The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

Is Your Monthly Mortgage Payment About to Increase?

 If you signed the papers on a fixed mortgage rate for 15 or 30 years, you probably thought those payments would stay the same the entire life of the loan. Staying away from the adjustable rate mortgages gave you that piece of mind, but you could still be in for a price hike.

Don’t freak out yet! Knowing why you might be paying more can help you plan for the increase, and solve the issues this problem could create. 

Ins and Outs of Escrow Accounts – for those of you who borrowed more than 80% of the value of the house, the bank will most likely require you to get an escrow account. This account is a specific account to collect property taxes, homeowner insurance, mortgage insurance, and HOA dues; given all on top of your mortgage payments. These funds will sit in your escrow account until the bill comes. Escrow accounts are helpful to those who have trouble saving up large amounts of money for these large bills. The reason your mortgage could increase is due to what’s happening with your escrow account behind the scenes. They break down all the expenses and add them to your mortgage.

Property taxes – property taxes are one of the biggest financial burdens for homeowners. Greedy government needs, rising property values, or home improvements can lead to an increase in property taxes. Lenders will begin collecting more per month for the escrow accounts to cover their total cost as the property taxes rise. Because the property taxes are rising, so will your escrow, which in turn will lead to the mortgage payment increase. This can however, be disputed by appealing for a lower assessment amount. It’s not guaranteed to land in your favor though.

Homeowners insurance – For every mortgage, homeowners insurance is a requirement. What can...

Helping Yourself Sell Your House

Selling your house is a process. If your home is a midsized suburban home, you best get it ready to sell to a millennial, or a gen-Xer, because that is your market now. If you can update your home to appeal to that market, your house will be ideal for younger generations. Here are five tips to use when readying your home to sell to younger generations.

  1. Backyard deck – Everyone, including millennials, love back yards and decks. If you have a tiny one, or don’t have one, consider building one. It gets them a place to relax outside.  If you cannot afford an all wood deck, do some research on composite deck materials. These are not as expensive, and require less maintenance than traditional pine wood decks. If you can put some lights aro0und your deck, it will surely add a pretty touch.
  2. Fancy kitchens – The kitchen is the one room that will always give you the highest ROI. It’s the one room where families spend most of their time. But what is a fancy kitchen compared to a regular kitchen? Here are the keys to a gourmet kitchen: state-of-the-art appliances, colorful and quality countertops, and plenty of storage spots.

Gourmet kitchens have multiple ovens. They have heating ovens, conventional ovens, and microwaves. This gives fancy cooks options when practicing their craft. They will also have multiple coolers/freezers in the kitchen too. The extra freezer is made for storage.

The counter tops are the real visual appeal. In the last decade, granite and marble countertops have been the hot trend. These look beautiful, and will last a lifetime. If you cannot afford these countertops, go for a laminate counter top that mimics granite or marble.

The last aspect of a kitchen is storage space. These include sliding spice racks, large pantry closets, and plenty of cabinet drawers. If you cannot afford all these updates, then go for a cosmetic update. Just throw in a new paint job, and some new counters,...

Simple Ways to Declutter Your Home

Throughout the years we often collect clutter around the house. No matter have valuable you think it may be all this “valuable” stuff still gets in the way.  This blog is a list of ways to declutter your home the simplest ways possible.

Getting rid of all the stuff lying around the house can be a feeling of relief. It has been proven that with everything lying around, it can actually hinder our ability to process information. This is because it distracts us, drains us of energy, and can make us easily annoyed. S why have all that unnecessary garbage in your life? Let’s get started shall we?

Reverse hanger tactic – how many of your clothes haven’t been taken off the hanger in years? Use this trick; take all your clothes on hangers and put them in backwards, so the open end of each hanger now faces you. Write down on the calendar six months ahead. Each time you wear the piece, put it facing away from you. After six months you will know what you wear and don’t wear regularly. If you haven’t worn it in six months, toss it.

Bedsheet Bundle – We all struggle with folding sheets, especially the one with the stretchy band. Somehow they end up mashed in the closet, which in turn creates a cluttered closet. TO avoid all this, fold the entire set as best you can, and place them inside one pillowcase. Easy right?

Four-box method – If a room in your house has a bunch of random things in it, it’s time to use the four box trick. Bring in three regular boxes and one trash can. Label these boxes, “trash, donate, storage, and put away”. Sort the items accordingly, and the room should be free in no time.

Use your trunk – After you have all your boxes lined...

What to Do When You're Yard Is Dead

Adding curb appeal to your home during a drought isn’t all that difficult. One just has to know how to do it correctly. Especially on the west coast is the drought really becoming a problem, but drought can happen almost anywhere. If you are trying to sell your home and need to spice up the entire front landscape of your yard, here are a few simple tricks to make it green again.

 

Lawn alternatives – Hardly anyone has the green grass enclosed by a white picket fence anymore; now they turn to stones closing the yard with drought resistant shrubs surrounding their house. If the once green grass has turned brown, and you can’t quite bring it back to life, try using different grass. These aren’t truly grasses, but they serve as a substitute. Try Asiatic Jasmine, or pea gravel. These two types of substitutes need very little maintenance and keep the home looking fresh year round.

 

Drought tolerant plants – Go to your local garden center and ask them about plants that do well during droughts. Using sea grasses usually requires less watering, and less trimming. These plants usually only need attention twice a year. If that’s not attractive I don’t know what is.

 

Another attraction to these kinds of landscapes is that weeding, trimming, and mulching are no longer something to be dreaded. Those days are long gone. Another piece that could add some flare to your yard could be a hammock. Who doesn’t enjoy a hammock?

 

Faux lawn – Here is the barebones remedy to a brown lawn. Paint it green. As comical as this may seem, it is actually a growing trend. It is completely safe for children and pets.            This job can either be done by professionals or you can do it if you have a paint sprayer!

 

I hope these tips give you some help in reviving your dead lawn. If nothing...

Rent Control - Causing More Problems Than it Solves

Rent control is becoming more popular as rent continues to rise across the country. The economists, real estate analysts, and other housing experts are not for rent control. They are of the belief it is doing more harm than good.

                Zillow conducted a study group and found the following numbers. A good 63% of housing experts say rent control is the government’s way of intervening in the market. No matter how well-intentioned this idea is, the government always finds a way to mess it up.

For residents against anti-rent control, they view it as the government violating the principles of a free market, which in turn hurt more lower-income residents for the future than it does help them in the short-term. 33% in favor also believe rent control should only be used in a crisis.

                Only 2% of the entire group claimed that rent control would be helpful in the short-term during a crisis. As housing prices counted to level off during 2015, rent was still rising, which quickly outpaced incomes. Most U.S. households now pay over 30% of their income on rent.

                Most economists believe rent control is a bad plan for long-term tenants. It unknowingly kills incentive for new rental homes to be built, which in time will lead to too little inventory. Rent control can also hinder landlords from making upgrades to their buildings. They wouldn’t do this if there isn’t going to be any reward for it.

                The biggest outcry for rent control is in the bigger cities. Cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, have rent control blanketed in sections of the city, or across the entire city. However, no government...

Ways for Homeowners to Save Again

We all know how difficult it can be to stay on track for a weight loss plan, and much of the same can be said for saving your money. Yes, you’ve made leaps and bounds towards your goal of saving up for a down payment, but motivation can dwindle after you reach a certain point. Don’t let yourself walk to the finish line, get there in a full sprint.

 Here are a few tips to reach your goal in full sprint.

1.       Try the savings challenge

This can help if you are a competitive person who is motivated by a good challenge. Here you want to turn your financial goals into a competitive game. The way this game works is by saving an allotted number of money per week. Week one is $1, week 2 is $2, week 3 is $3 etc. B the end of the 52 week calendar, you will have saved $1,378.

Another challenge is the no spending challenge, which is eliminating mindless spending. Mindless spending is like buying gum or candy at gas stations, chips at the grocery store. Whatever you can live without; don’t spend your money on it.

2. Attach saving to treating yourself

No hard work should go without reward. Neither should saving. Once you’ve drawn up the blueprints to your saving plans, figure out a percentage you can responsibly spend on yourself. Allow yourself to spend 10% of your emergency buffer of something of your choosing. So, if you have a $15,000 emergency fund, you are allowed to spend 10% of it, and it won’t make or break you.

3. Use visual cues

We all can get carried away with everyday spending when to ultimate goal is way into the future.  We all have been guilty of being stuck in the present instead of the future. The trick to this is to use pictures, or notes as visual cues...

Mortgage Rates 8-12-15

Another week, another update on the mortgage rates is in the books. The current rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage is 3.77 percent, which is up two basis points from this time last week. It started out a bit higher at the beginning of the week and fell to its current place on Wednesday.

 They rose after the Atlanta Fed claimed the interest rates might increase in September. Because China’s yuan has been decreasing in value, they are expecting the rates to go down a bit more.

 For the 15-year fixed rate mortgage settled at 2.96 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate is at 2.83 percent.

 Stay tuned next week for another update. Hopefully they don’t rise too high too quickly.  

...

Time to Start Aggressively Paying Off Your Mortgage

If you are in a healthy financial situation and have little debt, it’s time to start chipping, hacking away at your mortgage. Today’s market shows extremely low interest rates, which aren’t typically draining your bank account. With this being said, the urgency to pay it off has somewhat diminished for people. Only the real go-getters don’t want this hovering over them for years.

                Before you decide to go all in on killing your mortgage, there are a couple things you should do first. In order of importance, here are the places you need to fix your financial attention before tacking the beast.

 Kill your credit cards

                Pay off all your credit cards. Don’t get close; don’t say you’ll do it later; DO IT! Pay off the ones with low interest rates too. They goal is to own your home, not own a bunch of credit card debt.

Have a rainy day fund

                This is a side fund worth 6-12 months of expenses. You will need this money when you suddenly get laid off, or can’t work for some reason. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Build your retirement

                Contribute the maximum amount you can towards your 401K, IRA, or whatever account you have. Talk to your accountant about it.

Get the kids to school

                This step all depends on your child...

How to Stay Cool This Summer Without Air Conditioner

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an air conditioner. Whether you don’t have one, it’s busted, and/or, just trying to keep your electric bill down, use these hacks to stay cool during the summer. There are days and nights where it can be just miserable to live without ac. These tips will help you survive the unbearable heat.

  1. Make your ceiling fan go counterclockwise

There will be a little switch on the motor of your fan indicating which way the blades spin.  It’s easier than you think. Naturally, counterclockwise creates a cooler breeze than clockwise.

  1. Keep the light out

Not letting light in by closing shades, blinds, and curtains can keep your place cooled by 20 degrees.

  1. Find your inner MacGyver

Put a full bowl of ice cubes directly in front of the fan. Make sure the fan blows on them directly to cool the room. The air hits the ice to create a cool, misty breeze. It works, trust me.

  1. Don’t close yourself off

Keep doors open to allow air to circulate through the house. Closing doors keeps air trapped and makes rooms have that stuffy feeling.

  1. Revamp your bedding

Take off your flannel sheets already! Put on any other sheets and your skin will breathe much better at night. A trick you can do is to get a spray bottle and mist down your sheets before you fall asleep. Everyone can agree the worst feeling is waking up drenched in sweat.

  1. Sleep alone

Sleep alone one night and notice how much body heat a partner emits.

  1. Get a water bottle

Throw a water bottle in the freezer for a little while, and then put it on your feet before bed. Another thing you can do is to dunk your feet in ice water before bed. The feet have many nerves and pulse points, so chilling these will tell your body to cool off.

  1. Unplug

Appliances that are plugged in create heat, no doubt...

Going on Vacation? Here's A Quick Checklist for Home

We all enjoy vacations, but the moment you hit the road, don’t let the paranoia kick in by questioning if you didn’t prep the house for a week of inactivity while you’re gone. Don’t be the family that comes home to a house that stresses you out. Try to set yourself up to get back into your routine as quickly as possible.

Take a look at this list, and prepare yourself to come back to your palace, just as you left it.

Keep things running

Keep the air conditioner on if your usual household temperature isn’t between 85 degrees and 65 degrees. If you are in between those temperatures, you’re golden, but if not, it’s best to set the AC on auto. Temperatures that are too warm can cause mold and mildew in a few days.

If your trip isn’t for awhile, consider getting a NEST thermostat. These you can control from your phone, anywhere, anytime.

Flush

Start the week with a fresh bowl of toilet water. Flush the toilers before you go so you don’t come home to stagnant water.

Clear drains & gutters

Clear them! Maybe it hasn’t rained in weeks; if they are by chance clogged, and water overflows onto the siding of your house, it could seep into the basement or siding of the house. This type of damage is always expensive.

Secure the garage

Take out garage door openers and unplug the garage door. This way the door is permanently shut while you are gone.

Power down

Unplug your small appliances like toasters, lamps, TVs, and almost anything with a clock on it. Circuits to blow from time to time, so avoid that happening and causing a fire. If this is too much of a pain, then buy a surge protector....