Real Estate and Housing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4810/all en-US 10 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Home Warranty http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-home-warranty <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-home-warranty" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-516251216.jpg" alt="make the most of your home warranty" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you have ever bought a home with a real estate agent, chances are they told you they convinced the seller to include a home warranty in the deal.</p> <p>Unfortunately, those home warranties often turn out to be difficult to use. I have a friend in Florida whose central air system failed twice while the home was still under warranty, and the company found a different reason each time to deny the claim. I myself have had home warranty companies (initially) deny a claim for a clogged drain and a broken garbage disposal. Even when the warranty does cover a problem, many consumers are disappointed with the quality of the repair service.</p> <p>Is it impossible to get results from a home warranty? No, it's not. While I'm not a huge fan of the policies, I personally have had home warranties pay for themselves several times over. It wasn't easy, though. Here are some tactics for getting the most out of your home warranty.</p> <h2>Shop Around for Policies</h2> <p>Not all home warranties are created equal. If you're buying your own warranty, first check the company's reputation, and then look at the different levels of coverage it offers. If the warranty is being given to you with a home sale, you can ask your real estate agent the same questions.</p> <h2>When Something Breaks, Contact the Warranty Company First</h2> <p>You have no heat in the dead of winter! Shouldn't you call the furnace company first and worry about getting compensated for it later? Not so fast. The home warranty company may not cover a repair if you hire someone first, and later contact them.</p> <p>Some warranty companies offer 24/7 support, but if the warranty company puts you on hold forever or can't send a technician for a week, you may be in a tough spot. What you do then comes down to how much you want your claim covered, and how much damage &mdash; like frozen pipes &mdash; might occur while you wait.</p> <h2>Read Your Contract Before Calling</h2> <p>When filing your claim, explain exactly how your problem qualifies for warranty coverage. For instance, say your warranty covers appliances but not plumbing. Your dishwasher failed and caused water damage to your kitchen floor. Don't call and simply tell them you have flood damage in your kitchen. Call and report that your warranty-covered dishwasher malfunctioned and damaged your floor.</p> <h2>Be Persistent, Both With Phone Agents and Service Providers</h2> <p>Continuing with the above scenario, if the phone agent tells you your floor damage isn't covered, have the contract handy so you can cite the passages that support your claim. And if the agent isn't helping you, ask to be transferred to a manager. Follow up in writing or by email if denied.</p> <p>Once a service provider is dispatched, be present for the visit. Some providers will show up, charge the visit fee, and say that the repair isn't covered &mdash; without thoroughly investigating. If they try to say it's not covered, point out why it should be. Contact their supervisor if necessary before paying the fee.</p> <h2>Ask If You Have a Choice of Service Providers</h2> <p>Before agreeing to allow a service provider into your home, check their online reviews. In my experience, home warranty companies sometimes send low-rated providers. You can look up a provider on Angie's List or Yelp quickly while on the phone with the service company. If it's a terrible company, ask to have a better one dispatched.</p> <h2>Ask If You Have the Option of Taking a Cash Payment</h2> <p>Warranty companies do sometimes offer cash instead of replacing an appliance. On the downside, the cash they pay probably won't cover your true replacement cost. On the upside, if you get the cash, you can choose the model and installer you want.</p> <p>My home warranty company offered a $500 check when our water heater broke shortly after we bought our current home. Our new water heater cost twice that with installation, but we were glad to have the flexibility to upgrade the unit and work with a more reputable plumber than the warranty company initially sent.</p> <h2>Be Persistent Even If You're Not Sure Who's Right</h2> <p>The home warranty initially refused to cover my clogged drain because it was in the basement, leading to the outside of the house, and they only covered the inside the house. Was this argument valid? I wasn't sure, but because it required jackhammering and repairing my basement floor, it was going to be a very expensive repair &mdash; so I just kept at them. I emailed, I faxed, I called. It took weeks, but I finally got the company to pay for the repair &mdash; probably just to get me off their back.</p> <h2>Don't Schedule Service If You Know the Repair Isn't Covered</h2> <p>When the home warranty company dispatches a service provider to your house, they'll charge you a visit fee of $35 to $100 &mdash; whether they fix anything or not. So there's no sense calling them for a repair that falls outside the coverage, and there's certainly no sense misrepresenting your repair. You'll just lose the service fee.</p> <h2>Keep a Close Eye on Older Appliances and Systems During the Warranty Period</h2> <p>Is your furnace making a funny noise, but you can live with it? If your warranty expires soon, it may be worth paying the visit fee to have a technician check it out, just in case that noise indicates a major problem that will come to a head just after the warranty expires.</p> <h2>Keep Your Expectations in Check</h2> <p>Don't get surprised or angry when your home warranty provider tells you they won't cover a claim. Go in with a lot of patience and persistence on tap, and try your best to get something out of them. In the end, if you end up with a less-than-perfect repair or a smaller-than-desired check, acknowledge that at least you got something. Life's too short to waste time fuming at a company that angered you.</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/10-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-home-warranty">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/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it">4 Warranties That Aren&#039;t Worth It</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/how-does-the-fannie-mae-and-freddie-mac-bailout-affect-you">How does the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout affect you?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-are-the-7-features-home-buyers-want-most">These Are the 7 Features Home Buyers Want Most</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-sneaky-home-money-pits-that-sap-your-savings">9 Sneaky Home Money Pits That Sap Your Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money">4 Ways a Home Energy Audit Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Real Estate and Housing Angie's List appliances cash payouts filing claims home warranties phone agents repairs services Wed, 15 Feb 2017 10:30:29 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1889842 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Unexpected Things Covered by Homeowners Insurance http://www.wisebread.com/11-unexpected-things-covered-by-homeowners-insurance <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-unexpected-things-covered-by-homeowners-insurance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/611293320.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This post brought to you by <a href="https://bob.dmpxs.com/bob_007.gif?s=post&amp;l=289%7C921%7C3488&amp;e=click&amp;p=disclaimer&amp;ids=null&amp;imp_hash=%7BIMP_SIGNATURE%7D&amp;bobredir=http%3A%2F%2Fad.doubleclick.net%2Fddm%2Ftrackclk%2FN4492.127014FEDERATEDMEDIA%2FB10893953.145514384%3Bdc_trk_aid%3D317173286%3Bdc_trk_cid%3D78536406%3Bdc_lat%3D%3Bdc_rdid%3D%3Btag_for_child_directed_treatment%3D&amp;c=113322" rel="nofollow">Progressive</a>. See how much <a href="https://bob.dmpxs.com/bob_007.gif?s=post&amp;l=289%7C921%7C3488&amp;e=click&amp;p=disclaimer&amp;ids=null&amp;imp_hash=%7BIMP_SIGNATURE%7D&amp;bobredir=http%3A%2F%2Fad.doubleclick.net%2Fddm%2Ftrackclk%2FN4492.127014FEDERATEDMEDIA%2FB10893953.145514384%3Bdc_trk_aid%3D317173286%3Bdc_trk_cid%3D78536406%3Bdc_lat%3D%3Bdc_rdid%3D%3Btag_for_child_directed_treatment%3D&amp;c=113322" rel="nofollow">Progressive </a>could save you when you bundle your policies.</em></p> <p>Homeowners insurance is absolutely essential if you want to protect your house and assets. If you take a look at a typical insurance policy (commonly known as an HO-3), you&rsquo;ll find it protects homeowners from a wide range of mishaps, from fires to vandalism, lightning strikes and tree falls. But do you know the full scope of what your homeowners policy covers?</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s a look at some of the surprising things that you may find are covered by homeowners insurance.</p> <h2>1. Patios, Gazebos, and Sheds</h2> <p>You may think that you&rsquo;re only buying insurance for your home. But in reality, the homeowners policy usually covers your entire property, including all structures such as storage sheds, gazebos, and that luxury doghouse you just had built for Fido. Be sure to let the insurance company know ahead of time, however, that you have these structures on your property. This will ensure you have documentation for coverage.</p> <h2>2. Tombstones</h2> <p>Believe it or not, grave markers at a cemetery are considered &ldquo;personal property&rdquo; and are therefore covered under most homeowners policies. Thus, most people are covered up to $5,000 worth of damage. It&rsquo;s important to note, however, that some gravestone damage is caused by the cemetery&rsquo;s own landscaping equipment, and would therefore be covered by the cemetery&rsquo;s perpetual care fund. So be sure to check the source of damage before making an insurance claim.</p> <h2>3. Riots</h2> <p>A typical HO-3 will cover your home and personal property in the event that they are damaged during civil unrest. (Some policies refer to it as &ldquo;civil commotion.&rdquo;) Vandalism, fire, and explosions are usually covered. If a State of Emergency is declared in your area due to rioting that could help your case when filing a claim. If not, it&rsquo;s a good idea to get a police report to document the event and damage.</p> <h2>4. Volcanoes (But Not Earthquakes)</h2> <p>Most of us outside Hawaii don&rsquo;t have to worry about this, but if your home is in the path of an erupting volcano, rest assured you&rsquo;ll be covered. It&rsquo;s worth noting, however, that earthquake damage (sometimes referred to as &ldquo;ground movement&rdquo;) is not covered under most standard policies.</p> <h2>5. Flooding (In Some Specific Cases)</h2> <p>A typical homeowners policy does not cover flood damage. You&rsquo;ll need separate insurance to cover damage caused by persistent rainfall, an overflowing creek bed, or flooding of a similar nature. But, some policies will cover water damage caused by things like a faulty sump pump, busted water heater or broken pipe. And you may find that water problems may be covered if the water is the indirect result of other kinds of damage (for example, a roof blowing off during a storm). Be sure to check your policy carefully to see what&rsquo;s covered when it comes to water.</p> <h2>6. Your Kids&rsquo; Stuff at College</h2> <p>If you send your child off to school and he&rsquo;s living in a dorm, his items are usually covered under your homeowners policy. That&rsquo;s because most policies cover anyone in your household as well as students under the age of 24. Not all policies cover students living in off-campus housing, however. It&rsquo;s also worth noting that liability limits on students&rsquo; items may be lower, so if they have expensive items like a computer or bicycle, it may be a good idea to get some renters insurance as well.</p> <h2>7. Identity Theft</h2> <p>If some nefarious person gets ahold of your sensitive data, it can become difficult to straighten out. Fortunately, many homeowners policies now allow for reimbursement of the cost of fixing your credit reports and restoring your identity. This can include the cost of lost wages, phone bills and possibly even legal representation. If this coverage is not included in your basic policy, it may be available as a low-cost add-on or endorsement, so check with your insurance provider.</p> <h2>8. Anything You Travel With</h2> <p>Most homeowners policies cover your belongings wherever they go, under something called an &ldquo;off-premises&rdquo; provision. That means that if your laptop or luggage is stolen while you&rsquo;re on vacation in Europe, you&rsquo;re usually covered. For pricey items, like your engagement ring or your triathlon bike, it may be worth getting an additional rider to ensure you have enough coverage.</p> <h2>9. Spoiled Food</h2> <p>Let&rsquo;s say a big storm blows through your town and you&rsquo;re without power for six days. Say goodbye to whatever was left in your refrigerator. The good news is that most homeowners policies will cover the cost of replacing spoiled food. Just make sure you take pictures of the food. Also, take note of the deductible on your plan. Some policies have no deductible on food spoilage claims, others may have a high deductible, which would make filing a claim pointless.</p> <h2>10. Dog Bites</h2> <p>If your dog bites someone, your homeowners policy may cover the cost of medical care, usually up to as much as $300,000. Just be aware that some dogs can do serious damage when they bite, and may require additional insurance to cover the cost of any potential claims.</p> <h2>11. Home Upgrades Required by Law</h2> <p>If your local government passes an ordinance requiring your home to have a new roof, the cost of that improvement is often covered. This is nice to have if, for instance, your home is damaged in a storm and the repairs must be in line with new zoning laws. There are usually limits to this coverage &mdash; insurance may not pay for full demolition, for instance &mdash; but it&rsquo;s nice to have for homeowners who may live in older houses. Check your insurance policy to see if this coverage is included in your basic plan or available as a low-cost endorsement.</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="https://vc.cdn.fm/video_conversationalist/system/published/opportunity/113322921/289_3488.js"></script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-unexpected-things-covered-by-homeowners-insurance">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/why-you-should-have-renters-insurance">Why You Should Have Renters Insurance</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/9-surprising-things-your-homeowners-insurance-doesnt-cover">9 Surprising Things Your Homeowners Insurance Doesn&#039;t Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance">5 Reasons You Definitely Need Renters&#039; Insurance</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-facts-about-flooding-and-your-home">10 Surprising Facts About Flooding and Your 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/dont-let-your-bank-pick-your-homeowners-insurance">Don&#039;t Let Your Bank Pick Your Homeowner&#039;s Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance Real Estate and Housing coverage dogs flooding homeowners insurance progressive insurance state of emergency theft volcano Wed, 08 Feb 2017 14:15:06 +0000 Tim Lemke 1888619 at http://www.wisebread.com Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here's Why http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-470522924.jpg" alt="Man learning why he needs home title insurance" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The closing costs on a typical mortgage loan can seem overwhelming. According to Zillow, the <a href="http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-learning/closing-costs/" target="_blank">closing costs</a> for a $150,000 home can range from $3,000 to $7,500, with an average falling around $3,700.</p> <p>So when you discover that you'll also have to pay for something called title insurance when closing your loan, you might wonder if this fee is necessary, or if title insurance is something you can skip.</p> <p>Here's the short answer to those questions: Yes, title insurance matters. And no, mortgage lenders won't let you skip it.</p> <h2>What Title Insurance Does</h2> <p>To sum up, title insurance protects you from clerical errors, mistakes in property records, or unpaid taxes involving the home you are purchasing.</p> <p>Maybe the past owner of the home hasn't paid property taxes in years. If you buy the home, the government agencies levying those taxes will come after <em>you</em> to pay them &mdash; unless you have title insurance.</p> <p>Or, maybe a past seller bought the home with a sister. Maybe these two siblings had a falling out, and the brother sold the home without telling his sister. That spurned relative could come after you for the profits she says she is owed from the sale &mdash; again, unless you have title insurance protecting you.</p> <p>Title insurance is like most other forms of insurance: You pay for it in the hopes that you'll never need to use it.</p> <h2>What Title Insurance Doesn't Do</h2> <p>Title insurance covers the window of time before your ownership of the home, protecting you from certain claims and legal fees that were beyond your control. Even though it extends backward through time indefinitely, coverage ceases on the date you take ownership. If you decide not to pay property taxes once you're the official homeowner? That's on you.</p> <h2>A Two-Part Transaction</h2> <p>Title insurance will be included as part of your third-party closing fees, charges levied by companies that work with your mortgage lender to originate your home loan.</p> <p>There are actually two parts to title insurance. First, the title company providing your insurance will search all the property records associated with the home you are buying to make sure there aren't any unpaid taxes, long-lost heirs, or charges of fraud associated with the property. This is known as the title search.</p> <p>Once the search is complete, and the title insurer is confident that the seller has legal ownership and the right to sell the home, it will create two title policies. The lender's title policy protects your lender from anyone claiming rights against your property. It also reimburses your lender if you lose your house to a title claim and are no longer making your mortgage payment. All lenders will require that you pay for a lender's title insurance policy.</p> <p>The second part of title insurance is the part that actually protects you: the owner's policy. This policy protects you from the above mentioned unreleased liens, people who might claim ownership of your home, or public record errors that were missed during the title search. Most lenders will also require that you purchase an owner's policy, too.</p> <h2>How Much Will It Cost?</h2> <p>Title insurance is not cheap. In fact, it ranks as one of the biggest fees buyers will pay when closing a mortgage loan.</p> <p>The cost of this insurance does vary quite a bit, usually depending on where you live. But you can generally expect to pay a one-time premium between $1,000 to $3,000 for title insurance.</p> <p>Most lenders will select a title insurance company for you. But you aren't required to work with that company. You can shop around for lower rates. This is usually a smart move: You can often shave hundreds off the cost of title insurance by shopping around.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">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/3-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny House</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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/2-things-you-must-know-about-the-new-mortgage-rules">2 Things You Must Know About the New Mortgage Rules</a></span> </div> </li> <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/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <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-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance Real Estate and Housing closing costs fees homeownership mortgages property liens property taxes protection public records title insurance Fri, 03 Feb 2017 10:30:32 +0000 Dan Rafter 1885598 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Effective Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Fast http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-effective-ways-to-pay-off-your-mortgage-fast <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-effective-ways-to-pay-off-your-mortgage-fast" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggybank_house_509480788.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found articles on effective ways to pay off your mortgage fast, simple ways to fend off colds and flus, and over 100 ways to save money on your wedding.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.dontpayfull.com/blog/pay-off-mortgage-fast">10 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Pay Off Mortgage Fast</a> &mdash; Consider a flexible mortgage, which will allow you to pay off your mortgage faster without penalties. [Don't Pay Full]</p> <p><a href="http://www.cheapism.com/blog/cold-flu-prevention-tips/">15 Simple Ways to Fend Off Colds and Flu</a> &mdash; When you feel a cough coming on, soothe your throat with a tablespoon of honey. [Cheapism]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Save-Money-Wedding-23603315#photo-23603315">130 Ways to Save Money and Still Have the Wedding of Your Dreams</a> &mdash; Choose wedding invitations that will fit into a standard-sized envelope to avoid paying extra on postage. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/The-Bite/2017/0119/As-promised-Panera-dumps-all-food-additives">As promised, Panera dumps all food additives</a> &mdash; All of Panera's products and in-store menu items are no2 100% free of all food additives. [The Monitor]</p> <p><a href="http://www.experian.com/blogs/news/about/creditchat/financial-strategies-help-weather-emergencies/">Financial Strategies to Help You Weather Emergencies</a> &mdash; For many families, one emergency is all it takes to knock a budget into the red. Join Experian's #CreditChat today at 3 p.m. ET for a discussion on financial habits that can help you get through an emergency. [Experian]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://everythingfinanceblog.com/19462/9-inexpensive-ways-beat-winter-blues.html">9 Inexpensive Ways to Beat the Winter Blues</a> &mdash; Bring spring into your home by cooking with fresh herbs and decorating with greenery and flowering plants. [Everything Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.adventuresinfrugalland.com/toxic-healthy-streamline-laundry-routine/">From Toxic to Healthy: Streamline Your Laundry Routine</a> &mdash; Use mesh bags for socks and other laundry items that can easily get lost in the washing machine. [Adventures in Frugal Land]</p> <p><a href="https://due.com/blog/3-things-business-slow/">3 Things to Do When Business Is Slow</a> &mdash; Marketing tends to be the first thing that is cut in tough times, you should actually focus more on marketing when business is slow. [Due]</p> <p><a href="http://www.modestmoney.com/financial-savings-working-from-home/37002">Financial Savings You Can Make By Working From Home</a> &mdash; When you work outside the home, you have more opportunities to spend money, like on snacks, coffee, and other temptations. [Modest Money]</p> <p><a href="https://www.pennymacusa.com/blog/winter-improvement-summer-enjoyment">Winter Improvement, Summer Enjoyment: Home Fixes for Right Now</a> &mdash; Doing home improvements in the winter, the offseason for home improvements, can mean easier scheduling, better contractor choices and stronger negotiating power. [PennyMac]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-effective-ways-to-pay-off-your-mortgage-fast">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/why-you-should-be-saving-big-with-bi-weekly-mortgage-payments">Why You Should Be Saving Big With Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments</a></span> </div> </li> <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/6-interesting-ways-technology-can-help-you-buy-a-home">6 Interesting Ways Technology Can Help You Buy 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/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-afford-your-mortgage-payment">Here&#039;s What to Do If You Can&#039;t Afford Your Mortgage Payment</a></span> </div> </li> <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-7-year-mortgage-take-it-or-leave-it">The 7-Year Mortgage: Take It or Leave It?</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/3-times-a-refinance-is-the-wrong-move">3 Times a Refinance Is the Wrong Move</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing best money tips mortgage Wed, 25 Jan 2017 10:30:30 +0000 Amy Lu 1879643 at http://www.wisebread.com My 2016 Budget Challenge: Can a Paint Job Help an Old House Pass a Re-Fi Appraisal? http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_painting_walls_539825724.jpg" alt="Couple doing paint job on old house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>[<em>Editor's Note: This is the latest episode in Max Wong's journey to find an extra $31,000 in a single year. Read the whole series </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/max-wongs-budget-0" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em>]</p> <p>We paid off our home equity line of credit two years early! It was a Festivus miracle.</p> <p>Kind of.</p> <p>Earlier this year, we failed to refinance the mortgage of Dinky Manor not once, but twice. We could not get our ramshackle, 1,000 square foot house to appraise for the whopping $640,000 we needed to get Mr. Spendypants out of his horrifically structured, pre-2007 housing crash home loan.</p> <p>For all of you wondering about that $640,000 for 1,000 square feet&hellip;I guess you don't live in Los Angeles.</p> <p>On Thanksgiving Eve, our friends Mary Ellen and Bob invited us out to dinner with Betsy and Murray (Mary Ellen's sister and brother-in-law). As Mary Ellen and Bob are both Wise Bread readers, they immediately started quizzing us about the 2016 Budget Challenge. They wanted to know all the sordid details &mdash; like how Mr. Spendypants puts up with my ever-increasing level of crazy. We were in the middle of whining about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-reduce-debt-or-save-for-an-emergency" target="_blank">our underemployment</a> and our ever more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-how-to-decide-when-to-sell-your-house" target="_blank">complicated real estate situation</a> when Murray reached across the table and handed me his business card.</p> <p>Murray is a mortgage banker.</p> <p>We followed up with Murray at his office the following week. He had already looked at a ton of real estate data for our area and couldn't understand why the house hadn't appraised for over $600,000. He started crunching the numbers. He thinks he can figure out how to refinance Dinky Manor's mortgage.</p> <p>However, Murray had two immediate demands. First, Dinky Manor needs an exterior paint job, stat. The fact that our house is the dumpiest on the block isn't helping our cause. Alas, we don't have the $17,000 it would cost to hire professionals to paint the house, so Mr. Spendypants and I will spend a relaxing winter holiday scraping and sanding 80 years of bad paint jobs off the outside of our home. Luckily, one of my best friends is a retired painting contractor. He has agreed to come out of retirement to help us rehab the house for the appraisal before the mortgage rates jump any higher.</p> <p>Could we pay down the home equity line of credit? This was Murray's second ask. Although our debt-to-loan ratio is better than average, if we zap our HELOC down to zero, it would make us look much less risky as borrowers.</p> <p>Conceptually, paying off the debt is a no-brainer. What the bank wants dovetails nicely with my goal of paying off the loan (that is due in 2018) by the end of this year. It's the actual execution of this goal that sucks. After a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-everything-breaks" target="_blank">solid start in January</a>, finding extra cash this year has been more difficult than we anticipated. Could we juggle the finances to pay off our loan at this later date without completely cannibalizing our emergency fund? Short answer: sort of. We took a $6,000 chomp out of our emergency fund. Since there is a small but real chance of us both being underemployed come March, and a somewhat larger chance that this mortgage refinance will fall through, this move makes us financially vulnerable.</p> <p>Worst case scenario: We have to take out a new line of credit in March as a precaution. While this would not be the end of the world, that situation would not be ideal. I would like to avoid being that loser personal finance writer who can't kick her debt habit.</p> <p>Best case scenario: The re-Fi goes through and we both find decent employment in March. If this happens we will be able to put the money we were using to pay down the HELOC each month toward replenishing our emergency fund and paying down the new, less expensive mortgage at a faster pace.</p> <p>Fingers crossed.</p> <h2>Progress So Far</h2> <p>Although we did pay off a $15,000 loan with money we had socked away, I am not adding the $6,000 we pulled out of our emergency fund to the plus column of my 2016 budget challenge because we are going to have to pay our emergency fund back, as fast as humanly possible.</p> <p>Panic is a really good motivator. If only we'd had that kind of &quot;inspiration&quot; all year long. We earned a combined $3,258.98 in the first two weeks of December. Here's how we did it.</p> <p>Mr. Spendypants and I DJ'ed a corporate Christmas party. Although we did not win one of the flat screen televisions that were raffled off as door prizes, we did make $1,500 for five hours of work. Also, we ate at least $800 in foie gras cotton candy, spearified olives, and wagyu beef, so that was a great job perk.</p> <p>To take advantage of the holiday shopping fever, I had planned to spend the first two weeks of December selling every single thing that is not nailed down in the house on eBay and Etsy. Alas, this did not happen, so my house is still filled with crap we don't need. Mr. Spendypants and I deemed it more prudent that I use every available second of daylight doing yard work and prepping to paint the house in advance of the looming mortgage appraisal appointment. We will save a lot more money if we can refinance the mortgage than I could ever make selling our stuff online.</p> <p>Even with my new, yucky manual labor schedule, I managed to earn $1,758.98 on the side. In a previous incarnation, I was a jewelry designer. Mary Ellen and Betsy were nice enough to buy $243 in old stock from me for holiday gifts. I made $41 selling books to a second hand bookshop. I have been <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15" target="_blank">propagating succulent cuttings</a> from my garden all year long. I made $124 selling little potted plants off my front porch to passers-by. I made $10.73 selling an old dress (that I had gotten for free) to a consignment store. One of my neighbors paid me $25 to run an errand for her, and another neighbor paid me $100 for pet sitting. I made $100 from writing jobs. I sold $707 in jam, honey, and handmade lip balm. Although I barely have any merchandise for sale on Etsy, I received a last minute order that netted me $363.25.</p> <p>Phew.</p> <p>Because I source holiday gifts year round, we actually managed to spend $0 on holiday gifts for friends and family this year. Just about everyone got <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-now-you-can-make-these-23-delicious-holiday-gifts" target="_blank">homemade goodies</a> that I had made in advance or gifts paid for through barter. This was a total win. Unfortunately, we did not get to wallow in our thrifty genius for long. We have spent $495 on painting supplies for the house so far&hellip;</p> <p><strong>Goal:</strong> $31,000.00</p> <p><strong>Amount Raised:</strong> $33,126.40</p> <p><strong>Amount Spent:</strong> $14,093.66</p> <p><strong>Amount Left to Go:</strong> $11,967.26</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal">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/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <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/my-2016-budget-challenge-how-to-decide-when-to-sell-your-house">My 2016 Budget Challenge: How to Decide When to Sell Your 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/quicken-loans-review-competitive-rates-and-good-customer-service">Quicken Loans Review: Competitive Rates and Good Customer Service</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/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">3 Hidden Dangers of Refinancing Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisal budget challenge HELOC home equity line of credit home loans max wongs budget mortgages re-fi refinancing Fri, 13 Jan 2017 10:30:36 +0000 Max Wong 1870057 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Famous Houses From Film and TV You Can Buy http://www.wisebread.com/7-famous-houses-from-film-and-tv-you-can-buy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-famous-houses-from-film-and-tv-you-can-buy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home_for_sale_502211716.jpg" alt="Finding famous houses you can buy" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It could be the ultimate in fandom: You've seen the movie, you've had the poster autographed by the star &mdash; now move into the set.</p> <p>When a real home is used for a film or television show, chances are that it will eventually go up for sale. That's when you, the fan, gets the chance to pore over photos in the real estate listing, tour the place, or even purchase it.</p> <p>Hope you've been saving up: With only one exception, the famous houses I found on the market are all asking over a million bucks. On the upside for shoppers, being a movie or TV star doesn't seem to confer a premium to these homes. Some have been on the market a long time and seem reasonably priced for their neighborhoods and features.</p> <h2>1. Twilight</h2> <p>Featured as the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.virani.ca/vlist/property_detail?t=q&amp;code=&amp;vlist=1010000654" target="_blank">Cullen family house</a> in the movie <em>Twilight: New Moon</em>, this 5,000-square-foot contemporary mansion is located in West Vancouver. As of 2010, the asking price was $2.7 million, and it sat on the market for years. Perhaps home shoppers feel a little unease at sleeping in bedrooms once occupied by fictional vampires?</p> <h2>2. Sixteen Candles</h2> <p>Who could forget Molly Ringwald pouting on the staircase while her family ignored her 16th birthday? Those John Hughes movie families always had some nice homes in the northern Chicago suburbs, and the one in which that scene played out is no exception: six bedrooms, five bathrooms, gorgeous (not 1980s original, thank goodness) kitchen. With an <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/3022-Payne-St-Evanston-IL-60201/3516226_zpid/" target="_blank">asking price of $1.4 million</a>, it likely stands out in its Evanston neighborhood, where the average property value is under $400,000.</p> <h2>3. Boy Meets World</h2> <p>Located not in Philadelphia, where this teen comedy show was set, but in Studio City, California. This 2,500-square-foot Cape Cod is <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/4196-Colfax-Ave-Studio-City-CA-91604/20027179_zpid/" target="_blank">on the block for $1.5 million</a> &mdash; after a $100,000 price cut.</p> <h2>4. Miracle on 34th Street</h2> <p>Another Hughes mansion, the yellow house featured in the remake of <em>Miracle on 34th Street</em> has been <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/771-Washington-Rd-Lake-Forest-IL-60045/4857301_zpid/" target="_blank">on and off the market</a> for more than a year. Its most recent asking price was $2.8 million, and Zillow says it's worth $500,000 more. Located in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, the five-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot palace has <em>seven and a half bathrooms</em>. If you buy this one, better ask about a full-time cleaning crew.</p> <h2>5. The Bodyguard and City of Angels</h2> <p>Lake Tahoe is known more as a getaway for San Francisco techies than a movie filming location, but this <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1131-Fallen-Leaf-Rd-South-Lake-Tahoe-CA-96150/18570499_zpid/" target="_blank">$6 million, five-bedroom &quot;cabin&quot;</a> has starred in two. Even some of the <a href="http://hookedonhouses.net/2016/08/09/cabin-bodyguard-city-of-angels-for-sale/" target="_blank">furniture seen in both movies</a> appears in the listing photos.</p> <h2>6. In the Heat of the Night</h2> <p>If you are old enough to remember Carroll O'Connor playing a police chief on this drama series, you might recognize this <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2130-Monticello-St-SW-Covington-GA-30014/69875079_zpid/" target="_blank">1886 five-bedroom home</a>, which O'Connor's character purchased and lived in during the course of the show. Because of its location in a small Georgia town, the seller is asking only $437,000, a price reduction of more than $60,000.</p> <h2>7. The Godfather</h2> <p>Don Corleone thought this mansion was a good enough location for his daughter's wedding, so this <a href="https://www.6sqft.com/don-corleones-godfather-house-lists-for-3m-in-staten-islands-todt-hill/" target="_blank">Staten Island &quot;mini-mansion&quot;</a> should be good enough for you to lounge in its &quot;man cave&quot; or alongside the backyard pool. The five-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot home has gone through multiple price reductions and was last listed at $2.3 million before being <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/110-Longfellow-Ave-Staten-Island-NY-10301/32293579_zpid/" target="_blank">taken off the market</a>. Since no sale has been recorded, it's safe to assume the house could still be purchased if you make the right offer.<em> I think you know the kind of offer I'm talking about.</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/7-famous-houses-from-film-and-tv-you-can-buy">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/6-tricks-for-a-better-netflix-experience">6 Tricks for a Better Netflix Experience</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-dramatic-vacation-spots-for-tv-and-film-fanatics">5 Dramatic Vacation Spots for TV and Film Fanatics</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/never-pay-for-a-redbox-dvd-rental-again">Never Pay for a RedBox DVD Rental Again</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-high-cost-of-modern-love">The High Cost of Modern Love</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/25-great-movies-about-money">25 Great Movies About Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Real Estate and Housing boy meets world celebrities famous houses housing market mansions movies sixteen candles the godfather TV shows twilight Fri, 30 Dec 2016 11:00:11 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1864427 at http://www.wisebread.com Why a Mobile Home May Be Your Best Option for Affordable Housing http://www.wisebread.com/why-a-mobile-home-may-be-your-best-option-for-affordable-housing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-a-mobile-home-may-be-your-best-option-for-affordable-housing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mobile_homes_street_184625427.jpg" alt="Learning why a mobile home is the most affordable option" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Homeownership has long been part of the American dream. But if you want to become a homeowner, the average house in the U.S. these days <a href="http://www.zillow.com/home-values/">costs about $191,200</a>. If you have a lower salary or have student loan debt, finding a home you can afford, and convincing a lender to give you a mortgage, can be challenging. For many, homeownership is just not feasible &mdash; at least, homeownership as we traditionally think about it.</p> <p>But if you're willing to consider nontraditional approaches to housing, you can become a homeowner at a fraction of the cost.</p> <p>Manufactured homes, often derisively described as trailer homes, have come a long way from even 10 years ago. Today, modern manufactured homes are luxurious, well-made, and spacious. And, you can become a homeowner for less than you'd spend on a down payment on a traditional home.</p> <h2>Modern Manufactured Homes</h2> <p>Unlike traditional houses, manufactured homes are usually built off-site, then pieced together on their new owner's lot. They can be built into the foundation, but most are able to be moved, if the owner decides to relocate.</p> <p>Today's models are sturdy and are meant to be full-time residences. While you can find tiny one-bedrooms, they also come in three and four-bedroom deluxe versions that can accommodate larger families.</p> <p>If you're looking for upgrades, modern manufactured homes have them. New models typically have large, open floor plans, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, and giant soaking tubs. You can even get hardwood floors and screened-in porches. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-are-the-7-features-home-buyers-want-most?ref=seealso">These Are the 7 Features Home Buyers Want Most</a>)</p> <h2>The Cost of a Manufactured Home</h2> <p>Manufactured homes can vary widely in cost, but they are much cheaper than traditional houses. As of 2013, the average cost of a new manufactured home, not including land, <a href="http://www.grissimguides.com/grrep13.htm">was $63,000</a>. But if you're willing to buy used, you can get a home for as little as $10,000.</p> <p>Today's manufactured homes are extremely energy-efficient. They often use less energy and water than other homes. In fact, the combined cost of electricity, gas, and water can be less than <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/08/03/money-quick-tips-mobile-homes-hosuing/2610469/">$1,000 a year</a> &mdash; a significant savings over traditional homes.</p> <p>However, one thing to keep in mind when buying a manufactured home is that the cost of the unit is only part of the overall price, since you also have to pay to keep it somewhere. Some people opt to buy land for their manufactured home; others pay rent in a community.</p> <p>Communities often offer amenities like pools, fitness centers, group activities, and more. But they can range in price and quality. Rent is often between <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/08/03/money-quick-tips-mobile-homes-hosuing/2610469/">$200 and $300,</a> but even combined with your payments for your purchase price, that's likely less than you'd spend on a mortgage for a regular home or rent on an apartment.</p> <h2>Downsides to Consider</h2> <p>Manufactured homes are dependent on their communities; where your house is can change your experience. Before deciding on a home, do your research on the park. Drive around on the weekends, on weeknights, and walk around in the evening to get a feel for the neighborhood. Try to attend community events, if possible, and talk to your neighbors about their experiences.</p> <p>And unlike regular houses, which can build equity, manufactured homes are more like cars: They're depreciating assets. If you buy new and decide to sell in a few years, you are unlikely to get what you paid for it. But that's why you can get such a great deal on a gently used unit if you are willing to buy from a previous owner.</p> <h2>Give Manufactured Homes Another Look</h2> <p>If you want to stop the rent cycle and become a homeowner, but cannot come up with the funds to buy a $200,000 home, give manufactured homes a serious look. They may be able to give you everything you're looking for &mdash; number of bedrooms, open floor plan, modern kitchen &mdash; at a much smaller price. By opening your mind to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford">alternative housing ideas</a>, you can get what your family wants while saving money.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-a-mobile-home-may-be-your-best-option-for-affordable-housing">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/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford">5 Alternative Housing Options You Can Afford</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/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here&#039;s Why</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-you-should-be-saving-big-with-bi-weekly-mortgage-payments">Why You Should Be Saving Big With Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments</a></span> </div> </li> <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/3-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny 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/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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing affordable homes alternative housing homeownership manufactured homes mobile homes trailer parks Tue, 27 Dec 2016 11:00:06 +0000 Kat Tretina 1860479 at http://www.wisebread.com Home Reverse Mortgaged? Here's How to Sell It http://www.wisebread.com/home-reverse-mortgaged-heres-how-to-sell-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-reverse-mortgaged-heres-how-to-sell-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_selling_house_185289787.jpg" alt="Couple learning how to sell a reverse-morgaged house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Reverse mortgages are becoming more and more popular as the U.S. population ages. In a reverse mortgage, instead of having to make a monthly payment on a mortgage until it is paid off, a homeowner receives an amount from the equity in their house every month.</p> <p>Reverse mortgages are often a boon to senior citizens living on a fixed income. It essentially removes the need to pay a mortgage every month by converting existing equity in a home into income that covers the mortgage. Reverse mortgages are available only to people 62 years of age or older.</p> <p>The downside, of course, is that reverse mortgages have the opposite effect on equity in the house that conventional mortgages do: They draw from it rather than adding to it. At the end of a reverse mortgage, there may be little or no equity left in the home.</p> <h2>Steps to Sell the Home</h2> <p>Given that, how do you sell a house with a reverse mortgage? After all, at some point the senior citizen may want to move into an assisted living facility or in with children. They may also pass away, and their heir is left with the task of selling the property.</p> <p>It's actually easier than you might think to sell a house with a reverse mortgage. Here are 10 steps you'll need to consider.</p> <h3>1. Know How Much Is Owed</h3> <p>The most important first step is to find out how much is owed in the reverse mortgage. The amount will include moneys paid out by the bank, plus fees and other charges.</p> <h3>2. Check the Paperwork</h3> <p>Read over the paperwork from the bank that made the reverse mortgage. You need to know the interest rate, any fees if the loan is paid off in full, and any other charges.</p> <h3>3. Look for Liens</h3> <p>Double check to ensure there are no other liens on the house. This is important because it can make a huge difference in any equity remaining in the house.</p> <h3>4. Ask for a Payoff Quote From the Lender</h3> <p>A payoff is the amount required to, as the term implies, pay off the reverse mortgage in full. It differs from how much is owed because of fees and other charges. You need to ask for this figure in writing.</p> <h3>5. Estimate What the Home Is Currently Worth</h3> <p>There are two possible scenarios here. One is if the house is worth more than you owe. It may have appreciated in value, or the reverse mortgage was not in effect for a long period of time &mdash; or both. In that case, you can sell the home just as you would sell any other home and realize the net appreciation between what is owed and what it sells for.</p> <p>The other scenario? The house may not be worth what is owed on it, or the market value may be so close to what is owed that you will lose money on any sale. You are underwater on the loan.</p> <p>In the latter case, you have two options. One is to try to rent the house to receive income from it. The other is to see if the reverse mortgage can be converted into a regular mortgage. If it can, you begin making mortgage payments on it and build up equity in the house, just as you would with any house purchased.</p> <h3>6. Make the Sale</h3> <p>If a sale does make financial sense, you proceed just as you would with any home sale. You can arrange for a private sale, or work with an agent. Most agents will charge approximately 6% of the sale price to list and show your home. Remember that what is owed to the bank for the reverse mortgage has to be paid when the house is sold.</p> <h3>7. Make Repairs</h3> <p>Take care of any needed repairs or maintenance on the house to get it ready to show. If you are selling it privately, make a plan for where you will advertise and show it.</p> <h3>8. Hire a Lawyer</h3> <p>Because of the complexity of reverse mortgage sales, hiring a lawyer is likely a prudent move. A lawyer can ensure the terms of the sale are the most advantageous they can be for you. In some locations, a lawyer is required in a real estate transaction that involves any type of loan. Be sure to check any requirements in your area. Finally, the payoff of a reverse mortgage must be handled by an experienced person, and many lawyers are experienced in this area.</p> <h3>9. You &mdash; or the Buyer &mdash; Pay Off the Reverse Mortgage</h3> <p>Be aware that any buyer will need to have either cash to make the purchase or have financing in place if you do not have the money to pay off the reverse mortgage. They will essentially be providing you with the money to execute the payoff.</p> <h3>10. Close the Sale of the House</h3> <p>Issue the bank the payoff amount. You are finished selling the home with the reverse mortgage.</p> <p>As reverse mortgage become used more frequently by senior citizens, the need to sell homes with a reverse mortgage will become more common. These 10 steps will ensure you sell the house in the correct way.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-reverse-mortgaged-heres-how-to-sell-it">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/how-to-avoid-getting-scammed-with-a-reverse-mortgage">How to Avoid Getting Scammed With a Reverse Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-homebuying-questions-youre-embarrassed-to-ask">5 Homebuying Questions You&#039;re Embarrassed to Ask</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reverse-mortgages-the-best-way-to-eat-your-home">Reverse Mortgages: The Best Way to &quot;Eat Your Home&quot;?</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/this-one-mistake-could-delay-your-retirement-by-10-years">This One Mistake Could Delay Your Retirement by 10 Years</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing equity fixed incomes mortgages retirement reverse mortgages selling a home senior citizens Fri, 23 Dec 2016 11:00:08 +0000 Anum Yoon 1860474 at http://www.wisebread.com Surprise! There's a Gender Gap in Mortgages, Too http://www.wisebread.com/surprise-theres-a-gender-gap-in-mortgages-too <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/surprise-theres-a-gender-gap-in-mortgages-too" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_chalk_house_29878474.jpg" alt="Woman facing gender gap in mortgage lending" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The gender gap in earnings is well known. According to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute, the typical woman can expect to earn 83 cents for every dollar that the typical man earns.</p> <p>But studies show another gender gap that negatively impacts women: Research published by the Urban Institute in September said that women tend to pay more for their mortgages even though they are statistically more likely to pay their loans on time than men.</p> <h2>The Numbers</h2> <p>According to the Urban Institute, about 15.6% of female borrowers have what is known as a &quot;higher-priced mortgage.&quot; Borrowers with such mortgages are charged higher interest rates to borrow their home-loan dollars.</p> <p>How high these rates are at any given time varies. The Urban Institute uses the same definition of higher-priced mortgage used by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act: a mortgage loan with an annual percentage rate that is higher than the benchmark interest rate known as the Average Prime Offer Rate. That rate stood at 3.58% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan as of June 20 of this year.</p> <p>The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considers a first mortgage loan to be a higher-priced mortgage if its annual percentage rate is 1.5% or more higher than the Average Prime Offer Rate.</p> <p>The Urban Institute found that while 15.6% of female-only borrowers are paying off higher-priced mortgages, just 15% of male-only borrowers are doing the same. The institute found that male-female borrowers who apply for loans together receive higher-priced mortgages only 7.6% of the time.</p> <h2>Why Are Women Paying More?</h2> <p>Why do single women pay more for their mortgages? It's difficult to tell. It might come down to income. The Urban Institute reported that single female borrowers tend to have lower annual incomes than single males. According to the institute, single female borrowers earned an average of $69,200 a year. Single male borrowers had an average income of $94,700. Male-female borrowers had an even higher annual income of $119,000.</p> <p>Income is one of the financial factors that lenders consider when deciding who qualifies for a mortgage and what interest rates they pay. Lenders often charge higher rates as a form of financial protection when they worry that borrowers' incomes are lower, because they fear that these borrowers will be less likely to pay their loans back on time.</p> <p>Borrowers with lower incomes also have less money for a down payment. When borrowers put down less for a house, they are typically charged a higher interest rate, again to make up for the extra risk that lenders take on when loaning them money. Lenders assume that borrowers who put less money down are more likely to stop paying their mortgage loan if they suffer a financial crisis.</p> <p>But what about FICO credit scores? These three-digit numbers tell lenders whether borrowers have a history of paying their bills on time or if they tend to miss payments and run up credit card debt. Lenders charge higher interest rates to borrowers with low credit scores.</p> <p>But from 2004 to 2014, the Urban Institute found, female-only borrowers had an average FICO credit score of 711, similar to the average 712 score of male-only borrowers. That score is significantly lower, though, than the 725 average score submitted by joint male-female borrowers.</p> <p>Credit bureau Experian reported in March of this year that the average FICO credit score for all women is 675, a bit higher than the average score of 670 for men. Women also had 3.7% less average debt than men, according to Experian.</p> <h2>Better Record</h2> <p>Despite paying more for their mortgages, female-only borrowers tend to do a slightly better job of paying them on time than do male-only borrowers. According to the Urban Institute, female-only borrowers had a default rate on their loans of 9.6% from 2008 through 2010. Male-only borrowers had a slightly higher default rate of 9.7% during this same time.</p> <h2>What to Do?</h2> <p>What does all this mean for women applying for mortgage loans? If they are applying for mortgages on their own and want the lowest interest rates possible, they need to make sure that their finances are strong.</p> <p>This means that their FICO credit score should be at least 740 if they want to qualify for the lowest interest rates. It also means that their monthly debts, including their estimated new mortgage payment, should be 43% or less than their gross monthly income.</p> <p>Single male borrowers need to focus on the same factors, of course. But the research from the Urban Institute indicates that strong FICO scores and debt-to-income ratios are especially important for single females who want to avoid the financial burden of a higher-priced mortgage.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprise-theres-a-gender-gap-in-mortgages-too">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/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <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/why-you-should-consider-an-adjustable-rate-mortgage">Why You Should Consider an Adjustable-Rate 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/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Can a Paint Job Help an Old House Pass a Re-Fi Appraisal?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-millenials-should-invest-in-a-home">4 Reasons Millenials Should Invest in 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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing gender home loans interest rates mortgage gap wage gap women Tue, 29 Nov 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1834563 at http://www.wisebread.com Rent Your Home or Buy? Here's How to Decide http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hands_small_house_71818037.jpg" alt="Deciding if you should rent or buy your home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are plenty of advantages to renting an apartment, and just as many to buying a home, instead. But what about financially? Is renting or buying the smarter money move?</p> <p>Not surprisingly, the answer is complicated, and depends on where you live, what kind of home you want to buy or apartment you want to rent, and how long you plan on staying in one place. Here's a look at the numbers that might help you solve the rent-vs.-buy puzzle.</p> <h2>Prices Are Rising for Buyers and Renters</h2> <p>Renting an apartment is more expensive today than it was even a year ago. But the same is true of buying a home.</p> <p>Consider the cost of buying a home. The National Association of Realtors reported that in September of this year, the median price of existing homes stood at $234,200.</p> <p>You won't necessarily have to pay $234,200 or more, depending on where you buy. But the median sales price continues to increase, meaning that home prices overall are on the rise. The median price in September was up 5.6% from the same month one year earlier, when it was $221,700. And don't expect median prices to fall anytime soon. The association says that September's price increase represents the 55th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.</p> <p>And what about renting? Apartment rents continue to rise, too. ApartmentList reported that in November of this year, the median national rent for one-bedroom apartments was $1,110 a month. For two-bedroom apartments that figure was $1,270. The good news is that median rents actually fell in 55 out of the country's 100 biggest cities from October to November, according to ApartmentList.</p> <p>The bad news? Rents are still higher today than they were one, two, or three years ago. According to ApartmentList, the median national rent was 2% higher in November of this year compared with the same month one year earlier.</p> <p>So no matter if you rent or buy, know that prices are generally rising.</p> <h2>Which Is More Affordable?</h2> <p>That leads to the big question: Given that both buying a home and renting an apartment are getting more expensive, which option is most affordable?</p> <p>The answer to this question includes plenty of variables. For instance, owning a home provides a tax benefit: You can deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage loan each year up to $1 million, resulting in a lower tax bill. But even this isn't a crystal-clear financial plus for all owners. You can only claim your mortgage interest deduction if you itemize your taxes. And if that interest deduction isn't higher than the IRS' standard deduction &mdash; which stood at $12,600 for married couples filing jointly and $6,300 for singles in 2016 &mdash; there is no real reason for you to itemize your taxes and claim the deduction.</p> <p>Then consider the variables of going the apartment route: You might be able to find an apartment with low rent. But that apartment might not be located where you actually want to live, especially if you want to live in the center of a large city. Apartments in urban areas tend to come with higher rents today.</p> <p>And if you do find a cheaper apartment, it will almost certainly not be a newer one. RENTCafe found that in 2015, 75% of all large new apartment properties built across the country were high-end luxury properties, buildings that charge far higher monthly rents. Most of these new apartments are being built in the center of big cities, too, according to RENTCafe.</p> <p>So if you want to rent an apartment in San Francisco? ApartmentList says that a two-bedroom apartment here had a median price of $4,700 a month in November, while a one-bedroom had a median monthly rent of $3,440. In Boston, two-bedrooms rented for a median price of $2,350 a month, while in Seattle it cost a median of $1,720 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,300 for two bedrooms.</p> <p>Given this jumble of numbers, is it cheaper to rent or buy? According to real estate website Trulia, buying a home is cheaper on a national basis. Though, not surprisingly, there are some caveats.</p> <h2>Nationally, Buying Is Cheaper</h2> <p>Trulia reported in October that buying a home was 37.7% cheaper than renting on a national basis. But that 37.7% figure only holds true for those who live in their homes for at least seven years and can afford to come up with a down payment of 20% on their homes.</p> <p>Given that standard, Trulia reports that buying is cheaper than renting in each of the 100 largest metropolitan areas of the country. According to Trulia, for example, it is 50% cheaper to buy in Miami and just under 20% cheaper to buy in San Francisco and Honolulu.</p> <p>Part of the reason that buying is more affordable comes down to mortgage interest rates. Rates are still at historically low levels, with the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey reporting that as of Nov. 10, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan stood at 3.57%. This makes borrowing money for a mortgage loan more affordable.</p> <p>Want to see what Trulia thinks of the rent-vs.-buy decision in your community? Visit the site&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.trulia.com/rent_vs_buy/">rent-vs.-buy calculator</a>, punch in your metropolitan area and wait for the results.</p> <h2>What Should You Do?</h2> <p>These numbers, and Trulia&rsquo;s rent-vs.-buy calculator, should serve as a general guide. But they alone can't tell you whether you should rent or buy. That's because everyone's situation is unique.</p> <p>Say you only plan to live in an area for three or four years before moving. Renting is almost always the better financial move. Say you hate the thought of mowing a lawn for 15 years. Again, renting might be the better choice, even if it is more expensive than owning a home. If you dream of gardening in your own backyard? Then buying might make you happier.</p> <p>Your best bet is to carefully analyze what you want out of a home, whether it's the stability of owning and building equity or the freedom that comes with renting. Then make your decision based on what type of home will best meet your needs.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">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/the-3-best-cities-with-rent-control">The 3 Best Cities With Rent Control</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/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford">5 Alternative Housing Options You Can Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments cost of living homeownership mortgages rent vs buy renting Tue, 22 Nov 2016 11:00:15 +0000 Dan Rafter 1835351 at http://www.wisebread.com Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_cash_grass_13020597_0.jpg" alt="Finding ways to watch out for last minute home buying costs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2015, 5,250,000 existing homes and 510,000 newly constructed properties were <a href="http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics">sold in the U.S</a>. And as Wise Bread predicted back in December 2015, homes have been one of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-necessities-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2016">necessities that are cheaper in 2016</a>, boosting the percentage of first-time homebuyers entering the market.</p> <p>But unexpected costs toward the end of the buying process can leave prospective buyers scrambling at the last minute or, even worse, unable to land the home of their dreams. Let's take a look at five pesky home buying costs that could appear at the eleventh hour.</p> <h2>1. Lower Property Appraisal</h2> <p>The seller told you that the home is worth $350,000 and you earnestly believed that valuation. So, you went to the bank and applied for a mortgage based on the market value of $350,000. To meet compliance requirements and to do its due diligence, the bank includes an appraisal contingency in your mortgage application. This clause requires that a third-party appraiser verifies that the home is actually worth $350,000.</p> <p>If the appraisal requested by your bank were to come under the $350,000, then somebody would have to come up with the difference for the bank to approve the loan. Depending on several factors, including the number of days the house has been on the market and the skill level of your real estate agent, the seller, her agent, or your own agent may help you with the difference. In the worst case scenario, you'll have to come up with the difference or have to say goodbye to that home.</p> <p>In the event that you believe the third-party appraiser may have provided an inaccurate estimate, you could hire another appraiser, submit that new estimate to the bank, and let the bank re-evaluate the mortgage. However, you would be most likely responsible for the cost of that second appraisal.</p> <h2>2. Mortgage Insurance</h2> <p>Let's imagine that you are in the process of saving for a decent down payment for your first home. Two years before you reach your savings goal, a home is finally available in your dream neighborhood. Your broker is confident that a similar home won't be available for another five years, so he suggests that you buy. The catch: You can't come up with at least 20% of the home value for a down payment.</p> <p>When you pony up less than a 20% down payment to buy a home, you'll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). The <a href="https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/hpa.pdf">Homeowner's Protection Act</a> requires homebuyers who finance more than 80% of a new home's value to purchase PMI. Keep in mind that this is protection for the lender (not you!) in case you default on your mortgage.</p> <p>The average PMI payment ranges from 0.5% to 1% of the total value of the home loan. Still, this cost isn't small potatoes. In 2015, the average value of a mortgage in the U.S. was $172,341. Assuming a 1% PMI, the average PMI payment in 2015 was about $1,723. That would be one cost that you would have to pay year after year until your loan value reaches 78% of the original market value of the secured property.</p> <p>Still, your lender may have a strong case to continue requiring the PMI in the event of a dramatic price drop in the market value of your home, an existing home equity line of credit (HELOC) on your property, or a long string of late monthly payments within the last two years.</p> <h2>3. Dramatic Change in Financial Situation</h2> <p>When you're in the process of buying a home, you should keep a consistent financial picture, especially with your credit score. So, delay buying all those expensive new kitchen appliances, pieces of furniture for your living room, and blue period art pieces on credit until you have the keys in hand. A dramatic change to your credit score is a major red flag for the lender and the financial institution may decide to offer the mortgage at a higher interest rate than originally expected &mdash; or turn down the loan entirely.</p> <p>Here are other financial do's and don'ts until settlement day:</p> <ul> <li>Do keep a good paper trail of the source of your down payment;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't make large transfers between your accounts;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do delay any other large purchases on credit, such as a car;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't miss any monthly payments on existing debt (they account for 35% of your credit score!);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do provide all documentation requested by your lender and agent within the stipulated time frame;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't open new credit or store cards.</li> </ul> <h2>4. Repairs</h2> <p>When you receive the report from a licensed home inspector, you may find that your dream home is not so dreamy after all. Take the comments from the inspector seriously and determine whether it's worthwhile to ask the seller to incur some of those costs, or to provide a financial remedy. After all, you'll be the one covering all of them once the home is yours.</p> <p>However, choose your fights wisely. No home is 100% perfect. Having to replace all door handles because you find them out of style isn't nearly as bad as having to battle black mold in the basement of your soon-to-be home.</p> <h2>5. Special Case: Hike in Homeowner's Association Fees</h2> <p>Last but not least, make sure to review the minutes of the meetings of the homeowner's association (HOA) for your property for at least the last six months.</p> <p>Pay special attention to two items.</p> <p>First, look for a schedule of upcoming monthly dues. In some cases, you may be welcomed with a higher-than-expected bill right off the bat.</p> <p>Second, watch out for any large projects that are under current review by the board of the HOA. For example, installing a complex system of solar panels on the roof or replacing all the windows of the apartment building because existing windows no longer meet city codes could both mean an ever-growing monthly HOA due. In certain circumstances, the HOA board could be planning to present you the option to pay your entire pro rata amount for the project or to finance the cost through the HOA's loan. Either option would put a dent on your monthly budget.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-2015-is-the-year-to-buy-a-house">5 Reasons Why 2015 is the Year to Buy a House</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/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-qualify-for-a-mortgage-with-a-small-downpayment">5 Ways to Qualify for a Mortgage With a Small Downpayment</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-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisals hidden costs hoa fees home buying homeownership insurance last minute costs mortgages pmi repairs Fri, 18 Nov 2016 11:30:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1835252 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/married_couple_home_18525549.jpg" alt="Married couple paying off their mortgage early" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hate sending that big payment to your mortgage lender each month? You're certainly not alone. But what if you had the ability to pay off that mortgage loan early, either by paying extra dollars toward your loan's principal balance or by paying off the rest of your mortgage in one giant payment?</p> <p>Should you do it? Or are there times when <em>not </em>paying off your mortgage early actually makes sense?</p> <p>Not surprisingly, it depends on a host of factors. Here is what you should look at when determining whether paying off your mortgage early is the best choice.</p> <h2>Tax Benefits</h2> <p>When arguing against paying off your mortgage early, most people point to the mortgage interest deduction. This allows most homeowners to deduct annual mortgage payments.</p> <p>There is a catch here, though: You can only claim the mortgage interest deduction if you itemize your taxes. And you should only itemize if your deductions are higher than the IRS' standard deduction, which as of 2016 stood at $12,600 for married couples filing jointly and $6,300 for singles and married people who file separately.</p> <p>This means that those homeowners most likely to benefit from the deduction are those who have purchased higher-priced homes, have a high interest rate on their mortgage, or are in the very early stages of paying off that mortgage. For other homeowners, the deduction will either be less than or barely more than their standard deduction.</p> <p>This means that you'll need to determine &mdash; perhaps with the help of your accountant or financial adviser &mdash; whether the mortgage interest deduction is really helping you at your current stage of paying off your mortgage. If it is, then factor this benefit in when determining whether you should pay off your mortgage early. But if it's not? Then don't let the promise of a yearly tax deduction influence your choice.</p> <h2>Other Debt</h2> <p>According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stood at 3.54% as of Nov. 3. The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was an even lower 2.84%. Those are both extremely low interest rates.</p> <p>At the same time, financial website Bankrate reported that the average variable interest rate for credit cards stood at 16.28% as of Nov. 2.</p> <p>The message here is clear: If you are burdened with high-interest credit card debt, and you have enough money to spend extra on your mortgage loan or pay it off entirely, it makes more sense to put those extra dollars toward your credit cards.</p> <p>It makes financial sense to pay off debt that comes with higher interest rates first. It might feel good to make that big monthly mortgage payment disappear, but it's smarter to whack away at your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off?ref=internal">credit card debt</a>, which, thanks to high interest rates, can grow quickly each month.</p> <p>Before deciding to pay extra on your mortgage or pay it off entirely, look at your other debt first: Use your extra money to eliminate the debt that is costing you the most each month.</p> <h2>Are You Staying Put or Moving?</h2> <p>How long do you plan on staying in your home? Do you plan on living out the rest of your days there? Or are you already planning a move in five to seven years?</p> <p>It makes more sense to pay extra on your mortgage loan if you plan on staying in your home for a longer period of time. By paying extra each month, you can shave thousands of dollars off the amount you'll pay in interest during the life of your mortgage.</p> <p>But if you plan on moving in five years, paying extra doesn't make as much sense. You'll sell your home long before you come close to paying it off. So if you're not going to be a long-term resident of your current home, put that extra money to better use.</p> <h2>Are You an Investor?</h2> <p>Those who argue against spending extra on your mortgage say that most homeowners would be better off taking those extra dollars and investing them. This goes back to the low interest rates attached to mortgages today. If you are only paying an interest rate of 3.5% on your home loan, why wouldn't you keep that debt and instead invest in the stock market, where you could make a return of 7% or more on that money?</p> <p>This assumes, though, that you'll actually invest the money that you won't spend on your mortgage loan. If you're more likely to spend it instead, you're better off paying down your mortgage or even paying it off early.</p> <h2>Retirement</h2> <p>Are you close to retirement? You might want to pay off that mortgage early. It's best to enter retirement with as few monthly payments as possible. If you plan to stay in your home after retiring, paying off that mortgage early makes sense. You are then free to use that money that you would have sent to your lender each month however you choose.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use">15 Personal Finance Calculators Everyone Should Use</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/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here&#039;s Why</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/3-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny 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/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing debt homeownership interest rates mortgages paying off early retirement tax benefits Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:30:27 +0000 Dan Rafter 1833769 at http://www.wisebread.com Everybody's Wrong About How Much House You Can Afford http://www.wisebread.com/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_moving_house_93431053.jpg" alt="Learning how much house you can really afford" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A home is one of the most expensive &mdash; and most emotional &mdash; purchases you'll ever make. That high cost and high emotion combination can be dangerous, tempting you to spend so much on a house that it ends up owning <em>you</em>.</p> <p>Instead, buy a house you can actually afford. What is a reasonable cost, you might ask? For starters, ditch the conventional homeownership wisdom, and consider this plan to help you buy a home you can truly afford.</p> <h2>A Reasonable Percentage</h2> <p>I've spent a lot of time crunching numbers to come up with <a href="http://www.mattaboutmoney.com/resources/">recommended cash flow guidelines</a>, showing how much various sized households with various levels of income can afford to spend on everything from clothing to vacations. All that spreadsheet time gave me more than a headache; it gave me a deep appreciation for the importance of keeping housing costs under control.</p> <p>Here's what I found: If you're going to be able to save for emergencies and near-term purchases, invest for longer-term needs such as retirement or your kids' college costs, live generously, and enjoy some financial breathing space, you have to keep your total housing costs (mortgage, property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and association fees, if applicable) to no more than 25% of monthly gross income. Preferably, no more than 20%.</p> <p>Even more radically, I recommend that two-income couples run the numbers on what they can afford based on just <em>one</em> of their incomes.</p> <p>I know this all probably sounds ludicrous, but hear me out.</p> <h2>But I Qualify for More!</h2> <p>Mortgage lenders will typically allow you to devote 28% of your gross income to housing costs. They assume you'll have other debts as well and will be fine with that as long as it takes no more than 36% to 40% of your gross income to cover your housing costs and these other debts.</p> <p>But mortgage lenders aren't the ones who'll be making the payments. You will.</p> <p>Keeping your monthly housing costs within the parameters I suggested, and holding no other debt, will do wonders for your solvency and stress level.</p> <h2>Why Not Use Two Incomes?</h2> <p>If you're a double-income household, think twice before basing your housing decision on both incomes.</p> <p>If you don't have kids but would like to someday, and if one of you would like to step out of the paid workforce for a period of time in order to be home with your kids, it'll be a lot easier to transition to that life if your home doesn't require two incomes.</p> <p>That was the single best financial advice my wife and I received before we got married. Following that advice meant renting for the first 10 months of our marriage and then buying a condo in what our realtor optimistically described as &quot;an up and coming neighborhood&quot; in Chicago.</p> <p>After our first child was born and my wife left her job to be home full-time, the financial transition wasn't very difficult at all.</p> <p>The key to getting acclimated to living on one income is not getting acclimated to living on two incomes in the first place.</p> <p>If you don't plan to have kids, or if you do but you both plan to continue working full-time, it can still be dangerous to buy a house that requires two incomes. What if one of you loses your job?</p> <p><em>Choosing</em> to transition from two incomes to one because one parent wants to stay home for a period of time is one thing. Being <em>forced</em> to make that transition because one spouse goes through an extended time of unemployment is far more painful.</p> <h2>What If You Already Have a Two-Income House?</h2> <p>Very often, when people say they can't afford to save, invest, or support charitable causes they care about, it's because they're spending too much on housing.</p> <p>If you're in that situation, consider something radical. Consider moving to a home you can more easily afford.</p> <p>There's nothing easy about moving. I realize that. But I know two couples that have sold homes they realized they really couldn't afford. In both cases, moving was difficult, time-consuming, and even embarrassing. But both couples are so happy to have made the move. It's been better for their finances and their marriages.</p> <p>Keeping your housing costs reasonable is an essential part of wise money management. That means keeping your housing costs to no more than 20% to 25% of monthly gross income &mdash; and preferably basing that on one income. It's a radical idea, but it may just enable you to enjoy your home without financial worries. And that's worth more than extra square footage any day.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-millennials-can-do-to-buy-a-house-within-the-next-decade">5 Things Millennials Can Do to Buy a House Within the Next Decade</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/23-hidden-costs-of-buying-an-old-house">23 Hidden Costs of Buying an Old House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-location-isnt-king-how-to-choose-income-rental-property">When Location Isn&#039;t King: How to Choose Income Rental Property</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-house-hunt-without-leaving-your-couch">How to House Hunt Without Leaving Your Couch</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing affordability buying a house cash flow expenses incomes mortgages new house single income Wed, 09 Nov 2016 09:30:07 +0000 Matt Bell 1827232 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's How Much Life in the Big City Will Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_walking_city_77672035.jpg" alt="Woman finding out how much life in the big city will cost her" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So, you got a new higher-paying job in the big city. Now you have to decide whether it's worth making the big move. Fortunately, there's an easy cost analysis that can help you determine if the move is worthwhile.</p> <h2>Cost of Living Calculators</h2> <p>For a better estimate of how much you'll need to earn to maintain the same standard of living, use a cost of living calculator. Once you enter your current income, where you currently live, and where you would like to move, you can see a side-by-side comparison of what it will cost to live in both cities.</p> <p>Some <a href="http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/">basic calculators</a> will show how far your salary will go in another city by comparing the price differences of major categories, like housing, utilities, and groceries. There are also more advanced cost of living calculators that will break down everything from what gas costs in the two areas, to how much you pay for coffee and ibuprofen.</p> <p>For example, say you're living somewhere like Bakersfield, California with an income of $50,000, and you're deciding whether to move to a big metro like San Francisco. So, how much will you need to earn in order to maintain your same standard of living? Using a cost of living calculator, you can see that you would need to be making $81,636. Otherwise, you'll have to get used to a lower standard of living and cut costs wherever possible.</p> <h2>Housing</h2> <p>Generally speaking, the closer you live to downtown, the more expensive the rent, food, and entertainment costs. When you live in a bigger city, it also generally means that you will have a smaller living space. Worst of all, rent just keeps getting more expensive over time. According to StreetEasy's annual New York City Rent Affordability Report, the median rent-to-income ratio in NYC rose from 59.7% in 2015 to <a href="http://cdn1.blog-media.zillowstatic.com/streeteasy/2/StreetEasy-2016-Rent-AffordabilityReport-7e91e8.pdf">65.2% in 2016</a>. This means that nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers' income is devoted to rent. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford?ref=seealso">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a>)</p> <h2>Higher Income</h2> <p>In most cases, a higher cost of living also means that the area has a higher than average median household income. While you can usually get a more robust <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/protect-future-earnings-by-negotiating-the-right-starting-salary">starting salary</a> in a large city, you might not want to count on hefty raises. Income growth is lagging behind things like rent increases and cost of living growth, so your expenses may increase in the years to come, but your income might not keep up.</p> <h2>Transportation</h2> <p>In most cases, the closer you can live to work, the better. This will allow you to bike to work, take part in a carpool, use Uber, or even take public transportation.</p> <p>If you will be taking advantage of public transportation, consider storing or selling your car, so you don't have to worry about parking. Driving can also be a lot more overwhelming for someone moving from a smaller town to a big metro (think Los Angeles gridlock). Look into public transportation options in your new city to determine if you can reasonably live there without a car, and how much you would save by making the change to public transportation. Keep in mind that places that are more walkable, or have better transportation options, are typically more expensive to rent.</p> <h2>Parking</h2> <p>In cities like Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle (to name a few), free parking is basically a pipe dream. With parking meters and paid parking lots as far as the eye can see, it's very unlikely that you'll find free parking. Even if you did find street parking, the posted rules can be very confusing and, in large cities, parking tickets are very common.</p> <h2>Convenience</h2> <p>Living in a large city means most things will be at your fingertips. For instance, there isn't much that you won't have access to in New York City. However, getting what you want and need is a different story. Living in a small town means quicker trips to the grocery store and general merchandise stores like Target.</p> <p>In a big city, on the other hand, you have to worry about fighting traffic and finding parking before you even get to the store. Then, there are hordes of people to deal with and long lines at the checkout counter, so small day trips can become much longer and more stressful. Try completing your errands at odd times, like early in the morning or during your lunch break, to beat the crowds.</p> <h2>Entertainment</h2> <p>Living in a big city means there are generally boundless things to occupy your time, such as endless places to eat, shows to watch, people to meet, and free activities to take part in. In a city like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-visit-san-francisco-without-going-broke-0">San Francisco</a> or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-visit-new-york-without-going-broke">New York</a>, you will be exposed to more culture more easily, and can find more fun, free events for the kids.</p> <p>To better deal with the culture shock, try seeking out social groups and other resources for newcomers to the area. Make a valiant effort after moving to make friends with locals and other transplants so you can quickly become acclimated with the city and what is available to you.</p> <h2>Is It Worth It?</h2> <p>Moving to a large city can be very expensive. The move itself can be a frustrating, expensive undertaking, and once you're there, things like rent, groceries, utilities, health care, and transportation can be much more expensive than what you're used to. Take this into account when you're deciding whether to make the move or not.</p> <p>The decision on whether it is worth it to make the big move is an entirely personal one. After living in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, I can attest to the fact that there is nothing comparable to living in a big metro. What you can (and will) experience in a shorter amount of time there is well worth the higher cost of living. However, if you are trying to save more money or contribute more towards your debt, savings, or retirement accounts, you'll need to use a cost of living calculator (at minimum) to determine whether it's worth it for you.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you">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/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</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/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses">Moving? Don&#039;t Skimp on These Critical Expenses</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-save-100s-on-your-next-move">How to Save $100s on Your Next Move</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved">Self-Employed? Here&#039;s How to Get Your Apartment Application Approved</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Real Estate and Housing big cities cost of living expenses housing moving relocating renting transportation Tue, 01 Nov 2016 10:00:15 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1824619 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Best Tools for Finding an Apartment on the Cheap http://www.wisebread.com/10-best-tools-for-finding-an-apartment-on-the-cheap <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-best-tools-for-finding-an-apartment-on-the-cheap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_laptop_boxes_11897386.jpg" alt="Woman using best tools for finding an apartment on the cheap" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Depending on where you live, finding a new apartment can be tough &hellip; or downright overwhelming. Seinfeld once joked that in New York, the obituaries section should be coupled with the property section in a newspaper, because that's pretty much the only way to find a decent place.</p> <p>But wherever you live, you are going to need help, especially if it's a completely unknown area. What is the neighborhood like? How are the schools? Is the crime rate high? Is the rent too high? The following tools will help you get your foot in the door.</p> <h2>1. Craigslist</h2> <p>Do not underestimate the power of Craigslist. Started in 1996 by Craig Newmark, it was originally servicing only the San Francisco Bay Area. Now, it's global, and the &quot;Housing&quot; section still remains free for people to post and respond to listings. There are many subsections, including real estate for sale, vacation rentals, and even office/commercial storage. However, you will want to look into the following categories:</p> <ul> <li>Apt/housing</li> <li>Housing swap</li> <li>Rooms/shared</li> <li>Sublets/Temporary</li> </ul> <p>Once you get into any of those sections, you can narrow down your search with a great list of tools. From basic parameters like price, bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage, to more niche requirements like &quot;X miles from zip,&quot; wheelchair access, and animals, you can quickly find just the place you're looking for. It is by far the most convenient free tool out there.</p> <h2>2. Apartment Finder</h2> <p>Long before the Internet was the go-to place for, well, everything, &quot;<a href="http://www.apartmentfinder.com/">Apartment Finder</a>&quot; magazine was the essential tool for finding your next abode. Started in 1981, it has won numerous industry awards and is now available in several formats, including the traditional magazine, the website, and the app. It also part of a network that includes Apartments.com, ApartmentHomeLiving, Move, and Doorsteps.</p> <p>As it is a service focused on renting apartments, there are more slick tools here to help. You'll be able to explore the spaces using a 360-degree camera, and you'll get virtual walk-throughs, floor plans, a veritable smorgasbord of photos, and a lot of detailed information. The only downside is that you will not usually find properties from people just looking to rent out their homes. It costs money to advertise on this site, and that means it's populated by large apartment complexes. But if that's what you're looking for, and you need the extra security and benefits of a managed property with a pool and a gymnasium, this is just what you need.</p> <h2>3. Zillow</h2> <p>When <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_rent/">Zillow</a> first came onto the scene, it was primarily used as a tool to estimate your home's value (and real estate agents <em>hated </em>it because the information was always very hit or miss). Now, Zillow has become an excellent free resource for the apartment hunter. Not only does it have all the tools you'd expect to narrow down your search, but it offers advice on renting and house hunting, as well as important neighborhood information (essential if you know nothing about an area you're moving into), including school ratings. Again, it costs to list a rental property on this kind of site, so don't expect to find little hidden gems being offered by someone who has a second home.</p> <h2>4. Rentometer</h2> <p>Although it won't help you find the specific place you want to live in, it will help you research what you should (and should not) be paying for rent at any of the apartments you're checking out. If you find the home of your dreams, but aren't sure if the price is sky high, <a href="https://www.rentometer.com/">Rentometer</a> will give you a temperature check of the area. You'll see the average and median prices, and also which percentile the apartment you're looking at falls in. At the very least, you want &quot;reasonable&quot; rent. Low is great. If you're in the red zone, negotiate or move on.</p> <h2>5. The Library</h2> <p>So your local library is not an app or a website, obviously, but it is filled with resources that can help anyone find their perfect apartment. It's a shame that more people don't take full advantage of the library; after all, we all pay for libraries with our taxes. Libraries have computers to access the many online tools listed in this article. They also have copies of a plethora of local and national newspapers, which contain classified ads for apartments and homes. If you find yourself in need of a place that contains many tools under one roof, the library is hard to beat.</p> <h2>6. HotPads</h2> <p>If you're looking for a tool that combines the great functionality of sites like Apartment Finder and Zillow, but also has the variety of smaller rentals offered by Craigslist, the <a href="https://hotpads.com">HotPads</a> is definitely for you. It has listings for most major cities in the U.S., and gives you a great set of criteria to help you get a list of excellent matches. Features like the &quot;walk score&quot; and neighborhood information, coupled with &quot;hot listings&quot; that show you which apartments are getting the most attention make HotPads one of the best tools for anyone looking to rent in a well-populated location.</p> <h2>7. Rent.com</h2> <p>Just like HotPads, <a href="http://www.rent.com/">Rent.com</a> gives you great choice. You can find landlords who are renting out just one or two properties, or giant apartment complexes with hundreds of units in one place. You can sort by best match, price, rating, or alphabetically, and when you narrow it down to a few properties, you can check the availability and book a tour. Definitely sort by ratings, because some of apartments have quite a few skeletons in the closet.</p> <h2>8. PadMapper</h2> <p>If you want to imagine what an apartment hunting app crossed with a mapping tool would look like, check out <a href="https://www.padmapper.com">PadMapper</a>. From the get go, you are greeted with a map of the area you want to look at, which is immediately populated by all the available rentals. It's somewhat overwhelming at first, but by using the tools provided, you can quickly take pins off the map until you get it down to some manageable choices. Save your favorites, check out floor plans and photos, and indicate your interest in the property. One downside &mdash; it appears to only list apartments in large complexes.</p> <h2>9. Lovely</h2> <p>Great name. Great site. <a href="https://livelovely.com">Lovely</a> is known as being exceptionally easy to use, simple, and direct. And it really is a soup-to-nuts kind of setup. With Lovely, you cannot only find your ideal apartment from a vast array on the market, but also submit an application through the site. Plus, you can even pay your rent through the site itself! Of course, anything that sounds too good to be true often has a downside. With Lovely, it's scope. Right now, you're limited to the Midwest and the coasts, but as word spreads, so will the range of the site.</p> <h2>10. Zumper</h2> <p>What does the name mean? Who knows. But the site (and app) look great, are easy to use, and have a wealth of information. The first question you'll be asked is where you want to move. Type in the area, and you'll get an overview of the town or city, including any annual festivities or notable attractions. You can search on a map, or by the usual parameters (bedrooms, price, amenities, and so on). One excellent feature of <a href="https://www.zumper.com">Zumper</a> is the way it seamlessly integrates with Experian, allowing you to safely and securely submit your credit report along with your application. Highly recommended.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-best-tools-for-finding-an-apartment-on-the-cheap">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/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed">6 Ways to Apartment Hunt on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</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/9-common-apartment-hunting-mistakes-to-avoid">9 Common Apartment Hunting Mistakes to Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Technology apartment finder apartments apps craigslist moving renting websites Zillow Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:30:30 +0000 Paul Michael 1816944 at http://www.wisebread.com