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Saving Up for Your Down Payment? Try These Money-saving Tips to Speed Things Up

July 6th, 2015

DownsizingOne of the most significant challenges that many people face when preparing to buy a first home relates to saving money for a down payment. While there are many different loan programs with varying down payment requirements, the fact is that it can still be difficult to save up a large sum of money. Some programs may require you to save as much as 10 percent or 20 percent of the sales price of the home.

You can employ a few different tips and techniques to save money for a down payment more quickly, and these are some of the options that others have successfully used to save money for their home purchase.

Make Saving Automatic

One idea that works well for many people is to make saving for your new home automatic. This may be as simple as scheduling a regular draft or transfer from your checking account when your paycheck is deposited into your savings account. Some employers may even facilitate this process by contributing some of your funds into a savings account on your behalf. With this option, the money would go directly into your savings account without you having a chance to spend it.

Take Advantage of Retirement Accounts 

If your employer provides you with the option of investing in an employer-sponsored retirement account, you should take advantage of this option. Many will offer a dollar-for-dollar matching program, and this may essentially double the amount of money that is saved in the account.

More than that, the funds from many retirement accounts may be withdrawn without penalty if they are used for a first-time home purchase. There are some rules and regulations regarding this, so you should research this option more thoroughly.

These are among the two best options for saving money for a down payment for your first home purchase. There are other ideas that you can consider as well. For example, you may borrow from a whole life insurance policy, obtain a gift from a family member or even sell some of your personal belongings that you no longer need or use.

When you combine many of these ideas together, you may be surprised how quickly your down payment fund can grow. You can also speak with a mortgage professional to learn more about the actual amount of money that you may need for the down payment and closing costs.

Buying a Classic Older Home? Three Upgrades You’ll Need to Make Immediately

July 3rd, 2015

902148_0While some home buyers only want to live in a brand new home and will custom build a home to their specifications, others are drawn to the historic character and charm of a classic home. Older homes may have incredible architectural detail and special features that you simply do not want to change. However, there are some essential features that should be upgraded as soon as possible after you take ownership of your classic home.

The Electrical Panel 

Many older homes were built at a time when electricity use was at a minimum, but the reliance on electricity has increased over the years. Older homes may commonly have an electrical panel with 50 amps or less, but your current needs may require you to have a panel with at least 200 amps. It may be good to have an electrician inspect the electrical panel as well as the wiring in the home to determine if an upgrade is needed in your new home.

Re-Plumbing the Pipes 

A quick plumbing inspection will tell you if the home has copper, steel or other materials used with piping. The best material is copper because it is resistant to leaking, corrosion and rusting. Steel pipes generally should be replaced with copper as soon as possible. Other materials, such as cast iron, may be acceptable to keep in place. However, sections may need to be replaced if the pipes are more than 50 years old.

Firestops in the Structure 

The good news about the structure of older homes is that older homes generally are better built than newer homes. However, most lack the critical feature of a firestop. A firestop essentially can minimize how fire travels through a home. Adding firestops to an older home can improve safety for the home’s occupants in the event of a fire and can minimize fire damage.

It is understandable that you may want to retain the historic character and charm of your older home. These may have been the features that you fell in love with when you bought it. However, you also want to ensure that the home has modern features that will make it comfortable and safe for you and your family to live in.

Mortgage 101: the Basics of How Mortgage Refinancing Works

July 2nd, 2015

Mortgage PaymentRefinancing your home mortgage can be beneficial for you for a number of reasons. As a homeowner, you may have spoken with some of your friends and neighbors who have already refinanced, and you may have heard about some of the different benefits associated with refinancing your mortgage. For example, refinancing can result in a lower mortgage payment, the ability to pay your mortgage off more quickly, reduced interest charges and other benefits. If you have never gone through this process yourself, however, you may not know what to expect with the refinancing process.

Determining if Refinancing Will Benefit You 

The actual benefits that you would receive by refinancing will be unique to your situation. Refinancing is a process that results in replacing your existing mortgage with a new mortgage. This will establish your home financing with a new interest rate, a new term and a different mortgage payment. In some cases, the new loan amount that you qualify for will be higher than the amount that you owe, and you may be able to obtain cash out of the refinancing process because of this. One of the best ways to determine what the specific benefits are for refinancing your mortgage is to speak with a mortgage professional directly.

How to Get Started 

Refinancing a home mortgage is very similar to applying for the original home mortgage when you purchased the home. However, additional information will be requested regarding your current mortgage, and some information may also be requested about the original purchase. You generally will need to provide tax returns, bank statements and other related financial information to complete the process.

However, initially, you may only be required to fill out a loan application and to agree to have your credit report pulled. This initial step will help a mortgage professional to determine if you may qualify for a refinance mortgage and what the estimated loan terms may be. Generally, this process can be completed quickly.

When you close on your refinance mortgage, the closing will typically take place in a title agency or another similar venue. The title or escrow agent will facilitate the process of using the funds from the new mortgage to pay off the balance on the existing mortgage and to complete any other required steps on your behalf. While there are some steps that need to be taken for you to refinance your mortgage, the process is typically rather easy when you work with the right mortgage professional.

Concrete Countertops: Learn Why Concrete May Be the Best Thing to Hit Your Kitchen

July 1st, 2015

Concrete CountertopUpdating your kitchen may be a project that you have been looking forward to for a long time. Now that the time has come to get started working on your project, you may be exploring the different materials that are available to use in your kitchen. The counter tops are often a prime focal point for a kitchen remodeling project. While there are several materials available to consider, concrete may be the best option for a number of reasons.

Endless Design Options

Concrete is a popular material that is used on patios, decorative floors and more because it can be stained, scored and shaped with almost endless possibilities. Just as the design options are limitless for other areas of the home, the same holds true when using concrete for your counter tops. You can customize the size, shape, finish, edge style and color without limits to achieve the desired look for your space.

Affordable Material

Concrete is not quite as affordable as laminate counter tops, but it is far more affordable than most other options. It also has a higher end look than laminate, and it can be poured, scored, and stained to mimic other higher end materials. This is a great way to get a luxurious look for your counter tops without paying a high price for them.

Highly Durable

Like many other materials that you may be thinking about for your counter tops, concrete will need to be sealed for long-lasting beauty and style. Once sealed, this is a material that is resistant to damage from heat exposure, staining, water exposure and more. Essentially, it is one of the most durable materials that you can use in your kitchen.

The kitchen is by all accounts a functional room, and counters will be exposed to heat, water, sharp edges and more over the course of time. Concrete is a material that holds up well in this type of environment.

It is rarely easy to select the perfect materials to use in your home remodeling project. After all, you may be concerned about style, durability and cost, and each material may have pros and cons. After discovering the benefits of concrete counter tops, however, you may have found the material you are searching for. You can request a quote for your concrete counters and review the incredible design possibilities for using concrete with your counters.