Increasing the Livability of Your Home

Home livability is a great thing to invest in, especially if you’re planning on staying in your home for awhile, or you want to increase the functionality and comfort of your home.

Here are some low-cost ways to increase the livability of your home.

1. Add a walk in pantry. This will reduce clutter in your kitchen, save you money on remodeling cabinets, and allow you easier access to many of the things you use daily.

2. Replace your bathtub with a shower. It’s cleaner, takes up less space, and uses less hot water than a bathtub. Showers are actually a great energy saver.

3. Group lots of windows together to showcase a great view. This provides a much more appealing view than having small, randomly placed windows with views of parking lots or neighbor’s siding.

4. Cathedral-style ceilings are not always the best option. It makes decorating the room more difficult, and it costs more to heat and cool.

5. Divide the master bath. Allow access to the master bath’s sink and toilet for the rest of the house. This could possibly save you from having to build an extra bathroom.

*Increasing the livability of your home does not necessarily always increase the market value of your home.

For more tips on increasing the livability of your home, check out this article from Inman News.

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Why Own a Home?

When you own your own home, you are able to build equity and reap certain tax and long-term financial benefits, that aren’t available to renters. Additionally, you become a (more) permanent resident of your chosen community, which is not without its own set of benefits as well. Here are the top three benefits to owning your own home:

  1. Financial benefits. You get tax deductions, you are able to build equity on your home, and you are eligible for loads of other financial benefits. Come tax day, you’ll be glad for mortgage interest payments and property tax obligations because they are (usually) both fully deductable. Additionally, sometimes closing costs, loan application fees, and appraisal fees are deductable as well.
  2. New friends. Housewarming parties, tailgating, cookouts, etc.; neighborhoods are kind of like a small little community within a community. So, when you remove that For Sale sign and move into your new home, you will discover tons of wonderful opportunities to get to you’re your neighbors, your neighbors’ friends and families, local workers, local vendors, and so much more. And hopefully you will develop positive relationships with your neighbors, which will really help turn your house into a home.
  3. Flexibility. Our needs change over time; one year we desperately need a home office, and the next year we need a nursery. Another great thing about owning a home is that you can change and remodel your home to offer whatever fits your needs best! Owning your own home gives you tons of options to change and adapt your space to fit all of your needs, so that you won’t have to worry about moving every time something changes.

Convinced? Click here to find a local real estate agent who can help you buy a home!

Some of the information in this blog was paraphrased from Inman News.

5 Things to Think About Before You Build a House in Auburn Township

Before you even start building a new home, there is a lot that you need to do. A lot of planning, budgeting, and forethought should go into such a task. Here are 5 tips that will help you stay on track, and on budget, when you are beginning to build a new home in Auburn Township.

1. Your Budget

  • How much can you afford to spend on building a home?
  • Don’t plan to spend so much that you go bankrupt afterward
  • Plan for hidden costs
  • Expect to be paying on a mortgage
  • Talk to someone about a construction loan
  • Plan out how much you will want to spend on the kitchen, the bathrooms, the basement etc.
  • Every square foot, whether it will be used or not, counts in the cost

2. Your Lot

  • Are you going to build in an existing development? A spacious country lot? You can find both in Auburn township, so which will it be?
  • Experts will need to examine the lot before building (they need to check soil conditions, durability of land, drainage patterns, zoning and building codes, underground piping, etc.)
  • Realize that your location may cause you to have to compromise on certain things you may want (there may not be room for an in-ground pool)

3. Your Team

  • Most likely, you will need to hire an architect, a builder and/or a contractor, an excavator, a home designer, and a surveyor.
  • Start by hiring a builder/contractor
  • Let your builder choose or recommend some of the other members of the team
  • Remember, you can hire or fire anyone; it’s your project
  • Anything you want, your builder can find a person to execute; but it won’t be for free. Don’t forget about your budget when you are considering adding an interior designer (not really necessary) to your team

4. Your Plan

  • You can find “stock plans” (a widely used template) for new homes and build based on that.
  • You can also look at current homes in the Auburn township area for ideas
  • You can ask your builder/designer to make minor changes to the “template”
  • You can also design your own home (you will need a licensed architect for this)
  • Choose (or create) a plan that will serve the needs of you and your family for at least the next 5 years
  • Focus on having a good foundation, and a structurally sound home versus the finishes on the wood used
  • Be willing to compromise on some things
  • Mistakes will happen, but choose your battles wisely
  • However, if something really doesn’t look right to you, question it-drastic flaws have to be fixed

5. Your Contract

  • A contract needs to be drawn up and signed between the builder/contractor, designer/ architect, and the home-builder.
  • Make sure you understand and approve of every clause in the contract; you are the one who will be paying for the home and the services rendered
  • The contract should describe the building project in detail
  • Include a comprehensive list of all parts to be incorporated into the house
  • If you or your team makes any changes down the road, make sure the change is reflected in the contract
  • ON YOUR OWN, keep track of additions, changes, and subtractions made to the contract
  • The house must be built in accordance with all codes and regulations-ask for proof of this from your builder

 

For more things to think about before building a home, check out these articles!

http://architecture.about.com/cs/buildyourhouse/bb/beforebuild.htm

http://architecture.about.com/od/buildyourhouse/a/buildyourhome.htm

Low Cost Kitchen Improvements that will Help You Sell Your Home

According to Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value Report, a minor kitchen remodeling project averages around $20,000, and a full remodel averages at about $111,000. Whew! That’s a pretty hefty price to pay, there’s no doubt about that, but it may be a necessary cost. Recent research has shown that the kitchen is the #1 room in the that home buyers are concerned about. In other words, your kitchen can make or break the deal when trying to sell your home. That doesn’t mean that you have to pay $111,000 to sell your home though; here are some ways to improve your kitchen without breaking the bank.

  • Borrow ideas from kitchens remodels that you see on TV, in movies, and in home and design magazines
  • Even a smaller investment of just $5,000 can make a huge difference in the function and appearance of your kitchen
  • Repainting is a cheap and simple way to improve the look of your kitchen
  • If you have to replace the countertops, use laminate instead of granite
  • Stainless steel appliances are very popular right now. If you can’t afford to replace your appliances though, opt for a stainless steel trashcan, toaster, paper towel holder, etc.
  • If you can afford to replace some bigger appliances, replace the refrigerator and the stovetop. These appliances will stand out most
  • Let in the light. Big windows and skylights are real sellers in a kitchen, but if that’s not in the budget, simply add some lights under the cabinets to help brighten up the room
  • Larger floor tiles (16-22 inches) look more modern than smaller (8 inch) tiles
  • Replace dated cabinets if you can, repaint if you can’t.
  • Add more kitchen storage. If you don’t have extra closet or cabinet space in the kitchen, pick a close-by area to set up shelving or drawers for kitchen items, such as canned goods, or even appliances
  • Knock out a wall if you have a smaller kitchen; big, open kitchens are more efficient and more popular with buyers in today’s housing market
  • If you plan on completely remodeling, or even just doing serious updating, it may be best to hire an architect or designer to help you with the project

Read the full article here.

 

9 Tips for FSBO Sellers

If you’re looking to list and sell your own home this fall, we’ve got some useful tips for you. Remember, selling your own home is very different from hiring a realtor to do it for you. So, if you’ve used a realtor before, or you know someone who has, don’t expect that same experience. Being a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) seller is a lot of work, but don’t worry, we’re here to help!

  1. Make sure you have a strategy in mind; what are you going to highlight about your home? What is the price going to be? What is your selling timeline? Are you going to have help from anyone? Who?…etc.
  2. You will need to have a marketing budget. This fund should account for costs of photography, home repairs, staging, advertisements, and more.
  3. It’s nearly impossible to sell a messy or extremely out-of-date home. You need to reduce clutter, landscape, update, and clean your home and yard before listing.
  4. Make sure that you have a complete understanding of the rules, regulations, and paperwork required in selling a home.
  5. Don’t rule out asking for advice or assistance when you need to, especially if you are facing foreclosure and need to sell your home quickly.
  6. Know what your home is really worth. Check out the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) reports and go from there.
  7. What was right for you might not be right for your buyers; be prepared to make changes, updates, and upgrades to really sell buyers on your home.
  8. Buyers will make reasonable requests (replace the stained carpet in the dining room), and they will make unreasonable ones (add an in-ground pool). Know which is which and have a plan ahead of time for how to deal with these requests.
  9. Be prepared for countless buyers coming to see your home at all hours of the day. Without a realtor to set guidelines for showings, you’re the one who has to deal with this.

To see the original article from Inman News, click here!

5 Ways to Cut Mortgage Costs

When you own a home, it becomes your most important and most expensive asset, so it only makes sense that your mortgage payments are pretty costly. The good news is, there are quite a few ways for you to cut your mortgage costs and perhaps even shorten the life of your loan.

The simplest way to cut mortgage costs is to make an extra payment on your mortgage each year. This may sound counterproductive, but in fact, making these extra payments ahead of time helps save you tons of money in interest costs. Extra payments will also help you shorten the life of your loan. Bi-weekly payments will help you to pay more throughout the year. By making a half-payment every 2 weeks (versus a full payment every month) you will make 13 full payments in a year (versus 12).

If you have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), drop it. Once your mortgage balance goes below 80% of the home’s value, you can petition to cancel your PMI, which could take hundreds off of your monthly mortgage payment.

If you think your home’s value may have dropped within the last year, have it re-assessed. If the value has gone down, your yearly taxes should go down with it.

Talk to your lender about resetting/ recasting your monthly mortgage payment; he or she will be able to tell you if you are eligible for this. If you are eligible, the life of your loan may be shortened and/or you may be able to make smaller monthly payments.

You can also talk to your lender about refinancing. Refinancing will allow you to have a lower interest rate on your mortgage; this is especially important right now because rates are at historic lows. NOTE: there are fees associated with refinancing, so talk to your lender and/or financial advisor before going ahead with it.

For more tips on saving money on your mortgage, click here.

How to tell if My Asking Price is Right

Is your asking price right? Is it too high? Too low? Pricing your home correctly from the start is very important; not doing so will certainly waste your time and money, as well as the time and money of potential buyers. And price reductions are something to steer clear of, so, here are some tips to help you avoid this and get your price right the first time.

  • Price your home according to homes in the area that have already sold
  • Don’t price your home according to surrounding homes that are still for sale
  • Pay attention to marketing trends in the area, and realize that these trends will affect the price and value of your home
  • Don’t price your home based on updates and improvements you’ve made
  • To price your home, use a newer appraisal (less than 3 months old)
  • Price your home in accordance with similar homes in the area, not higher or lower
  • Understand that buyers do not have the same special attachment to your home as you do, and they will not be willing to pay more for your home just because you think it’s special

If you didn’t price your home according to these rules, your home could be overpriced; here are a few ways to tell if your home is overpriced:

  • Despite several showings, you haven’t had an offer
  • Your home may also be overpriced if it’s been on the market for over 6 months
  • If your realtor thinks your home is incorrectly priced, they’re probably right
  • If you’ve marketed your home for a showing, but haven’t actually had any, your price and your home have been rejected from the market

Pricing your home too high or too low can be detrimental on many levels. The longer it takes your home to sell, the more money you are spending on marketing costs, rent, upkeep, etc. And if your home sells for too little, you’re also losing money. Talk to a realtor and make sure that your price is reasonable and fair so that both you and the buyer are happy.

This article and more was found on Realtor.com. Great advice for all! Check it out.