As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview.
A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament.
On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender.
On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner.
After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction. For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight unseen, with no inspection or warranty.
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Organic food usually tastes better, and is better for you, but it can also be very expensive compared to non-organic products. Organic food can cost nearly 50 percent more, thanks to the extra labor required to produce it and consumers’ demand exceeding supply.
So how do you get tasty organic food without spending a ton of extra money? Follow these tips to get more bang for your buck.
SHOP AT FARMERS’ MARKETS
You can get fresh organic produce for far less at a farmers’ market than you’d pay at the grocery store. It’ll taste just as good, and you’re getting your food straight from the source.
CHOOSE SEASONAL PRODUCE
Out-of-season produce usually has to be imported, and that can really drive up the price. Focus your meals on in-season fruits and vegetables so that you don’t end up paying $6.00 for a pound of organic asparagus.
SHOP MORE FREQUENTLY
The trick here is to only buy what’s needed for your meals, and to only plan for a week of meals at most. That way you’re less likely to throw food away, because you can use leftover produce for more meals before it goes bad.
GROW YOUR OWN
A home vegetable garden will provide some extremely cheap organic produce, and gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.
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Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.
Change the locks
Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.
Steam clean the carpets
It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available.
Call an exterminator
Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home.
Clean out the kitchen
If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances.
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When you put your home up for sale, one of the best ways to determine the asking price is to look at comparable sales. There’s rarely a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, so a pricing decision often relies on comparisons to several recent sales in the area. Here are five criteria to look for in a sales comparison.
Homes in the same neighborhood typically follow the same market trends. Comparing your home to another in the same neighborhood is a good start, but comparing it to homes on the same street or block is even better.
2. Date of sale
It varies by location, but housing markets can see a ton of fluctuation in a short time period. It‘s best to use the most recent sales data available.
3. Home build
Look for homes with similar architectural styles, numbers of bathrooms and bedrooms, square footage, and other basics.
4. Features and upgrades
Remodeled bathrooms and kitchens can raise a home’s price, and so can less flashy upgrades like a new roof or HVAC system. Be sure to look for similar bells and whistles.
5. Sale types
Homes that are sold as short sales or foreclosures are often in distress or sold at a lower price than they’d receive from a more typical sale. These homes are not as useful for comparisons.
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Refinancing your mortgage is something most homeowners consider at least once throughout the lifespan of their home loan. It allows you to pay off your previous loan by applying for a new one that has better financial advantages. While there are many good reasons to refinance, here are five common ones.
SCORING A LOWER INTEREST RATE
The number one reason homeowners decide to refinance is to secure a lower interest rate on their mortgage. Not only does this save you money in the long run and decrease your monthly payment, but you can start building equity in your home sooner.
USING AN IMPROVED CREDIT SCORE
Even if interest rates have not dropped in the market, if you’ve improved your credit score over the last few years, you may be able to reduce your mortgage rate.
SHORTENING THE LOAN’S TERM
If interest rates are decreasing, there is a chance you may be able to get a shorter loan term with little to no change in your monthly payment, allowing you to pay off your loan sooner.
SWITCHING FROM AN ADJUSTABLE RATE TO A FIXED RATE
If you chose an adjustable-rate mortgage with great introductory rates when you initially financed your home, that rate may increase significantly over the years. By switching to a fixed rate while interest rates are low, you can protect yourself from future increases.
CASHING OUT HOME EQUITY
If there is a big purchase or payment on the horizon, such as funding a wedding or going back to school, your best option may be to use the equity you’ve built in your home to borrow money at a lower cost.
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Water might be a necessity in life, but it can also wreak havoc in your home when it’s not properly contained. Water can cause mold, mildew, and major damage to surfaces in your home. It can even compromise the integrity of your home’s structure. And once your home experiences water damage, it can be extremely costly and labor-intensive to rectify.
So, what causes water damage? Here are some of the more common sources of water damage in homes.
1. Leaky Pipes
The most obvious source of water damage in a home stems from leaky plumbing pipes. Whether there’s a slow leak somewhere or a major burst pipe, water that’s able to make its way outside of the pipes that run through your home can cause some major damage.
A sudden burst pipe might be significant, but it will be easy to spot. Slow leaks, on the other hand, are usually impossible to detect until the damage has already been done. The best way to identify potential leaks is to pay attention to your water bill. If you notice the numbers start creeping up every month, there may be a leak somewhere that needs to be addressed.
2. Air Conditioner
If something is malfunctioning with your air conditioner system, this could cause issues. Your air conditioner is tasked with removing moisture from the air, and this moisture can often accumulate in the actual unit and turn into water through condensation. If this water doesn’t drain properly, it could eventually make its way into your home and cause damage.
To avoid this situation, make sure to have your A/C serviced on a regular basis so you can spot issues early and have them fixed.
3. Washing Machine
A ton of water is used with every load of laundry you do. But sometimes, washers can leak water and pool underneath, or ill-secured fittings could allow water to seep out. In either case, such leakage from your washing machine can cause mold buildup or water damage to surrounding surfaces.
4. Clogged Drains
If the drains running underneath your floor get clogged, they’re more susceptible to water backup in the sink, shower stall, or even within the floor itself. If this is allowed to carry on, you could be left having to deal with mold issues or severe water damage.
5. Running Toilets
Sometimes toilets run because of issues with the flapper, which is supposed to be pulled up when you flush so new water can fill the bowl. If there are problems with the flapper, however, this can cause a running toilet, which in turn can cause water leakage and subsequent damage to the floor and wall around the toilet.
6. Water Seeping Into the Foundation
Water can make its way into your home’s foundation if there are issues with grading or with the soil around the perimeter of your home. And if you experience heavy precipitation, all that water can easily make its way into your home, leaving you with major issues to have to deal with.
The Bottom Line
Water damage in a home is nothing to sneeze at. It can cause serious issues, both structurally and health-wise. If you notice a hint of water problems, it’s important to have them rectified immediately. And if possible, try to keep a close eye on all aspects and systems of your home and have them serviced regularly so that if there are any issues, they can be nipped in the bud before real problems start.
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