Thursday, August 18, 2016

Don't Overlook These Hidden Costs!

One of the more talked about reasons against buying new is the higher price tag. Typically buying new does cost more than a used home.  But as we'll see below - there is good reason!

The major systems and appliances in your home have a lifespan.  While you may pay less with a used home up front - you could end up paying each year to repair and replace appliances that would have been brand new! Plus the majority of appliances and systems in a new home come with warranty protection!

Here's an idea of how long most systems and appliances last.
  1. Air Conditioner - Typically lasts 10-15 years and can cost $4500-$5500 to replace.
  2. Dishwasher - Lasts around 9 years - $400-$600 to replace
  3. Toilet - Life expectancy of 10 years - $300-$400 to replace
  4. Refrigerators - One of the most expensive appliances lasts about 15 years - thousands to replace
  5. Hot Water Heater -Lasts about 10 years costs over $700 to replace
Have the systems and appliances in a used home been maintained properly to ensure maximum life expectancy? Do you have money saved for when these appliances need repair or replacing?  These are important questions to consider when deciding on a new or used home.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Home Organization for Back to School

Goodbye summer and hello new school year! It seems to sneak up on us faster and faster each year but it's time to put the flip flops away and get out the backpacks.  You've survived the tax-free shopping frenzy and are ready to build a new routine to help your kids do their best this Fall.

There are ways you can organize and prepare your home to help with the transition back to school. Here are just a few ideas to make the new school year a stress-free and fun time for the whole family!

1. Use closet space wisely by choosing all your child's outfits for the week on Sunday and hanging them up in a separate area of the closet. This will make picking out clothes for the day one less battle that needs to be fought on those busy mornings.

2. Set up a command center with room for all the school papers, homework assignments and reminders as they come in the house.  

3. Use hooks and baskets to store backpacks and misc school items when your kids first come in the door. Keeping everything in one place will make it easier to find on the way out the door.

4.  Create a homework station somewhere quiet with all the necessary supplies including paper, pens, sticky notes and snack tray!

5.  Pack up lunch snacks and drinks in advance the weekend before.  Use baskets to organize sweets, snacks, utensils and drinks.  The only night before prep needed will be the sandwich!

What do you do to help your child prepare for back to school?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Create a Healthier Home

Your home is your oasis - keep it healthy and clean with these simple steps.  You'll improve your family's health while saving money and living better!

  1. Use door mats on both sides of your exterior doors. This helps to trap bacteria, allergens, and chemicals before they enter your home.
  2. Filter your drinking water and be sure to regularly replace those filters.
  3. When cooking be sure to use your range hood fan. This will help lower the humidity that mold and bacteria love to grow in.  Similarly run the bathroom fan for 20 minutes after showering for the same purpose.
  4. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to pick up more dust and allergens.
  5. Potted plants are a natural way to filter the air and remove toxins. Look for Spider Plants, Aloe Vera, English Ivy or Bamboo Palms.
  6. Sanitize bacteria hot spots such as door knobs, children's toys, phones, remotes and computer keyboards.
  7. Dust with a microfiber or wet cloth in order to trap particles and keep them from spreading.
  8. Purchase washable shower curtains instead of curtains made with vinyl that can contain harmful chemicals.
  9. Opt for natural cleaning products whenever possible - such as vinegar and water.
  10. Open the windows on a nice day. Outside air is much cleaner and will get rid of some inside toxins that float around.

What do you do to keep your home healthy and clean?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Back to School Tax Free

The weekly forecast shows triple digit highs as far as the eye can see but the Halloween decorations are already out! It's the awkward transition to fall which also means - Back to School!

Tax free weekends are right around the corner and are a time to take advantage of the tax savings on qualified purchases.

For South Carolina residents the tax free weekend is August 5th through 7th.  For Georgia residents, tax free is THIS WEEKEND, July 30th and 31st.

Visit the links below for a full list of qualified items. Here are a few of the highlights:

- Clothing
- Computers
- Computer Equipment
- School Supplies
- Bath Towels
- Footwear

Does not apply to jewelry, cosmetics, eyewear or items on layaway

For more information click HERE

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Closing Cost Explanation

Closing costs are one of the many talked about but not necessarily understood components of obtaining a home mortgage.

Understanding and comparing closing costs are an important part of shopping for a mortgage.

Closing costs are primarily made up of fees associated with the closing and mortgage process that are passed on to the buyer.

On average closing costs are 2-5% of the home price.

They include items such as:

  • Obtaining a credit report
  • Processing paperwork for the loan (loan origination fees)
  • Legal fees
  • Appraisals
  • Surveys
  • Title insurance
  • Title searches
  • An escrow deposit
  • Recording the transaction in the city or county’s records
  • Underwriting the mortgage (evaluating the borrower and the property)

Most of the closing costs are the responsibility of the buyer, however sometimes the builder or seller will contribute.  Talk to your lender to get a full explanation of the costs so their won't be any surprises at closing!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summer Season Lawn Care

With the hot sun blazing down and temperatures not scheduled to dip for many more weeks - it's important to adapt your lawn maintenance plans to accommodate the summer!  Following these tips can help prevent damage and save you money on maintenance.

- Lawns need at least one inch of water a week during extreme heat
- Water less frequently but for longer amounts of time to encourage roots to grow deeper
- Water early in the day to beat evaporation but not at night which could encourage disease

- Don't cut your lawn too short - longer lawns are more resistant to the damaging effects of heat
- Make sure your blades are sharp so the grass is cut and not torn
- Mulch the clippings to create a moisture barrier

- Don't fertilize in the summer - even if your lawn looks brown - it can burn the lawn
- Place stepping stones in high traffic areas to minimize damage
- Pick up outdoor toys after playing to keep dead spots from popping up

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why Interest Rates Matter

We hear so often about interest rates - good ones, bad ones, refinancing to get a lower interest rate. But what does it really mean? What impact does it have on the house you buy or don't?  Here's a quick overview to explain one of the most important factors of mortgage lending.

Interest is the amount it costs you, the buyer, to borrow money in the form of a mortgage.  Banks require a return on the amount of money you borrow.  Your monthly mortgage payment is made up of the principal (or loan itself), interest, insurance and taxes. The higher the interest rate - the more money you owe on your mortgage each month. That's why it's important to search for the best interest rate for your particular type of mortgage.

Interest rates are an annual figure. To calculate your monthly rate take the interest rate and divide it by 12.  This new number is the amount of interest you will pay on your loan per month.

Each month your interest payment decreases as you pay more towards the principal on your loan.  In order to keep your monthly payments the same banks use an amortization schedule which applies more money to your principal and less money to interest each month.  Banks can provide you a full amortization schedule upon request.

Currently interest rates are at historic lows. This means that borrowing money for a home is more affordable than it has been in years. Take a look at the graph below for an idea on how far interest rates have come and why now is a great time to buy!