Family Finance, Personal Finance, Real Estate

What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do?

If you’re planning to buy or sell a house or a rental investment property, you might consider hiring a real estate attorney.

A real estate lawyer can provide legal protection. They can help you navigate the home-buying process, which can be complex.

In fact, many states require a real estate lawyer to be present at closing. 

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Even if you live in a state that doesn’t require you to have a real estate attorney, it’s important to have one by your side.

But it’s also important to know who you’re dealing with, what they can do for you, and what’s in it for them.

Real estate attorneys can help structure transactions and closing. They will review documents well in advance before the closing to make sure there are no errors.

Real estate lawyers, however, can only represent one of the parties. The buyer and the seller’s interests can often be in conflict. Therefore, the attorney should never represent both parties. 

Besides representing you in sales transactions, real estate attorneys can represent you in a courtroom as well.

During the home-buying process, disputes between the buyer and the seller may arise that will have to settle in court.

The real estate attorney’s qualifications

A real estate attorney, just as any lawyer, has attended 3 years of law school. In law school, they take courses in law in general, including real property and other real estate classes.

During law school, they may do internships at law firms which specialize in real estate law.

Once they graduate law school, they take to bar exam in the state they want to practice in.

Once they become licensed to practice, they can work in a law firm specializing in real estate law.

The real estate lawyer’s fees

A real estate attorney can charge by the hour or a fixed fee. How much their charge for their services depends on their reputation, their level experience, the level of complexity.

Regardless of the fee, your attorney will discuss it with you. Their hourly fee is typically between $150 to $350.

They’ll draft a retainer agreement and make the necessary disclosures before you can retain them.

The attorney’s role in real estate transaction

Real estate attorneys can have many roles. Their roles will vary depending on whether it is a simple transaction or a complex one, and whether a real estate broker is involved.

In some cases, a real estate broker can handle many aspects of real estate transactions. If that case, the real estate attorney’s role is often limited.

In other instances, the real estate lawyer plays a crucial role in all phases of the real estate transaction.

Nonetheless, a real estate attorney’s roles include acting as a legal counselor, negotiator, advisor and coordinator.

Real estate attorney as a legal counselor

A real estate attorney acting as a legal counselor can handle drafting the proposed contract. If there is a broker involved, the broker will prepare the contract.

But, your attorney will review it for any proposed changes. Your lawyer can also draft the deed and examine title documents.

If you retain a real estate agent or broker, your attorney may also review the broker’s agreement before you sign it.

Real estate attorney as a negotiator

If you hire a real estate lawyer before you sign a contract or before engaging in any contract negotiations, your attorney will assume that role. All communications from the other party or his or her attorney will be directed to your lawyer.

Your attorney will negotiate proposed changes to the contract, including the price of the house. They will review any mortgage contingency clauses.

In addition, your real estate attorney can negotiate the following matters:

  • Personal property to be included;
  • Repairs before closing;
  • The closing date;
  • You may not get a mortgage commitment within the stipulated date in the contract. So, your attorney may negotiate an extension of time to obtain the mortgage;
  • You may need an early possession of the house. Your lawyer can negotiate that.

Real estate attorney as an advisor

You, as a client, may not need strict legal advice. You may just want your lawyer to be present for general advice. If you’re a first time home buyer or an elderly buyer, your attorney can also act as an advisor.

Real estate attorney as a coordinator

Your attorney can also act as your coordinator. Residential closings involve a lot of steps. And not everyone involved will follow them.

So, one of your real estate lawyer’s role is to contact the brokers, the title insurers, the mortgagees. They will also monitor the progress of obtaining financing, title policy, etc.

They will also contact the other attorney to make sure all parties are ready for the closing.

Your attorney’s responsibilities before closing

If you hire a real estate lawyer to represent you either as a seller or buyer, his or her responsibility before closing include the following:

  • Make sure you, as a buyer or seller, can fulfill the requirements imposed by the real estate sale contract
  • Review the title insurance;
  • Check the mortgage commitment;
  • Monitor status of the contract contingencies;
  • Examine closing documents for accuracy;
  • Coordinate closing date and time with the mortgage lender, seller and buyer’s broker;
  • If buyers will not attend the closing, obtain power of attorney for property to cover documents to be signed at closing;
  • Get wire instructions for payment of balance due at closing

In case a dispute arises between the parties, the real estate attorney can represent you in court.

Issues that might arise include damages and earnest money forfeiture, specific performance, misrepresentation, etc.

Do I need a real estate attorney?

Some states require a real estate attorney to be present during closing. They include Massachusetts, Maine, Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, North Dakota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and New Jersey.

If you don’t live in any of these states and the District of Columbia, it’s really up to you if you want to hire a real estate attorney. If you’re just trying to save money and can barely afford to buy a house, you’re probably don’t need a real estate lawyer.

But if your real estate transaction is complex, a good real estate attorney can be an asset.

The bottom line…

Some states do not require you to have a real estate attorney during closing. However, it’s worth the cost hiring one especially if you’re buying a house in foreclosure.

Work With A Financial Advisor Near You

If you have questions beyond hiring a real estate attorney, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals. Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goalsget started now.

*TOP CIT BANK PROMOTIONS*
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CIT Bank Savings Builder 0.95% APY Review
CIT Bank CDs 0.75% APY 1 Year CD Term Review
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The post What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do? appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

Source: growthrapidly.com

Spending Money Wisely, Unique Homes

Would You Roll the Dice on Nevada’s ‘Hard Luck Castle’?

Hard Luck CastleJake Rasmuson

An offer is pending on a remote and distinctive dwelling in Nevada known as the Hard Luck Castle and Mine.

“We got a lot of interesting calls from people in various parts of the country, because it was marketed as kind of a Doomsday ‘Mad Max’ house, out in the middle of nowhere on 40 acres,” explains the listing agent, Brian Krueger.

“It is completely off-grid, self-sustaining. The owner built the home pretty much on his own, and it took him many years to do it.”

Over a decade of hard work created a one-of-a-kind castle on Bonnie Clair Road, which is currently listed for $549,900. The massive, 8,000-square-foot structure sits near the tiny town of Goldfield, NV.

The owner originally decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to sell the castle.

“I think we initially started out at $1.2 million, and slowly, over time, the seller agreed—based on our recommendations—to reduce the price. And we’ve probably had a handful of price reductions,” Krueger says.

Property records show that the castle came on the market in October 2018. Since then, the price was sliced eight times before it landed at its final price in June 2020.

Exterior of Hard Luck Castle near Goldfield, NV

Jake Rasmuson

Exterior

Jake Rasmuson

Sign

Jake Rasmuson

Front door

Jake Rasmuson

Exterior

Jake Rasmuson

The structure was a true labor of love by its owner.

“It was constructed from 2000 to 2012, so it took him about 12 years,” Krueger says.

It’s solidly built of steel and concrete cinder blocks, with 16-inch thick walls, and since it was engineered to last 400 to 500 years, it’s not going anywhere.

As for the infrastructure, in this remote corner of Nevada? The property has a 4,000-gallon water tank, solar and wind power, a 3,000-gallon propane tank, and diesel generators.

Equipment

Jake Rasmuson

Solar

Jake Rasmuson

Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Fountain room

Jake Rasmuson

Theater

Jake Rasmuson

Inside, the four-story castle has 22 rooms with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a number of unique features.

“There’s a wine cellar, there’s a theater and a game room, there’s a glass solarium planetarium. And there’s a fountain room,” Krueger says.

Oh, and there are also two 1920s pipe organs.

“This was kind of just a personal love of the owner. He loves to play the organ, and it’s quite a spectacle when you go in,” Krueger explains.

“I don’t think he ever thought he was going to sell it when he built it. He was building this to be the place he was going to live in for the rest of his life. One of his loves was the organ.”

Dual pipe organ consoles

Jake Rasmuson

Organ

Jake Rasmuson

Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Kitchen

Jake Rasmuson

Bedroom

Jake Rasmuson

Deck

Jake Rasmuson

There are also two kitchens and decks with views of the surrounding land. Many of the antiques inside the castle will convey with the sale.

Mine

Jake Rasmuson

Mine

Jake Rasmuson

Mine

Jake Rasmuson

For the buyer truly looking to dig in, the property’s 4 acres offer an intriguing element. A dormant gold mine with mining rights is also included.

The listing details state that the mine shaft is in serviceable condition, even though it closed at the start of World War II and was never reopened. The owner also offered tours to any tourists hardy enough to reach this remote locale.

Land

Jake Rasmuson

Workshop

Jake Rasmuson

The outbuildings include a wood and metal shop, a miner’s cabin that sleeps four, and a shower house.

Monument

Jake Rasmuson

Hard Luck is the original name of the mine on the property. From a monumental tower on the property, you can see open desert for miles.

“Gold Point is about 10 miles away. That’s the nearest town,” Krueger says.

At one point, the mining town had 125 homes and various businesses. Now, it’s a historical ghost town.

To give a sense of how far removed the castle is from civilization, the bright lights of Las Vegas are 187 miles away, and the city of Reno is 325 miles from Hard Luck.

The white tower on the property, on a rocky outcrop, serves as a landmark in the area and lists all the names of the U.S. presidents and the years they served.

Like everything else on the property, it’s distinctive. Suffice it to say, the Hard Luck Castle isn’t for every buyer.

“It kind of combines the Wild West with a modern-day castle,” Krueger says. “It’s definitely eclectic, but that’s what made it unique.”

Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Exterior

Jake Rasmuson

Exterior

Jake Rasmuson

The post Would You Roll the Dice on Nevada’s ‘Hard Luck Castle’? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Financial Freedom, Personal Finance, Real Estate

Is a Fixer-Upper Home Worth the Investment?

fixer-upper

Buying fixer-upper homes is currently a popular investment in the housing market, especially since lower-priced houses increase housing confidence in home buyers. On the one hand, it is a great way to purchase a home below market value and sell it for more than you paid. On the other hand, it often seems to be more work than people anticipate, and sometimes the final product doesn’t end up being worth as much time, effort, and money as people put into it.

So, is a fixer-upper home worth it? The answer depends on a variety of factors and your current situation. Thankfully, we have a list of pros and cons as well as tips and recommendations if you’re trying to decide if a fixer-upper home is the right decision for you.

The Pros

  • You have more creative leeway. You can build, renovate, and design the house the way you want.
  • You can decide what places in the home you want to spend more money on (i.e., a better kitchen or a better bedroom).
  • You have the opportunity to make the home worth a great deal more than you paid.
  • You can likely flip the home for more money
  • Fixer-upper homes are typically 8% below the market value.
  • You will pay less in property taxes because they are calculated based on your home’s sale price.
  • If you have a home warranty, you can save money on replacing and repairing broken appliances and systems.

The Cons

  • Most fixer-upper homes are not move-in ready.
  • Renovations are costly.
  • You also don’t have an exact total of what everything will cost, making the financial bottom line uncertain.
  • Fixer-upper homes can be a risk. You never know when things are going to go wrong, so you have to anticipate possible complications.
  • If you need to make structural changes, you’ll need a building permit, which is around $1,000, according to HomeAdvisor.
  • It can take months or even longer to finish a fixer-upper.

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Do a Home Inspection

If you are interested in a fixer-upper home, you want to begin with a home inspection. The inspector will likely be able to determine whether the home is worth the investment or not, depending on the severity of the necessary renovations.

Note that if the necessary improvements in the house are structural, such as roof and/or wall issues, it’s likely not worth the investment. These type of renovations are complicated and extremely expensive. They are also not typically noticeable by potential buyers, so they fail to raise the value of your home enough to make up for the money you invested. However, if you have a written report from your home inspector listing the major issues and the estimated repair costs, you might be able to get the seller to lower the cost of the house to account for the added repairs you’ll have to do.

Get an Estimate of Renovation Costs

Deciding if a fixer-upper home is worth it is heavily influenced by the estimated cost of renovations. As stated above, home inspectors can often help you with this. Note all of the necessary renovations and how much they will cost by using a home inspector or a contractor; it’s better to over quote this than under quote. Then you want to subtract this from the home’s projected market value (after repairs and renovations). You can estimate a home’s market value by researching the neighboring homes’ values. Finally, you need to deduct 5 to 10 percent more for possible complications and other possibilities.

Determine If You Need Permits

Depending on your area, you might need permits to do certain renovations. If you build without obtaining the proper permits, you could have difficulty selling the house in the future. Make sure you have the money to get the required permits before committing to remodeling.

Identify the Skills You Have and What You Can DIY

Part of purchasing a fixer-upper is having to do much of the work on your own. Decide if you have the skills to do the necessary renovations. If you can do most of the repairs by yourself, figure out what you can DIY and hire someone to do the rest. If you’re doing most of the labor, all you need are the parts and equipment for the renovations, and you won’t have to waste money paying someone else.

If you don’t have the ability to do a large chunk of the workload yourself, consider staying away from a fixer-upper home. Hiring someone to do most of the work for you will likely cost more than the renovations are worth in value.

Make Sure You Have the Time—and the Motivation

Fixer-upper homes require a considerable amount of time. If you think you’re too busy to manage the home renovations, consider going with a move-in ready home instead. Especially if you delay pressing repairs, you could risk losing money and value in your home.

Along with a time sacrifice, fixer-uppers require motivation to deal with such a huge project. Ensure you have the motivation and determination to finish renovations before committing to a fixer-upper home. You don’t want to take the plunge and buy the home just to get burnt out halfway through and regret your decision.

Check Financing Options

Buying a fixer-upper home is more financially complicated than your typical finished home; you will need money for the routine down payment and closing costs, but you will also need money for the home repairs and any possible complications in the renovation process.

If you don’t have enough money for the renovations up front, there are borrowing options such as the 203(k) loan that is meant for home repair, improvement, and reconstruction. A multitude of other loan options can ease the financial difficulty.

Avoid Being House Poor

Being house poor is when you spend the majority of your income on your home ownership. This can include your mortgage payment, property taxes, utilities, maintenance costs, etc. If choosing a fixer-upper home is going to take the majority of your money, you’re most likely better off to wait until you have additional income to handle the financial burden.

Take into account your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) when deciding if a fixer-upper home will make you house poor. Your DTI is all of your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. Generally, a 36 percent or lower DTI is ideal.

Plan for Complications

With fixer-upper homes comes unpredictability. There are unexpected issues and costs that can leave you scrambling if you’re not prepared. Although you can’t predict the future, you can still take precautions so you are as prepared as possible if something goes wrong, whether that be additional expenses, time constraints, etc. You don’t want to be left in a tough spot because you assumed everything would go as planned.

The Bottom Line

Fixer-upper homes can be a great home investment, but a great deal of responsibility and financial burden comes with it. Make sure you have the resources and the time to manage such a project. If you do, use the above tips in your fixer-upper journey. If not, maybe consider a move-in ready home or you could postpone the fixer-upper project until you are more prepared.

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If you’re concerned about your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get a free credit score updated every 14 days.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

The post Is a Fixer-Upper Home Worth the Investment? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

Home Improvement, Real Estate

How To Design Around Curved Walls, Odd Angles, or Other Tricky Spots in Your Home

JamesBrey / Getty Images

Most home design advice applies only to commonplace rectangular rooms. Yet homeowners who have odd nooks, curvy walls, or other funny angles in their floor plan might be baffled by what to do, or put, in that space.

Fortunately, there’s some good news: You don’t have to hide these odd areas. Highlighting their quirkiness is actually recommended, says Ana Cummings of the eponymous design firm.

“Make your oddly shaped space look intentional, rather than try to cover it up,” adds Drew Henry of Design Dudes. But doing so, you’ll infuse your room with personality and energy, which is much more than any ol’ boxy shape can offer.

Here’s some advice to help you design looks that’ll work in spots with unusual angles.

Accent with wallpaper

Photo by DD Ford Construction 

Curvy walls are cozy, which is a good vibe to channel in a dining room.

“A round room would be a cool space for dining, so shop for a proportionally sized table, and then accent the design with a round chandelier,” suggests Henry.

Curve-backed sofas are also a fine choice against round walls, and circular rooms can work as music spaces, with a baby grand smack in the middle.

“If you have a round bedroom, I’d either go with a traditional bed enhanced with a curved headboard or a round bed—or better yet, a large custom-upholstered headboard wall,” says Amy Bly of Great Impressions Home Staging and Interiors.

Install a book nook

Photo by Cummings Architects 

An odd pocket of space with its own window can become a dreamy reading corner, says Henry—and all you really need are a few shelves and a soft seat. If you want to do it yourself, installing these accessories is a fun project, though others may rely on custom millwork and a made-to-order cushion.

Nooks like these can also be transformed into smart storage, a dry bar, or a place to display art or sculpture, says Cummings.

Choose small-scale pieces

Photo by Return on Design – Because Aesthetics Sell

When it comes to furniture placement here, Henry recommends pieces that are on the petite side because they offer more flexibility for fitting in irregular spaces.

“For instance, instead of a sectional for an odd living room, you may want to look for a love seat and a few lounge chairs,” he says.

As for layout advice, group furniture in a way that’ll facilitate conversation or over an area rug, if possible, and direct attention toward a focal point such as the TV or fireplace.

“This way, you’ll re-create a traditionally styled room without calling attention to an odd corner,” says Cummings.

Create a home office

Photo by 8Foot6 

A triangular space under a set of stairs can stand in for a homework station with the addition of a simple flat surface and a chair. Or designate this spot for wrapping presents or a hobby like beading or scrapbooking.

Even out with furniture

Photo by Kelly Rogers Interiors

Bly likes to even out odd bumps or cutouts in a room to make them useful and less obvious.

“Try putting a tall chest or dresser in the nook, or fill it with a bench and a large piece of art or a chair and side table combination,” she says.

A set of drawers or small chest can fit snugly, and it creates a line that seems to sit flush to the wall.

Trick the eye with mirrors


Photo by Marcye Philbrook

Mirrors add light, depth, and beauty to a room—and they can be a lifesaver in a spot with funny angles. Mirrors can make an area with odd features look larger, and they can help create the illusion of symmetry.

Make artwork pop

Photo by Cornerstone Architects 

Use large artwork, wall paneling, or a mural to your advantage in rooms with quirky features.

“These options can take your eye away from the asymmetry of a space and soften an oddly shaped room,” says Cummings.

You can also work around triangular spaces with strategically placed pieces.

“In this case, I’d downplay the pointy end of the room by placing furniture or two chairs ‘in’ from the point to elongate it,” says Bly.

The post How To Design Around Curved Walls, Odd Angles, or Other Tricky Spots in Your Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Home Improvement, Real Estate

6 Products You Need to Keep Your Home Germ-free and Sanitized in 2020

Looking to turn your house into a healthy haven to protect your family from COVID-19? Try these six products to transform your space.

*Cover image sourced from Home Depot.

The post 6 Products You Need to Keep Your Home Germ-free and Sanitized in 2020 appeared first on Homes.com.

Source: homes.com

DIY, Home Improvement, Real Estate

5 winter DIY home projects

If you’re the type that loves to take on a good DIY project, the winter season can leave your options … lacking. Don’t despair, there’s still plenty that needs to be done around your home even when it’s cold outside. Here’s a list of indoor DIY projects you can start tackling today.

  • Insulate your water heater. A source of heat during the winter, you can reduce your home’s energy usage by wrapping your water heater in insulation to keep your water hot, whether you’re using it or not.
  • Add a programmable thermostat. This one just makes sense when considering energy conservation. Programmable thermostats allow you to control the temperature of your home from anywhere and set preprogrammed temperature guidelines to lower your home’s temp when you’re away and raise it when you return.
  • A fresh coat of paint. Summer is the time for painting your home’s exterior, but the winter was made for inside painting projects. This is an easy way to add vibrancy to those dreary winter months. Just try to pick a day when it isn’t raining or snowing to make your ventilation easier.
  • Clear the clutter. Increase your living space by clearing junk. If you haven’t used it in a year, say goodbye.

 

The post 5 winter DIY home projects first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com

Family Finance, Personal Finance, Real Estate

Buying A Second Home? 8 Things To Consider

Buying a second home is a major expense. You might have several reasons for wanting to buy a second house. Perhaps, you’re buying a second home for vacations or weekend getaways. Or, it might be that you want to use it as a rental property for rental income. However, there are things to consider before buying a second home.

The benefits of buying a second home

If you’re buying a second home for rental income, you’ll benefit from many perks, especially tax advantages.

For example, you will be able to deduct interest, property taxes, homeowners insurance and other expenses against the property’s income.

Even if the value of the property declines, you will still be able to deduct depreciation from your taxes.

While these benefits are great, the mortgage requirements for a second home are much stricter than for a mortgage on your primary residence. So, make sure you can afford it.

8 Things To Consider When Buying A Second Home

1. Financing options: When you bought your first home, you had available to you what’s called an FHA loan – a government loan program.

FHA loans are an appealing and favorite choice among first time home buyers due to their relatively low down payment requirement.

FHA loans require a 3.5% down payment and a relatively low credit score of 580. However, FHA loans are not available to second home buyers.

That is because FHA requires the home to be the borrower’s primary residence. So, if you’re thinking of buying a second home, you will need to either use a conventional loan or financing it with your own cash.

2. A larger down payment: If you’re using a conventional loan for your second home, you will need to come up with a larger down payment.

Lenders for a conventional loan usually requires a 20% down payment of the home purchase price.

But for a second home which will be used as a rental property or vacation home, expect lenders to ask for 30% or even 35%.

3. A higher credit score. For an FHA loan, you only need a credit score of 580 to qualify. But for a conventional loan on a second home, you will need much higher credit score — usually 750 or higher.

4. Expect a Higher Interest Rate: Lenders will likely charge you a higher interest rate on your second home than your primary residence.

The reason is because they see a second home — be it a vacation home or a rental property — as riskier. They feel that you are more likely to default on a mortgage on your second home than on your primary residence.

5. Do your research: Just as you did your homework when you bought your place to live in, buying a second home is no different.

In fact, you’ll need to spend more time researching rental property. That means researching the neighborhood you will want to invest in, knowing the zoning laws for a particular area, the sales price for the homes in the area.

You will need to know if the area has adequate public transportation, schools, grocery shopping, etc,– things that potential tenants will need.

6. Be prepared to be a landlord: if you’re buying a second home to rent, be prepared to be a landlord.

And be prepared to deal with all of the headaches that come with being a landlord. Do you have sufficient time? Can you deal with problems?

Owning a rental property and being a landlord is time consuming. It is also hard hard work and you have to do your due diligence.

You can hire a property manager to run the property for you. But if that is not feasible, you’ll have to do it yourself.

That means, screening new tenants, collecting rent, dealing with delinquent tenants, fixing problems in the property, such as a broken pipe.

So before buying a second home, make sure you have sufficient time and make sure you can deal with the day-to-day headaches that come with being a landlord.

7. Do you have a stable income? Dealing with a second mortgage on your second home is doable.

While you may be able to afford upfront costs, if you don’t have a stable income, you may have to think twice about whether it is a good idea.

Plus, you still have to consider the additional expenses of owning a second home such as insurance, property taxes, maintenance, repairs, property management fees, etc.

8. Are you out of credit card debt? If you have paid off outstanding and high interest credit card debts, then purchasing a second home may make sense.

But if you’re still struggling to pay your debt, you may need to put buying a second home on hold. 

The bottom line

If you’re thinking about buying a second home, whether it is for investment or vacation, be prepared to save some money, budget for expenses, and come up with a bigger down payment.

More importantly, spend as much time, if not more, researching for the home just as you did when your purchased your primary home.

Speak with the Right Financial Advisor

  • If you have questions about your finances, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc).
  • Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

The post Buying A Second Home? 8 Things To Consider appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

Source: growthrapidly.com

Debt, DIY, Education, Financial Planning, Investing, Money Management, Mortgage, Personal Finance, Real Estate, Retirement, Student Loans

Mint Money Audit 6-Month Check-In: How Did Michelle Allocate Her Windfall?

In March I offered some financial advice to Michelle, a Mint user who was struggling with debt, a lack of retirement savings and a bit of family financial drama amongst her siblings.

Michelle was anticipating a cash bonus from her company and wasn’t sure if she should save the money or use it to relieve her debt.

I recommended a two-prong approach where she uses the cash to play savings catch-up in her retirement account and knock down some of her debt, which, at the time, included a $3,000 credit card balance and $52,000 in student loans.

Six months later, I’ve checked in with the 38-year-old real estate developer, to see if any of my advice was helpful and if she’s experienced any shifts in her financial life.

We spoke via email:

Farnoosh: Have your finances have improved over the last 6 months since we last spoke? If so, what has been the biggest improvement?

Michelle: Yes. I’ve aggressively been contributing to my 401(k) – about 50% of my pay – and had hoped to reach the annual maximum of $18,000 by June, but looks like it will be more like October. I also received a $40,000 distribution from a project that I closed.

F: What aspects of your financial life still challenge you?

M: Investing for sure. I never know if I’m hoarding too much cash. I am truly traumatized from the financial downturn. I just joined an online investment platform, but it was also overwhelming. Currently I have $45,000 in a regular savings account that earns 1.5%.

Another challenge is not knowing whether to just bite the bullet and pay off my student loans or to continue to pay them monthly.  I hate that I’m still paying loans 16 years after I graduated and it’s a source of frustration [and embarrassment] for me.  I owe $36,000. Often times I have an inner monologue about the pros and cons of just paying them off but then my trauma from 2008 kicks in…and I decide to keep my $45,000 nest egg safely where I can check the balance daily.

F: I recommended allocating $45,000 towards retirement. Was that helpful? What are some ways you’ve managed to save?

M: Yes, I recall you saying you recommended having a total of $100,000 towards retirement for a person my age. Currently, I have $51,000 in my 401(k), $35,000 in a traditional IRA and $17,000 in my Ellevest brokerage account, so I’ve broken the $100,000 goal.

I did add a car note to my balance sheet. My old car suffered a total loss (major electrical failure due to a sunroof leak!) and the insurance gave me a check for $9,000. I used it all towards the new vehicle (a certified used 2014 Acura) and I’m financing $18,000.

F: Your dad’s home was a source of financial stress, it seemed. Were you able to talk with your siblings and arrive at a better place with that?

M: My dad actually has passed since we last spoke. He passed in February and so his will went to probate. My siblings and I have decided not to make any decisions about the house for at least one year. Yes, this is kicking the can further down the street however, they recognize that I maintain the house and pay the real estate taxes and so they are not pressuring me to move or to sell.

The new deed has been recorded and the property is under all our names and so everyone seems ok with knowing that I can’t do anything regarding a sale or refinance unilaterally.

So, for now, I live rent free other than paying utilities, miscellaneous maintenance on the house and real estate taxes quarterly. This, too, is helping me save aggressively.

Also, the new car note has replaced the hospice nurse contribution so I’m not feeling that my budget is overburdened with the new car.

I think ultimately I will buy out at least two of my siblings and stay in the house. Verbally they have expressed being okay with this.

 

Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at farnoosh@farnoosh.tv (please note “Mint Blog” in the subject line).

Farnoosh Torabi is America’s leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, she’s become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.

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