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Tiny Home, Big Savings

by Jeff White

Please follow the link below for Tiny Homes, Big Savings

 

http://rismedia.com/ace-branded/rismedia.com/115306/cWt0WEo1OGRRVG9hS2N2aEZvd3g2UT09/Preview/

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Features That Won't Break the Bank

by Jeff White

Eco-friendly Kitchen Features That Won't Break the Bank


 


 

Eco-friendly features are all the rage today as homeowners commit to living greener lives. But for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint, where do you begin?

For many, the answer is the kitchen. The central hub of the home, the kitchen offers a perfect foundation for incorporating green features and appliances.

Getting started, you may want to consider adding an induction stove, a stove that utilizes magnetic energy to induce a current that heats the food. Not only do pans heat up quickly on this type of stove, but the amount of time needed to cook meals is greatly reduced. In addition to the energy savings and coolness factor, induction stoves tend to be much safer than traditional stoves since there’s no open flame or hot electric element involved.

It’s also important to add energy-efficient appliances. If you’re trying to sell your home and an old dishwasher and refrigerator unit serve as the focal point of the room, it could be a major deterrent to a sale.

Changing up the lighting is another easy way to up the eco-friendly factor and make the kitchen appear fresh and new. Installing ceiling fans is another simple, inexpensive way toward making the space more eco-friendly. Ceiling fans will circulate warm air in the winter and will help keep the kitchen cool in the summer, keeping heating and cooling costs lower throughout the year.

When it comes to greening your home, remember that you don’t need to drain your bank account to find success. For example, adding a water filter to your sink (and saying goodbye to bottled water) is an inexpensive way to promote green living. Take this one step further by highlighting the fact that the water filter removes harmful contaminants, providing a fresh drink that can easily be enjoyed when relaxing at home or while out and about.

While not every change will yield a payoff, data shows that kitchen improvements will reap the highest rewards in home value, offering the fastest way to get someone interested in buying your home.

For more tips on adding eco-friendly features to your kitchen, contact me today!

5 Books You Need to Read Before Buying a Home

by Jeff White

5 Books You Need to Read before Buying a Home


 



Before jumping into the housing market and looking for a home, many prospective buyers seek advice from friends and family to better prepare themselves for what lies ahead. For those looking for additional perspective, books written for those going through the home-buying process can serve as a valuable tool.
 
Here are five great books that everyone looking to purchase a home should read.
 
Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced buyer, “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask” by Ilyce Glink has you covered. Not only does it touch on all the questions that may be running through your head, it provides great insight into the things you worry about most.
 
As one of the best-selling books on the market for homebuyers, the “Home Buying Kit For Dummies” by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown offers time-tested advice and updated strategies for buying a home in today’s market. Guiding buyers toward finding the perfect property, making savvy financial decisions and understanding taxes and other concerns, the book also comes with a CD full of information, materials and resources.
 
Chock-full of interesting facts, real-life stories and insights, plus common pitfalls to avoid, “Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home” provides everything one needs to know in order to find the right type of home, the right mortgage and the right agent.
 
Buying a home can be a confusing process, and making mistakes can be costly. That’s why “The 106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make (and How to Avoid Them)” by Gary W. Eldred is the perfect book when it comes to avoiding these mistakes. This eye-opening guide arms buyers with the information they need to become an educated consumer, ensuring that the property you buy is both a comfortable place to live and a great investment for the future. Eldred surveyed hundreds of homebuyers, real estate agents, homebuilders and mortgage lenders to find the biggest mistakes people make and provides solutions so you don’t fall into the same traps.
 
As one of America’s top real estate agents, Robert Irwin has seen it all. In writing “Tips and Traps When Buying a Home,” Irwin set out to help those going through the home-buying process avoid common mistakes made by others. The current fourth edition is helpful whether you’re a first-time or experienced homebuyer, providing practical, step-by-step information on a broad range of proven home-buying strategies.
 
Contact me today for additional resources that will help you through the buying or selling process.

Budgeting for Home Improvement

by Jeff White

Follow the link below for this informative video. 


http://rismedia.com/ace-branded/rismedia.com/127484/cWt0WEo1OGRRVG9hS2N2aEZvd3g2UT09/Preview/

Researching a Neighborhood From Far Away

by Jeff White

Researching a Neighborhood From Far Away


 


 

Good public transportation, low crime, schools, nearby hospitals and other factors can help home shoppers decide if a neighborhood is right for them.

If you’re planning on moving to a city that’s far away from where you live now, then finding a neighborhood that’s a good fit can be more difficult than driving around a nearby city.

Here are some ways to research a neighborhood even if you’re miles away:

Ask for Help
If you have a specific city you want to move to, ask a real estate agent there to give you a market overview and for help finding a neighborhood that matches your needs.

You may not be able to check off everything on your wish list, but focusing on your top priorities can help narrow the choices. If you think you may have children in the next few years, then look for a good school district. A site such as GreatSchools.org can help.

If you want to avoid a long commute to work in a new city, look for neighborhoods within 30 miles of your office.

Call the police department for crime rates by neighborhood in the city you’re buying in.

Online Resources
Go online and read the local newspapers to see what’s happening. Look for stories on construction, planned restaurants and stores, what areas are growing, and where most crimes are.

Look for online forums about the city you want to move to, and for certain neighborhoods. Some may be on Facebook—ask friends on Facebook if they know anyone who lives there who can help you.

An online map can be a good resource. After ranking your priorities, look for some of them on a map to see if the majority of them are near homes you can afford: hospitals, subway stops, parks and other outdoor activities, and police and fire stations.

Foursquare and Yelp can not only help you find nightlife and restaurants, but also have information from locals on neighborhoods.

City Data has forums and information on specific neighborhoods, including cost of living, home prices, crime, climate and local attractions, among many other data points.

After doing all of this online research and getting the help of a real estate agent, your next step is to visit the neighborhoods you’re interested in. You can do this virtually through Google Maps, or take the bigger step of buying a plane ticket or taking a road trip and visiting them in person.

I hope you found this helpful. Contact me for more home and real estate insights and info.

3 Questions about Interest Rates

by Jeff White

3 Questions about Interest Rates


 


 

If you’re shopping for a home loan, you’re likely focusing on interest rates. Below are a handful of questions you may have about the art of the interest rate.

How are interest rates determined? 
Interest rates are influenced by shifting economic indicators in your financial market. This type of fluidity means they can change daily, or even hourly. This is why it’s important to shop around.

What does it mean to “lock” in a rate? 
Since interest rates are so fluid, many buyers choose to combat this by locking in a rate when they find a good one. A locked rate is a contractual agreement between the lender and buyer that offers the buyer protection from financial market fluctuations that could affect the range of the interest rate. There are four major components to a rate lock: loan program; interest rate; points; and the length of the lock. If your interest rate range is locked and there are no subsequent changes to your loan, the interest rate range on your application generally remains the same. However, if changes are made to your loan, your final interest rate at closing may be different.

What does it mean if your rate is “floating?”
If your interest rate is floating, it means it’s not locked. Instead, it’s fluctuating with the up-and-down movements of the market. The benefit of this is if interest rates decrease, you will have the option of locking in at a lower rate. But if the rates rise, you will lose access to the lower rates.

The Real Cost of Utilities

by Jeff White

The Real Cost of Utilities


 



Have you ever stopped to think about how your utility bills are affecting your wallet? Well, according to a report from ATTOM Data Solutions and UtilityScore, utilities - electricity, natural gas, water and sewer - add 25 percent to homeownership costs and 21 percent to renter housing costs on average nationwide.  

When you factor in the high cost of many markets across the country, utility costs tip the scales and make these markets unaffordable for many. Monthly utility costs require 7.0 percent of average wages on average across 931 U.S. counties analyzed for the report. When utility costs are included, buying a median-priced home requires more than the 43 percent of income recommended by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) in 323 of the 931 U.S. counties.

Here’s where solar power comes into play. The report takes a look at solar installation in California as an example. Between 2010 and 2017, home sellers who had a solar system installed between the original purchase of their home and the subsequent sale of their home saw average profits that were more than double those of home sellers without a solar installation. 

So when buying or selling your home, be sure to take utilities into consideration. Make sure your budget can handle the costs, and consider making smart investments, like solar, that will reduce utility costs when it comes time to sell. 

Financial Priorities for Newleyweds

by Jeff White

Financial Priorities for Newlyweds





 


 

Deciding where to live, if you’re going to have children, and who takes out the garbage are some of the big and small decisions newlyweds have to make together after the wedding gifts are put away and they’re ready to start their lives together.

There are also financial decisions to make as a married couple, though they may not be as easy to discuss as who’s making dinner on Sunday nights.

Here are some financial priorities newlyweds should set — together:

Set a budget: A good way to start is by living within your means and setting a family budget. Start by making a list of your monthly income and expenses, and decide which are must-haves (rent and groceries) and which can be eliminated or at least cut back (cable TV and dining out).

The goal is for your budget to leave you with enough extra money each month to save for other goals, and to not spend more than you have. If you have debt, including credit card debt, come up with a plan to pay it off.

Financial goals: Discuss your individual and joint goals, and start saving for them. These can include having children, saving for a down payment on a house, buying a new car, and funding retirement accounts for each of you.

Insurance: There are a few insurance needs to consider when you get married. A family health insurance plan may save you money, as will having all family cars on one auto insurance policy. You may also need extra homeowners or renters insurance to cover all the possessions you now have together, including jewelry and all of those expensive wedding gifts you just received.

Life insurance is important when you’re married, especially if one spouse doesn’t work and relies on the other person for an income, or if you’re going to have children soon.

Tax withholdings: Getting married can lower your taxes. If one spouse isn’t working, then the other can add them as an allowance on their taxes, allowing them to change their withholding from their paycheck and bring more money home. An IRS worksheet can help make this calculation.

Bank accounts: Joint checking, savings and emergency accounts, along with keeping individual checking accounts for pocket money, are bank accounts worth discussing as a couple. Splitting electric bills in half, as you may have done in college, is over.

Once you get started on these accounts, give yourself six months or so to get used to them before deciding to make changes. A budget and joint bank accounts, like a new marriage, can take a little work.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist who specializes in personal finance topics.

Expert Insights: When is the Best Time to Sell a Home?

by Jeff White

Expert Insights: When Is the Best Time to Sell a Home?


 


 

The best time to sell is when you are ready, or when you must. That is, when you have outgrown the space in your current home, or you prefer to trade down to something smaller. Perhaps your marital status has changed, which necessitates a move, or you need to relocate for a job.

Market conditions also play a role, as do seasonal conditions. For example, your chances of getting top dollar for your home are more likely in a seller’s market, when demand outweighs supply, than in a buyer’s market.

Local and national economic factors also may dictate when to sell. If a major employer in your area is laying off workers, it may not be a good time to put your home up for sale.

People will be cautious about buying when the future seems unpredictable or bleak.

Most agents agree the best time to sell is in the spring. This is when the largest number of potential buyers hit the market. Your home is likely to sell faster and at a higher price, although sales begin to pick up as early as February and start to slack off in July, the slowest month for real estate transactions.

5 Ways to Travel on the Cheap

by Jeff White

5 Ways to Travel on the Cheap


 



Dreaming of a vacation but not sure if you can afford it? Read on for 5 suggestions for traveling without breaking the bank.

Stay in a house. Airbnb, HomeAway and comparable platforms can help you find more affordable options than pricey hotel rooms. These homes are often more comfortable than hotels, and offer added amenities like kitchens and laundry.

Eat like a local. Skip the pricey tourist-laden restaurants and opt for mom-and-pop style restaurants, open air markets and street food vendors.

Hit the web. Online resources like Groupon can help when you travel. Discounts on restaurants, experiences, tours and museums are often readily available if you do the leg work. Check out deals in the area in advance and plan your itinerary around them.

Cook! Remember that kitchen? Make use of it by shopping for local produce and cooking several meals. This is especially helpful if traveling with a large family. More mouths, more money.

Find a walk-friendly destination. Cab and Uber fares add up quickly. Save money (and stay fit) by choosing a city that allows you to walk from place to place. 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 98

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