Martha Mullins

Private Mortgage Insurance

Martha Mullins, Realtor, Litchfield County, CT

If you took advantage of some great mortgage deals buying your home, you most likely also had to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

Most lenders require PMI if the buyer pays less than 20% of the purchase price at closing.  The purchaser must carry this insurance until 20% of the sale price of the home has been reached.  This could take five to eight years, depending on the terms of the mortgage.

Lenders are required to remove PMI when the property reaches 22%. So just keeping an eye on your payments and being proactive about notifying your lender can save you money.

If you make significant improvements that alter the value of your property, you may reach the 20% value mark faster than scheduled. An assessment would be necessary, but the savings would justify that cost.

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    Life Without Air Conditioning

    Litchfield County Realtor Martha Mullins

    “Does the house have air conditioning?” A dreaded question and of-ten from a buyer or renter in a constantly controlled climate environment. I try to explain how lovely it can be with cool breezes coming off a lake or from the woods.

    When that fails, I plow ahead and outline some tips to cool off without AC. First, keep the sun out of the house during the day. Pull your shades. Put up outdoor awnings over windows and doors. Keep the windows open overnight – open them in the early eve and shut them the next morning when it starts to heat up.

    Fans are great – just make sure they’re pushing the air in the right direction. Ceiling fans need to push air down.  Window fans should pull cool air into the home. A long-term fix is a full house fan which involves installing roof venting.

    Another permanent fix is plantings. Plant deciduous trees on the side of your home where the sun is strongest. The leaves will provide shade in the winter and after dropping in the fall will allow the heat to return when you need it.

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      Creative and Easier Shade

      Martha Mullins, Salisbury CT Realtor

      Beat back the sun and use your patio and deck all day by installing temporary shade.  Beyond planting trees and shrubs nearby or putting up an umbrella shade over your patio set, there are some fun ways to keep your outside space cooler by using creative shading.

      A climbing trellis can blunt slanted sunshine that tends to heat under awnings in the mornings and late afternoons.  Clematis is one of my favorites, but morning glory and bougainvillea are popular choices as well. Potted trees are also helpful but take a bit of extra care than trees in the yard.  If you don’t have a green thumb or you don’t have the time to use your green thumb, sail shades might work. They are triangular or square sections of strong nylon that come in a variety of colors.  A temporary change of décor to brighten up your summer and cool you down.

      Trellis, potted trees, or sail shades are sturdier and offer fun alternatives to the umbrella -- and you don’t have to keep putting it up and taking it down!

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        What Should I Pay for Rent?

        Connecticut real estate agent Martha Mullins

        Figuring out how much rent to pay can be painful.  Making a mistake by assuming too high a monthly rent can significantly impact your lifestyle.  

        In general, the basic rule is to spend no more than 30% of your after tax take home pay. To figure that out, take your annual salary and deduct taxes. Divide that figure by twelve. Subtract your monthly necessary expenses, such as car payment, car taxes, health insurance, loans, groceries, etc. Multiply that number by .3 and you’ll know what you can afford to pay. This isn’t what you should pay, though.  

        If you like dining out, events, activities outside work and home, then spend less and direct the additional funds to your social life. If you prefer to stay home maybe spend up to that 30% mark. Remember to inquire about all expenses: utilities, lawn mowing, snow removal, association fees, etc. when asking about rent.  

        Enjoy what you pay for!

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