Home Maintenance Tips: How to Organize Your Garage

Home Maintenance Tips How to Organize Your GaragePerhaps you plan to sell your home in the next few months or years. Keeping your garage organized can save time and ensure that you have storage space when you need it most.

Get Your Purge On!

Clear out the garage and separate items into categories: keep, trash, donate and recycle. If you get rid of 50 percent of your stuff, you’re doing great. The more you can get rid of up front, the less you have to organize! And if you haven’t used it in years, why would you need to keep it around?

Create Zones

Map out space with masking tape, starting with where your vehicles go. Mask out where you can put heavy-duty shelves for tools, sports equipment and other stored items. Also, you can maximize storage by building cabinets or shelving from floor to ceiling.

Buying clear bins in various sizes and interlocking shapes helps you stay organized. When you store like items together, it’s much easier to find them, especially if everything is properly labeled.

Think strategically. If your garage doubles as a workshop, include space for a workbench. If you bike every day, hang your wheels on the wall near the garage door. Additionally, remember to include garbage and recycling bins near the door for easy access. 

Organizational Supplies
With the zones mapped, it’s time to get organized. For example, store shovels, rakes and brooms in a large trashcan. Meanwhile, sporting equipment such as bats, balls, skateboards and protective pads can go into larger bins, on shelves or inside lockers. Pegboards provide a versatile way to hang tools you use the most.

A cabinet that locks protects children and pets from hazardous materials like chemicals, paint and cleaning supplies. Meanwhile, constructing long open shelves of wood or metal gives you plenty of support for heavy storage bins, while a rolling cabinet lets you move craft supplies or gardening implements.

Storing Small Stuff

What can you do with screws, nails, hooks, nuts and myriad small items on a limited budget? Repurposed glass containers or mason jars let you see contents clearly while recycling. Use tin cans for screwdrivers and paint brushes. 

Once your garage is neat and clean, you may find yourself spending more time there. You might even have enough room for a home office or craft corner. A well-planned organizational strategy helps you keep it that way. 

If you are interested in buying a new property or refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 14th, 2019

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 8th, 2019Last week’s economic readings included reports on inflation, mortgage rates, and first-time jobless claims. Monthly reporting on consumer sentiment was delayed.

Consumer Price Index: Inflation Rises in March

The Consumer Price Index rose 0.40 percent in March, which matched expectations and surpassed February’s month-to -month reading of 0.20 percent growth. The March reading showed the highest consumer price growth in 14 months; higher rents, fuel and food prices contributed to month-to-month price gains in March.

The Core CPI excludes volatile food and energy sectors and was unchanged in March although 0.20 percent growth was expected. February’s reading showed 0.10 percent growth. Inflation increased 1.90 percent year over year.

Mortgage Rates Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week that stopped weeks of decreasing rates. Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.12 percent and rose four basis points. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.60 percent and were also four basis points higher than during the prior week. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages jumped 14 basis points to 3.80 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Freddie Mac reported fewer mortgage applications in response to higher rates. Potential homebuyers were sensitive to higher mortgage rates, but may not have to wait long for lower rates to return. Low 10-year Treasury yields suggested that mortgage rates are likely to fall and to remain lower during the peak home-buying season. Mortgage rates are expected to stay comparatively low throughout 2019 according to Freddie Mac.

New Jobless Claims Fall To Lowest Since 1969

First-time jobless claims fell last week to 196,000 initial claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 204,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading was the first to fall below 200,000 initial claims since 1969 and provided another sign of strong labor markets.

Federal Reserve FOMC Minutes Released

The Federal Reserve released minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in March. The minutes explained the Committee’s reversal of its plan to raise the target range of the federal funds rate twice during 2019. Committee members said that they were holding off on raising rates due to slowing in domestic and global economic conditions. While Committee members said that the current economy is strong, they were willing to exercise patience in raising rates based on slower growth of home prices and potential impacts caused by Brexit and slowing in China’s economy.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, housing starts and building permits issued and data on retail sales. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims will also be released.

 

When Is The Best Time To Do Your Roof Maintenance?

When Is The Best Time To Do Your Roof MaintenancePerform roof maintenance on sunny days when there’s less chance of slipping. Blocking off a weekend twice a year gives you plenty of time to complete the items below without rushing or taking unnecessary risks. The beginning of spring and fall present the best opportunities to complete your maintenance before the weather turns too hot or too cold.

Loose Debris Removal

Remove leaves, branches and accumulated debris before winter sets in. Set up a ladder, preferably with another person holding the ladder steady, and clean off as much debris as possible without risking your safety.

General Inspection

Start in the attic or crawl space by looking for ceiling stains. This may indicate water seepage that can compromise your home. Examine the roof in those areas to find loose, lifted or missing shingles that you have to replace. Then, examine the rest of the shingles for mold, worn spots, peeling or cracks. Also, check for missing flashing. 

If you don’t feel comfortable doing the repairs yourself, this is still a valuable exercise. You’ll know what to expect and can avoid charges for unnecessary repairs.

Moss And Mold

You can buy roof moss remover at most home improvement stores. Follow the instructions for best results. After the solution has had time to set, gently brush away the mold and moss, using a soft-bristled broom or wide brush. Try to avoid spray-washing shingles to preserve the UV-blocking granules on their surface.

Facia, Downspouts And Gutters
Protect your hands with heavy rubber gloves and remove debris with a scoop to make the work go quickly. Then, gently scrub dirt and grime from the fascias. Spray each area with a garden hose so that you can check for peeling paint or missing caulk. Re-paint and caulk these areas as needed and note any damage you’d feel more comfortable leaving to a professional. 

Chimneys, Skylights And Vents

Start by closing off your fireplace and cleaning any creosote from the chimney with a hard-bristled brush. Inspect the chimney for missing or cracked bricks. If you do the repairs yourself, remember to treat the chimney afterward with a water-repellent sealant. Inspect and clean vent outlets and skylights using a roof safety harness for steep inclines.

This may seem like a lot of work, but it can save you thousands of dollars by avoiding critical repairs due to negligence.

Replacing a roof can be a costly project. If you find that it’s better to replace than repair, it might be a good time to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to talk about accessing some of the equity in your home with a cash out refinance or a home equity line of credit.

FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed Policymakers U-Turn

FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed Policymakers U-TurnMembers of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to hold the target range of the federal funds rate to its current range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. The minutes of the most recent Committee meeting cited softening domestic and global economic conditions as reason for not raising the target federal funds range.

While labor markets remained strong, the minutes noted that household spending and business investment slowed in the first quarter of 2019. FOMC members expected Gross Domestic Product growth to slow as compared to its 2018 pace.

While current inflation and the national unemployment rate fell in line with the Fed’s dual mandate of seeking maximum employment and price stabilization, inflation fell due to falling fuel prices. The meeting minutes said that the Committee would be patient as it determined which, if any, action would be appropriate regarding the federal funds rate.

Strong Labor Sector Indicators Offset Lower GDP

Labor sector indicators remained strong with a national unemployment rate of 3.80 percent; labor force participation rose and the ratio of employment to population also rose. Strong employment and consumer sentiment readings suggested that more households may transition from renting to buying homes. Home sales recently fell due to affordability issues and rising mortgage rates.

Factors influencing FOMC monetary policy decisions include labor market conditions, inflation expectations and readings on domestic and international financial developments. The meeting minutes noted that near-term adjustments to monetary policy were dependent on changes to current economic outlook according to emerging data. The Committee consistently says that monetary policy positions can change according to developments in global and domestic economic data.

Fed Chairs Press Conference

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during his post-FOMC meeting press conference that the Committee’s “wait and see” stance on raising the target range of the federal funds rate was based on information received since growth expectations based on 2018’s economic growth rate of 3.10 percent. As of September 2018, the Fed forecasted economic growth of 2.50 percent in 2019, but subsequent information caused the Fed to downwardly revise its growth estimate.

Mr. Powell said that global economic slowing was expected in Europe and China; unresolved issues including Brexit and ongoing trade negotiations were given as reasons for slower global economic growth. While domestic and international economic forecasts indicated a modest slowdown in economic growth, Chairman Powell said that overall economic conditions remained favorable.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

Staging Your Home: Here Are Your Self-Storage Options

Staging Your Home Here Are Your Self-Storage OptionsIf you’re staging your home to sell, you may find yourself with more stuff than space. Rather than selling possessions that you’d rather not part with, you can put your things into short-term storage until your home sells and you’re able to move.

Here are some options you have when choosing and using a self storage unit.

Climate Controlled Or Not

Climate controlled units are located inside buildings. They could be compared to an apartment building, except instead of housing people, these storage buildings house belongings. Inside, they are powered with electricity and a temperature control that is temperate.

The advantage of a climate controlled storage unit is that your possessions won’t get above average hot or below average cold. If you plan to store certain items that are temperature sensitive, such as photographs, antique wood furniture or heirloom paintings, a climate controlled unit is a must.

Self storage units that are not climate controlled are typically located in garage-like buildings with a garage door opening that is open to the outside. There is usually no electricity or power inside the unit, so if you want to visit at night or on a dark day you’ll need to bring a flashlight.

There is no temperature control, so whatever the temperature is outside, it will be similar inside the unit. Depending on the climate you live in, it could get freezing inside the unity or extremely hot. If you’re planning on storing things that can withstand extreme temperatures, like a small motor vehicle, clothing or kitchen goods, you could opt for a unit like this.

Ground Level Or Above

Climate controlled storage buildings usually have more than one floor. Often, the ground level units are considered to be more convenient, so the rental rate may be higher than those on a higher floor. If you choose a ground level unit, you’ll be able to access your unit without navigating up and down an elevator for every trip back and forth to your car.

Units on higher floors will have access via a freight elevator. The freight elevator will be large enough to hold even your larger furnishings, such as couches, bureaus and desks. You’ll still be able to use a hand truck to cart your belongings, but you’ll have the disadvantage of having to wait for the elevator since other renters will also be using it.

Knowing these things ahead of time will help you make your decision about what kind of self storage unit to rent. No matter which one you choose, you can rest assured that your belongings will be safe and sound until you’re ready to bring them to your new home.

If your house is on the market, it’s important to plan ahead for your next home purchase. Be sure to meet with your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss your best financing options.

4 Ways To Pay Off My Mortgage Faster

4 Ways To Pay Off My Mortgage FasterFor most people, the mortgage payment is the biggest monthly expense. Whether you’re facing retirement or still working, it would be nice to be free of this debt. Although you probably can’t pay it off in one lump sum, it is possible to pay off your mortgage sooner than expected.

Here are four strategies to try.

1. Make Bi-Weekly Payments

You could shave eight years off a 30-year mortgage simply by breaking down your monthly payments into two payments instead of one. You’ll pay the same amount each month while the interest paid over the length of the loan is reduced. 

2. Make Principal-Only Payments

If you look at your mortgage payment slip, you’ll notice that the majority of your monthly payment goes toward interest. Slash years off your mortgage by making occasional principal-only payments on top of your regular payments. Consult your lender to see how many of these are allowed per year. If they’re limited, maximize each opportunity by making as large a principal-only payment as you can manage.

3. Refinance When Rates Drop

If your mortgage originated when interest rates were high, refinance it now that rates are still historically lower. You may need to pay closing costs, but you’ll still end up dramatically lowering the amount of interest you are paying on your mortgage. While you’re at the refinancing game, consider getting into a shorter term length. This tactic will probably increase your monthly payment, but if you can afford it, it’s a good strategy for paying down your mortgage quicker.

4. Pay Extra Each Month

If you can afford it, pad your monthly payment with a little extra as often as possible. Just paying $50 or $100 extra will enable you to get rid of your mortgage a little faster. Find the extra money by cutting back on small niceties, such as subscriptions, take-out food and more. You won’t notice the lack of small conveniences, but you will certainly notice a shortened mortgage loan term.

When you work to pay off your mortgage faster, you essentially save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. Implement one or more of these ideas to become mortgage-free just a little bit sooner.

If you are interested in refinancing your home, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 8th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 8th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings on construction spending and inflation; labor sector reports on the national unemployment rate, public and private sector employment were also released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Rises, Retail Sales Slip

Construction spending expanded by one percent in February according to the Commerce Department spending was one percent higher month-to-month; analysts expected a negative reading of -0.10 percent. February saw a revised gain of 2.50 percent growth in construction spending.

Construction spending grew 1.10 percent year-over-year; by comparison, 2016 construction spending reached 10 percent year-over-year. High demand for homes and lower mortgage rates could compel more construction spending as the peak home-buying season starts.

Retail sales slowed in February, but January retail readings were strong. Sales dipped -0.20 percent as compared to 0.30 percent growth expected and January’s reading of 0.70 percent. Retail sales excluding automotive sales fell to a negative reading of -0.40 percent in February as compared to expected sales growth of 0.40 percent and January’s reading of 1.40 percent growth.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims

30-year fixed mortgage rates rose two basis points on average to 4.08 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged one basis point lower at 3.56 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were nine basis points lower and averaged 3.66 percent.

Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.  Would-be home buyers are expected to join active buyers as lower rates hold steady and warmer weather arrives.

First-time jobless claims fell last week with 202,000 initial claims filed. Analysts expected 216,000 first-time jobless claims based on 212, 000 new jobless claims filed the prior week.

Jobs Data Varied, but Unemployment holds Steady

ADP reported 129,000 private-sector jobs added in March as compared to 197,000 jobs added in February and an expected reading of 165,000 jobs added. Loss of manufacturing jobs caused private-sector jobs growth to fall to its lowest reading in 18 months.

Government readings for public and private jobs growth was higher in March with 196,000 jobs added; this was significantly higher than February’s slim reading of 33,000 jobs added. The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.80 percent, which matched expectations.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on inflation, minutes from the most recent FOMC meeting and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims will also be released.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with These DIY Home Projects

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with These DIY Home ProjectsYour carbon footprint is the measure of your impact on the earth’s natural resources. This number describes the amount of fossil fuel it takes to support your lifestyle. In the United States, each person produces an average of 19.78 tons of carbon dioxide every year. A high carbon footprint means your daily habits are a quickening drain on our finite resources. 

Homeowners can use these DIY projects to reduce the effect of their lifestyle on the environment.

Try Solar Solutions

A residential solar system gathers photo-voltaic energy from the sun and converts it into usable electrical current. Once installed, any energy your system produces is essentially free. However, the initial investment for a residential solar system to power your entire home can be prohibitively high. There are some ways to use solar power without a large upfront investment.

  • Take advantage of state and federal incentives to lower your out-of-pocket costs.
  • Opt for individual appliances like solar water heaters or solar lighting.
  • Talk to your utility provider about existing programs that allow you to sell back your excess power for bill credits.

You could also get your neighbor involved and build a neighborhood solar bank for charging batteries and electric vehicles.

Plant A Vegetable And Herb Garden

Food transportation is one of the leading contributors to greenhouse gases. Reduce your impact even further by growing some of your own food. Use containers, shelves, or construct a hanging wall garden to keep your home supplied with salad greens, tomatoes, and herbs of all kinds. Having a garden means fewer trips to the grocery store, which saves our supplies of natural gas.

Install A Clothesline

Skip the gas-powered appliances and hang your freshly washed laundry out on a clothesline to dry. When the weather is nice, your clothes will come back in with a sweet scent you can’t get anywhere else. And instead of spending the time staring at a spinning machine, you get the added benefit of fitting a little extra exercise into your day. You don’t have to completely ditch your dryer. Save it for rainy days or other unfriendly weather conditions.

Lowering your carbon footprint doesn’t have to be a big life change. Start with small steps and slowly build your property in an earth-friendly fortress.

If the projects or renovations you want to do are extensive, it may be a good time to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss a refinance or a home equity loan.

11 Simple Ways To Save Money Toward The Purchase Of Your New Home

11 Simple Ways To Save Money Toward The Purchase Of Your New HomeIf you find it difficult to make ends meet, these tips will help you save money in ways that are easy to do and create substantial savings over time.

Declutter

Get rid of stuff you do use or need by having a garage or yard sale or by putting things for sale on eBay or Craigslist.

Make Your Own Coffee

Do you really want to make that billionaire richer by buying coffee for $5+ a cup? Make your own gourmet coffee that costs around 50 cents per cup for the same thing.

Bring Your Own Lunch

Making your lunch the night before to take to work the next day will give you more time to enjoy lunch. You will save the money that is wasted when driving to fast-food restaurants or going to pricey lunch places.

Grow Some Food

Everyone should have a garden, even if it is only a window garden for herbs. If you have some room for pots, you can grow tomatoes and other vegetables. If you have a back yard or a front yard you can grow tons of stuff.

Buy In Bulk And Use Coupons

For the things that you use on a regular basis, stock up when the items are on sale. Buy things at discount stores. Buy bulk things like rice and pasta at wholesale prices in co-ops. Coupon clipping is a hobby that pays for itself in savings. Just be careful not to buy things you do not really need or use.

Change Home Lighting

If you have not yet changed out all your incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, what have you been doing? Change those bubs right away because you are burning up money on wasteful lights.

Install Smart Home Technology

Making a home run with more energy-efficiency is reduces your bills and helps the planet too. Smart home technology monitors comfort zones and turns things off when they are not needed.

Cut The Cable

An expensive monthly bill for cable TV is something many can do without. There are plenty of less expensive alternatives and tons of free content to view online.

Make A Change Jar

Every time you come home, put all the change you have in a change jar. You will be surprised how much money builds up over time and you will hardly even notice it is missing.

Walk Instead Of Drive

Do you have to drive your car everywhere? Try walking short distances instead. Not only will you save money on gas; walking may improve your health.

DIY Projects

Instead of paying others to do simple jobs around the house, do them yourself. There are plenty of do-it-yourself (DIY) guides on YouTube that show how to do just about anything. You will save the expensive labor cost for simple home repairs that can be up to $75 per hour.

Are you inspired? OK. Put some of these ideas into action. Ready, set, save!

When you’re ready, set up an appointment with your trusted home mortgage professional to find out about the best financing options for your new home purchase.

Real Estate Investing 101: Identify Your Investing Style

Real Estate Investing 101 Identify Your Investing StyleAre you just starting on your real estate investing journey? Many newcomers are surprised to learn that there’s more to making money on the real estate market than buying and selling. These are some of the most popular strategies real estate investors use to create profits. Which one is right for you?

Buy And Hold

Buy and hold investors play the market like stocks. They buy properties when prices are low, then hold them until values are high. During the holding period, some investors choose to offer their properties as rentals. Apartment buildings are also a popular option for buy and hold investors, as these properties are always in demand.

Buy and hold investors might run into problems with out-of-control cash flows. Make sure you have plenty of backup cash to keep you afloat until the next sale.

Short Term Rentals

Sharing apps like Airbnb are changing the way short term rentals are done. Instead of pumping money into sterile timeshare properties, travelers are choosing a more home-like environment during their vacations. Many real estates investors concentrate on maintaining homes in various locations and offering them as an alternative to more traditional temporary accommodations.

Vacation renters can be particularly hard on properties. Check your insurance coverage to make sure you have access to enough cash to repair or replace any damages your visitors leave behind.

Fix And Flip

Made popular by a plethora of cable television reality shows, fix and flippers purchase distressed properties at low costs. They then spend some time correcting cosmetic defects, sprucing up any signs of disrepair, and making the property ready for new residents.

A quick sale ensures maximum profit. However, those can be hard to find. If the market suddenly changes, you could find yourself stuck with mortgage payments you weren’t prepared to meet. Always have a backup plan to protect your personal assets.

Commercial Leasing

From the corner drug store to a multi-unit strip mall, commercial property presents a unique opportunity for more advanced real estate investors. It takes a lot of buying power to acquire commercial property. However, commercial leasers usually last much longer than their residential counterparts, which means a more secure and longer-lasting income stream.

Keep in mind that empty commercial buildings take longer to fill. Check your resources to ensure you can survive a long period at less-than-optimal occupancy.

Real estate investing is a diverse discipline. Choose the strategy that works best for you to enjoy a long and happy career.

If you are in the market for a new investment property, sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to discuss financing options.