Month: November 2015

Signs You Are Buying In The Right Neighborhood

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  • It meets points on your neighborhood checklist
  • You hear good things about the area and like what you see when spending time in the neighborhood and visiting surrounding businesses 
  • You see signs of home improvement such as nice landscaping, fences, decks, patios, etc. Home improvement efforts are usually indicative of pride in home ownership.
  • There are neighborhood watches/meetings: This is a sign that the community is close knit. Try attending some of these gatherings to learn more about the area and to determine if it’s a good fit for you.
  • Crime numbers are low
  • School scores are high: Schools are rated according to certain criteria such as standardized testing and those ratings can be seen at sites such as GreatSchools.org
  • Ensure the area meets your needs for at least 5 years: Maybe you are a young couple without kids right now but what if you decide to have a family in a few years or you change jobs? It’s a good idea to choose an area that will be able to accommodate such changes.
  • Homeownership is strong: Areas with high homeownership rates are generally stable.
  • Houses sell quickly
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10 Helpful Hints For Moving With Pets

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Moving day is very busy with a lot on the To Do List, but don’t forget your pet! There are a few things you can do to make the move go well for your canine friend:

  • Make sure your pet’s tag is current: Your pet’s ID tag should include your phone number, new address, and cell phone number.
  • Vet records: If you are moving far enough that you need to get a new vet, be sure to get your pet’s records from your old Veterinarian. 
  • Stash medication and food with you: In the event of an emergency, it’s important to be prepared with the bare essentials of what your pet needs. 
  • Create a safe zone: Keep your pet away from all of the craziness and set up a cozy place for them to hang out such as a bathroom.
  • First Aid: Be sure to have a few basic first aid supplies on hand in case they are needed. Suggestions include gauze, towels, bandages, 3% hydrogen peroxide, and your vet’s phone number.
  • Car safety: The safest way for your pet to travel in the car is always a crate, but if that’s not possible then use a restraining harness. Put some favorite toys and maybe a blanket with your pet so they are comfortable. Never leave a pet unattended inside the storage area of a van or an open truck bed. 
  • If flying: Be sure to check with the airlines about requirements or restrictions about flying with your pet. If flying may make your pet upset, consult with your vet about ways to reduce anxiety and stress.
  • New vet/animal hospital: If necessary, find a new place for your pet to receive medical care. Ask your current vet to recommend a new provider in your area and/or talk with other pet owners to get suggestions.
  • Help your pet adjust to your new home: As soon as possible after moving, put out all of your pet’s items including food, water, toys, etc. Keep windows and doors closed as your furry friend may try to make a run for it. 
  • Explore your new locale: Once you find a new vet, find out if there are any special laws in the area regarding pets or any concerns about diseases such as heartworm. Seek out dog parks, pet stores, and other amenities that will help make you and your pet feel at home.
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Adding Value With Home Renovations

Herald News Home-Life

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  • Kitchen: Homeowners usually spend a lot of time in the kitchen so an updated kitchen is very desirable to most buyers. A dated kitchen, even if the rest of the home is updated, can take away from the home’s value. Sellers can expect to get back between 60% to 120% of their kitchen remodel investment. 
  • Paint: One of the cheapest ways to renovate a home is to paint spaces with neutral and modern hues that brighten up a space. If low VOC paint is used, the home can be advertised as eco-friendly which is looked upon favorably by many buyers.
  • Bathroom: Putting in an additional bathroom is a great investment. More than one bathroom is a great selling feature especially in older homes that may have only had one bathroom.  Finding space for another bathroom can be hard, but consider closets, areas underneath stairs, and taking some space from other rooms. When looking for a space, keep in mind that half baths need at least 18 square feet and full baths need 30-35 square feet.
  •  HVAC system: Many homebuyers would like to buy a home that has a newer heating and cooling system since those systems are expensive and once they are replaced they usually last for years. 
  • Illumination: Adding light to a home makes a huge impact and goes beyond just overhead lighting and accent lighting. Task lighting such as lights underneath cabinets is a good choice as are skylights and sun tubes that bring natural light into spaces.
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Ikea Study

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The huge Swedish retailer studied 4,000 US consumers, both male and female heads of household, between the ages of 25-54, to find out what matters most in a home. Here are a few things they found:

  • Comfort: 95% want their home to be comfortable-not just with cushy furniture but they want a ‘feel good’ vibe in their home so that they can relax and connect with loved ones and friends.
  • We don’t show off: Only 1% of those surveyed wanted their dwelling place to reflect their wealth and success.
  • We adore living rooms: That could explain why open kitchens are popular; homeowners don’t want to be closed off from their favorite room.
  • We crave bigger kitchens: Many of those polled want more storage in the kitchen and more counter space as well.
  • Technology in the kitchen: 27% say they use technology in the heart of the home to listen to music, use a computer, or watch TV while cooking or relaxing.
  • What’s under the bed?: It seems as though many of us want more storage in our bedrooms as well; 54% said they store items under the bed.
  • We desire to save energy: If the opportunity was there, 98% said they would purchase an Energy Star-rated appliance. Americans are also starting to move away from incandescent light bulbs by switching to LED bulbs (43%).
  • Going green: An enormous 71% of Americans report that they recycle at home and 28% want to create their own solar power.
Does this study accurately reflect your attitude about home? What do you think?
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Mortgage Terms Defined


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  1. GFE and HUD-1:  GFE stands for good faith estimate and is a document for borrowers listing estimated costs of the mortgage loan including points (if any), lender’s origination fee, title insurance, attorney fees, etc. HUD-1 refers to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Once the mortgage closes, the actual costs of the loan are reflected on a HUD-1 form.
  2. DTI: Debt to income ratio, which is found by dividing the borrowers monthly bills by monthly income before tax, and then finding a percentage, is used by lenders to determine how much a borrower can afford to pay each month. 
  3. LTV: LTV stands for loan to value and is one way for lenders to assess the risk of a loan. The loan to value ratio is the mortgage divided by the purchase price or appraised value of the home. Borrowers with an LTV of less than 80% usually get the lowest rates since they are seen as less of a risk.
  4. RESPA and TILA: The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) are the two main federal legislations that regulate mortgage lending to consumers. For example, RESPA requires lenders to provide borrowers with a GFE within 3 days of applying for a loan and the HUD-1 form prior to or at the closing. TILA requires lenders to give borrowers clear terms and costs for a loan.
  5. PMI and MIP: PMI stands for private mortgage insurance and it is paid by the borrower if a down payment of less than 20% is made or when the borrower has less than 20% equity in a refinance. MIP is for mortgage insurance premium and this is paid on loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. 
  6. ARM: An adjustable-rate mortgage is a home loan where the interest can change. These loans usually begin with a lower interest rate than fixed loans, however, the borrower can end up paying more than if they had a fixed rate loan.
  7. HELOC: A home equity line of credit lets homeowners borrow cash against the home equity. Loan to value ratio is often used to determine the credit limit and many times a HELOC will have a variable rate.
  8. VOR, VOM, VOD, VOE, and form 4506-T: When applying for a loan, lenders will need to verify facts about your personal finances. The process will usually involve some or all of the following forms: VOR or verification of rent, VOM or verification of mortgage, VOD or verification of deposit, and VOE or verification of employment. Borrowers can also be asked to provide Internal Revenue Service Form 4506-T which gives lenders transcripts of tax returns.
  9. PITI: PITI is the monthly mortgage payment total including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance costs.
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Why Do I Need A Realtor?


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Realtors stand out from the crowd in the real estate industry. Not every person selling homes can call themselves a Realtor. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors and they follow a strict code of ethics. Realtors also possess a greater knowledge of the process of buying and selling a home. Considering that buying and selling a home is such a big life event, don’t you want someone who is truly an expert in real estate and maintains the highest level of professionalism? Dawn Dause is a certified Realtor and is truly an expert and a top professional in the industry. Below are several more reasons why using a Realtor is so important:

  • Realtors can help you navigate the decision on how much to spend.
  • Your Realtor has access to hard to find properties-Not every home that is available is actively advertised. 
  • Realtors can help you determine which property is right for you by providing objective and informative facts on each home.
  • Realtors have the skills and experience to negotiate on your behalf.
  • Assistance with inspecting the property-Realtors can recommend professionals to ensure that the home you are considering is free of major issues.
  • Finance options-Your Realtor can help you sort out different financing options available to you and can provide you with a financial professional to assist you.
  • Closing-Realtors guide you through the closing and make sure that everything goes well.
  • Asset to home sellers-If you are selling your home, Realtors are able to provide you with current market information as well as information about competing homes in your area.
  • Marketing-Your Realtor will advertise your home both to the public as well as to other agents. Dawn Dause has a team committed to getting your listing out to the public using several different platforms, including social media.
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Thinking Ahead About Refinancing


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Below are a few ways to prepare yourself to be ready to refinance if the opportunity is ever there:

  • Make a good down payment: In order to get the very best mortgage terms, it is likely necessary to put 20% down. A sizable down payment also increases your chances of being able to refinance later on.
  • Be aware of prepayment penalties: These penalties often go away over time, however, they may make it difficult to refinance early on in the life of the mortgage.
  • Keep on top of your credit: If you are looking to refinance your loan, chances are you will need to qualify again, especially to obtain the very best rates.
  • Take good care of your home: Refinancing lenders will want an equity cushion between what your home is worth and how much you are borrowing. Don’t let the value of your home decrease due to poor maintenance. 
  • Consider the right loan: If you start with a 30 year loan, you should probably look at 30 year refinance rates. Once you make more principal payments, refinancing to a 15 year loan may make more sense.
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