It’s Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable Space

It's Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable SpaceIn some homes, garages are used only for car storage. They may appear to be bare and without real functional use for homeowners. However, other garages may be an envy of the neighborhood – they may have floor to ceiling shelving systems, and they may be the picture-perfect image of organization.

With a bit of planning and creativity, you can turn your garage into a much more functional space. Here’s how you can make your garage the most useful space in the house.

Determine What You Need To Store

One of the most important steps to take when improving the functionality of your garage is to determine which items you need to store. The last thing you want is to invest in a shelving system or cabinets for your garage only to later realize that your belongings do not fit in the features you have purchased. Take an inventory of the items you want to put in the space as well as their sizes and dimensions, and then take stock of the space available to store these items.

Invest In Storage Features

There are numerous types of storage features that you may choose to invest in for your garage, such as cabinets, drawers, wall pegs, shelves, overhead storage features, and bins.

The best storage features for your garage are those that take into account your accessibility needs. For example, seasonal items that you may rarely need access to may be placed in overhead storage features that hang over the cars. On the other hand, screwdrivers and other tools that you may need to use more frequently should be placed in a more accessible area.

Consider The Look Of The Garage

Some homeowners truly do not care what their garage looks like, but you should keep in mind that this is a room that is revealed to the outside world each time your garage doors are raised. This can indeed affect curb appeal and others’ impressions of you. Therefore, think about investing in a full garage storage system rather than piecing together different items.

If your garage looks like a war zone, you are wasting valuable storage space and compromising your property value. Investing in aesthetically pleasing and highly functional storage solutions can turn your garage into a major selling point and a great multi-use space.

Thinking About Downsizing? Here’s What You Need to Know About Life in a Condo

Thinking About Downsizing? Here's What You Need to Know About Life in a CondoThe shift from home living to condo life may seem like a minor one, but there are plenty of things that will differentiate your lifestyle other than size when it comes to making a condominium purchase. If you’re contemplating this move and wondering about some of the things that this might entail, here are a few factors that are worth considering.

The Fees You’ll Have to Pay

While a smaller condo is unlikely to have the same associated costs as a large home, you will be paying a monthly condominium fee that will be covering maintenance and insurance so that many repairs and upgrades won’t have to be paid out of pocket. While this cost will not cover each and every maintenance issue that can occur in a condo, it should keep you covered for many standard home costs. When purchasing a condominium, it’s important to read about what this monthly fee entails.

The Life of Central Living

Life in the suburbs can often mean that you’re far away from the amenities of the city, but many condominiums are built in areas that are full of restaurants, pharmacies, cultural centers and grocery stores which are only a short distance away. If you don’t mind getting into the car to run your errands, this might not be that important to you, but if you enjoy the exercise and like having amenities close by this type of living situation can be a welcome change.

Less Room for Stuff & Storage

Condo life can certainly eliminate many of the responsibilities of having a home, but if you’re downsizing there’s a possibility that you may have to get rid of a large number of items to successfully fit into your new space. If you’ve thought about the decision a lot and are convinced that condo living is the right choice, it’s still worth considering how much storage space you will have in your new home so that you can plan for this change, and shift your living style to fit the demands of a smaller space.

There are a lot of things to think about if you’re planning to downsize into a condo, but if you’ve considered the space you’ll have to work with and the conveniences that will make your life easier, you’re probably already prepared for the shift. If you’re curious about condo living and are ready to look at what financal options are available for your current situation, you may want to contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

How Long To Save Mortgage Documents

How Long To Save Mortgage DocumentsPurchasing a house involves a tremendous amount of paperwork. There is even more paperwork involved if the buyer goes through a lender. With so much paperwork, some homeowners might be wondering how long they have to keep all of these documents. Ideally, homeowners should keep these documents for the life of the loan, but there are a few other points to consider. 

What Documents Come With The Home?

Even though the exact documents that come with the home can vary depending on the type of purchase, there are a few common pieces of paper. The deed is one of the most important documents that come with the house. It indicates that the homeowner actually owns the home. The promissory note is also important. This is the mortgage contract, and it states that the homeowner agrees to repay the debt with the interest agreed upon. A purchase agreement is signed by the buyer and seller. It includes the price of the house, the closing date, and other details. Title insurance is also important because it protects the homeowner from issues with the title to the house. 

Which Documents Must Be Saved?

Ideally, all of these documents should be saved; however, the deed to the house is the most important thing. It is critical because it signifies the homeowner owns his or her house. It is also a smart idea to keep the inspection report or the closing disclosure, as this highlights any potential issues with the home. The homeowner may need to go back to those documents later to see what issues might need to be addressed. 

Why Keep These Documents?

Homeowners need to save these documents because they can be helpful if issues arise with the house. For example, these documents might be necessary for tax season, as there are a lot of deductions that could stem from the purchase of a house. It is important to work with a tax professional on these issues. Furthermore, these documents are helpful if a legal or insurance question arises. Homeowners might need these documents to address any concerns. These documents can also be helpful when homeowners decide to sell the house down the road. It is prudent to store these documents in a safe or a safety deposit box at the bank. 


Housing Needs May Change Following Retirement

Life has changed for a lot of people during the past few years. Some people reached retirement age while other people decided to retire early due to other reasons. As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, millions more people are going to retire during the next few years. As a result, they might be thinking about moving to make some of their dreams come true. At the same time, retirement might change what people need in a home. What are some of the most important factors retirees need to consider when looking for a home? 

Moving Closer To Loved Ones

Location remains one of the most important factors when looking for a new home; however, retirees no longer need to live close to work if they are no longer fully employed. Therefore, it might be time to look for a home closer to loved ones. Retirees can use the equity in their current house, along with its appreciated value, to power a move closer to loved ones. 

A Smaller Home

While not all retirees want to downsize, a lot of retirees decide to purchase a smaller home. With the kids out of the house, it might be easier to take care of a smaller home. Retirees should consider the maintenance required before purchasing it. Furthermore, some retirees may not want to purchase a house with stairs in it because stairs may become more difficult as they get older. 

A House Meant For Retirees

Finally, those retiring might be looking for a house meant for retirees. For example, they might be looking for a home in a retirement community. Or, they might be looking for a house where the light switches, sinks, and toilets are a bit lower, making them easier for older people to access. Retirees might also be looking for homes with seats in the shower, grab bars next to the tub, and other features designed for elderly individuals.

Work With A Real Estate Professional

Retirement is a goal for many people, and retiring might mean that housing needs change. Anyone looking to move should work with a real estate professional who can help them navigate the real estate market and find the right house to meet their needs. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 13. 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 12, 2021Last week’s economic reporting included readings on job openings and quits, month-to-month and year-over-year readings on inflation,  and the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment survey for December. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released

Job Openings Increase as Quits Decrease as Inflation Remains High

The U.S. Labor Department reported that workers quit their jobs at record levels in October as job openings rose to 11 million openings as compared to expectations of 10.6 million job vacancies, which matched September’s reading for job openings. Fewer people quit jobs in October as 4.2 million workers left their jobs as compared to 4.4 million quits reported in September. The Labor Department said that many quits were driven by workers leaving for better jobs and career opportunities.

Analysts said that if job quits continue at their current pace through the end of 2021, new records for job quits will be established.

The Consumer Price Index, which measures U.S. inflation, rose by 0.80 percent from October to November. Analysts expected a monthly increase of 0.70 percent based on October’s month-to-month reading of 0.90 percent. The year-over-year inflation rate rose to 6.80 percent in November and surpassed October’s reading of 6.20 percent and the expected reading of 6.70 percent.

Mortgage Rates Lower, Jobless Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported slightly lower mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by one basis point to 3.01 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.38 percent and one basis point lower than for the previous week. Mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged four basis points lower at  2.45 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims fell to 184,000 first-time claims filed as compared to 227,000 claims filed during the previous week. Analysts expected 211,000 initial jobless claims to be filed last week. Continuing jobless claims rose to 1.99 million ongoing claims filed.  Analysts expected 1.95 million continuing claims filings based on the prior week’s reading of 1.96 million ongoing jobless claims filed.

The University of Michigan reported rising consumer confidence in economic conditions for December with an index reading of 70.4. Analysts expected a reading of 68.0 based n November’s index reading of 67.4. Index readings above 50 indicate that most consumers are confident about current economic conditions.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing markets, The post-meeting statement from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee will be released and Fed Chair Jerome Powell will hold a press conference. The Commerce Department will release readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

Smart Ways To Create Equity Within Your Home

Smart Ways To Use The Equity In Your HomeHome equity is the difference between what your home can sell for and what you owe on it. Generally, the longer you own your home, the more equity you build.

This is money you can use before you sell your home through a home equity loan. Just keep in mind that a home equity loan is secured with your home. If you can’t make the payments, you can lose your home.

Use Your Home Equity In Smart Ways:

  1. Remodel Your Home – If you’ve wanted to add on a family room or modernize your kitchen, consider using your home’s equity to fund the project. Home improvements usually increase your home’s marketability and value.
  2. Make Needed Major Repairs – Your home’s equity can be a funding source for major repairs like plumbing problems and re-roofs. Once again, this is an improvement for your home that will help keep its value up.
  3. Buy Another Property – Real estate is still a safe investment. You can use your home equity to buy a second property when home values are down. When the market recovers, you can sell the investment property for a profit. This also works if you have to move out of town and are still trying to sell your home. If you can afford the payments, use your home’s equity to purchase your new home until the current one sells.
  4. Pay For Unexpected Medical Expenses Or Job Loss – You never know when a medical emergency or job loss will leave you in debt. A home equity loan can give you the money you need to get through this difficult time.

It’s easy to build equity in your home when you find the right deal. Let me help you find your perfect home and negotiate a great price and terms for you. Contact your mortgage professional today.

What Happens at a Mortgage Loan Closing Meeting? Let’s Take a Look

What Happens at a Mortgage Loan Closing Meeting? Let's Take a LookSo you’ve found the perfect home, the seller has accepted your offer, and now you’re just waiting for the mortgage to close before you wrap up the sale and take possession. It’s time for the closing meeting.

But what does this meeting entail? And what do you need to prepare for it? Here’s what you need to know.

The Day Prior: Walking Through The Property

24 hours before the closing meeting, you’ll be given an opportunity to walk through the property and do a final inspection. During this inspection, you’ll be able to look for any damage that may have occurred between contract and closing, which means you can negotiate repairs with the seller.

It can be a good idea to schedule your closing date around the 20th of the month, so that if you do find any problems during the walkthrough, you can address them before you take possession.

The Closing Meeting: Title Insurance, Contracts, And More

Typically, the mortgage closing and the home sale closing happen at the same time. During your closing meeting, you’ll need to sign – and bring – a variety of documents in order to take possession of the home. You’ll want to ensure that you bring your good faith estimate, proof of homeowners insurance, contract, and inspection reports to this meeting.

You’ll also want to bring any and all documents that you sent to your bank as part of the home buying process. At this meeting, you’ll discuss the sale with the seller, the seller’s agent, the representative from the title company, the closing agent, the lender, and any attorneys that may be present. By the end of the meeting, you’ll receive a variety of documents, including a deed of trust or mortgage contract and a settlement statement.

You may also be required to sign a mortgage note, which is a note that states you intend to repay the mortgage loan. This note details the terms of your mortgage, including the amount of the loan and what action the lender is entitled to take if you miss payments.

A mortgage loan closing meeting doesn’t have to be complicated. Although there’s a lot that will happen at this meeting and there are a number of documents you’ll need to bring, a qualified mortgage advisor can guide you through the process. Contact your trusted mortgage professional today for a list of what you’ll need to bring and what you can expect to happen at your closing meeting.

Tips For Selling A House During The Winter Season

Tips For Selling A House During The Winter SeasonThe most popular time of year to sell a home is the summer. There are a lot of families with children who prefer to move during the summer because they do not want to move their children during the school year. In contrast, many people do not like to move during the winter. It can be difficult to request extra time off of work, particularly during the holiday season. At the same time, it is still possible to sell a home during the winter. What are a few tips homeowners need to follow to sell a home during the winter? 

Maximize Curb Appeal

There is never a second chance to make a first impression, and homeowners need to maximize curb appeal. Do everything possible to make the yard look nice. It is also critical to shovel the walkways. That way, potential buyers do not need to worry about slipping and falling when they walk up the front driveway. It may also be helpful to clean off the patio to make it look larger. 

Warm Up The Inside

People are going to be cold when they step inside during the winter. Therefore, homeowners should turn up the heat. It may also be helpful to have a specific location for winter coats and wet shoes. That way, potential buyers will be comfortable at that look at each individual room in the home. 

Add More Lights

During the winter, it is dark when people go to work. It is also dark when they come home. It might be pitch black when people arrive, so remember to turn on the lights in the home. Having lights can make the home feel more inviting. They can also increase the visibility inside and outside the home so the buyers can see what the house has to offer. 

Showcase The Season

Sellers should not hesitate to showcase the season. Consider putting out a plate of cookies. Arrange pillows and blankets on the sofa. Turn on the fireplace if there is one. Even seasonal accents can make the difference when trying to get an offer on the table. Be sure to stage the home for the season to showcase the potential of a house. 


Greenify Your Home with Our Guide to Conducting a DIY Energy Audit

Greenify Your Home with Our Guide to Conducting a DIY Energy AuditThe idea of conducting an energy audit on your home might seem like something complicated that should be left to the experts, but there are ways for you to make your home a little greener without consulting anybody. Instead of having someone else do the work, here are a few simple ways for you to inspect your home and green up its energy use.

Do A Candle Test Of Exterior Walls

Since cold air coming in from outside your home can impact your energy use significantly, do the simple test of taking a candle on a tour of your home to determine if there are any drafts. Ensure that you check all of the windows, doors and exterior areas where outside air can gain access; if your candle blows out or wavers, this is a surefire sign that a fix-up is needed. If you’ve located an area where air is getting in, you may need to caulk it or add insulation to remedy the problem.

Carefully Inspect The Attic

Since we rarely venture up to the attic, it can be one of the last places that we would look for a draft, but it can be one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to insulation. Before heading up, put on a mask and some work gloves to protect yourself from the dusty surfaces, and lift up the insulation to inspect for any spaces where air could be accessing your home. If you’ve noticed gaps or places that lack coverage, fill them with additional insulation and seal it with expanding insulation for added coverage.

Don’t Take Ducts For Granted

Since ducts are made of thin metal and can easily lose heat if they are damaged or unclean, it’s important to inspect them for holes and make sure they are joined sufficiently so air is not escaping. If you’ve found an issue, you will want to replace or insulate them more effectively so that energy loss can be prevented and does not impact energy use throughout your entire home.

There are plenty of ways that your home can lose energy – from the ducts through to the exterior walls – but there are simple things you can do to test its efficiency and improve your energy use. If you happen to be doing some minor renovations so you can put your home on the market soon, you may want to contact your trusted real estate agent for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 6, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 6, 2021Last week’s economic reports included readings on home price trends, pending home sales, labor-sector readings on public and private-sector job growth. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

S&P Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in September

The pace of national home price growth slowed for the first time since May 2020 in September according to S&P Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index. Year-over-year home price growth slowed by 0.30 percent to 19.50 percent from August’s year-over-year home price growth reading of 19.80 percent. Demand for homes typically slows during fall and winter; some buyers were also sidelined by affordability concerns.

The 20-City Home Price Index for September showed some changes as Phoenix, Arizona continued to hold its top spot in the index and reported a 33.10 percent gain in home prices year-over-year. Tampa, Florida held second place with a  year-over-year home price growth rate of 27.70 percent. Miami, Florida reported a year-over-year home price growth rate of 25.20 percent. Western states have recently dominated home price growth rates, but Florida cities have surpassed former second and third-place cities San Diego, California, and Seattle, Washington.

Pending home sales of previously owned homes rose by 7.50 percent in October as compared to the expected pace of 0.70 percent and September’s reading of  2.40 percent fewer sales of homes for which purchase contracts were signed but sales were not yet completed. The surge in pending home sales was attributed to homebuyers’ haste to avoid expected higher mortgage rates and rapidly rising rents. The National Association of Realtors® noted that sales activity was higher than usual for fall, but also cautioned that the emergence of a new variation of the covid-19 virus could slow sales activity.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported minimal activity for mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 3.11 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.39 percent and were three basis points lower. Interest rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose by two basis points to 2.40 percent on average. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims rose to 222,000 claims filed and fell short of the expected reading of 240,000 new claims filed. 194,000 initial jobless claims were filed during the prior week. Continuing jobless claims fell to 1.96 million ongoing claims from the prior week’s reading of 2.06 million ongoing jobless claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on job openings and quits and the University of Michigan’s preliminary Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.