Real Estate and Housing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4810/all en-US 15 Cheap, Easy Ways to Make Your Home Safer http://www.wisebread.com/15-cheap-easy-ways-to-make-your-home-safer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-cheap-easy-ways-to-make-your-home-safer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/deadbolt-door-Dollarphotoclub_44563535.jpg" alt="deadbolt door" title="deadbolt door" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Safety may not be the first thing you daydream about when picturing the home of your dreams. But your ability to insure, resell, or even just live comfortably in your home may be dependent on several safety and security factors. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/must-do-home-maintenance-that-saves-you-moneyand-might-save-your-family?ref=seealso">Must Do Home Maintenance</a>)</p> <p>Though some major structural flaws may require a larger budget, most home safety hacks can be accomplished with a sensible to-do list and at a modest cost. Here are some of the top tips for making your home more habitable for less money than you think.</p> <h2>Mitigate Mold</h2> <p>Mold, a potentially dangerous uninvited guest, can cause illness and decrease the value of a home quickly. Peter Jacobus, an agent for <a href="http://insurance-agency.amfam.com/NE/peter-d-jacobus/default.aspx">American Family Insurance</a>, tells homeowners to be proactive in their efforts to keep a home safe from this unwanted affliction.</p> <h3>1. Reduce Humidity</h3> <p>By keeping the level of moisture in your home below 40%, you can often outsmart mold. Avoid excessive dampness by using dehumidifiers in rooms that collect steam. An air-conditioner will perform this role in the summer.</p> <h3>2. Ventilate</h3> <p>In addition to reducing moisture, overall good airflow is key. Your home should have exhaust fans in both the kitchen and bathroom, for starters.</p> <h3>3. Paint With Care</h3> <p>By using an inexpensive mold inhibitor mixed into your paint, you can further protect your walls and ceilings against mold growth. (Products cost around $6 per packet and can be found at home home improvement stores.)</p> <h3>4. Skip the Carpet</h3> <p>Per square foot, carpet can be more expensive than other floor coverings and is never appropriate for moisture prone areas &mdash; like bathrooms.</p> <h2>Confuse Criminals</h2> <p>While no home can be 100% robbery-proof, some simple changes to your set-up can keep you clear of break-ins. Sadie Cornelius, Security Expert for <a href="http://www.asecurelife.com/">ASecureLife.com</a>, recommends some simple precautions and security upgrades.</p> <h3>5. Add Deadbolts</h3> <p>All outside facing windows and doors should have one. They don't have to be fancy &mdash; they just need to work!</p> <h3>6. Stash the Spare Key</h3> <p>Just don't put it outside. Fake planters, rocks, or other &quot;in plain sight&quot; hiding places are well-known by career criminals.</p> <h3>7. Invest in Motion Sensors</h3> <p>Just having some outside lights that flick on when they detect a visitor can spook away a thief. Motion lights start around $10, and can be found at most hardware stores.</p> <h3>8. Get a Peephole</h3> <p>They're not just useful for hotel rooms. Knowing who's outside from behind the safety of your door is a good idea!</p> <p>In addition, you're always wise to keep news of an empty house to yourself.</p> <h3>9. Skip Oversharing on Social</h3> <p>Please, no posts on Facebook about how much you're enjoying your vacation in Hawaii. Wait until you get back to post photos, and turn off location services from any apps that post on your behalf while you're gone.</p> <h3>10. Leave a Light On</h3> <p>Don't keep your home completely dark. Consider investing in a timer for your television to have some activity happening in the home during your prime time viewing hours.</p> <h2>Discourage Slips and Falls</h2> <p>Home safety is important for everyone who lives there, as well as visitors. Keeping injuries to a minimum isn't just important for the health of your family; it can keep insurance premiums low, too. National Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford, host of the nationally-syndicated TV and radio program, <a href="http://www.todayshomeowner.com/">Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford</a> suggests a couple of fixes.</p> <h3>11. Create No-Slip Surfaces</h3> <p>Stairs, especially concrete entry stairs, can prove dangerous to visitors and family members, alike. &quot;It's easy to add a self-adhesive anti-skid strip to the front flat edge of steps to provide traction,&quot; says Danny. Concrete porches and decks can benefit from a good paint or stain with some playground quality sand mixed in prior to applying.</p> <h3>12. Secure Handrails</h3> <p>After years of use, it's not uncommon for them to come loose or fall off completely. Using lag bolts or epoxy adhesive to put them back in place makes good sense and can prevent a serious fall.</p> <h2>Organize Maintenance Tasks</h2> <p>Homeownership can feel like a tremendous burden if you try to do all the necessary cleaning and repair tasks at once. Be proactive and lighten the financial load by scheduling safety-related tasks throughout the year.</p> <h3>13. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors</h3> <p>Do this monthly, and replace batteries at least once a year.</p> <h3>14. Clean Lint From Your Clothes Dryer</h3> <p>This should be done at least once a year for the average user. (Our family of eight needs it done at least every few months, due to the number of loads we do, as well as the fact we own pets that shed.) Family Handyman has a great <a href="http://www.familyhandyman.com/appliance-repair/washer-and-dryer-repair/dryer-lint-cleaning-tips/view-all">guide for doing this</a>, and you'll want to be sure to never run your dryer when you are not home!</p> <h3>15. Check Your Garage Door Sensor and Closures</h3> <p>With pets and kids in the house, keeping the heavy weight of a garage door in check is essential. Get tips for how to do this at the International Door Association's <a href="http://garagedoorcare.com/garage-door-safety.html">safety page</a>.</p> <p>All of the above tasks, as well as any other household to-dos can be easily planned and tracked with <a href="http://www.homezada.com/homeowners/home-maintenance">HomeZada's online app.</a> You can track your progress, save photos and notes, as well as store all of your maintenance records in case you ever sell your home.</p> <p><em>These are just fifteen of many steps you'll likely take in your lifetime to secure your home and practice responsible living. What home safety tip did we forget? Which one is most important to your family?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-cheap-easy-ways-to-make-your-home-safer">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/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing</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/protect-your-home-and-family-from-fire-with-these-easy-safety-basics">Protect Your Home and Family From Fire With These Easy Safety Basics</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/how-to-avoid-these-5-hidden-costs-of-winter">How to Avoid These 5 Hidden Costs of Winter</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-ways-to-save-on-a-long-distance-move">10 Ways to Save on a Long-Distance Move</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-safest-cities-in-america-from-natural-disasters">10 Safest Cities in America from Natural Disasters</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Real Estate and Housing home maintenance home safety safety security Mon, 02 Feb 2015 12:00:04 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1284262 at http://www.wisebread.com The 4 Most Overpriced U.S. Housing Markets http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-overpriced-us-housing-markets <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-4-most-overpriced-us-housing-markets" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-buying-house-Dollarphotoclub_72606391.jpg" alt="couple buying house" title="couple buying house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A great deal has changed since the housing bust of last decade. No longer are many markets in the Southwest hugely underpriced due to high foreclosure rates. Instead, most of the country has since normalized &mdash; and in some big-city markets, home prices are back at pre-recession peaks. While the average American home is still <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-most-overvalued-and-undervalued-housing-markets-2014-10-01">undervalued by approximately 3%</a>, homes in some of the biggest metropolitan areas are actually overvalued by up to 19%. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-shouldn-t-buy-a-home-if?ref=seealso">You Shouldn't Buy a Home If&hellip;</a>)</p> <p>If you're considering purchasing a home in the coming months, it behooves you to know which markets are overpriced. Here's a look at the four most overpriced U.S. housing markets.</p> <h2>Denver, Colorado</h2> <p>While Denver's home market is only overpriced by about 7%, it's <a href="http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_26289384/price-hikes-slowing-but-denver-housings-verge-unaffordable">nearing unaffordable</a> for many of the city's residents. In May, housing in Denver cost, on average, 33.64% of income. In a balanced market, that number is closer to 30%. This means that residents are spending more money on housing, so they are spending less on other things, like food and entertainment. Denver isn't yet <em>unaffordable</em>, but you may find it hard to purchase a home there unless your income is well above average for the area.</p> <h2>Honolulu, Hawaii</h2> <p>While <a href="http://www.valuewalk.com/2014/02/honolulu-ties-new-york-as-most-overpriced-us-city/">Honolulu no longer ties with New York</a> as the most overpriced city in America when it comes to housing, homes there are still overvalued by about 10%. Hawaii is known for its high cost of housing, caused in part by the fact that there is a limited amount of land available for construction. In addition, nearly all building and repair materials must be imported, which makes it more expensive to build and maintain homes. If you're buying a home in Honolulu, keep in mind that you're likely to pay inflated local prices.</p> <h2>California</h2> <p>While it's an oversimplification to say that all homes in California are overvalued, most of the large metropolitan areas have significantly overpriced housing. Los Angeles and Orange County tie at the top of the list, with houses overvalued at 15%. San Francisco is next, at 12%, followed by Riverside-San Bernardino at 11%, San Jose at 10%, and Oakland at 7%. California has long been known for its high cost of living, and it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon.</p> <h2>Texas</h2> <p>Texas is a state with some significant disparity when it comes to home value. Homes in at least a couple of metropolitan areas, though, are overvalued. In fact, Austin topped Trulia's most recent list, with houses there overpriced by 19%. Houston also made the top 10, though homes there are only overvalued by 8%. These two cities are growing quickly &mdash; some may even say that they are experiencing something of a renaissance. Growth like that almost always causes home prices to go up, but when it happens this fast (especially in Austin), there may come a time when <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/top-best-most/overpriced-housing-markets%E2%80%94headed-for-a-bubble-165358921.html">the bubble has to burst</a>.</p> <h2>Does It Matter?</h2> <p>Whether your local housing market is overvalued may matter more to certain types of buyers. If you're planning to live in a home for a long time, for example, you may be willing to pay a bit more. Or, if it's cheaper to buy a house than to rent one, then whether your housing market is overpriced will be less of a concern.</p> <p>If, on the other hand, you're getting into real estate as an investment (or you hope to resell within a few years), you'll care a lot more about what's happening in your housing market.</p> <p>In general, however, if you're ready to buy a home and can comfortably afford to do so, then go ahead &mdash; interest rates are low and it may yet be possible to score a great deal.</p> <p><em>Are you looking to buy a home in one of the overpriced markets? How do you think about your home's value as you consider the future?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-overpriced-us-housing-markets">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/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need">Growin&#039; Home: How Much House Do You Really Need?</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-signs-the-house-you-want-to-buy-is-a-money-pit">5 Signs the House You Want to Buy Is a Money Pit</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/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</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/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</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-8-worst-home-sale-horror-stories">The 8 Worst Home Sale Horror Stories</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home buying home ownership home prices housing market rental prices Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:00:07 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1277861 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Score Cheap Rent — Without Annoying Roommates http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-score-cheap-rent-without-annoying-roommates <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-score-cheap-rent-without-annoying-roommates" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young-man-reading-couch-Dollarphotoclub_70838329.jpg" alt="young man reading couch" title="young man reading couch" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The United States is in the midst of a rent affordability crisis. While financial advisers will tell you housing should cost no more than 30% of your income, the reality for many people is that rent is commonly much, much more. In fact, half of all renters across the nation <a href="http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/sites/jchs.harvard.edu/files/jchs_americas_rental_housing_2013_1_0.pdf">spend well more than 30%</a>&nbsp;of their gross income on housing.</p> <p>Yet, finding a cheap place to rent isn't pure fantasy. We've all heard of a friend or loved one living in an expensive area for a fraction of the neighbors fork over in rent. So how do they do it? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-haggle-your-way-to-cheaper-rent?ref=seealso">6 Ways to Haggle Your Way to Cheap Rent</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our cheat sheet of the best ways to score cheap rent &mdash; without having to live with a stranger.</p> <h2>1. Seek Out Properties Under Renovation</h2> <p>Housing construction makes a racket, stirs up dust, and jeopardizes parking &mdash; all of which are turn-offs to most potential renters. To compensate, rental offices commonly offer up price concessions, including discounted rents, waived fees, and lower deposits. New renters can usually enjoy these benefits for a full year, even when renovations only last a couple of months.</p> <h2>2. Scope Out an Ugly View</h2> <p>No one fantasizes about <a href="http://www.timeout.com/newyork/style-design/how-to-find-a-cheap-apartment-in-nyc">bedroom window views of highway ramps</a> and abandoned parking lots. But it might be better for your bank account. &quot;Proximity to generally undesirable transportation facilities can be a money saver,&quot; says Ryan Harris, a New York City planner and a representative of the local American Planning Association, told Time Out New York. &quot;Look for areas near elevated train lines, highways, or bridge and tunnel entrances to be more affordable than those even one or two blocks away.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Wait for Winter</h2> <p>Fewer people move in the winter, so landlords are usually ready to cut a deal. New York City resident Susan Goldstein, a designer, says she saved big bucks by planning her most recent move between Thanksgiving and Christmas. &quot;We looked at buildings that offered incentives.&quot; Her broker, David J. Bucci of A.C. Lawrence &amp; Co., said Goldstein was able to get one month of rent free, and the building paid the broker's fee. &quot;The majority of leases turn over during the summer, so the inventory is high, but so are prices and the number of people looking increases dramatically,&quot; Bucci told the city guide. &quot;If you are looking for a deal, the winter months are the way to go.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Become a Live-In Caretaker, Nanny, or Pet Sitter</h2> <p>These opportunities are hard to find. But for those who are lucky enough to score a caretaker gig, the payoff can be astounding. Namely, free or deeply discounted rent in what's typically a fully furnished home. What's the catch? Typically, there isn't one, which is why these living arrangements are so hot. Often it will be a well-to-do couple who wants someone clean, quiet, and reliable to walk the dog and water the begonias while they're away in Europe. Sound like your cup of tea? Check Craigslist, coffee shop bulletin boards, and the classifieds in your local newspaper for potential opportunities.</p> <h2>5. Offer to Sign a Longer Lease</h2> <p>It never hurts to negotiate. In fact, it's rather silly not to try, at the very least. So if the landlord asks for a 6-month commitment, offer up a full year in exchange for a knock-down on the monthly price. If he or she wants you to agree to a year-long commitment, say that you're willing to up the ante to 18 months if they're willing to throw in some extras &mdash; like free parking or a gratis gym membership. Landlords often offer discounts to long-term tenants, but your commitment saves them on turnover expenses such as lost rent during the search for a new tenant, advertising costs, and cleaning fees.</p> <p><em>Have you snagged cheap rent? Share your tips and tricks with us!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-score-cheap-rent-without-annoying-roommates">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/getting-by-without-a-job-part-3-cut-spending">Getting by without a job, part 3--cut spending</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/renting-is-cheaper">Renting is cheaper</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/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</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/the-benefits-of-having-a-roommate-besides-saving-on-rent">The Benefits of Having a Roommate (Besides Saving on Rent)</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/6-ways-to-haggle-your-way-to-cheaper-rent">6 Ways to Haggle Your Way to Cheaper Rent</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Real Estate and Housing cheap rent rent roommates Tue, 23 Dec 2014 18:00:09 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1271113 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Make Your Bathroom Look Awesome for Under $100 http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-bathroom-look-awesome-for-under-100 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-make-your-bathroom-look-awesome-for-under-100" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/plumber-bathroom-84469073-small.jpg" alt="plumber" title="plumber" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I recently came out of a gut bathroom renovation on a major budget. I'm talking replacing everything from the studs in the walls to the tile in the shower. Keeping the renovation affordable was a challenge, but I'm so happy to be showering in my dream bathroom now! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-make-your-kitchen-look-awesome-for-under-100?ref=seealso">9 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look Awesome for Under $100</a>)</p> <p>Even if you're not renovating the entire room, there are ways to perk up the look of your bathroom on a shoestring. Check out these tips on making your bathroom look awesome for under $100.</p> <h2>Go Bold on the Walls</h2> <p>A bathroom is such a small space that you can experiment with bold color and pattern without too much risk. So choose a vibrant color, a fun stencil or wallpaper, and let your imagination run wild!</p> <p>If you're a renter, you can do a lot with removable wallpaper or peel-and-stick wall decals, which can be a great affordable and temporary solution in a small area.</p> <h2>Hang Some Art</h2> <p>The bathroom is so often neglected when it comes to wall decor. Hang a large scale photo or picture to bring in some life and color to the room, and to make the bathroom a nicer place to hang out. Just avoid hanging original art or an expensive print, as the humidity can eventually damage the piece.</p> <h2>Raise the Bar</h2> <p>The shower bar, that is. Buying an extra long shower curtain and moving the shower curtain rod up several inches can give the illusion of higher ceilings and more space. Also, if the shower tile isn't your favorite, moving the shower curtain up higher can help to hide it. If you don't want to buy a new shower curtain, sewing a coordinating band of fabric to the bottom of your standard shower curtain will make it longer (and more unique).</p> <h2>Create Storage</h2> <p>Having a place for everything makes your bathroom more functional and more attractive. If your bathroom lacks hidden storage, considering adding your own. A few suggestions include:</p> <h3>1. Add a Shallow Cabinet or Shelves Over the Toilet</h3> <p>This &quot;dead space&quot; can be put to use with a few inexpensive shelves from the hardware store or even a wall-mounted cabinet.</p> <h3>2. Bring in a Bookcase, Cabinet, or Small Dresser</h3> <p>While you might not initially think to bring a piece of furniture into the bathroom, doing so can both increase functionality and make the bathroom look less utilitarian.</p> <h3>3. Optimize Storage With Cabinet Organizers</h3> <p>Buying an under-sink storage system can make the best use of your vanity storage space, reducing clutter in other areas of the bathroom.</p> <h3>4. Corral Clutter in Trays and Baskets</h3> <p>If you must have toiletries on the countertop, keep them contained using a tray or basket, thereby keeping the rest of the counter tidy. Using a wall-mounted rail storage system, like the IKEA Fintorp line, can also keep clutter off the counter.</p> <h2>Add Textiles</h2> <p>Investing in a set of coordinated textiles can make your bathroom look much more pulled together. If your towels are mismatched and getting a little ratty, consider buying a new set that coordinates or complements the colors in a statement shower curtain. Add a fluffy coordinated bath rug.</p> <p>I also really like the <a href="http://www.westelm.com/products/hamam-stripe-hand-towel-b606/">Turkish-inspired hand towels</a> that have become very trendy. They allow you to bring in some graphic stripes and color without screaming overly &quot;bathroom.&quot;</p> <h2>Replace Fixtures</h2> <p>Replace an old dated faucet with something more modern, or a garish light with a more elegant light fixture. Small updated details can add up to a big impact.</p> <h2>Add Accessories</h2> <p>One way to diminish the utilitarian feeling of the bathroom is to bring in accessories. Just be careful to limit them to avoid clutter. A plant, a pretty vase, a stool or chair, and other decorative accessories can bring in color and make your bathroom look more luxurious.</p> <h2>Tile-It-Yourself</h2> <p>If you're willing to do a little grunt work, tiling can be remarkably inexpensive. For under $100, you can get a bag of mortar, grout, and enough porcelain tile to refinish the floor, shower, or add an attractive backsplash. Your local hardware store probably carries easy-to-lay 12&quot; x 12&quot; or 12&quot; x 24&quot; porcelain tile at less than $1 or $2 a square foot, making a small bathroom floor doable for under $100. Rip up that old vinyl floor and put in a durable and updated tile floor to upgrade the look and value of your bathroom. Tutorials on how to tile abound on the Internet and are totally free!</p> <h2>Frame Out Your Mirror</h2> <p>If you have a large sheet mirror in your bathroom, you can make it look a lot more custom by framing it out with molding. This can be a super cheap DIY (this great <a href="http://thriftydecorating-nikkiw.blogspot.com/2011/10/frame-your-bathroom-mirror.html">mirror frame</a> cost under $30, and this <a href="http://www.amomstake.com/2013/11/how-to-frame-a-mirror-bathroom/">larger mirror</a> under $40), especially if you use salvaged molding!</p> <h2>Add Architectural Wall Features</h2> <p>Adding a wall feature such as board and batten or a beadboard half-wall can take your bathroom from builder-basic to custom. Here's a tutorial to do your own <a href="http://theturquoisehome.com/2013/04/how-to-install-board-and-batten/">board and batten</a> &mdash; it can be very affordable especially if you use MDF boards. Buying wood beadboard can be a bit more expensive; luckily beadboard wallpaper is very affordable (and here's a great step-by-step <a href="http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2012/01/installing-beadboard-wallpaper/">beadboard wallpaper tutorial</a>) and looks just like the real thing. Top it off with a chair rail or molding.</p> <h2>Paint the Vanity</h2> <p>A dated builder-grade wood vanity can look much more updated and chic with <a href="http://www.twodelighted.com/2012/02/20/my-painted-bathroom-vanity-before-and-after/#.VFUV7jTF8rI">new paint and hardware</a> (I don't recommend painting the vanity if it is laminate). Consider painting it a sophisticated shade such as gray, charcoal, or black, or opt for a fun pop of color. Remember to clean the vanity thoroughly, sand lightly, and apply a good primer before painting. I'd suggest an alkyd paint (such as the <a href="http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/paint-products/advance-waterborne-interior-alkyd-paint#piSheen=793&amp;advs=0&amp;tab=2">Benjamin Moore Advance</a> Line) for a hard and durable finish. A quart of paint and primer won't set you back much, and the results can be amazing.</p> <p>If you want to keep the wood grain, a gel stain can be another way to update the finish on a wood vanity without having to sand down the entire thing.</p> <p>Finally, choosing some chic hardware to dress up your newly painted vanity puts the finishing touch on your project.</p> <h2>Shop for Salvage</h2> <p>If you have a <a href="http://www.habitat.org/restores">Habitat for Humanity Restore</a> in your neighborhood and haven't paid it a visit yet, make it your next priority. This is the best place to find gently used furniture, cabinets, fixtures, and hardware at bargain prices. For instance, I got the gorgeous floor model light fixture in our bathroom for $40 at the Restore, something that would have cost over $100 new.</p> <p>On recent visits to the Restore I've seen a pedestal sink, remnant slabs of granite, boxes of tile, mis-tinted paint, faucets and shower fixtures,and a variety of light fixtures, each for under $100. It can be hit-or-miss depending on what you're looking for, but every once in a while you can strike gold.</p> <p>If you don't have a Restore near you look for architectural salvage stores, junk stores, and thrift stores, as well as good old Craigslist. I bought a new granite vanity countertop off Craigslist for $90 &mdash; someone who was renovating decided not to use it and wanted to get rid of it, and it happened to fit the dimensions of my vanity perfectly.</p> <p><em>Being creative on a budget can greatly improve the look of your home. What's your favorite way to stretch your decorating dollars when it comes to the bathroom?</em></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/how-to-make-your-bathroom-look-awesome-for-under-100">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/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</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-home-renovations-that-almost-pay-for-themselves">10 Home Renovations That Almost Pay for Themselves</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/recoup-more-of-your-investment-8-home-improvements-that-add-the-most-value">Recoup More of Your Investment: 8 Home Improvements That Add the Most Value</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/home-improvements-that-pay-off">Home Improvements That Pay Off</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/14-effective-grease-and-oil-stain-removal-tips">14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home Real Estate and Housing bathroom bathroom redo cheap design renovation Mon, 01 Dec 2014 17:00:06 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1260451 at http://www.wisebread.com Turn Your Home Into a Rental in 9 Easy Steps http://www.wisebread.com/turn-your-home-into-a-rental-in-9-easy-steps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/turn-your-home-into-a-rental-in-9-easy-steps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-renting-home-178110017-small.jpg" alt="man renting home" title="man renting home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As an early adopter of the micro-subletting culture &mdash; the founders of Airbnb invited me to join the service as it was just starting up back in 2008 &mdash; I fancy myself somewhat of an expert in successfully turning a home into a rental property. Six years in, I've not only made one home a major profit center by sharing my rooms with travelers, but now two &mdash; the latter of which is a direct result of the success of the first. My husband and I were able to purchase a second property with the income we've earned from renting our primary residence.</p> <p>Based on my own experience, here are nine essential line items you should check off if you plan to make a go of the incredible money-making and life-enhancing opportunity of turning your home into a rental property.</p> <h2>1. Research Your Market</h2> <p>My primary residence is in Manhattan, and the never-ending influx of tourists is what gave me the idea to market my guest bedroom as a hotel alternative many years ago. I didn't have to do much research to realize that there was a built-in business in my area for what I wanted to do, but as you can imagine that doesn't apply to all areas.</p> <p>Most areas, in fact, don't have the attractiveness to tourists that New York City does. That doesn't mean, however, that you can't become a homegrown entrepreneur in the comfort of your own living room. Because of the popularity of Airbnb, Roomorama, HomeAway, and other short-term rental sites, an increasing number of rooms are now available to budget travelers nearly everywhere. Thus, your first step in turning your home into a rental property is digging into these sites to see who in your area is listing their property, how full their calendars are with bookings, and to generally peruse their listings to see how they're managing their own burgeoning businesses. You'll get a good sense of what you can expect in terms of traffic to your listing and potential bookings.</p> <p>On another note, if there are currently no listings in your area, don't get discouraged. That could mean that you're getting in on the ground level of an untapped market &mdash; and you'll never know its potential if you don't test the waters.</p> <h2>2. Talk to Friends/Neighbors Who Are Renting Their Property</h2> <p>I didn't have any idea what I was doing when I first started renting my property &mdash; this was a brand new venture for me &mdash; so my first year or so was completely trial and error. You have an advantage, however, because micro-subletting has and continues to increase in popularity, so you're bound to know at least one person who's tried their hand at it. You don't have to stick to micro-subletters though; reach out to anyone who's in the rental-income game and ask to pick their brain about the ins and outs, highs and lows of their business. You'll gain valuable knowledge that can positively influence your own new endeavor, and you may even be able to avoid some roadblocks along the way by learning from their mistakes.</p> <h2>3. Transform Your Property Into a Visually Stunning Destination</h2> <p>One of the biggest factors in a potential guest's decision on whether to stay at your property will be how it looks. It's a decision-making process as old as time &mdash; we pick out food, cars, and romantic partners based on their physical attractiveness &mdash; so it only makes sense that that theory applies to where people want to lie their heads at night. Especially in a stranger's home. Considering this superficial factor then, it's important that your rental listing images stand out from the crowd. Photos should show a space that is inviting, comfortable, and clean &mdash; all critical components to ensuring that your room or home is near the top of the list when potential guests are choosing where to stay.</p> <p>If you use Airbnb, consider using its free photography to enhance your listing, which, I can tell you from experience, will truly take yours to the next level &mdash; considering that your home is already someplace that looks visitor-friendly, of course.</p> <h2>4. Eliminate the Clutter</h2> <p>If your home isn't immediately traveler-friendly, that's okay; you can change that. The first plan of attack in this instance is to do a deep clean (which, by the way, is beneficial in more ways than just preparing it to be a rental property &mdash; there's money to be made in selling your clutter!) to get rid of anything that's unnecessary, safely store away items of sentiment or extreme value, and otherwise organize your belongings in an aesthetically pleasing and unobtrusive fashion. Having a well-kept and well-organized home will be easier on you when it comes time to clean between tenants, and the results will show in photos and the reviews your guests will leave you.</p> <h2>5. Load Up on Value-Centric Amenities</h2> <p>Another critical part of making your listing a major contender among potential guests' choices is the amenities you offer. It's all wrapped into the per-night fee that I'm charging, of course, but to them it looks like they're getting something extra for free &mdash; and often that means that they're choosing my place over someone else's. While I don't recommend that you run your business like a hotel &mdash; a more personal touch is always required in this person-to-person rental situation &mdash; I do suggest that you take your cue on what you're offering guests as a value proposition from hotels. In my guest bedrooms, I include fresh linens and towels, high-def flat-screen HDTVs, mini-fridges, and coffee makers, and I provide the guests will free cereal, fruit, coffee, and tea. These are little things that go a long way in a guest's decision on where to stay, especially if they're budget minded.</p> <h2>6. Explore New Options to Market Your Property Online</h2> <p>I've already alluded to this aspect of successfully turning your home into a rental property, but in case you've missed it, listing your property online is the best way to drive a lot of traffic to your property. <a href="https://www.airbnb.com/">Airbnb</a>, <a href="https://www.roomorama.com/">Roomorama</a>, and <a href="http://www.homeaway.com/">HomeAway</a> are the major players in this game, but there are other sites on which you can list to really corner the market.</p> <p>If you want to go all out, look into similar sites like <a href="http://www.vrbo.com/">VRBO</a>, <a href="http://www.misterbnb.com/">Misterbnb</a>, <a href="http://www.furnishedquarters.com/">Furnished Quarters</a>, and <a href="http://www.sublet.com/">Sublet.com</a>.</p> <p>For the most part, your listings will market themselves on these sites, but you need to stay on top of your inquiries, keep your listings up to date, and promote them on social media and offline to maximize their efficacy.</p> <h2>7. Undercut the Competition</h2> <p>I didn't go to business school, but I've learned a thing or two about good business by being an accidental entrepreneur: If you want to make money, you have to offer the best product at the most reasonable price. That business model has never failed. That's how I've run my rental-property business since the beginning, and that's one of the main reasons why I'm booked nearly 365 days a year. My strategy is to research the comparable listings in my area on the sites on which I'm listed and set my price for my more attractive listing below their nightly fee. As a result, my calendar is consistently full while theirs has gaping holes.</p> <p>I wonder if that qualifies for an honorary business degree? I should call my alma mater.</p> <h2>8. Streamline Your Organization</h2> <p>When your bookings start to pile up, it's easy to get overwhelmed &mdash; which is why you need to set up organizational procedures to ensure that your business is streamlined and runs efficiently. Keeping your calendar up-to-date is number one on this checklist &mdash; you don't want to overbook guests who will have no place to go if you can't accommodate them because of your error. Organizing your cleaning protocol so you can breeze through the house and prepare for new guests quickly is a close second to an organized calendar. You should not be lax about either one of these organizational aspects for many reasons, the most important of which is that you owe it to your <em>paying</em> guests to be professional and prepared at all times.</p> <h2>9. Stay Up-to-Date With Rental Trends</h2> <p>In order for any business to succeed for the long term, it must evolve and keep up with industry and social trends &mdash; and your small rental-property business is no different. Because micro-subletting is a relatively new concept, local laws are changing rapidly to ensure that taxes are being paid and safety measures are put in place. Cities like San Francisco have made micro-subletting legal while New York City is still entrenched in litigation to determine how best to manage the growing trend. Newsletters and other correspondences from the services on which you list are great resources as is talking to your fellow rental-property entrepreneurs about their experiences. I also can personally recommend the <a href="http://www.internationalrealestatelistings.com/podcast/">Overseas Property Insider Podcast</a> from my buddy Taylor White, which offers insider information into the vacation rental industry on a regular basis.</p> <p><em>Do you have a rental income property? Do you have tips to share with us on how others can turn their homes into profit centers? Please share in comments!</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/turn-your-home-into-a-rental-in-9-easy-steps">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/got-extra-space-make-money-and-meet-travelers-with-short-term-rentals">Got Extra Space? Make Money and Meet Travelers With Short-Term Rentals</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/this-is-how-you-rent-your-place-on-airbnb-and-succeed">This Is How You Rent Your Place on Airbnb — and Succeed</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/this-one-mistake-could-delay-your-retirement-by-10-years">This One Mistake Could Delay Your Retirement by 10 Years</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/istopover-earn-extra-income-or-travel-on-the-cheap-and-a-special-promotion-for-wise-bread-readers">iStopOver: Earn Extra Income or Travel on the Cheap, and a Special Promotion for Wise Bread Readers</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/8-truths-from-a-mystery-shopper-you-must-read-before-you-get-started">8 Truths From a Mystery Shopper You Must Read Before You Get Started</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Income Real Estate and Housing AirBnb microsubletting rental income sublet Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1260447 at http://www.wisebread.com Boost Your Home's Value With These 5 Projects http://www.wisebread.com/boost-your-homes-value-with-these-5-projects <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/boost-your-homes-value-with-these-5-projects" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-home-improvement-453244095-small.jpg" alt="woman home improvement" title="woman home improvement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you've lived in your home for decades or just moved in, ROI's something to consider when thinking about home improvement projects.</p> <p>A good first step &mdash; especially if you plan to sell in the near future &mdash; is to invite a trusted agent over to evaluate your home's features in relation to other houses in the neighborhood and market. You can get a solid idea of which projects are getting the biggest payoffs and, alternatively, which are better left undone. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recoup-more-of-your-investment-8-home-improvements-that-add-the-most-value?ref=seealso">Recoup More of Your Investment: 8 Improvements that Add the Most Value</a>)</p> <p>That said, there are some universal improvements that can help you better enjoy your space today and gain property value down the line.</p> <h2>1. Bathrooms</h2> <p>When we put our house on the market earlier this year, the biggest detriment to sale ended up being our lonely single bathroom. We lived in a 1940s kit house that was identical to our neighbors' digs, and most of them had gone ahead and squeezed in a toilet and sink into the downstairs closet for a couple grand. Recent data from the American Housing Survey indicates that adding a half bath can add <a href="http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?genericContentID=62422">10.5%</a> to a home's value while a full bath adds closer to 20%. Plus, living with more than one toilet or shower is a huge convenience if you plan to stick around.</p> <h2>2. Exterior</h2> <p>Any improvements to curb appeal will instantly garner your home listing more views. We tried selling our house a few years ago, but after the initial rush &mdash; we weren't getting any foot traffic. A couple years later, we switched out the old front door for an energy efficient one with decorative glass. We also got our house professionally painted and put up new shutters. Guess what happened! Yeah &mdash; we sold within a couple months and had lots of &quot;cute house&quot; comments after showings. The <a href="http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2012/10/Exterior-Replacement-Projects-Yield-Best-ROI">ROI is in your favor</a> for projects that involve siding, doors, windows, etc. They can gain back more than 70% of their cost at resale.</p> <h2>3. Kitchen</h2> <p>If you've ever watched a marathon of those house hunter shows, you know that people of all ages are obsessed with kitchens. Thankfully, the <a href="http://www.hgtvremodels.com/kitchens/tips-for-remodeling-a-kitchen-for-resale/index.html">kitchen is one of your best bets</a> when it comes to house improvements that pay off. Energy savvy appliances and upgraded finishes like solid surface countertops can &mdash; again &mdash; get back up to 70% of their original costs at resale. But don't order fancy granite just yet! Consider neighborhood comps when it comes to planning any upgrades. Sometimes simple stuff, like painting kitchen cabinets, will get more value via sweat equity.</p> <h2>4. Space</h2> <p>Need more space in your home? Rather than draft up blueprints for an addition or plan a move across town, consider transforming unfinished basement area into living space. The national average for <a href="http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/basements/return-basement-remodel/">ROI on finished basements is nearly 80 percent</a>. And if you're on the fence about selling or staying due to space, some extra square footage could save you some major moving costs. Those of you with notoriously wet or damp basements, however, need to consider any remediation costs that could total thousands and cut into your bottom line.</p> <h2>5. Bedrooms</h2> <p>Much like with a basement remodel, an attic bedroom transformation can get you some big bucks back at sale. Also: I loved my big room in the attic as a kid. The national average for a <a href="http://advice.porch.com/attic-bedroom-best-return-investment/">return on an attic bedroom conversion</a> is a little over 70%. Beware, however, since the actual return can vary significantly between cities. In San Francisco and Honolulu, for example, you can get up to 114% back for this upgrade. Where I live in upstate New York, that number is more like 47%. Think this type of project might be for you? Bounce the idea off a real estate agent to get some constructive feedback before signing on the dotted line.</p> <p><em>Have you made a big home improvement recently? Did it pay off?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/boost-your-homes-value-with-these-5-projects">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/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing</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-surprising-things-that-lower-the-value-of-a-home">10 Surprising Things That Lower the Value of a Home</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/home-improvements-that-pay-off">Home Improvements That Pay Off</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/the-pros-and-cons-of-paying-cash-for-a-house">The Pros and Cons of Paying Cash for a House</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-ways-to-save-on-a-long-distance-move">10 Ways to Save on a Long-Distance Move</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Real Estate and Housing buying a home home improvement home sale Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1246351 at http://www.wisebread.com 87% of Homebuyers Think They Know How Much Home They Can Afford (But They Really Don't) http://www.wisebread.com/87-of-homebuyers-think-they-know-how-much-home-they-can-afford-but-they-really-dont <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/87-of-homebuyers-think-they-know-how-much-home-they-can-afford-but-they-really-dont" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/excited-homeowners.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Seven years ago, when my husband and I were house hunting, we were sure we knew how much house we could &ldquo;afford.&rdquo; However, once we started really looking at the numbers, and comparing costs to our situation, we discovered that we really didn&rsquo;t have an idea of what we could really afford.</p> <h2>Most Homebuyers Don't Know What They Can Afford</h2> <p>Unfortunately, our experience isn&rsquo;t unique. A recent survey from Discover Home Loans points out that 87% of homebuyers claim they know how much home they can afford. However, as Discover asked about the specific expenses, it found that, like me, many homebuyers don&rsquo;t actually have a clear understanding of the cost involved in purchasing a home.</p> <p>According to the survey&rsquo;s results, only 59% of prospective homebuyers know how much their down payment will be, and only 52% have run the numbers on their monthly mortgage payment. So, even though homebuyers might have an idea of what they <i>think</i> they can afford, the reality is that they don&rsquo;t actually <i>know</i> what those expenses will be.</p> <p>Because your home is likely to be the largest purchase you make in your life, it makes sense to fully understand your options, and have a good handle on exactly what it will cost you, and how much you can truly afford. Let's walk through the process.</p> <h2>How Much Home You Can Afford?</h2> <p>Just coming up with a ballpark figure of how much you think you can afford isn&rsquo;t going to cut it when you get right down to it. Before you start looking at homes, it makes sense to know exactly what numbers you&rsquo;re talking about.</p> <h3>Decide on a Down Payment</h3> <p>First of all, you need to figure out what down payment you can offer. Realize that the lender will trace the origin of your down payment. You aren&rsquo;t generally supposed to borrow the money you use for a down payment. Instead, it should be in the form of a true gift from a close family member, or it should come out of assets that you already have.</p> <h3>Know Down Payment Minimums</h3> <p>If you are getting a loan backed by the FHA, you need at least 3.5% for a down payment. For conventional loans, many lenders like to see 5% or 10% down. If you are building a home, the lender might ask for 20% down. If you only have $10,000 for a down payment that will immediately limit your choices in terms of how much house you can buy. How much the lender requires ultimately depends on your credit, the purchase price, and the purpose of your home purchase (rental property, second home, primary residence, etc.).</p> <h3>Consider the Monthly Payment</h3> <p>You should also consider the monthly mortgage payment, so you can get a realistic view of what to expect in terms of your budget. There are a number of <a href="https://www.discover.com/home-loans/calculators/">useful mortgage calculator resources</a> online that can help you figure out what you will pay each month, depending on the amount you borrow, the interest rate you pay, and your down payment.</p> <h3>Don't Rely on the 30% Rule</h3> <p>What you can afford depends on your comfort level, and your other obligations. While many experts tout the 30% rule, which says that it&rsquo;s &ldquo;affordable&rdquo; to pay 30% of your income on housing costs, the reality is that this is just a rough starting point. Instead, consider what you can handle. My husband and I like to keep all of our housing expenses (including utilities and taxes) to no more than 25% of our monthly income.</p> <p>If you have other obligations, such as credit card debt, car loans, and student loans, it might make sense to get a smaller mortgage &mdash; or even put off buying a home until you have less debt altogether. If you spend 30% of your income on your mortgage and other housing costs, and another 15% of your income goes toward other debt obligations, you are spending 45% of your monthly income on debt. That starts to get fairly uncomfortable for many budgets.</p> <h3>Get Pre-Approval for a Home Loan</h3> <p>Getting pre-approval is a great way to figure out how much home you can afford, said TJ Freeborn, a mortgage professional at Discover Home Loans.</p> <p>&nbsp;&ldquo;Pre-approvals help you shop for your new home with confidence. They greatly reduce any financing surprises and generally give you a leg up in buyer and seller negotiations,&rdquo; wrote Freeborn in her guest article for <a href="http://blog.redfin.com/blog/2014/04/get-the-most-out-of-your-home-loan.html#.U-UyoPl317x">Redfin</a>. &ldquo;Additionally, many real estate agents who are representing home sellers will want you to be pre-approved so that they know you are a viable buyer.&rdquo;</p> <p>To obtain pre-approval, you need to provide your mortgage professional with financial documents including W2s, paycheck stubs and bank statements. These documents will be used by the mortgage professional to verify your income and assets and to run a credit check. Once this review has been completed, your lender will issue you a pre-approval letter that you can share with your real estate agent or seller.</p> <h3>Be Ready for Additional Costs</h3> <p>Another issue that many consumers don&rsquo;t address when considering home affordability is the fact that there are a number of other costs that come with buying a house. If 52% of homebuyers haven&rsquo;t determined how much their monthly mortgage payments will be, as suggested by the Discover Home Loans survey, then it&rsquo;s reasonable to assume that an even greater number hasn&rsquo;t thought about other costs, including closing costs, taxes, fees, and moving expenses.</p> <p>Seven years ago, my husband and I were shocked as the price of our home kept climbing. From property taxes to homeowners insurance to the fact that a bigger house meant higher utility bills, we were surprised at the final cost.</p> <p>As you calculate how much home you can afford, don&rsquo;t just assume that the story ends with the principal and interest from a mortgage payment. Remember that there are other costs as well, and you need to be ready to handle them.</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>If homebuyers want to have a true understanding of home affordability, then they should spend some time early in the process ironing out the numbers. With the help of some simple calculators, and a clear picture of personal finances, anybody can make an informed purchase.</p> <p><em>Discover&nbsp;Home Loans has provided me with compensation for&nbsp;my&nbsp;time and efforts on this article. As always, all&nbsp;opinions&nbsp;are 100%&nbsp;my&nbsp;own.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/miranda-marquit">Miranda Marquit</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/87-of-homebuyers-think-they-know-how-much-home-they-can-afford-but-they-really-dont">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-options-if-youre-underwater-on-your-mortgage">6 Options if You&#039;re Underwater on Your 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/front-loaded-loans-a-financial-conspiracy">Front-loaded loans: a financial conspiracy?</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/this-one-mistake-could-delay-your-retirement-by-10-years">This One Mistake Could Delay Your Retirement by 10 Years</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-the-affordable-home-really-isnt">Why the Affordable Home Really Isn&#039;t</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Discover Home Loans mortgages Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Miranda Marquit 1233266 at http://www.wisebread.com The 8 Worst Home Sale Horror Stories http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-worst-home-sale-horror-stories <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-8-worst-home-sale-horror-stories" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/haunted-house-87828275-small.jpg" alt="haunted house sign" title="haunted house sign" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've ever purchased or tried to sell a home, you know it's a process. Credit checks, home inspections, down payments, and more could delay your sale. And after you purchase the home, it's yours for life. So if you missed something during those grueling weeks of closing, it's your problem for life &mdash; or until you try to sell it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing?ref=seealso">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing</a>)</p> <p>Below we've listed eight horror stories of people who fell in love with their home before realizing its dark past.</p> <h2>1. It's Not a Math Problem &mdash; It's a Meth Problem</h2> <p>When Dawn Turner's son purchased a foreclosed home in rural Tennessee, he thought he was getting a steal. But after three years of living in the home, he and his family found out from neighbors the home was considered &quot;unfit for human inhabitation&quot; by local health authorities because the former owner produced methamphetamines in the home. From there, the new homeowners were financially responsible for bringing their home up to code. Dawn now runs <a href="http://methlabhomes.com/">MethLabHomes.com</a> to make sure this doesn't happen to other homeowners.</p> <h2>2. Goldilocks' Family, I Presume?</h2> <p>When a man returned to his home in Miami, he discovered some unwelcome house guests. His home, which he had been renting from a friend for the previous two years and was listed in a short sale, was <a href="http://consumerist.com/2014/07/23/man-returns-from-2-day-vacation-finds-family-living-in-his-home/">filled with a family of strangers</a>. A scammy realtor moved the family in, changed the locks and walked away with $3,600 in profit. Not cool.</p> <h2>3. No Need to Worry About Satanic Murder Pits</h2> <p>A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that home sellers do not have to <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/Pa_home_sellers_dont_have_to_disclose_murders_satanic_rituals.html">disclose if the home was the site of a murder</a>, suicide, or <em>satanic ritual</em>. The ruling came after a homeowner filed suit because her home was the site of a murder/suicide. This is 2014 &mdash; prospective home buyers are advised to use the Internet to find out if someone died in new home. You might have to really dig into some geocities websites to find out about satanic rituals, however.</p> <h2>4. Beware of Blue Powder</h2> <p>Another cringe worthy story comes out of Pennsylvania. When Liz Spikol purchased her home, there was a disclaimer. It simply read, &quot;We have seen a mouse.&quot; After closing months later, Liz started noticing blue dust raining from the ceilings. Turns out, the former homeowners didn't just see one mouse, they saw an entire infestation of mice. After a small leak forced her to open the ceilings, she found dead mice, skeletons and <a href="http://philly.curbed.com/archives/2012/03/29/the-locker-room-stink-of-the-place.php#more">more blue powder</a>. The powder was poison, and the mice were there by the dozens.</p> <h2>5. Free Pet!</h2> <p>During a home inspection in Philadelphia, a home inspector <a href="http://www.today.com/money/home-inspectors-share-horror-stories-6C10213924">found a 15-foot boa constrictor</a> in the crawl space. Apparently the snake had gotten loose years earlier, and the owner thought it was dead. Upside? No mice.</p> <h2>6. Does It Come With a Fort?</h2> <p>In Long Island, real estate agent Mike Litzner of Century 21 American Homes was showing a home to a prospective buyer and <a href="http://realestate.msn.com/october-advice-homebuying-horror-stories-with-problems-like-these-buyers-should-run">found a homeless man with a large fort</a> and lots of alcohol. According to Mike, the potential homeowner asked, &quot;Does he come with the house?&quot;</p> <h2>7. Home Buyer Plagues</h2> <p>Although a <a href="http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/11/08/buying-a-bad-home-what-to-know-in-case-you-buy-a-house-of-hor/">home inspector passed Justin and Kate Treher's home</a>, he missed some problems. For instance, the previous homeowner supposedly installed and tested the sump pump in the basement, and it failed shortly after move in, flooding the basement. Then the lovely sunroom was filled with termites, costing the couple $2,000 in repairs. After the termites were eradicated, they discovered the sunroom was entirely covered in mold &mdash; there was no caulking around the windows to keep the moisture out. Make sure you check for any extra friends, and use more than one home inspector if necessary.</p> <h2>8. Slightly Haunted</h2> <p>When Gregory Leeson listed his Dunmore, PA home for sale, he wanted to be honest. His home was &quot;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/zillow/2013/12/20/for-sale-a-slightly-haunted-home/">slightly haunted</a>.&quot; Nothing crazy, just the usual: footsteps, knocking, and screams. His listing went viral, and ghost hunters from around the world were knocking on his door. Turns out, he didn't have to be so honest. Pennsylvania law only dictates that home sellers have to list any &quot;material defects that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of the property or an unreasonable risk to the people living in the home.&quot; And since proving you have a ghost is pretty much impossible, it's not required. But your state might be different, so make sure to check with a real estate agent if your home gives you the heebie jeebies.</p> <p><em>What are some of your home buying (or selling) horror stories?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jennifer-holder">Jennifer Holder</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-worst-home-sale-horror-stories">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/wise-bread-reloaded-real-estate-market-rebound">Wise Bread Reloaded: Real Estate Market Rebound?</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/things-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-bought-my-second-house">Things I Wish I Knew Before I Bought My Second 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/are-the-new-home-appraisal-rules-good-for-consumers">Are the new home appraisal rules good for consumers?</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/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need">Growin&#039; Home: How Much House Do You Really Need?</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/should-you-become-a-landlord-instead-of-selling-your-home">Should You Become a Landlord Instead of Selling Your Home?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home buying home inspection home sale horrors home selling Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Jennifer Holder 1199023 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Steps to Make Sure You Buy the Right House http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-steps-to-make-sure-you-buy-the-right-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-steps-to-make-sure-you-buy-the-right-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-buying-house-491066665-small.jpg" alt="couple buying house" title="couple buying house" 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 some amazing articles on making sure you are buying the right house, maximizing your dollar at Subway, and creating work/life balance when your kids return to school.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.saveoutsidethebox.com/make-sure-its-the-right-house-to-buy/">7 Steps to Make Sure It's the Right House to Buy</a> &mdash; Scoping out the neighborhood and making a pros and cons checklist is important when deciding whether or not to buy a home. [Save Outside The Box]</p> <p><a href="http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/maximize-dollar-subway/">Mazimize Your Dollar at Subway</a> &mdash; To maximize your dollar at Subway, do the survey on the receipt for free food. [Lazy Man and Money]</p> <p><a href="http://kylebumpus.com/5-bs-myths-about-building-wealth-everyone-thinks-are-true/">5 BS Myths About Building Wealth Everyone Thinks Are True</a> &mdash; It is not true that you will never get rich working for someone else. [Kyle Bumpus]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/9-tips-for-parents-to-create-worklife-balance-when-kids-return-to-school">9 Tips for Parents to Create Work/Life Balance When Kids Return to School</a> &mdash; Scheduling your time wisely and being honest can help you maintain a work life balance when your kids go back to school. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://thenewyorkbudget.com/2014/07/14/spend-less-without-giving-entertainment-fund/">How to Spend Less Without Giving Up Your Entertainment Fund</a> &mdash; If you want to spend less on your necessities so you don't have to give up your entertainment fund, consider substituting certain products or services for cheaper ones. [The New York Budget]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Unreal-Travel-Destinations-Europe-35514639">31 Unreal Travel Destinations in Europe You Didn't Realize You Could Visit</a> &mdash; If you go to Europe, take the time to visit Abisko National Park and Krka. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://mywifequitherjob.com/what-successful-online-store-owners-do-differently/">Why Beginners Fail and What Successful Online Store Owners Do Differently</a> &mdash; Successful online store owners choose winnable niches. [My Wife Quit Her Job]</p> <p><a href="http://investorinthefamily.com/become-ultimate-travel-hacker/">Become the Ultimate Travel Hacker</a> &mdash; By understanding how your credit score is calculated, you can save some serious dough on travel. [Investor in the Family]</p> <p><a href="http://moneytalkscoaching.com/evaluate-the-risks-and-rewards/">Evaluate the Risks and Rewards</a> &mdash; Savings accounts are a safe place to keep your money, but they also have a very low return. [Money Talks]</p> <p><a href="http://siliconbayounews.com/2014/08/20/fall-is-coming-10-things-startups-should-be-doing-now/">Fall is Coming: 10 Things Startups Should Be Doing Now</a> &mdash; Startups should take the time now to develop a content strategy and dial in their startup profiles. [Silicon Bayou News]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-steps-to-make-sure-you-buy-the-right-house">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/are-you-ready-for-home-ownership">Are You Ready for Home Ownership?</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/renting-is-cheaper">Renting is cheaper</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/real-estate-appraisals-ten-things-most-people-just-dont-understand-about-them">Real Estate Appraisals - Ten things most people just don&#039;t understand about them</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/why-you-cant-trust-a-real-estate-agent">Why you can&#039;t trust a real estate agent.</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/so-you-want-to-be-a-landlord-part-ii-how-do-you-actually-make-money">So You Want to be a Landlord? Part II: How Do You Actually Make Money?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing best money tips buy house invest purchase real estate Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:00:04 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1195108 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Ensure You Get the Home Loan You Want http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-ensure-you-get-the-home-loan-you-want <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-ensure-you-get-the-home-loan-you-want" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-applying-loan-135022417-small.jpg" alt="couple applying for loan" title="couple applying for loan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My husband and I recently bought our second home. Surprisingly, the process was far more involved than it was the first time around, just six short years ago. Not only did we have to sell the house we were living in, but the application for our new home loan also seemed much more complex and involved. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-7-mortgage-myths-debunked?ref=seealso" style="text-decoration:none;">Top 7 Mortgage Myths Debunked</a>)</p> <p>If I could go back in time, I'd be sure to keep the following points in mind before applying for our home loan. In the end, it all worked out for our family. We were approved, we found an awesome place, we moved, and we're now happily settling in. However, the more prepared you are from the start, the easier the whole thing will be &mdash; trust me!</p> <h2>1. Crunch the Numbers</h2> <p>Before you start searching for houses and applying for home loans, you need to get a solid understanding of your budget.</p> <ul> <li>How much money are you planning to put down?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>How much might houses need in repairs and maintenance?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>What are any associated fees and yearly property taxes?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>How much are monthly utilities?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>What percentage of your monthly income will a certain loan take from your monthly paycheck?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>What will moving and closing costs add to the equation?</li> </ul> <p>Write it all down or type it out in an Excel spreadsheet. The answers to these questions will dictate the type of loan you seek (FHA, conventional, etc.) and help guide your search. And it's wise to speak with a financial advisor if you're unsure. Be truthful and don't overextend yourself &mdash; many loans are 30 years, and that's a long time to regret a decision.</p> <h2>2. Check Your Score</h2> <p>Though the bank will run a credit check as part of the application, if you suspect your credit score might be questionable &mdash; be proactive. Start by visiting sites like <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action" style="text-decoration:none;">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> to get your free (yes, free!) report. If you don't like what you see, there are many things you can do <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps" style="text-decoration:none;">to rebuild your credit</a> and improve your overall score.</p> <p>These actions are worth the extra wait, since better credit often equals better interest rates and fewer bumps in the road. You'll need to keep steady credit throughout the application process, so it's smart to get things in order before you embark. Plus, you may discover things about your financial history (inaccuracies, debt that doesn't belong to you) that need further examination and even change before you apply for your home loan.</p> <h2>3. Gather Your Materials</h2> <p>Whether you're just getting pre-qualified or actually applying for a mortgage, it's a good idea to dig deep into your drawers for any official papers you might need. For example, you'll need to supply copies of your W-2s for the past two years, recent paycheck stubs (usually for a month), as well as any other pertinent information regarding investments and/or large debts. If you're getting any gift money toward closing costs and the down payment, you'll need to submit a gift letter and have the source provide bank account information as well.</p> <p>If you're self-employed like I am, you may even need additional documentation, like previous years' tax returns (extended versions), bank records showing payments, backed-up employment verification, and more. Generally, it's an excellent idea to contact your loan advisor from the start and make sure you have a list of what's required and avoid packing any documents you might need. Don't forget to keep personal papers in reach, too &mdash; you'll need several forms of identification (social security card, license, birth certificate, etc.) when you sign.</p> <h2>4. Keep It Steady</h2> <p>This one's quite simple: Now is not the time to buy a car, take out a personal loan, charge up your credit card, or do anything else that might otherwise significantly change your financial standing during the mortgage review period. Just say no.</p> <p>Shifting money in big ways can impact your credit score and put you in jeopardy for snags and even loan denial. In fact, many banks like to see some additional savings in your accounts to show that you're stable and not living paycheck to paycheck. So, avoid making any missteps by postponing big purchases and saving where you can.</p> <h2>5. Plan for Surprises</h2> <p>Closing costs are a big deal in my home state (New York). In fact, typical closing costs can make up between <a href="http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-rates/buying-a-home/closing-costs/" style="text-decoration:none;">2% to 5% of the overall loan value</a>, including things like legal fees, taxes, inspection costs, survey fees, title insurance, loan origination fees, and many more small print items. Though you may be ready with your down payment amount in hand, you likely won't know exact numbers for additional costs until days or even hours (yes &mdash; hours!) before you sign. If you receive a rough estimate, plan for the worst-case scenario.</p> <p>Additionally, if you run into any delays in your home buying process, you may need to repeat any part of the application process over again. Many things &mdash; like bank records, stubs, and other financial documents &mdash; expire in 60 days. If you go over that time, it's like a brand new game. I can't express enough that keeping in close contact with your bank, attorney, and real estate agent is key to ensuring everything stays on track and surprises stick to a minimum.</p> <p><em>Do you have any items or ideas to add to this list? What did you find helpful when you were applying for a mortgage?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-ensure-you-get-the-home-loan-you-want">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/fha-home-loans-you-can-buy-a-home-even-if-your-finances-arent-perfect">FHA Home Loans: You Can Buy a Home Even If Your Finances Aren&#039;t Perfect</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/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater 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/citimortage-told-me-to-default-on-my-loan-if-i-want-their-help">CitiMortgage Told Me to Default on My Loan</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-long-can-you-stay-in-your-home-after-you-stop-paying-the-mortgage">How Long Can You Stay in Your Home After You Stop Paying the 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/the-7-year-mortgage-take-it-or-leave-it">The 7-Year Mortgage: Take It or Leave It?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home loan loan application mortgage re-fi Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1191107 at http://www.wisebread.com Wise Bread Reloaded: Real Estate Market Rebound? http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-reloaded-real-estate-market-rebound <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wise-bread-reloaded-real-estate-market-rebound" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-buying-home-81388225-small.jpg" alt="couple buying home" title="couple buying home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>This week the National Association of Realtors reported that <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-existing-home-sales-rose-2-4-in-july-1408629764">sales of existing homes rose 2.3%</a> in July, to the the highest they've been in 10 months. Even better? Fewer of those recent sales were for underwater or foreclosed homes. Prices, on the other hand, have moved up more slowly than they did a year ago because more homes are hitting the market, and inventory is healthy, which constrains pricing.</p> <p>Combine all that with continued record low interest rates, and maybe now is a good time to buy.</p> <p>With that in mind, for this week's edition of Reloaded, we've collected some of Wise Bread's best home buying (and selling) articles from the past several years.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-investing-is-cheaper-and-easier-than-you-think?ref=classicwb">Real Estate Investing Is Cheaper and Easier Than You Think</a> &mdash; Guest poster Joshua Dorkin walks us through getting started in real estate investing, both for short term cash flow, and long term value.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-terms?ref=classicwb">21 Real Estate Terms Every Home Buyer Should Understand</a> &mdash; From acceptance to title, Miranda Marquit explains the key terms clearly, so the next time you're interviewing an agent, you'll be in the know (or at least sound like it).</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-choose-a-real-estate-agent?ref=classicwb">How to Choose a Real Estate Agent</a> &mdash; A good agent knows the local market and is skilled at matching your needs and wants with what's available &mdash; so how do you find a good real estate agent? Camilla Cheung explains.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-mistakes-you-can-make-when-selling-your-home?ref=classicwb">Big Mistakes You Can Make When Selling Your Home</a> &mdash; Camilla Cheung again, and this time with some common pitfalls sellers should avoid, like not interviewing enough agents.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-house-in-24-hours?ref=classicwb">How to Sell a Your Home in 24 Hours</a> &mdash; In a hurry to sell? Elizabeth Lang was and she got it done in 24 hours.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lars-peterson">Lars Peterson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-reloaded-real-estate-market-rebound">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/the-8-worst-home-sale-horror-stories">The 8 Worst Home Sale Horror Stories</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/things-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-bought-my-second-house">Things I Wish I Knew Before I Bought My Second 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/are-the-new-home-appraisal-rules-good-for-consumers">Are the new home appraisal rules good for consumers?</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/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need">Growin&#039; Home: How Much House Do You Really Need?</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/should-you-become-a-landlord-instead-of-selling-your-home">Should You Become a Landlord Instead of Selling Your Home?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home buying home refinance home selling Sat, 23 Aug 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Lars Peterson 1193313 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Things Real Estate Agents Don't Want You to Know http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-real-estate-agents-dont-want-you-to-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-things-real-estate-agents-dont-want-you-to-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/real-estate-agent-485539189-small.jpg" alt="realtor" title="realtor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ask a real estate agent what she or he is hiding from clients, and you will almost always get the same answer: Absolutely nothing.</p> <p>After all, ethics are built into the training agents need to renew their licenses, and some disclosures are even mandated by law.</p> <p>&quot;In my experience I have found most agents to be very ethical in terms of disclosing information to both clients and other professionals,&quot; one agent told me in an email.</p> <p>That said, there are plenty of things about the home buying and selling process that agents are not required to disclose to clients. There are truths that some agents tell you about but others don't. And there are things that agents disagree amongst themselves about. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-choose-a-real-estate-agent?ref=seealso">How to Choose a Real Estate Agent</a>)</p> <h2>1. You May Be Able to Get More by Selling It Yourself</h2> <p>A 2007 Northwestern study showed that sellers in Madison, Wisconsin, who signed up for a &quot;for sale by owner&quot; service <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2007/06/fsbo.html">netted more money on their homes</a>. Why? Their homes sold for about the same price as similar homes handled by agents, but they didn't have to pay the 5% to 6% commission agents charge.</p> <p>However, the study did show that FSBO properties in that time and place took <em>longer</em> to sell.</p> <p>Other more recent studies have come to a similar conclusion: <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/for-sale-by-owner-sell-your-house-without-an-agent/">FSBO sales get closer to their asking prices</a> than those handled by agents.</p> <h2>2. Those &quot;Comps&quot; Are Out of Date</h2> <p>Many agents will use recent sale prices in your neighborhood to help determine the asking price or offer price for you. But <a href="http://www.lorriarazi.com/">Lorri Rosenberg Arazi</a>, a well-regarded Bay Area agent, said, &quot;We look at the comps to give us guidelines, but the thing that people aren't realizing is that the most current indicators of the market price are the pending sales &mdash; and you don't know what the pending sale prices are.&quot;</p> <p>A really good agent who is well connected with other local agents will be able to get a feel for what pending sale prices are by asking around, Arazi said. Many agents &mdash; especially if they are not local to the area where you are buying or selling &mdash; won't have access to that more current info. But of course, they'll never tell you that.</p> <h2>3. They May Tell the Other Side All About You</h2> <p>Have you ever been in negotiations over a house, and your agent said, &quot;The buyers' agent said they are coming around to the idea of your price,&quot; or &quot;the agent said they really, really love your house&quot;?</p> <p>When I first heard these things, I was appreciative that my agent was able to gather this inside info for me. But then it made me wonder, is my agent telling the other side what we say?</p> <p>Many agents say they characterize conversations with clients only to the extent that it helps the client's case. But keep in mind that the two agents are working together to close the deal &mdash; and that gives them incentive to share any and all information that will get them there &mdash; including information about you.</p> <h2>4. Open Houses Are for Finding New Clients</h2> <p>&quot;An open house serves me more at finding prospective clients than it does to actually market the house itself,&quot; one agent wrote on an online forum. &quot;Not that you shouldn't hold open houses&hellip; it is good exposure. [But] for every five or six people coming through the door, maybe one of them actually liked the house, and I've got three to five properties in the area nothing like the house that I offer to show the other four or five people when I'm done.&quot;</p> <p>Other agents have told me the same thing, usually when I ask them to hold an open house for a property I'm selling.</p> <p>That said, as a seller, I would rather leave no stone unturned. I have sold a property to a buyer who came to an open house, I have friends who did the same, and my grandparents bought their current home after dropping into the open house. So it's not a if open houses never sell houses &mdash; it simply may not be their main purpose.</p> <h2>5. Commision Is Negotiable</h2> <p>Recently my parents contacted an agent for help listing a relative's home. The agent told them his commission was 6%, which surprised me considering that all the agents I had worked with recently charged only 5%. I called him up and at first he insisted that 6% was standard for that particular town. But when I pressed him on it, he finally agreed to drop his commission to 5%, &quot;just for us.&quot; This expert says that <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/is-agent-commission-negotiable.aspx">commission is always negotiable</a>, but if you pay too low a percentage, the agent may not have much incentive to work hard for you.</p> <h2>6. You Could Have Gotten a Better Price</h2> <p>&quot;You haven't <em>always</em> gotten a great deal, whether buying or selling, but I will almost always tell you that you did well unless you got royally hosed, because everyone wants to get a good deal,&quot; one agent confessed.</p> <p>In one way, buyers, sellers and agents all want the same thing: to close a deal. But when you look beyond that, our incentives diverge. How a deal gets done and exactly what deal gets done matter a lot more to buyers and sellers than to agents.</p> <p>The book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060731338/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0060731338&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Freakonomics</a> cited research showing that when real estate agents sell their own homes, <a href="http://www.nachi.org/forum/f11/exerpt-freakonomics-book-regarding-real-estate-agents-57929/">they get higher prices</a> and take longer to sell than other sellers. The theory here is that even though your agent makes more money if you sell for a higher price, the difference in commission isn't enough to justify the added work of holding out. So, Freakonomics authors reason, agents must encourage clients to accept the first reasonable offer you get, while holding out for top dollar on their own homes.</p> <p>Not all agents agreed with the Freakonomics writers' conclusions; one response pointed out that <a href="http://realtytimes.com/agentnews/agentconcerns1/item/9946-20050729_freakonomics">agents' biggest incentive is to build up repeat business</a> by helping clients get the best deals they can.</p> <h2>7. They Could Play Both Sides and Double Their Money</h2> <p>Some states allow &quot;dual agency,&quot; which means that if the buyer or seller has no agent, your agent could represent both sides and keep the whole commission, which would normally be split between two agents.</p> <p>Some buyers see this as a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-cost-of-a-free-ride-why-not-to-use-a-buyers-agent-submitted-by-ken-rick">way to save money</a> by negotiating with that one agent to cut his or her commission. But one agent warned that agents dealing with unrepresented buyers or sellers don't always offer to cut the commission.</p> <p>&quot;That agent just double-ends the deal and gets paid twice. No deal, no saved commission, just less aggressive representation,&quot; the agent posted to an online discussion.</p> <p>The organization Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate <a href="http://www.caare.org/DualAgency">recommends against consenting to dual agency</a>, warning that representing both sides prevents your agent from advocating for you &mdash; because now they also represent your adversary and are not allowed to do anything to either party's detriment.</p> <p>&quot;That means that they can not help you negotiate price or terms of your real estate transaction. It means that they are getting paid twice as much for doing a tenth of the work,&quot; CAARE warns.</p> <h2>8. You Picked an Awful House</h2> <p>&quot;I don't always like the property that you may be bidding on, but if you fall in love with it, and there are no glaring deficiencies, I will do my best to get excited about it too,&quot; one agent wrote.</p> <p>But do some agents go farther than that, and overlook real problems with houses just to get that commission?</p> <p>If you believe the letters and responses in Barry Stone's column <a href="http://www.housedetective.com/2011/08/28/home-inspector-minimized-major-problems/">House Detective</a>, some agents not only overlook problems themselves, but recommend inspectors who do the same. <a href="http://www.housedetective.com/2014/03/14/agent-advises-buyers-not-to-attend-home-inspection/">In one letter</a>, a client complained that the agent told them not to attend the inspection; later they received an inspection report that seemed to overlook problems. Stone called foul.</p> <p>&quot;Agents who are honest and ethical do not give that kind of misleading advice to clients,&quot; he wrote.</p> <p><em>What did your real estate agent fail to tell you? Please tell us in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-real-estate-agents-dont-want-you-to-know">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/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need">Growin&#039; Home: How Much House Do You Really Need?</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-signs-the-house-you-want-to-buy-is-a-money-pit">5 Signs the House You Want to Buy Is a Money Pit</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/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</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/when-should-you-fire-your-real-estate-agent">When Should You Fire Your Real Estate Agent?</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-4-most-overpriced-us-housing-markets">The 4 Most Overpriced U.S. Housing Markets</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home buying negotiation real estate agent Realtor Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1183630 at http://www.wisebread.com Does Your House Suck? Here's How to Sell It Anyway http://www.wisebread.com/does-your-house-suck-heres-how-to-sell-it-anyway <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/does-your-house-suck-heres-how-to-sell-it-anyway" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house-for-sale-78023830-small.jpg" alt="house for sale" title="house for sale" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Read any list of recommendations about how to sell your home and you'll get the same advice about how to bring out the best in your property to get top dollar. But let's face it. A lot of homes have more than just cosmetic issues you can fix with a little spackle, paint, and cleaning. Some homes just, well, suck. (See also: <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-house-in-24-hours">How to Sell Your House in 24 Hours</a>)</p> <p>Maybe your home's perched on a really busy road, or has major structural issues, or a wet basement. Sure, you could fix those things, but with real problem homes, making major repairs can, in itself, be a real financial risk. What to do? Here are some tips on how to get your home sold &mdash; despite its flaws.</p> <h2>Assess the Situation</h2> <p>Has your house been on the market for a while? Before you freak out and assume that your home is a total dud, get educated about what's really happening. How hot is the market in your area? How quickly are other, similar homes selling?</p> <p>You can collect this data yourself, but a real estate agent can also be really helpful here. If that &quot;For Sale&quot; sign is still on the lawn after 30 days but the average days on market for a home is 60 days, it might not be time to worry just yet. Also keep in mind that if your home is less desirable than others in your neighborhood, it'll probably take more than the average time to sell.</p> <h2>Find the Positives</h2> <p>There's nothing more annoying than a real estate listing that makes a dumpy little house sound like the Taj Mahal. After all, you want your house to meet or exceed buyers' expectations, not gobsmack them with a house that's much uglier and less desirable than the listing suggests.</p> <p>What you can do, however, is figure out what type of person your house might be right for, and try to get that person's attention.</p> <p>Maybe your home is in a good location for a rental property. If that's the case, find out how much the property might rent for, whether a second or third suite could be added and for how much. Rather than trying to convince potential buyers that your house will meet their needs, figure out whose needs it would best meet and highlight those attributes. You may get fewer showings, but you'll be more likely to attract the right kind of buyers.</p> <h2>Keep It Clean and Tidy</h2> <p>The last time I shopped for a home, I visited a potential option that was so filthy I threw out my socks as soon as I got home. That house may have had potential. It may have been a good value. It may have been only a very thorough cleaning away from being a decent place to live. But I didn't care; I was ready to leave the minute I walked in the door.</p> <p>A good scrubbing won't fix an ugly home, but it's still important because a home that's too dirty will scare a lot of potential buyers away. No matter the condition of your home, you want people to be able to view it comfortably and assess it without distractions. Bad smells, big messes, and general grossness can be very distracting. Plus, it's a pretty easy fix. (See also: <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="http://www.wisebread.com/selling-your-home-17-ways-to-prepare-your-house-for-inspection-success?ref=seealso">17 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Inspection Success</a>)</p> <h2>Find Out What It's Missing</h2> <p>Maybe you think your home has some big flaws, but buyers will often focus on the little things. Maybe they're concerned about a broken front step or some mildew around the bathtub. Or maybe they simply can't stand the color of paint you've used. Whatever it is that causes potential buyers to walk away from your home without making an offer, you won't know unless you ask.</p> <p>After a buyer has viewed your home, ask your realtor to contact them or their agent to find out how they felt about the property. Or, if you're selling your own home, have potential buyers fill out a quick comment card. Sometimes what stops buyers cold is simple. Fix it, and you could be on your way to selling your home.</p> <h2>Get Out</h2> <p>It doesn't matter if you have a newborn baby, a full-time job, and the stomach flu &mdash; one of the key things you can do to help sell your home is to make it available to anyone who wants to see it. If someone calls and asks to set up an appointment, get out and let them in. Yes, it's annoying. Yes, it's inconvenient. Yes, it'll probably amount to nothing many times over.</p> <p>This trick all boils down to simple math: The more people who view your home, the more likely you are to find the one who will be interested in buying it.</p> <h2>Relist</h2> <p>When you list your home for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), or even through many for-sale-by-owner systems, your home's listing will include its &quot;days on market.&quot; This refers to the number of days your home has been for sale. And, as that number grows, it can spell trouble in terms of bringing in more showings. If your home's been on the market well beyond the average time that it takes other homes in your neighborhood to sell, it might be time to take it off the market for a while. That way, you can allow the people who are already in the market and have already considered your home and passed it up to move on, and to offer your home as a brand-new piece of merchandise to a whole new group of people.</p> <h2>Drop the Price</h2> <p>Okay, now for the fail-proof option no one likes to hear: If your home won't sell, consider dropping the sale price.</p> <p>In the real estate market, it's the buyers who determine a home's true value. After all, buyers now have access to all the data and listings they want. If your house &mdash; based on its amenities, its location, and its current condition &mdash; costs more than other properties that are similar or better, no one's going to bite. If it's possible for buyers to get more for their money, they probably know about it. So, in all but the most depressed and over-saturated real estate markets (<a style="text-decoration:none;" href="http://www.businessinsider.com/buying-cheap-property-in-detroit-2013-7">think Detroit</a>), just about anything will sell if it's listed at the right price.</p> <p>Maybe your home needs a lot of work. Dropping the price can make putting that sweat equity in more worthwhile for the right buyer. Of course, dropping the price on your home isn't always an option that sellers can afford. But you should know that sometimes, it's the only option that'll work. After all, if your home really does suck, what makes you think someone else will pay top dollar for it?</p> <p><em>Have you sold a difficult to sell property? How'd you do it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-your-house-suck-heres-how-to-sell-it-anyway">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-13"> <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/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing</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-8-worst-home-sale-horror-stories">The 8 Worst Home Sale Horror Stories</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/boost-your-homes-value-with-these-5-projects">Boost Your Home&#039;s Value With These 5 Projects</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-surprising-things-that-lower-the-value-of-a-home">10 Surprising Things That Lower the Value of 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/selling-your-home-17-ways-to-prepare-your-house-for-inspection-success">Selling Your Home: 17 Ways to Prepare Your House for Inspection Success</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home inspection home sale selling a house Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:00:12 +0000 Tara Struyk 1168785 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: The Home Edition http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-the-home-edition <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-home-edition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fixing-door-89987115-small.jpg" alt="fixing door" title="fixing door" 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 some of the best articles around the web on everything related to your home!</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Home-Repairs-You-Can-Do-Yourself-31124855">7 Home Repairs You Can Do Yourself</a> &mdash; Chances are you don't need a professional to do caulking or fix a squeaky door in your home. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2014/06/16/10-tips-most-first-time-home-buyers-dont-consider/">10 Tips Most First-Time Home Buyers Don't Consider</a> &mdash; Most first-time home buyers don't look beyond home staging or research grants or other forms of funding. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="http://lenpenzo.com/blog/id1317-19-tips-for-saving-a-bundle-of-money-on-home-appliances.html">19 Tips for Saving a Bundle of Money on Home Appliances</a> &mdash; If you want to save a bundle on home appliances, take advantage of price match guarantees or buy a floor model. [Len Penzo dot Com]</p> <p><a href="http://sustainablepersonalfinance.com/house-staging-tips/">34 House Staging Tips</a> &mdash; When you are trying to sell your home, keep the toilet seats down and make sure the windows are washed. [Sustainable Personal Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/seven-simple-tactics-we-use-to-keep-summer-energy-bills-low/">Seven Simple Tactics We Use to Keep Summer Energy Bills Low</a> &mdash; Using ambient lights and ceiling fans can help reduce your summer energy bill. [The Simple Dollar]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2006/08/save_money_by_p.html">Save Money by Planning Your Home Improvements in the Off Season</a> &mdash; If you plan on updating your home heating system, save money by updating it in the summer. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thedebtprincess.com/2013/08/15/frugal-decorating-tips-for-decorating-on-a-dime/">Frugal Decorating: Tips for Decorating on a Dime</a> &mdash; Having patience when it comes to finding the right item for your home and shopping with a list can help keep your decorating costs low. [The Debt Princess]</p> <p><a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/when-does-it-make-sense-to-rent-a-home-instead-of-buy/">When Does It Make Sense to Rent a Home Instead of Buy?</a> &mdash; It may make more sense to rent a home if the mortgage that comes with buying a house isn't affordable. [Money Smart Life]</p> <p><a href="http://cashmoneylife.com/home-additions-that-increase-your-insurance-rates/">3 Home Additions That Will Raise Your Insurance Rates</a> &mdash; Adding on an additional room to your home will increase your insurance rates. [Cash Money Life]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/how-to-decorate-a-green-baby-nursery">How to Decorate a &quot;Green&quot; Baby Nursery</a> &mdash; To decorate a green baby nursery, opt for wood floors covered with rugs. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-the-home-edition">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-14"> <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-ways-to-save-on-a-long-distance-move">10 Ways to Save on a Long-Distance 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/real-estate-appraisals-ten-things-most-people-just-dont-understand-about-them">Real Estate Appraisals - Ten things most people just don&#039;t understand about them</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/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing</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/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter">McMansion to McCottage: Why Smaller Houses Are Smarter</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/15-cheap-easy-ways-to-make-your-home-safer">15 Cheap, Easy Ways to Make Your Home Safer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Real Estate and Housing best money tips home housing Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:00:06 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1147492 at http://www.wisebread.com This One Mistake Could Delay Your Retirement by 10 Years http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-mistake-could-delay-your-retirement-by-10-years <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-one-mistake-could-delay-your-retirement-by-10-years" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/senior-couple-budget-177715864-small.jpg" alt="senior couple budget" title="senior couple budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="147" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A while back, during a housing boom (remember those?), I watched a TV news segment about homeownership. The reporter was interviewing a young married couple shopping for a house and the wife said: &quot;My parents told me to buy the biggest house you can afford, so that's what we're doing.&quot; After all, her parents probably saw the value of their home rise to many times its original price, eventually becoming one of their biggest assets &mdash; just in time for retirement.</p> <p>In fact, on average home values do rise &mdash; by about 4% per year, keeping pace with inflation &mdash; and over the long term this growth can be substantial. So on the surface, this &quot;buy the biggest&quot; strategy seemed to make sense. A bigger purchase price must lead to a bigger ending price, right? Maybe so, but something bothered me about this advice; a piece of the puzzle seemed to be missing, but I just couldn't put my finger on it at the time.</p> <h2>Buy the Biggest You Can Afford?</h2> <p>Fast forward a few years later. My wife and I and our two infant sons were squeezed into a one bedroom unit of a 2-family home. It was time to find something a little roomier. But why buy something only a little roomier? Why not buy the biggest? That's what we did&hellip;we purchased a McMansion. The parents of that young couple from the news report would have been proud of us. Just think how big our home's ending price would be after 30 years!</p> <h3>My Big House Ate My Cash Flow</h3> <p>What I failed to realize was that 30 years was a long way off. It was time to live in the present, and that meant making an enormous mortgage + property tax + homeowner's insurance payment every month. Add to that the ongoing maintenance, utility, and repair costs and what at first seemed to be a golden nest egg turned out to be a money pit. Our McMansion drained every last cent of our monthly income.</p> <p>That's when I discovered that the missing piece of the puzzle I had been looking for was cash flow. Sure, a house is a large asset that grows in value; that's the good side. Unfortunately, there's also a flip side: It can be a cash flow killer. The bigger the mortgage the more negative your monthly cash flow.</p> <p>In our case, over the full term of the mortgage we would have paid an <em>extra</em> $420,000 on this super-sized house compared to a more modest one! That's money we could have used to repay other loans or to invest in our retirement account, enabling us achieve financial independence many years sooner.</p> <h2>Downsize for Better Cash Flow</h2> <p>What did we do to correct the mistake?</p> <p>We downsized. And it worked. Suddenly we had a comfortable monthly positive cash flow cushion. What a nice feeling that was.</p> <p>Ah, but sometimes even a good decision can take a bad turn. We soon realized that we over-corrected and downsized to a house that was too small and inadequate for our growing family. So what did we do next? We approved plans for a $120,000 addition. After that came the bathroom renovations. I think you know where this is going. The lesson this time was that a small house can become a money pit, too.</p> <h2>The Goldilocks Principle</h2> <p>The key, then, is to apply what I like to call The Goldilocks Principle to home buying: Look for one that's not too big or too small, but just right. How? Run the numbers beforehand, when you're shopping. To help with this use the following table, which allows you to compare the monthly negative cash flows associated with homes you're considering. Your goal is &mdash; all other things equal &mdash; to find a house with the lowest (or nearly the lowest) negative cash flow.</p> <p><img width="605" height="336" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/Whelan's Housing Chart 2.png" alt="" /></p> <p>I've pre-filled this chart with hypothetical numbers but the template is universal and you can use it to compare actual homes you're interested in purchasing. As you can see in this example buying Property 2, a bigger single-family home, would cost an additional $425 every month compared to Property 1, the condo. Over the term of a 30 year mortgage that adds up to an extra cost to you of $153,000. Ouch!</p> <p>Now take a look at Property 3.</p> <p>It's also a more expensive $250,000 house but is a two-family rental, which means there's some positive monthly cash flow (from rent) to offset all those negative numbers. In fact, because of the rental income from just one of the two units the total negative monthly cash flow is $655 lower than the single-family house having the same purchase price, and it's even $230 per month lower than the condo!</p> <p>So rental properties give you an opportunity to buy a higher-priced property (which translates to a much higher ending sales price over time) while also reducing your monthly negative cash flow. The rental income can even be used to help pre-pay your mortgage, which might then create a net positive monthly cash flow after all expenses. So it offers an opportunity to have your cake (or porridge) and eat it too.</p> <h2>Don't Forget Other Costs</h2> <p>One other thing to consider, though. In addition to these estimates of cash flow at the time of purchase, you should also estimate repair costs and future improvement costs after moving in. As I learned first-hand, those large lump sum future expenditures can make all the difference between a good and a not-so-good home choice, so be sure to also give them careful, honest consideration.</p> <p>Purchasing a home is a big, complicated decision. Emotional considerations are part of the equation, and they should be. After all, your family's comfort and your choice of a community are part of the package. But try not to let your emotions overwhelm the financial considerations. You'll want to get the decision right the first time rather than learn the hard way as I did. A bad decision on this one item, if uncorrected, can delay your progress towards financial independence by as much as a decade. So to help ensure a balanced review, filter your decision with immediate and longer-term cash flow considerations and let the numbers guide you to the choice that's best for your budget and for your long-term financial security.</p> <p><em>Was monthly cash flow a consideration for you when you purchased a home? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/keith-whelan">Keith Whelan</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-mistake-could-delay-your-retirement-by-10-years">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-15"> <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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-options-if-youre-underwater-on-your-mortgage">6 Options if You&#039;re Underwater on Your 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/front-loaded-loans-a-financial-conspiracy">Front-loaded loans: a financial conspiracy?</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/7-occasions-when-you-should-definitely-hire-a-financial-advisor">7 Occasions When You Should Definitely Hire a Financial Advisor</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-the-affordable-home-really-isnt">Why the Affordable Home Really Isn&#039;t</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Real Estate and Housing cash flow mortgages rental income retirement Mon, 07 Jul 2014 09:00:06 +0000 Keith Whelan 1153953 at http://www.wisebread.com