Should You Take Your Home Off the Market if it Isn’t Selling?

In a strong seller’s market, homes that are priced right and show nicely typically sell within the first four weeks of being on the market. If this time frame comes and goes with no successful offer, sellers will most likely become frustrated, and even start contemplating the possibility of just taking the property off the market for a little while and try again some time in the near future.

The truth is, you can realistically sell your home in any market, if you get yourself a solid real estate agent and use a few proven tactics to garner more serious interest in your home.

So, should you take your home off the market if it’s not selling?

Before you make such a major decision, have a look at a few reasons why your home isn’t selling first.

The Listing Price is Way Off

Lots of homeowners hold emotional ties to their properties and genuinely think that their homes are worth more than they really are. And of course, everyone wants to get as much money from the sale of their home as possible, and demand that their agents slap a hefty price tag on the listing.

Unfortunately, nothing will cause a lagging listing more than a listing price that’s too high for the current market. If your home’s been sitting on the market for weeks – or longer – without a nibble, the first thing you should do is look at the listing price and determine whether or not it’s too high.

If so, it’s time to shave a few bucks off.

Your real estate agent will be able to pull a report of the recent comparable sales in the neighborhood. Be sure that you ask no more than 5 to 10 percent over the previous top selling price. And don’t have the most expensive listing on the block, either – buyers are looking at the same comparables, so you don’t want to scare them off before they’ve even seen your property.

Price point is critical – if you don’t price your home properly, you’re pretty much asking for a stale listing.

Your Home Doesn’t Show Well

Aside from setting an accurate price point, making sure that your home is properly staged is absolutely essential. Nobody wants to pull up to a home with overgrown weeds and pet excrement in the front yard. Nor do they want to walk inside and see yesterday’s laundry piled up on the couch, or a stack of dirty dishes piled up in the sink.

Granted, these scenarios are pretty outrageous (though they do happen), but even simple things like a cracking door, broken window blind, or orange walls will throw buyers off.

Take a second gander at your home and make sure that you’ve tackled everything as far as staging is concerned. Is the lawn well manicured? Is the house clean and tidy? Are the colors neutralized?

Don’t leave your home in the morning without making sure that all beds are made, dishes are washed and put away, and counters are clear. You just never know when a last-minute showing is booked, giving you no time to run back from the office to clear the place up before the buyer show up.

When in doubt, have your home staged by a professional home stager.

The Place is Outdated

Houses that feature outdated kitchens and bathrooms will usually sit on the market longer than more modern properties, or even wind up selling at a lower price.

It’s possible that your home may need some upgrades, but you’ll also need to be realistic with both your time and your budget. Make sure that whatever money you’re spending is a wise investment.

The rule of thumb is to avoid huge projects that will be super expensive. Perform as many small home improvements as you realistically can, and look for improvements that will most likely make your home move-in ready as far as potential homebuyers are concerned.

Typically, the most valuable home improvements include painting, replacing or refacing a worn-out front door, touching up faded siding, refacing kitchen cabinets and countertops, and replacing hardware in the kitchen and bathroom. You probably won’t recoup as much of the cost if you add a bathroom, sunroom, or gutted the kitchen.

Don’t Put a Cap on Your Options

If you’ve absolutely tried everything, and your home still isn’t selling, consider hedging your bets and putting your home up for sale and for rent at the same time.

If you’ve already vacated the property, or need to relocate soon, maybe renting out your home could be a realistic approach. That is, of course, if your finances support such an option.

Putting the house up for rent and for sale at the same time can give the potential clientele a trial rental period. Perhaps your particular market is experiencing a temporary slowdown, but the rental market is really strong. If you’re able to carry two mortgages, you could allow your home to act as an investment property while buying time until next year when the market has (hopefully) picked up for sellers.

In the meantime, let the renters pay your mortgage for you while your home continues to build equity. If you find a renter and get a lease signed, your lender will be much more likely to approve you for second mortgage to keep the home while you start your life elsewhere.

 

Make sure you exhaust all efforts to make your home as attractive as possible – both esthetically and price wise – and get yourself a skilled real estate agent on your team. Sometimes all it takes is a temporary time-out from the market to make a few tweaks to the place and the listing, then put it back up on the market in a few weeks to get a fresh start.

8 Things in Your House That Deserve an Upgrade

No home is perfect. Even after buying a brand new home, homeowners often see things they’d like to change. Fortunately, if they stay in those homes for a while, they’ll likely make a few upgrades to make it their own.

However, completely redoing an entire room can be expensive and that expense doesn’t always pay off when the homeowner sells. Here are a few upgrades that aren’t quite as expensive as a complete room renovation that might pay off when the home goes on the market.

Mattress

If you get the recommended amount of sleep each night, you’re spending around eight hours every day on your mattress. Invest in a high-quality mattress that gives your body the support it needs. This guide can help you find the perfect mattress for your own specific needs.

Thermostat

Thermostats have advanced dramatically in recent years. You can upgrade to a unit that will learn your family’s heating and cooling schedule or you can purchase one that you program. This small upgrade can help you save money on utilities each year.

Shower Head

Why settle for a standard shower head when you can exchange it for a newer version that simulates rainfall or has a larger coverage area. Many of the newer shower heads use low-flow water rates, saving homeowners money on their water bills each month.

Appliances

Depending when your kitchen was last upgraded, you may be dealing with outdated appliances. Do an inventory of every appliance in your home and determine any upgrades that could bring more convenience. Occasionally every homeowner will need to replace his refrigerator, oven, stove, dishwasher, microwave, and toaster, as well as his washer and dryer.

Lighting

A little light goes a long way in making a room more visually appealing. Inadequate lighting can lead to discomfort and eye strain for those living and staying there. By making small changes to a room’s lighting, a homeowner can reduce that strain and make the room look better. In addition to replacing ceiling lights inside the home, consider upgrading your landscaping lighting, as well.

Closets

No matter where you live, you’ll likely feel your closet space is inadequate. Consider upgrading the shelving and storage in your closet to make it easier to squeeze more items in without sacrificing organization. With a few basic changes, you can double the space in your closet at minimal expense.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans serve the purpose of improving airflow in a home, but they also add to a room’s visual aesthetics. Upgrading a ceiling fan can be done in mere minutes at a budget-friendly cost. Look toward the ceiling in each of your rooms and determine if a small ceiling fan upgrade can make the room look much better.

Laundry Room

Upgrading your washer and dryer can make a big difference in the look of your laundry room, but there are other things you can do to make the area more functional. Add shelving and cabinets to give yourself plenty of area to work with while you’re washing, drying, and folding laundry.

With a few simple changes, you can make your home feel brand new. These upgrades can be completed at minimal expense but they’ll have maximum impact.

How Much of an Effect Does Student Debt Really Have on Home Ownership?

College kids aren’t just coming out of school with a degree; they’re also leaving with a heap of student debt.

But while college grads may be strapped with a few years of student loan repayments ahead of them, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the debt should be an obstacle to getting approved for a mortgage.

Of course, there are a few other factors that will play a part in whether or not a stamp of approval will be granted, such as employment history and credit score.

What Do Lenders Really Care About?

Three metrics typically come into play wen lenders are deciding whether or not to approve or deny a loan application:

▪          Credit score

▪          Income compared to expenses

▪          Employment history

Let’s have a look at each in more detail.

Credit Score

Even if you have a ton of student debt that you still need to pay off, that doesn’t mean that your credit score necessarily has to suffer. As long as you are making your monthly payments in full and on time every month, your credit score should be healthy (as long as you’re doing everything else right).

Lenders will usually feel more comfortable loaning out a big chunk of change if your credit score is 750 or higher. To have a score like this, it means you’ve been making all of your payments promptly and have a solid history of using your credit. The last thing you want your potential lender to see on your credit report is a string of late payments, collections, or even bankruptcy.

This goes for your student loans too. If you want to boost your chances of getting a mortgage, make sure you’re always paying your student loan on time.

However, forbearance will have a negative effect on your credit score. Forbearance (or ‘deferment’) allows you to put a temporary halt on making your federal student loan payments, or temporarily decrease the amount of money you pay. If your student loan is in forbearance, it’ll reported to credit bureaus as a non-paying debt, which will do nothing but cause your credit score to plummet.

This doesn’t mean that lenders don’t mess up from time to time. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), about one in four consumers find errors on their credit reports that could negatively affect their credit scores. That’s why you should always pull your credit report before applying for a loan to see if there are any mistakes that should be rectified. If you find anything incorrect on this report, the credit bureaus are obligated to investigate.

Income and Expenses

One thing that lenders take a good hard look at when scoping out potential borrowers is all the expenses in relation to overall income. They want to make sure that you can easily and comfortably afford to continue to pay off your current expenses, in addition to taking on additional debt.

To figure this out, lenders will usually look at a couple of equations:

Debt-to-income ratio – Basically, this fancy number represents nothing more than your monthly gross income that is dedicated to paying off current debts (along with taxes, fees, and insurance). More simply put, it’s the amount of debt you’ve got compared to your overall income, and is expressed as a percentage. Lenders usually like to see borrowers with a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 36 percent – the lower, the better.

Payment-to-income ratio – Also expressed as a percentage, your mortgage should ideally not exceed more than 28 percent of your total income. Any higher than this number could flag the lender to hesitate further burdening you with added debt.

Your student loan debt could have an affect on how your lender believes you’ll be able to pay a mortgage. If your total debt payment (your student loan, mortgage, and other miscellaneous debts) are calculated to be more than 36 percent of your income, you can probably assume that a mortgage won’t be approved. But if you can keep it under this number, you have a shot at approval.

Employment History

An important factor that lenders will look at before approving you for a mortgage is your employment history. They want to know that there is a stable source of income that’s readily available to pay the mortgage off every month. While some lenders are pretty stingy and want to see at least two to five years of work experience in the same industry, other lenders are satisfied with at least one year to help determine your regular income.

This is a toughie for recent college grads who haven’t had enough time to accumulate this much work experience. That’s why graduates might want to consider renting for a few years first. This will provide the opportunity to continue to build good credit by paying the rent on time and every month. Lenders like to see history like this before approving anyone for a mortgage.

However, if you’ve been working for a few months after graduating, and have maintained a steady job throughout school, this may count for something if you’re considering applying for a mortgage right out of the gates.

 

Student loans on their own won’t prevent you from getting approved for a mortgage, despite what many might believe. Other factors also come into play, including your credit history, your income, and your total debt amount. If these numbers are pretty healthy, and you’ve been pretty responsible with managing all your debt, there shouldn’t be anything standing in the way of getting a mortgage.

These Halloween Window Decorations Will Make Your House the Spookiest House on the Block

Halloween brings out the kid in most homeowners, from costume parties to trick-or-treating with their own children. Fully participating in the festivities can be expensive, however, and it seems no matter what decorations a homeowner chooses, everyone else in the neighborhood is doing something similar.

Window decorations can be a great way to express your Halloween spirit from the inside of your house out. Whether used in combination with yard decorations or alone, these festive decorations will make Halloween night a little more fun for everyone who visits.

Window Decals

Gel clings are easy to apply, easy to remove, and they make your house look great. You can find them at most party supply stores and choose from a variety of options, including full-window clings or small clings that you can distribute between the many windows in your house. With the right window clings, when the lights are turned on behind them, the decals will make it look as though creatures, ghosts, and ghouls are actually inside your house.

You can take the frights on the road with the same window clings for your vehicle. Just place the window decals on a back window or anywhere else you want them, then remove them once the season is over.

Bloody Handprints

Bloody handprint stickers can make a home look as though bloody handprints have touched its surfaces. This might not be the best option if you’re concerned about scaring young children, but for parties and neighborhood get-togethers, these stickers can be a great way to add a little fun to the festivities. Bloody handprint window clings are also available at party supply stores.

If you want to tackle the project on your own, you can make DIY bloody handprints using glue, plastic wrap, and food coloring, along with a few other household items. It might be a fun project for older children, who will get a kick out of creating something creepy for the house.

Bloody Candles

Window candles are popular during the Christmas season, giving a home a festive, warm look. You can start the fun early by placing fake candles with blood in the windows of your home. They might look less than authentic up close, but your outside visitors will only be able to see the glowing red at the top of the candle when placed in the window.

If you have a window where it’s safe to light real candles, you can create your own bloody candle by melting the wax from a blood red candle onto one that is white. This project allows you to control the look of the bloodiness of the candle, making it a fun project. This is ideal for deep windows with plenty of ledge space

Finding a unique way to make your home look spooky for Halloween can be challenging. With these ideas, you can spice up the front of your house, capturing the attention of trick or treaters and passersby both before and during the scariest holiday of the year.

Buyers Are Now Armed With More Detailed Information Thanks to New Mortgage Disclosure Rule

As of October 1st, home buyers will be armed with more information about their mortgages, and will be given more time to review their mortgage rate and fee quote documents.

Right now, the law requires borrowers to fill out two disclosure forms when applying for a home loan. In addition, two forms also need to be completed on or just before closing. These forms were intended to protect borrowers from fee abuses, and have been around for a while.

The Truth In Lending Act (also known as TILA) is designed to protects borrowers from being blindsided by unknown closing costs by regulating how mortgage fees and conditions are calculated and communicated.

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (also known as RESPA) protects borrowers from being victimized by unnecessary real estate transaction expenses by preventing various housing services from paying each other money in exchange for customer referrals.

Currently, borrowers are required to receive a Good Faith Estimate and an Initial Truth In Lending disclosure within three days of applying for a mortgage. This disclosure document outlines the quoted interest rate on the mortgage, terms, and total fees over the course of the loan.

Lenders also have to provide borrowers with a HUD-1 before closing. This form stipulates in detail all the fees associated with the real estate transaction, including exactly how much money will be needed to close on the transactions, and the final Truth In Lending disclosure.

Simplifying the Process With the New TRID Rules

While this information is very helpful for consumers, it can be rather complex to figure out. Not only that, but consumers may be too late to make any adjustments after comparing the initial Good Faith Estimate and an Initial Truth In Lending disclosure to the final HUD-1.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has taken over these regulations, and combined them to form the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID) which will take effect October 1st this year. The process is made simpler under the new TRID rules with the merging of the Truth-in-Lending form and the HUD-1 form to create The Closing Disclosure, a unified 5-page document. Only the buyer will receive the Closing Disclosure.

These new disclosures are aimed to provide borrowers with much more detailed information about their mortgage packages, and will give borrowers a lot more time to review them. Consumers are to receive a Loan Estimate Form within three days of applying for a mortgage. This form outlines the breakdown of fees, interest rate, amount of money necessary to close, conditions, and costs over the life of the loan.

Consumers will then receive a Closing Disclosure Form a minimum of three days prior to closing. This form is very similar to the Loan Estimate document, but also differentiates the expenses paid by the buyer, seller, and other parties involved in the transaction. This gives borrowers more time to go over the final terms of the mortgage. But because of such an extension of time to go over these documents, the closing process will also take longer to complete.

Fee Disclosure

Borrowers will have the advantage of greater transparency in accurate disclosure of all fees associated with their home loan. After the borrower applies for the loan, lenders will have to disclose these numbers.

 

Since the fees will be alphabetized and categorized, it should be easier for borrowers to compare estimates between mortgage lenders. Loan Estimates (LE) expire after 10 days, but buyers are not obligated to continue the transaction. However, once the borrower decides to proceed, the fees are then locked in.

If you’re planning on applying for a mortgage in the near future, be sure to speak to your mortgage specialist to find out exactly how these new rules will affect your home loan process. While home buyers should anticipate a 3-day delay in closing, the new TRID rules should improve the overall mortgage and closing process.

How the Rococo Design Trend Is Making Even the Smallest Homes Look Ornate

Home décor goes through phases, often inspired by past design periods. Homeowners seem to always be looking for new ways to bring classic looks back, whether those looks come from 100 years ago or 300 years ago. But it can be difficult to come up with new ways to honor the past, since everything seems to have been done before.

One of the latest trends is bringing back an artistic period in European history, making everyday homes look royal. Called rococo, this design style can be seen in some of the best-known palaces, castles, and attractions around the globe. And now it’s gradually beginning to appear in homes, condos, and apartments across America.

Classic Interiors

The biggest issue for many homeowners will be cost. Rococo furniture can be extremely costly, which explains why it has been traditionally found in only the homes of the wealthiest people. But the popularity of the look has led budget designers to attempt the look, with furniture and knickknacks available from discount retailers like Walmart and Wayfair.

If you want a more authentic look, you may be able to find the look you want at estate sales. You could also check eBay, which has a Rococo Furniture section, and Craigslist. You may even be able to find some Rococo furniture at antique stores, although you may need to put some work into refurbishing the pieces you find.

The Look for Your Home

Rococo is often seen in large rooms with high ceilings, but it can work in small rooms, as well. The important thing is to ensure it blends with the rest of the room’s décor, so it may be necessary to work around it. Users have posted some furniture on Pinterest that would work even in small spaces, provided the rest of the area was minimalized.

If you choose a large, ornate piece of furniture like a bed or sofa, it’s important to ensure the rest of the room is minimalized to avoid a room full of pieces that war for attention. In a small living space, one eye-catching piece might pack more of a punch than a roomful of extreme items.

The Basics of Rococo

As this designer points out, there are three major elements to rococo: curved lines, exoticism, and forms suggesting rocks or shells. Eighteenth-century rococo furniture featured patterned fabric and carved rosewood or mahogany wood. More contemporary versions of rococo may attempt to recreate that but will likely be much less detailed, mimicking the shape and style of the furniture with simpler fabrics and less expensive wood.

These chairs are an example of how contemporary designs have aspired to make furniture with the curves of rococo. However, if a homeowner wants the true rococo look, it might be necessary to shop higher-end furniture stores or antique stores for the real thing.

Rococo is an exciting design trend that will likely always have a place in upper-class homes. However, the new trend allows the look to incorporate into any home, whether it’s a small apartment or a suburban two-story family home.

Top 10 US Cities With the Highest Rent Rates

While rental prices across the nation are steadily climbing, in many cities they are spiking faster than residents can keep up with. For many, home ownership is just too expensive right now, leading them to opt for rentals in the meantime.

It’s no shocker that the most in-demand cities in the US are commanding the highest rent prices.

10. Seattle, WA

The north-west coast city of Seattle is quickly climbing the ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the US for renters, who are paying a median price of $1,600 for one-bedrooms. Hot communities in the city are driving rates up, including Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, and Renton.

9. Los Angeles, CA

You might be surprised that the land of celebrities would be somewhat low on this list, though it certainly isn’t cheap to live here. With a median price for one-bedrooms at $1,700, these prices are nothing to sneeze at. Yet, compared to San Fran and NYC, these prices pale in comparison. And compared to other large cities in the country, LA residents pay the highest proportion of their income for rent (47 percent).

8. Chicago, IL

Renters in the Windy City pay an average of $1,780 for rent for a one-bedroom apartment. As the country’s third largest and third most populated city, there’s certainly no shortage of people looking to call a place home. With various industries flourishing in Chicago, such as finance, commerce, and technology, people continue to flock to the city.

7. Miami, FL

South Florida’s super busy Miami is the most expensive in the state, with median one-bedroom apartment prices hovering around $1,850. Just over the past year, the real estate market in Miami has been increasing every month. As a result of high housing prices, first-time homebuyers are opting to rent instead, causing a shortage in the number of rental units currently available.

6. Oakland, CA

As a result of its close proximity to #1 on this list, Oakland’s rent prices have been feeling the ripple effect. When renters in nearby San Francisco get fed up with the incredibly high rent prices in the city, many of them flee to neighboring Oakland. Though rent is comparatively lower, it’s still pretty pricey. One-bedroom apartments go for an average of $1,900 in Oakland.

5. Washington, D.C.

Considering Washington D.C. is the nation’s capital, it only makes sense that its rent prices are among the highest in the country. This city has traditionally been an expensive one to live in, whether renting or buying, and that doesn’t seem to be changing. Renters pay a median price of $2,100 for one-bedroom apartments.

4. San Jose, CA

The third of five cities in California to make this list is San Jose, where renters pay a median price of $2,120 for one-bedrooms. When you consider the fact that this city has a high proportion of millionaires thanks to the wealth of tech companies in the area, it’s no wonder that this kind of wealth has a huge bearing on rent and housing prices, which continue to climb.

3. Boston, MA

One-bedroom apartments in Boston go for $2,230. And even though Boston is among the smaller cities on this list, it’s still considered the third most expensive city in the US to rent in. The uber-affluent Boston neighborhood located in the south of the city between D Street and West Broadway commands an average of $3,400 for a one-bedroom unit.

2. New York City, NY

Running a close second this year is New York City, where renters can expect to pay a median price of $3,100 for a one-bedroom. Based on how expensive the studios are, it’s almost not even worth it to skimp on space just to save a couple of bucks. New York has been a chart-topper for decades when it comes to the cost of living, so it should be of no surprise that the Big Apple is so far up on this list.

1. San Francisco, CA

This gorgeous California city has made it on this list a few times before, averaging $3,500 for a one-bedroom. San Fran even beat out other cities in the state (many of which are on this list, as you’ll see), as well as New York City. Still, San Francisco and NYC are still pretty much neck-in-neck when it comes to sky-high rent rates, especially when you calculate the cost on a price-per-bedroom basis.

We’re seeing some of the lowest vacancy rates in the US since the 1980s, proving that rental prices are showing no signs of letting up any time in the near future.

5 Tips for Making a TV Part of Your Décor

The average American household now has almost three TVs, a number that has been steadily increasing since the 70s. TVs have long expanded beyond the family room to include children’s bedrooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms. Even with today’s wall-mounted TVs, designers can be challenged to make a room still look attractive around a large black screen.

home decor_incorporating TV in design

Fortunately, there are a few creative liberties a homeowner can take to make a TV work with a room’s design rather than against it. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Put a Frame Around It

With today’s wall-mounted TVs, homeowners can actually turn a TV into a work of art. While it can be pricey, a professional frame can be crafted to cover the edges of your TV, making it look much classier. If you’re on a budget, this do-it-yourself option will give you the look you want without blowing your budget. If you aren’t handy with a miter saw, you may be able to hire a local handyman or contractor to do the job for you.

Create Cabinetry

home decor_TV in cabinetry

Many homeowners have custom cabinetry built around their TVs. This serves two purposes: it improves the look of your TV while also providing extra storage. You can build shelving, cabinets, or a combination of both, using the space to show off pictures or hide electronics like gaming systems.

Cover It

If you’d prefer a large mirror or painting to hang in place of your TV, you may be in luck. Solutions now exist that allow you to easily cover your TV with a painting or mirror when not in use. This step-by-step guide can help you with a DIY version, but you can also purchase frames that incorporate the technology.

Use an Easel

home decor_TV on easel

Easel TV stands are all the rage, with creative homeowners using them to make their TV sets look like studio canvases. The popularity of easels for TVs has led them to become commercially available, although they may be pricey for many budgets. If you opt to turn an artist’s easel into one for your TV, be sure it is strong enough to hold the TV without tipping. This decorator turned an artist’s easel into a TV stand very few issues.

Recess It

home decor_recessed TV

One of the most attractive design choices for a wall-mounted TV is to incorporate it into a customized recessed area of a wall. This might not be an option for homeowners who don’t want to deal with major construction on the affected walls. Perhaps the biggest problem with this eye-pleasing option is that TV sizes change over the years. The recessed area may work well for the TV a family has today, but what about ten years down the road, when TVs may be different?

A TV can take away from the look of a room, but with a little creativity a homeowner can make it work well with the surrounding décor. Whether a homeowner decides to build around it, hide it, or frame it, the option should express the occupants’ personal style while also letting them still enjoy their favorite shows.

14 Home Design Accounts You Need to Follow On Instagram

Whether you occasionally enjoy the odd design blog or are literally obsessed with making your space look as chic and stylish as possible at every waking moment, following certain Instagram accounts can provide you with the inspiration and ideas you need.

Check out the following home decor-inspired Instagram accounts that will set you on the right path to creating the perfect style in your home.

1. Apartment Therapy

Siire’s Eclectic, Happy Apartment in Paris — House Tour (Click link above in our profile to read the post on Apartment Therapy!)

A photo posted by Apartment Therapy (@apartmenttherapy) on

They’re motto is “saving the world, one room at a time,” and they mean it. Launched in 2004 by Maxwell and Oliver Ryan, Apartment Therapy boasts easy and affordable ways to help homeowners make their spaces as beautiful and organized as possible. Those who follow this account will get a regular dose of resources and ideas to copy and be inspired by.   

2. One Kings Lane 

This is a fantastic online marketplace that offers homeowners amazing little decorating secrets from the experts in interior decor. One Kings Lane is an interior decor retailer that can be somewhat compared to places like Pottery Barn and Ikea – but their prices fall somewhere in between. Whether you buy from them or not, their Instagram account is a great place to discover awesome ideas at no charge.

3. Emily Henderson

She’s a stylist, interior designer, TV personality, and writer of a daily style blog. And when it comes to interior decor, she’s sheer genius. Emily Henderson’s Instagram account offers home lovers visually appealing and out-of-the-box concepts and ideas that will make you want it all. She’s all about going outside of the norm to achieve an amazing look.

4. Domino Mag

The Domino Mag Instagram account was set up by Domino Magazine, and provides sources for online shopping, tips, and photo galleries that showcase the latest styles and trends in the world of interior decor. The account covers a wide array of decorating details, from subtle decor to much more elaborate and embellished spaces.

5. House Beautiful

Two words: Weekend. Goals. #vacation #escape ✌? (Photo by Don Freeman) A photo posted by housebeautiful (@housebeautiful) on

Not only do homeowners take pointers from House Beautiful, even expert interior designers have been known to peruse this account to get some ideas for decor projects. As the official feed of House Beautiful magazine, this account will drive you to want to covet every design idea that’s posted. The color palettes that are used are so inviting that you’ll want to jump right into the pages.

6. DIY Playbook

Bridget and Casey are the design geniuses that are behind this account, which features homemade DIY ideas that any crafty homeowner can employ to transform their interiors in a jiffy, and on a tight budget. As thrift-store enthusiasts themselves, these two are the perfect sources to get some affordable DIY inspiration from.

7. Mat Sanders

What are you reading this weekend?

A photo posted by Mat Sanders (@thematfinish) on

Mat has a unique and bold design talent that has even attracted the attention of Hollywood heavyweights like actress Jessica Alba and fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni, who have employed him to update their own pads. Sanders’ Instagram account is chalk full of off-the-wall style that you simply can’t look away from.

8. Jonathan Adler

Life’s too short for beige. Give your friends something to squawk about. #interiordesign A photo posted by Jonathan Adler (@jonathanadler) on

Jonathan Adler’s design philosophy is simple: develop a classically chic foundation upon which to build from, then accessorize with reckless abandon. His Instagram feed offers an inside look into his diverse and far-reaching design world where you’ll discover how to mix patterns and textures, put art on display in unexpected ways, and style your furniture pieces like the experts.

9. Grace Bonney

Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney offers followers simple and fun DIY project ideas that just about any homeowner on any budget can handle. From hanging prints to choosing wallpaper patterns, Grace Bonney’s got some fun and creative ideas for any home.

10. Jason Grant

@basilbangs featured on my blog today #mjgedit #mrjasongrant photo @craigwallphoto stylist @jessicahansonstylist ??#linkinprofile A photo posted by @mr_jason_grant (@mr_jason_grant) on  

This Australian interior stylist and author offers some insight into a professional interior stylist’s adventures. Grant is quickly becoming increasingly well known in the world of interior design, and for good reason. He absolutely adores color and develops the most awe-inspiring spaces without even changing the wall paint color. Among his most adoring fans are college students who want an interesting space, but don’t have the budget nor the power to make major changes in their dorm rooms.

11. From the Right Bank

 As featured in InStyle and Huffington Post, From the Right Ban’s developer travels all across the globe to draw inspiration from various cultures and infuses them into spaces. Following the motto “living the good life with global modern style,” the founder shares her travels with all of her followers.  

12. The Gathered Home  

DIY blogger and home decor lover Brynne Delerson has so far posted over 800 photos that highlight vintage furniture collections that are married with everyday contemporary decor to create truly unique spaces. The Gathered Home features regular blog posts from the designer, and is home of the weekly #thriftscorethursday hashtag.

13. Pennies Into Pearls

Who wants the recipe! It’s up on the blog today! www.penniesintopearls.com SO good! #yum #sweet #baking #lemonblueberry

A photo posted by Brittany @ Pennies into Pearls (@penniesintopearls) on

Those who are seeking to create a space for entertaining on a budget will find Pennies Into Pearls quite helpful and inspiring. This Instagram account was founded by lifestyle blogger Brittany, who focuses on living in glorious spaces without having to blow the bank account. Her awesome ideas include everything from discovering amazing finds in thrift stores, to creating items made out of recyclables, and everything in between.

14. Victoria Smith

Inspired by bohemian-chic decor and items, Victoria Smith’s Instagram account is loaded with a collection of images that will convince even the naysayers that color should always be used, no matter how subtle or extravagant.

Whether you’re just looking for a few home decor tips, or are completely transforming the look and feel of your home, these fabulous Instagram feeds are the ideal sources for interior design inspiration.

6 Ways to Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster

Who wouldn’t love the idea of no longer being tied to a mortgage? The freedom associated with zero monthly mortgage payments is incredibly liberating.

The thought of knowing that your mortgage won’t be fully paid off for another 30 years isn’t.

Luckily, there are methods you can put into play to effectively wipe out your mortgage payments sooner rather than later.

1. Make Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments

Monthly mortgage payments tend to be the popular option among homeowners. It’s also a slower way to pay down your mortgage principle. If you pay $1,600 per month on your mortgage, consider paying $800 every two weeks instead.

pay mortgage faster_bi monthly

Sounds strange, right? Especially considering the fact that two $800 payments equals one $1,600 payment. But the reason why you can slightly increase the speed at which you pay your mortgage off by paying bi-weekly is because you actually make one extra month’s payment each year. With 26 bi-weekly pay periods in a year, you’re putting a little more towards your mortgage without even realizing it.

2. Refinance Into a Shorter Loan Period

While the “default” loan period is typically the 30-year mortgage, there are other options to help significantly reduce the amount paid towards interest and more towards principal. If you’re serious about paying off your mortgage faster, consider a 15- or 20-year mortgage instead of the usual 30-year version. With a shorter and accelerated amortized schedule, you’ll be paying more with each payment, but you’ll reach the end a lot quicker.

And when we say you’ll be paying more each payment, that doesn’t mean you’ll be paying twice as much with a 15-year mortgage compared to a 30-year mortgage.

Mortgage payments are made up of principal, interest, insurance and taxes. While the taxes and insurance portions will remain constant, principal and interest will change. The total interest that you pay over the life of your mortgage will consistently decrease. First of all, you’ll be paying down your principal faster; and secondly, shorter loan periods are typically issued at lower interest rates.

pay mortgage faster_refinancin

3. Refinance With a Lower Interest Rate

Refinancing doesn’t only have to take place in order to shorten the loan amortization period. Many homeowners also refinance in order to take advantage of lower interest rates. This is especially true if they locked into a particularly high interest rate that they can certainly improve on these days.

Interest rates have been hovering around historic lows over the past few years, allowing homeowners to pay considerably less towards interest and thereby pay down their mortgages faster. Even the penalty they may pay to break their mortgage pales in comparison to how much can potentially be saved by jumping ship from a high-interest mortgage and locking into a lower-rate mortgage.

In this circumstance, plan to continue making the same monthly payments – that way, more of your money will go towards principal, which will help you pay down your mortgage a lot quicker.

4. Make Extra Payments, Even if You Don’t Refinance

If you’re on the fence about refinancing, at least consider making payments as if you had. We’ve already explained the benefits of refinancing from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage, including making higher payments each month (and therefore paying your mortgage off faster), and taking advantage of lower interest rates.

Just like many other things in life, it also comes with some drawbacks. One disadvantage to refinancing in this manner is that you forego flexibility. So, if you face a health emergency or lose your job, you might be stuck in a position where you’re unable to pay your mortgage. You’ll also have to pay added closing costs (though you can always roll this money into the new mortgage).

pay mortgage faster_pay

If you’ve already got a lot of years in your mortgage, refinancing may not be necessary. That’s because you won’t have the mortgage long enough to reach the breaking-even point between your current mortgage and refinancing to a new mortgage.

If you’re able or willing to make extra payments towards your mortgage on a regular basis, that may be enough to surpass the rate at which you close your mortgage compared to if you had refinanced to a shorter loan period. Just focus on making enough extra payments to pay down whatever is left on your mortgage.

5. Find More Affordable Home Insurance

Here’s a no-brainer for you: pay less towards home insurance, and you’ll effectively lower the amount of money you’ll be paying every month.

pay mortgage faster_insurance

The key here is to continue to make the same monthly payments – with less money going towards insurance, more will be going towards your principal.

Take some time to shop around for quotes from various insurance providers. It’s pretty easy to do these days, especially when you can compare and contrast online.

6. Downsize or Rent Out Part of Your Home

Another obvious tip, but a goodie nonetheless: if you’re really hell-bent on freeing yourself from your mortgage, consider downsizing to a more affordable home. Sell the house you’re currently living in, and take the equity you’ve built up in it to put towards the purchase of a new, cheaper home. You never know, you just might have enough to completely clear the purchase price. 

pay mortgage faster_downsize

If you’re not willing to go that route, then consider renting out a part of your current home. Finish the basement and convert it to an apartment, or rent out a guest room in your home. Use the income you collect from rent to put towards paying down your mortgage. While you might not enjoy the idea of having someone else living in your home, think about how nice it would be not to have to pay a mortgage any longer! 

There are plenty of savvy ways that you can employ to effectively pay off your mortgage faster. Of course, they all require a certain level of diligence and discipline, so make sure you’re ready for it before you make a move. Speak with your mortgage specialist or real estate agent to find out which methods are most doable and comfortable for you to pay your mortgage off faster without being “house poor.”