Consumer Real Estate News

    • A Home Equity Loan Could Affect Private Mortgage Insurance Requirements

      7 July 2020

      Homeowners often use their equity as a resource when they need to finance home improvements, a child’s college education or another major expense. Before you tap into your home equity, consider the possible effect on your private mortgage insurance (PMI) requirements.

      What Is Private Mortgage Insurance?
      If a homebuyer puts down less than 20 percent of the purchase price, a lender considers the loan risky. Most conventional lenders therefore require a borrower who puts down less than 20 percent to obtain PMI so the lender will be compensated if the borrower defaults on the loan. A borrower must continue to pay the premiums until reaching 20 percent equity.

      How Can Borrowing Against Home Equity Affect PMI?
      Premiums for PMI are based on your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. If you currently have less than 20 percent equity and pay for PMI, you may be able to obtain a home equity loan, but that’ll increase your LTV ratio and, thus, your PMI premiums.

      If you take out a home equity loan before you reach 20 percent equity, you may reach that goal much later than you would’ve without the home equity loan, and you’ll have to continue to pay for PMI in the meantime. Depending on the amount you’re currently paying for PMI, the amount you’d pay for PMI after taking out a home equity loan, and the interest rates on your mortgage and home equity loan, the additional cost might not make a home equity loan a good idea.

      If you have more than 20 percent equity now, you aren’t paying for PMI. If you take out a home equity loan that causes your LTV ratio to rise above 80 percent, however, your home equity lender and your primary mortgage lender may both require you to purchase PMI.

      Should You Take out a Home Equity Loan?
      A home equity loan can be a useful tool to pay for large expenses, but you should think things over carefully. If you’re currently paying for PMI, a home equity loan could raise your PMI premiums substantially, and you could be on the hook for PMI payments for a much longer period of time than you would if you didn’t tap into your home equity. If you’ve been working for years to pay down your mortgage and the combination of your existing mortgage and a new home equity loan would cause your equity to fall below 20 percent, you could have to deal with the additional expense of PMI, on top of mortgage and home equity loan payments.

      Talk to your lender about your current LTV ratio and how a home equity loan would affect your PMI obligations. If your monthly costs would rise significantly, you might be better off postponing a large purchase or exploring other financing options.

      This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 3 Overlooked Rooms Primed for a Remodel

      7 July 2020

      When you think of remodeling your home, your mind likely jumps immediately to your kitchen or bathrooms. While these are excellent spaces to remodel, there are plenty of other rooms throughout your home that can benefit from a little extra attention.

      If you’re in need of some inspiration for your next remodeling project, here are three rooms you should definitely consider:

      Laundry Room
      Laundry rooms are known more for their utilitarian value than their beauty, so it makes sense that they’re not often considered for remodeling. A spruced-up laundry room, however, can allow you to be more productive by getting more laundry done, more easily. For example, you can add automatic laundry detergent dispensers that allow you to use the correct amount of detergent every time. Plus, you can add large countertops so you can prepare clothes more easily for washing and fold them when they're done. If nothing else, it makes sense to beautify the space where you do one of your least favorite tasks to help make it a little more enjoyable.

      Garage
      You park your car and store various items there, but, beyond that, your garage probably doesn’t demand much of your attention. However, a remodeled garage can provide a multi-purpose space that you can be proud of. Remodelers can add enhanced insulation to make the space usable year-round. Then, with the addition of amenities including speakers, game tables and some comfortable chairs, you’ll wind up with a great hangout space where everyone will want to congregate.

      Mud Room
      Given the clean-up that it helps prevent, it’s a wonder that the mudroom isn’t more appreciated. It makes sense, though, given that your mudroom serves as a simple pass-through on the way to a welcoming home. Renovation makes sense, though, to ensure your mudroom stays as clean and organized as possible and thereby helps the rest of your home stay clean, as well. By adding hooks for backpacks and hats, extra shelves for shoes and improved mats to capture dirt, you can make your mudroom just as welcoming as the rest of your home.

      When it comes to any repair project, it’s important to understand the parts of the project you can complete yourself and those you need to hire out. Proper delegation will ensure you can complete your project quickly with minimal interruption to your daily activities. This also ensures that you stay safe as you avoid any aspects of the project that you’re not properly equipped to complete. With a quick completion, you may be inspired to renovate even more rooms around your home.

      Source: Brooke Chaplan/RISMedia’s Housecall

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Alternative Uses for an Empty Garage

      7 July 2020

      As hard as we try, it often seems like there's never enough space for everything we want to do. However, if you're a homeowner who finally won the war on clutter, you might be wondering what to do with a now-empty garage.

      Here are five great ideas for what you can do to transform your garage:

      Home Gym
      If you want to work out but hate schlepping to the gym, turn your empty garage into a versatile home gym. Depending on which types of exercise you prefer, you can look online for inexpensive pieces of equipment. You can check out local yard sales or go online to find gently used equipment. You can also invest in mats, free weights and whatever else motivates you to work out.

      Playroom
      As your family continues to grow, you might find yourself with less wiggle room. If your garage is suitable, you can transform it into a kids' sanctuary where they can play in the sand, have painting stations and even play on a few low-sitting swings. The key is to make the space as child-friendly as possible, so that means upgrading your garage door opener, if necessary. It's important if you do use your garage as a playroom that your little ones aren't able to open the garage door. In addition, don't forget to pad the floor with high-quality padding and carpeting for your little ones to play on.

      Spare Bedroom
      If you love to entertain but simply don't have the room for overnight guests, you can transform your garage into a spare room. But before you start decorating, you need to make sure the space is insulated to keep guests warm. You also want to make sure it remains pest-free. Depending on the space, you might need only a coat of paint and a comfy bed to make your guests feel at home, or you may also need to invest in carpeting.

      Office Space
      You can use your garage to create the home office of your dreams. Even if it's only in a corner of the garage, you can liven things up with a fresh coat of paint and new office furniture. Since the floor is probably concrete, you can easily warm things up by using throw rugs around your workspace. The garage makes a great office space because it's separate from the rest of the home, meaning you'll have minimal distractions.

      Mudroom
      If you need a place to store coats, boots and book bags without cluttering up your entryway, use your garage as a mudroom. With a little creativity and elbow grease, you can install wall hooks for everyone's coats, as well as backpacks. You can also create a space where your family can leave wet umbrellas and muddy shoes outside.

      When it comes to making use of an empty garage, there are a lot of things you can do. The key is knowing how to make the most of the space without pushing your budget.

      Source: Anita Ginsburg/RISMedia’s Housecall

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 9 Tips to Help You Control Your Spending

      6 July 2020

      Let’s be honest: Spending money can sometimes be too easy for our own good. With a few purchases here, a few purchases there, bills and receipts add up quickly, and before we know it­–poof!–it seems like our money has disappeared.

      Only it wasn’t a magic trick; it was likely a lack of self-control, financial awareness, or both. If you find this disappearing act happening often or simply want to start saving more money, try these nine tips from American Consumer Credit Counseling to help you reign in your spending:

      Track spending. Tracking where your money goes can be easy. Certain apps will help you track what you are spending your money on so you can see where to cut back.

      Try cash only. To help control spending, take out only the money you need. By using cash, you physically see your money leave your hands and won’t be left with any surprises.

      Budget. It’s important to have a budget. By creating one, you establish a spending plan to ensure you always have enough money for necessities.

      Make a list. Write a list of what you need before you go shopping–and stick to it. This’ll help you avoid spending extra money on impulse buys.

      Take your time online. When shopping online, don’t buy things without considering if you really need them. If you’re tempted to buy an item, put it in your cart. Then take a few hours or a few days to think it over.

      Compare prices. Comparison shop before you buy, especially when you’re making big purchases. Check out a few stores and online options to find the best price and look at similar items.

      Live within your means. Only spend what you have. Maybe it’s time to stop using your credit card altogether and stick to your debit card or cash.

      DIY. If you have a small project around the house, do some research and fix it yourself instead of spending the extra money to have someone do it for you.Understand needs vs. wants. Needs are the things we can’t survive without, such as housing, clothing and food. Wants are the things that’ll make our lives more pleasurable but aren’t essential for survival, such as travel and entertainment.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Ways to Help Transition Pets to Post-Quarantine Routines

      6 July 2020

      (Family Features) As states ease COVID-19 restrictions and people get out of the house to return to work, pets around the country may see their daily routines of hanging out with everyone come to an end.

      Some dogs and cats handle routine changes easily. For others, a routine change at home can cause behavior issues, nervousness or separation anxiety.

      A Suzy survey of 5,000 U.S. pet owners found nearly 70% of respondents are concerned their pets will have new or additional anxiety when they return to work. It’s important to prepare pets for changes in routine, especially those that are new to a home, for their well-being and harmony of the whole family.

      Consider these post-quarantine transition tips.

      Make a Plan
      The key to any plan is making sure everyone knows what to do. This goes for veteran pet owners and the owners of more than 221,000 new pets adopted or fostered since March, according to the 24Pet ShelterWatch Report. Pet owners should agree on the plan for their pets and details should be shared with children who help with care.

      “Pet owners should make a plan with minimal and realistic changes to help their dogs or cats adapt to new routines,” said veterinarian Elizabeth DeLomba, MBA, senior veterinary services consultant at VetriScience Laboratories. “Start by offering your pets belongings that make them feel safe and comfortable and add small things that promote mental and physical stimulation.”

      Practice the New Routine
      Ease your pet into being alone by spending short periods of time away from him or her both in and outside the home and work your way up to hours of separation.

      Use practice time to get your dog or cat used to what happens before you leave for work, comfortable with a crate or other safe space and acquainted with a new toy, treat or someone who will check on him or her during the day.

      Before you leave, take your pet for a walk or play at home to get energy out prior to your departure. When it is time to leave, don’t make a big deal out of leaving. Say goodbye long before you leave then leave calmly.

      Try a Calming Supplement
      The survey revealed that 65% of respondents plan to use a nutritional supplement to help their dog or cat cope with any anxiety a new routine brings. Over the counter calming supplements like VetriScience Composure chews can help pets relax during stressful times without changing their personality or energy level. Calming supplements come in bite-size chews or a liquid dosage and can help relieve stress for dogs and cats of all breeds and sizes.

       

      “Fear and anxiety disorders affect 23 million dogs in the U.S. alone,” DeLomba said. “Supplements may offer a convenient approach for managing separation anxiety and other behavioral issues. The ingredients in supplements work together to make a positive impact on behavior and anxiousness, which results in a calmer, more focused pet.”

      Keep Them Stimulated
      Don’t let your dog or cat feel bored when home alone. Play music, keep a television on or use a white noise machine to create some constant sound. If your pet isn’t into watching television, keep him or her busy with a treat-dispensing toy that requires some work. Or stuff a toy with peanut butter, freeze it and give it to your dog when you leave. These ideas can help keep your pet’s mind stimulated and encourage him or her to focus on something other than being alone.

      Start thinking about a plan for your pet and ask your veterinarian if you have concerns about behavioral changes. Learn more and find the full survey results at vetriscience.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.