Buying a home is 38% cheaper than renting a home. This is especially true if you plan on living in one space for at least seven years. As mortgage loans are more affordable now with down payment assistance and different loan options, let’s take a look at the financial benefits of owning a home.

Financial Benefits of Owning a Home

Building equity

One of the largest financial benefits of owning a home is building home equity. When you pay rent to your landlord, you’re setting aside a chunk of money that you’ll never see again. Additionally, landlords have the right to raise your monthly rent yearly, so what you pay today could differ than what you pay monthly next year. When you sign a mortgage loan, you are agreeing to the monthly payment for the life of the loan (likely 15/30 years). So, you can accurately budget your spending every month on your mortgage. When you pay your mortgage, you are building equity as you are paying off your loan. This means that unlike renting, you will see these funds applied directly toward what you own.

Tax benefits

Another one of the biggest financial benefits of owning a home is the mortgage interest deduction. Most of your monthly mortgage payments will go towards interest in your first few years of homeownership. You are able to deduct that interest from your taxes, if your loan is $1 million or less. Additionally, any taxes you pay to the government on your property are deductible from federal income tax.

No longer moving every year

Homeownership increases sustainability and stability. While moving every year from rental to rental may be necessary for your lifestyle, it is a major inconvenience and a financial and emotional burden. Renting can mean you may never know where you are going to live in a year, or how much you’ll be paying. Owning a home allows a financial and emotional investment in both your physical home and your community.

Use your home investment toward another investment

The equity that comes from paying a mortgage is what allows many individuals make future investments in the same home (refinancing, renovations), a higher-valued home (using the equity toward a down payment), a second home (using equity toward a second down payment), or additional financial goals (paying off debt, buying an RV). A home equity line of credit helps homeowners use that part of their home that’s already paid off to obtain financing for additional investments.

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A large part of what makes a house a home is the neighborhood that surround the house. Amid the excitement of searching for the perfect house for you and your family, don’t forget to pay attention to its surroundings. After all, a neighborhood you love, may be worth sacrificing an extra bathroom or white cabinets. Here are 4 tips to finding the perfect Western Washington Neighborhood.

Tips to Finding the Perfect Western Washington Neighborhood

Note Your Most Frequent Stops

Make a list of all the places you visit on the regular so you know how far the western Washington neighborhood would be from your frequently traveled locations. These places include your gym, church, grocery store, relative’s house, or shopping mall. For each neighborhood you’re considering moving to, list how many miles and how many minutes it would take to drive there. The gas money alone may steer you toward a closer neighborhood. The last thing you want is to regret purchasing a house because it’s too far from your amenities.

School District

Even if you don’t have school age children, buying. A home in a Western Washington neighborhood within a good school district will lift the overall neighborhood safety as well as make your home easier to resell in the future. If you do have school age children, visit each school the home in question is zoned for and make sure it’s to your liking. It’s frequently difficult to opt in to a certain district if you are out of bounds, so make sure you’re setting up your kids for success.

Take a Stroll

Before signing your closing paperwork, make sure to walk round the community on a weekend. Are there a lot of families out and about doing the same thing? Or are most people sticking indoors with the blinds shut? Are people friendly who you pass? Are the parks and common areas well taken care of? Answering these questions will give you a good idea of the sense of community and can also be an indicator of safety. You want to know what to expect when you move into your new home.

Trust Your Gut

The Western Washington neighborhood may be safe and in a good school district, but none of that matters if you don’t feel comfortable there. Can you see yourself spending time on the front porch? Do you see yourself building lasting relationships with your neighbors? Do you think your kids will get along with the neighborhood kids? Your neighborhood can have a huge impact on your daily life. It’s worth the time and effort to research, to make sure you’re moving into the perfect place for you and your family.

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In this series, I highlight the businesses I like to refer to my friends, family, home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area. This month I’m talking all things home cleaning with My Cleaning Lady.

Community Recommendation Series: My Cleaning Lady

The owner of My Cleaning Lady was a stay at home mom, while raising her children. As a busy young housewife and mom, she often wondered if she really could master it all. With the laundry, sports, school, homework, and trying to keep a tidy house, there just didn’t seem to be enough time in the day to complete every task.

So, just once she hired someone else to clean her house for her. She will never forget that feeling! All she had to do was manage the kids. It took a huge load off of your task list. That is where her passion for cleaning began. She wants to continue to share that feeling with others. She loves that what she is providing essentially is time.

She cleans all rooms of the house including kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, and living areas. She has a rotating schedule, so be sure to schedule an appointment to see what services she provides.

Here’s what her clients have to say about her:

“A clean home is a happy a home! And my home is now clean and happy and I can’t thank my cleaning lady enough!”

“It is a very cute service! From logo to the service everything is Top Notch J”

“My Cleaning Lady has been cleaning our home since September. We have always been pleased with the service. She does a great job and we are happy when we come home after she’s cleaned. We highly recommend My Cleaning Lady! Thank you!”

For more information on My Cleaning Lady, visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IKnowALady/

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Downsizing may seem like a daunting task, but there really are some major benefits of a smaller home. From having less to clean, to less utilities to pay for, to more family time, moving to a smaller home can add value to your life.

Benefits of a Smaller Home

Lower mortgage

The number one reason most people downsize to a smaller home is because they have kids that have left to college and they are left with a 5 bedroom home for just 2 people. Why pay for a home with 5 bedrooms when you only use 1 maybe 2? Moving to a smaller home can help you pay a higher down payment on the new home, and can help you save hundreds of dollars a month in a mortgage.

Less to clean

The amount of space you have to clean is one of the biggest benefits of a smaller home. Gone are the days of setting aside an entire weekend just to clean your home. Have you ever wished you had more house to clean? I didn’t think so. When you reduce the number of rooms in your home, you also reduce the number of surfaces that need to be cleaned. Less room in your home also means less clutter. So it’s really a win win situation.

Less focused on stuff

In a larger home, a big part of your focus is what you’re going to buy to cover all the walls. While furniture is necessary in smaller homes, you’ll have less wall space to cover and likely smaller décor to purchase. You’ll save a bunch of money on décor when you need less stuff!

More family time

When you live in a bigger home, it’s easy for everyone to retreat to their own rooms for time after school to evening. When everyone is thrown together in a smaller living space, it allows for more family time. You’ll spend hours and hours or more time with your family playing games and talking that you wouldn’t necessarily get if you spend all the time alone in your room.

More likely to know neighbors

With big houses comes big lots. And when you have a lot of land, it takes a little more time to spend quality time with your neighbors. Smaller homes often sit closer together. If you sit on your front porch, you’re likely to see your neighbors walking past with their kids and dogs. It’s easy to be a good neighbor when you’re closer in proximity! You’ll find that you become closer with the entire community when you live in a smaller home as well. Attending block parties and neighborhood functions can introduce you to neighbors all around!

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Fall is a good time to take care of home cleaning projects you didn’t want to do when the days were sunny and long in the summer. Take some time this fall to give your home some TLC with this fall home maintenance checklist.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Care for trees and shrubs

If you have trees on your property, fall is the time where you’ll need to trim the trees and rake the leaves off the ground. Fall is also a good time to keep an eye out on your trees to make sure that the trees don’t show signs of disease. These signs include early change in leaf color, pines looking thin and sparse, and needles turning brown.

Clean gutters

One of the most important items on the fall home maintenance checklist is checking the gutters. Either hire a professional to clean your gutters, or clean them yourself on a clear weekend. Try to avoid scheduling the cleaning on a rainy weekend since it’ll just make the job more difficult. Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your siding.

Seal exterior gaps

Take a walk around your home and take note of any small gaps where a rodent could enter your home. Mice only need a tiny gap to enter your home and raid your pantry. With the cold winter on it’s way, many small animals will be making their way to warm places to make a home during the cold weather.

Stock up on winter supplies

Make sure you have an ice scraper for each of your cars. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you are running late to a meeting and have to wait an extra 15 minutes for your car to manually defrost. Also, restock emergency kits for your car and home if needed. Additionally, to prepare for the snow, make sure you have a snow shovel on hand so you’re able to exit your driveway. The main streets may get shoveled by the city but your driveway doesn’t.

Check safety devices

Another one of the most important tasks on the fall home maintenance checklist is to test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors around your home. As the weather gets cooler, and windows stay shut more often, radon is more likely to become trapped in your home. If you find that you have unhealthy levels of radon in your home, hire a contractor qualified to fix radon issues.

Deep clean the kitchen

How long has it been since you truly deep cleaned your kitchen? Probably too long. Take the cozy time in the fall to tackle some of the more laborious kitchen cleaning tasks. These tasks include cleaning the oven, scrubbing tile grout, washing the walls, washing the garbage/recycling bins, and cleaning light fixtures. When the busy holiday season comes where you have a bunch of family visiting at all times, you’ll be glad you took the time to make your kitchen sparkle.

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A house is probably the most expensive investment you’ll ever make, so it’s important that you have the correct information when doing so. From credit score to down payment, here are 4 mortgage myths that can stand in the way of you making the best decision for you and your family.

4 Mortgage Myths

Myth 1: You have to put 20% down no matter what

This is one of the most common myths that catch home buyers, especially first time home buyers. When buying your first home, the thought of putting 20% can be a scary feeling, and can even discourage you to begin the process. With FHA loan, you’re able to put down as low as 3.5% down, which makes hoe ownership possible for more first time home buyers. It’s important to note that if you put 3.5% down with an FHA loan, you’ll be required to pay mortgage insurance very month, that you wouldn’t have to pay if you put 20% down.

Myth 2: You need an excellent credit score to even qualify for a loan

If you’re a first time home buyer, you might not have a great credit score because you’re simply just starting to build your credit. In the olden days, you were required to have a 680 credit score to even be considered in qualifying for a home loan. Now, with FHA loan, you’re able to qualify with as low as 580 and 620 with conventional loans. If you have a lower score and nee help, it’s important to talk with you lender so they can set you on the quickest path of credit repair.

Myth 3: Renting is cheaper than owning a home

A mortgage seems expensive when you look at the MSRP of the home. $500,000 sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but you’re likely not paying it all upfront. Yes, sometimes a monthly rent payment is cheaper by a few hundred dollars but there are a couple things to consider when comparing them side by side. The first thing to consider is that when you pay rent to your landlord, you don’t see that money again. When you put money away to your mortgage, it’s going straight to your investment. Additionally renting payments can and probably do increase every year. When you sign a 30 year mortgage, you’re locking in the monthly payment for the next 30 years.

Myth 4: Mortgage rates are the same everywhere and with every type of loan

This is one of the mortgage myths that can cost you the most amount of money. If you qualify for VA loans, you’re able to omit a down payment, and sign with the loan type that has the lowest mortgage rate of all loan types. Additionally, many credit unions have less fees than big banks so they’re able to offer lower rates. Spending time researching the loan type that’s right for you can make a big difference on your monthly payment.

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Now that the stress of finding a new home is coming to a close, it’s time to think about move out day logistics. You may have started placing things in categorical pikes, but it’s time to do the dirty work on moving out and cleaning your old home. Here are 5 tips for packing like a pro for a smooth move out day.

Tips for a Smooth Move Out Day

Secure Your Transportation

Just like securing a reservation at a dinner restaurant, it’s important that you reserve your moving truck days before your need it. The last thing you wantis to be stranded with a home full of stuff, not able to be moved to your new home. Make sure to secure the right size of truck, and gather your move out day team. It’s best if you have a few helpers at all parts of the move out process as 7 at the beginning and 0 at the end can leave you some difficult work when you’re the most worn out.

Pack Like a Professional

Packing your items in boxes can help maximize room in your moving truck, and ensure that your valuables have another layer of protection. Additionally, when packing your boxes, be sure to pack the books and other heavy boxes on the bottom of the truck so you don’t risk your fragile boxes being smashed. You will want to make sure you bubble wrap al of your china, dishes, and other valuables. Finally, be sure your reinforce all your boxes with tape so the items inside stay safe during the move. Packing like a professional will ensure a smooth move out day.

Stay Organized

The best way to stay organized throughout the move out process is to label your boxes as you put them in the truck. By taking an extra one minute per box to label the category of the items inside, you could save your self a lot of time and effort on the other end. You don’t want to have to search through every single box just to find a cereal bowl. Additionally, if you number your boxes, you can easily tell if one goes missing. This help s you keep peace of mind when you have a lot of helpers.

Keep an Easy to Reach Box

When the packing gets going, it’s easy to get caught in the frenzy of throwing everything into boxes and putting them in the truck. To save yourself a lot of time and effort n move out day, place your everyday essentials in and easy to reach box. These essentials can include toilet paper, phone charger, water bottle, pen, paper, etc. This way you can easily grab these items without having to open a bunch of boxes.

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Summer is officially here! And with summer comes late nights spent outdoors with friends. To maximize your time spent outdoors, you’ll need to have a backyard that you are happy with and is comfortable for you and your guests. Here are 5 simple ways to decorate your PNW backyard, so you’ll be THE house to hang out at this summer.

5 Simple Ways to Decorate Your PNW Backyard

Add a Fire Pit

Having a fire pit in your back yard automatically gives you and your guests something to do in your backyard for hours. You can either buy a metal one from your local hardware store, or you can construct one using stones. Add a few chairs around the pit and you’ll have yourself a fun and cozy place to relax. Because of the simplicity, adding a fire pit is one of the most popular ways to decorate your PNW Backyard.

Plant Your Favorite Herbs, Veggies, and Flowers

The wonderful thing about having a backyard is that you’re able to decorate it any way you’d like. Plants make a wonderful and warm decoration for your PNW backyard. A simple hack is to hang an over the door shoe holder on the fence, tucking herbs into the compartments to serve as a vertical planter. You can also place horizontal planter boxes around the edges of your backyard to provide an inner border. Additionally, plants can serve as great conversation starts and help you connect with your guests on similar planting interests.

Bar Cart

Having a bar cart around helps hosting gatherings in your backyard more convenient. Instead of having to go inside every time someone wants a drink or snack, the refreshments will be easily accessible on the bar cart. The great thing about bar carts is that they come in all different colors, so you can choose one that compliments your home or adds a pop of color. This is a simple way to decorate your PNW backyard.

String Lights

You’ll want to set the ambience as cozy and warm in your backyard so it remains inviting for you and your guests. While solar lights can do the trick, a much more aesthetically pleasing way to add light is to hang string lights from each side of your backyard. A bonus with string lights is that you can plug them into a master switch so that one button turns on/off all the lights. This prevents you from having to unplug and re-plug the cord each time you want to use your lights.

Tiki Torches

Unfortunately, here in the PNW, mosquitoes like to make their appearance in the summer months. Having a severely buggy backyard can deter you and your guests from hanging out in the backyard. A simple fix is to buy multiple Tiki torches for your local hardware store. These torches run off of oil that consists of bug repellent. Tiki torches also come in different styles so you can buy the ones that match your backyard style.

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In this series, I highlight the businesses I like to refer to my home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area. This month I’m talking all things insurance with John Hayes, Farmers Insurance.

Vendor Recommendation Series: John Hayes, Farmers Insurance

I can’t say enough wonderful things about John Hayes, Farmers Insurance. First off, his packages are hard to beat. He’s very thorough in explaining every aspect of my home, auto, and business insurance plans. John is also extremely proactive, in that he makes sure he gives me a call if a plan is up for renewal. He also creates comparison charts to show me the value I’m receiving from Farmer’s verses competitors. So naturally, I recommend him all of my home buyers and sellers in the Pierce County area.

My clients also rave about him as an insurance agent. He is timely in his responses, and makes sure my clients have all their questions answered. I sell quite a few homes in Orting, WA where there are pockets of homes that require flood insurance. The ability to text John on the fly asking if a certain address requires flood insurance helps me set clear expectations to my clients from that start. This way my clients don’t get their heart set on a home that they then realize it out of their price range with the flood insurance included.

His goal is to help you find the best insurance plan that is tailored to your specific needs for your business or family. He prides himself on the relationships we build with our clients. He invites you to stop by for a cup of coffee to meet him and his team. He offer insurance products such as: Home Owners, Commercial, Auto, Life, and more!

Give him a call at (253) 961-6626 or visit his website, and he’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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