How to Build Equity in Your Home

home equity

Home equity refers to how much of your home’s value you actually own, as opposed to how much the bank owns. Building more home equity is one of the best ways to grow your personal wealth and remain financially stable. You’ll naturally increase your home equity just by making your monthly mortgage payments, but there are a few ways to speed up the process.

Add Value

Homes that are built in desirable areas will inherently appreciate in value over time, but if you really want to increase value, a renovation project is a great idea. Redoing the bathroom or kitchen can add a ton of extra value to your home, and the best part is that you own all that newly created equity. When done correctly, spending $5,000 on a renovation project can add $10,000 in value over time.

Down Payment

This might sound obvious, but the bigger down payment you make, the more equity you’ll have. Saving up for a bigger down payment will also keep your mortgage payments to a lower and more manageable level, so do your best to save up!

13 Payments

Instead of making payments once a month, make them every two weeks. This will add up to 13 payments a year, which can pay off a 30-year note five to six years faster. It’s best to talk this idea over with your lender first so they know what you’re doing.

Just Throw Money at It

Next time you get an expected bonus or cash gift, put it toward your mortgage. It’s not a super exciting option, but it will help you build your home equity.

When Home Equity Loans Make Sense

 

A home equity loan can be a great way to leverage your home’s value and get a little extra cash when you need it. However, just because you can qualify for a home equity loan doesn’t mean you should get one. Home equity loans, also called a second mortgage, allow you to borrow against your home’s value. Given that you’re risking your stake in your most expensive purchase, it’s important to understand when home equity loans make sense and when they don’t

Below are a few examples of when home equity loans can be a good idea.

Remodeling

One of the best uses of a home equity loan is to pay for projects that add value to your home. While there is still risk anytime you borrow money, getting a $5,000 loan to add $10,000 of value to your home is a pretty safe bet. Just make sure you can afford the payment plan.

Debt Consolidation

If you owe money to multiple lenders, using a home equity loan to pay off all your small debts and consolidate everything into one larger debt can actually save you some money on interest. However, it does defeat the point of consolidation if you go rack more debt on your freshly paid off lines of credit.

Now let’s look at an example of when it’s not a good idea to use a home equity loan.

New Toys

Boats, cars, RVs, and other fun toys are not a good use of a home equity loan. Using the money for none essential items that will depreciate in value is a good way to lose a lot of money. Keep in mind the bank is only giving you this money because you’re willing to potentially give up some of the value of your home. So using home equity to buy a boat is like trading an asset that will appreciate in value for one that will depreciate.

Dealing with Common House Pests

According to the experts, the most common house pests are rodents, cockroaches, and ants. Each kind of pest comes with its own set of problems to deal with, and none of them are a homeowner’s idea of a friendly visitor. When you’re dealing with these pests, the first step is to find out how they’re getting in and close off the points of entry to prevent more unwelcomed house guests. Next you need to figure out how to get rid of the pests that already found a way in.

Let’s take a look at specific ways to deal with these three pests.

Rodents

Rats and mice are pretty smart and nimble creatures when it comes to getting into your home. Some rodents can come through a hole as small as an eraser. To find these points of entry, look for any holes along the baseboard or cracks under exterior doors. These holes need to be sealed with wire mesh or steel wool depending on the size of the hole. Next, traps should be laid to get rid of existing rodents. The type of trap you get is up to you, but know it’s best to use peanut butter instead of cheese.

Cockroaches

These little (or sometimes not so little) guys love dark, warm, and moist places. Cockroaches will leave a distinct musty smell behind, so it’s pretty easy to know if they’re in your home. Apart from killing them with bug spray as you find them, calling a professional exterminator will be your best bet to kill them. Food crumbs can be a big attraction for roaches, so tidying up after meals will help keep them at bay.

Ants

Like roaches, messy kitchens are a favorite spot among ants. The availability of food scraps and crumbs can make your kitchen a buffet for a colony of ants. Given their small size, it doesn’t take much for ants to make their way inside. An old and weathered seal around a window can be a wide-open gateway for ants. Mounting a physical defense against ants may be futile, so chemical warfare might be the better option.

Mastering Long-Distance House Hunting

Buying your most expensive asset is hard enough when you have the opportunity to see the house in person. Put a few hundred or even a few thousand miles between you and the houses you’re interested in, and this equation becomes a lot more complicated. To get the perfect house when you’re shopping remotely, it’s important to have a game plan and know what you’re up against.

You’re Buying More Than a House

It’s not hard to find lots of photos or even videos of houses you’re interested in. While this will give you a good idea of the house itself, house hunting needs to consider more than just the appearance and layout of the home. Factors like local crime rates, proximity to dining and entertainment, and the quality of schools should also be in your research checklist. Even if some of those factors aren’t important to you, they’ll likely be important to other buyers when it comes time to resell the home.

Do You Want it or Need it?

Knowing the difference between what you want and what you need will serve you very well when house hunting long distance. Start by looking at a few homes in the area you’re looking at so you know what’s available, and then make a list of all your desired features. Once you have that list you can prioritize it by features you absolutely need and features that would be nice to have.

Plan a Trip

You won’t always have the opportunity to see your top 5 or so favorite homes before you buy; sometimes buying sight unseen is unavoidable. However, planning a trip to see the houses that made the final cut is ideal. Assuming schedules allow for this, be sure to add the price of travel (plane tickets and lodging) into your house hunting budget.

Go with a Pro

Buying a house in a new and unfamiliar area can be a stressful process. But by buying a new construction home from Perry Hood Properties, you can rest assured that you’ll get a high-quality home in a great neighborhood. We’re one of the most experienced home builders in the Tulsa area and we can help you make this difficult transition.

How to Declutter Your Kitchen

how to declutter your kitchen

Between all the utensils, pots, pans, gadgets, and décor, it’s easy for kitchens to get a bit crowded. This can be problematic, because your kitchen needs to be one of the most functional rooms in the house so you can cook and clean easily. If your cabinets are overflowing, try these tips to declutter your kitchen.

Go on a Cleanse

The first step is to go through your entire kitchen and donate anything you don’t use. Odds are you have a lot of stuff in there that you haven’t used more than twice or may have never used at all. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you’ll start using it now that you remember you have it. Just get rid of it.

Use All the Space

One often overlooked storage spot is the space above the cabinets. This is a great place to tuck away large bulky items that won’t fit into cabinets or items you don’t use every day. Using a pot rack is also a good idea if you’re short on cabinet space. There are plenty of kitchen storage hacks out there, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Labels Are Your Friend

When it comes to things like ingredients and food, there’s not a better organizational tool than a label. This will force you to group like items together and find a logical place to put them. Then you can label the storage section so you’ll always know where to find what you need. This will also come in handy when other people are in the kitchen helping you cook.

Change Up Storage

Don’t just stick with one kind of storage container. There are lots of different storage needs when it comes to food; some need to be airtight and some need to be cold. Having a wide range of containers will help you meet all the different requirements of your kitchen items.

Getting Mortgage Approval When Changing Jobs

When you’re applying for a mortgage, the goal is to make yourself look as stable and dependable as possible. Banks want to make sure you’ll be able to make your monthly payments and change tends to scare them. Even if you accept a higher paying job, the banks might see that as a greater risk of getting fired because you’re in a new and unfamiliar role. It sounds a bit goofy, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get approved for a mortgage and change jobs at the same time.

Prove Stability

All you have to do is prove this new job offers plenty of financial stability. Typically, lenders won’t sign off on the loan until you’ve worked in your new role for 30 days, so make sure to budget an extra month of time. They’ll also want to see an offer letter and possibly a paystub once you have one.

Avoid Red Flags

Making a job change within the same industry will raise considerably less red flags, as will a promotion at the same company. Trying to make a major career switch or accepting a lesser paying job will make things much harder.

Buy Before You Leave

One, potentially risky, option is to buy your new home before you put in your two weeks’ notice. Lenders will verify employment during the application process and right before closing. So as long as you maintain the same employment during both checks and don’t tell your current employer that you’re leaving, you should be fine. Just make sure there’s no clause in the loan agreement that asks about plans to change jobs. This strategy might also put you in an awkward position if someone from HR asks why you’re moving.

Getting a mortgage while you’re changing jobs isn’t impossible, but it does add a few extra variables. Lenders shouldn’t give you any trouble as long as you’re sure to account for those variables.

 

5 Home Organization Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Home organization can seem like a never-ending task even when it’s done right. And when it’s done wrong, it’s really a pain in the neck. To make sure you’re organizing your home the right way, it’s important to be able to spot mistakes and correct them. Below is a quick list of the most common home organization mistakes and how to fix them.

Buying Before Organizing

All too often homeowners get bit by the organizing bug and rush to the store to buy bins and baskets before they actually do any organizing. While the enthusiasm is great, it’s best to do some preliminary organizing to sort items into alike categories and take stock of everything that needs organizing. This will help you know what kind of bins and baskets to buy.

Getting Buried in Organization

Just because everything has been neatly tucked away in a box or jar doesn’t mean it’s organized. When you have to unpack three containers and use a flashlight to find what you need, you might need to rethink your strategy. This kind of deep storage is fine for rarely used items, but regularly used items need to be accessible.

Towers of Dishes

Stacking dishes as high as the cabinet will allow is a quick way to chip dishes and slow down when cooking. Instead of building the leaning tower of plates, use risers to create extra shelves in your cabinets.

Sorting by Type Not Function

A basic idea of organizing is sorting items and finding the best place to keep them. Most will opt to put everything that’s alike in the same spot. While this can work, sorting by function instead of type will be more efficient. For example, storing everything you need to make coffee together makes more sense than keeping the mugs with the other drinkware.

The Dreaded Medicine Cabinet

If there’s one place where organizers throw in the towel, it’s the medicine cabinet. The combination of awkwardly shaped objects and convenient hiding spaces makes the medicine cabinet a black hole of organization. The best way to tame this mess is to get big baskets with lids to hide things like hair dryers.

Best Apps for Homeowners

apps

There’s an app for everything these days. They can do everything from ordering food to filing an insurance claim. Life sure is made easier when you can get just about anything you need with just a few thumb clicks. Homeowners can really benefit from smartphone apps, but which ones should you choose? With an endless list of options in the app store, it’s hard to tell the good from the bad. Fear not! Below is a list of the best smartphone apps for homeowners.

Happy Plant

Did you remember to water the plants today? With happy plant, you don’t have to remember or ask this question because the app does it for you. Happy Plant will send push notifications letting you know when to water and keeps track of how your plants are growing by encouraging you to take regular photos of the plants.

Houzz

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest in home trends and designs, Houzz is for you. This app is full of great inspiration for your next interior design project. Not only does it have inspiration, it will connect you to service providers who can turn your dream into a reality.

Alarm.com

This convenient app lets you arm and disarm your home security system from anywhere with an internet connection. It will also give you a dashboard showing when entry points were opened and closed and it can even sync with internet-connected locks, so you can lock and unlock doors straight from your phone.

HomeZada

Owning a home comes with a lot of responsibilities that aren’t always easy to remember or fun to do. With a combination like that, certain responsibilities can easily slip through the cracks. That’s why they made HomeZada. This app will give you friendly reminders when it’s time to change the air filters, clean the baseboards, and shampoo the carpet. It will even track your spending on these projects as well!

3 Keys to a Tidy House

cleaning house

Some people really enjoy busting out the mop and broom to clean the house, but most people fall somewhere between indifferent to loathing when it comes to cleaning. Even if you don’t consider yourself a clean freak, you can still have a tidy home with a tiny amount of effort. Just follow these three tips to get a clean house without breaking too much of a sweat.

Clean in Sprints

Surveying an entire house that’s riddle with mess and disorder can be overwhelming. Instead of trying to tackle the entire house at once, just clean in two minute sprints. Before you leave for work in the morning, before you go to bed, or whenever is convenient, just take two minutes to put astray items back in their rightful home. By doing a few cleaning sprints a day, you can make a big difference.

Put Chores in Categories

Trying to do every chore under the sun isn’t feasible or necessary. To work more efficiently, make a list of all the chores that need to be done in your home and then put them in one of four categories: daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Doing the dishes can be done daily, vacuuming can be done weekly, organizing the pantry can be done monthly, and cleaning the oven only needs to be done once a year.

Perfect Isn’t Possible

You’re an adult now. Your mom isn’t going to come to inspect the quality of your cleaning. Don’t waste time and energy trying to clean your house to unreasonable levels. It’s more important that you get in the habit of cleaning regularly and finish projects you start. As you keep up with this new lifestyle, you’ll naturally get better at cleaning.

 

A Guide to Employee Relocation Packages

Accepting a job in a new city is an exciting, and hectic, time. There are a lot of details to work out and not a lot of time to get everything taken care of. It’s easy to lose sight of the details in all the commotion, but one detail you don’t want to let slip is the employee relocation package. Around 70% of companies in the US will offer new hires some form of a relocation package, but each package will be slightly different. To make the most of the job offer and negotiate intelligently, it’s important that you understand how employee relocation packages work.

Bring It Up

The first thing to know is that you may have to be the one to bring it up. If the employer hasn’t said anything, do some research on how much it will cost to move and use that number to negotiate. You’ll be able to make a stronger case if you can ask for a specific amount rather than making a vague request.

Everything is on the Table

Companies can, and will, pay for more than just boxes and movers. It’s more than appropriate to request compensation for closing costs, lost wages while a spouse looks for a job, or even a guaranteed buy out (GBO). A GBO is rare, but it’s basically the best case scenario for homeowners. When a company offers a GBO, they will hire independent real estate appraisers to get an unbiased value of your home. If you are unable to sell your home within a specified timeframe, the company will buy your home at the unbiased price.

Bill the Employer

Once you and the new employer have agreed on a package value, one of the best things to do is request that all expenses get billed to the employer instead of getting a lump sum of cash. This will save you money on your taxes and increase the bang for your buck. When companies give new employees a check for moving expenses, that money is fully taxable. However, when the company is billed by the moving company, you won’t have to worry about taxes.