Talking Real Estate - October 2018

Julie Hesselmann

FINANCIAL ADVICE

Quick Ways to Build Equity

Equity is the percentage of market value that you own in your home. Your lender owns the rest, so your goal should be to pay the lender’s share (the principal) down and build your share (equity) up.

You don’t need to go to extreme lengths to pay down your mortgage. Just follow these few easy tips:

  1. Buy wisely. Buy as much home as you can without straining your resources, so you can occupy your home longer. Moving and closing costs eat away equity.
  2. Pay a little extra. Pay a little more every month toward reducing your principal. Use bonuses or cash back on your credit cards to apply to your mortgage. Making one extra payment a year could shorten your loan payoff by as much as four years, saving you thousands of dollars in interest.
  3. Pay off other debts. Don’t incur new debt. Spend less on automobiles, dinners out and other expenses. Pay off credit cards and student loans as quickly as you can, so you’ll have more money available to pay toward your mortgage.
  4. Make improvements. Keeping your home repaired and updated helps you preserve equity by making market value higher.
  5. Let time work for you. Think of your home as a savings account where the money you put in can be retrieved one day – with interest. Historically, homes have increased in value as much as three percent a year in normal markets, which is a great way to build instant equity.

HOMEOWNERS’ ADVICE

Winterize Your Home

Winterizing your home is one of the best ways to get comfortable and save energy costs. It’s not too late to get a few projects done before the holidays, so here’s a short weekend list of to-dos to help you.

Check the furnace. Typically, a heating system has a heat/cooling source, distribution system, and thermostat, so there is plenty of room for error. Make sure that your system is properly inspected and cleaned and has fresh filters according to maintenance directions. Call a master certified plumber to look for potential dangers such as carbon monoxide leaks.   

Check detectors. Since you’ll be indoors more, it makes sense to also check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. According to EPA.gov, smoke detectors with a UL rating have a useful life of 10 years so don’t just push the button to see if it’s working. Stick a real flame source, such as a candle or a match, to see if the detector can actually pick up on the smoke being emitted.

Check insulation. Energy leaks put a hole in your wallet, so do your best to identify and seal all leaks in your ceiling/attic and cracks in or around your windows and doors. A quick way to check if you have enough insulation is to go into your attic and look at your rafters-if you can see ceiling joists you can add some more insulation. Though this will be an expensive process, your heating costs will drop right away.

MORTGAGE ADVICE

Your Rights As a Borrower

When you shop for a mortgage loan, you have certain rights that are guaranteed by the federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Knowing your rights will help you get the best loan possible.

You have the right to:

  1. Receive equal treatment by the lender, so that a credit decision isn’t based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or whether any of your income is from public assistance.
  2. Shop for the best loan type for you, whether adjustable or fixed rate, and compare the fees of different lenders.
  3. Be informed about the total cost of your loan including the annual percentage rate (APR), points and other fees. Your interest rate is based on your credit history and credit scores, the borrowed amount and how much you’re putting as a down payment.
  4. Receive a Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure Form, formerly known as a Good Faith Estimate, before you agree to the loan and pay any fees. Compare the exact loan product you want as offered by two or more lenders.
  5. Know which fees are not refundable if you decide to cancel the loan agreement, such as the fee to research your credit.
  6. Ask questions about loan terms and fees that you don’t understand.
  7. Know the reason if your loan was turned down.

Ask your lender to show you the advantages and disadvantages of each loan product so you can choose the best one to suit your needs. As always, consult your financial advisor before making any decision.

HOME IMPROVEMENT ADVICE

Does Your Home Have An Odor?

You’ve worked hard to get your home ready to sell. You’ve cleaned, decluttered and painted. But there’s still one more thing you need to do – make certain your home smells great for every showing.

Here are four things to keep in mind to ensure your house smells fresh and clean for potential buyers:

Stuffiness. Energy-efficient homes lock in odors. Open the windows and air out stale, musty rooms. Steam clean carpets and curtains, wash all bedding, and store stinky athletic gear and out-of-season clothing and shoes away.

Pets. From goldfish to iguanas to cats and dogs, all pets produce odors. Dogs need baths, and most need brushing. Cat boxes need daily scooping. Animal cages need constant cleaning. Steam clean all fabric surfaces where pets sleep and play with their toys.

Food odors.  If you love foods like garlic, cabbage and fish, your kitchen holds odors, too. Clean your oven, burners, sink drains, and any other equipment that may carry odors. Grind up a lemon in the disposal and let the water flow. Clean out the refrigerator.

Mold and mildew. If you can smell moisture, it will soon turn worse. Check pipes and floors for leaks. Toxic mold can grow anywhere that contains cellulose, poor light, and low air circulation. Replace cloudy shower curtains and wash towels frequently. Replace cleaning and dish sponges with fresh scrubbing tools.

To keep your home showing-ready, wash dirty clothes and bed linens frequently. Take baby diapers and other disposables to the outside trash every day.

A good rule of thumb is – if you can’t remember when you cleaned it last, clean it now.

©2018 BHH Affiliates, LLC. Real Estate Brokerage Services are offered through the network member franchisees of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Most franchisees are independently owned and operated. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.® Information not verified or guaranteed. If your property is currently listed with a Broker, this is not intended as a solicitation. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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