8 Ways To Pay Off Your Mortgage Years Earlier

September 27, 2014

in Tips

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The mortgage burning party may have gone the way of the rotary phone, but that doesn’t mean Americans don’t own their homes free and clear anymore. In fact, about 34% of homeowners in the U.S. no longer have a mortgage, according to U.S. Census data. The stories of people who pay off 30-year mortgages after 30 years in the same home are indeed rarer than they once were. But the recent foreclosure crisis did serve as an incentive for homeowners to pay off their loans sooner rather than later – and some have actually given it a try. While living mortgage-free may sound like an enviable goal, paying off your mortgage early isn’t always the best use of your money, says Todd Tresidder, a financial coach and author who publishes the website FinancialMentor.com. For those homeowners who are fully funding their retirement accounts, are free of high-interest debt and have enough cash socked away for other life goals, here are eight simple ways to pay off your mortgage early. [Read this article]

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5 Ways Your Yard May Be Scaring Off Potential Homebuyers

September 23, 2014

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When you’re selling your house, you aren’t just selling your house. You’re also selling your shrubs, your tree with Dutch elm disease and potentially scads of crabgrass. If you suspect your yard is chasing away more potential buyers than it’s drawing in, consider these six landscaping missteps along with suggestions from real estate experts and gardeners to help spruce up your lot. It’s important to keep in mind that your yard translates into what the real estate industry calls “curb appeal.” You want potential buyers to like what they see on the outside of the home so they’re drawn inside. You may not have the money to create a Zen garden or plant an oak tree that can support a swing, but you can at least keep your grass mowed and edged properly. Since you’ve been living there forever, you may not notice the broken fence or that your untended flower garden is something of an eyesore. You may not be the best person to judge how your house looks to outsiders. [Read this article]

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12 Home Improvements That’ll Boost Your Home’s Selling Price

September 22, 2014

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While curb appeal gets buyers in the door, sellers who want to move their homes quickly need to take other steps. The strategy varies by neighborhood and market conditions, but staging a house to appeal to the maximum number of buyers can make difference in how fast the home sells. “Every property is completely different,” says Cannon Christian, president of Renovation Realty in San Diego. “The little things that get people through the front door matter first.” Obviously you don’t want to spend money that you won’t get back. Christian advises seeing what improvements house flippers are making in your neighborhood. You should also spend time scoping out the competition by viewing listings and photos of similar homes for sale and attending open houses in your neighborhood. Once prospective buyers are inside your home, you want to make sure the entire house puts its best foot forward. That starts with cleaning and decluttering, two improvements that cost little money and provide a big return. [Read this article]

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13 Things Almost Every Homeowner Forgets To Buy

September 22, 2014

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When you first moved into your home, you probably stocked up on all of the obvious stuff like light bulbs, a hammer and a few cleaning supplies. But moving into a new space can be chaotic, and in that chaos, there are always a few things that don’t make it into the shopping cart. And a month later when you’re hanging art, you really wish you’d bought that level. That’s okay. You’re not alone! Here are 13 things almost every homeowner forgets to buy. You may have purchased a new, plushy set of towels for you and your partner, but chances are you weren’t thinking about towels for your first houseguests. Grab a new set of guest towels so no one is left using your old beach towels to dry off. If you remembered to purchase a fire extinguisher, cheers to you! (They’re really important.) However, there is a common misconception that “one kind fits all.” Not true! You actually need a specific kind of extinguisher depending on the type of fire you need to put out. [Read this article]

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Housing Costs After Retirement: Owning A Home Outright Benefits Retirees

September 16, 2014

in News,Tips

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A new report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reaffirms the common belief that retirees who own their homes outright are considerably better off than those carrying mortgages or paying rent. The report, called “Housing America’s Older Adults,” focuses on the changes needed to supply sufficient affordable housing for the country’s 50-and-over population, which is projected to increase about 20 percent by 2030. The report found that paying off a mortgage dramatically reduces housing costs and provides an equity cushion to help cover other major expenses. Homeowners nearing retirement who have a mortgage with a low fixed-interest rate shouldn’t necessarily pay it off, so long as they have accumulated enough assets in retirement accounts to comfortably cover the monthly expense, said Jacob H. Gold of Jacob Gold & Associates, a wealth management firm in Scottsdale, Arizona. [Read this article]

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How To Make Your Home A Perfect Nesting Place

September 12, 2014

in Tips

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Making a painless transition from summer to fall is all about planning. The better we prepare our homes for the coming months of rain and cold, the less we mind it. “A hub nest for autumn and winter is a place where you do not feel anxious, and where everything is fit for purpose,” says London-based designer Caz Knight, of Weller Interior Design.The maxim “There is no such thing as bad weather, there is only inappropriate clothing” applies just as much to the home. Textures, color, lighting and just the right amount of clutter can winter-proof any room. There’s little comfort in minimalism when the skies turn gray, and this season’s home design trends – large patterns, bold colors and layered carpets – work particularly well to ward off any hint of seasonal affective disorder. [Read this article]

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5 Credit Score Must-Knows For Millennials

September 10, 2014

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According to a recent survey by the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore Solutions, 18- to 34-year-olds know less than other demographic groups about who’s looking at their credit scores, who collects the information on which scores are based, and what factors drive credit score calculations. “Millennials are less knowledgeable about credit scores simply because they have had less experience in the financial services marketplace” than older consumers, says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America. In order to help you avoid any pitfalls, Bankrate.com has put together a primer on credit scores and credit reports. Here’s what you absolutely must know. “The most important thing (millennials) can do to keep their scores high is to make all their credit card and other loan payments on time,” Brobeck says. [Read this article]

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6 Renting Costs That May Surprise You

September 10, 2014

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Summer and early fall is prime moving season, so renters throughout the country may face surprises as they settle into new homes. Experienced renters know they need to budget for a security deposit, moving costs and possibly a broker fee, but here’s a look at other recurring costs that are easily overlooked, along with ways to avoid or reduce them. For example: increased energy costs. If you move from a small studio to a larger space with vaulted ceilings or floor-to-ceiling windows, the cost to heat and cool your pad may be higher. Also, many people use their cellphone instead of a landline. But if your new apartment has spotty cellphone reception, that strategy may not work. And if you have a car, don’t assume your apartment comes with free parking, especially in an urban area. [Read this article]

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Use Houseplants To Create A Healthy Home

September 9, 2014

in Green Living,Tips

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Placing plants around your home does more than beautify your space – according to NASA, houseplants are actually good for your health. Here are a few tips to help you decide what plants are best for your house. For example, eucalyptus is great for congestion. It opens bronchial passages and clears mucus during colds, flu or bronchitis and is also a natural antiseptic. And if you have insomnia, plants can also help improve your night’s sleep. Gerbera daisies release oxygen at night. Place them by your bed for optimal oxygen intake while you sleep. Gerbera daisies are also great at removing benzene and trichloroethylene from the air. [Read this article]

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14 Steps To Selling Your Home Super Fast

September 6, 2014

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The peak homebuying season is over, but you still want to sell your house before the first snow falls. Even in a slow season, there are steps you can take to sell your home quickly. “Curb appeal is everything,” says Michael Mahon, general manager of HER Realtors in Columbus, Ohio. “Driving into the driveway and walking into that front door sets the expectations.” Another factor that’s equally important for a speedy sale: setting the right price. Many sellers think they should start the price high and then lower it later if the house fails to sell. But some agents say that’s often a recipe for a slower sale – sometimes even at a lower price. “The first 30 days’ activity of your house being on the market is always the best activity you’re going to see,” Mahon says. If the asking price is too high, many buyers and their agents will stay away, assuming you’re not serious about selling or you’re unwilling to negotiate. [Read this article]

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