As we all start to think of Spring, here are some home projects to add to your list of things to do as the weather warms:
Caulk Windows and Doors – Winter is an excellent time to identify drafts in your home. As drafts are identified, place a small post-it note at the location as a gentle reminder to address the issue when the weather warms. Increasing your homes energy-efficiency will help with your heating and cooling bills down the road!
Check for Water Leaks – Inspect your hoses and faucets (don’t forget your laundry supply lines – these tend to crack and corrode) for water leaks or drips. Often small water issues can go un-detected for long periods of time, causing extensive damage and potential mold problems. Don’t for get to check your dishwasher lines too. This is also a good time to consider replacing the wax ring on your toilet (see attached newsletter relating to upgrading your toilet).
Service HVAC Systems – Have your heating (in preparation for the next heating season) and cooling systems serviced to ensure proper and efficient function. Change filters, inspect drain pans and hose connections on A/C units can prevent costly and untimely breakdowns during the prime cooling months. Remember that as the weather warms, HVAC servicers will get busier so get on their schedules early to avoid having to wait.
Consider adding a Canopy – of trees! Strategically placed trees can save money by offering shade during the hotter months of the year and/or a wind break during winter months. Don’t be afraid to ask local nurseries or landscapers for the best type of trees for your needs. Take pictures of the planting space you are considering, proximity to the house or other structures and have a list of goals you wish to obtain by planting trees to share with professionals. Spring is a great time for planting. Don’t forget to check with your local utility companies before digging!
Plan a Vegetable Garden – NOW is the time to plan your garden. Determine the types of plants you want to grow, order seeds, calculate usage of space (vertical or raised beds, hanging gardens), monitor sun or shade exposure. Pre-planning now will help you maximize your gardens’ potential!
Prep the Lawn Mower – Sharpen blades, change oil/fluids, check belts, ensure proper operation. Once the grass starts growing – your mower will get a work out. April and May are the best months to purchase a new mower if you are in need of one. Start a savings plan now if you think that new equipment is in your future. Don’t forget that when your checking over the mower, the snow blower needs a final prep and clean up before storing it for another season.
Wash and Re-stain your Deck – Give your deck a face-lift with a power-washing/cleaning and new coat of sealer/stain. Be sure to check for loose/broken boards, nail/screw pops, check railings and handrails or look for any other hazards that could pose a threat to you or your guests. Once your deck is washed/cleaned, make sure that you allow your deck to dry completely (a day or two) before staining/sealing.
Clear Yard Debris – Clean up leaves, tree limbs or other dead foliage from last Fall and/or over the Winter months. Clean gutters (good time to check for leaks or damage caused by ice/snow) and check for adequate downspout extensions. Spring rains need to flow away from your house, not into it!
Paint the House – Exterior painting can be expensive and time consuming. Unless you plan to complete any needed exterior painting on your own, obtain an estimate from a professional now so you have time to budget. Keeping your property properly painted will prevent deterioration and/or costly repairs as well as maintaining a well-kept and tidy appearance for your home.
Re-fresh Outdoor Lawn Furniture – Fresh paint, new cushions or minor repairs to your outdoor furniture will extend the longevity of the piece(s) as well as ensure proper function for the duration of season.
Update Exterior Light Fixtures – New fixtures or increasing the amount of exterior lights can greatly impact your homes’ curb appeal as well as keep it current. Adding motion sensor lights help with safety.
Shampoo Rugs and Curtains – Salt and de-ice chemicals can play havoc on your flooring. You can rent a carpet cleaner or employ a professional to clean out the winter “muck” from your floor coverings as well as the dust from your drapes/curtains. Clean carpets and drapes last longer and it is a great way to jump start the Spring Cleaning projects in your home!
Inspect your Attic and Basement – Check out those creepy crawly spaces for rodents or other wildlife that may have decided to call your home, their home, during the winter months. If you have had unexpected house guests, make arrangements to have them removed, repair any damage they may have caused (chewed wires, torn insulation) and close off point(s) of entry (if identified). During the inspection of the attic, you can check for water damage, need for additional insulation or consider installing a roof vent to assist with the removal of hot air from the attic space during the warmer months. Depending on the location of your furnace and water heater, now is the perfect time to check them out for leaks or possible problems.
Lots of these items can be done with little or no cost depending on your personal comfort level to address them. If hiring a professional, remember that certain service providers can accomplish more than one item on this list at a time so be sure to group your projects. By doing so, you can save money in labor costs!
FEBRUARY DATES TO REMEMBER:
Tuesday, February 2 – Groundhog Day – no more Winter!
Wednesday, February 10 – Ash Wednesday
Sunday, February 14 – Valentine’s Day – Don’t forget your Sweetie!
Monday, February 15 – President’s Day
Wishing you a great day and an awesome month! Let me know if I can assist you in any way with your real estate needs!
Credity due to Realtor Magazine, National Association of Realtors
New Roof Is Greatest Remodeling Value
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2015
Aside from the need to upgrade worn out features, two of the biggest reasons owners put money into remodeling are to increase the home’s value and to improve their enjoyment of the home. But according to a new report from the National Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), there’s not a lot of overlap between those two goals.
Interior projects the study examined:
New master suite Kitchen upgrade Complete kitchen renovation Bathroom renovation Add new bathroom Basement conversion to living area Attic conversion to living area Insulation upgrade Closet renovation New wood flooring Hardwood flooring refinish HVAC replacement
The first-ever “Remodeling Impact Report” looks at the resale value and customer satisfaction of 12 interior and eight exterior projects. The projects range from upgrades (a new HVAC system) to full-scale remodels (a new master suite). Members of NARI reviewed specs and provided cost estimates for each project.
Projects with Greatest Cost Recovery
REALTORS® reported that three interior projects and two exterior projects—all estimated to cost under $10,000—provide the greatest cost recovery at resale:
Exterior projects the study examined:
New steel front door New fiberglass front door New garage door New vinyl siding New fiber-cement siding New roofing New vinyl windows New wood windows
Projects That Make Owners Happiest
By contrast, owners who had actually completed one of the 20 home improvements being tracked in the study were asked how much the work increased their sense of happiness at home. With one exception, it was the big-ticket items that brought the greatest sense of joy.
The resulting data was used to calculate the “Joy Score,” which combined the share of respondents who reported they were “happy” and “satisfied” when seeing their completed project and divided the share by 10 to create a ranking between 1 and 10. Higher Joy Scores indicate greater happiness from the project. Here are homeowners’ top five:
Projects That Appeal to Buyers
REALTORS® were also asked, regardless of cost, which improvements were most appealing for buyers. Not surprisingly, the top five interior projects were very similar to those that give owners the greatest joy—but REALTORS® said these big-ticket items aren’t the best in terms of payback when the home is sold. By contrast, REALTORS® said owners will likely recover more than 80 percent of the cost on four of the five exterior projects with the greatest buyer appeal.
The overall winner? When you look at intersection of buyer appeal, cost, return, and owner joy, a new roof appears to be the smartest remodeling investment. A home, after all, is first and foremost a shelter.
Who is Your Champion?
The Super Bowl and World Series determine the football and baseball champions. Since there can only be one champion, the other team loses the competition. In feudal times, a knight might champion for the king or a patriotic, romantic or religious cause.
Fierce competition can occur when buying or selling a home because each party wants to get the “best deal” possible. When the buyer and seller are not equally matched, and they rarely are, it is important to have a champion on your side to fight for your cause.
The price of the home, the type of financing and concessions, personal property, closing dates and possession are just a few of the many things that can be negotiated in a contract. Since the seller wants to get the most for their house and the buyer wants to pay the least, their causes are diametrically opposed.
Even after the contract is signed, removing the contingencies can cause considerable negotiations. The inspections or the appraisal could be the source of reevaluating the terms and provisions of the contract.
Negotiating the sale or purchase of a home is definitely a competition and you need a champion on your side.
Memorial Day Celebration and Remembrance
Memorial Day is the last Monday in May Originally known as Decoration Day, it began in 1865 by decorating the graves of Civil War patriotic soldiers and later to remember the U.S. men and women who lost their lives serving their country.
Enjoy this special time with your family and remembering your loved ones who are serving or have served our country!
May God Bless America!
You've Got Money
You've Got Money!
Imagine that after checking www.SSA.gov to see what you can expect when you retire and estimated what your minimum required distributions from your retirement accounts will be, you’ve discovered that you’re not going to have enough retirement income to cover your living expenses.
Ideally, it would be perfect if the extra money you need would just come to your mailbox each month with the same certainty as your social security or retirement income.
Rental homes are a popular choice for passive income because they are an investment that most people understand based on their experience owning a home. They’re easy to manage and the rents should keep pace with inflation.
Mortgage loans for investors are available to investors with good credit and at least 20% down payments. While 30 year terms are the most common, some investors wanting to have the home paid for by retirement may choose a 15 or 20 year term.
A tried and true strategy is to choose average or slightly below average priced homes in predominantly owner-occupied neighborhoods. This will appeal to more prospective tenants wanting to live in good communities and should provide a higher level of revenue.
When an owner has a good property with a good tenant, the income is as predictable and convenient as going to the mailbox each month. To learn more about rental homes, contact your real estate professional.
Live the Dream
Live the Dream
Consumers are more easily living the American Dream of owning a home because of the incredibly low mortgage rates. Today, most buyers can get a much lower rate than their parents or grandparents got on their first home.
In a recent housing survey, FNMA released information about consumers' thoughts on the current market. Almost two-thirds would rather buy than rent and believe that now is a good time to buy. Half of the respondents expect rent and home prices will go up.
Top Ten reasons to move the dream to reality:
It’s cheaper than renting in most cases
Avoid rental increases in the future
Equity build-up with amortization of each payment going to principal
A home is a forced savings account
Appreciation increases your equity and your overall investment
Mortgage interest and property tax deductions
Home equity interest deduction
A place you can call your own
A place to share with friends and family
Capital gains exclusion on profit
Buyers need the confidence that they can afford a home and proof for the sellers when they’re ready to submit a contract. If a buyer has steady reliable income, a good record of paying their bills, money saved for a down payment and are prepared to pay the mortgage each month, the next step is to get pre-approved by a trusted mortgage professional.
Take a look at the Rent vs. Own to see what the real cost of owning a home for your price range.
The word describes the process of accounting that will repay a loan over time. Residential buyers will most commonly be required to have an amortized mortgage.
When amortizing a fixed rate mortgage, the payment remains constant for the entire term but the allocation of what goes to principal and interest changes with each payment that is made. Since an amount of each payment retires the principal, the interest due on the next payment is calculated on the unpaid balance after the previous payment was made.
This means that an increasing amount is applied to principal on each payment while the amount owed in interest decreases. If normal payments are made each time, on time, the loan will be completed paid off at the end of the term.
You can see in the example of a mortgage of $200,000 at 3.25% for 30 years that it has a fixed principal and interest payment of $870.41. There is $541.67 due in interest with the first payment and the remainder is applied to principal leaving an unpaid balance of $199,671.25. Since the interest due in the second payment is based on a lower principal, a little more is applied to principal.
If you’d like to have an amortization schedule for a mortgage, click here and enter the information about the loan.
Basic Legal Documents
Basic Legal Documents
Many times, young adults feel “bullet-proof” and don’t consider the urgency to get involved or spend the money to take care of certain legal aspects of their lives because they think they’re going to live forever. Since no one is guaranteed longevity of life, if you want to be in control of who gets what and who is in charge now based on an untimely incapacitation or death, it is important to investigate these basic legal documents.
Will – This is a legal instrument that specifies your desires to care for your minor children and to distribute your personal property after you die and who will manage the process. Anyone who has property and minor children needs a will.
Living Will – This legal instrument specifies your intentions regarding end of life decisions or to designate an individual to make those decisions on your behalf. Many times, a person who had been diagnosed with a terminal condition or who is facing a serious surgery or hospitalization might feel a sense of urgency to have this document.
Power of attorney – This document allows you to appoint someone you trust, not necessarily an attorney, to handle important legal and financial matters for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The time limit can be for a specified period of time or indefinitely.
Trust – This arrangement involves an entity called a Trustee who takes control and manages property for someone else’s benefit called a beneficiary. When property is placed in a trust, the trust becomes the owner of the property. There are different types of trusts and a qualified advisor can explain and recommend which type would be best suited for your situation.
HIPPA Release Form – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPPA, was created by Congress to protect the privacy of a person’s health information. Health care providers are prohibited from discussing any aspect of your medical information with anyone who is not directly involved in your care. To allow friends or family who do not have legal responsibility for you to have access to this information, this release form is necessary.
Most of the issues affecting these types of documents are determined by state law. Since they are legal documents, it is recommended that you seek sound financial and legal advice.
After you take the training wheels off your bike and learn to ride it, you’d never consider putting them back on again. Similarly, once you’ve owned a home, you might think you’ll own a home from now on but there may be some situations where it might make sense to rent again.
Big shifts in a person’s life like a divorce, death of spouse, empty nesting or a temporary transfer to a new city are certainly things that may warrant renting, at least temporarily, until those circumstances develop the particulars.
A good example might be that you think you’d like to move downtown. Before selling your home and purchasing a condo, it might be enlightening to rent an apartment to see how you’ll adapt to the changes in that style of living.
The sales and purchase expenses incurred with real estate are absorbed over the period ownership which is usually between ten and twelve years. When the holding period involves only a few years, it can negatively impact a homeowner’s equity.
Like any move, especially coordinating the sale and purchase of two homes, there are a lot of issues involved. Your real estate professional can provide information that will help you to make better decisions on whether to buy, sell or rent again.
Benefits fof a Smaller Home!
Home Too Big Now?
Once the kids are grown, have careers, relationships and get a place of their own, parents find that they may not need their “big” home like they did before. Their lifestyle may have changed and the house just doesn’t “fit” anymore.
Benefits of a smaller home:
Easier to maintain
Lower property taxes
More convenient location
Convenience of a single level
Possibly more energy efficient
Possibly lower maintenance
Moving from a larger home frees equity from the previous home that can be invested for retirement income, purchase a second home, travel, education or just to have a nest egg for unexpected expenses. The profit on the home, in most cases, will be tax-free up to the exclusion limits set by IRS.
There will be expenses involved in selling a home as well as the purchase of a new home. These will lower the amount of net proceeds available to invest in the new home.
Like any other big change in life, it is recommended that you take your time to consider the possible alternatives and outcomes. Your real estate professional can provide information that can be valuable in the discernment process such as what your home is worth, what you will net from a sale as well as alternative properties for your next stage in life.