Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith - Century 21 North Shore / Cape Cod

Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 3/15/2018

Paying off a mortgage early is a dream of many homeowners. By making larger payments on your home loan, you can cut years off of your loan term and save thousands of dollars in interest payments that you can use toward savings or investments. But in an economy that has seen decades of wage stagnation and increasing costs of living, it can often seem like an unattainable goal.

With some planning and initiative, however, there are ways to pay off your home loan before your term limit.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about three of the ways you can start paying off your mortgage early to avoid high interest payments and save yourself money along the way.

1. Refinance your mortgage

If you’re considering making larger payments on your mortgage, it might make sense to look at refinancing options. Most Americans take out 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

If you can afford to significantly increase your mortgage payments each month, you could refinance to a 15-year mortgage. This will save you on the number of interest payments you’ll have to make over the years. But, it will also help you secure a lower interest rate since shorter term mortgages typically come with lower interest rates.

This option isn’t for everyone. First, refinancing comes with fees you’ll have to pay for upfront. You’ll have to apply for refinancing, get an appraisal of your home, and wait for the decision to be made.

But, you’ll also have to ensure that you can keep up with your higher monthly payments. If your income is variable or undependable, it might not be the safest option to refinance to a shorter term mortgage.

2. Make extra payments

An option that entails less risk than refinancing is to simply increase your monthly payments. If you recently got a raise or are just reallocating funds to try and tackle your mortgage, this is an excellent option.

Depending on your mortgage lender, you may be able to simple increase your auto-pay amounts each month, streamlining the process. Otherwise, it’s possible to set up bill-pay with most banks to automatically transfer funds to your lender.

3. Bi-weekly payments or one extra payment per year

Making bi-weekly instead of monthly payments is an option that many homeowners use to pay off their mortgages early. Bi-weekly payments work by paying half of your monthly payment once every two weeks.

The vast majority of homeowners make 12 monthly payments per year. But by switching to 26 bi-weekly payments, you can effectively make 13 full monthly payments in a year without seeing too much of a difference in your daily budget.

This doesn’t seem like much savings in the short term, but let’s take a look at how much you could save over the term of a 30-year mortgage.

On a 30-year fixed mortgage of $200,000 with a 4.03 annual interest rate, you would make a monthly payment of $958.00 and a bi-weekly payment of $479.

Over 30 years of an extra monthly payment, you could save nearly $20,000 on the total interest amount and pay off your mortgage almost 5 years early.

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Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 3/8/2018

Many hopeful homebuyers seek to save money by buying a fixer-upper and doing most of the renovations themselves. This is a proven method for those who have a knack for home improvement and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

However, estimating the cost of a remodel can be difficult. There are many costs you may not be aware of, and others that are easy to go over budget on.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the cost of an average remodel, and some lesser-known costs that you might be forgetting to factor into your budget.

Average remodeling costs

As you might guess, the cost of a remodel can vary greatly. Things like the size of the home, the number of rooms you’re remodeling, and the type of repairs you’ll be making all factor into the equation.

Some repairs can be quite costly. Septic system replacements can cost several thousands of dollars depending on the type of system you need. And, if you’re buying an old home, you’ll need to look out for expensive fixes like asbestos removal and foundation damage.

According to one report, most Americans spent between $17,000 and $61,000 on their remodel, with the average renovation cost being around $37,000.

If you’re hiring a contractor for the bulk of your remodel, expect them to charge between 10% and 15% of the total cost.

Lesser known costs of a home renovation

Remodeling a home isn’t as simple as looking up a contractor and telling them to give you the bill once it’s finished, and that’s probably a good thing because odds are you would be shocked by the cost.

First, you’ll pay a contractor to do a walkthrough and estimate costs. Next, you’ll need to get any permits that are required for your renovations.

If you plan on doing the renovations yourself, there are a few costs you’ll need to consider. First, understand that you likely won’t be able to take advantage of all of the discounts that contractors can, meaning your building materials may be more expensive than expected. Similarly, the cost of tools for the project adds up quickly. And, when you make mistakes--we all do, we’re only human--you’ll be paying for it out of pocket.

Knowing your long term goals

An important consideration for a remodel is to look toward the future. Do you want to sell your home within the next few years? If so, you might consider going with less expensive materials--such as generic kitchen cabinets rather than custom-built--to save money while still increasing the value of the home.

However, if you plan on being in this home for decades or more, it may be worth the extra money now to make sure you are happy with your home for years to come.

Remodeling a home can be a memorable and rewarding endeavor. You get the chance to take a house that you see potential in and make it truly your own. Now that you know the costs, you’ll be better prepared for planning your home renovation.

Tags: renovations   budget   Remodel  
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Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 3/1/2018

A garage sale represents a great opportunity for a home seller. This event enables you to eliminate clutter from your home as well as earn extra cash that you may be able to put toward your future residence. As such, a garage sale should not be taken lightly, and you should do everything you can to prep for this event. So what does it take to host a successful garage sale? Here are three tips that you need to know: 1. Make Your Garage Sale a Family-Friendly Event. It's tough to put together a garage sale on your own. However, you may be able to enlist family members and friends to help you transform an ordinary garage sale into an instant success. Family members and friends can help you organize the items you'd like to sell, offer assistance to shoppers who may be interested in various items and ensure you're able to clean up after your garage sale is complete. Of course, you should offer incentives to encourage family members and friends to help you with your garage sale, too. Whether it's hosting a barbecue in conjunction with your event or offering each helper a share of your garage sale profits, it's important to show your family members and friends that you appreciate their hard work and dedication as they work toward making your garage sale a success. 2. Avoid the Dangers of Overpricing. As a home seller, the goal of your garage sale should be to get rid of any excess items in your house. Thus, you need to avoid the dangers associated with overpricing, because asking too much for numerous items will do little to generate interest among shoppers. Try to be flexible about pricing during your garage sale. Typically, shoppers may ask to negotiate a price on an item, and you should be willing to reconsider your initial price if necessary. A successful negotiation will result in a win-win situation in which both you and the shopper are happy with the results. And with a flexible approach to pricing, you should have no trouble getting rid of a wide range of items at your garage sale and earning substantial profits along the way, too. 3. Don't Forget About the Importance of Customer Service. A customer-oriented approach is paramount throughout your garage sale, and it may enable you to maximize your sales during the event as well. If a shopper has a question, try to respond immediately. Or, if a shopper is ready to check out, provide service with a smile. A friendly, positive attitude can make a world of difference during a garage sale. Therefore, you should remain courteous and approachable during your event and be ready to assist shoppers in any way you can. Hosting a garage sale may seem like a major challenge, particularly for home sellers who lack extensive time and resources. But with the aforementioned tips, you can get organized and make the most of your garage sale.

Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 2/22/2018

As a condo buyer, it is important to find a property that matches or surpasses your expectations. At the same time, you'll want to do everything possible to avoid paying too much for a condo.

What does it take to shop for a condo and avoid the risk of spending too much to acquire your dream residence? Here are three tips to ensure you can pay the right price for any condo, at any time.

1. Browse the Real Estate Market Closely

An informed condo buyer will be able to differentiate a mediocre property from a great one. Plus, this condo buyer will know what it takes to avoid paying too much for a property that is unlikely to deliver long-lasting value.

Take a close look at the current housing market to understand the prices of condos in various cities and towns. By doing so, you can determine the price range for condos that fit your needs.

Don't forget to check out the prices of recently sold condos in your area too. That way, you can understand how long condos typically are available before they sell and map out your condo buying journey accordingly.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Pre-approval for a mortgage will allow you to define how much you can spend on a condo. It also will enable you to reduce the risk of stretching beyond your financial means to acquire your dream condo.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with several banks and credit unions before you kick off your condo search. This will allow you to learn about both fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and the pros and cons associated with these mortgages.

Furthermore, don't be afraid to ask lenders how different types of mortgages work, as this will enable you to select a mortgage that corresponds with your budget both now and in the future.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

Employ a real estate agent to assist you along the condo buying process – you'll be happy you did. This real estate professional will do what it takes to help you land an exceptional condo at a budget-friendly price.

A real estate agent understands the differences between a buyer's market and a seller's one. As such, he or she can offer tips at each stage of the condo buying process, ensuring you can buy a top-notch condo without spending too much.

In addition, a real estate agent will take the guesswork out of going from condo buyer to condo owner. This housing market professional will set up condo showings, negotiate with condo sellers on your behalf and much more. That way, you can accelerate the process of acquiring a great condo.

Buying a condo at an affordable price may seem impossible at times, but a real estate agent will make it simple for you to do just that. Consult with a real estate agent today, and you can improve your chances of securing a condo without the risk of overspending.

Tags: Buying a home   Condo   buyer tips  
Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 2/15/2018

Have you ever looked around your home and just felt that something was missing? Have you had the feeling that something was off in your home? There are certain design and decor mistakes that you can make inside of your home that may not be so obvious. We’ll give you the information that you need to fix these mistakes and bring back the balance in your home. 

Not Enough Lighting

Either you don’t have enough lights in a room, or the lights are not in a good place. You need to make a plan with your lighting as you would with your furniture pieces. Make sure work areas have task lighting, that accent lamps are present to add personality and overhead lighting is spread or or set with a dimmer. This will diversify your lighting types and strengths to help every area of each room be properly lit.   

Everything Is Against The Wall

If you enter a room and everything is up against the walls, there’s a problem there! It seems cold and kind of boring if a room appears this way. Make sure that things are at least a few feet apart within a room. Also, try and put some pieces of furniture at angles. Even if you simply put the area rug at an angle, it will make a difference. 

There’s Too Much Clutter

If you have too much “stuff” in any room, it can be an issue. If there’s no focal point, it’s easy to overlook each piece. Decorate your rooms so that everything has a place to stand out. Purge your decor at least once a year in order to keep the things that you really love around. Get rid of the tired, boring decor that’s not adding anything to your home. You can also switch up your accessories a few times a year and put away decor that doesn’t gel with the season. 

One Color Rules All 

You shouldn’t have too much of one color in any room of your home. You’ll need to be sure that you mix it up. If the room is a beige color and your couch is also a neutral tone, place some colorful throw pillows on the sofa to get a pop of color and a bright effect in he room. Choose artwork carefully as well, helping to contrast the wall colors.  

There’s No Personality In Your Home

If everything in your home is polished, there’s little room for you to shine through. The most important thing about home decorating is for your personality to be present. While following design rules is a good idea, don’t be so caught up in the “rules” that you forget to show what you like. Let your home represent who you are.