Buying a Home While Relocating is a Smarter Choice

Buying a Home While Relocating is a Smarter ChoiceThe idea of buying a home is challenging enough as the process requires a lengthy approval validation, paperwork, financing, and the actual move with logistics. However, when one really looks at what typically occurs with relocation, buying versus renting can start to make more sense over time.

Finances Have to be In Order

Buying a home more than once every ten years requires a good amount of discipline on one’s personal finances. Most of the initial decisions and approvals will depend heavily on keeping one’s debt versus income ratios in line and viable. That also means saving up a lot to have sufficient cash flow for fees and your down payment. It also means not letting credit cards get out of hand or taking on other significant debt unless necessary as both weigh against one’s ability to obtain new financing for the next home purchase.

Renting Versus Owning

Renting or leasing tends to be the go-to option during a relocation because it tends to be easier upfront, has fewer requirements to achieve, and involves less of a significant commitment financially. After all, what happens if there is another relocation just a year later? However, most relocations are fairly defined in time. Anything under a year would make sense for renting, but when one starts getting beyond a year, buying starts to become far more appealing.

First, all the dollars one pays in rent are a sunk cost. If one buys, some of that money goes into home equity. Second, many companies and organizations who relocate their people often have connections for quick purchasing and residential needs, leveraging corporate interests for their employees. This allows for the rotation of homes from one employee to the next and makes buying easier for longer-term stays.

Third, a purchase for a shorter-term stay doesn’t have to be a full-scale home. Smaller units that cost much less are easier to close and can work just as well for temporary living. Relocating buyers should really consider a wide range of housing options in a buy versus just a strict replacement of what they had before.

Finally, market costs in the target location have to be considered. Some markets are very affordable and might be cheaper than renting month to month but others are astronomical, and it simply doesn’t make sense to buy in these regions for a short-term stay.

The Bottom Line

Understand with renting everything paid is gone and won’t be recovered in any form at all. It’s a lost expense. That can be thousands of dollars after one year alone. Buying will have fees, but the money spent on the mortgage each month buys equity which can be recovered in a sale, plus a possible gain as well down the road. Buying doesn’t work in every situation where one is relocated, but it can be a viable option in affordable markets and when one is staying longer than a year.

As always, check with your local real estate professional for the best advice on your relocation and your personal financial situation.

7 Inexpensive Upgrades You Can Make To Your Rental Property

7 Inexpensive Upgrades You Can Make To Your Rental PropertyUpgrading your rental doesn’t need to cut deeply into your profits. You can add curb appeal and help prospective tenants see your rental as their next home by making some simple changes. The following upgrades are all things that a handy landlord can do without needing to hire professional contractors.

1.  Decorative Switch Plates

Replace ugly cream switch plates with either stainless steel models or decorative designs. Fancy switch plates for light switches and electrical sockets cost very little, yet make any room look nicer. The best part is, you can do the replacements yourself, using only a screwdriver.

2.  Flower Beds

Beautiful flower beds make any rental look more inviting. You can enhance curb appeal by planting inexpensive perennials around the front of the rental and along the pathway leading up to the door. Top off your newly planted flower beds with a fresh layer of colored mulch.

3. Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Kitchen cabinets are pricey, but it’s cheap to just reface existing cabinets. You can either replace the entire doors or take them off and give them a fresh sanding and a couple of coats of varnish or paint.

4. Fresh Paint

Even quality paint is inexpensive. Give your rental a beautiful new look with fresh paint throughout. You’ll want to use neutral tones, but consider making an accent wall, painted with an attractive color.

5. New Light Fixtures

Old light fixtures make a place look dated. You can pick up inexpensive light fixtures at big box home improvement stores. This simple upgrade will make your rental more attractive and modern.

6. Broom Storage Area

Most rentals don’t come with a broom closet, but you can create a makeshift broom storage area very cheaply. Just pick up some plastic broom holders and a shelf from the hardware store. Attach the broom holders to the wall and hang the shelf over that. Your tenants will appreciate the upgrade!

7. Fresh Window Treatments

Window treatments make a house look like a home. Replace window blinds or shades for an instant upgrade. Curtains are even cheaper and can be laundered and reused between rentals.

No matter where your rental is located, you can make it more attractive with these easy and inexpensive upgrades that you can do yourself.

3 Easy Ways to Put Aside a Bit of Extra Cash So You Can Pay off Your Mortgage Faster

3 Easy Ways to Put Aside a Bit of Extra Cash So You Can Pay off Your Mortgage Faster If your personal budget is similar to many other people’s budgets, your home mortgage payment is by far the largest expense that you pay for each month. In fact, this payment may easily account for 20 or 25 percent or more of your take-home income.

Understandably, you may be focused on trying to pay this expense off early. By focusing on this payment, you can build equity and may be able to achieve financial security more quickly. You simply have to find a way to put aside a bit of extra cash regularly so that you can make extra payments, and there are few easy ways that you can consider.

Use Your Tax Refund

First, if you are one of the many taxpayers who receives a refund each year, consider setting aside some or all of this refund to reduce your outstanding mortgage balance.

Some taxpayers may have such a sizable refund that it can account for two or more mortgage payments each year. However, even a few hundred dollars extra put toward your principal balance will save you a considerable amount of money in interest charges over time and will have a wonderful effect on your balance.

Earmark Your Annual Bonus

If you are lucky enough to receive an annual bonus each year, you may consider using this to pay down your principal balance. While you may usually spend this money on extra holiday gifts or just add it to your spending cash, you can benefit more substantially when you contribute it to your effort to pay down your mortgage.

Use An Automated Draft To Create a Fund

Another great idea that will work well for all individuals is to create an automated draft from your checking account each month. You may set aside the funds in a special account, and you can make an extra mortgage payment from this account periodically. Another idea is to set up auto payments for your mortgage that are higher than the amount due. For example, you may establish auto payments that are $50 or $100 more than your scheduled payments.

Paying off your mortgage earlier can be a life changing event for you. Simply imagine how different your life would be if you were not responsible for this payment each month. The fact is that this could be your reality sooner than you think if you follow these tips. For the best results, apply two or even all three tips to your efforts.

Boosting Your Credit Score To Qualify For Better Rates

Boosting Your Credit Score To Qualify For Better Rates

The better your credit score, the better the mortgage interest rate for which you should qualify. That can mean thousands of dollars saved over the life of the mortgage. If your credit score needs improving, get started prior to your search for a new home.

Pay Bills On Time
The simplest way to boost your credit score is by ensuring your bills are always paid on time. Nothing harms a credit score more than late payments.

Check for Credit Report Errors
Check your credit reports for any errors. These issues are not uncommon, and can really impact your score. Each of the three major credit card reporting bureaus –Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion –will provide you with a free annual report.

Credit Utilization Rate
Look into your credit utilization, or CU, rate. The CU rate is another big credit score consideration. Your CU rate is the amount of credit authorized versus the amount you use. It’s one reason maxing out your credit cards is not a wise move.

Never allow your CU rate to exceed more than 30 percent of your available credit. In simple terms if you have $1,000 in available credit, never use more than $300. High CU rates are a red flag, as they indicate someone with potential financial problems. For best results, keep your CU rate as low as you can.
Calculate your CU rate by adding up the credit limits on all cards, as well as the balances. Divide the total balances by the total credit limit, then multiply by 100. That amount is your CU rate percentage.

Reduce Your Debt
If you carry credit card debt, pay it down as much as possible. That also helps lower your CU rate.

Avoid Opening New Credit Card Accounts
Do not open new credit card accounts while trying to boost your credit score.   A new account lowers the age of your accounts, affecting your credit history and lowering the CU rate.

Do Not Close Unused Credit Card Accounts
Do you have credit cards you never use? You might think closing them would boost your credit score, but that is not how it works. When you close the account, the amount of credit you have drops. That triggers a CU rate increase.

Refinancing Credit Card Debt
If you have substantial credit card debt, consider refinancing all of it with a personal loan. You should receive a lower interest rate with your balances now merged into a single monthly payment. This also causes your CU rate to go down.

How Long Will It Take?
How long it will take to improve your credit score depends on the severity of your credit problems. Those with serious credit issues may find it takes years to raise their scores significantly, but most people should see improvement within a few months. Then it is time to think about mortgage shopping!

VA vs FHA vs USDA What’s the Difference?

VA vs FHA vs USDA What's the Difference?You may have more options than you think when it comes to securing a mortgage for your new home. While many buyers opt for conventional financing, another option or program might be a better choice for you, depending on your personal and financial situation. Learning more about FHA, USDA, and VA loans ensures you get the best possible deal for your mortgage and that you secure the loan that you need for your new home. Here’s what you need to know about these useful mortgage options.

FHA Loans
These are traditional mortgages that are backed by the FHA: when you take out an FHA loan, this government agency is insuring the loan. This makes your loan more appealing to lenders who might otherwise feel your credit or income history is not strong enough. An FHA loan is available to a wide range of buyers and price points and offers a low-down payment, reasonable interest, and other perks that make it worth exploring for your next mortgage. 

VA Loans
If you are a veteran then this program, which offers loans insured by the VA, is a great option for you as they do not require money down so you can buy immediately, rather than saving for years for a down payment. The VA loan is available to those who have served or are serving in the armed forces and is a good option to help you get the home you want with no money down, unlike a conventional mortgage loan.

USDA Loans
One of the most useful and often overlooked loan programs is from the USDA. While this government office offers direct loans, far more people qualify for their insured loan programs. USDA loans are for rural areas, but a surprising number of suburban communities and locations qualify as well. With a low-down payment and interest, this subsidized loan program is well worth it if you plan to live in a rural or suburban area. 

Not every borrower will qualify for the mortgage options above; the USDA has guidelines on income and the home you are interested in. The FHA does not have income requirements, but you will need to prove your income and this option also has a loan limit.  If you do meet the guidelines of any of the above programs, they can help you access the home you want by dramatically reducing your upfront and deposit costs. 

The right loan for you will depend on your income, credit, and the home you’ve selected. Your agent can help you find the home that suits the program you want and make it easy for you to secure the financing you qualify for. Get in touch today to talk about your home buying options and see which loan option is right for you. 

The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must Embrace

The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must EmbraceWhether you are preparing to purchase your first home or it has been many years since you last walked through the home buying process, you may be starting to feel overwhelmed at the thought of all of the work that lies in front of you. From concerns about finding the right home to the physical act of relocating all of your belongings after the closing, there is certainly a lot to think about. While each home buying transaction is unique, the most successful home buyers have typically adopted a few behaviors. You may keep these in mind to help you navigate through the process with success.

Keep An Eye On Your Budget

Financial stress when buying a home is common. You may have saved for years to afford your down payment, but there are various expenses that some may have not calculated or planned for. It is important to leave extra funds available for unexpected expenses, such as paying for the appraisal up-front on the home you have fallen in love with. Likewise, keep a close eye on your budget so that you are aware of your financial situation at all times.

Be Available And Flexible

It is imperative that you remain available and flexible as much as possible. Your real estate agent may call you at the last minute with a great new listing that has come on the market, and you may need to be flexible with your schedule to see this property before other buyers do. In addition, you may need to be flexible and accommodating with regards to contract negotiations, working with title company requests and more.

Seek Advice And Knowledge

Buying a home does not have to be stressful, but it also is not something that you do every day. There is a lot for even an experienced home buyer to learn, and you should be prepared to seek advice and to educate yourself along the way. Ask questions as necessary, and use the Internet for additional research.

Home buying is a process, and you may consider taking one day at a time as you proceed through the journey to reach your ultimate goal. A skilled real estate agent can guide you through the process and can help you to more successfully reach your goal. Reach out to a real estate agent today to begin looking for your new home.

Buying an Investment Property? Here’s How You Can Maximize Your Rental Revenue

Buying an Investment Property? Here's How You Can Maximize Your Rental RevenueWhether you’re buying a ski-in/ski-out condo at your favorite resort or you’re thinking of picking up a small home in a busy tourist area, buying a property for short-term rental purposes can be an excellent investment that quickly begins to provide additional revenue.

Let’s take a quick look at a few steps that you can take to maximize the revenue that your investment properties bring in each month.

Upgrade Your Home to Give It a Luxurious Feel

It should go without saying that if you want your home to rent for a high price it has to have a significant amount of value behind it. After you purchase the home, spend some time on upgrades that help to enhance the home’s beauty and usability. If possible each sofa should be a sofa-bed so that additional guests can stay the night. Upgrade the televisions, have Wi-Fi internet access available and provide a phone number that guests can call if anything goes awry.

Professional Photos and Copywriting

If you’re renting your property out to short-term or vacationing tenants you’re most likely going to use online services like VRBO, HomeAway or AirBnB to attract new business. While these sites have a lot of visitor traffic you’re also going to face a high level of competition from other property owners in the area. It’s worth paying a professional photographer to take pictures of your home as well as having a professional copywriter handle the sales copy for your listing. These are one-time costs that can help you to defeat your competition and close high-ticket clients.

Cater to Large Groups or a Niche Crowd

There are a number of “niche” travelers out there and if you can cater to these groups you’ll find that you’re able to charge more than the average vacation property. For example, you may be buying a home in a popular wedding destination that can be marketed to couples who are being married. If you’re buying a larger 3 or 4 bedroom home, be sure to note that it can house large groups who may be traveling together.

Referrals and Repeat Business

Finally, don’t forget to ask your clients to refer you to their friends and family who many want to stay in your unit, and always invite them to return in the future. You may want to consider offering a discount to repeat visitors to encourage them to visit annually.

Renting out your vacation home or investment property can provide a lucrative income stream as long as you have a professional approach and focus on providing a high level of customer service.

How Can I Price My Home To Sell More Quickly?

How Can I Price My Home To Sell More Quickly?If you are thinking about selling your home, then you want to make sure that you get as much money for your home as possible. Therefore, there is a solid chance that you are thinking about all of the places that you watched your kids grow up, the numerous parties that you hosted, and the countless holidays that you celebrated. To you, those memories are priceless.

Therefore, you should put these factors aside when you are selling your home. You aren’t selling your memories. Instead, you are trying to sell a home. If you want your home to sell quickly, there are a few tips that you should follow.

Do Not Price Your Home High Immediately

You probably think that your house is wonderful. After all, that is why you decided to move in all those years ago. The problem is that if you price your home too high at the beginning, then it might sit on the market for a long time. The longer a home sits on the market, the harder it is going to be to sell. Therefore, do not miss that window of opportunity. Instead, try to price your home to sell. Generate plenty of interest in your home so that you receive multiple offers. That is how you can get the most money possible for your home while still selling it quickly.

Don’t Assume Recent Renovations Are Going To Provide You With A Higher Price

If you have watched a lot of TV shows, then you might assume that renovations are going to drive up the listing price. This is not necessarily the case. You need to assess the market value of the renovations that you completed in the context of your home. That way, you can make sure that you recoup as much money as possible.

Price Your Home To Sell

These are just a few of the most important tips that you need to keep in mind if you want to make sure that you price your home to sell. If you want your home to sell quickly, then you need to ensure that you get plenty of interest in it. Pricing your home to sell will help to make this happen.

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Working From Home Could Mean A New Home

Working From Home Could Mean A New HomeThere are a lot of people who are working from home for the first time. There are a lot of advantages that come with working from home, such as the opportunity to develop stronger relationships with family members, the chance to save money on gas, and more autonomy over the work schedule. In addition, this could also mean a new home.

With many people spending more time at home than they did in the past, they might be thinking about investing in new floorplans, renovating cabinets, and adding a dedicated home office. This could also provide the opportunity to move.

Why People Are Thinking About Upgrading Their Homes

For those who continue to commute to work, they might not spend that much time in their homes. As a result, they may not be that invested in the overall layout of the home. As long as the home meets their needs when they are present, this is enough.

On the other hand, when people work from home, their needs change. For example, many people have their kids home from school right now. Their kids might distract them when they are trying to work. By renovating the home and creating a dedicated space for a home office, this could allow someone to be more productive. Renovating the home is about meeting people’s needs as they change.

The Prospect Of Moving Entirely

On the other hand, some people might be thinking about moving to a new home entirely. The vast majority of people end up purchasing a new home because they have recently obtained a new job and need to live close to work. When someone works from home, they can live just about anywhere they choose. While many people still choose to live relatively close to their current location, working from home provides people with more flexibility than they had in the past. Therefore, many families are taking advantage of it.

Working From Home Will Become More Common

In the future, working from home is going to become more common. As technology continues to improve, people are going to have the opportunity to work from home for the foreseeable future. This represents a lifestyle shift that many people are going to embrace.

Let There Be Light! 3 Easy Ways to Make over a Room by Adding New Light Fixtures

Let There Be Light! 3 Easy Ways to Make over a Room by Adding New Light Fixtures

Light is an important design element that can be used to influence your interior decor in a number of ways. In fact, you can experience a major transformative change on the overall style and ambiance of a room by making a few simple lighting changes. Consider how these ideas can help you to improve the look of your space with great results, and think about ways that you can improve your space by making a few changes.

The Addition of Spotlights

If you have fine pieces of artwork, decorative display areas or other features that you want to illustrate with beautiful clarity, the addition of spotlights is a great idea. You can shine light on these special features in your home by installing a single, bright fixture with a focused beam overhead, or you can use track lighting to highlight larger features. In some cases, the design or layout of your room may be sufficient to allow lighting to be placed at eye-level or even below the fixture to shine upward at it.

Background Illumination

While spotlights can shine a focused beam of light on fixtures, you can also use background lighting for ambiance. Consider how you can incorporate background lighting with under-cabinet kitchen lighting, dimmer recessed lighting placed behind a sofa or other features. Generally, these are lights that do not provide direct lighting, and the light may not be the main source of light in the room. It may even have a hint of color to it for a dramatic flair that further establishes ambiance.

Beautiful Lamps

Another idea is to use beautiful or decorative lamps in your room. These may be smaller desk lamps, towering floor lamps or table top lamps. There are lamps available in a wide range of colors, sizes and styles. The lighting from the lamps may influence ambiance and provide functional lighting, but the decorative nature of the lamps themselves can enhance the décor even when the lights are not turned on.

There are many different types of lighting that can influence your home’s décor, and in many cases, it makes sense to incorporate each of these styles of lighting in a single room to enjoy different benefits. You can study your rooms’ layouts and designs today to learn more about how the existing light fixtures influence decor, and you can make a few appropriate changes to enjoy better overall results for your space.