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5 Benefits of Owning vs. Renting

Apr 3
10:34
AM
Category | General

If you are one of the many people weighing the pros and cons of renting vs. buying a home, there are several things to consider before making a decision. After working through the various cost comparisons, deciding on a location, and researching the market values in that area, you might find yourself still on the fence. Owning a home can come with a lot of benefits, some financial, and some simply based on personal preference. Below are 5 reasons why owning your own home might be the right move for you this spring:

  1. The money you spend is an investment – when you own your own home, you are essentially depositing a monthly payment into a building bank account. Every monthly mortgage payment you make builds equity. When you rent a home, the owner of that property is benefiting from your monthly investment.
  2. Freedom to do what you want – a huge advantage to owning your own home is that you can do whatever you want to do it. There are no restrictions when it comes to paint colors, repairs and upgrades, what kind of pets can live there, how often you can have guests, etc. Nothing is more frustrating than handing over a large sum of money every month to then be told how you can and can not live in your own space.
  3. Fixed costs –  If you opt for a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payment will not change. Renters are at the mercy of what their  landlords decide, unless they are living in a rent-controlled building. If you know that you are going to be in one area for a long time and choose a 30-year mortgage, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your rate will not increase.
  4. Building credit – Once of the best ways to build your credit score is by paying a monthly mortgage payment on time. Since you cannot self-report rent payments to credit bureaus, you might miss out on the opportunity to increase your credit score.
  5. Taxes – As a homeowner you can deduct the interest paid on your mortgage from your taxable income and therefore save yourself money. Newer mortgages with higher interest payments each month yield the best tax breaks.

There is a lot to be said for owning your own home, primarily because it is a long-term investment that essentially forces you to save over time. As always, it is best to consult with a mortgage professional to discuss the details of your individual circumstances and determine which loan product is the best for you.


We all dream of it; owning our own vacation home, maybe somewhere on the beach or a ski condo we can bring the family to. While owning a second home in an ideal location can be a great long-term investment, there are certainly things to consider before committing to the purchase.

Commitment to Location: With so many vacation rental sites that allow you to hop from destination to destination, owning a home in one solitary location is a big commitment. Make sure that you are head over heels in love with where you choose to buy your second home and have spent a significant amount of time there already.

Remember, it is Still a House: Just because your vacation home is the destination for relaxation and having a good time, don’t forget the amount of maintenance that comes with owning a home. Some houses may require several days of preparing it for a particular season. Keep in mind some of your vacation days will be spent working on the house just as you do at your primary residence.


Who Will Be There When You Are Not?: The additional costs of a vacation home can often be offset by making it available to renters. Take into consideration who would manage the property when you weren’t there. Are you close enough to act as landlord and prepare it for when guests arrive? Or will you need to hire a management company? Take into consideration the time that you want to spend in your home. If you make it available to renters, are you willing to give up some of the peak season, depending on the location of your vacation home, in order to ease the financial burden?

Travel Time: Similar to loving the location of your second home, it’s also important to consider how difficult the journey to it will be. Are you able to hop in the car and drive a couple of hours to be there, or do you need to get a flight whenever you want to enjoy it? Nothing ruins a vacation more than wasting a day or two just to get to your destination. Be realistic with how often you will be able to use your vacation home.


The kitchen is the heart of any home and is typically the first room homebuyers consider investing in. Kitchen remodels can range from simple to extravagant and the amount of money spent can greatly vary. Regardless of the level of upgrade you plan to do, consider these helpful tips to help you save and plan for the perfect kitchen. 

Save on Plumbing: The number one tip for saving money in a kitchen remodel is to leave the plumbing lined up the way it is. Moving water and gas lines is very expensive; if you can avoid this cost, you’ll be off to a great start. 

Keep the Cabinets: If your existing cabinets are in good condition and made of quality materials, then consider refreshing them instead of replacing them. New cabinets are one of the highest costs when remodeling a kitchen. You can repaint your cabinets, update the fronts, or add new hardware.

Match the Appliances: These days, most companies offer matching sets of dishwashers, ovens, and refrigerators, which can give your kitchen an expensive look for less. Make sure you don’t buy separate pieces from different manufactures and do your research on affordable appliance options.

Find Free Services: Many large home improvement stores offer computerized design services that help with layout and style. Oftentimes the planning help is free, and they can also assist with installation and project management.

Keep a Fixtures Budget: At the end of your kitchen renovation, you want to make sure there’s enough money left over for the finishing touches. Fixtures like drawer pulls and cabinet handles should be a priority in your budget planning. Not skimping on these items will give your renovation a polished and complete look.

By following these tips you’ll be enjoying your new kitchen in no time, with a little extra cash in your pocket!


Save Money on Your Move

Mar 12
5:01
PM
Category | General

Let’s face it, moving is a chore! Even if you have great friends willing to help you out in return for beer and pizza, the actual cost of a move can add up quickly. If you’ve got plans on the horizon to pack up, take note of these great ways to save you as much money as possible.

Look for Materials Online
Purchasing new moving boxes and packing supplies can certainly cost a lot. If you spend some time searching online, you can probably source what you need. Check sites like Craigslist and your local Facebook groups as they tend to update regularly.

Clean Out
Use your move as the perfect opportunity to go through your belongings to see what you can get rid of. Unload the extra weight and start fresh in your new home with less clutter. You’ll save on packing supplies, and your moving estimate.  

Save Your Receipts!
If you are donating large bags of items as you declutter from your existing space, keeping an itemized receipt for tax purposes is a great idea. Find the value of your items on the Salvation Army Donation Value Guide and see how much you can deduct at tax time.

Get More Than One Estimate
Schedule at least three moving companies to give you an in-home moving estimate. Check out their reviews and ratings to determine which company is going to be the best fit for you and then try to negotiate cost by sharing the other quotes you received.

Set Up Your Change of Address
Going online to setup your change of address through USPS can automatically get you $750 in coupons from places like Home Depot, Pottery Barn, etc. Use these savings to set up your new home when you arrive. You can register your change of address up to three months prior to your move.

Find a Place to Stay
If you need a temporary housing situation while you move, look for hotels that have flexible cancelation policies. That way, if there’s any issue with your plans, you won’t be out any extra money. Avoid home rental reservations that have strict policies.

 


Homebuying Warning Signs

Mar 5
1:38
PM
Category | General

Going on house tours in search for your next home can be a lot of fun. After scanning the listing photos, you finally get to see the property in person. Chances are the new kitchen catches your eye, or the layout seems perfect. Very few people take the time to investigate a home thoroughly when they go to see it for the first time, when this happens to be the best opportunity to identify warning signs that could end up costing you a lot of money in the future. We have identified a few key things to keep an eye out for when looking for your next home.

Cracks in the Foundation: A walk around the outside of a home is just as important as the walk inside. Be sure to take note of any visible cracks or damage which could mean costly structural repairs in the future. Also look for run-off water from the yard that could lead to basement flooding.

Mold: Mold can be an easily managed issue, or it could mean big trouble and high cost. Basements and attics are more typical locations for mold, but if you see any on carpets, walls, or around cooling units, there could be major issues with interior walls and structural supports.

Roof Condition: A roof can last a long time, up to 30 years if it’s well taken care of. But if you notice on your home tour that the roof is sagging in spots, or the material its made of looks cheap, it could mean that you will be replacing it sooner than expected.

Faulty Electrical Work: During a home showing, realtors tend to turn a lot of lights on to make the home feel more welcoming. If you notice that they are off, go ahead and test out the switches. If the lights flicker or they don’t go on at all, chances are the home has faulty electrical wiring that will need to be replaced.

Windows: You probably wouldn’t think to inspect the windows when looking at a home, but it can save you a lot of money in the long run. Don’t be afraid to open them up and look for signs of water damage or corrosion. Replacing one or two windows isn’t that big of a deal, but a whole house will be a big investment.

Many of these issues you may not notice at first glance. Utilizing the first showing as an opportunity to “kick the tires” on your potential new home can save you major money down the road. Furthermore, while a home inspection is not mandatory, it’s invaluable, and can help identify any of these warning signs you might have missed.


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