Tuesday, February 12, 2019 / by Alan Chambers
With this super-simple breakdown of loan types, you won’t get overwhelmed — you’ll find the right mortgage.
When it comes to buying a house, most people know what they prefer: a bungalow or a condo, a hot neighborhood or a sleepy street.
Mortgages, too, come in many styles — and recognizing which type you should choose is just slightly more involved than, say, knowing that you prefer hardwood floors over wall-to-wall carpeting.
First things first: To pick the best loan for your situation, you need to know what your situation is, exactly. Will you be staying in this home for years? Decades? Are you feeling financially comfortable? Are you anxious about changing loan rates? Consider these questions and your answers before you start talking to lenders. (And before you choose a lender, read this.)
Next: You’ll want to have an understanding of the different loans that are out there. There are lots of options, and it can get a little ...
Tuesday, February 5, 2019 / by Alan Chambers
A good washing and a bit of color are two low-cost ways.
Homes with high curb appeal command higher prices and take less time to sell.
But which projects pump up curb appeal most? Here are financially smart ways to boost your home's equity.
#1 Wash Your House’s Face
Before you scrape any paint or plant more azaleas, wash the dirt, mildew, and general grunge off the outside of your house. REALTORS® say washing a house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sale prices of some houses.
A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can remove the dust and dirt that have splashed onto your wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, and fiber cement siding. Power washers (rental: $75 per day) can reveal the true color of your flagstone walkways.
Wash your windows inside and out, swipe cobwebs from eaves, and hose down downspouts. Don’t forget your garage door, which was once bright white. If you can’t ...
Tuesday, January 29, 2019 / by Alan Chambers
Tips for shopping around for a mortgage -- even if you think you don't qualify.
Think you're not ready to unlock home ownership yet? That the financial hurdles are too high? You may be short-changing yourself. Many of the things renters believe about home-buying are myths.
Here's the real deal.
Myth: I Have to Put Down 20%. :(
Saving 20% of the price of a home in many places isn't just a challenge; it's a roadblock. And it's not a must-do. Roughly 60% of home buyers put down less than 6%. How can you become part of the less-than-20 club?
FHA Loans: The Federal Housing Association (FHA) is an old friend to first-time buyers and others who are ready to become homeowners with less than a 20% down payment. If you qualify, you may be able to get a loan with as little as 3.5% down.
DownpaymentResource.com and NeighborWorks: Some local and state agencies sponsor down-payment assistance programs that help prospective hom ...
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 / by Alan Chambers
When to look for sales on mattresses, appliances, tools, furnishings, and materials.
Buying stuff can be stressful. Cheap out, and you could regret it. Overspend, and you'll cut into your budget. Knowing the best time of year to buy appliances and other household items can lessen the anxiety.
Here's a list of the best time of year for sales:
Furniture: January and July
You could save 30% to 60% buying furniture in January and July, as stores try to clear out inventory and make way for new pieces, which manufacturers introduce in February and August.
Floor samples especially often sell for a song, so don't hesitate to ask.
Storage Essentials: January and August
In August, retailers slash prices and offer free shipping on shelving, organizing systems, baskets, and storage bins, baiting parents who are packing kids off to college or getting organized for a new school year. (No offspring? No problem. Proof of parenthood is ...
Tuesday, January 8, 2019 / by Alan Chambers
Here's the scoop on what's tax deductible when buying a house.
Are closing costs tax deductible? What about mortgage interest? Or property taxes? The answer is, maddeningly, “It depends."
Basically, you'll want to itemize if you have deductions totaling more than the standard deduction, which is $12,000 for single people and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. Every taxpayer gets this deduction, homeowner or not. And most people take it because their actual itemized deductions are less than the standard amount.
But should you take it?
To decide, you need to know what's tax deductible when buying or owning a house. Here's the list of possible deductions:
The one-time home purchase costs that are tax deductible as closing costs are real estate taxes charged to you when you closed, mortgage interest paid when you settled, and some loan origination fees (a.k.a. points) applicable to a mortgage of $750,000 or less.
But you'll only want to it ...