Sumathi Narayanan Realty's Blog
Whether your adult children have left the nest or you recently decided to "upsize" to a larger house, you're now faced with the minor "problem" of what to do with that extra space.
While some homeowners just use it for storage or guest bedrooms, there are plenty of other possibilities that are well worth considering.
Exercise room: In spite of the many proven benefits of regular exercise -- ranging from increased strength and endurance to weight control and slowing down the aging process, many people have trouble getting started and staying motivated. It's a lot easier to come up with a laundry list of excuses than join a gym and stick with an exercise program. It's surprising how many people actually join a health club, but then stop going after the novelty (and their enthusiasm) wears off.
However, when you create a dedicated fitness space at home, most of your former excuses no longer hold water! With a home gym or exercise room, you not only have convenience, privacy, and 24/7 availability, but there are no parking issues, traffic problems, membership fees, or noisy weightlifters. If you prefer a regimen that's less vigorous, there's always the option to use the room for yoga, tai chi, and meditation.
Home office: With more homeowners telecommuting, consulting, freelancing, blogging, and starting ecommerce stores, it makes sense to set aside a dedicated space in your home for business and career development. A home office is also a quieter place to go for other tasks, such as paying bills, applying for jobs, social networking, catching up on your email correspondence, or planning your next vacation.
Home library: If you or any of your family are avid readers, a room with lots of built-in shelving, comfortable furniture, and adjustable lighting would be the perfect place to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Not only would a home library be the ideal environment for reading, studying, or doing research, but it might even encourage your children to cultivate more of an appreciation for reading and learning.
Craft room: Whether there are artists, embroiderers, or jewelry makers in your household, a special room for artistic endeavors lends itself to creativity, while helping to keep craft supplies and projects confined to one area of the house! A craft room can also be ideal for storing gift-wrapping supplies and holiday cards.
Music room: If your family is musically inclined, a separate room for practicing instruments is beneficial to both budding musicians and those who want to watch TV, do homework, or have quiet conversations elsewhere in the house. A dedicated music room can also be a good spot for making music videos, recording music, and having jam sessions.
As you can imagine, extra space in your house gives you and your family the opportunity for more physical, intellectual, and creative development. Designating a spare room, a finished basement, or an attic area for artistic expression or personal development may even encourage others in your family to discover and cultivate their hidden and emerging talents!
The process of buying a home is anything but cut and dry. There will undoubtedly be some twists and turns along the way. First, you need to be pre-approved for a mortgage. Then, you’ll need to find a home that fits both your needs and your budget. Finally, you’ll put in an offer on a place and hope for the best throughout the rest of the process.
There are plenty of things that you can do as a buyer to make buying a home both easier and more streamlined. Below, you’ll find some of the best tips that are specifically for those seeking to buy a home.
Give Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse
When there is a low quantity of homes and a high number of buyers, competition can get fierce. When the market is like this, you’re not guaranteed to get a property that you put an offer on. It may take making several offers on homes in order for you to finally get the keys to your dream house.
You never want your offer to be too low. A low offer could be insulting to sellers and instead of being countered, could just be outright refused. Make an offer too high and you still have a problem. A high offer may be accepted, however, it’s not going to be approved by your mortgage company for you to borrow that much for the purchase. If an offer is accepted and a home appraises for less, you may be left with thousands of dollars that you need to pay on the spot in order to secure the home.
The best way to present an attractive offer is to work with an expert realtor who can do the appropriate research and let you know what a good offer on the home would be.
Know Your Contingencies
After an offer on a home has been accepted, you need to get to work on the contingencies that you’re going to want on the home. Your realtor will also be a huge advocate in this area. Contingencies will include things like the right to do a home inspection, the appraisal contingency, and the contingency that you’ll only be able to move forward with buying the home if you have appropriate financing. These protect you as a buyer so that if something falls through, you’ll be able to back out of the deal without a penalty.
Don’t Go Credit Happy
Once your offer is accepted and your financing is in place, don’t head out to buy tons of new furniture and appliances for your new home. Your credit matters until you get the keys to the house. Opening new credit cards or adding significant debt can affect your credit score negatively, possibly putting a damper on your home purchase. Hold off on making purchases until after you move into the house.
While the millennial generation (people born between 1980 and 1989) accounts for the majority of homebuyers today, the other generations--both older and younger--cannot be discounted. Aging Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and up-and-coming Gen Yers (those born between 1990 and 1998) are still forces to be considered when marketing your home. How do you position your property so that appeals to young families, middle-age professionals and those past retirement age? Below are just a few tips on how to do this seemingly impossible task.
1. Opt for Neutral Colors.
While older homebuyers make be attracted to dramatic colors and accent walls, younger buyers are looking for a blank palette that they can personalize. Using white, beige, gray and similar tones for walls, cabinets and carpeting will please those buyers without alienating baby boomers who are adept at adding color with art and accessories.
2. Embrace Technology.
Buyers of all generations are increasingly savvy about properties on the market and neighborhoods, due to the amount of information available online. Most buyers search online for available properties before they ever contact a real estate professional. Make sure that your home is showcased online with lots of images and even a video "walk-through".
3. Make your Home Low Maintenance.
Buyers of all generations want to enjoy their home without having to do a laundry list of chores to keep it well-maintained and attractive. This means keeping your landscaping to a minimum as well as choosing low-maintenance materials like laminate flooring and composite siding when you remodel.
4. Create a Walkability List for Potential Buyers.
Younger buyers want to have shopping, dining, schools and other conveniences nearby, so they don't waste precious time driving to and from attractions. Older buyers may have limited mobility and thus want services close by. Access to public transportation is also a plus for buyers of all ages. Write a list of what's available nearby so that your potential buyers have all of those facts at hand and don't have to do all of the research themselves.
Making your property attractive to multiple generations of homebuyers doesn't have to be an impossible task. Set yourself up for success--and a quick sale--by sticking with neutral colors, making your property available to online shoppers and educating your potential buyers on what services and attractions are available near to your home.
Sharing living expenses with your partner or roommates can be a difficult and confusing issue for many.
Life would be made much easier if there was just one bill to pay on your home that includes everything.
Recently there have been attempts to bring such a suction into fruition. Many homeowners and renters have turned to apps that help them split expenses, or have signed up for mortgage agreements that cover stray expenses like property tax and private mortgage insurance.
In this article, we're going to give you a few tips on splitting the bills in your home to make things easier for you, your spouse, and your roommates.
Who pays what?
Many young couples are often left wondering who should pay which bill, especially when you share so many services.>
However, there's a big difference between sharing a Netflix account and sharing a car. One solution is to use the bills that report to credit agencies for whoever needs help building their credit score.
Putting credit cards under the person with the lowest score’s name can help them build credit even if they're simply listed as an “authorized user” which means you can take advantage of good interest rates and build credit at the same time.
Paying the mortgage
It can quickly become tiresome having to write two different checks each month for your mortgage or rent. To solve this problem, you can either alternate payments (you pay a full month’s rent or mortgage one month and your spouse pays the following month), or you can choose to pay bi-weekly, which will help you pay off your mortgage sooner.
The best apps to use
If you live with your spouse, you likely aren’t overly concerned with splitting all of your expenses 50/50. Chances are whoever has the higher income will foot the bill for the larger expenses.
However, if you have roommates there’s a bigger chance you’ll want things to be split evenly between you and the other members of the household. That’s where apps come in handy.
First, sit down with your roommates and go over all expenses. Write down each bill that you share: rent, heat, electricity, cable, internet, gas, insurance, and so on.
Then, decide who is responsible for making the payment on those bills. Even if you decide to split them all evenly, one person will have to be responsible for sending out the check each month.
Once you’ve determined which bills you have and who is going to pay them, it’s time to find out how you’re all going to contribute.
One way is to open up a shared account. Doing so can be messy, however, if you’re using that account for multiple bills. Some banks and services also charge a portion of the transfer, so you’ll each be losing money each month, and the amount depends on how many bills you have.
Some apps and services you can use to split bills and transfer money include Splitwise, Mint, PayPal, and Chase’s QuickPay. The benefit of apps that don’t transfer money is that they are often free and don’t collect transfer fees. So, if you’re comfortable with handling money by hand, you could save in the long run.
We all know that buying a home is expensive. For first-time buyers who don’t have the luxury of equity for a down payment, it can be difficult to find a way to finance your home without taking on a huge interest rate and mortgage insurance.
Fortunately, loan programs like those offered by the U.S. Veterans Affairs can be a godsend. However, there is a great deal of confusion around who is eligible for VA loans and how to acquire them.
So, in today’s post, we’re going to cover some of the frequently asked questions of VA loans. That way, you can feel confident in knowing whether or not it’s a good financing option for you and your family.
VA Loans FAQ
Who is eligible for a VA Loan?
VA loans aren’t just for veterans. Most members of the military, including Reserve and National Guard members can apply. Additionally, spouses of service members who died from a service-related disability and those who died on active duty can apply as well.
How long do you have to service to be eligible?
The VA defines eligibility as having served no less than 90 days of service during wartime and 181 days of continuous service during peacetime.
Who are VA Loans offered by?
Like any other loan, VA loans are offered by private lenders. The difference is that VA loans are guaranteed by the government. That means that the federal government takes on some of the risk of lending to you, therefore making it possible to secure a loan with little or no down payment.
Should I make a down payment on a VA loan?
If you have the means, making a down payment will almost certainly save you money in the long run. If you can put down 10% of your total mortgage amount, you can also significantly reduce the VA Funding Fee.
Will I have to pay private mortgage insurance?
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is something that borrowers pay on top of their mortgage payments and interest. This additional insurance helps borrowers buy a home with a small down payment. VA loans allow you to secure a mortgage without PMI.
Are VA loans different for active duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve members?
Each type of service member is eligible for a VA loan. However, there are some minor differences regarding the VA Funding Fee. With no down payment, an active duty member would pay 2.15% of the loan amount in fees. National Guard and Army Reserve members pay around 2.40% with no down payment.
What does my credit score need to be to get a VA loan?
The VA doesn’t have a set minimum credit score. However, the private lenders that offer the loan do. On average, the lowest credit score that you can secure a VA loan with is around 620. That being said, a higher score will secure you a lower interest rate, saving you money over the lifetime of your loan.