Category: Mortgage

5 Strategies to Shrink Debt

Debt Management

Minimizing your debt can always seem like a mountain of to-do lists. With various recurring payments, differing interest rates, and due dates that never seem to end, if you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

While having a credit card, or other outstanding debt, isn’t a situation anyone wants to find themselves in, a surprising 38.1% of American households carry credit card debt.  Couple that with a total household debt average of $134,643.00 and the idea of debt starts to seem more common than you’d think!

While we know that having debt isn’t always the best solution, Putnam Bank is here to help you conquer it. We’ve found five proven ways to reduce your debt, and stop your spending process from adding more! Take a look at the five tools below, and see if they help you become debt free!

  • Find New Ways to Save: Whether it’s reducing your grocery bill, finding more affordable clothing options, or simply turning to the cash-only budget. There are numerous ways you can save. In fact, we recommend blogs such as The Simple Dollar, Making Sense of Cents, and Penny Hoarder to continue bolstering your savings knowledge.
  • The Snowball Method: This is by far our favorite way to reduce your overall debts. While you may need to start with finding some new ways to save, once you can allocate some extra dollars, you can put this effective method into action. Simply pay the minimum amounts on all outstanding balances, and then use the surplus funds towards your smallest payment to help pay it off sooner. Once your smallest debt is completely paid, you can use the surplus funds towards your next largest debt and so on. Repeat this process until all your debt has been paid off.
  • Refinance Your Current Loans: The snowball method will help you erase debts one by one; however, using this other strategy you can see about reducing those payments in one quick action. Speak with one of our dedicated lenders to see if your home mortgage, or personal loan, can be refinanced at a lower rate to save on monthly payments. This may make a small dent, but every little bit counts!
  • Freeze the Credit Cards: In order to proactively prevent yourself from overspending, freeze all credit cards you currently have in your possession. This step helps you to force yourself to spend only what you have. If you decide to use cash only, the envelope system may help you save even further!
  • Set Up Automatic Transfers: This one simple trick can save you hundreds each and every year! By using your online banking as a resource, you can create an automation to ensure you are never tempted to spend those extra dollars. Instead of waiting for them to be spent, allocate them to your savings, and tuck them away for paying down debt or building your emergency fund to eliminate emergency debts.

However you and your family decide to decrease your household debt, Putnam Bank is behind you! We’d love to talk about your financial goals and help you identify the best tools to help you get there. Give us a call, or stop by your nearest branch to get started today.

Home Renovations with HELOC

Mortgages

Warm weather is approaching, and spring is the ideal time to shake off the dust and get your house back into shape! Get started on your next home renovation with a strategic Home Equity Line of Credit from Putnam Bank. Our custom financing allows you to withdraw only the funds you need along the course of your future project. Inspiration can be found everywhere when updating common areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms, basement, or outdoor living area. See what these average home renovations cost with this handy guide courtesy of Putnam Bank.

Kitchen Remodel: Creating your ideal culinary environment is more than just choosing cabinets and countertops. With all the updates and finishing work, a typical New England kitchen remodel can cost around $35,000 to complete. Carefully crafting the heart of your home takes concentrated decision making and long term planning. Consider updating your kitchen appliances in order to save time and energy while preparing future meals. You may want to refinish or replace worn out flooring to match the new feel of your fresh remodel.

Bathroom Remodel: Giving your common space a much needed facelift can help you add value to your home. With updates as simple as new hardware and a tasteful backsplash you can bring some timeless style to a functional space. When undertaking a full renovation, features like a walk-in shower or a double vanity can bring a bold statement to the room. The average bathroom remodel in Connecticut typically runs under $12,000 for a completely revamped space.

New Deck: Building a fun outdoor patio or deck can open up the area for countless fun family activities. Costing around $8000 for the average East Coast deck, you can complete this exciting renovation in time and under budget. Spice up your new construction with added rails to hold beverages or food during grill outs and get-togethers.

Finishing a Basement: Depending on your foundation and other structural issues, most basement renovations center on adding dry wall, placing new flooring, and waterproofing the entirety of the room. Typically costing under $25,000, a finished basement can serve as additional space for an office or play room, increasing the livable square footage of your home.

There are endless projects to begin your spring to-do list this season. Let Putnam Bank help you get started on your next home renovation with a tailored Home Equity Line of Credit. Speak with one of our helpful lenders to get started today!

A Guide for First-Time Home Buyers

A Guide for First-Time Home Buyers

The journey to becoming a first time owner is an exciting and personal process. With questions ranging from price, commodities, to neighborhoods and more, the task of finding your ideal property can seem daunting. At Putnam Bank we want to help you make the most of your home buying experience with our guided route to home ownership. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view as we take you step by step through the first time home buying process.

  1. Assess your personal finances. Take a good hard look at your current sources of income, in addition to the underlying expenses you have each month. Determine if your funds can support the cost of a monthly mortgage, property taxes, home insurance, and all the other associated costs of home ownership.
  2. Mortgage Pre-Approval. Once you’ve decided to make the jump into home ownership it’s time to determine what your ideal purchase price will look like. Work with your mortgage lender to decide on the best price range for you and your family. After determining your financing needs together, the bank will evaluate your credit history award you with a pre-approval letter for the amount they will agree to finance.
  3. Find “The House.” Here comes the fun part – house hunting! Pair up with a reputable realtor from the area to look at houses that do not exceed the approved purchase price. You may look at six homes, or thirteen, but once you find the right property you’ll know it’s the one!
  4. Get an approved offer. After touring the property and checking for any major repairs, speak with your realtor about putting in an offer on the house at price within your budget. The seller may counter with a different price point, and negotiations for the offer can be discussed with your realtor. When you and the seller have agreed to a purchase price and a finalized offer is signed you officially have an accepted offer to purchase your future home!
  5. Speak with your mortgage lender. Now that you’ve found your new place, your mortgage lender can gather accurate tax information and further specifics for your mortgage financing. Reach out to confirm the terms of the loan prior to closing to help ensure a smooth transition.
  6. Home Inspection. Since you and the buyer now have an accepted agreement it’s time to fully inspect the property you intend on buying. Speak with your realtor for recommended home inspectors in the area, and set up a time when both you and the realtor can be present. The home inspector will detail notes about the property concerning safety hazards and other important repairs that be taken care of at the sellers expense.
  7. Close the offer. After all the paperwork is finalized, and you complete the final walk through of the home, it’s finally time receive your mortgage financing and close the home offer.
  8. The House is yours. All your hard work has paid off and you are now a home owner! Celebrate this monumental achievement by inviting family and friends over for a moving or house warming party!

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful cottage in the country, new construction in the city, or a happy hideaway in the suburbs, Putnam Bank can help you with all your financing needs. Stop by the bank or give us a call at (800) 377-4424 and get started on your home buying journey today!

The Top 10 Things to Add Value to Your Home

Renovation

Just like purchasing your home, selling it is a journey all its own. Whether you’re aiming to sell your home in one year or five, you can make a number of small changes that offer a big return on your home’s value. Try these key improvements and see the effect on your next home assessment.

  1. An eye-catching entrance. As the gateway into your home, your front door will set the tone for what’s within. Update your door bell, paint the front door, and hang a spring wreath to tie it all together.
  2. Energy-efficient updates: Updating appliances, windows, and fixtures, to their more green counterparts can set your home apart with the attractive promise of future savings.
  3. Low-maintenance landscaping: While flowers are eye-catching, shrubs and drought-resistant greenery make great visual impact with the promise of less hassle.
  4. A thorough clean. A deep clean of carpets, curtains, and corners will make your home sparkle and create a positive first impression. Hiring a professional cleaning service may also help to remove hard-to-clean grime and overlooked areas.
  5. De-cluttered rooms. A tidy house doesn’t always feel open. Heavy curtains, overstuffed couches, and rooms devoid of sunlight can make buyers cautious of square footage. Rid the room of nothing but bare essentials and simplistic furniture to maximize the area of the space.
  6. Extra mirrors. To double the feel of any room, strategically place mirrors to create an illusion of extra space.
  7. Small updates to big places. Kitchens and bathrooms are focal points in the selling process. Without the time and cost of a major remodel, small updates like new lighting, fresh paint, or modern accessories can add value to your home on a budget.
  8. Revamped flooring: Thin or threadbare carpets can raise alarms for buyers as they visualize the daunting need to replace the tired flooring. As your budget allows, replace your home’s carpet beginning with high-traffic areas and working outwards.
  9. Modern lighting. Updating light fixtures to a timeless and simple feel, help to elevate a home’s design and gives the potential buyer a blank canvas to imagine life in their new home.
  10. A professional opinion. In under an hour, a trained interior designer can provide suggestions for small tweaks, such as furniture arrangement or paint color adjustments, which can increase your home’s value with limited investment.

While improvements are not a guarantee of improved value, they can make all the difference when drawing in interested buyers. If some of your home-improvement projects require a bigger investment than your budget expected, our lending officers at Putnam Bank can work to help you secure the HELP (Home Equity Line Program) you need. Call us today at (800) 377-4424!

 

The Do’s and Don’ts to Home Buying

Mortgage

Begin the journey of purchasing your new home with Putnam Bank! We’ll help guide you through the process of securing a new residence for you and your family. Stick with these easy do’s and don’ts and you’ll be on the path to success.

Do:

  • Secure a loan before a home: While the hunt for the first house is exciting, your final decision will depend on the mortgage you can secure. Your first step in the home buying search should take place with a loan officer who can assess whether you qualify for a mortgage, and if so, at what price. This provides a framework guiding the search so you don’t expend time and money on houses outside your means.
  • Take your time: The average homeowner occupies their house for nine years before relocating, so additional time spent thoroughly searching for homes can reap a decade of benefit. Track trends in the housing market to buy during the most cost-effective season. Weigh personal, important factors beyond price listing, such as neighborhood quality, length of commute, and potential for expansion and home improvement.
  • Consult the professionals: The listing agent represents the interests of the seller, not the buyer. As a first-time home buyer, you’ll need as much trusted, unbiased advice as you can gather. Ask friends and family to recommend their real estate agents so you receive counsel from a professional with a track-record of success.

Don’t:

  • Look at homes well over your budget: You set a budget for a reason. Stick to it! Paying more than you designated for a home can financially limit you to update and repair as needed. By spending within your originally determined limit, you’ll avoid heftier mortgages and continue to withhold extra funds for any household incidentals.
  • Empty savings into a down payment: Securing your mortgage requires a down payment. Putting down less than 20% requires you to buy mortgage insurance. To avoid this added expense, some home buyers drain their savings to cover the down payment upfront. Liquidating your account, however, leaves you without a safety net in the event of job loss or medical emergency. The expense of mortgage insurance is worth the financial cushion you can leave in your account, and you can always eliminate the insurance once you’ve paid off 20% and opt to refinance your mortgage.
  • Speed through the closing: The end is in sight, but don’t let the glow of the finish line obscure your view of the paperwork. Review documents with a fine-tooth comb, double check that nothing has been altered in your agreement, and ensure that it describes your understanding of the transaction to a “T”. A day or two of extra analyzing can save you years of headaches!

At Putnam Bank, we offer a number of mortgage options to make securing your home as feasible as possible. To schedule your first meeting with one of our knowledgeable mortgage bankers, give us a call at (800) 377-4424.

Putnam Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender

Does your home feel empty?

blog-downsizing

If you are an older couple or individual whose kids have all graduated from college and moved out, your home can feel more like a quiet museum than the place where you raised your family. If you have experienced this feeling, perhaps “downsizing” is the right move for you.

Downsizing is exactly what it sounds like: trading in your larger home for a smaller home that still meets your needs. But why would you want to go smaller when we’ve always been told that “bigger is better?” Here are a few reasons:

  1. Lower your cost of living– with higher energy prices, it appears your utility bill will only continue to get larger. Downsizing means you need less energy to cool and heat a smaller home. You also need less stuff in a smaller home, meaning you are forced to spend less and even sell some of the things that would make your new home a little too cramped.
  2. Reduce your mortgage payments– one of the largest single payments you face each month, your mortgage can take up anywhere from 30-50 percent of your income.  A smaller home generally means a lower price tag, resulting in lower mortgage payments and more disposable income.
  3. Cut down on maintenance time– less area to clean and maintain means you spend less time cleaning and more time living how you want to.
  4. Make a fresh start- if you have always wanted to live closer to where the action is or in a more remote area, downsizing provides that opportunity to make a fresh start in addition to the financial benefits.

Stop and Think Before You Act

It’s important to consider all angles of downsizing. For example, if you love hosting friends and family from out of town, will you still be able to in a smaller home? Be sure to go through the pros and cons of downsizing before making a decision. If you have committed to downsizing, you can work with a real estate agent who has earned a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) credential.

While you may be able to purchase your downsized home with cash, a mortgage may not be out of the question. If you are looking for a reputable mortgage lender who knows the area, Putnam Bank’s mortgage lenders are your solution. Be sure to get in touch with them today to start the conversation.

Putnam Bank, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender