When Should You Refinance?

Refinance

When Should I Refinance?

Low-interest rates have many homeowners wondering if it’s a good time to refinance. Refinancing can save you a lot of money in the long term when done correctly. It’s important to consider the drawbacks as well. Here are some reasons why you might want to refinance, and a few things to be cautious of.

Reasons you may want to refinance:

1. To lower your monthly payment. If today’s interest rates are lower than when you purchased your home, refinancing to a lower rate will reduce your monthly payment down, freeing up cash to help with other bills, your children’s education, or to save towards retirement.

2. To pay off your mortgage earlier. A great way to use the money you save with a lower mortgage payment is to apply it right to your principle, which will help you pay your loan off earlier.

3. To take advantage of a better credit score. If your credit score has increased significantly since you bought your home, you may get a better loan if you refinance.

4. To save on total interest. For some, the desire to pay less interest overall makes refinancing an attractive option. Reducing the interest rate and/or the loan term will save you money long term.

5. To change loan types. If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage that has been increasing or is nearing the end of the fixed period, you may want to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage.

If you have extra cash on hand to make larger monthly payments, it may make sense to change to a 15-year mortgage so you can pay it off earlier.

6. To consolidate debt or take cash out. If you have built up equity in your home, you may be able to borrow against your home to obtain cash to pay off higher-interest debt, to make improvements on your home, or for things like your children’s education or medical expenses.

Be careful when borrowing against your home. If the cash you take out goes to increasing your debt rather than resolving it, then you could end up putting your home in jeopardy.

Don’t forget about the closing costs involved in refinancing. You will have fees associated with your new loan just like you did when you purchased your home, so remember to figure the closing costs when you do the math.

Also, be cautious about extending your loan term. If you refinance with a 30-year mortgage when you are 10-15 years or more into your current mortgage, you’ll end up paying way more in interest overall, and have extended your payments for many more years.

Of course, a mortgage lender is the best resource for answering your financing questions. If you need someone to talk to further, I’m happy to give you a referral.

8 Ways to Make Buyers Fall in Love With Your Home

selling home

We all want people to love our home as much as we do, but especially when you are trying to sell it! While it’s impossible to please every buyers’ taste, there are several easy things you can do to make your home more appealing without spending a lot of money. Try some of these tricks and see if your showings cause buyers to swoon.

1. Check your curb appeal. Take an honest look from the curbside. What are buyers seeing first? If your home needs to be painted or pressure washed, consider making that investment. Clean up landscaping by trimming trees and bushes, planting some fresh annuals and laying new mulch. Clean windows, repair sagging soffit, or porch railings and have any trip hazards on your driveway or front walk repaired. Finally, consider some attractive, yet subtle decorations for your front porch.

2. Create an inviting entryway. When buyers step inside your front door, you want them to feel welcomed. If you have a foyer or front hall, it is easier to make an attractive entryway, but even if your front door opens right into your living room, you can create the feel of an entryway with a couple of simple tricks. Clear the area of clutter things that tend to pile up at the front door, like backpacks, dog leashes or shoes. Place a small table or bench beside the door with plants, candles or other simple décor. A small area rug can help define the space as the entryway.

3. Let the light shine in. Take advantage of natural light as much as you can. Trimming any bushes or trees outside your windows can help immensely. Wash your windows inside and out and replace or remove any worn screens. Make sure to open blinds or curtains before all showings.

4. Add some fresh color. Painting is an easy and inexpensive way to make an older home look new and is especially important if your current wall color is dark or outdated. Choose a light neutral color like a warm grey or light beige and use the same color throughout the house. If your home tends to be dark, this will help brighten it up.

5. Let storage spaces speak for themselves. Many sellers make the mistake of waiting until they have a contract to start cleaning out closets. Cleaning out clutter is part of getting ready to show, not just getting ready to move. You want buyers to perceive that there is ample storage in the home, and this doesn’t work if every drawer, cabinet and closet is stuffed to the gills.

6. Eliminate distractions. Streamline your decorating so your buyers see the house and not your collection of Mexican roosters. Go ahead and pack up collectibles and family photos and keep decorative touches to the minimum. Too many plants, magazines or toys distract the buyers from seeing the home as their own.

7. Entice them with outdoor space. The back yard shouldn’t be an empty space of infinite possibility, nor should it be a storage area for neglected toys. Get rid of any eyesores you’ve been avoiding dealing with, spruce up your landscaping, repair irrigation or pool issues, and create an entertaining space with a patio set, or a backyard oasis with some potted plants and a hammock.

8. Make it easy for them. Taking care of minor repairs is another step you can take to help buyers see your home as an easy and comfortable move. You want them to be mentally arranging their furniture as they walk through, not making a list of nicked woodwork, torn window screens and leaky faucets. The less work involved, the easier it is to fall in love.

If you would like to chat about selling your home in more detail…give one of our agents a call!

Fresh Year, Fresh Start: Cleaning Out Your Home for the New Year

Fresh Home Cleaning for New Year

Many of us could not wait to close the door on 2020 and usher in the new year– and all the positive vibes we hope comes with it! As you look forward to 2021 you may have spent some time thinking about your intentions for the coming year, whether for personal or professional growth, health and fitness, or family goals. Let’s face it, 2020 was stressful, and while many people look to each new year to freshen up their lives, this year more than ever people are looking inward to reexamine what is important to them. One thing that is just as important as setting intentions for your behaviors or habits is creating a peaceful and joyful place in which to practice your intentions.

If you, like most Americans, spent a record amount of time inside your home last year due to the pandemic, you may have accumulated more stuff than you have in previous years. Many people acquired new hobbies to pass the time at home, started – and maybe even finished – home improvement projects, or simply went a little overboard with boredom-induced online shopping (guilty). If this sounds familiar, it may be time for a decluttering session.

Living with too much stuff can cause stress, anxiety and depression. People with too much clutter in their environment also tend to suffer from relationship issues, sleep problems and chronic allergies or asthma.*Read more about the health issues related to clutter here*

So, before you pack a suitcase and hop on a flight for that vacation that got cancelled last year, take some time to clean out your home for the new year. Here are a few strategies recommended by professional organizers.

1. One category at a time: This method is used by Marie Kondo, author of the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and TV show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She advocates for decluttering items by category: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items, in that order.

2. One room at a time: Another method is to focus on one area at a time. It could be a room, the garage, or the attic. If that amount of space is still overwhelming to you, break it down to one closet, one cabinet, or one drawer at a time.

3. Arrange keep, sell, and donate spaces. As you progress through your decluttering, it will save time and energy if you have already designated areas to accumulate items that are to be kept, sold, or donated. Then you can deal with each group of items once you have everything separated.

Once you have cleaned out your home, you might adopt some of these habits for preventing clutter from piling up again:

1. Set a rule where you don’t purchase a new piece of clothing, toy, book, or gadget without getting rid of something you are no longer using.

2. Get into the habit of always putting everything back in its place. This will keep you from purchasing items you already have, but can’t find or forgot about.

3. To prevent clothes from piling up, try choosing your outfits for the coming week every Sunday, and don’t let clean laundry sit unfolded.

4. Look through your refrigerator and pantry before shopping and shop with a list of needed items.

5. Live by the rule that if you haven’t used it or worn it in the past year, chances are you don’t need it.

Buying Your First Home? Know These 3 Things

to rent or buy a house

I love working with first-time home buyers. Helping you find your first home, learn the home buying process, and guiding you from house-hunting to move-in day gives me the warm fuzzies. Here are three things you should know before you start looking.

  1. Work with one real estate agent. It’s best to have one agent who is helping you with your search. Your agent will be dedicated to finding you the right property, and then negotiating on all the terms of your transaction on your behalf. You want that person to get to know you and your family’s needs and preferences, rather than starting over with someone new each time you go look at a house. Keep in mind that the agent who shows you a home is, ethically, the one who should continue the transaction. Also, when you call an agent from a yard sign or advertisement, you are dealing with the seller’s agent. While most real estate professionals are adept at handling both sides of a transaction professionally, it makes more sense to deal with someone you have already taken time to get to know and who has your best interests at heart as the buyer. Your agent is paid at closing; unless otherwise stated, by the seller through the proceeds of the sale. Still, you are hiring someone to work for you, so feel free to interview multiple agents and pick the one that you feel fits you best.
  2. You need to be pre-approved for financing. Unless you are paying cash for your home, you do need to talk to a lender before you start looking at houses. One reason is that it helps you set an accurate price range for house hunting. Looking at homes that you can’t afford to make an offer on just leads to frustration. A mortgage lender will not only tell you what amount you can borrow, but also your projected monthly payment, your closing costs, and what you should or shouldn’t do with your finances to maintain your eligibility throughout the lending process. Another reason for having an up-to-date pre-approval in hand is so you don’t lose out to another buyer. If you find the perfect house, you will want to get an offer in before someone else gets it, and that pre-approval letter must accompany your offer. I would be happy to provide you with names of mortgage lenders in our area who have provided excellent service to my clients.
  3. There are some up-front costs. When you find the right house, and you and the seller have agreed on the price and terms and have signed the contract, you will first need to make your earnest money, or “good faith” deposit. This is money you are risking if you back out of the deal for reasons not protected in the contract. Usually it can be around 1% of the sales price but can be more or less depending on what you and the seller agree to in the contract. Your agent will help you with this during negotiations. The earnest money deposit gets credited back to you at closing either to pocket or to put towards closing costs (your lender will outline that).
    Next, you should have an inspection of the property done by a certified home inspector. This cost varies depending on the size, condition, age, and features of the home, but is usually a few hundred dollars. You will need to pay this at the time of service. You may elect to pay for other inspections based on the results of the initial inspection. For example, if the inspector notes an issue with the HVAC system, you may need to pay a service fee for an HVAC contractor to look at the system. You want to get as much information during your inspection period as you need to confidently move forward with the purchase.
    An appraisal of the property will be ordered, but these can be added to your closing costs and sometimes not expected to be paid in advance. However, you may be asked to provide a credit card number to be charged in the event that the closing does not take place.

I will guide through all of these steps throughout your home buying journey. Ready to get started? Give me a call!