Selling Your Home

4 Steps to Creating a Memorable First Impression

When it comes to getting your home sold, a positive first impression can make all the difference. Take a look at these four tips to help your home stand out from the competition.


3 Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

While many homeowners make monthly mortgage payments, millions enjoy the luxury of owning their homes outright. If you strive to join their ranks, there are a number of ways you can expedite the completion of your mortgage – and none include lottery tickets.

Below are three ways you can pay your mortgage off faster.

1. Making Extra Payments

There are several ways you can make extra payments. Consider doing one of the following options, or doing a combination of them.

  • Make an extra payment each quarter (4 extra payments/year).
  • Divide monthly payment by 12 and add that amount to each monthly payment (adds up to 1 extra payment/year).
  • Pay half of your mortgage payment every two weeks – aka biweekly payments (this also adds up to 1 extra payment/year)....

Pros and Cons of Downsizing

If you’re overwhelmed by the cost of your mortgage or the amount of time you spend cleaning and maintaining your home, or if your kids have moved out and you have more space than you need, you may be thinking about downsizing. While there are many advantages associated with moving to a smaller house, there are some potential disadvantages you need to be aware of before making a final decision.

Reasons to Downsize
Most people who downsize do so to save money. There is no reason to make high monthly mortgage payments for a house with rooms that sit empty. Moving to a smaller home can help you dramatically lower your mortgage payments and save money each month. A smaller house will also likely have much lower utility bills. The money you save can be used to invest for retirement, take vacations,...

Repurposing an Empty Room After Your Child Moves Out

When you bought your house, you chose it because it had enough bedrooms for the children you had at the time—or those you planned to have. If your kids have started to move out, you may be wondering what to do with the extra space. You have several options that can make your home more functional and/or relaxing.

Practical Uses for an Extra Room
You can convert a child’s old room to a guest bedroom. If your child is not likely to stay in the room in the future, feel free to redecorate the room however you want. If they’re coming home periodically, such as during college breaks or over the holidays, you might want to keep some things as they were.

If you work from home, either part-time or full-time, having a dedicated space to use as a home office can help you be more productive....

Expert Insights: What Are Allowances and What Should I Know About Them When Planning With a Remodeling Contractor?

Rather than price specific products or materials, many contractors prefer to use product allowances, an amount included in the contract to be used toward the purchase of these products and materials as they are selected by the consumer. Typical categories where allowances might be used include flooring, cabinets and lighting fixtures.

Allowances allow homeowners more time to finalize exact selections as the project progresses, and they can simplify the cost control process. The disadvantage, however, is that the cost of final selections can easily exceed the amount of money allowed, resulting in significant extra charges to the homeowner. Shop for each allowance category before you finalize the allowance amounts provided in the contract. This way, you can budget for additional funds or adjust allowances to better reflect the actual monies...

Money-Saving Tax Tips for Homeowners

New buyers can get overwhelmed by the additional expenses incurred during homeownership. Besides making monthly mortgage payments, homeowners may have to pay for gardening, pest control, pool maintenance, plumbing fixes, electrical work and more.

But the good news is that tax time offers homeowners a number of deductions and credits not available to renters. Check with a tax consultant to see if these deductions apply to you.

Private Mortgage Insurance
PMI is the premium you pay every month until your equity equals 20 percent of your home’s value. Luckily, these premiums can be deducted from your income.

Mortgage Interest
If you paid more than $600 dollars in mortgage interest during the tax year, every penny you paid is...

What to Do If You’ve Received a Foreclosure Notice

When you bought your home, you expected to be able to pay your mortgage on time, but a job loss, pay cut, divorce, illness, injury or death in the family might have left you unable to cover all your expenses. If you’ve received a dreaded foreclosure notice, you might not want to talk to your lender, but that is exactly what you should do—immediately. Your lender would rather continue to receive payments from you, even smaller ones, than take your house in foreclosure, sell it and possibly lose money.

Have an Honest Discussion
Call your lender and explain your financial situation and what led to it. Discuss all your current expenses and your household income. The lender will probably ask you to write a letter describing your circumstances and to provide supporting documentation, such as pay stubs,...

How to Retain Your Home’s Value

If you plan to sell your home in the future, you want to earn a profit…or at least get back what you paid for it. A house can depreciate, or lose value, for a variety of reasons. Some are beyond your control, but you can take steps in other areas to help your home retain its value.

A home’s proximity to an undesirable site can lower property values. For example, buyers may not be interested in a house near a highway, train station, airport, large sports arena or performing arts venue because of concerns about noise and traffic. Buyers might also be wary of a house located near a factory or landfill because of concerns about pollution and unpleasant smells. People generally prefer homes that are located relatively close to schools, stores, restaurants and parks.

Local Issues...

How to Prevent Snow and Ice From Damaging Your Home

During the winter, large swaths of the country face weather conditions that can cause significant and expensive damage to houses. If damage occurs because you failed to adequately maintain your home or deal with the effects of a storm, your homeowners insurance might not pay for repairs. Here are some things to look out for this winter:

Snow Damage
Many people don’t realize how heavy snow is. The weight of snow can cause gutters to come loose or fall down or put so much stress on the roof that it becomes difficult to open windows and doors. Wet, heavy snow that piles up could even cause the roof to collapse, which could injure people inside and make your home uninhabitable. A large amount of snow on a roof can also cause leaks.

After a significant snowstorm, use a roof rake to pull snow off the roof, reduce...

Ways to Keep Your Utility Bills in Check

Utility bills are often much higher than they should be. By making some simple changes, you can keep your house comfortable and significantly reduce your monthly energy bills.

Lower Heating Costs
Heating and cooling are responsible for a large chunk of utility bills. In the winter, you can save money by lowering the temperature on your thermostat. Even a change of two or three degrees can result in substantial savings over the course of a year. You can install a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the temperature when the house is unoccupied and raise it to the temperature your family prefers shortly before everyone gets home.

If your house has windows that face south, opening the blinds or curtains during the day can allow sunlight to naturally heat your home so that you can rely less on your heating...