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Archive for August, 2013

Seek Recommendations When Re-Financing Your Home

Homeowners who are re-financing their home for the first time may need a great deal of advice to assist them during the process. While homeowner can certainly research the process of re-financing by themselves, this can be a MORTGAGEcumbersome task which is difficult, if not impossible. While it might be possible for a homeowner to educate himself enough to make informed decisions, it is unreasonable to expect a homeowner to be up to date on the most current information in the re-financing industry. It would also not be reasonable for homeowners to learn enough to make a definite decision regarding re-financing. The homeowner may still require some direction regarding which options are best suited for the needs of the homeowner.

Fortunately there are two simple steps homeowners can take to tips the odds of obtaining the most favorable re-financing in their favor. These simple steps include consulting with friends and family members who have recently financed and turning to industry experts for assistance.

Consult Friends and Family when Re-Financing

Believe it or not consulting with family and friends is one of the first steps a homeowner should take in the UPSIDE DOWNrefinancing process. Those reading this article might be somewhat confused by this suggestion because in the previous section we stressed how it would be virtually impossible for a homeowner to thoroughly educate themselves on the re-financing process. Surely, we are not implying every homeowner has a friend or family member who is capable of given detailed financial advice in regard to re-financing. However, friends and family members can be helpful in a different capacity.

Friends and family members who recently re-financed their own home likely did a great deal of research and legwork before making their decision. They also likely formed useful opinions, either negative or positive, about the lender they used in the process. It is this information which can be very useful to homeowners who are considering their own re-financing. Homeowners can obtain information such as which lenders are currently offering the best rates as well as which lenders are easy to work with and responsive to the needs of the homeowners as well as which lenders do not take a vested interest in helping the homeowner to succeed.

Ask Experts for Advice when Re-Financing

REFINANCEOne piece of advice which cannot be overlooked when re-financing a home, is asking an expert in the re-financing industry for advice. These experts may have costly consulting fees associated with their assistance but most homeowners would agree these fees are certainly worthwhile especially if the result in a significant cost savings for the homeowner.

We previously stressed how the issues associated with re-financing can be quite complex and difficult for those outside of the industry to fully understand, however, those in the industry spend their days devoted to learning more about re-financing, keeping up to date with changes in the industry as well as new developments and figuring outRATES how to best serve the customers. All of these characteristics make it clear that homeowners should really consider employing the services of a financial planner with a great deal of experience in re-financing when they are making decisions regarding the best re-financing option for their situation.

Again, friends and family members who previously consulted with an industry professional can supply candid opinions about those they met. This can save the homeowner a great deal of time by eliminating potential candidates who friends and family members thought performed poorly.

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Signs Your Kitchen Needs To Be Remodeled

Are you a homeowner?  If so, how long have you lived in your home?  Whether you have only lived in your home three months, three years, or even thirty years, there may come a time when you want a change. We often associate NEWchange with buying a new home, but there is a way that you make a change without having to make another large purchase.  If you are looking for a change, when it comes to your home, you way want to think about remodeling your kitchen. 

When it comes to kitchen remodeling, there are many homeowners who wonder why they should even bother.  If you are one of those homeowners, you may want to take the time to familiarize yourself with the most common signs that you need or could benefit from having your kitchen remodeled.  If any of the scenarios, mentioned down below, applies to you in, anyway, it may be time for you to start your next home improvement project; a kitchen remodeling project.

Perhaps, the most obvious sign that you need to remodel your kitchen is if it is falling apart in any way.  To many homeowners, falling apart means different things, but, in essence, it means if your kitchen appears as if it is in CHOICEextremely poor quality.  If you notice holes in your walls or ceiling, kitchen cabinets that are not properly working, kitchen counters that have large gashes in them, or bumps in your kitchen floor tiles, it may be time to remodel your kitchen.  When a kitchen has something wrong with it, you should not only be concerned with the appearance of it, but also the safety. That is why it is important that you, at least, fix any problems in your kitchen, even if you don’t plan on doing a large remodeling project.

As previously mentioned, another one the many signs that you may need to have your kitchen remodeled is if you need a change. As much as many homeowners love their homes, it can get quite boring to look at the same thing, every single day.  A kitchen remodeling project is the best way to spice up your life, as well as your home.  If you do not have the time, the expertise, or the money needed to remodel your whole kitchen, you may want to just focus on a particular part of it, such as your cabinets and so on.

SHARPMoney is another sign that you may want or need to remodel your kitchen.  Choosing to remodel your kitchen isn’t just a big decision, it is an expensive one. Although many homeowners need to have their kitchens remodeled, there are many who cannot afford to do so.  If you have the money, you are urged to remodel your kitchen when you have the chance, especially if your kitchen is currently in bad shape. Whether you recently came into some money or saved with the hopes of being able to afford a kitchen remodeling project, you should get started while you still have the chance.  Unfortunately, LIGHTSmoney is sometimes hard to hang on to. That is why if your intention was to remodel your kitchen, make sure that you stick to your originally intention; you can benefit a number of ways from doing so.

Even though the above mentioned points may apply to you, you may still be wondering whether or not you should really remodel your kitchen.  Perhaps, it is best that you take time to think about your decision.  The decision to remodel your kitchen is a large one; it is one that shouldn’t be made on an impulse.

Home Appraisal, What Is My Home Worth?

What Is My Home Worth? Understanding the appraisal process and what drives home values. Written by John Tatman Retired Real Estate Appraiser

Actually, there are two home values, the value to the homeowner and the value to the potential buyer. REALTORUnfortunately, both values are emotional and not facts based on market data.   The homeowner has time in the home, family, years of memories, children growing up, maintenance, perhaps blood sweat and tears in room additions, kitchen or bath remodeling. Obviously the owner places a high value on his/her castle and rightly so.   The buyers on the other hand see things differently and act on different emotions. The buyers are looking for that emotional spark at the first viewing.

The all-important first impression is what drives the potential buyers…at first. From there the first impression quickly turns to affordability, the cost to get in the home, the closing costs, the monthly notes, the taxes. Should I make an offer? What is the least I should offer?   Market value is somewhere between these two emotional extremes.   This is where the appraiser comes in with an objective opinion backed by market data.   Market value is defined as the price a willing buyer will pay to a willing seller for a product or service. In real estate, this is known as an “arms length transaction” meaning both buyer and seller acted willingly and not under duress.   Where does the appraiser begin and how do they arrive at those magic numbers called Market Value? It is not magical at all; it is a methodical series of analytical steps.   First, the appraiser makes a physical inspection of the property, determining size of livable floor space and making note of all amenities, such as the number of bedrooms and baths, the garage, washing facilities, storage areas, and any special features such as a OPEN HOUSEfireplace, pool, patio or outbuildings.

  After a through inspection, the appraiser has a starting point to arrive at market value. With all the physical data collected, the appraiser uses two or three methods to arrive at market value. The three methods are: Market Approach: The appraiser searches for comparable homes in your neighborhood, subdivision or within your city with comparable neighborhoods. Cost Approach/Cost analysis: The appraiser calculates the cost to build your home at current material and labor costs, less depreciation for structural damage, poor upkeep and neighborhood disintegration. Income Approach: The income approach does not apply to residential market value.

This approach applies to income producing properties such as residential duplexes, apartments and of course commercial properties.   If the property being appraised is a residential structure many factors are taken into HOME FOR SALEconsideration beyond the physical attributes of the property. The appraiser also considers the compatibility of your home within the neighborhood, such as does your neighborhood add to or reduce the value of your home? This involves pride in ownership factors, which occur in most communities. However, location, location, location drives the final market analysis. The appraiser considers the ebb and flow of growth and its direction within your town or city due to socio-economic factors. In addition, future city planning contributes to a large degree in your home maintaining its present value.   In summary, determining the value of your home is a complex DOGSprocedure. The appraiser must know his/her city well and all the socio-economic factors driving the market. This takes years of observation, study, and considerable research by the appraiser.  

 When considering a professional appraisal, it is best to choose an appraiser who is certified and has any of the following professional designations: MAI (Member American Institute) ASA (American Society of Appraisers) SRA (Society of Appraisers) CRA (Certified Real Estate Appraiser) IFAS (Independent Fee Appraisal Society). This list is a few of the most recognized professional appraisal organizations in America.  

Why Real Estate Investing Is A Process

One thing that many people do not realize is that learning to invest in real estate is a process. They don’t realize that because they often only see the end result – a prosperous person with a Midas Touch, or a person who always finds CHOICEthemselves in an avalanche of great deals.  They think the person is simply lucky.

Someone who has truly begun their own real estate journey knows, however, that these successful investors are utilizing a skill they have developed over time. Perhaps they have developed a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and in a sense that is indeed luck. However, that seeming luck developed over years of learning. These investors learned where to go so that deals could find them.

It’s like considering a hunter lucky because he tends to find deer in the woods, while you never see any in the city. The hunter is lucky because he knows he has to go to the forest if he wants to find deer. It’s mind-boggling simple when you really think about it.SOLD

Ken McElroy, who wrote “The ABCs of Investing,” one of the Rich Dad book series, said that, if you begin to do the things that investors do, you will start to see patterns. You can use those patterns to determine your course of action. It’s just another way of saying, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”

People who just don’t get that concept, or who refuse to accept it because it is attached to the concept of work, tend to be magical thinkers and get-rich-quick schemers. They think there is something mystical at work, when the only thing really at work is the investor. McElroy says that there are some people who just don’t really have the desire to do the work. Those tend to be the magical thinkers, and they are that way because they want to be.

FOR SALEHowever, if you do have the desire to do the work, and all you need is to be told what work to do, then there is hope. You can learn the technical skills. Those are the people, McElroy says, for whom he wrote “The ABCs of Investing.”

Elsewhere in the Rich Dad series, Robert Kiyosaki, who started the series, said that the people who do lose big in real estate investment are typically the ones who jump in without first taking the time to learn about investing. They simply don’t know how to do it. That is what people don’t understand about getting rich, and more specifically about real estate investing, that it is a process. You are noLIVING AREA more going to swagger into the arena, plunk down your money and make a killing any more than you would swagger into a hangar, jump into an airplane and start doing loop-de-loops. That approach is likely to get you killed. That approach in real estate investing is likely to cost you a lot of money.

But if you take it slowly and allow yourself to make plenty of small mistakes that won’t make you crash, then you will begin to build a base of knowledge. You will begin to see how it all fits together and you will start to make money.

It is a process.

Rental Questions? When A Parent Moves To An Apartment

Divorce is hard, there’s no question about it. Not only has your marriage ended but, most likely, your lifestyle is undergoing some drastic changes also. This is especially true if you are forced to leave the place that was home to RENTALyou and your family.

Depending on your particular situation, you may find that moving into an apartment is your only option. Many times it’s hard to think of an apartment as home after you’ve been accustomed to living in a house surrounded by family. But, if you choose your apartment wisely, you may find it’ll become a cozy, comfortable haven.

Take some time to select your apartment.

Remember, this is going to be your new home. Don’t rush the selection process. Decide how much you can afford to spend for rent and look at as many apartments in that range as you can. Location should be one of your prime considerations. Your life is complicated enough right now, don’t make it worse by choosing an inconvenient location where commuting APARTMENTbecomes a problem.

If your children will be visiting regularly be sure your apartment is large enough to let them feel at home. If possible, select an apartment with a room just for them. Let them have a hand in decorating it so they’ll feel a part of it. If you have joint custody of the children and they will be living with you while attending school, you’ll also want to choose an apartment that is convenient to their schools and recreation areas.

The type of apartment you choose will be important to how well you adapt to living in it. Like a house, choose one that fits your personality. If you like puttering in the yard, make sure there is some private space where you can do that ~ even if it’s just planting flower boxes on your patio. If you enjoy cooking, make sure the kitchen meets your requirements.

LIVING ROOMYou also need to consider the atmosphere of your apartment complex. If you’re going to have children living with you part-time, most likely a singles community would not be the best choice. Neither would you probably want to choose an apartment in a building that is filled with senior citizens. If there are pets involved, make sure rules don’t prohibit them.

Turn your apartment into a home.

Don’t consider your apartment a place of exile! It’s your new home and if you want to be happy there, you must give it your attention. SELECTINGUnpack the boxes and arrange your furniture in a way that’s pleasing to you. Hang pictures or other art work on the walls and stamp your new home with your own personality. If you take pride in decorating it according to your own tastes, you’ll find it becomes a welcoming and comfortable place to be. Remember you no longer have to consider anyone else’s preferences ~ this is all yours to do with as you please!

The more you’re apartment reflects you and your interests, the more it will seem like home.

Enjoy it!

What Makes A “Green” Home?

While “green” has become quite the buzzword when it comes to home building and design, what exactly it means isn’t always clear. There are a few standards for eco-friendly homes, but the term “green” doesn’t have a universal GREENdefinition beyond being a color made by mixing yellow and blue. So how does a consumer know when a home the builder is calling “green” is actually built with an ecological focus, or at least enough of one to justify its price?

Some of the standards for ecologically minded homes include increased insulation. To be really energy-efficient, a home should be insulated beyond the minimum local requirements. This includes floor insulation, which in some cases is built right in to the concrete foundation. In addition to the walls, floors and ceilings, windows should also be insulating. Therefore, double panes and/or vinyl windows are becoming the “green” standard.

Energy efficiency should be continued throughout the home. Low water use toilets are a must, and those that have different flush options are extra eco-concious. These options allow you to have a more efficient flush for solid waste, while liquid waste just gets much more conservative flush. Shower heads, washing machines, faucets and dishwashers can also be equipped to limit the water used without compromising function. Air conditioners, refrigerators, heaters and all other appliances GOING GREENwithin the home should be of the highest standard of energy efficiency. In addition, compact fluorescent lights should be used throughout the home, or replaced by LED lights wherever those are suitable.

Beyond energy efficiency, use of non-toxic, ar at least less-toxic, materials is important in “green” homes. Look for a home with low VOC paints. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, which are toxins that gas-off from conventional paint. Remember the lighter the pigment, the lower the VOC’s, so white or off-white walls are healthier than some of the bolder, trendy colors. This is because it is the paint base that is quality controlled, but it is impossible to take the VOC’s out of some pigments.

Another finishing detail that is popular for eco-friendly homes is bamboo or cork flooring. Bamboo is popular because it grows so quickly. It takes about five years to grow bamboo to the right size to make flooring. It is versatile and comes in a variety of styles and colors. Cork is an option because it is sustainable to harvest – removing cork does not damage the cork tree, as it replenishes its cork bark every year anyway. Cork makes a lovely, soft and springy floor surface that is also naturally warmer than many other flooring options.

LIGHTFor our final indoor consideration, eco-friendly homes will use more natural fabrics such as wool and cotton for carpets and window dressings.

Outside the home leaves plenty of room for “green” considerations, too. Xeriscaping is a popular means of landscaping utilizing plants native to the area being built-in. These plants are naturally drought-resistant because they are acclimatized to the local environment, needing less watering and maintenance than lawns or beds full of foreign flowers.

Another “green” outdoor trend is utilizing permeable paving stones. These actually absorb water, which then is naturally filtered through the earth and goes back into the ground-water supply. These avoid the toxic run-off HOUSEthat can be caused by water rushing over cement and into drains, carrying oil and exhaust residue straight into the drainage system, which ultimately ends up being a nearby body of water.

If a home you are looking at is being promoted as being “green”, don’t hesitate to ask the builder about some of these features. If they don’t measure up, don’t buy it.