Posted in Homebuying
/ October 3, 2014
Thinking about buying a new home? Not quite sure you're ready to commit? It's perfectly normal to have cold feet—especially if you're a first-time buyer. Homeownership is a big step, both emotionally and financially. But, like many other major life events, owning your own home can be an incredibly rewarding experience. And the more you learn about the process, the more comfortable you'll become with the idea of being a homeowner. You can start by familiarizing yourself with the many benefits of homeownership. Here are 5 compelling reasons to get you started:
- Freedom. When you sign a lease or rental agreement, you're often consenting to let your landlord make the decisions about your living space. If you're tired of playing by someone else's rules, it may be time for a home of your own. Being a homeowner means having the freedom to paint the walls fuchsia, plant a rose garden or adopt that large-breed dog you've always wanted. It also means that nobody has the right to enter your home without proper notice or permission (a landlord's legal right in many areas).
- Stability (a.k.a. roots). Becoming a homeowner means the days of hopping from one rental to the next are over. You'll finally be able to stay put, or "plant roots." Committing to a permanent address can lead to establishing lasting friendships with neighbors, becoming a "regular" at local businesses (i.e., laying claim to your coffee shop or bookstore) and playing a more active role in your community. If you're a parent, consider that homeownership can also provide educational continuity—your kiddo(s) may attend the same schools with many of the same classmates and faculty for years to come.
- Predictability. Do you worry about rent increases every time your lease is up for renewal? If you opt for a new home with a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly principal and interest payments will remain the same for the life of your loan. That means you'll never be surprised by a sudden jump in housing costs! And if you happen to have extra funds to contribute, you can chip away at the principal and shorten the length of your mortgage.
- Forced savings. You're faced with housing costs each month—regardless of whether you rent or own your home. But unlike rent payments, which seem to vanish into thin air, your mortgage payments have the potential to help you build equity in your home. That's money you may see again if and when you decide to sell. Voila… a ready-made savings plan. Also, owning a new home sometimes costs less than renting one, which translates to more cash in your pocket (or bank account).
- Tax breaks. The US tax code currently allows many homeowners to deduct the interest paid on their mortgage, property taxes and even some of the costs associated with buying their home. Plus, when you finally decide to sell your home, you may be able to make up to $250,000 if you're single and $500,000 if you're married without having to pay capital gains taxes. An added bonus!
Ready to buy your dream home? There's no time like the present (especially considering today's interest rates), and we're here to help. Download our First-time Homebuyer Guide and contact the Richmond American Homebuyer Resource Center in your area to begin your new home search.
Posted in Homeowner resources
/ September 29, 2014
It's finally fall—the season of hearty soups, cozy mittens and pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING. What better way to celebrate than by bringing the natural beauty of autumn into your home? Here are a few ideas that may help inspire your fireplace mantel décor this year:
Are you planning to decorate for each of the holidays, or will you stick with an overall fall theme until winter? If you want to acknowledge the holidays but don't have time for two or three mantel makeovers during the season, consider establishing a fall theme that can be embellished with holiday accents. A black cat amid a tumble of pumpkins can be easily swapped out for an arrangement of turkey feathers or a cornucopia. Making the decision now may help you avoid carrying a Halloween mantel through Thanksgiving (or even New Year's Eve).
Autumn reds, golds, browns and oranges are classic color choices, but they're not the only option when it comes to fall décor. Driftwood tones, white with metallic accents, floral colors and striking black and white can all be elegant color palettes for a fall mantel. In fact, if you choose traditional fall forms, like gourds or leaves, you could go with any color scheme that suits your fancy! Here are some of our favorite finds from the blogosphere:
Traditional fall décor is a celebration of the harvest season, so natural materials are a natural fit. Here's just a sampling of the many items you could incorporate into your fall mantel:
- Branches, pine cones or colorful leaves
- Pressed or dried flowers
- Fresh fall flowers, like chrysanthemums or pansies
- Seeds, like maize, pumpkin seeds or putka pods
- Corn husks or dried corn on the cob
- Acorns or shelled nuts (painted or natural)
- Pumpkins and other gourds in a variety of colors (carved, painted, decoupage or natural)
- Dried beans, like lentils or pinto beans
- Orchard fruits, like apples (consider using artificial versions for longevity)
- Wicker baskets, brooms or boxes
- Burlap, paper and other natural fibers
- Weathered wood or driftwood
- Spices like cinnamon sticks or anise stars
- Cotton bolls
- Sheaves of wheat, bundles of hay or other grains/grasses
Of course, you shouldn't feel limited to natural objects in your mantel décor. Items like these can be welcome accents to a fall display:
Are you inspired yet? Message us on Pinterest with a pin of your mantel décor. We'll repin our favorites!