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Home Ownership

Smart Tips For Automating Your Home

home automation tips for your home

Tips For Automating Your Home

Home automation can help reduce some of the effort of managing a home and make it overall more enjoyable to live in.  Certain automation tools available for the home can maintain proper temperatures, keep an eye on security, and even report serious issues like HVAC or water heater issues.  This article explores some of the home automation technology out there and how it can benefit homeowners.

Leak Monitoring

A flooded house can be a huge disaster for homeowners especially if not caught in time.  Many homes have finished basements with carpeting, furniture and electronics that if exposed to water can result in a total loss to those items.  Even worse, water that is allowed to sit in a basement for any length of time can make the entire house unlivable since water will cause mold to grow and that mold will spread to the rest of the house.  Smart water leak monitoring devices can keep an eye on leaking pipes and basement floods in general which will alert the homeowner to water issues before it is too late.

Things like sewage ejector failing to work or leaking from the ejection pipe, back up in the sewer lines can be make for even a worse (read stinky) situation.  The sooner one knows about sewage leaks/backups in the basement the sooner one can act to stop any further damage.  There are a number of companies who make smart water leak sensors and some of them will integrate with existing smart home systems like Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and more.

Smart Thermostats

Maintaining the proper temperature in a...

What Should You Do With A Bonus Room In A House?

What Should You Do With A Bonus Room In A House?

What Should You Do With A Bonus Room In A House?

A bonus room is one of those extra spaces found in the house that does not fit within the definitions of the other rooms found in the house.  Bedrooms and other rooms have their names and particular uses whereas the bonus room does not.  The bonus room still can be useful for the homeowner and this article explores what homeowners might want to utilize their bonus rooms for.

What Exactly Is A Bonus Room?

As mentioned above a bonus room is usually not one of the other typical rooms like bedroom, family room, living room, or den.  Sometimes the bonus room is found in the upper levels of the home like an attic space that has been finished.  The room may not be large but is still big enough to utilize in some way.  When in an attic there may be slanted ceilings or lower than normal ceilings.  Basically, it is not a typical room and rather than let that room be wasted space someone (builder or the homeowner) decided to covert that room to usable space.

Can A Bonus Room Be Used As A Bedroom?

Depending on the size of the bonus room, some can be used as a bedroom.  Whether it can be described as a bedroom in marketing remarks when selling a home is a different story.  In most locations a bedroom has to have a closet and two ways in/out of the bedroom (a window can be one of those ways) in order to be legally called a bedroom.  So, a bonus room on the third-floor attic space may not be technically called a bedroom that does not mean people won’t use it as...

Does A Mortgage Payment Always Stay The Same?

Does A Mortgage Payment Always Stay The Same?

Does A Mortgage Payment Always Stay The Same?

When one buys a house with a mortgage the common thought may be that now my house payments are fixed for thirty years and there is nothing else to worry about.  Depending on the type of mortgage a house is purchased with and whether taxes and insurance are escrowed the monthly home payment may not stay the same for thirty years.  This article explores what a home mortgage payment actually consists of and how sometimes the monthly payment can go up or down at times.

What Does A Mortgage Payment Consist Of?

The most common parts of a mortgage payment consist of the principal and interest payment.  As the homeowner pays off their mortgage over time they are paying a certain amount towards the principal balance of the mortgage (the amount of the actual loan) and towards interest.  The principal and interest payment rarely will be the same amount and will change over time where the balance being paid towards principal will increase and the amount going towards interest will decrease.  One common way of paying down a mortgage faster over time is by paying extra towards the principal so that way less interest is paid overall for the mortgage.  

If a homeowner has paid less than 20% down towards the purchase of their home then the lender will require that the homeowner also pay into escrow a pro-rated monthly amount to cover the payment of homeowner’s insurance and property taxes.  Generally, whatever the total amount of annual taxes plus the insurance premium will be is divided by twelve in order to determine the monthly required house picture...

What Is Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure?

What Is Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure? graphic

What Is Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure?

Deed in lieu of foreclosure is a term used by mortgage lenders to mean the homeowner gives up their ownership of the home to the lender in order to avoid a foreclosure action against them.  There may be any number of reasons why a homeowner wants to give up ownership of their home and a foreclosure is a huge negative mark on one’s credit score.  For the mortgage lender a foreclosure action can be a lengthy and costly process.  This article explores deed in lieu of foreclosure and why a homeowner may want to choose that option.

How Does A Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure Work?

Sometimes deed in lieu of foreclosure is referred to as jingle mail since the homeowner is literally mailing the keys of their home to the lender as a statement that they are giving up their ownership of the home.  The process is not that simple though as title to the home needs to be transferred back to the lender.  Usually this can be done by signing the deed over to the mortgage lender and filling out any other paperwork the lender requires.

Generally, lenders are willing to take a deed in lieu of foreclosure since it will be less costly than pursuing the foreclosure process.  Of course, this assumes that there are no other liens or other loans secured by the property.  If there are tax liens, mechanics liens, home equity loan liens on the home that could make the process a little more difficult for the primary mortgage...

What Should A Homeowner Do When The Mortgage Forbearance Is Over

What Should A Homeowner Do When The Mortgage Forbearance Has Ended

What Should A Homeowner Do With Mortgage Forbearance

During this pandemic that started in 2020 many homeowners found themselves out of a job due to local economy shutdowns meant to slow the curve.  Through government action homeowners with certain types of home loans were allowed to defer paying their mortgage due to impacts from COVID shutdowns.  For those who were impacted economically by job loss or reduction in pay and have their mortgage payments in deferral may be wondering what actions they should take once the deferral of payments come to an end.  This article explores what homeowners should be considering about their current home situation and their deferral of mortgage payments.

What Did The Deferrals Allow?

People had to prioritize their spending due to either being temporarily or permanently out of work because of the the virus related shutdowns.  Mortgage payments along with the corresponding insurance and property tax payment account for a large part of many homeowners monthly spending.  Some homeowners were faced with not spending on food or medicine or not paying their mortgage and facing possible foreclosure and years of a wrecked credit report.  Through the CARES Act the government postponed lender foreclosures until December 31, 2020 and also gave homeowners the ability to ask for forbearance of their mortgage payment if they were experiencing financial hardship caused by the pandemic.  The CARES Act applies to mortgages sponsored by government...

How To Prevent Hackers From Hacking Your Home

How To Prevent Hackers From Hacking Your Home

How To Prevent Hackers From Hacking Your Home

With many home appliances having internet connected features to make them “smart”, the risk of some hacker taking over those smart devices in the home increases.  In many cases hackers take over important functions of business or government computer systems and demand payment in exchange for releasing those systems back into the owner’s control.  It is not hard to envision something similar happening more frequently to homeowners who increasingly are relying on smart features in their home devices.  This article provides tips for homeowners to secure their home thereby making it less likely they fall victim to a hacker.

Start With The Basics

Physical security is not just for keeping the inside of a home safe, physical security can also help keep a home’s network safe.  Peeping Toms are not all out there looking to get an eyeful of someone, sometimes they are looking to see if they can spot credit card numbers, network passwords, social security numbers sitting out in the open.  No breaking and entering needed.  If someone can get see the network password, credit card numbers, bank account numbers or other sensitive information it is not hard to steal from that person at that point.  Homeowners should not be leaving that information out in the open.  That means no network passwords on sticky notes out in the open where anyone walking by can see it.  

With a network password a criminal can gain...

What To Know About A Home’s Roof

What To Know About A Home’s Roof

What To Know About A Home’s Roof

The roof is an important part of the home that help keeps the bad weather out of the home and helps retain heat in the cold months and retain cooler air during the hot months.  There are a number of components that make up the roof.  Keeping all parts of the roof in good working order and properly maintained will help with keeping the house standing and healthy for a long time to come.  This article looks at the importance of routine roof maintenance homeowners should be doing and how to determine if a roof needs replacement.

How Is A Roof Assembled?

A home’s roof consists of a few different components.  Shingles on top of felt underlayment on top of roof decking.  The felt underlayment helps with keeping water from getting into the attic.  Other components of the roof system include the gutters, flashing installed to keep water from leaking into openings of the roof (like the chimney, vent pipes, sky lights and more).  While part of the roof, the gutters are mainly designed to channel water away from the base of the home in order to protect the foundation.

A majority of roof shingles are made out of asphalt that kind of look like very rough sand paper.  Other types of roof shingles include slate tiles, clay tiles, metal, ceramic, plastic and more.  Asphalt shingles are the most commonly installed shingles due to cost and ease of installation.  For longevity metal, ceramic and clay tile shingles usually last longer than asphalt but also cost a bit more.  Some companies have created ...

Tips For Turning A Home Into A Rental Property

Tips For Turning A Home Into A Rental Property

Tips For Renting Your Home

Whether you are looking to convert your home into a rental investment property or need to move and are unable to currently sell your home, converting it into a rental property is an option.  Contrary to what may be shown on television getting a home ready for rental and finding good tenants is not as easy as it appears.  This article explores what steps homeowners should be taking in order to rent out their home.

Determine If The Home Can Be Rented Profitably

Renting a home and not making any money on it, or worse losing money on it is not a great investment strategy.  While the homeowner may be forced to move due to a job or family situation, renting out a house where one has to pay money out of pocket to cover the mortgage and taxes does not make any financial sense.  Part of the reason for renting out real estate is so the owner can have a positive cash flow, some of which should be saved to account for repair and maintenance expenses associated with the home.  If the HVAC goes out the repair/replacement expense can be pretty.  If there is a water leak the repair of the leak and repair of the damage associated with the leak can be high as well. 

Thinking that long term appreciation will make up for the current lack of cash flow is also a faulty strategy to could end up costing the owner.  Appreciation is never guaranteed in real estate as depending on the economy and migration one may find themselves with a depreciating asset.  If a large employer decides to relocate or the desirability of an area decreases real estate prices as a whole in that...

Tips For Setting Up The Perfect Home Office

Tips For Setting Up The Perfect Home Office

Tips For Setting Up The Perfect Home Office

With the recent virus issues many more people are working from home on a regular basis.  A properly setup home office will allow for a good work environment that allows one to be productive and be healthy at the same time.  Having a home office can also help increase the value of a house providing it is not taking away from existing rooms.  This article looks at some best practices for setting up a home office.

Consider The Location

If one plans to work full time from a home office then having a “room with a view” is ideal if possible.  While a lot of times homeowners have extra space in the basement for setting up a home office that does not make it the best place to have a work space where one will be spending eight or more hours a day unless of course the basement is a walkout basement and has a view.  The reason that a basement is not a good place for an office is the lack of the view and the lack of natural light. 

Office workers who stay in a confined space with no access to natural light and a view of the outdoors to break the monotony up will have a harder time keeping focused.  Even if for only a few moments at a time having a view where one can look out a window provides a break from staring at a computer screen all day and is a great way for mental refreshment.  Having natural light during the workday also boost productivity and helps with sleep!

While some homeowners may not be able to find extra space for the home office depending on house size and family size there are always options to explore.  If...

Updates For The Home

What to Consider When Making Updates For The Home

What To Consider With Updates For A Home

With the change in economic conditions some who were previously considering selling their home may decide to stay put and instead update the home.  Others who still want to sell their home might be considering what updates can help them obtain the best value for their home.  This article explores the types of updates homeowners may want to consider and what makes sense for homeowners who want to stay put versus homeowners who want to sell soon.

Updates For Those Wanting To Sell

For those homeowners who want to sell their home the updates done should be ones that bring the home up to a modern look and function.  Homes with old appliances, outdated cabinetry and fixtures can easily get a good return on investment (ROI) without going to extreme lengths in terms of spending on the updates.  Since the homeowner plans on selling their home it does not make a lot of financial sense to overspend as the short-term ROI will not be positive especially if they plan on selling within 6-12 months.  Instead homeowners should be looking for cost effective updates that make the home look better than it already is and will satisfy buyers who are looking for modern features.

Appliances

Kitchen appliances are one of those areas where home buyers look to right away when they are touring homes.  People spend time in the kitchen on a daily basis and having modern updated appliances are something they expect to have when buying a home.  Homeowners should be looking for...

Tips For Avoiding Foreclosure

Tips For Avoiding Foreclosure

Tips For Avoiding Foreclosure

With the recent troubles caused by the COVID-19 virus (also known as Corona virus) many homeowners find themselves stuck at home with no ability to go to work.  While some may be able to work from home and still get paid, those who cannot work from home may start to find their financial resources under pressure.  This article provides tips for homeowners to help prevent the possibility of a foreclosure on their home.

Communication With Lenders Is A Must

Whether a homeowner is expecting to be late on a credit card payment or their mortgage it is always best to contact the lender before the payment is due and find out what options are available.  Simply missing a payment without communicating with the lender is more likely to end up with the lender sending a late payment notice to the credit reporting agencies and tacking on late penalties.  Due to the extreme nature of the virus situation many lenders are understanding of situation homeowners find themselves in and are offering to waive late fees and offer payment options.  Without contacting the lender though they have no idea of an individual situation and will proceed with business as usual.

Many lenders are offering forbearance on bill payments in the short term which basically means they will accept that debt payments cannot currently be made and are willing to work with homeowners in order to avoid foreclosure.  An important thing to note though is if a homeowner can afford to pay their mortgage because they are working and getting paid then they should continue to do so.  Do not consider this as a mortgage or debt payment holiday.  Forbearance simply means the lenders will be delaying...

Tips For Homeowners To Save Money

Tips For Homeowners To Save Money

Tips For Homeowners To Save Money

By having a savings fund in place homeowners can weather the good and the bad times with less stress.  Even non-homeowners can benefit from having a savings fund since the money will be helpful during a “rainy day” event.  Building up that savings fund does not mean big sacrifices either as some seem to think.  Easy things can be done to start saving money that can translate into big numbers with the right effort as this article explores.

Refinance High Interest Rate Debt

Mortgage Refinance

When people think of refinancing high interest rate debt they often think of high interest rate credit cards.  While credit cards do carry high rates homeowners can benefit by refinancing their mortgage when the rates are lower than their current interest rate.  Many homeowners lock in interest rates with fixed term mortgages.  With a fixed term mortgage the interest rate stays the same for the life of the loan (usually 15 or 30 years).  In order to get a lower interest rate for the fixed term mortgage homeowners will need to refinance their current loan.  

Homeowners need to look at the overall numbers rather than just the interest rate as there are many mortgage expenses that can eat up any savings that come from a lower rate.  So while the interest rate may be lower the homeowner can end up in a worse situation when they are paying points or other mortgage fees as part of the refinance process.  When financed into the loan those mortgage fees also may not be noticed upfront.  Homeowners need to be checking that their overall monthly payment is lower as a result of the refinance.

Once a homeowner has ...

Who Pays For Pest Control Treatment?

who pays for pest control

Who Pays For Pest Control Treatment?

Pest control treatment can be either a one-off thing that does not cost much overall or something that is expensive and requires multiple treatments due to the type of pests involved.  This article explores who should be paying for pest control treatment.  In the case of a home for sale or in the case of a landlord/tenant matter the answer of who pays for pest control treatment will vary.

When A Home Is For Sale

In the case of a home up for sale the most common pest treatment that is called for after a home inspection has been conducted is treatment for wood damaging insects (WDI).  Termites are one of the more common WDI, live in the ground and will find their way into homes where they will make a meal of any wood products they come into contact with.  Wood support beams, basement joists, framing 2x4s and more all make a great place for termites since they like to eat dead wood which is what is found in many homes.  Treatment for termites can be relatively expensive (compared to other type of insect treatments) though it is a one-time treatment that should last for a couple of years.  Subsequent treatment may be required or the homeowner may want to consider installing termite bait stations which can keep them away from the house.

If termite damage is discovered during an inspection the home buyer can request the home seller to pay for treatment to stop further infestation in the home.  Sometimes the treatment of the termites will be required by the lender in order for them to approve the mortgage loan as the lender does not want to finance a home that may fall apart due to termite damage.  Generally in these cases the seller will be the one paying for the treatment.  If the lender does not...

Tips For Avoiding Bad Home Contractors

tips for avoiding bad contractors

Tips For Avoiding Bad Home Contractors

When the home is a castle making sure that home is in tip top shape or looks great is essential for both keeping the occupants happy and for retaining the value of the home. Homes require routine maintenance and updating to keep everything in good working order.  Deferred maintenance can quickly turn a great home into something that is unlivable.  Using the wrong contractors can result in overpaying for a job or worse having the contractor create more problems than what were to be fixed  This article provides tips for homeowners to find the best contractors to keep their home in tip top shape.

Search More Than Traditional Sources For Information On Contractors

One tried and true source of information on contractors is reviews on various review and social media sites.  Facebook, Google, Yelp, Better Business Bureau and more have reviews for contractors.  Keep in mind though those reviews should not be the first and only stop when researching a contractor.  Positive reviews can also unfortunately be bought by contractors to make themselves look better when in fact they have a poor track record.  Reviews also can be left by family and friends who have only seen the contractor’s best quality work and may have not seen the other clients they left hanging by not completing the job they were hired to do.

Contractors may even offer referrals from past clients as a way to show that people are happy with the work they do.  While past client referrals can be helpful they also can be faked or the contractor can pick from the very best jobs they did for client referrals, conveniently...

Advanced Security Tips For Protecting Your Home

advanced security tips for protecting your home

Advanced Tips For Securing Your Home and Personal Identity

A home is a person’s castle and protecting the home is a top priority.  Beyond just protecting the home physically homeowners should also look at protecting their home and themselves from digital thieves who don’t even need to enter a home to steal.  A lost credit card number or worse a social security number can lead to long term issues.  This articles provides some advanced tips for securing one’s home both against physical intruders and against those who want to steal your information.

Home Alarm

Having an alarm installed is one great way a homeowner can protect their home especially if the alarm is monitored.  A monitored alarm means if the alarm is triggered the monitoring company will first call the homeowner to check if everything is ok or if they are not able to reach the homeowner they will call the local police department.  The police will then come out to check on the home to see if there is an issue.  

Home alarms can also be unmonitored where the only warning they provide is in the home through the use of a siren and/or lights.  Monitored home alarms systems usually require a monthly fee for the monitoring service and with monitored service the homeowner may be eligible for homeowners insurance discounts.  There are many do it yourself (DIY) home alarm kits like Ring, Simplifi, and more where installation of the security devices and keypads are easily done by the homeowner.  For the homeowner who prefers...

Tips For Creating A Better Landscape

tips for creating a better landscape for your house

Tips For Creating A Better Landscape

A beautiful yard gives the homeowner more of an enjoyable and pleasing space to work or relax in. Whether one just wants to enjoy the outdoors for leisure purposes or one wants to get hands on involved in creating the look of their yard a great landscape makes a home look more appealing. Even more so if a home is soon to be put up for sale a great landscape helps draw the buyers in.  This article provides some tips on having a great looking landscape that is sure to have an impact.

Start With The Basics For A Great Landscape

The quality of the soil around your house will dictate the type of plants, grass and trees one can and cannot have.  The climate as well plays an important roll.  Certain fruit trees (like oranges) will work great in many areas of Florida. For an area like Cincinnati, Ohio though oranges will not survive the winter.

Cincinnati and many parts of Ohio and Northern Kentucky are known for having dense clay soils.  These dense clay soils can stop things from growing or flourishing if the proper prep work has not been done.  Some homeowners treat their soils with various additives in order to break up the clay and bring forward a more loose soil like structure.  One of the first places for Greater Cincinnati area homeowners to start is at their local extension, which provides soil testing. By getting ones soils tested they will know what nutrients are lacking and what should be added in order to boost the quality of it.

For those who do not want to tackle an entire yard of clay it may be better...

How To Prevent Mosquitos from Over Taking Your Yard

How To Prevent Mosquitos from Over Taking Your Yard

How To Prevent Mosquito’s from Over Taking Your Yard

Not only are mosquitos quite an annoyance they are also considered one of the deadliest animals in the world due to the fact that they can spread diseases and viruses through their bites.  Whether one is enjoying a relaxing day on the deck, grilling for family and friends or just tending to the yard mosquitos can quickly make what is enjoyable miserable after the itching sets in from mosquito bites.  This article provides tips for homeowners to help reduce mosquito levels in and around the house so the time spent outdoors can be pleasant.

Facts About Mosquitos

Not all mosquitos bite humans, in fact it is only the pregnant females of mosquitos that bite humans or other animals for blood.  The blood is used by the mosquitos to help produce eggs, eggs that must be laid in stagnant water.  Without stagnant water mosquitos do not have a place to multiply.  While in the water mosquito larvae will feed on algae and other bacteria in the water.  It can take up to 40 days for mosquitos to transition to the adult flying variety that cause all the problems.

Drain Standing Water

Standing water is ground zero for mosquito breeding grounds.  Without standing water mosquitos have nowhere to lay their eggs. That water can come from sources such as the rain, water sprinklers, pools, gardens, planters and more.  Where ever water sits stagnant gives mosquitos the opportunity to multiply.  Water collects in buckets, used tires, garden tools, pool toys, kids toys and even some types of plants can collect water that provide mosquitos enough of an area to lay eggs.  The best way to draining bucket...

Common Home Problems And How To Deal With Them

Common Home Problems And How To Deal With Them

Common Home Problems And How To Deal With Them

When it comes to home ownership the home owners are the ones responsible to make repairs or call a professional to help out.  An unmaintained home can quickly lead to disaster as little things like plumbing leaks, leaking gutters, electrical problems can turn into major repairs requiring a lot of money to fix.  On the other hand fixing those minor issues can be a great cost savings to the owner and results in a home that works great and stands the test of time.  Check out some of the common home problems and how best to deal with them below.

Clogged Toilet

Nothing can be worse than a clogged toilet.  Especially if there is only one toilet in the house avoiding a clogged toilet is not possible.  Whether the clog is a result of children putting things in the toilet that don’t belong, old drain lines or something else, clearing a clogged toilet can be easy with the right tools.  A plunger and a toilet auger are must haves for any homeowner as their onetime cost alone should total no more than $50 dollars for a good set.  On the other hand a call to a plumber for clearing any toilet clog can be $75 or more per call and that sometimes is just the starting fee.  If a particular toilet is prone to clogging the cost of calling a plumber can add up over time.  To learn how to properly plunge or auger a toilet be sure to check out this article here which takes you through the steps of unclogging drains.

Clogged Sinks

Clogged sinks are another common issue that generally will happen to most homeowners in their home. Depending...

Smart Devices To Help Save Energy And Money In The Home

smart devices to help save energy and money

Smart Devices To Help Save Energy And Money

All it takes is a smart phone, a smart device and an app to take your home into the future and turn it into a smart home.  Generally smart devices are devices that are connected to the internet and do more that the regular version of that device would do.  A smart security system can send you active reports of changes to the system, whether someone has entered the home or the whether smart camera detected the delivery person dropping off that package you have been expecting. Smart monitoring devices can check if no one is home and adjust temperature settings accordingly to help save energy.  Here are some areas of the home a homeowner can make their home smarter which can also help with the convenience factor and can help save money as well.

Whole House Smart Water Monitoring

Imagine if a device can monitor each and every faucet in the house to know how much water has been used from each?  Using that information that device can give tips and insights on how to save money and save water at the same time.  Imagine if that same device can also detect water leaks and also shut off the water completely in the event of a major pipe burst minimizing any potential water damage. Such a device does exist with, Moen FloStreamLabs, and Belkin’s Phyn smart water assistant.  These devices can monitor each and every water source in the house from the outdoor spigot, to toilets, showers, and sinks.  That monitoring allows...

4 Reasons Why You May Not Want To Own A House

reasons why you may not want to buy a home

4 Reasons Why You May Not Want To Own A House

While many strive towards the goal of owning a home, homeownership for others may be something that can hold them down unnecessarily.  Owning a home means committing to a long term mortgage (for many that means 15-30 years) and staying in the same living space for a while. It means being responsible for all the upkeep and ongoing maintenance for the home.  This article looks at the reasons why someone may instead prefer to rent an apartment or even a home so as not to be tied down to one place for too long.

High Transaction Costs

In order to purchase a home many need to borrow money via a mortgage loan.  Mortgages typically run 15 to 30 years and depending on the interest rate the amount of interest paid over the time of owning the home can sometimes be more than the actual price paid for the home.  While a mortgage interest rate deduction can help with that that still means homeowners are paying extra money for the privilege of living in a home they “own”.  Additionally prior to buying the home there are transaction costs that come with purchasing the home and taking out a mortgage.  Those costs include mortgage loan points, mortgage loan closing costs, real estate commissions, title insurance, title transfer fees, taxes and more. Depending on the price of the home, the total for those upfront costs can be in the thousands of dollars and more. Since home values don’t rise up very quickly (some years home values can go down) it may take a number of years for the home value to rise up enough to make up for those upfront costs bringing the homeowner back to breakeven....

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