5 Signs It’s Time To Buy A Home

August 22, 2014

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Although renting has become a popular option for everyone from Millennials to retirees, buying a home is still an important financial milestone for many Americans. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, renters make up about 33% of U.S. households, but the majority – 67% – own their homes. Although renting has its perks, many homeowners say there’s nothing quite like owning something you can truly call your own. Experts weigh in on five tipping points that often inspire renters to take on a mortgage and sign on the dotted line. For example, you want control of your surroundings and environment. If you find yourself wanting to put in a swimming pool, remodel your bathrooms or make other substantial changes to the property, it’s a sign you should be looking to buy. If you want to live in a specific neighborhood, it may be time to put down roots, says James Roche, CEO of Houseplans.com. “If you want your children to be in a particular school district or you want your family to live in a specific part of town, then it’s time,” he says. [Read this article]

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Strategies For Setting A Price For Your Home

August 22, 2014

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In residential real estate, the asking price is often as much about psychology as it is reality. Michael Seiler, professor of real estate and finance at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., said that most home buyers don’t realize that setting an asking price is primarily a negotiating tactic. “When you set a list price, you’re sending a signal to the market,” he says. Mike McCann, a real-estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Fox & Roach in Philadelphia, says pricing can be “a delicate balance.” Most sellers overestimate the worth of their home, he says, and some agents will start with a too-high price to avoid hard feelings. Others agents may start high just to get the seller’s business or, conversely, they’ll price too low for a quick sale and commission, he adds. Most agents say that getting sellers to start with a realistic asking price is one of their biggest challenges. No one claims to fully understand the psychology of pricing. But some common practices have emerged. [Read this article]

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5 Things To Look Out For When Buying An Older Home

August 22, 2014

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If you are buying a home that’s getting up there in years, whether it’s 300 or merely 30, you can stumble into problems. “The 1950s, 60s and even 70s houses can be deceiving,” says Rob Anzalone, co-founder of Fenwick Keats Real Estate in New York City. “They share many of the same problems [as really old homes] but just appear to be newer.” Here are some common problems with older homes that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. Termites, known for chewing through wood, flooring and even wallpaper, are certainly a problem for owners of older homes. They may not build them like they used to, but that’s not such a great sentiment when it comes to your home’s windows. “Typically, the older windows are single-pane windows,” says Anzalone. “They aren’t energy-efficient and don’t hold in the heat. There are often leaks, and the panes and sills are often rotting.” If you have an old heating system and old windows, Anzalone says, that can triple your heating bill. [Read this article]

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For Older Couples, House-Hunting Begins With Soul-Searching

August 18, 2014

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Figuring out when and where to retire can be a conundrum for anyone, but especially so for couples. Whether they have been married for almost 50 years, or living together for 20, life partners or husbands and wives don’t always have the same ideas about retirement. When they have different timetables or preferences, one may have to wait for the other, or one may even retire and relocate for part of the year before the other is ready. After you have spent years living one way, deciding on a new lifestyle requires research, getting to know your spouse or partner better and being willing to compromise. Couples often need to reconnect and explore what is important to each spouse or partner as they face retirement. If you are thinking of retiring, here are some guidelines from experts. [Read this article]

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Tips For Millennials Looking To Secure A Mortgage

August 14, 2014

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Buying a home is the most expensive purchase most people will make in their lifetime. And for millennials saddled with record student loan debt and underemployment in a tight lending environment, the prospect of becoming a homeowner may seem unobtainable. But that’s not necessarily the case. “Millennials should think about [homeownership] now because they should educate themselves on the process and understand what’s required in the approval process,” says Arlene Allert Maloney, senior vice president at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. For millennials looking to buy a home now or in a few years, knowing the nuances of the market and their own personal finances can make all the difference in maximizing their mortgage potential. Millennials need to review their credit history, report and score to have a sense of how attractive they are as a borrower. “This could impact how much money you can borrow and what you’ll have to save for that down payment, and your interest rate,” says Maloney. [Read this article]

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Experiencing dynamic business growth, a rapidly expanding staff, and the need to respond quickly to inquiries for insurance quotes, Brian Dixon knew he needed a helping hand. The vice president, agency manager of North American Advantage Insurance Services (NAAIS) got that assistance and more with the July 22 release of his newly remodeled website: naadvantage.com. The website offers customers the ability to request personalized quotes for a number of services such as homeowners insurance for single-family homes, multi-family homes, landlord coverage, and renters coverage as well as coverage for automobiles, motorcycles, boats, trailers, flood, and excess liability coverage (umbrella). For buyers purchasing a new home from Lennar, there’s a bonus. As a subsidiary of homebuilder Lennar Corp., NAAIS is the preferred insurance solutions provider for Lennar homebuyers, and its agents have calculated the necessary coverage needed for each specific home well in advance. [Read this article]

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3 Ways To Save On Your Home Office

August 13, 2014

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Coming up with a heaping stack of cash to put towards your home office might seem overwhelming. The good news is that it’s also unnecessary. When getting started, it’s a good idea to pinpoint where to put your money for setup and get bargains by knowing where to shop for office supplies. If you’re starting from scratch, put your first efforts and money towards items that matter most. Start by getting the bare essentials that you need and then identify what will help you work most effectively, organizational expert Alejandra Costello suggests. Once you are set up to work well, spend less by purchasing office supplies strategically. You can save a bundle and be your best productive self. Here are three more specific strategies on how to stay motivated while spending less. [Read this article]

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Selling Your Home: 5 Design Trends You May Want To Avoid In Staging

August 12, 2014

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Stagers are embracing some of the latest home design trends in freshening up homes for-sale. But some trends, they’re thinking twice about incorporating. “If you’re too trendy, you run the risk of not being able to sell a home for the top-dollar you want for it,” warns stager Patti Stern with PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating in Cheshire, Conn. “When you stage a home, you want it to appeal to as many buyers as possible.” Staging in trendy fabrics, colors, and finishes may offer up buyers a feeling that the home is up-to-date and move-in-ready. But getting too trendy can also backfire, particularly if it’s too personalized, stagers say. For example, wallpaper is gaining popularity once again in interior designs. Wallpaper can add more personality to a room – but maybe too much for homebuyers envisioning moving in their own belongings. Instead, many stagers are sticking with paint. [Read this article]

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How Important Is A Perfect Lawn When You’re Selling Your Home?

August 12, 2014

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A perfect lawn is very important when selling your home, because curb appeal is crucial, said Suzanne Katz, a real estate saleswoman at Sotheby’s International Realty, in Greenwich, Conn. “A good lawn is an inexpensive way of making the whole exterior – which creates the first impression when someone pulls up to your house – look appealing,” she said. But before undertaking the work of restoring your lawn, said Frank Rossi, an associate professor of horticulture at Cornell University and self-described “turf guy,” you should consider the context: “You want it to fit in with the neighborhood.” In many established neighborhoods with old homes and mature trees, he said, “the lawn is a component, but not a dominant one, in the landscape.” In newer developments, however, lawns tend to play a starring role and therefore require more attention. [Read this article]

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How Much Waiting To Buy A Home Could Cost You

August 9, 2014

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If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home now or delaying your purchase until next year, you’ll want to pay attention to this: The house you can afford today may be out of reach a year from now due to rising interest rates and home price appreciation. To put a dollar figure on it, Zillow applied next year’s forecasted home values and a 1 percentage point interest rate increase to the median home price in 35 metros around the country, then used that to calculate the difference in mortgage payments. The results may surprise you. “More often than not, buyers do not understand the profound effect of rising interest rates on affordability,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “Many buyers associate a 1 percentage point interest rate change with a 1 percent change on a piece of clothing or the price of a car, when in fact they are very different.” [Read this article]

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