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September Journal 2021


Top Homeowner Costs and How to Avoid Them

Homeownership can be extremely rewarding. It is one of the best ways to build wealth, create stability, and hedge inflation. However, a challenging aspect of homeownership can be dealing with unexpected expenses.

Here are a few costs that can creep up and how to avoid them.

  • Utility bills. Ensure your home is adequately insulated and consider using smart appliances, like power strips and programmable thermostats.
  • Homeowners insurance. Review your policy and shop around for better pricing options. While you're at it, look into catastrophic insurance. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, tornados, or earthquakes, flood insurance may be worth the investment.
  • Up next is heating and cooling systems. Furnaces and air conditioners need regular maintenance. Change filters routinely and schedule annual tune-ups to save money in the long run.
  • Yard maintenance. Incorporate drought-resistant plants and landscaping techniques to limit the amount of care that your yard will need.
  • Finally, always replace the locks when you move into a new home, but do it yourself! With just a few tools, you will avoid the expense of a locksmith.1



Important Credit Tips for Home Buyers

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, trading up or down, or a novice in the market, your credit should be your top priority when purchasing a home. It is crucial to ensure your credit is in order as it influences loan eligibility and amount, mortgage type, down payment needed, and private mortgage insurance (PMI) costs. There are several paid and free options to monitor your credit. However, federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company.

After reviewing your FICO score and credit report for accuracy, follow these steps.

  • Communicate openly with your lender about your goals, intent, and financial capacity.
  • Your score does not tell the whole story. Explain any gaps to your lender, such as a layoff or emergency expenses.
  • Finally, take steps to build and maintain strong credit. Pay each bill according to the required terms, keep your credit utilization down, and avoid applying for additional credit lines.

Follow these three steps, and you'll soon find yourself on the path to homeownership!2



Rent Prices Exceeding Mortgage Payments in Major Metros

A recent study by Zillow found that average rent payments are higher than typical mortgage payments. In 33 of the 50 biggest metros, the average cost of rent exceeds the average cost of a mortgage payment. Memphis tops the list with the average monthly rent of $1,507 and the average monthly mortgage of $948 ̶ a $556 difference. Miami and Atlanta follow closely behind. The other cities in the top 10 are in the south and a few Midwestern metros, including Birmingham, Tampa, Indianapolis, Orlando, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, and Detroit.3



New Tech is Putting a Spin on the Current Smart Home

As designs and technology evolve, homes are becoming smarter every day. Developers, builders, and homebuyers are creating more secure, sustainable, and healthier spaces with new advancements in technology.

  • Health - Touchless entries, advanced air-filtration systems, and mudrooms with ultraviolet closets are making their way into the smart home space.
  • Security - Fingerprint locks and facial recognition systems are no longer just for smartphones.
  • Sustainability -- Solar electrical systems, advanced water catchment and recycling systems, and low-E filtering windows allow homeowners to leave a smaller footprint on the environment.
  • Easy Living -- With more time spent at home, homeowners want their living space to be effortless. For example, high-tech features like home automation systems are becoming increasingly popular.4



What Can You Deduct from Your Taxes as a Homeowner?

Owning a home can be expensive, especially in the current market. From the down payment and property taxes to the utilities and upkeep, the cost of homeownership adds up. However, some tax deductions may make ownership more affordable. Talk with your accountant about possibly taking advantage of homeowner tax deductions like mortgage interest, property taxes, or even home office expenses. 5



Breathtaking Home Design Trends

In the ever-changing world of home design, green is the new black, and flex spaces are a must! That's right; green is all the rage right now. From green kitchen cabinets to green tile in bathrooms, everyone is hopping on this hot trend. People also want to bring the outdoors in by using warm, earthy tones. Flex spaces are another trend, as they improve functionality with multi-use furniture such as sleeper sofas, storage ottomans, and nesting side tables.

Other trends include:

  • Activity rooms; think art and wine tasting.
  • Living room makeovers; add a slipcover to that couch or new accent pillows, luxe materials like velvet accent chairs, and gold table lamps.
  • A pool upgrade. (if you have one).6



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