Home ownership is the foundation of the American dream, and often, a mortgage is necessary to make that dream come true. Finding the right mortgage loan is arguably just as important as finding the right property. You’ll be paying off your mortgage for years, and the best terms can save you thousands of dollars over time.
How to Increase Resale Value
07/09/2019Property Payoff: Tips To Increase Resale Value
Home improvements do more than make your house more livable and increase your family’s comfort level. They also have the side effect of boosting its value when the time comes to sell. Although making any improvements throughout your house can impress potential buyers, there are some that typically are more worthwhile investments than others.
For instance, converting a spare bedroom into a home office might have been a good idea for you, but someone else may not want to spend for that renovation if he or she would rather have the original sleeping space. This is why it’s a good idea to consider the resale value before undertaking any project.
Some projects will make your property attractive to interested homebuyers, but others could hurt your chances of selling. A rule of thumb to follow is that increasing the amount of living space is almost always a benefit to anyone looking to sell a house. Kitchens and bathrooms could probably use a bit of a makeover, as well.
For these and other ideas about how to boost the appeal of your home, take a look at the accompanying checklist. It contains some tips for getting the most out of your property by investing a bit more.
Tips To Increase Resale Value created by by Synergy Builders
Benefits of Moving to Anchorage
Benefits of moving to Anchorage
Ah, Anchorage. The jewel of Alaska. This gorgeous city spans for 1,961.1 square miles (5,079 square kilometres) which makes it the fourth largest city, by land, in the US. And within these 1,961.1 square miles, you'll be able to find goods schools, ample job opportunities, gorgeous sights of nature and many other things that make Anchorage such a beautiful place. Is that all? Of course not. Let us go over all the things that make moving to Anchorage a great idea for anyone looking to settle down.
What makes Anchorage awesomeYou might be thinking that I'm praising Anchorage for something that it is not. Well, let me disillusion you by mentioning the fact that Anchorage won the All-America City Award four times. Yes, four times (1956, 1965, 1984, and 2002). Not to mention the fact that it was named the most tax-friendly city in the US by Kiplinger. So, clearly, there are a lot of awesome things in Anchorage which make it clear why it is so appreciated. But, before you sell your home and move to Anchorage, let's see what's so great about it.
NatureIf you haven't heard about the beauty of Alaskan wilderness before, well now's the time. It is actually quite hard to describe how beautiful Alaska is. From jaw-dropping sights too beautiful creatures that roam it, it is truly something to behold. And what better way of doing so then by moving to Anchorage. By living here you'll have the glory of Alaska's nature an hour's drive away. So, if you or your family like to spend time in the great outdoors, there is no better place than Anchorage. But know that Alaska's nature can be dangerous just as it is beautiful.
DiversityAccording to the 2010 census, Anchorage has the population of 291,826. And, while 66% of the population is Caucasian, those 291,826 are culturally quite diverse. This is due to the fact that the US government had problems with not enough people living in Alaska. So, in order to make the state more enticing, they provided good living conditions which a lot of people found worth moving for. This made people from all around the US move to Alaska, regardless of their cultural heritage. Therefore, if you want to raise your kids in a diverse environment, or you would like to meet people from different heritages and cultures, moving to Anchorage is the right move.
ClimateAnother weird fact that you might stumble upon is that there are more people living in Anchorage than in the rest of Alaska. Some of the contributors to this are decent schools, good living conditions, and various work opportunities. But, the biggest reason has to be the climate. Don't get us wrong, Anchorage is cold and you need to prepare yourself for living in a colder climate. But, luckily, it is located near the sea, which offsets the cold climate quite a bit. This leads to Anchorage having a moderate subarctic climate with winter temperatures between 11 and 23 °F (-12 and -5 °C) and summer temperatures between 52 and 66 °F (11 to 19 °C).
Moving to AnchorageAll of the aforementioned facts are reasons why moving to Anchorage is a great decision for anyone looking to start a family. If you are looking for a calmer town where you'll be able to easily find a job and a place to live, then look no further. But, moving to Anchorage may not be as easy as you might think. Alaska is, after all, quite a bit separated from the rest of the US. And if you are moving from Canada, you will need to deal with international moving procedure. So, if you want to make Anchorage your home as soon as possible and start enjoying the benefits of living here, here is what you need to do.
Finding a place to liveThe first thing I advise you to do is to find the place where you will live in Anchorage. Luckily, you can find the type of household that suits you perfectly by looking online. Once you do that you need to visit Anchorage. I can list the benefits of moving to Anchorage for days. But, unless you visit it and witness them in person, you will never know what living in Anchorage is going to be like.
Proper moversOnce you have visited Anchorage you need to find reliable movers to help you relocate there. Our advice is to look for the best cross country moving professionals in Alaska. They will be able to plan your relocation so that it is efficient and that it costs you the least amount of money. Other movers may claim that they are able to do so properly. But only experienced movers have the necessary tools and knowledge to move you to Anchorage. Remember, you will need to cover a lot of ground and you might even need to utilize a plane or a boat to transport your possessions. These things require the right tools and skilled hands.
Moving PreparationsOnce you've found the right movers to help you, you need to deal with moving preparations. Best Cross Country Movers can advise you on how to prepare yourself for moving to Anchorage and they can even provide moving preparation services to make the whole ordeal easier. But, the one thing that you absolutely need to remember is that you need to start your moving preparations as soon as possible. The moment you decide that you are moving to Anchorage, start preparing. There are multiple articles and guides written that can make your relocation both safer and cheaper. But, in order to utilize them and easily move to Anchorage, you need to start on time.
This guide explains how mortgages work, the basics of mortgage fees and the mortgage process, and the different types of loans available. You’ll get an overview of the top mortgage lenders in the United States so you can find the best deal for your loan.
The Best Mortgage Lenders of 2019
- Quicken: Top Lender for Customer Satisfaction
- Bank of America: Best for 100% Loan-to-Value Options
- Guild: Best for Extensive Loan Options
- loanDepot: Best Home Equity Lender for Fair Credit
- Chase: Top Lender for Adjustable-Rate Mortgages
- Veterans United Home Loans: Best for VA Loan Specialization
- Fairway Independent: Best for USDA Loans
U.S. News conducted an in-depth review of leading direct mortgage lenders. Research was based on program availability, customer satisfaction ratings and qualification requirements. Because each consumer has different needs, the top finishers in several key areas were chosen.
How Mortgages Work
When you take out a mortgage, you borrow money from a lender to buy your home. A mortgage is a secured loan with your home as collateral, so the lender will hold the title to the property until the loan is paid in full. You will make payments on the loan each month, including interest, until it is paid off. At that point, you'll hold the title and own your home outright.
When you choose a mortgage, you have four major decisions to make: the lender, loan type, loan term and interest rate type.
Types of Mortgage Loans
There are two major types of mortgage loans: government-backed and conventional. Government-backed mortgage programs offer guarantees to lenders that reduce their risk and can make it easier for borrowers to qualify for a mortgage. Conventional loans do not offer the same guarantees but may have lower interest rates.
FHA loans. The Federal Housing Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, offers loan programs that make it easier for homebuyers to qualify for mortgages. The FHA doesn’t lend money; instead, it insures mortgages and reimburses lenders if borrowers default on the loan.
With government backing, it’s easier to qualify for FHA loans than conventional ones. You could qualify with a lower credit score and a smaller down payment, as little as 3.5%. However, you need to pay the FHA an upfront fee of 1.75% of the loan amount, plus annual mortgage insurance for at least 11 years. With these fees, FHA loans can be more expensive than conventional ones.
But programs like the FHA 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance program could help you finance a fixer-upper, offering funds in your mortgage to pay for renovations and improvements.
Bob Blackhurst, Realtor with BHHS Fox & Roach Real Estate Agents & Associates in Greenville, Delaware, finds these loans come in handy for many of his clients. “Housing inventory is tight, and it’s not easy to find properties in perfect condition. The FHA 203(k) loan program is a great tool to have at your disposal.”
VA loans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a loan guarantee to help active-duty members of the military, veterans and their surviving spouses qualify for mortgages. There are zero-down-payment VA loans, and lenders may charge a lower interest rate compared to conventional loans. However, funding fees are higher the smaller your down payment.
USDA loans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program encourages people to purchase homes in rural areas. Borrowers in these areas can qualify more easily for these loans and at a lower interest rate because the USDA guarantees the loan. However, USDA loans are only available in certain rural areas. They require an upfront fee of up to 3.5% of the mortgage amount and an annual fee of up to 0.5% of the unpaid balance.
State and local mortgage programs. State and local governments often have their own mortgage programs to help people buy homes. There are programs that help first-time buyers, encourage buyers in underdeveloped areas and support public sector employees such as firefighters and teachers. Check with your state or local housing department to see what programs are available in your area.
Conventional mortgages aren’t part of a government program. They’re a contract between homebuyers and private lenders. These loans can be more difficult to qualify for because they don’t have a guarantee if you default. However, they don’t have any rules limiting who can apply.
Conventional mortgage lenders typically require a down payment from 5% to 20%, though some offer loans with a down payment as low as 3%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you have a down payment of less than 20%, your lender will likely require you to buy private mortgage insurance, which pays the lender if you default.
Loan term. Loan term is the length of your mortgage, or how long you are scheduled to make payments. Mortgage loan terms are usually 15 or 30 years.
Your loan term significantly influences how much you pay per month. With a longer mortgage term, your monthly payments are smaller because you have more time to pay the loan back. However, a longer term will cost more in total interest, and long-term mortgage interest rates are usually higher than short-term ones.
For example, compare a $200,000 mortgage with a 15- or 30-year term. Each loan charges a 3.5% interest rate. With the 15-year mortgage, the monthly payment is $1,430 with $57,358 in total interest. With the 30-year mortgage, the monthly payment is $898. However, the total interest is $123,312, more than twice as much as the 15-year loan’s interest.
Interest Rate Type
Fixed rate. A fixed-rate mortgage keeps the same interest rate throughout the entire term. Your monthly payment will always stay the same, and it is easy to budget. You will know exactly what your mortgage payments are going to be for the entire term and won’t have to worry about costs going up. But you can't benefit if market interest rates fall unless you refinance.
The monthly payments on a fixed-rate mortgage are typically higher than the initial monthly payments on an adjustable-rate mortgage. Lenders charge higher interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages because they can’t increase your interest rate later. Over time, the payments on an adjustable-rate mortgage could go higher, but they will generally start lower than on a fixed-rate mortgage.
Adjustable rate. The interest rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage can change over time, which means your monthly payments can change depending on market interest rates. Adjustable-rate mortgage interest rates are based on a benchmark rate, such as the prime rate. When these rates go up, the interest rate and monthly payment for your mortgage go up. When they do down, so will your interest rate and monthly payment.
Adjustable-rate mortgages have rules for how often the interest rate can change. For example, on a 5/1 ARM, you'll keep the same rate for the first five years and adjust only once per year after that. Similarly, 3/1 ARMs keep the same interest rate for the first three years and can adjust once per year after that. Each adjustment has a cap and the loan have a lifetime cap on how much your rate can increase overall.
Before signing up, calculate how much the payments would be if the ARM hits the maximum rate under the lifetime cap. Consider whether you can still afford the loan payments even in the most expensive scenario.
U.S. News Survey: Most homebuyers are well-informed before obtaining a mortgage, but many aren’t doing enough research.
U.S. News conducted a survey of U.S. mortgage holders to identify how well homebuyers are researching mortgage loans. Overall, homebuyers know what they’re getting into. They’re typically spending more than an hour researching home loans and comparing at least two mortgage lenders, including comparing APRs and closing costs. However, there are many homebuyers who don’t spend enough time researching home loans or comparing lenders.
More than half of respondents spent at least one hour researching home loans.
Contributed by Guest Blogger Sally Norton
Check out best tips on how to prepare for moving to a colder climate
Moving to a colder climate requires certain preparations. Whether it's for work, fun, or just out of pure necessity, each relocation has its own adventures. However, if we add the weather into this equation, we have to look at the relocation from a whole other perspective.
If you are a warm-to-cold newbie, this guide will be perfect for you. I will try to cover all the essentials of moving to a colder climate, in as many details as possible. Let's begin!
Your body reacts differently when exposed to cold weatherIt is interesting to know how your skin reacts to the sun. When being exposed to the sun's rays, the skin generates vitamin D, which in return strengthens your immune system.
Furthermore, if you expose yourself to the sun, you will feel less stressed.
With this in mind, you may experience some mood changes when moving to a colder climate. Nevertheless, some people prefer winter, and they feel better when exposed to cold weather. My advice is, prepare yourself mentally for this change.
Essentials of moving to a colder climateOnce your mind is set, and there is no turning back, we can start talking about the essential steps when moving to a colder climate:
- invest in winter clothes
- get used to the cold weather
- prepare your car for the road
- stay healthy
- stay active
In the end, we will talk about buying or renting a winter house, and I'll also give you some general things to think about.
Invest in winter clothes
Imagine how would moving to Alaska from another state look like if you didn't layer up on time. Investing in real winter clothes will pay off in the long run. Wind resistant jacket, boots, and a sweater will be worth more than anything once you feel the cold.
Getting used to the cold weather
When moving to a colder climate, the hardest thing is to get used to the cold weather. However, the golden rule is to go out as much as you can. If you expose yourself to the wind and the cold, your immune system will develop. The biggest mistake is to stay inside.
Prepare for moving to a colder climate
If you are relocating on your own, you have to prepare your car for driving in the cold weather. This means, go to your auto mechanic for a full checkup before you hit the road. Also, don't forget to put the winter tires and chains.
On another hand, if you wish to move with a moving company, my advice is to search for the one with the most experience, like Verified Movers.
Always stay healthy
Do you remember how I said that all of the essential steps for moving to a colder climate are connected? Here is where you'll see it best.
It is imperative to stay healthy during the winter. To protect yourself from getting ill, you'll have to dress warmly. Here is where investing in winter clothes pays out.
Also, we talked about regularly going out, so you can adjust to the cold weather.
Next, you have to stay hydrated and eat well. Drink tea and other hot beverages to keep yourself warm at all times. And above all, always be on the move. But, more about this in the next section!
Always stay active
It is crucial to stay active when exposed to cold weather. Always find something to do. This way, you'll improve your blood circulation. Also, your body generates heat when being active. This is another reason to keep yourself busy.
Winter time is perfect for outdoor activities, so always stay active
Winterize your home
Moving to a colder climate also means that you'll have to winterize your home. It is a challenging task, but also a necessity. First, check your windows and doors for the draft. If there is anything you need to repair, do not hesitate.
If your new place has an attic, check if it's well insulated.
Outdoors, make sure you drain garden hose and store it. If it freezes, it may tear apart. Also, don't forget to shut the water to the faucets.
Clean the gutters so the melted snow and debris can run off of the roof.
Knowing these steps will also make it easy if you are buying a new house. You'll know in advance what is important, and what to look for in a winter home.
Some things to think aboutWhen moving to a colder climate, people are always busy doing relocation preparations. In all of the commotion, they might overlook some important details.
For example, if you are moving with pets during winter.
For instance, if you have a dog, think about its needs. Dogs require to be taken outside every day, multiple times. If it's cold, you have to think about how to keep them warm. Some breeds like the cold weather, some don't.
If you have a parrot, never put the cage close to a drafty window. They may die if exposed to the cold wind.
Pets require special attention, especially during winter
Moving with childrenMoving to a colder climate with children is a sensitive topic. Always keep them warm. It is smart to bring some medicine with you, just in case they catch a cold.
If you wish to dress your kids for the cold weather, always use multiple layers. However, many parents overdo it out of fear. If your kids wear too many clothes, they will start to sweat, and it will be easier for them to get sick.
Stay safe on the roadI hope this little guide helped you to prepare when moving to a colder climate. Keep in mind that cold weather means winter sports! There are lots of fun activities to do in the snow.
So, dress well and have a safe trip!
Pre-sale Tips to Use Now
04/02/2019by guest blogger Bob Vautour and Pillar to Post Home Inspections
Pre-sale Tips to Use Now
Many home sellers often overlook easy and relatively inexpensive fixes that not only increase visual appeal, but may also add to a home’s selling price. While major remodeling is costly and may not address the needs and tastes of prospective buyers, these repair and maintenance suggestions have universal appeal and may help a home sell more quickly – and for a better price.
- Bathrooms and the kitchen must get a deep cleaning. Sellers should consider a cleaning company that offers “move in / move out” cleaning services to do the job.
- If kitchen cabinet exteriors are in bad shape, refacing may be an option. Far less expensive than new cabinetry, refacing can give old and worn cabinets new life and can visually renew a kitchen. Alternatively, many cabinet materials can also be painted, for an updated look without costing a lot.
- Consider replacing kitchen or bathroom counters with a neutral colored laminate surface if the current material is badly worn or stained. This gives the room a fresh appearance and, most importantly, prevents potential buyers from focusing on an eyesore.
- Fresh paint on the walls and ceilings will do wonders for all rooms in the house. Stick to neutral tones so that buyers aren’t distracted by colors that make a statement. They’ll be able to imagine themselves and their furniture in the space much more easily.
- If carpet now covers up hardwood floors, consider having it removed to expose the hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors are desirable, so they should be shown off. If carpet is to remain, it should be thoroughly cleaned.
- If the home’s exterior needs painting, get it done. Buyers notice if paint is faded and peeling. If the paint is in good shape overall, renew the doors and trim with a fresh coat.
- Clean the windows inside and out so they sparkle. It’s amazing what a difference this can make in a home’s appearance. Hiring a professional window cleaning company is the easiest and safest way to get the job done on a multi-story home.
- Clear clutter from the yard, keep the lawn mowed, and trim any overgrown shrubs that detract from the home’s appearance. The home should look well maintained even at first glance.
- Place pots of bright, colorful flowers along an entry path and near the doors to add a cheery, welcoming touch.