As December approaches its Christmas and Kwanzaa celebrations, youâ€™re probably scrambling to buy the remaining gifts for the last remaining people on your list or going to supermarkets looking for the ingredients to use in preparing your holiday feasts.Thereâ€™s also a possibility that one of your resolutions for next year is selling the home youâ€™re currently living in.December can actually be an opportune time for selling real estate.
Behind all the festivities and rapturous celebration lies some great perks you can use to your advantage in getting your home sold quicker.Among them is making the extra effort to decorate your home to look its best and using this time that is quickly coming to a close to ensure it dazzles when the lights come on.Particularly during such a time, an elegantly luminous home can sway a buyer who would otherwise not be interested in your homeâ€™s visual appeal.
So youâ€™re all revved up and ready to astound real estate buyers with a carefully thought out blueprint of how you want to go about decorating your home for the holidays but alas, the price tags on those lights that do twenty different synchronized movements and the giant automated snow globe are simply out of the question.If the window for selling is short, you may have to scale back your efforts to something closer to your budget.Otherwise, the answer may be waiting the day after Christmas.
Head to any store selling holiday decorum and youâ€™ll notice pretty much anything that has to do with the holidays has had its price chopped almost in half.Something that carried a price of seventy dollars now costs an inexpensive $28.You can either save these items for use next year or use them to complement the end of 2007 festivities.Things are also shaping up to be favorable for the real estate market next year which should also justify these purchases.
Freddie Macs results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that "
Despite the noise around the economy, inflation, and monetary policy, mortgage rate volatility has been low. For most of 2021, mortgage rates have stayed within half a percentage point, which is a smaller range than in past years."
30-year fixed-rate mortgage FRM averaged 3.1 percent with an average 0.7 points for the week ending November 24th, 2021, down from last month when it averaged 3.14 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 2.72 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 2.42 percent with an average 0.7 points, up from last month when it averaged 2.37 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.28 percent.
5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage ARM averaged 2.47 percent this week with an average 0.3 points, up from last month when it averaged 2.56 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.16 percent.
Housing prices continue to rise significantly, with median home prices soaring past 400,000 for the first time. Housing prices have been going up for eight years. This means if youre a current homeowner, you might have a significant chunk of equity in your home.
When does it make sense to use that equity and put it to work, particularly since interest rates remain low?
The Benefits of Using Equity Now
There are some economic factors outside of your personal situation that could make now a good time to use your homes equity.
Mortgage rates are historically low, meaning its cheap to borrow money right now. You could end up taking equity out and then earning a lot more than you would pay in interest on a mortgage. Since rates are low and you can lock in your rate for an extended period, you might not see your mortgage rates increase, if at all.
Inflation is going up at near-record paces, and that makes the idea of fixed-rate debt pretty appealing. If you get a fixed-rate mortgage for 30 years, your payments will be cheaper in real dollars.
When you have borrowed equity, the interest is tax-deductible, and its tax-free.
If you use the equity in your home, youll have liquidity, so you can take advantage of opportunities as they might arise.
Are There Risks?
Some risks can come with taking the equity out of your home as well.
For example, if you already have a high debt-to-income ratio, taking on more debt is never wise. If your income is at risk, you should avoid taking on new debt as well.
How Do You Know Where to Invest?
If you want to take equity out of your home, the goal is that youre earning more than the interest rate on your loan. There are a lot of ways you can do this.
For example, you could invest in the stock market or a real estate investment trust REIT.
Other financially wise ways to invest the equity in your home include:
To secure a stronger financial future, you might consider tapping into your homes equity to pay off high-interest-rate debt. For example, if you have a credit card with a 16 interest rate, and you get a loan with a 3.5 interest rate, youre going to get yourself out of debt faster, and youre going to reduce what youre paying in interest significantly.
Investing in real estate can be a smart way to use your homes equity. For example, you might use the money from your home equity to then put a down payment on a rental property.
Starting a business is a way to invest in your future, although its risky.
The goal, if youre considering now as the optimal time to tap into your equity, is to invest in something thats going to generate income. You want to pay back your loan with income so that you grow your wealth for the future.
No matter where you live in this great nation, youre susceptible to natural disastersfrom hurricanes, tornados, or storm surge to wildfires or flooding.
What can you do when disaster strikes?
Put your pre-disaster plans and precautions in action
Without forethought, you, your family, and your home can be at the mercy of the elements:
Flooding can happen anywherenbsp;
The recent overwhelming atmospheric rivernbsp; drenched Washington State and British Columbia with torrential rain and storms. The resulting flooding, mud slides, power outages, evacuations, and wet everything drove people from their homes and caused human and animal loss of life. Destruction on a terrifying scale Flooding, the most common natural disaster, can also result from snow melt, storm surge, and dam overflow.
Fires and droughts are seasonal normsnbsp;
Lingering drought and heat islands hit many regions hard each year. Wildfires explode in these dry areas. Blazing wildfires sweep across forests, wilderness, and communities with devastating loss of life and with overwhelming property destruction.
Disaster realities exceed past climate experiencenbsp;
These massive natural disasters continue as frightening examples of how our experience with local weather may not prepare us for what is coming next. Experts warn that the extreme weather hitting us now will seem mild in comparison with what lies ahead as climate change rolls on.
Foresight beats regretting in hindsight. Emergency preparedness can save lives and reduce damage.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;
You dont have to figure out emergency preparedness alone. Many community and government agencies and organizations have invested a lot of time and creativity to make it easy for you to be prepared. For example, the national public service campaign READY.gov, and its Spanish language version LISTO, are designed to educate and empower the American people to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. To assist you in making a family emergency plan and supply kit and sharing your efforts with friends, READY offers 18 Social Media Disaster Preparedness Toolkits to choose from, including the Flood Toolkit, Wildfire Toolkit, and Winter Weather Toolkit.
Ten Preparedness Steps to Take Now
1. Anticipate Your Flood Risk
Your risk involves previous flood patterns and projections of flooding based on changing weather patterns. Where will the water go if nearby lakes or rivers overflow or if the ground becomes too saturated to absorb more water? Investigate FEMAs Flood Map Service Center, the Emergency Alert System, and NOAA Weather Radio to learn what support is offered. Sign up for the local warning system. Pay attention to the weather.
2. Flood insurance
Flood insurance coverage is not automatically part of your homeowners policy, so ask your insurance agent about it. In high-risk areas, homes and businesses with government-backed mortgages must have flood insurance. FEMAs National Flood Insurance Program NFIP is available through a network of over 50 insurance companies.
3. Keep Water Away From Your Home
Regularly walk all the way around your foundation to ensure grading, or the slant of the land, is taking water away from your home.
Also walk the property line. Neighbors may be building, paving, or disrupting drainage, so that more water ends up on your property. My neighbor added an elevated artificial lawn to their rear garden and my patio became a pond when it rained.
Regularly clear gutters and downspouts to keep water at least 3 to 6 feet away from foundation walls.
If you have a sump pump, check it regularly to be sure it will work when you need it. Does the sump pump have battery back-up if the power dies?
4. Whats Precious?
Other than the living beings who share your home, what really matters to you? Family photos are high on most peoples Treasures List. Dont store precious things in the basement where the risk of water damage is highest.
5. Waterproof Protection
Store important papers, photographs, and documents in waterproof containers. Also make a digital copy of everything vital and store that information in a secure online location and on a memory stick somewhere off the property.
6. Create a Family Escape Plan
Where will you meet if disaster strikes and you are separated from family and your home? Be practical. If roads are flooded and power is out, how will everyone get there? Cell phone service may be down, so have the family practice possible routes to your meet-up location in advance.
7. Who needs what?
Prepare for the specific needs, including medication, of each family member and pet. If you have farm animals, how will they be kept safe?
Cell phones and important equipment require batteries and specific chargers.
In case disaster becomes widespread, prepare your family to fend for itself for the first 72 hours. Pack 72-hours worth of food, water, and additional supplies in your Emergency Kit.nbsp;
8. Expect your Phone to Fail You
List all the things on your phone that you cannot manage without and create a paper version as back-up. For instance, a paper ideally waterproof map, essential phone numbers you do not have committed to memory, prescriptions, identification, banking information. Back-up vital information regularly in case your phone becomes waterlogged or lost. >
9. Your Car As An Emergency Shelter
If you have to flee the flood, could you survive in your car or truck for a day or two? In cold weather? In the car, keep a phone charger, an appropriate 72-hour kit, blankets, candles for light and heat, matches, emergency signaling devices, writing materials, playing cards.
10. Stay Smart
No barbequing in the covered porch, house, or garage. Every year, people who do this indoors die of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Do not drive on flooded roads or bridges. Flooding can make them unsafe.
Do not unnecessarily put first responders, emergency workers, and community volunteers at risk.
Emergency preparation is a year-round, 365-7-24 concern. Adopt the tried-and-true motto, Be prepared