Real Estate and Housing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4810/all en-US 8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-647168754.jpg" alt="Woman learning when to walk away from her dream home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You think you've found the perfect house. But before you plunge into homeownership, you need to watch out for any warning signs this sale isn't meant to be. Ask yourself whether any of these things apply to you. If so, buying the home of your dreams may just have to wait.</p> <h2>1. You can't afford 20 percent down</h2> <p>The house may have everything you are looking for, but you need to make sure that the sale price isn't beyond your means. Ideally, you want to make a down payment of at least 20 percent. This may be a substantial amount of money, but without that down payment, your lender will likely ask you to pay for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=internal" target="_blank">private mortgage insurance</a> &mdash; which can add hundreds of dollars a year to your homeownership costs.</p> <p>Moreover, the more you can put down up front, the smaller your monthly mortgage payments will be. If you are in the market for a home but can't hit that 20 percent mark, consider holding off on buying until you have a larger sum saved. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-start-saving-for-a-down-payment-on-a-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Easy Ways to Start Saving for a Down Payment on a Home</a>)</p> <h2>2. Your mortgage payments would restrict your ability to save</h2> <p>Even if you have the ability to put 20 percent down on the house, you may find that the monthly mortgage payments are higher than you can reasonably afford. The U.S. government recommends spending no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income on housing. That means if you earn $3,000 per month before taxes, you shouldn't spend more than $900 per month on your mortgage.</p> <p>You may get approved for a loan much bigger than you expected, but don't use this as an excuse to buy more house than you can afford. If your payments are too high, you will find it harder to live comfortably or save money for anything besides housing costs. If you have to go into additional debt in order to make house payments, then your &quot;dream home&quot; could become more of a financial nightmare. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Make Ends Meet When You're House Poor</a>)</p> <h2>3. You didn't get a favorable interest rate</h2> <p>There are two key things that impact how much you'll end up paying for a house: the sale price, and the interest rate on the mortgage loan. Even if the sale price is within your predetermined budget, you may find your monthly payments to be onerous if the interest rate is too high. A modest difference in interest rate can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs over the lifetime of a loan.</p> <p>Your past financial history, debt load, and credit score impacts the interest rate that banks are willing to offer. The worse your credit, the higher the rate will be. If your credit score is low, you may be better off in the long run financially if you take time to pay off debt and make yourself more attractive to lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-improve-your-credit-score-fast?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast</a>)</p> <h2>4. Your income situation may change for the worse</h2> <p>You may have found your dream home, but your ability to pay for that house may be based on income that's no longer a sure thing. Have you recently lost your job, or are you on the verge of a layoff? Were you counting on income from investments that have not performed as well as expected?</p> <p>If your income situation is unfavorable, consider waiting to buy a home. You don't want to exacerbate a difficult financial situation by taking on more expense than you can handle at that moment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a Mortgage</a>)</p> <h2>5. It's a money pit</h2> <p>You're not opposed to a fixer-upper, but this house has more needed repairs than you bargained for. You also learned that it's horribly inefficient when it comes to heating and cooling. On top of that, there are sizable homeowners association and community fees that you hadn't taken into account. All of this adds up to a house that busts through your budget, and it may be a good idea to walk away. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-the-house-you-want-to-buy-is-a-money-pit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Signs the House You Want to Buy Is a Money Pit</a>)</p> <h2>6. There are signs that housing prices may drop</h2> <p>It's hard to predict where housing prices will go, but if the market is inflated, you may be better off waiting to see if prices come down. There are countless people who purchased homes during the housing bubble around 2005, only to see home prices drop precipitously. Many of these homeowners ended up underwater on their loans, and some even ended up losing their homes altogether.</p> <p>If you feel like the housing market is overheated and you are willing to be patient, you may save money on the purchase price if you wait for prices to drop. One big caveat to this is that it's also important to pay attention to interest rates. If interest rates are on the rise, it may be better to buy sooner rather than later.</p> <h2>7. The seller wants you to waive an inspection</h2> <p>During the housing boom more than a decade ago, competition for homes was so fierce that sellers often viewed a request for an inspection as a deal breaker. No matter how desperate you may be to land that perfect home, waiving an inspection is a risky proposition that could backfire on you. Without an inspection, you have no way of knowing if a home will be in dire need of repairs, now or down the road. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here's What It Will Cost You</a>)</p> <h2>8. The seller wants you to waive a title search</h2> <p>A search of a home's title is a crucial aspect of the homebuying process. This is where a buyer may uncover things about the history of the home, including when it was built, who has owned it, and whether there are any tax liens. It's extraordinarily risky to waive this contingency, so if a seller insists upon it, consider it a red flag and run. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance &mdash; Here's Why</a>)</p> <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/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</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-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore">12 House-Hunting Red Flags You Can&#039;t Ignore</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <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> <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/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years">Choosing the Right Mortgage Loan: 15 or 30 Years?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home buying home loans inspections interest rates mortgage private mortgage insurance red flags title search warning signs Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Tim Lemke 1931276 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways to Stage Your Home Without Hiring a Pro http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-stage-your-home-without-hiring-a-pro <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-to-stage-your-home-without-hiring-a-pro" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-505618800.jpg" alt="Woman staging her home without hiring a pro" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So, you're selling your home but don't have the budget to hire a professional stager. Who does? After all, supplying and artfully arranging those vintage books, ficus trees, and nesting tables takes time and money. In fact, according to a 2016 article by Realtor.com, professionally staging a 2,000-square-foot home can cost around $2,000 a month.</p> <p>But never fear: By employing a few basic tips and tricks, your humble abode can still look like a million bucks. Here are eight ways to stage your home without hiring a pro. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Unexpected Costs of Selling a Home</a>)</p> <h2>1. Edit and organize</h2> <p>Not only can you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-a-deep-declutter-can-improve-your-life?ref=internal" target="_blank">improve your life with a deep declutter</a>, it's an essential first step in staging a home properly. Toss out the junk, donate unused items, and consider packing for your move early and storing boxes off-site or in the garage. Once that's done, tame the wild spaces in your home. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-ways-to-organize-a-messy-closet?ref=internal" target="_blank">Organize messy closets</a> and neatly arrange the pantry, basement, and other catchall areas.</p> <h2>2. Clean</h2> <p>Staging is an art, so start with a clean palette. Mop the floors, wash the windows, scrub the toilets, and dust anything that's standing still. In the minds of most buyers, a clean home is a well cared-for home.</p> <h2>3. Pack up the personality</h2> <p>As a stager, your goal is simple: Help potential buyers feel as if your home was made for <em>them</em>. Since you want to appeal to the widest audience possible, it's time to put away the personal photos and bubble-wrap that troll doll collection you've been curating since 1982. Sure, these things may mean the world to you, but they only limit the vision of would-be buyers.</p> <h2>4. Paint</h2> <p>Painting is one of simplest and most cost-effective ways to freshen up the look of a home. Stick with neutral wall colors. Shades of cream and white, soft greens, and subtle blues can add glow to a room without overpowering it. Though flat paint is ideal for nearly every area in your home, choose an easy-clean semi-gloss for kitchens, baths, and mudrooms.</p> <h2>5. Slow your roll</h2> <p>Selling a house is stressful. Besides packing and looking for a new place, you have to constantly bend your schedule around multiple showings and make sure your home always looks pristine. Don't add to the pressure by starting major projects.</p> <p>Forget retiling the bathroom floor, expanding the deck, or transforming the attic into a guest suite. Keep things simple, small, and entirely manageable. The goal is to accentuate the positive, not launch a full remodel. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-50-or-less?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $50 or Less</a>)</p> <h2>6. Add detail</h2> <p>Once your house is decluttered, cleaned, and painted, it's time to take things to the next level. Spruce up the décor with plush accent pillows, new bathroom linens, tailored bed skirts, and neutral window treatments. If you're buying new, choose simple forms and solid colors that complement what you already own. Top things off by adding a few lush houseplants (skip the fresh flowers; some buyers may be allergic).</p> <h2>7. Expel bad smells</h2> <p>A well-staged home looks good and smells good (or at least doesn't smell <em>bad</em>). Remove pet and cooking odors with a deep clean that focuses on carpets and upholstered furniture. Air things out the old-fashioned way: Throw open the windows and turn on a few fans. Run a dehumidifier regularly to battle musty odors in bathrooms and basements. And remember, it's better to neutralize odors than cover them up with loads of scented candles and plug-in air fresheners. Strong artificial scents can turn off buyers.</p> <h2>8. Take it outside</h2> <p>Yes, curb appeal is a thing. Take your staging skills outside and spend an afternoon caulking windows, touching up paint, replacing broken light fixtures, and power-washing the deck. And green thumb or not, try a few inexpensive ways to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-ways-to-make-your-yard-look-awesome-for-under-100?ref=internal" target="_blank">make your yard look awesome</a>.</p> <p>Successful staging is all about refinement &mdash; elevating a home's best features and appealing to the tastes of the general public. Though it doesn't take a professional to accomplish either of those tasks, it does require a professional-level commitment and a willingness to take your personality out of the equation. For your trouble, you just might land a top-dollar offer and get the chance to put your own stamp on a brand new place. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cheap-ways-to-stage-your-home-in-a-buyers-market?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home in a Buyer's Market</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-stage-your-home-without-hiring-a-pro">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/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home">8 Unexpected Costs of Selling a Home</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-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing">6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing</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-easy-home-improvements-that-add-thousands-to-your-listing">9 Easy Home Improvements That Add Thousands to Your Listing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cheap-ways-to-stage-your-home-in-a-buyers-market">6 Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home in a Buyer&#039;s Market</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing attract buyers cleaning curb appeal decluttering decorating packing painting selling a home staging Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Kentin Waits 1931273 at http://www.wisebread.com Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter http://www.wisebread.com/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-639309248.jpg" alt="Couple scoring dream home with perfect offer letter" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a hypercompetitive housing market, buyers need to seize every advantage possible. In addition to a strong credit score, loan preapproval, and reasonable offer, a well-crafted offer letter can tip the scales in your favor. If you've found your dream home but are facing some stiff competition, it's time to put pen to paper. Here are eight tricks to writing the perfect offer letter.</p> <h2>1. Write it yourself</h2> <p>Don't delegate this one. Your offer letter should be penned by you, not your real estate agent. As a prospective buyer, it's up to you to connect emotionally with the seller and authentically express why you're drawn to the property.</p> <h2>2. Explain your interest</h2> <p>Details matter. Writing that you &quot;simply love the house&quot; is a good start, but it won't get the job done. What about the home appeals to you? Is it the gleaming hardwood floors? The big front porch? The way the sun shines through a stained-glass window? Including a few well-considered details accomplishes two things: First, it flatters the seller (as he or she may be responsible for many of the features you're drawn to). Second, it establishes a sense of shared appreciation and implies that you're well-suited to be the home's new steward.</p> <h2>3. Put your heart into it</h2> <p>Selling a house isn't just a business transaction; it's an emotional one. For sellers who've owned their home for decades, leaving may be bittersweet. Make it easier for them by tapping into the emotional side of your story. Discuss why you think the home is perfect for your family and what memories you hope to make within those walls.</p> <h2>4. Be cheery, not dreary</h2> <p>Though adding a bit of emotion to your offer letter is helpful, keep the emotions positive. Referring to a divorce, long-term illness, or the death of a loved one can cast a shadow over the transaction. Make the tone of your letter hopeful and joyful.</p> <h2>5. Skip the remodeling plans</h2> <p>Since sellers are understandably attached to their homes, avoid phrases like &quot;rip out,&quot; &quot;total gut job,&quot; and &quot;down to the studs&quot; in your letter. While remodeling may be part of you plans, focus on what you love about the home right now &mdash; not your vision to redo it.</p> <h2>6. Give buyers something to bank on</h2> <p>Remember, your offer letter is your moment to shine in every way possible. Show that you can make good on your offer without unnecessary delays and drama. Along with your loan approval documentation, briefly discuss what you do for a living, how established you are in your career, and the strength of your credit score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House</a>)</p> <h2>7. Don't rush</h2> <p>Your offer letter is an important document that can save you thousands of dollars and months of continued house-hunting. Though you may not have the luxury of time in a hot market, write the best letter possible. Consider your approach carefully, write simply and sincerely, and proofread thoroughly to catch any spelling and grammar mistakes.</p> <h2>8. End with a thank you</h2> <p>Your mom was right &mdash; a simple thank you can work wonders. Wrap things up with a humble and heartfelt &quot;thank you for the opportunity to view and bid on your beautiful home.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">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/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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need">Growin&#039; Home: How Much House Do You Really Need?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-house">7 Things You Need to Know Before Buying Your First 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/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">Don&#039;t Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing advice buyers home buying new house offer letters sellers writing Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:00:07 +0000 Kentin Waits 1930341 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Smart Ways to Lower Your Monthly Mortgage Payment http://www.wisebread.com/4-smart-ways-to-lower-your-monthly-mortgage-payment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-smart-ways-to-lower-your-monthly-mortgage-payment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-164113230.jpg" alt="Learning ways to lower your monthly mortgage payment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you struggle each month to make your mortgage payment, you're not alone. Financial challenges &mdash; such as a job loss, drop in household income, or major medical bills &mdash; could make paying a mortgage that was once affordable a financial burden. The Federal Reserve Board reported that in the fourth quarter of 2016, 4.15 percent of residential mortgages in the United States were delinquent. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Signs You're Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage</a>)</p> <p>There is hope, though, if you are struggling to make your monthly mortgage payment. There are several steps you can take to lower the size of that payment.</p> <h2>Lengthen your loan's term</h2> <p>The more years attached to your mortgage, the lower your monthly payment will be. With a longer term, your loan payments are stretched out over more years, making each monthly payment smaller.</p> <p>Consider this example: If you take out a $200,000 15-year, fixed-rate loan with an interest rate of 3.4 percent, your monthly payment, not including your taxes and homeowners insurance, will be about $1,400 a month. Say you take out that same $200,000 mortgage loan but in the form of a 30-year, fixed-rate loan with an interest rate of 4.2 percent. Your monthly payment, again not including taxes and insurance, will be just $978.</p> <p>If you are struggling to make the monthly payments on a shorter-term loan, contact your lender and ask to have your loan reamortized to one with a longer term. You won't need to go through an official refinance to do this. But lenders will charge you a fee, one that LendingTree says averages about $250.</p> <p>Just remember, when you change your mortgage to one with a longer term, you'll pay significantly more in interest. This extra interest &mdash; which could hit $100,000 or more if you take the full term to pay off your mortgage &mdash; might be an acceptable cost if it helps you avoid falling behind on your mortgage payments and possibly foreclosing.</p> <h2>Refinance to a lower interest rate</h2> <p>The most common way to lower your monthly payment is to refinance your existing loan into one with a lower interest rate.</p> <p>Say you originally took out a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage of $180,000 at an interest rate of 5 percent. Your monthly payment, not counting taxes or insurance, would be about $966. Now say you owe $160,000 on that loan and you refinance that amount into a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loan with an interest rate of 4.2 percent. That payment would now fall to about $782 a month, a savings of about $184 a month.</p> <p>There is one big negative that comes with refinancing: You'll have to pay fees to do it. You can expect to pay about 1.5 percent of the amount you are refinancing in closing costs. For a loan of $180,000, that comes out to $2,700 in closing costs.</p> <h2>Get rid of PMI</h2> <p>No homeowner enjoys paying for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=internal" target="_blank">private mortgage insurance</a>. This insurance, better known as PMI, protects the lender if you fail to pay your mortgage. Generally, it costs from 0.5 percent to 1 percent of your loan amount each year. So on a mortgage of $200,000, PMI can cost as much $2,000 a year, or about $166 a month.</p> <p>You only have to pay PMI if you came up with a down payment of less than 20 percent of your home's purchase price when buying it. If you are paying PMI, you might be able to get rid of this expense, which would lower your monthly mortgage payment. You can request that your lender remove PMI once you have built at least 20 percent equity in your home. If you request this, your lender will send an appraiser to your home to determine its current market value. It will then calculate your equity to determine if you've hit that important 20 percent mark.</p> <h2>Reassess your property taxes</h2> <p>If you are like the majority of homeowners, a portion of every payment you send to your lender includes money used to pay off your property taxes. This is known as an escrow arrangement.</p> <p>Under such an arrangement, your lender estimates how much money you'll need each year to pay your property taxes. If your lender estimates that your taxes will be $6,000 this year, it will add $500 to your monthly mortgage payment. It will then deposit that $500 into an escrow account. When your taxes are due, it will dip into this account to pay them on your behalf.</p> <p>You might be able to reduce your monthly mortgage payment by requesting a reassessment with your county tax assessor's office or tax collector's office. If your taxes are reassessed and they drop, your monthly mortgage payment will fall, too.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-smart-ways-to-lower-your-monthly-mortgage-payment">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Refinance Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance">ReFi Shy? How to Determine If Now Is the Time to Refinance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing escrow loan terms monthly payments mortgages overpaying paying too much pmi property taxes refinancing Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:00:07 +0000 Dan Rafter 1928277 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do If You Have a Tax Lien On Your House http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-523154492_0.jpg" alt="Woman learning what to do with a tax lien on her house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The government doesn't play around with taxpayers who skip out on what they owe. When you ignore your federal, state, or property tax bills &mdash; and you don't make any attempts to pay the balance &mdash; the government can place a tax lien on your house.</p> <p>A tax lien is a legal claim on property for failure to pay taxes owed. It gives the tax authority (also known as the lienholder) first rights to your property over other creditors.</p> <p>A lien differs from a levy in that the government doesn't seize your house or other property. Keep in mind that a lien can become a levy at some point if you never pay your taxes or never make arrangements to satisfy the debt. The tax authority decides when to impose a levy. You'll receive written notice of the levy at least 30 days before it takes place.</p> <p>A lien is a serious matter because it can negatively affect your credit. Unpaid tax liens can remain on credit reports indefinitely, whereas paid tax liens can remain for up to seven years from the date filed.</p> <p>Of course, the best way to handle a tax lien is to avoid one in the first place. But if the damage is done, here's how to put this ugly mark behind you.</p> <h2>1. Dispute a filing error</h2> <p>It's not uncommon for mistakes to appear on credit reports. In fact, according to recent data from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, 76 percent of the 185,700 credit-reporting complaints they've received since 2011 are related to errors &mdash; including state or federal tax liens that mistakenly appeared on credit reports.</p> <p>If you check your credit report and find a lien reported in error, don't ignore this mistake. This can lower your credit score. Contact the IRS or your state tax office to file a dispute. If a review of your account proves that you don't owe the debt, the government withdraws the tax lien (as if it never happened). A withdrawal also removes the lien from your credit report.</p> <p>Thankfully, the number of tax liens reported in error should be dropping. In response to criticisms by the CFPB, the top consumer reporting agencies &mdash; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; issued a new provision. As of July 1, 2017, tax lien and civil judgment data will <a href="http://www.nasdaq.com/article/clearing-misconceptions-about-new-consumer-data-laws-cm772651" target="_blank">only be included on credit reports</a> if they contain three pieces of information: the person's name, address, and Social Security number or date of birth. This information must be current according to court records as of the last 90 days.</p> <p>The association representing the credit bureaus expects half of the consumers with tax liens on their credit reports will see them removed.</p> <h2>2. Pay your tax bill in full</h2> <p>Parting with your hard-earned money isn't easy, but paying your tax bill in full is one of the fastest ways to get the government off your back and move on with your life.</p> <p>Typically, the government releases tax liens within 30 days of full payment of an outstanding debt (including penalties and interest). A release removes the lien from the property.</p> <p>Unfortunately, paid tax liens can still remain on your credit report for up to seven years. However, under the IRS's Fresh Start Program, after paying your balance in full, you can submit a request to have a federal tax lien withdrawn from your credit report before the seven-year mark. Some states also give taxpayers the option of requesting an early withdrawal of a state tax lien from their credit report once they've paid their debt in full.</p> <h2>3. Set up an installment plan</h2> <p>If you can't pay what you owe in full, set up an installment plan with the government. This lets you pay off your tax debt over time. The tax authority releases the lien once you've set up a payment plan.</p> <p>In the case of federal debt, the IRS allows individual taxpayers to set up monthly direct debit payments on debt amounts up to $50,000 for up to six years. Go to IRS.gov and apply for installment payments through the online payment system. If you owe more than $50,000, or require longer repayment terms, request installment payments by completing and mailing Collection Information Statement Form 433-A or Form 433-F.</p> <p>Taxpayers who owe less than $25,000 and who've made at least three consecutive direct debit installment payments also can request to have the lien withdrawn from their credit report. However, defaulting on an installment agreement can trigger a new tax lien.</p> <p>Some states also allow installment plans to repay a tax debt, though the criteria for these plans varies by state.</p> <h2>4. Sell the property</h2> <p>If you don't have money to pay an outstanding tax debt in full, and you can't afford an installment plan, another option is selling the property and satisfying the debt with proceeds from the sale. However, this method only works if the sale price is high enough to pay off the lien and any existing mortgages on the property. If the sale won't generate enough proceeds to pay off attached liens, you can't sell the property. If you're able to sell the home, the company handling your escrow account forwards payment to the lienholder after closing.</p> <p>Keep in mind that you'll need to contact the lienholder before closing to request a lien release. In the case of federal taxes, this involves requesting a Certificate of Discharge from the IRS. If the request is approved, this document releases (or removes) the lien from the asset being sold (though it stays in place in every other way), and allows the property to transfer to the new owner lien-free.</p> <h2>5. Refinance the property</h2> <p>Then again, maybe you don't want to sell your home. There's also the option of refinancing and borrowing cash from your home equity to satisfy a state or federal tax lien on the property. Since refinancing replaces an existing mortgage with a new loan, mortgage lenders will not approve your loan application unless they have first lien position on the title. This puts the lender in priority position to benefit from liquidation if the property goes into default. For this to happen, you'll have to request a lien subordination from the IRS or your state tax office before applying for the loan.</p> <p>Subordination doesn't eliminate a tax lien &mdash; rather, the lien becomes secondary to a lender's lien on the property. And with the lender's security interest first, you're more likely to acquire a new mortgage.</p> <p>Be aware that your ability to refinance depends on how the tax lien impacted your credit. A tax lien will reduce your credit score, and to refinance, you'll have to meet a lender's income and credit score requirements. You need a minimum credit score of 620 for a conventional loan and a minimum credit score between 500 and 580 for an FHA loan.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</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/what-can-you-do-if-you-cannot-afford-to-pay-your-taxes">What can you do if you cannot afford to pay your taxes</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/the-easy-way-to-do-your-taxes-without-paying-someone-else">The Easy Way to Do Your Taxes (Without Paying Someone Else)</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-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Taxes credit report credit score federal filing errors government IRS payment plans property refinancing state tax bills tax liens taxpayers Mon, 17 Apr 2017 08:30:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1928274 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Unexpected Costs of Selling a Home http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-505602452.jpg" alt="Finding out the unexpected costs of selling a home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Getting ready to sell your house? You may be itching to pocket all those dollars you think are headed your way, but don't get too excited just yet. More factors go into selling a home than you might realize. Unfortunately, hidden expenses are one of those factors. Brush up on these eight surprising costs ahead of time to lessen the blow.</p> <h2>1. Utilities</h2> <p>It's a good idea to keep the utilities running until the very last day before closing on the sale. Not only will it help your real estate broker to demonstrate that the home is fully operational, but it can also help you prevent other issues.</p> <p>For example, keeping some lights and A/C on during the summer or highly humid days can help your home stay mold-free. Molds thrive when the humidity levels exceed 70 percent. A running A/C cools the home, removes moisture from the air, and keeps the air inside circulated and filtered. Keeping mold in check will help you pass the home inspection and prevent additional fees. Another example would be turning off the water and ending up with an unappealing (and dead!) lawn, which sends potential buyers the wrong message about your property.</p> <p>You also want to make sure that utilities are still on for your buyer's final walk through. Consult with your broker for the right time (generally closing day or the day after) to turn off the utilities and settle those bills.</p> <h2>2. Repair and renovation costs</h2> <p>A fresh coat of paint, a thorough carpet steam clean, or a new toilet in the master bathroom can go a long way in increasing the appeal of your home. Budget for the cost of hiring a contractor or doing these necessary repairs yourself before putting your home on the market. Addressing repairs early can save you money in the long run and increase your chances of passing a home inspection on the first try. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-are-pricey-home-upgrades-really-worth?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Much Are Pricey Home Upgrades Really Worth?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Seller credits to buyer</h2> <p>In the event that you are against dealing with repairs or renovations, you could extend to a buyer a seller credit to make up for the costs of fixing up the property. However, lenders cap the credit amount that a seller can extend to a buyer at 3 percent to 6 percent of the total mortgage.</p> <p>Since the majority of buyers will ask for one, most real estate agents recommend that you budget for a range that you would be comfortable with in extending as a seller credit. This is in case your property stays on the market for far too many days. Cash-strapped buyers may request seller credits to cover additional expenses, such as closing costs, or escrow fees. In 2016, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimated that 37 percent of sellers offered incentives, such as seller credits, toward remodeling or repairs to attract buyers.</p> <h2>4. Digital staging costs</h2> <p>To maximize the exposure of your property to potential buyers, you need not only to stage your home, but make great photos and descriptions available online.</p> <p>Keep in mind that your agent may outsource digital staging services to a third party, which may or may not be the same one staging your home. According to Kiplinger, home sellers spend on <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/real-estate/T029-C000-S001-6-ways-to-stage-your-home-for-less-than-1-000.html" target="_blank">average $1,800</a> to stage a home, but costs can range from a couple of hundred dollars to $5,000 or more. The more bells and whistles that you request (say a 360-degree picture or video walk-through), the more that you pay.</p> <h2>5. Agent commissions</h2> <p>Real estate agents are paid on commission &mdash; typically 5 to 6 percent of the home's agreed upon selling price. The commission is generally split between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent. On a $300,000 home, a 6 percent commission works out to $18,000, all of which comes out of the seller's side of the deal. Agent commissions are negotiable, although a seller who pushes too hard on this point may make their home unattractive to buyer's <em>agents</em>, ultimately reducing traffic and potential buyers.</p> <h2>6. Capital gains taxes</h2> <p>While owning real estate can give you plenty of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes?ref=internal" target="_blank">surprising ways to cut down your tax bill</a>, you may still have to pay Uncle Sam a share from your home sale under certain circumstances.</p> <p>As long as you've owned the home for at least 24 months and used it as your primary residence during the last five years leading up to the date of closing, you may receive an exemption up to $250,000 ($500,00 if married filing jointly) of the gain from your home sale. If you were in the lucky position that your capital gains exceeds those limits due to a &quot;hot market,&quot; then you would need to pay applicable taxes</p> <h2>7. Title insurance</h2> <p>This type of insurance protects real estate owners and lenders against loss or damage that can occur due to defects in the title on a property.</p> <p>While typically included in the closing costs covered by the buyer, some states may require the seller to pay for title insurance or allow for negotiation of this cost between buyer and seller. The cost of title insurance can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $2,000. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance &mdash; Here's Why</a>)</p> <h2>8. Moving costs</h2> <p>Now, you wouldn't expect all of your belongings to move themselves, would you? Whether it's with time or cash, you'll need to pony up moving expenses, which can run well into the thousands depending on the size of your property and the distance of your move.</p> <p>If you're moving at least 50 miles due to a new job location, you can deduct reasonable expenses for moving your belongings and traveling to your new home. Hiring a professional moving company would help you provide proof to the IRS that your moving expenses are valued at a fair market price. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</a>)</p> <h2>The bottom line: Account for all home sale costs</h2> <p>It's easy to fall for the trap of thinking that you're making more money on your home sale than you really are.</p> <p>Let's run some numbers. If you were to close at a price of $300,000 for your home and still owe $160,000 on your mortgage, you'd think that you made $140,000 in profit. Assuming that you paid 8 percent of your sales price in total costs for your home sale, you would have coughed up $24,000 and brought down your net profit to $116,000 (a 17.14 percent drop!).</p> <p>The smaller the gap between your sale price and remaining mortgage, the more critical that unexpected costs of selling a home become.</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/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/8-ways-to-stage-your-home-without-hiring-a-pro">8 Ways to Stage Your Home Without Hiring a Pro</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-cheap-ways-to-stage-your-home-in-a-buyers-market">6 Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home in a Buyer&#039;s Market</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/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/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don&#039;t Expect</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing capital gains closing renovations seller credits selling a home staging title insurance utilities Thu, 06 Apr 2017 08:00:09 +0000 Damian Davila 1921685 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-469932560.jpg" alt="Asking questions before buying a house with a pool" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Having a built-in pool on your property comes with plenty of perks &mdash; like providing respite from the summer heat and elevating your kids' social status. But this luxury isn't all splash battles and cannonballs. Pools, among other things, require costly maintenance while also introducing a laundry list of liability and safety concerns into your life. Keep your head above water when considering buying a house with a pool by asking these eight important questions.</p> <h2>1. Does everyone in the family know how to swim?</h2> <p>This may seem like a silly question to ask yourself before buying a house with a pool, but you might be surprised at how many pool-owners either can't swim themselves, or have children who can't swim. Both of these scenarios could end in tragedy. And if you can't swim, there's <a href="http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=1796" target="_blank">only a 13 percent chance</a> your child will learn how to swim. Not the best odds to have when a life is on the line.</p> <h2>2. Does everyone in your family know CPR?</h2> <p>If you're planning to own a pool, it's a wise decision to be trained in CPR. The few minutes' time between on-the-scene CPR and that which is administered by EMTs, who may take several minutes to arrive, is literally life and death.</p> <h2>3. How old is the pool?</h2> <p>Keller Williams Real Estate agent Jen Teague provides a few important construction questions to ask, including:</p> <ul> <li>What company installed the pool and is it still in business?</li> <li>Is it under warranty?</li> <li>Has there been any major work done to the pool over the last year?</li> <li>Are there any consistent issues (leaks, etc.) the owner has had with it?</li> </ul> <p>You're specifically looking to find out how much longer the pump life is, as well as any maintenance that may be needed for the liner or granite. After a while the chlorine wears down the liner and it will be more prone to tearing. Granite cracks over time as well.</p> <p>Three-decade pool industry veteran Michael Kern of MGK Pool Service in Lowell, Massachusetts adds, &quot;Cement pools need to be replastered every six to nine years; above ground pools need the liner replaced every four to eight years; and in-ground pools need the liner replaced every 15 to 20 years.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Is the pool surrounded by a fence?</h2> <p>A fence around your pool isn't to keep your kids in, but rather other people out &mdash; like wandering toddlers and even pets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign, which focuses on drowning prevention and water safety (a <a href="https://www.poolsafely.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Safety-Barrier-Guidelines-for-Residential-Pools.pdf" target="_blank">must read</a> if you're planning to become a pool owner!), suggests that the fence stands at least four feet high, surrounds the pool on all four sides, and includes a self-closing, self-latching gate. Adding an alarm to the door is an extra layer of protection so you're alerted to unauthorized visitors.</p> <h2>5. Does the pool have a safe drain cover?</h2> <p>The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool &amp; Spa Safety Act, named after a little girl who died in 2002 when the suction from a spa drain trapped her under water, mandates drain covers for public spas and pools &mdash; but homeowners also should practice this safety measure. A pool technician can tell you whether or not your drain cover needs updating, which is generally about every five years. The ZAC Foundation, an organization working to strengthen pool safety legislation and educate children on water safety, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CULPxBSa_10" target="_blank">explains the difference in drain covers</a> and why having a compliant drain cover is important.</p> <h2>6. How much will maintenance cost?</h2> <p>Most homeowners have a general budget in place for day-to-day home expenses, plus a little extra to cover emergencies. But those who have never owned a pool may not be prepared for the added expense. Be sure to ask your agent about how much annual maintenance the pool will need so you can get a good idea of whether or not you can afford its upkeep.</p> <p>This is also a good time to ask the previous owners what pool necessities will be left behind and what you may need to buy when you assume ownership.</p> <h2>7. How much will your homeowners insurance increase?</h2> <p>Your swimming pool is a liability, for sure, and your insurer will consider that when pricing your policy. Before you jump in head first, hammer out the details of the policy and its cost. Additional umbrella insurance is always recommended for homeowners with a pool.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">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/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-college-expenses-you-arent-saving-for">9 College Expenses You Aren&#039;t Saving For</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/11-unexpected-things-covered-by-homeowners-insurance">11 Unexpected Things Covered by Homeowners Insurance</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/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need">Growin&#039; Home: How Much House Do You Really Need?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing drowning expenses home buying homeowners insurance kids maintenance pools safety swimming Wed, 05 Apr 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 1917660 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Home Listing Gimmicks to Watch Out For http://www.wisebread.com/5-home-listing-gimmicks-to-watch-out-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-home-listing-gimmicks-to-watch-out-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-83266113.jpg" alt="Finding home listing gimmicks to watch out for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Searching for a new home? It's an exciting process, but you need to keep your wits about you to see through the smoke and mirrors. I caught up with a few real estate agents recently who revealed some of the tricky tactics some agents use to reel you in hook, line, and sinker.</p> <h2>1. They set the asking price too low or too high</h2> <p>When a home is listed for a price that is unusually high or low for the area, it's usually to manipulate potential buyers. The listing agent is telling the seller to &quot;draw in buyers to initiate a bidding war&quot; with an enticingly low asking, or to capitalize on a hot market by shooting for the stars.</p> <p>I currently have one of my homes on the market. It's priced above market value because my listing agent told me that the market is saturated with all-cash buyers who'd snap my place right up. A month later, zero offers. As such, the price reduction will now be rather significant to compete with the comps in my area.</p> <p>Don't be manipulated by a deceptive asking price. Know your market and bid accordingly.</p> <h2>2. They intentionally misrepresent the property in photos</h2> <p>All the homes I own were first on my list to look at because the listings had clear, thorough photography. But real estate photos can be tricky. I've found listings online that featured no photos &mdash; huge red flag! &mdash; and some that have even used stock photos to show a similar unit or property, but not the one that's actually being sold. That's just the tip of this iceberg.</p> <p>Mortgage broker Giustin Valnova of Just 4 Mortgages says, &quot;Another major red flag to look out for is listings that have photos that don't tell the full story. If there's a major problem area of a certain room, the seller may try to cover that up by taking strategic photos that purposely ignore parts of the room. If photos are very zoomed in on a certain area, or are taken in a way that excludes part of a room, you should start asking why.&quot;</p> <p>A good way to see if this tactic is being implemented is to look at the floor plan, if the listing includes one. You can often use that to figure out if any part of the house has been excluded, or if &mdash; for example &mdash; the kitchen photo has been taken from the center of the room and only focuses on one area. Also, anything heavily filtered, out of focus, or badly lit may be intentionally done to hide or misrepresent what it really looks like.</p> <h2>3. They use deceptively positive keywords</h2> <p>Perhaps you've found a home described as &quot;quaint,&quot; &quot;intimate,&quot; or &quot;cozy.&quot; Maybe it excitedly proclaims to have an &quot;efficient&quot; kitchen or laundry room. While these all sound like pretty appealing qualities (who doesn't like cozy?), more often than not, these are just crafty codewords for &quot;small.&quot; And this isn't the only cleverly-worded trick up real estate agents' sleeves.</p> <p>A house with &quot;charm&quot; and &quot;character&quot; may in fact have plenty of both, but prepare yourself; it's also probably really old. The same goes for &quot;vintage.&quot; A listing that describes a bathroom or kitchen as having plenty of &quot;vintage charm&quot; might just mean that room hasn't been touched since the 1950s. If a home is &quot;secluded&quot; or &quot;off the beaten path,&quot; you may enjoy some peace and quiet living there &mdash; while also having to make day trips to the closest grocery store. &quot;Custom&quot; and &quot;one-of-a-kind&quot; are other words to be wary of. They may sound fancy, but a home that was &quot;customized&quot; to the previous owner's tastes probably has some eccentricities you simply won't like.</p> <p>To be fair, no house is going to be perfect. And no real estate agent is going to list off a home's less pleasant features when they're trying to make a sale. It's up to you as a buyer to read between the lines of a listing.</p> <h2>4. They stretch the truth with bold claims</h2> <p>Listing agents will do just about anything to draw a buyer in, even if that means sometimes bending the truth. While most agents won't straight-up lie to you about a property, there are manipulative ways to make the listing seem more attractive than it really is by massaging the facts.</p> <p>For instance, &quot;Some agents will market their listing results as 'sold for over asking price,' when the asking price was artificially low,&quot; says Paul Lisanti, a Keller Williams Edge Realty agent. &quot;Many consumers assume that the asking/listing price was at/around market value when in fact it was considerably lower. This strategy can work for sellers and it can also backfire. If a property is worth $300K and listed at $250K, when it sells for $285K, who is the real winner?&quot;</p> <h2>5. They put artificial pressure to bid</h2> <p>The listing agent might tell you that they've already got bids flooding in, and the sellers are eager to make a decision in days, when it's simply not true. They are looking to close the deal even if it means that the sellers lose out on the best offer. They might also pressure the sellers to make a decision before giving it a real chance to be available on the market. This might be because they want to sell to their own client, giving themselves both the seller and buyer agent fee, or they just want their fee sooner rather than later. While you won't know for sure whether they're telling the truth, you shouldn't let an agent pressure you into making such a big decision without thinking things through.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-home-listing-gimmicks-to-watch-out-for">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/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</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/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter</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/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need">Growin&#039; Home: How Much House Do You Really Need?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">Don&#039;t Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-house">7 Things You Need to Know Before Buying Your First House</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing gimmicks home buying home listings manipulations real estate agents sales tactics Tue, 04 Apr 2017 08:30:20 +0000 Mikey Rox 1920999 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Make Ends Meet When You're House Poor http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-608518550.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to make ends meet when she&#039;s house poor" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your home is supposed to be a source of joy, your respite from the rest of the world. But if you can barely afford your housing expenses each month, the pride of owning a home can quickly turn to dread. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Signs You're Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage</a>)</p> <h2>Being house poor</h2> <p>Mortgage lenders say that your total monthly debts, including your mortgage payment, should never equal more than 43 percent of your gross monthly income, your income before taxes are taken out. Financial professionals also say that your housing costs alone ideally should never exceed more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income.</p> <p>If you ignored those percentages when taking out your mortgage, or if a job loss or other financial crisis has reduced your income since you originally bought your home, you might now be feeling the financial pinch of paying for a house that simply consumes too much of your monthly income.</p> <p>Sometimes being house poor is a temporary condition. Maybe you've lost a job, but know that you can afford your home once you find a replacement. Maybe you've suffered an illness or injury that has kept you from working, but you will soon recover enough to begin earning again. Other times, it's a more permanent condition. You simply have a house that is too expensive for your income, even when that income is at its normal levels.</p> <p>If you're in the latter situation, the best decision might be to move and buy a home that is more affordable. If the house-poor problems you face are only temporary, though, you might be able to hold on until your financial situation improves.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are steps you can take if you find yourself struggling to make those housing payments each month.</p> <h2>Can a loan modification help?</h2> <p>Lenders might be willing to modify your mortgage to make it more affordable for you. Modifications might be simple and temporary, such as suspending your mortgage payments for two or three months as a way to allow you to resolve a temporary financial crisis without missing a payment. Or a modification can be more substantial: Lenders might change the terms of your loan, perhaps turning your 15-year loan into a 30-year one, leaving you with smaller monthly mortgage payments. They might also reduce your interest rate, again dropping your monthly payment.</p> <p>Lenders are not obligated to modify your mortgage loan, of course. But you won't find out if they're willing to make these changes if you don't call.</p> <h2>Refinancing might help</h2> <p>You might also <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance?ref=internal" target="_blank">try to refinance</a> your existing mortgage to one with a lower rate or longer term. This will drop your payments, maybe to a level that you can more easily afford.</p> <p>Be aware, though, that refinancing isn't free. It might cost you $2,000, $3,000, or more to refinance, depending on the size of your loan &mdash; though you can usually roll these closing costs into your new loan instead of paying them upfront in one lump sum. Refinances take time, too. It can take 30 days or more for a refinance to close, so make sure you don't miss any payments during this time.</p> <h2>Cutting expenses</h2> <p>If staying in your home and reducing your monthly financial stress is a priority, then cutting expenses is a crucial step. You might not be able to lower your mortgage payment or property taxes, but you may be able to lower your utility bills. Cutting an expensive cable package or adjusting the thermostat by a few degrees can save you a substantial amount of money each month.</p> <p>Take a hard look at your budget and make the cuts. You might miss fun events and spend more time batch cooking, but it's worth it if you can keep your home. You might also take bigger steps. Is your monthly auto payment high, too? Consider selling your expensive car and buying one that comes with a smaller monthly payment.</p> <h2>Get a side gig</h2> <p>You can also boost your monthly income by taking a side job &mdash; anything from driving for a ride-sharing service like Lyft, to freelance writing, to a shift at your local grocery store. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-make-money-outside-your-day-job?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Ways to Make Money Outside Your Day Job</a>)</p> <p>These jobs might not be glamorous, but if they boost your income each month, they can make those housing payments seem less fearsome. Again, you'll have to determine if working extra hours at a side job is worth being able to stay in your home.</p> <h2>Prioritize your home spending</h2> <p>Your mortgage is just one cost of owning a home. There's also the cost of maintenance, which financial experts say you should expect to spend about 1 percent of your home's purchase price on each year.</p> <p>You can't avoid maintenance. If you do, that dream home of yours might fall down around you. But you can prioritize your spending, something that can trim your monthly expenses. Don't spend money on a major bathroom remodel, or other purely cosmetic changes. But if your gutters need cleaning, your walls need painting, and your driveway needs sealing, do spend on those fixes, and do as much of it as possible on your own. Much of the cost in home repairs is in the labor. If you can do something safely and properly, doing it yourself will save a lot of money. Never try something that is beyond your skill and knowledge. YouTube videos can only take you so far. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-top-10-diy-jobs-homeowners-should-avoid?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 DIY Jobs Homeowners Should Avoid</a>)</p> <h2>Consider selling</h2> <p>If you are in danger of missing your mortgage payments, a refinance or modification isn't possible, and budget cuts won't make enough of an impact, it is time to consider selling your home.</p> <p>No one wants to give up on their home, especially if you consider it a dream residence. But it's simply not viable to think you can live 15 or more years scraping together for housing payments.</p> <p>If you want to sell quickly, a short sale might help. In a short sale, your lender allows you to sell your home for less than what you owe on your mortgage. For instance, if you owe $250,000 on your loan, your lender might approve a short sale for $225,000. By offering your home at a lower price, the hope is that it will sell at a faster pace, before you have to miss any mortgage payments.</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/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor">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/should-we-all-just-stop-paying-the-mortgage">Should We All Just Stop Paying the 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/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage">Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a 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/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater Mortgage</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/everything-you-need-to-know-about-freddie-mac-and-fannie-mae">Everything You Need to Know About Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae</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 credit score foreclosure home loans house poor lenders missed payments modifications mortgage payments refinance Mon, 03 Apr 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1917875 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Problems Home Sellers Must Disclose to Buyers http://www.wisebread.com/8-problems-home-sellers-must-disclose-to-buyers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-problems-home-sellers-must-disclose-to-buyers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-171572856.jpg" alt="Home sellers disclosing problems to buyers" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No home is perfect. When you're selling one, your job is to highlight its best features &mdash; the big backyard, the renovated kitchen, and the bright sunroom &mdash; while downplaying the too-small master bedroom or the cramped first-floor bathroom.</p> <p>But there are certain negatives that you shouldn't hide. If you keep these problems secret &mdash; anything from a leaky basement to past termite damage &mdash; you might face a future lawsuit from your former home's new owners.</p> <h2>What is a disclosure agreement?</h2> <p>When you're selling a home, you'll have to sign a disclosure form asking you several &quot;yes/no&quot; questions about your house. The form might ask whether your basement has leaked, if your home has suffered termite damage, if your property sits in a flood zone, whether past construction work has been done without the proper permits, and whether your home has suffered past sewer backups.</p> <p>You'll have the option to answer &quot;yes,&quot; &quot;no,&quot; or &quot;I don't know&quot; on these questions.</p> <p>If you lie on this form, it could lead to trouble. State regulations vary, but you could be responsible for what you do and don't disclose on this form for up to 10 years. If you lie on your disclosure form, the new owners can hit you with an expensive lawsuit.</p> <p>Keep in mind that every state has different rules when it comes to disclosures. California, for example, has some of the strictest disclosure regulations for sellers to follow. Here, sellers must disclose any possible hazards relating to floods, earthquakes, and fires in what is known as a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement. Sellers in the state of California must also provide buyers with a form that alerts them to a state database of sex offenders living near the home.</p> <p>Other states typically require less. It's best to work with your real estate agent on the required disclosures in your state and municipality.</p> <h2>1. Lead-based paint</h2> <p>Under the federal government's Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, if your house was built before 1978, you must disclose all known examples of lead-based paint in your home. You must also provide buyers a pamphlet prepared by the EPA titled &quot;Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home,&quot; which offers them tips on how to keep their children and others safe from lead paint.</p> <p>Under the federal law, buyers also have 10 days to test the house for lead paint.</p> <p>Don't try to skip out on this disclosure. Under federal law, buyers can sue you for triple the amount of damages that they actually suffered because of lead paint if you fail to follow the disclosure rules.</p> <h2>2. A leaky basement</h2> <p>Even if you are not legally required to disclose all the problems with your home, there are some that you're better off listing. For instance, if your basement floods during heavy rain, don't hide it. Your new owners will find out when the next big storm hits, and you can bet they won't be happy. If you're unlucky, they might file a lawsuit against you for hiding this information.</p> <h2>3. A leaky roof</h2> <p>Disclose a damaged or leaky roof, too, if you haven't repaired it. This is another issue that can only remain hidden for so long &mdash; until the next rain, or until the home inspector discovers the problem. This can create all kinds of headaches right before your home sale is about to close.</p> <h2>4. Termite damage</h2> <p>Let potential buyers know if you've treated your home for termites or other dangerous pests. This is a problem you don't want showing up during a home inspection. It could scuttle your sale.</p> <h2>5. Damaged foundation</h2> <p>Repairing a damaged or sinking foundation is a big expense. You might be tempted to keep your home's foundation problems a secret, but don't. Potential buyers who order a home inspection will certainly uncover this major issue. Buyers, scared off by big future repair bills, might walk away from the sale.</p> <h2>6. Radon</h2> <p>Radon is a toxic gas that rises from the ground and up through the basements of some homes. Prolonged exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. Before you list your home, you should test its radon levels. If they are too high, you should pay for remediation services before listing your home.</p> <p>Many states require that you disclose high radon levels. If you know that your home has high radon levels and you haven't paid for professionals to solve the problem, disclose this fact. Hiding this information could leave you open to a future lawsuit.</p> <h2>7. Asbestos</h2> <p>We all know that asbestos is extremely toxic. Breathing it in can cause lung cancer and other serious health problems. Many older homes still have asbestos in them, usually as insulation wrapped around pipes or even in floor tiles. If you have asbestos in your home, your state might require you to disclose it. (Not all do.) Not doing so when legally required could open you up to an expensive lawsuit.</p> <p>Remember, not all asbestos is a problem. If it is hidden away in areas that you nor the buyers will ever access, you probably won't have to pay to remove it.</p> <h2>8. Mold</h2> <p>Mold problems are another big issue when selling a home. Most mold is harmless, but there are some varieties that can cause illness or respiratory problems. Because of this, many states require that you disclose past mold issues. If you've paid to have mold removed in the past, you should disclose this. You could again face a hefty lawsuit if you don't.</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/8-problems-home-sellers-must-disclose-to-buyers">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/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore">12 House-Hunting Red Flags You Can&#039;t Ignore</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-6-home-d-cor-flaws-ruin-your-house-hunt">Don&#039;t Let These 6 Home Décor Flaws Ruin Your House Hunt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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> Real Estate and Housing buying house damages disclosures home repairs lead leaks legal issues pests roof selling house termites Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:00:13 +0000 Dan Rafter 1918282 at http://www.wisebread.com Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-506317138 (1).jpg" alt="Making money moves before applying for a mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Each year, millions of people apply for a mortgage and purchase a home. This, however, shouldn't convince you that getting a home loan is a piece of cake. In reality, a mortgage is one of the hardest loans to qualify for. But if you make these money moves before meeting with a lender, you can swing the odds in your favor.</p> <h2>1. Pay off debt</h2> <p>Getting approved for a mortgage doesn't require zero debt, but the more you currently owe, the harder it can be to qualify for a desired amount.</p> <p>To avoid any roadblocks along the way, come up with a clearsighted plan to pay off as much of your debt as possible, especially <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit card debt</a>. A high <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a> &mdash; which is your credit card balance compared to your credit limit &mdash; can lower your credit score and make it difficult to qualify for a mortgage or trigger a higher mortgage interest rate.</p> <p>As a personal goal, keep credit card balances below 30 percent of your credit limit. To attain this, stop using cards and pay more than your minimums every month. Also, ask creditors to lower your interest rate. If you can pay less interest, you'll reduce the principal faster.</p> <p>Take it a step further and make higher monthly payments on other types of debts as well, such as a car loan, student loan, etc. This is to your advantage because the less expenses you have, the easier it'll be to adjust to a mortgage payment.</p> <h2>2. Determine what you're comfortable spending</h2> <p>Your mortgage lender decides an affordable amount based on your income and existing debt. Still, it helps to have an idea of what <em>you </em>are comfortable spending on a house before meeting with a bank. Typically, banks allow borrowers to spend between 28 percent and 31 percent of their gross monthly income on a mortgage payment.</p> <p>Do the math and calculate 31 percent of your gross monthly income, and then review your budget to see if you can realistically afford this amount on a monthly basis. After determining a comfortable monthly payment, use a mortgage calculator to estimate the maximum you can borrow based on the desired payment range.</p> <h2>3. Devise a savings plan</h2> <p>Qualifying for a mortgage entails money &mdash; lots of it. Not just money for the monthly payment, but also <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-start-saving-for-a-down-payment-on-a-home?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash for a down payment</a> (between 3.5 percent and 20 percent of the home's value), plus there's the cost of closing. These fees can run up to 5 percent of the purchase price.</p> <p>Even if you can afford a house payment at a certain price point, you'll only qualify for a particular amount if you have enough in reserves for mortgage-related fees. Let's say you want to purchase a $300,000 house. Your income may show an ability to afford the monthly payment. But if you only have $7,500 in savings for a down payment, instead of the required $10,500 (assuming you get an FHA home loan), you can't purchase the home. You then have two options &mdash; purchase a cheaper home, or postpone buying until you save additional cash.</p> <p>Once you have an idea of how much you'll spend on a property, devise a plan to save for your down payment and closing costs. Based on your amount of disposable income each month and your desired time frame for purchasing a property, decide how much to save. Keep this money in a designated high-yield savings account.</p> <h2>4. Pay your bills on time</h2> <p>There are no hard rules regarding how many late payments a lender allows within 12 or 24 months before applying for a home loan. If there are late payments on your recent credit history, it's up to your lender to calculate the risk level and determine whether you're creditworthy. To do this, some lenders request an explanation to assess whether lateness was due to irresponsibility or circumstances beyond a borrower's control. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <p>Either way, late payments in your recent history can result in a higher interest rate, which means you'll pay more for your home loan in the long run. Therefore, aim to pay all your bills on time. If you often forget due dates, set up recurring or automatic monthly payments.</p> <h2>5. Shop around for lenders</h2> <p>According to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, 47 percent of homebuyers don't compare mortgage lenders when applying for a home loan. What's even more surprising, 77 percent apply to only one lender at all. It might seem convenient to get this step out of the way ASAP, but it just doesn't make smart financial sense.</p> <p>When you're ready to apply for a home loan, you need to do research and shop around. Don't just settle for the first mortgage lender who approves you. You might be eager to get the process underway, but be patient. The first person to give you the green light might not be offering the lowest interest rates (or charging the lowest fees), which could mean the difference between thousands of dollars. Maybe they're just not the right fit for you, or they don't take the time to really earn your business. You won't know unless you compare, and that step can save you a lot of stress (and money) down the line. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Mortgage Secrets Only Your Broker Knows</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/4-reasons-why-youre-too-old-or-too-young-for-a-mortgage-loan">4 Reasons Why You&#039;re Too Old — Or Too Young — For a Mortgage Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a 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-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buying a home credit history credit score debt repayment down payments home loans mortgages saving money tax deductions Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:30:21 +0000 Mikey Rox 1908934 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Dumb, Costly Moves That Homebuyers Make http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-dumb-costly-moves-that-homebuyers-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-dumb-costly-moves-that-homebuyers-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_new_house_180809344.jpg" alt="homebuyers making dumb, costly moves" 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 costly moves that homebuyers make, when to book the cheapest flights for the holidays, and easy ways to spring clean your home in a day.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/7-dumb-expensive-moves-homebuyers-make/">7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers Make</a> &mdash; For most people, a home is one of the biggest purchases you can make. You want a proven professional to walk you through the process. Don't hire someone as a favor or try to do it yourself. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2017/0317/When-to-book-the-cheapest-flights-for-holiday-travel">When to book the cheapest flights for holiday travel</a> &mdash; When it comes to cheap holiday flights, there IS such a thing as buying too early. [The Monitor]</p> <p><a href="http://www.easyways.net/10-easy-ways-spring-clean-home-day/">10 Easy Ways To Spring Clean Your Home In A Day</a> &mdash; Make a list of the areas that need cleaning and assign tasks to family members. [easyWays]</p> <p><a href="https://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Where-Travel-Alone-43080336#photo-43080343">4 Cities That Are So Much Better to Experience on Your Own</a> &mdash; Plus, What to Bring &mdash; Urban explorers will love New Orleans. Bring a cute hat, sunscreen, and aspirin just in case &mdash; there are brass bands playing on every corner, you know! [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://shebudgets.com/lifestyle/careers/how-healthy-is-your-job-signs-that-your-job-is-hurting-you/71572">How &ldquo;Healthy&rdquo; is Your Job? Signs That Your Job is Hurting You</a> &mdash; You can put your life at risk if you constantly work over 40 hours a week. [SheBudgets]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="https://blog.allstate.com/quick-fix-3-ways-remove-pet-hair-gif/">Quick Fix: 3 Ways to Remove Pet Hair</a> &mdash; Use rubber or latex gloves to remove pet hair on upholstery.&nbsp; [The Allstate Blog]</p> <p><a href="https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/03/17/5-things-to-know-before-applying-for-social-securi.aspx?source=iedfolrf0000001">5 Things to Know Before Applying for Social Security</a> &mdash; If you're married, it's important to know how Social Security benefits for spouses work. [The Motley Fool]</p> <p><a href="http://www.stackthechips.com/planning-buy-foreclosure-follow-5-rules/">Planning To Buy A Foreclosure? Follow These 5 Rules</a> &mdash; Foreclosure laws vary from state to state, so you should get familiar with the laws that regulate foreclosure transactions in your area. Don't hesitate to hire a professional if you need help. [Stack The Chips]</p> <p><a href="https://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/how-to-learn-any-language-on-your-own-step-by-step-guide/">How to Learn Any Language On Your Own (Step-by-Step Guide)</a> &mdash; Reflect on past experiences and figure out the best way you've learned new things. When you know what methods do and do not work for you, you'll save a lot of time, stress, and hassle. [Pick The Brain]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/6-easy-ways-to-deal-with-a-bedwetter">6 Easy Ways to Deal With a Bedwetter</a> &mdash; Make sure your child pees right before bed. They may protest, but this might prevent an accident in the middle of the bed. [Parenting Squad]</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-dumb-costly-moves-that-homebuyers-make">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/these-are-the-8-most-common-homebuying-mistakes-foreclosure-experts-see">These Are the 8 Most Common Homebuying Mistakes Foreclosure Experts See</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/basic-tips-for-buying-a-bank-owned-home">6 Basic Tips for Buying a Bank Owned 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/8-ways-to-stage-your-home-without-hiring-a-pro">8 Ways to Stage Your Home Without Hiring a Pro</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/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter</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-smart-ways-to-lower-your-monthly-mortgage-payment">4 Smart Ways to Lower Your Monthly Mortgage Payment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing best money tips homebuying Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:30:15 +0000 Amy Lu 1911511 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Signs You're Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-495980844.jpg" alt="Learning signs that you&#039;re paying too much for your mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home can be a great step along the path to financial freedom, but it can also become a burden if you're not careful. A mortgage can be a heavy weight on your finances if you either buy a house you can't afford, or get locked into unfavorable loan terms.</p> <p>Here's how to tell if your mortgage is too expensive.</p> <h2>1. You Are Having Trouble Making Ends Meet</h2> <p>No matter what you do, you feel like you're struggling to get ahead financially. It always seems like there's only a small amount leftover at the end of each month to pay bills or place into savings. It could be that your house is weighing you down. If you're working too hard to get ahead with your money, it may be time to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance?ref=internal" target="_blank">refinance your mortgage</a> or move into a less expensive home.</p> <h2>2. It's Eating Up More Than 30% of Your Income</h2> <p>The federal government advises that homeowners should avoid paying more than 30% of their income on housing. The theory behind this number is that for most people, keeping payments below this level will leave them with enough to pay for other non-discretionary spending. Keep in mind that many lenders will approve prospective homeowners for a loan even if their payments would be above that 30% threshold. Lenders will often instead refer to a person's &quot;debt-to-income&quot; ratio, and will lend if that ratio is as high as 43% &mdash; and banks went even higher during the housing bubble.</p> <p>Even if you are comfortably able to make your mortgage payments, it's wise to try and get under the 30% threshold. After all, more money in your pocket means more money to take care of your other financial obligations, invest for the future, or simply enjoy life.</p> <h2>3. Your Interest Rate Is Higher Than Everyone Else's</h2> <p>It's very easy to get a fixed-rate mortgage, make the payments, and not concern yourself with how interest rates are going up and down. But you never want to be locked into a higher rate than necessary. If you bought your home more than a decade ago, chances are your interest rate is higher than what's available now. The rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is a little over 4% right now. If your rate is considerably higher, look to refinance and see what you can save.</p> <h2>4. You Are Barely Making a Dent in the Loan Principal</h2> <p>You've been making mortgage payments for years, but every time you look at your account statement, it seems like the principal balance barely budges. What gives? It's normal to pay mostly interest when you first get a loan, but over time your money should increasingly go toward paying off principal. If you find that you're not paying down the loan as quickly as you want, it could be because your interest rate is too high or your term is too long (or both.)</p> <h2>5. Your Income Has Gone Up</h2> <p>When you bought your house, your interest rate was based at least partially on your household income. But if you've received multiple pay raises since, you might qualify for a lower rate. Or, you may be able to refinance into a shorter loan term, thus saving you money in interest over time.</p> <h2>6. Your Credit Score Has Improved</h2> <p>A mortgage interest rate is also partially based on a homeowner's credit score when they apply for a loan. If your credit score was mediocre back then, there's a chance you got stuck with a high rate. If you've worked hard to be financially responsible ever since, your credit score may be much higher. Thus, you may be able to refinance your mortgage into a lower rate. According to FICO, a person with a credit score of 650 might pay as much as $100 more per month on a $200,000, 30-year fixed loan than someone with a score of 800. That could add up to tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a loan. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-raise-your-credit-score-this-year?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Raise Your Credit Score This Year</a>)</p> <h2>7. Your ARM Just Adjusted</h2> <p>During the housing bubble, many homeowners were lured into adjustable rate mortgages that offered low interest rates initially and then jumped after a certain number of years. (In 2005, these loans made up nearly 40% of the mortgage market.) Many families saw their payments increase sharply and beyond what they could afford. If you currently have an adjustable rate mortgage, make sure you are prepared to make payments once the interest rate adjusts upward. Otherwise, consider refinancing to a fixed mortgage with a low rate.</p> <h2>8. You Are Paying for Mortgage Insurance</h2> <p>Many lenders require borrowers to pay <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=internal" target="_blank">private mortgage insurance</a> (PMI) if they put less than 20% down on a home. This is to protect the lender if a home ends up in foreclosure. Mortgage insurance essentially adds to your cost of homeownership, often to the tune of hundreds of dollars annually. This requirement goes away once your principal balance drops below 78%. Ideally, you want to avoid paying PMI altogether by putting more than 20% down. This also means you're borrowing less overall and will save money in the long run. But if you can't quite save that much up front, work aggressively toward paying off your loan so you can get rid of the PMI requirement sooner.</p> <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/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-2 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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip">4 Tax Deductions New Homeowners Shouldn&#039;t Skip</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway">What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, Anyway?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing adjustable rate down payment fixed rate interest loans mortgage pmi private mortgage insurance saving Fri, 10 Mar 2017 10:00:23 +0000 Tim Lemke 1902766 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Things I Learned From Renting Out My Home on Airbnb http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-i-learned-from-renting-out-my-home-on-airbnb <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-things-i-learned-from-renting-out-my-home-on-airbnb" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-511477310.jpg" alt="renting your home on airbnb" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's a leap of faith to open up your primary home to paying guests. When I listed my family home on Airbnb while we were traveling, I had to accept the idea of strangers sleeping in our beds, snooping through drawers and closets, and perusing the shows on our DVR. I also had to accept the risk that something might be stolen or damaged. But most nerve-wracking for me was submitting my home to judgment. After each stay, guests are expected to rate my home on a scale of one to five, not just overall, but on cleanliness as well. Having your home and your hospitality critiqued on the Internet can be tough.</p> <p>The upside, of course, is the money. During one long trip, we earned enough on Airbnb to cover our own vacation lodging. Another trip paid for a new master bedroom set. The unexpected upside has been lessons &mdash; good and bad &mdash; that I've learned from the experience.</p> <h2>1. It Can Be Profitable if You Live in the Right Area</h2> <p>I've been pleasantly surprised to learn that because we live in the popular San Francisco Bay area, we are able to charge up to $200 a night for a home that would have otherwise been sitting empty. And I was amazed to read that another Bay Area Airbnb'er is close to paying the entire mortgage of a house in the mountains by renting it out, and that fellow Wise Bread writer Mikey Rox <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-rent-your-place-on-airbnb-and-succeed?ref=internal" target="_blank">bought a second home on his Airbnb profits</a>. My husband and I are now contemplating adding a bathroom to the lower level of our house, with the goal of renting out that area as a studio, even when we are home. We hope the rents will help pay for the project.</p> <h2>2. It's a Lot of Work to Prepare a Lived-In Home for Rental</h2> <p>Before hosting guests who are staying a week or more, I like to provide an empty drawer and some closet space in each bedroom, and generally declutter the house so that the guests can use every surface without being encumbered by all the junk my family usually has around. I knock off to-do list items such as getting a leaky faucet or a sticky door lock fixed, and scrutinize my house for fixable flaws such as scuff marks on walls or grubby shower grout. Then of course, I need to remove and lock up personal documents and valuables. All this takes <em>forever</em>.</p> <p>Prepping my four-bedroom home for rental typically takes me about 40 hours, meaning that the rental wouldn't even be a very good hourly rate, except for the fact that we enjoy returning to a decluttered home after our trips. On the downside, we sometimes can't find things that I've boxed up and stored away while we were gone.</p> <h2>3. People Are Generally Polite and Honest</h2> <p>Maybe we've just had good luck so far, but we have never come home to find that our home has been blatantly abused. Once I accidentally left a sheet of bank account passwords out &mdash; of all things! &mdash; and none of my accounts were breached. (Of course I changed all the passwords immediately.) We always have the house professionally cleaned before we return, but the cleaners have told us that the house is usually not terribly messy when they arrive.</p> <h2>4. Some People Are Complainers</h2> <p>A few times, we have had guests stay in our home at a discount in exchange for caring for our cats. They're pretty low-maintenance cats, and guests have enjoyed having them around. All except that <em>one</em> lady, who texted me daily to complain about the cats and various other problems around the house. Her constant kvetching ruined our trip.</p> <h2>5. You Must Be Completely Upfront About Any Potential Problems</h2> <p>In retrospect, I realized that although the guest mentioned above was probably just a complainer in general, one reason she was upset was that I had waited until the last minute to warn her about one potential behavior problem with the cats. She felt blindsided by that.</p> <p>On the flip side, we received one booking while the central heat in our home was unexpectedly inoperative. Not only did we get in touch to warn the bookers, we invited them over, since they were local, to check out the situation and determine whether the electric space heaters we'd borrowed were adequate. We gave them the option to cancel the booking, of course, but they opted to stay (at a discount) and left us a positive review.</p> <h2>6. Something Always Gets Broken</h2> <p>Despite the fact that people seem to have treated our home pretty gently, it seems some little thing is always awry when we return. A door will have stopped closing properly or a picture has been knocked off the wall and cracked. We've come to expect it as part of the cost of doing business.</p> <h2>7. Something Always Gets Left Behind</h2> <p>Some folks have left useful things in our house &mdash; the complainer left a small space heater, even though it was summer when she was staying &mdash; and since she never replied to my email asking if she wanted it back, we've enjoyed using it over the years. Others leave things that we don't notice until weeks later and then wonder where on earth it came from.</p> <h2>8. A Few Items Are Usually Moved Around</h2> <p>Although we've never had anything stolen, it's very common to come home and immediately notice something is not in its usual place. Once I searched and searched for the dishpan I always keep in the kitchen sink, finally locating it in the backyard. Naturally, dishes that have been used and washed are often put away in the wrong places. These little things, while not harmful, can be unsettling reminders that others have been using your things while you were gone.</p> <h2>9. You Have to Really Spell Things Out for People</h2> <p>Once I went to a bit of trouble putting together a nice gift basket for guests, with a fancy chocolate and a bottle of local wine. When we returned home, it was still sitting on the counter, untouched. The only explanations for this I could think of were the guests were non-drinkers or on a diet, or they didn't realize this was for them.</p> <p>Now, I always leave my guests an introductory note and specifically invite them to eat, drink, or use any of the things we've left for them. I also spell out house rules clearly, since things that might seem natural to us &mdash; like don't remove the dishpan from the kitchen &mdash; apparently aren't universally obvious.</p> <h2>10. People Use Airbnb for More Than Just Vacation Lodging</h2> <p>I've had a request to book my house for a school seminar &mdash; which I declined &mdash; and another from folks who are between moving out of their old home and moving into a new one. Since Airbnb encourages it, we typically hear from guests why they want to stay in our home, and it's kind of fun to learn that.</p> <h2>11. It's Hard to Get a Lived-In House &quot;Hotel Room&quot; Clean</h2> <p>Although our guests report positive experiences, we always get only four stars for cleanliness &mdash; despite the fact that we hire a professional cleaner to go over the house before they arrive, in addition to extra cleaning I do myself. This is a little embarrassing, but not that surprising when you think about it. Many rental houses are practically empty, with just a few cooking supplies in the kitchen. There's nothing in the closets or on the shelves to collect dust. Also, my home is almost 100 years old and the interiors are not up to date. Some surfaces are going to look a little dingy even when freshly scrubbed.</p> <h2>12. It's Hard to Find Lodging With a Lot of Beds for a Family</h2> <p>Most of the people who book our house are families, sometimes multiple generations traveling together. They've told us that our listing is often one of the few houses with enough beds for them available. When I see full-time rental units on Airbnb, I often wonder why more of them don't put a bunk bed or two in a room to increase the bed count.</p> <h2>13. Neighbors Are Probably Watching and Listening When You Rent Someone's Home</h2> <p>Every time we rent out our house, we ask neighbors to keep an eye on things. We never request that they <em>spy </em>on the guests, of course, but we tend to hear about it if the guests say anything about our house to neighbors, or if they do anything weird like put out an excessive amount of garbage on trash day.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div align="center"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F13-things-i-learned-from-renting-out-my-home-on-airbnb&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F13%20Things%20I%20Learned%20From%20Renting%20Out%20My%20Home%20on%20Airbnb.jpg&amp;description=13%20Things%20I%20Learned%20From%20Renting%20Out%20My%20Home%20on%20Airbnb" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <div align="center">&nbsp;</div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/13%20Things%20I%20Learned%20From%20Renting%20Out%20My%20Home%20on%20Airbnb.jpg" alt="13 Things I Learned From Renting Out My Home on Airbnb" width="250" height="374" /></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/13-things-i-learned-from-renting-out-my-home-on-airbnb">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/got-extra-space-make-money-and-meet-travelers-with-short-term-rentals">Got Extra Space? Make Money and Meet Travelers With Short-Term Rentals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-make-good-money-from-airbnb">5 Easy Ways to Make Good Money From Airbnb</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/turn-your-home-into-a-rental-in-9-easy-steps">Turn Your Home Into a Rental in 9 Easy Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-should-you-get-a-vacation-rental-instead-of-a-hotel">When Should You Get a Vacation Rental Instead of a Hotel?</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/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Income Real Estate and Housing Travel AirBnb home rental lessons learned life lessons real talk travel tips traveling vacation rental vrbo Thu, 09 Mar 2017 11:00:10 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1905993 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Surprising Ways Real Estate Cuts Your Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-121277252.jpg" alt="Learning surprising ways real estate cuts taxes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Once you own property, you may be eligible for a long list of tax breaks, whether you use it as your primary home, for rental income, or sell it for profit. Let's run through familiar benefits, such as the mortgage interest deduction, and also the various (stunning!) tax breaks real estate investors, landlords, and homeowners enjoy.</p> <h2>1. Mortgage Interest<strong> </strong></h2> <p>This is the most familiar of all deductions and one of the very few times that you can use the interest that you're paying to reduce your tax bill. Besides deducting mortgage interest that you're paying for the purchase of your primary residence, you can also deduct mortgage interest from a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit (HELOC).</p> <p>You can deduct up to $500,000 ($1 million if married filing jointly) in all mortgage interest used to buy, construct, or make substantial improvements in your first home (and second, if applicable). You can't, however, deduct any mortgage interest for purchases on a third home and so on. You can also deduct up to $50,000 ($100,000 if married filing jointly) from all home equity debt for reasons other than to buy, build, or substantially improve your first or second home.</p> <h2>2. Mortgage Interest Credit</h2> <p>Recipients of a mortgage credit certificate (MCC) by a state or local government under a qualified mortgage credit certificate program could be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to 20% of their annual mortgage interest. Figure this credit on Form 8396. The best part is that the remaining 80% of your mortgage interest is still eligible as a deduction!</p> <h2>3. Points</h2> <p>Charges paid by a borrower to secure a mortgage (also known as origination fees, maximum loan charges, or discount points) can generally be deducted. However, if you were to pay points to refinance an existing mortgage, you would amortize the points over the life of the mortgage. When you refinance a loan, your lender will send you a Form 1098 listing the points that you paid, but in the event that they don't, look for your points in your HUD-1 settlement sheet.</p> <p>Page 6 of <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p936.pdf" target="_blank">IRS Publication, 936 Home Mortgage Interest Deduction</a> provides a useful diagram to determine whether or not your points are fully deductible for this year.</p> <h2>4. Real Estate Taxes</h2> <p>You can deduct real estate taxes, including state, local, or foreign, you paid on real estate you own that wasn't used for business. Tally only taxes paid to government institutions and don't include itemized tax charges for services to specific property or people, such as a gardener or trash collection service. If you were to sell your property and receive a refund or rebate of real estate taxes, you would reduce your deduction by the amount of the refund or rebate.</p> <h2>5. Mortgage Insurance Premiums</h2> <p>You can deduct eligible mortgage insurance premiums provided by government authorities, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Rural Housing Service, as well as private mortgage insurance (PMI) issuers on loans issued after December 31, 2006. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, Anyway?</a>)</p> <p>In 2017, you can't deduct your mortgage insurance premiums if your adjusted gross income is more than $54,500 ($109,000 if married filing jointly). If your adjusted gross income falls between $50,000 and $54,500 ($100,000 and $109,000 if married filing jointly), your deduction is limited and you must use the Mortgage Insurance Premiums Deduction Worksheet to figure your deduction.</p> <h2>6. Capital Gains Exemption</h2> <p>Eventually, you may sell your real home. Depending on several factors, such as years of ownership, substantial improvements, and neighborhood developments, your home may have appreciated by several thousands of dollars. To lessen the tax hit on taxable capital gains from the sale of your property, the IRS may exempt up to $250,000 ($500,00 if married filing jointly) of that gain from your income.</p> <p>In general, you qualify for a capital gains exemption as long as you have owned and used your home as your main home for a period aggregating at least two years out of the five years before its date of sale. Consult <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p523/index.html" target="_blank">Publication 523, Selling Your Home</a> for more details. The beauty of this tax break is that there is no restriction as to how many times you can use it!</p> <h2>7. Investment Interest</h2> <p>Real estate investors also get a tax break on interest paid on money they borrowed that is allocable to property held for investment. Such investors need to use Form 4952 to figure out their investment interest expense deduction.</p> <p>Despite its name, this investment interest deduction doesn't cover interest gained from passive-income activities or securities that generate tax-exempt income.</p> <h2>8. Expenses for Business Use of Homes</h2> <p>Freelancers, independent contractors, and small business owners can deduct expenses for business use of their homes. With Form 8829, you can claim the area used regularly and exclusively for business to allocate a deductible portion from a wide range of expenses, including utilities and depreciation.</p> <p>If your deductions for home business are greater than the current year's limit, you can carry over the excess to 2017! This carry-over will be subject to the deduction limit for that year, whether or not you live in the same home during that year.</p> <h2>9. Tax Credits for &quot;Green&quot; Improvements</h2> <p>To encourage more energy efficient home improvements, the IRS provides tax credits for qualifying expenses. Here are two examples:</p> <ul> <li>Windows, doors, and skylights that met the ENERGY STAR program requirements and were installed between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 at the homeowner's primary residence may grant you up to $500 in energy efficiency tax credits.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Solar energy systems provide a tax credit of 30% of cost with no upper limit through December 31, 2019. The credit will decrease to 26% in 2020, drop to 22% in 2021, and goes away in 2022.</li> </ul> <p>To learn about other tax credit opportunities from energy efficient home improvements, visit&nbsp;<a href="http://www.energystar.gov" target="_blank">EnergyStar.gov</a>.</p> <h2>10. Deductions From Rental Income Activities</h2> <p>Rental real estate provides several tax breaks to landlords. For example, landlords could potentially deduct:</p> <ul> <li>Local transportation expenses to collect rental income or to manage, conserve, or maintain rental property;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Expenses for managing, conserving, or maintaining rental property from the time it was made available for rent;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Depreciation expenses for the wear and tear of rental property;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Local benefit taxes for maintaining, repairing, or paying interest charges for the benefits;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Legal and professional fees directly related to operating expenses; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Prepaid insurance premiums.</li> </ul> <p>To learn the full list of rental expenses and guidelines for deduction, consult <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p527/ch01.html#en_US_2016_publink1000218979" target="_blank">Publication 527, Residential Rental Property</a>. If you use some of your rental properties for personal purposes throughout the year, then you should hire a tax pro to appropriately deduct expenses for rental income. Hiring an accountant to report income from your rental activities is itself an eligible deduction, after all! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-you-should-splurge-and-hire-a-pro?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Times You Should Splurge and Hire a Pro</a>)</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/10-surprising-ways-real-estate-cuts-your-taxes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip">4 Tax Deductions New Homeowners Shouldn&#039;t Skip</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year">7 Lessons From Tax Day to Remember for Next Year</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/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-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/heres-why-a-30-year-mortgage-is-a-smart-financial-choice">Here&#039;s Why a 30-Year Mortgage Is a Smart Financial Choice</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Taxes business owners capital gains credits deductions energy efficient homeowners interest landlords mortgages rental properties Fri, 24 Feb 2017 10:00:13 +0000 Damian Davila 1897585 at http://www.wisebread.com