Today I’m writing about the millions of homeowners who are underwater on their homes and ARE paying their mortgage. This is one of the toughest spots an owner can find himself in and many of you are facing this dilemma every day.
The owner profile is essentially the same all across South Florida: They purchased the home they wanted in the neighborhood of their choice. They like the area, are happy with the schools, and enjoy the amenities. Essentially, they made the right choice. But the real estate market crash has taken it’s toll and now the homeowner owes the bank more than the current market value. The owner may have checked out loan modification programs, but earns too much to qualify. The option of a strategic default will significantly effect their credit score.
So housebound suddenly means economically bound to your house. However, the situation not as cut and dried as it sounds. There are some options to help turn this Lemon Into Lemonade. It’s time to focus on “What Can Be instead of What it is”.
There are simple upgrades and improvements that can make a difference in your quality of life while you wait for the real estate market to right itself. It’s easy to focus on the negatives of being underwater, but take a fresh look at your situation. You liked the home enough to buy it and you paid a price you could afford. It’s time to get some of that magic back. Spend time on the inexpensive things that make the biggest difference. Wash the exterior walls and touch up any stained areas. Paint the wood trim -- eaves, facia boards, doors, shutters. Clean, paint, or add new hardware like a mailbox or house numbers.. These can make a huge visual difference in the look and feel of your home. There are even some low cost modifications you can do to kitchens and baths like resurfacing your cabinets which also add value to the home in case, in the future you decide to sell.
Energy efficiency is the good way to lower expenses. Utility bills are constantly increasing so a careful review of your monthly bills is in order. It might make sense to invest in a tankless water heater rather than maintaining many gallons of water at high temperatures. High efficiency appliances bring savings. Air-conditioning systems, a major necessity in our Florida weather, may be researched for modifications or replacement that can save dollars. Most utility companies offer information on ways to save energy. Call for their booklets.
Roofing is an important factor in energy efficiency. Cold and heat are automatically transmitted into the atmosphere but the amount of transmission can be easily controlled or modified. For example, a reader wrote in that he had decided to replace his roof to increase energy efficiency. He installed 1 ½ inch insulation board as part of the renovation and his electric bill immediately dropped approximately $175 per month. In addition to enjoying the savings he feels like a good citizen helping maintain our planet.
All indicators point to a long, retracted recovery in the housing market but certain areas are starting to see a modest uptick in prices. So, if you are housebound and the only thing that’s not right about your property is the debt to value ratio, then make your place more comfortable for the shortmidterm, alleviating the want or need to move. As long as you can afford the payments, enjoy your home.
For more detail, visit www.rayonrealestate.com. Ray Princiotta is a licensed Florida real estate broker with Accelerated Realty, Inc. Contact him at 305.494.4101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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