Category — Real Estate News & Tips

4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

As a homeowner, it’s important to keep your home running efficiently, not only to save money, but also to help the environment thrive. October 2nd is Energy Efficiency Day, a perfect time to think about making some key upgrades that will improve the efficiency of your home. If you’re looking to sell your house and increase the pool of potential buyers in your market, the upgrades below are truly a must.

According with Wallet Hub,

“In the U.S., energy costs eat between 5 and 22 percent of families’ total after-tax income.”

What should you spend on utilities?

Money Management says,

“If you’re working with a budget, and trust me, you should be, your utility costs should be no more than 8-10 percent of your monthly income.”

How can you make your home more efficient?

EnergyEfficiencyDay.Org provides some handy tips that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here are a few simple ones to consider, and how to make them happen:

1. Make the Switch to LED

LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.

2. Seal Those Leaks

On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.

Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.

3. Heat and Cool Efficiently

Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.

Tip: Follow the U.S. Department of Energy recommended temperatures and be energy-efficient all year. 

4. Maintain Your HVAC System

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.

Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable. 

Bottom Line

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. When you’re ready to sell your house, these key features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers. Contact a local real estate professional to learn what buyers are looking for when it comes to energy efficiency options in your area.

 

Written by KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/10/02/4-tips-to-improve-your-home-and-save-on-your-energy-bill/

October 23, 2019   No Comments

5 Reasons to Consider Living in a Multigenerational Home

5 Reasons to Consider Living in a Multigenerational Home

Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans currently live in a multigenerational household?

According to Generations United, the number of multigenerational households rose from 42.4 million in 2000 to 64 million in 2016. The 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors shows that 12% of all buyers have a multigenerational household.

Why Are Many Americans Choosing to Live in a Multigenerational Household?

The benefits to multigenerational living are significant. According to Toll Brothers,

“In recent years, there’s been a steady rise in the number of multigenerational homes in America. Homeowners and their families are discovering new ways to get the most out of home with choices that fit the many facets of their lives.”

The piece continues to explain the top 5 benefits of multigenerational living. Here is the list, and a small excerpt from their article:

1. Shared Expenses

“…Maintaining two households is undeniably costlier and more rigorous than sharing the responsibilities of one. By bringing family members and resources together under one roof, families can collectively address their expenses and allocate finances accordingly.”

2. Shared Responsibilities

“Distributing chores and age-appropriate responsibilities amongst family members is a tremendous way of ensuring that everyone does their part. For younger, more able-bodied members, physical work such as mowing the lawn or moving furniture is a nice trade-off so that the older generation can focus on less physically demanding tasks.”

3. Strengthened Family Bond

“While most families come together on special occasions, multigenerational families have the luxury of seeing each other every day. By living under one roof, these families develop a high level of attachment and closeness.”

4. Ensured Family Safety

“With multiple generations under one roof, a home is rarely ever left unoccupied for long, and living with other family members increases the chances that someone is present to assist elderly family members should they have an accident.”

5. Privacy

“One of the primary trepidations families face when shifting their lifestyle is the fear of losing privacy. With so many heads under one roof, it can feel like there’s no place to turn for solitude. Yet, these floor plans are designed to ensure that every family member can have quiet time… [and] allow for complete separation between the generations within the household.”

Bottom Line

The trend of multigenerational living is growing, and the benefits to families who choose this option are significant. If you’re considering a multigenerational home, reach out to a local real estate professional to learn more about the options available in your area.

Written by KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/10/23/5-reasons-to-consider-living-in-a-multigenerational-home/

October 23, 2019   No Comments

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment

When buying a home, taxes are one of the expenses that can make a significant difference in your monthly payment. Do you know how much you might pay for property taxes in your state or local area?

When applying for a mortgage, you’ll see one of two acronyms in your paperwork – P&I or PITI – depending on how you’re including your taxes in your mortgage payment.

P&I stands for Principal and Interest, and both are parts of your monthly mortgage payment that go toward paying off the loan you borrow. PITI stands for Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance, and they’re all important factors to calculate when you want to determine exactly what the cost of your new home will be.

TaxRates.org defines property taxes as,

“A municipal tax levied by counties, cities, or special tax districts on most types of real estate – including homes, businesses, and parcels of land. The amount of property tax owed depends on the appraised fair market value of the property, as determined by the property tax assessor.”

This organization also provides a map showing annual property taxes by state (including the District of Columbia), from lowest to highest, as a percentage of median home value.How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment | Keeping Current MattersThe top 5 states with the highest median property taxes are New Jersey, New Hampshire, Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The states with the lowest median property taxes are Louisiana, Hawaii, Alabama, and Delaware, followed by the District of Columbia.

Bottom Line

Depending on where you live, property taxes can have a big impact on your monthly payment. To make sure your estimated taxes will fall within your desired budget, contact a local real estate professional today to find out how the neighborhood or area you choose can make a difference in your overall costs when buying a home.

Written By KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/09/04/how-property-taxes-can-impact-your-mortgage-payment/

September 16, 2019   No Comments

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You’re undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer – someone who will be able to tell you how your decisions will impact your home loan.

Below is a list of Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage. Some may seem obvious, but some may not.

1. Don’t Change Jobs or the Way You Are Paid at Your Job. Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.

2. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

3. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios…higher ratios make for riskier loans…and sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

4. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

5. Don’t Change Bank Accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer any money, talk to your loan officer.

6. Don’t Apply for New Credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

7. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts. Many clients erroneously believe that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants in your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process.

 

Written By KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/09/16/things-to-avoid-after-applying-for-a-mortgage/

September 16, 2019   No Comments

How Much Do You Know About Down Payments?

How Much Do You Know About Down Payments?

Whether you’ve owned a home before, or you’re ready to jump into homeownership for the first time, there are always a lot of questions swirling around about what is truly required for a down payment, and how to best source down payment assistance. Let’s tackle these two today.

1. How much do you really need for a down payment?

There is a long-standing misconception about down payment requirements. A survey from Fannie Mae shows only 17% of consumers know the minimum options are actually between 1 – 5% of the purchase price and 40% don’t know how much they need at all.How Much Do You Know About Down Payments? | Keeping Current MattersThere are many mortgage loans available that require as little as 3% down for first-time buyers, and some ask for only 3.5% down from repeat buyers. There are even loans available for Veterans that provide 0% down payment options too.

We’ve mentioned recently that you don’t need to come up with a 20% down payment to buy, and we’ve also shared how quickly you can save for a 3% or 10% down payment, depending on where you live. If you’re planning to put down just 3%, the research shows it may be possible in most states to have enough saved for a down payment in less than a year. That puts homeownership in a much closer reach for many potential buyers, maybe even you!

2. How can I get help with my down payment?

Regardless of the loans available, many buyers still need assistance with a down payment. The great news is, there are a lot of ways to tap into down payment assistance options. Here are just a couple of them:

Assistance from Family Members

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said, “a third of recent first-time buyers received down payment assistance from family members.” They also mentioned, “the average net worth of those aged 75 and over stands at $264,800…They just might offer the boost the next generation needs to become homeowners.

That means one of the ways to find help with a down payment is to accept a gift from a family member. If this is an option for you, make sure you talk to your loan officer before you accept the money, to ensure you document the process the way it is required by your loan. This way, it will be received properly and you can still potentially qualify.

Down Payment Assistance Programs

The reality is, not everyone has a loved one or a family member who can provide help with a down payment. There are, however, more than 2,500 down payment assistance programs available (by local areas like city, county, or neighborhood), and some of them are even specifically for first-time buyers.

The gap, as mentioned in the same survey, is “only 23% of consumers are familiar with low down payment programs.”

That’s why it is so important to get familiar with these options by doing your homework before you plan to buy a home. Determine what is available in the area where you ultimately want to live, so you have all the details you need to take advantage of the down payment assistance option that is best for your family.

Bottom Line

If buying a home is one of your long-term goals, you may be able to get there sooner than you think by tapping into one of the many down payment assistance programs available.

 

Written By KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/08/06/how-much-do-you-know-about-down-payments/

August 13, 2019   No Comments

4 Reasons to Buy A Home This Summer

4 Reasons to Buy A Home This Summer

Here are four reasons to consider buying today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest U.S. Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 3.7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.8% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate. Waiting may no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have started to level off around 4.3%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

Some renters have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Examine the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, greater safety for your family, or you just want to have control over renovations, now could be the time to buy.

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

 

Written By KCM Crew

Source:https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/06/03/4-reasons-to-buy-a-home-this-summer/

June 4, 2019   No Comments

What is Really Happening with Home Prices?

What is Really Happening with Home Prices?

Home values have softened over the last twelve months. We are no longer seeing 6-7% annual appreciation levels for the national housing market. The current numbers are closer to 4%. Some have suggested that year-over-year appreciation levels could fall to 3% or less this year.

However, a stronger-than-expected economy and a good spring housing market have changed some opinions. Some analysts are now predicting that home value appreciation may begin to increase as we move forward.

Here are three examples:

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American

“Data on the movement of unadjusted house prices during the early spring home-buying season won’t be available for a few more months, but it’s quite likely that price appreciation will accelerate again.”

CoreLogic’s April “Home Price Insights

“Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased year over year by 3.7% in March 2019 compared with March 2018…The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 4.8% on a year-over-year basis from March 2019 to March 2020.”

Pulsenomics’ Quarterly “Home Price Expectation Survey”

  • The 2018 4th Quarter survey called for 3.8% appreciation for 2019.
  • The 2019 1st Quarter survey raised the appreciation projection for this year to 4.3%.

Bottom Line

Price appreciation has slowed over the past year. However, a strong economy and a good housing market have many experts thinking that home values might re-accelerate moderately throughout the rest of this year.

 

Written by KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/05/16/what-is-really-happening-with-home-prices/

May 16, 2019   No Comments

4 Reasons to Buy a Home in the Spring

4 Reasons to Buy a Home in the Spring

Spring has sprung, and it’s a great time to buy a home! Here are four reasons to consider buying today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest U.S. Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 4.4% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.6% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage came in at 4.41% last week. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

Some renters have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgageeither yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The cost of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Examine the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, greater safety for your family, or you just want to have control over renovations, now could be the time to buy.

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

 

Written By KCM Crew

https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/03/11/4-reasons-to-buy-a-home-in-the-spring/

March 11, 2019   No Comments

Down Payment Dilemma: How Do You Know How Much To Put Down On A Home?

You’d be a homeowner right now if it weren’t for one thing: the down payment. Right? Even for those who have decent credit and make good money, the down payment is often the great homeownership killer.

For many others, who do have enough money set aside to make a substantial down payment, the question is: how much? Conventional wisdom—not to mention most of the banks and a good portion of homebuying and financial experts—will tell you that 20 percent is the standard bearer when it comes to down payments. But is it really necessary to put 20 percent down?

The short answer is: no.

Now for the long answer.

“Raising a 20 percent down payment isn’t an easy thing to do. Fortunately, you don’t have to. “It’s a myth that all homebuyers must have a 20 percent down payment to buy a home,” says Nancy Herrera-Siples, a Riverside, Calif., branch manager at Primary Residential Mortgage on U.S. News. “So why do you constantly hear that you need to put 20 percent down? Because if you don’t, it usually means you’ll have to shell out money for either private mortgage insurance or government insurance, which is usually financed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).”

And there’s another rub for those who are already struggling to come up with the minimum down payment: that extra couple of hundred dollars per month feels like a penalty. It’s not, of course—”Mortgage insurance protects the lender in case you can’t make your payments and the house is foreclosed on,” said U.S. News—but that money can make a significant difference for those who are stretching to buy a home.

Still, when your only option to buy is a low down payment, which can mean an FHA loan or one of the new low down payment loans from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae—”At the end of 2014, the two government-backed companies announced plans to slash down payments from 5% to 3%,” said CNN—PMI might literally be a small price to pay. Especially if swelling rents are making homeownership look more and more promising. Remember that PMI does go away eventually when your loan balance is 80 percent or less of the home’s value. If you’re in an area where homes are rising in value, this could happen sooner than you think.

Still confused about the ins and outs of down payments? Here are a few reasons to go high…or low.

When to make a substantial down payment

  • When you’re looking to keep your monthly payment as low as possible and have cash to spare
  • When you just can’t fathom paying PMI
  • When your goal is to buy a forever home and own it free and clear
  • When you are approaching retirement age and can envision a reverse mortgage sometime down the line
  • When you want to buy your house and pay it off as quickly as possible
  • When the rate is lower with a higher down payment. “The more you put down, the better position you are in for negotiating a lower interest rate with your lender,” said Credit.com. Plus, a “low down payment might affect other loan features, such as…the points, which are upfront interest charges,” said Banking My Way.
  • If you’re worried about being under water. If the market should drop in your area, you run the risk of owing more than your home is worth.

When to go low

  • When you don’t have the funds for a higher down payment and can’t earn or borrow them quickly enough
  • When the rate on your FHA or Fannie or Freddie loan is comparable to that you’d get with a higher down payment
  • When you need to escape a high-rent situation and the monthly payment on a house is lower than what you’re currently paying, even with the PMI factored in
  • When you’re confident your home will appreciate quickly, allowing you to refinance and get rid of PMI quickly
  • When your investments can’t be touched without a penalty or are returning better than the interest rate you’ll get on your home
  • If you have something better to do with the money. “If you bought a $400,000 home, 5% down would be $20,000, while 20% down would be $80,000—a whopping difference. An immediate need such as a college tuition payment would make the smaller down payment more appealing,” said Banking My Way.
  • When you feel more secure setting money aside for emergencies instead of tying it all up in your house.

 

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/buyersadvice/item/38415-20150917-down-payment-dilemma-how-do-you-know-how-much-to-put-down-on-a-home?rtmpage=

March 11, 2019   No Comments

Selling Your Home? Make it a Summer Dream Home for Buyers

Selling your home in the summertime can be a great opportunity to attract buyers. Having your home “summer-ready” can increase the chances of it selling faster.

Searching for homes often increases just as schools let out and families have some extra time to begin the hunt prior to the next school year beginning.

As a seller, there are a few things you can do to create a summer-ready home that influences your buyers to step inside and stay a bit. The longer they stay when previewing your home, the greater likelihood that they’re considering making an offer.

Make sure your winter decorations are put away and stored. I know this sounds basic and maybe even amusing but there have been instances when lingering holiday decor still adorns some areas of the home. This may be charming to the homeowners but rest assured it’s not to prospective buyers. It’ll simply look like clutter.

Pull the heavy-duty winter rugs up. If you have beautiful flooring like hardwood, go bare for the summer months. Revealing well-kept floors can be a big plus. Rugs that lined the floors in the winter months can be packed up when you’re listing your home for sale in the summer months.

Make the home look like the season and match the neighborhood. If it’s bright and cheerful outside, invite that into your home by opening up the windows and letting natural light flow through. If there is one, let a cool breeze blow in or keep the air conditioner on so that it’s a comfortable temperature to tour your home. Nothing is worse than entering a home to preview and finding that you can hardly stay inside because it’s stuffy and blazing hot.

Tidy up the backyard. Sometimes a lot of attention is given to the interior of the home and the outside area gets overlooked. Remember, in the summertime especially, homeowners will be sure to check out your yard. Make sure that it hasn’t become a dumping ground or storage for all the stuff you’re trying to get rid of before you move. Instead, create a pleasant vision for your prospective buyers by setting up the backyard with cute outdoor furniture. If you have gardens, make sure that you keep tending them. Don’t let them get overgrown. The charm of a lovely outdoor space, large or even petite, will be appealing to most buyers, especially if they’re starting with one that’s already designed and maintained.

Clean your fans and vents and change the heating/air conditioning filters. If you’re not using or living in the home, the fans and filters can collect a lot of dust. Be sure not to overlook cleaning these things as a dirty ceiling fan can whirl off a lot of dust and debris when it’s turned on. It’s not a good way to start a showing by flipping a switch and having handfuls of dust flutter about the room. Cleaning and changing air conditioning filters takes only a few minutes, but the return is huge.

A few simple things can help you “summer-ize” your home so that the prospective buyers can’t wait to move into the home and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Written By Realty Times Staff

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/sellersadvice/item/36491-20150710-selling-your-home-make-it-a-summer-dream-home-for-buyers?rtmpage=null

March 7, 2019   No Comments