Posted by Peggy Farber on 10/11/2017

Great curb appeal isn't limited to houses that are on the market. Head turning curb appeal can make you feel good every time you drive in front of your house, pull into the driveway or step up the front walkway. House walkways that catch your eye as soon as you spot a house in the distance start with the material that house walkways are made of.

Material for great house walkways

Concrete isn't the only material that great house walkways are designed with. If you do go with concrete, check out different colored concrete walkways when you visit a house goods store or an exterior design shop. For example, if your house is burgundy red and white, you could install a burgundy red and white checkered concrete walkway. Other material that great house walkways are made with include:

  • Brick - The Wizard of Oz isn't the only place where brick walkways work wonders. As with concrete walkways, consider installing brick that's one or more colors that complement colors that your house is built with.
  • Rock - Smooth, rustic or lightly colored rocks made good walkways, especially if the smooth rocks are bordered by plants or flowers. You can also border this type of house walkway with one to two feet high rock walls.
  • Large stones that are built into cement or concrete won't pop into your shoes as you make your way in or out of your house. This is another time when fall colors like reds, greens and browns do wonders. Choose between three to five colors when picking large stones for your front walkway. Make sure that the stones are smooth and even, so people don't trip over them.
  • Gravel - Similar to rocks, you can get gravel indifferent colors, sizes and shapes. The downside of a gravel walkway is that the gravel can get inside your shoes.

Winding front walkways offer an elegant look, especially when they are bordered with gorgeous trees, bushes, flowers or plants. To encourage safety, keep bushes trimmed low so would be burglars can't hide behind them. Also, keep trees far enough away from your house to avoid turning trees into hiding places for would be intruders.

Ground lights that turn on at sunset or when someone starts to make their way up your front walk offer design and safety. Check out four or more outdoor walkway light designs to get more creative ideas on how you can get the walkway you want within a few days.

Don't stop at your walkway. Install wood floorboards and rustic furniture on your front porch to add even more curb appeal to your house. Colorful flowers, plants and uniquely designed ceramic or metal art pieces also bring out your front porch's best features.

Another simple move to great house walkways is to keep your walkways clutter free. Remove garbage pails from the sides of walkways. Return the lawn mower and other outdoor equipment to the basement or garage instead of leaving them on the lawn or next to front walkways.




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Posted by Peggy Farber on 10/4/2017

First time homeowners aren't the only people who are making this financial mistake. Millennials also aren't alone when it comes to approaching home ownership with short sight. Even the Great Recession hasn't stopped everyone who wants to own a house from thinking that they'll come out ahead if they wait until after they buy a house to starting putting money toward their mortgage.

Preparing to buy a house smartly could take years

Settling for making monthly mortgage payments, despite what the lender equates those payments to be, is a mistake. Negotiating for lower mortgage payments is only part of it.

The size of your mortgage down payment is significant. Don't wave this off. In fact, as soon as you become serious about buying a house start saving for your mortgage down payment.

Ways to save for your mortgage down payment include investing half (or more) of your quarterly or annual bonus toward your down payment and depositing your tax refund in an interest bearing account.

Money that you earn from a part-time job, including a virtual gig, could also go toward your mortgage down payment. Instead of tossing out clothes that you no longer wear, sell them to a consignment store and deposit the money into an interest bearing account.

Forward movement pays off

Keep saving  until you save at least 20 percent of the total cost of the house that you want to buy. Don't get fooled into thinking that there is only one house that you'll love. After all, you could buy land and have your dream house built on that land.

In addition to having the leverage to put a hefty down payment toward your mortgage, you'll have leverage to negotiate a better mortgage deal from your lender. You might even secure a mortgage with a lender who would never have approved you for a home loan if you didn't have a huge down payment.

Tax write offs may not be enough to subtract pain caused by this single mortgage regret

The government gives people tax deductions for owning a house for good reason. A house is probably the biggest expense that Americans will take on. Buying a house also helps the economy. It makes good sense to reward home buyers with a tax deduction.

But, even tax deductions may not help homeowners recoup the money that they'll lose by overpaying on their mortgage because of poor decisions that they made before they met with their lender. Poor home buying financial decisions could set Americans up for years of hard-to-make mortgage payments.

This single decision damages personal credit, destroys marriages and causes unsuspecting homeowners to lose their houses, sometimes years after struggling to pay their mortgage. Root of the single act that leads to years of mortgage regret is wishful thinking. The price of this wishful thinking is too high to want to take on. It leaves you unprepared.




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Posted by Peggy Farber on 9/27/2017

Owning a home is expensive. Aside from your mortgage, you also have to pay for insurance, utilities, property taxes... the list goes on.

It may seem like there are few ways to cut back on the expenses of owning a home. However, one of the most effective things you can do to save money as a homeowner is to do your own maintenance. The cost of home repairs can add up, especially if you live in an older home or in an area where services like plumbers and electricians arenít accessible or affordable.

With a little research and some hard work, however, maintaining your home can be a source of pride and of saving yourself money.

In this article, weíll cover the basic home maintenance and home improvement knowledge that will save you money, and point you in the direction of some resources that will help you attain those skills.

Maintenance is key

To increase the longevity of appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers, youíll need to perform some mundane tasks regularly. That includes cleaning filters, fans, and going online to order new ones when necessary. In the same way that failing to change your oil filter will result in a much more expensive issue, so will failing to properly maintain your appliances.

In a world where companies are making it increasingly difficult for consumers to repair their own devices, itís more important than ever to learn the basic skills needed to make simple repairs.

What you should do before repairing anything

There are some precautions you should take before repairing or maintaining things like appliances. First, always be sure the item is turned off and unplugged before working with its components.

Next, refer to the manual first, but if that fails, search for tutorials online such as on YouTube for your particular model. Always keep in mind that sometimes warranties are void if you attempt repairs yourself,  so make sure the repair youíre attempting is easy enough so that you donít risk losing your warranty.

The right tools for the job

It might be tempting to go down to The Home Depot and fill a cart with power tools when you buy your first home. Remember, however, that certain tools are more useful than others. Find out which tools youíll be using most often. Odds are theyíre simple, inexpensive hand tools that will fit in a small toolbox. Some power tools, such as a cordless drill, will probably be worth the investment as long as you take care of the batteries.

Donít throw out good materials

Ample storage space is a problem many homeowners face. But if you can spare the space, hold onto materials from previous projects that might come in handy. Some examples include:

  • Paint. You donít want to have to go back to the store and mix a new can of paint just for a touch-up.

  • Nails and screws that come with your purchases. Sometimes the screws are designed specifically for whatever youíre building. Save your backups so you donít have to buy a new bag if one is lost.

  • Wood. Having extra wood around can come in handy for any number of home improvement projects.




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Posted by Peggy Farber on 9/20/2017

The bathroom can quickly become one of the most neglected rooms of the house. Sure, we need to clean it often. We certainly use it often enough! We probably never think to update the bathroom in small ways. Thereís many quick things that we can do in the room that allow us to refresh the room without a total overhaul. 


Add A New Mirror


Adding a new mirror not only will brighten the room, it could make a small bathroom appear larger. A new medicine chest with a mirror attached is also a great option that helps you to stay organized and keep medicines and other essentials hidden from plain sight. Adding lighting to a mirror is another bonus that will add some function and a new element to your room. Place a mirror strategically for a room that looks larger.    


Add Some Fresh Paint

A fresh coat of paint in a room can work wonders. You can update the color of the space and completely transform it by adding new matching shower curtains and accessories. 


Make Sure Your Cabinets Are Functional


Itís not practical to have storage in your bathroom that you canít use. If you have things stored in the bathroom, be sure that you can actually get to all of the items. If you need to install pull-out shelves or baskets for easier access, do so. If your bathroom looks nice, but isnít very easy for you to use or find anything, itís not working for you.


Update The Tile


While this sounds like quite a project, installing tile isnít too hard of a DIY. You can buy types of tile that basically are a no-brainer to install. With the right measurements, there wonít be a ton of cutting tile and filling in the cracks. The most difficult part of this project could actually be removing the old tile. 


Change The Light Fixture


Just this one simple change can actually make your bathroom look like a whole different room. Choose a light fixture that will have a dramatic effect on the room and match the desired style.


Replace The Countertop


Bathroom countertops donít get quite as much attention as kitchen countertops do. The truth is that changing the area of the bathroom countertop, along with anything else you choose to do, can really have an impact on the room. You donít need to find an expensive material. Just pick something that will go with the room and that you love. 


Refinish Cabinets


Any cabinets that you may have in your bathroom could be refinished to breathe life into the room. Itís fairly simple to refinish cabinets that arenít in tough shape. All youíll need is some sandpaper and fresh stain for the wood. If the style permits, you could even repaint your cabinets for a new appearance.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 9/13/2017

 

Two thirds of American homeowners are somewhere in the process of paying off a mortgage. It may seem like common sense that everyone should try to pay off their mortgage sooner rather than later. However, there are circumstances when it benefits a homeowner more to hold onto their mortgage longer.


In this article, weíll offer some tips on paying off your mortgage, when you should refinance, and offer some tools that will help you along the long road to debt-free homeownership. If youíre a homeowner and find yourself asking these questions, read on.

I can afford to pay more each month on my mortgage, but should I?

In many cases, paying off your home as quickly as possible saves you money in the long run. A shorter loan term means less interest applied to your loan which could save you thousands of dollars in accrued interest.


What many people donít think about is whether that money could be better spent elsewhere. If your mortgage interest rate isnít too high, you might be better off allocating that extra income toward investments or retirement funds where they could earn you more in the long run.


This technique is typically most beneficial for younger homeowners. In your 20s and 30s you stand the most to gain from long-term investments, especially tax-benefitted retirement funds. Ultimately youíll have to do the math, which is tricky because circumstances change; markets vary, our income goes up and down, etc. However, a good starting place is to determine whether you could earn more in retirement and investments than you could by paying off your mortgage sooner and therefore saving on interest. 

Iíve owned my home for a few years now, should I refinance?

Refinancing is a term that has become ubiquitous for homeowners. There are a few important things to understand about refinancing. First, lowering your monthly payments is not always ideal if it means youíll end up paying more interest in the long run. Ideally, refinancing your mortgage will help you pay the least amount in total.

One way this can be accomplished is by refinancing to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage which often darry slightly lower interest rates. This option is designed for people who have improved their credit and increased their income since signing their first mortgage.

Math isnít my strong suit. How can I figure out my finances?

If all of the numbers and percentages associated with mortgages and refinancing seems overwhelming--youíre not alone. Fortunately, there are mortgage and refinancing calculators that will give you a good idea of where you stand if you decide to increase your payments or to attempt to refinance your loan. Here are some great tools:
  • Use this mortgage calculator for determining how much you would save by making extra payments.

  • This refinance calculator will help you understand the potential benefits of refinancing your mortgage.

  • To determine how much you could earn through investments (rather than paying more toward your mortgage) use this helpful tool.

  • You might be able to increase your savings by creating a better budget for yourself. This website will help you make a detailed budget and hold yourself accountable each month.






Tags: Mortgage   home   refinancing   finance  
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