Many people dream of one day owning their own home and escaping the coin-operated laundry machines and shared walls of apartment life. For most people, buying a home is the most significant expense they’ll ever have, thereby requiring a lot of planning and saving.
Preparing for a down payment can seem overwhelming and, at times, impossible when putting 20% down costs two-thirds of the average household income. However, following a few essential tips can make the process more manageable. If you’re dreaming of homeownership, here are the first steps to save for a down payment.Determine How Much You Need to Save
While there are loan options that allow for a [...]
You can’t always choose when you move. New jobs, old relationships, and fresh starts can necessitate change in the height of summer and the dead of winter — both of which can add stress to an already difficult process. If you do have to move during the darkest and coldest months of the year, here are eight ways to make it a little bit easier.#1: Don’t pack your warm clothes away.
Check the weather before you pack. If snow and freezing temperatures are in the forecast, keep your coats, boots, gloves, and other cold-weather gear handy. These items are key for your comfort and safety, and they won’t help you much if they’re buried in a box at the back of [...]
63% of baby boomers who refuse to sell their homes do so because their current homes meet the needs of their families, those same individuals may find their situation trickier to navigate as they age. Steps and throw rugs may trip unwary feet, and door handles can make hands ache.
Other homeowners relate to those struggles. More importantly, they do something about them. Houzz reports that more than half of its senior users make home renovations so that they can age in place.
The following checklist suggests projects and upgrades to help you age in place and create a safer and more convenient home for everyone, regardless of age.Home Exterior
Many homes feature [...]
For many Americans, energy efficiency is an important consideration when it comes to buying or renovating a home. An energy-efficient home offers not only a greener, more sustainable lifestyle —it also maximizes ease, comfort, and cash savings.
The US Department of Energy estimates that the average household can save up to nearly $1,200 per year with some simple energy-efficient improvements. To get started, hire a professional energy auditor to assess your home’s energy use and identify possible upgrades to improve efficiency and reduce your monthly bill—or perform a do-it-yourself inspection focusing on some of the most common ways your home could be wasting [...]
Natural disasters are unpredictable and costly to recover from. Even if you have a few days to prepare, the “calm before the storm” looks a lot more like chaos. Keep your home ready at all times for the unexpected with these six steps.Write an Emergency Plan
Preparation is key to protecting your family and your home in the event of a disaster, and an emergency plan is the first step. Know what types of emergencies you need to prepare for based on your location and delegate specific responsibilities to each family member. Know where you will meet if separated, how you will communicate if cell towers are down, and what each person should pack and bring if [...]
Many folks are aware of the hidden costs of buying a home—things like closing costs, homeowner’s association (HOA) fees, and property taxes. That’s not all you have to watch out for, though. There are other, even more hidden costs associated with owning a home. Let’s take a look at some of the less commonly discussed money pits that could be hiding in your home right now—and what you can do about them.1. Refrigerators
Most of us probably take our fridge for granted — after all, it just always seems to be there, stocked with food. It can be an incredible money pit, though, if you don’t keep a close eye on it. The average American household loses [...]
There’s nothing like a DIY home improvement project to make you feel like a real homeowner. If you’ve never tackled a DIY project before, though, it can seem pretty overwhelming. Don’t sweat it! Your first projects don’t have to be anything fancy and time-consuming. These five projects are perfect for first-timers.Turn a Drawer into an Electronics Docking Station
This project is a clever way to add some usable space to your home. You probably have a ton of electronic devices lying around, many of which need to be charged nightly and take up precious counter space. You probably also have a drawer that either isn’t used for much or is filled with [...]
It turns out there’s more to moving than packing a few boxes and loading up a big truck—especially if you’re moving across the country. Keep your belongings and your sanity intact with these tips for your long-distance move.Pack Smart
Every good move begins with a plan. Organize your belongings into categories that make sense to box together. Use high-quality boxes or bins meant to withstand a long-distance move, label every box you pack, and keep important items accessible. When it comes to packing a moving truck, follow general guidelines, like heaviest items in first, to keep your belongings safe and secure during transit.Let the Experts Handle It
Smart homes are a hot topic in the world of real estate and home improvement—and with good reason. A house full of internet-connected appliances—ranging from thermostats to ceiling fans—controlled remotely via smartphone or computer can bring excitement, ease, and peace of mind to your day-to-day routine. Identify any home appliance, and there’s probably a smart version of it. These gadgets are part of the fast-growing, worldwide Internet of Things (IoT) — a network that already includes more than 8 billion connected devices and may exceed 20 billion by 2020. The benefits of such connectivity range from customization and convenience to energy efficiency and improved security. [...]
Summer vacation beckons. However, you continue to cast glances back at your home. The next-door neighbor agreed to watch the place while you’re gone, but worry niggles. For a moment, you consider turning around, unlocking the house, and making sure all the appliances are turned off and windows locked.
But you don’t. You remember that your home travels with you, wherever you go, thanks to smart home technology. Your smart gadgets will notify you if something goes wrong, and you always can check on things remotely from your smartphone or tablet.
To gain that assurance and security—and even energy efficiency—on your next summer vacation, use one or more of the [...]