Tag Archives: berkshirehathawayhomeservices

Renting Out a Room in Your Home

We’re living in a sharing economy, says Realtor.com, so it should be no surprise that 69% of homeowners in a recent survey would rent out part of their home if it had a separate entrance, kitchen and bathroom and 32% have already rented out a room, space or outdoor feature on their property. You can generate extra income by renting out a space in your home, but the price is a loss of privacy. You’ll be a landlord, so you’ll need to know about renting as a business, your community’s regulations and fair housing laws. Rentprep.com recommends finding out about your homeowners’ association regulations, town zoning laws or ordinances, and fair housing laws. You may need a permit and may be required to provide a separate private entrance for the renter’s use, a private bathroom and a way for the tenant to lock up their belongings. Renting to a roommate/housemate is a little different than typical federal fair housing laws allow. You can advertise for a male or female roommate, for example, if you’re sharing the house, but if you’re renting a separate space like a garage apartment, fair housing laws would apply. Ask your homeowner insurance agent to see if you need extra or specific coverage. Keep careful records including utilities and maintenance costs to report the extra income correctly. Take photos of the space to show how it looks before a renter moves in. To find renters, look for organizations such as college housing advocates, Travelnursehousing.com, and senior centers.

How to Spot Termite Damage

Termites look like ants with white wings that eat wood and can cause considerable damage to your home. These are some signs that you might have an infestation:

You can hear them in your walls. Faint movement and tapping could be termites. Look for tiny holes in your sheetrock, plaster, wallpaper and moldings. Dirt channels or ripples that go up the length of your drywall is likely termite activity. Tapping and prodding on the wood around your home may reveal termite activity or damage if the sound is hollow. 

You see their droppings. Termites keep their homes clean, so they tend to deposit their offal outside of your walls.

There are dark or soft spots in your wood. Easily scratched wood may be infested.  Wood floors will droop, buckle, or sag if termite-damaged. Sawdust may be present. You’ll also see discolored or blistered wood from termite tunneling damage.

You find mud tunnels, tubes, or mud piles. These will appear near your foundation.

Unfortunately, you can’t always tell if tunnels, mounds and other signs are current, so if you’re buying a new home, make sure you have a termite inspection by a professional service.  And, if you’re a homeowner, call a professional termite exterminator to remediate any damage. Check your home periodically for signs of infestation, particularly in damp areas such as basements, laundry rooms, crawlspaces, etc.

Check with your neighbors to see if they’ve had termite activity lately. When other houses are treated for infestations, their termites might head over to your house.

Ways Your Monthly Payments Can Change

This is one of the best times to get a fixed-rate mortgage. Since interest rates have hovered near record lows for years, they’re bound to go up rather than further down.

You could get lower mortgage payments temporarily with an adjustable rate mortgage or hybrid loan that employs a fixed rate for five years or so and adjusts to market rates when the fixed term expires. Your payment could reset to a much a higher and less affordable interest rate in the future.

A far safer option is the fixed rate mortgage with a rate that never changes over the life of the loan. Even so, your monthly payment can change in other ways.

If you put less than 20 percent of your home’s purchase price as a down payment, lenders will require that you pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). Expect your payments to rise by 0.3 percent to 1.2 percent of the loan amount. In some cases, PMI can be removed.

Your monthly payments should include escrows for hazard insurance. The amounts can change, so monitor your annual insurance statements from your insurer when it’s time to renew. Your lender will divide the annual amount into monthly payments for your lender to add to your escrow.

Your property tax authority will send you a new statement annually, usually in the spring or early summer. Your tax basis will be based on the purchase price you paid. Most communities place annual limits on increases to avoid homeowner sticker shock.