What Buying a House Can Do for You:

What Buying a House Can Do for You: Investment Opportunity and Financial Security

Buying a home can be a great way to build wealth and protect your assets. Learn how home ownership can be a great investment decision for your financial security.

Some people may think of buying a home as a stressful experience that comes with an enormous commitment that can burden you for years. However, buying a home can be a great way to build wealth and protect your assets. Learn how homeownership can be a great investment decision that bolsters your financial security.

A Net Worth Boost

Research shows that on average, homeowners’ net worth is far higher than that of a renters’ net worth by up to 36%. And this wealth gap keeps widening every year. One explanation for this gap is the concept of forced savings. This is a situation where a person is essentially forced to save a certain amount of money every month for a significant expense, such as a house or a car.

Paying for a mortgage is a great example of forced savings. Paying for your mortgage month after month forces you to save a portion of your income to help pay off your property, which works towards increasing your home equity and net worth. Renters, on the other hand, increase the net worth of their landlords without building equity or assets.

04.10 buying a house - house car

Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Buying a house shouldn’t be considered fully as an expense. Homeowners enjoy a variety of tax breaks that you might not know about. Here are some of the tax breaks homeowners may qualify for:

Mortgage Interest Deductions

The monthly mortgage you must pay when you buy a house is split into two parts: one portion goes towards the actual principal amount, and the other portion pays off your interest on the mortgage. In some cases, the mortgage interest on your main and second residence is tax deductible.

To claim the mortgage interest, you must itemize your deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A, unless you just want to just claim the standard deductions. You should get a 1098 Form from your mortgage lender at the beginning of every year showing the total amount you paid as interest for the previous year that you can claim for tax returns.

Property Taxes

City or state real estate taxes that you pay on your house may be filed as a deductible while itemizing the deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A.

Mortgage Points

There are two types of mortgage points, and each point represents 1% of your total mortgage. Origination points, which is a fee that you pay to the borrower to compensate for their work that goes into processing a loan, are non-deductible. Discount points, which allow you to get discounted interest rates on your mortgage, are tax deductible.

Some of the interest that you pay on home equity loans are also deductible, along with interest on home improvement loan, and qualified moving expenses.

Using the Power of Leverage for Investing

One advantage of buying property for the purpose of investing is that you can borrow funds to make the purchase, as opposed to other investment opportunities such as stocks and bonds. Another advantage is that when inflation hits and prices increase, sometimes your house value will increase as well. If you borrow with a fixed rate mortgage, you will still be paying the future monthly payments with a currency that’s depreciated in value. As years go by, the equity on your property will increase, and once the principal amount is all paid off, you will have a debt-free asset that will continue to appreciate, depending on market conditions.

Compared to stacking up cash savings in your bank account and watching it lose value to inflation, investing in a property can secure your money in the long-term and act as a hedge against dollar debasement. Whether for diversification of your investment portfolio, or to secure a property where you and your family can grow and build memories, buying a home can be a timeless investment vehicle.

Winter is Coming. What Shape is Your Roof In?

Winter is Coming. What Shape is Your Roof In?

Winter is a tough season for roofs. But, it doesn’t have to be with these tips from Sunrun!

Guest post from Sunrun, a leading home solar energy & solar panel company

Winter is a tough season for roofs. In snowy areas, snow and ice add a lot of weight to the roof, and excess water can cause leaks. In areas where there’s a big winter temperature swing between day and night, those temperature variations cause the roof material to expand and contract, putting stress on the materials. Few roofs last longer than 25 years – with most having an average useful life of roughly 20-50 years, depending on materials, maintenance, local weather and other factors.

Before winter arrives in full force, it’s a good idea to perform a roof inspection. The good news is that they don’t take very long.

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How Do I Know If I Need A New Roof?
Inspect it! Luckily, if you have an attic, doing an inspection on your own is fairly easy. According to GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, there are four key things to look for while doing an inspection of your roof from the attic:

1. Water leaks
2. Ventilation – make sure vents are clear.
3. Animal damage
4. Structural problems

If you don’t have an attic, an outdoor visual inspection is the next best thing. You can do this from the safety of your yard without the risk of going up on a ladder.

Which Roof Type Is Best?
If you need a new roof, how do you choose which type of roofing material to use? Asphalt shingles are by far the most common in the U.S. There’s also tile, wood, stone, and metal, each offering their own pros and cons. Realtor.com has a pretty detailed overview here.

If you’ve been considering home solar, note that most solar companies won’t install on certain roof types. Why? Usually it’s because either the roofing material is too fragile (in the case of clay tile for example) or the material is too difficult to seal up properly after the solar installation. The most common roof type – asphalt shingle – is ideal for solar installations. Sunrun offers an overview of our qualification process here.

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I’ve Been Considering Home Solar – How Should I Factor That In?
If you’ve ever thought about adding solar to your home, you’ll first need a healthy, stable roof as a foundation. For that reason, it’s a great idea for homeowners who are considering a roof replacement to consider going solar during that process. In fact, a great home solar company will actually work with your roofing contractor on your behalf to make sure your new roof is solar-ready. Sunrun has a strategic partnership with Power Home Remodeling, one of the fastest growing home remodeling companies in the U.S. Together, we offer a streamlined process for Power’s roofing customers that decide to go solar with Sunrun. Power Home Remodeling has also been designated a Master Elite® Dealer by GAF, a recognition only given to companies with a track record of quality and professionalism.

Weather Proof Your Roof: Five Must Ask Questions for Your Contractor

Weather Proof Your Roof: Five Must Ask Questions for Your Contractor

It may still be early in the fall but it’s never too early to start preparing your home for the winter months.

Guest Post by David Baur, Product Manager, GCP Applied Technologies

It may still be early in the fall but it’s never too early to start preparing your home for the winter months. While you may not be ready for the arrival of snow and ice, the bigger concern is your roof prepared? With the recent uptick in severe weather, it is important to know how to keep a home protected from Mother Nature. The good news is that with the right contractor and the right products your home will stand up against winter’s extreme weather.

Here in the United States and beyond, extreme weather is the new normal, so the usual repairs are no longer an option. Every home must be constructed to withstand wind-driven rain, snow, ice and everything else that Mother Nature brings. Therefore, it is critical to make sure your home is waterproofed properly to prevent future damage and costly repairs. Selecting an educated contractor and the proper construction materials now will make a big difference in the future of your home and bring you peace of mind.

So, how do you ensure you have hired the right pro and that your roof will stand up to this winter? Ask your contractor these five questions about snow and ice dam protection before they tackle your roof repairs:

1. If they are re-roofing, will they be using roofing underlayments?

The complete roof system consists of multiple layers – not just the shingles. Shingles are the exterior layer and they are not enough to keep the water out. What makes the difference and protects your roof from water damage caused by ice dams is the roofing underlayment, which is installed underneath the shingles. Roofing underlayments perform many functions in a roofing assembly, but first and foremost, they serve as the last line of defense between homeowners and the damaging effects of water infiltration. Be sure your contractor uses quality waterproofing underlayments.  While use of an underlayment is required by building code, there are multiple product types that can be used.

2. What type of underlayment will they use?

The answer you want to hear is that your contractor is using self-adhered underlayments, especially at the eaves and at all critical detail areas. Self-adhered membranes come in a roll form and consist of a layer of adhesive and a surface material, usually either a non-skid film or a granular surface. Not all self-adhered underlayments are the same. There is a wide variation in quality and performance. Premium performance self-adhered underlayments, such as Grace Ice & Water Shield®, seal around the fasteners used to attach the shingles, which helps prevent the water behind an ice dam from leaking into your house. These high-quality self-adhered underlayments stick to the roof deck so that water may not travel under the underlayment and enter the house via a vulnerable roof deck joint. Lastly, best in class self-adhered underlayments seal at overlap areas. Water cannot flow or be blown under un-adhered laps. As a result, self-adhered underlayments provide real waterproofing protection that mechanically-attached alternatives cannot match.

3. What type of self-adhered underlayment will be used on your roof: Granular or Film-Surfaced?

While granular-surfaced membranes usually cost less, the film-surfaced varieties are considered the higher performing product. In addition to forming better laps, shingles installed over a film-surfaced underlayment will not adhere to the underlayment surface.  This means future roofing projects can be completed more easily and less costly.

4. On what parts of the roof are they planning to use the self-adhered membrane?

In cold weather regions they should certainly apply the membrane along the eaves and in all valleys on the roof.  This is a basic requirement of the building code. Additionally, you can help your roofer protect other potential trouble spots by pointing out areas, where leaks have occurred in the past and where snow and ice loads were especially high this past winter.  Roof wall intersections, chimneys, and skylights are frequently problem spots.

5. Can I install a self-adhered underlayment over the entire roof to avoid future leaks?

If the attic space is well ventilated, it is possible to cover the entire roof with self-adhered membrane. Your contractor will be able to advise if a full coverage with self-adhered membrane is a good choice for your home.

With these answers you will ensure your roofer is using the best materials at the right places to prevent leaks from future ice dams. Most of us re-roof one to two times in our lives, so if you do it right the first time, you will have guaranteed protection.

David Baur is Product Manager at GCP Applied Technologies, formerly known as Grace Construction Products. He has step-by-step tips for homeowners, contractors and builders on building homes for extreme weather. For more tips and information please visit: www.gcpat.com.

Winter Tips for Patio Furniture

The winter in Massachusetts can be a time of snow accumulation, biting cold, and whipping winds. So when the season changes in December, many homeowners choose to pack up their patios for the winter and go into “hibernation.” However, if you do a few maintenance tasks to get your patio prepared for the upcoming harsh winter months, you might actually be able to use it every now and again. Here are a few outdoor patio ideas that will make transitioning to the winter season more bearable, and maybe even encourage you to step outside for your morning cup of coffee.

Remove Your Patio Furniture

The first task to take care of before winter arrives is clearing your patio of all large items. Remove any and all chairs, tables, plants, and backyard tools. Give each furniture item a quick shower with a hose to remove debris, and allow it to dry in the sun. Take the umbrella from your outdoor patio table and wipe it down to remove any dust or dirt that has accumulated over the summer. Cover each item with a large trash bag and store them neatly in the garage, a tool shed, or beneath a large tarp. The goal here is to remove them from exposure to the elements so that they will be fresh and ready to use next spring. It’s also easier to shovel snow and clear pathways on your patio when it’s not full of furniture. If you don’t have room to store your patio furniture, simply remove the cushions and stack them neatly into a corner, out of the way.

Barbecue Grill - Flickr/Steven Depolo

Image Source: Flickr/Steven Depolo

Clean the Barbecue Grill

Many people don’t take the time to thoroughly clean their barbecue grill before the winter arrives, which is why it looks like a disaster in the spring. If you have a charcoal grill, get rid of the old coals and ash. Scrub the grill down with a degreasing agent and give it a good rinse down with your hose. If it’s a gas grill, make sure to safely shut off and unscrew the gas lines, then store the tank in a cool, dry location or return it to your local retailer. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper storage or disposal.

Tidy Up

If your patio is located near trees, take the time to sweep up leaves and debris before they have a chance to get covered up by snow in the winter. Use a high-powered nozzle with a patio and driveway cleaning solution to wash the bricks or cement surface thoroughly. Give your patio a fresh start, so that when spring rolls around again it will be clean and ready to be arranged.

Bench and Lights

If you plan to spend any amount of time outside on your patio this winter, you’re going to need weatherproof seating that is easy to move around. Get yourself a lightweight plastic bench made entirely of recycled materials. These benches are usually easy to lift, attractive, and can accommodate multiple people. If you don’t want to purchase a new bench, you can also leave two patio chairs outside and cover them with a heavy duty, weather resistant furniture cover. Also, remember that in the fall and winter it gets dark outside earlier, so add additional outdoor lighting to your patio so that it will be more welcoming. Try mini holiday lights or landscape lightingsystems.

Bench - Flickr/US Fish and Wildlife Service

Image Source: Flickr/US Fish and Wildlife Service – Recovery Act Team

These outdoor patio ideas make it possible to enjoy your back or front yard even during colder winter months.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Lee Haywood

5 Ideas That Will Make Your Front Porch Shine

Up your curb appeal game with these simple front porch ideas.

http://stevefaye.cbintouch.com/

With fall in full swing, your front porch needs to transition to attract buyers. Luckily it’s easy to make a few changes so it blends in for the season. Here are five front porch design ideas to make your home stand out:

via  Tiger’s Testing ServiceDesignMine

#1 Clean out debris with a power washer.

The first step is cleaning out the debris from summer. You could use old-fashioned equipment like a broom, mop, washcloth and elbow grease or hire a professional pressure washing service to clean away stubborn debris so your porch looks like new. Dirt and grime in the floor and on the siding can be dusted off quickly by a pressure washer, which will save you time and effort otherwise spent hand washing your porch.

#2 Add a new coat of paint.

A new coat of paint is a great way to revitalize the front porch, whether it’s touching up the trim, railings and banisters, or repainting the front door. It is also an opportunity to add a bright new color as part of your front porch design. Painting is a good DIY project on the weekend, or if you intend to do a complete overhaul, you might need to get a painter to help. Make sure the color will complement the rest of the house. You could always paint the porch a neutral tone and then cover the door in a bright color so it stands out as buyers walk up.

#3 Revitalize the front door.

Once you start getting the porch fixed up, it’s time to turn your focus to the door as it will be the first area buyers see. If the door is scratched, scraped or muddy, it won’t seem welcoming to potential homebuyers. Start by cleaning off any dirt and grime with the power washer or with a washcloth covered in vinegar and water. Then you can add on decorations like wreaths, a new door knob made of brass or steel, window dressings and more. That way it will look brand new without having to install a new door for hundreds of dollars.

#4 Imbue the porch with the natural landscape.

To make your porch blend in with the landscape, consider adding potted plants with seasonal flowers. They are inexpensive, add a splash of color and can be either standing or hanging in baskets throughout your porch. They will also help to create a welcoming atmosphere on the front porch. You should coordinate the colors of the plants to match the front door or the landscape so they stand out against the porch and blend with the yard.

#5 Brighten the porch with fixtures and new decor.

If the house numbers and mailbox are showing signs of age, you might need to spend a few hours or hire a handyman to revitalize them. You should also install light fixtures to make those house numbers easy to see at night or on rainy days. Light fixtures are also good for illuminating front porch decor like chairs, rockers, swings, dining chairs and tables. If you have night showings at your home, they will be useful for giving the porch a warm feel at all hours.

Get in touch with a local expert!    http://stevefaye.cbintouch.com/