Author Archives: Annette Walden Mason

How to Finance Your Home Renovations

Have you ever watched the TV show ‘Love It or List It?’  Perhaps you’re thinking of staying put until the market gets a little calmer, but you would like to do some home renovations.  Outdated kitchen. Overrun backyard. Unusable basement space. If you have a home renovation project on your mind, the first thing you must consider is how are you going to finance it. Here are some of the most common options to make your dreams become a reality.

Cash. Paying in cash is the most straightforward financing option, just save until you have enough money to cover the expenses. This will help eliminate spending outside your budget; however, it can also extend your timeline.

Mortgage Refinance. If you’ve been making payments on your home for a few years and your interest rate is higher than the current market rates, you may be eligible for a mortgage refinance, reducing your payments and freeing up some money.

Cash-Out Refinance. You can tap into your home equity and borrow up to 80 percent of your home’s value to pay off your current mortgage plus take out more cash to cover the renovations. This option is encouraged only when you’re making improvements that will increase the value of

your home, as it can add a lot of interest and fees.

Home Equity. Getting a home equity line of credit allows you to borrow money against the value of your home. You receive usually up to 80 percent of your home’s value, minus the amount of your loan.

Retirement Funds. Homeowners can consider pulling money from a 401K or IRA account, even though they aren’t specifically meant to cover a home renovation. This option might incur additional penalties or tax payments but may be worth it when making improvements that will benefit them financially in the long run.

Whichever option you choose, consider the renovations carefully in regards to resale.  You want to make sure the renovations will increase the value of your home but not overprice it for the neighborhood.  And of course, after you do the renovations and you decide you want to list, give me a call.

Hope you found these tips helpful.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

What does Back to School mean to the Real Estate Market?

It’s that time of year when kids fill their backpacks and wave goodbye to Mom and Dad as they board the school bus or are dropped off in the carpool lane. Summer vacation for the most part is over.  The last thing on most family’s minds is packing and moving.

Typically, when school starts, the housing market slows down, but with this tumultuous market, it is hard to predict.  Many are still looking for homes in this seller’s market.  If there is a lull, it will be short-lived.  After Labor Day there is usually an uptick as it is the unofficial start of the fall season. Sellers and buyers will now want to buy and close quickly to get settled before the holiday season.

It is still a good time to sell as there is still a shortage of inventory.  If you have a plan in mind as to where you’re going to live once your home sells.  Many sellers have gotten creative.

Here are some possible solutions:

  • Do you have rental property? Many sellers are moving into one of their rentals until they can find their next home
  • Do you have vacation property? Same scenario.
  • Move in with relatives.
  • Find a short-term rental – Those who do have rental property who are willing to take a month-to-month lease situation are offering this alternative until the sellers can find their next home.
  • I’ve even seen some move into their RV or houseboat until they find their next home. You might have to store your household belongings for a while, but if you do, consider using a pod, that way you don’t have to have a moving company move you twice.
  • Buy before you sell. Some have taken their equity out of their current home and used it as a down payment on the new home.
  • New Construction. When the new home is move-in ready, then you list yours.

In this area, the market is extremely hot, because of the great schools, which is great.  The good news is homes bring a premium price tag.  The bad news is, it makes buying a home in the school district you want a little challenging, but not impossible.  Another reason you need a seasoned agent.

If you’re thinking about selling or buying, give me a call and let’s devise a plan that will work for you and your family.

Marie Dinsmore

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence!

Prepping Your Pet for Your Big Move

Your moving day is set and it’s time to start preparing. As you’re making your lists and checking them twice, don’t forget to factor in your 4 legged family members.

Moving can be stressful for all of us, but pets often experience stress that they can’t communicate leading up to a big move. Our pets are perceptive, and they notice when big changes are happening, but they don’t understand why we’re packing up. Then, once you’ve arrived at your new home, they have to get comfortable with new sights, sounds, and smells before they can settle in. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to help get your family pet get ready for a big move and reduce their stress.

Here are some tips for making sure the process goes smoothly.

Medical records. When moving to a different city or state, one of the main things you need to take into consideration is finding a new veterinarian that is the right fit for you and your pet. If you have family or friends in the area, ask for recommendations or do your own research by reading reviews and news articles. Once you find one, contact your current vet to initiate a transfer of medical records. Then schedule a “get to know you” appointment shortly after your move.

Have Collars and Paperwork Handy. While you’re preparing, it’s also a good idea to have all paperwork and contact information handy. Make sure cats and dogs are wearing a collar with your phone number on it, as well as their rabies tags and any other relevant information. If there is a mishap during your move and one of your pets escapes through an open door, you want to be able to find them. If they aren’t already microchipped, now is a good time to have this simple procedure done.

Don’t Overfeed. Some animals have a tendency to overeat when they are stressed, especially if they believe you are going to be leaving them alone for a while. Make sure to watch your animals in the days leading up to the move and avoid overfeeding them. Cats especially are likely to get sick from stress and anxiety if they have overeaten and then gone for a car ride. Dogs are somewhat less likely to react negatively in the car, but each pet has its own limits.

Transportation. Whether it’s a short drive or a long plane ride, the safest way to relocate a nervous pet is with a crate.  However, if you’re in a hurry on moving day and you shove your pet into a crate and slam the door, you’re only going to make matters worse. Instead, you need to bring the crate inside your home several weeks in advance so they can smell it and explore it in a low-stress environment.  For most pets, this is a foreign concept, and they require time to get comfortable with it. Start acclimating your pet as early as possible and use comfort items like treats and favorite toys and blankets to make the experience is a positive one for your pet.

Prepare a Place for them. Pad your moving schedule with ample time to get your dog or cat acclimated to their new home. Cats and dogs react to new spaces differently, but when it comes to moving day, you’ll probably want them out of the way while you finish unloading the furniture and heavy boxes. The easiest way to manage this is to have food, water, and their favorite toys already set up in a spare bedroom or bathroom so you can open their crate and let them explore in a quiet corner of the house. Once all your other furniture is moved in, you can open the bedroom door and let them see more, but the first few hours should be quiet and calm. Once all the moving of furniture and boxes is done, make sure to clear anything that could be dangerous and block off areas as necessary then let them free to get a lay of the land on their own.

Walk Through the new House with Your Pet on a Leash. Your pet picks up on many sounds and smells that you can’t. As a result, they may react to certain scents left behind by the previous owner, or new sounds from the HVAC unit or neighborhood traffic. The best way to handle this introduction is with a leash so your pet can explore without getting beyond your reach. Help them explore inside the house, room by room, and set clear boundaries if they are not allowed in certain spaces. Likewise, walk the front and backyard slowly with a leash attached so you can inspect the fence and handle any interactions with wayward animals or children.

All of these tips will help your pet handle move-in day as peacefully as possible. Just remember, your pet will likely need a few days to adjust to the new space, and having plenty of familiar items and toys around can help them make that adjustment.

Hope you found these tips helpful.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

June is National Home Ownership Month

Owning your own home brings lots of savings to the pocketbook, but with home ownership some of the other costs can add up. So it never hurts to take measures to help you reduce your monthly utility bills. Below are a few ways to do just that!

Electricity Bill

Saving money on your electricity bill can be done in multiple ways. Some easy changes include running appliances, like the stove, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer, at night, opting to air dry clothes, or cooking meals in a crockpot, toaster oven, and in the summer months – on the grill outside. Set aside time throughout the year to inspect the areas around doors and windows and seal any cracks with caulk or weather stripping. Additionally, make sure to unplug electronics when not in use or use a power strip to turn them all off at once.

Water Bill

Your monthly water bill can sneak up on you, but small changes can be made to cut costs. Install WaterSense-certified faucets and showerheads and convert toilets to low flow to reduce the amount of water used. Make sure to regularly check toilets and sinks for leaks and repair them. Opt for using your dishwasher instead of hand washing and ensure it’s a full load each time. Also, don’t forget to turn off the water while brushing your teeth and shaving.

Gas Bill

Investing in some changes upfront can make a difference on your natural gas bill long term. Add insulation in your attic and around your water heater and pipes. Make sure to repair any leaks in your ducts, inspect your furnace regularly, and check your home for any blocked vents that could cause your gas heating system to work overtime. You can also reduce the temperature of your water heater.

Here are some other tips to help lower your utility costs:

  • Give your thermostat a nudge: Set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%. A programmable thermostat does the work for you.
  • Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature: Set your fridge to 38 degrees and your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees. This will keep your food fresh, but your fridge and freezer won’t need to work as hard to maintain the temperature.
  • Take shorter showers: Trimming two minutes off your shower time can cut your water usage by five gallons.
  • Don’t wash clothes in hot water: Stick to warm or cold water when you do laundry and cut your per-load energy usage by at least half.  And wash full loads.
  • Fix leaky faucets: That drip, drip, drip isn’t just annoying, it wastes gallons of water.
  • Adjust the temperature on your water heater: The default temperature setting on water heaters is typically 140 degrees. Lowering it to 120 degrees can reduce your water heating costs by up to 10%. Leaving town for a few days? Turn your water heater to the lowest setting to conserve energy usage.
  • Purchase energy-efficient appliances: If you’re in the market for a new washer, dishwasher or water heater, buy an energy-efficient model to yield long-term savings. A dishwasher with the Energy Star label is required to use 3.5 gallons of water or less per cycle, compared with the more than 10 gallons used by some older models. Prioritize appliances that run most often, like the fridge, HVAC system, water heater, dehumidifier, TV, washer and dryer.
  • Ask about discounted rates: Some utility providers offer cheaper rates during certain times of the day, making laundry and other energy-intensive chores 5% to 25% less expensive during off-peak times. And some utilities offer senior discounts.
  • Swap out your lightbulbs: Save $75 per year by swapping out the bulbs in your five most-used light fixtures with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs that bear the Energy Star label.
  • Install dimmer switches: Dimmers let you set the brightness in a room to suit your needs, setting the mood and saving electricity.

Hope you found these tips helpful.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

Fees to be Aware of When Purchasing a Home

Purchasing a home is arguably one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. As you start your hunt, don’t forget there will be other costs associated with your purchase than the price of the home. This is valuable information, especially for first-time homebuyers. These are all good reasons to hire an experienced Real Estate Agent to help navigate you through the process, plus the fact of multiple offers and homes now selling above listing price.

Here are 5 fees to keep in mind as you begin to budget.

  1. Home inspection. This is a crucial step in the home buying process. The findings that come from the inspection can help you negotiate price and repairs. Generally, you can expect to pay between $300 to $500 depending on the home and the location.
  2. Title services. Title services encompass the transfer of the title from the seller and a thorough search of the property’s records to ensure to no one will pop up with a claim to the property. Additionally, you may need to buy title insurance which will protect the lender or your investment in the home.
  3. Appraisal fee. Before getting a loan, you will likely be required to get an appraisal of the home to determine its estimated value. This will be conducted by a third-party company and the cost can land anywhere between $300 and $1,000, depending on the size of the home.
  4. HOA fees. Many communities have a homeowners’ association that enforces monthly fees. This money is used for general maintenance and updates to areas like pools, parks, and more. Typical HOA fees are around $200 per month.
  5. Taxes. The taxes each buyer pays at the closing table differ, but it is not uncommon for it to be up to two months’ worth of county and city property taxes. Additionally, there may be taxes for the transfer of the home title.

I would be happy to talk with you as you prepare to buy or sell and devise a plan to help you transition as smoothly as possible.

Sincerely,

Marie Dinsmore

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence