Tiffany Pesonen's Blog
It’s no secret that the best time to finance a home is when mortgage interest rates are low. You could save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your mortgage if you finance at the right time. With interest rates still being low, some wonder why more people aren’t refinancing their homes, especially if doing so would save them $100 or more a month on their mortgage payments.
Although low interest rates are a primary reason to consider refinancing a home, it’s not the only reason. Other reasons to consider refinancing include:
- Ready to adjust length of the loan – Refinancing your home could allow you to extend the number of years that you have to pay for your house, potentially lowering your monthly installments. Just be careful that you don’t end up paying higher interest rates in the long term. Of course,you could also shorten the length of your loan. Generally, this option will find you paying less interest over the lifetime of your loan.
- Moving to a fixed rate mortgage – Adjustable rate mortgages may start out low, but they don’t always remain low. Even with a fixed rate mortgage, you could spend more on your house each month due to an increase in home owner association fees or property taxes.
- Improved credit scores – Stronger credit scores could help you to get a better adjustable rate mortgage.
If you’ve had your mortgage for several years, you may have paid on a good deal of the principal. Refinancing and starting with a new loan could backfire, causing you to pay more interest. If you have a lot of equity in your home but you’re struggling to stay current on your monthly mortgage payments, consider renting out a room at your house.
You could also work a part-time job, even if you work a remote job from home, until you become current in your payments. A few months of work change could save you money and headaches down the road if you only need $200 or less each month to make your mortgage. Other alternatives would be to become more energy efficient and to create and stick to a budget. Think short and long term gains.
Depending on your existing mortgage, you may or may not be charged a fee to refinance your home. Some mortgages charge a prepayment fee to refinance. Simply because you’re paying the loan off early, you could be assessed the fee. Definitely check with your lender to see if such a clause is in your mortgage contract.
Take your time shopping around for a better mortgage. Regardless of the lender that you refinance your home through, you may pay refinancing fees. Some lenders may also require you to pay for another home inspection, application fee,origination fee and closing costs. Factor in all charges and fees that you will incur if you refinance your home before you sign on the dotted line.
If your home no longer meets your family’s needs, moving to a new house might be a better option than refinancing. Another time when you might not want to refinance your home is if your kids are getting ready to start college and you’ll be taking on student loans.
For many families, the kitchen is the most important room in the house. With the exception of homes that have narrow galley kitchens, this living space is often thought of as the nerve center or heart of a home.
The kitchen is typically the focal point of everything from meal preparation and consumption to holiday parties and social gatherings . It's usually the first place families congregate in the morning and often the last place they see each other before going to bed. Choosing a kitchen that's a good match for your lifestyle and decorating tastes can have a major impact on your satisfaction with a new home.
Starting out your home search with a clear idea of what your ideal kitchen should look like will increase the likelihood of bringing that image into reality. Perusing kitchen design stores, websites, and magazines is often a good starting point for developing a clear mental picture of what you want There are dozens of features and characteristics to keep in mind when searching for the ideal house, but the most important ones can be boiled down to three categories:
Space: If you entertain a lot or have a big (or growing) family, a spacious kitchen is probably the best match for your needs. The same thing holds true if you want an eat-in kitchen or if you tend to have more than one person preparing meals at the same time. Without enough space to accommodate your family's habits and lifestyle needs, the kitchen can quickly become cramped quarters. Another vital aspect of kitchen space is cabinetry and storage. For most people, the ideal kitchen would include plenty of cabinets, shelves, drawers, and closets that would provide storage space for dishes, non-perishable food items, kitchen implements, pots and pans, and cookbooks. Last, but not least, having a sufficient amount of counter space and food preparation area can often make the difference between a great kitchen and a marginal one.
Design: When it comes to modern kitchen design, the choices are mind boggling and virtually limitless! Some of the more basic decisions, however, typically revolve around questions like cabinet color, countertop material, flooring, lighting, color choices, backsplash patterns, and the desirability of a kitchen island.
Functionality: Some kitchens are more functional than others, but a lot depends on the size of your family, the amount of time you and your spouse spend cooking and preparing food, and how often you entertain. The configuration of a kitchen should -- and usually does -- enable the "chef" to move around efficiently and quickly between various food preparation areas, including the refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, sink, and counter areas. If you happen to do a lot of cooking, baking, and entertaining, a kitchen with a double oven may be the best option for your needs. A larger-than-standard refrigerator may also be a better fit for your lifestyle.
While there's never a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the right kitchen design, forming a clear vision of what you want is always a good starting point for getting it!
- Finances. We hate to put it first, but the reality is your finances are one of the main things that determines your preparedness for becoming a homeowner. Unlike renting, there's a lot more that goes into the home financing process than just your income. Banks will want to see your credit score to ensure you have a history of paying your bills on time. They'll also use your credit information to see how much debt you have and if you'll be able to take on homeowner's expenses on top of that. Another financial impact for buying a house is to determine if you can afford a downpayment. It's one thing to see that you can cover your bills with your income, but unless you have enough money saved for the downpayment (and any emergency expenses that may come up) you should wait a while and save before hopping into the market.
- What are your longterm plans? Many people are excited at the thought of home ownership to the extent that they forget their life circumstances. If you have a job that might cause you to relocate in the next 5-7 years you might want to consider renting rather than buying. Depending on factors like the price of the home, cost of living in your area, and how long you plan on living in your new home, it may be cheaper to buy or rent in the long run. There are calculators available online that will tell you which option is probably more cost-effective for you. As a general rule, however, if you plan on living in a new home for under 5-7 years, it might be cheaper to rent.
- Do you have the time and patience to be a homeowner? Owning a home means you can't call on the landlord to fix your leaks anymore. Similarly, you probably won't be able to depend on someone else to shovel snow or mow the lawn for you. It takes work to be a homeowner, and if your job has you away from home for long periods of time or working very long hours, renting might not be appropriate at this time.
- Plan for new expenses. If you can comfortably pay rent and you find out your home loan payments will be comparable, you should know that there will likely be new expenses to consider as well. Home insurance, property taxes, and expenses for things like sewer, plumbing and electrical repairs all should be taken into consideration. Additionally, you will likely have new utility bills, including electricity, water, oil, cable, and others depending on the home.
If you’re ready to sell your home, you may wonder if you can do it all on your own or if you need an agent to help you. If you understand what a listing agent can help you to do, you’ll better understand their value.
Listing Agents Help You To Price Your Home
Pricing your home for sale is one of the most challenging parts of selling. Your listing agent can help you to take some of the pressure off. They will do the market research and help you come to that sweet spot for the price. How much your home goes on the market for matters because if the home is priced too high or too low, it can cause buyer interest to dwindle. If the home isn’t priced right, it can leave buyers wondering if there’s something wrong with the property or if a better deal will be available on the home at a later date. The price of a home is all part of the marketing strategy.
Advertising Your Home Listing
Realtors will be responsible for advertising your home listing. Your home for sale will be available across multiple listing services, giving your home the best chance of being seen by the right buyers.
Coordinating Open Houses And Showings
Hiring a listing agent can save you a lot of time. Your agent will coordinate your open house and advertise it. Their phone will also be the phone that’s ringing when people want to schedule showings for the house. The agent will coordinate convenient times with you but they will handle the overall scheduling and contact with buyers.
Questions To Ask A Prospective Listing Agent
- How many homes have you sold in this area?
- What price range property do you have the most experience with?
- How long has it typically taken for a home to be sold?
- What could be improved in my home to help it sell?
- What is the marketing plan?
- Who is the team that works with you?
- Will you be taking photos or can we hire a professional?
- Will we be using video marketing?
All of these questions can help you to understand whether you’re hiring the right listing agent for the job of selling your home. Listing agents work hard to earn that commission from the sale of your home. They want nothing more than satisfied clients. Your listing agent will also appreciate your recommendation for a job well done. Know that while you can sell your home on your own, there are many benefits to hiring a listing agent.
If you're in the market for a new home, one of the first things you need to determine is how much of a monthly mortgage payment you can comfortably afford. A loan officer or mortgage broker can help you figure that out, based on your income, debts, and other information.
One thing they probably won't include in the equation is the cost of home maintenance and other essential services, like garbage collection.
Ultimately, it's up to the homeowner to build in enough "breathing room" in their budget to cover unexpected expenses. Although you can't predict exactly what those expenses will be or how much they'll cost, it's virtually guaranteed that they're going to occur. Whether you're planning to buy a new house or a mid-century dwelling, here's the short list of typical homeowner expenses that could crop up. While all these items may not apply directly to your situation, many of them eventually will.
- Plumbing repairs: Leaky pipes, clogged drains, and broken plumbing fixtures are common problems in most homes. You may also need a plumber to fix or install a garbage disposal, repair or replace a hot water heater, or hook up a new refrigerator to your water supply.
- HVAC services: When you combine the cost of semi-annual routine service calls and unexpected emergency repairs, the cost of maintaining your heating and cooling systems can really take a bite out of your household budget!
- Appliance repair: The typical family depends on at least a half a dozen major appliances to prepare meals and keep their clothes and dishes clean. When one or more of those appliances break down, chaos can ensue! In many cases, it's more cost-effective and practical to call a repair service than buy a new appliance.
- Exterminator services: Regardless of whether you live in the city or the country, unexpected and unwelcome insects, rodents, and other miscellaneous varmints can show up in your home and yard. Sometimes it's even necessary to call a wildlife control specialist to remove skunks, raccoons, and other intruders!
- Electrical repairs and upgrades: Although electrical repairs are occasionally needed for safety reasons, most calls to electricians are more routine in nature. However, when light switches, electrical outlets, and ceiling lights stop working, it can be a huge inconvenience for you and your family. In some cases, you might even be desperate enough to pay extra for emergency electrical service on weekends!
- Miscellaneous expenses: Garage door repairs, fireplace cleaning, swimming pool maintenance, deck repairs, rain gutter cleaning, professional carpet cleaning, landscaping, fence repair, home siding repair, and wet basement problems are a few of the many expenses that may require you to dip into your savings or household budget.