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All Blog Entries by Sondra Ambrister

Found 18 blog entries published by Sondra Ambrister.

These days, it seems like everyone’s looking for ways to cut costs and stretch their income further. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your household expenses without making radical changes to your standard of living. When combined, these small adjustments can add up to significant savings each month.

 Here are 20 things you can start doing today to lower your bills, secure better deals, and begin working toward your financial goals.

1.  Refinance Your Mortgage - For prime borrowers, mortgage rates are at or near historic lows. Depending on your current mortgage rate and the terms you choose, refinancing could save you a sizable amount on your monthly payments. There are fees and closing costs associated with

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Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us are spending a lot more time at home. We’re all being called upon to avoid public spaces and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of this infectious disease. While it can be understandably challenging, there are ways you can modify your home and your lifestyle to make the best of this difficult situation.

 Here are a few tips for creating comfortable and functional spaces within your home for work, school, and fitness. We also share some of our favorite ways to stay connected as a community, because we’re all in this together … and no one should face these trying times alone.

Begin with the Basics

A basic home emergency preparedness kit is a great addition to any

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Whether you’re planning a simple refresh or a full-scale renovation, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in home design. Sellers who make tasteful updates can generate increased buyer interest and, in some cases, a premium selling price. And buyers should consider which features of a home will need updating immediately (or in the near future) so they can factor renovation costs into their overall budget.

Even if you have no immediate plans to buy or sell, we advise our clients to be thoughtful about the colors, materials, and finishes they select when planning a remodel, or even redecorating. Choosing over-personalized or unpopular options could hurt a home’s value when it does come time to list your property. And selecting

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Homeownership offers many advantages over renting, including a stable living environment, predictable monthly payments, and the freedom to make modifications. Neighborhoods with high rates of homeownership have less crime and more civic engagement. Additionally, studies show that homeowners are happier and healthier than renters, and their children do better in school.

But one of the biggest perks of homeownership is the opportunity to build wealth over time. Researchers at the Urban Institute found that homeownership is financially beneficial for most families,and a recent study showed that the median net worth of homeowners can be up to 80 times greater than that of renters in some areas.

So how does purchasing a home help you build wealth? And

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We’re in the midst of the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, and economists think there’s still room to grow. A recent survey by the National Association for Business Economics found that experts believe the U.S. economy will remain positive throughout 2020.1

Still, given that recessions are a natural (and necessary) part of a business cycle, we know this period of growth will inevitably end. So you may be wondering … how will an eventual recession impact the real estate market?

Many Americans assume a recession would lead to a decline in housing prices like we saw during the Great Recession of 2008. But the real estate market crash we experienced wasn’t typical. In fact, the last recession wasn’t typical at all. It was the worst economic

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Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, shopping for a new home can feel daunting. In fact, 56% of buyers said that “finding the right property” was the most difficult step in the home buying process.1

 Buying a home is a significant commitment of both time and money. And a home purchase has the power to improve both your current quality of life and your future financial security, so the stakes are high.

 Follow these five steps—and complete the corresponding worksheet offered below—to assess your priorities, streamline your search, and choose your next home with confidence.

 

 STEP 1: Set Your Goals and Priorities

 The first step to finding your ideal home is determining WHY you want to move. Do you need more space?

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Technology is changing the way we do almost everything, and real estate transactions are no exception. In fact, a new crop of tech companies want to revolutionize the way we buy and sell homes.

 iBuyer startups like Opendoor, Offerpad, and Properly are rapidly expanding into new territories, and now established players, like Zillow, are starting to get in on the action. Also known as Direct Buyers, these companies use computer algorithms to provide sellers with a quick cash offer to buy their home.

 While the actual market share of iBuyers remains small, their big advertising budgets have helped create a noticeable buzz in the industry. This has left many of our clients curious about them and how they work.

 In this article, we explain their

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The U.S. unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, and consumer confidence remains high. In fact, the University of Michigan’s latest Surveys of Consumers found that Americans have their most positive personal finance outlook since 2003.1

However, if you follow national news, you’ve probably heard speculation that we could be headed toward a recession. Global trade tensions and a slow down in the GDP growth rate have sparked volatility in the stock market, leading to economic uncertainty.

Given these differing signals, you may be wondering: How has the U.S. housing market been impacted? Where is it headed? And more importantly … what does it mean for me?

 

 MORTGAGE RATES ARE NEAR HISTORIC LOWS

 In August, Freddie Mac reported that the average

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 In our “bigger is better” culture, there’s an expectation that each home should be larger and grander than the last. But life changes like divorce, kids leaving for college, or even the simple act of growing older can prompt us to find a smaller home that better suits our shifting needs and lifestyle.

 In fact, the advantages of downsizing are being increasingly recognized. A “tiny house movement” has gained passionate advocates who appreciate the benefits of living simply at any age and stage of life. Not only does a smaller home typically cost less, it also takes less time and effort to maintain.1

 Whatever your reasons are for downsizing, the process can seem overwhelming. That’s why I’ve outlined five steps to guide you on your journey. And in

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Most new homeowners have something about their property that they want to change. And as family needs and design trends shift over time, many will eventually choose to remodel. Some homeowners make updates to their property before listing it to maximize their potential sales revenue.

 Whatever your reasons are for taking on a home improvement project, it’s wise to consider how the money you invest will impact your home’s value.

I’ve taken a look at six popular home renovations and identified those that—on average—have the best and worst returns on investment. So before you lift a hammer or hire a contractor, take a look at this list and see if your remodeling efforts will reward you when it comes time to sell.

 

 RENOVATIONS THAT PAY OFF

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