Linda D. Dempsey - KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY



 Photo by Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay

For years home ownership has been the American dream, but, according to the Pew Research Center, a higher percentage of us are renters than at any other time in the last 50 years. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. For many people renting may be the right choice. Every individual and family needs to consider all the factors and make the decision that’s right for them.

The Financial Consideration

There’s a rule of thumb called the price to rent ratio. You get it by dividing the price of a house by the annual rent. For example, if you can buy a house for $300,000 or rent it for $1500 per month, the ratio is 300,000 / (12 * 1500), or 16.7. When the number is 15 or less, buying is the better choice, when it’s 16 to 20, renting becomes more favorable and when it’s over 20 renting is significantly better. However, this fails to take in factors like down payment amount, financing terms, taxes, insurance and other costs, which can vary widely. A more accurate number, telling you how long it will take to cover the up-front costs of ownership and pull even financially with renting, can be found using one of many calculators available.

The Other Considerations

While this sort of calculation is valuable, there are other questions, both financial and lifestyle-related, that the potential renter or buyer must ask.

  • What can I spend upfront for down payment and closing costs?

  • Can I afford a major repair such as replacing a furnace or air conditioner? There are insurance-like plans to defray some of that cost, but those make up another annual expense.

  • How long do I plan to stay? Selling a home and buying a new one is costly and time-consuming.

  • Which is more important to me, stability or flexibility?

Advantages of Home Ownership

As the inheritor of the American dream, the homeowner has some opportunities and privileges that the renter can’t enjoy.

  • Appreciation and equity. As home value rises and morgage balance drops, homeowners gain equity, which for many is their most valuable asset.

  • Building credit.

  • Freedom to remodel. There’s no landlord telling you what you can and can’t do with your property.

  • Stable monthly payments. Taxes and insurance can increase, but principal and interest payment remains the same. If you stay there long enough, eventually you’ll have no principal/interest to pay at all.

  • Tax advantage. For most people, it isn’t what it was before the 2017 tax changes, but interest and taxes may still be deductible.

  • Stability. You can become a member of your neighborhood and your children can stay in the same school system. No landlord can decide to sell and give you notice.

Advantages of Renting

  • No large upfront expenses.

  • Your landlord is responsible for major repairs.

  • Still some opportunity to build credit by paying rent promptly.

  • You have less at risk. You won’t be affected if property values fall.

  • Flexibility. If you choose to move you can easily give notice and do so.

Here’s one last question: which feels better, the satisfaction of owning your own castle or the freedom to change your life quickly? The answer may go a long way toward pointing you in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 


There are plenty of ways to make your home more organized. Whether you have a large house or some problems with cramped spaces, your home has plenty of room to give. The key is that you just need to know how to use it. Read on for some tips on how to make the most of the space your home has to offer. 


Make Everything Easy To Find


The more accessible the things in your home are, the easier it will be to stay organized. If you have kids, this accessibility will be even more critical. Make sure that the items everyone uses daily have a place. Toy boxes, dressers for clothes, and places for coats and shoes are crucial for smooth organization. 


Find The Right Storage Container


You need to make sure that you have the right containers for the right things. Without these tools, organization becomes increasingly difficult. Shop around and do some research before you decide on exactly what you want to use to store things in. 


Organization Doesn’t Have To Be Ugly


It’s much easier to stay organized if you don’t mind looking at your home. The whole reason you want to stay organized is that the less chaos there is, the less stressed you feel. Organizers don’t need to be cold and regimented. Make sure that any organizing units match your color scheme and themes. 


Electronics Get In The Way


All of the gadgets we have these days can overtake our homes. Cords, phones, chargers, video game systems, and more can really take up space in a home. Anything that you frequently use should be in open top containers, so everything can be easily spotted. Anything that you use less often can be hidden behind closed doors or in a drawer. 


Think By Function


The easiest way to organize anything is to think about the functionality of items. If you make coffee every morning, for example, you may want to keep a coffee corner. You can keep coffee in the cabinet along with sugar or other essentials. In the drawer below where the coffee pot is placed on the counter, you can keep filters, stirrers, and more coffee essentials. If things are functional and flowing in your home, you’re getting close to organization nirvana!  


Declutter Often


If you have a daily routine to put things back where they came from, clutter will never overtake you! Simple things can help you to stay ahead of a big mess. Some idea for your routine can include:


Straightening furniture

Clearing countertops

Throwing away junk mail

Putting away shoes


All of these quick tasks can make a big difference on a daily basis over time! 


Photo by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock

Federal law allows you to get your credit report free once per year. To do so, go to annualcreditreport.com and request your report. You need to do this at least once a year so that you can correct any errors or missing information.

Differences Between Credit Report & Credit Score

You typically have more than one credit score depending on its use. Two of the most common are the Vantage score and the FICO score. The Vantage score uses a different algorithm from the FICO score. Places such as your employer, auto insurance company or landlord typically use the Vantage score or one similar to it. Housing lenders more often use the FICO score. FICO has as many as 60 different scoring algorithms, as does Vantage scores. 

How Are FICO & Vantage Alike?

Currently, both scores range from about 300 (low) to 850 (best). In general, both Vantage and FICO use your payment history, the age of your accounts, balances versus available credit, type of debt you hold and how frequently you seek credit based on recent applications.

Types of debt can be revolving, such as a credit card; secured, like a home or auto loan; personal debt as when you take a consolidation loan, medical and education loans.

How Often Should You Check Your Scores?

While your credit report is free once a year, your credit scores from the three leading suppliers (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) are not. But frequently, your bank, credit union, credit card providers and other financial institutions offer the opportunity to get them free. You should utilize these promotions as often as you can to keep on top of your score.

Each car payment you make — or when you pay off a credit card — changes your score. It could change by several points overnight too. Since credit “age” affects your score, don’t close old accounts. Periodically make a charge and then pay it off to keep that account active and in the mix.

New laws make it easier to see which score a lender uses too, so if you’re denied credit or offer a higher interest rate than you think you should be getting, you can check it out. When the two scores (Vantage and FICO) differ by a lot, you need to check your credit report to see what might be wrong. While it could just be the closing day of a credit card accounting cycle, it could also be something more serious like identity theft.

The closer you get to purchasing a home, the more you need to be on top of your scores. Don’t wait to review them because a problem can take a while to fix.


Photo by Craig Tidball on Unsplash

It's probably much easier and less expensive than you realize to improve your home's curb appeal. Simple fixes such as replacing rickety porch railings or giving trim a fresh, bright coat of paint go a long way toward making prospective home buyers smile. And when you create a welcoming pathway, that leads right to your door from the street or driveway, you may get more than smiles. Depending upon how professionally it's done and how cozy it appears, you just might get more money for your home. Try these five attractive options for creating the perfect, welcoming walkway:

Pavers

They come in all shapes and sizes, and they're relatively inexpensive when you catch them on sale at your local home store. Pavers can help you design a walkway that looks upscale and unique to your home. Place them on the diagonal, or lay them with small stretches of grass or gravel in between for a one-of-a-kind look that's unlike any other home in the neighborhood. A paved walkway gives guests traction on rainy days and can help keep the path to your front door mud-free. 

Stamped Concrete

Stamped concrete lasts forever, and you can customize it to create many different looks. Mimic cobblestone or slate, brick or natural stone, simply by stamping different designs into your concrete before it's fully set. Once cured, your design is there forever. And if your stamped concrete was dyed before it was poured, no one will even recognize that it's concrete. 

Stamped concrete brings texture and form to your front yard. It also provides nice, clean edges for placing annual border plants such as petunias or marigolds. Add color and function all in one, when you install a stamped concrete walkway. 

Mulch

A mulched pathway is an improvement over no pathway at all, but it may not raise your property's value. Mulch keeps mud at bay, and it delineates where guests should walk as they move from driveway to front door. It's an economic choice, however. And if budget is an issue, mulch is a perfectly acceptable material to use in building walkways. You can always up the wow factor of your mulched walkway by evenly nestling single, large pavers on top for feet to land on.  

Natural Stone

Natural stone such as shale or slate gives walkways an immediate boost. It can be a bit slippery when it rains, however, so be careful building natural stone walkways on slopes. Natural stone is one of the more expensive building materials to use inside or out, but its distinct appearance adds value anywhere it's used. 

When you're ready to bump up your home's curb appeal, whether for your family's convenience or to impress prospective buyers, consider the formidable power of the front walkway. It's a gorgeous few steps in the right direction. 


Let's face it – clutter can be problematic, particularly for those who want to list a home in the near future. Lucky for you, we're here to help you cut down on clutter so you can add your residence to the real estate market as soon as possible.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that you can use to remove clutter before your list your residence.

1. Rent a Storage Unit

A storage unit offers a great way to protect your belongings while you sell your home. Then, once a homebuyer agrees to purchase your house, you can move your belongings from your storage unit into a new residence.

The price to rent a storage unit often varies based on the size and location of the unit. Therefore, you should shop around to find a storage unit rental that matches your budget.

Also, consider the items that you'll want to keep in a storage unit. If you find that the value of your belongings is less than the rental price of a storage unit, you may want to consider other options to declutter your residence.

2. Host a Yard Sale

A yard sale provides a wonderful opportunity to declutter your residence and earn extra cash at the same time.

Remember, one person's trash is another's treasure. Although you might no longer have a need for some belongings, these items could be valuable to the right buyer.

The best time to host a yard sale usually is a Saturday or Sunday morning. Before your yard sale, you should set up posters around your city or town to advertise your event. That way, you can stir up plenty of interest in your yard sale.

In addition, you may be able to sell items without leaving your couch. Listing some of your excess belongings online allows you to promote a broad array of items to a large audience.

3. Donate Items to Charity

If you're in a hurry to declutter, many charities may be willing to pick up household appliances, furniture and other items without delay. In some cases, you might be able to donate these items and receive a tax deduction as well.

Search for charities in your city or town and contact them directly to find out if they accept donations. Next, you can set up a date and time for a charity representative to pick up your items, or you may be able to drop off the items at a nearby location.

Decluttering your home may seem like an uphill climb, but a real estate agent may be able to provide additional assistance.

A real estate agent can evaluate your home and offer expert tips to help you declutter. As a result, you can revamp your house's interior and ensure your residence looks amazing before you add it to the housing market.

Take the guesswork out of decluttering your residence. Use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble eliminating clutter from your home.