Great Suggestions for the Best Improvements to Your Home

Best Financial Investments for Your Home
By Craig Middleton
RISMEDIA, Wednesday, November 29, 2017— Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Over the last couple of years, rehabbing TV shows have become increasingly popular. In these shows, people fix or introduce new features to their homes while adding substantial market value to the house in the process. If you own a home, you can make many of these types of fixes or additions to increase the value of your home, too. You can also enjoy these changes for as long as you live there. Some of the best financial investments you can make to your home include:

Major Problem Fixes
The first high-return investment you should make in your home is to correct all major problems. If your home has serious issues, such as a broken air conditioner or a pipe leak, fixing those issues should be priority No. 1. Repairing or replacing the roof and siding can be a great investment, and potential buyers will generally factor in both the time and cost of having to fix it. Problems like these are always easier to fix when they’re small than later after having put them off.

Exterior Improvements
Investing in the facade of a home can also bring great returns. Replacing garage doors is one of these investments. If your garage door looks new, your house will look new, as well. Painting the outside of your home is another good investment in the exterior. If you don’t want to take the time and money to fully repaint your home, pressure-washing can be a quick way to make the outside of your home look much more presentable.

Entryway Improvements
Another good investment is to invest in a new entryway door. Like the garage door, the front door is important in making a good first impression on a potential buyer. Replacing your front door with a steel door can also make your home safer; increasing the safety of your home can be another great selling point for a potential buyer. Replacing windows is another way to make the outside of your home look better, as well as improve the home’s energy efficiency.

Fixes and additions to the inside of your home can be a great financial investment. A fresh coat of paint to the interior can add value by making the home look cleaner and brighter.

Update Bathroom, Kitchen and Appliances
Improving your home’s bathroom, particularly visible elements such as vanities, lighting, toilets and tubs, can create a high return. For bathroom improvements, you may obtain a better return on investment by spending your money on items in the bathroom that a potential buyer would see, instead of completely gutting the bathroom.

Kitchen remodels can be another way to significantly improve the value of your home. For kitchen remodels, you’ll want to spend money on functional items such as cabinets, drawers, pantry doors and appliances. Appliances such as refrigerators don’t have to be completely new, but they should keep up with current trends. Kitchen remodels should also suit the home. A kitchen that looks like it belongs in a $300,000 home will feel out of place in a $150,000 home.

Adding high-efficiency appliances to a home can modernize it and also save you money on electricity. Some states and cities have tax programs that could reduce your taxes if you buy and use high-efficiency appliances that require less electricity.

Overall, you should research the investment potential of your home before making any purchase. If you are trying to increase the value of your home, you need to make sure your fix or addition will increase the value of the home not only for you, but also to potential buyers.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

 

Great Ways to Pay Your Mortgage Off Early

4 Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early
By Dana Dratch
RISMEDIA, Monday, November 27, 2017— (TNS)—If you can afford it, it might be simple to pay off your mortgage earlier. But should you? That’s a complicated question.

Homeowners with low mortgage rates may be better off putting extra money in a Roth IRA or 401(k), both of which might offer a higher return than paying off the mortgage.

Then there’s the college aid factor. If you’re applying for need-based aid for your kids, that home equity could count against you with some colleges because some institutions view equity as money in the bank.

If, after those caveats, you want to pay off your mortgage early, here are four ways to make it happen.

1. Refinance with a shorter-term mortgage.
You can pay off the mortgage in another 15 years by refinancing into a 15-year mortgage.

Let’s say you got a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5 percent. Then, five years later, you can refinance into a 15-year loan at 4 percent. Doing so pays off the mortgage 10 years earlier and saves more than $60,000 (if you exclude closing costs on the refi).

Those shorter-term mortgages often carry interest rates a quarter of a percentage point to three-quarters of a percentage point lower than their 30-year counterparts.

Refinancing isn’t quick or free. It requires filling out the application, providing documentation and having an appraiser visit. There are closing costs.

And even with a lower interest rate, that quicker payoff means higher monthly payments. And this method is a lot less flexible. If you decide that you don’t have the extra money one month to put toward the mortgage, you’re locked in anyway.

Unless the new interest rate is lower than the old rate, there’s no point in refinancing. Without a lower rate, you’ll get all the same benefits (and none of the extra costs) by just increasing your payment a sufficient amount.

2. Pay a little more each month.
Divide your monthly principal and interest by 12 and add that amount to your monthly payment for a year. Result: You make the equivalent of 13 payments in 12 months. Let’s say you got a $200,000 mortgage at 4.5 percent. After five years of making the minimum payments, you add an extra 1/12 of a month’s principal and interest to each monthly payment. Doing so pays off the mortgage three years and three months earlier and saves more than $18,000 interest.

Before you make anything beyond the regular payment, call your mortgage servicer and find out exactly what you need to do so that your extra payments will be correctly applied to your loan.

Let them know you want to pay “more aggressively” and ask the best ways to do that. Some servicers may require a note with the extra money or directions on the notation line of the check.

In any event, if you’re putting extra money toward your loan, always check the next statement to make sure it’s been properly applied.

3. Make an extra mortgage payment every year.
Instead of paying a little more each month, make one extra monthly payment each year. One way to do this is to save 1/12 of a payment every month, and then make an extra payment after every 12 months. This gives you the flexibility to use the extra savings for something else if a more pressing expense arises.

Let’s say you do this starting the first month after getting a 30-year mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5 percent. That would save more than $27,000 interest, and you would pay off the mortgage four years and three months earlier.

4. Throw ‘found’ money at the mortgage.
Get a bonus? A tax refund? An unexpected windfall? However it ends up in your hands, you can funnel some or all of your newfound money toward your mortgage.

Let’s say you got a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5 percent. Then, five years later, you can make an extra $10,000 lump-sum payment. Doing so pays off the mortgage two years and four months earlier, and saves more than $19,000 in interest.

The upside: You’re paying extra only when you’re flush. And those additional payments toward the principal will cut the total interest on your loan.

The downside: It’s irregular, so it’s hard to predict the mortgage payoff date. If you throw too much at the mortgage, you won’t have money for other needs.

©2017 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC 

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

Plan your move and make it better!

5 Tips to Make Moving Less Stressful
By Mikkie Mills
RISMEDIA, Monday, November 13, 2017— Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Moving can be a daunting task for many people. There is a lot of packing involved and unpacking once you get to your new home; however, with proper planning, you may even find yourself enjoying the moving process…unless you get stuck. This guide serves to offer you simple ways to move into your new home.

Get Prepared
It is advisable to plan at least eight weeks before you’re going to relocate. A last-minute rush can bring a lot of confusion and stress. To plan this far ahead, though, you need a list of tasks to do. Select the items that you will be taking with you and leave items that you haven’t used in the last year. Be selective and make sure you’re not packing unnecessary items. You can donate the rest of your belongings to the needy or give out to friends.

Pack Items in Order
Do not pack your clothes, shoes, and bags in one big box. It can be quick to do so, but it will be a nightmare when it comes to unpacking. Organize the items in different clean boxes and label them with a marker. This way, you will have an easy time unpacking, and the movers will know which room to place the boxes. You should have an emergency box where you can keep all the essential items, such as clothing and kids supplies, that you’ll need for the first 24 hours after you move. Moving can be tiresome, especially if you are working and have a family. It’s okay to take a break and have a drink if you’re feeling too stressed out.

Ask for Assistance
It can be challenging to ask for help; however, many people know the experience of moving and how hard it can be. Talk to family and friends and agree on a day to come over and help you pack. It could be an opportunity to spend time with them, especially if you are moving far away. Afterwards, you can all go out for a meal. If no one is available, you can call packers to help you with moving heavy boxes.

Check the Moving Details
The last thing you want to do is end up relocating before the moving date. When you buy a property, get in touch with your real estate agent to make sure of the exact time you’re supposed to move. Also, when renting a property, don’t just assume the date given in the lease is when you are supposed to get into your new home. Make a call to the landlord or agent and double-check the day. It can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Call a Moving Company
Packing takes a large amount of time and energy. You should be careful to avoid breakages that will result in extra costs. If there are expensive items, ask for assistance; there is a lot of information about moving insurance for valuable items. After being sure that you have packed all the necessary things, it is time to call a moving company. Moving companies in Austin, Los Angeles, Miami, or any other major city offer high-quality services to their clients. Make sure that the company is licensed and insured for the safe delivery of your items to your new location. In case of any breakages, you are sure to have the piece replaced.

When you follow the above tips, moving will be an enjoyable task. Eat well to boost your energy levels. Carry enough snacks on a moving day, especially if you are going far. Also, make sure you have enough water to stay hydrated. When you get to your new home, do not unpack everything at once. You should first rest and start unpacking carefully to avoid damage.

RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to: realestatemagazinefeedback@rismedia.com.