Editor’s Note: his blog post was originally published in August 2015 and has been revised to reflect industry updates.
Living on Long Island—or anywhere nowadays—is fraught with rising costs for everything from gasoline and utilities to property taxes, insurance, food, and more. With projections forecasting even more increases in the near future, many homeowners are crafting unique solutions to save money.
Long Island boasts natural beauty, economic opportunity, and close proximity to New York City. It’s full of sprawling suburban homes, beautiful beaches, nature preserves, and cozy downtowns with award-winning restaurants and eclectic shops.
Whether you’re a long-term resident or purchasing your first home on Long Island, the reasons to live here are endless. But are you doing everything you can to reduce home expenses and save money?
The Contour Mortgage team can help with these cost-saving tips for making living on Long Island more manageable!
Learn more about our top five ways prospective and current Long Island residents can reduce home expenses.
1. Consider Adding Smart Home Technologies
Incorporating smart technologies into your home provides convenience, improves efficiencies, and saves money. Remotely controlling various household devices enhances comfort, boosts security, and grants much-needed peace of mind. Installing just one smart thermostat, for example, can save up to $219 per year!
Customizing schedules of other smart equipment, such as outdoor sprinklers, cuts down on energy costs and conserves water. Setting on and off times for indoor and outdoor lights saves electricity and further reduces utilities bills.
2. Grieve Your Taxes
A tax grievance is a complaint filed against a town’s assessed value on a specific property parcel based upon comparable sales. Permitted every two years in Suffolk County, and annually in Nassau County, successful grievances can lower property taxes. Despite the prolonged duration of this process—12 to 18 months—it’s still worth an attempt. Completed on your own or through a tax grievance service, homeowners can save up to $3,000 per year on annual tax bills.
When lodging an independent grievance, there’s no cost or required attorney representation. It’s recommended to gather all relevant information and completed forms, as well as familiarity with current grievance procedures.
3. Apply for Veterans Benefits
Guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), active and retired U.S. military service members and their surviving spouses can qualify for VA loans for home purchases, refinancing, or improvements.
There’s no requirement to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) when putting down less than 20 percent, but could be costs associated with inspections, appraisals, and title fees. There’s also more leniency regarding debt-to-income (DTI) ratios and bankruptcy stipulations, and financial and credit counseling for borrowers experiencing financial hardships.
Qualified buyers can assume VA-backed loans closed since March 1, 1988 when purchasing the property.
An authorized lender providing government-backed loans, Contour Mortgage can assist with these important processes, requirements, and qualifications. For more information on additional veterans benefits, read our blog “5 Programs to Help Veterans Buy a Home.”
4. Conduct an Energy Audit
When purchasing new appliances, look for the official Energy Star rating signifying cost savings and eco-friendly commitments through rebate programs and higher energy efficiencies.
Local power utility company PSEG Long Island offers its Residential Energy Affordability Partnership (REAP) Program for eligible homeowners. If qualified, a REAP technician will conduct an in-home or remote energy efficiency survey and inspection of household appliances and devices. In certain circumstances, customers are granted upgraded, energy-saving appliances within their home, at no charge.
Technicians also provide advice and best practices for conserving energy and lowering bills, such as adding previously mentioned smart technologies, such as thermostats and outlets, LED bulbs, and water flow devices.
5. Consolidate Your Debt
The Long Island housing market has gained considerable value and equity in recent years, which could be utilized to consolidate debt via a fixed-rate home equity loan or cash-out refinance. Such options feature lower interest rates, help improve credit scores, and provide additional cash flow.
Obtaining a CEMA (consolidation, extension, modification agreement) mortgage saves significant money by eliminating additional mortgage taxes when refinancing a home, townhouse, or condominium. When combining a cash-out refinance with CEMA, New York residents enjoy an additional discount—while maximizing cash back after closing!
CEMA Refinance Loans are available through qualified lenders such as Contour Mortgage on conventional, jumbo and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.
It’s important to note that because these are used for unsecured, non-collateral debt, regular, timely payments are imperative to avoid possible foreclosure and other unfortunate situations.
With Long Island considered one of the best places to raise a family, there are many financing options available to help you establish and lower the associated expenses of your forever home! It’s best to consult with a reputable mortgage banker or lender for help achieving your homeownership dreams!
Contact Contour Mortgage today for tips and best practices on effective home expenses reduction.