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Real Estate News Articles


Updated: Monday, September 16, 2019


Home Upgrades That Will Make Your House Worth Even More Moolah

Replace the Windows

Poorly insulated, drafty, or cheap windows can bring down the value of a home like nothing else. Todays discerning home buyers expect double or triple pane windows with elements like Argon gas, low-e coatings, and all the other elements that make good-quality windows look good and function well. According to money.com, homeowners who replace the windows in their homes get a 73 return on investment when they end up selling their home.

Replace the Roof

A damaged or faulty roof is one of the biggest reasons that homeowners have to hand over money to buyers during the buying process. Inspections frequently turn up issues with cracked shingles, holes, old tiles and all the other roof damage that can put your house at risk. A faulty roof not only makes the outside of the house look bad, but it also raises the risk for damage inside your house.

Do a Minor Bathroom Renovation

Bathroom renos can often take quite a bit of money. If you dont have a lot of money, you can still do a renovation that not only looks good but offers a great return on your investment. Doing something like replacing old, dingy tile or adding a new bathtub can completely change how the bathroom looks. If your tile floor has seen better days, consider replacing it with high-end vinyl flooring or adding a heating element. With small changes like these, you could see as much as a 100 return on your investment when you sell, making these moves a good choice.

Do a Little Kitchen Reno as Well

The same way that a small bathroom renovation can make a huge difference is the same way that a small kitchen renovation can make a huge difference. Like a bathroom, a full kitchen reno can cost well over 100,000, something that you may or may not have. If you have it, go for it. If you dont have it, you can still make small changes that will make a huge difference and how your kitchen is perceived by buyers. When we say "small kitchen renovation", were talking about things like replacing the cabinet doors, replacing the apron on a farmhouse sink or redoing your countertops. One of the easiest things that you can do that will make it look like you have a brand new kitchen is to replace your sink and faucet. Simply upgrading those two elements can create a visual transformation that is a sight to behold. Small changes like these can result in a more that 80 return on investment, according to Nerdwallet.

Replace Your Front Door

Theres nothing like a shabby, broken-down front door to negatively influence a potential buyers opinion of your home. No matter how good the inside of your house looks, that shabby front door will always be the first impression. The buyer may even go so far as to assume that because the front door is shabby, the rest of the home is secretly shabby, even if it looks good Its in your best interest to replace that front door as soon as you can. Buying a good front door will not only make your home look good, but it will give you as much as an 85 return on investment, according to Consumer Affairs.

By following the above home reno tips, youll not only be enjoying the way your home looks. Youll also feel confident that youve increased the value of your home as well.


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First Time Home Buyers: Your Six Month Plan

Herersquo;s what to do financially when yoursquo;ve decided to stop renting and start owning.

Month 1:

Yoursquo;re still sort of in the exploratory phase but yoursquo;re still committed on buying your first home. Yet buying a home isnrsquo;t something you should do on your own, especially as it >

Month 2:

Now itrsquo;s time to get some referrals for financing. You can get them from your selected real estate agent, friends and family or your financial planner or CPA if you have one. Once you make your choice about where yoursquo;re going to get your first mortgage, yoursquo;ll then speak with your loan officer over the phone or at the place of business. This is the prequalification stage. After a >

Month 3:

Itrsquo;s getting closer. But now itrsquo;s time to submit a loan application to your loan officer. Most often this is done online but your loan officer might offer to come to your home or place of business and take the loan application face to face. Yoursquo;ll sign a list of documents, most importantly your loan application and authorization forms allowing the lender to inquire about your employment and credit history. Your loan officer will electronically submit your application to an automated underwriting system which will, within a matter of moments, provide a list of items needed to get your loan to the full approval state. You will then have a preapproval letter in hand. Itrsquo;s time to submit copies of your pay check stubs, bank statements and tax returns if needed.

Month 4:

Your loan officer told you not to make any sudden changes about your work, employment or make any >

Month 5:

By now yoursquo;ve likely looked at your fair share of homes and you may very well be in a position to make an offer. You should always keep in close contact with your loan officer as well. Interest rates move over time and itrsquo;s possible that rates have gone up which effectively lowers the amount you can qualify for. Conversely, rates may have gone down and your buying power received a boost.

Month 6:

Yoursquo;ve found a home. Wheels begin to spin rather quickly after the contract has been signed. Your lender will need an appraisal and many lenders ask for money to pay for an appraisal upfront. Your loan will be reviewed one more time and any expired documentation will need to be updated. Credit documents such as a credit report, pay stubs and bank statements need to be no more than 30 days old when itrsquo;s time to fund the mortgage. Once your loan has received full approval and yoursquo;ve met all your loan conditions, loan papers are orders. At your closing, you will sign a host of closing documents and have your down payment if needed and closing cost money wired to the settlement agent. After signing, the lender does one more review of your file, making sure all the documents have been properly signed. Yoursquo;re now a first time home owner.


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The Many Steps You Can Take to Start Saving For Your First Home

Find Out How Much You Should Save

Many potential first time home buyers do not know how much they need to save in order to pay for a home. Now is the time to find out. In general, mortgage lenders expect all buyers to have at least ten percent in savings. A good mortgage will typically account for no more than a third of the buyers take home income. Its also important to keep in mind that lenders also do not want to see that youre carrying much debt. Now is the time to think about how to accomplish other goals such as paying off any credit card debt and student loans.

Think About Your Time Frame

Buying a first home can take time. Its good to start the process of thinking about it right now. Set up a short time and long term time frame. The short term should include thinking about your present housing situation and where it may fall short. Over the long term, it should include looking at potential neighborhoods in person. Stroll areas that appeal to you directly. Go to open houses and see whats on offer. Open houses let you see houses directly and examine them from attic to basement in great detail. Know where you want to be six months from now, a year from now and five years out.

Create a Streamlined Budget

Now is the time to create a streamlined budget. You can still travel now and then, however, its also important to pay close attention to all the little details that will add up over time. Avoid spending money you dont need. Make coffee at home rather than buying it on the way to work. Buying items like toilet paper in bulk can save money. The same is true of other changes. Put off buying that second car. Continue using your current model. Think about using public transportation to get to work or take a walk there and save on the fares.

Bank Any Windfall

If theres an unexpected windfall, its best to bank it rather than spend it. If you file for the Earned Income Tax Credit, take the money thats being deposited in your account and keep it right there. The same is true of any and all raises as well as an inheritance, a bonus check or any other funds that are not needed right now. Designate them as part of your home down payment plan by putting them into a separate account designed solely for this purpose.

Be Flexible

While working hard and saving money for a down payment are good, keep in mind that life may have other plans. You may face other bills such as car payments, health issues or a sudden layoff. Its crucial to have an emergency fund on hand that youve built up in advance. This will make sure you can meet such expenses with ease. Any sudden financial issue should also not push you away from your ultimate goal. Your goal is to keep saving up enough money for the kind of first home youd like to live in going forward.

Taking the long view is crucial. Saving up enough money for a first home can take lots of time. You should never lose sight of what youll get in turn. Youll have a first home where you can set down roots and enjoy life.

nbsp;


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Clever and Simple Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Use Less Electricity

One of the easiest ways to lower your carbon output is to use less electricity. You can easily start by turning off lights when youre not in a room and unplugging devices when you are not using them. You may think that turning off your devices is enough, but electronics like your television still use electricity even when switched off. You can also save power by running your air conditioner and heater less and hanging your clothes on the line instead of using the dryer.

Use Solar Power

If you really want to use less electricity, consider installing solar panels. These panels can drastically reduce the amount of electricity you use. While there is a cost associated with solar panels, you will eventually save money on your electric bill. You can also easily learn how to clean solar panels, so upkeep is minimal.

Reduce the Amount of Meat You Eat - or Go Vegetarian

The meat industry produces more carbon emissions than any other industry, so reducing the amount of meat you eat can help to lower your carbon footprint. Red meat is the worst offender, so if you are not ready to give up all meat for good, consider eating less red meat and you will still make an impact.

Walk When You Can

Fossil fuels are another major cause of carbon dioxide emissions, so the less you can drive, the better. If you live close enough to your work, shopping and restaurants, it is easy for you to walk or ride your bike. As an added benefit, you will be getting in some extra exercise while you are helping the environment. For those times you have to use a car, make sure your car is well-maintained with proper oil changes and tires with the right amount of air pressure. A well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel. If you are in the market for a new car, consider an electric car or a hybrid.

Use Less Water

Using less water is important for many reasons. It can reduce your carbon footprint, and, as water is a finite resource, it is important to conserve it. There are many ways that you can conserve water. Avoid watering your lawn, take shorter showers and turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Surprisingly, using your dishwasher actually uses less water than washing dishes in the sink.

Create Less Waste

There are many ways to avoid waste in your everyday life. Look for ways to reuse things you may throw away, such as cardboard boxes. Use fabric bags instead of paper or plastic bags to carry your shopping. Try to avoid buying large amounts of "stuff" that you do not need. When possible, buy items that are used.

Plant a Garden

The agriculture industry has a huge carbon footprint. By growing your own food, you can help reduce carbon emissions. Growing your own fruits and vegetables has the added benefit of encouraging you to eat healthier. If growing a garden is not an option for you, you can still make an impact by buying foods that are locally grown.

Climate change and global warming are important issues that we as a society must address. While you may think that as an individual there is little you can do to help or make a difference, if everyone would follow the simple steps listed above, we could greatly reduce carbon emissions and help slow down global warming.


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A Checklist for the New Homeowner

1. Notify the Post Office and the Bank

The first thing that you should do is make sure that you contact the post office and make sure that theyrsquo;re aware of the change. All you have to do for this is fill out a change-of-address form. Head into the closest Post Office and fill out the form. Then, call your banks and make them aware of the change as well. This would mean that you should also change your billing address for credit cards and for any online shipping like Amazon.

2. Switch Your Utilities and Services

Step two is just as easy. After yoursquo;ve taken care of the important things with the Post Office and the bank, call your utilities to let them know that yoursquo;ve switched addresses. This will stop you from receiving any bills from your old address which is important if yoursquo;re renting it out and ensure that you are receiving the bills for your current address. If you had any pest control services, lawn care, or any other service performed on your old home, give them a call and make sure that they know yoursquo;ve moved. Hopefully, they can still service in your new area and the change will be quick and easy.

3. Make Sure Yoursquo;re Safe

Once most of the finances are taken care of, itrsquo;s time to make sure that yoursquo;re as safe as possible. If yoursquo;re buying a home from someone else, itrsquo;s possible that they still have copies of the keys used for the house. To be safe, contact a locksmith and get all of the keys remade and changed. Change all the codes for the home and garage as well. Then, head inside and make sure that all of the safety features of the home are working. This means checking the Carbon Monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers. It doesnrsquo;t hurt to hire someone to come out to double check the home for mold or termites either this should have been done before the house was put up for sale.

4. Fulfill Promises to Your Family

Things are going to feel weird in the new home for a couple days. The fastest way to move in and get settled is by making the home feel like itrsquo;s really home. If there was anything that you sacrificed to the get the new home, make plans with your family to get it. For example, if all your kids wanted was a new pool but the house didnrsquo;t have one, create a financial plan to get there and think it out step by step. Start by researching for a company that does custom pools in nbsp;your city.. Then, work with the company to create a financial plan to put in the pool. In order to help your children best adjust to the idea of moving to a new place, make sure that yoursquo;re honest with them the entire process.

5. Review the HOA Rules

If yoursquo;ve purchased a home in an HOA area, make sure that you review the rules a few extra times. Hopefully, you already know what to expect from your HOA, but reviewing the rules will help ease any stress while yoursquo;re figuring out the area. The Home Owners Association usually has very strict rules for what you can and canrsquo;t have outside in the area. They can also be strict about the upkeep of a property and the >

After yoursquo;ve taken care of the important things, go ahead and do the fun steps. Go out and meet your neighbors, explore the area, decorate the inside of the home, and >

nbsp;


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Are You Ready for Some Football? Move to One of These Top NFL Cities

Yes, for some people, there is no greater motivator to move to a city than whether or not therersquo;s an NFL team to root for, and the chances of them actually ending up in the Super Bowl. Now that the new NFL season has started, wersquo;re taking a look at the best places to live for football fans.nbsp;

We used WalletHubrsquo;s study of the Best and Worst Cities for Football Fans, which compared more than the 240 U.S. cities with at least one professional football team or college, but that didnrsquo;t rate on our list across 21 key metrics, as our base. Then we weaved in some additional info about each of the top 4 cities on their list. Is one of these cities a touchdown? Depends on what yoursquo;re looking for.nbsp;

No. 1 Pittsburgh

WalletHub has Pittsburgh at the top of their list. The city came in third for their best-performing team metric, was fourth for most accessible stadium, and tied with Green Bay for most engaged fans. ldquo;The six Super Bowl titles for the Steelers are the most for any NFL franchise,rdquo; said CheatSheet. A list of the teamrsquo;snbsp;greatestnbsp;players includes a fair share of the NFLrsquo;s best all-time players. Throw in the devotednbsp;fans,rdquo; and itrsquo;s no wonder Pittsburgh leads the pack.

So is this a great place to move? Livability thinks so. They ranked the city No. 8 on their new list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in America. ldquo;The Burgh scored high in the studyrsquo;s economy category, as well as infrastructure,rdquo; said CBS Pittsburgh. ldquo;Editors also say that Pittsburgh has seen an influx of young people and tech companies in recent yearshellip;with local universities including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh driving innovation and nurturing talent. Editors also talked about Pittsburghrsquo;s climate, home values, brewers, dream jobs and weather.rdquo;

No. 2 Boston

Not surprisingly, Boston is at the top of WalletHubrsquo;s best-performing NFL city list, and is ranked No. 3 for the most engaged NFL fans. ldquo;Boston College and Boston University play football within the city limits, and Harvard plays just across the Charles River in Cambridge,rdquo; said CheatSheet. ldquo;But college football isnrsquo;t why Boston makes the list. It has a little something to do with the New England Patriots and their five Super Bowl titles. Those [six] championships and the legions of fans who live and die with the Patriots will keep Boston high on the list of top football towns for a long time to come.rdquo;

U.S. News amp; World Report has Boston ranked No. 27 on its national list ofnbsp;Best Places to Live and No. 25 innbsp;Best Places to Retire. ldquo;Boston often feels like a small town with all the perks of city life,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The metro area features a diverse culinary scene, access to the cultural institutions, and proximity to world->

The downside? ldquo;Boston is a notoriously expensive metro area. If you are looking to purchase a home in Boston, prices can vary drastically based on the neighborhood, though they tend to be higher than the national median.rdquo;

No. 3 Green Baynbsp;

This city has fervent fans, as evidenced by their No. 1 ranking in a tie for most engaged fans in the WalletHub study. Green Bay also ranked first for most accessible stadium. ldquo;The Green Bay Packers are the No. 1 reason people in northern Wisconsin leave the house in autumn and early winter,rdquo; said CheatSheet. ldquo;OK, that might be stretching the truth, but not by much. At least the team givesnbsp;Packers fansnbsp;something worth watching. Their topnbsp;quarterbacksnbsp;are among the best to ever play the game. The team has four Super Bowl titles, and itrsquo;s always a contender to win another one.rdquo;

Green Bayrsquo;s median household income is a bit higher than the state and U.S. median, but rising home prices have taken a bite out of affordability. Prices are up in the hot Green Bay market by more than 15 over last year, and many homes get multiple offers and sell for over asking price. Still, the average sales price is only 190,000mdash;significantly more attainable than homes in other parts of the country.

No. 4 Dallas

Dallas has five Super Bowl titles and a loud and proud legion of fans across the country and around the world. WalletHub has the city ranked as the No. 4 best-performing NFL team. ldquo;Theyrsquo;re called Americarsquo;s Team for a reason, and the Super Bowls have something to do with it,rdquo; said CheatSheet. ldquo;Theyrsquo;ve been better at crushing fansrsquo;nbsp;dreamsnbsp;recently, but their legacy of success makes Dallas a great football city.

Dallas has been growing at a rapid rate for several years and shows no sign of slowing. The job market is strong, and, while home prices have risen alongside population gains, transplants from places like New York, California, Seattle, or Chicago will be surprised at the >

nbsp;


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How Lenders View Retirement Income

Social security is a given. You can apply for social security up to three months before you turn 62. However, if you wait until 65 your monthly social security income will be higher. There are arguments on both sides as when to take social security, so itrsquo;s important that you have a discussion with your spouse and financial planner. And yes, social security income is considered taxable income.

Dividend income and interest come from savings and retirement accounts. Therersquo;s a special section on the loan application labeled ldquo;Interest and Dividend.rdquo; As it >

Borrowers will need to provide the last two years of federal income tax returns showing the amount of interest income received during that time frame. Lenders will average those two years together and then divide by 24 months to arrive at a qualifying amount. At the same time, lenders must also make a general determination that the interest income will continue into the future. Itrsquo;s a judgment call but lenders typically want to be assured the income will continue for at least three years. Borrowers may also be asked to provide copies of statements from these accounts showing the account balances issuing interest as well as the terms of the amounts being paid. Itrsquo;s important to show that the accounts providingnbsp;interest payments are sizable enough to make these payments without directly withdrawing from the account balance. This would reduce monthly interest income.

Dividend payments are a bit trickier because they may not come on a regular enough basis where borrowers can use the dividend payments to service debt and monthly expenses. If a dividend payment comes once per year, it wonrsquo;t be available year-round for debt service. For dividend payments that come quarterly, it can be assumed the funds will be available to help pay the bills in retirement. As with any other type of income, there needs to be at least a two-year history of receiving it and the lender makes an internal determination the income will continue into the future for at least three years.

A 401k account will also pay dividends. Borrowers should be prepared to fully document the terms and payouts of a 401k account, when the borrowers expect to withdraw funds from the retirement account and if there are enough funds available to help service any type of monthly debt.

In essence, any income outside of social security needs to have a history prove the likelihood of continuance well into the future. Even though someone is receiving some type of retirement income, therersquo;s the possibility it canrsquo;t be counted toward qualifying income. For this, yoursquo;ll need to speak directly with an experienced loan officer.


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Reasons to Power Wash Your Home Before Putting It On the Market

Soft wash pressure washing dramatically improves the overall curb appeal of your home. Safely yet adequately cleaning away dirt, mold, mildew, and other debris will make your property look brand new. You dont have to stick with just your homes exterior either. Pressure washing decks, patios, driveways, walkways, fencing, roofing, and everything else you can see is a guaranteed way to increase your property value and sell your home faster.

Power Washing Makes Your Home Stand Out Against the Rest

Chances are, there are several homes for sale in the city or town that you live in. When people start talking with a realtor to find their next home, they will explore all of the properties within the area they have an interest in. By having a professional pressure washing company come in and properly clean away years of dirt and other blemishes, your property will look like it was just resided or had a fresh paint job.nbsp;

The draw for you is that its a lot less expensive than actually completing one of the more significant projects. You might think that your homes exterior needs to be replaced because youve been looking at all the problem areas for so long. However, you might be surprised to find out that what you thought needed to be updated only needed a proper power washing.

Someone cruising around looking at houses for sale will notice whether or not your property has been taken care of. People want to have the feeling that theyre getting something brand new even if it isnt. Pressure washing your home gives the look and feel of a just-built home for a fraction of the cost.

Step out into the street or drive by your house and take a look at it in its current condition. Is it something that you would get a good first impression looking at? If you havent had power washing done within the past year or so, the answer is likely no. Get it pressure washed by a trusted company, and you might find yourself reconsidering even selling it in the first place because it will look so stunning.

Going Beyond Pressure Washing Your House

When you think of pressure washing your house, do you only think about siding, shutters, and maybe windows? While thats what plenty of homeowners will have done regularly by a power washing company, there are so many more options that are going to work in your favor.

A pressure washing company that has the proper tools, equipment, and experience will be able to offer you other cleaning services for your home pre-sale that will make it look even better. Some of the other features you should think about having professionally power washed include:

bull; Decks
bull; Patios
bull; Driveways
bull; Sidewalks
bull; Roofing
bull; Gutters

This information was given to us by a local Michigan pressure washing company called ProClean Pressure Washing West Bloomfield. The more dirt, mold, debris, salt, algae, and other blemishes you can wash away, the more attractive your house will be to those driving by. Its a small investment that you can make now. It comes with a high probability youll get a 100 return on your initial cost because of how great your house looks.

Power Washing Before Inspection

Unless someone walks up and offers you an all-cash payment for your home, you will be seeing a lending house inspector at some point during the sale process. Banks and mortgage companies have to go out to the location to ensure the money they are borrowing to a homeowner is worth it.nbsp;

By having your professional power washing done before the inspector gets there, it will cut down on the amount of time it takes them to go over your property thoroughly. Not only that, but they will be able to easily see that the siding, roof, windows, and other surfaces that have been washed are in good condition.nbsp;

When there is dirt or debris stuck to these areas, they have to take the time to do a closer inspection. If you want to sell quickly without a lot of questions being asked, professional power washing is one of the most effective ways to reach that goal.

Power Wash the Outside to Improve the Inside

Experts suggest that serious homebuyers are more attracted to homes that have an open and well-lit interior. Before you power wash your home, you might not even realize that the natural light that was once coming in has been obstructed. Time passes, and dirt and grime on the windows and the rest of your homes exterior build up.nbsp;

After you have your favorite pressure washing company show up and do the cleaning of your homes exterior, the interior will shine a lot more brightly. The debris that was blocking the sunlight from coming in has been blasted away. Afterward, youre left with a much cleaner and fresher environment that buyers look for.

Well-Maintained Homes Sell Faster

People dont want to buy someone elses problem. If you lived in your house for 20 years and never took care of the power washing of the roof, siding, or other surfaces, expect buyers to keep driving on by. They dont want to have to do everything that you neglected for so long to get their new house livable.nbsp;

After pressure washing is complete, your home instantly looks like its been taken care of. Even if you didnt replace the windows or fix the roof, just by it being cleaner, the problem areas arent as noticeable. People that see a clean house on the outside will automatically believe that everything on the inside was taken care of the way it was supposed to be as well.

There are people out there that look for homes that need a little bit of work so that they can get it at a lower price. If you arent worried about how much money youll get for the sale of your home, then go ahead and sell it as-is. If you want to get the most out of your investment, then proper professional power washing is a no-brainer.nbsp;

Make sure to request pressure cleaning of your siding, windows, roof, gutters, driveway, sidewalks, and other surfaces when you call a power washing company near you. It will increase your chances of getting that higher asking price faster.

nbsp;


Nate Knebl of ProClean Pressure Washing West Bloomfield has been offering his wide range of exterior cleaning services through Michigan for over 15 years. Over the years he has earned himself a 5 star reputation and consistently gets referrals from clients looking for his spotless cleans. He stays in touch with the industry and is always on the cutting edge.


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Its a DIY World out There. Are You Game?

Wersquo;re looking at five of the most popular projects to determine whether you can have at it or you should turn it over to the pros.

New floors

The cost to install new wood floors can range widely, and is largely dependent on the cost of the product itself. HomeAdvisor estimates the cost of installation at 3ndash;8 per square foot; You can save thousands by installing it yourself, but it can be challengingnbsp;

ldquo;Installing wood or wood-like floors can range from a fairly easy DIY project to one that requires a good bit of carpentry and finishing skills,rdquo; said Todayrsquo;s Homeowner.

Truth be told, installation is hard on the knees, hard on the back, tedious, and seemingly never-endingmdash;and also incredibly satisfying if you pull it off. ldquo;Flooring is one of the most popular home improvement projects because itrsquo;s a way to transform the look and feel of the home without spending a fortune,rdquo; Dan DiClerico, home expert at renovations website HomeAdvisor, told Money. ldquo;Wersquo;ve seen the project really take off in the age of open-floor plans in contemporary homes.rdquo;

Be sure to invest in good products, good tools, and take breaks as needed to keep your bodymdash;and your mental statemdash;in a good place.

New lighting

A sparkly chandelier over the dining table, some new pendants that illuminate the kitchen islandmdash;the right lighting can make a huge difference in how your house looks and feels. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of lighting to make a space look fresher or give it some personality. But, while wersquo;re all about picking out the good stuff, we donrsquo;t mess around with anything that can electrocute us. If you have basic wiring skills and feel confident that you wonrsquo;t set the house on fire while installing a new sconce, have at it. This post will give you some good info.nbsp;

For the rest of us, count on an hourly rate of ldquo;40 to 100 per hour with a 75 service call-out fee,rdquo; said HomeGuide. ldquo;Small electrical projects range from 141 to 419 with most homeowners spending 280 on average. Project and hourly rates depend on thenbsp;electriciansnbsp;experience level and the type of work.rdquo;

New plumbing fixtures

Plumbing is the other thing we donrsquo;t mess with. Wersquo;re happy to pay a professional to do the job right. But for those in the know, the savings over hiring a plumber can be well worth it. Adding a shiny new sink and faucet to a kitchen can give the whole space a lift. Ditto in the bathrooms, where changing out a shower head and faucets can make it appear that the space has been updated.nbsp;

Expect to pay a plumber ldquo;from 175 to 450 for a typical job with the average costnbsp;per hour ranging from 45 to 200,rdquo; said HomeAdvisor.nbsp;

Replacing windows and doors

New windows and doors can add curb appeal, improve energy efficiency, and provide pretty good ROI while theyrsquo;re at it. For most people, however, this is a professional job. ldquo;Window replacement is a bigger job than most homeowners may expect,rdquo; said The Spruce. ldquo;Window installers, after all, replace windows every day of their life; what is difficult for the DIYer is rote for them.rdquo; In addition, ldquo;it is difficult for homeowners to buy their own replacement windows for self-installation.

According to HomeAdvisor, ldquo;labor will runnbsp;150 to 800 per window,rdquo; so the savings can be substantial. If you want to take a chance, there is some good how-to info here, and Window E-Store is a good place to start looking for windows.nbsp;

Painting your kitchen cabinets

Weve talked a whole lot about painting kitchen cabinetsmdash;because itrsquo;s one of homeowners most-wanted renovations. The cost of hiring a professional can make the project price prohibitive; yoursquo;re looking at several thousands of dollars to get a fine finish. Scrimp on someone without the experience, or who isnrsquo;t going to do all the prep or skip steps, and you might save a few bucks, but you might also end up with drips, cracks, peeling paint, or all of the above.nbsp;nbsp;

That having been said, painting your own cabinets is a tremendous undertaking. It will test your patience, your resolve, and maybe even your marriage. So consider this one carefully.nbsp;

nbsp;


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NAR Report Emphasizes Agent Must-Haves for Strong Digital Presence

ldquo;The world we live in today is a digital one and searching for a home is no different,rdquo; they said. Buyers now have apps that let them search by location and neighborhoods. Online searching maximizes the ability to compare and contrast homes on the market by selected features. Most of this is done before a potential home buyer connects with a real estate agent. In the Real Estate in a Digital Age report, we examine the process home buyers go through in the initial online search and how REALTORSreg; are connecting with customers in the digital space.rdquo;

Wersquo;re running through some of the most important data points in the NAR report.

Are your properties showing up online?

The wider the net you cast with property listings, the better. Homebuyers search first for properties online a whopping 44 of the time.nbsp;

Social media more important than ever

Whatrsquo;s your Facebook page looking like? Do you even have a business page on the social media site? Have you mastered Instagram or are you still writing it off as unimportant to your target market? You may be surprised. On the report under ldquo;top tech tools that give the highest quality leads,rdquo; social media was the leader by far, at 44. Coming in second was MLS site at 32, followed by the brokeragersquo;s website at 29.

Is your website mobile optimized?

It isnrsquo;t enough to have a great website if it only works on desktop. The majority of buyers today are using their mobile device to search for homes, across all demographics. The NAR Infographic showed that, ldquo;81 of Older Millennials, 80 ofnbsp;Younger Millennials and 78 of Generation Xnbsp;found their home on a mobile device compared to 68 of Younger Boomers.rdquo;nbsp;

nbsp;Photos rule

Itrsquo;s no surprise that buyers want to see pictures of listings, but the percentage of buyers who made this the most valuable feature about online properties in the report was compelling: 87. No. 2 was detailed property information, and No. 3 might be surprising: floorplans. Realtors may have an opportunity to set themselves apart by showing property floorplans along with the other identifying information in online listings.nbsp;

nbsp;


Full Story >


Buy for Children Before You Have Them

If you donrsquo;t have children, but you and your partner share the solid conviction that your lives will revolve around children in the near future, consider buying a home as if you now have children.

Thenbsp; ldquo;2019 Moving With Kidsrdquo; Report, >

How would pretending to yourself that you already have children change how you approach your home search

According to the ldquo;Moving Withrdquo; Report, having children impacts buying decisions in many ways. Even before you have children, you may benefit from buying as if you do, for instance:

bull; The Importance of Neighborhood

Fifty-three percent of buyers who have children evaluate neighborhoods based on the quality of school districts. Half of these buyers select a neighborhood based on the convenience to schools. The value and spirit of a neighborhood revolves around its schools, so yoursquo;d buy into the heart of the neighborhood from the start. Yoursquo;ll benefit on resale as properties near preferred schools usually carry higher market values.

bull; Home Size

Buyers with children, tended to purchase ldquo;larger homes of 2,110 square feet in size with 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms.rdquo; If you buy a slightly larger home now, yoursquo;ll save the cost and inconvenience of moving again when the children arrive. In the meantime, the extra rooms could be used as a home office, a workroom, a distribution center for your online business, or short-term Airbnb rentals to generate more income. Use this additional income to pay down your mortgage more quickly and benefit financially in many ways.

bull; Limitations >

Twenty-six percent of buyers with children, reported the financial pressure of child-care expenses delayed home buying. This ongoing financial burden necessitated compromises regarding ldquo;the condition and size of the home, followed by price, lot size, and >

Savvy buyers with children look at a potential home purchase and ask themselves and their real estate professional, ldquo;Why might we want to sell this home in the future?rdquo; That is, what location or design factors might challenge a growing family in the future?

bull; If keeping children within the same school district and community throughout their schooling is a vital concern, the feasibility of long-term ownership should be considered before you buy.
bull; If a move in the future would be practical or preferred for a variety of reasons, the home may only need to suit the children during their early years.

The ldquo;Moving Withrdquo; Report revealed that 24 percent of owners with children under 18 sold because their home was too small. Other reasons for selling included job >

bull; Almost a quarter of buyers with children reportedly sold their home ldquo;very urgently,rdquo; compared to 14 percent of child-less buyers.
bull; Twenty-one percent of sellers with children requested help from their real estate professional to sell within a specific timeframe, 20 percent wanted skilled input to price their home, and 19 percent needed assistance with marketing the home to potential buyers.

With your real estate professional, review what typical buyers with children seek out in the areas yoursquo;re searching. How are the differences between those choices and your ldquo;no children nowrdquo; search significant to your overall results, financial and otherwise?

The benefits of buying now with your family in mind versus buying something smaller now and then selling and buying a larger property before the children start school, may include cost savings, convenience, and minimized disruption.

bull; In some areas, real estate prices rise steadily, so what you can afford today may be out of reach in three or four years.
bull; The sale of a home and purchase of a new one within a few years of the initial buy may be an expensive alternative if the value of the current home has not appreciated much and the next homersquo;s value has gone up significantly.

These are all very couple-specific decisions:

bull; Use the stats to get you thinking not to restrict your search.
bull; Your real estate professional will help you thoroughly investigate your options.
bull; Your vision of your future and your sense of >

You may want to read more on this subject to clarify the differences between your ldquo;pre-childrenrdquo; thinking and what yoursquo;ll be considering soon regarding full-on family-home purchasing. The buyer profiles in NARs Buyer Bios: Profiles of Recent Home Buyers and Sellers may spark some interesting discussions.

nbsp;


More Savvy Buyer articles by PJ Wade:

bull; ldquo;Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensiverdquo;
bull; ldquo;Home Buyers: Seven Insights Into Confident Decision Makingrdquo;
bull; ldquo;Three Things Home Buyers Should Never Dordquo;


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What Can Happen if You Take Your Home Off Market and Decide to Refinance Instead

Therersquo;s some initial interest, a couple of ldquo;lowballrdquo; offers that border as an insult, but they pay little attention to them. Theyrsquo;re just going to wait. They hire a professional house cleaner to perform a thorough cleaning. They pay some money to stage the home and also pay for a storage unit to house the furniture the stager didnrsquo;t like. A month passes, then the phone calls stop coming in. Two months go by and now itrsquo;s heading into the third month. The homeowners scratch their heads a little bit and decide theyrsquo;re not going to get what they need, so they decide to go ahead and refinance their current mortgage and at least get their monthly payments down. But there now may be a problem.

When a lender accepts an application for a home loan, the research wheel will begin to turn. An appraisal will be ordered. The appraiser will take the appraisal order and start looking for homes in the area that have recently sold and how long it took to sell the homes. The appraiser will also note which homes in the area have been listed and make note of that on the appraisal. This can mean the subject property pops up on the MLS. A mortgage company wonrsquo;t be all that excited about approving a refinance application in this scenario. Why?

The primary reason is cost. Cost to the lender. There is enough overhead a mortgage company goes through that it can mean the lender wonrsquo;t start to see some profit from the interest on the new loan until maybe two years have passed. Otherwise, approving a short term loan becomes an expense, not profit. If a lender reviews an application and sees the property was recently taken off the market, there will be some explaining to do. The loan application wonrsquo;t automatically be declined, but it can make it more difficult to get the lender to ldquo;yes.rdquo;

Why did the home not sell? Is the current real estate market softening? If the markets come back soon, will the owners decide once again to sell the property, retiring the note? The owners in this situation will be asked to provide an explanation letter assuring the potential lender that they have permanently changed their mind and selling is out of the picture. Maybe the owner just wanted to get their toes in the water and see what type of activity could be generated. In any scenario, taking a home off the MLS then immediately applying for a refinance might be more difficult than first imagined.

The difference is whether or not the owner intends to keep the property. If the owners can convince the lender it was essentially a ldquo;toes in the waterrdquo; thing, it most likely wonrsquo;t be an issue. But what if it is? Then itrsquo;s probably best to sit back a few months and wait. And just maybe the owners might decide to stay after all, and the lenders can >


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4 Ways to Save Energy and Money on your Home

Before you decide on a method of energy conservation, look at your energy bill to see your monthly usage usually in kilowatt hours. Often times, energy companies and government agencies will provide tips to help you use less energy. One of the improvements for which energy companies and even the government just might be willing to provide incentives has to do with that great ball of fire in the sky.

Sleek Solar panels

Solar panels save you money and help the environment by producing energy plus, they are usually tax deductible. You can purchase solar panels in different forms. For example, you can opt for the traditional panels, or go sleek with glass roof tiles. Even though the former is a mark of onersquo;s intent to help the planet, the roof tile solar panels are less conspicuous because they blend with the roof. Energy production is not the only way you can save on your heating bill. A common household upgrade can sometimes let in more than the sunlight.

Dressy Windows

One of the more common ways a home can lose heat is through its windows. If you do not use the proper insulation and/or you do not have the right type of window, heat escapes, and cold air gets in. On average, 30 percent of a homersquo;s heat is lost through windows. You can either install energy efficient windows, or you can opt for less expensive options, such as window dressings. Curtains, drapes, or blinds can help reduce heat loss through the window by acting as a sort of stylish insulation. The utilization of another element of the Earth in our everyday lives can also be reduced.nbsp;nbsp;

Inconspicuous Water Heaters

Water heaters are normally large and hidden away in dank, dark basements. They store the water and heat it up giving us our hot water for dishes and showers. Instead of reheating stored water, tankless water heaters heat only the water you use. Their smaller sizes allow them to be placed in more accessible areas. You would no longer have to waste energy on standby heat loss when keeping unused water hot. To reduce overall usage, you can reduce it in smaller areas first.

Neater Space Heaters

Space heaters are no longer the open flame disasters-in-waiting appliances of the past. Smaller models today not only heat more space, but their heat sources are not exposed. Plus, they do not look like space heaters. Many are ceramic, making aesthetically pleasing shapes, sizes, and colors that can blend into any decor. You can still ask such questions as How much electricity does a space heater usersquo;, but there are compact sized units that use low kilowatt hours that heat sizeable areas.

There are many ways you can be energy conscious. Solar panels, windows, tankless water heaters, and space heaters are prime examples of methods of energy reduction and production. They can also fit into anyonersquo;s >


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5 Tips You Must Know Before You Start Repairing Your Home

Before you give in to that universal itch, here are 5 things that you should know before you start improving and repairing your home.

  • Have a Plan

  • One of the worst things to happen in terms of home improvement is starting a renovation project without any major details of how itrsquo;s supposed to gomdash; design, materials, time and costmdash; be as realistic as you can from the start.

    Nothing will cost more than having second thoughts like changing your tile choice or moving an appliance somewhere else. Consider using design tools to conceptualize your home improvement project and add a healthy buffer of 10 ndash; 15 percent on top of that to your final budget and renovation time to account for those inevitable surprises.

  • Be Realistic About Your Timeline And Get Ready For Inconveniences

  • Although you have a plan, know that it will usually take longer than expected. Thus you need to be prepared to make adjustments to avoid any frustration.

    Also, if yoursquo;re planning a major renovation, you will likely be inconvenienced. You will not be able to use the rooms while the project is ongoing. Consider how you will manage without those facilities as well as the time of the year and how uncomfortable you might be during the project.

  • Expect The Unexpected

  • All homes hold dirty secretsmdash; under the floor, in the walls, behind your appliances, everywhere. And a home renovation can bring those secrets to light. For instance, when moving the fridge aside, you might notice a leak of some sort or weird noises coming from it which will need to be repaired before you start.

    You can either troubleshoot it yourself or have repair servicesnbsp;do the hard work for you. Regardless, you might find something else to deal with during the renovation project that you might not have anticipated.

  • Permits For Major Works

  • Depending on the state you reside in, you might need to secure permits before starting any renovation projects. Contractors should offer the costs for all permits on the quoted estimate and they are usually responsible for securing permits from local offices unless youd rather do it yourself.

    Major home improvements that might require local permits include electrical and plumbing work, structural changes such as building a deck or patio and new structures like fences and windows. Regardless, your city council office should have all the information for home projects and improvements that will require permits.

  • Choosing The Right Contractor

  • You wonrsquo;t have trouble finding contractors willing to manage your renovation project. However, finding the right contractor will definitely take some time.

    nbsp;In your planning stages, make sure you interview multiple contractors. Ask them about their communication and work >

    Another option is to ask family and friends for their recommendations. Consult those in your network that you can trust. Ask contractors for any videos and/or photos of their most recent projects. Those who actually know what they are doing and run a reputable and solid business will have no problem showing off what they are capable of. Remember that experience heavily counts in this regard.

    Furthermore, the BBB, or Better Business Bureau, advises every homeowner to consider contractors that are a member of a professional association which will ensure that they adhere to specific standards or code of ethics. All BBB Accredited businesses uphold the BBB standards of ethics in the marketplace. BBB reports can show you just how long a company has been in the business, posted reviews negative or positive, complaint detail as well as any known government actions.

    Conclusion

    When done properly, home improvement projects not only add value to your home but also comfort and confidence. On the other hand, these projects can bust your wallet and end up failing miserably if you neglect to plan ahead. However, with the above tips, you will definitely steer your home renovation towards success.


    Full Story >


    Common Metal Roof Repairs

    There are several reasons why these types of roofs can leak and need repair.

    So if you have a metal roof, be on the lookout for any of the following reasons why repairs may be needed:

    Metal Roofing Screws

    The majority of leaks on metal roofs are formed as a result of roofing screws that were either installed incorrectly or that have weakened over time.

    These types of screws seal water out by compressing a rubber washer at the base of the screw head, which forms a type of gasket when the screw is driven into the metal roofing panel.

    Typical things that can go wrong include under driving screws, over driving screws, driving screws at the wrong angle and screws that completely missed the framing.

    Missing Sealants

    Metal roof sealants hardly ever last as long as metal roofing panels do, so they will need to be replaced with regular roof maintenance.

    Sealants all need to be topped off from time to time, as they will experience a good amount of wear and tear.

    If you do need to make this type of replacement, be sure to use a sealant specifically made for metal roofing, as silicone caulking may not adhere to the paint on the roofing panel and trims.

    Curb Flashings

    Installing metal roofing panels is really not all that difficult, but the flashing that goes along with it can be a challenge for even the most experienced metal roofer.

    HVAC units on metal roofs are usually sitting on curbs and therersquo;s little room for error when fabricating the flashing. And keeping a curb dry can be extremely difficult.

    Water can often get trapped behind the HVAC unit and remain behind the flashing, which eventually erodes sealants and begins to leak.

    The more you caulk or seal the uphill side, the more water it will hold. But itrsquo;s difficult to remedy these types of problems without removing the metal roofing panels and essentially starting over.

    Stack Flashings

    Another area where yoursquo;ll find a lot of leakage on a metal roof is an area known as stack flashings, which is the material around the pipes that come out of the metal roof.

    HVAC vents, air vents and plumbing pipes all have to vent and come through the roof and the stack flashing is how the pipe is waterproofed.

    Most stack flashings are made or rubberized material that sits flat on the metal roof and forms a seal around the pipe.

    The movement in the metal roofing from expansion and contraction, as well as the sun, continually test these flashings, which generally last only about half the time as the roof itself.

    Seams and Overlaps

    Seams where two pieces of metal roofing overlap each other often leak because of capillary draw, or the process by which water actually travels uphill between two tightly joined pieces of metal.

    Placing sealant between the two pieces of metal can break the capillary draw. But if not used correctly, it can actually make leaks worse than if you had never used it at all.


    Full Story >


    How to Get a Jump on Fall Home Projects

    Consider your window coverings

    Conventional wisdom says you should trade out your lightweight draperies for something more substantial for the colder seasons. But sheers are great in fall and winter. Letting some sunlight trickle through can help heat the home while still providing privacy, and they can be added to any window, regardless of the type of treatment you already have.nbsp;

    Mulch. That. Yard.nbsp;

    ldquo;Should you mulch plants in the fall? The short answer is: yes Mulching around plants in autumn has all kinds of benefits, from preventing soil erosion to suppressing weeds to protecting plants from moisture loss and shifts in temperature,rdquo; said Gardening Knowhow.nbsp;

    Invest in some covers for your good patio stuff

    Every year we say wersquo;re going to do this and every year we fail. Consequently, we had to replace our patio cushions this year far sooner than we would have liked. Dont be like us. You can prolong the life of your patio furniture and grill with a good waterproof cover. ldquo;During the warmer months, yournbsp;outdoor patio furniturenbsp;likely gets a lot of use,rdquo; said Hayneedle. ldquo;In colder months, you probably spend less time outside and thus less time utilizing your outdoor furniture. If you live in an area that has a cold or wet climate in the winter, you will need to take steps to make sure that your patio furniture is properly protected from the elements.rdquo;nbsp;

    Get your heater checkednbsp;

    We get it. No one wants to turn their heater on when itrsquo;s 100 degrees outside. But what you really donrsquo;t want is to be faced with a broken heater when itrsquo;s 0 degrees outside. See if you can make an appointment now to get your system checked in October, and if your chosen company doesnrsquo;t schedule appointments that far in advance, at least make an appointment with yourself to make another call at the end of September.

    Clean out your gutters

    Clogged gutters can pose a danger to your home. Get them cleaned out now to make sure rain and snow can flow freely and isnrsquo;t being impeded by leaves and debris.nbsp;

    Do a chimney checknbsp;

    Schedule this well in advance to make sure you can safely use your fireplace when the first chilly night hits.

    Get a tree inspection

    Heavy rain, wind, and snow can put pressure on tree limbs. You donrsquo;t want them snapping and ending up crashing through your roof or breaking a window. This is the perfect time to have them checked out.

    Examine your utilitiesnbsp;

    Check current bills against the same time last year. Has your electric bill gone up dramatically year over year? You could have an air leak that needs to be addressed more on that below. Is your water bill significantly higher than 12 months ago? You may have a dripping showerhead, a running toilet, or a problem with your hot water heater. Time to call a plumbernbsp;nbsp;

    Check for leaks around windows and doors

    About those air leaks: Little leaks can cost younbsp;big time, and the sooner you deal with them, the sooner you can start saving money. ldquo;An average home loses up to 30 of its heating and cooling energy throughnbsp;air leaks,rdquo; said Houselogic. ldquo;The most significant air leaks tend to occur around windows and doors.rdquo;

    You can easily check for leaks with incense. ldquo;With windows and doors closed, hold a lit stick of incense near window and door frames wherenbsp;drafts might sneak in. Watch for smoke movement,rdquo; they said. Then itrsquo;s just a matter of adding caulking and weather strippingmdash;both easy and inexpensive DIY fixes.

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    10 Man-Cave Essentials

    A Recliner For >

    A recliner should be the first on the list because a man cave should also be a place where you can >

    A Mini Fridge For A Stress-Free Drinking Session

    Have more fun with beer and liquor when you have your mini-fridge inside the man cave. You donrsquo;t have to go out of the space every time you need a drink. Lucky for you, a mini-fridge is available in your local hardware store at a reasonable price. You can also look online for cheap, second-hand mini-fridge units. A mini-fridge also makes it easier for you to host future gatherings or parties if you want to use the man cave as there is no need to go back and forth for your guestsrsquo; drinks.

    A Television For Entertainment

    The purpose of the man cave is to give 100 >

    A Pool Table

    Aside from the television, itrsquo;s also better to have a form of entertainment that doesnrsquo;t need electricity. Just like the good old days, man caves used only to have pool tables as a source of entertainment. A television sounds tempting but here are the advantages of choosing a pool table as a source of entertainment:

    bull;nbsp;It burns calories for players.
    bull;nbsp;It increases and improves focus, control, and strategy.
    bull;nbsp;There are hand and eye coordination.
    bull;nbsp;It improves cognitive skills.
    bull;nbsp;It can be a bonding tool for the family, whatever age.

    A Few Extra Seats

    Your personal space also needs a few extra seats for when you invite friends over. You donrsquo;t have to purchase high-end recliners for everyone. Look for comfortable monoblocs or chairs that are comfortable. You may also visit your local hardware store and find the cheapest set of chairs that donrsquo;t take up too much space but are also convenient. Another option is to recycle extra chairs if you have them and add pillows to sit on.

    DIY Liquor Dispensers

    Liquor dispensers are great not only for additional room design but theyrsquo;re also space savers for when you donrsquo;t have a mini-fridge yet. All you have to do is follow these steps:

    bull;nbsp;Go to the hardware store and purchase a rack that can fit all your favorite liquors, as well as the needed screws, drill, paint. Make sure you are buying adjustable shelves.
    bull;nbsp;Drill the rack on the wall.
    bull;nbsp;Replace all liquor caps with a faucet-like dispenser.
    bull;nbsp;Measure and place all liquor on the rack.
    bull;nbsp;Label each liquor bottle.

    Another advantage to taking note of is that the DIY liquor dispensers save you a lot of electricity. If yoursquo;re not that high-maintenance, buy ice, and yoursquo;re ready to take the night off and >

    A Snack Box Or Snack Vending Machine

    A man cave isnrsquo;t complete without food to eat. If you have the extra budget, you can start looking for vending machines second-hand machines are available online, but make sure you check the quality and state before purchasing. Vending machines also save you the time and effort whenever guests arrive. You donrsquo;t have to cook anything because they can quickly get snacks when they get hungry. On the other hand, if you lack the funds to buy a machine, opt to buy large tupperwares or bins instead and fill them up with different snacks.

    Sports Memorabilia And Movie Posters

    Give off that vintage vibe by filling the walls with movie posters. You can look for old movie posters at thrift stores or antique shops, or you can go online and look for sellers who have collectibles although it could be for a hefty price. Sports memorabilia such as a signed baseball bat or football can be displayed as a centerpiece or also hung up on the walls.

    Some Personal Items

    Itrsquo;s always nice to add a few personalized items of your own. Personalized items are the right way of reminding you of the memories and good times you had. In addition to this, you donrsquo;t have to spend on additional room designs or unreasonably priced displays. In addition to this, your family members could also help. They can design their memorabilia to put up in your man cave. You can put up pictures and stick them on the wall, of stick them to a string and hang it up.

    A Bookshelf Door

    Design your door and make it look like a bookshelf by purchasing plywood from the hardware store and make it your base. Once you place that on the door, you can start adding different things you want to put in your bookshelf such as:

    bull;nbsp;Books of course.
    bull;nbsp;Picture frames.
    bull;nbsp;Vases.
    bull;nbsp;Certificates.

    You can choose anything you want as long as theyrsquo;re old and your family is okay with you using it as a design. The goal is to cover as much as possible and make the door go unnoticed by guests.

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Taxable vs. Non-Taxable Income for Mortgage Qualifying

    When deductions are taken from gross monthly income, itrsquo;s taxes, both federal and state, that take the biggest chunk. Again, though, itrsquo;s the gross income thatrsquo;s used. Lenders simply ignore the various deductions. Itrsquo;s both easier that way and is applied universally. Self-employed borrowers are evaluated a bit differently but everyone else is approved in mostly the same manner. But there are types of income that is not taxable such as child support or disability pay. So how do lenders view non-taxable income if not taxes are taken out? Whatrsquo;s the gross amount for non-taxable income?

    Lenders ldquo;gross uprdquo; non-taxable income in an effort to put taxable and non-taxable on a level qualifying field. For example, an employee makes 5,000 per month. Thatrsquo;s the amount used to qualify. There may be other types of income that does not come from an employer that may also be taxed. Part time income, dividends and interest payments and bonus income can be taxed. The loan application has fields where these and other types of taxable income are entered. The amounts are added together to reach a qualifying income amount. Now letrsquo;s look at non-taxable income.

    Conventional loan programs, which account for nearly two out of every three loans originated in todayrsquo;s market, can have non-taxable income grossed up by 25 percent. Note, lenders have the ability to increase the amount by a lesser percentage but cannot exceed the 25 percent number. For instance, an applicant receives 5,000 per month in non-taxable income. But thatrsquo;s not the amount lenders use for qualifying. Instead, the lender takes a multiplier of 1.25 to obtain the amount used. In this example, it would be 5,000 x 1.25 = 6,250. Grossing up the non-taxable income places it on par with taxable.

    This is important because those who do receive non-taxable income often use this amount when applying for a mortgage. A 25 percent increase in non-taxable income is a considerable bump in qualifying income. This type of income must also be evaluated just as with any other type of income. Qualifying income must have a two year history and it must be consistent. A determination is made whether or not the income will continue into the future. If these factors are met, the income may be used. A non-taxable inheritance for example could not be used be used for example because itrsquo;s a one-time event.

    Finally, if therersquo;s any question about qualifying income, itrsquo;s important to speak with a mortgage loan officer before applying. The loan officer can provide you with a qualifying amount over the phone after a brief conversation over the phone. From there, you can be provided with a prequalification which gives you an idea on what you might qualify for.


    Full Story >




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