3 Ways to Build Equity in Your Home

Although most people’s situation varies, for most people, their home is their biggest asset. For such a major investment, your goal is to get the most out of your money and build equity in your home.

Home equity is the market value of your home minus the amount of money you owe on your mortgage. Having more equity is a good thing as it is an asset that can be used later on in life.

Here are 3 ways to build equity in your home.

Price appreciation

Believe it or not, you can build equity on your home without doing anything. How? Your equity increases over time when your home gains value.

If a big company like Starbucks or McDonald’s opens a branch near your home, then you’re in luck. There is no denying that America’s love affair with coffee is going strong. In a study that was conducted by Zillow, they found out that homes that are within a quarter mile of Starbucks increased in value by as much as 96%. Meanwhile, home that are near Dunking Donuts have appreciated in value by 80%.

Home improvement

Another way to increase your home’s equity is by doing some home improvement projects. Keep in mind, though, that not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some will help boost the value of your home, while others may not. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure that you choose projects that will help increase the value of your home.

Kitchen and bathroom renovations, curb appeal improvements, lighting fixtures upgrade, as well as repainting the walls can add significant value to your home.

Monthly repayment

One of the easiest ways to build equity in your home is to pay your monthly amortization. In order to reap the benefits, make sure that you pay your dues on time. Otherwise, you will incur penalties for not paying your mortgage on time. The penalty could have been used for extra payments that can help increase home equity.

If you have extra money, we encourage you to pay more toward the principal. Overtime, the extra payments will add up and help you build equity on your home.

5 Signs It’s Time to Remodel Your Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the most important parts of the house. It is where you start and finish your day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much attention as much as the bedrooms, kitchen, and living room.

Has your bathroom worn out its welcome? Maybe it’s time to update it and bring it back to life.  There are telltale signs that it’s time for a bathroom makeover.

Here are 5 signs it’s time to remodel your bathroom.

Planning to sell your home

If you’re considering selling your home, a bathroom renovation can benefit you in a number of ways. Not only will it increase the value of your home, it also makes your home more attractive to potential buyers.

Bathroom renovations can be expensive, but studies suggest that you can recoup about 58% of the cost in resale value. If you are on a tight budget, don’t worry. Simple updates like getting new fixtures, repainting the walls, cleaning the grout, and adding clean lines of caulk around the sink and tub can help transform your bathroom.

Outdated design

Is your bathroom old and outdated? If so, a bathroom is in order. Today, people are coming back to that white, timeless look. White, gray, and black palettes will lend an element of ageless beauty to your space. Installing new lighting fixtures, cabinets, mirrors, and towel holders are also a great way to improve the look and feel of your bathroom.

Poor lighting

Of all the rooms in the house, bathrooms are given the least considerations when it comes to interior lighting. If you can barely see yourself in the mirror, this requires action.

Use lighting fixtures that provide 75-100 watts worth of illumination for the master and guest bathroom. Installing proper task lighting is also important as this is the light by which you can best see yourself.

Bathroom smells bad

You walk into the bathroom and crinkle your nose as you smell a noxious sewer-like odor in your bathroom. This could be an indication that sewer gas is escaping from the drainage system. This is a prime indicator that you need to update your bathroom.

Adding better ventilation to a windowless bathroom, fixing that persistent leak that is building up mold, and replacing a toilet’s wax seal are all smart fixes to get rid of bathroom smells.

Lack of storage

Don’t have enough space to store everything you want? Your bathroom may be due for an update. Make use of the vertical space and under the sink for storage. Come up with creative ways fit everything in the cabinets and closets.

4 Ways to Get Your House Ready for Summer

Summer is just around the corner. Many of you are probably preparing to go on a road trip or planning a beach getaway. With the temperatures rising, now would be the perfect time to prepare your home for summer.

Summer is the hottest months of the year. As such, you want to make sure that your family stays cool and comfortable throughout the season.

Here are 4 ways to get your house ready for summer.

Change your ceiling fan direction

Ceiling fans are rotated clockwise in winter in order to pull cool air up. This is done to keep the room warm and toasty in winter. This summer, don’t forget to change the direction of your ceiling fan.

Ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise in summer. This will help make the room feel up to 8 degrees cooler. This way, you can lower the thermostat without compromising your family’s comfort. It can keep your home cool this summer while saving energy.

Have your air conditioner serviced

Your air conditioner has been sitting idle for a few months now. With the temperatures rising to 3-digits in some parts of the country, you want to make sure that your AC is in tiptop shape this summer.

Make sure that you have your air conditioner checked before summer comes to ensure that will function efficiently throughout the summer. The last thing you want is for your AC to break down on the hottest days of the year.

Summer is a busy time for HVAC technicians. It may take some time before they come to your home. Have your AC serviced to ensure that the entire family stays cool and comfortable this summer.

Change your air filter

The air filter plays an important role in your HVAC system. It traps dirt, dust, and other pollutants before they reach the vents. A dirty filter will not only affect the efficiency of your cooling system, it can also lead to poor indoor air quality.

Air filters should be replaced every 30 to 90 days. Make it a habit to check your air filters every month and replace them when necessary. Change your air filters regularly to improve indoor air quality and keep your AC running safely and efficiently.

Defrost the freezer

The rising temperature puts an added strain to your freezer and refrigerator. Clean and defrost your freezer to keep it running smoothly and keep your energy consumption low. If your freezer is always near-empty, we suggest that you fill jugs or plastic bottles with water and freeze them. Or better yet, stock up on freezies and burgers. Keeping your freezer stocked will keep it at a level temperature and consume less energy.

4 Maintenance Skills Aspiring Homeowners Need to Master

Being a homeowner entails a lot of responsibilities. This includes taking care of your home and making sure that it stays in tip top shape. Some maintenance tasks require the assistance of a professional, but there are a number of things you can do to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Here are 4 maintenance skills aspiring homeowners need to master. Master these skills to keep your home in the best condition possible. Plus, it will help you save lots of money down the road.

Changing air filters

According to the U.S. FDA, indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. You may not realize it, but there are lots of pollutants inside your home. Dust, dirt, pet dander, mold, pollen, chemicals, and the list go on. These pollutants get trapped in the air filters.

During the summer and winter months, your HVAC system is running round the clock. That means, the air inside your home is being re-circulated again and again. When the air filter is dirty, these pollutants will be blown back into your home and will be floating in the air. Make it a habit to change your air filters every 30 to 90 days. Not only will it improve indoor air quality, it will also help extend the life of your HVAC system.

Unclogging drains

If you notice that the sink is draining slower than usual or there is standing water in the tub, you probably have a clogged drain.

Clogged drains can be a serious nuisance, which is why you need to address the problem fast. You can clear up even the most stubborn clogs with a little practice and some simple tools.

Cleaning gutters

Most people don’t give their gutters much thought until they stop working properly. Your gutters are designed to keep water away from your home. When it’s clogged, water can’t run through them and will collect in the roof. Eventually, it will cause damage. When there is too much water on the roof, it will drip down the side of your house.

The last thing you want is to deal with water damage due to clogged gutters. Make sure that you clean your gutters regularly to ensure that they are working properly. You may also want to consider putting a gutter guard to prevent leaves, twigs, and other debris from accumulating.

Repair a leaky faucet

Every homeowner will experience plumbing problems at some point. Leaky faucets are one of the most common problems homeowners face. Often, they tend to ignore the problem thinking it isn’t a big deal. But if left unattended, you’ll be wasting a lot of water. Also, this can lead to a bigger, more complicated problem. Learn how to fix a leaky faucet. It’s a simple task that anyone can handle.

Tips for a Successful Bathroom Renovation

Is your bathroom in dire need of a makeover? A good renovation can transform your bathroom from a boring, dated box into a dreamy spa-like bathroom.

Here are some tips for a successful bathroom renovation.

Have a plan before you start

Evaluate your existing bathroom and try to visualize your dream bath. Develop a clear idea about what you want to achieve with the renovation. Make a list of the features you want and what you want to change in your bathroom.

Set a budget

A bathroom renovation can be expensive. As such, it is important determine how much you are willing to spend before you begin.

Now that you have an idea what you want to do with your bathroom, it’s time to do some research and determine if you have set a realistic budget. If not, now would be the best time to make certain adjustments. Without a budget in mind, it can be easy to overspend. Don’t send money down the drain in your bathroom remodel.

Know which splurges are worth it

Survey reveals that a mid-range bathroom remodel may cost about $18,000; while an upscale renovation may set you back about $75,000. Unfortunately, homeowners only recoup about 55% to 65% of its cost at resale. That said, it is best to stay within budget during the renovation process. The good news is that you can give your bathroom a luxurious feel without going broke.

Spend money on something you absolutely love. Opt for that deep soaker tub you’re eager to relax in after a long day at work. Save money by choosing more economical flooring material. Instead of installing natural tiles, use porcelain tiles instead. Some tiles mimic the look of natural stone. You’ll get the look you want without spending a huge sum of money.

Plan a lighting scheme

In a bathroom remodelling project, most people tend to focus on tub, toilet, vanity, and tiles. While these things play a big role on the functionality and appeal of your bathroom, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of having a well-lit room.

A lot of people are spending more time in the bathroom. Proper lighting is essential to create a space that is not only relaxing, but safe as well.

Tips for Staging Your Home for the Fall Season

Fall is one of the best times of the year to sell your home. The kids have already gone back to school. Most families have returned from their summer vacations, and people aren’t busy yet for the holidays.

Staging your home is one of the most important steps of the selling process. It allows potential buyers to see the property’s true potential. This also makes it easier for them to envision themselves living in that house.

Use these staging tips to help you sell your home faster and for top dollar.

Warm up your walls

Fall is the best time to give your home the seasonal refresh it needs. One of the best ways to revive your home’s interior is by giving the walls a fresh coat of paint.

Paint your home with shades of brown, yellow, orange, and red to reflect the warm colors of autumn. Whether your want some subtle color or something a little more eye-catching, fall colors will do the trick.

Less is more

Fall is a great time to redecorate your home. Now that winter is fast approaching, a lot of people are taking steps to make their home warm, cozy and inviting. Some would go all out on the throw pillows, pile on the plaid and display vases of fall foliage throughout their home.

While it is a good idea to add some autumnal touches to your home, having too much decors can take the focus out of the house and its best features. Try not to go overboard with the decorations. Remember, less is more when decorating your home.

Let the natural light in

Fall is officially upon us. Before you know it, winter season and freezing temperatures are on their way. When the weather is cold and the sky is dark and cloudy, we tend to feel more tired and depressed. As such, getting the most out of that natural light is vital.

Often, natural light is trapped by the windows. Avoid heavy, light-blocking window treatments. Instead, use window treatments and curtains that are made of lightweight fabrics and light colors. They’ll help bring natural light in while still giving your privacy. Don’t forget to clean your windows as well.

 

How-to-Save-for-a-Down-Payment-While-Renting

How to Save for a Down Payment While Renting

According to the State of the Nation’s Housing, approximately 36% of the U.S. household lived in rentals in 2015. If you are currently renting, a huge portion of your income goes to rent, utility bills, and groceries. This makes it hard to save for a house. Your dream of buying a house may seem out of reach, but it’s not impossible.

If you are tired of renting and you’re considering buying a house in the near future, we urge you to read on. Use these strategies to save for a down payment while renting.

Save your tax refund

Every year, roughly 8 out of 10 U.S. tax payers get a tax refund. They may hate paying taxes, but they do love their refunds. According to the IRS data, the average tax refund amount is $2,800. If you’re getting a refund this year, we suggest that you put it into a savings account.

You might be tempted to go on a shopping spree or treat your family to dinner, but resist the urge to do so. Tax refunds provide a quick and easy way to boost your savings. Keep the money and use it for your down payment.

Reduce your energy use

Paying a high energy bill is like throwing your money each month. Cutting back on your energy use will help you save money, which could go toward a down payment. You don’t have to sit in the dark to reduce your energy bills. In fact, there are a lot of ways to be more energy efficient.

It is almost impossible to stay comfortable in the summer without turning on your air conditioner. You can cut back on your cooling costs by raising the temperature when you’re at work. Also, turn the lights off in rooms you’re not in, opt for energy-efficient appliances, and take a shorter shower.

Minimize rent

Renting has become so expensive in several parts of the country. Try to negotiate with your landlord and ask for a rent reduction. If you’ve been a reliable and long-term tenant, he/she may give in to your request.

A rent reduction of at least $50 a month can add up to $600 a year. If your landlord isn’t willing to budge, try downsizing to a smaller apartment or consider moving to a more affordable location. Another option is to find a roommate.

4 Things You Need to Know About Second Mortgages

Your home is an asset and it gains value over time. A second mortgage is a type of home loan that allows you to borrow against the value of your home.  Most homeowners decide to get a second mortgage to pay off large debts or for home improvement purposes.

Here are 4 things you need to know about second mortgages.

Home equity line of credit vs. Home equity loans

There are 2 types of second mortgages – home equity line of credit and home equity loans. With a line of credit, the borrower knows exactly how much money they need. They would borrow a small amount of money and then repay the line of credit later on. They can continue to borrow as many times as they wish.

The home equity loan is a great option if you are looking to borrow a huge sum of money. This is similar to your first mortgage. It is a one-time loan and requires borrowers to repay the loan by making fixed monthly payments. Determine what kind of second mortgage you would like.

Why take a second mortgage?

A second mortgage, when used for appropriate reasons, can actually help you realize your financial goals and dreams. Laying the ground work for increased income and increasing the value of your home are 2 of the best reasons to use a second mortgage.

Since a second mortgage is based on your home’s equity, it is a good idea to use the money to do certain improvements, which will help increase the value of your home. Kitchen and bathroom renovations often yield the biggest returns.

How much money can you borrow?

The amount of money you can borrow will depend upon a number of factors, including the loan to value ratio of your current home, your credit score, and the amount of equity you have in your home. Most lenders will allow you to borrow as much as 85% of your loan to value ratio of the 2 loans combined.

Understand the risks involved

A second mortgage works much like your first mortgage. Even though banks consider second mortgages safe, they certainly come attached with some large risks. For one, the interest rates are slightly higher than that of your first mortgages. Plus, it will be piled on top of existing home loan, so you’ll end up acquiring massive amounts of debts. Since it taps into your home’s equity, it means your home is on the line. If you fail to keep up with the monthly payments, your home will be at risk of foreclosure.

Before you take out a second mortgage, make sure that you carefully consider whether the benefits outweigh the risks before you take out a second mortgage.

Why You Should Tackle Home Repairs Before Listing Your House for Sale

Spring and summer is the busiest time of the year in the real estate market. Because of this, most homeowners choose to sell their home during this time of the year. If you are looking to sell your home, we highly recommend that you tackle some repairs and home improvement projects before you do so.

Here are 4 reasons why you should tackle home repairs before listing your home for sale:

Add value to your home

Small home improvement projects like repainting the walls, repainting the kitchen cabinets and pressure washing your home’s exterior always pay off. These projects will only cost you a small amount of money and a few hours of your time, but these home improvement projects will help boost the value of your home.

An attractive and well maintained house will increase its perceived value. It will attract lots of potential buyers and get better offers as well. Plus, buyers will be willing to buy your house at your asking price knowing that it it’s in tip top shape.

Sell your home faster

Home buyers are looking for a house that is in move-in ready condition. They don’t have time to tackle repairs after moving in to their new house.

By handling repairs early on and assuring buyers that your house is in good shape, there’s a good chance that your home will sell fast and for top dollar. Properties that are in poor condition are likely to linger on the market.

Reduces the risk of losing the deal

Most buyers get a home inspection before pushing through with the transaction. Even if you don’t tell them about certain issues, potential buyers will be able to find out about it later on. With these issues showing up on the home inspection report, potential buyers may think twice about buying the house. Worse, some may consider backing out of the deal.

By anticipating any problems the buyer may have with your home, buyers will be able to focus on the positive features rather than the negatives.

Save money

We all know that handling repairs can cost you money, but fixing issues before putting it on the market will help you save money. For instance, a leaky faucet is one of the easiest home maintenance tasks to perform. If you ignore it and potential buyers find out about it, this will leave a bad impression on potential buyers. Some of them may think that the house hasn’t been properly maintained, and there are a lot of problems that are yet to be discovered.

Many common repairs are inexpensive and easy to fix. The amount of money you’ll spend to tackle these repairs will be far less than having to pay a contractor later on when potential buyers find out about these issues.

4 Ways to Get Your Garden Ready for Spring Planting

The end of winter is finally in sight. It’s time for your garden to come back from the winter weather.

If you’re new to gardening, this guide is here to help. These tips will help you get a head start on preparing your garden for spring planting.

Have a plan

Start planning in early spring and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful, blooming plants in the summertime.

In addition to planning what types of plants and flowers to fill your garden with this year, there are also some important things you need to take into consideration. First, you need to consider how much space you have and how much sun your garden is getting. It is also important to decide how you’ll take care for everything.

Clean up

Clean up your garden about a month before planting. Get rid of those pesky plants that have sprung up during the winter, as well as the weeds left over from fall.  Rake the lawn to remove dead growth and winter debris.

Decaying leaves choke off your soil, so be sure to clean up your lawn before you pick out your seeds. Make sure that you have a tidy plot of soil for your new plants.

Give your soil some TLC

The best way to prepare your soil for planting is by adding organic matter in the form of compost and aged manure. Also, prepare the garden bed by digging to loosen the soil. Do this before planting anything in your yard.

Healthy soil is the basis of healthy plants. You are likely to produce beautiful flowers and healthy, nutritious vegetables year after year if you grow on a strong foundation.

Plant for all 4 seasons

Identify the plants that will bloom each season in your garden. This ensures that your home is surrounded by color and interest through all four seasons. Or better yet, choose plants that bloom all year long. Sweet alyssum, Asters, Achillea and Chinese hibiscus will continue to blossom throughout the year.