Coming up with a down payment to purchase your first home can feel like a herculean task. How can you possibly save twenty, thirty, fifty thousand dollars—approximately 11% of your home purchase price in 2016 (National Association of Realtors)—to pour into a house? For most individuals, it can be incredibly tough to save enough, particularly if you’re strapped for cash. What can you do?
The good news is that if you’ve been consistent about saving for your retirement, you have a leg up thanks to the two 401k first time home buyer options. These options allow you to supplement your down payment with cash from your 401k. However, not everyone qualifies to use money from a 401k. There are strict rules, so it’s vital that you understand how the process works before you move forward.
Borrowing from 401k
When it comes to borrowing from your 401k to help with your down payment, there are two ways to go about it:
- Get a 401k loan for home purchase
- Make a 401k withdrawal
Each of these options comes with its own costs and rewards. Remember that everyone’s financial situation is different and the best way to make the right choice for your situation is to contact a financial advisor and a skilled real estate agent.
First, let’s talk about getting a 401k loan for home purchase. The good news is that, when getting a loan, you don’t owe income taxes or the 10% early withdrawal fee. The bad news is that when you take a loan, it has to be repaid with interest even if you’re just paying the money and interest back out of your own pocket.
However, unlike a typical FHA loan, borrowing from 401k is fairly limited. Your max loan is limited to a specific dollar amount OR one-half of your account balance, whichever is smaller. This means that you need to know your current vested balance.
As for repayment, your 401k loan must be repaid within five years, and payments are required on a quarterly basis—both principal and interest. And your loan payments DO NOT count as contributions to your 401k.
Please note, not all plans permit loans. You’ll need to check with your particular plan to see what is allowed. Additionally, before moving forward with this option it’s advisable to check in with a financial advisor to ensure this option is right for you.
The second option for a 401k first time home buyer is a withdrawal. Compared to a 401k loan, it’s much simpler. The money is yours once you take it out and it does not have to be repaid. But there are a few more details. To withdrawal money from your 401k, you have to meet a few criteria including age restriction and financial hardship.
Only if your employer allows withdrawals and you can prove to the IRS that you are experiencing financial hardship can you even consider withdrawal. From there, your withdrawal has a certain dollar limit, and you must pay income tax on the full amount.
The other option for a withdrawal is to cash out on an old 401k. However, if you use this option, you’ll be required to pay both the 10% early withdrawal penalty as well as income tax.
Before you pursue this path or cross it off, be sure to get the opinion of a financial advisor who has access to your personal financial details.
401k Loan vs. Withdrawal
In most cases, a 401k loan may be easier to obtain and doesn’t come with the penalties associated with an early withdrawal. Of course, the downside is that you’ll eventually have to pay it back in five years.
So, why would you use your 401k to help purchase your first home?
Depending on your financial circumstances, this option may be more financially feasible than paying private mortgage insurance, and the interest goes back in your pocket. Another option is to use your IRA to avoid the 10% penalty. IRA withdrawals up to $10,000 are allowed without the 10% early withdrawal penalty, though you’ll still owe income tax.
If you need help figuring out the best option for you when it comes to putting together your down payment with your 401k, contact your personal financial advisor. Then contact a local Coldwell Banker office to find the perfectly priced home for you.
They say setting the mood is like flipping a switch and we couldn’t agree more. Lighting plays a lead role in making your house feel like home. Here are 10 lighting tricks to enhance your home’s aura.
1. Control natural lighting. If you thought only stormy weather could make a breezy beach house look dark and moody, take a second look at the photo above. The lucky homeowner can draw the sheer curtains closed without completely blocking out the sun. They also get a postcard-worthy view of sunrise and sunset every day from their glass doors. The dimmed fixture above casts a warm light in an all-white room while the cloudy landscape photo tones down the views of the beach.
2. Be picky about your paint. Ask a professional about a paint’s light reflectance value (LRV) before you commit to a color. Lighter colors tend to be more reflective than dark shades. Pay attention to sheen level too since glossy finishes are more reflective than matte finishes.
3. Experiment with materials and finishes. When mixed and matched strategically, these seemingly small details can determine the mood of a whole room. This white and grey bathroom would look stark and cold without the brass fixture above. The candles around the tub help warm the room up too.
4. Install a dimmer switch. There’s nothing relaxing about straining your eyes in a room that is too bright or too dark. Use a dimmer in addition to layering your light sources for ultimate light control. Believe it or not, installing a dimmer switch can be a DIY project.
5. Recess your lights. Even if the bulb is not that bright, a central fixture with multiple bulbs and a shiny finish can be overpowering. Recessed lighting conceals the bulbs and therefore can lights feel softer. You could also hide strip lighting underneath cabinets for a nice nightlight on your way to the kitchen or bathroom. Check out this ultra contemporary island that appears to be floating mid-air.
6. Go a different direction. Uplights, like sconces and track lighting, create a soft glow. On the other hand, downlights cast ominous shadows that can really add mystery to a romantic room. Get creative by backlighting wall decor for a play on color and shapes.
7. Take a refresher course in lightbulb basics. The type of bulb is equally important as its fixture. Halogen, fluorescent and LED bulbs have a range of temperatures from warm (or yellow) to cool (or blue) hues. This is a matter of personal preference, but typically yellowish bulbs warm up cool-colored rooms nicely and vice versa. Bluer bulbs also help brighten darker spaces, like basements and windowless bathrooms.
8. Find your favorite shade. Bright colors, playful patterns and funky shapes can bring personality into a stale space. Smoky glass chandeliers intensify intimate vibes in a dining room while big paper lanterns enliven sophisticated home offices. The teal shades on this fixture match the pillows and put an icy sheen on the large dark walnut bookcase.
Note: This ceiling light is reflected in the whimsically shaped mirror that will help spread light further into the room.
9. Try twinkle lights. Not limited to holiday decor, you can use twinkle lights all year round. Drape them over windows for some extra sparkle or fill jars or empty wine bottles with a bundle of battery-operated fairy lights for an illuminated vignette.
10. Open flame. It’s no secret that candles are customary to ambience, but they’re often reserved for after dark. Next time, try starting a fire first thing in the morning and you’ll find that candles are as effective for waking up as they are for winding down. The heat will naturally draw you out of bed and the rising sun will energize you. We’re channeling all the feels from this rustic bedroom. The corner fireplace and candle chandelier are nothing short of mesmerizing.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
The start of a new year brings the same old resolutions: get organized, get in shape and eat healthier. What if we all look beyond ourselves and add find new ways to be kinder to Mother Earth to our list? The impact would be pretty fantastic, a re-energized movement to preserve our one and only beautiful earth.
One simple way to fulfill that resolution is to be eco-conscious on moving day. Moving is one of the most wasteful times in a household. We finally get around to cleaning out those over stuffed closets, basements and garages. It’s the time we toss out those old clothes, electronics, magazines, bikes, etc. On top of the major weeding out of our belongings, we use tons of boxes and packing materials; and create piles and piles of waste that contribute to our landfills. Let’s just face the fact: moving time equals major trash time.
The great green news is there are simple steps you can take during a move to reduce your waste. Being eco-conscious on moving day will save you some green in your wallet too!
Follow these 5 steps to make Mother Nature & your wallet proud:
Use Eco-Friendly Moving Supplies
From boxes, packing paper to bubble, there are now green 100% recyclable materials to keep our neighborhoods cleaner and greener. Yep, there is even biodegradable eco-bubble, pop away guilt free.
ECO-BONUS: Save money by asking your moving company for used boxes made of recyclable materials. You can get used boxes at a discount and some moving companies will even give you a refund for returning your used boxes at the end of your move. Pop! Pop! Cha-ching!
It’s Not Just for the Movies
Instead of the foam popcorn and peanuts, use real popcorn to pack fragile items! Just pop and fill the gaps in your boxes to secure and pad fragile items. Cheap and earth friendly!
Finally, the garage and closets actually are getting cleaned out. Hurray! Now is the time to get rid of what you don’t really need: the growing collection of tuna and soup cans in the pantry; the many, many sport teams t-shirts; go-go boots; your 10 year old’s toddler clothing, etc. But, don’t just toss them out. Donate unwanted furniture to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and clothing and household items to your local favorite charity such as Goodwill for someone else to enjoy.
ECO-BONUS: Reuse your moving boxes to donate your items. Simply visit GiveBackBox.com to learn how to use your used boxes to ship your donations off to a charity. Lastly, if you have any unopened leftover food on moving day, donate it to Move For Hunger. Don’t forget to keep your moving and donation receipts to save green on your taxes next year!
Be Kind to Your Electronics
You may no longer want your lemon-yellow microwave, but don’t just put it on the curb or throw it in a dump. If you do, it will likely be shipped off to unregulated third world environmental disaster dumping grounds instead of being recycled in facilities that follow U.S. environmental regulations. Contact a domestic e-waste recycler so your old computers, microwaves and other electronics are recycled domestically, under environmental laws, rather than being shipped off to be processed by highly toxic and polluting techniques.
Hire an Eco-Conscious Moving Company
Use your “green” to influence and encourage green habits by hiring companies that use environmental-friendly practices. Make sure your moving company is bright green by asking: Does the staff recycle? Are the offices and warehouse designed to be energy efficient? Do they use biodiesel to run their trucks? Do they use 100 % recyclable materials? Do they sell used boxes? Do they buy them back at the end of the move? Chances are if they care about the earth, they care about their customers too! It’s a great big green win – win!
Pat yourself on the back; you’re making Mother Earth smile and future generations will thank you!
Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.
Source: CB Blue Matter
Whether you’re buying, selling or staging a home, popular architectural styles and buzz-words can help you get the most out of your investment. Current and upcoming homebuyers have an “instant” mindset, are debt-savvy, and want all the luxuries of rural living in growing cities. Trending architectural styles, like shipping container and tiny homes, reflect the budget-friendliness and fast construction new homeowners want. Contemporary glass structures, modern farmhouse, and a Spanish-colonial revival make way for bigger homes and budgets.
These days, building your own home is as easy as clicking around on a website or flipping through a catalog, mixing materials and adding desired features. The architecture that results is a Lego-like, innovative blend of textures and shapes that is “unique” to the homeowner’s preferences and taste. These styles are known as shipping container style homes. Some simulate the appearance of or incorporate actual shipping container material in their textures. By selecting from pre-fab, mix and match elements, homeowners can be sure that these features are ready-to-go. They can get exactly what they want without wasting time or resources.
Floor plans for both homes and apartments are getting smaller and smaller as the demand for land goes up and urban populations boom. Architects and builders are getting creative with their designs, finding new ways to make the most out of spaces as small as 300 square feet. This is “tiny home” size. These homes often sell at a lower price point than traditional-size homes, which makes the investment easier for modern homebuyers who are grappling with significant loan debt. These designs make the most out of every square inch with hidden storage, multi-use rooms and concepts like open space and indoor-outdoor living.
One of the most desired builds, right now, is the Santa Barbara style of architecture. This involves white stucco walls, wood beam ceilings and red tile roofs. It gets its name from the Spanish Colonial style that boomed in Santa Barbara in the early 1900s. The city set the trend for the rest of the country and homeowners are finding that the aesthetics of this style are a top choice for their dream homes.
Homeowners are knocking out walls and replacing them with glass doors and walls to see through to their back yards or patios. Incorporating the outdoors into indoor spaces is a top trend, right now. With the glass features, homeowners tend to blend sleek materials like concrete or wood. Modern glass style homes allow the outdoors to flow into the indoors and vice versa. This is a great trick to make the most of your property.
The farmhouse style has been a long-standing architectural icon. However, these days, the style is changing to incorporate more modern elements. The result is known as the modern farmhouse. In many builds, the design begins as a modern home outfitted with rural accents like barn doors and farmhouse siding. For builds that begin in the farmhouse style, modern colors and mixed industrial textures bring the old into the new.
If you are considering a new construction, an architect can help you to stay on top of the trends so that your home will be a success on the market well into the future. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to hire an architect is $5,000. They can guide you through the process to help maximize on your time and resources.
Lauren White is a freelance writer who enjoys reading, hiking and traveling. She can usually be found on an outdoor adventure with her boyfriend and little sister on the weekends.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
What color are first place ribbons? That’s right — they’re blue. That means blue is the official color of winning, and it also happens to be the official color of Coldwell Banker, the real estate brand who is #1 in dollar sales volume. Coincidence? We think not.
Ready to perform like a champion? Visit coldwellbanker.com/careers and see what it feels like to be on the winning team.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling
I love stories. Whether they are told over a meal, in the pages of a book, or on an 80 ft. movie screen makes no difference. Stories have the ability to make you experience every emotion available and can move you in unimaginable ways.
But the most important piece of any story is the characters. For a story to stand the test of time it has to have great characters. We need to be able to connect with them, feel for them, root for them — or against them. Everything they do drives the story forward, for better or worse. Without strong characters, the best stories crumble.
The same is true for brands.
In fact, having good characters – good people – is even more critical to creating and sustaining a strong brand. Because for a brand, its people are active participants in its creation. I truly believe a brand is a story that is told every single day, not just by its message, but by its people.
Every day, members of the brand help tell the story of Coldwell Banker through interactions with clients, the industry and each other. It’s a story of a brand that has been helping people find a place to call home for more than 111 years. It is a story founded by people who were passionate about creating change in the real estate industry and we continue doing so to this day.
This got me thinking: what is it about our story, our people, our brand that has allowed it – not just stand the test of time – but to continue to succeed?
Science gave me the answer. It comes down to our DNA. We may come from different backgrounds and upbringings. We reside in different corners of the world with differences in appearance, beliefs, and lifestyles, but studies have shown that who we surround ourselves and who we choose to associate with are often those who have similar genetic markers.
You’ve heard the phrase “birds of a feather flock together.” It’s an idiom based in truth. What draws people to Coldwell is beyond just the outward appearance of what we seem to be. While our chemical makeup sets us on a common path, the other side of this story is that each of us possess shared values that are core to our brand and THAT is what truly draws us together.
Coldwell Banker is a brand founded on trust, integrity and awesomeness, but at times we lose sight of this story because we get caught up in the day to day distractions of our work. What I see in our brand’s DNA is an opportunity for us to truly standout in this crowded and often crazy industry.
It’s almost as if we were born to be part of this story. In fact, we even have a name for the group of characters in this story of the Coldwell Banker brand: Generation Blue.
Blue has become a rallying cry for all that this brand is and stands for. We wear blue. We bleed blue, because we are GEN BLUE.
Blue represents the power of our company, the power of our people and the power of our team in so many different ways. And it’s time that we took a look at all that it truly means to be Coldwell Banker blue.
Blue is the color of winning. According to color psychology, blue is associated with intelligence, invokes trust and spurs creativity. Blue is cool under pressure and calming influence. Blue is the color of leaders and one that builds relationships.
We have a powerful, one of a kind brand; one that has the most advanced tools and the greatest reputation in the industry. A brand that is built on people who have exceptional integrity and are pillars of their communities.
There’s a reason Coldwell Banker has succeeded for over 111 years while countless other brands, both in our industry and outside it, have failed. Our success is built on the values that have stayed true to our brand and the fact that we continue to attract others who share those values and spirit.
As J.K. Rowling said, stories have the power to transport people to another place, and when you discover the story of who the Coldwell Banker brand truly is and what we have offer, it may just transport you to becoming a part of Gen Blue.
Come join the blue and see what makes Gen Blue truly the best path to success at coldwellbanker.com/careers.