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DONNIE KELLER's Blog

By DONNIE KELLER | Broker in Fort Worth, TX
  • When Should You Refinance Your Home?

    Posted Under: Financing, Property Q&A, Home Ownership  |  May 1, 2014 12:07 PM  |  160 views  |  No comments

    Refinancing your home at a lower rate is very common among some homeowners. However, it is not always the right decision for everyone. Before you make the decision to refinance your home, it is important for you to put some deep thought into how this change will affect you. Here are four things to consider before refinancing your home.

    What Are Your Goals?

    Determining your goals for refinancing your home is one of the first things you should do. There are things you need to consider and remember before putting forth the work throughout the whole process. Refinancing your home will not pay off your existing debt; however, it will restructure it in a way that could be a great benefit to you.

    Consider Existing Rates

    Do some research to determine what the current mortgage rates are. If refinancing your home can get you a lower rate mortgage, then it is definitely worth looking into. You will also need to consider how long it will take you to recoup the closing costs.

    Is It Financially Possible?

    Refinancing your home comes with associated costs, it isn’t a free ride to lower mortgage rates. Some people spend thousands of dollars on their refinancing, and if that is feasible for you, it can be worth it. Remember, everything is negotiable.

    When Is a Good Time To Refinance?

    After you’ve put thought into the financial aspect of refinancing, you need to consider how long you will be in your home to determine if refinancing is right for you. When you figure out how many months it will take you to pay off the mortgage at a lower rate, if you don’t plan on being in your home that long, refinancing is probably not for you.

    Refinancing your home can be very beneficial; however, it isn’t necessary and might not be the best decision for you. Every home is different, so do your research to figure out if it is right for you. To learn more about when you should refinance your home, visit here.

  • Do You Need A Home Inspection?

    Posted Under: Property Q&A in Fort Worth, Home Ownership in Fort Worth  |  April 9, 2014 1:42 PM  |  259 views  |  1 comment

    When you’re considering buying a new home, there are a lot of different tasks you need to check off the list. Getting a home inspection is among the items on the list; however, some people question whether they need the home inspections, or if it is one of those things that they can skip. Ultimately, getting a home inspection is your choice, but there are a few things you need to consider before ruling it out.

    Second Opinion

    You wouldn’t move forward with treatment from a doctor without a second opinion, so why would you spend a significant amount of money on a home without getting a second opinion. A home inspector acts as your second opinion and will be there to provide you with necessary information you will need about the home you are about to purchase.

    What to Expect

    A typical home inspection can last anywhere from two to three hours, all of which you should be present for. That way you can ask questions or get an explanation about what the inspector is looking for and why. Additionally, if there is a problem it will be easier for you to understand, rather than seeing pictures of the problem. The home inspector will examine everything from the interior to the exterior of your home.

    Finding Your Inspector

    Getting an inexperienced home inspector is definitely not necessary; however, getting a home inspector who knows what he or she is talking about can save you tons of money. Sure, they will be more expensive, but you’ll be thanking them in the end. Read reviews and ask your friends and family who they used for their home inspection and if they were happy with it. This will help narrow down your search using sources you can trust.

     

    A home inspection may seem like an unnecessary, added expense in the beginning of your new home search. However, if you don’t get an inspector and find out later that there is something wrong with your new home, you’ll be wishing you had one to warn you about potential problems. For more information to help you decide whether or not you should get a home inspector, visit here.

  • Home Cleaning Tips You Didn't Know About

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Fort Worth, Design & Decor in Fort Worth, Home Ownership in Fort Worth  |  March 3, 2014 1:16 PM  |  395 views  |  No comments

    Home Cleaning Tips You Didn't Know About - When do you typically start your spring cleaning? Whether you do it all during the spring or throughout the year, here are a few home cleaning tips you didn't know about...

    1. Clean as you go. Don’t leave all your cleaning for one day because that will take forever. If you see something that needs to be dusted, do it, and then move on with your daily routine.

    2. Keep all of your supplies together. This makes it easier to get started cleaning because you don’t have to go looking for your supplies, they will all be in one place. A shower caddy that college students use in dorms is a holder!

    3. Purchase a 50-foot extension cord for your vacuum. This way, you can plug in your vacuum once without the fuss of having to stop vacuuming in the middle of a room to plug it into another outlet!

    4. Use the same system for every time you clean. Try starting each room to the left of the doorway, at the top, and moving clockwise and down. It will almost be like you’re on autopilot once you get into the swing of the routine!

    5. Make a “catchall” spot for each member of the family so that when you’re in a room and cannot even see the floor to vacuum it, you can easily pick everything up and put them in that one spot.

    6. Squeegee the shower. Doing this will save you scrubbing hours in the shower later on down the road working on soap scum and water spots. Also leave the shower door slightly open to promote airflow, therefore hindering mildew buildup.

    7. Use Baby Oil as chrome polish. A little goes a long way and can work on surfaces from faucets to hubcaps.

    8. Use a vacuum on all floors. It will work just as well on carpets as it does tile or laminate flooring, plus saving you time switching tools!

    9. Don’t throw your broom out, though. Use your broom as a long distance duster by rubber banding a towel to the end and reaching the corners of all your rooms.

    10. Use rice as a coffee grinder cleaner. Using rice will take away odors and clean out old grounds and oil! Afterwards, just discard the rice and wipe down your grinder.

  • Tax Tips and Write Offs For Homeowners

    Posted Under: Home Ownership in Fort Worth  |  February 9, 2014 2:57 PM  |  236 views  |  No comments

    Tax Tips and Write Offs For Homeowners - Tax season can be an exciting yet stressful time of year. Who doesn't want to get the best return or tax break as possible, right? Well here are a few tax tips and write offs to check into when doing your taxes this year...

    Tax breaks: The mortgage payment you make each month is the biggest write-off for new homeowners. Most of that check goes toward interest, and all that interest is deductible. Interest tax breaks don't end with your home's first mortgage. Did you refinance, or get a home equity loan or line of credit? That interest is also deductible. Those real estate taxes you’ll need to pay are deductible, too. If you paid points to get a better rate on any of your home loans, those offer a tax break as well. All of these deductions mean more money to offset your mortgage.

    Tax professionals: It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on hiring a professional to do your taxes after spending so much money purchasing a home in the first place. However, with all of the changes you will encounter with handling your taxes and the differences in tax reductions, it may be worth it to hire someone in the know for your first year of homeownership. Later, you can use their work as a template to do your taxes yourself, but you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by turning to their expertise.

    A few more Tax  Write Offs....

    Energy Efficient Upgrades - If you have installed or repaired energy efficient windows, appliances, etc., you could be eligible for a tax write-off.

    Home-Office Deduction - If you work from home, you may be eligible for the home-office deduction.

    Moving Expenses - If you have taken a new job, and had to move for the cause, you may be eligible for a write-off.

    Rental Income  - Did you rent your home for fourteen days or fewer during any given year, the rental income is tax-free, regardless of how much your annual salary is.

  • 4 Remodeling Projects That Pay Off

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Fort Worth, Design & Decor in Fort Worth, Home Ownership in Fort Worth  |  December 13, 2013 9:34 AM  |  231 views  |  No comments


    Whether you’re planning on listing your home for sale next month or within the next few years, it’s important to understand what you can do to make your home more appealing to potential homebuyers. That is, some upgrades can really help your home sell, and some can do just the opposite. From Realtormag, here are some upgrades that will really help your home sell.

     

    1. Big Ticket Items

    These items include your roof, siding, furnace, deck, windows, and even your master suite. All of these items are not cheap, but can give you a decent return on your investment.

     

    2. Bathrooms

    Bathrooms can look the most updated and outdated. Take some time to update the vanity, flooring, tile, mirror, light fixtures, and other fixtures in the bathroom. These small and DIY improvements can be affordable and definitely worth it.

     

    3. Flooring

    Wood floors have been popular for a long time now, and it’s still true today. Upgrading your flooring from vinyl to either hardwood or ceramic tile could add value to your home. This means in the foyer, living areas, kitchen, and even bedrooms and bathrooms. Now, you can purchase affordable hardwood flooring you can install yourself for a pretty reasonable price.

     

    4. Kitchen

    Kitchens built for function and entertainment. Open, functional kitchens sell really well these days because buyers are aware that the kitchen is an important part of the home for many reasons. If you have a small, cramped, or awkwardly set-up kitchen, it’s time to do some remodeling. Breakfast nooks and bars are a great way to integrate the kitchen with the eating area and turn it into an area that promotes conversation and unity. Additionally, stainless steel appliances are timeless and are a great way to make your kitchen look like a luxury kitchen.

    Get more information on these upgrades and more here.

     

    Donnie Keller Blog Sig

  • Is An Insulation Upgrade Worth The Investment?

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Fort Worth, Going Green in Fort Worth, Home Ownership in Fort Worth  |  December 3, 2013 5:25 PM  |  253 views  |  No comments

    With a trend in ‘going green’ many homeowners have started to invest in more energy efficient appliances, which save money and conserve energy, and have started making other steps toward preserving the environment and spending less money while they’re at it! Most people consider upgrading their insulation in the winter, but if your insulation needs to be upgraded now, doing so can save you money in energy costs in the summer as well by keeping cool air in and hot air out.

    If you’re not quite sure whether or not you should invest in upgrading your insulation, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) offers a handy formula for calculating the benefits of upgrading.

    Thankfully, writers at Inman News have simplified this formula so that its easy enough for pretty much anyone to use. You’ll have to start by doing a little bit of research online or over the phone to fill in parts of the formula. After that’s done, it just takes a calculator and a few minutes to figure it out.

    Here is the formula the DOE provides: (Ci x R1 x R2 x E) ÷ (Ce x [R2 - R1] x HDD x 24)

    ...And, so you can actually use it, here’s what all the variables stand for:

    Ci: The cost of the insulation you’re considering (in dollars per square foot). If you’re making this a DIY project, this includes the cost of the materials, supplies, and any rental equipment you need. If you’re paying to have the work done, use the estimated cost from the contractor.

    R1: The R-value of the insulation you currently have in the attic.

    R2: The R-value of the insulation that you want to upgrade to.

    E: The efficiency rating of your heating system/cooling system. How well your HVAC system heats or cools your home plays a major role in how much you’re going to save with an insulation upgrade. So, the less efficient your system is, the more money you’ll save each year by upgrading your insulation. If you don’t know the specific energy efficiency rating of your particular heating system, try calling your utility company or HVAC contractor. If you can’t find out from them, the DOE offers the following general suggestions: oil and propane furnaces, 0.6 to 0.88; natural gas furnaces, 0.7 to 0.95; electric, 1.0; heat pump 2.1 to 2.5.

    Ce: What you’re paying for the energy you use (in dollars per British thermal unit (Btu)). To get this number, divide the actual price you pay for the fuel you use (electricity, gas, etc.) by the Btu content of that fuel. You can find the price you’re paying on your utility bill or by calling your utility company.

    • The Btu content of various fuels is as follows:

      • No. 2 fuel oil = 140,000 Btu/gallon

      • Electricity = 3,413 Btu/kilowatt-hour

      • Propane = 91,600 Btu/gallon

      • Natural gas = 103,000 Btu/cubic feet or 100,000 Btu/therm

    HDD: This stands for heating degree days, which is a standard method for determining how cold a specific geographic location is, and how much demand there will be for heating. It’s determined by the statistical average of the number of degrees that a day’s temperature falls below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considered the temperature at which a building needs to be heated. The higher the number of heating degree days in an area, the more demand there is for heat, so the greater the savings will be from an insulation upgrade. You can get your area’s HDD number from your utility company or off the Internet.

    • 24: Hours in a day, used in this formula to convert HDD from days to hours.

    This formula specifically determines how much you’ll save by upgrading your insulation in the winter time, but keeping cool air in during the summer months is equally as important as keeping cool air out in the winter months. Plug in your information to figure out whether or not it is a good idea to invest in an insulation upgrade this year.

    For the original article from Inman News, click here.

     

    Donnie Keller Blog Sig

  • Affordable Fall Decorating Tips

    Posted Under: Design & Decor in Fort Worth, Home Ownership in Fort Worth  |  November 10, 2013 6:29 PM  |  189 views  |  No comments

     

    Is your home ready for fall?

    Changing temperatures mean it’s time for changing the look of your home as well. Simply changing the colors and accessories in your home can make it feel fall-ready. The National Association of Realtors® offers these great tips on affordably decorating your home for the fall season.

     

    All-over:

    • Less natural sunlight means a drop in temperatures and less warm color. Warm up your home by adding warm tones like gold, yellow, burnt orange, sage, or olive green.

    • Make reading, writing letters, and paying bills more pleasurable with new lampshades in warm cream, sand, or red.

    • Change bulbs to full spectrum to give your home a warmer and more flattering light.

    • Add a nice, warm throw to keep you warm in the cooler weather.

    • Break out some candles will fall-scents like cinnamon apple pie or clove.

     

    Kitchen

    • Pick a warmer palette for dish towels and other kitchen accessories.

    • Brighten up darker mornings with bright colored or fun patterned dishes.

    • Add a bright rug in front of the sink.

    • Bring flowering plants indoors and set them on your windowsill.

    • Go for rich colored candles, candle holders, and placemats in the dining room.

     

    Living room/family room and den area

    • Decorate the mantle with “topiaries in colorful pots, fall leaves or dried hydrangea”, suggests the National Association of Realtors®.

    • Warm up the area with wool or velvet pillows, quilts, wool blankets, or fake-fur throws.

    • Add heavier rugs in the area.

    • Change any spring or summer themed art to autumn themed prints or family photos from past autumns.

     

    Bathrooms

    • Add fall-themed candles around the tub

    • Use warmer, brighter colored towels

    • Use autumn-scented soaps

    • Change curtain valances to a warm rich color.

     

    Bedrooms

    • Use heavier fabrics, like wool or tapestry, for pillows.

    • Add a warm throw to your bed

    • Change sheer curtains to heavier ones, like velvet.

     

    Keep up with (and enjoy!) the seasons while on a budget using these simple tricks to transform your home into an autumn wonderland in no time.

    To read more on transitioning your home to fall, check out this article from realtor.com.

     

    Donnie Keller Blog Sig

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