Before you sign on that dotted line to purchase a lakefront property of your own, there are several important factors to consider.
As you review your recurring expenses, you probably look for ways to cut costs. If you’re paying for this coverage, but you’ve never filed a renters insurance claim, it might start to feel like an unnecessary expense. If this is the case, you might be wondering if you should cancel your renters insurance. Is this […]
The post Should You Cancel Your Renters Insurance? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.
As the real estate industry continues to advance, technology expands into the homebuying journey âÂ making it easier for homebuyers to find the home they love in less time than ever before.
The post 5 A.I. Programs That Aims to Make Your Homebuying Journey Easier appeared first on Homes.com.
Not only are we living through a global pandemic, but we’re also living through what is one of the hottest summers in many states. Here’s how you can protect your home from the summer heat and other woes you may face this season.
The post 6 Ways to Summer-Proof Your Home appeared first on Homes.com.
If youâve been keeping your eye on real estate home listings, you mightâve seen more foreclosed properties for sale at a reduced price.
With record levels of unemployment and underemployment, many homeowners are falling further behind on their mortgages. Currently, thereâs a federal moratorium on the most common mortgage programs through December 31, 2020. Unless further homeowner protections are in place, the foreclosure market will see an unfortunate rise.
In fact, according to mortgage and real estate analytics company Black Knight, 2.3 million homeowners are already seriously past-due on their mortgages.
As devastating as it is to have more homes undergoing foreclosure, it also means that prospective home buyers, who were otherwise priced out of buying a home, might have greater access to homeownership. Hereâs what you should know if youâre thinking about buying a foreclosed home.
Buying a foreclosed home can be a win-win situation. You get a good price, and (usually) you can easily fix the property up.
There are many ways you can buy a foreclosed home, depending on what stage of the process the foreclosure is in:
Itâs usually easiest to buy the foreclosed home once the bank takes over and it becomes an REO property. Thatâs because you can take your time and go through the mortgage underwriting process. You can also work with a realtor, and â importantly â write contingency clauses in the contract that let you pull out of the deal if a home inspection reveals more repairs than you expected.
Buying a foreclosed home isnât exactly the same as buying one directly from the homeowner. Youâre potentially buying a home from a bank who took over after the previous homeowners were unable to afford the home anymore. This introduces a few twists into the home-buying process for you.
The world is full of realtors, even including your Uncle Bob and Cousin Carolyn. But not everyone is equipped to handle the nuances of buying a foreclosed home. There are a lot of issues that can crop up â unplanned property damage, squatters, homeowners who settle the bill and try to reclaim ownership, etc.
If youâre serious about buying a foreclosed home, seek out a realtor with extra experience in this area. There are even special designations that some realtors can get, such as Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) or Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE).
With a typical home sale, you have the change to get the property professionally inspected before signing on the dotted line. Itâs not uncommon for new issues to arise, and in a normal home buying transaction, you can often negotiate with the sellers to either fix the damage or discount the price.
Thatâs not the case when you buy a foreclosed home. If a home inspection reveals unexpected damage â like the need for a full roof or a septic system replacement â banks often arenât willing to negotiate. Itâs a take-it-or-leave-it sale.
The above point is especially important considering that most foreclosed homes do, in fact, need a lot of fixing up.
Think about it: the previous homeowners lost the house because they couldnât afford the mortgage. Thereâs a good chance they also werenât able to keep up with routine maintenance either. From their perspective, even if they did have the cash, whatâs the point of spending money on repairs, if they know theyâll lose the home in a few months?
You can save money by putting in some sweat equity (HGTV, anyone?), but even then youâll need the cash to pay for materials. This also means that the home might not be move-in ready. If you do move in, you might need to put up with construction debris for a little while. On the bright side, though, this does give you a chance to upgrade the home to your own aesthetics.
This brings up another issue: how do you pay for those renovations? Generally, you canât just ask for a bigger mortgage to cover the necessary repairs. Most lenders will only lend you as much as the current home appraisal is worth, minus your down payment.
You have a few options, though. You can hold some money back from your savings to pay for it in cash, but this means youâll have a smaller down payment. An alternative is getting a loan from a different lender, like a personal loan, a 0% APR credit card, or even a home equity loan or line of credit if youâre lucky enough to start from a position with equity.
Finally, there are some special ârenovation mortgagesâ available through Fannie Mae and other lenders. These mortgages actually do allow you to take out a bigger mortgage so you can pay for renovations. You might need to provide a higher down payment or have a higher credit score to qualify, however.
If you have a big pot of cash and can pay for a home on the same day, an auction might be your best bet. But then you have to worry about a new factor: liens.
If the property had any liens attached to it (such as from the previous homeowners not paying their taxes, or a judgement from unpaid debt), youâll inherit that bill, too.
This is usually only the case for auctioned homes. If you buy a foreclosed home as an REO sale, the bank generally pays off any liens attached to the property. Still, it may be worth double-checking if you have interest in a specific property.
Youâre not the only one with the bright idea to get a low-priced, foreclosed home. Chances are good that there are a few other buyers interested in the property, which increases competition. Even though the home is listed at a big discount, this competition can still drive prices up. You might need to be ready to act fast, just the same as in any hot real estate market.
On the flip side, thereâs a lot of extra bureaucracy involved in buying a foreclosed home once the seller accepts your offer. Thereâs often extra paperwork to fill out or other complications.
For example, the home appraisal might come back lower than expected, which might make it harder to get enough financing for the agreed-on purchase price. If itâs a short sale, it might also take longer for the bank to approve the lower sale price for the home, based on what the homeownerâs mortgage is currently worth.
Buying a foreclosed home isnât necessarily a good or bad idea on its own. It all depends on your own goals â for example, are you willing to figure out financing for repairs to get a deal on the home purchase price? Also consider how important it is for you to have a âmove-in readyâ home with no hassle.
Weigh these pros and cons carefully, and whatâs most important to you when buying a home.
|Can get a deal thatâs lower than market price||Property is sold âas-isâ and might not be move-in ready|
|Can customize the home to your specifications with repairs and upgrades||Likely needs a lot of repairs and upgrades|
|Requires creative financing for repairs and upgrades|
|Foreclosure process is long and might fall through|
Buying a foreclosed home can be a win-win situation. You get a home at a good price, and (usually) you can bring the property back to good, working order by fixing it up. As long as you go into the deal knowing that itâs not the same experience as a typical home purchase, buying a foreclosed home is a great way to launch into homeownership or real estate investing.
The post What to Know Before Buying a Foreclosed Home appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
Itâs no secret that you can be healthy on a budget, but the real secret lies in how you can stay healthy and on budget.Â Just like adapting to a new diet, staying on budget is all about behavior change.Â In my previous article, I shared tips on eating healthy on a budget, and this time around, Iâm digging a little deeper into how to stay on budget on a shopping trip.Â Since I get groceries at least once per week, both for work projects and for my personal family shopping, I consider myself an expert in saving money at the grocery store.Â Here are my top 10 tips for shopping at the grocery store on a budget, and donât be surprised- some of these tips start even BEFORE you hit the store!
Cutting coupons may seem like a blast from the past, but if cutting out little pieces of paper can save $5 for my future, then Iâll be clipping away!Â Each week, your mail includes ads from local grocery stores and coupons from major brands, so tossing that mail out is like throwing away money. Instead, look through that mail to find deals on your frequently used items, and anything special coming up.Â Shopping ads especially help me to plan food for holidays, like for this budget-friendly spread for Fourth of July.
I suggest planning out weekly meals and making a grocery list for it. This not only saves a lot of money, but will also save time in the grocery store and help reduce food waste (which is basically wasted money).Â Going into the store with a list makes me feel more prepared and in control of what I spend. Itâs pretty easy to say no to those extra treats in the cart if theyâre not on my list.
If you have a grocery store in town where you bag your own groceries, chances are that store has the best prices since the savings on staff can be reflected on your receipt.Â Plus, I like to bag my own groceries, as it gives me a final run-through of my purchase to make sure I didnât forget anything, and I get to bag them exactly how I want.
The biggest mistake in overspending at the grocery store is going shopping when your stomachâs growling.Â That extra bag of chips gets half-way eaten before check-out at the register, and guess what?!?! It wasnât on your grocery list, in your budget, OR on your meal plan.Â Prevent that mistake by eating before a trip to the grocery store and it will be easier to stick to your plan.
There are so many reasons why eating seasonally is better- less impact on the environment, more nutrients, and better taste- but buying produce in season is actually a great way to save money and eat healthy. â¯You donât have to spend extra on foods that are imported from different regions when itâs growing in season in your area.Â When produce is in season, itâs in abundance so farmers are able to give a better deal.
While I stress that fresh is best, there are some times when it just makes sense to buy frozen veggies.Â One reason would be because of cost. If there is a good sale on organic frozen peas, Iâll go ahead and purchase some ahead of time since I can store it in my freezer.Â Another reason to buy frozen is because of seasonality. There is plenty of fresh and juicy corn available in the summer, but when it comes to winter months, I like to pull corn straight from my freezer.
There is so much emphasis on how pre-packaged foods are more convenient, but these foods are not convenient on my wallet or my diet. When you buy foods that are already packaged, youâre paying for that extra packaging and all the costs that go along with that (from advertising, to transportation, to even stocking it on the shelves).Â On top of that, buying food already packaged up can mean you end up wasting some of that food if you donât use it.
That being said, I am all for soliciting the various departments of the grocery store and getting exactly how much I need, which means I pay for only that.Â I get my sandwich meat and cheese from the deli and what I love is that I can tell them how much to slice, how many slices, and even how thick to make my slices.Â Gone are the days of moldy cheese because I ran out of bread- now I know to shop for exactly what I need.
Speaking of bread, I also buy baked goods at the bakery.Â Not only are these items usually made fresh in stores, they also skip all the fancy packaging and trickle all those savings to you.Â If youâre seriously on a budget, some bakeries even sell day-old goods for a fraction of the cost.
While youâre visiting the different departments of the grocery store, donât forget to make a stop to the butcher.Â I like to buy meat in bulk and cut it to freeze for later. Itâs so much cheaper to buy meat like this, and I love the convenience of having options to use in my freezer.Â My biggest tip is if youâre going to make chicken, get the whole chicken because thatâs considerably cheaper than one thatâs cut. Aside from using just the meat, you can also make a delicious chicken broth with the carcass, which is a great way to use the whole animal and also save money even more!
You know those bulk bins at the grocery store?Â That section is like gold to me since every time I visit it, Iâm saving money!Â Since Iâm usually developing recipes, itâs just easier to purchase the exact quantity of something, that way I know exactly how much something costs.Â Whatâs even better is that I only have the amount needed for the recipe, and that leaves me with less food to waste each month. I absolutely dread throwing away food, because itâs like throwing away money, so by buying some ingredients in bulk, I know Iâm using up what I need.
Using ingredients from bulk bins, Iâm going to make aebleskiver, or Danish Pancakes.Â Ever since I got a special pan, Iâve been obsessed with making these fun-size pancakes.Â I usually donât purchase separate pans for specialty foods, but I really got my moneyâs worth for this pan since I use it a few times each month.Â Yes, I could buy these ingredients packaged up ahead of time, but itâs happened where I think I have enough flour for a recipe (usually after I already mixed up the other ingredients), but I donât have enough so I have to waste my time with an emergency trip to the store.Â But ever since I started using bulk bins, I know I have enough for my recipes every time, and when it comes to eating healthy on a budget, everything adds up!
The post Best Tips for Shopping at the Grocery Store on a Budget appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that home sales were up more than 17% in June 2020 from the month before, and up more than 13% compared to the year prior. Those who have the means to buy a second home are wise to take on mortgage debt (or reorganize their current debt) in todayâs low interest environment.
Those who have the means to buy a second home are wise to take on mortgage debt in todayâs low interest environment.
With low 30-year mortgage rates, owning a rental property that âpays for itselfâ through monthly rental income is especially lucrative with a significantly lower mortgage payment. If youâre curious about buying a second home and renting it out, keep reading to find out about the major issues you should be aware of, the hidden costs of becoming a landlord, and more.
The issues involved in buying a rental home varies dramatically depending on where you plan to purchase. After all, buying a ski lodge in an area with seasonal tourism and attractions might require different considerations than buying a home in a major metropolitan area where tourists visit all year long.
But there are some factors every potential landlord should consider regardless of location. Here are a few of the most important considerations:
Before purchasing a second home, take time to run different scenarios using realistic numbers based on the rental market youâre targeting. From there, the following steps can guide you through preparing your property for the short-term rental market.
First, youâll want to have a general understanding of the rental market youâre entering. How much does the average short-term rental go for each night or each week? What is the average vacancy rate for rentals on an annual basis?
Research your local rental market, the average price of rentals in your area, various features offered by competing rentals, and more.
Action Item: Dig into these figures by using AirDNA.co. Just enter a zip code or town, and youâll find out the average nightly rate, occupancy rate, revenue, and more. Although some of the siteâs features require a monthly subscription, you can find out basic information about your rental market for free.
You need to know an array of real numbers before renting your second home, including the following:
Youâll use these numbers to figure out the average monthly operating cost for your second home, and the potential income you might be able to bring in. Without running these numbers first, you wind up in a situation where your short-term rental doesnât pay for itself, and where youâre having to supplement operating expenses every month.
Action Item: Gather every cost involved in operating your specific short-term rental, and then tally everything up with monthly and annual figures that you can plan for.
If you plan on using your second home as a short-term rental, youâll need to buy vacation rental insurance. This type of homeowners insurance is different from the type youâd buy for your primary residence. Itâs even unique from landlord insurance coverage since you need to have insurance in place for your second home and its contents.
Some vacation rental policies let you pay per use, and they provide the benefits of homeowners insurance (like property coverage, liability, and more) plus special protection when your property is rented to a third party.
Action Item: Shop around for a homeowners insurance plan thatâs geared specifically to vacation rentals. See our top picks for the best homeowners insurance companies out there.
If you live near your second home, you might want to manage it yourself. Thereâs nothing wrong with this option, but you should plan on receiving calls and dealing with problems at all hours of the day.
Many short-term rental owners pay a property management company to communicate with their tenants, manage each rental period, and handle any issues that pop up. Property managers can also set up cleanings between each rental and help with marketing your property.
Action Item: Create a property management plan and account for any costs. Most property managers charge 25% to 30% of the rental cost on an ongoing basis, so you canât ignore this component of owning a short-term rental.
Make sure you appropriately market your space, which typically means paying for professional photos and creating an accurate, inviting listing on your chosen platforms. Your property manager might help you create a marketing plan for your vacation rental, but you can DIY this component of your side business if youâre tech- and media-savvy.
Action Item: Hire a photographer to take professional photos of your rental, and craft your rental description and listing.
Becoming a landlord isnât for the faint of heart. Thereâs plenty that can go wrong, but here are the main risks to plan for:
A short-term rental can be a viable business opportunity, depending on where you want to buy and the specifics of the local rental market. But there are a lot of factors to consider before taking the leap.
Before investing hundreds of thousands of dollars, think over all of the potential costs and risks involved. Youâll want to ensure that youâve done comprehensive research and have run the numbers for every possible scenario to make an informed decision.
The post How to Buy a Second Home that Pays for Itself appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
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Your grocery bill can add up fast. From dinner entrÃ©es to snacks, the amount you spend directly affects your other financial goals. Luckily, there are some guidelines to ensure youâre not overspending.Â
Use the grocery calculator below to estimate your monthly and weekly food budget based on guidelines from the USDAâs monthly food plan. Input your family size and details below to calculate how much a nutritious grocery budget should cost you. Of course, every family is different. Some love coupons and leftovers, while others prefer fresh fish and aged cheese. Once youâve established your budget, use the slider to adjust your estimate to your spending habits.Â
Getting your food budget on point takes practice. With this grocery calculator and the right spending habits, youâll have enough for your living expenses and exciting financial goals like paying off loans or buying a house.
A moderate grocery budget will run you:
Weekly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.
Monthly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.
What kind of spender are you?
Does your estimate look right? If your spending habits don’t add up, explore these other budget options and choose what’s best for your lifestyle.
Thrifty This is the USDAâs estimated food budget for families that receive food assistance like WIC or SNAP.
Cost-Conscious This is an ideal budget for nutritious meals if youâre looking to save a little extra cash with leftovers and coupons.
Moderate This is the standard for affordable, nutritious, and balanced portions for most families.
Generous This budget gives you some spending wiggle room for finer foods or extra portions.
See where the rest of your budget is going Sign up for Mint
Ever wonder how much you should spend on groceries?Â The average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $150 to $300, depending on age. However, these national averages vary based on where you live and the quality of your food purchases.
Hereâs a monthly grocery budget for the average family. This is based on the national average and likely varies by location and shop. For instance, New York City grocers are going to be far more expensive than Kansas City shops. Additionally, organic grocery stores like Whole Foods are pricier than places like Walmart or Aldi.
Youâll also want to consider dietary choices, like gluten-free or vegan diets. These can significantly affect your budget, so consider planning your grocery list online to compare prices and find your preferred alternatives.
Finding a reasonable monthly grocery budget ensures you and your family have what you need, while not overspending. Look back at previous months using a budgeting app or credit card statements to see what youâve spent at the grocery store. Decide if you want to maintain your current budget or cut back.
Donât forget what you spend at restaurants when you consider your food budget. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend 11 percent of their take-home income on food. It doesnât all go towards groceries, though. Approximately six percent is spent on groceries, while five percent is spent dining out â including dates, lunches with coworkers, and Sunday brunch.
With this framework in mind, you can calculate your total food budget based on your take-home income. For example, Rita makes $3,500 per month after taxes. She would budget six percent for groceries ($210) and five percent for restaurants ($175). So sheâll need a total of $385 for food each month. With a little practice, sheâll better learn her habits and be able to accurately adjust her budget.
There are several ways to cut back on what you spend without sacrificing the quality and taste of your food. Trimming your food budget can help you stow away more for your financial goals, such as building an emergency fund or saving for a dream vacation.
Coupons are easy to find in the mail, in store, in your inbox, and even in a Google search. Many popular grocery stores are rolling out apps that track your coupons and savings. Be sure to download and register your email for new updates and sales. These usually work in person or online, so you can shop when and how you like.Â
While a single coupon might not give you a large discount, you can save a lot with multiple coupons. Itâs also important you make sure you actually need the item youâre purchasing instead of buying it for the sale. This can quickly get out of hand and push you over budget.Â
Freezing your fresh food before it goes bad helps your wallet and the environment. You can plan ahead and freeze prepared produce to save time on weekday cooking, or chop and freeze last weekâs produce before shopping for more. Frozen vegetables are great in soups and stews, and you can use frozen fruits for healthy breakfast smoothies.Â
Plan your meals ahead of time to determine the food items and quantities you need before you head to the grocery store. This way youâre more likely to buy the exact items you need and can plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try to plan for recipes that use the same ingredients so thereâs less to purchase. You can also make larger meals and plan leftovers for lunch so you have less to plan and purchase.
A $13 lunch out might not seem like much, but it can blow your food budget fast if it becomes a habit. Push your monthly food budget further with delicious lunches from home. Salads, sandwiches, and leftovers are all easy, inexpensive, and nutritious.Â
Many packaged products have a huge price disparity between brand name and generic items, and store brand items tend to be cheaper without sacrificing much quality. You can easily save 10 cents to a dollar per item, which adds up quickly over many trips.Â
Your local farmers market, chain grocery, and organic store will all offer different specialties and sales. Check out the different shops in your area to find the best combination of quality and price. Some stores might even offer bulk items â great for your favorite products and those with a long shelf-life. Choosing cheaper staple items like milk and yogurt can also make a huge difference over time.Â
An accurate food budget that works for you helps you feel more confident and in control of your finances. Build a budget, learn your spending habits, and keep a grocery list to keep you on track and responsible so you can reach bigger goals, like a new vehicle or a down payment on a house.Â
Sources:Â USA Today |Â EurekAlert | Persistent Economic Burden of the Gluten-Free Diet
The post How Much Your Monthly Food Budget Should Be + Grocery Calculator appeared first on MintLife Blog.