Jeanne Turnock's Blog
Paying off a mortgage early is a dream of many homeowners. By making larger payments on your home loan, you can cut years off of your loan term and save thousands of dollars in interest payments that you can use toward savings or investments. But in an economy that has seen decades of wage stagnation and increasing costs of living, it can often seem like an unattainable goal.
With some planning and initiative, however, there are ways to pay off your home loan before your term limit.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about three of the ways you can start paying off your mortgage early to avoid high interest payments and save yourself money along the way.
1. Refinance your mortgage
If you’re considering making larger payments on your mortgage, it might make sense to look at refinancing options. Most Americans take out 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.
If you can afford to significantly increase your mortgage payments each month, you could refinance to a 15-year mortgage. This will save you on the number of interest payments you’ll have to make over the years. But, it will also help you secure a lower interest rate since shorter term mortgages typically come with lower interest rates.
This option isn’t for everyone. First, refinancing comes with fees you’ll have to pay for upfront. You’ll have to apply for refinancing, get an appraisal of your home, and wait for the decision to be made.
But, you’ll also have to ensure that you can keep up with your higher monthly payments. If your income is variable or undependable, it might not be the safest option to refinance to a shorter term mortgage.
2. Make extra payments
An option that entails less risk than refinancing is to simply increase your monthly payments. If you recently got a raise or are just reallocating funds to try and tackle your mortgage, this is an excellent option.
Depending on your mortgage lender, you may be able to simple increase your auto-pay amounts each month, streamlining the process. Otherwise, it’s possible to set up bill-pay with most banks to automatically transfer funds to your lender.
3. Bi-weekly payments or one extra payment per year
Making bi-weekly instead of monthly payments is an option that many homeowners use to pay off their mortgages early. Bi-weekly payments work by paying half of your monthly payment once every two weeks.
The vast majority of homeowners make 12 monthly payments per year. But by switching to 26 bi-weekly payments, you can effectively make 13 full monthly payments in a year without seeing too much of a difference in your daily budget.
This doesn’t seem like much savings in the short term, but let’s take a look at how much you could save over the term of a 30-year mortgage.
On a 30-year fixed mortgage of $200,000 with a 4.03 annual interest rate, you would make a monthly payment of $958.00 and a bi-weekly payment of $479.
Over 30 years of an extra monthly payment, you could save nearly $20,000 on the total interest amount and pay off your mortgage almost 5 years early.
Buying a home that works for both seniors and young children can be complicated, if not impossible. When searching for a new home, it’s important to keep in mind the special requirements for every member of your family both now, and as they continue to age.
Parents or other older relatives may need assistance getting upstairs or in and out of a tub. Even if they are fine now, aging is a tricky thing and mobility issues can crop up at any time. Planning for them now can save you money and stress in the future.
At the other end of the spectrum, child-proofing a home is important for small children or new infants, so keep an eye out for sharp edges and remember you’ll have to bring strollers, high-chairs, car seats and more so plan for easy-to-open doors. Don’t forget that as your kids get older, their needs will change as well: plan for privacy and personal space where you can to save on upgrading your home in the future.
For the best home search, make sure to let your real estate agent know who all will be living with you. He or she can assist in finding homes with the features you need and can provide advice about what things are feasible to change yourself, and what will make a house cost more than your budget in the long run.
Some important features to look for include:
- Need help affording a home that meets all your needs? What if you just want to upgrade your existing home? Government agencies offer financial grants and assistance to retrofit your home for the elderly. Check with your agent to see what you might qualify for.
- Ready to find the forever home for your entire family? We can help! Talk to your agent about the best way to search for your new home.
- Wide Doorways: A door without a turning requirement (and those that open wider than a right angle) need to be at least 32 inches wide to ensure that wheelchairs and walkers will fit. Right angle doorways or those that require turning to enter or exit should be at least 36 inches wide.
- Wide Hallways: For comfortable use by strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs, look for hallways that are at least 42 inches wide. That much space gives you the option of installing handrails on one or both sides. Handrails can help both small children learning to walk, and elderly people with mobility issues.
That’s the easy part. The hardest room for both the very young and the elderly is the bathroom. It’s a good idea to ensure that your home has a minimum of 2 full bathrooms to allow you to accommodate the needs of all members of your family. Seniors need ADA toilets (also called comfort height) and grab bars, while your small child would need an extra-tall stool to use the taller toilet. Large showers with floor level entrances, seats and grab bars are best for the elderly, but its often easier to wash your kids in a tub, especially when they’re young. With two bathrooms, you can satisfy the needs of everyone in the family.
Last, but not least, pay attention to faucets, handles, and knobs. Rounded ones can be difficult for both the old and young members of your family. Look for a single handle, lever and touchless options for the best results all around. Don’t forget to test cabinets and drawers for weight or friction pull closers since those are more difficult than soft close or magnetic options. It’s okay if the home doesn’t come pre-fitted with the knobs, handles, etc. you want, a quick trip to your local hardware store will solve it.
Need help affording a home that meets all your needs? What if you just want to upgrade your existing home? Government agencies offer financial grants and assistance to retrofit your home for the elderly. Check with your agent to see what you might qualify for.
Ready to find the forever home for your entire family? Talk to your agent about the best way to search for your new home.
Buying a house is arguably the most expensive purchase most people will make in their lives. With real estate prices steadily rising year after year, many Americans are finding ways to save on housing.
At the same time, rent prices too are increasing, especially around metro areas where many young Americans are entering the workforce. With costs rising and wages stagnating, it can be hard to find an affordable place to live while still building equity that can be used later on down the road.
One option that many Americans are considering is the fixer-upper route. However, it takes know-how and a lot of hard work to make this method a good choice to save you money. In this article, we’ll tell you how to make certain buying a fixer upper is a good idea and what costs you can expect along the way.
Adding up the costs
Buying a house that needs work means you’ll need to spend a good amount of time calculating costs and getting quotes from professionals. Even if you’re familiar with several home maintenance tasks, there are some jobs that are safer if left to the pros. This isn’t only a matter of physical safety, however. If you start a job that you aren’t qualified to finish you could end up paying much more than if you had just hired a licensed professional to do the job in the first place.
When estimating costs for reparations and renovations, aim high. It’s better to plan for it to be more expensive and have more left over than to underestimate your projects and go over budget.
Get an inspection report
If you aren’t sure whether or not you want to go through with a deal, make sure you have an inspection contingency clause in your contract. This will enable you to back out if the home inspector makes you aware of any costs that you weren’t told about by the seller.
Don’t forget added costs
There are several closing costs you’ll be responsible for as a buyer. Make sure you keep tabs on how much you can expect to spend closing on the home. If you’re going through a mortgage lender, they are required to give you an estimate of closing costs.
Once you know the purchase price of the home and the closing costs, make sure you account for other aspects of your renovations, such as getting required permits.
If you do plan on taking out a loan to cover the cost of renovations, be smart with how you get and pay back that money. One option is the FHA 203(k) loan or renovation loan.
Renovation loans help you save on closing costs and simplify the lending process by giving you one loan that accounts for the cost of the renovations and of the home itself.
A home seller who understands his or her residence's strengths may be better equipped than others to enjoy a successful property selling experience. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to identify your house's strengths before you list your residence.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you identify your home's strengths.
1. Conduct a Home Inspection
Although a home inspection generally is requested by a buyer after a seller accepts his or her offer to purchase a house, a seller may want to conduct an inspection prior to listing a residence. That way, a seller can gain deep insights into a house's strengths and weaknesses and map out his or her property selling strategy accordingly.
A home inspection may require only a few hours to complete, and an inspection's benefits can be significant. After an inspection, a homeowner will receive an inspection report that details any home problems. Then, a homeowner can use this report to learn about his or her house's strengths and weaknesses and explore ways to transform assorted weaknesses into strengths.
2. Consider the Buyer's Perspective
Think about why a homebuyer may consider your residence over other options – you'll be glad you did. If you analyze the buyer's perspective, you could discover unique ways to distinguish your house from the competition.
Evaluating the buyer's perspective may help you prioritize home upgrades too. For instance, if your home boasts a large in-ground swimming pool, you may want to dedicate time and resources to clean your pool and perform any necessary repairs. Or, if your residence has a two-car garage, you may want to eliminate clutter from it so you can show off the true size of your garage to potential buyers.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
If you are unsure about what differentiates your home from other properties in your city or town, there is no need to worry. Because if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive expert support throughout the home selling journey. And as a result, you can identify your house's strengths and take the necessary steps to highlight these strengths to potential buyers.
A real estate agent understands what it takes to sell a house, regardless of a property's age or condition. He or she is happy to meet with you and learn about you, your home and your home selling goals. Next, a real estate agent will craft a property selling strategy for you. And once you put this strategy into action, you should have no trouble achieving your desired house selling results.
In addition, a real estate agent is ready to assist you in any way possible throughout the house selling journey. If you have concerns or questions at any point during this journey, a real estate agent will respond to them right away.
Ready to add your house to the real estate market? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can identify your house's strengths and develop an effective strategy to promote your residence to the right groups of potential buyers.