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5 Ways To Keep Your Home

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Over the past few years, the real estate market has slowly improved. Don't be fooled. Over the course of a 20- or 30-year loan, a dip could happen again. Prepare yourself to sustain your home through the bad times and not fall victim to foreclosure or catastrophes. Use these five tips to help keep your home for life.

1. Buy Within Your Price Range

Stay within your price range when shopping for a home. Keep in mind the next several years. Will your kids soon be going to college or is your vehicle on its last wheels? Consider college tuition payments or the price of another vehicle and how that will affect the long-term budget. Figuring in projected expenses lets you see the big budgeting picture and how much of that is taken up with mortgage and related expenses. Aside from buying smart, anticipate, budget and save for future home loan payments should an unexpected layoff, long-term illness or other setback occur.

2. Get An Affordable Loan

Unless you are positive an inheritance is coming your way within the next few years, avoid loans with balloon payments. And if you do foresee lots of cash in the future, enough to pay off the home, make sure your loan contract does not have a pre-payment penalty or you will pay a considerable amount more to pay off the principle. Overall, it's best to stick with fixed interest rates to lock into today's low rates. Review available loans carefully to get the most cost-effective one for your needs.

3. Pay Property Taxes

Property taxes are often paid by the mortgage holder or processor. If this is the case, you will pay extra on your mortgage each month to go toward the annual tax payment, which will be paid for you. Whether you choose to pay property taxes yourself or through the mortgage holder, you need to make certain the payment was made on time, as sometimes checks get lost in the mail or get applied to wrong accounts. Check your local tax assessor's website, property account number in hand, for up-to-date information and avoid a lien on your home due to unpaid property taxes.

4. Have Homeowner's Insurance

Homeowner's with home loans are required to maintain home insurance to protect the lender's assets. Once the loan is paid off, it's in your best interests to keep that insurance in case anything catastrophic should happen. Review you insurance needs with your lender from time to time to get the most inclusive coverage for your needs. In a flood plain? Obtain FEMA-backed flood protection from your insurance agent.

5. Submit Association Fees

Submit all association dues, fees and special assessments, if you live within a community with a homeowner's association (HOA). Disagreements over amounts owed should be taken directly to the HOA directors and legally resolved. A lien can be placed on the property by the HOA and your home may be seized if amounts remain unpaid.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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