4 WAYS TO PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE EARLY

1. Refinance with a shorter-term mortgage.
You can pay off the mortgage in another 15 years by refinancing into a 15-year mortgage.

Let’s say you got a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5 percent. Then, five years later, you can refinance into a 15-year loan at 4 percent. Doing so pays off the mortgage 10 years earlier and saves more than $60,000 (if you exclude closing costs on the refi).

Those shorter-term mortgages often carry interest rates a quarter of a percentage point to three-quarters of a percentage point lower than their 30-year counterparts.

Refinancing isn’t quick or free. It requires filling out the application, providing documentation and having an appraiser visit. There are closing costs.

And even with a lower interest rate, that quicker payoff means higher monthly payments. And this method is a lot less flexible. If you decide that you don’t have the extra money one month to put toward the mortgage, you’re locked in anyway.

Unless the new interest rate is lower than the old rate, there’s no point in refinancing. Without a lower rate, you’ll get all the same benefits (and none of the extra costs) by just increasing your payment a sufficient amount.

2. Pay a little more each month.
Divide your monthly principal and interest by 12 and add that amount to your monthly payment for a year. Result: You make the equivalent of 13 payments in 12 months. Let’s say you got a $200,000 mortgage at 4.5 percent. After five years of making the minimum payments, you add an extra 1/12 of a month’s principal and interest to each monthly payment. Doing so pays off the mortgage three years and three months earlier and saves more than $18,000 interest.

Before you make anything beyond the regular payment, call your mortgage servicer and find out exactly what you need to do so that your extra payments will be correctly applied to your loan.

Let them know you want to pay “more aggressively” and ask the best ways to do that. Some servicers may require a note with the extra money or directions on the notation line of the check.

In any event, if you’re putting extra money toward your loan, always check the next statement to make sure it’s been properly applied.

3. Make an extra mortgage payment every year.
Instead of paying a little more each month, make one extra monthly payment each year. One way to do this is to save 1/12 of a payment every month, and then make an extra payment after every 12 months. This gives you the flexibility to use the extra savings for something else if a more pressing expense arises.

Let’s say you do this starting the first month after getting a 30-year mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5 percent. That would save more than $27,000 interest, and you would pay off the mortgage four years and three months earlier.

4. Throw ‘found’ money at the mortgage.
Get a bonus? A tax refund? An unexpected windfall? However it ends up in your hands, you can funnel some or all of your newfound money toward your mortgage.

Let’s say you got a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5 percent. Then, five years later, you can make an extra $10,000 lump-sum payment. Doing so pays off the mortgage two years and four months earlier, and saves more than $19,000 in interest.

The upside: You’re paying extra only when you’re flush. And those additional payments toward the principal will cut the total interest on your loan.

The downside: It’s irregular, so it’s hard to predict the mortgage payoff date. If you throw too much at the mortgage, you won’t have money for other needs.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. 

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5 TIPS TO MAKE MOVING LESS STRESSFUL

Get Prepared

Make a Plan. Select the items that you will be taking with you and leave items that you haven’t used in the last year. Be selective and make sure you’re not packing unnecessary items. You can donate the rest of your belongings to the needy or give out to friends.

Pack Items in Order

Organize the items in different clean boxes and label them with a marker. This way, you will have an easy time unpacking, and the movers will know which room to place the boxes. Make an emergency box where you can keep all the essential items, such as clothing and kids supplies, that you’ll need for the first 24 hours after you move.

Ask for Assistance

Asking for help can be challenging; however, many people know the experience of moving and how hard it can be. Talk to family and friends and agree on a day to come over and help you pack. It could be an opportunity to spend time with them, especially if you are moving far away. Afterwards, you can all go out for a meal. If no one is available, you can call packers to help you with moving heavy boxes.

Check the Moving Details

The last thing you want to do is end up relocating before the moving date. When you buy a property, get in touch with your real estate agent to make sure of the exact time you’re supposed to move. Also, when renting a property, don’t just assume the date given in the lease is when you are supposed to get into your new home. Make a call to the landlord or agent and double-check the day. It can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Call a Moving Company

Avoid breakages that will result in extra costs. If there are expensive items, ask for assistance; there is a lot of information about moving insurance for valuable items. After being sure that you have packed all the necessary things, it is time to call a moving company.  Make sure that the company is licensed and insured for the safe delivery of your items to your new location. In case of any breakages, you are sure to have the piece replaced.

When you follow the above tips, moving will be an enjoyable task. Eat well to boost your energy levels. Carry enough snacks on a moving day, especially if you are going far. Also, make sure you have enough water to stay hydrated. When you get to your new home, do not unpack everything at once. You should first rest and start unpacking carefully to avoid damage.

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5 WAYS TO POWER THROUGH PROCASTINATION

Do it first. If you’re dreading it, do it first. There’s nothing worse than a lingering aura of dread over a task, so by tackling it head on, you eliminate both the project and the anxiety around it.

Set small daily goals. If it’s a larger task (like that big basement clean-out), set small daily goals to keep you on track. For instance, choose one small corner to clean every evening, working in 15-minute increments. After two weeks, the project will be off your shoulders and it will have felt like a smaller deal.

Ask for accountability. An accountability partner is one of the best ways to slash procrastination—but choose carefully. You need to find someone not afraid to dole out a little tough love.

Remove temptation. Do you know that social media or Netflix feeds your procrastination demon? Cut those things off completely until you can get your to-do done.

Reward yourself. Kids and dogs aren’t the only ones who love a treat for a trick! Choose an affordable, healthy reward, like a massage or tickets to a play, to help keep you motivated to bump that item off your list. Or, if you’ve removed a few beloved temptations, simply adding them back in may do the trick!

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GOODBYE INCOME TAX DEDUCTIONS

  • It caps the mortgage interest deduction to the interest on a mortgage principle of $500,000.
  • Homeowners would no longer be able to deduct the interest they pay on home equity loans.
  • The deductibility would be eliminated for second homes and limited to loans on a family’s primary residence.
  • Taxpayers won’t be able to deduct their student loan interest.
  • Medical expenses won’t be deductible.
  • Many small businesses won’t benefit. A Lot of small businesses that are classified as professional service providers won’t be able to get the lower corporate tax rate.

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TOP THINGS MILLENNIALS CONSIDER WHEN BUYING THEIR FIRST HOME

Dogs – It’s no secret that us millennials love our dogs. In a recent industry survey, research showed that millennials are now more likely to buy a home because they want a place for their dogs to run around rather than because of the birth of a child. In the top five list, more space for a dog fell at No. 3, with 33 percent of respondents answering such. The birth of a child was the fifth reason, with just 19 percent of respondents answering that way.

Millennials are factoring their pet’s needs when looking to buy a home. Top things we’re looking out for are homeowners associations that would restrict certain breeds and proximity to dog parks, as well as access to doggie daycare options.

Only more living space, 66 percent, and the opportunity to build equity, 36 percent, were noted by more millennials as reasons they bought their first home.

The industry survey also revealed that among millennials who have never purchased a home, 42 percent say that their dog—or the desire to have one—is a key factor in their desire to buy a home in the future.

Fixer-Upper – HGTV has the current state of the housing market to thank for the success of their many fixer-upper shows. It’s true that many millennials are looking for a fixer-upper as their first home because in most of places it’s a financial impossibility to put a down payment on anything else (this also explains the steady rise in renters in this country). Overcome with student debt and faced with less high-paying jobs after graduating, most people my age must either rent or move into a very small home. Fixer-uppers are becoming the third increasingly popular option.

Most millennials can’t afford much more than a small, basic house. Young and educated (and with home-flipping reruns on TV), millennials are open to investing in larger homes in questionable conditions because of the potential value that lies in them.

This year, Home Depot reported that same-store sales rose 6.3 percent, amid forecasts for just a 4.4 percent increase. The company attributes this to millennials who are buying their first home and tend to purchase houses that need repair and remodeling.

According to Houzz’s 2017 House and Home study, buyers who bought their first home in 2016 spent an average of $33,800 on renovations—a 22 percent increase over 2015.

Laundry Room – Year after year, surveys taken on millennials’ buying decisions point to the same thing. When looking for a first home, the No. 1 individual home feature we’re looking for is a separate laundry room. Across the board, millennials are willing to sacrifice comforts like a two-story foyer and extra square footage for a laundry room. And we have our reasons.

In a 2015 NAR survey, 55 percent of millennial respondents said they wouldn’t buy a new home that didn’t have a separate laundry room.

With laundry rooms being such a huge factor in millennials’ buying decisions, you may want to take a closer look at the way you’re presenting the laundry room in your listings. Focus on freshening it up and add more photos of it to your listing.

Eco-Friendly – This point may sound counter-intuitive to millennials’ desire for a fixer-upper, but making a home more attractive to us millennials with a few green features doesn’t have to cost a fortune. When viewing a house, seeing simple things like LED lighting, solar panels and double-paned windows instantly make a property more attractive to us. Not only is energy efficiency trendy, but it will help millennials save money in the long run on power bills—not to mention our generation is very focused on reducing our carbon footprint.

If you want to catch the attention of the growing millennial market, showcase how eco-friendly the property is. Make sure that there’s a high-speed internet connection, and, if not, research an alternative.

Being green is incredibly important to many millennials, so you have leverage when advising the seller to invest in solar panels or replacing appliances that aren’t energy-efficient. Also, be ready to show off the outdoor living space.

Voice-recognized smart home devices from major tech companies are taking over home features. Demonstrate ways that the home can be fully automated with the right products and efforts. Consider featuring safety devices like doorbell cameras that are connected via a smartphone app, as well as smart thermostats, which are slowly becoming the norm.

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