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Updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2022

How Essential Oils Can Help You Sell Your Home

When a potential buyer for your home comes to look at it, you will need to make sure that it smells good. The smell of the home can be a deciding factor for those wanting to purchase a home. If there are bad odors in the home, potential homeowners may be swayed away from purchasing the home. You want to make sure that you remove smells of home appliances, clothing, pets, smoke, mold, and cooked food. A homeowner should immediately address the cause of the odors and rectify the situation.

You want to make sure that your home is clean and that you have not just put out a deodorizing smell. If you put out a bunch of scented candles or plug-ins, a potential buyer might think you are masking a smell or they might not like the scent at all. In some cases, the smell may be so overpowering it distracts the people from being able to make a decision on the home.

Cleaning Your Home

The very first thing you want to do is clean the entire home from top to bottom. Make sure that you get every nook and cranny to ensure that there are no smells. If you hate cleaning, get the whole family involved. Ask them to help you clean the entire house to help you get it ready for sale. If you have trouble getting your family to help, consider using whatever reward necessary to help them get the house clean. Cleaning the house will help the overall smell of the home.

While you are cleaning your home, it is important that you use a simple fragrance. Using more than one fragrance can actually be unpleasant and overpowering. Using a cleaner with an essential oil not only helps to clean your home, but will also help with the smell. Here are some of the essential oils that you should use. Below are some ideas of essential oils that you may want to consider using for your home.

Citrus

Citrus essential oils like lemon essential oil and orange essential create a pleasant smell that will last throughout your house. These oils also have a disinfecting quality that can help rid your home of bacteria that might cause smells.

Herbs

Essential oils herbs cause an inviting smell in the home. Consider diffusing the essential oils of basil, thyme, and rosemary. This smell will create a warm environment for potential buyers.

Pine and cedar

Pine and cedar create a warm environment for guests. You can use this essential oil to clean your home as well as diffuse when you have potential buyers looking at your home.

Green tea

A mix of essential oils from green tea can help to restore harmony in your home and refresh the mind. This scent can give buyers clarity about whether or not they want to purchase your property.

Vanilla

This essential oil gives your home that warm cozy feel. People will be more attracted to a home that smells cozy and sweet. This fragrance is best to use in a diffuser, and can be mixed with other essential oil to bring in a fresh scent.

Consider adding these essential oils to your cleaning routine as well as diffusing them or using candles created with them throughout your home. You want to make sure that your house is clean and smells nice for when a potential buyer comes to visit. There are many options when it comes to essential oils so make sure that you take your time and find the one that most benefits your home. Remember to make sure that is not too overpowering as overpowering fragrances can make a person not want to purchase your home.


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What Is Fractional Ownership In Real Estate?

Have you ever been browsing vacation homes in a dream location and found something that looks amazing, well below your expectations as far as price? Then, you read the description in a little more detail and see its for 1/8 of the home. Thats fractional ownership.

The idea of fractional ownership is one where a high-value asset becomes a shared risk among the stakeholders, who are the owners.

Fractional ownership shares are sold to individuals who are the shareholders. The shareholders then share the benefits of the asset. For example, if the property is rented out, they share the income.

An Explanation of Fractional Ownership

While vacation properties are often associated with fractional ownership, its also a structure used for airplanes, sports cars, and other high-value assets.

The cost of a property is split between people who are owners or users. If the fractional owners rent it out, its an investment property.

If you buy a vacation property and want to use it, you schedule the time youll be there with a management company. The property management company also usually oversees the maintenance of the home.

There are restrictions on how much time any one owner can spend at the property, and a fractional owner doesnt have to use all of their time personally. They can let friends, family, or coworkers use their time.

Another option is for a fractional owner to rent out their time to other owners or make it available to outside parties who arent owners as a rental.

Participants usually share both the costs and the benefits of their assets based on the percentage they own.

The owners share costs like property management fees and repairs. The terms vary.

The Role of the Property Manager

A property manager who oversees a fractionally owned vacation home often has a network of properties in different locations. Then, as a result of that network, they can provide owners the chance to exchange time in other owners properties.

Fractional ownership can become part of an estate thats passed onto heirs.

What Are the Pros and Cons?

The biggest advantage of fractional ownership in real estate is that it makes owning a vacation home more accessible.

If you only have part of the year available to use the home, youre essentially paying for what youll use. Youre also sharing maintenance and upkeep costs, so this is less expensive than if you purchased a home on your own.

Of course, there are downsides.

It can be a challenge to find a real estate agent and a lender who will work on a mortgage for a collectively owned asset. It can also be more expensive upfront than putting a down payment on a vacation home youd solely own.

A collective ownership structure means that everyone has to make decisions, which can be time-consuming.

You also have to be someone who doesnt mind sharing your home.

If you have fractional ownership of a property, selling can get tricky. You might not be able to at all. Prospective buyers dont want to get into a partnership with strangers, and your partners can make it hard for you to sell.

Hows It Different from a Timeshare?

A timeshare is very similar to fractional ownership, but it seems to have worse connotations in some peoples minds.

One of the key differences between a fractional and timeshare is the number of owners per home or unit. A timeshare can have as many as 52 owners for each unit. At a minimum, they have 26, so the owners get short stays, and theyre not frequent. When youre part of a timeshare, you usually only visit the property once every year, for a week at a time.

You dont have much emotional or physical connection to your timeshare.

Theres also more wear and tear since people are frequently in and out.

Fractional properties tend to be more high-end, with expensive finishes, high maintenance, and attention to detail.

A third major difference is that you have more control as an owner of a fractional property. A timeshare is usually controlled by either a hotel operator or developer. Youre more of a hotel guest with a timeshare than an owner at the end of the day. The fractional model does offer more of the feeling and experience of being a property owner.

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More on fractional ownership:nbsp;

1.nbsp;Learn How A New Service Through "Pacaso" Can Help You Own A Second Home Without The Full Expenses, and Low Stressnbsp;

2.nbsp;Have Clients That Want a Second Home but Only Part of the Time? Serial Entrepreneur Austin Allison Shares How Pacaso Is the Perfect Fit


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Ask the HOA Expert: Who Is Supposed To Fix And Maintain What?

Question: Our board has a running battle with various unit owners about who is supposed to fix and maintain what. As a result, the board has paid for repairs that were probably the unit owners responsibility. How do we get this under control?

Answer: The board should adopt a Maintenance amp; Insurance Areas of Responsibility Policy which defines responsibilities HOA vs Owner. The idea is to break down the buildings and grounds into component parts and then describe who is responsible. Always review and use the governing documents as a guideline if direction is provided. While the Areas of Responsibility Policy can be subject to interpretation under certain circumstances, it usually provides clear guidance to both the board and unit owners. Moreover, it provides the board with the basis for consistent handling of maintenance issues. Another benefit is it clarifies for the HOAs and unit owners insurance carriers what things the HOA is responsible for and eliminates claim disputes. This is a "must have" policy in any common wall community.nbsp;

Question: We have a resident we routinely have to call the police on for disturbing the peace, verbally assaulting and stalking neighbors and threatening them with physical harm. This resident is essentially psychotic and totally unpredictable. This has gone on for years and weve reached our limit. This situation is now affecting sales What can we do?

Answer: Have you been in contact with this persons >

Question: I am researching HOA pool liability. Recently, the board enacted pool hours which dont seem safe: 8am to 11pm. Im concerned about allowing people to swim after dark. The pool has no lighting.

Answer: Since daylight hours change daily, either longer or shorter, it makes sense to tie pool hour closing to dusk or 10 pm whichever comes first. Due to noise concerns, the pool needs to close at a reasonable hour unless the location of the pool doesnt create a noise issue. For the same reason, establish a pool opening schedule to avoid disturbing people who may still be sleeping. Of course in Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun, all bets are off. But the pool is probably frozen anyway.


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Scary Questions

My son who lives in Colorado recently decided to buy his very first home. He did some research and found out that his house payment, including taxes and insurance, would be about the same as the rent he was currently paying each month. Its a no-brainer, right? Of course he first came to yours truly for some upfront advice but he also got into some questions that were more state guideline specific and not how to qualify for a home loan. I asked him where he has his checking account and he told me which bank he uses and I told him to start there.

I also gave him some advice on what sort of documentation he will likely need to provide and its a good idea to start gathering that information now instead of waiting for his bank to ask for it. So he did, and stored the documents on his laptop. I told him that even though hes gathered all that information its possible the bank wont ask for everything. Just keep it handy in case it does.

So his quest began. He spoke with the loan officer at the bank who then provided him with a qualifying loan amount. He had a decent down payment, even for a first time buyer. He had some of his own money saved up at the bank but he was also the lucky recipient of a Trust with his name on it containing more than enough funds for his down payment along with closing costs and with some more left over. He was in a good position. He also checked his credit score and it came out to 750. The kid was doing all the right things.

After speaking with his loan officer he submitted his p>

The very next day, he called me, freaking out. He sent me a copy of the list of questions the loan officer had. I walked through them all with him. One thing that stood out to him and really had him worried were his gaps in employment. When he graduated, he took a few months off for a mini-vacay well deserved after four years of school. The loan officer wanted an explanation as to the time lapse between graduating and starting a job. Next, the loan officer asked about a one-week gap of employment from his first job to his next one. Personally I felt this was a little over the top for this one but whatever.

I told him just to answer the question. State that you took some time off after graduation for a short vacation and as it >

He did. He got his approval just as predicted. The employment gaps were a non-issue but something that lending guidelines require. No need to embellish anything. Just explain what happened. Thats it.


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I Already Answered That!

Everyone has their own vocation in their lives. Attorneys do attorney things all day long. Cops protect and serve. Line cooks prepare meals. Its literally an endless list. And of course, mortgage loan officers do mortgage loan officer things. Mortgage tasks are a process of counseling, advising, completing the loan application, submitting documentation and a host of others. The point is that these individuals do their thing each and every day, all day.nbsp;

When first completing a loan application, it might seem a little daunting. But its not. Whats more, there are questions on the application that simply wont apply to you. But as an applicant, you may not know this. One might figure that if theres a section that asks for information that you need to put something there. If youre not sure, leave it blank and speak with your loan officer. If it needs to be completed, youll have plenty of time for follow up. Sometimes though, applicants can start scratching their heads wondering why the mortgage company is asking for something youve already submitted or that you answered a question the first time around and now the lender is coming back for more on the very same topic.

Take for example your income. Youll need to provide evidence that you can afford the new mortgage along with a monthly allotment for property taxes and insurance. On the application, there is a section that asks about your income. All you need to do is answer it. But lets say after youve submitted your application, your loan officer gives you a call. "Hey, can you send us a new pay check stub?" This is confusing, right? You already gave them a paycheck stub so why are they asking for another?nbsp;

When this pops up, and its a common one, its ra>

Theres another issue as it >

Bonus income must have at least a two year history and must also be on a rather regular bonus, say monthly or quarterly. Lenders may or may not count annual bonuses as the guidelines ask the bonus income be made available to pay some bills. A monthly bonus, yes. A once-a-year Christmas bonus, probably not. That seasonal bonus probably wont be available come July, or at least itnbsp; probably wont be.

When a duplicate question comes up, its typically more of a compliance issue and not a lender having problems with your loan application.


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7 Home Items That Will Absolutely Make Your Life Easier

Work smarter, not harder. Thats how the saying goes, right? Whether you need an easy entry into Smart Home living or a better answer for the dog hair and dust bunny situation, these items will help you realize that reality.

A crumb and dog hair vacuum

We were at the hairdresser when we first spotted the EyeVac Home Touchless Sensor Activated Vacuum. She swept up a big ball of hair into this wondrous little stationary machine in the corner and it gobbled it all up. Clearly this had to be purchased for a home with three shedding dogs. Magic happens when you sweep with the included broom crumbs and hair and anything else collecting on your floor into the slot at the bottom. You can keep your malfunctioning Rumba. Well take our EyeVac.

The Airmega 400S

While this is not a budget item its currently on sale for 548, down from 849, on Amazon, you cant put a price on good air quality, right? Whether someone in your household has bad allergies or you just want to make sure youre breathing cleaner air, this air purifier is a great option. Technological advancements make it easy to use; the built-in air quality sensor can be controlled by Airmegas app or by Amazons Alexa.

A hidden trash can

If you have dogs, and if those dogs like to get in the garbage, and if youre sick of doing things like picking up half-eaten trash strewn about your home, youre going to love this trash can. Not only does it hide away the trash so your pets cant get to it, but it does so while looking good. Theres a nifty DIY tutorial here, but if you want one ready-made, be sure to look for a tilt-out version. Theyre easier to empty.

Tile

Why are you not using Tile yet? If youre the type that misplaces your keys or other important items, its a must-have. Tile is one of the most popular lost item trackers on the market, said Tech Crunch. The company, to date, has now sold over 10 million of its Bluetooth-connected dongles that work with an app on your phone to help you find misplaced items, like your keys, purse, wallet, tablets, laptops, luggage and more. And because of the way its app works, Tile can leverage its community of millions of app users to help you find your device, even when youre out of range. That is, if another Tile user is near your missing device, an alert with the location attached is sent to your phone.

A gel anti-fatigue kitchen mat

If you have to spend time making dinner and/or doing the dishes, at least make sure your feet and legs are comfortable and feeling good duringand after. Theres nothing worse than sore legs from housework instead of a good workout The rub on comfy kitchen mats has always been that you can get cute or you can get effectivebut not both. That is changing, as these GelPro mats actually have some stylish options.

Dash Deluxe Rapid Egg Cooker

We first saw this on vacation, where it was perched next to the buffet table, cooking up soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. Youll want one, too, since it can perfectly cook 12 eggs in less time than it takes to boil water, said Dash, making omelettes, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, and poached eggs. Plus, it can steam vegetables, seafood, dumplings, warm tortillas, and more.

The Snap SmartCam for home security

This is one of the most perfect gadgets you could want for home security, saidnbsp;Money Inc. Though it looks like a USB charger, it isnt. It is a full HD 1080p resolution security camera that will watch your home while you are away at work, shopping, or any other necessary daily task. No batteries are required. But the advantages just keep on coming.The Snap SmartCam will continuously record the activities inside your home, and when it reaches the end of its maximum recording capacity it continues by overwriting the earliest videos on the device. You can download the recorded videos is you want to retain them for your records. Oh, the USB appearance not only conceals the security camera, but it actually functions as a charger.


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Get The Home You Want, Millennials: Smart Strategies For First-Time Homebuyers

Hey, Millennials. Come on into the real estate market We really need you to buy some homes so we can keep chugging along. Oh, wait. Prices are rising and so are interest rates, plus inventory is scary low. Hmmm. Well, come on in anyway, wontcha?

Its not easy to buy a home in a hot market where inventory remains at historic lows - and that covers a lot of areas across the country at a wide range of different price points. But its especially hard right now for Millennials, who arent exactly getting a warm welcome from the market that has been begging them to participate.

"I think its fair to say this is the most competitive housing market weve seen in recorded history," Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, told Curbed. "Theresnbsp;record low inventorynbsp;and strong interest from buyers in getting into the housing market. Millennials are reaching prime homebuying age - in 2020, the greatest proportion of that generation will be turning 30 - just as baby boomers are looking tonbsp;downsize. This has created especially fierce competition for smaller homes, the type of starter homes that mostnbsp;first-time buyersnbsp;desire. This dynamic can be especially frustrating for young adults because they may be bidding for the same smaller home as someone from an older generation who can lean on the accumulated wealth of decades of homeownership."

But that doesnt make buying impossible - just a bit more challenging. Get a leg up by following a few smart strategies.

Work with the right REALTOR

This is not the right time to give your brother-in-laws cousins neighbor who just got his license a shot. Having a competitive edge is more important than ever, and you need a savvy, experienced, and well-connected real estate agent to help you buy a home.

Work on your down payment

You may be competing against buyers who are coming in with an all-cash offer, which youre going to have a hard time standing up to. But, there are ways you can make your offer look better. Remember that if it comes down to a multiple-offer situation for your home, sellers wont just compare the offer prices. Theyll look at your down payment and the terms, and you need to have better terms than the next guy. You may only have 3.5 down, and that may be all you need to qualify for your FHA loan, but that doesnt mean the seller will embrace you.

"Your down payment is a key part ofnbsp;the offer you present to the seller," said Money Crashers.nbsp;"The general rule of thumb is simple: the larger the down payment, the stronger the offer. More precisely: the greater the down payments share of the total purchase price, the more likely the seller is to accept."

If youre ready to buy and theres no time to get a second job or go into hyper-savings mode, you can always take advantage of down payment assistance programs like the National Homebuyers Fundnbsp;or hit up a >

Be flexible on the closing

If another potential buyer is insistent on a 30-day close, but you could close earlier, later, and even rent back to the seller if need be, you just might end up with the house you want. Flexibility is key to submitting a winning offer, so make sure you have a Plan B - a place to stay for a few days or longer if youre going to be between houses, and a mover/storage option squared away.

Look in adjacent neighborhoods

Yeah, you have your heart set on a specific neighborhood. But if its just not happening, consider the next neighborhood over. Experts say they have great potential upside.

Consider the worst house on the block

Buying the ugly duckling is a top strategy for investors, and one that can get buyers in the door literally if theyre having trouble purchasing move-in-ready homes. "When your budget as a first-time buyer doesnt stretch to a house in perfect condition in a neighborhood you adore, you might consider buying a home that needs work. Or maybe youve watched fixer-upper TV shows and think you could handle sweat equity. Either way, real estate experts say buying a house that needs renovating can make sense as long as you are realistic about the process," said the Washington Post. "A fixer-upper can be a smart investment, particularly if you can buy a property under market value and then increase its value with the right projects. While some home buyers prefer move-in-ready homes, they are stuck with the choices the previous homeowner or builder picked for their countertops, fixtures and floors. Not only do buyers of fixer-uppers get to select their finishes, they also can make sure the work is done the way they want."

If youre worried about how youre going to pay for all those renovations, ask your real estate agent or lender about a 203k loan, which rolls renovation funds into your mortgage. "An FHA 203k loan, sometimes called a Rehab Loan or FHA Construction loannbsp;allows you to finance not one, but two major items 1 the house itself, and; 2 needed/wanted repairs," said The Mortgage Reports. "Because the lender tracks and verifies repairs, it is willing to approve a loan on a home it wouldnt otherwise consider."

The loan addresses a common problem when buying a fixer home: lenders often dont approve loans for homes in need of major repairs."

Waive contingencies before you submit your offer?

Note the question mark. Your real estate professional may caution you against this strategy. But, lenders like Better Mortgage are making it work with a program that "allows buyers in select markets to not only underwrite their finances, but also get the appraised value of their home before they submit an offer. That means they have the option to waive both financing and appraisal contingencies to make their offer as competitive as cash."


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Preparing for an Unexpected Home Emergency Expense

When youre a homeowner, one of your challenges is dealing with the unexpected. Unlike being a renter, youre responsible for dealing with emergencies and repairs when you own a home. It can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful.

When you buy a new home, the risk of emergency repairs may be lower. On the other hand, older homes can need quite a bit of upkeep.

An emergency home repair always seems to come along at the worst time.

For example, you might not think much about your roof until theres an issue. The same is true of major systems like your furnace or air conditioning.

According to Nerdwallet, 65 of American homeowners say their house needs repairs to make it free of damage or safe. Cost is the primary barrier to making needed repairs.

A study from Porch found the national average cost to maintain a home is a little over 16,000, including both repairs and routine tasks. Discover advises budgeting 1 of the value of your home for maintenance every year. If your home is 300,000, you would theoretically need to plan on spending 3,000 a year in maintenance.

If you dont have an emergency fund set aside, you might be scrambling to figure out how to pay for repairs.

If you face an emergency expense that has to be dealt with right away and you dont have the cash to cover it, there are some options.

Can You Make a Homeowners Insurance Claim?

In an immediate emergency, you might not be able to wait for the processing and payout of a homeowners insurance claim. If you do have time, you might get coverage through your policy.

The issue here is that your policy may not cover the repair you need.

You also have to keep the deductible in mind.

Disaster >

If you have a repair resulting from a disaster, an organization like FEMA or the Red Cross may have options. FEMA often offers funds to homeowners for damage and emergency disaster repairs not covered by their insurance.

Disaster >

Community Development Programs

A community development program may be run by your local or state government, financial institutions, or agencies. For example, a city might use Community Development Block Grants issued by HUD to give grants or emergency repair loans to homeowners in need.

There are often restrictions on these programs dependent on your income, or they might be specifically for disabled or senior homeowners.

You can check with the local housing services, housing authority, or local housing office in your area.

Government Assistance

Aside from the government assistance already named above, there are also other programs.

The FHA 203k and Limited 203k are loan programs so that borrowers can buy or refinance anbsp; property, and then theres additional money added to the total loan amount for the cost of upgrades or repairs.

These loans are available through the Title I Property Improvement Laon Program, issued by the Housing and Urban Development Department. Title I loans are insured by the FHA and issued by lenders, specifically geared toward owners with little equity in their homes.

Home Equity Line of Credit

With a home equity line of credit HELOC, you can use the value you have in your home. If you have an unexpected major expense, this can be a good way to take advantage of your homes equity. You are borrowing against your home, though, so make sure you use the money wisely and pay it back.

Similarly, a home equity loan is secured against the equity in your house. This loan is different from a HELOC because its issued as a lump sum rather than a line of credit. You get a fixed interest rate with a home equity loan since its secured. Secured means your home is the collateral.

To get a home equity loan, you usually have at least 15-20 equity.

Personal Loans

A personal loan isnt the best way to cover an emergency expense if you can avoid it, but it may be your only option. The good things about personal loans are that you can qualify and get funding quickly. Once youre approved, an online personal loan may show up in your account the next day.

The application process is fairly simple too.

Credit Card

Finally, if you have to use a credit card, try to find an option to apply for that has a 0 APR introductory period. The longer this period, the better if you can qualify. Then, you can pay back the cost of the emergency expense over time without high interest rates.


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Will a Rising Interest Rate Environment hinder Sponsors’ Ability to Raise Money?

Its no longer if but when and for how long the Fed will increase interest rates in order to help curb inflation. For years, economists had been predicting interest rate hikes only to be left wondering when their predictions would finally be realized. Each year, there seemed to be the inevitable rise in rates; however, each year would pass and rates either stayed the same or decreased. At a near zero rate a few years ago, one could only surmise that rates would have to go up.someday. Well, that someday looks like it has arrived.

Typically, the Fed uses a rate hike to curb economic growth; however, the US economy is not currently in need of a slowdown. Unfortunately, recent inflation reports announced an increase in the CPI by 8.5; however, energy prices have not been accounted for in this figure, and real inflation is over 10. The Feds policies of limiting energy production in the US as well as out of control spending seem to be the culprit. It appears that the Fed will try and curb inflation by increasing interest rates; this may cause stagflation and push the US into a recession. The Fed announced its first increase [.25] in interest rates and has made known that this is the first of many to be expected. Increases of .5 increments are most likely to experienced.

Sponsors of real estate syndications, primarily in the mortgage debt area, should expect their investors to ask how rising interest rates will affect their current investment as well as what to expect on the horizon. Challenging times may lie ahead for those sponsors who hold long term, low, fixed interest rate loans in their portfolio, as borrowers who have locked in lower rates tend not to refinance and these loans may only get paid off upon a sale of the real estate. New investment money, however, should be able to get placed in higher rate loans. The question becomes how easy will it be for these sponsors to raise new investor capital. The good news for these sponsors is that all investments are based on alternatives/opportunity costs, and, until bank rates to depositors increase significantly, many investors will look to alternative investments. In areas of the country wherenbsp;there is ample investor capital, competition has kept interest rates low for borrowers. Eventually, as interest rates increase, investors will demand a higher return on their money. This will, in turn, be passed onto borrowers in the form of higher rate loans.nbsp;

When residential interest rates were in the 2.5 - 3 range from conventional lenders, alternative lenders in competitive markets, such as California, were charging their borrowers as low as 6 - 8.5. Although conventional rates have recently risen to 4.5 - 5, private lenders have not substantially increased their rates due to competition between lenders. There is still a lot of capital chasing loans to invest in. A common complaint among private lenders is that they get paid off too early on loans, and their money is sitting idle in a low interest rate account awaiting the next deal. Many investors have broadened their risk tolerance to have their money working for them. Lenders who, normally, would not invest in loans unless the LTV was below 65 have been forced to look at loans at 70 LTV and above. Where just a couple of years ago, individual investors could easily attain 8 on private loans at 65 LTV, they are now needing to view 70 LTV or higher loans to receive, on average, less than 8. This has frustrated the individual investors who long for years gone by when private capital was not as prevalent in the marketplace. Unfortunately for these investors, large hedge Funds and other Wall Street type investors have entered the market and competitive forces have driven down interest rates for all investors.

For those sponsors who make short term loans, they should be in a better situation as their loans will eventually come due, and their borrowers will be forced to either pay off the loans or accept a higher rate if the sponsor chooses to re-write the loan. They will not get caught up in an increasing rate market as they can adjust quickly. As long as there is a fairly large delta between what investors can achieve in >

Another variable that comes into play is when banks get skittish and hold back on lending. During a strong economy [and real estate market], banks tend to loosen their underwriting as much as they can and still stay within Federal guidelines; however, when the economy contracts, banks become more concerned about the ill effects of potentially troubled loans as they have to raise their reserve requirements and this hampers their ability to lend; at those times, banks will be very choosy and only lend to the most qualified of borrowers. The borrowers who normally could qualify for bank financing then find themselves having to go to alternative lending sources and this brings opportunity to the alternative lender. During these times, we should see a pick up in loan volume by the alternative lenders. This can also have the effect of driving interest rates higher as the demand for money [borrowing] starts to outweigh the supply of funds available, and the alternative lender should be able to command a higher rate on lendable funds. Many hard money lenders saw an increase in business during various economic instabilities in the lending arena. The Samp;L crisis in the early 1990s, the Dot Bomb of the early 2000s, and just after The Great Recession of the late 2000s provided quite a boon for the astute private lenders.

All in all, most alternative lending sponsors should have an increase in business over the next few years provided they keep prudent underwriting practices.nbsp;


Edwardnbsp;Brownnbsp;is in the Investor >
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Who's the Boss?

Buying or selling a home invites multiple players into your world. There are people you will meet and speak with and there are people involved youll never even know about. And because youre not exactly buying and selling a home every day, it pays to >

For example, have you heard the phrase, "Buy now The market is super-hot and you need to lock in these prices before they get too much higher" Or, have you heard the phrase "Buy now Prices are at rock bottom and the only way to go is up" Its essentially the same prod, just in different circumstances. This advice may certainly be right at the time or maybe not. You can get all the advice you want but remember whos boss...you are. Nothing happens until you flip the switch.

Sometimes, its best to take a step back and re-evaluate your goals. Do you really want to buy now? Are you comfortable with the proposed monthly mortgage payments? Do you understand all the closing costs involved when buying a home? You wont find very many agents who will tell you not to buy anything. They typically dont make very much income with that, right? But a good agent will certainly go over the pros and cons of the current real estate market and its vital that you pay attention.nbsp;

But your job at this point is to gather as much information as you can, without feeling rushed, then pull away and look at the prospect of buying a home in a new light. The new light is having the information you need in order to make a buying decision. Prior to this new venture, the information you got wasnt filtered. Perhaps you read something online or a friend, who had already bought a home, provided some first hand experience. Whatever the situation, youve now got the data needed and its up to you to decide to move forward.

If you feel rushed, let your feelings be known. Sometimes those in the transaction might misread you and think youre ready to sign a contract if only you found the right property when in reality youre in the explorationnbsp; mode. Dont be shy about expressing what youre truly thinking or at least leaning toward. Letting your feelings known upfront will make your path a little clearer to navigate. With the right communication, the process becomes so much easier and youll have fun instead of feeling like youre being pushed around. Always remember...youre the boss.


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The Worst Parts of Buying a House

Its normal to romanticize buying a house. Its one of the biggest things you do in life, and you may have dreamed of the time when you could become a homeowner. While theres a lot to be said for the upsides of purchasing a home, that doesnt mean its not a tough process.

Particularly in the current market, buying a house can be frustrating and demoralizing.

Sometimes, knowing to prepare yourself for letdowns and challenges can help you make a smarter decision overall.

According to homebuyers, the following are the worst parts of the process with that in mind.

Dealing with High Prices

Home prices are at historic highs right now. Certain markets are more affected than others, but almost across the board, this is true.

There are many reasons for the high prices, from inflation and supply chain issues to low inventory.

Its tough because what someone could have afforded in the market that existed just a few years ago isnt todays reality.

Avoiding Overbuying

In line with the high prices buyers are facing universally right now, you have to make sure that youre not overbuying. What happens to many people when they buy a home, particularly if its their first time, is that they let emotion take over.

You might have gone into the process with a clear budget, determined to stick with it.

Then, you get into the heated, competitive marketplace and fall in love with a home out of your budget.

You might develop an emotional attachment to that home, and you could spend either more than you can afford or more than its worth.

Keeping your emotions in check is one of the most difficult parts of buying a home for a lot of people.

You have to remind yourself repeatedly to stick with the facts rather than emotions.

Being in a Bidding War

Bidding wars are everywhere right now, as you might realize. Some people put in a full-ask, all-cash offer for a home and are promptly outbid. Its such a competitive marketplace, and the emotional component can again come into play.

If youre part of a bidding war, its easier to get caught up in whats going on at the moment and pay more than you should. You might theoretically be the winner, but you could be the loser because youre paying more than the house is worth.

There can be significant financial consequences of overpaying for a property, no matter what the market is like right now. Mortgage lenders only give loans based on the propertys actual value, not what you want to pay. Even if you bid the price up, that doesnt mean thats the loan youre getting.

At the same time, if you keep getting outbid, it can also make you feel frustrated and like youre never going to find a home. Plus, if youre renting, youre continuing to put money toward that.

The Paperwork

The paperwork that comes with getting a mortgage and buying a home is challenging.

Just how complex and burdensome the paperwork is can vary depending on the type of loan youre trying to get and your financial situation.

If youre self-employed, youre probably going to find the loan process is the worst part of buying a house. You have to show years of bank statements and tax returns.

As you wait to finalize your loan, you might feel anxious about everything. Your loan might not even be finalized until a few days before closing, and theres uncertainty as you feel like youre in limbo.

While there are certainly downsides that come with buying a house, the reward will be worth the sacrifice if you take your time and make a good financial choice.


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What is a Co-Op in Real Estate Terms?

If youre moving to an urban area, or you currently live in one, and youre in the process of finding a new home, youre likely to come across the term cooperative housing, or more frequently, co-op. A co-op is a type of homeownership structure thats most common in large real estate markets.

There are similarities between co-ops and condos, but also some differences.

The Basics

A co-op is often a type of homeownership youll see in places like New York City, in apartment buildings. A co-op is a building jointly owned by a corporation, and when you buy into one, youre not buying a piece of property. Instead, youre buying shares in a non-profit corporation. That non-profit then lets you live in the building.

If you buy an apartment or condo, you can think of it as buying whatever lies behind your door. Its one of many units of which you own one. nbsp;

A co-op has terms that say when you buy, youre a shareholder. The size of your apartment determines how much of a stake you have in the building.

When you live on the premises of the co-op, you have access to common areas that the corporation owns.

Everyone in the co-op shares in the responsibilities and costs of maintaining the property.

A board of directors governs a co-op, and they set by-laws. Those by-laws indicate how youre supposed to be a respectful inhabitant of the building, but since youre a shareholder, you also have some say in the running of the building.

The Logistics of Living in a Co-Op

When you buy a condo, again, the difference is that youre purchasing the ownership of an individual unit where youre going to live.

If the property goes up in value, you benefit from that because youre the deedholder. Condo residents tend to have a fair amount of autonomy about things like renovating and making upgrades.

Getting financing for a condo tends to be simpler than doing so for a co-op.

With a co-op, youre paying for the rights to live in the building, but you dont outright own it. That limits the changes you can make. Theres also a stringent application process that you have to go through when you buy a co-op, and you may have to do an interview with the board. Theyll also probably vet you financially.

The co-op as a nonprofit means the board governs your life within the building. For example, you might not be allowed to sublet your apartment.

When shared financial obligations arise, all the owners of the co-op are responsible.

How Do You Buy a Co-Op?

As you might imagine, buying a co-op can be a challenge because youre not actually buying a home. Its tough to finance a co-op since youre buying shares in a corporation rather than going through a real estate transaction. In many big cities where co-ops are common, despite the complexities of buying, it can be a cheaper option.

Rather than getting a mortgage, you would get a loan to buy shares in the cooperative, known as a share loan or co-op loan.

When you apply for this type of financing, the lender will usually look to see the basic operations of the co-op and the underlying mortgage. The lender will go over how the board is run and check for major planned expenses.

Big co-ops in certain areas may have existing >

Co-ops often let residents sell their shares to another buyer at the current market price. The current market price is also known as a market-rate co-op, but others are more restrictive if you want to sell.

When you buy a condo, by contrast, you get a mortgage like you would buy a house. Youre buying physical property, and then you share the common areas and help pay for the costs of maintenance >

Finally, a co-op board can require that someone has a particular net worth before they allow them to buy shares because theyre looking at the ongoing sustainable success of the corporation. A condo cant put these types of financial requirements in place. If a condo buyer can get a mortgage and buy the unit, theres nothing to stop them.


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Should You Refinance From An FHA Loan To A Conventional Loan?

For many first-time buyers, a Federal Housing Administration FHA loan is the prudentand often the onlychoice for a mortgage. With the flexible credit and low down payment requirements, an FHA loan makes it easier to qualify than almost any loan out there.nbsp;nbsp;

However, the ongoing private mortgage insurance PMI you have to pay when you have an FHA loan makes your monthly payments more expensive. And, unlike a conventional loan, which allows you to remove your PMI at a certain point, you can never get rid of it with an FHA loaneven when you have tons of equity in your home. So, with rates at historic lows, should you refi out of your FHA loan to a conventional loan? Were looking at the pros and cons.

Pro: You can get rid of private mortgage insurance PMI

FHA loans require certain provisions which sometimes place a heavy burden on a homeowners budget, often in the form of premiums paid for mortgage insurance, said PennyMac.nbsp;

That mortgage insurance on an FHA loan ranges from .451.05 of your home loan amount every year. On a 285,000 home, families could be spending more like 3,420 per year on the insurance, said Investopedia. Thats as much as a small car payment

That money is literally insurance for the lender in case you default on your loan. And, unfortunately, they continue to collect that insurance regardless of how far you pay down your mortgage balance or how much your home appreciates.nbsp;

To stop paying PMI on annbsp;FHA loan younbsp;will need tonbsp;refinancenbsp;into a conventionalnbsp;mortgage, said The Lenders Network.nbsp;

The solution: refinance to a conventional loan. Assuming you have enough equity in your home, you wont have to pay mortgage insurance on the new loan. Combined with a lower rate, your monthly payment will drop. Ifnbsp;younbsp;have paid down thenbsp;loannbsp;to 78 of the value of the homenbsp;younbsp;cannbsp;refinancenbsp;into a conventionalnbsp;mortgagenbsp;without having to pay PMI.

Pro: Mortgage insurance for conventional loans may be less expensive

If you refi to a conventional loan and still have to pay mortgage insurance because you dont yet have enough equity in your home, you may be able to benefit from the lower payments.nbsp;

The mortgage insurance fee on a conventional loan is lower than it is with FHA. FHA MIP rates are 0.80 1.00, said The Lenders Network. Many conventional mortgages have an annual PMI fee of 0.50. On a 200,000 home that is savings of almost 80 per month. While it is not a huge savings, the PMI will drop off once the LTV reaches 78. After dropping PMI, the savings is almost 2,000 per year. You can generally refinance out of FHA into a conventional mortgagenbsp;after 6 months.

Cons

With any refi, youre going to pay closing costs. When youre refinancing out of an FHA loan into a conventional loan, you can count on those costs ranging from about 1.5 to as much as 3. So, on a 300,000 mortgage, youre looking at about 9,000. There may be a few out-of-pocket costs involved in the process; Typically, youll be responsible for paying for an appraisal. The rest of the closing costs will come from your equity.nbsp;

When youre trying to decide whether or not to refinance, look at the cost to you, and determine how long it will take to recoup the money with your lower payment. If you wont break even for seven years and youre planning on moving in three, perhaps its time to reconsider whether you should refinance at all.nbsp;


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Ask the HOA Expert: Does Our Association Have The Right To Restrict Home Security System Signs?

Question: Does the homeowner association have the right to restrict home security system signs in the common area outside of the homes?

Answer: The HOA has the right to limit signs in the common area and sometimes what is placed in home windows. The main concern is curb appeal. Uncontrolled signage creates a cluttered look and reduces property values. Small security stickers on the window can and should be allowed.

Question: Should we include landscape items in our Reserve Study? How about insuring trees?

Answer: Its wise to include "Landscape Renovation" and "Treework" in the Reserve Study. All bushes and trees have a limited life. Bushes die and outgrow their location. While trees usually have a long life, they require corrective pruning that should be done every 3 - 5 years and is expensive. Hiring an arborist to do a comprehensive inventory and report of the trees also makes a lot of sense. If each tree is tagged and referenced in the report, maintenance can be easily tracked. Consistent corrective pruning will extend the lives of the trees and keep them looking good.

Insurance for non-income producing trees provides limited coverage for claims >

To avoid the possibility of insect infestation, use native trees that are hardy and pest resistant. If you already have those prone to insects, consult with an arborist for the proper preventive maintenance or cut them down and replacement them.

Question: Our board often spends money outside of the scope of our governing documents. What can we do to control this?

Answer: Why is the board spending money outside of its authority? Are the documents vague on what the homeowner association is responsible for? If this is the case and it often is, the board needs to establish clear guidelines on what the HOA will, or wont, spend money for. Its called "A Budget". If one isnt adopted each year, any expense is fair game.

Question: I dont feel the board spends money in our best interests. I protest by withholding payment until year end. Recently, I received a notice saying if I didnt pay, they would put a lien on my home. Can they do this? Am I wrong to protest this way?

Answer: I assume your concerns are for the HOA as a whole and not for personal issues. Withholding assessments in protest is not the way to get your point across and, yes, the board has both the right and duty to process collection on delinquencies. Your points should be made in writing to the board. Whether they act on them or not is another question. If they dont and you feel strongly that they should, I encourage you to run for election so that you can have a direct affect on the outcome. Its every owners duty to serve.

Also See:

  • Smoking Bans Being Enacted In Condominium Associations
  • Secret Tax Breaks In Community Associations
  • What Is a Reserve Study In Your HOA?

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Traits

Lets face it. Some people just dont mix together very well. From the get-go, they just rub each other the wrong way. Nothing really happened between them. No words were said but its just that, well, for some reason they just dont get along. Not necessarily in a hostile or mean way, but they dont get along nonetheless. There are probablynbsp; people in your expanded circle that fit that description. You dont hate them, you just get some sort of negative vibe from them. Maybe you can heal whatevers causing this but many times there is no real cause. It just is.

I bring this up because in the world of real estate finance when youre searching for a loan officer, you may run across this situation. You get a referral for a loan officer and you speak with that person over the phone or even meet face to face and after a few minutes its just not really clicking. In this scenario, do you really want to go through a financial transaction over the next couple of weeks with this person? Probably not. And thats okay. Youre the boss here and if something doesnt feel right, you should just move on.

Over the years when I was in the mortgage business, on a few occasions after a conversation, I had that same feeling with someone. We just didnt come together. It wasnt anything I said or the other individual said or did, our personalities just didnt go together. I admit that my personality traits include being very direct sometimes. Im one of those who really dont warm up the conversation before getting to the basics. I want to find out the need, identify solutions and provide answers. Thats it.nbsp;

There were times that Im sure I came across as being too blunt but for those that have that particular trait its not anything we do on purpose, its just business. There are also others that I get along with very well because they too are direct when communicating. In this scenario its very efficient and to the point.

When I found myself in such a situation, I would typically hand them over to another loan officer who would more closely match the applicants personality. Some people enjoy conversing with others about pretty much anything and everything but thats not me. I"m not being mean, just honest. My communication >

If youre ever in this situation, when you first begin speaking with a loan officer and it doesnt exactly click, its a pretty good idea to find a loan officer that you do feel comfortable with and communicate well. People certainly have different personalities and sometimes they dont mix. Its no fault of either individual, thats just the way it is. Its okay to move on and find someone else to work with in this situation.nbsp;

Youre going to be working with this person from start to finish, so finding someone you feel good about is paramount. Yes, you want competitive rates and fees and so on, but you want someone you can feel as if theyre your partner in all this.


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Are Letters to Sellers Illegal?

The housing market has been intense for buyers, to say the least.

The inventory of available properties around the country is low, and demand is high. That leaves many buyers scrambling to figure out how they can set themselves apart in the eyes of a seller. Not everyone can raise their offer above asking. Even if they do, theres no guarantee theyll get the property.

That means many buyers tend to use other tactics to score a home, including writing letters to a seller.

Its not inherently a bad idea, and its something that a real estate agent might recommend in some cases. The idea is that you can explain more about who you are and why you love the house. Many sellers have an emotional connection to their home, and they want to feel like someone else will enjoy it the way they have over the years.

At the same time, before you start writing a letter, check with your real estate agent because it could create a problem.

Oregon Bans Love Letters

During this past summer, would-be homebuyers in Oregon became prohibited from writing what was referred to as love letters to sellers.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a bill into law, which was the first of its kind in the country, telling sellers agents they have to reject this type of communication. The law went on to say that in general, there shouldnt be information transmitted between buyers and people making a bid on a home outside of the traditional offer.

Whats the Problem?

Many might be wondering what the problem is with a seemingly harmless letter explaining why youve fallen in love with a home.

According to critics, the letters can create fair housing risks.

They might contain personal information or characteristics about a buyer, such as their race or family status. That information could intentionally or unintentionally affect a sellers decision to accept or reject an offer.

National Association of Realtors Response

The National Association of Realtors NAR spoke out after Oregon took action banning letters to sellers. The organization said it wasnt aware of any situation where these letters led to legal action or lawsuits. NAR said in the statement that real estate transactions should use only non-discriminatory and legitimate criteria when decisions are made.

What Can Realtors Do If Clients Do Want to Write a Letter?

Unless its explicitly banned where you work or where your clients are buying a home, in most places, they can still legally write a letter to the seller.

As a real estate agent, its essential to educate them about what they can and cant include in these, however.

First, go over the details of everything your client should know about writing a letter, including the upsides and downsides. If youre working for a seller, you should let them know you cant accept letters as part of an MLS listing, and you need to remind your clients that whether or not to accept an offer should only be based on objective criteria.

If you have a client who wants to write a letter, dont help to draft it, in addition to not delivering it.

Dont read these letters, and document any offers received, as well as the sellers reason for accepting one over the others.

Overall, in most cases, theres not a legal issue with writing a letter to a seller unless it has some information that could be used in a discriminatory way. If youre a real estate agent, make sure youre up to date on everything you need to know about fair housing laws and your role if a letter is involved


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5 Outdoor Projects for a Beautiful and Fun Homecation Space

As the weather warms up, more families are starting to look forward to getting outside of the home to have some fun or just >

There are numerous projects that you can do to add some fun and recreation to your yard. The following 5 projects can help you maximize your space, improve your property, and increase your enjoyment of your space with the good weather.

Patio: Affordable and Versatile

When you think about your outdoor living area, your patio should be home base. Patios are one of the most versatile things to add to your yard in terms of enjoyment and use, as well as >

Your patio can be covered or open, have a fire pit or fireplace for gathering around in the evenings, host a grill and table, or be the base for a pool deck. You can even add bigger projects to the patio itself, like a hot tub, pergola, or outdoor kitchen. Basically, adding a patio adds a blank slate to your yard that can give you endless ways to customize it to your needs. Start with leveling and adding some pavers, then add furniture, lights, and a gathering place such as a fire pit or picnic table to start using the area right away.nbsp;

Project cost: Most homeowners spend around 4,000 for a living room-sized patio of 12 x 18 feet made of stamped pavers.

Pool: Perfect for Kids and Hot Climates

If youre planning on staying home all summer, a swimming pool may be a good investment. Pools can be tricky, as a large, inground pool needs a lot of space while an above ground pool doesnt add a lot to your homes value.nbsp;

However, any pool can add a great way to cool off on a hot summers day, and can give you a way to >

Project cost: The cost of building a pool varies greatly depending on the type of pool you choose. Above-ground inflatable pools start at 200, while you would pay around 20,000 for a plunge pool and 29,000 for an endless pool.nbsp;nbsp;

Court: for Sports Lovers

If youre a sports-minded family and you want to use your yard to play regularly, consider adding a sports court to your yard. Many basketball court materials can be used to create a more generic sports court - you can install hoops for a true basketball court, or put up a volleyball net or other game materials to get more use out of the space.nbsp;

Sports courts dont require landscaping or a lot of maintenance, which can be attractive for homeowners that want to use their space, but dont want to spend a lot of time watering, fertilizing, and caring for it in the long term.nbsp;

Project cost: Installing a full-sized basketball court costs around 30,000. For a more affordable option, you can have a half-court over concrete for 15,000.

Deck: for Enjoyment and Increased Home Value

Decks are a great addition to any home. Decks give you a place to >

Think about what things you would do on the deck before building to get the most out of the project. A deck built for entertaining might include a gas fire pit, built in benches, and a bar, while a deck made for the family might include a table, shade, and some built in swings underneath.nbsp;

Project cost: Homeowners usually spend 17,200 to 19,000 for a 16 x 20 composite deck.

Front Porch: for Trendy Curb Appealnbsp;

One of the biggest trends of the last few years has been the farmhouse. The modern farmhouse has commanded great prices at time of resale and has everyone clamoring for one. One of the things that every farmhouse needs and that helps make the >

Project cost: Homeowners spend around 21,440 to build a porch.

Enhance Your Home and Your Enjoyment this Season

These outdoor projects will not only increase your propertys appearance and value, theyll also increase your enjoyment in being at home. Whatever your familys idea of a good time is, its possible to add things to your home that can help you achieve your goals. Consider tackling one of these 5 projects and get more from your homecation.nbsp;


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8 Reasons You Can’t Sleep and Easy Fixes for a Good Slumber

Sleep is beautiful. But its also surprisingly challenging. Finding the right position, regulating your temperature, forgetting about the stressors of the day, shutting out the rest of the worldIs it any wonder we struggle to get in eight hours a night? Oh, who are we kidding? Most of us are lucky to get five or six.

These eight things are making it hard to get that shuteye. But theyre all also surprisingly easy to fix.

Outside light

Natural light is a huge selling point when youre buying a home and something youll enjoy during the day. But streetlights and other light pollution are not exactly desirable at night.nbsp;

People who live in more densely populated areas that are lit at night withnbsp;bright street lights or signs are more likely to report trouble sleeping,nbsp;suggests new research from Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center in California, said the Cleveland Clinic. People with high nighttime light exposure, for example, were more likely than those in low-lit regions of the country to be dissatisfied with their sleep quantity or quality, the findings showed.

A good window covering like blackout drapes can mean the difference between a restful sleep and a restless night, limiting the light that gets in so your natural circadian rhythm, which causes you to feel more alert or sleepy, depending on the time of the day, can do its thing.nbsp;

Inside light

Many a bedroom has a bright overhead light and nothing more. But that can mean a room that isnt properly lit for function or feeling. Knowing how to layer your lighting is the key to creating the best lighting your bedroom, said Y Lighting. This means finding the right balance between ambient, task, and accent lighting. By creating this balance, you will be able to create the lighting for any mood and any activity with the flick of a switch.

If your bedroom is lit from above and you dont want to change it, at least get a dimmer.nbsp;

The wrong color paint

Are there any colors you should avoid painting your bedroom walls? People with gray, brown, or purple bedrooms regularly slept unhealthy amounts of fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night, according to a new study, said Tuck. At 5 hours and 56 minutes of sleep, purple is the worst color for sleep. Its a mentally stimulating color, boosting your creativity and contributing tonbsp;more vivid nightmares. Gray is said to be depressing and uninspired, while brown is drab, gloomy, and anything but cozy. It tends to create a sense of restlessness instead of calm. On the other hand, Red is a passionate, energetic color that can increase your blood pressure andnbsp;inspire you to move faster. Neither of these are physical sensations that promote sleep.nbsp;

Your desk

Sometimes, we have no option but to incorporate a workstation in our bedroom. But doing so can cause unnecessary stress if you dont create a separation between your workspace and your sleep space. The more serene you can make your space, the more you can set yourself up for a good nights sleep.

Curio Cabinets and Display Furniture

Your bedroom should be quiet and serene, a place to >

Excessive noise

Outside noise can also keep you from getting to sleepor staying that way. You may not be able to do anything about the car traffic on your street or your noisy teenage neighbor, but there are some ways to mitigate the noise from inside your home.nbsp;

It may surprise you to learn that even when youre sleeping, noises can still benbsp;disruptive enough to wake you, said SleepScore Labs. Whats more surprising is these sounds dont even have to wake you to interfere with sleep, since the sleeping brain remains aware of sounds in the environment. Because of that, you might suffer from a restless sleep that leaves you tired because you did not spend enough time in deep and REM sleep, the deepest and most restorative sleep cycles.

Two viable suggestions for lowering the noise quotient: Get a white noise machine. White noise machines are a wise investment for those who struggle to sleep due to noisy sleeping environments. For example, those moving from a rural to an urban setting can benefit from white noise machines that cover sudden loud noises with a continuous sound. There are also pink noises, like the sound of steady rainfall, and brown noises, like the roar of a river, which work well, too. You can also consider modifying your bedroom layout. This involves moving furniture to optimal locations to reduce noise, adding sound-proofing panels to the walls where noise enters, and insulating floors, windows, and ceilings safely.

Watch the busy patterns

Yes, wallpaper is back. And it can look great everywhere, including on the walls of your bedroom. However, going with a busy pattern in what is supposed to be a restful space may end up keeping you up at night.nbsp;nbsp;

An uncomfortable bed

For sleeps sake, splurge on the good mattress. Isnt it funny how well spend a months salary on the fancy couch or the dining table that seats 10 and that we only use once a year, but when it comes to our bed, we cheap out? After all, the average American spends 11 hours a day lying on their bed thats nearly half of our lifetime, according to the New York Post.

An uncomfortable bed can keep you from getting to sleep, staying asleep, and getting restful, restorative sleepand that can have a real impact on our health, both physical and mental.nbsp;

Put some money into it. Your mattress doesnt have to cost as much as your car, but an investment in a good bed is an investment in your sleepand your health.


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Everything You Need to Know About Painting Stairs

Watch enough home improvement shows and youll believe you can do anything in 60 minutes or less.nbsp;Thatnbsp;includesnbsp;painting stairs.

What you dont see are the off-screen bloopers. You dont see how often the paint color doesnt look right with the wall finish.nbsp;And dont see how long the job really took.

Can we share a secret?

Painting interior stairs isnt the hardest home improvement job, but its not as easy as the Property Twins make it look. Before you sand down your stairs and slap a coat of paint on, read this post. Youll find out everything you need to know about stair painting. nbsp;

All About the Prep

Doing the prep work may seem tedious, but without it, the paint wont adhere to the wood.

Remove carpet and padding first, removingnbsp;any nails and staples left behind.nbsp;Get ready for lots of dust and debris carpets are messy and vacuum the area thoroughly.

Next, you sand the treads steps until you have a clean, smooth surface. You can use either a belt sander or sandpaper. Keep in mind youll need to sand the corners by hand.

Dont forget the risers and trim. Both need sanding before you start painting.

Grab your vacuum and a few damp cloths and get rid of the sanding dust.

Pick the Right Paint

When choosing thenbsp;paint and stainnbsp;for your project, you have an array of options.

For a weathered look, go with a light or medium tone stain. You could also choose a natural oil finish and leave out the stain altogether.

Not everyone likes the stained look. If youve decided to paint stairs instead of staining, using a porch and floor paint will give you a durable, slip-resistant finish. Youll also have a huge selection of colors

When selecting colors a dark color for the treads hides dirt. A light color for your risers adds a pop of visual definition. Consider color matching your tread and handrails and the risers to balusters.

Painting Stairs in Order

Yes, theres annbsp;order to painting stairs ideas. Of course, if you have a bit of rebel in you, do it in any order you like, but you may wish you hadnt.

If youre refreshing handrails, do them first, followed by the balusters.

Now, youre ready fornbsp;the steps and risers. Starting at the top of the staircase youll paint the underside of the nosing. Then paint the riser, followed by the tread.

Skip a step. Continue the process, skipping a step each time. Painting every other step lets you use the stairs why your paint dries.

Need a Stair Painting Professional?

While we cant share everything you should know about painting stairs in this short post, you should have an idea of the main steps youll take to complete the job.

If you prefer to enjoy the look of refinished stairs without doing the work,nbsp;call us today. Were happy to provide a free quote for your painting project.


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Know All the Numbers!

We get the weekly mortgage application numbers and the existing home sales numbers, and they are weaker than last year, no big surprise, but of course everyone has to start screaming Housing Bubble and creating all kinds of drama.

There was no surprise that refinances are down 68 year over year, but that means we are doing 32 of the business we were doing last year. I would have thought refinances would have fallen off much further than that.

Next, we see that existing home sales were down, and we are now looking to close fewer resales than last year if current projections hold true. So, at first look, this may be challenging information, but lets dig into it a little bit.

In 2021 it was estimated we had approximately 6.12 million resales. This was a record number of sales since 2006. The same 2006 when 30-year mortgage rates averaged about 6.41 and .5 points.

Now it is estimated that existing sales will come in at about 5.8 million units. This is certainly less than last year, but still higher than every year from 2007 to 2020

Purchase business remains solid. Even refinances are stronger than I would have thought given the dramatic change in rates.

The point is, as professionals, we must provide accurate information and guidance for those who still want/need to buy homes Great information and solid processes to quickly and easily move your buyer through the process to a QUICK closing will help you gather your fair share of the purchase business in your market

If you need help with systems or strategies, itsnbsp;


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Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen

Spring is officially here, which means you might be feeling a renewed sense of energy thats leaving you ready to get your home a bit more organized.

The kitchen is a good place to start your spring cleaning. Your kitchen is likely where you spend most of your time. Its functional but also a key gathering place. As a result, it also tends to get the messiest.

Spring clean your kitchen with these tips.

Start At the Top

You dont want to start at the bottom of your kitchen with your spring cleaning. If you do, youll get dirt on the surfaces youve already cleaned. To prevent this, start up.

That means dusting off the tops of your cabinets, your ceiling fans, and your light fixtures.

You can also clean any windows in your kitchen, take off curtains, and wash them. Dust the top of the refrigerator, and dust anything decorating your walls.

Wipe Surfaces

Your goal when spring cleaning your kitchen is to get every surface. That means countertops, tables, chairs, and the fronts of your cabinets and your knobs. Wipe your drawers and their knobs and polish the sinks and faucetsclean your appliances exterior surface, including the microwave, oven, and refrigerator.

Cabinets and Drawers

Our cabinets and drawers can become a catch-all in the kitchen throughout our daily lives.

Once youve cleaned the front surfaces of all your cabinets and drawers, you can work on the inside.

Work on one cabinet or drawer at a time. Remove everything in each. Clean the interior and use a degreaser, particularly on the ones around your range.

Throw away unneeded clutter.

Ensure you get the hinges because thats an area where greasy dust tends to gather.

Counters and Small Appliances

Your countertops should already be fairly clean since you wiped down surfaces earlier.

You can remove everything from your countertops and give them a deeper clean using a microfiber cloth and soap water.

Before putting any of your small appliances back on the counter, like mixers or toasters, wipe them with warm, soapy water.

Add some baking soda to your sink to scour it, and buff it.

Big Appliances

If you have a microwave, one way to loosen up tough, stuck-on food is to boil a cup of water and then let it sit inside for a minute. Wipe it down with a damp cloth. Clean your oven and stovetop and the inside and outside of your dishwasher.

Your refrigerator can be a project in and of itself.

You need to take every single item from your fridge to get started. You should throw away anything old, expired, or that you dont use.

Once everything is out, you can start cleaning every interior part, including the shelves, walls, and drawers. You can use soapy water made with dishwashing liquid.

Remove your drawers and shelves so you can clean those in the sink.

If you can, plan to do all this before your grocery shopping day.

When you add items back into the fridge, make sure that youre grouping like items together.

Consider using storage or produce containers in your fridge because it will help you keep things more organized and keep your food fresh for longer. You can eliminate packaging that takes up unnecessary space.

As you add items back to the fridge for your spring-cleaning session, the bottom shelf or drawer is best for meat because its the coldest.

Put butter and soft cheeses on the doors, because its warmest here. The middle is good for eggs and dairy like yogurt and milk.

You should do a similar cleanout of your pantry if you have one. Empty everything, clean from top to bottom, and throw away what you dont need. Then, you can start to reorganize the space with a clean slate.

Floors

Sweep and mop your floors, but make sure youre not just doing the visible areas. You want to get under appliances, rugs, trash cans, and planters. Get into the corners and around the edges of cabinets.

Finally, if you use any linens in your kitchen, you can change them out for spring or maybe add a few seasonal dishtowels for a pop of fun and color.


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What is a Certified Distressed Property Expert?

The Certified Distressed Property Expert or CDPE designation could be valuable if youre a real estate agent. If youre a buyer or seller, you might also need to know the benefits of working with these professionals.

An Overview of CDPEs

A Certified Distressed Property Expert is someone who earns a designation that allows them to help homeowners with options to avoid foreclosure, primarily through short sale execution. These real estate professionals can help clients avoid scams and identify the solutions that could work best for them.

For agents to earn the designation, they have to complete an online course and pay a fee. They also have to pay yearly membership dues to maintain an active membership.

The online training course focuses on the short sale process and the steps needed to handle distressed property transactions.

These professionals have an understanding of otherwise very complex issues.

The training material includes downloadable courses and coaching hours.

What is a Short Sale?

A short sale is what someone with the CDPE designation specializes in. These transactions are sales when a financially distressed homeowner sells a property for less than whats due on the mortgage.

The buyer is not a bank and is a third party. All the proceeds from a short sale go to the lender. The lender then has two options. They can forgive whatever remains on balance or get a deficiency judgment against the homeowner, which would require them to pay the difference. Theres a legal requirement for the difference to be forgiven in a short sale in some states.

Before the process of a short sale can start, the lender has to sign off on the decision to execute it. This is known as a pre-foreclosure sale. The lender needs documentation explaining why a short sale makes sense. The process cant occur without lender approval.

The sales are often long and require a lot of paperwork. They can take up to a year to process, but theyre not as damaging to a homeowners credit as a foreclosure.

CDPEs for Buyers

A buyer can benefit from working with someone who has the CDPE designation. They can help buyers identify distressed properties on the market. If youre a real estate investor or flipper or just looking for a good deal, having someone with first-hand knowledge of these properties can be a big advantage.

The CDPE expert can help you determine which of the available short-sale properties are most likely to receive lender approval.

With short sales, you have to remember that the bank doesnt have to approve an offer and the short sale request from the seller. Having someone who understands these transactions will help you identify the most viable opportunities and save you some otherwise wasted time.

How CDPEs Help Sellers

A Certified Distressed Property Expert is someone that, as a homeowner, you might turn to if youre having problems keeping up with your mortgage payments or you think in the next few months you might find yourself in that situation. The sooner you talk to someone, the better.

A CDPEs role is to evaluate your financial situation and help you find out the available options.

When you first meet with a CDPE, you explain why youre behind in your payments or why you expect you will be.

The CDPE will go over your income and expenses and learn how far behind you are on mortgage payments.

The only option might be to pursue a short sale depending on your situation. If so, the CDPE helps you get a short sale package ready for a lender. The package will detail your hardship, the current market value of your home, and your finances.

After the package is complete and youre moving forward, the agent can put your property on the market.


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What’s Homesteading?

Youve likely heard the term homesteading. Its something thats growing in popularity not only among normal people but there are plenty of social media influencers touting their off-the-grid life>

So what does it mean, and how does one become a homesteader?

The Homesteading Philosophy

While everyone might vary in how they approach homesteading, the general idea is that youre committed to being more self-sufficient. Depending on your goals, your home and living environment, and whether youre in a country or urban area, this can take on a lot of meanings.

If you live in a rural area, maybe you go as far as providing your electricity using water, wind, or solar power. If youre just getting started with becoming more self-sufficient, you might have a small garden and preserve some of your food.

Some homesteaders go completely toward the life>

Urban and suburban homesteads are offshoots of the concept, which well discuss more below.

The idea is that youre becoming more self-sufficient wherever you live. It doesnt necessarily mean you dont use any modern technology or that you dont have certain conveniences. You can do whatever works for you.

So why do people do it?

There is a diverse range of reasons.

Some people might simply like the idea. For other people, it can feel like theyre prepared for anything, and some people do it because theyre interested in a more sustainable and eco-friendly life.

Some people get involved in this way of life to dig out of debt, avoid new debt, and build their savings. A goal of people who are homesteading primarily for financial reasons might do so because they want to stop spending money needlessly on things they could do without.

From a health perspective, you can eat more locally-grown food when you homestead, including things you grow yourself. nbsp;

It can also be a good way for families with kids to have them get involved in household chores.

How Can You Be a Suburban Homesteader?

The term homestead comes with connotations of having a sprawling farm-like property, but that doesnt have to be the case.

You can homestead in the suburbs by making choices to be more self-sufficient.

Some people who participate in suburban homesteads find other people nearby who are interested so that they can form new friendships.

If youre thinking about adding livestock into the mix, you have to figure out what your municipal code says about this.

What About Urban Homesteaders?

Because of your job or other commitments, you might not be able to move out of the city where you live, but you could still make some of your homestead dreams come true even in an urban area.

You can start by taking a minimalist approach to life. Maybe you declutter your home and focus on the essentials. Go shopping at stores only when you have to, and spend less time consuming media that might encourage you toward consumerism.

If you dont have a lot of space to grow your own food, you can still have a container garden or grow your own herbs. You can learn how to make certain foods from scratch, like bread.

Urban homesteaders can make cleaners that arent toxic and hang their clothes to dry instead of using the machine.

Whatever your interests and goals, you can make the homesteading life>
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What To Do When An Appraisal Comes in Low

When someone is buying a home and theyre going to use financing in the form of a mortgage, they need an appraisal to cement the deal. Before a bank is going to extend credit, they want to make sure theyre not giving someone a loan thats more than the fair market value of the house.

Thats where an appraiser will enter the scene. An appraiser will give their unbiased opinion on the value of the home.

If the appraisal is less than what your offer is, then you may feel frustrated and even a little devastated.

This isnt an uncommon situation, however. One of the big reasons for contingency issues is the appraisal.

An appraisal goes over the condition of a property, and they have to be certified in the state where theyre working. Appraisers look at a wide variety of features like the year the home was built, zoning details for the neighborhood, construction details like the type of foundation, and the utilities and amenities.

An appraiser will come up with a report for the lender in around a week or so, but for VA and FHA loans, the appraisal report can take longer to finish because it has to be more detailed.

There are a lot of reasons an appraisal can come in low. A lack of comps can be one reason. For example, the market might be moving faster than appraisers, so home values in a hot market could be going up rapidly, but appraisals might not be matching that pace. Theres also an issue if for example there have been a lot of remodels in a neighborhood to bring the overall value of the comps up.

So what if your appraisal comes in low? What can you do?

Cover the Difference in Cash

If youre worried a pending sale wont go through, both a buyer and a seller have options.

The buyer might be able to make up for the difference in the appraised value and the sale price using cash.

The reason a lender even cares about the appraisal value is that it impacts the loan-to-value ratio.

In some instances, a lender wont let a buyer make up the difference in cash, so there could be another option here which is a buyer covering some of the closing costs on the sellers end.

Price Reduction

The simplest solution, when possible, is to reduce the price if it was priced too high. The lender will be happy, and so will the buyer and then the deal can go through. You have to think that if you let one buyer walk away over the issue, that theres certainly a high likelihood the next buyers lender could have the same issue.

Dispute the Appraisal

You dont have to accept an initial appraisal. That doesnt mean that your lender wont go with the first one, but its worth a shot to dispute it or to ask for a second one.

You should always ask for a copy of the appraisal report as a seller, so you can go over it and make sure there are no glaring mistakes.

Only a lender can technically demand another appraisal, and they may or may do that, but its worth trying.

Get Comps

You can ask the real estate agents who are working on the deal to create a list of comps that would highlight the justification for the sale price thats been agreed on. Once thats compiled, you can give it to an underwriter and ask them to review the appraisal.

Finally, aside from flat-out canceling the transaction, you might be able to negotiate and come to an agreed-upon middle point. For example, a seller might agree to pay some of the difference between the sale price and the appraisal.

There are options, but you have to find whats going to work for you, and if youre working with a good agent, they should be able to help you find a solution if an appraisal comes in low.


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Ask the HOA Expert: New Management Company VS Becoming Self-managed

Question: Our property manager does not do his job. He frantically sends violation letters and discusses the repair progress with the maintenance committee just prior to the monthly meeting. He claims to visit the property two or three times per week, however, no one seems to see him there. We are entertaining ideas of a new management company or of becoming self-managed. What do you think?

Answer: While you may have better options for management, I do not recommend self management unless your HOA has minimal financial, administrative and maintenance responsibilities. HOA managers typically are on call for emergencies, something volunteer owners are ra>

Self managed HOAs frequently have problems keeping accurate and timely books. Finances are the foundation of a homeowner association and should be treated seriously. If you decide to self manage, do yourself a favor and at least hire an independent bookkeeper to keep finances rolling smoothly.

Question: We record our board meetings and make them available to members. Some say we shouldnt. Any advice?

Answer: In general, recording isnt recommended because the speakers cant always be heard clearly or identified. Also, body language can totally change the context of what is being said. While many comments wouldnt or shouldnt find their way into written minutes, an audio recording picks up the good, the bad and the ugly and can cause unnecessary problems. Instead of taping, take accurate written minutes that reflect the business discussed and make them available to owners. All board meetings should be open to the owners that want to attend. This means holding the meetings in visitor friendly places to encourage attendance.

Question: What should a homeowner association expect to pay for a professional management company and what services does that include? Answer: The cost of professional management is based on the size and complexity of the property and the scope of work. For example, a 100 unit condominium with pool and clubhouse is more labor intensive than one without them.nbsp;

Question: Our property manager told the board at the last meeting that no more than two of us can meet at a given time. If three of us get together, we have to post the meeting because we have a quorum...Your input?

Answer: If the board is gathering to discuss and make decisions on HOA business, it qualifies as a board meeting and should be noticed to the homeowners. Emergency meetings sometimes need to be called. Lack of planning does qualify as an emergency. Hold meetings in a visitor friendly location to encourage participation. Open meetings and frequent communication promote trust.

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What to Know About Earnest Money

Earnest money is just one of the many terms to know when it comes to buying a home. Its something you might initially overlook, but not understanding earnest money can create roadblocks in your process to buy a home once youre ready to make an offer.

The Basics of Earnest Money

In simple terms, the earnest money is a deposit that you put down to show that youre serious about buying a house. You want to show the seller that you really do want the home, and earnest money might be anywhere from 1 to 5 of the total purchase price.

It helps sweeten your offer to a seller and shows them that you want to take the necessary next steps to buy their home.

Then, in exchange for the earnest money, the seller will take their home off the market. Theyll start to work to arrange things like inspections.

Earnest money goes into an escrow account while you wait on your closing. The escrow account is with either the sellers broker or title company, or an escrow company.

Theyre essentially secu>

How Much Earnest Money Should You Offer?

Again, earnest money is typically anywhere between 1 and 5 of the price you agree on with the seller to buy the house. Theres a lot of variance in this, though. For example, in some locations, you might do a fixed amount and in others you could pay a percentage.

In very popular housing markets, you can see very high earnest money deposits. Your real estate agent will help you know whats in line with your area.

Earnest Money Is Not a Down Payment

This can be an area of confusion for some buyersearnest money is not a down payment. Your down payment is fully separate from earnest money and is anywhere from 10-20 of your homes purchase price.

You need to make sure that when youre thinking about how much a house will be, youre adding up your earnest money and your down payment. Your earnest money is due when you make an offer, while your down payment and closing costs are due later.

Is It Refundable?

When you enter into a purchase agreement, it will outline contingencies. These are situations that are agreed upon where you can walk away from a deal and still get your earnest money back.

For example, you might have an appraisal contingency in case the appraisal is lower than the sale price.

Your real estate agent will help you decide the contingencies to put in your contract.

If youre in a highly competitive market, you might agree to nonrefundable earnest money. Thats very risky because if your sale falls through, the seller gets to keep your money.

If you break the terms of whatever your purchase agreement is or you decide you dont want to buy a house anymore, then the seller can keep your earnest money.

This is why its important to work with a qualified real estate agent. Theyll help you understand what you need to know before you sign anything because otherwise, you could end up giving up a lot of money that you potentially cant afford.

As a final note, earnest money isnt required. If youre buying in a market thats not very competitive, you may not need to worry about it. Its instead a good way to beef up an offer, especially if youre worried there could be multiple offers on the house you want.


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April Real Estate Roundup

Freddie Macs results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that "The combination of swift home price growth and the fastest mortgage rate increase in over forty years is finally affecting purchase demand. homebuyers navigating the current environment are coping in a variety of ways, including switching to adjustable-rate mortgages, moving away from expensive coastal cities, and looking to more affordable suburbs. We expect the decline in demand to soften home price growth to a more sustainable pace later this year."

30-year fixed-rate mortgage FRM averaged 5.1 percent with an average 0.8 points for the week ending April 28, 2022, up from last month when it averaged 4.42 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 2.98 percent.

15-year FRM this week averaged 4.4 percent with an average 0.9 points, up from last month when it averaged 3.63 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.31 percent.

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage ARM averaged 3.78 percent this week with an average 0.3 points, up from last month when it averaged 3.36 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.64 percent.


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Saving for a Down Payment When You Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck

A down payment is an important component of taking a step toward homeownership. Saving for a down payment is also the biggest obstacle that you probably face when you want to buy a home.

A down payment is the cash you pay upfront when youre going to make a large purchase. If you were going to buy a 350,000 home with a 10 down payment, youd need to have 35,000 in cash.

Then, your mortgage lender provides the rest of the money to buy the home, and you pay your lender back over time. There are a few exceptions to lenders requiring a down payment, such as VA loans, but generally, it is required.

Its recommended that you put at least 20 down if youre going to buy a house, but that can be a lot of money.

How do you save if youre living paycheck-to-paycheck? It is possible, but you also might have to make some changes.

Take the First Step

Even though you might feel overwhelmed about the prospect of saving money when youre ba>

One good first step is to open a savings account where youll deposit money thats specifically meant to go toward your down payment.

You might want a savings account that pays a bit of interest as well.

Create a Budget

You may be in a cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck that you dont necessarily have to be in.

If you can drill down into whats going out versus whats coming in, you might find that there are some ways you can save money even on your current income.

Really taking an honest look at your income versus your spending can be challenging and overwhelming because you may not realize how much youre spending on things that you dont need to be. Doing it is rewarding and valuable, though.

When you create a budget, include in it money that youre going to set aside every week or month that will go toward your down payment.

Even small contributions do add up over time if youre consistent and patient.

If youre not sure where to start with your budget, a lot of financial professionals recommend following whats called the 50/30/20 rule. This means that 50 of your income goes toward your essentials, such as your rent. Thirty percent goes toward life>

Cut Out Subscriptions

One of the best things you can do for your finances is to regularly evaluate what subscription fees youre paying and cut them out. It sounds simple, but the reality is if youre like the average American, you might be spending 237 a month on subscriptions. Thats a lot of money that could go elsewhere.

Go Over Every Bill Carefully

When youre working with a >

There are a few reasons for this.

First, you want to make sure there arent mistakes youre paying for. You might also find ways to pay less. For example, you could ask for a lower rate on your credit cards if you have a history of on-time payments, or you might be able to talk to your car insurance company about good driver discounts.

There are a lot of opportunities to save money on your bills, if you know where to look at youre willing to ask.

Add Income

Finally, once your budget is in order, its a good idea to add extra income to your life. There are so many ways to do this. When youre not working your full-time job, maybe you deliver groceries or work for a rideshare service.

It doesnt matter what it is, but when you add another stream of income, it puts you that much closer to your down payment.

Everything you earn from your secondary income source should go directly into your down payment savings account, so you arent tempted to use it on anything else.


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Should You Use a HELOC for a Renovation?

A lot of people are thinking about home renovations right now. You have different options to pay for these projects if youre not going to pay in cash. One option is a Home Equity Line of Credit or HELOC.

A HELOC is a way to borrow against your homes equity, and it provides flexibility. With that being said, because of that flexibility, you need to be careful to stay on budget when you use funds.

The following are some things to know about a HELOC, particularly if youre thinking about using it for a renovation.

How Does a HELOC Work?

With a HELOC, youre spending in a way thats similar to a credit card. You borrow up to a certain limit as defined by your lender. Then, you pay back whatever you borrow with interest. You can withdraw and make payments on whatever basis works best for you.

A lender gives you a draw period, which is the time you can withdraw money. When your draw period is ended, you may be able to renew the credit line.

If you dont or cant renew, you pay the outstanding balance either all at one time, or you do so over a repayment period.

HELOC lengths can run as long as 30 years.

The benefits of a HELOC and flexible repayment include the fact that you only borrow what you need, and many have no fees. The interest on a HELOC might be deductible if you use your funds for home improvements.

What Are the Risks?

While HELOCs can work well for funding a renovation, there are possible risks to be aware of before you borrow.

Since your home is your collateral, if you dont make the payments, you could lose your home. Typically a lender will try to protect against this by limiting borrowing amounts, but its still a big consideration.

A lender can also freeze a credit line or reduce it. Youll only see this usually if you havent made your payments or your homes equity changes, but its something to think about.

The interest rates on a HELOC are variable, and theyre tied to the prime rate. If there are changes in the market, you may end up paying more so that uncertainty may not be ideal.

How Does a HELOC Compare to a Home Equity Loan?

A home equity loan is another financial product often used to fund renovations and home projects.

A home equity loan also involves borrowing against the equity in your home, which is used as collateral. A home equity loan differs from a HELOC because its a lump-sum loan rather than a revolving line of credit. You pay the loan back over its life plus interest, and you make those payments based on a set schedule. Most home equity loans have a fixed interest rate, which alleviates the worry of fluctuating market conditions impacting interest rates.

When is a HELOC the Right Choice?

If youre deciding between a HELOC and a home equity loan, the loan might be better if youre certain of the cost of your project. If youre comfortable with a fixed monthly payment, a home equity loan could be the better option.

On the other hand, a HELOC might be right if you want a lot of flexibility in how much you borrow. Maybe youre not sure about the scope of your project or what your budget will be.

The biggest differentiators between the two will come down to first, flexibility, and second, certainty. If you want flexibility, consider a HELOC. If you want certainty, think about a home equity loan.


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Why You Should Replace Your Roof Before Selling Your Home

Are you thinking about putting your home on the market for sale? It doesnt matter if youve been living there for 50 years or five. You want to do everything you can to get the most from your initial investment. Find out why a residential roof replacement is one thing to consider to help get the most out of your house thats for sale.

New roof installation will help with the selling of your home for several reasons. You can increase the asking price, prevent potential buyers from trying to bargain with you, sell your home faster by improving the overall appearance, and avoid negotiation issues with lending companies.

Increase Your Asking Price After a Roof Replacement

You might have a price point in mind for your home based on what you paid for it, the work youve done already, and what its worth to you. That number can be increased significantly if you add a roof replacement to the work you do before you put a for sale sign out in front of your property.

Even though youre going to be spending the money initially on what a complete residential roof replacement costs, you will get all of that back. You can even add on extra because you took the time to have it completed. As soon as you mention "new roof" on the features your home has in the realtor sales listing, people will automatically be more attracted to it. Its one of the top factors that potential home buyers look at when deciding what house they want to settle on as their permanent residence.nbsp;

If you have ever looked at buying a new home yourself, you know that when you see houses that have roofs that are ten years or older, you arent going to be willing to pay top dollar. Anyone that has done their research knows that the age of the roof has a huge impact on the price a seller can put on their property. A new roof allows you to keep the price point a bit higher so you can get the most out of your investment.nbsp;

Save Time on Dealing With Roof Repair Negotiations from Buyers

Its human nature to try and get something for less than the asking price, especially when it comes time to purchase a new home. Its not just a couple of hundred dollars that buyers bid below what they see listed either.nbsp;

They will often look for features of the home like the age of the roof and try to take thousands off the asking price.nbsp; You put the value on your home, taking into consideration the age of the roof, but thats not how outsiders view it. A new roof installation is a big job and a significant investment. Buyers know when they are looking at buying a home with a roof that is ten years or older, they have some work ahead of them. That additional effort they will have to put in allows for a bit of wiggle room. You put the value on your home, taking into consideration the age of the roof, but thats not how outsiders view it.

Taking the time and spending the money to put a brand new roof on your home for sale is going to save a lot of time and headache.nbsp; The people looking at your home wont be able to use the age of the roof as a reason for you to lower what you want when the sale is final. If youre in a hurry to get your home sold as quickly as possible, asphalt roof installation will shave a decent amount of time off the whole process.

Speed Up the Sale Process with a Beautiful New Roof

There isnt much need to look at your roof on a routine basis and inspecting it for damages only happens a couple of times a year. However, when people are considering the purchase of their dream home, the roof is one of the first features that gets investigated. Nobody wants to move in and discover that there are holes or leaks in what they thought was their ideal forever home.

If a person sees an older roof, they are more likely to skip over the house as an option. People dont want to have to put major improvements into a home theyre just moving into. For most, new homeowners want to be able to pull the moving truck up, unload their things, and sit and enjoy everything they just committed to with the purchase of a house.

With a brand new residential roof installation in your area, the people that are simply driving by are going to see that you took the time to have the work done. They will slow down and want to take a closer look because youve taken care of the exterior. Inquiring minds will want to see the interior. The more that people are stopping to explore your property, the quicker youre going to get the final offer settled.

Keep Lending Companies Satisfied with Adequate Roof Repairs

You might not care about the age of your roof when you have your house up for sale. Youre ultimately not going to be living there anymore, so why worry about it. You may even get lucky and find a DIY buyer that has no issue with doing their own roof repairs. That all sounds great until you get to the point in the home buying process when the bank or mortgage company comes to do their own inspection of the property.nbsp; This is especially true in colder climates where often hail damage has a huge impact on roof degradation. For example, this last winter, there were record numbers of roof repairs in Fort Collins, CO due to consistent hail storms and the damage thereafter.nbsp;

When they see that residential roof repairs are required, they might refuse to approve the loan enti>

Instead of trying to sell your home as-is, consider the plethora of benefits that come along with doing a complete roof replacement or at least the necessary roof repairs before putting your "For Sale" sign out front. Youre chances of getting more money increase. You wont waste time dealing with negotiations from the buyers or requirements from the lending company. All in all, everything will go much more quickly because of the updated and gorgeous appearance a new roof gives your property.


James Elliot and his team of expert roofing contractors at Fort Collins Roofing Company have been helping homeowners through the consistent hail damage plaguing the area for over 4 years. His expertise is in their streamlined process of helping homeowners through insurance claims processes so that they can get a new roof as soon as they need it.


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Some Are, Some Aren't

When your lender sends you what the industry refers to as a good-bye letter, it means your loan is being sold. More specifically, the servicing rights are being sold. Servicing rights simply means who collects your mortgage payment on behalf of the owner of your home loan. Lenders need to be able to sell loans so they can regenerate cash in order to make more loans. Makes sense, right?nbsp;

If a mortgage company didnt have the ability to sell loans, theyd soon run out of money. So the act of selling a mortgage keeps the mortgage market healthy and liquid. But lenders must first follow certain rules when makingnbsp; a home loan in order for the loan to be in a position to be sold.

Some of those loan requirements are steadfast and some give the lender a bit of flexibility. For example, lets consider debt ratios. Lenders are required to prove affordability to make sure someone isnt borrowing more than they can handle. This is done primarily through the use of debt ratios. Most loan programs have two debt ratios, a housing ratio, or front,nbsp; and a total debt ratio, or back.nbsp;

A common front ratio is 31 for a particular loan program. This means the housing payment, including taxes and insurance, needs to be 31 of gross monthly income. A back ratio might be 38. But lets say the total mortgage payment comes out to a 35 ratio and the back at 42. What happens? Does the borrower have to pull back and borrow less or maybe pay discount points to lower the rate? Not necessarily.

The underwriter at the mortgage company, the person that approves the loan file, can make a personal judgment allowing the mortgage to ultimately be approved even though the front, the back or even both ratios are above the standard. When doing so, the underwriter looks at other positive factors within the file. A solid credit score might help an underwriter push the loan through or perhaps a well-estabished employment history. These compensating factors can be used to approve a loan even when the debt ratios are in fact a little high.

On the other hand, some guidelines are hard and fast. There is no leeway and the guideline must be followed or else the loan is stopped in its tracks. What sort of guideline might this be? One is occupancy. Lets say a couple is buying their first home. But they first want to buy a rental property. Sorry, but this cant be done.nbsp; it has to be an owner-occupied unit in this scenario. The lender has no authority to override such a requirement.

If, in such a situation the loan gets stopped, the loan officer will then work with the applicants and explain what needs to happen to get the loan application past the goal line. The applicants will be told what can be ignored and still get the loan approved and what has to happen before the loan can go any further.


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Should You Do Colored Cabinets in Your Kitchen?

One of the biggest trends in home design right now are painted or colored cabinets. Typically, kitchen cabinets are white or natural wood color. Now, however, a lot of designers and homeowners are moving out of the confines of these traditional cabinet color palettes.

If youre considering painting your cabinets, the following are some things to keep in mind and some trends to consider.

Take Into Account the Rest of the Room

Before you paint your cabinets, consider the rest of your kitchen, and if its an open-concept space, the living and dining room as well. If youre completely remodeling your kitchen, this isnt as much of a concern because you can build your color palette and design around the color of the cabinets.

If youre just doing a cabinet refresh, you do want to keep the rest of the design in mind.

For example, if youre going with a dark cabinet color, is it going to make the rest of the space too dark, or is there enough natural light to balance it out?

Sometimes a fun color can also work as a neutral, such as a shade of gray.

Dont Go Too Trendy

While the idea of having a fun kitchen cabinet color is appealing, be honest with yourself before you jump in. If youre someone who gets sick of things easily, you need to be careful. That mint green shade might seem perfect now, but will you still feel that way in a few months?

Its best if you choose a color that you can work around in other ways if you want a refresh in the future.

New Neutrals

As was touched on, you can still have a unique kitchen and cabinets that are a beautiful color while maintaining a neutral color palette. When it comes to cabinets, maybe you go for greige, which is a combination of gray and beige. Its chic and unexpected, but its still a neutral that gives you a lot of wiggle room if you want to change your design in the future.

Navy is also a beautiful color for cabinets that still is versatile enough to be used in different designs. Navy is a >

Even doing a warmer white as opposed to bright white gives your kitchen cabinets a distinct feel but keeps you in a zone thats easy to work around with the rest of your design.

Dark Colors

If you have enough natural light in your kitchen and you want something bold and dramatic, there are a lot of beautiful dark colors that are on-trend right now. For example, dark greens, dark grays, and even black are popular cabinet color options.

Theres a lot of depth and emotion thats created when your cabinets are dark.

The beauty of dark cabinets is also that they hide stains and spills, so if your kitchen gets a lot of use, dark cabinets can be low-maintenance.

Finally, if you want to go with something even more unique and colorful, like a bright green, balance it with neutrals elsewhere. For example, maybe you have an all-white kitchen, but your cabinets are your primary pop of color. You can also do a contrasting island thats a more unusual color, while the perimeter cabinets or white or neutral.


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Eight Signs It's Time To Move Up

The starter home. It was so cute and quaint and sweet when you bought it, right? But, that was before kids and dogs and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people.

Lets face it: Its probably time to move up. Lack of space is the No. 1 reason people start looking for a larger home. Families expand, life>

But running out of room not the only reason to consider moving up.

Youve got the equity

You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home, but, if your home has appreciated, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around. If youre the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind. But, for the rest of us, having equity in our current home means greater buying power to buy something bigger or get into a neighborhood we covet.

Youre at each others throats

Feeling cramped and living in clutter and hating that you dont have a space of your own or even a minute to yourself? That can create stress and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And, it goes against the general principle of homeownership since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary Having some extra room to spread out and yard for the kids and dogs to play in can make a real difference in the way your family functions.

Ask yourself if "your quality of life is suffering," said Unpakt. "This category can include many things: your ever-growing pack of dogs or cats who are driving you crazy. Your cascading piles of fabrics that you use for quilting, but just cant keep organized in your current space. The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, youre stuck on the couch. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life has taken a nosedive because your house is too small, well, the answer is pretty clear."nbsp;

The neighborhood is changingand not for the better

One of the reasons you may want to start looking at a new house is because your neighborhood is starting to evolve. Maybe there are new restaurants and bars that have attracted a different crowd or plans for a huge mixed-use project that, while great for the economic potential in the area, could mean more traffic than you want in your quiet little town. Even something like a change in the flight patterns from the local airport can get you thinking about that next home.

Remodeling is price prohibitive

A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary or wanted renovations would cost to your existing home. It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your home to get it where you want it - or get it into tip-top shape for a sale - is beyond what you want to spend. In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.

You dont want to over-improve for the neighborhood

The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the redone home would sit in your neighborhood. You dont want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because its overdone and considered overpriced.

"Weighing against renovation is the risk youll over-improve your home comparednbsp;with others on the block," said Bankrate. "When you are in a neighborhood that has starter homes and smaller homes, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect."

Everyone else has moved on

So, your kids were young and bicycles and basketball nets lined the street when you first fell in love with your home. At the time, it was everything you were looking for. But now, so many of those families have moved on, and the lively street you loved has turned rather sleepy. If youre still holding on to the memories of what your neighborhood once was, maybe its time to find one that better meets your life>

Youve crunched the numbers

Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase doable, you have to consider the monthly expenses, too. "Its not just the sticker price on the house; its thenbsp;long-term costs associated with it," said Realtor.com. "When you go up in square footage, you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance." And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.

You can make sure you can afford a move-up home without becoming "house poor" by "using onlinenbsp;affordability calculatorsnbsp;to figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.


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Ask the HOA Expert - Special Assessment Notices

Question: I am a real estate agent who represents condo buyers. As part of an offer, we negotiated with a seller to pay an outstanding special assessment to repair the decks. After my client closed the deal and moved in she was told the repair was only for the penthouse decks and not for her unit. Should I have gotten a copy of the special assessment notice? What can be done now?

Answer: Yes, you should have gotten a copy of the actual special assessment notice. Its not uncommon for special assessments to be used for selected areas of a building like you describe. It is a lesson in condominium ownership which is, while you may buy a unit in terrific condition, you also are buying a share of the entire condominium, some of which may be in terrible condition.

However, the bigger concern is why there was a special assessment at all. Special assessments are usually the product of poor planning. Most major repairs and replacements the HOA does are predictable. A reserve study done by a knowledgeable professional identifies all of common components that have a 2 to 30 year useful life, measures each, assesses each for condition, estimates the remaining useful life and the current cost for performing the repair or replacement of each when that useful life is used up. Further, the reserve study provides a Funding Plan which, if followed, systematically collects money usually monthly from all owners so that special assessments will never be needed.

So, does this homeowner association have such a reserve study? If so, is adequate money being collected to pay for future reserve expenses? If not, your client is in for a series of special assessments that will fall at unpredictable times. Welcome to the world of mismanaged homeowner associations. For more on this topic, see the Reserve Planning section of www.Regenesis.net

Question: Is it necessary for the board to divulge the name of a homeowner making a complaint about a rule violation to the homeowner who is in violation?

Answer: No, its not necessary and need not be included unless its >

Question: Many of our annual meetings do not have the required quorum to hold the meeting. Is it allowable for someone to make a motion to suspend the rule on quorum so that the meeting can take place?

Answer: Quorum requirements are dictated by the governing documents. Only an amendment to those documents by an appropriate vote of owner can change them. This amendment cannot be done "on the fly" at a meeting to circumvent the requirement.


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Can a Mortgage Be Denied After Pre-Approval?

When youre ready to buy a home, pre-approval is an important part of the process. You talk to a lender who will go over your situation and then give you a pre-approval letter. The letter helps determine your budget and how much of a monthly payment you can afford.

Lenders will look at some major factors before giving you a mortgage pre-approval, which include:

Debt-to-income ratio DTI
Loan-to-value LTV ratio
FICO score
Credit history
Employment history
Income

A pre-qualification isnt the same as a pre-approval, even though theyre sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably.

With a pre-qualification, you give a lender a general overview of your financial situation, primarily focusing on your income and debts. A lender then provides you with an estimated loan amount.

The lender doesnt verify the information you provide. Having a pre-qualification might help you personally to know what you can spend and get you started as you look for houses, but it doesnt carry any weight when you make an offer.

Below, we discuss what happens after a pre-approval and whether you can still be denied.

Information is Verified During a Pre-Approval

As mentioned, you provide a lender with your financial information to pre-qualify, but youre actually going to fill out your mortgage application for a pre-approval.

You provide your Social Security number, and your lender does a hard credit check. The lender will ask you to list your assets, debts, employment and income history, and bank account information.

A lenders primary goal during the pre-approval process is to ensure you can repay a loan.

The lender uses the information collected to calculate your LTV and DTI ratios during this time. These are part of how theyll determine the best type of loan for you and the interest rate.

Your final loan approval will come after an appraisal is done and the loan is applied to a property.

If youre pre-approved, your loan file goes to an underwriter. The underwriter also verifies your documentation compared to your application. They will make sure youre going to meet borrower guidelines for a loan program.

The Underwriting Process

Underwriting again is when your lender is verifying your home loan eligibility. The underwriter also works to make sure a property is going to meet the loan standards. Underwriters are the ultimate decision-makers, and they do have to follow strict guidelines, but they have some leeway in certain areas.

Underwriting timelines can vary, but initial underwriting approval can typically happen within 72 hours of a file being submitted. In rare cases, underwriting can take as long as a month.

Underwriters take a deep look at your financial situation. Once they review your file, theyll issue conditional approval. If youre conditionally approved, the underwriter says they think your loan will close even though you still may need to provide more information.

The last step for the lender is final approval, meaning you can close.

Can Your Mortgage Be Denied In Underwriting?

Although its fairly rare, a mortgage can be denied in underwriting.

There are a lot of reasons that an underwriter could deny a loan, including having too much debt compared to your earnings, a low credit score, or the appraised value of the home doesnt support the sales price.

Your loan officer should tell you why if youre turned down in underwriting. You can try to overturn their denial, and its not official until you receive a denial letter.

If you are turned down in underwriting, you can check with other lenders. Having one lender turn you down doesnt mean they all will give you the same answer. For example, some lenders have manual underwriting options to approve loans when other lenders cant.

To avoid being denied in underwriting, generally cleaning up your finances and making sure you arent trying to borrow more than you can afford helps. You can also make sure your loan application is complete and accurate. You want the lender to have a full picture of everything they need to decide, so there arent any surprises in underwriting.


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Just How Accurate Are Those Online Home Value Estimates?

If youve ever gone online to check out the value of your home or to make comparisons, you arent alone. Online home value estimators can be a handy tool in some cases, but you have to understand their limitations.

Zillows Zestimate is perhaps the most well-known estimator, but Redfin has one too.

Below, we talk about what you should know about home valuation tools, also known as automated valuation models or AVM.

What is an Automated Valuation Model?

AVMs are computer-driven algorithms and formulas that use basic property features paired with pricing trends and local market information to create a value range or an estimated value for a home.

There are some cases where a lender might use an AVM to quickly get a potential estimate of the value of a property.

All the AVMs use their own formulas and may pull data from different databases. As you might imagine, the estimates >

There are a lot of underlying assumptions made with an automated model.

For example, AVMs work on the assumption that all properties are in a similar condition to one another. Theres no way for these automated algorithms to consider if a home is in poor condition or if upgrades have been made.

Due to the fluctuations in the figures AVMs come to, lenders will set policies on whether theyll use them and, if so, which theyll use.

How Do Zillow Zestimates Work?

Zillows well-known Zestimates are based on what the company says is a proprietary algorithm. Zillow reports the estimates include data from public records and data users submit.

The company doesnt claim that theyre 100 accurate. If all the properties within a small radius are similar, the prices are more accurate because there are less likely to be major variances throwing off the algorithm.

If the estimates come from a neighborhood with older homes, theyre likely to be less accurate. Some homes will have been improved and maintained over the years, and others wont have been.

The accuracy of a valuation is measured using an error rate. An error rate calculates how often the algorithm is wrong. More specifically, how often the value of a property as measured by the AVM is very different from the sales price of a home.

The Zestimate gets within 5 of a homes actual sales price more than 82 of the time. Its within 10 of sales price more than 95 of the time and within 20 nearly 99 of the time.

That can sound pretty accurate at first, but its less impressive when you figure out how many tens of thousands of dollars these variances can represent.

The Zestimate median error rate goes up to nearly 7 for off-market homes. If a home hasnt been sold lately, theres not much data that an AVM can pull on it.

Over time, the algorithms tend to get more accurate. Zillow says that it will make offers to buy homes at their Zestimate price in some markets, or at least it did when Zillow Offers was operational, which it recently announced was closing down.

Realtor.com Offers Three Figures

Realtor.com takes a different approach when it offers online users home value estimates. The company pulls estimates from data provided by different companies it partners with. There are three estimates so that people can see the picture of how much their home is worth is more variable than what they might get from just one figure.

Redfin vs. Zillow

Redfin and Zillow are two competing tools for estimating the value of a home. They can sometimes give different figures for the same property.

Overall, Zillows Zestimate seems to be more accurate. The median error rate is a little lower than whats calculated for Redfin, including both on-market and off-market properties.

Redfin is very transparent, though, which is an advantage it has. Redfin provides a lot of information on how they get their figures.

You have to remember that while these tools might give you a general idea of how much a home is worth, theyre not the same as an appraiser.

Before a lender signs off on a home loan, they require an appraisal. Appraisers do a walk-through and then write a report. They will also include market data and comparable properties, so this will be much more accurate than what you see online.


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Should You Do Your Own Plumbing And Electrical?

With so many people working from home and spending their free time there as well, its no surprise that home improvement numbers are up. Do it Yourself renovations are more popular than ever, as homeowners look to make updates for their personal enjoyment and/or to improve the value of their home.

But while many of these homeowners had DIY skills long before the pandemic hit, or have improved upon and expanded those skills with more time to focus on home, there are still plumbing and electrical, most people say you should leave those jobs to the experts.

Gauging the danger

You could fall off a ladder while painting or put a nail through your thumb from a hammering mishap. But the potential danger >

An electrical malfunction is listed by the U.S. Fire Administration as one of thenbsp;top causes of house fires, said Hiller Plumbing, Heating, Cooling amp; Electrical.nbsp;

When you attempt to complete electrical rewires on your own you put your health, the health of others, and your property at risk. Completing electrical work is dangerous business. When completing electrical rewires electrocution, shock and fires could result. Items in your home also have higher voltages. The higher the voltage, the more dangerous the project.

Faulty wiring can also cause firesa particularly dangerous situation since they can also go undetected for years leaving the homeowner to feel like it was a DIY job well done until a fire occurs. In the U.S. alonenbsp;51,000 house firesnbsp;are caused by electrical components and systems. These fires cost a total of 1.3 billion dollars in property damage per year.

While you might be able to learn how to lay flooring or tile a backsplash by watching a video, a licensed electrician is required to complete 600 hours of instruction covering safety, electrical circuits, and blueprint reading, followed by supervised, on-the-job training.

Similar problems can arise from DIY plumbing situations.

One of the biggest risks of doing your own plumbing repairs is the possibility of compounding the problem and making the problem much worse, said Marietta, GA-based Plumb Doctor. Even simple repairs done incorrectly can cause serious problems. The problem may be something minor like a leaking pipe that eventually causes water damage to your home, or it could be something more serious like a burst pipe. Either way, you run the risk of not only failing to take care of the original plumbing issue, but causing more problems that youre unable to address properly.nbsp;

Is it legal?

If you do want to tackle your plumbing or electrical, youll want to make sure you know whats required first. In both cases, you may need to obtain a permit.nbsp;

The legality of do-it-yourselfnbsp;electrical worknbsp;varies from state to state, and from one municipality to another, said The Spruce. Always call your local permit office for the answer that pertains to you.

While it may seem tempting to skip the permit process to save time and money"Some municipalities charge 1 of the total construction costs to issue the permit and may take up to six weeks to complete the inspections, said Investopediadoing so could backfire.nbsp;

For the do-it-yourself remodeler, obtaining permits is expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating, but for many home renovations its necessary and required. Many homeowners sidestep the permit process as a result. According to thenbsp;National Association of Realtors, failing to obtain the proper permits may complicate or cancel the sale of your home. During thenbsp;home inspectionnbsp;or appraisal process, homeowners may have to show that the proper permits are on file. If the lending bank learns that remodeling work was done without securing permits, it will likely not make the loan.


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An Insider’s Look at the Reality of Home Staging

When it comes to home staging, there are typically two buyer camps: The first thinks its a waste of money and doesnt want to pay more to potentially make their home more attractive to buyerseven if their real estate agent says theyll make it up and then some; The second realizes the value and is willing to make that smart investment.

But just how do those two contingents break down? The National Association of Realtors NAR 2019 Profile of Home Staging provides some insight. The study separated the study into three categories: Buyers Agent Perspective, Sellers Agent Perspective, and Buyer Expectations. Were taking a closer look at the key points.

Home Staging: Buyers Agent Perspective

According to the study, 40 percent of buyers agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers view of the home and 83 percent of buyers agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Buyers agents also noted that, Staging the living room was found to be most important for buyers 47 percent, followed by staging the master bedroom 42 percent, and staging the kitchen 35 percent.

Home Staging: Sellers Agent Perspective

Per the study, 28 percent of sellers agents said they staged all sellers homes prior to listing them for sale, and 13 percent noted that they only staged homes that are difficult to sell. The living room 93 percent, kitchen 84 percent, master bedroom 78 percent, and the dining room 72 percent were the most commonly staged rooms.

Sellers agents offered to do the staging 26 percent of the time, and, The median dollar value spent on home staging was 400.

Buyer Expectations

Call it the HGTV effect: A median of 10 percent of respondents cited that buyers felt homes should look the way they were staged on TV shows, while 38 percent of respondents said that TV shows which displayed the buying process impacted their business.

The real effect of staging

Now that we have the buyers agent, sellers agent, and buyers perspective, lets look at some real data about staged homes. According to the NAR study, 22 percent of sellers agents reported an increase of one percent to five percent of the dollar value offered by buyers, in comparison to similar homes, and 17 percent of respondents stated that staging a home increased the dollar value of the home between six and 10 percent. 28 percent of sellers agents stated that there were slight decreases in the time on the market when the home is staged, while 25 percent reported that staging a home greatly decreased the amount of time the home was on the market.

Of course, time on market and sales prices can range depending on a number of factors, like age of home, location, square footage, and price point. The Real Estate Staging Association has found, overall, that staged homes sell 73 faster, on average, than their non-staged counterparts, said The Mortgage Reports.


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Is a Bigger Down Payment Always Better?

When youre buying something major with a loan, namely a house, you likely need a down payment. A down payment covers part of the purchase price.

Your down payment plays a role in whether you are approved for a mortgage at all. Down payments also impact your interest rate and the borrowing costs throughout the life of your loan.

Your down payment usually comes from your savings. The down payment should be a percentage of the total purchase price, and then you pay off the rest of the loan by making installment payments.

If youre buying a house for 200,000 and want to make a 20 down payment, its 40,000. You would pay that when you close on your home loan. Then, youre actually only borrowing 160,000.

There are arguments to be made both for and against making the biggest down payment possible. There are also pros and cons of a larger down payment.

The Pros of a Bigger Down Payment

If you save the cash and want to make a bigger down payment, one big benefit is reducing how much youre borrowing. When you have a smaller loan, youre going to pay less in total interest over the life of your loan.

Youll also get lower payments each month.

You can use a loan calculator to see how much a larger down payment has the potential to affect your payments.

With a bigger down payment, you may qualify for lower interest rates. A lender likes a bigger down payment because theyre taking less risk on you. If you default on your loan, they see that theyll be able to get more of their money back.

If you can manage to make a down payment of at least 20, you can avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

Since down payments that are larger mean a smaller monthly payment, youll have less stress in this area.

There are opportunities to borrow against assets such as your home. The home is an asset that serves as collateral. The larger your down payment is, the sooner you build equity in your home. Then, you can borrow against that equity.

Why Would You Make a Smaller Down Payment?

While theres a significant upside to maxing out how much you put down on a home, its not always the right situation. We tend to see a bigger down payment as always being better. In reality, it depends.

One reason to go with a smaller down payment is that it can take a long time to save that much cash. You may not want to wait so long to buy a house.

Even if you do save enough money for a large down payment, it can create stress to think about putting the money into a house. If you were to face an unexpected situation and had less of an emergency reserve, it could create problems.

Another reason a lower down payment could make sense for you is if you want to make any repairs or potential upgrades to the home after you buy it.

Most lenders will set a minimum down payment required, and you can always pay more than that.

Down payments will show a lender youre serious and that youre putting yourself on the line as far as taking a risk but think about your personal financial situation before


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Comparing a Pre-Approval and Pre-Underwriting

When youre shopping for a new home, there are a lot of steps in what can be an overwhelming and frustrating process.

Much of that frustration comes from getting mortgage financing.

Before you start to look for a home, you might decide to get pre-qualified or pre-approved. Theres also the option to go through pre-underwriting. When the housing market remains competitive and bidding wars are common, there are some benefits to pre-underwriting, which we detail below.

What is Pre-Qualification?

Pre-qualifying for a loan is a single step on your way to a pre-approval. Pre-qualifying is part of a process when you work with a lender, and they decide the type of guarantee they will give you.

Then, once you get pre-qualified, you would move on to get pre-approved or pre-underwritten.

You dont have to pre-qualify to do either of the next possible steps, but some people like to do it as their first step because they learn more about what they can afford.

Its a soft pull when you do a pre-qualification before your pre-approval. The pre-qualification wont hurt your credit score, which is important for your interest rate and whether youre approved at all.

A lender needs a few basic things for a pre-qualificationyour monthly income, estimated monthly debts, and the down payment you can make.

The figure a lender gives you as a pre-qualification amount is estimated and based on assumptions of your financial situation. The number indicates a figure that a lender might be willing to give you, but its not definite.

Youll probably need an actual pre-approval letter to start working with a real estate agent.

Getting a Pre-Approval

While a pre-qualification is a figure the lender would likely lend you, a pre-approval has the terms detailed for their theoretical offer. The details in a pre-approval will include your allowable purchase price, interest rate, and lending fees.

It would be best if you went into the process to shop for a mortgage with a pre-approval in hand. This is what a real estate agent wants to see to work with you to ensure youre not wasting anyones time.

The pre-approval letter is a tentative amount of money that a lender says they would loan to you.

A pre-approval will require a hard pull.

Your lender will probably ask for quite a bit when doing a loan pre-approval. Theyll want to see all your financial information, including your tax returns and bank statements for at least the past 60 days. Theyll want retirement and brokerage statements for the past 60 days, totals for your monthly debt payments, and documents >

Then, Theres Underwriting

Underwriting is the last step to actually getting financing to buy a home. After submitting everything to get approved for a loan, your loan goes through underwriting. This is a time when the lender will closely assess all of your finances to determine their risk level in extending you a mortgage.

This is where youll probably run into most of the delays.

Pre-underwriting is when you can go through this step before youre under contract for a house. An underwriter can do everything on their end that would otherwise come after your offer is accepted before you start looking at properties.

With pre-underwriting, sellers know youre someone they can have confidence in. Youre showing them there are limited opportunities for surprises or things to go wrong.

In a competitive market, pre-underwriting can be a tool that makes you a very strong candidate, and it can help you win a bidding war, even more so than offering more money.

Pre-underwriting is a somewhat new option, so your lender may not offer it, but if so, it can take some of the stress off of you and make it more likely you will get the home of your dreams.


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What Does a Real Estate Agent Do for Sellers?

When youre trying to sell your home, you want to work with a realtor who will help make things as simple for you as possible while getting you the maximum amount of money.

If youre a >

A great sellers agent should be adept at what they do in multiple areas, including the following.

Pricing

One of the best things a sellers agent can do for you is to price your home properly. Pricing a home is often described as an art and a science.

Agents use science in terms of comparable sales that happened recently. The art comes in through knowing the local market, having experience, and also using a sense of intuition.

A good agent can find that price balance that will keep a seller competitive and make sure theyre getting what their home is truly worth.

An agent will create a comparative market analysis, which reviews homes nearby that are on the market, pending, or might have recently sold. Your agent might have sold some of these comps or maybe, at a minimum, have seen them in person.

You may also be wondering how an agent is any better than an online valuation model. In reality, there is a >

Great sellers agents are also present for inspections and appraisals to ensure theres no spinning from the buyers agent. For example, if an inspector says a house will need a new air conditioning unit in five years, the agent for the buyer could spin this by saying the A/C is bad. A sellers agent can prevent this from happening.

Getting Your Home Ready

Getting a home ready to hit the market is about more than cleaning it up. Listing agents know how to maximize what you can get for your property.

A listing agent can go through and find improvements you need to make, and they can also recommend people who can help you get them done.

Before you make any of the improvements your agent suggests, theyll go over the return on your investment you might expect.

Along with repairs that could be needed, the agent can stage it if needed. Staging can include removing anything unnecessary from furniture to clutter. The agent will know how to help potential buyers visualize themselves in the space and picture their belongings there.

Once your home is picture-perfect, your agent can hire a photographer to take professional photos.

Marketing Expertise

A skilled sellers agent will be great at marketing. They know what buyers are looking for and how to get your home in front of them and make it appealing.

Your agent showcases your home on the MLS and social media. They also do traditional marketing like open houses and distributing flyers.

Screening Buyers

Trying to sell a home is time-consuming and stressful enough without dealing with unqualified buyers. Your agent will work on your behalf to ensure no one is wasting your time. Even a buyer who is truly interested in your home might not have the financing.

Agents are earning money through a commission, so its in your best interest and theirs to screen out and eliminate unqualified buyers.

Your agent can work only with pre-approved buyers who have already gone through a financial verification.

Overall, a good sellers agent can offer you a lot of value, and many of the things they do you cant or perhaps wouldnt want to do yourself.


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Updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2022


An Insider’s Look at the Reality of Home Staging

When it comes to home staging, there are typically two buyer camps: The first thinks its a waste of money and doesnt want to pay more to potentially make their home more attractive to buyerseven if their real estate agent says theyll make it up and then some; The second realizes the value and is willing to make that smart investment.

But just how do those two contingents break down? The National Association of Realtors NAR 2019 Profile of Home Staging provides some insight. The study separated the study into three categories: Buyers Agent Perspective, Sellers Agent Perspective, and Buyer Expectations. Were taking a closer look at the key points.

Home Staging: Buyers Agent Perspective

According to the study, 40 percent of buyers agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers view of the home and 83 percent of buyers agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Buyers agents also noted that, Staging the living room was found to be most important for buyers 47 percent, followed by staging the master bedroom 42 percent, and staging the kitchen 35 percent.

Home Staging: Sellers Agent Perspective

Per the study, 28 percent of sellers agents said they staged all sellers homes prior to listing them for sale, and 13 percent noted that they only staged homes that are difficult to sell. The living room 93 percent, kitchen 84 percent, master bedroom 78 percent, and the dining room 72 percent were the most commonly staged rooms.

Sellers agents offered to do the staging 26 percent of the time, and, The median dollar value spent on home staging was 400.

Buyer Expectations

Call it the HGTV effect: A median of 10 percent of respondents cited that buyers felt homes should look the way they were staged on TV shows, while 38 percent of respondents said that TV shows which displayed the buying process impacted their business.

The real effect of staging

Now that we have the buyers agent, sellers agent, and buyers perspective, lets look at some real data about staged homes. According to the NAR study, 22 percent of sellers agents reported an increase of one percent to five percent of the dollar value offered by buyers, in comparison to similar homes, and 17 percent of respondents stated that staging a home increased the dollar value of the home between six and 10 percent. 28 percent of sellers agents stated that there were slight decreases in the time on the market when the home is staged, while 25 percent reported that staging a home greatly decreased the amount of time the home was on the market.

Of course, time on market and sales prices can range depending on a number of factors, like age of home, location, square footage, and price point. The Real Estate Staging Association has found, overall, that staged homes sell 73 faster, on average, than their non-staged counterparts, said The Mortgage Reports.


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Is a Bigger Down Payment Always Better?

When youre buying something major with a loan, namely a house, you likely need a down payment. A down payment covers part of the purchase price.

Your down payment plays a role in whether you are approved for a mortgage at all. Down payments also impact your interest rate and the borrowing costs throughout the life of your loan.

Your down payment usually comes from your savings. The down payment should be a percentage of the total purchase price, and then you pay off the rest of the loan by making installment payments.

If youre buying a house for 200,000 and want to make a 20 down payment, its 40,000. You would pay that when you close on your home loan. Then, youre actually only borrowing 160,000.

There are arguments to be made both for and against making the biggest down payment possible. There are also pros and cons of a larger down payment.

The Pros of a Bigger Down Payment

If you save the cash and want to make a bigger down payment, one big benefit is reducing how much youre borrowing. When you have a smaller loan, youre going to pay less in total interest over the life of your loan.

Youll also get lower payments each month.

You can use a loan calculator to see how much a larger down payment has the potential to affect your payments.

With a bigger down payment, you may qualify for lower interest rates. A lender likes a bigger down payment because theyre taking less risk on you. If you default on your loan, they see that theyll be able to get more of their money back.

If you can manage to make a down payment of at least 20, you can avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

Since down payments that are larger mean a smaller monthly payment, youll have less stress in this area.

There are opportunities to borrow against assets such as your home. The home is an asset that serves as collateral. The larger your down payment is, the sooner you build equity in your home. Then, you can borrow against that equity.

Why Would You Make a Smaller Down Payment?

While theres a significant upside to maxing out how much you put down on a home, its not always the right situation. We tend to see a bigger down payment as always being better. In reality, it depends.

One reason to go with a smaller down payment is that it can take a long time to save that much cash. You may not want to wait so long to buy a house.

Even if you do save enough money for a large down payment, it can create stress to think about putting the money into a house. If you were to face an unexpected situation and had less of an emergency reserve, it could create problems.

Another reason a lower down payment could make sense for you is if you want to make any repairs or potential upgrades to the home after you buy it.

Most lenders will set a minimum down payment required, and you can always pay more than that.

Down payments will show a lender youre serious and that youre putting yourself on the line as far as taking a risk but think about your personal financial situation before


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Comparing a Pre-Approval and Pre-Underwriting

When youre shopping for a new home, there are a lot of steps in what can be an overwhelming and frustrating process.

Much of that frustration comes from getting mortgage financing.

Before you start to look for a home, you might decide to get pre-qualified or pre-approved. Theres also the option to go through pre-underwriting. When the housing market remains competitive and bidding wars are common, there are some benefits to pre-underwriting, which we detail below.

What is Pre-Qualification?

Pre-qualifying for a loan is a single step on your way to a pre-approval. Pre-qualifying is part of a process when you work with a lender, and they decide the type of guarantee they will give you.

Then, once you get pre-qualified, you would move on to get pre-approved or pre-underwritten.

You dont have to pre-qualify to do either of the next possible steps, but some people like to do it as their first step because they learn more about what they can afford.

Its a soft pull when you do a pre-qualification before your pre-approval. The pre-qualification wont hurt your credit score, which is important for your interest rate and whether youre approved at all.

A lender needs a few basic things for a pre-qualificationyour monthly income, estimated monthly debts, and the down payment you can make.

The figure a lender gives you as a pre-qualification amount is estimated and based on assumptions of your financial situation. The number indicates a figure that a lender might be willing to give you, but its not definite.

Youll probably need an actual pre-approval letter to start working with a real estate agent.

Getting a Pre-Approval

While a pre-qualification is a figure the lender would likely lend you, a pre-approval has the terms detailed for their theoretical offer. The details in a pre-approval will include your allowable purchase price, interest rate, and lending fees.

It would be best if you went into the process to shop for a mortgage with a pre-approval in hand. This is what a real estate agent wants to see to work with you to ensure youre not wasting anyones time.

The pre-approval letter is a tentative amount of money that a lender says they would loan to you.

A pre-approval will require a hard pull.

Your lender will probably ask for quite a bit when doing a loan pre-approval. Theyll want to see all your financial information, including your tax returns and bank statements for at least the past 60 days. Theyll want retirement and brokerage statements for the past 60 days, totals for your monthly debt payments, and documents >

Then, Theres Underwriting

Underwriting is the last step to actually getting financing to buy a home. After submitting everything to get approved for a loan, your loan goes through underwriting. This is a time when the lender will closely assess all of your finances to determine their risk level in extending you a mortgage.

This is where youll probably run into most of the delays.

Pre-underwriting is when you can go through this step before youre under contract for a house. An underwriter can do everything on their end that would otherwise come after your offer is accepted before you start looking at properties.

With pre-underwriting, sellers know youre someone they can have confidence in. Youre showing them there are limited opportunities for surprises or things to go wrong.

In a competitive market, pre-underwriting can be a tool that makes you a very strong candidate, and it can help you win a bidding war, even more so than offering more money.

Pre-underwriting is a somewhat new option, so your lender may not offer it, but if so, it can take some of the stress off of you and make it more likely you will get the home of your dreams.


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