By, Alex Walker @ Deed Street Capital
Knowing what’s a good deal and what’s not with personal loans is challenging. Predatory lending takes advantage of this by offering tempting deals that wind up being too good to be true. So it’s essential to know what to look for to avoid becoming a victim.
This guide will provide you with practical tips for avoiding predatory lenders and advice to protect yourself from their various schemes.
On this page, we will cover these topics:
- How to spot predatory lenders
- The various types of predatory lending
- How to fight back against predatory lending practices
What exactly is predatory lending?
Predatory lending is a type of lending that uses unfair or deceptive practices to convince someone to take out a loan that he or she may not be able to afford. It benefits lenders at the expense of borrowers, who are often lured in by the promise of low payments, only to find out later that the loan comes with high fees and interest rates.
Predatory lending can leave borrowers:
- Struggling to make payments
- Owing more money than they originally borrowed
- Facing foreclosure or bankruptcy
There are many different types of predatory lending, but they all share one common goal: to take advantage of unsuspecting borrowers.
Who does predatory lending hit the hardest?
Although anyone can fall victim to predatory lending, certain groups are more at risk than others. These include:
- Minority groups
- Elderly people
- Single mothers
- Recent immigrants
- Low-income earners and people with poor credit
Predatory lenders often target such borrowers because they perceive them to be less likely to shop around for a better deal or understand their loan terms. So regardless of who you are, it’s vital to be aware of the signs of predatory lending.
“Even when credit risk is controlled, Blacks were 3.9 times more likely than whites to receive subprime loans, while Latinos were 2.6 times more likely.”
–Predatory Lending: What’s Race Got To Do With It, Loyola Public Interest Law Reporter
Impact on Victims and Communities
The impact of predatory lending is far-reaching. It destroys the finances of individuals and families and undermines the stability of entire communities. Through disproportional lending and foreclosures, predatory lenders have significantly impacted minority neighborhoods.
Studies show during the subprime mortgage crisis, the foreclosure rates of black and Hispanic neighborhoods were about three times higher than those of predominantly white areas.
This vicious cycle leads to:
- Further declines in property values
- Increased segregation and economic decline
- Loss of wealth for borrowers and their families
- Diminished tax revenue for cash-strapped municipalities
- Increased violent crime rates
Red Flags: How to Spot a Predatory Lender
Now that we’ve discussed what predatory lending is and who it targets, let’s look at its features and behaviors. If you’re thinking about taking out a loan, be on the lookout for the following red flags:
No Credit Check
Some lenders claim they don’t perform credit checks regardless of the borrower’s credit history. While there are some types of loans that don’t require a credit check—such as secured loans, where the borrower offers collateral—most do.
If lenders say they don’t need to check for credit history, they may be trying to take advantage of borrowers with bad credit who are desperate for financing.
Predatory lenders often charge exceptionally high interest rates, sometimes with annual percentage rates (APRs) exceeding 600 percent. Such high APRs can make it difficult, if not impossible, for borrowers to repay the loan, leading to cycles of debt.
According to Federal Reserve consumer credit data, as of February 2022, the average interest rate on a personal loan is 9.41 percent. So if, for example, you’re being offered a personal loan with an APR of 15 percent or more, that’s a sign you might be approaching a predatory lender.
Of course, there are some legitimate reasons why a lender might charge a higher interest rate. For example, it might offer you a higher APR if you have poor credit because you’re considered a high-risk borrower. However, it’s a likely red flag if it charges a much higher interest rate than other lenders typically charge for your credit score.
False, Misleading or Abusive Loan Terms
Predatory lenders not only charge high interest rates and fees, they’ll also press you to sign contracts with loan terms stacked heavily in their favor.
Such terms might include:
- Mandatory arbitration clauses that prevent you from taking legal action if the lender mistreats you
- Other risky loan features that include balloon payments and loan flipping
- Unfair late payment penalties and additional hidden fees (see below)
Be sure to read the fine print carefully and consult with an attorney or financial advisor if necessary.
Other Excessive Fees and Penalties
In addition to high interest rates, predatory lenders often charge excessive fees. These can include:
- Application fees
- Late payment fees
- Prepayment penalties for paying off your loan early
- Annual membership fees
- Transaction charges
Beware of any lenders who seem to be charging an unusually high number of fees, especially if they’re not upfront about them. These fees can add up quickly, making it harder to repay the loan.
High-Pressure Sales Tactics
If a lender tries to pressure you to sign before you’re ready, that’s a giant warning sign. The lender may try to rush you by saying the offer applies only for a limited time, a decision is needed immediately, or that you’re not qualified for a traditional loan and have no choice but to take their offer.
Don’t fall for it! Take your time to understand the terms of any loan agreement, and never sign anything if you’re not comfortable with it.
Lack of Communication
When you’re shopping for a personal loan, you should be able to get clear answers to your questions from the lender.
If the lender avoids your calls or gives you the run-around, that’s a sign the lender is not truthful about its products or services. In contrast, a reputable lender will be upfront and transparent about its loans, interest rates and fees.
If you’re not actively shopping for a loan, avoid unsolicited offers. These can come from emails, phone calls or even mailers. A good rule of thumb is to never respond to unsolicited loan offers. If you’re in the market for a personal loan, it’s best to compare offers from multiple lenders on your terms.
Empty Spaces in Documents
When reviewing a loan contract, watch out for any empty spaces. Predatory lenders may leave blanks in the document to later fill in terms that are not favorable to the borrower. Have an attorney or financial advisor review any loan documents before signing.
Common Types of Predatory Lending and How to Avoid Them
We’ve gone over some of the signs of predatory lending. Now let’s look at some of the most common types of predatory lending. While you might want to avoid certain loan types altogether, you can safely use others if you are careful.
A payday loan is a short-term, high-interest loan that typically comes due on the borrower’s next payday. The main feature of these loans is that they are easy to qualify for, even if the borrower has poor credit. While this may sound like a good deal at first, it’s critical to be aware of the dangers of payday lending.
- According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a typical payday loan may carry an APR of around 400 percent.
- Payday loans typically come with high fees, sometimes as much as $30 for every $100 borrowed.
- Payday loans are often due on the borrower’s next payday, leaving the borrower struggling to make ends meet until the next paycheck arrives.
- If the borrower cannot repay the loan, he or she may be required to take out an additional loan to cover the original debt, creating a vicious cycle of debt.
If possible, it’s best to avoid payday loans altogether. But if you find yourself in a situation where you need a loan, be sure to shop around for the best deal. Or consider alternatives, such as personal loans from a credit union or online lender. Some federal credit unions offer payday alternative loans, or PALs, with lower interest rates, fees and repayment terms than traditional payday lenders.
Another common type of predatory lending involves car loans. Many auto dealers sell overpriced cars and loans to customers with poor credit by offering financing through their in-house lending company.
Tip to avoid overpriced car loans: Instead of using the dealership’s financing, get pre-approved for an auto loan from your bank or credit union. That will give you negotiating power and help you avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous auto dealers.
Car Title Loans
Not to be confused with auto loans, a car title loan is a secured loan where the borrower uses his or her car as collateral. These loans are typically easy to qualify for even if the borrower has poor credit.
Like payday loans, car title loans often come with extraordinarily high interest rates, equating to an APR of about 300 percent. Avoid car title loans, if possible. But if you can’t, shop around for the best available rates and carefully read the loan terms for hidden fees or other unexpected charges.
Under balloon payment loan terms, borrowers must make small monthly payments for a limited period. But at the end of the period, they must pay a large lump sum, known as the balloon payment, to pay off the remaining balance.
Loan flipping is when a lender convinces a borrower to refinance his or her loan multiple times within a short period. The lender then charges additional fees each time the borrower refinances the loan. The resulting costs quickly add up, leaving borrowers with a much higher balance than they can afford.
Predatory lenders might try to add unnecessary products or services to a loan, such as extended warranties, credit insurance or gap insurance. These products are often overpriced and of little value to the borrower.
Reverse redlining is when lenders target low-income borrowers and minorities with predatory loans. While it was widespread during the subprime mortgage crisis, the practice persists today.
Negative Amortization Loans
A negative amortization loan is where the monthly payments are less than the cost of accrued interest. So unless the borrower makes additional payments, the loan balance will continue to grow larger over time. Avoid these loans, if possible.
Asset-based lending is when a lender uses the borrower’s assets, such as home equity, as collateral for the loan. While this type of loan can benefit business owners, it can be risky for consumers who could lose homes and other assets if they default on the loan.
Subprime Mortgage Lending
Because of the colossal economic devastation brought about by the subprime mortgage crisis and the resulting Great Recession, subprime loan practices have come under intense scrutiny in recent years.
Leading up to the housing market crash, predatory mortgage lenders employed many of the dubious practices mentioned above at scale. They issued millions of subprime loans featuring balloon payments, negative amortization and other onerous terms that borrowers could not possibly hope to repay, resulting in widespread foreclosures and evictions.
In the wake of the crisis, Congress passed the Consumer Protection Act, which included an “ability to repay” rule. It required lenders to verify that borrowers have the financial means to repay their mortgage loans before issuing them. While today’s banks supply subprime mortgages on a much smaller scale, predatory loans remain a problem in the industry.
Key Takeaways to Avoiding Predatory Loans
- Shop for loans from different lenders to compare interest rates, fees and other loan terms.
- Read the loan terms carefully and make sure you understand them before signing any paperwork.
- Avoid loans with unusually high interest rates, balloon payments or other onerous terms.
- Avoid lenders who pressure you to take out a loan or add on unnecessary products or services.
- Never sign a blank loan document or one with empty spaces that a lender can fill in later.
- If you have questions, ask a trusted friend or family member to review the loan documents with you.
Additional FAQs on Predatory Lending Practices
How do I report predatory lending practices?
If you believe you have been the victim of deceptive or predatory lending practice, you can file online complaints with the following agencies:
- Submit a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- Submit a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- You may also contact your state’s consumer protection office to file a complaint.
Can I sue predatory lenders?
Various federal laws, including the Truth in Lending Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Home Ownership Equity Protection Act, were enacted to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive lending practices.
If you can prove that a lender has engaged in predatory lending practices, you may be able to sue and recover damages. You should consult with an experienced consumer protection attorney to discuss your legal options.
By, Lisa Roberts
Homebuyers face one of the biggest fears – that they will need to make huge sacrifices. If you want your home search to be successful, it must begin with a strict wish list. When you have your definitive inventory of must-haves, you will have a clearer idea of how to focus your search, and you will be able to recognize whether a potential home is or isn’t worth your time. However, it is very common for people to see that list grow longer as the search for a new home goes deeper and deeper. Sadly, sooner or later, you will have to accept that it is simply impossible to have everything. This means that you will have to make some compromises somewhere. And after all, that is OK. It is essential to be flexible in life. But there are a few things for which you should draw the line. Let’s see which are the most important things for you not to compromise on.
Buying a fixer-upper when you really want a turnkey
Before starting anything else, you have to figure out one thing. Are you up to the financial and emotional challenges of buying an unfinished or old house and taking on significant renovations?
Buying a home that’s a bit of a fixer-upper is an excellent option if you find yourself in a highly competitive market. But if you don’t think your bank account or mental health could survive many months of upheaval, you should most certainly stick to your initial plan and insist on a turnkey home.
Remember that some homes can be “hidden fixer-uppers. “ Experts from Safari Movers Atlanta have reported a surge of people moving into houses, only then finding out that there is much work to do on them.
A good school district
Being in a good school district is a home feature every family needs. Even if you don’t have children, you should make sure the house you are eyeing has good schools nearby. This isn’t necessarily because we believe you will “change your mind” and have kids in the future. The point of doing this is that good schools typically entail a higher resale value. Potential buyers with families will want to be in the right district.
Just make sure to do your research. Determine where the home sits in relation to the school district boundaries. You could, for instance, go to the school district’s website and check out a map of the district boundaries.
During your search, don’t just focus on the house you’re interested in. Make sure you remember to check out the neighborhood as well. Go and see if the properties around your potential home are well-kept, for instance.
The condition of the properties around you can affect your future resale value and increase or decrease your ROI. They can also just plain drive you crazy. Make sure you look (and listen) around any time you pay a visit to your prospective home. Having peace and quiet in your home and neighborhood is definitely something not to compromise on.
The floor plan
If the home you’re looking at does not fit your minimum criteria regarding the number of rooms and the flow of the main living areas, cross it off your list. Of course, you can always add on. But it would be best if you did not use that option as a fallback.
For example, you can easily change a layout to make it an open floor plan. But, it will be a lot more challenging to change the bedroom and bathroom count. In the long run, you could end up having a lot of problems with this process. And it can also bring an enormous financial undertaking to you.
You’re most likely to already have determined how much you’re willing to pay for a home. And you really should not budge on that number. However, something that you should do is dig in your heels when it comes to the additional costs that go beyond the sticker price. This means setting a strict budget for your monthly payments, HOA dues, utility costs, and real estate taxes. It is best if you make time to do this before you start looking at homes. And you should definitely do this before you start making offers on homes.
A lender is able to give you a pre-approval and tell you how much house you can afford. However, this is just one part of the big picture. The huge (and ever-growing) costs of homeownership can still land you in an awful load of debt if you do not tread carefully.
If you do end up having to downsize, remember that moving can be a tricky process, and decluttering before moving will be necessary. Go through your things and decide what to keep.
If you’ve already determined an exact commute that you are willing to take on, don’t allow yourself to be swayed into anything longer. If 30 minutes is okay, don’t budge for even a minute longer.
As an example, if the commute to work is an hour long. It might not matter right now because you love the house. But you have to remember that that’s two hours every day that you’ll be sitting in the car and not enjoying your home.
Until you’ve driven the route to and from your potential home and your office, at times you’ll be commuting, you should never consider compromising.
While we’re on your car, if you own one (or however many), you should be looking for a home with a guaranteed parking spot, whether that means an enclosed garage, a driveway, or assigned parking.
Many communities now restrict outside parking, guest spaces, and overnight parking, which could be an absolute homeowner nightmare if you have to fend for yourself.
If you really have seen all the signs that it’s time to sell your home and move on, you have to be aware of how complex and difficult of a process that is. The best way for you to prevent any frustration after you’ve closed a deal is to stick to your original plans, especially about the things that are most important to you. While you are making your choice, heed these warnings about what not to compromise on, and ignore the rest of the noise.
Once we reach a certain age, there is a serious question that we have to answer for ourselves. Should we move into a new home for our senior years, or should we stay in place? The reason why answering this question is rarely easy is that both options have their upsides and downsides. So, to clarify this, let’s outline the pros and cons of aging in place.
Pros and cons of aging in place
For most of our history, aging in place wasn’t a question. It was seen as natural that your offspring would take care of you as you get older. And in order to have a comfortable living, they might upsize the home. But staying together was not a matter of question. Seeing that our kids are likely to move out (if they haven’t already) and live lives of their own, you should definitely ask yourself whether you should stay put.
Senior care is expensive
A quick Google search will quickly show you that senior care is by no means cost-effective. By 2022 estimates, the average cost of a private room in a nursing home is $8,365 per month. Even if you store away your belongings with portabox.com, and choose a more modest option, it will still easily be over $6,000. If you have a financial situation where you can support this, you should consider this option. However, this is simply not the case for most senior citizens, even with the help of their families.
Life is easier in a nursing home
On the other hand, living in a nursing home is far easier than living on your own. Trainer professionals will take care of your every need, whether medical or otherwise – cooking, cleaning, exercise, etc. Your every need is provided for. You can easily socialize with people your age and find activities suitable for senior citizens. All things considered, moving into a nursing home can be a brand new adventure, where you meet new people and enjoy your twilight years.
Staying in the familiar neighborhood
However, not everyone enjoys adventure. The older we get, the more we tend to value familiarity. Most seniors find comfort in knowing their neighborhood and the people living there. By staying in the same community, you can enjoy the relationships you’ve built over the years. And you can even find a role in your community and feel useful.
The comfort of the known household
If you’ve lived in the same home for over a decade, you’ve likely grown quite accustomed to it. The space feels familiar. Every item in your home has a designated place that you can essentially find in the pitch dark. Well, this type of comfort is only possible if you’ve lived in the same place for many years. Therefore, why should you forgo it as you become older? In fact, it only makes sense that you enjoy your well-earned comfort and all the home improvements you’ve worked on over the years.
Difficulties of home maintenance
The tricky thing about living in the same home is that it won’t care that you’ve grown old. Your home will require the same level of maintenance and cleaning that it always did. And as you get older, maintaining your home will become increasingly difficult. You will likely learn new ways to tackle home maintenance or even invest in senior-friendly tools. But, all in all, you’ll likely struggle noticeably more with tasks that once were a breeze. If you were to move to a nursing home, this wouldn’t be a problem.
One of the main benefits of living in modern times is that you can find help for every issue that pops up. Even the already mentioned ones like cooking, cleaning, maintaining, etc. Experienced professionals can tackle all and even assist you in showing the benefits of self storage for seniors. You can even declutter your home with senior storage and make your retirement easier. Therefore, aging in place doesn’t have to be as tricky as it seems at first.
Getting around can be difficult
Unfortunately, one of the things you’ll find trouble dealing with is distance. Everything you need will be nearby if you live in a nursing home. But, distance will become an increasing problem if you stay where you are. Walking will take longer, and you might lose your ability to drive. Of course, the more often you use the two, the longer they will last. You can opt for Uber or Taxi, but those aren’t cost-effective solutions on a daily basis.
Safety is a big concern for senior people, and with good reason. While young, we don’t think much of it as we take our vitality and health for granted. But, as we get older, we become more aware of our mortality and fragility. The common question asked is, “What will I do if I happen to fall and can’t get up?” Well, in a nursing home, this isn’t a problem. But, if you live alone in your home, this can be a significant concern. Besides this, there are also break-ins, fires, storms, and many more. All can pose harm. And while some home features can be of aid, none can replace the presence of a younger caregiver.
One of the biggest factors senior citizens have to deal with is loneliness. The more extroverted citizens would benefit greatly from having a group of people to talk to every day. In their case, living in a nursing home prolongs their life solely by having people around them. But, if you choose to stay at home, you will have to find ways to deal with being alone. Your family will visit you, but not as much as you’d like. You can get a pet, but it won’t be a substitute for human companionship. On the other hand, the more introverted senior citizens may, in fact, enjoy the extra privacy. No one is bothering you may give you some much-desired peace and quiet.
While there are plenty of pros and cons of aging in place, we advise you first to consider what suits your temperament. The older we get, the more important it is that we understand ourselves and our needs. It seems that satisfied, healthy senior citizens know how to find both comfort and challenge in life. So, when making your decision, try to consider both.
CNBC shared that installing solar panels is quickly becoming popular in the United States. As more Americans become aware of sustainable houses and their environmental benefits, more people are choosing to make the switch. Moreover, the US government has required all new homes in California to use solar panels starting in 2020. With this, most houses in California are now fully equipped with solar panels. Although not everyone is on board with solar panels just yet, having them in your home has financial benefits that may encourage you to install them.
Here are some of the reasons why solar panels increase your property’s value:
Demand for Sustainable Houses
In our post on ‘Resale Value Factors to Consider Before Buying a Home’, we explained that most home buyers today evaluate the property’s eco-friendliness. Although this is a relatively new trend, homeowners value sustainable home upgrades because of their environmental benefits. CNBC further reported that the increasing demand for sustainable houses pushed up the prices of homes with solar panels. They found that more than 80% of buyers prefer properties with energy-efficient features when selecting their new home.
As a result, homes with solar installations sell for about 4.1% or $9,274 more than an average US home without these upgrades. In major city-states like New Jersey, the prices of houses with solar panels can even sell for 9.9% or $32,281 more. This shows that trends in real estate significantly affect the value of homes with or without solar panels.
Lowers Electricity Bills
When asked why homeowners prefer sustainable houses, CNBC revealed that savings and having control of the monthly utility expenses are their main reasons for switching to solar. Their claims are not unfounded since Hoymiles confirmed that having solar panels will reduce your electricity bills. With this, you can achieve energy independence from service providers and control the amount of electricity you use at home.
Environmental journalist Jess Taylor also explained that installing solar panels increases your property’s value. This is because each additional $1 in energy bill savings from using your solar power system adds $20 to your home’s total value. Overall, this means you can save up to $400 per year and add a value of $8,000 to your home. Another study also supports the use of solar power since it can increase the resale value of a property by up to $5,911 per kilowatt.
Allows You to Earn Tax Credits
Lastly, having solar panels in your home allows you to earn government tax credits. According to CNET, homeowners who use solar panels can receive solar investment tax credits (ITC), which allows them to deduct up to 26% of the cost of installing solar panels from their federal taxes. This means ITC covers the cost of solar panels, labor for the installation process, and additional equipment including wiring and energy storage devices like solar batteries. With this, you can increase the value of your property since they are popular today without having to solely pay for all the necessary expenses.
However, ITC will not apply if you lease your solar panels. You must directly buy or loan them to be eligible for the tax exemption. Lastly, you must file the necessary documents, such as the IRS Form 5695, as part of your federal tax return to avail of the credit.
To summarize, solar panels provide financial benefits for homeowners. From lower monthly electricity bills and tax breaks for panel installations, you can offset your expenses on purchasing solar panels and expect a significant increase in the value and demand for your home.
Article contributed by Rose Janssen
Before you put your home on the market, it is good to be aware of things that can hurt your property value. There are some you can do nothing about. Maybe just try to explain to potential buyers what kind of lifestyle those conditions are best suited for. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to improve the value of your home. Here are seven things that you need to take care of that are bringing down its value.
#1 A home with an outdated interior design makes buyers look the other way
As you probably already know, you are not just selling the house. You are selling a particular type of life that comes with it. The buyers will walk around a specific property and imagine what it would be like to watch TV in the living room or have friends over at that dining table. If the furniture is outdated and interior design details unfashionable, your risk creating a very unappealing image of daily life in a buyer’s head. If you intend to sell your home furnished, consider investing a bit in its interior and get more offers. Sometimes even little details will do the trick. Pillows, vases, and little ceramic figurines in the same color can make a big difference.
Doing a bit of decluttering can go a long way to improve the impression your home makes on its visitors. Also, don’t forget the yard. Some grass trimming and general organizing would be a good idea before the buyers come.
#2 Structural damages bring down the home value tremendously
The esthetic appeal of a property is an aspect most buyers find to be a smaller problem than structural damages. When there is something wrong with a house, in a buyer’s head, there’s a chaotic mix of contractors, repairmen, and dust. These damages deter the people who don’t like to be involved in any additional works on the new property they buy. Also, due to them, your house will do much more poorly at the appraisal.
Experts from Affordable Reliable Moving Company noticed that many of their clients simply do not have the time to deal with the complicated repairs. They rather opt for homes that are structurally in perfect condition. Also, the amount of money you shall spend on fixing these damages is usually smaller than the price increase you will get. If you are not sure what to look for when inspecting your property for structural damage, pay attention to the following:
- Damages that are the work of pests
- Cracks in the ceiling or walls
- The roof that is leaky or has depressions in it
- Floors with visible damage in it
- Doors and windows not functioning correctly
Generally speaking, buyers highly appreciate any improvement you make, which in their minds means less work for them. Therefore, doing some work on your property before it goes on the market is a good idea.
#3 Traces our furry friends leave around are one of the things that can hurt your property value
Any pet owner might find this fact disturbing, but the truth is, some people find animal smells and hairs bothering. The benefits of having a pet are undoubtedly many. Yet, you might want to remove your four-legged buddy’s traces from the inside of the house when you are trying to sell it. Or at least until the buyers are gone. It is understandable if you think this is an offensive request. Yet, you should think of it as cleaning after your pet, just like you do after yourself. Surely you will not leave the locks of your hair splayed on the sofa. It is a good idea to ask a friend to assist you with this. They should walk around your house and see if there are any unpleasant odors. Also, it would be best if you looked for signs if the pet has been doing some “decorating” around your home. Of course, you would only be adapting your home for a quicker sale and not getting rid of your fluffy buddy.
#4 Problems related to the neighborhood can throw off some of the buyers
If your home is located in a part of the town with high environmental pollution or too much noise, there isn’t much you can do about that. Also, low ratings of local schools can be a problem for those looking for a good place to raise a family. Finally, bad neighbors can be a big issue too. Although these problems are something you cannot fix, it is important to be aware they can negatively affect your property value.
#5 Economic factors can both increase and decrease the value of your property
Another aspect affecting your property value is economic factors. Unfortunately, this is also something you can’t change. Generally speaking, if the overall status of one country’s economy is strong, the housing market will strive. On the other hand, higher unemployment rates, low GDP, and high poverty rates lead to decreased sales and, therefore, prices. Since this is out of your hands, try not to worry about it too much.
#6 Believe it or not, some people believe in ghosts, and that may affect the value of your home
As curious as it may sound to you, if there is a possibility a ghost haunts your property, its value will drop. To be precise, buyers may get spooked if there have been some deaths on your property. Especially the violent or premature ones. In California, sellers must disclose if any deaths occurred on their property, which rules out hiding this unpleasant fact.
#7 Busy traffic around your home can be a problem for the buyers
The final of the things that can hurt your property value is the problems that arise from street traffic. First, the noise the cars generate on a busy road can be disturbing. If your property doesn’t come with a parking space, too much traffic and too few parking lots will throw off car owners for sure. Try to explain in detail to the potential buyers how you managed to overcome this problem. If noise is something you are not bothered with, tell them that. Make sure you point out that maybe you are used to it, just like they might become too. It is hard to judge who will react well to these persuasions, but that is all you can do to solve the issue.
With all previously said, we can conclude that if you are trying to get the best price for the home you are selling, some preparations are in order. Take a good look at all the things mentioned above that can hurt your property value, and do what you can to solve all solvable issues. As for the rest, it is all left to chance and the buyers’ specific needs. Fortunately, everyone is different, and what is a problem for one person might not be important to the other, so surely there is a perfect buyer out there for your home. We hope you find them soon and at a good price too!
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Property owners planning to sell their homes are often puzzled by this question. On the one hand, most real estate professionals agree that it’s better only minimally to furnish a home to attract potential buyers. On the other hand, some contend that it’s in the home seller’s best interest to sell their property empty. So, let’s find out whether it’s better to sell your house furnished or unfurnished once and for all.
After deciding to sell your property, the main concern is how to market it to prospective buyers. According to Alamere Real Estate, putting up a home for sale involves several decisions at every stage of the process. Ultimately, you have two options. First, you can sell it unfurnished, leaving your buyers with the choice of styling their new abode according to their taste. Alternately, you can use furnishings, artwork, and other items to offer homebuyers a place that meets all their fundamental and luxury needs. On that note, take a look at the pros and cons of selling a furnished and unfurnished property.
Benefits to selling your house furnished
The majority of sellers offer furnished properties for two reasons. Either it’s the most straightforward choice, or they acknowledge that furniture increases a home’s livability.
But if you need to move out quickly, the professional advisors at Best Long Distance Movers suggest you skip furnishing your house. Why? Because failing to equip the property will only lower its worth.
It’s easier for buyers to see themselves living there
Adding furniture enhances the property’s appeal and creates a homey atmosphere. Moreover, it would be best to immediately concentrate on making a good impression on potential customers. An interested buyer should know where their furnishings could be positioned while viewing your house. This speeds up their decision-making process regarding whether or not to purchase it.
The living space feels roomier than it really is
Furthermore, an empty room appears smaller than it is. Even if they measure the room, it will be challenging for buyers to determine how to maximize the available space. But when you add a few pieces of furniture, the area appears larger and looks more appealing to customers. Thus, they benefit from knowing how to utilize the room space. With this strategy, you can considerably increase your property’s worth and sell it for the desired price.
It diverts the customers’ attention from minor issues
True, you’ll find it difficult to hide flaws like leaking drainage pipes or fractures in the walls. However, you can divert buyers’ attention from minor issues within your home. Customers will be more drawn to how they may utilize the space with their furnishings after purchasing the property. Your chances of distracting your visitors are doubled with professional home staging. While viewing a tastefully staged house, they’ll surely fail to notice the little creases or scratches in the background.
Benefits to selling your house unfurnished
When a vacant home, purchasers have a blank slate to modify the area as they like. Additionally, many prefer empty rooms, seeing this as an opportunity to fill the space with their possessions. Though it creates a more comfortable living environment, this may complicate the relocation for buyers moving long distances. It’s essential to know the possible obstacles that may arise, like moving bulky or delicate items safely.
It speeds up both the preparation and sale
First of all, you can prepare unfurnished homes for sale more quickly. Cleaning jobs like dusting, vacuuming, washing down walls, and other errands are much simpler to complete when furniture is out of the equation. Naturally, getting your house ready for purchase takes a while when you have decades-old belongings lying around. Compared to an empty property, it requires significantly more time and effort, extending the duration of the selling process.
It’s less expensive and time-consuming
Setting up a home sale is a challenging endeavor, both timewise and moneywise. However, selling a vacant house simplifies the selling process. You can easily arrange an appointment whenever prospective buyers want to see the residence. Additionally, you save money by forgoing the cost of hiring decorators or professional stagers. Furthermore, you can forget about having to clean or buy new furniture.
Impress the buyers with open space and a stunning room layout
Finally, an empty house can better showcase its house design and architectural features. Some purchasers may value seeing and visualizing the space’s full potential with their own eyes. In contrast, the presence of other people’s items may obstruct their view.
Seek a realtor’s advice on whether to sell your house furnished or unfurnished
If you put your house on the market, you may want to consider whether it would draw more attention to furnished or unfurnished. Make sure to talk to a real estate professional about which option puts you in the best position in the local market. While you’re at it, check local laws regarding the sale of homes and furniture so that you don’t get into any legal trouble. Furthermore, preparing additional questions for the estate agent when selling your property is always a good idea.
All in all, you can sell your house furnished or unfurnished and be successful either way. Knowing how each option may benefit your home sale can guide you towards making the right choice. Even so, it’s best to check with a real estate agent about whether your region is better suited for selling homes furnished or unfurnished. After all, your goal is to sell your house as quickly as possible, with minimal effort, and for the best price possible. And who better to consult you about these conditions than a seasoned realtor!
More Americans are planning to move, now that work setups offer greater flexibility for professionals. Compared to previous years, the NDP Group discovered that 20% more Americans are planning to relocate during this time. Since many Americans are planning to move out at roughly the same period, however, the demand for moving supplies and services has also increased.
As a result, moving home can be quite expensive. Luckily, you can cut costs for moving day while ensuring the safety of your belongings by following these strategies:
Go for the DIY route on your move
It’s not easy to arrange the moving process all by yourself instead of hiring help. However, this option can help you cut down your moving budget, while also giving you lots of freedom in packing your belongings.
But it’s imperative that you start planning and packing months ahead to avoid last-minute issues and stress. This way, you have control over the whole move. You can even make eco-conscious decisions. For sustainability, Blue and Green Tomorrow suggests covering items with eco-friendly packaging, like cardboard boxes, old bags, and even suitcases. You can even cover fragile materials with makeshift cushioning and wrapping materials, such as blankets and clothes. Since you’ll be doing the moving process on your own, you also have the freedom to move your belongings to your new home whenever you want to. This way, you’re not just successfully completing your move, but you’re also helping the environment.
Consider the logistics of the moving truck
The DIY route is the most inexpensive option, but it may not always be the best option for homeowners who have limited time or numerous belongings to move. It may be impractical to make several trips from your old home to your new one, and it may end up costing you more. In this case, the best option is to rent a moving truck so you can move everything in one go.
One of the most popular moving truck rental companies is U-Haul. Since these types of moving services often have hidden costs, AskMoney clarifies that U-Haul rental prices cost $29.95 for a 15’ truck and $39.95 for bigger ones. However, the rental guide clarifies that you can reduce your costs by looking into the mileage fees of the truck rentals. The fee of the moving service can increase due to the mileage, so it’s better to get a big truck to reduce the excess costs. Before even choosing a truck size, make sure to round up all your belongings first to know how much space you really need for the move.
Choose a cheaper schedule for your move
Moving services are in high demand, especially now that more Americans are moving across the country. So aside from considering the logistics of the moving service you’re using, it’s also crucial to choose a schedule that meets your availability and your budget.
Fees can get expensive during peak season, so The Spruce recommends moving into your new home around fall, winter, or spring. The guide also recommends booking a moving service at least eight weeks in advance, so that you can score a better deal. At the same time, you can choose from a larger selection of movers and opt to work with the one that meets your budget if you book early.
Get a home warranty
This step may sound counterintuitive, but home warranties can help you cut down costs in case any unfortunate event occurs during your move. While moving services are handled by professionals, accidents can still happen during each trip.
So if you want to assess the pros and cons of getting a home warranty, our article entitled ‘Home Warranty Right for You?’ explains that this option is useful for individuals who don’t have the right skills to fix their own furniture. Replacing or repairing furniture can be too expensive, so you can get protection for expensive furniture like washing machines, refrigerators, and ovens. In case these appliances get damaged in the process, the home warranty can help cover the repair costs.
Moving day can be stressful, but you can reduce your financial worries by following these strategies. By establishing a smart plan for your move, you can protect your items without breaking the bank.
Article contributed by Rose Janssen
Exclusively for – Alamere Real Estate
By, Lisa Roberts
It’s safe to say that everyone has a few little aspects of their home that they want to improve. But have you given any thought to the fact that not all upgrades are genuinely good financial investments? Think about the return on investment you may expect (ROI). Unless you are able to do the work yourself, a large home renovation does not guarantee that it will pay for itself when the property is put up for sale in the future. To make matters even worse, some house modifications are more “backward” than others. So, if you’re considering renovating, take a look at these 7 home improvements with the worst ROI first.
1# Additional bathroom
It does seem like an excellent idea at first glance, but you might want to think this through. True, buyers (especially big families) appreciate additional bathrooms in the house. But, when you look at the numbers, this doesn’t appear like a quite good investment. When the time comes to sell, the return on investment of an extra bathroom is roughly 58 percent. So, if you’re planning on selling, this might be the investment to skip.
Work with what you got
Even though installing an additional bathroom is not profitable, making the most of what you have certainly is. Staging your bathroom before selling is essential; if you do it right, it can significantly increase your ROI. It might be a good (and certainly interesting) idea to follow some Feng Shui rules while you do that. Why not use an ancient secret to your benefit?
Does spending a quiet day in your sunroom, reading a book, and letting your mind wander make your heart skip a beat? As the summer is on its way, probably now more than ever. However, adding one more to your current floor plan would just cause you to squander money. This is one of the hidden costs of homeownership you can’t see at first glance. The typical cost of adding a sunroom to a house in 2015 was $75,700. Still, it only contributed an additional $36,700 to the property’s worth. And since sunrooms sometimes do not have heating, they are only useful for a few months out of the year in most climes, which does not equate to getting your money’s worth out of the investment.
3# Solar panels
Solar panels are undeniably an environmentally beneficial enhancement. But, you shouldn’t count on most buyers using that fact to their advantage when making a purchase decision. So, the upgrade cost versus the raise in value often ends up in a loss of money. Even if they successfully bring your energy expenses down, it may take many years until the returns on investment are sufficient to cover the original cost of the solar panels.
4# Huge areas and wall-tearing
It is a bad idea to knock down walls in your home to make one huge area, even if you do not need the guest bedroom or office space that you set up. This restricts the number of bedrooms and the practical usability of the property, which will obviously rule out those purchasers who require the additional bedroom. As soon as those walls are knocked down, the value of your house will immediately drop to reflect the change.
5# Walk-in closet
For example, the same rule applies when converting any access room to a walk-in closet. It would seem that the tiny nursery might be put to greater use as storage space, but turning any bedroom into a walk-in closet is a bad idea. This is true regardless of how small the bedroom in question is. This influences buyers psychologically – they can’t get past the notion that your property is now “smaller” or provides “less” than comparable properties in the region. So, best leave the wall tearing to the purchasers.
6# Expensive kitchen hardware
You might feel like having space-shuttle-like kitchen hardware may wow the potential buyers. But, truth to be told – it won’t. If you take a look at the numbers, adding an expensive wine fridge and pot filler faucet will make your ROI only about 59.7 percent. Why is that? If you try thinking like a buyer, you’ll find that most of them are not really thrilled with the idea of huge energy drains in their potential new home. So, yes, a fancy kitchen might help you improve your cooking. But is it really worth the extra bucks you’ll lose?
There are more affordable options
Since renovating and kitchen before selling and moving is an overall good idea, you might still want to do it, but in a more affordable way. Professional movers suggest picking up some inexpensive staging and renovating ideas online and diving into affordable improvements. It is possible to do this on a budget and make it look stunning and presentable to the buyers.
7# A swimming pool
While the idea of having a swimming pool in your backyard to cool down on a steamy summer day may seem appealing, the reality is that adding one might potentially lower the value of your property. The expense of upkeep is rather high. Some individuals do not want to see it, some do not wish to use it, and others are required to be there to ensure no issues with it. Also, you’ll need to put much more effort into it before selling. It will significantly enhance the curb appeal of your home. But, when you put all the pros and cons on paper, it’s not something you should undertake with the intention of getting money from it.
Those are not the only home improvements with the worst ROI
Unfortunately, many home improvement projects don’t return the money you invested in them. ‘Honorable’ mentions include:
- Building a second story
- Expensive surveillance system
- A pergola installation
So, there you have it. There are so many good ideas that will make your home stand out in the market. But, these are not those. These are the home improvements with the worst ROI, and you should probably avoid investing in them.
By, Lisa Roberts
It is usually believed that purchasing a large home is a must. However, it is possible to downsize without losing anything. Even though buying a smaller home may appear to be a step backward, there are several advantages. Apart from saving money, you can also save time and have less clutter in your life. Furthermore, living in a smaller place often means living simply and feeling more connected to your surroundings. Even though it might not seem attractive at first glance, there are many benefits of downsizing your home.
1. Less stress and more time
Having an enormous house entails spending a lot of money, time, and effort. Namely, a vast property needs care and maintenance. Together with all the other things in life, maintaining a big mansion might seem too stressful. What is essential is to bear in mind that downsizing does not require becoming a minimalist. You only need to be more selective when buying items.
Having a smaller property will allow you to have more time for yourself and your family. Tending to a smaller house takes less time than cleaning a larger one. The most important benefits of downsizing your home are less furniture to maintain and less time and money required for painting the interior and exterior. The same applies to the outdoor area. It might be a good idea to choose a property with a smaller yard. The reason for this is to be able to focus on what is important to you, such as your job, friends, and family.
If you are planning a relocation and are worried about handling your move, check the advice that professionals from Master Moving Guide offer. One of the most important tips is to prepare for the relocation as soon as possible. Early preparations can help you execute the relocation more efficiently and easily. And decluttering is a part of that preparation.
Decluttering is beneficial in many cases. For example, it can help you pack more quickly and efficiently when moving. Moreover, it can make your daily life more manageable. Over time, people with larger homes usually accumulate more stuff and possessions than necessary. Having more room in a house usually implies more places to put unnecessary objects. A good idea would be to get rid of all items that you haven’t used in years. Decluttering is undoubtedly more effortless if you have a small property.
If you wonder what you can do with your unnecessary belongings, there are many clever ideas. Donating items to people in need might be one of the best ones. Another way is to gift some things to friends and family. Apart from having grateful friends, you will be able to enjoy a less cluttered home.
If you want to save money, you might arrange a garage sale of your belongings. Such sales might be time-consuming and tiring, but you can make excellent money by selling your items.
If you have a garage, you can consider converting it into a livable space. Whether a garage conversion into a living room can be a good idea depends on whether you are ready for such changes. Apart from that, there are many legal matters that you should consider.
3. Easier move
The packing process is usually considered the most challenging part of every relocation. Even when you hire movers, packing and unpacking can take a long time if you have many possessions. Therefore, moving can be easier when you have fewer belongings. Moreover, it can also save you money on the relocation itself. Having fewer belongings to transport entails paying less money for the move. If you are worried about how you and your family members will survive a relocation, check the advice on how to feel at home after relocating to a new city.
One of the essential parts of each relocation is finding appropriate packing materials. You might be worried about finding moving boxes. If you hire movers and professional packers, you will not have to worry about that. Moving professionals will provide all packing materials instead of you.
If you don’t want to pay for these services, you can either buy moving boxes or, better yet, find them for free. You can save money this way because there are many places where you can get free moving boxes. You might want to check local stores, restaurants, or the Internet.
4. Less money spent on utility bills
Understandably, a bigger house requires more money for maintenance. One of the most significant benefits of downsizing your home is the decreased monthly costs. You will pay less money when it comes to utility bills since you are not heating a three-bedroom house. You can save hundreds of dollars per month on our heating and cooling bills. The same applies to electricity bills.
Downsizing from a larger home can be the ideal way to make your home feel cozier. You can now have a more intimate environment for yourself and your family. If you are planning to downsize your home, you and your family members will have a chance to spend time with each other more. Instead of spending time in separate rooms, you will have an opportunity to spend time together, whether watching TV, playing games, or just chatting.
6. More opportunities to style your home
If you are looking for design ideas for your home, bear in mind that you might find it much easier if you downsize. Living in a small house makes it easier to choose furniture, arrange it and style it. One idea that might make your home larger and more spacious is to use more light. In case you have the appropriate lighting, a tiny space can feel much bigger.
You also will not need to worry about filling the empty space in your room by adding more furniture and making a mistake while trying to make everything match. Instead, your home can be stylish and well-decorated.
Many people would agree that a smaller home is not for everyone. However, there are many benefits of downsizing your home. First of all, having less room can give us a sense of freedom. Having a smaller home teaches us that less is more and that reducing the unnecessary entails having more important things in our lives. Such things include having more time for yourself, your family, kids, and friends. Moreover, it is a relief to be free of all useless possessions.
By, Lisa Roberts
Marin County is a very desirable area to live in. People are drawn there for its many opportunities and great opportunities. It’s a great area to raise your family in. If you’re planning on doing that, here is the list of the best places to raise a family in Marin County.
1. San Anselmo
San Anselmo is a little town located about 20 miles north of San Francisco. It has a dynamic, close-knit population with plenty of charm. A small group of Marin County residents deemed San Anselmo the finest location to call home. The beautiful creekside site, intriguing history, and many activities are all reasons to come here. San Anselmo has a lot to offer:
- diversified non-mall retail options
- several excellent eating places
- bicycle paths
- cultural attractions.
However, your credit card may be at risk if this ends up being the place where you decide to raise a family in Marin County.
This Marin County town is one of the most excellent locations to call home. There’s a rural vibe about Ross, and most inhabitants own their houses. You can find several restaurants, cafes, and parks in Ross. Ross’s public schools have an excellent reputation. This is one of the most important considerations when purchasing a property in Marin County. It’s a lovely upmarket town with a good number of small businesses. For the most part, this is a secluded area.
However, there isn’t a lot of variety (racially, economically, or otherwise). Despite this, the public is polite and wealthier individuals are not pretentious. Ross is a lovely town with excellent public safety. In general, the people in this area are kind and welcoming, making it a wonderful environment where one can raise a family. Kids from kindergarten to 12th grade can benefit from public school education.
3. Corte Madera
Corte Madera, a bright piece of suburbia tucked amid Marin’s countryside, is considered Larkspur’s twin city. Whether you’re a young couple starting a family or an empty nester looking for a peaceful retreat – Corte Madera, California, might be the perfect destination. The town’s various open spaces encourage residents to spend time outside.
Living in Corte Madera also has the advantage of being close to San Francisco, which is only 15 miles away. Since the city is just a short distance away, you’ll enjoy all of its perks while still avoiding fog. Corte Madera inhabitants place a high value on education. So, many of the town’s schools are recognized as California Distinguished Schools.
Many choose it for their families
A great education system is one of the biggest reasons families come here from far away. You may be planning a long-distance move across California to provide your children with the very best public education. If that’s the case, make sure to hire reliable long-distance movers and have a safe transfer across California, where all of your items will remain out of harm’s way.
You can find beautiful hiking paths here and some really friendly people! It appears as if nature surrounds you everywhere you go. There are fantastic eateries such as Pico’s Pizza in downtown Larkspur and fantastic coffee shops such as Rustic Bakery close by. Additionally, being near San Francisco while being located outside of the city in Marin County is a perk on its own. Simple transit options such as public buses and the Larkspur Landing Ferry that connect you to city life are also quite handy.
Known for its tight-knit community, charming streets, and rich history, Larkspur is a picturesque tiny town. Larkspur is an excellent spot to relocate your family if you don’t want to be surrounded by the continual traffic of San Francisco. It’s far enough away from the city to escape traffic, making it convenient to get to work. Many historical buildings, world-class dining establishments, charming shops, and first-rate educational institutions may be found here. Like neighboring Marin County communities, Larkspur has impressive parks and trails. That makes it an ideal location for hikers of all fitness levels.
Tiburon is a little town that is safe and tidy. It provides breathtaking vistas and is also a mini-bike path in and of itself. Because so few people are aware of it, it does not receive much traffic. However, it is a famous tourist attraction because it is accessible via boat from Angel Island or San Francisco.
According to whatever side of the Tiburon peninsula you are on, you will either be able to view the Richmond Bridge and the Berkeley, Oakland and the Bay Bridge or see the stunning San Francisco cityscape with the Golden Gate gleaming out into the Pacific Ocean. Even though Tiburon is home to a handful of fancy restaurants and stores that are all within walking distance of one another, the city is most renowned for its real estate and family-friendly atmosphere.
7. Mill Valley
Mill Valley, California, has long been considered one of the loveliest little towns in the country, and with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge to boot, it’s easy to understand why. In Mill Valley, you’ll find the stunning Muir Woods National Monument, ideal for wildlife enthusiasts. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the convenience of being close to the city yet having access to the beach and a vibrant downtown area. Having so many gorgeous open space preserves, lush woods, and meandering trails make it difficult to be lazy while you live here.
It’s a wise decision to raise a family in Marin County
When you want to provide the best of the best for your family, and you have the means to do that, Marin County seems like a logical choice. Great schools, low crime rate, and high living standard are all the great reasons one would decide to raise a family in Marin County, in any one of the places mentioned above. Yes, it might be a high-end area that’s a bit pricier. But, nothing can put a price on your children’s future, and by investing in a property in these neighborhoods, you’re investing in your kids’ quality of life.f