your objective should be to make the house appear spacious and dazzling. There are certain things you may be unable to change such as the location and neighbors and this have to be factored in the price. 

Set your price

Most homeowners set a very high price, putting off potential buyers. Check home prices in the neighborhood and come up with something reasonable. You can also use an appraiser to help you set an appropriate price. 

Advertise, advertise

Advertise the house on several online listings. It is advisable to use sites that feature sales by owners. The sites you select should get a lot of traffic. You can also rely on social networking sites and print media to advertise. 

Negotiate the offers

Get ready for offers and counteroffers. A real estate attorney can help you negotiate if you find it difficult. 

Make the sale

Organize all the closing paperwork and have it ready for a sale including documents required by federal and state laws. There may be some delays in the sale process even when you get a good offer. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Paying off a Mortgage before Retirement


As we get older and closer to a retirement age, it is important to have a comprehensive retirement plan in place. This includes a steady flow of income of which you will survive on after retiring. To achieve this, it often requires you to reduce outstanding dues, debts, loans, or mortgages as much as possible.

Mortgage payments that are high will eat into your retirement plan, and this may lead to a financial future that is not as secure as you intended. This is why most people prefer to pay off their mortgages before retiring, or reduce the outstanding balance to manageable levels.

There are various ways in which one can successfully pay off their mortgage before retirement is apparent. You will still need to pay associated fees like home owners associations and property insurance taxes. However, eliminating the principle and interest from you list of bills before retiring will significantly improve your income. Paying off a mortgage depends on a lot of factors including:

• Current budget and income
• How deep into payment you have reached
• Loan terms and balances

It is important to clearly map out your budget and income to see places you can adjust to provide increased payments towards the mortgage. This usually results in increasing monthly payments so that the duration is shortened.

Refinancing is a possible option for reducing the period of repayment. Refinancing for a shorter term may reduce your paying period by five or more years depending on the amount you are capable of comfortably paying. Refinancing does have additional closing costs and transaction fees.

Some people will be better off paying extra costs in their current payment scheme rather than refinancing and then incurring closing costs. One of the most effective ways of paying off mortgages before retirement is through extra payments. Add extra payments during the course of payments or better yet, pay lumps of money after receiving reliefs like tax-deductions or refunds. This will have a big difference in your overall interest. Your outstanding balance will also be significantly reduced. Adding extra payments will definitely give you the liberty of being mortgage free a few years before the original plan. It also goes a long way in reducing the total amount of interest you end up paying.

It is important to contextualize your mortgage payoff decision. This does not only set defined targets and commitments but also clearly exposes impractical solutions. Eliminate other side-debts that are not tax-deductible before you begin paying off a mortgage. You may want to see an experienced financial planner and lender to discuss your status and options.

Paying off mortgage interests and principle before retiring is very important. The steady income used in payments during working years is no longer available, and paying mortgage from your pension plans may be strenuous on your budget. It is also important to ensure you make all the necessary payments in time to avoid rising interests and penalty fees that may extend your owing period.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mortgage Applications and Trigger Leads


You applied for a mortgage loan from a lender and suddenly, out of the blue without any initiative from your end, another lender calls. Now why did this happen? Well, you became a trigger lead. Read on if you don’t want to get caught off guard.
 
This is what happens: You decide to buy yourself some property, so you get in touch with a mortgage broker whom a friend or family member recommends. In all probability, this mortgage lender is very reputable and you may have even done past business with him. You make a loan application and get your preapproval letter.
 
Suddenly, another mortgage lender calls. He might say his company is affiliated with some credit bureau or put forth another random reason for calling. You get suspicious and wonder how he knew you’re going in for a mortgage.
 
When you make a mortgage application, your lender first wants to ascertain your credit rating. So he gets ahold of your credit report. As soon as he does this, an inquiry is triggered.  Very often, the credit bureau goes ahead and sells your details to different mortgage companies. Since it's not illegal for bureaus to make money by passing on your details to other vendors, they make the most of it. This is known as a trigger lead.

 

Since you’re at the threshold of what is possibly your life’s biggest transaction, you surely wouldn’t want loan reps calling up and offering phony rates of interest. Make sure not to buy over a phone call. Instead of dealing with some telemarketer, try to deal with trusted professionals.
 
Here are some tips to stop harassment due to trigger leads:
 
  • Enlist your phone number and name on the Do Not Call List at the national level. You could also register using a cell phone number. Make sure to do this a complete month before applying for a loan since it becomes effective after 31 days. This order will be valid for 5 years, so ensure that you re-register after the period ends.
  • If you don’t want mortgage lenders to send direct mails, you need to register yourself at the Direct Mail Association. This will cost you a dollar whether you register via email or online, and you can use your credit card for the payment. The registration is valid for five years.  DMA puts out its lists quarterly and it’s better to register early. It may take a while for your registration to become effective.
  • If you register for Opt Out Prescreen, you are assured that 4 credit bureaus do not sell your details in the form of a trigger lead. The names of the bureaus are: Experian, Innovis, Equifax and TransUnion. As per the Fair Credit Reporting Act your name can be sold, but when you opt out, trigger leads are stopped for five years.
It’s been heard from lenders that when you choose to opt out, you can up your credit score by 10 - 15 points. To get permanent relief, you could email your registration. This is also available at the OptOut Web website.
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to Find the Right Tenant for Your Property


It’s not easy finding a good tenant who will pay their rent and take care of the property. In order to protect the home you are renting out, it’s important to take your time when finding a tenant. This way, your property will be well-maintained, reducing a lot of costs involved in repairs. There’s nothing worse than putting your trust in a tenant who winds up ripping you off and damaging your home.

So what can you do to find a good tenant for your property? We’ve got some tips:

Get a credit check

It is important check the financial status of the prospective tenants in order to make sure that they are financially responsible. Such a tenant will be able to pay the rent and security deposit because they have income coming in. You can verify this by requesting a look at their pay stubs, or you can call their employers to confirm their employment status. It is also good to look at the amount of debt they have by running a credit check. You can alter the amount of the security deposit based on their credit.

Carry out a criminal background check

You don’t want a tenant who is involved in criminal activities. By performing a criminal check, you will be able to find out if the tenant is involved in minor or major crimes. All you need is the name of the tenant and date of birth to get this information. Note that those with criminal records may not give you the right information, so ensure they provide you with valid ID for verification purposes. 

Have a look at their rental history 

To verify that you do not get a problematic tenant, talk to their former landlords. This will help you understand how they pay their rents, how they handle themselves in the property, their cleanliness level and whether they follow the rules set in the property. Also, if the prospective tenant is a first time renter, make sure you have a cosigner for the lease. 

Consider their lifestyle 

On the tenant application form, you should check the tenant addresses and employment history. Check to see whether they have a tendency to move from one job to the other or move from one property to the other. This can help you to know whether they are likely to be long term tenants. 

Bottom line

By considering the above factors, you will get good tenants who will rent your property for a long time and ensure that your property is maintained properly. You will also end up saving money and time involved in evictions, nonpayment of rent, and damages to your property. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Buying a Foreclosed Home

Purchasing property can be costly, yet it can prove to be worth the expense in the long run. Many people have turned to renting their home, and the current economic situation isn’t likely to make matters easier. It’s probably for this reason that foreclosures are gaining such popularity.

Foreclosures are those properties whose owners couldn’t afford to make mortgage payments and which they were forced to surrender to meet their debt obligations. Foreclosures are popular because they are usually a cheaper investment.

Here are some tips to help you find a foreclosed home and begin the buying process:

Locate some foreclosed property scheduled for sale. You can find properties by scanning the classified section of a newspaper or utilizing the internet.

Utilize the services of an attorney or real estate agent. Their expertise will help you to gain an understanding of the foreclosure proceedings in the area before taking any action.

Research the property. It will prove necessary to investigate the property at hand to determine its condition and market value, taking the time to research previous ownership and any potential problems such as existing liens.

Figure out the financing. You will need to communicate with the trustee of the foreclosure sale to determine the minimum bid before figuring out how you intend to finance the property. You might consider assuming the current loan.

Attend the foreclosure auction and make an offer. It is possible to submit a sealed bid after the sale.

Purchasing foreclosures can prove to be quite complicated, especially if you are unaware of the regulations governing the area on the matter. The following are some tips to help you in the foreclosure buying process:

It is important to scrutinize your budget carefully. Too many people make rash decisions about foreclosures because of the small price tags. It is necessary to take into account various factors that might encroach on your finances, such as any repairs that might prove necessary.

Don’t make any decisions before inspecting the property yourself. It is never advisable to buy a property you haven’t seen, this allowing you to determine if the condition of the house is worth the value being presented.

Consider the neighborhood. A home is more than the house in question and the right home should exist within the right neighborhood, one expected to take factors like crime into account before making this crucial investment.

Take into account how long the house was empty. This will determine the amount of damage it has incurred and the repairs that will prove necessary.

Remember that acquiring a profit out of such an investment will take time. It is common for buyers to purchase foreclosures with the aim of selling them off quickly for a profit. However this is unlikely to happen, especially taking into account the various states quick to penalize individuals that neglect their property. If you want to buy foreclosures for purposes of selling, you’ll need to take into account the considerable time required for repairs and maintenance. 

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Here’s What Not to Do When Refinancing

Are you considering a refinance for your current mortgage? Then you need to be sure that you understand the mistakes that you need to avoid before you refinance your mortgage with any lender.

Here’s what NOT to do when refinancing your mortgage:

Not checking out all of your refinancing options - Before you decide to refinance, you have to shop around and learn what your options are. You don't want to make the mistake of not shopping around and simply staying with your current lender. This can lead to the wrong refinancing option for you in particular. Shopping around will help you ensure that you are definitely getting the best deal possible for your needs.

Signing any loan documents without first carefully reading over them – It’s wise to review every document for refinancing before you close the deal. Otherwise, you will easily find that there was some essential information that was missed.

Not understanding what your break-even point will be for refinancing - Are you aware of how much time you will need to recoup from the upfront transaction costs? You need to know when you will break even and even when you will start getting ahead so you can make sure that you are not going to be in trouble with your mortgage if the break-even point is too far into your future. 

Not providing the mortgage company with the refinance documents on time - If your lending institution is requesting that you provide them with additional documentation like verification of employment or income and expense statements, then you have to be sure that you get them to them right away. Delaying in providing these can lead to costly delays that you could have avoided if you had just gotten them in on time. 

Not having the estimate of your mortgage refinance put down on paper - Lenders and brokers are required by law to give you a written statement for the fees will be for refinancing. You want to get this so you can have it with you at the closing to ensure you get the deal that you agreed to.

Ignoring your credit history-The most common mistake that homeowners make is ignoring their credit history. You should be aware of your exact credit history before refinancing. Many people do not know whether some mistakes were made on their credit reports and ends up taking high interest rates. This high loan and credit fees ends up disqualifying them from mortgages or even missing their chance of buying new homes or refinancing. The best way to avoid this is to always know your credit score as well. Also, check your credit report regularly to make sure there are no mistakes.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

When Should You Drop Your Selling Price?

You want to get the best price for your home, naturally. You’ve put it up for sale, focused on things like curb appeal to make a good first impression, and done research for other prices in your location. But despite all of your efforts, what if your home has been sitting on the market and/or you have no showings scheduled? It may be time to evaluate your selling price.

When you initially list your house, it will be a new listing that may get lots of attention at first. But that can change quickly, and as the weeks go on, you might consider the price.

There are many reasons to lower your selling price:

There are fewer buyers looking at your home. If the house has been on the market and there have not been any interested buyers inquiring about your property, it may be time to reduce the price a bit. Many potential buyers may think that your home is overpriced a bit, and taking it down can bring in new buyers.

You have to sell because of a looming deadline. Maybe you’re moving to another state and need to sell before you leave. Consider lowering your asking price to get potential buyers interested.

You don’t have any offers coming in. Maybe you’ve given many tours of your home to potential buyers but no one had made you an offer. It’s possible that the only thing stopping them is the too-high price, so you may want to take it down.

You can’t afford any upgrades. If you were planning to do some improvements like painting, new carpet, etc. but now you simply can’t put out the money for these things, you may want to consider lowering the price. You want the price to be fair considering what the home may be lacking.

Your price is too high for the competition. If your home has been on the market for a month or so and you don’t have any potential buyers, it’s time to give the price a second thought. Staying in touch with the competition will ensure you get the best price for your property.

It’s understandable that you want to get a certain price for your home, but you must be realistic about the market and the condition of the house. It’s a good idea to keep in close contact with your agent throughout the entire process so that you know where the sale of your home stands.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Landscaping Tips


Now that summer is here, it’s a good idea to look at the landscaping around your home. Depending on what part of the country you live in, summer can be one of the most challenging seasons for maintaining landscaping and lawns. The hotter it gets, the more detrimental it is for your plants and lawns because the soil dries up. Plants have the tendency to wither if they are not hydrated properly. This can be a challenge if you live in an area where water restrictions are imposed.

Why is landscaping so important? It creates curb appeal that can help you to sell your home. It can also add value to your property, which is always a good thing. However, the wrong landscaping and/or unattractive, withering, and dry landscaping can prove to be detrimental to the sale of your home.

Consider the following tips to keep your home’s landscape hydrated and looking lush and beautiful during the summer months:

·        Look for signs of plant and lawn dehydration early. It is essential to determine whether or not your landscaping is showing signs of dehydration. If plants are wilting and growth is slow, you should tend to your landscaping immediately. Other signs of dehydration include yellowing leaves, browning leaf edges, and the upward curling of grass blades.

·        Mow the grass frequently. Also, mowing the grass as tall as you can allows the grass to draw moisture from a bigger volume of soil, resulting in the need for less watering. Mowing the grass to heights of three to three and a half inches means that the lawn has a better chance of surviving a long drought period.

·        Water your lawn and plants during the appropriate times. The best time to water a lawn is from 6am to 8am when water pressure is highest and water evaporation is lowest. You should not water your lawn during the middle of the day and windy conditions. When you know the best time for irrigation, you can conserve water.

·        Keep the dirt near the foundation of your house moist. When the dirt is dry, the foundation can have the tendency to crack. This can be very costly to repair, so make sure the dirt is semi-wet.

·        Control the growth of weeds. First, inspect for weeds to spot any growth early. Next, look into lawn treatments for weed control. You will need a pre-emergence weed control treatments and post-emergence treatments.

You can still have a beautiful lawn and landscaping that will wow potential buyers this summer. Be smart about your solutions to keep your landscaping looking great during the hot months!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Should You Buy a Cul-de-Sac House?

The cul-de-sac home has been a symbol of traditional suburban life for decades. While cul-de-sacs have been built for centuries in the form of dead-end streets, they are commonly built nowadays for other reasons—one of which is to alleviate vehicle traffic.
Basically, a cul-de-sac is a street that has only one inlet/outlet. They became popular in America cities after World War II, and they are a classic symbol of suburban life. However, lately cul-de-sacs have been viewed in a negative light by some urban planners. But the popularity and charm of the cul-de-sac will always be present with homebuyers, and for good reasons.
If you’re thinking about buying a cul-de-sac home, here are some pros and cons that you should consider:
Pros
Privacy- Cul-de-sac homes offer more privacy than others because most of the traffic will come from the people that live in the cul-de-sac itself.
Good for families- Less traffic means a safer play area for children. Plus, many families who live in the same cul-de-sac often become tightly knit.
Good resell opportunities- Buyers will pay 20% more for cu-de-sac homes. (Hopefully you won’t have to when you initially buy!) But this is good news if and when you decide to resell.
Cons
More driving- It’s rather difficult to get anywhere without driving when you live in a cul-de-sac because you have to funnel the roads to get to the main road. Traffic can be a challenge once you get to the main trunk.
Less privacy- While you have more privacy from other traffic and pedestrians, you are basically living in close proximity to at least five other homes when you buy a home in a cul-de-sac. All of your neighbors will know a great deal about you.
Vehicles turning around- Many cars will drive to the cul-de-sac to turn around, and this extra traffic can pose safety issues for children who are playing.
 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Costs Involved With Homebuying

So you’ve decide to buy a home. Congratulations! Before you go shopping for the home of your dreams, you should know that homebuying involves more than simply picking out a home and paying for it. There are many costs and expenses you need to know about before you sign on the dotted line. It is wise to be prepared and know the costs ahead of time so that you can budget accordingly.
Here is a list of expenses that every new homeowner should expect and budget for:
Homeowner’s insurance- While many home buyers don’t think about it initially, insurance is necessary to protect your property in case of fire and inevitable disasters. The cost varies from company to company, and it also depends on type of policy that you need.
Moving expenses- As you probably may already know, moving can be very expensive. From packing supplies to a moving van, the expenses can run well into the hundreds of dollars. The cost will be higher if you need to hire a moving company, and it also depends on how far you are moving.
Upgrades- Your new home may not come with the appliances and features that you desire. The base price may not include the finishes and flooring that the model home. Countertops, cabinets, marble flooring, crown molding and other fixtures may not be included with the house that you fell in love with.
Necessities- You may need to have things like window coverings, fences, gates and doors installed that weren’t included on the property. Even smaller expenses like mailboxes and having the locks changed can add up for a new homeowner.
Landscaping and gardening- While perfectly cut green grass and flowers are beautiful, they can be a big expense that adds up. If you can handle the workload, you will save money, but you still need the appropriate equipment. It should go without saying that the bigger your yard and lawn are, the more money it will cost in the upkeep and maintenance. Fertilizer alone is quite expensive, not including the tools. You can hire someone to do the job on a regular basis, but naturally it is much cheaper to do it yourself.
Cable, phone and internet services- Many people don’t account for the transfer of these services, and there are additional costs for companies to set up your services in your new home.
Décor and furniture- Of course you will want to decorate your new home as soon as you move in to give a personalized look and feel. You’ll need items such as blinds, draperies and rugs to create a lived-in environment. Chances are good that you are moving to a bigger home, so you will probably need to fill it with more furniture.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Safety Tips for Online Mortgage Refinancing


Mortgage refinance loans are a fast pacing trend in today’s consumer loan markets. Home prices almost always stay high. So many homeowners use the option of refinancing their mortgages or opt for a home equity loan. Online mortgage lenders have used quite a few innovative methods to make the application process easier and simpler. But as you know, shopping online can be quite a tricky business at times. Risks are always involved. To keep your transactions and personal information secured online, our market experts have provided some helpful suggestions and guidelines. 

Know whom are you dealing with

Before you click on the “apply now” button for a mortgage refinance loan, check and verify the respective lender’s credentials. As a worldwide common practice, websites usually post this information on an “About us” page. This page will mostly provide details such as company background, management hierarchy, certifications, and other mortgage sales experiences. If you are unable to verify any lender’s certifications, directly contact them or check with any of the mortgage related government agencies for verification. Genuine lenders will gladly provide all the relevant information for you to verify their credentials and certifications. They are aware of consumer’s concerns over online transactions.

The brand name

In online shopping, the branded firms get most of the business. People usually trust familiar and known names. Popular sites are known for providing excellent security features, which results in generating more traffic on their portals. The more recommended your online lender is, the better security they’ll have to offer. This does not mean that small time merchants are a taboo. They have secured connections and possibly lower rates too. So, do lookout for brand names, but also keep an eye on the small dealers.

The “S” of security

While applying online, look for two highly important and easy-to-identify security features on the web pages. A closed padlock or an icon of a key signifies that security options are enabled for the website. Also, on the address bar where you type the website name/URL, instead of “http” there will be “https”

For example: https://www.lenderxyz.com

These sites use an encryption service and have a link or a page dedicated to show the details about the connection.  But still, always be careful while filling out application forms; especially, the ones which ask for information such as your date of birth. These little pieces of personal information can be used by credit card scammers and other illegal activities. If you’re suspicious about a particular website, but they have been highly recommended, then contact them and ask for an executive to discuss their privacy policies.

Keep yourself updated

Keep checking for articles to educate yourself and to stay updated on the latest information about the online mortgage refinancing process. There a lot of websites which guide you through the process of home equity loans, mortgage loans and mortgage refinancing. Professional lenders are prompt with helpful advices and up-to-date information. They even conduct seminars and provide active online assistance to answer your queries.

Initially, taking precautionary measures might feel to be a little time consuming but, as the saying goes, better be safe than sorry.

So, keep these suggestions in mind while applying and working with online lenders for mortgage refinancing, and have a safe and satisfactory web experience.

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Summer Home Improvement Ideas

Now that the weather is finally getting warmer, it’s time to think about what kind of summer home improvements you’d like to make. Not only can summer additions and improvements add to the value of your home, they can make your house much more desirable to potential buyers should you decide to sell in the next few years.
Let’s take a look at some cool summer home improvement ideas that are sure to make your home more enjoyable for years to come:
Pool
What could be better than a new pool for summer? It’s a fact that pools are extremely desirable home features for buyers. Be sure to figure out your budget as pool additions can get pricey, especially when it comes to pools that are below the ground.
New roof
The installation of a new roof should be done in warmer weather, and the summertime is perfect! The sun’s rays are warm enough to melt the tar paper so that it bonds. A new roof can give you peace of mind plus add great value to your home.
Sunroom
Enjoy the sun’s warm rays with the addition of a cool sunroom. Glass walls with screen options are a good idea when considering sunroom addition. The sunroom can even act as a family or reading room during the winter months.
Exercise room
Don’t pay for the gym anymore! Take that spare bedroom  and transform it into a calorie-busting gym. Your health will appreciate it, and so will potential buyers.
Backyard deck
A deck addition is most likely that biggest remodel that you can make for the summer. This is true whether you are remodeling an existing deck or building a new one from scratch. Keep in mind a deck addition takes a great deal of planning.
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Common Refinancing Myths

Refinancing is increasingly getting difficult and this trend is expected to prevail for a while before rates climb down and homeowners return to the market. Refinancing qualifications have become rather challenging. Conventional credit profiles are being scrutinized more. People with little or no home equity are at a loss on how to put their refinance plans into motion.

Here, we discuss some basics of refinancing. More importantly, we clarify some common refinance myths:

Myth: Refinance Eventually Leads to Losing Equity

Truth: This is a common misconception. Refinance doesn’t eat into your equity. In fact, it helps you save more over a longer period. This is true unless you opt for cash-out refinance where the loaned principal amount is raised. Secondly, some folks don’t understand the concept of building equity. Refinancing requires some strategy if you are serious about increasing your equity. More equity doesn’t mean getting a gift check from your lender or paying progressively lesser on your original loan.

Mortgage payments are made up of two parts. One part goes to your principal and the other towards the interest. If you find a refinancing option with no prepayment penalty, additional payments to decrease the principal helps. It allows you to create more equity. The refinance allows you to pay off the home loan in lesser time than the original loan period with negligible changes to your monthly payment pattern—these are significant savings!

Myth: Refinancing Before Reaching Breakeven Doesn’t Make Sense

Truth: This refinancing myth is the result of incorrect interpretations of breakeven period. Sometimes, rates drop to an irresistible low, luring people into refinancing aggressively. Some people start questioning the wisdom of refinancing when the breakeven of the previous loan hasn’t been fully realized.

People don’t look at the bigger picture. If the interest rate can be lowered to such an extent that you can absorb the new breakeven period and still get more equity, you should go for it! To avoid such confusions, follow the simple rule of keeping your refinancing decision one dimensional. If you can lower your rate without the need to repay more, you stand to gain. Please note that the best rate for you might not be the lowest rate in the nation. It is simply the best available option among the many mortgage quotes you receive.

Myth: Refinance Always Leads to Higher Closing Costs

Truth: Yes, refinancing helps you get some equity in times of crisis. Equally true is the fact that refinancing brings along some additional costs that aren’t always visible. Refinance calculations work out better in the customer’s favor when the credit amount is big. A slightly longer, bigger refinance helps to neutralize the high closing costs.

Before jumping on to conclusions work out the true cost of your refinancing proposal. Every refinanced mortgage comes with a GFE—Good Faith Estimate where the total closing cost is mentioned. This figure can be slightly confusing. Usually, it includes many components for which a borrower would be paying anyway. This includes partial or prepaid month interests, escrow property taxes, and escrow homeowner insurance. Besides these, other components such as documentation fees, application fee, credit report fees, and title insurance make up the true cost of refinancing.

Myth: Repeated Refinancing Approvals are Simply Impossible!

Truth: Refinancing isn't refused just because a borrower had refinanced in the recent past. There are no mortgaging or federal laws which limit lenders from lending to people who repeatedly refinance. Yes, the success rate for such refinancing applications might be lower, but the market understands that whenever lending rates are lower, refinancing will be in demand.
 
Some lenders prefer profiles where the customer has waited for a certain period before seeking another refinance. Some borrowers prepay on their existing loans to get a low rate refinance. Though there is nothing wrong with this strategy, it could lead to some losses. We recommend keeping a check on the prepayment penalties that have huge regional fluctuations. Prime mortgages are usually without substantial prepayment penalties.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How to Fix Squeaky Floors

Squeaky floors can be quite irritating. Also, they will reduce the value of your home when it is time to sell. When the floor sheets rub against one another, they produce an irritating noise. This is the reason behind squeaky floors. If you can prevent the panels from moving, you can stop the noise. That is the only remedy.
If noisy floors have been destroying the peace and quiet at home, you should try these simple steps to restore peace instantly.
What causes noisy floors?
Noisy floors are a common problem. This is almost always caused by improper installation of the panels. If floors are not installed properly, they can buckle or squeak. Nails might even pop. Fortunately, preventing these problems is relatively easy. Here is a step-by-step guide to fixing noisy floors.
Choose the right materials
Any lumber that you use for flooring must be dry. Green lumber is not dimensionally stable. Its size may shrink when it dries. As green lumber dries, it may cause nail pops. This creates ugly bumps under the flooring and also causes squeaking. In addition it accelerates wear and tear.
Engineered wood dries up during just the production stage. When these wooden panels are properly installed, they will not cause nail pops. While selecting the panel for your floors, you should consider finish flooring, joist spacing, applied load, and floor system.
Allow proper panel spacing
Engineered wood is dry when it leaves the factory. However, these panels will eventually absorb moisture and expand. While installing them, ample space should be left between the panels to allow for expansion. If there is no room to expand, the panels may buckle and then you will hear the noise. According to APA, 1/8th of an inch should be left at all end joints and sheathing.
Ideally, you should let the panels acclimatize before they are installed. This will further reduce the potential for buckling. You can acclimatize panels by letting them stand on their edge for a few days. This arrangement allows ample air circulation.
Choose the right adhesives
If you use glue to keep panels in their place, you should choose an adhesive that meets the APA Performance Specification ASTM D3498 or AFG-01. The adhesive can dry out faster, so you should spread only enough adhesive to lay 1 or 2 panels at a time.
Before applying the adhesive, you should wipe away dust, debris and water. This is necessary to ensure that the boards will be properly secured to their joists.
Use ample amount of glue. Glue should be applied in a serpentine fashion in wide areas. All tongue and groove joints should be glued together by spreading the adhesive in the groove.
Each panel should be nailed before the adhesive sets. Note that adhesives tend to set faster in warm weather.
Nail panels correctly
Choosing nails of the right size is essential. The correct spacing and nail size depend on the thickness of your panel and joist spacing. You should also take into account the unique nature of the panel product you use.
Noisy floors are a headache, but by taking some simple steps you can easily solve this problem.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How Much Home Insurance Should You Get?


Homeowners seek to cover risks associated with damage to their property by buying homeowners insurance. However, not many homeowners have clarity regarding how much home insurance they should purchase. Most of them buy too much while some undervalue the risk proposition. There are no one-size-fits-all packages for the home insurance niche. The reason is simple—every home presents a totally different demographic. This includes parameters like overall safety associated with the neighborhood, geographic and climatic conditions, structural aspects, and household incomes. Here, we will help you understand the finer aspects of buying adequate and relevant home insurance.

Understand Your Home Insurance Premium

Most home insurance premiums are the collective sum of payments charged for the following type of coverage:

  • Dwelling—this means paying for different types of damage to the main structure, the home, and some attached constructions like a garage.
  • Loss of Utility—this part of premium partially covers your living costs when the home is rendered uninhabitable. For instance, widespread mold growth can leave your house dangerous to inhabit.
  • Personal possessions—here, you pay for household items of value which can be stolen or damaged.
  • Personal Liability—this payment ensures coverage in case you are held responsible for injury to someone on your property.
  • Medical Expenditures—along with personal liability coverage, this takes care of medical bills of the person injured on your property.
  • Other Important Structures—this payment is to cover damage to external, non-primary structures like fences.

Among these, dwelling coverage and personal possession coverage together form the biggest part of the premium. Dwelling coverage is the most basic, critical aspect of home insurance. Most households want a dwelling coverage sufficient to replace their entire home.

Personal Possessions: How much is good enough?

Coverage for personal possessions is often an argued part of home insurance. Though important, approximating the right value for various things in your home can be challenging. If you have lots of electronics items and valuable like paintings, expensive furniture, etc. ensure that the possessions coverage is close to the dwelling coverage. We suggest you keep the personal possessions coverage at about 50 percent of the dwelling coverage. This can go up to 60 percent in some cases.

Coverage that Compensates for Inflation: Ever thought about it?

Look at the last decade and it will become clear that nearly everything has become expensive. However, people forget that the same applies to the cost of construction. Supplies and professional labor is getting expensive with every passing year. So, what if you ever need to rebuild your home? Is your home insurance capable to cover for the rising cost of construction? Rather than thinking only about the current and near-future market value of your home, calculate the construction costs too. Your home insurance should be sufficiently spread to cover hikes in prices of property construction.

Standard Homeowners Policy Sounds Good? Think Again!!

Most standard home insurance policies don’t cover damage to property caused by floods! Though a natural cause, floods-related damages remain outside the realm of standard coverage. Check if your home insurance policy provides coverage against flood—don’t assume you have it. If not, ask for this coverage that is usually sold as an additional/add-on policy to the package. However, don’t be blinded by what insurance agents say about natural calamities. Do some basic research about flood-related susceptibility in and around your area. It is possible that you inhabit an area without any history or probability of floods.

Liability Coverage: Do you really need it?

Liability coverage is among the most commonly neglected aspects of home insurance. It seems people ignore the possibility of someone getting hurt on their property. This approach can have disastrous results. If sued, the financial damages can ruin you. It is better to pay a bit beyond your level of comfort to protect yourself. High net worth households are often recommended buying an umbrella policy. This comprehensive form of liability coverage covers most types of injuries sustained on any part of the property.