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Checking for Water Leaks

September 1, 2015

An unexpected, larger-than-normal water bill could lead a person to think that they might have a leak. Before incurring the cost of a plumber, it is fairly easy to run your own test. water meter-250.jpg

Locate your water meter. They’re usually in the front of the house, near the street. In some cases, you might need a meter key to open it; they can be purchased at Lowe’s, Home Depot or other hardware stores.

Step One – Write down the numbers on the meters to get a current reading. Don’t use any water for thirty minutes. If the meter shows water usage during the test period, proceed to step two.

Step Two – Shut off the valves to all of the toilets. If you have a pool with an automatic filler, it has a similar device. Repeat the test again for the same thirty minute period. If the numbers haven’t changed this time, it indicates that the toilets probably need servicing.

If the numbers have changed during step two, it is an indication there may be a leak and it will need to be tracked down. This could be the time to call a plumber or plumbing leak specialist. Your water department may have a consumer help line that can offer suggestions also.

More Home for a Lower Cost of Housing

August 25, 2015

What if you could live in a larger and possibly newer home for less than you are currently? Would you consider moving? Do you want to hear more?

Interest rates, while they’re expected to go up, actually took a small dip and are still hovering at the 4% or below mark for a 30 year mortgage and almost one percent less for a 15 year term. QUALITY COSTS3.png

Let’s assume that you have a $225,000 mortgage currently at 6% which has a principal and interest payment of $1,348.99. With a 4% rate, you could have a $282,561 mortgage with the same payment. A $57,000 more expensive home could help you get what you need most such as more square footage or a different location or a newer home.

If you’re going to be making that payment for years to come, why not allow lower interest rates to help you get the features you want without having to necessarily pay a higher payment. Taking that logic a little bit further, let’s see how utilities can make a difference too.

A newer home could easily have lower monthly utility costs than your current home due to being more energy efficient. Construction materials, windows, doors, insulation, modern HVAC systems and energy efficient appliances all contribute to lower utility costs. A new home with these advantages could easily save a homeowner up to 25-50% on utilities for the same size home.

The concept is simple: get the most home you can for the amount you spend on the payment and utilities. It will take some investigation and your real estate professional can help.

Get Ready for College

August 18, 2015

rental advantages.pngOne of the important things as a parent is to plan for their children’s education. Let’s look at two different approaches: a savings account or investing in rental real estate.

Assuming your child is five years old and you start putting $250 a month in a savings account earning 2%, in 13 years you’d have $44,497.41 to pay for their college. Anticipating that isn’t going to be enough, you’d have to save $500 a month to end up with $88,995.

Another way would be to make a lump sum contribution of $20,000 today in a mutual fund earning 5% that would be worth $37,713 in 13 years. You’d have to make a $47,196 initial contribution to end up with the same $88,995.

An alternative to savings would be to invest in a $100,000 home in a good area. Assuming a three percent appreciation and rent of $1,000 a month, an initial investment of $23,500 could have a future wealth position of $83,838 at the end of 13 years.

Obviously, this is just an example of why rental homes are the IDEAL investment providing Income, Depreciation, Equity build-up, Appreciation and Leverage. While rentals certainly have more risk and management than a savings account, they do provide an opportunity for a higher rate of return.

If you’re concerned about paying for college tuition in the future, it is certainly worth investigating the possibility of investing in rental homes today.

Wait a Year…It Won’t Matter?

August 11, 2015

There is a frequently quoted expression “more money has been lost from indecision than was ever lost from making a bad decision.” Regardless of the extent of its accuracy, most people can recall when procrastination has cost them money. 2015-16-250.jpg

There are markets so short of inventory that buyers have become frustrated after losing bids for several homes and have decided to wait until more homes come on the market. In the meantime, the shortage of homes is driving the prices up more by the month.

There are buyers who can’t find what they want for the price they want to pay and think that waiting will somehow change things. In some cases, what they want just keeps moving farther and farther away from them.

The other dynamic in play is, of course, the mortgage rates. While they’ve remained low for several years, most experts agree that they’re going to rise; it’s just a matter of when. If you look at what positive increases in both of these would do, it becomes apparent that waiting will matter.

A $250,000 home purchased today on a FHA loan at 4% for 30 years will have a principal and interest payment of $1,151.76. If a buyer were to wait a year and the price increased 5% and the rate went up by 1%, the payment would increase by over $200 a month. In a seven year period, the increased payment alone would cost the buyer over $17,000.

Use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator to see how much it will matter based on the home you want to buy and what you think the prices and rates will do in the next year.

Shadow’s Box

August 5, 2015

Picture1Shadow: Since I crossed over in 2009 Dave has always driven by the spot where some of my ashes are (but I’m not) to say hello. He comes every day. I really appreciate it, but what I like even more is the bench he made for me at the pond he takes care of for the Muirwood Association. I think there is a photo of it and the girls lying right in front of it. This means a lot. Folks come and sit on the bench and visit and it’s nice that my name is right there, part of the conversation. Dave comes and reads there with Kovu and the girls about once a week, and even though I’m not there, I know that he is and that’s all that’s important. I am remembered and what else can we ask for…

Rudy: Well I also have a spot named for me you big black lug. It’s called Rudy’s Route and I think there is a photo of that this month as well. Actually it was called Rudy’s Route while I was still there and I still see them walking down the path when they decided Conner’s Bog is where they will go. That makes me feel good too…

Kovu: Excuse me, I must say do you know why it’s call by that name? I admit it is nice to have things named in your honor as this was. But as you observe, it was while you were still there in person. It’s called Rudy’s Route because when we would all walk in the Bog you would always want to cut down that way because it was quickest to the car. And if it was raining you would run (rare for Rudy) ahead of us so we HAD to go back. So Rudy’s Wimp Out Shortcut would be more appropriate but it’s hard to put all that on a plaque..

Picture2Sara: Everyone seems to have a lot of names for me but as of yet nothing names “for” me. I’m holding out for a bridge or a real cool hydrant, who knows. Maybe a LAKE. SARA LAKE. Has a nice ring don’t you think?

Nook:  When it comes to you I try not to think too much. And that lake idea is all wet. Maybe  a puddle. “Sara Puddle” Now that sounds right.

Scooter: I don’t care if they ever name anything after me because, well  I don’t care if it’s after me. I want to be remembered as the Royal Rabbit of Flagstone. I sit here in my throne room high above everyone else and issue edicts. Ones like “I wish my dry kibble now” or “A few more carrots and lighten up on the parsley” or “Do scooper my pooper” You know royal things like that…

Roxy : What a strange place I have landed in Toto… 

 

Who is Your Champion?

August 4, 2015

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The Super Bowl and World Series determine the football & baseball champions. Since there can only be 1 champion, the other team loses. In feudal times, a knight might champion for the king or romantic or religious cause.

Fierce competition can occur when buying or selling a home. Each party wants to get the “best deal” possible. When the buyer &seller aren’t equally matched, and they rarely are, it’s important to have a champion on your side to fight for your cause.

The price of the home, type of financing and concessions, personal property, closing dates and possession are just a few things that can be negotiated in a contract. Since the seller wants to get the most for their house and the buyer wants to pay the least, their causes are diametrically opposed.

Even after the contract is signed, removing contingencies can cause considerable negotiations. The inspections or appraisal could be the source of reevaluating the terms &provisions of the contract.

Negotiating sale or purchase of a home is definitely a competition &you need a champion on your side.

It’s Hard to Imagine

July 28, 2015

With mortgage rates below 5% since 2009, you’d think any homeowner who should refinance would have already. However, it is estimated, there are approximately 6.5 million borrowers who would benefit with significant monthly savings by refinancing. iStock_000064771413_300.jpg

Rodney Anderson of Supreme Lending, on his weekly radio program, described a recent pipeline meeting where they reviewed every pending mortgage application his company was processing. They had seven refinancing applicants whose current mortgage was over 9% and twelve with a rate between 7% and 9%.

“Some 550,000 American homeowners with a mortgage could save $500 or more each month by refinancing at today’s rates. Over three million could save at least $200 per month.” said Ben Graboske, CTO with Black Knight Financial Services.

Getting a lower interest rate should be reason enough but eliminating the mortgage insurance should make the decision a no brainer. With increased home values, the loan-to-value ratio may no longer require mortgage insurance which would add additional savings.

Homeowners need solid information about what their home is worth and whether they’d benefit from refinancing. The most reliable solution is to talk with a qualified mortgage professional. The internet is a great place for generalized info but each person’s situation is unique. Call if you’d like a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional or would like to know what your home is worth.

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