Wednesday, July 10, 2019

How to Make your Home Look Expensive on a Budget

You want your home to look luxe, but your bank account has other ideas, know that
you don't have to spend a lot to make it look like you did.
Splurge on Focal Pieces. You may not be able to break the bank on every item in your
home, but consider splurging on attention-grabbing pieces.
Layer Rugs. Rugs are a cost-effective way to add warmth and style to a room. To create
a custom look, layer rugs beneath a furniture grouping.
Employ Trim. There's no way around it. Wainscoting, crown moldings and other types
of custom millwork make a home look elegant.
Use Paint to Your Advantage. Not only is paint affordable, but it is transformative.
Simply painting walls a sophisticated color will achieve the high-end look you desire.
Paint can also transform thrift-store furniture and decor. With many types of paint readily
available, you can easily alter textures within your design scheme. Use chalk paint to
distress a vintage table or a metallic spray paint to refresh picture frames.
Paint Front Doors. Set the tone from the moment a guest arrives at your house. Paint your
front door a color that complements your home’s interior. The door's color will anchor your
home while adding drama and style to your entryway.
Opt for Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring. Love the look of hardwood, but can't afford the
price tag? Luxury vinyl plank flooring is an affordable alternative. You can probably install it
yourself, which means you don't have to pay labor costs.
Fake It 'til You Make It. Expensive homes often have soaring ceilings. Your home's ceilings
may be decidedly lower, but you can make them look higher. Just hang your curtains closer
to the ceiling than the window frame. This creates an optical illusion that makes the room
seem taller.
Embrace Your Artistic Side. Large artwork is a great way to set your home apart, but it's
usually pricey. Try to make it yourself. Simply buy a huge, white canvas and create a masterpiece.
Display your art prominently in your home. When friends ask about it, just tell them you had
the piece commissioned by an up-and-coming artist!
Making your home look like a million bucks doesn't have to cost a fortune. You can achieve
a high-end look for less using some creativity and these tips.

For more ideas go to

Thursday, June 13, 2019

How to know if this house is right for you

Buying a house can be a daunting task, and the fear of buyer's remorse can cause serious anxiety.
How do I know this house is right for me?  Here are some things you'll want to consider before making
that decision:
Can I afford it?
Nothing is more disappointing than finding your dream home just to be told by the mortgage company
that it's out of your price range. Before venturing into the real estate market, meet with a mortgage
broker or bank representative to obtain an accurate number for purchase. This will help you to avoid
heartache and allow you to consider real options versus something that's not feasible because of
your budget.
Does this house meet my must-haves?
Make a list of your must-haves. Features such as number of bedrooms and bathrooms should be high
on that list.
Things such as walk-in closets, an ensuite might be negotiable; however, if you're unwilling to
compromise on certain amenities, be sure to only look at properties that offer them.
Is this property in the right area?
Narrowing down where you want to live is crucial. Are there parks? Trails? Do I add time to my commute?
Am I near amenities important to me and my family? Questions like these will help determine if you're
looking in the area that will best suit your needs.
Is this house right for my future?
For young couples, single buyers and small families especially, it's vital to ask yourself if this is a home
you can grow into. What is your plan? Do you want to start a family here? If your answer is yes, then
the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as separate living space, are all things to take note of.
 You can feel it.
Trust your gut when something feels off about a house. You'll know a house is right for you and your
future by the feelings you have while looking at it, walking through it and when it comes time to move in.
If you're trying to convince yourself a house will work or that you love it, chances are it won't and you
don't. At the end of the day, trusting your instincts will guide you to the perfect house while helping
you avoid the ones that aren't.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

3 Reasons Americans Count on Their Homes After Retirement

Retirees who own their homes outright are often at an advantage over their renting—
and retired—counterparts. There are two reasons for this: their housing costs are generally
lower, and they have access to safety-net cash in the form of home equity.
However, all homeownership is not created equal. For example, if you move often, owning
a home outright by age 62 can be challenging.
Since the big goal for retirement is to eliminate as many expenses as possible, erasing
a monthly housing payment is optimal. Having a long-term financial plan, including what
homeownership looks like in retirement, is extremely important. Renters who plan on
staying in the same general area for years to come should consider buying.
1. Benefit of eliminating monthly payments:
The twin bridesmaids of finances are income and expenses. When people retire, the money
coming in usually shrinks, which means so should the money going out. A mortgage payment
is one expense soon-to-be retirees should try to get rid of. If you can be mortgage-free by the
time you reach retirement, you'll be in a good position.
Mortgage-free retirees can save hundreds or thousands of dollars each month. Even with
property insurance, and taxes, the cost of owning a home is often less than renting.
Not only can retirees save on their housing costs; they can also make money on their homes.
Retirees who travel can earn money while they're on vacation through sites like Airbnb.
Another option to get extra cash flow is to rent a room. Downsizing can also save you money.
Going from a large family home to a cozy condo or smaller house can reduce utility costs as
well as allow you to cash out some equity in your home to fatten your nest egg. For people
not ready to sell, there are other options that allow you to tap the equity while keeping the house.
2. Benefit of having access to home equity, if needed.
There are several ways homeowners can tap the equity in their home without putting up
a for-sale sign; two of the most common ways are a cash-out refinance and a home
equity line of credit, or HELOC.
Equity-rich homeowners who want to lower their mortgage interest rate might consider
a cash-out refinance.  
A cash-out refinance is almost like selling your house to yourself. The bank would cut you
a check for the equity, which is the difference between what you owe on the house and
the market value. If your home is worth $200,000 and you owe $100,000, then you have
$100,000 of equity in the home.
Banks usually limit the amount you get to 80 percent of the total equity. That means with
$100,000 in equity, the bank might give you $80,000. The amount you qualify for is usually
based on income, credit score and other determining factors.
Now comes the tricky part: When you do a cash-out refinance, you'll get a new mortgage.
If your interest rate is high because of poor credit or market conditions and you think you
have a chance of getting a lower interest rate with a new mortgage, then a cash-out refinance
might be an appealing way to access your equity; however, if your mortgage interest rate
increases with a new mortgage, then you should consider other options, such as a HELOC.
Something else to keep in mind is the fact that a new mortgage usually means going back
to square one if you choose a longer term. If your house is a few years away from being
paid off, restarting the clock is probably not a good financial move.

3. Even with a mortgage, there are  liquidity options.
For people who want to keep their homes and existing mortgages while tapping their
home equity, one alternative is a HELOC.
The benefits of HELOCs are that you only pay on what you use and the interest is tax-deductible
if you use it to repair or upgrade your home. For retirees who want to retrofit their homes to
make life easier, such as installing stair lifts, grab bars and handrails, a HELOC could be a good
way to fund those upgrades and get a tax break. It is important to remember that once you use
that equity, it will likely take years and even decades to rebuild it.

The dual benefits of lowering your living expenses and having access to cash in emergencies
are great reasons to sail into retirement without a home loan springing a leak in your budget.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tips to reduce energy consumption during holidays

Trying to make your home eco-friendly through the holidays doesn't have to be a burden.
It's the most wonderful time of the year! The smell of pine and cinnamon, cookies baking
in the oven, lights twinkling inside and outside your home, and… An enormous electric bill.
If you're thinking about having a greener holiday season, try the following tips:
Use Better Lights
Try LED or energy-efficient bulbs instead of traditional ones. Incandescent lights draw up to
90% more watts than LED lights, so switching to LED strands—or going with wreaths, bows
and lawn ornaments that don't use energy—can save you a ton.
Use Smart Plugs
It's easy to forget to unplug decorations and lights, but doing so can make a real ding in your
monthly budget. That's where smart plugs come in handy. Some smart plugs can also be
programmed to run on a timer or manually from an app on your smart device. When you're
toasty in bed, you can turn off your lights to save on energy. Plus, if you're away on vacation,
you can pull a "Home Alone" and make it look like you're home, which can help deter holiday theft.
Cook Wisely and in Batches
Holiday cooking is one of the best parts of the season. This season, when you're making lots
of cookies, roasts and goodies, remember to bake in batches so you don't waste energy heating
and re-heating the oven.
Also, use appropriately-sized cookware. Glass or ceramic pots and pans can be heated to 25 degrees
less than recipes recommend, and cast iron retains heat easier, making these types of cookware
a good option to help you save more on energy costs. And don't forget that the oven will act as
a temporary space heater when you're cooking, so be sure to turn down your thermostat.
Carols around the fireplace, anyone?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Buying a Vacation Home

Pretty often people returning from vacation trip start thinking about buying a vacation home rather
than paying for a hotel or a rental place. Unless you're fairly wealthy, you'll need to make sure
you can commit to buying a seasonal home before you start shopping around. Ask yourself the
following questions:
1. Can you afford to own a vacation home? If the answer to that question is yes, it is probably
wise to buy. Remember, the purchase price is only part of the cost of owning a vacation home.
You'll have to pay utility bills, maintenance fees and insurance premiums. And depending on
where your home is located, you could also be responsible for paying homeowners association
To decide whether you have enough money in the bank for a vacation home, ask yourself the
following questions:
  • Do you have emergency savings (at least three to six months' worth of take-home pay)?
  • Can you make a 20 percent down payment?
  • If you have kids, have you already put aside enough money for a college fund?
  • Can you still put away enough money for retirement?
  • Does it fit in with your long-term investment strategy and financial goals? If you answered
  • "Yes" to most of these questions vacation home is right for you!
2. While visiting an area that might become the location of your future home, do your research
and take the time to understand what the surrounding area has to offer. You'll also want to make
sure you visit during different parts of the year. So that you can get a feel for what it's like to live
there during different seasons. For example, when you retire, the amenities included in a vacation
home may take a backseat. Having access to a hospital and activities that improve your overall
health and well-being may be critical.
3.  Buying a seasonal home could be worth considering if you know how you're going to use it.
Maybe you view the home as an investment property that can serve as an additional source of income.
Maybe you've decided that you're going to find guests online through a website like Airbnb or Vacation
Rental by Owner (VRBO). If that is the plan, you'll probably need to hire someone to clean your home
and check for signs of damage and theft before new guests arrive. Keep in mind that rental income
will be taxed, and that you should be prepared to pay taxes.
For many people, the decision to purchase a vacation home is serious. If you decide to take that leap
of faith and you already have homeowners insurance, make sure you find out whether your current
policy will cover a second home. Also, if you intend to rent out the property, consider purchasing rent
loss insurance. It covers the loss of rental income following natural disasters and catastrophic incidents.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Finding Your Starter Home

Tips to Help You Find a Starter Home

A starter home isn't necessarily your forever home. Be prepared to make some compromises to get
your foot in the homeownership door. Be open-minded about the location, size and condition.  

Look for an older home in a well-established neighborhood. Resales typically cost less than
brand-new homes. Older homes typically need more maintenance and repairs, which offset some
of the savings; however, buyers who choose a used home might be able to do repairs and renovations
over time, pacing themselves to make the cost manageable.

Buyers who sacrifice location for affordability can find themselves in a neighborhood far from major
job centers with a long daily commute and expensive transportation costs. Sometimes that
trade-off makes sense, but not always

When you're up against stiff competition, working with an experienced real estate agent is key.
A good agent shines when it comes to negotiating the deal and writing a strong offer. Your agent
may suggest certain strategies to win in a competitive market, such as limiting contingencies or
writing a personal letter.

When a well-priced starter house comes on the market, the quest to buy it can be extremely competitive.
To entice sellers offer above asking price (if you can afford to), keep repair requests to a minimum, or allow
the sellers more time to move.

To search for homes anywhere go to