Great curb appeal not only makes your home the star of the neighborhood, it can also improve its value and help you sell it for more. Whether you’re thinking of listing your home or just want to make your home the envy of your neighbors, here are several ways to increase your home’s curb appeal.
The Compound Effect: Building Your Household’s Wealth Wealth is within reach for many people; however, according to a recent study, 63 percent of Americans said it’s not likely they’ll become rich.1 While younger people are more likely to say they’ll achieve wealth one day, only 34 percent of people aged 30 to 49 and 21 percent of people aged 50 or older say the same. There is no secret to becoming rich: it takes time, sacrifice and good financial sense. Here are a few ways to build your household’s wealth.
5 Reasons to Sell Before the Selling Season Picks Up A common thought in real estate is never list your home in the winter offseason. Perpetuated by industry experts, agents and repeat sellers alike, this saying encourages many would-be sellers to wait until the spring peak to list their homes. However, studies show that homes listed in the winter offseason not only sell faster than those in the spring, but sellers also net more above their asking price at this time.1 Don’t wait until spring to sell. If you’ve been thinking of selling your home, here are five compelling reasons to list now.
The Home Equity Playbook
What is Home Equity?
Home equity seems to be a very simple calculation — the total amount of mortgages owed subtracted from the current market value of a home. Here is a simple example:
Current Home Market Value $325,000
Existing Mortgage $225,000
Homeowner Equity $100,000
One side of the equation is well defined, and it is found on the monthly mortgage statement, the loan balance. The other side is less obvious — the current market value of the property.
As a homeowner, your down payment purchases your initial equity, and your monthly (or additional) principal payments increase your equity. In strong real estate markets and in-demand locations, equity can increase quite rapidly as the property value increases, but the inverse can also happen — too much available inventory and market down-cycles can lead to falling home values and a reduction in homeowner equity.
It can be difficult to put an accurate value on something that you have emotional and monetary vesting in. It is safe to say that most people think their home is worth more than then it is.
Homeowners can make savvy assessments about their home’s current market value by following the sales of similar properties in the neighborhood, but should stay away from websites such as Zillow and Trulia, which provide inaccurate and outdated estimates. The most accurate measurement requires a comparative market analysis from a real estate professional or having the home professionally appraised. But, the bottom line — your home is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.
Creating Value is in Your Hands
Maintaining the condition of a home is vitally important to retaining and increasing value. Homes are judged against their peers: how they compare to similar homes in the neighborhood. Another way to retain value is to not over upgrade, since it is rare to ever recoup the money spent if you exceed neighborhood value. Keep up the landscaping and do the little things to add curb appeal.
Putting Home Equity to Work
Home equity represents the largest single asset of millions of people, and because it represents so much of an individual’s net worth, it must be treated with respect. Home equity is not a liquid asset until a property is sold, or it is borrowed against.
There are two types of loans that tap into homeowner equity as collateral.
Home Equity Loans
Many home equity plans set a fixed period during which the person can borrow money, such as 10 years. At the end of this “draw period,” the person may be allowed to renew the credit line. If the plan does not allow renewals, the homeowner will not be able to borrow additional money once the period has ended. Some plans may call for payment in full of any outstanding balance at the end of the period. Others may allow repayment over a fixed period, for example, of 10 years.
A home equity loan, sometimes called a second mortgage, usually has a fixed rate and a set time to pay it back, generally with equal monthly payments.
Home Equity Line of Credit
A home equity line of credit is similar to a credit card. The lender sets a maximum amount you can borrow, and you can draw money as you need it, though many home equity lines of credit require an initial draw. The interest rate varies daily, and is usually prime plus a set number, but the required payment is usually interest only. Once the loan has been paid down, the payment is reduced, and it can be paid off and initiated as many times as a homeowner requires.
How Much Equity can be Accessed?
Since the financial institution is lending money and using a home as collateral, they will not lend 100% of the home’s equity. The bank does not want to take the risk that if the house price drops, they would be carrying a loan for more than its market value. Therefore, most banks will allow a qualified homeowner to borrow approximately 80% of their equity.
It’s Important to Use Your Home Equity Wisely
Because it is likely the biggest asset most people have, losing your home equity is hard to overcome. It must be used in prudent ways, and the payments against the loan must be affordable. Using equity money to make the loan payment is only acceptable for a short-term solution.
There are number of good reasons to use money from a home equity loan… and some really bad ones. First, let’s cover smart uses.
1. Invest in Your Home
The best way to use the money is create more equity in the home. Among the very best returns on your investment (ROI) include kitchen and bathroom remodels, adding square footage or an extra bath, enhancing curb appeal and repairing/keeping the existing structure sound. Making prudent investments in your home is a wonderful win-win: you enjoy the upgrades and the repairs can add value to the home.
2. Invest in your Children’s Education
Using your home equity to finance a child’s higher education may be the greatest payoff of all. Not only is the rate much lower than a student loan, it is an investment in the child’s future.
3. Supplement Retirement Needs
Older homeowners spent their working lives paying down their mortgage. At retirement, when monthly income is reduced, a home equity loan could pay for a dream vacation or an unexpected major expense.
4. Augment the Impending Sale of a Home
If you’re planning to sell soon, a home equity line of credit may be the best way to finance improvements, and you can pay it off entirely when you sell. Investing wisely on upgrades and repairs may even reap a profit on your investment.
Here are some examples of some not very wise choices.
Adding luxury amenities like a swimming pool, a hot spa, lavish landscaping, expensive appliances and exotic countertops and flooring rarely pay off.
Purchasing a car or boat or most any personal luxury items is a poor use of the funds, since these items quickly depreciate in value.
Also stay away from using money on risk-heavy investments. Financing stock purchases, start-up businesses and paying routine bills is not financially smart. If you cannot afford to purchase those items with available funds, using equity from your home means they should not be in your budget.
You should treat a home equity loan as an investment and not as extra cash when making financial decisions. If your intended use of the money doesn't pay you back in some way, it's not the best use of your valuable equity.
We Are Happy to Assist You
If you would like an assessment of the market value of your home and the current equity you can access, give us a call for a comparative market analysis.
Cut Utility Bills by $2000 or More With Smart Home Tech The ‘Smart Home’ is the new ‘Internet of Things’ or objects that can communicate with each other. The ideal version of the wired future might look like this:
Home Inspections are an important part of real estate transactions
The decision to buy a turnkey home or build your dream house is always a daunting one.We explore the pros and cons of each, in today's Blog
Mirroring national trends, Kauai's vacation home market appears to be rebounding. This article from CNN details the upswing being realized countywide. On Kauai, our personal experience tells a similair story with demand for vacation rental properties clearly "on the rise".
Kauai's Real Estate Market is clearly moving. Below, we have attached all of the latest market statistics (for February 2013). As you can see, 2013 is not yet keeping pace with 2012, year to date wise, in number of sales. But, median prices are showing marked changes. For those of you who have been on the fence, now may be the time to make the move to paradise!
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) After years of wild swings, the U.S. housing market is slowly returning to normal.
Chickens, Chickens,Chickens! Apparently Kauai is not the only Island where our local chicken population is causing havoc. Read this fowl story of the damage they caused, and inconvenience to travlers, on Maui.
Social Media, i.e.Twitter, finds that Hawaii is the happiest place in the United States!
Will Insurance cover your property if it is hit by a Meteor? Cnn gives a great accounting of who pays the bill.
The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Ron Phipps.
"As the leading advocate for housing and home ownership issues, NAR firmly believes that the mortgage interest deduction (MID) is vital to the stability of the American housing market and economy.
"The MID must not be targeted for change. NAR is actively engaged on behalf of the nation's 75 million home owners and 1.1 million Realtors® to ensure that the current deduction is not modified as was recommended in the Deficit Reduction Commission report released today.
"The tax deductibility of interest paid on mortgages is a powerful incentive for home ownership and has been one of the simplest provisions in the federal tax code for more than 80 years. In a new survey commissioned by NAR and conducted online in October 2010 by Harris Interactive of nearly 3,000 homeowners and renters, nearly three-fourths of homeowners and two-thirds of renters said the mortgage interest deduction was extremely or very important to them.
"Recent progress has been made in bringing stability to the housing market and any changes to the MID now or in the future could critically erode home prices and the value of homes by as much as 15 percent, according to our research. This would negatively impact home ownership for millions of Americans, including those who own their homes outright and have no mortgage.
"Any further downward pressure on home prices will hamper the economic recovery, raise foreclosures and hurt banks' abilities to lend and likely tip the economy into another recession resulting in further job losses for the country. It will effectively close the door on the American dream.
"NAR will remain vigilant in opposing any plan that modifies or excludes the deductibility of mortgage interest."
The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Click the link below an make the call today.
Third Quarter 2010
Kauai's Market Statistics are speaking volumes about the state of our island real estate market. Sales are up from a year ago as is overall sales dollar volume. However, median home, land, and condominium prices are generally continuing to plummet. These statistics remind us that we are firmly entrenched in a buyer's market. Inventory also remains extremly high. Yes, sellers are competing for every buyer. additionally, distressed property, short-sales and REO (bank owned) property are driving the market. it may just be the perfect time to invest in Kauai for the long run!