Factors to Consider Before You Refinance Your Home

It’s no secret that the best time to finance a home is when mortgage interest rates are low. You could save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your mortgage if you finance at the right time. With interest rates still being low, some wonder why more people aren’t refinancing their homes, especially if doing so would save them $100 or more a month on their mortgage payments.

Although low interest rates are a primary reason to consider refinancing a home, it’s not the only reason. Other reasons to consider refinancing include:

  • Ready to adjust length of the loan – Refinancing your home could allow you to extend the number of years that you have to pay for your house, potentially lowering your monthly installments. Just be careful that you don’t end up paying higher interest rates in the long term. Of course,you could also shorten the length of your loan. Generally, this option will find you paying less interest over the lifetime of your loan.
  • Moving to a fixed rate mortgage – Adjustable rate mortgages may start out low, but they don’t always remain low. Even with a fixed rate mortgage, you could spend more on your house each month due to an increase in home owner association fees or property taxes.
  • Improved credit scores – Stronger credit scores could help you to get a better adjustable rate mortgage.

If you’ve had your mortgage for several years, you may have paid on a good deal of the principal. Refinancing and starting with a new loan could backfire, causing you to pay more interest. If you have a lot of equity in your home but you’re struggling to stay current on your monthly mortgage payments, consider renting out a room at your house.

You could also work a part-time job, even if you work a remote job from home, until you become current in your payments. A few months of work change could save you money and headaches down the road if you only need $200 or less each month to make your mortgage. Other alternatives would be to become more energy efficient and to create and stick to a budget. Think short and long term gains.

Depending on your existing mortgage, you may or may not be charged a fee to refinance your home. Some mortgages charge a prepayment fee to refinance. Simply because you’re paying the loan off early, you could be assessed the fee. Definitely check with your lender to see if such a clause is in your mortgage contract.

Take your time shopping around for a better mortgage. Regardless of the lender that you refinance your home through, you may pay refinancing fees. Some lenders may also require you to pay for another home inspection, application fee,origination fee and closing costs. Factor in all charges and fees that you will incur if you refinance your home before you sign on the dotted line.

If your home no longer meets your family’s needs, moving to a new house might be a better option than refinancing. Another time when you might not want to refinance your home is if your kids are getting ready to start college and you’ll be taking on student loans.

Revamp Your Bathroom on a Budget

For home sellers, you won’t necessarily need a bold, beautiful bathroom to improve your chances of a quick sale. However, you should try to improve the quality of your bathroom as much as possible before you add your home to the real estate market.

In a highly competitive real estate market, homebuyers will look for any reason not to buy your home. On the other hand, home sellers who offer a residence with an exceptional bathroom can reduce the risk of alienating homebuyers. Furthermore, home sellers may be able to transform a subpar bathroom into an outstanding feature if they devote time and resources to make bathroom improvements.

You don’t need to spend a lot to make significant bathroom improvements, either. In fact, here are three simple, affordable bathroom improvements that every home seller needs to know about:

1. Painting the walls

If the paint on your bathroom walls is fading or peeling, it may be time for a new paint job. Fortunately, you usually can pick up low-cost paint supplies at any hardware store quickly and easily.

Although hiring professional painters also is an option, you may be able to paint your bathroom walls yourself to save money. Remember, your bathroom likely is smaller than other rooms in your house, which means a new paint job won’t necessarily require a significant time and resource investment.

2. Updating bathroom fixtures

The little details can make all the difference in the eyes of a homebuyer. And home sellers who update bathroom fixtures can boost their bathroom’s chances of making a great impression on homebuyers during a home showing.

Drawer pulls, towel racks and other bathroom fixtures often are simple to update in just minutes. In addition, these bathroom improvements require minimal time and money, ensuring you’ll be able to complete bathroom fixture improvement projects to enhance your bathroom’s appearance without delay.

3. Adding caulk and grout

Bathroom caulk and grout details may be overlooked by many home sellers, but those who want their homes to stand out in a competitive marketplace should consider adding straight, clean lines of caulk and grout.

Placing new lines of caulk and grout around a bathtub and sink can help these pieces sparkle. Ultimately, caulk and grout improvements are fast and effective too, making them valuable options for home sellers.

It is important to note that improving the quality of a home’s bathroom rarely, if ever, requires a full-blown overhaul. Instead, focus on making minor improvements over an extended period of time. And, of course, be sure to keep your bathroom looking pristine – that way, if a homebuyer wants to view your residence, your home’s bathroom will stand out for all the right reasons.

Bathroom improvements offer superb options for home sellers who want to transform a good residence into a must-buy. These improvements typically won’t require substantial time and resources, but they can serve as key difference-makers that will help set your home apart from others on the real estate market.

Take advantage of bathroom improvements, and you’ll be better equipped to improve the overall quality of your residence.

3 Costly Mistakes That Every Home Seller Needs to Avoid

Selling your home can be an expensive process if you’re not careful. Fortunately, we’re here to help you maximize the value of your home and ensure that you’re able to avoid costly mistakes throughout the home selling process.

Here’s a closer look at three costly mistakes that every home seller needs to know about, along with ways to avoid such issues altogether:

1. Selling Your Home Before You Are Qualified to Buy a New One

Although you had no trouble buying your current home, the same won’t necessarily hold true when you look to purchase a new residence.

For example, your financial circumstances may have changed between the time that you purchased your current home and now. This means that you may struggle to qualify for a home loan in the current economic climate.

As such, you’ll want to get pre-approved by a lender before you sell your current house. You also should conduct plenty of research into areas where you may want to live in the future; that way, you’ll be better equipped to buy another house and relocate quickly if a homebuyer wants to purchase your current residence.

2. Guessing the Sale Price of Your Home

It is unlikely that what you initially paid for your residence is what it’s worth now. As a result, you’ll want to understand the true value of your home before you add it to the real estate market to optimize the value of your residence.

Getting a fair market appraisal will ensure that you can better understand what your home currently is worth. Furthermore, you should consider the upgrades that you’ve made across your home, as these improvements likely will boost your residence’s value.

When it comes to the sale price of your home, why should you be forced to leave anything to chance? Instead, do your homework so you can determine the optimal sale price, i.e. a sale price that highlights your home’s true worth and will make your residence an attractive option for homebuyers.

3. Understanding the Stress Associated with the Home Selling Process

A calm, cool and collected approach to selling your home often is ideal, particularly as the stresses commonly associated with the home selling process start to add up.

For instance, a homebuyer may submit an offer and follow it up with a home inspection. But during the inspection, this homebuyer could find issues with your home that lead him or her to reconsider the initial offer and could put a potential home sale in jeopardy.

Conversely, with the right real estate agent at your disposal, you’ll be able to minimize many of the stresses of the home selling process. This professional will possess the necessary skills and know-how to guide you during the home selling process, and ultimately, improve your chances of a fast, successful home sale.

Costly home selling mistakes can put a dent in your wallet or pocketbook and cause your stress levels to rise. But home sellers who work with a dedicated real estate agent can benefit from the support of an experienced professional who can simplify the home selling process.

Only the Essentials: The Most Important Kitchen Tools

If you walk down the kitchen aisle of any department store you’ll see dozens of kitchen tools–some you’ve maybe never even heard of. As long as people keep buying gimmicky kitchen tools and utensils, companies will keep making them. The temptation might be there, when walking through Target, to buy that chicken-shaped egg yolk separator, but do you really need it?

In this article, we’ll cover the essential list of kitchen utensils. Once your drawer has these items, you won’t need anything else. You’ll free up space in your kitchen and avoid money-wasting gimmicks that often don’t even work, allowing you to buy better versions of the tools that really count.

Note: We won’t be talking about the basic silverware and dishes (forks, spoons, plates, cups, etc.) since we can assume you already have those.

  1. The chef’s knife. A chef’s knife is arguably the most important item in any kitchen. A good chef’s knife is made from steel, has balanced weight, and is comfortable to hold. Be sure to keep it sharp and there’s nothing you can’t cut with it.
  2. Two spatulas. One metal for flipping items on your baking sheets and meat on the grill, one plastic for your frying pans. Thin, heat-resistant, and durable are what you’re looking for here.
  3. Three spoons. One wooden (for stirring), one plastic with holes and one plastic without holes.
  4. A strainer. You don’t need four sizes of strainer; one big one will do. Be sure to pick one with handles, sturdy handles, for draining big pots of pasta.
  5. Shears. Whether it’s for de-stringing a Thanksgiving turkey or opening up a bag of frozen peas, they’ll save you a headache trying to use a knife.
  6. Serrated bread knife. Unless you like to ruin a fresh loaf of bread by crushing it while cutting it, you’ll need a serrated edge.
  7. Measuring cups and spoons. Clean your measuring spoons by hand so they don’t get tossed around in your dishwasher and melted.
  8. Can opener. Skip the huge electric can openers and buy a good handheld one that will last years.
  9. Cutting board. A quality large wooden cutting board will make your life a lot easier, and it won’t dull your blades.
  10. Peeler. Y-shaped peelers are much easier to use than their knife-shaped counterparts.
  11. Mixing bowl. You could benefit from multiple mixing bowls if you do a lot of baking, but oftentimes you only need one large bowl for most recipes and can use your smaller soup bowls for other ingredients.

Avoiding the gimmicks

It seems like every day there’s a new infomercial for a lemon juice squeezer or a banana slicer. You’ll notice that they tend to follow certain trends and offer the same promises. Here are the ones to avoid:

  • Fruit and vegetable slicers. If you have a knife, there’s no need for tools that claim to slice certain types of vegetables better than others.
  • Single-use tools. Shears designed just for cutting and serving pizza? Yes, they exist. Avoid items that will just take up space in your cabinets and opt for those that serve multiple purposes.
  • Things you’ve never heard of. If it’s an object that you’ve never seen or heard of before, odds are you don’t need it in your kitchen cabinets. The most time-tested tools are all it takes to make great meals in your kitchen.