The Renovations You Should Avoid

Home renovations are a great way to revitalize an outdated section of your house. In addition to improving the functionality of your home, these renovations can also increase the value of your home. Unfortunately, not all renovations bring the same return on your money. There are some that just are not worth the time and effort due to their low return. These are the four renovations you should absolutely avoid.

Extravagant Kitchen Upgrades

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the entire house. A beautiful kitchen can greatly increase the value of your home, but it is important that you do not go overboard on the renovation. Extravagant upgrades will end up costing you in the long run. Stick to using mid-range appliances and features. It is also best to maintain a traditional design to avoid it becoming outdated in a few years.

Backyard Sunroom

Sunrooms are a popular way to transform a large outdoor area. The enclosed space lets you enjoy the beautiful outdoors without getting exposed to all of the elements. Unfortunately, sunrooms are one of the most expensive renovations you can perform in a house. They also rarely yield much return when selling. You will be lucky to get half of your construction budget back when adding a sunroom in the backyard.

Swimming Pool

Swimming pools are one of the most popular home upgrades in the United States. They are a great way to beat the oppressive heat that most of the country experiences during the summer months. While swimming pools are an excellent source of entertainment, they do not add much to the value of a home. The maintenance work and expenses tend to put off a lot of buyers, so you should only build a pool if you plan on using it for a long time.

Combining and Removing Rooms

Combining two small bedrooms into one larger room may seem logical, but it might actually end up hurting the value of your home. It is important to maintain as many bedrooms in the house as possible. This adds a lot of value to the home because it allows families to give their kids individual space. You also want to avoid removing closets to expand bedrooms or bathrooms.

This article was originally published on

Understanding What a Mortgage Is and How It Impacts Your Finances

If you’re preparing to buy your first home, you’re probably finding out that there are many complex concepts you’ll have to learn. One thing that’s important to understand is what’s involved in a mortgage. While you already know this is a loan for buying a home, this guide can give you a deeper understanding of a mortgage.

What’s in a Mortgage Payment?

The mortgage payment is a sum that goes to your lender, which is put towards repaying the amount you borrowed. While most of your payment will go towards the principal, or what you owe to the bank, some of it will also go towards paying the interest. As you shop for a lender, one of the things you’ll consider is the interest rate each lender offers. The higher the interest rate, the more you’ll have to repay to your lender.

As an example, you might buy a $200,000 home with a 20% down payment of $40,000. This will leave you with a $160,000 mortgage. If you’re paying 3% interest on your 30-year mortgage, you should expect a monthly payment of $1,146. Your payment will be applied to the principal and the interest. Depending on the type of loan you get, your bank may also create an escrow account for you, and then deposit money into it for your homeowner’s insurance and taxes. At the end of each year, your insurance and taxes will be paid from that account for you.

How Do Your Mortgage Payments Affect Your Financial Growth?

When you rent an apartment, the money you give to your landlord each month does nothing for you. However, when you pay on your mortgage, you’re actually building equity in your home. Each mortgage payment decreases the amount you owe and increases the amount of home you own. In the beginning, you won’t have any equity in your home, but, as you continue to pay, you’ll owe less and less. This will positively impact your credit rating, while also qualifying you for refinancing your mortgage, a home equity line of credit, and other types of loans.

The mortgage you’ll use to buy your home will help you build up an investment that will benefit you throughout your lifetime. Although the buying process is complicated with title insurance, home inspections, and other steps, owning your own home is worth getting through all of these challenges. It will help you create financial freedom for yourself and give you a place to call your own.

This article was originally published on

The Worst Cities For First-Time Homebuyers

Buying your first home comes with its fair set of challenges, never more so than right now with the pandemic. While many Americans are facing financial uncertainty, the housing market has also had some ups and downs.

For those interested in buying their first home this year, there is hope as mortgage interest rates are some of the lowest ever. There are some cities that first-time homebuyers should avoid so they get the most bang for their buck.


There are two different metrics regarding affordability – national averages and individual affordability. The National Association of Realtors publish findings about the housing affordability of typical American families in a particular region. They examine data such as mortgage loan qualifications based on average income and price. Individual affordability examines additional factors so people can make a personal assessment. It’s no surprise that many cities in California are on the list of the least-affordable places for first-time homebuyers to purchase. Cities that should be avoided include:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Glendale, CA
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • Berkeley, CA


Just because the price of a home is high, doesn’t mean it’s not a smart investment. The overall cost-of-living of a city is what dictates whether the purchase is a good idea or not. These cities have the highest cost-of-living:

  • San Mateo, CA
  • Brockton, MA
  • Quincy, MA
  • Lynn, MA
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • Sunnyvale, CA

Real-Estate Taxes

Since real-estate taxes are only divided up by 12 months, they make up a huge chunk of a monthly mortgage. The lower the taxes, the more affordable your monthly payment will be. These cities have some of the highest real-estate taxes in the nation:

  • Elizabeth, NJ
  • Flint, MI
  • Bridgeport, CT
  • Paterson, NJ
  • Waterbury, CT

Property-Crime Rate

If a neighborhood has a high crime rate, the property values in the area dramatically decrease. If you ever want to sell your home, it can also make that process much more difficult. These cities see some of the highest property crimes in the United States:

  • Memphis, TN
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Springfield, MS
  • Spokane, WA
  • Miami Beach, FL

Consider all of these factors and more before you decide in which city to purchase your first home.

This article was originally published on

Tips for Organizing the Perfect Open House

A successful open house can mean all the difference when it comes to selling a home quickly. An open house gets several potential buyers through the door at once, which could lead to multiple offers. Here are some tips for organizing the perfect open house.

Market the Open House

Getting buyers through the door is half the battle, so marketing is key when it comes to a successful open house. Advertise the open house on social media, home-buying websites, print ads, and signage throughout the neighborhood. Word-of-mouth is another great way to generate buzz about an open house.

Make the Home Picture-Perfect

Buyers want to walk in and feel like they can make the house their home, so creating a welcoming environment is important. Eliminate clutter, freshen up any paint or problem areas, and clean the home for a neat appearance. Curb appeal is also important, as it’s the first impression a buyer will have of the home, so make sure the lawn is mowed and the exterior is spotless.

Get Down to Business

The ultimate goal of an open house is to make a sale, so having the necessary paperwork on hand to achieve that is a good idea. Brochures or flyers of the home to hand out to potential buyers will leave them with a lasting impression after they leave. A table set up with business cards of the realtors, lenders, local banks, and other businesses that can aid with a sale is also helpful.

Be the Best Host

Buyers want to feel comfortable from the moment they walk into a home, and interacting with them in a positive and welcoming way is the best way to achieve that. Offer refreshments and set the mood with soft music and bright lighting, and give buyers just enough space to walk around freely, while also being readily available to answer any questions they may have.

Follow Up

The mission doesn’t end when the open house does. Follow-up is just as important as the open house itself. Check-in with buyers after an open house to see if they have any questions. A good follow up could potentially seal the deal.

This article was originally published on