14 Remodeling Projects That Increase the Value of Your Home

14 Remodeling Projects That Increase the Value of Your HomeYour home is likely your largest investment. Beyond repairs and regular maintenance to keep it clean, comfortable, and safe, there are a number of projects that can increase the resale value of your property. These renovations top the list of changes you can make that positively impact your home’s value.

Kitchen

With the right strategy, your kitchen remodel could return up to 92.9% of your construction investment. The trick is to not overdo it. You don’t need to gut and rebuild the entire room. Instead, make strategic upgrades that increase the comfort and usability of the room.

    • Paint wooden cabinets or install new doors and fixtures.
    • Install track lighting or LED features.
    • Refresh or change countertops.
    • Refurbish flooring and spruce up walls with warm, neutral colors that are easy to clean.

Invest in new appliances right before you put your home on the market to catch the eye of potential buyers and pull them in.

Odd Spaces

Older homes with distinctive architecture stand out from the crowd of cookie-cutter residences. However, these unique buildings often hide a lot of unused space. Make the most of every inch of your home to entice buyers to place a bid.

    • Convert a basement into a bonus room.
    • Turn the space underneath a staircase into a storage closet.
    • Divide oversized dining rooms to create a small home office.

Most buyers aren’t looking for a long-term project. Instead of pointing out the potential of your property, make it easy to see by getting creative with odd spaces.

Increase Energy Efficiency

The average monthly utility bill can easily cost a homeowner $200 per month. Help potential buyers lower their monthly costs by installing energy-efficient options throughout the home.

    • Install a solar water heater.
    • Change the windows to more energy-efficient models.
    • Add extra insulation to outer rooms and around doors and windows.
    • Use LED lighting outdoors and throughout the home.

You may be able to get some help paying for your earth-friendly upgrades with state and federal incentives.

Bathrooms

After the kitchen, bathrooms are the most scrutinized feature of homes for sale. Once again, a little goes a long way in these rooms.

    • Update fixtures with shiny metals for a modern look.
    • Change out the toilet seat.
    • Fix up the shower tiles and head.

These projects don’t take a lot of time. However, they can offer a big payoff when you decide to sell your home.

If you are looking for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First Home

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First HomeHunting for your new home can be a confusing process. There are countless factors you need to take into account to ensure your new location fits your family’s lifestyle and preferences. In their excitement, first-time home buyers can easily overlook some essential points about their potential property.

When you’re searching for your new residence, ask these questions to get exactly what you’re looking for.

Am I Financially Ready For A New Home Purchase?

It takes more than money to find the right home. Your credit rating is an important factor in your ability to secure enough funding to finance your dream. Check out your credit score before you buy to make sure you won’t have to settle for less.

Some of the things you have the greatest control over include:

    • Payment history
    • Credit utilization ratio
    • Debt-to-income ratio

Even with a large down payment, having a questionable credit history can endanger your chances of qualifying for mortgage loans. Spend some time shining up your credit report for the best results. Getting a pre-approved home loan is a great way to find out how much house you can afford before you start shopping.

Is This The Right Neighborhood For Me?

No matter how beautiful the structure itself is, your house won’t seem like a home unless you’re comfortable with the surrounding neighborhood. Take a walk around your potential block to assess the area and compare it to your needs.

    • For families with children, are there high-quality schools in the area?
    • Do your neighbors’ homes seem well-kept?
    • What amenities (dry cleaner, grocery stores, parks, etc) do you want in your community?
    • How do the roads and sidewalks look?

Before committing to a purchase, visit the home at different times of the day to get an idea of what you might have to live with.

Am I Ready To Settle Down?

Align your home purchase with your future goals. If you know you’re planning to move out-of-state in the next several years, take that into account when shopping for a home. Will you be able to sell quickly enough before you leave? Or do you plan to retain ownership of the home and rent it out while you’re away?

Think about the directions your life might take in the next 5 to 10 years. By looking ahead, you can make a better plan for the best home you can afford which will accommodate you and your family in the years to come.

Buying your first home is a major decision. Knowing your goals, desires, and abilities before agreeing to a purchase a home will make you the most comfortable moving forward.

One of the best partners in your home purchase process will be your trusted mortgage professional. Be sure to make contact as soon as you are considering a new home purchase to start the pre-approval process.

5 Financial Terms Every Real Estate Investor Should Know

5 Financial Terms Every Real Estate Investor Should KnowThe success of your real estate ventures depends on your ability to navigate the financial world. Learn these terms to make it easier to understand what’s going on with your real estate investments.

Cash Flow

Contrary to popular belief, cash flow isn’t just the amount of liquid assets you have available. Your cash and unused lines of credit are an essential indicator of your ability to complete projects and pay the cost of ongoing operations. However, these factors don’t tell the whole financial story.

Your actual cash flow is the difference between your gross income and your financial obligations. You can have a large cash reserve but still have a negative cash flow if you aren’t making enough to cover your obligations.

Gross Yield

When evaluating potential properties, it’s helpful to understand the gross yield. To calculate gross yield, divide the annual income you expect the property to produce by the property’s price. This number comes in handy for comparing properties and narrowing down your options.

Amortization

Lending institutions offer a variety of loan structures to fit your goals and financial standing. An amortized loan features a set amount of interest. This amount is integrated into each monthly payment. That means that borrowers are paying on the loan’s principal and paying down their interest liabilities from the very first payment.

Amortization is an excellent way to quickly build equity. This enables real estate investors to use existing properties to fund other projects without having to sell off their holdings.

Carrying Costs

Flippers and other short-term real estate investors need to keep a close eye on their carrying costs. These are all the expenses incurred after the initial purchase and before the property is sold for profit. Carrying costs include mortgage and interest payments, utility bills, taxes, and insurance.

The best way to limit carrying costs is to flip your property as quickly as possible. However, sudden changes in the market, illness, and other unexpected factors can prolong your need to make monthly payments. In this event, investors should carefully monitor their cash flow to ensure they don’t end up losing their entire investment.

Double Close

Wholesale home buyers often already have an exit strategy before signing on new properties. In this case, a double closing allows the wholesaler to purchase the property and sell it to a new buyer in a single transaction. This is also sometimes called a back-to-back closing.

Knowing these terms will make it easier for you to manage the financial details of your real estate investments as well as partnering with a trusted and skilled home mortgage professional.

Sound Advice From Successful Home Sellers

Sound Advice From Successful Home SellersThe real estate market and all the things involved in selling a home can seem complicated, and it can be very hard to know which tips to trust. While there’s plenty of great advice to go around from many knowledgeable sources, here are some of the best tips from home sellers who have made a successful sale.

Research Your Local Agents

When considering an agent that will meet your home-selling needs, it can be tempting to go with someone familiar or recommended through a friend who seems like a safe bet. However, it’s important to do some of your own research. Create a list of agents you’re impressed by and take note of their sales and agent fees. Keep in mind that you may want to lean towards an agent who has expertise in your neighborhood.

Get A Second Opinion On Price

Before you have an agent appraise the value of your home, it’s worthwhile to do some research on your end to determine the approximate value of your property. Once you’ve arrived at a figure, bring in the agents you’ve selected to appraise the value of your property. If one price is significantly higher than the other, it may be a sign that an agent is trying to win over your business. Most agents are in tune with the current market and should be able to guide you toward the most appropriate market price.

Be House Ready At All Times

Having potential buyers view your home will certainly make the idea of selling it real, so make sure that it is ready for viewing at any time. If a potential buyer cannot view your property or has to work around your schedule constantly to arrange viewings, there’s a pretty good chance that you may lose out on some good home offers. Instead of missing out, provide a set of keys to your real estate agent so they can show people around your home when you’re not around. This should automatically increase the likelihood of an offer on your home.

Heading into the real estate market can be a matter of trepidation if you’re not sure what to do, but by doing some research and being prepared you’ll increase your chances of success.

As you are preparing to sell your home, be sure that you are also readying yourself for your next home purchase by making an appointment with your trusted mortgage professional to discuss your current financing options.

Managing Finances Before Applying For A Mortgage

Managing Finances Before Applying For A MortgageAre you planning on using a mortgage to help cover the cost of a new home? If so, you will want to prepare your finances and figure out how you will manage all those wallet-draining monthly expenses. Let’s take a look at how to run a quick financial health check to ensure you are ready to apply for a mortgage.

Update (Or Start) Your Monthly Budget

First, it is essential to get the basics out of the way. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start a monthly budget to keep track of your income and expenses. Once you have a mortgage, it will be important to prioritize your monthly payments so that you don’t end up falling behind.

Starting a budget is easy and can be done with mobile apps, software, a spreadsheet or a pen and paper. List all sources of income so that you know exactly how much cash you are working with. Then, list out every one of your expenses. It can be tough to remember them all, so consider using debit and credit card statements from the past few months as a reminder.

Get A Copy Of Your Credit Report

Next, you will want to get a copy of your credit report so you can see what potential mortgage lenders will see when assessing your financial history. This is a free service that you can request once per year, so be sure to take advantage. Note that you will want to use government-approved websites for requesting your credit report. Be wary of scams.

Do You Have A Down Payment?

A down payment is not required for every home purchase, but having one saved up can make the buying process easier. The amount you will want to have saved up will depend on the cost of your home, whether you plan on carrying private mortgage insurance and a variety of other factors. If possible, try to save up an amount close to (or more than) twenty percent of the home’s purchase price.

Ready? Chat With A Professional

Now that you have your financial health in check, it is time to meet with a trusted mortgage professional to discuss your financing options.

Inexpensive Updates That Will Appeal To Buyers

Inexpensive Updates That Will Appeal To BuyersWhile you could spend tens of thousands of dollars or more completing a home makeover, there are more than a few budget-minded ideas that you may consider.

Add Color To Molding And Trim

One cool idea in home décor and interior design is to get rid of the standard white trim and molding and to add color to these areas. Neutral hues like grays and browns have universal appeal, or you can give your space a more contemporary look by adding black to these areas. Generally, you will want a more neutral color like a creamy beige on the walls when executing a look with colored trim.

Another idea is utilizing a color consistent with your wall color as opposed to a contrasting or complimentary color. This helps the trim blend in and almost disappear. This is an especially effective concept when used in small rooms, narrow halls with several doorways or in rooms with low ceilings.

Update Light Fixtures

If you have a little more money to spend, you may consider updating your light fixtures. There are rather affordable yet stylish fixtures available in a wide range of finishes. When your rooms are empty or staged to perfection, the light fixtures can easily set the tone of the room and may be focal points. Outdated fixtures may have limited appeal to buyers who are looking for a home that is modern and current with today’s trends.

When thinking about lighting, don’t forget to consider updating your outdoor lighting. The right fixtures may add an additional element of curb appeal that many buyers appreciate.

Redefine Outdated Spaces

In some older homes, some of the rooms may have originally been built with outdated uses in mind. Today’s savvy buyers may be looking for a home with an exercise room, a media room or a study rather than a formal living or dining area. With this in mind, you may consider how you can stage your home to show that it can be used for modern purposes.

This may simply mean moving your formal dining room set into storage, adding French doors and investing in an affordable desk and side chairs for staging purposes. Murphy beds that offer space for guests that can be hidden away when not in use are a clever way to show dual purpose. Turning a closet or the area under the stairs into a small office is also a clever use of space.

Whether you are interested in refinancing your current property or purchasing a new property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional for the most current financing options.

3 Ways To Help Your Kids Deal With The Move

3 Ways To Help Your Kids Deal With The MoveKids of all ages often have a hard time dealing with moving. They may not be able to understand why the family can’t stay in the same place forever. Even with explanations, children often can’t readily envision how amazing the new place will be.

Here are some ideas for helping your kids deal with the move.

1. Make It Easy To Stay In Touch

For a lot of kids, a big sore spot with moving is having to say goodbye to friends and schoolmates. They may even feel like you’re intentionally wresting them away from their friends. To demonstrate how much you understand the sacrifice, make a gift of a cute set of note cards, stamps included. Even if your child chooses to text or email old friends instead of write, they’ll appreciate your gesture.

2. Visit The New Community

If possible, bring your kids to visit the new neighborhood where you’ll be moving. Encourage positive anticipation by signing them up for things like a library card, pool membership or a community event such as an Easter egg hunt, relay race or something similar. Consider enrolling them in a fun local class such as pottery, horseback riding, or something else they would enjoy. This helps your kids to focus on the upcoming activities instead of leaving their friends behind.

3. Strive To Keep Old Routines

When you’re busy packing and readying for the big move, old routines often fall by the wayside. But children need routines to feel safe. Strive to keep as many old routines as possible in the preliminary days and weeks before the big move. For example, if Wednesday is always family game night, stick to the plan. Your kids will feel more secure knowing that some things will stay the same, even in a new location.

Above all, make the time to listen. Your child might have concerns that you hadn’t thought of, like having to give up their dog or cat in order to move to the new house. Don’t worry, though. Kids tend to adjust very well to new situations. With your support and a few tips like the ones mentioned above, your children will make a happy transition to your new home.

Before you begin your search, be sure to set an appointment with your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss financing options and your home loan pre-approval.

5 Tips To Price Your Home To Sell For Top Dollar

5 Tips To Price Your Home To Sell For Top DollarMany home sellers are confused about how to price their home to sell. It’s definitely challenging to try and find that sweet spot between pricing it low enough so it flies off the market without undercutting the home’s value.

Emotions play into the decision, too. If the seller has a lot of sweat equity in the home, or the property is the only place the children have ever called home, owners may tend to place a higher value on the house.

Here’s how to correctly price a home to sell in any market.

Rely On Your Real Estate Agent

Your Realtor is an expert in all matters related to home buying and selling. They have a vested interest in selling your home within a reasonable time frame. As such, they provide a valuable, objective perspective that you should closely pay attention to in order to correctly price your home to sell.

Look At Comps In Your Neighborhood

One thing that your real estate agent does is analyze the comparable properties in your neighborhood. Remember, what a home sells for in a nearby city doesn’t impact how to price your home in a neighborhood far removed. Your prospective buyers will also compare your home’s price to others they could buy in the same neighborhood.

Consider Special Features

Don’t discount special features that your home has, such as built-in shelving units, out buildings, a home movie theater, etc. These give you an advantage in that you can safely set your price a little higher than comparable homes without those features. Be sure your real estate agent mentions them on your MLS listing so buyers understand the higher asking price.

Be Prepared To Make Price Adjustments

Remember that you might have to come down from your asking price, so keep that in mind when you and your real estate agent set that number. Don’t expect that you’ll get exactly what you’re asking for unless you’re in a high demand area. When you give yourself some margin, you gain negotiating power you can use to make a sale happen.

Consider Your Own Finances

Pricing your home to sell is only one factor to consider. The larger equation takes your entire financial picture into account. Figure out how much you owe, how much commission you’ll pay and any sales concessions, if any, you’d be willing to offer a prospective buyer. This due diligence ensures you’ll be satisfied with the outcome after all the money has changed hands.

Pricing your home to sell correctly is a critical part of making the transaction happen. Remember that your real estate agent is the best judge of the best price point, but you can always point out the reasons why you’d like it higher or lower.

It’s important to plan out where you will live once your current property has sold. A great place to start is by obtaining a current evaluation of how much you can afford for your new property and getting your new home loan pre-approved with assistance from your trusted home mortgage professional. 

Garage Organization Ideas For Your New Home

Garage Organization Ideas For Your New HomeNow that you have a beautiful new home with a garage, the fun of organizing can begin. When your garage is well organized, everything is much easier. You can get home projects finished faster, get out the door quicker and better enjoy all your sporting activities.

Here are some tips to organize your new garage.

Make Use Of The Walls

A lot of homeowners overlook the wall space when organizing the garage. If your garage has exposed studs, this is actually a benefit in terms of storage space. You can easily create shallow shelves in between the studs using 2 x 4 and shelf brackets. Use these shelves to store smaller items that tend to get lost on larger shelves. You can also create an effective space for hanging garden tools. Screw extra large hooks onto the outside edge of one of the 2 x 4s. Hang brooms, rakes and shovels from the hooks.

Utilize The Ceiling

You can also utilize the back area of the ceiling, beyond the area where the garage door stops when it’s raised. Install hanging systems that you can source from a local hardware store. You’ll be able to hang things like bicycles, skis, kayaks and more. Some homeowners even hang small lawnmowers and spreaders during off-season.

Invest In A Workbench

Even if you don’t do carpentry, a garage workbench is a useful part of an organized garage. This is the place where you can do small repairs on household items or add to your garage organizational systems. You’re more likely to repair an item when it’s sitting on your workbench and you have all the needed parts within reach. Install some smaller clear storage drawer units above the workbench to hold screws, nails and nuts and bolts in various sizes.

Hang A Pegboard

A pegboard provides a central place for your garage tools. Hang the pegboard on the wall within reach of your workbench. Outline the spaces on the pegboard for hammers and screwdrivers so they always get put back where they belong.

It’s never fun to have to endlessly search every time you need something from the garage. These garage organization ideas will make your new home and garage even more enjoyable.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to find out about current financing options.

How To Handle Common Homeowner Challenges

How To Handle Common Homeowner ChallengesIt takes hard work to achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Everyday people work to save for a down payment and build a good credit score. When you turn the key to your first home or dream home, the sweat equity feels well worth it.

But the hard work of buying a home continues long after hanging family photos and hooking up a big-screen TV. There are challenges that property owners are unprepared to handle. These are three of the more common ones you may want to be ready to manage.

Leaking Pipes

Plumbing does not last forever and at some point, it will begin to leak. For people who have wells on their property, copper pipes can wear thin faster. That’s because the pH of well water can tend to be on the more acidic side and corrode pipes quicker.

Many homeowners are ill prepared to deal with pipes that spring a leak. If a leak goes unchecked, the water can cause other damage or hazardous mold growth behind walls and under floorboards. While one solution is often having a plumber make an expensive emergency call, there are other simple solutions.

Take a piece of an old bicycle tire tube and fasten it tight over the leak using a pair of hosepipe screw clamps. These clamps wrap around the pipe and can be closed over the rubber and leak using a screwdriver. If you do not have these items handy, it may be in your best interest to spend less the $5 and get them sooner rather than later.

Moisture In The Bathroom

The single most destructive force to any home is not rodents or termite infestations. Water can do more damage than the average homeowner might imagine. A poorly ventilated bathroom can create one of the most hazardous problems.

When moisture seeps behind walls or under the floor, it can spur on dangerous mold growth. These health hazards often go undetected and sick family members may not know the root cause is hidden behind the walls.

Overly moist bathroom walls from hot showers are a telltale sign that you need improved ventilation. Start immediately by opening a window when showering and enlist the help of a professional to properly vent the bathroom. The difference could be thousands of dollars in ripping out walls and rebuilding, not to mention your health.

Power Outages

There are two types of power outages that homeowners would be wise to prepare for — short ones and long ones. If your power is interrupted for a few hours or half of a day, keep the refrigerator shut and enjoy the time without television noise. A few inexpensive battery-operated lanterns or candles will provide enough light.

But if you are hit by a long-term outage, there are things you can do ahead of time to be prepared. Many homeowners in areas that suffer annual severe weather incidents purchase generators. Small ones can be set outside and run electricity to important items. Even a modest generator can help a homeowner through a week-long outage.

If you don’t have a backup generator, the time is now to prepare. They will fly off the shelves when the lights go out.

The joy of homeownership is coupled with ongoing challenges. Planning ahead can save time, money and help keep your dream home in tip-top shape.

Whether you are interested in buying a new home or refinancing your current property, your trusted home mortgage professional is available to help you find the most current and beneficial financing options.