Real Estate and Housing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4810/all en-US These Are the 7 Features Home Buyers Want Most http://www.wisebread.com/these-are-the-7-features-home-buyers-want-most <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-are-the-7-features-home-buyers-want-most" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_new_house_62152676.jpg" alt="Couple learning features homebuyers want most" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Interested in buying a new home? It's a good idea to be aware of what new homebuyers are looking for. I interviewed Markus Brown, a Realtor in Orange County, California, about what he sees buyers looking for in potential new homes. The following features are currently generating a lot of demand, which may potentially translate to higher home values.</p> <h2>1. An Open Floor Plan</h2> <p>The days of compartmentalized rooms all separated by walls and doors are gone, and the era of <a href="https://www.newhomesource.com/resourcecenter/articles/top-10-features-home-buyers-want">connected living</a> continues to be one of top new home trends. Specifically, buyers &quot;want the kitchen to be open to the family room, which creates the &quot;great room&quot; as it's most typically defined,&quot; says Brown. Homebuyers are also looking for an open floor plan kitchen, as it allows people to flow to and from the heart of the home during gatherings.</p> <h2>2. Hardwood Floors</h2> <p>Forget the wall-to-wall carpet, today's homebuyers are looking for <a href="http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/03/housing-preferences-across-generations-part-i/">hardwood floors</a> on the main floor of the home, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Hardwood flooring looks especially beautiful when flowing throughout an open floor plan.</p> <h2>3. A Modern Kitchen</h2> <p>New homebuyers are looking not just for an updated kitchen, but a <a href="http://www.inman.com/2016/02/16/10-key-design-trends-buyers-want-sellers-need-2016/">modern kitchen design</a> that hits the latest trends. Granite continues to trend, but the pattern in the granite tends to be characterized by more &quot;movement and flow,&quot; according to Brown, as opposed to a busy, speckled look. Quartz aggregates are a popular alternative for countertops. Floor tile has been growing in size, with large rectangular tiles (and fewer grout lines) leading the trends. Keeping hardwood flooring flowing throughout the kitchen and living spaces is also very popular.</p> <p>The trendiest kitchens have a large island that doubles as an eating space, combining cooking and eating/entertaining in one feature. Open shelving has seen a resurgence in interest, but it can be a polarizing feature that some love and some don't.</p> <p>Brown points out that modern backsplash finishes are important, and he has seen a trend toward the &quot;subway tile patterns that were popular in the 20s and 30s.&quot;&nbsp;Pullout shelves and self-closing doors in the kitchen are also a plus.</p> <h2>4. Plenty of Storage</h2> <p>Along with an open floor plan comes a need for ample storage to keep those open spaces clutter free. New homebuyers are looking for pantries, linen closets, and storage areas such as a separate laundry room, mudroom, and cabinetry in the garage to help them stay organized and to keep the clutter out of sight. In fact, the most recent survey by the <a href="http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/03/housing-preferences-across-generations-part-i/">National Association of Home Builders</a> (NAHB) reports that 92% of buyers want a laundry room, making it the most desired feature of a new home.</p> <h2>5. Multi-Generational Living</h2> <p>Many new homebuyers appreciate the possibility to house an older parent or family member, if not full-time, at least part-time with comfortable guest quarters. A guest room on the ground floor with a full bathroom is one of the features that makes multigenerational living more comfortable for everyone.</p> <h2>6. Multi-Functional Space</h2> <p>Something many new homebuyers are looking for is a &quot;homework loft,&quot; &quot;gaming loft,&quot; or some kind of multifunctional space within the home. This could be a desk located on a second floor loft outside the bedrooms, or an area off the living room or kitchen which can be used for various needs. &quot;The loft and great room are mutually dependent in many ways,&quot; says Brown, because along with greater open space comes a need for a place for kids to hang out separately from adults.</p> <h2>7. Indoor-Outdoor Living</h2> <p>Today's homebuyers are looking for ways to incorporate the outdoors into their daily lives. Millennials and younger buyers, in particular, are <a href="http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/03/housing-preferences-across-generations-part-i/">increasingly demanding a patio</a> and multiple outdoor areas. Outdoor living space also increases the functional square footage of a home. Having an outdoor kitchen and entertaining space can be very attractive to new homebuyers. Sliding doors or French doors leading to a large patio that encourages flow between indoors and outdoors are often coveted features.</p> <p>The &quot;California room&quot; or &quot;outdoor living room&quot; is an increasingly popular concept, according to Brown. A California room is a space that seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor living, usually comprised of a covered patio or sunroom, comfortable furnishings, and easy access to both inside and outside.</p> <h2>8. Energy Efficiency and Eco-Conscious Living</h2> <p>Energy efficiency is a feature that is becoming increasingly important. Energy Star rated appliances, windows, and an Energy Star rated whole home were desired by <a href="http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/03/housing-preferences-across-generations-part-i/">over 80%</a> of new homebuyers. Features like a whole house fan, solar &quot;readiness&quot; (infrastructure in place for solar panels), solar water heater, heat pump heater/air conditioner, and &quot;smart&quot; thermostats can all appeal to the eco-conscious buyer. &quot;In certain areas of the country,&quot; notes Brown, &quot;drought-tolerant and low-maintenance landscaping are also important.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-are-the-7-features-home-buyers-want-most">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-sneaky-home-money-pits-that-sap-your-savings">9 Sneaky Home Money Pits That Sap Your Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers">10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-negotiation-tricks-that-ll-win-a-home-bidding-war">5 Negotiation Tricks That’ll Win a Home Bidding War</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-fall-is-a-great-time-to-house-hunt">5 Reasons Fall Is a Great Time to House Hunt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-your-dishwasher">How to Clean Your Dishwasher</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Real Estate and Housing appliances features floor plans homebuyers homeowners housing market interior design modern new house Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:00:07 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1800745 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Negotiation Tricks That’ll Win a Home Bidding War http://www.wisebread.com/5-negotiation-tricks-that-ll-win-a-home-bidding-war <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-negotiation-tricks-that-ll-win-a-home-bidding-war" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_new_house_94294569.jpg" alt="Couple learning negotiation tricks to win a home bidding war" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're in the market for a new home, you might have discovered a frustrating truth by now: There aren't as many homes available for sale these days.</p> <p>The National Association of Realtors reported at the end of July, there were 2.13 million existing homes available for sale across the country. That might seem like a big number, but that figure is actually 5.8% lower than during the same month one year ago. And the inventory of homes for sale has fallen for 14 straight months.</p> <p>This means that when you do find a home that you'd like to buy, you might be bidding against other potential buyers who want the same property.</p> <p>How do you increase your odds that you'll actually win such a bidding war? Here are five tips that can make a difference:</p> <h2>1. Get Pre-Approved</h2> <p>The single most important step in winning a bidding war is to make sure that you are preapproved for a mortgage loan.</p> <p>In a preapproval, a mortgage lender will run your credit and ask for you to prove your monthly income and debts. You'll have to send your lender such documents as your two most recent paycheck stubs, last two bank statements, and last two tax returns. Your lender can then determine how much money it is willing to loan you for a mortgage. To close the process, the lender will send you a preapproval letter stating that it is willing to loan you a certain amount of dollars.</p> <p>Having this preapproval letter makes you a stronger buyer. A seller knows that you can qualify for a mortgage loan, and that the home sale is less likely to fall through if the seller accepts your offer. If a seller has to choose between a preapproved buyer and one who's never met with a lender? The odds are high that the seller will choose the buyer who boasts that preapproval letter.</p> <h2>2. Make a Full-Price Offer</h2> <p>In the hottest housing markets across the country, a growing number of sellers aren't just juggling offers for their homes, they're juggling full-price offers.</p> <p>Traditionally, buyers and sellers have haggled over a home's final sales price, with sellers usually lopping at least $5,000 or so off their asking price. But in today's low-inventory markets, this isn't always the case. If you fall in love with a home, be prepared to pay full listing price for it. If you don't, the buyer behind you might be happy to do so.</p> <p>And you can bet that the seller will gladly accept that full-price offer while ignoring yours.</p> <h2>3. Go All In</h2> <p>For the best homes in the best neighborhoods, you might have to make an even bigger financial commitment to win a home: Instead of just making a full-price offer, you might have to make a bid even higher than the residence's list price.</p> <p>This sounds ridiculous. Why, after all, would you ever pay more for a home than what the seller has actually requested? But if you are competing against several other buyers for a home, the winning bid might actually rise over the home's original listing price.</p> <p>You'll have to determine if you want the residence badly enough to make the unusual move of paying more than the home's original sales price.</p> <h2>4. Offer More Earnest Money</h2> <p>Sellers often request that buyers put down what is known as earnest money when they make an offer on their home. This earnest money &mdash; often 1% of a home's purchase price &mdash; shows that buyers are serious about purchasing a residence. It is usually nonrefundable if buyers walk away from an offer.</p> <p>If you want to make a good impression on a seller, come up with a larger earnest money deposit. This will prove to the seller that you are especially eager to buy their home.</p> <h2>5. Be Flexible With Move-In Dates</h2> <p>Many sellers can't move out of their homes as quickly as buyers want. If you're willing, though, to be flexible with your move-in date, you might be able to win out over bidders who are not as willing to compromise.</p> <p>Make it clear to sellers that you are willing to move in whenever it's most convenient for them. Making life easier for the sellers could pay off big when you're battling other buyers for a property.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-negotiation-tricks-that-ll-win-a-home-bidding-war">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Refinance Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-yourself-these-5-questions-before-buying-a-home">Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Buying a Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/2-things-you-must-know-about-the-new-mortgage-rules">2 Things You Must Know About the New Mortgage Rules</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing asking price bargaining bidding war home offer homebuyers mortgages moving new home preapproval Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 1796739 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times You Shouldn't Refinance Your Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_stressed_bills_85513247.jpg" alt="Couple learning times they shouldn&#039;t refinance their mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Refinancing your mortgage can drastically lower your monthly payments, especially since rates are still very low. The decision to refinance should be an easy one, right? Not so quick.</p> <p>Refinancing isn't for everyone or every financial situation. Here are five times you should hold off on refinancing your mortgage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance?ref=seealso">ReFi Shy? How to Determine if Now Is the Time to Refinance</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Don't Plan on Staying in the House</h2> <p>If you plan on selling your home in the next five years, then hold off on refinancing it. The move will likely only waste your time and money. Selling too soon after refinancing means you won't live in your home long enough to capture the savings benefits of lower rates. Plus, you'll still owe any fees associated with the new loan.</p> <p>We made the mistake of refinancing our other home from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage. Our broker had talked us into it, saying it was a smart option. It wasn't. At the time of the refinance, I was pregnant with my second child, and truly planned to live in our first home for many more years. However, two kids under three plus one room equals a lot of sleepless nights.</p> <p>The decision to refinance ended up costing us more initially and monthly, especially since we sold our home just nine months later.</p> <h2>2. The Savings Don't Add Up</h2> <p>The reason why many individuals choose to refinance their mortgage is because they want to get a lower interest rate. Before you jump on the refinance wagon, do a little bit of calculating. Find out how much the refinance will cost you compared to how much it will save.</p> <p>Also realize that a refinance can add years to your loan. Don't automatically believe that you are benefiting from lower monthly payments if your loan has been extended an additional five years.</p> <h2>3. You Are Trying to Pay Off Your Loan Sooner</h2> <p>As I mentioned before, we refinanced our home to a 15-year loan because we wanted to pay off our mortgage faster. On paper, the numbers made sense, and the change was only going to cost us an extra $300 a month, which seemed doable. However, it would have been better for us to keep the 30-year loan and make the extra payments on our own terms. This would have given us more wiggle room in our budget for unexpected costs.</p> <h2>4. You Are Switching to an adjustable-rate mortgage</h2> <p>Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) rates are tempting to jump on, especially since they guarantee a low rate for a certain amount of time. However, interest rates eventually will go up. It's just the ebb and flow of the economy.</p> <p>With an ARM, you will pay more of the principal faster, which is nice, but you better be prepared to pay higher payments when the rates go up.</p> <h2>5. You Aren't in the Right Position to Finance</h2> <p>If for some reason your home has dropped in value, refinancing your home can tack on extra costs, such as private mortgage insurance. Borrowers with small down payments &mdash; or refinances with little equity &mdash; have to pay PMI until their equity reaches 20% of the home's value. For example, if you bought your house for $250,000, paid off $30,000 of it, but the value of your house dropped to $225,000, you would have very little equity in the home and in most cases have to pay for PMI.</p> <p>Another thing to consider before you refinance is your credit score and job history. If your score has dropped even just a little, you could miss out on qualifying for the lowest rates, which would make the whole refinance process not worth it. Also, if you recently switched career fields, i.e. going from a teacher to a computer system administrator, your pay might be higher, but your duration of employment might make you ineligible for a refinance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement?ref=seealso">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a>)</p> <p>Refinancing is a good choice if it means you can ditch annoying PMI fees and score a lower interest rate. However, a refinance is not for everyone, so be sure to crunch the numbers first.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance">ReFi Shy? How to Determine If Now Is the Time to Refinance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-rush-to-pay-off-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Rush to Pay Off Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing adjustable rate mortgages ARMS mortgages moving refinancing savings Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:00:08 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1799077 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 American Cities Where You Can Retire On Just Social Security http://www.wisebread.com/5-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/retired_old_couple_90300353.jpg" alt="Retired couple finding cities to retire in on social security" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The statistics on how unprepared Americans are for retirement can be terrifying. The <a href="http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/pdf/2015/RetirementSavingsCrisis.pdf">median retirement account balance</a> is $2,500 for all working-age households and $14,500 for near-retirement households, according to a 2015 study by the National Institute on Retirement Security.</p> <p>Two-thirds of working families fall short of conservative retirement savings targets for their age and income based on working until age 67, the report finds.</p> <p>With virtually no retirement savings for the average working household and 45% (nearly 40 million) of working households not having any retirement assets, their best hope for surviving after age 67 may be income from Social Security.</p> <h2>What Social Security Pays</h2> <p>The average monthly Social Security check as of June 2016 was $1,234, according to the Social Security Administration, or SSA. Where could you afford to live on such an income?</p> <p>There are some good options, but before we get to those, let's be a little more generous with the SSA income, based on the government's statistics.</p> <p>While the average monthly benefit was $1,234, 82% of beneficiaries receive a little more &mdash; $1,280 from &quot;Old-Age and Survivors Insurance&quot; SSA beneficiaries. The largest average monthly SSA benefit was $1,348 for retired workers, who made up 67% of the pool.</p> <p>Assuming you're a retired worker receiving the average $1,348 each month from SSA, that's still a low amount of money to live on each month, considering that a retirement planning rule of thumb is to plan on having 70%&ndash;80% percent of your pre-retirement income replaced with SSA, a retirement account, or other form of income in your old age.</p> <p>At 80%, that $1,348 would equate to a pre-retirement monthly income of $1,685, or $20,220 per year. If you were comfortable living on $20,220 per year before retirement, then living on 80% of it during retirement should be just as comfortable, the theory goes.</p> <p>For a couple who are both retired, their SSA income would double to $40,440 per year. But for our purposes, let's assume one retiree is living by themselves.</p> <p>So, where to live on the average SSA check of $1,348 per month for retired workers? In no particular order, here are five cities where it's affordable,</p> <h2>1. Buffalo, New York</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/buffalo_new_york_82224935.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Buffalo may come as a surprise for being a cheap place to live because it's in New York state. But the <a href="https://smartasset.com/mortgage/top-ten-cheapest-places-to-live">median monthly rent</a> in Buffalo is $512, making it the cheapest city in the U.S. to live in, according to a SmartAsset analysis. Buffalo also has the lowest cost of living at 79.34, meaning that the U.S. average is 100 and that $100 in groceries, for example, would cost $79.34 in Buffalo.</p> <h2>2. Johnstown, Pennsylvania</h2> <p>If you're looking for the cheapest rent in the country, this city of 20,576 residents has it with a gross median rent of $466 per month, according to data from the U.S. Census. Since housing is one of the biggest expenses in life, such low rent can make other expenses a lot more affordable.</p> <p>The <a href="http://places.findthehome.com/stories/10260/city-every-state-cheapest-affordable-rent#50-Pennsylvania-Johnstown">average per capita income</a> in Johnstown is $16,153, according to FindTheHome, putting the average SSA income in retirement above the average there. In this city, you'd be rich.</p> <h2>3. Memphis, Tennessee</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/graceland_memphis_91136155.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>If you're looking for a large U.S. city that's affordable in retirement, Memphis is it. This city of 653,450 has low housing costs. The average apartment rent of $709 per month is 21% below the U.S. average, and the median home value of $98,300 is 46% below the U.S. average, according to Kiplinger.</p> <h2>4. Akron, Ohio</h2> <p>Living in the center of the country is usually cheaper than it is elsewhere, and Akron, Ohio proves that point by being one of the <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/media/the-15-most-affordable-places-to-live-in-america/16/">most affordable places to live</a> in the country. Its median home price listing in August 2015 was $120,450, and the median household income was $45,628 &mdash; putting the average SSA income at just below the median. The amount of monthly income spent on housing, utilities, and commuting in Akron was 28.9%, allowing retirees to spend about 70% of their income on other things.</p> <h2>5. Indianapolis, Indiana</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/indianapolis_indiana_62568936_0.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Listed by Trulia as one of the best cities to move to for a high-paying job, Indianapolis has low home prices for <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/millennials-meet-indianapolis-your-new-dream-city-n623021">Millennials looking for work</a> and for retirees, too. The median home price of $130,000 is $58,900 below the median home price in America. That allows about two of every five renters to be able to afford a typically priced home there. For retirees who sell their homes and have enough money to buy a home outright or put down a large down payment, then living with little or almost no housing costs can leave a lot of room in their budget for other things.</p> <p>The good news is that there are plenty more U.S. cities that are affordable for retirees who only have an income from Social Security. These are only five of them, and are a good start to investigate more when deciding on the cheapest places to retire.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/aaron-crowe">Aaron Crowe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-moves-you-should-make-five-years-before-retirement">5 Financial Moves You Should Make Five Years Before Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-worst-states-for-retirees">The 10 Worst States for Retirees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-states-with-the-lowest-taxes-for-retirees">7 States With the Lowest Taxes for Retirees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-plan-for-retirement-when-you-re-ready-to-retire">How to Plan for Retirement When You’re Ready to Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-can-you-afford-to-spend-in-retirement">How Much Can You Afford to Spend in Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Retirement America benefits cost of living income relocating social security u.s. cities Tue, 20 Sep 2016 10:30:05 +0000 Aaron Crowe 1795982 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 House-Hunting Red Flags You Can't Ignore http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_mortgage_trap_63718741.jpg" alt="Learning house hunting red flags you can&#039;t ignore" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've found the home of your dreams. The price is right, the time is right, and you have the down payment ready to go. But before you get your heart set on the property, you need to be aware of some red flags that could make you change your mind. Here are 12 potential issues that should give you cause for concern.</p> <h2>1. Some Part of the Property Is Off-Limits</h2> <p>When you go to an open house, you expect it to be, well, open. The homeowner wants to sell the property quickly, and creating any kind of hurdle, be it locked doors or bolted sheds, is a warning that something may be wrong. It could be that the person showing the home simply wants to keep some valuables locked away. If you're interested in the home, ask to come back later to see what's behind those closed doors, with an escort. If they still say no, you've got your red flag. And if it remains locked during the inspection, run away. There could be anything waiting for you, including bugs, water damage, faulty electrics, or any number of hazards.</p> <h2>2. The Neighborhood Is a Ghost Town</h2> <p>Depending on when you visit the home, and where the home is, you will see various things happening in the streets &mdash; kids playing, people out mowing the lawns, and a general feeling of regular activity. If the neighborhood is deathly quiet, take a closer look. Why is it so quiet? If you start seeing a lot of &quot;For Sale&quot; signs, and see that some properties are in a state of disrepair, you could well be moving into a place that most people are trying to escape from. Ask around, and talk to neighbors if you can. It may just be it's a very quiet neighborhood. But it could also be a place that is quickly becoming abandoned.</p> <h2>3. Popcorn Ceilings</h2> <p>Used in homes between the late 1950s, through to the late 1980s, popcorn ceilings were a trend that thankfully died out. Aside from being horrendously ugly, and difficult to paint, they could also pose a serious health hazard. Many popcorn ceilings contain white asbestos fibers, and that is nothing you want to mess around with. It takes a professional crew hours to remove it, and the charge can be up to $3 per square foot. Multiply that by all the rooms in the house that have the tacky popcorn ceilings, and you could be looking at thousands of dollars in labor. If you see it, ask the seller if they can have the popcorn texture removed on their dime. Or, ask for a reduction in the house price to deal with the costs of removing it.</p> <h2>4. Strange Smells and Unusual Stains</h2> <p>Where there is a funky smell, there is usually an underlying cause. It could just be some weird cooking that happened the night before, but chances are, it's something ingrained in the home. You may be smelling mildew, mold, or water damage in the floors and ceilings. Get your nose inside areas where smells can be hiding, like closets, cabinets, and the corners of basements and attics. And if you smell nothing but air fresheners in every room, the seller may be trying to cover up an offending odor.</p> <h2>5. Recent Painting and Decorating</h2> <p>To be fair, some homeowners want to freshen the place up before selling it, to get a better price and a quicker sale. But look at the type of redecorating that has happened. If it looks consistent throughout the home, or one room has been completely redone, then that's probably fine. But if you're seeing little patches of new paint and paper, they may be covering something the seller wants to hide. If you see some major construction work has just happened, you must get it inspected thoroughly. If the renovations were done in a hurry, and didn't have permits, they could be dangerous, or even deadly. It's not unusual for load-bearing walls to be removed, to open up a layout, causing serious structural problems.</p> <h2>6. Poor Upkeep and Maintenance</h2> <p>Unless you're buying a brand-new home, you will be living in a house that has been lived in before. We all hope the current owner has done his or her best to keep the property in tiptop condition, but it's not always the case. So, look for signs of a lazy homeowner. Are several doors really tough to open and close? Are some of the light switches and sockets cracked or broken? Do you see wallpaper peeling at the corners, or burned out bulbs that haven't been replaced? All of these can signal a homeowner who didn't maintain the property, and could signal bigger issues that you will only find after moving in.</p> <h2>7. Faulty Wiring</h2> <p>It's not as easy to spot as a couple of dangerous loose wires sticking out of the wall; faulty wiring can be lurking behind switches and faceplates. When going through the home, check all of the switches, even on the garbage disposal. If there are issues, like flickering lights, circuits that buzz and hum, excessive heat, or just switches that do not work, it could be a sign of larger electrical issues. Old wiring that has to be brought up to code can be costly, and should be a burden on the seller, not you.</p> <h2>8. Signs of Pests</h2> <p>As you walk through the property, look for telltale signs of bugs and rodents. Are there mouse traps hiding in the corners of the garage? Do you see shelves full of pest control products? What about droppings? Do you see a lot of dead bugs on the window ledges and in the basement and attic? Any of these signs, and many more, can be an indication of a pest problem that could be costly. If it's termites&hellip;very costly.</p> <h2>9. Old Heating and Cooling Systems</h2> <p>When the house was built should help you figure out if the heating and cooling systems should have been replaced by now. In some cases, they should have been replaced multiple times. The average life span of a furnace and air conditioner is 13&ndash;20 years, depending on the make and model. If you're looking at a home that was built in the 1980s, those systems should have been replaced twice. So, take a close look at the age of the units, or ask the seller to tell you how old those items are. To replace them both can cost many thousands of dollars. Also, ask for them to be turned on. If you notice strange sounds, they may be in need of repair or full on replacement.</p> <h2>10. Heaving Closets and Storage Spaces</h2> <p>One of the big complaints many homeowners have is storage space, or the lack of it. If the home doesn't have a basement or attic, you should definitely check out the state of the cupboards, and the garage. Can they even get a car into the garage? If it's full of their things, chances are, you are going to have storage issues, too. If the cupboards are threatening to pour the contents all over you when you open the door, that's another big red flag. Of course, they may be hoarders, but if you see that it's just regular items that are jammed into every available corner, you have a storage problem on your hands.</p> <h2>11. Rugs and Wall Coverings Everywhere</h2> <p>Homeowners can get pretty creative when it comes to hiding stains, holes, and damage. If you notice area rugs in every room, lift them up. It could be that the rugs are disguising unsightly carpet stains, or damaged floor coverings. If you see walls covered in posters, frames, hangings, and even drapes, look behind them, too. They may be hiding a whole host of problems, including wet rot or dry rot.</p> <h2>12. Cracks</h2> <p>Most homes develop a few hairline cracks over the years, as the house settles on the foundation. But cracks in the walls and floors that are greater than a third of an inch wide are a cause for concern. It's highly possible the house has serious structural problems, and you may have to foot the bill for some very costly repairs and foundation work.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here&#039;s What It Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-ready-to-make-an-offer-on-a-house-now-what">You&#039;re Ready to Make an Offer on a House: Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-fall-is-a-great-time-to-house-hunt">5 Reasons Fall Is a Great Time to House Hunt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buying a house damages decorating dishonesty house hunting maintenance neighborhoods red flags repairs warning signs Wed, 14 Sep 2016 09:30:27 +0000 Paul Michael 1792245 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons Fall Is a Great Time to House Hunt http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-fall-is-a-great-time-to-house-hunt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-fall-is-a-great-time-to-house-hunt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/autumn_new_hampshire_23913489.jpg" alt="Learning reasons fall is a great time to house hunt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Spring and summer are prime seasons for buying and selling real estate. The weather is milder and more conducive for a move, and if you have kids, summer lets you settle into a new place before the little buggers head back to school. But while May to September are considered the best times of the year to buy a house, they aren't the only times. There's no need to stress or panic if you don't find what you're looking for before the end of summer, especially since fall is also a great time to house hunt. Here are five reasons why.</p> <h2>1. It's Easier to Negotiate With Sellers</h2> <p>Because spring and summer are the busiest seasons for real estate, some homes receive a ton of traffic, resulting in multiple offers from buyers. In some cases, multiple offers drive up the asking price of a property. This is good news for sellers, but not the best news for buyers looking to negotiate the price and get the best deal on a property.</p> <p>The market typically slows down toward the end of summer and beginning of fall. Since there aren't as many people searching for properties around this time, this an excellent time to negotiate the price. Sellers who were unable to sell during the peak season might be willing to accept a lower price, which means you can get more house for your money. And if the seller is really motivated, you might negotiate additional incentives, such as a seller credit at closing that can go toward replacing the carpet, or the seller can pay all or a percentage of your closing costs to reduce your out-of-pocket expense.</p> <h2>2. There's Less Competition</h2> <p>A smaller pool of buyers also means less competition, so you can take your time and look for a property that's right for you and your family. When several buyers compete for the same property, there's a greater chance of the seller accepting another buyer's offer, or you can find yourself caught in the middle of a bidding war. There's the risk of falling in love with a house, only to be disappointed when you discover there are several other (maybe better) offers on the table. And when there's a lot of competition, there's a tendency to rush the buying process; you could end up purchasing a home and experiencing buyer's remorse later on.</p> <h2>3. You'll Experience a Shorter Wait to Benefit From Tax Breaks</h2> <p>One benefit of buying a home is the opportunity to take advantage of tax breaks. Homeowners can write off mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance premiums, and real estate property taxes, plus certain costs associated with getting the mortgage, such as discount points paid to a lender and loan origination fees. Self-employed people also can write off the square footage of a dedicated home office, as well as a percentage of utilities. All these expenses are written off when you file your tax return. The good thing about buying a home in the fall is that you don't have to wait as long to take advantage of these tax savings, which can trigger a bigger refund or a smaller tax bill.</p> <h2>4. Builders May Offer Additional Incentives</h2> <p>If you're thinking about purchasing a new-construction home, fall is one of the best times to house hunt because builders also experience a reduction in new home sales after summer. To spark interest, some builders offer incentives, such as a discount off the base price of certain models, or the builder may offer to pay all of a buyer's closing costs.</p> <h2>5. You'll Get More Attention From Your Realtor</h2> <p>Since the number of people looking for homes decreases in the fall, you can use this situation to your advantage and get more quality time with your realtor. During the spring and summer, your agent might juggle several clients simultaneously. Even if your agent is professional and looking out for your best interest, she isn't a robot. She might be unable to respond to calls or emails as quickly as you would like, and it can be difficult to coordinate your schedules for showings.</p> <p>If you postpone house hunting until the fall, your real estate agent will likely have fewer clients. As a result, your agent can devote more time to your house hunting efforts. This includes searching and finding listings that are perfect for your family, coordinating showings, as well as answering your questions in a timely manner.</p> <p><em>Have you searched for a home in the fall? Did you find it easier than other times of the year? Tell me about your home-searching experience in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-fall-is-a-great-time-to-house-hunt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-before-the-leaves-change">10 Money Moves to Make Before the Leaves Change</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore">12 House-Hunting Red Flags You Can&#039;t Ignore</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ideas-for-cheap-festive-fall-decor">12 Ideas for Cheap, Festive, Fall Decor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-great-stocks-for-back-to-school-time">9 Great Stocks for Back-to-School Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-frugal-fall-decoration-tips">7 Frugal Fall Decoration Tips</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing autumn competition fall house hunting house shopping housing market incentives realtors seasons tax breaks Mon, 12 Sep 2016 16:24:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1789670 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_money_moves_63337017.jpg" alt="Couple asking questions before signing a lease" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So you've been searching for a place to live. You've looked at a bunch of different homes and apartments, driven all over town, and have finally decided on the one you want. It's perfect. But before you whip out the pen and commit to something, ask the following 10 questions. They could prevent you from making a very costly &mdash; and time-consuming &mdash; mistake.</p> <h2>1. Which Utilities Are My Responsibility?</h2> <p>Depending on where you live (and how generous the landlord is), utility responsibility may vary. If you're living in a large apartment complex, you may find that a lot of utilities are covered by your rent. In other cases, it may only be water and sewage, or in the worst case scenario&hellip;nothing at all. So make sure you know exactly which utilities are going to be your responsibility, <em>and </em>see if you can get a history of the bills at that address. Some homes are more energy efficient than others, and some homes have additional costs you may not consider (such as fees for constructing new pipelines). When you get the complete picture, you may discover that the utility bills put a unit beyond your reach.</p> <h2>2. How and When Do I Pay My Rent?</h2> <p>You already know what the rent costs, but you also need to know how and when to pay it. These days, many larger apartment leasing companies will take payments online, or through an automated debit system. Private landlords will most likely take a check or banker's draft, and may want you to mail it, or hand it over in person. There may also be fees for paying online or by check, so ask about that. And of course, ask about late fees and grace periods. You may get up to five days to pay your rent without incurring a penalty.</p> <h2>3. Do I Have to Have Renters Insurance?</h2> <p>Any kind of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance?ref=internal">renters insurance</a> is good to have, even if it covers the bare minimum. But times are tough, and you may not have the money to afford it right now. Your landlord or leasing agency may not care. Or, they may have a very strict renters insurance policy, which could once again put you over your monthly budget and make the apartment off limits. If you are required to have it, shop around and get multiple quotes. Use these quotes as bargaining chips with each insurance company to get the best possible rate that covers more of your possessions.</p> <h2>4. What Is Your Guest Policy?</h2> <p>In this day and age, the vast majority of landlords are not going to care if you have guests for long visits. But, it never hurts to check the rules of the apartment complex or landlord. Even then, it's a very tricky rule to enforce, so it's doubtful anything will happen. The problems usually come with guests staying for an extended period of time. If your best friend suddenly becomes homeless and asks to stay in your spare room for a few months, that could have ramifications. And if you decide to move your partner in to live there permanently, you will have to consult the landlord. It's possible a background check will be needed.</p> <h2>5. Can I Make Improvements?</h2> <p>When you move into a new place, you want it to feel like home. That often means personalizing it with paint, wallpaper, new curtains, maybe even new carpet or tile. This should all be openly discussed with the landlord before you ever sign the lease, and put in writing. It's quite possible that any improvements you want to make (even a simple coat of paint), will have to be approved first. Even if you think you're making the place even better (adding a wooden floor for instance), the landlord has every right to take your security deposit when you move out.</p> <h2>6. How Long Is the Lease?</h2> <p>It may seem like an obvious question, but not all leases are created equal. Some landlords may be renting their home out for the summer, and want a tenant for six months or less. Some apartment complexes offer discounts for longer leases. Some leases are month-to-month. You need to know this up front, and also, what kind of fees you will pay to break that lease. It's possible you'll be asked to pay two months' rent to get out of it, and may also lose your security deposit. Other places may be much more relaxed, especially if you find someone to take over the lease.</p> <h2>7. How Much Is the Security Deposit and Do I Get All of It Back?</h2> <p>The typical amount for a security deposit is one month's rent, but it can vary from place to place. Some may only want a nominal fee &mdash; say $300. Now, by law, any kind of security deposit is refundable, that's why it's called a security deposit; you put the money down as insurance for the landlord, you get it back if all is well. However, different landlords have different thresholds for wear and tear, and it's possible you won't get the whole amount back, especially if you have pets.</p> <h2>8. How Will the Apartment Be Prepared and How Should I Leave It?</h2> <p>These are two different questions, but both relate to the cleanliness and appearance of the apartment. Before you move in, you need to know if the entire place will be cleaned and repaired. You may well be viewing the place before any of this has happened, and may be in for a shock if you move in and the carpets are stained and the lighting is broken. So, get in writing how the home should be delivered and returned. Also, when you move out, you may have to pay for some of those very services that make the home ready for the next tenants. So, ask if you have to have the carpets shampooed, or the place professionally cleaned. If you do, and don't do it, this fee can come out of your security deposit.</p> <h2>9. What's the Pet Policy?</h2> <p>Landlords don't like pets, often for good reason. They sometimes leave a smell, they can tear things, they're noisy at times, and they can leave nasty surprises on the carpet. For this reason, most places will have some kind of pet policy in place. It may be as simple as &quot;Yes, pets are fine, but don't let your dog bark all the time.&quot; Other places could impose a nonrefundable fee for the term of the lease to cover additional cleaning, or impose a monthly fee, known as pet rent. Even if you don't have a pet now, ask about it. You don't want to have to move out later because you want to get a dog or a cat.</p> <h2>10. How Do You Deal With Maintenance and Emergencies?</h2> <p>Again, this will vary depending on the kind of place you're looking at. Big apartment complexes usually have a maintenance staff on site, and a simple call to the front desk can be all it takes to get an issue resolved. If you're renting a home from a private landlord, you'll want to know up front what kind of response you will get, and how soon. If it's just a guy renting his house out, and your fence blows down, will it take weeks for the repair to happen? Can you call someone to make repairs, and remove the cost of service from your rent? Do all repairs have to go through the landlord, and are there preferred providers? All this should be asked up front.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been burned by the hidden terms of a lease?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask">10 Questions Landlords Can&#039;t Ask</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed">6 Ways to Apartment Hunt on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance">5 Reasons You Definitely Need Renters&#039; Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments breaking a lease insurance maintenance pets policies renters agreement renting security deposits signing a lease utilities Wed, 31 Aug 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1782899 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways a Home Energy Audit Will Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home_energy_audit_47402620.jpg" alt="Learning how a home energy audit will save you money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Feel like your home's utility bills are too high? You're not alone. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the average monthly electrical bill for U.S. homes stood at just over $114 a month in 2014. And the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggests that U.S. homes relying on natural gas would spend an average of $578 during the winter for heat.</p> <p>If your monthly electric and gas bills are too high, it might be time to <a href="http://www.resnet.us/directory/search">call in an energy auditor</a> to perform a home energy audit. During an audit, an inspector will tour your home and run tests to determine where your home is losing energy, and money &mdash; potentially helping you shave 15% or more off your utility bills.</p> <p>Here are four ways in which a home energy audit can save you money.</p> <h2>Inspire You to Install More Efficient Windows</h2> <p>An energy auditor will take a close look at your home's windows. It's more costly to cool and heat your home when leaky windows are letting that hot and cold air escape. Your furnace and air conditioning units have to work harder, consuming more energy, and therefore money.</p> <p>According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program, homeowners can save $126 to $465 a year in energy costs when replacing drafty single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR-qualified replacements. That figure is less impressive when homeowners replace inefficient double-pane windows, but you can still save from $27 to $111 a year with more efficient versions, according to ENERGY STAR.</p> <h2>Identify Other Leaks in Your Home's Envelope</h2> <p>Hot and cool air can escape through plenty of cracks in your home's seal. That's why energy auditors will test your home with a blower door. According to RESNET, this is a powerful fan that an auditor will mount in the frame of an exterior door. The fan will then pull air out of your home, lowering the air pressure inside your residence.</p> <p>The higher outside air pressure will then flow into your home through all of its unsealed cracks and openings. Your auditor will then use diagnostic tools to determine how much air is leaking from your home and from where it is escaping. Sealing these leaky areas will reduce your monthly energy bills.</p> <h2>Help You Determine if You Need More Insulation</h2> <p>A home energy audit will also help you decide if your home's walls lack proper insulation.</p> <p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that U.S. homeowners can save an average of 15% on their home's heating and cooling costs, or an average of 11% on their home's total energy costs, by air-sealing their homes and adding insulation to their attics and walls.</p> <p>During an inspection, an energy auditor will use thermal cameras to determine hot and cold spots in a home's walls and flooring. This will help the auditor determine where your home is lacking proper insulation. Installing new energy-efficient insulation can then have a significant impact on your home's monthly utility bills.</p> <h2>Inspire You to Replace That Washing Machine From 1995</h2> <p>You might be thrilled that your home's washing machine is 20 years old and still chugging along, or that you haven't had to replace your refrigerator in 15 years. But those reliable, old appliances might be costing you too much money each month.</p> <p>The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that home appliances account for about 13% of your home's total energy costs. Replacing older, inefficient models can save you money each month.</p> <p>The Department of Energy says that ENERGY STAR-qualified washing machines and refrigerators are about 20% more energy efficient than are standard models. ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwashers only use about 5.8 gallons of water each cycle or less, according to the Department of Energy, while dishwashers purchased before 1994 use an average of more than 10 gallons for each cycle.</p> <p>Newer, more energy-efficient models of these appliances will cost more. But those savings will add up each month. Do some quick math to determine how long it will take before your average energy savings outweigh the extra cost of buying an energy-efficient refrigerator, dishwasher, or washer and dryer.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had an energy audit done on your home? What did it tell you about your home's energy use?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-sneaky-home-money-pits-that-sap-your-savings">9 Sneaky Home Money Pits That Sap Your Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-10-green-appliances-actually-save-you-money">Do These 10 Green Appliances Actually Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-simple-ways-to-make-your-refrigerator-more-efficient">8 Simple Ways to Make Your Refrigerator More Efficient</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-money-will-you-save-with-energy-star-appliances">How Much Money Will You Save With Energy Star Appliances?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-ways-to-keep-your-home-warm-this-winter">10 Frugal Ways to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Real Estate and Housing appliances energy audit energy efficiency energy star inspection insulation leaks wasting money Windows Tue, 30 Aug 2016 09:30:29 +0000 Dan Rafter 1780053 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_paperwork_house_83751927.jpg" alt="Man learning things lenders check besides credit score" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know how important your FICO credit score is to mortgage lenders. They rely on this number to gauge how well you've handled credit and paid your bills in the past. A high credit score means that you'll qualify for a low mortgage interest rate. A low score? You might not qualify for a loan at all.</p> <p>But mortgage lenders don't look only at <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-you-are-more-than-your-credit-score" target="_blank">your credit score</a>&nbsp;when you apply for a home loan. They also consider several other key factors &mdash; everything from your job history to the size of your down payment.</p> <p>Here is a look at four noncredit factors that lenders will be studying when you apply for a mortgage loan.</p> <h2>Debt</h2> <p>Outside of your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio is the most important number for mortgage lenders. This ratio measures the relationship between your monthly debt obligations and your gross monthly income.</p> <p>As a general rule, lenders strongly prefer your total monthly debts &mdash; including your estimated new mortgage payment &mdash; equal no more than 43% of your gross monthly income (your income before taxes).</p> <p>If your debt-to-income rises past this level, lenders won't be as willing to lend you mortgage money. They'll worry that you're already overburdened with debt, and the addition of a monthly mortgage payment will only make your financial situation worse.</p> <h2>Job History</h2> <p>Lenders prefer borrowers who have worked for the same employer, in the same position, for at least two years. Lenders believe that such workers are less likely to lose their jobs and, therefore, less likely to lose the income stream they need to pay their mortgage loan on time each month.</p> <p>But there's a lot of flexibility with this rule. For instance, if you took on a new job with your same employer in the last two years, this probably won't hurt you. Even if you moved onto a new job with a different employer in your same industry, lenders probably won't worry.</p> <p>But what if you've taken a new job in a new industry in the last two years? That might cause some concern. Lenders might worry that you'll be more likely to lose that new position. However, you can usually still qualify for a loan.</p> <p>If you've been unemployed for a significant amount of time in the last two years, that can cause more problems. Be prepared to explain to lenders why you have a gap in your work history. As long as you have a solid income now, the odds are still good that you'll be able to qualify for a home loan.</p> <h2>Savings</h2> <p>To qualify for the lowest interest rates, make sure you have enough money in savings. You'll need money to pay for your down payment, closing costs, and a certain number of months' worth of property taxes, of course.</p> <p>But lenders often require that you also have enough in savings to pay at least two months of your new mortgage payment, including whatever you're paying each month for property taxes and insurance. If your total monthly mortgage payment will be $2,000, you'll need at least $4,000 in savings in addition to whatever you'll be paying for closing costs and down payment.</p> <p>Lenders want to see that you have savings in case you suffer a temporary reduction in your monthly income. This way, you'll be able to use your savings to pay for at least a couple months of mortgage payments.</p> <h2>Down Payment</h2> <p>The size of your down payment plays a big role in the size of your mortgage interest rate. In general, the bigger your down payment, the smaller your interest rate.</p> <p>That's because lenders consider you less of a risk to default on your loan if you come up with a larger down payment. You've already invested more in your home, the theory goes, so you'll be less likely to walk away from it.</p> <p>You can qualify for mortgage loans today with a down payment of as little as 3% of your home's final purchase price, in many cases. But if you want to qualify for the lowest interest rates? Putting down 20% of your home's final purchase price &mdash; admittedly not an easy task &mdash; will increase your chances of nabbing that ultralow rate.</p> <p><em>If you're getting ready to buy a house, have you taken steps to improve these parts of your finances?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-youre-too-old-or-too-young-for-a-mortgage-loan">4 Reasons Why You&#039;re Too Old — Or Too Young — For a Mortgage Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-lenders-look-for-in-a-loan-application">5 Things Lenders Look For in a Loan Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use">15 Personal Finance Calculators Everyone Should Use</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refinance-these-4-common-debts-before-year-ends">Refinance These 4 Common Debts Before Year Ends</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Real Estate and Housing closing costs credit history credit score debt down payment FICO score interest rates job history lenders loans mortgages savings Mon, 29 Aug 2016 10:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1779806 at http://www.wisebread.com What You Need to Know About HOAs http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-hoas <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-need-to-know-about-hoas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_family_house_80411637.jpg" alt="Family learning what they need to know about HOAs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're buying into a residential community &mdash; made up of condominiums or single-family homes &mdash; that is governed by a homeowners association. Is that a good thing? Or should having to deal with an HOA make you nervous?</p> <p>The answer, unfortunately, isn't simple. Homeowners associations, better known as HOAs, do come with some significant pros, including giving you access to community amenities such as swimming pools, parks, and fitness centers. But when you live in a community run by a HOA, you'll also have to follow the association's rules, which could limit everything from how many pets you can have in your condo or home to what type of alterations you can make to your property. You'll also have to pay an extra monthly fee to support the association.</p> <p>Before you move into a residential community governed by an HOA, make sure you do your research: Find out exactly how much it costs to be a part of the HOA and what benefits the association brings to its member-owners.</p> <h2>What You'll Pay and Why You'll Pay It</h2> <p>When most owners think of HOAs, they think of that extra monthly fee they'll pay. And it's true &mdash; HOAs can be expensive. Fees can vary widely, but you'll usually pay somewhere between $100 to $600 a month, though condos and housing developments with more amenities will typically charge more.</p> <p>There's a reason for this monthly fee, though: It's what you pay to make sure that the common areas of your community, whether it's the lobby or parking lot in a condominium, or the swimming pool and community center in a housing subdivision, are maintained and repaired. The fees that homeowners associations receive each month from residents go into a fund. The officers running the HOA &mdash; who are typically residents of the community itself &mdash; use this money to fund landscaping, mowing, cleaning services, maintenance, and any repair jobs that come up.</p> <h2>A Special Assessment Can Hurt</h2> <p>There might come a time when your HOA votes for a special assessment. This can be a big hurt to your finances. Say your condo building's roof needs to be replaced. Instead of paying for this big expense from the pool of money collected each month from HOA fees, the association might vote to levy a special assessment to cover the replacement costs.</p> <p>In an assessment, each household in the community will pay an extra fee to fund the repair job. These extra financial hits can be steep. Make sure, then, that your HOA has plenty of money in its coffers to tap when an emergency repair comes up. You don't want to be subject to a hefty assessment every time something goes wrong in your condo building or subdivision.</p> <h2>The Amenities Can Make a HOA Worth It</h2> <p>There is a big positive that comes with HOAs: They make the amenities in subdivisions and condo complexes possible. You might not be able to afford an in-ground swimming pool or on-site fitness center on your own. But if you buy into a condo development or residential subdivision, the fees collected by the HOA give you the chance to enjoy these amenities.</p> <p>Just make sure that the amenities themselves are important to you. Otherwise, you'll be paying a monthly fee for swimming pools, clubhouses, and business centers that you never use.</p> <h2>HOAs Do Place Limits on What You Can Do</h2> <p>Every homeowners association publishes its own set of covenants, conditions, and restrictions, better known as its CC&amp;R. These rules can severely restrict your activities while living in the community. Your association's rules might restrict you to just two dogs, for instance. They might prevent you from painting the exterior of your home your favorite color. The rules might forbid you from making certain exterior improvements to your home, too.</p> <p>Again, it's important to read a copy of an association's CC&amp;R documents before you make an offer on a residence.</p> <h2>You Can Serve on the HOA Board</h2> <p>HOAs are governed by a board usually made up of residents of the housing community. If you want to have a say on how your association operates, run for office. Yes, HOAs run regular elections. Sitting on a HOA can give you more power over how your condo development or subdivision is operated. But it also comes with significant responsibility; you are, after all, responsible for determining how to spend the money of your fellow residents.</p> <p><em>Do you live in a community with an HOA? How's it been for you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-hoas">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security">5 American Cities Where You Can Retire On Just Social Security</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-buying-a-second-home-in-retirement">5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Second Home in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-everyday-money-tasks-youve-been-doing-wrong">12 Everyday Money Tasks You&#039;ve Been Doing Wrong</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-questions-you-should-ask-before-hiring-a-robo-adviser">9 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Robo-Adviser</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing amenities benefits condos elections fees hoas homeowners associations housing communities restrictions subdivisions Wed, 17 Aug 2016 10:00:13 +0000 Dan Rafter 1773245 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Alternative Housing Options You Can Afford http://www.wisebread.com/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_using_laptop_94437549.jpg" alt="Friends finding alternative housing options they can afford" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Keeping your housing costs low is key to achieving financial freedom. Minimizing your expenses frees up more money for investments, savings, and pursuing your passions. While renting an apartment or a house is still the mainstream approach, there are other alternatives available that are more cost effective. By pursuing one of these nontraditional housing options, you can cut your expenses and break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.</p> <h2>1. Co-Living Spaces</h2> <p>Co-living spaces, which often resemble college dorms, are increasingly popular in places with a high cost of living, such as San Francisco. The tech capital is booming, and as a result, it is unaffordable for many; a one-bedroom can cost <a href="https://www.rentjungle.com/average-rent-in-san-francisco-rent-trends/">nearly $3500 a month.</a></p> <p>More and more people are turning to co-living spaces as a cost-effective way to get living situations they can afford. In Silicon Valley, co-living spaces can be <a href="http://www.coliving.club/">had for $1,000</a>, less than half what a regular apartment would cost. In these dorm-style spaces, renters usually have a small bedroom of their own, but share the kitchen and common areas with up to a dozen other residents. Besides cost savings, these arrangements also provide people new to the area with great social opportunities and allows them to meet others in their industries.</p> <h2>2. Housing Co-Ops</h2> <p>While housing co-ops are fairly common overseas, they are just starting to gain traction in the United States. In a co-op, residents pool resources to own and manage housing together. The property can be a cluster of homes or an apartment-style building. Dwellers use their joint contributions to purchase the facilities and pay for community amenities like utilities, Wi-Fi, and lawn maintenance. The community approach cuts down costs dramatically, allowing you to save a significant amount of money compared to traditional housing.</p> <p>The <a href="http://coophousing.org/resources/living-in-a-cooperative/how-to-find-a-housing-cooperative/">National Association of Housing Cooperatives</a> has comprehensive information on how to locate a co-op, how to start one yourself, and questions to ask before handing over your hard earned money.</p> <h2>3. Work-Trade</h2> <p>Many people find success with work-trade agreements. Most common in rural areas, people can get free or cheap housing in return for a set number of labor hours, such as weeding, yard maintenance, or gardening. However, this approach is also getting more common in suburban and city areas, as even regular apartment complexes are willing to offer rent subsidies for men and women with repair or maintenance skills. You can find work-trade arrangements by searching for &quot;work trade housing&quot; or &quot;rent-free exchange&quot; on community job boards.</p> <h2>4. Tiny Homes</h2> <p>While <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-tiny-house-living-actually-save-you-money">tiny homes</a> are increasingly popular for those looking for a cheap alternative to homeownership, these micro living spaces can also be a great avenue for renters. Many tiny home communities offer select units for rent. This approach can be a great option to cut down your costs while you save up a down payment for a home of your own, or to test out if small living is for you. Housing can cost as little as $300 a month.</p> <h2>5. House-Sitting</h2> <p>Another option is to act as a serial housesitter. When people are selling their homes, the structures often go vacant for months, leaving them vulnerable to thieves and squatters. Many sellers hire housesitters to live in the home rent-free to keep the home occupied and safe while it's on the market. This idea is a great strategy to get free housing without requiring a lot of work or time. You can often find housesitting opportunities on Craigslist, <a href="https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/us/">Trusted Housesitters</a>, community classifieds, or by connecting with local realtors.</p> <p>With the national rent average increasing for yet another year, many people are feeling pressure regarding their budgets. Housing eats up a huge part of their income, making it difficult to meet their other obligations or pursue their goals. Alternative housing solutions offer cost effective ways to keep a roof over your head while minimizing your expenses.</p> <p><em>Have you considered these &mdash; or other &mdash; alternative housing arrangements?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-7-things-when-living-with-roommates">Avoid These 7 Things When Living With Roommates</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-move-to-a-new-city-to-reduce-lifestyle-costs">Should You Move to a New City to Reduce Lifestyle Costs?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security">5 American Cities Where You Can Retire On Just Social Security</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing alternative housing co-living co-ops cost of living house sitting mortgages rent tiny homes work-trade agreements Fri, 12 Aug 2016 10:30:14 +0000 Kat Tretina 1770724 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Homes Are So Cheap Here, You Barely Need to Work http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-homes-are-so-cheap-here-you-barely-need-to-work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-homes-are-so-cheap-here-you-barely-need-to-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_moving_in_87944031.jpg" alt="Couple finding cheap homes and don&#039;t need to work" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found articles on states where homes are so cheap you barely need to work, ways to maintain your home to avoid costly repairs, and easy ways to care for your mental health at work.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/10-states-where-takes-under-40-work-month-afford-house/">10 States Where Homes Are So Cheap You Barely Need to Work</a> &mdash; According to a new study, residents of the Midwest can work as few as 31 hours per month and still be able to pay their mortgage. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="http://www.frugalvillage.com/2016/08/04/how-to-maintain-your-home-to-avoid-expensive-repairs/">How to Maintain Your Home to Avoid Expensive Repairs</a> &mdash; Check your roof after heavy storms or winter snows and clean out your gutters each season. [Frugal Village]</p> <p><a href="http://productivitytheory.com/easy-ways-care-mental-health-at-work/">Easy Ways to Care for Your Mental Health at Work</a> &mdash; When you have some downtime, offer to help another co-worker and learn some new skills from them. [Productivity Theory]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Sleep-Hacks-Boost-Productivity-41884167#photo-41884167">These 18 Bedtime Tips Will Boost Your Daily Productivity</a> &mdash; Tea can help wake you up in the morning, and for a good night's rest, pour yourself a hot cup of sleepy-time tea before bed [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/The-Bite/2016/0731/Healthy-retail-Helping-America-gain-access-to-healthy-foods">Healthy retail: Helping America gain access to healthy foods</a> &mdash; Partnerships between health agencies, community organizations, and small businesses are helping to increase access to healthy foods in underserved areas. [The Monitor]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="https://unclutterer.com/2016/08/04/garage-sale-right/">Is a garage sale right for you?</a> &mdash; Having a garage sale is a great way to make money on your old, unwanted things, but it isn't the best option for everyone. [Unclutterer]</p> <p><a href="http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/7-simple-ways-to-live-a-longer-and-happier-life/">7 Simple Ways to Live a Longer and Happier Life</a> &mdash; Don't underestimate the power of sleep! If you want to live longer, follow a sleep-wake cycle and make sure you get enough sleep every day. [Pick The Brain]</p> <p><a href="http://www.theorderexpert.com/study-productively-college/">How to Study Productively in College</a> &mdash; You only have so many hours in the day! Put a limit on extracurricular activities so that they won't interfere with your class and study time. [The Order Expert]</p> <p><a href="http://naturemoms.com/blog/2016/08/04/urban-homesteading-can-anyone/">What is Urban Homesteading? Can Anyone Do It?</a> &mdash; Homesteads are productive homes, and you can turn your home into a homestead even if you live in the city. [Nature Moms Blog]</p> <p><a href="http://bargainbriana.com/low-cost-high-class-decor-and-design-ideas/">Low-Cost, High-Class Decor and Design Ideas</a> &mdash; Look for ornate mirrors and picture frames with scrolling embellishments, and use a spray that creates a shiny, matte or metallic effect. [Bargain Briana]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-homes-are-so-cheap-here-you-barely-need-to-work">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security">5 American Cities Where You Can Retire On Just Social Security</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore">12 House-Hunting Red Flags You Can&#039;t Ignore</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing best money tips cheap homes Mon, 08 Aug 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Amy Lu 1766923 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Reasons Millenials Should Invest in a Home http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-millenials-should-invest-in-a-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-reasons-millenials-should-invest-in-a-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_moving_boxes_43085150.jpg" alt="Millennial couple deciding to invest in a home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you believe popular culture, most Millennials don't want to buy homes and would rather rent. But the numbers suggest otherwise. The National Association of Realtors found that in 2015, Millennials made up 35% of all homebuyers, up from 32% in 2014. No other age group represented a bigger percentage of buyers last year.</p> <p>If you're a Millennial who wants to make the jump from renting to owning, congratulations: There are several reasons why owning a home is a smart financial move for younger buyers.</p> <h2>Owning a Home Is an Investment</h2> <p>No one can guarantee that the home you buy will have increased in value by the time you're ready to sell. But the odds are high that it will.</p> <p>Just look at the most recent sales statistics released by the National Association of Realtors: The median existing-home price across the nation stood at $247,700 in June. That was up 4.8% from June of 2015, when that number stood at $236,300. This June marked the 52nd consecutive month that the median price rose.</p> <p>Just remember that price increases, though possible, aren't guaranteed. Plenty of people who bought homes in 2005 and 2006, before the housing market began its crash in 2007, still owe more on their mortgage loans than what their homes are worth. Many of these homes still are worth less today than what they sold for back then.</p> <h2>Interest Rates Are Still Low</h2> <p>If you're like the vast majority of buyers, you'll need a mortgage loan to finance the purchase of a home. Borrowing mortgage money today, though, is affordable thanks to historically low mortgage interest rates.</p> <p>According to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average interest rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loan stood at 3.45% for the week ending July 21. For a 15-year, fixed-rate loan, that rate stood at 2.75%. These low rates mean that your monthly mortgage payment will be lower than if rates were closer to the 5% range.</p> <h2>You Can Build Equity</h2> <p>Every time you make a monthly mortgage payment, and pay down your home loan's principal balance, you build equity in your home. Say your home is worth $200,000 and you owe $180,000 on your mortgage loan: You have $20,000 worth of equity.</p> <p>You can borrow against this equity, in the form of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-equity-loan-or-heloc-which-is-right-for-you">home equity loans</a> or home equity lines of credit, to fund major home improvements, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oops-i-maxed-out-my-credit-cards-now-what?ref=internal">pay down credit card debt</a>, or even to help fund a child's college education. When you are renting, your monthly rent check disappears in your landlord's bank account.</p> <p>Do exercise caution, though, when borrowing against your home's equity. You will have to pay back whatever you borrow, in monthly installments. Don't add too much monthly debt to your expenses or you will feel the financial squeeze. And if you can't afford to make your monthly equity loan payments, you could lose your home to your lender.</p> <p>You can boost your credit score: Your FICO credit score is a key number. Lenders rely on it to determine if you're a good lending risk. The higher your score, the more likely you are to qualify for loans and credit, and the lower the interest rate attached to these loans.</p> <p>By paying your monthly mortgage payment on time each month, you'll steadily boost your credit score. Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score.</p> <h2>Tax Breaks</h2> <p>Owning a home also comes with tax breaks each year. The interest you pay each year on your home is tax-deductible. This break pays off more in the earlier years of owning a home, because the majority of your mortgage payment at this time is interest.</p> <p><em>Are you ready to move from renting to buying? What's holding you back? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-millenials-should-invest-in-a-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway">What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, Anyway?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here&#039;s What It Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-a-refinance-is-the-wrong-move">3 Times a Refinance Is the Wrong Move</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip">4 Tax Deductions New Homeowners Shouldn&#039;t Skip</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-should-be-saving-big-with-bi-weekly-mortgage-payments">Why You Should Be Saving Big With Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing building credit buying a house equity interest rates millennials new homeowners tax breaks young adults Fri, 05 Aug 2016 09:00:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 1766255 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Avoid Getting Scammed With a Reverse Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-getting-scammed-with-a-reverse-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-avoid-getting-scammed-with-a-reverse-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/upside_down_house_22048959.jpg" alt="Learning how to avoid being scammed by reverse mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Reverse mortgages have been negatively cast as a last-ditch option for seniors short on cash. However, reverse mortgages can also provide many helpful benefits, including the ability to replenish or boost your retirement account or help you stave off foreclosure. Find out what a reverse mortgage is and the best ways to make it work for your financial situation.</p> <h2>What Is a Reverse Mortgage?</h2> <p>A reverse mortgage, also known as a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), is a specialized loan available to individuals who are over 62 years old. This loan allows borrowers to convert a portion of home equity into cash. Interest on the loan is deferred until the home is sold or the last borrower dies.</p> <p>To qualify for a reverse mortgage, homeowners will need to own their home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off easily with the proceeds of the loan. Homeowners must also live in the home to remain qualified. Homeowners will still be required to pay for property taxes and insurance premiums.</p> <h2>What Are the Best Ways to Use a Reverse Mortgage?</h2> <p>If you have a lot of home equity but are still struggling to pay the monthly payments, a reverse mortgage can then pay you the equity, which can then in turn be used to pay off your mortgage. You will need to have a reverse mortgage with a lump-sum disbursement and show that you can afford taxes and insurance costs.</p> <p>Another great way to use a reverse mortgage is to give your retirement fund the boost it needs. If you didn't save enough for retirement, know that you aren't alone &mdash; the majority of Americans don't. Receiving some of your reverse mortgage as a lump-sum allows you to invest the money if market conditions are favorable.</p> <h2>What Are Other Ways to Use a Reverse Mortgage?</h2> <p>Technically, the money you receive from a reverse mortgage is your money, and you can use it however you like. You don't even need good credit or a lot of income to qualify for an HECM. Investing your HECM into your retirement is one of the best things you can do with the money. Here are a few other wise financial moves you can make with the money you earn from a reverse mortgage.</p> <h3>Purchase Investment Property</h3> <p>You can purchase property in cash from your HECM and not worry about being approved for a mortgage. Of course, buying property is not always a good investment, so be sure the property you purchase is worth it. Don't just throw your money into any property purchase and hope to live off rental income.</p> <h3>Buy a Second Home</h3> <p>If you love to split your time in a vacation home, then a HECM with enough equity can help you afford to buy a second home without having to worry about mortgage payments. Don't just buy a second home just because you can. A second home purchase should be considered if it can save you money and also earn you money. A second home can help you avoid vacation or hotel rental fees, and you can rent out your home when you are not living there. Remember you must keep your current home, the home you wish to get a HECM loan with, as your primary residence.</p> <h3>Pay Off Debt</h3> <p>If debt is weighing you down each month, then consider using your HECM to pay it off and save money on interest payments. However, don't be tempted to get back into debt. Using your HECM to pay off debt should be the start of a debt-free lifestyle, not a bandage to place on a shopping or gambling addiction.</p> <h2>What Are the Downsides of a Reverse Mortgage?</h2> <p>If you're currently using other government programs, such as Medicaid or SSI, having your HECM disbursed to you as monthly payments will be counted as income. You will face foreclosure if you cannot afford the property taxes or insurance premiums. Another thing to consider before proceeding with a reverse mortgage is that the upfront fees to do so can be quite high. Also, the amount of money you get upfront from your mortgage is dependent on several factors, such as your age and the value of your home. You might not get as much money as you need. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-downsides-of-a-reverse-mortgage?ref=seealso">5 Downsides of a Reverse Mortgage</a>)</p> <p>Before tapping into your equity, take time to consider if this is really the best option for your financial situation. If you truly have that much equity in your house, you could even sell your home and downsize to a smaller home, mortgage-free.</p> <p><em>Are you considering a reverse mortgage? How do you plan to use the funds?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-getting-scammed-with-a-reverse-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-a-refinance-is-the-wrong-move">3 Times a Refinance Is the Wrong Move</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-downsides-of-a-reverse-mortgage">5 Downsides of a Reverse Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-afford-your-mortgage-payment">Here&#039;s What to Do If You Can&#039;t Afford Your Mortgage Payment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing equity HECM home equity conversion mortgage investment properties loans retirement reverse mortgages second homes Wed, 03 Aug 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1763994 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Sneaky Home Money Pits That Sap Your Savings http://www.wisebread.com/9-sneaky-home-money-pits-that-sap-your-savings <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-sneaky-home-money-pits-that-sap-your-savings" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_cash_grass_13020597.jpg" alt="Finding hidden home money pits you don&#039;t notice" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are so many expenses associated with paying the bills for a home that it is easy to miss money leaks that are costing you big dollars. Putting a plug into these leaks can make a big difference in your budget. From old-school thermostats to faulty plumbing, here are some of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pets-old-cars-and-3-other-common-money-pits" target="_blank">top money-pits</a> to watch for:</p> <h2>1. Old School Thermostats</h2> <p>I recently replaced my 1980s era thermostat with a new one for about $50. Why? Because the old thermostat was leaking money every day. My new thermostat is programmable, so I can automatically avoid heating or cooling the house when no one is home. It's paid for itself in just the first few months.</p> <h2>2. Drafty Windows</h2> <p>It may sound extreme to replace windows to save money on your heating bill, but I was paying hundreds of dollars every month for propane when I moved into an old house with drafty single pane windows. Old windows are almost as inefficient as having your windows open all winter. Replacing them will reduce your utility bill and add to the resale value of your house. If replacing windows is too big of a project, you can install clear plastic film over your windows for a few dollars each to help keep the money from flowing out.</p> <h2>3. Old HVAC Systems</h2> <p>I once lived in a house with a 40-year-old furnace. My home inspector said it was built like a tank, and I think it was about as energy efficient as a tank, too. If you plan to stay in your house for a few years, an energy efficient HVAC system can easily pay for itself through lower energy bills. Plus, the new system will increase the value of your house.</p> <h2>4. Poor Insulation</h2> <p>Don't be fooled: It can be hard to notice a poorly insulated home because the furnace can compensate for this by running more to try to maintain the desired temperature. The most effective place to upgrade your home's insulation is in the attic, since warm air is less dense than cold air and a lot of heat transfer happens through the attic and roof as warm air rises. If your floors are cold, you may benefit from adding insulation under your house, as well. Insulating walls can be a bigger project, but insulation can be often blown into the joint space in walls in a matter of just hours.</p> <h2>5. Old Appliances</h2> <p>Old appliances are energy hogs compared with newer, more efficient models &mdash; especially refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers. It may be hard to notice that old appliance sitting there quietly sucking down extra electricity all the time, but the cost adds up every month. Some utility companies offer incentives to take away old appliances in order to encourage people to replace them with energy efficient models. And you may even qualify for <a href="https://www.energystar.gov/about/federal_tax_credits">tax credits</a> related to energy efficient appliances.</p> <h2>6. Bad Mortgage Rates</h2> <p>When you got your mortgage, you probably shopped around and got the best rate you could find. But have you checked your rate lately? You may be paying more than you need to for interest every month. If you plan to stay in your house for a few years, refinancing your mortgage to get a better interest rate can help you hang on to more of your money each month instead of giving it to the banker.</p> <h2>7. Leaky Roof or Gutters</h2> <p>You won't get a bill right away if you have a leaky roof or gutters that don't work properly, but deferred maintenance is like a time bomb that can cost you a huge amount of money in the future in the form of repair bills and reduced property value. Take care of water leaks before they become a money pit.</p> <h2>8. Long Commutes</h2> <p>If your home is far away from work, shopping, and school, your commute is costing you time and money every day. Unfortunately, avoiding this money pit may require moving to a different house. I was able to move about 10 minutes closer to my work location, and it made a big difference.</p> <h2>9. Too Much House</h2> <p>If your house is bigger than you really need, you are paying extra every month for your mortgage, utility bills, and property taxes. Consider downsizing to avoid sinking money into paying for space you are not fully utilizing.</p> <p><em>Which of these home money pits are costing you money?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-sneaky-home-money-pits-that-sap-your-savings">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money">4 Ways a Home Energy Audit Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-green-living-habits-thatll-save-you-every-month">12 Green Living Habits That&#039;ll Save You Every Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford">5 Alternative Housing Options You Can Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Real Estate and Housing appliances commuting energy efficient money pits money sucks mortgages thermostats wasting money Windows Mon, 01 Aug 2016 10:00:14 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1757850 at http://www.wisebread.com