What the Flip? A 1909 Family Home Is Fully Restored and Grabs Top Dollar

realtor.com

Flipping a house is a lot of work, and can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our new series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make a house desirable to buyers.

Oklahoma City is an alluring place for home buyers these days. Its cost of living is low, there are plenty of opportunities for work and play, and you get the pace of city life with the quiet of the country nearby.

With a median listing price of $225,000, Oklahoma City is certainly a place to score a sizable single-family home for a reasonable chunk of cash, but finding an age-old property with good bones is a challenge. So when our flippers stumbled upon this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home from the early 1900s—in one of the city’s most prestigious and historic neighborhoods—they jumped.

Sure, the home wasn’t exactly in great shape, but that’s where the flip comes in. This old home went from drab and dusty to absolutely fabulous. It was purchased in July 2018 for $325,000, and in September 2019 it was sold again, for $642,000. The sellers doubled their money in just over a year—a result that any flipper could hope for.

So what made this such a successful flip? We turned to our experts to uncover the winning design and home improvement moves.

Living room

The living room is often the first space buyers see when they enter the home, so bringing this room up to date was key. The original room felt dark, dirty, and cramped, so the sellers had a big project on their hands.

“Lighting is key to this room,” says Malissa Kelsch, real estate adviser with Red Rock Real Estate. “Removal of window coverings and additional can lights deliver a distinctive sensation of relaxation.”

“They resurfaced the walls, which was a great choice to make the walls feel like new construction,” adds architect and interior designer Alondra Alberti. “The light paint and blond floor stain showcase how large the space actually is.”

But one of the most impactful changes was simply the removal of the accordion doors leading to the kitchen.

“The living room seamlessly flows into the kitchen to make it a perfect home for entertaining,” adds real estate agent Sarah Bernard. “This is the open, bright look that buyers today are demanding in new construction, so to renovate with this in mind makes lots of sense.”

Office

Previously, the home office looks like a strange afterthought. The flip transformed it into a gorgeous, usable room.

“Home offices are one of the most sought-after spaces in our current climate of working and teaching kids remotely,” says Bernard. “The new floor, lighting, and open, sleek modern space with windows make this a strong selling point for busy buyers.”

“The hardwood floors throughout facilitate the visual flow between spaces, creating a more harmonious relationship between the office and the rest of the house,” says Alberti. “I also love the contrast of the black-matte stair raisers and wooden handrails. It provides a sophisticated rustic appeal that a lot of buyers look for in a home.”

Kitchen

“It looked like a sad little kitchen crying in the corner,” Alberti says of the pre-renovation space. But the flip made a huge difference in this all-important room.

“They have repositioned and expanded the kitchen, creating an open concept tied in by a beautiful, massive island that not only provides contrast but also bar seating,” Alberti explains. “They did a great job combining different materials and textures. … It’s a design risk that elevates the home.”

Kelsch says the new kitchen is definitely more appealing to potential buyers.

“Additional usable counter space, storage, and lighting make this a desirable kitchen and a ‘wow’ feature in the home,” she says.

Bathroom

The old bathroom in this home was like a walk back in time, but not in a good way.

“The wallpaper and the top-and-bottom built-in cabinets made the space feel enclosed and restricted,” says Alberti. “The old shower doors are always a must-go—they have had their run for far too long.”

The updated bathroom now feels warm and welcoming.

“The shower wall niche was a particularly nice touch because it provides practicality to the user,” adds Alberti. “Those kinds of details are never overlooked by buyers.”

Bernard agrees: “The new, beautiful bath lets in natural light for the tranquility that homeowners want in their bathrooms,” she says. “The updated shower and more functional and modern vanity feel clean and fresh compared to the original.”

Bedroom

From the gray wall-to-wall carpet to the heavy drapes, can we all just agree that the old bedroom was the stuff of nightmares?

“The new bedroom sheds pounds of darkness that were exhibited in the old carpeting and bulky cabinets,” says Bernard. “The white walls and wonderful new windows are inviting in a room that anyone can envision themselves waking up in. This is a luxury look that buyers in all price ranges desire.”

“This bedroom has had a complete turnaround. The new vaulted ceiling helps make the room feel more spacious, and removing the cabinetry opens up the room,” says Kelsch. “Bringing in as much natural light as possible by taking down dated old drapes and updating furnishings and fixtures will bring top dollar to this house.”

The post What the Flip? A 1909 Family Home Is Fully Restored and Grabs Top Dollar appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Understanding How Mortgage Interest Rates Work

Question: What do home mortgage loans (including second mortgage loans), retail installment loans, automobile loans, home improvement loans, and mobile home loans, have in common — aside from being loans to consumers?

Answer: The interest charge sometimes is calculated monthly and sometimes daily. With a monthly interest rate the borrower is charged for each month, whereas with a daily interest rate the borrower is charged for each day.

Why is this distinction important? Because daily rates are a potential trap for unwary borrowers, countless numbers of whom have found themselves permanently, usually with no understanding of how it happened. The problem has been entirely overlooked by regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


Source: mortgagedaily.com

What Happens to Mortgage Rates When the Fed Cuts Rates?

Just about everybody with a wallet is impacted by the Federal Reserve. That means you—homeowners and prospective buyers. Whether you’re already nestled in to the house of your dreams or still looking to find it, you’ll probably want to track what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates. When the Fed (as it’s commonly referred to) cuts its federal funds rate—the rate banks charge each other to lend funds overnight—the move could impact your mortgage costs.

The Fed’s overall goal when it cuts the federal funds rate is to stimulate the economy by spurring consumers to spend and borrow. This is good news if you are carrying debt because borrowing tends to become less expensive following a Fed rate cut (think: lower credit card APRs). But in the case of homeownership, what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates can be a double-edged sword.

What happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates depends on many factors.

The connection between a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates isn’t so crystal clear because the federal funds rate doesn’t directly influence the rate on every type of home loan.

“Mortgage rates are formed by global market forces, and the Federal Reserve participates in those market forces but isn’t always the most important factor,” says Holden Lewis, who’s been covering the mortgage industry for nearly 20 years and is also a regular contributor to NerdWallet.

To understand which side of the sword you’re on, you’ll need an answer to the question, “How does a Fed rate cut affect mortgage rates?” Read on to find out if you stand to potentially gain on your mortgage in a low-rate environment:

How a fixed-rate mortgage moves—or doesn’t

A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that remains the same for the entire length of the loan. If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates if you are an existing homeowner with a fixed-rate mortgage? Nothing should happen to your monthly payments following a Fed rate cut because your rate has already been locked in.

“For current homeowners with a fixed-rate mortgage set at a previous higher level, the existing mortgage rate stays put,” Lewis says.

If you’re a prospective homebuyer shopping around for a fixed-rate mortgage, the news of what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates may be different.

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For prospective homebuyers: If the Fed cuts its interest rate and the 10-year Treasury yield is similarly tracking, the rates on fixed-rate mortgages could drop, “and you could lock in interest at a lower fixed rate than before.”

– Holden Lewis, mortgage expert and NerdWallet contributor

The federal funds rate does not directly impact the rates on this type of home loan, so a Fed rate cut doesn’t guarantee that lenders will start offering lower mortgage rates. However, the 10-year Treasury yield does tend to influence fixed-rate mortgages, and this yield often moves in the same direction as the federal funds rate.

If the Fed cuts its interest rate and the 10-year Treasury yield is similarly tracking, the rates on fixed-rate mortgages could drop, “and you could lock in interest at a lower fixed rate than before,” Lewis says. It’s also possible that rates on fixed mortgages will not fall following a Fed rate cut.

How an adjustable-rate mortgage follows the Fed

An adjustable-rate mortgage (commonly referred to as an ARM) is a home loan with an interest rate that can fluctuate periodically—also known as variable rate. There is often a fixed period of time during which the initial rate stays the same, and then it adjusts on a regular interval. (For instance, with a 5/1 ARM, the initial rate stays locked in for five years and then adjusts each year thereafter.)

So back to the burning question: If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates? The rates on an ARM typically track with the index that the loan uses, e.g., the prime rate, which is in turn influenced by the federal funds rate.

If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates? If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, you may see your rate change.

“If the Fed drops its rate during the adjustment period, you could see your interest rate go down and, in turn, see lower monthly payments,” says Emily Stroud, financial advisor and founder of Stroud Financial Management.

Since ARMs are often adjusted annually after the fixed period, you may not feel the impact of the Fed rate cut until your ARM’s next annual loan adjustment. For instance, if there is one (or more) rate cuts during the course of a year, the savings from the rate reduction(s) would hit all at once at the time of your reset.

If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates for prospective homebuyers considering an ARM? An even lower rate could be in your future—at least for a specific period of time.

“If you’re looking for a shorter-term mortgage, say a 5/1 ARM, you could save considerably on interest,” Stroud says. That’s because the introductory rate of an ARM is usually lower than the rate of a fixed-rate mortgage, Stroud explains. Add that benefit to lower rates fueled by a Fed rate cut and an ARM could be enticing if it supports your financial goals and plans.

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“If the Fed drops its rate during the adjustment period, you could see your interest rate go down and, in turn, see lower monthly payments.” 

– Emily Stroud, financial advisor and founder of Stroud Financial Management

Benefits of other variable-rate loans following a rate cut

If you have a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates on your mind and are a borrower with other types of variable-rate loans, you could be impacted following a Fed rate cut. Borrowers with variable-rate home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and adjustable-rate Federal Housing Administration loans (FHA ARMs), for example, may end up ahead of the curve when the Fed cuts its rate, according to Lewis:

  • A HELOC is typically a “second mortgage” that provides you access to cash for goals like debt consolidation or home improvement and is a revolving line of credit, using your home as collateral. A Fed rate cut could result in lower rates for variable-rate HELOCs that track with the prime rate. If you are an existing homeowner with a HELOC, you could see your monthly payments drop following a Fed rate cut.
  • An FHA ARM is an ARM insured by the federal government. If you’re wondering about a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, know that this type of mortgage behaves much like a conventional variable-rate loan when the Fed cuts it rate, Lewis says. Existing homeowners with an FHA ARM could see a rate drop, and prospective homebuyers could also benefit from lower rates following a Fed rate cut.

When it comes to a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, refinancing to a lower rate could be an option for existing homeowners.

Refinancing: A silver lining for fixed rates

When it comes to a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, refinancing to a lower rate could be an option if you have an existing fixed-rate loan. The process of refinancing replaces an existing loan with a new one that pays off your old loan’s debt. You then make payments on your new loan, so the goal is to refinance at a time when you can get better terms.

“If someone buys a home one year and a Fed rate cut results in a mortgage rate reduction, for example, it presents a real refinance opportunity for homeowners,” Lewis says. “Just a small percentage point reduction could possibly trim a few hundred bucks from your monthly payments.”

Before a refinancing decision is made based on a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, you should consider any upfront costs and fees associated with refinancing to ensure they don’t offset any potential savings.

Managing your finances as a homeowner

You might be expecting some savings in your future now that you’re armed with information on what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates. Whether you’re a homebuyer and financing your new home is going to cost you less with a lower interest rate, or you’re an existing homeowner with an ARM that may come with lower monthly payments, Stroud suggests to use any uncovered savings wisely.

“Invest that cash back into your property, pay down your home equity debt or borrow with it,” she says.

Understanding the connection between the Fed rate cut and mortgage rates can help you better manage your finances as a homeowner.

While news of a Fed rate cut may entice you to analyze how your mortgage will be impacted, remember there are many factors that help to determine your mortgage rate, including your credit score, home price, loan amount and down payment. The Fed’s actions are only one piece of a larger equation.

Even though the Fed’s rate decisions may dominate headlines immediately following a rate cut, your home is a long-term investment and one you’ll likely maintain for years. To best prepare for what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates is to always manage your home finances responsibly and be sure to make choices that will lead you down the right path based on your financial goals.

*This should not be considered tax or investment advice. Please consult a financial planner or tax advisor if you have questions.

NMLS ID 684042

The post What Happens to Mortgage Rates When the Fed Cuts Rates? appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.

Source: discover.com

Kitchen Cleanup Checklist: A Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Breakdown of Tasks

Many lines have been written on the importance of cleanliness and household chores (remember that iconic speech by U.S. Admiral McRaven, urging us all to make our beds in the morning?) and the role they play in maintaining our mental and physical health.

And since we now see ourselves in a position to spend far more time in our homes (whether we want to or not), we can think of no better time to circle back on this subject, and focus on what’s arguably the first room of the house to get messy: the kitchen.

Naturally, with more of our family members inside, our kitchens are bound to become dirtier and more cluttered. And while there’s no way we’ll reach that perfect, Mr. Clean sparkling kitchen anytime soon (and you definitely shouldn’t feel the pressure to take it to that extreme), keeping your kitchen tidy and clean can have positive effects on your state of mind, especially during these troubling times.

According to a 2010 study published in The Personality and Social Psychology bulletin, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol were observed in women who felt that their homes are cluttered and who had lots of unfinished projects around the house.

That’s why it’s vital to keep your house clean to reduce stress levels and help you feel more relaxed and comfortable at home. In addition to reducing stress, maintaining a healthy cleaning regimen for the home also makes you more productive, helps you sleep better, and protects your family from illness-causing bacteria and pathogens.

However, maintaining a clean home is easier said than done. This is especially true when it comes to the kitchen. And that’s because the kitchen requires more attention than any other room in your house, especially if you have more family members and young children. After every meal, there are spills that need to be cleaned, dishes and utensils to be washed, and lots of tidying up to do. Not to mention that if any dirt or spills are left unattended, there may be a buildup of bacteria that poses a significant health risk for your family. After all, this is the room where we keep all of our food.

Maintaining a clean kitchen requires a systematic approach, and that’s why it is vital to create a kitchen cleaning checklist. Taking a structured approach to your kitchen cleaning will ensure no cleaning task skips your mind and your kitchen is spotless at all times — without making you feel overburdened by all the chores that comes with kitchen maintenance.

Read on to find out what to include in your kitchen cleaning checklist and the tasks that you should schedule on daily, weekly, and monthly basis — so that you don’t feel all the tasks weighting on you without having a clear plan to address them.

#1 Tasks to include in your daily kitchen cleaning list

To ensure that food is not contaminated during preparation, and that your family enjoys meals in a clean and safe environment, there are a few cleaning tasks that must be carried out daily. Don’t worry, they’re not the type that take hours to get out of the way, but they’re crucial to keeping a clean kitchen. Here are the things you should watch for on a daily basis:

  • Cleaning spills on counters, tables, floors, and appliances as soon as they occur
  • Washing dirty dishes immediately after meals
  • Emptying the dishwasher and dish drainer as needed
  • Putting everything back in their rightful place after usage (think condiments, cooking ingredients, pans and pots, and utensils)
  • Checking fridge and kitchen counters for expired/spoiled food and throwing them out if you suspect they might have gotten bad
  • Sweeping the floor whenever something gets spilled
  • Cleaning the sink with a multi-purpose cleaner so that bacteria doesn’t get a chance to form
  • Removing items that don’t belong in the kitchen (like the kids’ toys)
  • Taking out the garbage

Making a habit out of these tasks will ensure that your kitchen is always tidy and will make your weekly and monthly cleaning easier.

Something else that might help, but that might need some advance planning, is choosing an easy to clean and maintain countertop material, which will also reduce your workload. Quartz is not only easy to clean, but is also visually stimulating. Read more information on kitchen countertops to understand why quartz may be a good choice for your kitchen and to find good alternatives that are easy to keep clean.

#2 Tasks for your weekly kitchen cleaning list

Depending on your weekly schedule, pick a day to schedule your weekly kitchen cleaning. Setting a specific day is the first step to ensure you do not bail on your weekly kitchen cleaning checklist — and it really doesn’t have to be in the same day you clean up the rest of your house. Having a separate schedule for the kitchen makes sense, and will allow you to spend more time on this crucial room of the house.

For your weekly kitchen cleaning, you’ll want to go a bit deeper into it than you do on your regular daily cleaning routine. Tasks to include in your weekly kitchen cleaning checklist are:

  • Mopping the floor (if you have small children or pets — or just a clumsy husband, like me — you may need to do this more often)
  • Cleaning the exterior of appliances thoroughly 
  • Sorting out leftovers in the fridge and throwing away those that have stayed too long
  • Cleaning off smudges and fingerprints from drawers and cabinets
  • Cleaning your dishcloths and towels
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the sink and faucets
  • Cleaning the interior of your microwave
cleaning the kitchen drawers

#3 Tasks for your monthly kitchen cleaning list

If you are thorough with your daily and weekly kitchen cleaning, you’ll breeze through your monthly cleaning. Monthly cleaning should be set for the first or last week of the month to make it harder for you to skip it, and should cover some essentials that don’t need to be checked on as regularly as the other items on our list.

Monthly kitchen cleaning tasks can include, depending on your home setup:

  • Checking your pantry to see what needs to be tossed out and which items should be restocked
  • Checking the freezer to see if there are any items that should be eaten soon, and those that need to be thrown or restocked
  • Cleaning the oven and stove
  • Cleaning your refrigerator and disinfecting the drip pan
  • Targeting the dirt and crumbs that hide between cabinets and floors during your daily and weekly cleaning
  • Dusting light fixtures as well as cabinets and the refrigerator
  • Cleaning the dishwasher and dish drainer drip pan
  • Spot-cleaning grout
julia-child-house-kitchen

General tips to make kitchen cleaning easier

There’s nothing more daunting than cleaning a kitchen that’s been neglected for some time. So that you’ll never have to face this challenge, follow the following tips:

  • Create visual checklists with your daily, weekly, and monthly kitchen cleaning tasks — use our suggestions above to create your own, personalized list with areas that require more attention in your household
  • Post your checklists in a visible place and encourage other members of the family to take cue on the things that have to be done on a daily basis
  • In fact, you could take things a step further and assign minor tasks to different family members
  • Make a habit of dealing with spills immediately and sweeping the floors each meal

Keeping your kitchen clean and safe for your family begins with healthy cleaning habits and a good tidying up regimen. Create a system that works for you and put it in a checklist so that you can keep your mind off all the things that need to be done, and instead, enjoy your time at home with your family.

Keep reading

These Luxury Bar Stools will Take Your Kitchen to the Next Level
The Importance of Housekeeping for a Comfortable Home
5 Types Of Home Improvement Permits You Should Know About
Pergolas – A Pleasing Addition to Your Outdoor Living Space

The post Kitchen Cleanup Checklist: A Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Breakdown of Tasks appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.

Source: fancypantshomes.com

Should I Refinance My Mortgage? When to Refinance

The Federal Reserve recently lowered interest rates in an effort to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, more and more people are becoming interested in refinancing their mortgage. Depending on the situation, refinancing your mortgage can prove to be a savvy financial decision that can save you massive amounts of money in the long-term. But is it right for you? 

If you’re curious about refinancing your mortgage, this article should answer many of your questions, including: 

  1. How Does Refinancing Work?
  2. When Should I Refinance My Mortgage? 
  3. What is the Downside of Refinancing My Home? 
  4. How Do I Calculate if I Should Refinance My Mortgage? 
  5. What are My Refinancing Options? 

How Does Refinancing Work? 

“Refinancing your mortgage allows you to pay off your existing mortgage and take out a new mortgage on new terms,” according to usa.gov. So when you refinance your mortgage, you’re essentially trading in your old mortgage for a new one. The new loan that you take out pays off the remainder of the original mortgage and takes its place. That means the terms of the old mortgage no longer apply, and you’re instead bound by the terms of the new one. 

There are many reasons why homeowners choose to refinance their mortgage. They may want to secure a loan with a lower interest rate, switch from an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate, shorten or lengthen their repayment term, change mortgage companies, or come up with some cash in order to pay off debts or deal with miscellaneous expenses. As you can see, there are a vast number of reasons why someone might be interested in refinancing. 

There are also a couple of different ways to go about refinancing. A standard rate-and-term refinance is the most common way to do it. With this method, you simply adjust the interest rate you’re paying and the terms of your mortgage so that they become more beneficial to you. 

However, you could also do a cash out refinance, where you pull equity out of your home and receive it in the form of a cash payment, or take out a new loan that’s greater than the remaining debt on the original mortgage. Even though you’ll get an influx of cash in the short-term, a cash out refinance can be a risky option because it increases your debt and it’ll likely cost you in interest payments in the long-term.


When Should I Refinance My Mortgage?

Maybe you’ve been wondering, “Should I refinance my mortgage?” If you can save money, pay off your mortgage faster, and build equity in your home by doing so, then the answer is yes. Whether you can achieve this is dependent on a variety of things. Take a look at these refinance tips in order to get a better idea of when you should refinance your mortgage. 

Capitalize on Low Interest Rates 

When mortgage rates go down, a lot of people consider refinancing their mortgage in order to take advantage of that new lower rate. And this makes perfect sense—by paying a lower interest rate on your mortgage, you could end up saving thousands of dollars over time. But when it comes to refinancing your mortgage, there are a number of other factors you should consider as well. 

Regarding interest rates, you should take a look at how steeply they drop before making any refinancing decisions. It might be a good idea to refinance your mortgage if you can lower your interest rate by at least 2 percent. It ultimately depends on the amount of your mortgage, but anything less than that amount likely won’t be worth it in the long run. 

Switch to Fixed-Rate Mortgage

It’s also very common for people to refinance in order to get out of an adjustable rate mortgage and instead convert to a fixed-rate. An adjustable rate mortgage usually starts off with a lower interest rate than a fixed-rate, but that rate eventually changes and it can end up costing you. That’s because the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage changes over time based on an index of interest rates. It can alter based on the mortgage market, the LIBOR market index, and the federal funds rate. 

By converting to a fixed-rate mortgage—where the interest rate is set when you initially take out the loan—before the low rates on your adjustable rate mortgage increase, you can minimize the amount you have to pay in interest. If you’re able to lock in a low fixed interest rate, you’ll be less susceptible to market volatility and more capable of devising a long-term payment strategy.   

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When debating the question of “Should I refinance my mortgage or not?”, you should also keep in mind what lenders will look at when determining the terms of your loan. In order to come up with an interest rate and approve you for a refinancing loan, lenders will take the following factors into consideration: 

  • Payment history on your original mortgage: Before issuing a refinancing loan, lenders will review the payment history on your initial mortgage to make sure that you made payments on time. 
  • Credit score: With good credit, you’ll have more flexibility and options when refinancing. A high credit score will allow you to take out loans with more favorable terms at a lower interest rate. 
  • Income: Lenders will want to see that you generate a steady, reliable income that can comfortably cover the monthly mortgage payments.  
  • Equity: Home equity is the loan-to-value ratio of a borrower. You can calculate it by dividing the amount owed on the current mortgage loan by the home’s current value. Before you consider refinancing, you should ideally have at least 20% equity in your home. If your equity is under 20% but your credit is good, you still may be able to secure a loan, but you’ll likely be charged a higher interest rate or have to pay for mortgage insurance, which is not ideal.

What is the Downside of Refinancing My Home? 

Refinancing a mortgage isn’t for everyone. If you don’t take the time to do your research, calculate savings, and weigh the benefits versus the potential risks, you could end up spending more money on refinancing than you would have had you stuck with the original loan. 

When refinancing, you run the risk of placing yourself in a precarious financial position. This is especially true when it comes to a cash out refinance, as this can put you on the hook for even more money and bury you in interest payments. 

Don’t refinance your home and pull out equity just to get quick cash, make luxury purchases, and buy things you don’t need—doing this is an easy way to dig yourself into a deep financial hole. In reality, you should only refinance your mortgage if you know that you can save money doing it. 

How Do I Calculate if I Should Refinance My Mortgage? 

Before you refinance your mortgage, it’s crucial to crunch the numbers and determine whether it’s worth it in the long-run. To do this, you’ll first have to consider how much refinancing actually costs. 

Consider Closing Costs

So how much does it cost to refinance? One of the most significant expenses to take into account when refinancing is the closing costs. All refinancing loans come with closing costs, which depend on the lender and the amount of your loan, but average around three to six percent of the principal amount of the loan. So, for example, if you took out a loan of $200,000, you would end up paying another $8,000 if closing costs were set at 4%. 

These closing costs are most often paid upfront, but in some cases lenders will permit you to make the closing costs part of the principal amount, thus incorporating them into the new loan. While closing costs generally don’t cover property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and mortgage insurance, they do tend to include the following: 

  • Refinance application fee
  • Credit fees 
  • Home appraisal and inspection fees 
  • Points fee
  • Escrow and title fees 
  • Lender fee

Determine Your Break-Even Point

To make an informed decision as to whether refinancing your mortgage is a sound financial decision, you should calculate how long it will take for the refinancing to pay for itself. In other words, you’ll want to determine your break-even point. To calculate your break-even point, divide the total closing costs by the amount you’ll save on a monthly basis as a result of your refinance loan. 

The basic equation for figuring out your break-even point is as follows: [Closing Costs] / [Monthly Savings] = [# of Months to Break Even] 

Taking this into consideration, you can see how the length of time you plan on staying in a home can make a big difference as to whether or not refinancing your mortgage is the right option for you. If you’re thinking of moving away and selling your house in a few years, then refinancing your mortgage is probably not the right move. You likely won’t save enough in those few years to cover the additional costs of refinancing. 

However, if you plan on remaining at the house you’re in for a long stretch of time, then refinancing could potentially save you a lot of money. To make an informed decision, you have to do the math yourself—or, to make the calculations even simpler, use Mint’s online loan repayment calculator. 

What are My Refinancing Options? 

As stated above, you have options when it comes to refinancing loans. You could refinance your mortgage in order to secure a lower interest fee and a change in the terms of your loan; or you might opt for a cash out refinance that lets you turn your home’s equity into extra income that you can use to pay for home improvement, tuition costs, high-interest debt payments, and more. 

In order to actually start refinancing your home, you’ll have to find a lender and fill out a loan application. Shop around at large and small banks alike to see who will offer you the lowest interest rates and the best terms. How long does a refinance take? The timeline depends on a few things, including the lender you borrow from and your own financial situation. But, in general, it takes an average of 45 days to refinance a mortgage. 

You might also consider forgoing the traditional banks and dealing with an online non-banking company instead. Alternative lenders often offer greater flexibility in terms of who qualifies for a loan and they can, in some cases, expedite the refinancing process. For example, Freddie Mac is a government-sponsored mortgage loan company that, in addition to offering no cash out and cash out refinancing, has a third option available for borrowers whose loan-to-value ratio is too high to qualify for the traditional refinancing routes. Learn more by visiting freddiemac.com. 

When tackling any big financial decision, it’s important that you’re informed and organized. Learn the facts, do the calculations, and research your options before beginning the refinancing process to make sure it’s the right choice for you. 

The post Should I Refinance My Mortgage? When to Refinance appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

‘Fixer to Fabulous’ Reveals One Simple Upgrade You’ll Love Every Morning

Fixer to FabulousHGTV

Dave and Jenny Marrs of “Fixer to Fabulous” have done countless renovations over the years, but the pressure is on when they’re tasked with fixing up a home owned by none other than Jenny’s parents.

In the Season 2 episode “A Life-Changing Renovation,” Jenny and Dave help Jenny’s parents, Joan and Steve Smith, renovate their new house in Rodgers, AR, not too far from the Marrs’ farm. Dave and Jenny hope to give this property the cozy feel of a grandparents’ home along with a more modern vibe.

Read on to find out how they make this house feel both classic and contemporary, and get some ideas for how to make over any family home, even your own.

Not all bricks are created equal

house
This ’90s house had some dated stone accents.

HGTV

Steve and Joan love their new house, but they agree that the style is a little dated. On the exterior, the home has some stone accents that may have been popular when the home was built in 1994, but just look tired now.

So Jenny and Dave decide to replace the stone with some brick, which they know will give the house a fresh, modern style without looking too stark.

brick exterior
This brick makes the space look more updated.

HGTV

However, Jenny tells Dave that they can’t use just any old bricks on the house.

“I don’t want just a red clay brick that is mass-produced,” Jenny says. “I want to use a vintage brick that’s come off of an old building.”

She ends up finding old, light-colored brick that looks kind of worn. This brick, when used on the porch steps and house skirt, gives the home a rustic look.

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Watch: Fix Your Own Garbage Disposer—Without Calling the Plumber

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In the end, it’s clear that Jenny’s careful selection pays off. She proves that getting just the right color and style is imperative.

Use an eyelid to add character to a doorway

house
Jenny and Dave Marrs want to upgrade this entryway.

HGTV

Joan and Steve are excited to get rid of the dated stone on the home’s exterior, but they also want to make some structural changes to their front entrance. So Jenny and Dave take out the dated walkway and build out a porch, then they focus their attention on the doorway.

house
This eyelid adds some personality to the front of the house.

HGTV

“We were able to get them this beautiful double door, and it has an arch top,” Jenny says, “so adding an eyebrow arch to the front of the house, it’ll mirror the door, and it’ll tie it together and look beautiful and welcoming.”

They use cedar, which matches the new siding, to create a curved structure that will go right above the porch steps. The extra detail matches the elegant front doors, just as Jenny expected, and it brings some character to the front of the house.

It’s a small feature, but it makes a big impact.

Simplify a stone fireplace for a more modern look

fireplace
This dated fireplace looked dark and heavy in this space.

HGTV

Unfortunately, the inside of Joan and Steve’s house is just as dated as the outside. The space is like a ’90s time capsule, and the dated stone fireplace doesn’t help.

“The stone followed us inside,” Steve says of the gray stonework.

fireplace
This simpler fireplace brightens the living room.

HGTV

Jenny and Dave know they’ll need to update this fireplace if they’re going to make the space feel more modern, so they remove the stone and simplify the feature. With a smooth white face, a wood mantel, and a small spot to store wood next to the firebox, the new, smaller fireplace looks much more modern.

Can’t knock down a kitchen wall? Create a coffee station

coffee station
Jenny knows her dad will love this coffee station.

HGTV

Joan and Steve’s kitchen is dated, so Jenny and Dave make a plan to completely redo the space, putting in new appliances, installing new cabinetry, and even knocking down a wall to open it up. However, once renovation begins, they realize that they can’t take down the wall.

Thinking fast, Jenny and Dave make the best of the situation by using this extra space to put in a coffee bar. Jenny says her parents always start the day with coffee, so a coffee bar is the perfect consolation for the slightly more closed-off floor plan, and one renovation they’ll appreciate every morning when they wake up!

“At first I was really upset ’cause we couldn’t take out this post,” Jenny tells her parents when the house is finished, “but I think it worked out for the best because we could give you the coffee bar.”

Turn a dining room wall into wine storage

dining space
This was just a blank wall, but Jenny had a great idea to make it a feature.

HGTV

With a beautiful coffee bar in the kitchen, Dave and Jenny are inspired to create a space for Steve and Joan’s other favorite beverage: wine.

They get to work installing some wine storage on one wall of the dining room, giving this otherwise empty space a fun feature while also providing storage for Joan and Steve’s wine collection. It a great blend of fun and function.

When Jenny and Dave are finally able to show off the wine rack, Dave admits that there’s one small problem: It’s much bigger than expected.

“When I built it I didn’t realize that it holds, like, 600 bottles,” Dave says. We guess his in-laws will have to work on building their collection!

wine storage
Jenny knew that her parents would love somewhere to keep bottles of wine.

HGTV

When the renovation is complete, Dave and Jenny are able to present the Smiths with a one-of-a-kind house that’s made with love. It’s a great blend of modern and classic, making it the perfect spot for two fun grandparents to live out their retirement.

The post ‘Fixer to Fabulous’ Reveals One Simple Upgrade You’ll Love Every Morning appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

5 Things You Should Pay Premium for as a Homeowner or Renter

Being a homeowner on a budget is nothing to be ashamed of, if anything, most people prefer to keep their expenses low, especially after recently purchasing a home! But,there are some things you shouldn’t cheap out on, and we’ve got you covered.

The post 5 Things You Should Pay Premium for as a Homeowner or Renter appeared first on Homes.com.

Source: homes.com

How to Transition Your Kids’ Rooms

As your children grow and change, so should their bedrooms. However, if you were to revamp their rooms with every changing interest, favorite color or boy band, you would not only be spending a lot of time, but also a lot of money. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re looking to transition a child’s room as he or she continues to get older.

Start With Change in Mind

Designing a child’s nursery when you’re expecting is a fun and exciting experience. What parents may not plan for, though, are the unforeseen changes that the room might need as the child grows. Create a nursery with neutral wall colors and an open floor plan for playtime. It makes an easier transition that you can work with each changing year.

Consult With Them

When you’re planning to revamp your children’s room after a few years, make sure to consult with them. It’s likely they won’t hold back in letting you know what they want. You can enhance a child’s creativity and production levels if their rooms are filled with things that excite them.

Choose the Right Items

There are certain pieces of furniture and décor that can grow with a child. For example, a desk is a piece of furniture that can be added into a room and never seem to lose its importance, whether they’ll be endlessly creating works of art in coloring books or filling out college applications. Other items can include a classic bedframe and a monochromatic comforter.

Work Slowly but Surely

Make sure to try not to overwhelm your child with a lot of changes at once. If you’ve decided that it is time to “grow up” from the nursery, it may be best to do it little by little. Most parents choose to start with a new bed before gradually continuing to swap out the old with the new.

Remember Teen Tips

During the teen years, make sure to declutter (that garage sale money can go to their college fund), freshen up with a new paint job, and provide grown-up accessories. Allow room for self-expression, but with limits. For instance, you can frame posters instead of using thumb tacks or tape directly on the walls. A bold rug is fine for the time being, especially if it protects the carpet or floor from food spills or shoe marks.

Raising children can be one of the greatest joys in life, so make sure their room reflects that! Take these tips with you over the years and let the DIY project become a fun one you and your child can look back on.

The post How to Transition Your Kids’ Rooms first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com

7 Creative and Quick Dining Room Updates

With so many dining rooms being converted into part of the living room or kitchen these days, dining room design has kind of fallen by the wayside. But if you’re one of the lucky homeowners to have hung on to a formal dining space, you’ve got an opportunity to make some amazing modern updates. Here are 7 affordable ways to breathe new life into an old dining room:

#1 Perk things up with paint.
Are your dining room walls still the same color they were when you moved into your house 10 years ago? If so, there’s a good chance the color’s a little past its prime. In fact, it may also be doing an injustice to your furniture and the updates you’ve made in adjoining rooms as well. Refresh the walls with a paint shade that makes you feel comfortable and cozy. The room will reflect that feeling.

#2 Modernize the lighting.
Are outdated chandeliers and lamps gathering dust in your dining room? Consider sending them packing and installing some recessed lighting and pendants in their place. Pendant lights, in particular, come in a wide variety of styles and colors sure to add some new pizzazz to your space.

#3 Repurpose another room.
If your dining room is located in an undesirable space — a cramped corner of the house away from the kitchen, for example — pick a new place for your table and chairs. Put them in the kitchen, if you have the the space. Or, place the dining table somewhere right in your living room, where there’s easy access to the TV and stereo. You should always feel comfortable during a meal, and being confined to an area you don’t enjoy doesn’t contribute to that feeling.

#4 Add some visual appeal.
Visual appeal doesn’t stop at paint and lighting. It’s also important to consider how wall decor may increase the interest and comfort of the room. Blank walls may make it easy to zone out and focus on your meals, but your guests will surely enjoy looking at something a little more interesting. Depending on your budget and the size of your dining room, consider hanging potted plants and colorful pieces of art. Just be sure to balance wall decor with other elements in the room so your space doesn’t feel like it’s cluttered with stuff.

#5 Throw in a rug.
One of the worst sounds to hear is a chair scratching against the floor as you go to get up from the dining table. So fix the issue. Add a rug underneath the table and chairs to make things soft and cozy. Choose a rug that isn’t too thick with fibers. Otherwise, your chairs can get stuck and twisted. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure that the style and color of your rug complement the rest of the room.

#6 Use dividers.
Many newer homes combine kitchen and dining spaces. If you want to create a dedicated dining space, think about incorporating a room divider. It’s much cheaper than installing a wall — and you can add shelves, plants or a sliding door to further divide the two spaces. Plus, the flexibility of the divider allows to revert back to the bigger space any time you like.

#7 Build in.
How’s your dining room designed? Do you have a table that sits in the middle with four chairs around it? If you want to make the room more functional — and create more storage in the process — think about ditching the clunky furniture and opting instead for built-ins like bench seating, china cabinets and buffets. A professional can create custom built-ins to suit any style.

The post 7 Creative and Quick Dining Room Updates first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com