When Homeowners Are Better Off Than Renters

April 16, 2014

in Tips

Post image for When Homeowners Are Better Off Than Renters

If you’re among those struggling to decide whether to buy versus rent, consider these 10 reasons to take the plunge into homeownership. For example, you can take advantage of currently low interest rates and prices. Despite creeping back up, interest rates remain relatively low from a historical perspective, and at the same time, home prices in many areas remain soft. That can make for an appealing buyer’s market. And unlike rent, a fixed mortgage can’t go up (even if inflation does). Jack Otter, author of “Worth It … Not Worth It?suggests making a 20 percent down payment and taking out a 30-year fixed mortgage to lock in today’s low interest rates. “Mortgage rates haven’t been this low since GIs were heading home from France. Lock in a low monthly payment, and you’ve just taken a huge step in protecting your family against inflation,” he writes in his book. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Selling Your Home: 10 Keys To Home Staging On A Budget

April 11, 2014

in Tips

Post image for Selling Your Home: 10 Keys To Home Staging On A Budget

You’ve decided to sell your home, and you want to get top dollar for it. And you’ve seen TV shows where homeowners spend thousands of dollars staging their homes for sale, but there’s an important detail to consider: You don’t have thousands and thousands to spend. The good news is there are many things you can do to spruce up the look of your home without shelling out a lot of money. “Updating isn’t as expensive as it used to be,” says Lori Matzke, a home staging expert in Minneapolis who teaches workshops nationwide. “There’s a lot of DIY information out there.” First impressions matter, and that’s why you want to start by making sure your home exudes curb appeal. Go all out with small do-it-yourself projects. Cut the grass, trim the bushes, get rid of dead branches and consider planting some flowers. Replacing the mailbox and house numbers and painting the front door can also make your home more appealing to a prospective buyer driving by. If the house looks dirty, wash the siding or stucco. “I’ve seen houses that look really frumpy on the outside and great on the inside,” Matzke says, “but you can’t get [potential buyers] in the door.” [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Renting An Apartment? This Mistake Could Cost You $5,000 Or More

April 11, 2014

in Tips

Post image for Renting An Apartment? This Mistake Could Cost You $5,000 Or More

If you were at risk of losing $5,000, $10,000 or even $15,000 and could do something to stop it, would you? Would you sit by and twiddle your thumbs, or would you leap into action and do something to protect your stash? The answer is a no-brainer: you’d leap into action. Yet according to a new study, more than half of adults ages 23 to 29 years old who rent their homes haven’t bothered to take out renters insurance, putting all their stuff (and add it all up, you’ve got a lot of stuff) at risk. Just as homeowners buy homeowner’s insurance to cover their home and belongings, renters can and should get renter’s insurance to do the same thing. Most renters don’t have the cash sitting around to replace all their stuff. So why do so few buy renters’ insurance? One reason: while homeowner’s insurance is almost always required if you are paying for your home with a mortgage, there are no blanket rules or laws requiring that you purchase a renter’s policy. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

5 Alternatives To The 30-Year Mortgage

April 11, 2014

in Tips

Post image for 5 Alternatives To The 30-Year Mortgage

If you’re buying a home, chances are you’ll take out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. It’s the most popular home financing option, according to Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entity that works to help homeowners get mortgages. In the last couple of years, those who took out home loans overwhelmingly chose the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage: It accounted for 85 percent of the home-purchase loan market in 2012, according to Freddie Mac, and 90 percent in the first half of 2013. Even if you’re planning to go this traditional route, it’s nice to know what you could do instead. Here are some alternatives to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. If you aren’t going to get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is the next best alternative, according to many mortgage experts. The downside is that you’ll have higher monthly payments than with a 30-year mortgage, but the upside is that you’ll pay off the home faster. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Working At Home: Who Claims The Home Office Deduction?

April 11, 2014

in News,Tips

Post image for Working At Home: Who Claims The Home Office Deduction?

Often cited as a “red flag” for audits, the home office deduction is in fact a legitimate business deduction with particular importance for certain careers and small business owners. Moreover – from the housing economics perspective – IRS data concerning the deduction, along with Census data reporting who works at home, can shed light on an important and growing role for homes: workplaces for business owners and telecommuters. There’s no doubt that the practice of working at home is on the rise. According to data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, in 1997 7% of workers (9.2 million individuals) reported working at home at least one day a week. By 2010, that total had grown to 9.4% (13.4 million), an increase of more than four million or 35%. Not surprising, workers in industries that involve more individual independence or technology tend toward greater use of the deduction. For example, educators, the information technology sector, professional services (lawyers, accountants, architects, etc.), and those in the arts and entertainment sectors are all more likely to claim the home office deduction. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Selling Your Home: Fixing Those Little Hairline Cracks In Your Walls

April 11, 2014

in Tips

Post image for Selling Your Home: Fixing Those Little Hairline Cracks In Your Walls

Without question, any hairline cracks in your walls should be repaired before putting your home on the market, said Laura DeVita, a real estate saleswoman with Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Rye, N.Y. “You don’t want prospective buyers coming in and thinking there’s a problem with the foundation or something that they don’t know about, which could cause a greater expense,” she said. “It may be superficial, but they don’t know that.” That advice holds true regardless of the age of your home, Ms. DeVita said. “People want to see it clean and nice, whether it’s a historical property or new construction,’” she said. “You never want a prospective buyer to start speaking about your property in a disparaging way.” Superficial cracks in walls happen for several reasons, said John Buchbinder, a contractor who owns Grand Renovation in Brooklyn. “Where wood meets plaster or plasterboard, you can get cracks,” he said. “Plasterboard does not move very much, but wood expands and contracts, and eventually, cracks open up.” [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

5 Ways To Save On Lawn Care

April 11, 2014

in Tips

Post image for 5 Ways To Save On Lawn Care

As the weather warms up and flowers begin to blossom, Americans with grassy yards will soon be thinking about mowing and lawn care. The National Gardening Association estimates that U.S. households spent roughly $29.5 billion on their lawns and gardens in 2013, an average of about $347 per household. Lawn and garden costs can vary depending on factors like the size of your yard and how much rain it receives. But as Mark Clement, host of the MyFixitUpLife radio show and blog of the same name, points out, “the easiest and [least expensive] lawn to take care of is a healthy one. It may take some work to get there, but healthy lawns – those that are fed regularly, watered properly and seeded at the best times of the year – fight off weeds better and look great doing it.” Here’s how to keep your grass healthy and your costs low. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

7 Budget-Friendly Spring Cleaning Tips

April 11, 2014

in Tips

Post image for 7 Budget-Friendly Spring Cleaning Tips

With winter weather finally behind us, spring has ushered in warmer temperatures and the reminder that it’s time to spruce up your home and garden and tackle those annual “spring cleaning” tasks. You might be dreading deep-cleaning the kitchen, washing all the windows and getting down on your hands and knees to scrub the tub, and the costs might make you cringe as well.  The average American adult spends more than $500 per year on household cleaning supplies. So if you are on a tight budget, never fear. There are simple ways to save some green, while getting your house clean. April is typically a great time to buy cleaning products. With Earth Day this month, you will see organic and natural cleaning products on sale. Save money on cleaning supplies by ditching paper towels for cotton rags and cloths. You can wash in the laundry and reuse, avoiding the need to shell out more money on disposable paper products. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

6 Ways To Improve Your Credit

March 29, 2014

in Tips

Post image for 6 Ways To Improve Your Credit

You probably know that your credit is a big factor in getting a loan, but you may not realize just how much of an impact it can have on all aspects of your financial life. Your credit can influence everything from interest rates and insurance premiums to apartment rentals and even job eligibility. The good news: You don’t have to earn a high income or be flush with cash to have great credit. “The most important thing you can do is make your payments on time and don’t take on too much credit card debt,” says John Ulzheimer, the credit expert for CreditSesame.com. Meanwhile, it doesn’t take drastic measures to improve your credit scores over time. Here’s what you need to know. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

6 Seller Secrets For This Spring’s Real Estate Market

March 22, 2014

in Tips

Post image for 6 Seller Secrets For This Spring’s Real Estate Market

Each year, it seems the housing market takes on a different tone – and whether it’s going to be a sellers’ market with inflated prices and bidding wars, or a buyers’ market with tons of choices and low prices – there’s no denying that the 2014 spring housing season is upon us. So what does it have in store? Well, if you’re thinking of listing your home, that’s an important question. Here are 6 market insights that will give you a head start. Right now is a great time to sell. Sixty percent of all homes in 2014 will be bought and sold from May to August. Putting your home on the market at the beginning of the selling season will help your chances of snagging a winning offer before buyers turn their attention back to school starting in September. In this new mobile era, a huge percentage of buyers use smart phones to start their home search online. Get in on this trend by making sure your home pops on those computer screens. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }