Thank you Kristin Louis for letting us share your great article. More of her articles and tips can be found at www.parentingwithkris.com
It’s true that having children changes everything. And while this typically means for the better, having little ones around does pose a challenge when it’s time to upgrade your living arrangement. When you have your house on the market and you also have children, keeping it staged and ready to show at a moment’s notice means you have to put in a bit of preemptive work. Don’t bow your head in defeat as you step on your third Lego of the morning. Instead, grab your coffee and read on for tips on how to make it all work out.
Purge Everything Except the Necessities
Spend a day or two removing everything in your home that’s not necessary for health and happiness. Start with your stuff first; this will alert your children of what’s coming their way and might even encourage them to start weeding through their belongings before you head to their bedroom. Toss out the trash first — old papers, broken hairbands, and cords that you will never use can head straight for a garbage bag. Next, invest in sturdy storage bins — you can pick them up at Lowe's or Home Depot — to store the things you don’t want to get rid of but that you don’t need at the moment. Off-season clothing and holiday decor are a few suggestions.
Now You Can Start Cleaning
Once you are left with nothing but items that you’ll need within the next 30 days or so, start cleaning. The American Cleaning Institute suggests that you prioritize the rooms that buyers pay the closest attention to. This will be your living and dining rooms, along with the kitchen and bathrooms. Deep clean each area, which should include dusting, sweeping, mopping, shampooing the carpet, and searching for dirt and grime. The kids can help, too; hand them a damp washcloth and let them get to work wiping down the baseboards. You can even make a dust bunny puppet to make the process fun and engaging. Make a chore chart of items that need to be done every day, and only allow playtime/video game time once they are done.
Prepare for an Open House
Chances are, your realtor will suggest hosting an open house within the first week of your home hitting the MLS. If everything is already clean, it should not take that much time to get ready for the big day. Put together a checklist to ensure that all of your proverbial Is are dotted and your Ts are crossed. Redfin notes that this should include things like opening the windows to bring in natural light, reducing odors, and securing valuables. You’ll also want to make arrangements for your pets; ideally, you can keep animals out of the house in the days before your open house.
Don’t Forget About the Exterior
Even if you are selling your home during the cooler months, there are likely toys scattered about your lawn. If possible, put all of these in one place, preferably to the side of the home where they are not immediately visible. Alternately, if you have a playhouse or trampoline, you can store larger items in and under these to get them out of sight. Make sure, however, to remove bicycles and other large objects from under the trampoline before the kids start to play again.
Play Up the School Zone
If you’re moving out of your home because you need more room, you can almost bet that another family is going to move in behind you. If you live in a great school zone, make sure to leave information out and available; GreatSchools.org and Niche are excellent resources.
Selling a house when you have kids isn’t impossible. It is going to take work, that’s for sure. But the time and energy that you put into it now can turn into hundreds or thousands of dollars on closing day, which might come even faster when things are neat and tidy.
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How to Calculate Home Equity
This article was written by Christy Rakoczy and is courtesy of LendEDU
Image via Pixabay
Home equity is the difference between the value of your home and the current outstanding mortgage debt. Calculating your home equity is as easy as figuring out what your home is worth and subtracting the existing liens on the property (including a home equity loan or home equity line of credit) from that total.
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Most homeowners have a mortgage, which means they don’t actually own their home — at least not all of it. However, when you provide a down payment at the time of purchase, make your monthly mortgage payments, or your home rises in value compared to what you owe, you acquire some value in your home that doesn’t belong to the bank. That’s your home equity.
Knowing how much equity you have in your home can provide insight into your net worth. It also lets you estimate how much profit you’d be left with if you sold your home and how much money you could access by taking out a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
This guide will show you exactly how to calculate your home equity and why it’s important.
In this guide:
How to Calculate Your Home EquityIf you own your home free and clear, your home equity is easy to calculate. It’s equal to the total appraised value of your home. You own the entire house and the bank owns none of it. But if you have one or more mortgages or other liens against your home, your equity is equal to the current appraised value of your home minus the remaining balance on your loans.
When doing this calculation, it’s important to note the current appraised value of your home is likely different from the amount you originally paid. If property values have been rising in your area, the appraised value could actually be much higher — but if property values have fallen, the appraised value may be lower. This was common during the 2008 financial crisis when real estate values tumbled.
>> Read more: Home Equity Loan Calculator
For example, if you owe $200,000 on your mortgage but your home’s appraised value is just $175,000, you’d actually have negative equity of $25,000.
It’s also important to realize the equity you have grows with each mortgage payment you make. It increases based on the amount of principal you pay down — the interest portion of your payment goes directly to your lender as part of the cost of borrowing, so it doesn’t actually reduce your outstanding balance.
However, it’s not enough to know how to calculate the equity in your home. You should also learn how to calculate your loan-to-value ratio.
How to Calculate Your Loan-to-Value Ratio
Your loan-to-value ratio shows the percentage of your home’s total value that you still owe. You need to know this because lenders consider your loan-to-value ratio when deciding what kinds of loans — such as mortgages, home equity loans, and home equity lines of credit — you might be eligible for.
Your loan-to-value ratio also determines the interest rate you’d pay if you borrowed against the equity in your home, as well as whether you’ll need to pay for private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender in the event you default on your loan.
To calculate your loan-to-value ratio, you’ll divide your current loan balance by the current appraised value of your home. For example, if you owe $140,000 on a $250,000 home, you’d divide $140,000 by $250,000 to get a loan-to-value ratio of .56. Loan-to-value ratios are usually expressed as a percentage, so multiply this number by 100 to get your LTV ratio of 56%.
How to Tell If You Qualify for a Home Equity Loan or HELOC
Both home equity loans and home equity lines of credit are a source of affordable financing based on your property’s assessed value. To qualify for either type of financing, you’ll need to have:
>> Read More: Home Equity Loan and HELOC Requirements
Should I Choose a Home Equity Loan or HELOC?
Although home equity loans and HELOCs both let you tap into home equity, they work a bit differently. A home equity loan allows you to borrow a set amount of money upfront. The loan has either a fixed or variable interest rate and is repaid over a specified time period. A HELOC, on the other hand, gives you a line of credit. This means you can borrow as much or as little as you need at any given time, up to your total approved credit line. Usually, HELOCs come with variable interest rates.
Think about the pros and cons of home equity loans vs. HELOCs before deciding which one is better for you. You might also consider a second mortgage or cash-out refinance as another source of funding.
Before taking out any of these loans, though, you should be aware you’re taking a big risk. If you become unable to repay the lender, your risk losing your home to foreclosure. If home prices fall and you end up owing more than your house is worth, selling could also become impossible unless you have enough cash to pay the difference between what you can sell your home for and what you owe — or unless you’re willing to ruin your credit and get your lender to agree to a short sale.
These risks may be worth it because of the lower interest rates associated with these loans, especially compared to credit cards and personal loans. If you’re using the loan to pay down existing high-interest debt or to pay for home improvements, you may decide that borrowing against your home equity makes sense.
by Julian Lane www.thefixitchamp.com
Every homeowner is well-acquainted with paying a down payment, mortgage, and insurance. In fact, most people even know to expect certain costs for remodeling and major home repairs at some point down the road. One aspect that eludes many homeowners at the outset, however, is the cost of keeping their home in shape.
Home maintenance is an expense that all homeowners can expect, but it seems to sneak up on us every time a minor repair is needed. Since bringing in a professional for every little thing can quickly get expensive, we’ve listed five simple home maintenance tasks that can be done DIY, which will ultimately save you some serious money.
That Dragging HVAC System
HVAC systems are complex, and there isn’t a lot that can be done DIY to fix them. One thing you can do, however, is to change the air filter regularly. Many times, when the HVAC is dragging or seems not to be working normally, it’s only because the filter is dirty or clogged. When changing the filter, you want to ensure you get the right size. Look on the side of the filter to see what size you need to replace it with, and if you need a custom-sized filter, an online tool like this one can help you find the right one.
That Hole in the Wall from Your Doorknob
Have you ever slammed the door into the wall and created a nice hole? This can usually be fixed quite easily. Purchase a drywall patch that will fit the hole with at least an inch of excess around the area. Place the patch around the hole, cover it with spackling, allow it to dry, and sand it smooth. You may need to do this a few times to get the patched area flush with the surrounding area. Once flush, prime and paint to blend it in with the rest of the wall.
That Broken Drawer/Cabinet Handle
When a drawer or cabinet handle is loose, it’s usually because the screw holes in the wood are stripped out. To fix this problem, you just need wood glue, toothpicks, and a screwdriver. Remove the handle and stick a toothpick into the screw hole to see how deep it is. Then, apply the necessary amount of glue to the toothpick, and insert the toothpick into the screw hole. Use as many toothpicks as it takes to fill the hole. Once the glue dries, break off the exposed ends and screw the handle back on. Problem solved!
That Leaky Faucet
A leaky faucet is one of the sneakiest wallet killers in your home, as it can raise your water bill significantly. In most cases, it’s simply a loose packing nut. Try removing the faucet handle and tightening the packing nut underneath with a wrench.
If that doesn’t stop the leak, try these steps:
Those Elusive Studs in the Wall
Knowing how to locate studs is essential for any kind of work or decorating that involve the walls in your home. The easiest way to find a stud is to use an electric stud-finder, which you glide along the wall, and it alerts you when it runs across a stud. If you don’t have a stud-finder available, you’ll need to tap on the wall to find the studs. Drywall should sound hollow when there is no stud and more solid when there is a stud. To give you a starting point, know that studs are typically about 16 inches apart from one another.
You can cut down on the sneaky home maintenance costs that rack up over time. These common home repairs are a good place to start, but it’s important to do your research so you can become equipped to handle a variety of issues that arise. The more you learn how to do maintenance projects yourself, the more money you will save.
The time has come to kick off your home improvement project. You have your home inspection report and you can see what needs to be fixed, but how much control do you have over the process of getting the project done?
When working with contractors, a homeowner is most often at the mercy of the contractors’ schedules, measurements, and design recommendations. It takes a lot of time to meet with multiple sales representatives, even when they are quick to book appointments. Homeowners nearly always rely on the contractors’ hand-gathered measurements, which impact the pricing of the project, without seeing or checking those measurements for themselves. Furthermore, homeowners often don’t have a good sense of what the proposed changes will look like on their home until the project is complete. Major home improvement projects can be a big financial undertaking and we believe that you should have more control in the process.
That’s why we at Home Inspection Tennessee are now offering access to HOVER’s 3D home exterior solutions!
The HOVER app gives us the power to unlock the true potential of your largest economic asset, providing you with the ability to quickly gather accurate measurements of your property.
While performing your home inspection for you we take the necessary pictures to transform them into an interactive 3D model of your future home. For only $55 you'll receive accurate, detailed measurements for your roof, siding, windows and so much more, as well as design features that allow you to visualize and compare how real products will look on the exterior of your home. HOVER's 3D model will help you make design decisions you will be happy with for years to come. HOVER’s Measurement PDF provides you with accurate measurements down to the inch on everything from roof size, gutter length, windows, to siding and so much more.
Now you can take ownership when requesting estimates because you will know the square footage of your wall that needs painting or your roof that needs to be replaced. Thousands of exterior contractors are using HOVER to save time and money on every project and you, the homeowner, can too.
We at Home Inspection Tennessee offer HOVER to our customers because we work for you and we care. Talk to your Home Inspector or Realtor and ask if they offer the HOVER service to you too.
Here are examples of what you get when you choose to take advantage of HOVER’s 3D home exterior solutions.
Advice for first-time home buyers.
A couple weeks ago a friend and first-time home buyer asked me for advice.
Where to start? What’s important? And how to find the right home?
Find out your budget; how much money you have and how much you can borrow. What will be your monthly payment.
Select your favorite and an alternative location. Cruise around for a few days, weekdays, weekend, morning, evening and nights. Collect information online, and check online what’s available. Maybe you have to settle for your alternative location.
Determine the size and condition of your new home. Can you fix stuff yourself or do you need a contractor?
Decide if you can handle it or if you need help from a Realtor. If you need help, select a very good buyers’ agent. This won’t create additional costs, because the buyers’ and sellers’ agent have to split the usual 7% commission, which comes out of the sales price you are going to pay. He should provide you with all the necessary info, however – don’t expect he works on the lowest possible price for you, that’s your part. Again, the commission depends on the final sales price.
What do I mean with “all the necessary info”?
It is not just the age and size of the home, he should be able to give you a floor plan, detailed information about the neighborhood and property taxes. If the home is located within a subdivision or if there is a home owner association, you need the covenants.
You also should get a sellers’ disclosure. This should be a Yes or No sheet, if you notice remarks like “seller doesn’t know” or “not to his knowledge”, your Realtor should dig into this. There is no excuse for the seller to not know the condition of the home, unless it is sold as is. But this applies usually for auctions, bank possessions or fixer uppers.
You also want to know if there were any insurance claims in the past. If yes, who made the repairs?
Now it’s time to make an offer. Low balling is ok, stay realistic, but don’t overpay, regardless of what they tell you.
If you still like the home and are ok with the price and the information provided, you should spend the money and hire a home inspector, even if the home was pre-inspected. Don’t hire just any home inspector, hire the best one. If you are ok with the results of the home inspection, you have to decide how much it is to do possible repairs or upgrades. This is the hardest part, most likely you need several companies, and they might charge you for estimates. If you want to go forward, you have to go back to the lender (if you need one), they will order an appraisal, but you still can choose your title company that will do the final paperwork, like title search, lean on the property, and make sure the sale is legal. Call several companies, because you can save quite a bit money here.
Next step, you have to make a down payment into an escrow account. If you do it without a Realtor, insist that the money goes into an escrow account from a title company.
Congratulations, you are approved and after signing countless documents you will be the new home owner. Don’t hesitate to ask until all your questions are answered. If you don’t ask for all information you are a gambler, if somebody is not cooperating with answers, just walk away. Remember, they all get paid from your money, and if you don’t buy, nobody gets paid.
Hi - this is Werner with Home Inspection Tennessee