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How To: Calculate the True Cost of Homeownership

Homeownership is widely considered to be a bedrock of family financial stability, but as aftershocks continue to reverberate through the real estate market, it’s important to know exactly how well your house is performing as an investment.

Home Ownership Cost

Photo: trulia.com

Here are two ways to understand the operating value of your home. By knowing both your net equity and the rental equivalent, you can determine the true cost of owning your home, and you will be prepared to make smart decisions on investing for the best return.

NET EQUITY:
How much your house is worth after all outstanding loans and transaction fees are factored in.

Take the estimated market value of your home and deduct the following: your remaining mortgage payment; any other outstanding loans collateralized by the house; the traditional agent’s fee of 6% of the sale price; transfer taxes and the typical costs of preparing to sell. What’s left is your net equity—what you actually would net if you sold the house.

Why you need to know it: Net equity is an important factor in your overall net worth. Understanding the components of your net worth helps you manage your financial future.

To calculate the actual investment return on the down payment you made to move in, take the net equity figure you’ve calculated and deduct all that you’ve spent on property taxes, maintenance, and improvements. Add back the savings you’ve captured from the mortgage interest deduction. As you review the performance of your overall portfolio, you need to understand how well the investment in your home has performed compared to stocks, bonds, money market funds, annuities and other investments. This will help you make informed decisions going forward.

RENT EQUIVALENT:
The market rent for equivalent living space.

On a cash flow basis, are you paying too much, too little, or the right amount to live in your house?

Look at the rents for similar space in your neighborhood. Add in the customary utility payments for both your house and for comparable rentals (for instance, rentals often include water but as a homeowner, you pay directly to the utility).

Why you need to know it: If you’re thinking of moving, knowing your home’s rent equivalent can help you benchmark the monthly housing expense for larger, smaller, and equivalent houses. It’s good to know if rental income could help ease a temporary cash crunch—if you’ve rented your house and moved to a smaller rental, for instance.

For more on buying and selling homes, consider:

How To: Sleuth an Open House
Leap Over the Top 3 Market Obstacles
3 Ways Your Neighbors Affect Your Home’s Value


Hurricane Sandy: Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness

Weather.com Hurricane Sandy Threat Index

If you are among the estimated 50 million people in the path of Hurricane Sandy, you are hopefully heeding the warning of local authorities and taking disaster preparedness seriously. That may include evacuation if you live in a flood-prone area or of course anywhere where a mandatory evacuation notice has been issued.

The rare hybrid storm, currently off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC, is expected to make landfall along the central New Jersey coast sometime this evening, bringing with it extended periods of heavy rain, tropical storm-force winds, and a potentially historic tidal surge along the East Coast (including Long Island Sound and New York Harbor), according to the National Weather Service.

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Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip – Tin Snips

Don’t wreck a good pair of scissors trying to cut metal; you need a good pair of tin snips.

Tin Snips

Photo: mig-welding.co.uk

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Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip – Staple Gun

It’s a ‘staple’ in every tool and craft kit, it can save you lots of time banging tacks or nails, and it can get into some tight spots your hammer can’t: I give you the humble staple gun.

Staple Gun

Photo: toolking.com

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Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip – Pliers

The tool we think of as pliers only evolved from “tongs” fairly recently, but it’s hard to imagine life without a variety of them in the old toolbox.

Plier set

Photo: toolking.com

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Top 5 Posts of the Week: Halloween Edition

We hitched along with the Renovation Road Trip, watched pumpkins catapult into the sky, and fawned over an innovative crop of designer smoke detectors (good thing, October is Fire Safety Month). Yes, it’s been a week packed with favorite posts. We’ve rounded up the five not to miss.

 

1. Renovation Road Trip: A New Backsplash at Turtle House

Renovation Roadtrip - Backsplash

Photo: Meryl Rose Philips

Meryl and Chris of Picardy Project arrive at the next stop on their Renovation Road Trip, where they help fellow do-it-yourselfers install a new faux stone backsplash.

 

2. 6 Pumpkin Festivals Not to Miss

Punkin Chunkin Festival

Photo: punkinchunkin.com

Some autumn celebrations—this “Punkin Chunkin” pumpkin catapulting contest, for example—take Halloween festivities to the next level.

 

3. Get Hooked: 10 Favorite Wall Storage Ideas

Wrench Hooks

Photo: etsy.com

For simple but effective storage, you can’t go wrong with the wall hook. Take a look at top design styles, including some new takes on this utilitarian standby.

 

4. Smoke Detectors for the Design Set

Smoke Detector

Photo: neo-utility.com

Why shouldn’t this safety product also be stylish? The long arm of design reaches new territory with the advent of designer smoke alarms.

 

5. 10 Design Mistakes Not to Make in Your Kitchen

Trendy Kitchen

No matter the differences in our lifestyles, so many of our activities take place in the kitchen. Bob Vila Nation contributor Freshome wants to make sure you make the best with what you’ve got!

 

For more top content this week, consider:

5 Plants to Divide in Fall
How To: Make a Scarecrow
Renovation Road Trip: Installing Shelves with Russet St. Reno


Renovation Road Trip: Installing Shelves with Russet St. Reno

Kitchen

Photo: Meryl Rose Philips

On the penultimate stop of our Renovation Road Trip we met up with Sara and Shaun, the fun and funny couple behind Russet Street Reno. They have such a great house, especially the kitchen, where they had one upgrade in mind, which they feared could result in disaster. So they enlisted our help to install a pair of oak shelves beside their refrigerator.

The challenge was to install the oak brackets so that each would be spaced evenly from the adjacent wall. At the same time, the shelves would need sufficient strength to be useful as storage. The added challenge? Going through drywall to install the top shelf, then through tile to put up the bottom.

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Bob Vila Radio: Old Woodwork

If you’re working on a remodeling project that calls for removing old woodwork, here are some tricks from the pros to keep it intact so you can reuse it.

Removing baseboard

Photo: shaggybevo.com

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Renovation Road Trip: Soldering Copper Pipe Fittings with DIYdiva

The third stop in our Renovation Road Trip brought us to Michigan, where we met the wonderful Kit from DIYdiva. Since she DIYs solo most days, Kit had lined up a few different projects for us that would have been tough, if not impossible, for anyone to handle on her own. In the end, however, it was a project requiring know-how, not manpower, that we were able to help out most with.

Two 1/2″ copper supply lines needed to be capped after removing the Jacuzzi tub from her bath.

Soldering Copper Pipe Fittings - Jacuzzi

Photo: Meryl Rose Philips

Soldering Copper Pipe Fittings - Copper Pipes

Photo: Meryl Rose Philips

Soldering Copper Pipe Fittings - Pipes

Photo: Meryl Rose Philips

The existing gate valves were leaking a drop of water every few seconds. Sometimes this happens during the soldering process if the washer deforms. Other times the washer simply degrades with age. This wasn’t an emergency, but it wasn’t good either.

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Bob Vila Radio: Laying Tile

While you might consider laying tile yourself for moneysaving reasons, remember that the substrate, or what the tile is installed on top of, is just as important as the tile itself. A flexing floor or a wall that’s not true to plane can lead to broken tiles and failed grout.

Laying Tile

Photo: ehow.com

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