Utility and Maintenance Costs

After you’ve closed escrow on your property, there are several areas that you’ll have to take into consideration in connection with what utility or maintenance costs should be minimized in order to decrease your overhead costs.

First and foremost, turn off the air conditioning units and perhaps even the water sprinklers to control costs. In connection with water sprinklers or emitters, learn to operate the water timer on your home in terms of the water output. This may take fifteen to twenty minutes to learn, but if you already know how to work the water timer and where the different water stations are in connection with the landscaping layout of your home, then good. I’ve had $200-plus monthly utility bills on several occasions as a result of real estate agents leaving the air conditioning on full blast in one of my homes. This usually occurs because of their preview house showings. So, if at all possible, turn off the air conditioning units. The on/off switch can usually be found on the control panel, which is usually on the exterior of the home. I would even recommend you place a very small padlock to lock the control panel, so no one can open it up to reactivate the air conditioning.

It’s also a good idea not to leave windows slightly open, unless they’re upstairs window, and it’s done for the purpose to add a degree of circulation to the home. This type of irradiation should be sufficient for the house. If you are in a very hot area, such as New Mexico, Arizona, or certain parts of California, then that may be a well-advised idea in terms of providing some type of circulation so the paint does not crack. This could actually be a warranty issue, in that some builders will warn against such possibilities and advise/require to leave the air-conditioning on “vacation mode” so as the paint will not crack. And lastly, in connection with air conditioning units, a $200 monthly bill may not seem enormous, but when an investor has ten to thirty properties moving forward, the cost can be absolutely substantial.

As for landscaping, avoid hiring a landscaper if possible. Since your home will likely be sold within two to three months, the use of a landscaper is fairly inapplicable. However, if it doesn’t sell, do find a landscaper, whether it be through the yellow pages, newspaper, word of mouth, or Craigslist. com. The point is to have the property properly maintained so it shows well. This is particularly a good idea in order to avoid the wrath of an HOA, which are homeowner associations that fine you for overgrown weeds or uncut grass. Having sat on two HOA’s myself, for better or worse, I am intimately familiar with the role of HOA’s and the positive or negative presence they play in the stewardship of a community. In terms of avoiding HOA violations and maintaining a presentable front and backyard, it also shows a degree of decency and respect toward your neighbors. Overgrown weeds and shrubs, and poorly maintained landscaping is really the ire of your neighbors and should be dealt with in a responsible and mature fashion. All of which means hiring a landscaper on a case-by-case basis. If you don’t sell your flip quickly, hire a landscaper for that property to trim and prune as needed.

On a closing note, don’t get trash pickup service, since it’s not usually applicable either. Some municipalities may actually require a trash pickup for reasons that have to do with sanitation, but often times the municipality or the city may let you skip mandatory trash pickup if in fact you can give them proof that the home is empty.

Finding A Place That Fits You

In the year 2013 I lived in three different places. Each place was very different, but all worked out for me while I lived there. I always wondered how come three completely different places all worked out so well for me. When I thought about it I believe these places worked because of 3 factors: Cleaning, Space and Location.

I know that for some the word cleaning is a four letter word. For me though it is the complete opposite. I find it to put me in a state of zen. I like living in a clean place because I think it helps me to know where everything is. The other big factor for me to keep a clean living space is having clean floors. No one likes the sound of when you take a step and hear that crunch of you breaking something you own. I feel if you keep the floors clean then you lower the chances of stepping on something. One thing to think about is that you never hear friends complaining about their homes being to clean. The same cannot be said about a dirty living space. I believe there is so much more to a clean home than just a good look.

Another aspect of my success in the three places I lived was the space itself. You always need to make sure you get yourself enough space to live in. Of the three spaces I lived none of them were any bigger than a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom. Some may think that to be small, but it worked for me. A lot of people think that the more space you have the better your home is. I think this is completely untrue. I feel what ends up happening is you just have a bunch of space you won’t be using. You should get a place based on the space that you will need and will be using. Finding the right space is always important and so is finding the right amount of space.

The biggest key to my success was finding homes in the right location. I don’t own a car so being close to public transportation is a big factor to me. Also since I use public transportation to get to and from work I want it to be very close. So when I would look for places I looked for ones that were close to public transportation. I feel the location you live in should always work for you. If you need to be located close to grocery store then you should look for places close to a grocery store. You should always check the surrounding area you are looking to live in. Knowing too much about an area can never hurt you in making a decision if you want to live there.

The Best Time To Pay A Little Extra On Your Mortgage

Mortgages are a fairly large debt that looms over many homeowners’ heads, and not all of us are comfortable with the idea of being in debt for twenty or thirty years. For many people overpaying on a monthly mortgage payment is possible, even if your total income amount hasn’t changed recently. You don’t have to be making a ton of extra money and you may not have to cut back at all in order to start paying a little more on your mortgage payment each month.

Overpaying on your monthly mortgage payment may be a good option for you as overpaying reduces the amount you have left to pay on the mortgage in addition to shortening the term of the loan. For people who can afford to give even $100 extra dollars a month, you’d be surprised at how easily you are able to knock off thousands of dollars from your mortgage payment!

Overpaying on your mortgage can also help curb the amount of interest that you would be paying, as interest compromises a huge part of the money you end up spending on your mortgage in the long run. Overpaying on your mortgage also increases the equity of your home, which will assist you if you ever need to sell your home.

There are many good times to start paying a little extra on your mortgage. If you are able to save some money each month, put some in savings and some towards your mortgage payment. Generally speaking savings accounts accrue less interest and so putting your money towards your mortgage will actually allow you to save more over time.

If your mortgage lender allows you to overpay then you should look into doing so. Some lenders are hesitant to let clients overpay. If you or your mortgage lender are at all unsure about if you will be able to sustain overpayments, consider setting up an appointment with a financial counselor to assess your finances.

You can also begin paying a bit more on your mortgage if your other debts are under control. If your credit card and student loans are already competing with your average monthly mortgage payment, hold off on paying extra. It’s better to be able to pay the minimum than to end up in an even stickier financial situation.

Make sure that if you overpay you are doing so for the overall balance of your mortgage and not just the interest payments. Check with your mortgage lender to determine when they calculate your interest rate, as the overpayments you make will affect this number. Finally, if you have a flexible mortgage you can overpay and if you happen to need that money in the future, it can be lent back to you.

Mortgages can be a stressful long term debt, but in the end they are necessary and can be dealt with quickly and easily with a few financial changes. Never be afraid to contact a financial advisor and your mortgage lender to see if overpaying on your mortgage is right for you!