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Take Advantage of Your Home Equity: A Homeowner's Guide

 

 

Homeownership offers many advantages over renting, including a stable living environment, predictable monthly payments, and the freedom to make modifications. Neighborhoods with high rates of homeownership have less crime and more civic engagement. Additionally, studies show that homeowners are happier and healthier than renters, and their children do better in school.1

 

But one of the biggest perks of homeownership is the opportunity to build wealth over time. Researchers at the Urban Institute found that homeownership is financially beneficial for most families,2 and a recent study showed that the median net worth of homeowners can be up to 80 times greater than that of renters in some areas.3

 

So how does purchasing a home help you build wealth? And what steps should you take to maximize the potential of your investment? Find out how to harness the power of home equity for a secure financial future.

 

 

WHAT IS HOME EQUITY?

 

Home equity is the difference between what your home is worth and the amount you owe on your mortgage. So, for example, if your home would currently sell for $250,000, and the remaining balance on your mortgage is $200,000, then you have $50,000 in home equity.

 

$250,000 (Home’s Market Value)

-           $200,000 (Mortgage Balance)

______________________________

             $50,000 (Home Equity)

 

The equity in your home is considered a non-liquid asset. It’s your money; but rather than sitting in a bank account, it’s providing you with a place to live. And when you factor in the potential of appreciation, an investment in real estate will likely offer a better return than any savings account available today.

 

 

HOW DOES HOME EQUITY BUILD WEALTH?

 

A mortgage payment is a type of “forced savings” for home buyers. When you make a mortgage payment each month, a portion of the money goes towards interest on your loan, and the remaining part goes towards paying off your principal, or loan balance. That means the amount of money you owe the bank is reduced every month. As your loan balance goes down, your home equity goes up.

 

Additionally, unlike other assets that you borrow money to purchase, the value of your home generally increases, or appreciates, over time. For example, when you pay off your car loan after five or seven years, you will own it outright. But if you try to sell it, the car will be worth much less than when you bought it. However, when you purchase a home, its value typically rises over time. So when you sell it, not only will you have grown your equity through your monthly mortgage payments, but in most cases, your home’s market value will be higher than what you originally paid. And even if you only put down 10% at the time of purchase—or pay off just a small portion of your mortgage—you get to keep 100% of the property’s appreciated value. That’s the wealth-building power of real estate.

 

 

WHAT CAN I DO TO GROW MY HOME’S EQUITY FASTER?

 

Now that you understand the benefits of building equity, you may wonder how you can speed up your rate of growth. There are two basic ways to increase the equity in your home:

 

  1. Pay down your mortgage.

 

We shared earlier that your home’s equity goes up as your mortgage balance goes down. So paying down your mortgage is one way to increase the equity in your home.

 

Some homeowners do this by adding a little extra to their payment each month, making one additional mortgage payment per year, or making a lump-sum payment when extra money becomes available—like an annual bonus, gift, or inheritance.

 

Before making any extra payments, however, be sure to check with your mortgage lender about the specific terms of your loan. Some mortgages have prepayment penalties. And it’s important to ensure that if you do make additional payments, the money will be applied to your loan principal.

 

Another option to pay off your mortgage faster is to decrease your amortization period. For example, if you can afford the larger monthly payments, you might consider refinancing from a 30-year or 25-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage. Not only will you grow your home equity faster, but you could also save a bundle in interest over the life of your loan.

 

  1. Raise your home’s market value.

 

Boosting the market value of your property is another way to grow your home equity. While many factors that contribute to your property’s appreciation are out of your control (e.g. demographic trends or the strength of the economy) there are things you can do to increase what it’s worth.

 

For example, many homeowners enjoy do-it-yourself projects that can add value at a relatively low cost. Others choose to invest in larger, strategic upgrades. Keep in mind, you won’t necessarily get back every dollar you invest in your home. In fact, according to Remodeling Magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value Report, the remodeling project with the highest return on investment is a garage door replacement, which costs about $3600 and is expected to recoup 97.5% at resale. In contrast, an upscale kitchen remodel—which can cost around $130,000—averages less than a 60% return on investment.4

 

Of course, keeping up with routine maintenance is the most important thing you can do to protect your property’s value. Neglecting to maintain your home’s structure and systems could have a negative impact on its value—therefore reducing your home equity. So be sure to stay on top of recommended maintenance and repairs.

 

 

HOW DO I ACCESS MY HOME EQUITY IF I NEED IT?

 

When you put your money into a checking or savings account, it’s easy to make a withdrawal when needed. However, tapping into your home equity is a little more complicated.

 

The primary way homeowners access their equity is by selling their home. Many sellers will use their equity as a downpayment on a new home. Or some homeowners may choose to downsize and use the equity to supplement their income or retirement savings.

 

But what if you want to access the equity in your home while you’re still living in it? Maybe you want to finance a home renovation, consolidate debt, or pay for college. To do that, you will need to take out a loan using your home equity as collateral.

 

There are several ways to borrow against your home equity, depending on your needs and qualifications:5

 

  1. Second Mortgage - A second mortgage, also known as a home equity loan, is structured similar to a primary mortgage. You borrow a lump-sum amount, which you are responsible for paying back—with interest—over a set period of time. Most second mortgages have a fixed interest rate and provide the borrower with a predictable monthly payment. Keep in mind, if you take out a home equity loan, you will be making monthly payments on both your primary and secondary mortgages, so budget accordingly.

 

  1. Cash-Out Refinance - With a cash-out refinance, you refinance your primary mortgage for a higher amount than you currently owe. Then you pay off your original mortgage and keep the difference as cash. This option may be preferable to a second mortgage if you have a high interest rate on your current mortgage or prefer to make just one payment per month.

 

  1. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) - A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a revolving line of credit, similar to a credit card. It allows you to draw out money as you need it instead of taking out a lump sum all at once. A HELOC may come with a checkbook or debit card to enable easy access to funds. You will only need to make payments on the amount of money that has been drawn. Similar to a credit card, the interest rate on a HELOC is variable, so your payment each month could change depending on how much you borrow and how interest rates fluctuate.

 

  1. Reverse Mortgage - A reverse mortgage enables qualifying seniors to borrow against the equity in their home to supplement their retirement funds. In most cases, the loan (plus interest) doesn’t need to be repaid until the homeowners sell, move, or are deceased.6

 

Tapping into your home equity may be a good option for some homeowners, but it’s important to do your research first. In some cases, another type of loan or financing method may offer a lower interest rate or better terms to fit your needs. And it’s important to remember that defaulting on a home equity loan could result in foreclosure. Ask us for a referral to a lender or financial adviser to find out if a home equity loan is right for you or check out of preferred vendor list on our Farrelly Realty Group website

 

 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP YOU

 

Wherever you are in the equity-growing process, we can help. We work with buyers to find the perfect home to begin their wealth-building journey at no cost to the buyer. We also offer free assistance to existing homeowners who want to know their home’s current market value to refinance or secure a home equity loan. And when you’re ready to sell, we can help you get top dollar to maximize your equity stake. Contact us today to talk!

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

 

Sources:

  1. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/highlights-from-social-benefits-of-homeownership-and-stable-housing
  2. Urban Institute -
    https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/homeownership-still-financially-better-renting
  3. Census Bureau -
    https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/08/gaps-in-wealth-americans-by-household-type.html
  4. Remodeling Magazine -
    https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2019/
  5. Investopedia -
    https://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/heloc/home-equity/
  6. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgage/reverse-mortgage-guide/

 

 

Tips for Taking the Stress Out of Moving into an Accessible Home

Tips for Taking the Stress Out of Moving into an Accessible Home

 

Are you in the market for a new accessible home? Navigating the home-buying process can be stressful, especially when mobility issues are a concern. With a few tips and tricks, however, you can make your move so much easier. Here’s how to get started.

 

Take Some Stress Out of Your Home Search 

 

Before you find your perfect home, you may want to spend some time planning to reduce stress and tension for your family, and this includes the four-legged family members. Make the time you spend searching for a home and moving less of an issue by making pet care more simple. An automatic pet feeder is a perfect solution to keep those furry bellies full and happy while you are dealing with all the extra stress. Many of the top models allow you to adjust feeding schedules to fit your pets so you can manage their care and their weight with minimal effort.

 

Of course, you may also need someone to help you out with other pet-parenting responsibilities if you do need to spend a lot of time away from home. You can look online to find a dog walker who can drop in on your pet and make sure he or she gets some exercise during those hectic days. You should also ask your dog walker about additional pet boarding services, which can come in handy if movers will be in and out of your home. Moving with dogs can be stressful, but dealing with a lost or frightened pet will only lead to more tension.

 

Find Accessible Homes Without Spending Hours Searching

 

If you are living with a disability, finding a home with features that fit your mobility needs can feel like a hassle. Online searches tend to leave out filters for accessibility features, which can make shopping for a new home a struggle. That’s why working with a realtor is always a smart first move when it comes to buying a new home. Licensed local real estate professionals will have more access to pertinent information about available properties and can more easily locate homes with mobility features already built-in.

 

If you and your realtor are having a hard time finding a home with accessibility options, you can also consider looking for a property at a price that will allow you to make your own upgrades. With the help of an experienced contractor, remodeling for accessibility can be fairly easy and inexpensive for prospective homeowners. Plus, your contractor will be able to tweak these adjustments so that they fit your own mobility needs and lifestyle. You may even be able to factor modification grants into your remodel budget, which can give you more options for making an offer on your dream home.

 

Hire Professional to Make Your Move Safe and Simple

 

Helping your pets stay calm and comfortable during this big change can relieve some tension, but you also need to make sure your move is safe for you. If you are living with a disability, chronic pain, or mobility issues, packing and moving boxes can put a lot of unnecessary strain on your body. So, think about looking for experienced professional movers who can take care of all of those tedious tasks for you. They often bring their own supplies too, which can leave more room in your budget for other moving expenses.

 

You can use the savings to pay for other new home and moving expenses. You will want to do a deep clean of your new home to make sure it is free of any allergens or pollutants that could make your family sick. This means stocking up on cleaning tools and supplies that will make the work easier, or you can think about hiring professional cleaners to help you with this chore as well. Professional cleaners take the work out of getting your new house clean and leave you with more time to relax and feel at home.

 

Moving with mobility issues does not have to be a hassle. You can plan ahead to make the whole process smoother and take the stress out of settling into your perfect new home.

 

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

Will Your Remodel Pay Off? The Best (and Worst) Ways to Spend Your Budget

 

Most new homeowners have something about their property that they want to change. And as family needs and design trends shift over time, many will eventually choose to remodel. Some homeowners make updates to their property before listing it to maximize their potential sales revenue.

 

Whatever your reasons are for taking on a home improvement project, it’s wise to consider how the money you invest will impact your home’s value.

 

We’ve taken a look at six popular home renovations and identified those that—on average—have the best and worst returns on investment. So before you lift a hammer or hire a contractor, take a look at this list and see if your remodeling efforts will reward you when it comes time to sell.

 

 

RENOVATIONS THAT PAY OFF

 

These three common home improvement projects not only add function and style to your home, but they also offer a strong return on investment. Making strategic upgrades to your property will help you increase its value over time.

 

Minor Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home,” and for good reason. Traditionally used for preparing food, it has morphed into so much more. Many of us now eat our family meals in the kitchen, it serves as a favorite spot for homework and kids’ art projects, and it’s the place guests tend to gather when we host events.

 

Because we spend so much time in our kitchens, it’s natural that we will eventually want to make updates and upgrades to better suit our needs and changing style preferences.

 

Luckily, a minor kitchen remodel is one of the best investments you can make in your home. According to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, it has an average 80.5% return on investment.1

 

The key to making a kitchen remodel pay off is to keep it modest in scale. Spend too much on custom or high-end selections, and you are less likely to recoup your investment. Instead, make an effort to keep your existing layout if it works for you and your family. Paint or reface cabinets instead of replacing them. Update countertops with low-maintenance quartz and swap out old light fixtures with modern alternatives. Replace outdated appliances with energy-efficient models. The average cost for a minor kitchen remodel is $22,500, and it’s likely to recoup more than $18,000 at resale.1

 

Wood Deck Addition

A deck addition is a popular way to extend and enhance the use of your outdoor space. It’s the perfect spot for grilling, dining alfresco, and entertaining. In fact, 81% of surveyed homeowners said they have a greater desire to be home since completing a deck addition.2

 

For a 16 x 20-foot wood deck, you can expect to spend around $13,000. Fortunately, the money you invest offers an average return of 76%.1

 

Decks made of composite material are a popular alternative these days, as they don’t require the regular sanding and staining that wood decks need. However, at an average cost of $19,000 for a 16 x 20-foot composite deck, they are significantly more expensive. Plus, the expected return on investment is only 69%.1 Still, if you plan to hire someone to provide regular maintenance to a wood deck, then a composite deck may offer cost savings over time.

 

 

Siding Replacement

Everyone knows good curb appeal is important when selling your home. And while it may not be the most exciting way to spend your remodeling budget, new siding can make a big impression on buyers … and your selling price.

 

Your home’s exterior is one of the first things buyers see when they view your home. It sets the tone for what they are going to see inside. It also gives an impression of how well the property has been maintained. Worn, peeling, or rotted siding can be a major red flag for buyers.

 

Replacing 1,250 square feet of siding costs around $16,000 and will net you an average of 76% at resale.1

 

For an even greater impact, consider replacing a portion of your siding with manufactured stone veneer. It can have a dramatic effect on the visual appeal of your home. A 300 square foot area will run you around $8,900, but you can expect to see a nearly 95% return when it comes time to sell.1

 

 

RENOVATIONS WITH WEAK RETURNS

 

These three popular remodeling projects are homeowner favorites. However, don’t expect to see a high rate of return at resale. Instead, consider them an investment in your current quality of life. Just make sure you’ll be living in the home long enough to make them worthwhile.

 

Major Kitchen Remodel

If there’s one room the majority of homeowners dream about making over, it’s their kitchen. From custom cabinetry to high-end appliances, the possibilities are endless. But those dreams can come at a cost.

 

An upscale kitchen remodel with high-end cabinetry and countertops, commercial-grade appliances, and designer features can cost upwards of $130,000. And unfortunately, you’ll only get back around 60% at resale. Even a mid-range kitchen remodel that includes new semi-custom wood cabinets, laminate countertops, and energy-efficient appliances could run you around $66,000 and net you a mere 62% at resale.1

 

Of course, an outdated or non-functional kitchen could turn buyers off from your home completely …  and keep you from enjoying it yourself! So if your kitchen needs a major remodel, you shouldn’t necessarily scrap your plans. Just go in with the realization that you may only get back a fraction of what you invest. Then you can decide which upgrades are worth the splurge.

 

In-ground Pool         

Few additions deliver more entertainment or enjoyment than an in-ground pool. It brings families and friends together, provides a break from the summer heat, and offers a fun and convenient way to stay fit. Plus, you’ll be the envy of your neighbors! But before you dive into a pool addition, consider whether the benefits outweigh the (substantial) costs.

 

The average expense to install a standard 18 x 36-foot in-ground pool is $57,500. And the estimated return at resale is only or 43%.2 In addition to the installation cost, plan to spend money each year on maintenance, repairs, and additional insurance.

 

However, 92% of surveyed homeowners said they “have a greater desire to be home” since installing a pool, and 83% have “an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home.” For you and your family, the perks of a pool may be priceless.2

 

Master Suite Addition

If you own a house built before the 1980s, there’s a good chance it lacks a master suite, which is a feature that has become commonplace in most newly constructed homes.3

 

Master bedrooms have evolved from a simple place to sleep into a homeowner’s retreat—often featuring a sitting area, his-and-hers walk-in closets, and an attached bathroom with double vanities, a soaking tub, and a walk-in shower.

 

And master suite additions have become increasingly popular—both in homes that lack one as well as those with aging owners who can no longer accommodate stairs to an upper-level bedroom.

 

But what’s the typical return at resale? Unfortunately, a master suite addition offers one of the lowest returns of any remodeling project. With a median cost of $125,000, most sellers will only recoup around 52% of their investment. Nevertheless, in a survey of homeowners, the majority were satisfied with their decision to add a master suite, giving it a “Joy Score” of 10 out of 10.4

 

 

WEIGHING COST VS. BENEFIT

 

It’s always wise to enter into a remodeling project with knowledge of how it will impact your home’s value. In most cases, upscale or highly-customized upgrades are less likely to offer a high rate of return. That said, home renovations that improve your quality of life and enhance your enjoyment may be worthwhile no matter the cost.

 

 

GET A CUSTOMIZED ANALYSIS OF YOUR PROJECT FROM FARRELLY REALTY GROUP

 

We’ve been talking averages. But the truth is, the actual return you can expect on a home improvement project will vary depending on your particular home and neighborhood. If you have plans to remodel, call or send us the details. We’d be happy to conduct a free analysis to determine how the renovations will impact the value of your home or put you in touch with our many vendors to help tackle your upcoming projects! Call us at (978)664-3700.

 

 

Sources:

  1. 2019 Cost vs. Value Report -
    https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2019/
  2. NAR’ Remodeling Impact Report - https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2018-05-remodeling-impact-outdoor-features-05-23-2018.pdf
  3. Zillow -
    https://www.zillow.com/blog/evolution-of-the-master-bedroom-48286/
  4. House Logic -
    https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/bedroom-closet/master-suite-addition-return-investment/

Top 6 Home Organization Upgrades that “Spark Joy” for Buyers and Improve your Property Value

The hit Netflix series “Tidying Up,” has made home organization a hot topic right now.  At Farrelly Realty Group we see an actual link between the hot topics inspired by these tv shows and what actual buyers in our market expect to see in the homes for sale.  It makes a difference! The "Tidying Up" host, Marie Kondo, encourages her viewers to minimize their possessions and keep only those items that “spark joy"  just as the Farrelly Realty agents advise their clients on the items that "spark joy" for the buyers in the market.

With spring in full bloom (finnally!), now is the perfect time to do some spring cleaning and add organizational systems to your own home. Not only will you clear out clutter, your efforts can actually increase the value of your home.

Ready to give it a try? Here are six home organization ideas that will “spark joy” for you, your property value and potential buyers if you are looking to sell.

Boost Bathroom Storage Capacity

When was the last time you cleaned out your bathroom cupboards? If it’s been awhile, remove everything and take a look at each item. Toss any old or expired products—keep only what you actually use.

If your vanity has drawers, add drawer organizers, so you have a dedicated space for smaller items, like makeup and jewelry. For deep cabinets, install roll-out shelves or baskets to maximize the use of space.And don’t forget about the walls! Mount open shelves to store towels. If you’re short on storage space, a cabinet over the toilet can offer additional room for supplies. These inexpensive additions can make your morning routine a little easier while giving your bathroom a more custom feel. And on average, minor bathroom remodeling projects like these see a 102% return at resale.1

 

Upgrade Your Laundry Room

Sort through the items in your laundry room and throw away or donate anything you no longer need or use. If you’ve been holding onto a collection of old washcloths and single socks, it’s time to say goodbye. Then give your laundry room an upgrade with some customized organizational features.

A mix of open cubbies and cabinets with doors will give you plenty of options for storing detergents and supplies. If you have space, a divided hamper or set of laundry baskets can provide a place to sort your clothes before washing. Install a hanging rod or drying rack for delicates and a flat work surface for ironing and folding clothes. With a few simple tweaks, you can turn this chore into a score!

Fully Utilize Your Basement or Attic

Basements and attics can easily become a dumping ground for clutter. If that’s the case in your home, you know what to do!

Once you’ve conducted a thorough clean out, think about how you can better utilize the space to meet your family’s needs. Install cabinets and a table so you can use the area as a craft room. Or you could turn it into a game room with a media center and ping-pong table. Investing in your basement will not only add function for your family, but also the average basement remodel can see up to a 70% return on investment when it’s time to sell.2

If you have an attic, consider adding a cedar closet to store your off-season clothing. The cedar lining will keep your clothes free from moths and smelling fresh year round.3 Turning your attic into a more usable space will pay off down the road, too. A finished attic sees an estimated 60% return on investment.2  

Customize Your Closets

Cleaning out the closet is a chore most of us dread, but by now, you’re a pro! Get rid the clothes and shoes that don’t fit you, are uncomfortable to wear, or that no longer “spark joy.”

Then it’s organizing time. So where do you start? You’ll want to create a designated space for each type of clothing: high hanging rods for dresses and long jackets, lower rods for skirts and shirts, and shelves for folded items like jeans. And accessories need a place to go, too. Add racks for your shoes, drawers for jewelry, hooks for hats, and shelves or racks for handbags.

A well-equipped closet can be a major draw for buyers—the average return on a closet remodel is 57%.4 But more importantly, it’ll improve your day-to-day life. Surveyed homeowners gave their closet remodel a “Joy Score” of 10 out of 10, higher than kitchen or bath upgrades.5

Install Built-in Bookcases and Cabinets

Built-in furniture adds functionality and storage to a room while giving your home a high-end look. Built-in bookcases can turn an empty room into an office. Custom cabinets can be used in a living room to display media equipment while providing hidden storage for DVDs, board games, and family albums.

When designing any built-in feature, remember not to go too custom. A design that only fits your tastes or belongings could turn off future buyers. Instead, select standard sizes and classic finishes to appeal to a broad range of buyers when it comes time to sell.

Equip Your Garage

If you can no longer fit your car in your garage, it may be time for a clean out. Similar to an attic or basement, the garage can quickly become overrun with clutter. A thorough cleaning will help you assess which items are worth keeping.

When adding organizational systems your garage, start with a small rack to store yard tools and larger racks for bikes and sports equipment. Overhead racks are a great place to put seasonal items and bulky luggage. A workbench against a wall lined with pegboard and hooks creates a dedicated space to use and store tools. If you have children or pets, add a cabinet with a lock. This will give you a place to securely store harsh chemicals and sharp tools. With a little effort, you’ll be pulling in your car (and buyers) in no time!

SPRING INTO ACTION

If you’re searching for service providers to help with your spring cleaning or home organization efforts, let us know! We can connect you with our trusted network of local home improvement professionals.  In addition to the WHO to hire there is the COST of these upgrades and renovations to consider.  Should you use a credit card or your home's equity?  One in three homeowners use at least one credit card to fund home renovations, typically in combination with other forms of payment.  Creditcard.com has created a comprehensive guide to help homeowners compare the funding options that may be at their disposal, such as home equity loans or HELOCs.  Their guide breaks down the pros and cons of using these options in comparison to a credit card to help readers more easily finance home renovations. 

Before you start any home project call us to help you determine which organizational upgrades or renovations will add the most value to your home!!   Call an FRG agent today (978)664-3700, we can help!

 

 

Sources:

 

  1. HGTV -
    https://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/top-home-updates-that-pay-off-pictures
  2. Nationwide -
    https://blog.nationwide.com/valuable-home-improvements/
  3. HGTV -
    https://www.hgtv.com/remodel/interior-remodel/maximum-home-value-storage-projects--attic
  4. The Closet Doctor - https://www.closet-doctor.com/news/what-is-the-return-on-investment-on-closet-organizers

 

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