Learn how to analyze YOUR situation and YOUR house so you can get the money you need.
Understand Why You’re Selling
One of the first things you can do to help you determine when is the best time to sell is going over exactly why you want to sell your house in the first place.
Besides giving your an idea of what to look for in your next home, you can also get a better idea of the type of person or family that would find your house the perfect fit.
Perhaps you bought your house years ago, excited to be at a location where you could walk over to any number of community events.
However as your situation changes and your family expands, you find your space a bit small for your needs and it’s too far from the schools you like.
You now have something to add to your buying checklist (good schools, bigger space), but you also have a selling point and a possible niche – singles and couples without kids looking to be in the middle of the action.
When you get ready to stage the house, you know that’s what you’ll be highlighting to potential buyers.
Look at the Numbers That Really Matter
Most of us have emotional ties to our homes. It’s more than a shelter for us, it’s a place where we’ve made memories.
BUT…. Selling a house is not about your sentimental feelings.
Selling a house is best handled as financial decision. To help minimize personal bias, it’s vital to look at the numbers.
Here are a few important ones you should have an idea on before you sell your house.
Your City’s Growth
With the numbers, you can see whether or not people are moving into your city.
Growth can mean more potential buyers (though not a slam dunk as your specific location in the city plays a huge role) which can mean more money for you when you sell. If people are fleeing your city, don’t expect to get top dollar for it.
Being aware of what homes have sold for in your area is extremely handy. Look at the most recent comps (comparable homes) that have been sold in your neighborhood.
You can use resources like Zillow and Realtor to find the numbers.
If buyers seem to think homes in your neighborhood are worth a certain amount, then you have to have some fantastic features to convince them to pay more for your house (or more than likely, lower your expectations).
Minimum Sale Price
While it’s important to be flexible, you two should have a minimum sale price in mind. When an offer comes in, it’s easier o make a decision if you know what you’re looking for.
If you’re planning on buying on another house, it does help to have a large down payment to avoid private mortgage insurance.
Does your state offer a benefits program for maternity leave? Do not make the very common mistake of assuming that it does.
Workers in the USA are wrong far more often than they are right when they do. The sooner you understand your rights and benefits while one or both parents are not working, the more time you have to prepare.
Many prospective parents are already familiar with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which applies nationwide.
The primary features of this law provide us with a handy outline to talk about how different state programs might fill in some of the gaps.
12 weeks of job-protected leave – some extend the amount of time
For eligible employees working for qualifying employers – some expand access
Unpaid leave of absence – some replace a portion of income
States Extending the Length of Maternity Leave
FMLA provides parents with up to twelve weeks of job-protected leave during a twelve-month period. The time can quickly evaporate if mom experiences complications of pregnancy and needs to stop working months before her delivery.
The same holds true if her infant delivers preterm and needs extended care at home after discharge from the NICU.
FMLA allows you to take leave for your own disability, to bond with you baby, or to care for a sick family member.
States with supplementary laws sometimes limit access to care of a family member (including a healthy newborn).
While on the surface, this appears very restrictive, this wording allows families to take job-protected leave sequentially rather than concurrently.
12 weeks of FMLA for mom’s pregnancy disability; followed by
X additional weeks of State FMLA to care for an infant at home
The states with laws allowing you to take sequential leave are California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island,
Other states extend the length of job protections simply by making the number bigger than twelve such as California, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Washington State.
States Expanding Access to Maternity Leave Rights
FMLA does not apply to every working parent. In fact, only about 40% of parents work for a qualifying employer and meet the hours worked criteria.
This leaves a rather large portion of the population without any legal protections during maternity and paternity leave.
Private sector – 50 or more employees
Public agencies – any size
Elementary and secondary school teachers – any size
Worked for the employer for at least 12 months
1,250 hours of service in the last 12 months
Works at location with at least 50 employees in a 75 mile radius
The states that expand access by loosening either the employer and/or the employee criteria include Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington DC, and Washington State.
States with Paid Maternity Leave Benefits
Since FMLA provides for unpaid leave of absence with no exceptions or complicated criteria, it should be simpler to spell out how the states might fill the gap with paid leave benefits.
If only it were that easy. To get the complete picture you need to explore temporary disability, paid family leave, unemployment compensation, and access to health insurance.
Only five states have a temporary disability insurance program which covers maternity leave. They are California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
Each program replaces a different percentage of mom’s income up to a hard monthly cap. They cover mom if she must stop working before delivery because of a pregnancy related medical condition.
They cover her recovery for normal labor and delivery, plus additional time if she suffers from postpartum complications – not depression or the baby blues.
Temporary disability does not cover paternity leave, as dad is physically able to work. You can buy a private policy at work, but must begin the coverage prior to conception.
Paid Family Leave
Only three states have a mandatory paid family leave policy. They are California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
This program replaces a portion of either parent’s income (both mom and/or dad) while they take time to bond with their newborn, or care for a sick family member.
Parents working in the forty-seven remaining states must be prepared with an emergency fund to weather the storm.
You cannot purchase any private insurance that replaces income for care of a family member.
Parents may be able to collect unemployment during maternity leave under very limited circumstances.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded financial incentives for the states to adopt exceptions for when workers voluntarily terminate employment. In the past, you could not collect if you quit your job for any reason.
Now, you may be able to collect if you terminate employment for a “compelling family reason,” and you work in one of the twenty-two states that accepted the incentives.
Care of a seriously ill family member qualifies in twenty-two states and may apply to a father-to-be caring for his spouse experiencing complications of pregnancy, or either parent when caring for a premature or very sick infant.
An employee’s own disability qualifies in six states, and may apply to an expectant woman experiencing complications, or a new mother with postpartum disorders. They are Arkansas, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington State.
FMLA provides for continued access to group health insurance on the same basis as when working.
Many employers contribute towards a significant portion of the premium. When the employer contribution disappears, the family’s share of the monthly premium suddenly skyrockets when they can least afford it.
Every state allows you to enroll in Medicaid at any time, and loosens income thresholds for pregnant women.
If you live in a state that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, you should not have to worry about falling into the subsidy gap while you are expecting.
If you lose coverage and earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, you can buy a plan outside of open enrollment.
The plan will cover preexisting conditions with no waiting period. Your unpaid leave may help you qualify for income-based subsidies.
Kevin Haney is a former credit bureau executive and now owns a health insurance agency that helps families make having children more affordable. You can follow him atwww.GrowingFamilyBenefits.com.