July 2010 Vol. 5 No.7

• 3 Pain-Free Ways to Speed up Your Mortgage Payment • July's Home Value Improver • About Us

3 Pain-Free Ways to Speed up Your Mortgage Payment

If the word amortization sounds like something romantic you would do on an Italian vacation, you are likely not someone who likes to play around with numbers. What if I told you an amortization table can show you how you can pay off your mortgage sooner and save thousands of dollars in the long run? Punch some numbers into your choice of an online mortgage amortization schedule and you may find yourself able to save tens of thousands of dollars by putting a little extra into your mortgage payment every month.

Sure, you will find lots of people to tell you that you should not pay your mortgage off early because your mortgage is cheap money, it gives you a great tax deduction, and you should keep your money more liquid. Everyone is different when it comes to their money, however, and for some people, the peace of mind that comes from paying off their mortgage early is worth the tax deduction savings. And, with the low interest rates for mortgages come the low interest rates for savings, so putting your money into your mortgage is a win-win.

Assuming you want to pay your mortgage off early, what is the best way to do it? Here are a few options:

Bimonthly payments
Instead of your typical 12-monthly mortgage payments a year, bimonthly payments allow you to make 26 payments a year. This means that each year, you make one extra mortgage payment. Your mortgage company will put the extra payment toward your principle. You must arrange this with them ahead of time, however. This method can cut 7 years off of a 30-year mortgage. Bimonthly payments are an especially good option if you are paid biweekly, since it spreads out the pain.

However, you no longer have those two months with an "extra" paycheck. And, you are committed to making that extra payment. Some people prefer more flexible options to which they are not committed.

Make one extra payment a year
If you'd rather not be committed to making two payments a month or if your mortgage company doesn't allow it, or, God forbid, charges you for the "privilege" of doing so, there are other options. You can make one extra each year. Be sure to write on your check that the payment is meant to go to your principle. You may even want to connect with the mortgage company ahead of time to make sure they will do this for you.

Pay an extra 1/12 of your mortgage payment each month.
Another method is to take your mortgage amount, divide it by 12, and add that extra amount to your monthly payment. Again, don't forget to indicate that the extra amount is to go toward your principle. Consider this: With a loan of $500,000, you can save $50,000 in interest over the course of the loan with this option.

July's Home Value Improver

Keep Unwanted Pests Out of Your Home

If you are like one of my best clients, you have learned the hard way that ignoring the presence of household "pests" does not make them go away. Mice, rats, and [shudder] bats do not leave if you pretend they are not there. Ignoring them only makes them continue living, chewing, and reproducing in your home.

They are pesky at least, and dangerous at worst. They can carry germs and diseases and can also chew through wires, which can present a fire hazard.

Mickey might be cute, but if a mouse is burrowing in your walls, chewing your wires, and pooping in your silverware drawer, cute is not the first word that comes to mind. A mice infestation requires quick action, since the little buggers reproduce at a rate of about 60 new mice per female, per year. Yuck!

Mousetraps are the tried-and-true method, but they require some monitoring. The advantage of the traps is that you can dispose of the mice yourself, and know that the dead animal is gone. The disadvantage is also that you have to dispose of the dead animal yourself, which can be hard for some people. Rodent poison, kept in container that will not allow children or pets to touch it, also works very well. Depending on the poison, the mice will go outside to look for water because the poison dehydrates it, thereby sparing you the unpleasant act of having to remove it.

The best bet to preventing any animal infestation is to fill in any cracks and holes in your house. Mice can squeeze into a crack or hole as small as ¼-inch wide. Fill the hole with steel wool. Also avoid storing food in something that is easy to chew through, such as a cardboard box.

They're not aggressive, and they don't have much interest in humans, but boy, are they ever creepy! Bats live in "colonies," so if you see one, chances are pretty good that it has plenty of family and friends around. Bats can be dangerous, as a small percentage of them carry rabies. If a stray bat does end up in hour house, try covering it with a coffee can or small trash barrel. Slide something stiff underneath, and release it outside.

If your bat problem persists, play it safe and consult the professionals. You can even have your house "bat proofed," which will prevent any further unwanted visitors.

While many of us enjoy watching a gorgeous blue jay feed from our backyard birdfeeder, the reality is that putting out food - any kind of food, attracts squirrels. Avoid feeding wildlife, keep your branches trimmed so that they don't serve as convenient squirrel bridges into your house.

Perform a complete check around your house for any openings for squirrels - look at soffit corners, utility wire entrances, and other spots.

Westchester Mortgage

It's been a hot summer and the power grid has been taxed with all of the A/Cs working overtime - maybe you've noticed your utility bills climbing along wtih the temperatures?

If you have, you may want to take advantage of something that some of my Massachusetts clients are enjoying through MassSave.

MassSAVE is a year-round energy efficiency program, available to all Massachusetts residents who rent or own their homes. The program is aimed at reducing energy costs, improving home performance, creating a healthier environment, and improving comfort.

One specific MassSave program, the HEAT Loan Program, provides customers with no-interest and low-interest loans (up to 3%) when they purchase qualified energy efficient improvements in their homes. Loans of up to $15,000 are available, with terms of up to 7 years. One of my clients just landed one of these loans and she is thrilled! Similar programs are available for windows and weatherization.

If you are interested in a free home energy assessment, call 1-800-632-8300 or visit MassSave. And let me know if you have any questions!

Stay cool and enjoy the summer!

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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