Infographic: Easing the Burden of Student Loan Debt

By Susanne Dwyer

student_loan_forgiveness_infog

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Is your crippling student loan debt keeping you from becoming a homeowner? According to an article by RefinanceStudentLoans.net, “The Case for Student Loan Forgiveness,” student loan debt is one of the highest debt categories in the U.S., coming in second to only mortgage debt. Add up the debt from the 44-plus million borrowers in the U.S. and it comes out to a whopping $1.44 trillion, the article reports.

If you’ve experienced a hefty monthly student loan payment, then you’ll understand why borrowers are less likely to boost the economy. If all of your cash is going to bills and debt reduction, there’s no excess money to spend.

This loan debt can also delay important life events—such as getting married, having children and buying a house—by 19 to 46 percent. Many are having trouble affording these loan payments after paying for rent, gas and utilities. According to the article, 8 million borrowers defaulted on their student loans as of 2016.

Fortunately, there are some resources available that can ease the burden of student loan debt or erase it completely. Programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Perkins Loan Cancellation can help you if you work a non-profit, education or government job. If you don’t qualify for these, you can also apply for income-based repayment plans to lower your monthly loan payments or defer them for the time being.

The following infographic, provided by RefinanceStudentLoans.net, offers a breakdown of available student loan forgiveness and alternative repayment options.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Infographic: Easing the Burden of Student Loan Debt appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

How to Make Buying a Beach House an Affordable Thing to Do

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The dream of purchasing a beach house is potentially one that you’ve had since you were a teenager or young adult; however, setting aside the money for this venture is an entirely different project. Instead of continuing to watch your dream shrink, consider some strategies for making a beach house a reality.

Look for Less Desirable Locations
In your view, any house on the beach is likely in a desirable location, but that really depends upon what the buyer is looking for. One thing that you should consider is how the school district can have a significant effect on the price of a house. If you are looking for a summer home or you may not have children, the quality of the school district may not affect you at all. As a result, you can buy in a community that has a school district of a lower quality, which will likely mean a lower price.

Research Seasonal Communities
When you’re looking to purchase a house, you might think you need to buy a place that is yours to visit throughout the year; however, that isn’t necessarily the case. You may be able to find a home in a community that is only open to residents for a set number of months per year. During the colder seasons, it may close down. Due to the fact that you’re unable to inhabit the house year-round, you may have a greater chance of procuring a lower price.

Rent the House
A beach house is a desirable location for many people, which provides you with the opportunity to rent it to them. You could rent your house out on AirBnB, for example. Some people decide to rent their houses out for the majority of the year and spend a short amount of vacation time there themselves, and others choose to just rent the house during peak seasons. You can decide what works for you.

Buy a Smaller House
In most cases, people looking to buy beach houses are not planning to live there during the entire year. As a result, you probably don’t need a prodigious beach house. Even when you want to make the beach house your full-time residence, ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice to get a house on the beach. When you don’t intend to have children, one or two bedrooms in a house might be just right.

Thinking about buying a beach house might feel overwhelming to you because of the perceived costs; however, you can actually make this wish a reality.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post How to Make Buying a Beach House an Affordable Thing to Do appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Ask the Expert: How Can Homeowners Ensure Preparedness?

By Susanne Dwyer

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Buddy Stark, director of Operations for HomeTeam Inspection Service.

Q: What can homeowners do to ensure their home is well prepared and more energy-efficient throughout the coming months?

A: Fall officially begins this month and HomeTeam Inspection Service—the only national home inspection company to utilize a team of inspectors onsite—offers the following home maintenance tips.

Roof
Inspect the roof covering and flashing from the ground for indicators of wear, like missing, loose or cracked shingles or tiles. Water can seep into these areas and cause damage if left unattended. Contact a professional roofer for repair or a replacement evaluation if water intrusion is occurring or suspected.

Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts are critical in protecting your home from water damage. Fall is one of the most important times to check your gutters and downspouts to ensure they’re not rusted, rotted, disconnected or full of debris.

Fireplace
Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean your chimney, fireplace and vents at least once per year, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. A do-it-yourself inspection for creosote buildup can be performed by wearing goggles and a basic disposable dust mask. Take a flashlight and your fireplace poker and scratch the black surface above the damper (smoke chamber). If the groove you scratch is paper thin, no cleaning is needed. If it’s 1/8 inch thick, schedule a cleaning. If you have 1/4 inch of creosote, don’t use the fireplace until it’s cleaned—a chimney fire could occur at any time.

HVAC
Get your furnace cleaned and serviced by a professional before the heating season begins. Also, clean or replace your furnace filters as recommended throughout the year. Dirty filters restrict airflow and reduce efficiency.

Ensure that all supply and return vents aren’t blocked or closed, as this causes the return duct to pull in cold air from cracks in windows and doors. In addition, the warm air that’s still trying to push up through closed vents will either start to leak out ducts that aren’t sealed properly, or be forced back down into your basement or floor cavities.

Trees and Bushes
Trimming trees and bushes provides many advantages to your home’s exterior. Trim so that all leaves and limbs are at least three feet away from your house. This prevents them from hitting the sides of your house when it’s windy, decreasing the amount of leaves and debris that will end up in your gutters.

Windows and Doors
Cracks in the seals around windows and doors allow heated or cooled air to escape, which can cost you money. Caulking and weatherstripping can wear over time, so check the seals around your windows and doors. One of the easiest ways to diagnose this issue is to close the door or window and hold a lighted candle near the frame. If the flame flickers at any spot, you likely have an air leak. Replace or add caulk or weatherstripping where needed.

For more information, please visit www.hometeam.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Ask the Expert: How Can Homeowners Ensure Preparedness? appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Odd Things to Run in the Dishwasher

By Susanne Dwyer

Move over, dinner plates! The dishwasher can actually be used to wash a myriad of strange items. Below is a good rundown. A quick bit of common sense: if suds-ing up something super greasy or grimy (like an old hubcap), don’t mix your eatery into the same load.

Rubber Boots and Flip Flops – Want to wash your favorite rubber footwear? Pop them in the dishwasher upside down.

Kitchen Sponges – Toss them into the silverware tray for a speedy sanitize!

House Keys – Ever wonder how filthy your house keys get over the years? So long as none of your keys have electric starters, pop the whole ring into the silverware tray.

Grill Rack – Is your grill rack covered in grease? Place it on the top tray and set the heat to high to get it gleaming again.

Hubcaps – Crazy, but true! Just add a cup of white vinegar to your detergent and hit start.

Nail Clippers – Pop these in the silverware tray and they’re good as new.

Tools – Get your favorite tools gleaming with a quick cycle in the washer.

Contact Lens Cases – The dishwasher is a great place to sanitize these every couple weeks or so.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Odd Things to Run in the Dishwasher appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Your Fall Produce Guide

By Susanne Dwyer

Do you like to eat locally? While the summer has an abundance of fresh produce for you to grab at your local farmer’s market, as fall hits, many wonder what local produce is still available. Below are the top five things to eat this autumn, available in most regions in the country.

Apples! All hail fall, the season of apples! From apple pie to applesauce, apple slaw and more, there are hundreds of ways to enjoy this crispy sweet (or tart!) treat. Look for local apples in your grocery store or drive up to a nearby farm to pick yourself.

Broccoli. Although it does grow in the warmer months, broccoli lingers into the fall. Roast up some spears with garlic and olive oil, or pull out your wok for a quick stir-fry.

Blackberries. Most of us think of summer as the season for berries, but blackberries are available in some regions well into the early fall. Great for pies, smoothies, muffins and fruit salads, these juicy berries are packed with antioxidants—great for fighting colds as the “sick” season approaches.

Cabbage. Stuffed cabbage, baked cabbage, stewed cabbage, coleslaw! This cruciferous veggie is very versatile, and extremely inexpensive. Grab a head or four and get to munching.

Cauliflower. Many mistake cauliflower as being void of nutrients due to its pale coloring, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Packed with vitamins, this veggie is great raw, steamed or baked. Some are even getting creative by making cauliflower “rice” and pizza crusts. Hit up Google for some innovative cauliflower recipes.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Your Fall Produce Guide appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Get in Early on Emerging Neighborhoods

By Suzanne De Vita

Buying in a hot housing market while prices are reasonable is a sure ticket to wealth. Analysts at GOBankingRates recently spotlighted 20 up-and-comers. The top 10 are:

1. Jungle Terrace – St. Petersburg, Fla.
Median List Price (as of July 2017): $239,900
Price Change Year-Over-Year: +44.5 percent

2. Beacon Hill – Seattle, Wash.
Median List Price: $569,995
Price Change Y-O-Y: +31.2 percent

3. Point Breeze – Philadelphia, Pa.
Median List Price: $295,000
Price Change Y-O-Y: +40.5 percent

4. Heather Gardens – Denver, Colo.
Median List Price: $278,750
Price Change Y-O-Y: +27.3 percent

5. Pinehurst – Seattle, Wash.
Median List Price: $350,000
Price Change Y-O-Y: +24.8 percent

6. Hazelwood – Portland, Ore.
Median List Price: $324,450
Price Change Y-O-Y: +22.4 percent

7. Twin Lakes – Las Vegas, Nev.
Median List Price: $182,450
Price Change Y-O-Y: +41 percent

8. Fairgrounds – Indianapolis, Ind.
Median List Price: $179,900
Price Change Y-O-Y: +29 percent

9. Bayside West – Tampa, Fla.
Median List Price: $229,900
Price Change Y-O-Y: +32 percent

10. Highland Hills – San Antonio, Texas
Median List Price: $135,000
Price Change Y-O-Y: +35.3 percent

Source: GOBankingRates

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Get in Early on Emerging Neighborhoods appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

The Latest and Greatest Fall Home Trends

By Susanne Dwyer

As the days shorten and autumn arrives, it’s time to start considering holiday gift items, or even a couple of household goodies you might just want to keep for yourself.

Take, for example, the remotely controllable slow cooker from WeMo, which lets you check on your meal in progress without actually having to be in the kitchen. Quickly and easily adjust your device’s temperature and cook time via the WeMo smartphone app, or just turn it on or off completely while you’re away. Plus, its six-quart oval stoneware cooking chamber is removable and dishwasher-safe.

Forget fall foliage and Indian corn—add some festive color to any of your home’s doorways with a natural or faux berry fall wreath. Many retail and online home stores and garden centers are offering stemmed bittersweet wreaths gleaming with russet red and persimmon, instead of autumn’s more understated browns and oranges.

Or, add rustic charm to any abode with small-scale set of burnished-bronze Anthropologie Airen antlers (Anthropologie.com, $21). Their hefty aluminum build is sturdy enough for holding purses and scarves by the door, or can just as easily be displayed in the living or bedroom as cruelty-free, cabin-inspired wall art.

Match them up with a pair of Pier 1 Imports antler-shaped candle stands ($28 each). Substitute in lieu of a traditional cornucopia to open up the visual space, while giving any tabletop or nook a more dramatic feel.

If you’re not ready to panel an entire room, or looking to add a few natural woody accents, try Target.com for one or more sets of decorative Weathered brand wood panels. Their eye-catching geometric design is described as the perfect home decor for the minimalist household.

Or if you want the easy-to-apply—and remove—effect of wood, JCPenny.com offers extremely authentic-looking and American-made Beachwood Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper. Use it to freshen up a backsplash, as intriguing shelf-backing, to accent small areas, or on an entire wall.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post The Latest and Greatest Fall Home Trends appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

What You Need to Earn to Live in the Cheapest and Priciest Metros

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Ever wonder how much bacon you need to bring in to live comfortably in some of our country’s largest metros? HSH.com recently revealed the salaries needed to live in a median-priced home in 50 of the hottest areas of the U.S., and the numbers may surprise you. While the national average of median home prices cost $255,600, requiring a salary of just over $56,000, the salary difference between the least expensive and the most expensive is nearly $200,000 (!!).

5 Least Expensive Metros

  • Pittsburgh: $35,329.29
  • Cleveland: $36,553.26
  • Indianapolis: $37,429.34
  • Oklahoma City: $37,854.04
  • Memphis: $37,964.05

5 Most Expensive Metros

  • San Jose: $221,363.63
  • San Francisco: $181,341.49
  • San Diego: $116,875.11
  • Los Angeles: $101,531.66
  • New York City: $99,136.79

It’s no real surprise that four of the five priciest metros are all in the state of California. Get the full results from HSH.com and see how realtor.com broke down what is occuring in the “Best Places” housing markets.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post What You Need to Earn to Live in the Cheapest and Priciest Metros appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

4 Real Estate Deal-Breakers and How to Fix Them Efficiently

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The real estate sales process can be stressful and seemingly complicated. Even a relatively smooth process can take ample negotiations and may require weeks to pass before you can close on the transaction. Some deals are increasingly complicated, and major roadblocks may develop that threaten the entire project. These are a few of the more significant factors that buyers and sellers may run into during the real estate sales process that could potentially prevent the deal from going through as planned.

Unpleasant Decor
Unpleasant decor is something that buyers notice immediately, and some will only make an offer on the home contingent to some decorative updates being completed before closing. For example, some buyers may detest bold paint colors on the walls or may feel that the decor in the kitchens and bathrooms is too outdated; however, sellers may believe that the home is priced appropriately for the as-is condition and that they should not make concessions because of decor. Both real estate agents need to review sales comps in the area to determine if other homes selling in this price range have similar decor or if they have recently been upgraded. The agents should make the buyer and seller aware of realistic expectations based on market conditions, and one or both parties may need to make concessions based on a sales price and property condition that is justified by the market.

Major Repair Issues
Home repair issues may be known by both parties before a property inspection is complete, but the inspection report can potentially reveal more issues that have not been discussed. Many buyers may try to negotiate to have repair work completed before closing. You may consider taking a course on renovations (like Rules of Renovation) and other significant home improvement projects before you agree to take on any huge projects as a buyer or a seller. These courses can help you to better estimate the cost and time it will take to complete the work that is needed.

A Low Appraised Value
Many buyers will apply for a home loan to pay for their purchase. Mortgage lenders typically offer a loan amount that is a percentage of the sales price or appraised value, and they will take the lesser of these two figures into consideration. This means that an appraised value that comes in lower than the sales price could reduce the loan amount to an uncomfortable amount for the buyer. More than that, the buyer may not want to pay more money for a house than it is worth. The feasible options are for the seller to lower the sales price or to work with the appraiser to increase the appraised value.

Title Issues
It is customary to review the title history on a property before finalizing a purchase, and this is a required step for anyone who is applying for a mortgage loan. This process essentially determines if the seller clearly holds title to the property or what obstacles need to be cleared before the seller can convey title to the buyer at closing. Some issues are minor and can easily be dealt with prior to closing by the title company and the seller. In some cases, however, a real estate lawyer needs to be contacted to resolve the matter.

Many real estate deals will close without a hitch, but many others will develop one or several of these issues. Many issues can be overcome when the buyer and seller work together and when enough time and patience is given to resolve the issues. You may also have to use third-party services, such as a title company or real estate lawyer, to address the issue properly.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post 4 Real Estate Deal-Breakers and How to Fix Them Efficiently appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Live in a Loud Area? Here’s How to Reduce Sound Inside Your Home

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Have you ever wished you lived on a remote island somewhere? A tranquil, calm and—most importantly—quiet place just for yourself? If so, you’re certainly not alone.

Depending on where you live, whether in an urban city or in the suburbs, overpopulation remains an issue, and dealing with noise pollution has become a real responsibility.

Whether sound comes from loud neighbors, lumber trucks, domestic animals or construction workers, we live in a noisy world which can affect us where we need it least—in our homes. These days, we barely even notice the sounds of everyday occurrences such as lawnmowers and nearby roads, but if you think back to pre-industrial times, this amount of external stimulation would have made our distant ancestors nervous wrecks.

Take a moment to consider what you deal with every day regarding external noise. Perhaps it might be time to take action through these easy steps to protect you and your loved ones from unnecessary stress, or even poor sleep.

Close Up Your Gaps
The old advice rings just as true today as it did when you first heard it: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” Ensuring as tight an envelope as possible is imperative to reducing the external noise in your neighborhood from invading your privacy and comfort, and this means closing all possible gaps.

Starting with the obviously visible holes and cracks, grab some flexible polyurethane or latex caulk to make your walls and window gaps airtight. Even the slightest of open areas around windows will allow sound to infiltrate. Be as thorough as possible in closing them all up. Perhaps you have an issue with exposure around the openings for pipes and wires where they enter the house—if so, use expanding foam or putty to tighten up your house.

Invest in High-Quality Windows
High-quality windows are one of the most important elements for a soundproof home. Opting for models with seriously thick glass will be your saving grace, and that’s why many noise-conscious individuals choose storm windows with sturdy frames and decent weather stripping.

Some things to watch out for: the larger the airspace between your original window and the storm window, the better (i.e., three to four inches). DIY-ers with double-hung and gliding windows tend to gravitate toward storm windows, as they allow the easiest installation; however, there are various options to make window installation an easier job, regardless of the category of your existing windows.

Shape Up Your Insulation
Not only for the sake of your heating and electricity bills, good quality insulation in your home will significantly reduce the internal disturbance from external noise pollution. Attics and walls are usually most vulnerable to noise infiltration due to under-insulation—start there first! Once again, quality, as opposed to speed, is of the essence with this procedure, as only meticulously installed fiberglass batt and blown-in insulation will ensure your sound pollution from the environment remains low.

Of course, installing insulation can still be a bit of a procedure, but there are plenty of guides online to help you perform a world-class job at a fraction of the price.

Homeowners with DIY abilities often choose to install insulation between floor joists, and as long as you pay particular attention to safety such as dust masks, safety goggles, gloves and protective clothing, you should be good to go.

Consider Your Own Noise Contribution
In the process of fixing up your house to protect it from future external sound infiltration, you will require the use of power tools. Spare a thought for your neighbors and choose your weapons wisely. We sometimes can be so accustomed to tolerating a noisy environment ourselves that we become oblivious to our own contribution to noise pollution.

The additions to your home can be a labor-intensive process, and power tools will certainly make your renovations much faster and easier. Chris Knuffman, reciprocating business line manager at Quincy Compressor, explains how you can be efficient while keeping home improvement noise to a minimum.

“Pneumatic tools powered by compressed air help complete tough and noisy jobs faster and more efficiently than manual options,” explains Knuffman. “Robust air compressors properly sized for such tools offer quicker recovery and are quieter work site solutions, delivering lower decibels and less fatigue than misapplied models.”

External noise has more of an effect on your quality of life than you think, and taking these simple steps will surely make a considerable difference to your comfort and sense of security in your own home. As the jobs are relatively easy within the world of active DIY-ers, the trick is ensuring you are as meticulous as possible with each alteration, as sound certainly does travel.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Live in a Loud Area? Here’s How to Reduce Sound Inside Your Home appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893