Childproofing Your Home

When it comes to decorating your home, there’s a lot more to consider than simply coordinating your window treatments with your carpet. This is especially true if you have children in the home, which presents a whole new concern for keeping them safe and sound.

Take A Look Around

When you take a quick glance throughout your home, what do you see? Is the home decorated for an adult or a child? If your little one is like most, he/she has a lot of energy and isn’t afraid to use it. To prevent a hard spill, many families replace hardwood or tile flooring with plush carpet or rugs for a little extra padding. If your child stumbles and falls, the extra cushioning will come in handy.

Do you have any furniture with glass inserts or sharp corners, or do you see a lot of breakables throughout the home? If so, it’s time to remove them. You should get rid of any furniture that could be hazardous to your youngster and this includes glass top tables and anything with protruding edges.

Lots Of Locks

When you have children in the home, it’s important that you keep all cleaning products locked away in a cabinet and/or out of reach of your little ones. If possible, consider adding an alarm that will alert you if the cabinet is opened.

Most families have a medicine cabinet, which contains either over-the-counter or prescription medication. This area is a serious concern for children and should be locked and out of their reach. It’s also important that all medications feature a childproof lid for added protection.

If there is an area of your home or a specific room that your child is not permitted in, place a child gate in the doorway to prevent them from sneaking in while you’re not looking. Children are fast, but this is one way to make sure that they are also safe.

Do Not Touch

Children are curious by nature, but there are some common household items that they simply must refrain from touching. These include a fan, paper shredder, space heater, scissors and other sharp objects that could pose a serious risk for your little one. Make sure that these items, along with anything similar, are kept out of reach. All electrical appliances, including hairdryers, styling products and appliances must be stored away from water and out of your child’s reach to prevent injury.

Speaking of which, all electrical outlets should be covered with outlet covers and any small items, including marbles and coins, must be picked up and kept out of your child’s reach. Because children love to see what they can fit into their mouths, it’s important that they not be left alone near these items.

Safety At Play

When your child is outside, make sure that the environment is a safe one. This means that your yard should be completely fenced with a locked gate to prevent him/her from wandering out into the street. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your child, but it’s even better to make sure that he/she is safe if you happen to glance away for a second.

Indecision May Cost More

“More has been lost due to indecision than was ever lost to making the wrong decision.” Interest rates have as much effect on housing costs as price and when they are both trending upward, it can be very expensive to wait.

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There can be some legitimate reasons for postponing a purchase such as needing to save the down payment, improve your credit or waiting to find out about a possible transfer. The problem is that prices and interest rates could, and very likely will, go up in the future.

If the price of $250,000 home went up 5% and the interest rate went from 4.5% to 5.25%, the payments would increase by $176.42. The additional cost over a seven-year period would be close to $15,000.

The questions that indecisive buyers need to ask themselves is “how am I going to feel knowing that if I had not waited, I could have been living in the home for less money?” and “What would I have spent the money on if I didn’t have to make the larger payment?”

Use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator to find out how much indecision may be costing you.v

Rent vs. Own

Some would-be buyers have emotional reasons to own a home like having a place of their own where they can raise a family, feel safe and secure and enjoy their friends’ company. Other buyers’ dominant reasons might be financial in nature such as building equity or lowering their cost of housing.52407681-250.jpg

Regardless of what might be motivating people to want their own home, it is easy to justify that now is a good time to purchase. Let’s look at a $250,000 example using a FHA loan.

The total payment will be about $1,835 dollars a month. If the payment is lower than the rent a person is paying, that should encourage a person to continue investigating.

In this example, when you consider the monthly principal reduction, the monthly appreciation and the tax savings, even with money added for monthly maintenance, the net cost of housing is less than half the total house payment.

Considering all those advantages, the would-be buyer is spending over $1,100 per month more to rent than it would be to own. In a year’s time, they would lose close to $14,000 which is more than the down payment of $8,750 required on this price home.

Most would-be buyers understand that a home is a big investment but they may not understand the advantage of the leverage caused by the low down payment mortgage. The benefits extend beyond a return on the down payment but to the value of the home.

In this example, the $8,750 down payment grows to an equity of $73,546 in seven years based on 2% annual appreciation and normal amortization on a 30-year loan. If you calculated that as a rate of return, you’d be challenged to find anything that could compare with it.

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To see what your numbers might look like, check out this Rent vs. Own. If you need any help or have any questions, contact us. Part of our greatest satisfaction is helping would-be buyers understand why they should-be.

 

Lower the Rate – Deduct the Interest

Credit card debt in America is back to levels prior to the recession. The average credit card APR is just under 16% according to CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Report. Homeowners have an advantage over renters when it comes to getting their arms around debt issues.

Basic money management suggests that higher rate debt be replaced with lower rate debt. Credit cards, personal cars, boats, motor vehicles and other personal property, typically have interest rates higher than that of real estate loans.

Borrowing against a person’s home usually provides the lowest rate of financing. Refinancing a home mortgage to take cash out to retire personal debt is one option. Another would be to secure a home equity or HELOC, home equity line of credit.

An alternative advantage of borrowing against one’s home is that the interest may be tax deductible unlike the interest on most personal debt. Qualified mortgage interest includes acquisition debt which can only be used to buy, build or improve a principal residence and up to $100,000 of home equity debt which can be used for any purpose.

Managing money is a critical life skill that people need to master. While the goal may be to become debt-free, paying the least amount of interest possible can be a good first step. Owning a home provides an asset that allows for options not available to tenants. Seek professional advice to determine your best course of action.

Save the Cost of Mortgage Insurance

During the banking crisis in the Great Recession, certain types of mortgages were unavailable that are once again being offered. Fortunately, the 80-10-10 mortgage is one of those making a reappearance and it can save borrowers a considerable amount of money. 80-10-10.png

The objective of an 80-10-10 mortgage is to avoid the expense of mortgage insurance for buyers wanting a 90% loan. A buyer can obtain an 80% first mortgage and a 10% second mortgage with a 10% down payment and not be required to have private mortgage insurance.

For example, a buyer could put $30,000 down on a home priced at $300,000 and get an 80% first mortgage without mortgage insurance. The borrower could get a second mortgage, either through the same lender or a third party.

In the example, the 80-10-10 would save a buyer $193.71 per month which can be a considerable amount of money over a ten-year period. The interest rate on the second loan will be higher than the first because there is more risk.

Helping buyers make better choices is a valuable service real estate professionals can provide. Having the right tools and information can make the decisions easier to understand. Using an 80-10-10 calculator, you can see what the savings might be for your situation.

Important Estate Documents

An estate plan is a collection of documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out because of death or incapacity to make decisions for yourself. Spouses, minor children, adult children, property and investments can all be factors that should motivate a person to undergo the process.

Will – this document specifies the way a person wants to manage and distribute his/her assets after their death. When a person dies without a will, the laws of the state where the person resided will determine the distribution of the property.

Durable Power of Attorney – this document grants to a designated person the authority to act on behalf of the principal in in legal affairs should the principal become incapacitated. Among other things, this would allow the attorney-in-fact to buy and sell property on the behalf of the principal.

Healthcare Proxy – this document grants that a designated person can legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal when they are incapable of making and executing specific decisions stated in the proxy.

Living Will – this document directs physicians with respect to life-prolonging medical treatments in case they become unable to communicate their decisions.

Hippa Release – this document allows heath care providers to release your health care information to a designated person. Otherwise, they are required by federal law to protect the privacy of your health information.

Letter of Instruction – This document contains information and instructions about a person’s wishes upon death. It is intended to offer details on whom to contact and where to find important documents about personal and financial matters.

Requirements of these documents can vary from state to state and legal advice should be obtained. If you need a current estimate of value on real estate that may be involved, usually a price opinion from a licensed real estate professional will suffice. It would be my privilege to assist you with this at no cost or obligation.