How to Invest In the Right Property

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It goes without saying that the biggest investment you will probably ever make is in your home. And with that in mind, it is important that you don’t rush into a quick decision and wind up throwing all of your money into a pit of a home. If you are in the market for a home, then here are some tips to help make the whole process go smoother and give you the best long-term investment (https://www.totalmortgage.com/blog/housing-market-2/money-pit-or-money-maker-how-to-invest-in-the-right-property/32513).

Make a plan—Before you even begin looking at homes or talking to real estate agents, you need to have a serious look at your finances. Part of the problem when the housing bubble burst was because families were buying homes that they could not realistically afford. You need to sit down and make sure that this new home will not clear out your checking account every month. Even after you meet your mortgage payment and your other bills, you should still have some money left over for emergencies. If you can’t afford the house and potential renovations/repairs, it may be wise to either look for a smaller place or wait for a shift in the housing market.

Find the right spot—There are many things that you want to look at to see if you can get a good return on your investment. But the primary one is still where it is located. Finding a good neighborhood with amenities such as quality schools is essential to finding the right home.

Get an inspection—If a house has been on the market for a while, the seller may become so desperate to sell that he may play fast and loose with truth when it comes to the quality of the home. An inspector may cost you a few hundred dollars, but it could save you thousands in the long run if he can protect you from buying a money pit.

A house is not an impulse buy that you jump into without careful planning and consideration. It should be given all of the attention that it deserves. By following some simple steps, you can find a way to get the house of your dreams.

Top 5 Home Improvements with High ROI

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It seems like every time you turn on the television these days, you catch some reality show that features a contractor coming in and fixing up a home for some deserving family. But most of us aren’t going to be lucky enough to run into the cast of Kitchen Crashers or Fixer Upper. If you’re thinking about investing the time and money to improve your house, then you obviously want a high return on your investment. Here are five home improvements that can really make a difference when it comes to your home’s bottom line (https://www.totalmortgage.com/blog/homeowner-tips/5-home-improvement-projects-that-pay-back-the-most/33237).

  1. Get a new roof—This one doesn’t sound as cool or sexy as some remodeling jobs like installing a deluxe shower with multiple showerheads and a soothing fire element. But the best return on investment is replacing your roof. According to one report, an $8000 investment in a new roof can actually make you money with a 105% increase in the value of your home.
  2. Refinish your hardwood floors—Coming in second on the best return on investment is refinishing your hardwood floors. An investment of about $2500 can get you back 100% of your money.
  3. Install new insulation—This one might not get you all your money back, but adding ten inches of insulation to your attic space will net you 95% of your $2000 investment. But this one will also save you money each month on your power bills by keeping the house better insulated.
  4. Install wood floors—Coming in at a 91% return on investment is getting rid of your old carpet and replacing it with hardwood floors. This one will usually cost about $5500. Although you won’t get back all of your money in a resale, hardwood floors are a great selling point that will probably help your home sell faster.
  5. Get a new garage door—The garage door is one of the most dominant features of your home when seen from the street. So if you want to improve your curb appeal, consider upgrading to new garage door. This one will cost a little over $2000 but net you an 87% return on investment.

Tips for Your Next Staycation

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Has this ever happened to you? You work like a dog for fifty-one weeks a year only to finally reach that holiest of weeks—your summer vacation. And then you spend it driving from Point A to Point B, stuck in traffic, frustrated, and staying in an uncomfortable hotel with screaming kids. Then you come back home after a week feeling more exhausted than when you last left only to realize you have to go to work the next day? Well, a hot new trend may be the perfect choice for you this year; instead of a vacation, why not try a “staycation” (https://www.totalmortgage.com/blog/homeowner-tips/tips-on-how-to-turn-a-staycation-into-your-favorite-vacation/33345)?

What is a “staycation”?
In short, a staycation is where you take a break from the troubles of the world, but you do it without leaving the comfort of your home. For many, it’s because of finances and the expense of going out of town on a big trip. For others, it is just wanting to relax at home instead of having to drive all over the place to get somewhere to relax. But a staycation can be more than just hanging out at the house and becoming a couch potato for a week.

How to have a relaxing “staycation”
There are a few secrets to having a good staycation. Here are just a few:

  1. Get rid of the electronic gadgets—One of the biggest headaches people create for themselves is our attachment to gadgets. For this week, turn them off! No checking emails, no tweeting, no surfing through Facebook—for one week give yourself a break from all of those hassles. And this includes turning off your clock and hiding your watch. Don’t worry about what time it is; just relax and enjoy yourself.
  2. Dine out—You know that if you went on a real vacation, you would be eating out every night in another city. So instead, do that in your own hometown. Try some new restaurants that you haven’t been to before. Explore your own city for cool little bistros or cafes. But let someone else do the cooking and the dishes.
  3. Explore—There is probably some spot in your hometown that you drive by all the time and say to yourself, “I’m going to have to check that place out one day.” Make this staycation “that day.” Do something in your own area that you haven’t done before—explore a new restaurant, check out historical sites, shop in a small, independent store. Do something out of your comfort zone that will make this staycation fun.

Taking a vacation doesn’t require a lot of money or a long expensive trip to some distant city. There is plenty of rest and relaxation to be had right at home. So this year, think about having a staycation instead of a vacation.

How to Invest in the Right Property

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Finding a good investment property is definitely one of the hottest trends in passive income. But, it is not as easy as it looks on television, no matter what those cable TV shows may try to convince you. There are steps that you need to take to make sure that you are getting a property that will earn you money and not make you sink more and more into it until you can’t see the light of day. Here’s what you need to look for in finding the right property (https://www.totalmortgage.com/blog/housing-market-2/money-pit-or-money-maker-how-to-invest-in-the-right-property/32513).

Know your limits—This goes two-fold. First, know exactly what you can afford. When you are taking into consideration how much a property will cost, be sure you accurately estimate how much it will cost to do the renovations. Also, make sure that the renovations are realistic. If it would just be cheaper to demolish the house and start from scratch, it’s a good idea to just walk away.

Find the right spot—Before you even look at houses, consider the location that they are located in. You want a house in a good neighborhood with the best local schools and other amenities. This will go a long way in determining if you will be able to get your money back on a purchase.

Get an inspection—Yes, the cosmetic aspects of a property look nice. But it’s more important to hire an inspector who will dig around underneath the house and check out things like the foundation as well as the plumbing and wiring. That’s where your real money woes can come from.

Why You Should Monitor Your Credit

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It seems that every day we are inundated with important numbers: ID numbers, phone numbers, confirmation numbers, cholesterol levels. But one of the most important numbers that you need to not only know but routinely check up on is your credit score.

This number can help determine if you will qualify for future loans and credit cards. Just like your blood pressure can be the center for your personal well-being, your credit score is the centerpiece of your financial well-being. So here is exactly what you need to know about monitoring your credit (https://www.totalmortgage.com/blog/mortgage-rates/why-you-should-be-monitoring-your-credit/32221).

Why should you check your credit? First and foremost, credit checks are an easy way to make sure that no one is trying to steal your identity so that they can get a line of credit in your name. But you also want to know what other people see when they check your credit. It’s not just banks and credit card companies that do this. A prospective employer may check your credit as part of a background check.

Check your accounts—It’s important that you routinely check all of your accounts, not just your checking. Make sure that all transactions on your credit cards are legitimate and things that you actually purchased.

Get a free credit report—It is possible to get a free credit report every four months from annualcreditreport.com. This will show you all of your credit cards and loans, including payments and transactions. You can also usually get a free credit report through your credit card company as well. It’s not necessary to pay for an expensive credit monitoring service when many options are free.

How to Use Pinterest to Find Your Future Home

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Everyone knows that the state of shopping in the world has changed. Ten or twenty years ago, no one could have imagined being able to order almost anything and having it delivered in less than twenty-four hours. Music and videos are now almost instantly available. But how has the Internet revolution changed home shopping? One of the most innovative new formats for real estate is Pinterest (http://eastvalleymortgage.com/using-pinterest-find-future-home/).

For those who haven’t visited Pinterest yet, or aren’t sure what it’s all about, Pinterest is a website that allows people to create “digital corkboards.” With these boards, the users can pin pictures that interest them, even organizing them in interesting ways. This can be used for mindless fun by pinning humorous memes or it can be used to inspire you by allowing you to “pin” motivational quotes to your board. Pinterest really took off when people began sharing recipes easily across the Internet.

However, the use of Pinterest to buy a home is still relatively new. With this website, you can pin photos of a listed home so that you can do comparisons with other homes that are available. Many posters can put up multiple pictures, including every single room of the home as well as the landscaping and surrounding areas. If you are looking at multiple areas to move to, Pinterest allows you to create multiple boards so that you can pin house pictures to the geographic area that you are interested in. All of these functions give you an extra opportunity to organize your search and make it easier.

Could Pokémon Go Influence Your Home Price?

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Right now, you can’t seem to go anywhere without running into Pokémon GO players who are trying to “catch them all.” Newsfeeds are overloaded with ubiquitous stories about everything from national monuments to local cemeteries and schools being declared Poke Stops or Pokémon Gyms. Businesses are getting an added boost in some areas because of the additional foot traffic in certain areas. But can there be other, larger scale issues associated with Pokémon GO and businesses? Here are some hypotheticals on what could possibly happen with Pokémon and the real estate market (https://www.totalmortgage.com/blog/off-topic/pokemon-go-spurs-home-prices-to-all-time-highs/33376).

Can Pokémon GO make your home price go up?

The short answer is: “highly unlikely.” But what can it do for you when you are trying to sell your home? If you live in an area that is high in Pokémon or has a Poké Stop or Pokémon Gym, then you are more likely to have a higher amount of traffic in your neighborhood. (This is especially true for foot traffic.) If you are not familiar with Pokémon GO, players have to travel by foot around areas looking for Pokémon on their cellphones. In the first two weeks of access, over 21 million people downloaded the game and began trying to catch the computerized characters. That means that your neighborhood could have hundreds of extra people walking around. In the process, your on-the-market home could be on display for potential sellers. It’s unlikely that anyone will ever buy a house specifically because it’s near a Pokémon Gym, but you never know. What is likely is that the extra traffic could bring in extra potential buyers to help making your house sale easier.

Can Pokémon GO make your home price go down?

There is another potential situation that could be more problematic for homeowners. Imagine the situation: your home is near a Poké Stop and you have hundreds of strangers walking the neighborhood playing the game. This could actually be seen by some as a negative feature since many people don’t like the thought of strangers wandering the neighborhood. There have already been many instances of Poké Stops being used by criminals as a way of targeting unsuspecting victims. So this could lead your home to being seen as in a negative location.

No one knows just how long the “Poke-Craze” is going to continue. But, in the short term, there is potential for a slight change in the housing market as a result of the game.

4 Inexpensive Summer Holiday Weekend Ideas

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Summer is here and the time is right for going out and taking a vacation. It doesn’t have to be a week-long extravagant trip to Disney World or New York. Instead, you can have a weekend vacation that stays right near your home and hardly costs you anything. The whole point of a vacation is to relax and have a good time. That doesn’t mean sitting in traffic or having to hurry through an airport trying to make your flight connection. So here’s a few things that you can do over a few days that won’t break your bank (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/08/26/6-ideas-for-an-inexpensive-labor-day-weekend).

Find something local—You may want to try taking a “staycation.” In other words, look for something fun to do that is only about an hour or so away. That way, you can go, have fun, and not have to worry about paying for a hotel room to stay overnight.

Invite the friends over—Who says you have to go away for a fun weekend? Invite your friends over for a backyard cook-out. Make it an all day party and enjoy the summer with those you love.

Head to a state park—Camping is a relatively inexpensive idea for a vacation. By camping at a state park, you not only have a fun place to stay, but also a location with playgrounds for the kids, picnic tables for dinner, and usually some place to swim or fish so you can unwind.

Catch a game—You don’t have to spend a lot of money on Major League Baseball tickets. Instead, head out to a minor league game that won’t cost as much money. In fact, many places have family weekend deals and offer special promotions including fireworks over the summer.

Fourth of July Entertaining Ideas

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The Fourth of July is an important event as our family and friends come together to celebrate our love and support for our country on the anniversary of its symbolic birth. But what are the best ways to make sure you get the most “bang” out of your entertaining budget?

Here are a few entertaining tips that will make your Fourth of July get-together one for the ages (http://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/fourth-of-july-entertaining-tips-victoria-hagan).

Location—You know how important location is for real estate? Well, it holds just as true for holiday get-togethers. You may want to go with the simple backyard party, but be careful. You need to make sure that you have enough tables and seats for everyone you are inviting. Also, if you plan to have kids over, it’s a good idea to have something handy to entertain them—either a swimming pool or outdoor games—or else you will be pulling out your hair before the evening is over. If your place isn’t optimum, consider a local public park or campgrounds.

Décor—For this, you can’t go wrong with tradition. Red, white and blue bunting and tablecloths are a must have. Also, consider getting plates and napkins and accessories that all mesh with the décor.

Food and Drink—Fourth of July usually means one thing: Grilling! Whether its hot dogs and hamburgers or chicken kebabs and steak, now is the time to fire up the grill and get to cooking. Be sure to keep any egg-based products (like cole slaw and potato salad) refrigerated so that you keep everyone healthy. And stock up on your favorite libations and take a survey of your friends and family to have their favorite drinks (both alcoholic and non) on-hand. If you aren’t sure what to serve, may we suggest a good sweet tea with lemonade (or maybe lemonade mixed with sweet tea vodka).

Fireworks—Fireworks are a traditional end to the holiday and while they are legal in many states, they are still seriously dangerous. Just to make sure that you don’t wind up with an ER visit on your holiday, consider leaving the fireworks to the professionals. Find out if your local community will host a fireworks display and everyone can carpool there with blankets to lay out under the stars.

Does a Pool Add Value to Your Home?

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Across the country, summer is winding down and you may notice many people in your neighborhood putting the cap on the season by spending as much time as possible lounging around. Many people add backyard pools to their property as a way of uniting the family and providing a means of spending fun in the sun instead of staying indoors vegetating in front of the television. But if you don’t have one, you may be asking yourself if there are any other benefits to having a pool installed. Is there a potential that adding a pool will increase the value of your home in today’s real estate market? Let’s take a look at the basic facts (https://www.totalmortgage.com/blog/homeowner-tips/adding-a-pool-to-your-home-a-value-run-or-money-plunge/33359).

There is no real connection between installing a pool in your backyard and an increase on your investment in your home’s value. But there are some conditions to adding a pool that could have an impact on selling your house. These include:

  1. Many people are more interested in a large backyard than a pool. First, there’s less upkeep on landscaping than on cleaning and maintaining a pool. So if your pool takes up a huge portion of the yard, it may be a turn-off to potential buyers. However, if the pool fits into the landscape of the yard and doesn’t dominate it, then you are more likely to attract potential buyers.
  2. It can be a real headache to try to keep up with the neighbors as they make improvements to their homes. However, if everyone in your neighborhood has a swimming pool and you don’t, it can negatively impact your property because other homes that are for sale may look like a better investment to a new home shopper. In addition, if you live in a region that is always warm and where temperatures routinely top 100 degrees, like the Southwest, then some people may actually see a pool as a necessity.
  3. It is usually better to upgrade your home and its features instead of adding a pool if you are looking for a high return on your investment. At the lowest end of the spectrum, a basic pool can run as much as $30,000. However, there is no real chance that it will add the same value to your home. Instead, think about upgrading kitchen and bathroom fixtures to more luxurious features. You can also landscape your backyard and make it more inviting without adding a pool. This is cheaper and will still raise the curb appeal of your home.

Ultimately, adding a pool to your property is a personal decision. While it may not make your home more valuable, it will add value to your personal life as you spend hours and hours bonding with your family and relaxing.


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