Mortgage Insurance: Added Cost To Homebuying Or Smart Way To Get In?

(BPT) – The homebuying process is exciting, but can also seem fraught with added costs, like a home inspection, title insurance and closing costs. And if you can’t afford a full 20 percent down payment on a conventional home loan, then you will most likely pay for private mortgage insurance (MI). Some people consider private MI yet another added cost, but it helps creditworthy middle-income homebuyers qualify for home financing sooner with a low down payment. Is it really an added cost if it saves time and money in the long run?

For most people, low down payment home loan options include conventional loans with private MI and government-backed loans like those offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). While comparable, each of these options has important differences. For example, the minimum down payment for an FHA mortgage is 3.5 percent while it’s only 3 percent on a conventional, privately insured mortgage.

Another key feature of private MI is that it can be canceled when a borrower reaches 20 percent equity in his or her home. Borrowers who purchase a home with private MI can typically cancel it within 5 to 7 years, resulting in their monthly bill going down. Private MI’s cancelability makes it a more affordable option over FHA-backed mortgages, which typically require mortgage insurance premiums for the entirety of the loan term. Both are offered by most mortgage lenders, so it’s smart to ask a loan officer for both options so you can compare and do the math.

The myth that a homebuyer needs 20 percent down to obtain a mortgage is simply not true. Low down payment mortgages are widely available and used every day across the country. In 2018, the National Association of Realtors found that first-time homebuyers typically put down 7 percent, while repeat buyers put down an average of 16 percent. Many homebuyers choose a lower down payment option to preserve some savings for home improvements or save for other goals. The time it could take to save up a 20 percent down payment is significant. On average, it could take up to 20 years to save a full 20 percent, plus closing costs, for a $257,700 house – the national median sales price. With home prices on the rise, the amount of time it takes to save up could only increase. Private MI can mean the difference between getting into the home of your dreams sooner or waiting for years.

For over 60 years, more than 30 million homeowners of all backgrounds have used private MI to successfully buy their homes. In the past year alone, private MI helped more than one million borrowers nationwide purchase or refinance a mortgage. According to a study by U.S. Mortgage Insurers, 56 percent of purchase borrowers were first-time homebuyers and more than 40 percent had incomes below $75,000.

For decades, millions of homeowners and prospective homebuyers have relied on private MI to help them affordably and responsibly purchase their homes – in turn helping them build personal wealth. Today’s historically low mortgage interest rates are a good reason to buy a home now. It is estimated that in 2019, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will be around 5 percent. Borrowers should take advantage of these historically low mortgage interest rates because experts forecast that primary mortgage rates are on the rise.

Getting a mortgage with private MI and keeping more of your hard-earned money in the bank can be a very smart way to invest in your future. Check out lowdownpaymentfacts.org to learn more.

How To Add a Bathroom In an ‘Impossible’ Space

Add a bathroom to an ‘impossible’ space to catch home buyers’ attention

(BPT) – When it comes to real estate, you’ve probably heard kitchens and bathrooms typically sell houses. While you may not have enough money for a kitchen remodel, adding a bathroom can be a more affordable way to enhance your property and catch buyers’ attention.

By adding another bathroom to your home, you immediately increase your chances of the property getting noticed. Technology makes it simple for buyers to search properties of interest by their designated criteria. One of those is “minimum number of bathrooms.” By adding to that amount in your listing, you’ll be getting in front of that many more potential buyers.

Adding bathrooms to difficult spaces

Bathrooms increase a home’s value and add to its functionality – both elements that buyers desire. Homeowners can begin to research opportunities to add bathrooms to their properties presale. This often means enhancing basements, garage slabs and other spaces that can be more difficult for contractors to add plumbing systems with conventional in-floor drainage.

If you have a space that would be ideal for a bathroom but appears to be impossible due to the need to break through concrete or other types of flooring, there’s another solution to consider: above-floor, macerating plumbing systems. Developed a half century ago in Europe, these systems are still relatively unknown in the United States; however, they offer a vast opportunity for homeowners.

Macerating systems from makers like Saniflo reduce waste and paper from the toilet and send it under high pressure through piping directly into the septic or sewer system. No waste is stored, and the systems are low-cost compared to traditional plumbing. Systems are discreet, quiet and open the possibilities of affordable additions in less time. Learn more at Saniflo.com.

If you want to add a bathroom to prepare your home for resale, don’t be limited by the seemingly impossible. Here are five “impossible” home improvement scenarios where above-floor plumbing may be the solution:

Main floor on-slab construction

Owners of slab-built homes may hesitate to cut into the concrete foundation in order to accommodate conventional plumbing. No matter how careful a contractor is when cutting into concrete, a variety of problems can arise – from unexpected obstructions to poor-fitting patches and even stress cracks. Above-floor plumbing systems eliminate the need to cut into the slab, so integrity isn’t compromised.

Basements

If your home is built with a basement, bathroom additions can be problematic due to concrete and existing plumbing limitations. Above-floor, macerating plumbing is a smart solution for fast, cost-effective bathroom additions in lower-level rooms. Now you can highlight the comfortable living space and make it feel like a true entertainment center or like home to prospective buyers.

Historic homes

Opening walls or floors to accommodate piping may jeopardize important historic elements, such as original wood flooring or plaster walls. Systems like Saniflo’s macerating toilet and plumbing technology eliminate the need to cut through a floor to install new drainage, while minimizing the impact on walls as well. The system also fits easily into small areas like a closet or the dead space behind a stairway, meaning homeowners don’t have to compromise the flow of their historic homes to add a bathroom.

Raised homes

Bayou and beach towns often boast charming raised homes. Adding a bathroom to the lowest floor of a raised home can be problematic; conventional plumbing pipes may detract from the aesthetic value of the space beneath the home, which is often used for car ports, porches and decks. Above-floor plumbing eliminates the need for unsightly pipes, so you can make a great first impression to potential buyers.

Warehouse rehabs

In cities across the country, warehouses have found new life as condos and apartments. The problem is heavy brick construction can make adding traditional plumbing difficult. Above-floor plumbing eliminates the need to cut into or remove bricks, and allows renovators to install attractive, cozy bathrooms in smaller spaces. Imagine how upgrading a one-bath condo to a property with two bathrooms will enhance resale.

If you’re preparing your home for the current real estate market, you want it to stand out. An extra bathroom can help you do that and attract high bids from buyers. Thanks to above-floor macerating plumbing systems, the possibilities are endless.

5 Simple Ways To Bring More Color To Your Home

(BPT) – When you look at your home’s interiors, do you find yourself craving a refresh? If so, there’s no better time than the New Year to update your home with thoughtful design touches that embrace the power of color.

Color is a key component of interior design and a useful tool for updating any space. What’s more, colors can convey many emotions – from calm to energetic – helping you create rooms that are perfectly reflective of your personal tastes.

Even though the possibilities are endless, color can be intimidating. While you may like the use of color when you see it online, in magazines or other people’s homes, the uncertainty about how to incorporate it into your own home may hold you back. Fortunately, a few simple expert tips and tricks will have you using color like a pro in no time.

Lifestyle expert and EasyCare Paint Brand Ambassador Camille Styles knows the power of color in transforming spaces from bland to beautiful. She uses color throughout her home to create rooms that are stylish and unique and you too can transform your favorite spaces by using her top tips to bring color into your home:

Paint an Accent Wall:

An accent wall commands attention and creates depth in the space, becoming the focal point of the room. The color you choose can be any hue that’s different from the other walls in the room. Whether it’s slightly different or drastically different is up to you.

“I’m really into EasyCare Paint’s French Coast color,” says Styles. “Its strong blue hue makes a bold statement without being too harsh or overpowering.”

Add a Rug:

Transform a room in an instant with a vibrant rug. It will add the perfect touch of color and can even be changed out seasonally to bring new hues into the space. A rug with a bright color or pattern can help create the illusion of more space so don’t be afraid to use one in a smaller room to open it up and make it more inviting.

Start Small:

Many people are timid about color, so you can start small and incorporate a new, bold tone with items like a coffee table accessory or oversized pillows. You may find that your choice quickly becomes a favorite piece in your home, plus you’ll gain the confidence to add more color to other rooms, too.

Introduce Textures:

Bringing in different colors and textures, such as a plush throw blanket or a woven basket, takes your space up a notch and adds another visual layer. Since these aren’t permanent fixtures in the room, they offer an easy way to play around with colors to see what works best in the space.

Embrace the Unexpected:

Bring in a bold pop of color by doing something unexpected, like painting the trim instead of the wall.

“Black can take a room up a notch with its rich tone. “EasyCare Paint’s Crow color will really wow your guests whenever you entertain,” says Styles.

Whether you’re looking to do a quick update or a complete interior design overhaul, color makes a room more dynamic and energized. From simple d├ęcor pieces to bolder accent walls, bringing color into your home is a great way to refresh in the New Year.

For more color inspiration, visit www.truevaluepaint.com.

Simple Bathroom Installations With Big Impact For 2019

(BPT) – Craving a more beautiful bathroom? Resolve to make this the year that you finally create the bathroom of your dreams.

Fortunately, you don’t need a major remodel. Consider these ideas for simple changes with big impact. With a little planning and effort, you’ll add to your home’s value and functionality, while getting the “Pinterest-worthy” bathroom you know will make you smile every day.

Project 1: Fresh, eco-friendly style

Transitional style is today’s most popular bathroom style, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and with good reason: almost limitless design potential.

The American Standard Town Square S bathroom collection, inspired by classic American architecture, makes it easy to create a ‘put-together’ look in bathrooms of all sizes, with a full suite of fixtures and faucets that are easy to install for a stunning refresh.

Performing beautifully, you would never guess just how much water the Town Square WaterSense-certified faucets save: almost half the water of regular faucets!

There is nothing better than a beautiful new bathroom that is as easy on the eyes as it is on our water resources (not to mention the little extra cash you get to keep in your wallet when a lower water bill arrives!).

Project 2: Modern flooring

When you look down, do your bathroom floors leave something to be desired? Redoing the flooring is a simple weekend project that will transform the space.

Tile is a great bathroom flooring choice because it is so versatile and long-lasting, and can be created to look surprisingly like other materials, such as wood, creating unique looks that wouldn’t typically be possible for the bathroom space.

Want to step it up? Consider heated flooring to add comfort and a touch of luxury. This top trend works with a variety of different types of flooring material.

Project 3: Customizable shower

A restorative shower experience is at the top of the list for a new bathroom must-have.

Intuitive products like GROHE SmartControl make it easy to control the precise amount of water with a simple push of a button. A turn of the dial allows for accurate control of water volume and temperature. This makes it easy to change modes quickly, from when you want less water while soaping up to when you want more water to rinse off.

Project 4: Personal pampering

Bidet seats and toilets are a smart bathroom upgrade for a wellness-focused home. Drawing on Japanese traditions and technology, water cleans more thoroughly than toilet paper, so it’s more healthful for all users.

A great option is the DXV AT 200 LS SpaLet with its heated seat, soft night light, fully-automatic cleansing wand and adjustable water temperature settings. This bidet toilet will also score bonus points because it is designed for fast and easy installation, so you can create your spa bathroom retreat a lot sooner than you think!

With these project tips that involve simple product installations, updating the look and feel of your bathroom won’t feel like an overwhelming undertaking.