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buying a house

7 Ways to Combat Clutter in the New Year

The New Year is the time for a fresh start.It brings a feeling of starting over, and an opportunity to improve all areas of your life. In the New Year, take some time to complete projects you’ve been putting off for months. You can create an even better home for you and your family by decluttering and organizing your home.

Follow these tips for easy and quick ways to de-clutter your home.

1. Keep things at arms reach:Keep items you use daily somewhere where they can be easily reached, whether that’s in a basket, on a shelf, or in a cabinet. Store everything that is used sparingly on a higher shelf or in the garage or attic. It will be easier to find what you need when you need it.

7 Reasons to Own a Home

Tax benefits.The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, and some of the costs involved in buying a home.

Appreciation.Historically, real estate has had a long-term, stable growth in value. In fact, median single-family existing-home sale prices have increased on average 5.2 percent each year from 1972 through 2014, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. The recent housing crisis has caused some to question the long-term value of real estate, but even in the most recent 10 years, which included quite a few very bad years for housing, values are still up 7.0 percent on a cumulative basis. In addition, the number of U.S. households is expected to rise 10 to15 percent over the next decade, creating continued high demand for housing.

Equity.Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.

10 Questions to Ask Home Inspectors

Before you make your final buying decision, you should have the home inspected by a professional. An inspection can alert you to potential problems with a property and allow you to make an informed decision. Ask these questions to prospective home inspectors:

1. Will your inspection meet recognized standards? Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as the one adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors. Customers can view each group’s standards of practice and code of ethics online at www.ashi.org or www.nahi.org. ASHI’s Web site also provides a database of state regulations.

2. Do you belong to a professional home inspector association? There are many state and national associations for home inspectors, including the two groups mentioned in No. 1. Unfortunately, some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Insist on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.