Home Improvement

What to do with your tax refund: 3 Ideas that will practically double your money!

If this year is anything like the last, almost 7.2 million Americans will get a tax refund this spring averaging around $3,000. If you're a homeowner getting this refund, you're fortunate because you've got more creative ways to invest it for a profit. Doesn't matter if you're selling, staying put, or stuck in the middle. Here are three homeowner-only options to grow that refund:

1. If You're Early Into Your Mortgage

It may not be as instantly gratifying as a treehouse vacation in Costa Rica, but spending your tax refund to pay down your mortgage principal could save you enough funds to take a splurge-loaded vacation a bit later.

Let's assume you have a 30-year-loan at the average loan amount of $292,000, a 4.5% interest rate, and you're getting that average refund of about $3,000. If you apply that "found" money to your principal each year, CPA Micah Fraim of Roanoke, Va., says you can shave years off your mortgage -- in this case, nearly four. That's about 95 mortgage payments you won't need to make! Even better is the more than $70,000 that you'll save in interest payments over the life of the loan.

If you don't want to make an annual commitment, think about this: Make that payment just once and you'll cut seven months off your payments and save more than $8,000 in interest. And when you decide to sell, you'll have more equity.

2. If You're Planning to Sell

Invest it in staging, and you may be surprised by how quickly your home gets plucked from the market.

"Staging lets prospective buyers see the space as their own, instead of as belonging to the people who currently live there," said Ashley Lewkowicz, owner of Ashley Kay Design in Bucks County, Pa.

"A home that's not staged can sit on the market for six months or more," she added. "A home I recently staged sold in less than two."

Not only is a faster sale better for your bank account in terms of saved mortgage payments...

Suggestions That Will Help Your Home Sell

Suggestions that will help your home sale!

  • Keep the lawn trimmed and edged
  • Weed the flower gardens
  • Trim shrubs and eliminate dead branches
  • Have the exterior clean and attractive
  • Make the entrance way inviting
  • Walls should be free of smudges and fingerprints\
  • Consider a fresh coat of neutral paint
  • Arrange furniture to make a room appear more spacious
  • Temporarily stare worn or unattractive furniture
  • Wash windows and sills
  • Curtains and drapes should be cleaned
  • Shampoo rugs and carpets
  • Floors should be waxed
  • Make sure all light bulbs are burning
  • Clean out closets
  • Be sure clothes and shoes are neatly arranged
  • Bathrooms should be sparkly clean and free of mildew
  • If neccessary, replace shower curtains
  • Bedrooms hould be neat and beds always made
  • Remove any clutter
  • The kitchen should be clean and dishes put away
  • Use packing boxes to clean and organize
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Getting Your Home Ready For The Market

In this Real Estate market making sure your home is ready for potential buyers is more important than ever. These days buyers can be really picky and often have the mind set if I'm going to buy a home that has to have work done to it, "I might as well buy a foreclosure or a short sale". What savvy sellers must do is walk the fine line of improving their home without over improving. The reality of today's market is your not going to get a positive return from updating investment. In this link from American Society of Appraisers you will find an appraiser's list of improvements and the rate of return you can expect to get return you can get from your investments. Surprisingly replacing your front door with a new steel door tops the list. In my opinion the most important thing you can do is remodel or update your kitchen although your only going to see about 73% of your money back on this investment, it's the most appealing portion of the home to buyers and can really help move your home.

Some suggestions I have to potential sellers is to not totally gut and redo any portion of your home, but rather enhance the existing aspects of your home in a cost efficient manner. For instance instead of tearing out your existing cabinets, paint them or put a new counter top on top of them, maybe replace the faucet. This way you get a new fresh look on a fraction of the budget of a total kitchen remodel. Another easy thing to do is replace your brass hardware throughout the home with a nice brush nickel or an antique finish. Here is another great link from ask.com who suggest that the first step to selling a home is letting go of your home and disassociate...

Buyers Are Looking For Energy Efficient Homes!

- An Energy Efficient HVAC System
- Energy Star Appliances
- Insulated Windows
- An Efficient Design
- More Natural Light
- Extra Insulation In The Attic
- Other Insulation Such as Panels and Foam

Buyers these days want to have less of an eviromental footprint and also don't want suprisingly high heating and energy bills.  If your looking at making some home improvements to save money on your monthly bills and make your home more marketable you may want to consider some of the above.  

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Thinking of Moving…… This Decade?

I see it time and time again- sellers list their house and spend a great deal of money doing updates and improving the property to get top dollar for it. This is great and I appreciate it, but I always hear them say once the property is sold how they regret not making the changes sooner and that the house had never looked so good.  My advice to you, if you plan on moving in the next five or so, go ahead and start making upgrades now and enjoy them while you’re still living in the house.    Look around your house and picture some changes or updates you would like to make.  Look for changes you know need to be done when you sell the house and go ahead and start doing them now.  If you are thinking about changing light fixtures shop around at Lowe’s and if you find something you like let me know and I can email you a 10% off coupon.  Want to upgrade you’re kitchen counter tops to granite?  Call Granite America at 502-637-1600. Some of their slabs are just $40.00 a square foot installed.  Do you need new windows or a more attractive front door? Renewal by Anderson give 

s free estimates and offers a great high end product. For more information call Todd Burks 502-314-1944.  Want new hardwood floors or need to get yours sanded or refinished? I recommend All Natural Wood Floors. Call Dewayne at 502-493-1982.   Have a small job and need a good handyman? I always call Chris Greenwell Company at 502-417-1650.  Doing these upgrades now instead of a few months before you move out will allow you to get some enjoyment out of them.  

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Organizing your Garage with a Bike Rack

My garage is really, really small and I came to realize this just a few months after we moved in our new home in White Blossom, so in efforts to keep my garage more organized I decided to build myself a bike rack for all of our bikes.  It was really easy took me a few hours and about $20 in lumber and supplies.  The rack will hold four bikes comfortably and is secured to the house so it doesn’t move.  I found the instructions on a DIY website called ehow.  It was pretty simple here are the instructions from ehow:

Instructions

1

Determine how wide the frame will be parallel to the wall by calculating the number of bikes that are to be stored. Eight inches of width should be enough for a child's bike, so a rack that will hold four bikes should be 32 inches wide. Add a few more than eight inches for an adult bike, or for bikes with wide handle bars. 

(I found this method makes the bikes too close together so I just measured my bike’s handle bars and then multiplied that measurement by the amount of bikes I had to come up with my width.  

2

Cut two 2-by-4 pieces of lumber to the measurement calculated in Step 1.

3

Cut two more 2-by-4s to 33 inches or longer, depending on the size of the tire. These sides will determine how far the bike rack will extend from the wall. 

(The ends of these I later cut into an angle and fastened them to the sell plate of the house) 

4

Use wood screws and a power drill to assemble the four 2-by-4s into a rectangle. Allow about six inches of the 33-inch 2-by-4s to extend over on one side. This side will be the rear, or back side, of the bike rack.

5

Cut four 2-by-2s to fit the width of the rectangle frame. If the 2-by-4s were cut to 33 inches, minus six inches for the over hang, then the 2-by-2s should be cut to 27 inches. These will be used to hold the bike tire in the frame. Bevel the edge of the lumber with a...

Insulating my home in White Blossom, Springhurst Louisville KY

As I've mentioned in previous post my wife and I just closed on our new dream home back in April and have been working on making it ours ever since.  We have a long list of things to do and one of those things is adding insulation to the attic.  During our home inspection we determined that as is the house wasn't very energy friendly and it needed to have some work done to it to make it more efficient.  One of the big things was a lack of insulation in the attic.  I got up there in measured and in some spots it was only a couple of inches thick.  I know at Lowes they say it should be eighteen inches think so I really needed to add some badly.  

So I went to Lowes and loaded up a mini van full of spray in insulation 32 packs to be exact and made a second trip to the the insulation blower machine, which can be borrowed for free with a $250 deposit.  The machine is basically a cyclinder shaped hopper with a 100 foot hose that attaches to it.  Its really simple and really easy to operate.

The next morning the weather was mild so I climbed up in my attic with this hose while my wife and the 13 year old boy across the street stuffed bails of insulation into the machine and I begain blowing.  After about three hours I had added about eight to ten inches of insulation to my attic.  It really wasn't all that hard to do it was just a messy, dirty, and hot job.  Here are some before and after pics:

As you can see there...