4 Reasons a Home is a Retirement Asset

As a homeowner, your house is likely your biggest asset.

It can help you build wealth and improve your finances — and in retirement, it might serve as a much-needed source of financial support.

That last part is important. Whether you’re 25 or 55, having a plan is critical to an enjoyable and worry-free retirement.

Want to know how your home can help you plan for your golden years? Here are four ways it can factor in:

  1. You can leverage your home equity. Most homeowners are sitting on serious amounts of equity right now. You can tap into that by taking out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). In retirement, these can be great options for covering medical bills, paying off higher-interest debts, or funding home improvements.
  2. You can sell and use the profits. Many retirees choose to sell their homes and downsize to a smaller property. If you decide to take this route, you can use the sale proceeds to support your retirement — plus, you’ll enjoy a smaller home that’s easier to maintain.
  3. You can refinance. Refinancing could help in a couple of ways: A regular refinance may help you reduce your monthly payment and create liquidity. But if you opt for a cash-out refinance, it could also give you funds to use toward your retirement goals.
  4. You can rent out your home. Your house can become a source of regular income in retirement if you rent out a room or the whole home for short- or long-term tenants. Get in touch to learn about local laws and restrictions.

A home can be a valuable financial asset at any life stage. Are you interested in buying a new property? Get in touch today for help.

How to Reduce Your Homeownership Costs

From taxes and insurance to maintenance and repairs, homeownership comes with a variety of costs. 

But don’t worry: These expenses don’t have to break the bank.

With a strategy (and maybe a few key home updates), you can reduce your costs in the long run. You may even make your home safer and less prone to damage.

Want to cut the costs of homeownership? Try these five approaches:

  • Homeowners Insurance: Want to reduce your insurance premiums? You could bundle your home and auto policies, upgrade older systems in your home, or add safety devices (like burglar alarms and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors).
  • Utilities: To reduce your monthly utility bills, invest in Energy Star-certified appliances, and consider getting a smart thermostat. Other things that may help include seasonal weatherproofing, updating your windows, adding more insulation and installing LED lighting.
  • Taxes: If your property taxes increase, you can challenge them with your local appraisal board. You might also be able to file for a homestead exemption for a primary residence, which puts a cap on how much your taxes can increase each year.
  • Repairs: Contractor costs and building material prices are still rising. Shop around for the parts you need, and consider doing any projects you’re qualified for on your own rather than outsourcing. You can also shop secondhand for lower-cost supplies.
  • Mortgage: Refinancing for a lower rate could lower your monthly mortgage payment and help your financial situation overall. Even if you refinance to a shorter term (raising your monthly payments), you can typically reduce your long-term interest costs.

If you have questions about homebuying and homeownership, reach out today.

Stage Your Home with These 5 Tips

Staging is a vital tool when selling a property. The majority of buyer’s agents say staging can increase offers by anywhere from 1% to 20%, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors. 

On a home listed at $400,000, that could mean up to $80,000 more.

Do you want to market your property better, or potentially fetch a higher sale price? Keep these staging tips in mind:

  1. Focus on important rooms. If you don’t have time or want to spend enough to stage the whole house, focus your efforts on a few rooms. NAR’s staging report shows that buyers value staging most in the living room, main bedroom and kitchen.
  2. Let some light in. Light (particularly natural light) opens up a space and makes it appear larger, so focus on light-reflecting colors and lightweight drapery. You can also add a few carefully placed mirrors to reflect even more light.
  3. Consider the use of the room. You want buyers to envision themselves in the home, so focus on what each room is used for when staging. Show them what life could be like if they purchase the home: Set the table in the dining room, add a cozy throw blanket to the living room sofa, and turn on the reading lamps by the bedside.
  4. Don’t forget outdoor spaces. Curb appeal is important, too. Spend time arranging your front door and porch, cleaning up the yards and making your home look more welcoming.
  5. Keep it simple. Be wary of staging your home with too-trendy decor. Minimalist, neutral palettes are timeless, and they’ll ensure your home appeals to everyone who steps foot in it.

Want help selling your property? Get in touch so we can work together to make it stand out from the competition.

How to Pay for Your Home Improvements

You’ll probably want to improve your home at some point.

It might be out of necessity if you need a new roof or fence — or you might want more space or additional amenities, like an updated kitchen or a swimming pool.

Whatever the reason for your projects, you’ll likely need some help paying for them.

Are you planning to make some improvements around the house soon? Here are four ways to cover the costs.

  • Home Equity: You can leverage your home equity to cover home improvements. Among your options are a home equity loan, cash-out refinance and home equity line of credit (HELOC). The latter, which functions more like a credit card, is a good option if you’re not sure how much you need or if you need cash over an extended period.
  • Cash Savings: This can be a great way to pay for any home repairs or updates — just make sure you’re not draining your emergency fund. You should always have a healthy amount of savings as a homeowner so that you’re ready for maintenance, repairs and other expenses even if you hit a financial snag.
  • Home Remodeling Loans: Renovation and remodeling loans are designed just for this purpose. You can use them to cover repairs, updates and other improvements, then pay the costs back over time as with any other type of loan.
  • Credit Cards: These should be a last resort, since credit cards typically come with higher interest rates than other financing options, like loans and lines of credit mentioned above. 

Are you considering buying a new property instead of doing updates? Or do you need a referral to a trusted loan expert? Get in touch today for assistance.

Look Out for These Common Home Hazards

Homes can have safety issues that aren’t always obvious — problems that could endanger you and your family.

Fortunately, doing an annual safety audit of your property can help identify some of these hazards and allow you to remedy them before they cause larger problems. It may also help you to avoid using your home warranty or homeowners insurance.

Want to make sure your home is safe for you and your loved ones? Here’s a room-by-room breakdown of what to do.

Kitchen
If you have kids, make sure sharp knives and utensils are stored safely in a drawer. You should also check that your vent hood is working properly and that there’s a fire extinguisher within easy reach.

Bathrooms
Do your rugs have nonskid undersides that are in good condition? If not, replace them or add a nonskid mat underneath. You should also check that your electronics are kept away from water sources like the sink and tub.

Bedrooms
Make sure heavy furniture is secured to the wall or somehow anchored. This is particularly important if you have small kids who may be injured pulling down shelves or dressers.

Laundry Room
Regularly empty your dryer vent, and make sure the lint trap is clear after each load of laundry. These can both become fire hazards when clogged.

Living Room
If you have a fireplace, have it inspected by a professional annually. Adding a fire screen (if you don’t already have one) is also important. Be aware that area rugs can be tripping hazards, too.

If examining your property has made you realize that you’re ready to move on to your next home, get in touch so we can start the search together.

5 Ideas to Improve Your Outdoor Space

We’re finally approaching summer: The days are getting longer, the sun is shining and the weather’s getting warmer — it’s the perfect opportunity to spend more time outdoors.

Is your backyard or patio ready for heavier use?

If not, there’s still time, and you don’t need to spend a lot to make it happen. Here are five great ways to upgrade your outdoor area as we close in on the summer months.

  • Update Fences: Are there broken posts or holes your neighbors can see through? Repair the fence to ensure your privacy before summertime rolls in. You can also give it a new coat of paint or stain to improve your yard’s overall aesthetic.
  • Install a Focal Point: Every outdoor space needs a focal point — something to add visual appeal and interest. Fountains can be a great option, as can blooming gardens, well-lit walking paths or vine-covered pergolas.
  • Include Nature: Adding potted or planted flowers and bushes are great ways to bring nature into your outdoor area. You can also invite local fauna by installing a birdbath or hummingbird feeder.
  • Create an Outdoor Room: Outdoor dining rooms, living areas and even full-fledged outdoor kitchens are on-trend. They can extend your usable living space and provide a great area for entertaining.
  • Add a Gathering Point: Have a place your family and guests can gather. It can be a fire pit surrounded by folding chairs, an outdoor kitchen with a full dining set or a cozy outdoor couch to sit on and mingle. Choose one that fits your aesthetic, budget and entertaining style best.

Are you looking for a home with plentiful outdoor space? Get in touch today to start your search.

What to Know About Home Inspections

You probably know that home inspections are often part of the homebuying process.

But do you know why they’re so important — or what they mean for your home purchase or sale?

Home inspections can play a big role in whether your homebuying (or selling) efforts are successful.

Are you hoping to buy or sell a house soon? Here’s what you should know about how a home inspection might impact your goals.

Inspections aren’t required. A home inspection is generally encouraged for buyers, but it’s not required. In a hot market, buyers might waive their right to an inspection to win a bidding war. But be careful: This could hurt you financially if you find yourself having to make large repairs and renovations.

The results can influence your deal — and your price. If the inspector finds issues, the buyer will often want to renegotiate. They might ask the seller to make repairs before closing or offer a lower price point to account for them. If they have an inspection contingency, a buyer can even pull out of the deal without losing earnest money.

You have to pay for an inspection. Home inspection costs vary by market and inspector, but they typically cost between $250 and $500 per property. Since the inspection is for the buyer’s benefit, they cover this cost out of pocket, usually as part of the closing costs.

Sellers sometimes get pre-listing inspections. By getting one before the home hits the market, sellers can identify any problems that could hold back their sale. In many cases, sellers are required to disclose any issues their inspector finds if they haven’t been fixed.

If you’re preparing to buy or sell a home, get in touch today to start working with an experienced real estate professional.

What to Do if You Can’t Find a Home

Finding a home in a hot market can be challenging: Supply is limited, and bidding wars are common with demand so high. 

You may find yourself up against dozens of buyers, making it hard to snag the home — and at a price you can afford.

It’s important not to lose hope, though. Despite the competitive market, there are ways to find (and buy) your dream home.

Are you having trouble with your home search? These tips might help:

  • Get preapproved for your mortgage. Having preapproval is critical in a highly active housing market. It could give you a leg up over other buyers, and it can help you gauge your budget more accurately.
  • Expand your search area. Branching out a little often helps open up more inventory — and it may reduce your competition. If your lifestyle allows for it, you might even want to try looking in more rural areas.
  • Change your ideal property type. Rather than only focusing on single-family homes, what about searching for townhouses, condos and duplexes too? If you choose the latter, you might be able to rent out the other half to help cover your mortgage.
  • Shop under your budget. Looking for properties well under your maximum budget allows you to bid comfortably above list price and beat out other buyers — without risking your financial standing.
  • Look into building or renovating. Maybe you’d like a new construction home instead of buying an existing house. Or, you can look to fixer-uppers and plan to renovate the home before moving. Just make sure you talk to your lender about loan options, as your choice may change what type of mortgage you need.

Do you need help on your home search? Get in touch today.

Tips for Managing a Cross-Country Move

With remote work so common these days, moving to your dream locale across the state, country or even the world isn’t as difficult as it once was.

Still, that doesn’t mean a long-distance move will be easy. The logistics, the travel and the timeline can all be tricky to manage, and preparing for these potential challenges is key.

Are you considering a big move this year? If so, follow these tips to help everything run smoothly.

1. Map out a detailed timetable. Set milestones for each important step, such as booking your movers, scheduling cleaning services, and having everything packed up and ready to go. 

2. Calculate a realistic budget. Start a spreadsheet of all the expenses you can expect. Remember to include homebuying costs (down payment, closing costs, etc.) as well as things like packing supplies, movers, moving pods, truck rentals, travel and more. 

3. Declutter and do a home inventory. Begin by decluttering your house and donating anything you no longer need. Then, do an inventory of the items you’re bringing. When you pack, label every box clearly so you know exactly where to put it upon arrival.

4. Account for the comfort and safety of kids and pets. If you have children or furry family members, you’ll need to make arrangements for them. For kids, this might mean getting a babysitter to watch them on moving day and stocking up on road trip entertainment. For pets, you’ll need to sort out transportation and accommodations as needed.

5. Don’t forget about utilities, internet and insurance. Make sure you schedule on and off dates for all home service providers. You may need to make deposits for your new utilities, so be sure to plan for these costs as well.

Looking for a new property? Reach out today.

3 Ways to Make the Most of Color at Home

If you’re thinking of updating, remodeling or repairing your home this year, it’s time to start planning. 

Want to make the most of your efforts? Don’t overlook color. Color plays a big role in your home’s aesthetic and mood, and it can affect your overall property value, too. 

If you’re not sure where to start, get acquainted with the trending hues for 2022 and take a look at these tips for incorporating color like a pro.

1. Let the colors of the year guide you. A great place to start is by reviewing the “colors of the year.” For 2022, hues of green are in for two of the most well-known brands. Benjamin Moore went with October Mist, a pale, silvery green, while Sherwin-Williams opted for Evergreen Fog, a soothing “green-meets-gray” shade. Pantone went in a different direction with Very Peri, a periwinkle shade with violet-red undertones meant to “encourage courageous creativity.”

2. Have a color-placing strategy. How will you use the colors? You can opt for a more nuanced approach and paint an accent wall, your crown molding or your baseboards, or you could go all-out and use it on your kitchen cabinets or even an entire room or ceiling. Another option: You could focus on accessories like bedding or drapes if you want something more temporary. 

3. Factor in durability and upkeep. White and light hues photograph well and make a room look nice and clean. On the downside, they may get dirty easily and often require a lot of cleaning and upkeep. They’re typically not good choices in a well-used space (like a playroom or right around the kitchen sink or oven, for example).

Planning to sell your home or buy a new one this year? Reach out today for guidance.