How to Increase the Value of Your Home

Even if you consider your humble abode to be your “home, sweet, home”, there’s almost always a possibility it won’t be your last. Many of us know we will ultimately have to move to retire, find a new job, or tackle any other curveball life throws at us, and we need to keep in mind the resale value of our property. There are plenty of things you can do to be proactive in making your house more valuable when it comes time to sell. Wondering how? Read on for tips on how to increase the value of your home. Bonus: They’re not all going to break the bank.

Go for the Big Remodel When Possible

Just had a windfall? Promotion at work? Year-end bonus? Whatever the reason you’re suddenly at least somewhat flush with cash, now is the time to consider making improvements to parts of your home. Remodeling your kitchen and/or bathroom are going to get you the most bang for your buck when it comes time to sell. Whether you are a DIY type or you plan on outsourcing the projects, there’s no denying these home remodels temporarily inconvenience you. Hold on for the finished product, though, as there is nothing like seeing a room in your house go from drab to fab under your own direction. Hopefully you’ll get to enjoy it for a while but, even if not, you can rest easy knowing you just increased the value of your home.

Make Small Improvements, Too

You might be feeling discouraged if you don’t have the money for the big remodels, but you can always seek the help of Tempe hard money lenders. Even if you don’t go for the loan, however, you can still make changes that will improve your resale value. Minor kitchen and bathroom remodels in which fixtures and floors are replaced can be crucial. Another inexpensive way to make a big impact on your home is a new coat of paint on each room inside. Painting the exterior is also a fantastic tactic to improve the look of your home, and this curb appeal will matter when it’s time to sell.

Tend to your Landscaping

This is another huge part of curb appeal. It doesn’t matter how amazing the inside of your home is; if it lacks curb appeal come selling time, the interior could be virtually worthless. Many busy real estate prospects won’t even go inside if the exterior of a home is a huge mess. Again, though, this doesn’t necessarily mean a million-dollar makeover complete with a water fountain. Some simple, well-manicured shrubs and plants along the walkway are wonderful, and a flower and/or rock garden will add additional value. Making sure your landscaping is well kempt when your house goes on the market will be crucial.

Consider Adding High Tech and Smart Touches

This is particularly true if you’re hoping that your house will eventually attract the eye of the Millennial crowd. As this CBS News article notes, “Where smart home features were once considered a fringe benefit, more buyers are demanding them, and agents are taking notice.” Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage sales associate Travis Gray tells CBS that the smart features of today are much like adding other features in the past:

“I equate it to stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops,” Gray told CBS. “Ten years ago it was great if you had them but it wasn’t expected. But now you have to have them — it’s expected. And if homeowners don’t have those features, they’re installing them to sell their homes at a better price.”

You can add an entire set of smart kitchen appliances and alarms or add smaller smart touches such as smart bulbs and learning thermostats. The latter is the type of thing that particularly appeals to Millennials, as these devices will turn off when they sense no one is home and thereby use less energy. Some companies claim that smart thermostats can lower an owner’s heating and cooling bill by up to 20 percent, which is no small feature when appealing to potential buyers.

Maintaining your home is simply smart practice, but if you add any or all of these suggestions, you can watch the resale value of your home skyrocket.

 

 

 

Keeping Costs Down On Your Home

Dealing with repairs to your home can be tough when you are working to a strict budget or you have just splashed out on decorating or getting a new appliance. You can never tell when the next thing will break or when you will need a repair, but there are a few ways to keep on top of some common issues to avoid any big bills.

Keep The Boiler Ticking Over:

When your boiler breaks down it is a serious inconvenience and can often be quite expensive and really put you out without hot water and heating at the wrong time. One of the best ways to keep on top of your boiler is to not abuse it, only use hot water when you need it and don’t whack your heating all the way up, give your boiler a chance to do it’s job.

Keep on top of your boiler services, a cheap quick fix can help avoid a burst pipe or a replacement that can cost you quite a few pennies. Make sure your boiler is getting serviced yearly and if you can get you radiators, sinks and piping checked too.

Look After Your Bathroom:

Your bathroom is an essential part of your daily routine, make sure to clean it as and when you can and keep an eye out for any breaks in the seals around sinks, baths and showers as this can cause damp in the floors and walls.

Make sure that whenever someone uses the shower or bath that either they use an extractor fan or open the window to let out the excess moisture, yes even in the middle of winter. The extra moisture can cause untold damage that can come back and bite you with a hefty bill later.

Check The Roof:

It’s always worth checking in the loft for any leaks or cracks in the roof especially around winter or rainy periods. You never know when tiles will crack or fall off, but try to keep an eye out and keep on top of this. If there are any faults or if you want a professional to check, this doesn’t cost too much, it certainly will save money if it stops damp getting in.

Managing Your Garage:

It’s easy to forget and neglect your garage if it isn’t a living space, but if not looked after there can be a number of problems from pests to damp and rust. Make sure that your garage is properly insulated, There’s a great article on insulation if you haven’t read it, and if the floor is concrete that it is sealed to stop the cold and moisture seeping in. A garage door seal is a great way to prevent the elements getting in as well. Look after the garage door especially if it electric and get it checked if it needs to be serviced to avoid a nasty bill when it breaks or you accidentally crash into it because it stops half way through opening.

White Goods:

Electronics in the house always have a tendancy to break when you least expect it, Computers are widely used now and can make life difficult when they crash. If you know somebody who is good with computers you might be able to mitigate your computer repair cost. White goods like washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers  and anything mechanical make it hard to know when they are reaching the end of their life span. All of these appliances can be serviced or treated. Many companies offer a variety of products that you can use normally in an empty wash to clear our limescale and build ups, a small purchase every now and then will save you from needing a replacement in future.

 

 

 

Buying Home Insurance

When buying a new home, there are so many decision to make and processes to go through. One of the main concerns when buying a new home is the amount of money being spent on the investment. Your family is spending so much, you want to do everything possible to save every penny you can. It can be stressful. Below are some helpful hints to help you save money during your home buying endeavor.

Realtor Fees

One thing people should know is that Realtor fees are often negotiable. Now when you are purchasing a home it is typically the seller who has to pay the realtor fees, but most likely you are selling a house to buy a home (not everyone is a first time home buyer). It is important to realize this because it could save you some cash.

You can also sell your house on your own. You can do this by doing a for sale by owner or by using services like Make Me Move by Zillow. This allows you to eliminate your realtor fees all together.

Home Insurance

A key element to buying a new home is finding homeowners insurance. This is an integral part to the home buying process. What you need to know to save money on your firs home insurance policy is that it is ok to ask questions and shop around. Know what you are looking to insure to make sure you have the proper coverage that your home and family need. Is there something specific that you need covered? Make sure to ask! There are also different factors that determine your cost of your insurance so it is important to go through each thing with your broker. A particular location of your home or materials/set up of your home can easily affect your plan.

Know the Market

You can save money when buying a home just by being educated on the market you are looking in. This will allow you to know if you are overpaying or underpaying on your investment. If you know your area well, as well as the schools and neighborhood factors you will make sure you are getting the best deal possible and won’t be taken advantage of.

Inspections

A lot of home buyers are frustrated by paying money for inspections and other testing on a home before going through the deal. This is very true but it is also important to know what you are getting into before making the big investment. Since you need to get inspections it is important to choose which houses to put offers on. You can also save money by asking to see the Sellers Disclosure that may disclose information on the home.

 

Hopefully these hints will help you make some good decisions while buying your home.

 

Avoiding Roommates is Hard for Millennials

Roommates, the necessary evil? Nowadays the alternatives aren’t great. You can live a prolonged childhood with Mom or Dad or shack up with someone to share the financial burden with.

In major metropolitan cities such as London and New York, young millennials don’t just have one roommate; some are reported to have upwards of 3 or 4. It’s the high price of living in a city with unlimited options in dining and entertainment.

This infographic from the Real Estate Team at Liberty Village Toronto has some incredible stats on the housing behaviour of millenials.

Some aren’t even opting for roommates and deciding to spend some extra time at home with Mom and Dad.

Do-You-Need-A-Roommate1

 

Graphic Design by Miami Seo Company, Vol & Tier Digital

Darn you Girl Ninja

Moving time is right around the corner. At least for me it is. Tomorrow, July 1st, I will be moving in to the future home of Mr. and Mrs. Ninja. Well, it’s actually a one bedroom condo, but that still counts as a home right? I’ll be living there alone until after we return back from the honeymoon.

I’m use to living the bachelors lifestyle. Needless to say the majority of my furniture is run down. Girl Ninja really wanted to make our first place look like the inside of a magazine. As you all know, nice furniture and decorations cost money. I told GN she could have her way with the furnishings if she could manage to scrounge up $3,000 before the wedding. Honestly, I didn’t even think GN’s income would allow her to save that much, but somehow (aka extra babysitting jobs and tutoring) she managed to not only meet the $3,000 threshold, but broke it by an additional $1,000.

This means my living quarters will go from this…

To this…

…In a little less than 24 hours.

Even though I’m not the biggest fan of spending money, I’ve gotta be honest. IM FREAKIN’ EXCITED! It’s gonna be so nice to have furniture that actually matches, bedding that is actually comfortable, and decorations that aren’t just used for covering up holes in the wall or stains in the carpet. I can’t wait for a little lifestyle inflation.

The upside to a large wedding (250 guests) is we will probably get a lot of gifts… yeah I said it …does that make me shallow? If all goes according to plan, most of the vases, pots, frames, linens, towels, etc will be taken care of by our guests. This really only leaves me and GN with a few things we have to acquire. Here’s what’s on the list so far….

New bed frame ($150). Girl Ninja’s frame is way to girly for me. We need to get something a little more contemporary and a little less gay. Speaking of, here’s what she has…

New couch ($400). We’ll probably use Craiglist or a consignment store to pick up something like this. According to GN, couches should be a neutral tone, and decorative pillows should be used to “liven” it up. Oh and don’t even think about actually using those pillows for your head, they are simply there for form, not function …

Dining room table ($200). Girl Ninja and I both seem to like pub tables over traditional tables. We saw quite a few of them for around $150 at a consignment shop the other day….

Entertainment display ($350). Granted I haven’t discussed this much with GN, but I imagine she would want something similar to this. That is assuming it will hold the 46″+ flat screen TV I’m demanding we purchase…

And that is pretty much all I can think of for now. I’m sure GN will think of a billion more furnishings to spend that $3,000 on, but this should cover the major expenses. Based off my estimations we’re looking at spending about $1,000 on all that stuff, so even if my assumptions are WAY off, we have a lot of room for flexibility. I’ll be sure to take lots and lots of pictures as we move in to the place and it gets Girl Ninjafied. I’m excited to finally have a home!

How is your current place furnished?

College-esque?

Minimalist aka barren?

Thrift store?

Magazine cover?

Any crafty ideas to make our place look like a million bucks on a budget?

p.s. the messy room pictured above is not actually my room. mine’s worse 😉

Where do you draw the line?

Unless you are the dumbest person in the world, you probably have realized I’m not the biggest fan of debt. I think it’s pretty stupid. I don’t even believe in such a thing as “good debt.” Although I’m a pretty avid debt puncher, I do compromise on two issues…

Home

So I guess houses are kind of expensive. The median home price in my zip code is $708,000. Even if Girl Ninja and I were able to stock away a whopping $50,000/yr in savings (which we aren’t), it would take us over 14 years before we could buy a house with cash. And that’s assuming home prices don’t increase during those 14 years we save. While we do plan to have a sizable down payment saved before buying a home, we plan to take on a reasonable mortgage. Yeah, I know. I totally compromise my debt punching for a quality of life boost. To those of you that plan to pay cash for a house, I respect you greatly, but I simply don’t share your vision.

Medical

This one goes without saying, and I assume most of you would agree. If for some reason the crap hit the fan and I was faced with a decision between death or debt, I’m gonna take on some debt. That said, I am doing what I can to ensure I never have to be faced with that choice. I pay a pretty penny for health/dental/vision insurance each month, not to mention I have a decent chunk of change sitting in an emergency fund. My insurance and savings should prevent the need for medical loans, but on the rare chance I needed to buy a new kidney on Ebay, you better believe I’d do so. Side Note: How much you think a kidney goes for? $50K? $100K?

That’s it. Those are the only two areas of my life I foresee incurring debt. I realize my stance may be extreme for some, and for others it’s probably not strict enough. And this leads to today’s question….

Where do you draw the line?

What type of debt have you sworn off for good?

What type of debt are you comfortable with?

Do you think you’ll finance your next vehicle?

At what point does debt go from being logical to being ridiculous?

p.s. click the “dumbest person in the world” link in the first sentence for a special treat 🙂

Have you no morals?

I tweeted on Saturday about an article I read over at The Motley Fool. I am pretty frustrated with the article and think it is worthy content to bring up today. If nothing else, it should at least stir a little bit of controversy in the comment section below. You can find the full article here, but here’s a quick excerpt…

For many of the underwater homeowners in today’s market, paying down their mortgage isn’t really in their best financial interest. Particularly in states like Arizona — where mortgages are nonrecourse, meaning the lender can’t go after any of the homeowner’s assets other than the property itself — it makes little sense to continue paying a large mortgage on a devalued house when comparable rental rates are far below the monthly mortgage payment.

This article made my blood boil. Have you ever seen a ninja’s blood boil? It’s not a pretty sight. I totally disagree with hate this article for a few reasons…

First, and most important, it’s totally immoral. So you may be $100K underwater on your house. But if you can still afford the mortgage, you have every MORAL obligation to keep paying. To be clear, I don’t have an issue with someone walking away from their house if they have no ability to pay their mortgage (i.e. can’t put food on the table, can’t afford gas to get to work, have become unemployed, etc), but to recommend that people walk away, even when they can comfortably afford the mortgage is ludicrous. Sure it may not be illegal to walk away, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Just because your home decreased in value, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to back out of your end of the contract. Remember, when you purchase a home, you VOLUNTARILY accept the risk that comes with it.

Quite a few people that commented on the article made comments like… “Banks screw us all the time, this is just our chance to get back at them.” Ummm excuse me? If you think that is an acceptable reason to back out of your mortgage contract than please do me a favor, quit reading my blog, and go read Im-A-Big-Dumb-Head.com. Now I’m not saying banks aren’t shady, ’cause we all know they can be, but why does that suddenly give you the right to be an equally douchtastic individual? This is such a juvenile thought-process, I can’t even comprehend why someone thinks this is a reasonable excuse. Yes banks can be evil, but you walking away from your home, makes you just as terrible.

The third and final reason I can’t stand this article is because it would cause the end of the world, okay maybe not the end of the world, but the entire economy would collapse if people actually followed this advice. A commenter said it best….

so let me get this straight…the plan is for people seriously underwater to just walk away…

…. followed by a further decline in home values……then those people who WERE just slightly underwater become seriously underwater….. but thats OK they can just walk away too…..

causing another wave of declining values….eventually even those that have equity will be underwater too….but thats OK they can just walk away with the rest of em……..

If people follow the author’s advice, the amount of foreclosures would skyrocket, thus causing a downward spiral in home values nationwide. An increase in foreclosures is NO BUENO in my opinion.

I have so many other things I want to say about this article, but instead of rambling on, I’d rather hear what you all have to say. Does anyone else find this article concerning? What do you think would happen if people actually started taking this advice? What matters more, your “best” financial interest, or your morals? Is there anyone out there that can try and make sense of how this could possibly be a good thing for America? Ugh, this article makes me depressed with humanity.