Consumer Real Estate News

    • Moving? Plan Ahead to Make It Stress-Free

      21 September 2020

      The real estate market is hot, hot, hot. If you are among the many American families relocating to a new home, organization is key. Professional movers offer week-by-week tips to help make your move hassle-free.

      • Six to eight weeks before the move - Make a list of what you will keep, sell or donate. Plan a garage sale and/or schedule a donation pick-up. Notify schools and/or medical providers. Begin buying or collecting moving boxes, tape, markers and bubble wrap. If you will be using a mover, start getting quotes.
      • Four to six weeks out - If you are moving from a rental, notify your landlord. If you will be doing your own packing, start packing non-essentials, such as extra linens, dishes and glassware. Notify utilities to start the process of closing out service at your old address and starting at your new one.
      • Three weeks out - Strategize food-use. Plan to deplete your pantry and freezer so you will need to move as little food as possible. Complete change-of-address forms for the post office, credit card companies and banks. Order new checks and address labels. If your home and/or car are insured, arrange to transfer coverage to your new residence. 
      • Two weeks out - If you are doing your own packing, get serious. Box up everything but the bare essentials and be sure everything is labeled, not just with contents, but the room where it’s to be unloaded. Keep valuables, like jewelry or important papers, in a safe place so you can transfer them yourself.
      • One week out - If your old place or your new home needs thorough cleaning, make arrangements for it. Properly dispose of anything that should not be moved, such as old paint, gasoline or propane.
      • Five days before the move - Confirm the date and time of your move with your moving company. Pack an essentials kit with medicines and any other items you will need when you arrive at your new home 
      • The day before moving - Clear and clean out the fridge, freezer and pantry. Put all items you will be transporting in one place. 
      • On moving day - Point out anything fragile to your movers. Be there as the truck is loaded. Sign the bill of lading when you are satisfied that all is accounted for. Do a final sweep of your home, checking every room, cabinet and closet.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Are Energy Efficient Mortgages a Good Idea?

      21 September 2020

      Anything that lets you save money on a mortgage is probably a good idea, as long as there are no strings or hidden fees attached.

      That’s why ever since energy efficient mortgages (EEM) were introduced in 1992, thousands of homeowners have saved money on utility bills simply by financing the cost of adding energy efficiency features to their homes. 

      An energy efficient mortgage is easy to use, federally recognized and can be applied to most home mortgages—plus it is available whether you are buying, selling, refinancing or remodeling your home. Homeowners with lower utility bills will have more money in their pockets each month and can even afford to allocate a larger portion of their income to housing expenses.

      Additionally, the money can be used to finance energy improvements to make an older home more efficient, comfortable and affordable, which increases the potential resale of the home.

      A laundry list of upgrades includes replacing windows or doors, installing solar technologies or replacing older heating systems, cooling systems and lighting with a more environmentally friendly solution.

      For people buying a home who want to take advantage of the program, the FHA requires that you make at least a 3.5 percent cash investment on the property based on the sale price, and all work must begin within 90 days of closing. The total amount of your mortgage is based on the value of your home plus the projected cost of energy-efficient improvements.

      Another EEM option is for the lender to allow higher qualifying ratios for borrowers who will occupy a property meeting certain standards for energy efficiency. When the home has been built or retrofitted in conformance with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) standards for 2000 or later, then the lender may “stretch” the borrower’s qualifying ratios.

      Benefits derived from the EEM will vary from one house to another and your lender will be your best source of information on what EEM benefits you may obtain.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Make Your Family Room a Fun Room

      21 September 2020

      Family rooms are changing and becoming a more active space. A simple setup with a sofa and TV is fine, but if you really want your family to spend some quality time together, take your recreation room or refurbished basement to a new level with these ideas.

      Home Theater
      Movie nights at home can come close to replicating the movie theater experience—without having to leave home, waiting on long lines for popcorn or dealing with chatty audience members who kick your seat. If your family loves flicks, consider a giant screen, a projection system and stadium-seating.

      Table Games
      So much of what we do these days involves technology, but there are great joys to be taken by playing games that have been around for ages. A pool table is a great option, but it’s a game that requires a lot of skill. Other, more fast-paced options include foosball, shuffleboard, air hockey or dome hockey. One thing to keep in mind, these games can get expensive, so be sure to pick one everyone in the family likes and will get lots of use.

      Bring the Arcade Home
      Pinball machines are an absolute blast.  It’s a game that’s simple to play (if hard to master) for everyone in the family. Or perhaps you’d like a classic arcade video game like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Galaga or Donkey Kong in your home. You can even find consoles that have multiple games.

      Let the Music Play
      Put the digital playlist aside and bring back classic ways to enjoy music. Jukebox machines are stylish and enhance the look of a family room while providing a fun way to listen to your favorite tunes. And vinyl records are back in vogue. Set up a turntable in your family room and have fun shopping for records. You can find lots of used disks at bargain prices at stores, yard sales and online.

      And when you’re done, you’ll have a perfect space for family fun—and great parties as well.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Why You Should Consider Getting a Home Warranty in Addition to Homeowners Insurance

      18 September 2020

      If you own a house, you need homeowners insurance to pay for repairs or stolen belongings. Many people believe that homeowners insurance will cover any necessary repairs, but it actually applies only in limited circumstances. A home warranty can provide protection in other cases. 

      What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
      Homeowners insurance will pay for losses caused by a covered peril, such as a storm, fire, theft or vandalism, up to the policy’s limits. Depending on the coverage you choose, your policy may cover replacement cost, which is the amount of money required to purchase a new identical or substantially similar item, or actual cash value, which takes depreciation into account.

      What Does a Home Warranty Cover?
      A home warranty is not insurance, but rather a contract that a homeowner signs with a home warranty company. It will pay to repair or replace a broken appliance that is not covered by a separate manufacturer’s warranty. 

      A home warranty may cover major systems, such as HVAC, electrical and plumbing, as well as major appliances, such as a refrigerator, stove, oven, washer and dryer. Many companies offer basic plans with limited coverage and allow homeowners to add optional coverage for an additional fee. A home warranty may only pay to repair or replace appliances or parts in certain circumstances, and a broken appliance will not necessarily be replaced with one that was made by the same manufacturer or that has the same features.

      Home warranties often exclude coverage for appliances or systems that weren’t well maintained. If you bought a house and the previous owner didn’t take care of something, a home warranty might not cover repairs even if you performed all recommended maintenance after you purchased the house.

      Who Makes Repairs?
      Some warranties allow homeowners to choose a repair company, while others work with a network of service providers. When a homeowner files a claim, the home warranty company sends a local contractor to the home to inspect the problem, decide whether repairs are required and covered by the warranty and complete covered repairs. 

      How Much Does a Home Warranty Cost?
      The cost of a home warranty depends on the type and size of the home, the location and the coverage chosen. The homeowner must pay a service fee when a contractor comes to inspect a problem, whether the issue is covered by the warranty or not. If two different types of contractors, such as a plumber and an electrician, are needed to complete repairs, the homeowner may have to pay a fee for each.

      Is a Home Warranty Right for You?
      Even if you have homeowners insurance, there are a lot of things it won’t cover. A home warranty can protect you from large and unexpected repair bills. Before choosing a home warranty, research several companies and find out what each of their planscover and how much the premiums and service fees would be so you can make an informed decision.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Ways to Utilize Your Basement

      18 September 2020

      If your home has a basement, there are many things you can do to make use of the extra space. From simple storage to a functional living space, finished or unfinished, the possibilities are endless. 

      Here are five ways you can utilize your basement.

      Apartment
      Whether your basement is already finished or you plan to remodel, turning the space into a guest or in-law apartment combines functionality and value in your home. Include a full kitchen or a kitchenette, as well as a bathroom. If possible, a separate entrance would be ideal, especially if you plan to rent it out, which can help cover mortgage payments or other home expenses. 

      Game Room
      Adding an air hockey table, foosball table or other games is a great way to make use of this space. Create a pool room with comfortable seating and a bar for a fun and luxurious place to relax. Bring in classic arcade-style games, like PacMan or a pinball machine, for a nostalgic and kid-friendly hang out.    

      Den
      If you’re looking to create more of a family space, a den is a great choice. Dedicate this to your family as a space where you can come together, relax and bond. Add a projector for movie nights and a stack of board games for a family night in. Even use your den to host parties, watch big sporting events or celebrate holidays without taking over the main living area upstairs.

      Studio
      Are you or someone in your family an artist or musician? If so, you can turn your basement into a studio. Bring in whatever materials you may need, from easels and paint to recording equipment and soundproof walls. With this private space, you can dedicate yourself to your art whether it’s a career or just a hobby. 

      Storage
      Of course, if you decide to skip the renovations or remodels, you can still utilize this space. Store your holiday decorations, seasonal items, spare linens, personal items and so much more in an easily accessible room. Your basement can also be home to your washer and dryer or even a spare refrigerator or freezer to hold extra food and drinks. And if you host parties or holidays often, you can keep spare tables, chairs, platters and more without feeling overwhelmed in your main living space and keeping your garage clear. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.