What is the Difference Between a Short Sale and a Foreclosure?

What is the Difference Between a Short Sale and a Foreclosure?

Here is how to get a great deal on foreclosures and short sales while heeding all the risks when buying a home.

Not sure about the world of foreclosures and short sales? Don’t worry. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know to grasp the basics of foreclosures and short sales.

What Are Foreclosures and Short Sales?

A foreclosure is a process by which a lender is able to repossess a property when the borrower defaults on loan payments.

A pre-closure is the period between when the lender files the Notice of Default and when the foreclosure process is complete. If the home is sold during this period, the transaction is called a short-sale foreclosure (or “short sale” for short).

While both a short sale and a foreclosure result in the unfortunate event of the borrower not being able to stay in their home, a short sale allows a borrower to avoid the harmful effects that a foreclosure would have on their credit score.

How Can You Buy a Foreclosure/Short Sale Property?

There are fewer foreclosures and short sales on the market today than there were a few years ago. “Default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions…are down more than 7 percent from a year ago,” according to RealtyTrac’sNovember 2015 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.

But if you’re a buyer, you can still find a great deal on a foreclosure or short sale, particularly if you work with an agent who focuses on finding these deals.

If you are interested in purchasing either a foreclosure/short sale property, talk to an agent who specializes in foreclosures and short sales.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Buying a Foreclosure/Short Sale Property?

Let’s start with the advantages.

Foreclosures and short sales are often priced below retail, which means that you can buy these properties for less than the cost of other comparable homes. Subsequently, your monthly mortgage payments will be smaller and you’ll spend less interest over the life of the loan.

Furthermore, you may build equity quickly, particularly if you improve or renovate the home. This equity increases your net worth, and you have the option of borrowing against this equity in the future if you choose.

Additionally, if you purchase a short sale, you’ll also enjoy the emotional satisfaction of knowing that you helped someone avoid foreclosure.

Although foreclosures and short sales can offer the buyer exceptional deals on real estate prices, there are some drawbacks.

Foreclosures and short sales often need renovations or repairs. It’s likely that the owner wasn’t able to maintain the property, which means that you might have to deal with deferred maintenance issues. It’s important to get a full report of the maintenance issues you might face. Ask your real estate professional if he or she can recommend a qualified licensed home inspector who can produce a full report for you.

It is possible that some foreclosed properties are vandalized while they’re vacant, which can add to these repair bills. However, this damage will generally be reflected in the pricing of the home.

Foreclosures and short sales are in shorter supply, which means there’s a lower likelihood that the property has all your wants and needs. You may need to compromise on certain features, amenities or desired location. You may also need to act quickly, as these opportunities can get snapped up fast.

For a short sale, the seller may be motivated to sell, but he or she may not be able to budge on the negotiation price due to the outstanding balance on the mortgage.

Short sales are notorious for their lengthy closing times – typically between 45-90 days. This is because the original lender needs to approve the sale. If you’re in the market for a quick closing, a foreclosure or short sale property may not be for you.

That said, however, the financial benefits of buying a foreclosure or short sale can be fantastic for homebuyers who are flexible and patient.

How to Bring Summery Goodness to Your Bedroom

How to Bring Summery Goodness to Your Bedroom

Create a vacation vibe in your at-home sanctuary and you’ll be better able to recharge.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

With warmer evenings and sunlit mornings, summer begs us to take a more relaxed approach to life. That might mean a slower-paced schedule, a breezy wardrobe or a goal of keeping the house tidy. These eight rules can help you savor the season each day from the moment you rise and pull open the shades until you tuck into bed at night.

1. I will preserve time at the beginning and end of the day for quiet reflection.Even if it’s only five minutes spent sipping your first cup of coffee in the morning or herbal tea before bed, having a smidgen of dedicated me-time in the peace and privacy of your bedroom can bookend a frantic day, or bring satisfying closure to a pleasant one. Write in your journal, read an inspiring book, meditate or simply look out the window as you set intentions for the day ahead.

2. I will treat myself to extended weekend mornings in bed. If you’re a parent, finding a way to make this happen may be impossible at times, but the bliss of a morning in bed (read: at least 20 uninterrupted minutes with a fresh pot of coffee and your favorite publications) is worth whatever scheduling acrobatics it takes to arrange.

3. I will keep my wardrobe simple. Living out of a suitcase on vacation can seem carefree because you have fewer choices. Re-create that feeling at home by editing your wardrobe down to your most-loved and worn pieces, and stash away (or consign) the rest. While editing, keep in mind that the smaller the wardrobe, the more important it is that everything goes together. Stick with pieces that mix and match (such as colorful, patterned tops and solid, neutral bottoms) to maximize outfit-making potential.

4. I will decorate with reminders of summer. Surrounding yourself with visual reminders of what you love most about summer will make your bedroom feel more like a getaway. Try nautical maps, postcards from far-flung locales, snapshots taken on your last vacation, a bedspread bought in a seaside town, or shells and sea glass collected on the beach.

Set the Mood: 5 Colors for a Calming Bedroom

5. I will keep things clean and uncluttered. Putting away clothes and shoes each day isn’t a glamorous task, but the five minutes (or less!) of effort is well worth the calm atmosphere you will enjoy coming home to when everything is neatly put away. Need inspiration? Give your bedroom a makeover at the start of summer to motivate yourself to keep the space looking sharp.

How to Get a Half-Painted Wall Right

6. I will help overnight guests feel at home. When friends and family come to stay, a few special details are all it takes to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. Snip flowers from the garden for the bedside table, set out a selection of beach reads and make up the bed with light layers. Don’t have a spare quilt or even a guest bed? A tapestry (the sort pinned to dorm room walls) or even a large sarong can make a summery and budget-friendly bedspread, whether you’re covering a bed or an air mattress.

See the rest of this eclectic home

7. I will say yes to mermaids. Mermaids are equal parts kitschy and mysterious, making them the perfect motif for a summery bedroom. Plus, having something to collect makes shopping at your favorite flea markets and art fairs even more fun. Not into mermaids? Pick your own icon of summer, and start collecting.

8. I will let the stars guide me to bed. Can’t get away to that rustic lakeside cabin? Pretend you’re camping at home, and turn down the electric lights in favor of candles and lanterns a few hours before bedtime. You may be surprised at how this one simple change can make your home feel completely transformed, at least for the evening. Indulge in screen-free entertainment like playing cards or board games, and be sure to peek outside at the stars before retiring to your room.

2017’s Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects

2017’s Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money! Focus on maintaining these 5 areas.

With the bright sunlight and warm temperatures that accompany summer, you may be spending more time outside — and you may be noticing areas of your home’s exterior that need repair. But there’s more reason to tackle your home maintenance projects this summer than simply cosmetic appearance. Maintaining your home will prevent major leaks and damage that may eventually require professional help, usually when its most expensive and inconvenient for you.

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money, and it makes sense to do it when you’re more likely to be outdoors in the comfortable summer months. Here are five areas of your house that are most important to keep updated.

  1. Windows

Start by cleaning the exterior of your windows with hot soapy water and a sponge or squeegee. If you’ll need a ladder, make sure to review safety guidelines.

While you’re washing, inspect each window pane for cracks. Double or triple glazed windows with damaged seals or cracks may need to be replaced. Think back: Have your windows had excessive condensation inside through the winter and spring? That’s another sign that the seal might have been compromised and that your window might need to be replaced.

You’ll also want to inspect caulking and weatherstripping around your windows. Recaulk any spots where the caulk is loose or chipping away, or consider applying new caulk for a tight seal. Summer is a perfect time to do this because the warm temperatures and low humidity will help the caulk set perfectly.

Finally, wash window screens and replace any screens that have rips or holes.

  1. Roof

Visually inspect your roof every summer for missing or broken shingles, shakes and panels. Again, if you’ll be using a ladder and climbing up to your roof, make sure you follow safety guidelines. If you have any concerns about using a ladder or moving around on your roof, or if you’re unsteady on your feet, call your roofing company. Most roofers will make inspections and do basic maintenance for you.

While you’re up on your roof, you’ll also want to check flashing and seals around vents, chimneys and skylights. Apply caulk around any areas that haven’t been re-sealed in the past year.

Algae and moss can plague even new and well-maintained roofs. Apply a moss killer designed for roofs or install zinc strips that can help keep algae and moss from taking hold.

Your gutters should be cleaned and checked for holes or other damage. Look for water stains around your gutters and downspouts that indicate a problem.

  1. Exterior

Check high and low over your exterior and look for holes, gaps and cracks in your siding. It’s less expensive to replace siding that is just starting to deteriorate than to wait until it’s broken down completely and impacted your home’s structure, insulation and inside walls.

While you’re walking around your home, look for any signs of pests. Termites and carpenter ants can be devastating to your home’s structure, while ants and wasps can be a nuisance and cause minor damage to your home’s exterior. Check vents and crawl-space access doors to make sure rodents and other wildlife can’t get in.

  1. Foundation

Check your foundation for any cracks and signs that there has been a leak, such as water stains. Any small cracks can be repaired, but larger cracks should be inspected by a pro. Once you repair small cracks, re-seal the foundation with a good waterproof masonry sealer.

Pull out any larger plants growing close to your home that might impact the foundation. Besides the risks of roots growing into your foundation, watering plants close to your home can cause water to pool around the foundation and lead to damage.

  1. Heating and Cooling

You’re going to want to make sure your air conditioning is ready for the heat ahead, so replace filters and remove and clean your unit’s fan and condenser. Make sure you turn off power to the unit before you tackle any work.

At the same time, your furnace should be checked and readied for use again at summer’s end. Vacuum out the burner and blower cavities, and vacuum and brush the blower blades. Change the filter so the furnace is all ready to go when it’s time to turn it on again.

Your home is a big investment, and it’s important to keep it in good “health.” Spend some of your summer days inspecting and making minor repairs and you’ll reduce your chances of needing a big repair later.

How to Re-Do a Half Bath on a Budget

How to Re-Do a Half Bath on a Budget

With some paint and a carefully chosen storage solution, you can beautify a half bath on a tight budget!

The half bath is often the most forgotten part of the home. A room the homeowner themselves rarely ventures into, the half bath is often overlooked when other, more central rooms, are redecorated. In some circumstances, however, the half bath gets too much use, normally when it becomes the children’s bathroom. This designation usually results in a cluttered mess that features Barbie dolls and shampoo bottles covered in cartoon characters—not exactly a room to showcase to visitors!

How can you control this chaos and make it a more attractive space should guests stumble upon it? Storage! Even if you have a cupboard or shelf in your half bathroom, putting more storage in is never a bad idea, especially something that can become a focal point of this small room and help you dress it up in a few minutes before guests come to visit. Here we look at how with some paint and a carefully chosen storage solution, you can beautify a half bath on a tight budget.

When we moved into our 1960s home, we had a half bath that boasted a retro brownish-greenish-yellowish laminate countertop, white floor and wall tile, some under sink storage and a bathtub.Without a complete refurb, there wasn’t a lot we could do to the space to update it, and as it was situated between two upstairs bedrooms, it made the perfect children’s bathroom.

This designation meant it quickly descended into unorganized chaos. The tipping point for me was the multiple bottles teetering on the back of the toilet seat. I realized we needed storage that was open, easy to access and attractive. We also needed a new countertop—that retro mish-mash of colors didn’t look like it was coming back into style anytime soon.

After considering a complete vanity overhaul, we decided to try simply repainting the laminate. Using two coats of Rustoleum Countertop Coating ($20), we gave the room an instant facelift. The light grey color we choose complements the variety of different toned metal fixtures in the room and is a lot cleaner and brighter than the original color.

Next, we installed a simple chrome and glass wall shelf ($45) above the toilet. This fixture works perfectly for corralling the multiple bottles required to keep our children clean during everyday life but is also simple to dress up when guests come to stay.

So, don’t just shut the door on your chaotic half bath until you can afford to gut it. Consider some quick, inexpensive upgrades, such as paint and new storage, that will make it a more pleasant space to live with—or an easy update if you’re getting ready to sell.

5 Home Insurance Tips for Moving to Unfamiliar Weather

5 Home Insurance Tips for Moving to Unfamiliar Weather

Ready to relocate to a new region of the country? Consider the local weather, particularly when you evaluate your home insurance options.

Home insurance is a must-have, regardless of where your house is located. With the right coverage in place, you can safeguard your house and personal belongings against many natural disasters. But not all home insurance policies are created equal. As such, coverage that works for a homeowner in a hot, humid climate is unlikely to meet the needs of a homeowner who deals with excess snow, ice and other inclement winter weather.

To better understand the link between home insurance and weather, let’s consider a few examples.

Southern California experiences roughly 10,000 earthquakes annually, so a Southern California homeowner should have sufficient coverage to protect his or her house and personal belongings against damage or destruction that takes place due to an earthquake. However, Atlantic Coast homes may be susceptible to hurricane storm surge flooding that is not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.

If you’re moving to a new area of the country, it may seem simple to transfer your existing home insurance coverage to your new residence. Yet doing so could leave you without coverage against natural disasters that may be more likely to affect you as a homeowner in a new region.

Here are five tips that you can use to purchase the right home insurance if you’re moving to an area with unfamiliar weather:

  1. Understand What’s Covered by a Standard Home Insurance Policy
    A standard homeowners policy offers the following coverage:
  • Dwelling: Ensures you can repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged by a covered cause of loss. For homeowners, it is paramount to have dwelling protection to cover the full cost of home repairs or a complete home rebuild.
  • Other Structures: Offers coverage against damage or destruction of garages, sheds and other detached structures on your property.
  • Personal Property: Provides reimbursement for clothing, electronics and other personal items in your home that have been damaged or destroyed by a covered cause of loss.
  • Loss of Use: Covers the costs associated with housing and assorted living expenses if you’re forced to move out of your residence while it is being rebuilt or repaired.
  • Liability: Helps safeguard your assets and covers various legal defense expenses if you face a lawsuit because you or a family member caused damage or injuries to other people on or off your property.

Dedicate the necessary time and resources to learn about your current homeowners coverage – you’ll be glad you did. As an informed homeowner, you can review numerous coverage options and choose the right coverage based on your home’s location. Don’t forget to discuss your home insurance needs with an independent agent. With an insurance professional at your side, you can explore a wide range of coverage options and select a home insurance policy that will match or surpass your expectations.

  1. Find Out What’s Not Covered by a Home Insurance Policy

A standard homeowners policy is not always a surefire solution to all of your coverage needs. In fact, some of the weather-related problems that are not covered by a traditional homeowners policy include:

  • Earthquakes: If an individual requires earthquake coverage, he or she may need to purchase a supplemental insurance policy.
  • Floods: Flood insurance can be purchased from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which offers both home and personal property coverage if your home is damaged or destroyed due to flooding.
  • Hurricanes: In some instances, you may need to purchase additional flood and windstorm insurance to guarantee that you’re fully protected against hurricanes.
  • Mechanical Breakdown: If your car breaks down while you’re traveling to a new home in unfamiliar weather, mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) is available to cover bad brakes, transmission issues and other major vehicle system malfunctions.
  • Tornadoes: Many tornadoes are accompanied by powerful winds that can damage fences and other structures on your property, but it is important to note that a standard homeowners policy only provides limited coverage for this type of property damage.
  • Water Damage: Hail and ice damage commonly are covered by home insurance, but water damage limits may vary.

When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you’re unsure if a weather-related issue is covered by your homeowners policy, don’t hesitate to reach out to an agent for extra assistance.

  1. Contact Your State Insurance Commissioner

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) helps state regulators protect the interests of insurance consumers, including those who are relocating to a new region of the country. This association also provides many valuable resources to help you discover the right home insurance policy based on your home’s location.

For instance, the NAIC offers a guide to shopping for homeowners insurance. This guide helps homeowners understand various declarations and basic insurance terms to ensure an individual can choose the ideal coverage.

You can always reach out to your state’s insurance commissioner to provide honest, unbiased recommendations about homeowners coverage, and can help you make sense of home insurance information that is not clear.

  1. Know the Cost of Home Insurance

What you’re paying for home insurance today may increase if you need to upgrade your homeowners coverage based on an upcoming move to a location with unfamiliar weather. Those who plan ahead for the increased cost of home insurance will ensure they can afford the coverage they need at a new location.

The Federal Reserve Board estimates the average homeowner spends between $300 and $1,300 per year on home insurance at an average coverage rate of $3.50 per $1,000, according to Zacks. At the same time, it is essential to note the cost of home insurance may increase based on a number of risks that extend beyond natural disasters. These include:

  • Attractive Nuisances: Swimming pools, trampolines and other “attractive nuisances” may force you to pay more than other homeowners for home insurance.
  • Proximity to a Fire Station: Those who live close to a fire station may be eligible for lower home insurance premiums than others.
  • Your Dog: Some insurance providers won’t offer full homeowners coverage if you own certain dog breeds.
  1. Shop Around for the Right Coverage

 If you’re moving to a location with unfamiliar weather and need to buy home insurance, why should you be forced to settle for subpar coverage? Instead, shop around for home insurance, and you can purchase the ideal coverage at the best possible price.

The right insurance company should boast plenty of industry experience, a proven reputation and best-in-class customer support. Plus, this insurance provider will employ friendly, knowledgeable professionals who are happy to respond to any home insurance queries.

No one should be forced to overspend to insure their home and personal belongings. But with the right insurance company at your disposal, you can minimize your risks without having to worry about breaking your budget.

Lastly, an independent insurance agent can help you obtain the optimal coverage based on your location. This insurance professional can teach you about assorted home insurance options and help you make informed coverage decisions.

Take the guesswork out of getting the homeowners coverage you need at a new location. By using these tips, you can move one step closer to acquiring the right coverage any time you choose.


Ryan Hanley is the Vice President of Marketing at TrustedChoice.com and the Managing Editor of Agency Nation. He is also a speaker, podcaster and author of the Amazon best-seller, Content Warfare. Ryan has over 10 years of insurance expertise and blogs frequently to help consumers understand complicated insurance topics.

8 Tips and Tricks to Get More Storage From a Small Closet

8 Tips and Tricks to Get More Storage From a Small Closet

Get ideas for arranging your clothes closet with 8 combinations of shelves, hooks, rods and drawers.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

Large, luxurious walk-in closets may be the stuff dreams are made of, but they are not always the reality. If the closet space you have to work with is on the petite side, there’s still plenty you can do to make the most of it. From ultraslim shelving to wall-mounted storage, here are steal-worthy ideas from eight closets that put every inch to work.

1. Dresser + hanging rod + curtains. Replacing the closet doors with curtains has freed up some much-needed space in this small bedroom, allowing access to every inch of the reach-in closet. Inside the closet, a high shelf holds baskets (perfect for storing less-used items) over a hanging rod, with a dresser below. The dresser top is put to work too, with a wire storage basket and space for a few pairs of shoes.

Best for: Reach-in bedroom closet.

See more of this bedroom

2. Tall bookcase + hanging rods + wall hooks. A tall, shallow bookcase anchored to the wall provides ample storage space for folded clothes and accessories in this petite closet. Opposite the shelving, rods hold hanging clothes and a set of wall hooks provides a handy drop spot for scarves and jackets.

Best for: Narrow walk-in closet.

3. Shelves under eaves + short hanging rod. Shelves in graduated sizes make the most of this space beneath a sloped ceiling. Two wide drawers hold folded clothes below, and a short rod provides space for hanging items.

Best for: Bedroom with sloped ceiling.

4. Wall-mounted shoe rack + hanging rod + high shelf. A slim wire shoe rack mounted on the wall holds plenty of pairs without taking up precious floor space. At the back of the closet, two high wire shelves over the hanging rod hold luggage and other infrequently used items.

Best for: Deep, narrow closet.

5. Shelves + crates + lidded boxes. A simple setup with wall-mounted shelving is made more functional with the addition of crates to keep bulky items from toppling over. Wall hooks hung both low and high keep bags and belts neatly stowed, and lidded boxes provide a spot for stashing small accessories.

Best for: Small closet with more folded than hanging clothes.

6. Hanging rod + high shelf + floor basket. An easy setup for a petite closet, this allows room for hanging items on the single rod, with a storage shelf above and a basket on the floor to hold accessories (or clothes to be dry-cleaned). If your closet is a bit wider, add shelving to the wall opposite.

Best for: Small closet with more hanging than folded clothes.

7. Extra-high hanging rod + step stool. Take advantage of a space with a high ceiling by hanging a second rod extra high, and use it to store off-season or less-used clothes. This frees up the lower portion of the closet for shelves, with wire baskets to keep small items and accessories neat. Be sure to keep a step stool handy to reach the upper rod.

Best for: Petite closet with high ceiling.

8. Shelves + drawers + dressing table. With shelves on one side, a short hanging rod on the other and dresser drawers in the center, this petite closet fits in a little bit of everything. The mirror against the back wall turns the drawer unit into a dressing table with room for jewelry, perfume and other getting-ready essentials. Open bins on the highest shelves keeps less-used items out of the way but still easily accessible.

Best for: Small reach-in closet with mostly folded clothes.

Tell us: Do you have a small closet? Share a photo in the Comments!

3 Important Tips for Welcoming Home Your Newly Adopted Dog

3 Important Tips for Welcoming Home Your Newly Adopted Dog

Bringing home your newly adopted dog is always an adjustment for everyone involved. Here are 3 important tips to welcome your new family member.

Bringing home your newly adopted dog is always an adjustment for everyone involved. It’s exciting and it’s only normal for you to have concerns about your new pet’s transition into life at home. Here are 3 important tips to help you welcome your new family member into your home.

 1. Do Your Research

Prior to your new dog arriving at your home, plan out how you will train your pet and make sure all of your family members are on the same page. Providing positive reinforcement techniques is a great way to help your dog learn.

Do your research on the various food options for your new dog and how many times a day he or she should eat. Having these decisions made in advance will help make the transition easier on everyone involved.

2. Show Compassion

Your newly adopted dog may display signs of anxiety in the first few days or weeks of being at your home. It may be hard for you to experience, because you’ll be so excited about your new furry family member and wonder if the feeling isn’t mutual. Don’t worry–this adjustment period is totally normal and only temporary! Speak in a gentle, soothing voice to your dog and make sure to show lots of love. Once your pet understands you are there to love and protect, he’ll feel much more comfortable and start to see how great his new home (and family) really is!

3. Health First

Soon after adopting your dog, take a trip to the vet’s office and have your new buddy examined. Bringing along any past medical records for the doctor to look at is always helpful. Your doctor will perform a full examination and give your dog the necessary shots he needs.

 

Ready to adopt right now? Visit Adopt-a-Pet.com to find a lovable critter in your area who is looking for a home like yours!

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.

Home Renovations & Features for the 2017 Smart Home

Home Renovations & Features for the 2017 Smart Home

Discover the hottest new trends in smart home technology, from voice control to security, to temperature control to lighting and even safety measures like door locks!

Is your home a smart home? If you’re like most U.S. homeowners, the answer is probably yes, or it will be soon. What were once seen only as gimmicks reserved for the tech-savvy homeowners have quickly become the norm. We conducted a survey and  found that almost half (45%) of Americans own some sort of smart home technology. More surprisingly, 36% of that group don’t consider themselves to be early adopters of technology.

Whether you’re shopping for a first home, looking to sell your home, or planning home renovations to add value to your house, smart home technology should be at the top of your must-haves list. 54% of homeowners said they would install smart home products if they were selling their home and knew that doing so would make it sell faster. In fact, about 33% of agents said homes with smart features sell faster.

What Makes a Smart Home Smart?

So, which smart features and home renovations should homeowners and home buyers be most interested in next year? Our survey found the top “smart” features were:

  • Voice Control
  • Security
  • Temperature
  • Lighting
  • Safety

Most Americans (60%) agree that a home needs to have at least three of these features to be considered “smart.”

Voice Control

One of the fastest-growing smart home features in the last year is voice control. The list of products that operate with voice control features is growing by the day, from music players to TVs to even security products, lighting, and shopping.

smart home technology trends - watch

Security

Most Americans think a home can be considered “smart” when it has smart security locks and alarm systems. Security features lead the way for smart features in terms of adoption and appeal. Even though 58% of home buyers say smart security is the most appealing type of pre-installed smart home technology, only 31% have smart security installed.

Temperature control

Smart temperature control is more widely adopted with homeowners over the age of 65 – about 40% have smart temperature products, while only 25% of 18-34 year olds have the technology installed. The favorite features of smart temperature controls are:

  • Improving the comfort of the household (71%)
  • Reducing energy consumption (68%)
  • Monitoring or controlling their device while away from home (41%)

Safety

The safety of the household should be a top priority for any homeowner. Smart technology offers new features for fire and carbon monoxide detectors, nightlights, and other renovations to make your house safer. Homeowners look for safety features that allow them to monitor and control the safety of their home either when they are away (52%), or from anywhere inside the home (30%).

The leader in smart thermostats, Nest, has also released a smart Smoke and CO Alarm, Nest Protect. One feature of this device that is quickly becoming the norm for smart technology is interconnectivity. If your Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide, it will tell your Nest Thermostat to turn off the furnace automatically.

Lighting

For homeowners looking to improve comfort with the ability to make easy changes in the mood of their home – while reducing energy consumption – smart lighting is just the thing. Many new smart technologies emerged this year for a smarter lighting experience:

  • C by GE uses Bluetooth connectivity so you can personalize your light temperature settings throughout the day. This allows your lighting to sync with your body’s circadian rhythm and improve your sleep cycle.
  • FlipFlic is a device installed on window blinds that automatically adjusts the blinds based on light, temperature and time of day. Natural lighting can play a major part in your home’s mood and vibe and this device gives you more control over it.

Our study also found that 70% of homeowners say they plan to invest more money in smart home renovations and features in the future. This new home trend is rapidly increasing and offering homeowners new ways to improve their own standard of living while raising the value of their homes.

Which smart renovations and features d

Who is the Most Visited Real Estate Brand Online?

Who is the Most Visited Real Estate Brand Online?

Hint: It starts out “Cold” but heats up with “well Banker”

According to the 2016 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the average home buyers visits at least 7 different websites to look for a home. That’s a lot of browsing and if you’re selling your home it’s not enough to just have your home featured on 100+ different real estate sites. You want to make sure your real estate agent has them posted on the sites that get seen.

Coldwell Banker® is the most visited national real estate brand online according to 2016 comScore analytics. So what does that mean for you as a seller? It means more home buyers are interacting with the Coldwell Banker brand online than any other company, which in turn can lead to more qualified buyers for your property and greater exposure.

From Tuscaloosa to Trenton, Boise to Bentonville, and all the Greenvilles in between, today’s home buyers are visiting Coldwell Banker sites more than any other national real estate brand.

If your real estate agent is still promoting how they can feature your home in the local paper, why not consider the real estate company with real advantages who can reach today’s buyers online in greater numbers than anyone else?