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Guest Post

5 Reasonable Repairs to Request Before You Buy a House

By: Paige A. Mitchell

You’ve found your dream home and are looking to get the necessary repairs done before you can move further. These repairs will test your negotiating skills; we suggest focusing on those that will directly affect you instead of asking for all small and large fixes. Here are five reasonable repairs to request before buying a house.

 

  • Galvanized Pipes

 

Common in the 1960s, galvanized pipes have a zinc coating to protect them from corrosion and rust. The zinc used in these pipes was most likely impure, so it may contain other compounds, including harmful ones like lead. Also, while the zinc protects the pipe from the outside, the water flowing through them damages them from the inside, possibly causing water pressure issues. The lifespan of a galvanized steel pipe is typically 20 to 50 years, according to house logic.

 

  • Sewer Pipes

 

Sewer pipe replacements can be expensive, but they may also be necessary. An expert will be able to determine if the problem is localized or extensive. If the damage is extensive, then the whole pipe may need to be replaced. Of course, the type of pipe will also be important in determining its life span. For instance, the wood fiber-based Orenburg pipe lasts for about 50 years. These pipes are more common in the houses built in the 1950s.

 

  • Wiring

 

Problems with the electrical distribution system are the third leading cause of structure fires in US homes, according to ESFi. Some houses built in the 60s may have aluminum wiring instead of copper. Aluminum wiring is problematic because it can lead to overheating and fires. The inspection should make it clear whether the whole installation needs to go, or some minor replacements will do the job.

 

  • Roofing

 

It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for repairs if the roofing inspection reveals any extensively damaged parts. If the seller doesn’t have a roofing certificate, request an inspection and certification. The roofer won’t provide a certificate for a roof that still needs work. Again, don’t mind a few broken or missing shingles. Do discuss damaged skylights, chimneys, and vents.

 

  • Heating and Cooling

 

Determine the age and condition of the heating and cooling systems as well. Some of the costlier repairs include heat exchangers ($500 to $1,200), smart valve ($750), condenser coil ($1,900 to $2,900) and compressor ($1,900) (prices by HVAC.com). If the HVAC system needs replacements or repairs, then remind the seller of these issues as well.

Repair Options

Some sellers will offer repair credit for major repairs. And, any credit left over after the repair goes back to the provider. If the seller isn’t willing to make repairs in advance, ask them to include a home warranty with the home.

You can ask for repairs for any problems with the house that will stop you from using it normally. Of course, there may also be some smaller issues that need attention. But, you have to give and take in these matters; ignore the minor ones, and focus on the major ones.

The Most Efficient Way to Unpack Once you’ve Moved Into your New Home

Guest Post by: Paige Mitchell

If you’ve ever moved to a new home, you know just how exciting and stressful it can be. Even after you’ve gotten all your belongings into your new place, the unpacking process can start to feel overwhelming.

Sometimes, it can even feel like living out of boxes until everything is slowly unpacked is your best option. But fortunately, the unpacking process doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. Keep reading for some tips on the most efficient way to unpack once you’ve into your new home.

Clean Before You Unpack

Even if your new home looks spotless when you move in, it’s still a good idea to clean everything thoroughly. Since it’ll be much more difficult to clean once everything is in its designated place, it’s a good idea to get your cleaning done before you unpack.

Create a Labeling System for your Boxes

One of the worst things you can do is throw a bunch of random from different rooms into one box. Instead, you should try creating a specific labeling system for your boxes. You can organize your boxes by number or color based on what rooms the items go in.

As you (or movers) bring your belongings into your new home, they’ll know exactly where the boxes belong. When you start to unpack, you won’t have to worry about running around and trying to find all of your stuff.

Unpack Your Bedroom and Bathroom First

No matter how smooth your move goes, it’s still going to make for a pretty long day. The first thing on your mind will probably be climbing into bed for a good night’s sleep. By unpacking your bedroom and bathroom first, you’ll have all the necessities you need to get ready for bed on your first night.

As soon as your bed is set up in your room, you should unpack your bedding and make your bed. You can then move on to the rest of your bedroom items before moving on to the bathroom.

Don’t Unpack or Set Up Things That’ll Distract You

You may be tempted to set up your TV, computer, or game consoles right away, but this is one trap you definitely don’t want to fall into. It’s best to save electronic gadgets until the end of your unpacking process so you can avoid distractions as you unpack the rest of your things.

Don’t Unpack the Kitchen on Moving Day

The kitchen may seem fairly easy to unpack, but it’s usually one of the most time-consuming rooms due to the number of items, small appliances, and utensils you have in your kitchen. Since it can take a while to get your kitchen organized, you might want to put this room off until the day after you move. While you’re unpacking your kitchen, you should also ensure that all of your home appliances are working properly. The last thing you want is to realize the dishwasher is acting up after you finally finish unpacking.  

Enjoy Your New Home!

The best part of unpacking is undoubtedly when it’s all done. Once everything is in place, you can finally rest, relax, and enjoy the comforts of your new home.

7 Ways to Avoid Debt When Shopping for Your First Home

Guest Post by: Paige A. Mitchell

When shopping for your first home, it’s smart to have a financial plan in place to pay for monthly home ownership expenses and avoid going into debt. Besides having a stable source of income, you should learn to be savvy with your money and budget for home-related costs. Here are seven ways you can avoid debt when shopping for your first home and save money throughout the home buying process.

  1. Save for a down payment

Before buying a house, research the current real estate market, compare the prices of different houses you’re looking at, and determine how much of a down payment you’ll have to make. Aim for a down payment of at least 20% of the total value of the property. For example, if you’re looking to buy a $200,000 house, consider putting down at least $40,000.

If you put down a lower down payment, you’ll likely need to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI covers the difference between the sale price of the house and the package you get from your lender. Your PMI package will ultimately depend on how much you put down. If you’re in a situation where PMI is completely unavoidable, try to estimate the cost of the insurance to know how much you’ll be paying each month. Use a PMI calculator to help you figure out these costs.

  1. Know your loan options

If you truly can’t afford a 20% down payment (or are having a hard time saving for a down payment), there are a few low-mortgage programs available to you. For instance, the Federal Housing Association (FHA) offers a 3.5% down payment loan to applicants who have a credit score of at least 850. The FHA also has a 10% down payment option for people whose credit score is between 500 and 579. Both of these loans have an upfront premium of 1.75%.

If you or a family member is in the military, you could try financing offered by the Navy Federal Credit Union. Navy Federal offers complete financing and a zero-down payment loan with a funding fee of 1.75%. Similarly, the Department of Veteran Affairs guarantees loans offered by private lenders. These loans are for active and retired members and some reserves and national guard members.

Opting for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rural development mortgage is another option for first-time home buyers. This program assists approved lenders in providing low- and moderate-income households the opportunity to buy a house in eligible rural areas.

In addition to checking for low down payment options, get pre-approved early on in the home buying process and compare mortgage packages offered by different lenders. Check loan comparison sites and contact lenders to get a complete view of what you’re dealing with. Don’t be shy to ask for details about each package and get as many quotes as you can so you know the best available offers.

  1. Understand the different types of mortgage

There are two main mortgage options: a fixed rate mortgage and an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). A majority of home buyers go for a fixed rate plan even though the interest rate is higher than an adjustable rate mortgage. An ARM has an initial period (usually 3 to 10 years) where the interest rate remains fixed. After this period, the rate typically changes after each consecutive year. If you’re planning on selling your property within the fixed rate period, an ARM may be a better option because of the lower interest. However, if you’ll be staying in the home for a longer term, a fixed rate mortgage might be cheaper.

There are two main types of fixed rate mortgages: a 15-year and a 30-year mortgage. With a 15-year mortgage, you’ll likely get a lower interest rate and will be able to pay your house off faster. With a 30-year mortgage, the monthly payments will be lower, but the interest rate will be higher.

  1. Check your credit score before applying

Your credit score plays an important role in how much interest you’ll have to pay on your mortgage. An excellent credit score of 750 or above will result in a better mortgage. There are a variety of free resources you can use to check your credit score, including Credit Karma and myFICO.

Once you get your report back from one of these companies, check it for any possible dings that may result in a higher interest payment. You should also give a thorough assessment of your credit report for any discrepancies or errors. If you find account information or balance amounts that are incorrect, contact the reporting company and the information furnishing company to get it fixed before applying for a loan.

  1. Ask questions about the lock-in period

When getting a quote, remember to ask lenders about their lock-in period. This is the time between the offer and the closing of the deal where the interest rate will be “locked-in.” The lock-in period usually ranges from 30 to 60 days. The obvious benefit of having a lock-in is that you won’t have to worry about any interest rate hikes. Of course, the main downside is that you won’t be able to benefit from a decrease in interest rates.

  1. Prepare for the future

First-time home buyers can save money by considering the different kinds of insurance they’ll need to invest in as a homeowner. When you buy a home, not only will you be dealing with potential damage from natural disasters or break-ins, but you’ll also have to deal with repairs and replacements to major systems and appliances.

One option for covering repair and replacement costs is through a home warranty. Unlike homeowner’s insurance, which covers damage due to fires, floods, and burglaries, a home warranty will cover the cost of repairs and replacements to major systems and appliances like your HVAC system, dishwasher, and refrigerator.

In addition to securing insurance and a home warranty, be sure get a home inspection done before closing. A home inspection will give you a good idea of the condition of appliances and systems of the house and whether or not any major repairs need to be made before closing.

  1. Don’t overspend on home improvements

Shopping for a new house is an exciting process, but it can be challenging when you’re on a tight budget, and even more challenging if you want to make a lot of updates to the house. Make a list of high-priority improvements and determine how much you can allocate to these changes—put repairs and improvements that increase resale value at the top of your list. For example, if an appliance is sucking up a lot of energy each month, you might want to get an energy efficient upgrade as soon as possible. If you have a faulty plumbing system, fixing this might take priority over installing a new tile backsplash in your kitchen or ripping up carpet for hardwood floors.

Here are a few other ways to save money on home improvements:

  • If your budget doesn’t allow for new furniture, go to a secondhand store to look for unique pieces.
  • Check listings on social media pages or join local groups where people are selling and buying used items.
  • Hire a friend or family member to help you with simple home improvement projects like painting a room, installing trim, or moving furniture.

From the initial research to the purchase of your home, try to be as through as possible with each step of the process. Pay off as much debt as you can beforehand, get pre-approved early on in the process to determine how much you’re working with, and save up for additional costs that come with purchasing a house.

6 Signs of a Great Realtor

Janis Stone DRE 00517072

Janis Stone DRE 00517072

When you’re ready to find a new home or purchase your first home, you want to make sure that the person you are trusting to help you with the process has your best interests in mind. More often than not, it can be tricky trying to decipher whether or not the realtor you found has those qualities. During your search, keep these top qualities in mind when finding a good realtor.

Good Rapport

Realtors with good track records tend to be the most experienced and the most successful in the real estate industry. Ty and find some reviews on their website or social media page, or even ask around to see what other home buyer’s experiences have been with the realtor your looking to use.

Listening Skills

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to break down exactly what you want in a home, only for your realtor to not hear you and send you homes that don’t meet your needs. Realtors should have great listening skills to be able to research the best home’s that fit your needs and budget.

Bethany Patten DRE 01341512

Educated on Current Trends

The real estate market is very fluid and you need an agent that is up-to-speed on all the trends in the industry, especially market value. Realtors that are on top of their game do not settle and are passionate about finding a home for you and negotiating the best price.

Motivated

You want your realtor to be motivated to take action and strategic in being able to find you the best home at the best price. Additionally, your realtor should have strong negotiation skills and be able to offer little perks like a home warranty or cleaning service during the home buying process. If you find that your realtor is hesitant to negotiate, or simply says that the current listing is already fair, then you may want to find another realtor that is more motivated to get the best deal for your new home.

Reachable

If you find a house you want to see or discuss with your agent, or if you have questions about the negotiation process or financing, you want your realtor to be easy to reach. Your realtor should also be willing to communicate in a way that best fits your needs, not vice versa. For example, if you try calling your realtor, and they don’t answer and instead send a text, make sure you are clear in how you best want to communicate. You are their client, after all. If it takes days to hear back from them, then you may want to find a different realtor.

Understand Financing (And the Bumps That Come with It)

Not all of us have perfect credit, but a great realtor will understand that and will be ready for any bumps in the road that comes with getting a mortgage. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you find your dream home, only to discover that you may not be able to get it due to circumstances you were unaware of. With a realtor being educated in the guidelines that come with getting a mortgage and being informed of your financial situation, they will be able to mitigate any issues that can arise further down the line.

The Ideal Homebuyer’s Timeline

By: Paige A. Mitchell

Buying the right home does not have to be a wildly stressful undertaking, contrary to popular belief. Fortunately, by taking a little time beforehand to establish a timeline, a lot of unnecessary headaches can be avoided. Not only will this early planning save you time in the long run, it will paint a clearer picture of what you want and highlight the resources you need to make everything come together.

How much house can you afford?

Assuming you’ve already built up your credit score and set aside money for a down payment, it’s important to determine what you can afford. There are many online calculators that are simple to use and will help tremendously in figuring this out. In order to narrow your search for a new home and before you can even put in an offer, you’ll have to be pre-qualified for a certain amount of money. There’s no point in looking and falling in love with a house or blueprint that you can’t afford. This pre-qualification process should also help you find a lender.

Buy vs. build

Once the numbers have been crunched, you can move on to the next step: deciding what you need and want in a home – your home. Asking yourself the right thought-provoking questions will get the ball rolling.

Consider, too, that as a home-buyer, you are not limited to existing houses on the market. Many folks overlook the prospect of building a new home to suit their needs. Depending on your circumstances, this might be the best option. So, make sure you’re taking advantage of all the options available to you and allowing yourself to see the full scope of possibilities. It might not be a bad idea to weigh the pros and cons of both new and previously-owned home options.

Enlist help

The next step is to find the right team of people to help you. At the very least, you will need a realtor and a lender. There are a lot of them out there, and they all have different ideas as to how to best approach buying a home and saving you money. Your realtor is going to be your professional partner and guide as you navigate your home-buying adventure, so you want to make sure their values align with your own. If you’re in the market for new construction, make sure that your real estate agent is well-versed in the local area, builder’s contracts and the building process.

Your lender should be trustworthy, and you should feel comfortable turning to them with questions you have about mortgage or construction loan options, rates, etc. Setting time aside to read online reviews, asking friends and family for recommendations, and interviewing a few agents and lenders is a necessary and worthwhile investment of your time.

House hunting checklist

You are now ready to finance your purchase and launch the house hunt – congratulations! If you’ve followed the steps to this point, you’ve already determined where you want your ideal home located, what amenities you want in it, how much you can afford, and your team of experts has been selected and is ready to assist you. Going into house hunting with clear goals makes weeding out the undesirable houses infinitely easier.

Negotiating your offer

The work is not yet done, though. Once you’ve found the house you want to make your home, it’s time to make and negotiate an offer. During this time, it is extremely beneficial to discuss the inclusion of appliances and a home protection plan. This coverage can help with unexpected appliance repairs, electrical issues, and a wide variety of other potential hiccups that you might not be aware of at the time of move-in. And, if it’s a new house, a builder’s warranty can also be quite useful.

Due diligence period

Once the terms have been agreed upon and the funding has been secured, the final steps include having the home inspected, appraised, surveyed, and actually closing on the house. While it may seem tedious, closing on a home is the most important step, as it ensures legally transferring the ownership of the home to you.

By planning ahead and determining your timeline, the experience of purchasing a home will be significantly more enjoyable and worthwhile. Here’s a quick checklist to summarize the timeline above:

  1. Use an online calculator and get pre-qualified for a mortgage or construction loan
  2. Weigh the pros and cons to buying resale versus building a new house
  3. Find a real estate agent and lender you can trust
  4. Tour open houses and keep your must-haves versus nice-to-haves in mind
  5. Negotiate an offer that includes appliances (if they’re important to you) and a home or builder’s warranty
  6. Do your due diligence to ensure the house is in working order. You may have to request and agree upon some repairs from the sellers before closing.

Good luck on your journey!

Preparing Your Home for Resale (In 4 Easy Steps) – SFResidence

By: Paige A. Mitchell

Getting your home ready to sell may seem like an exhausting process. Keep in mind, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Being able to resell your home can provide you the opportunity to make additional income from your property that could help you move into a new home. You may also find yourself needing to make a move across the country for a job that requires a quick sale. Instead of pricing your home too low in order to achieve a purchase quickly, simply make sure your home is ready to be sold at a price you deserve!

 

While getting your home ready for a selling requires some elbow grease and some home due diligence, it can prove to be a lot easier than you think. Before you let the stress of selling your home put you in a frenzy, follow these four simple steps to get your home ready to go on the market.

1. Boost That Curb Appeal

Make sure your home has some serious curb appeal to attract potential buyers in from the moment they pull up to your driveway. That means making sure all of your landscaping is perfectly manicured and inviting. You may also want to consider putting a fresh coat of paint on your home, updating the door, and pressure washing the siding of your home. Be sure all defects have been fixed on the outside of your home as well. If the fence is in disarray, your shrubbery is dying, or your windows need to be replaced, be sure to fix any issues that could cause a potential buyer to keep driving past your home. Don’t forget the welcome mat!

2. Perform All Necessary Repairs

Nothing makes a potential buyer pause faster than having to make repairs to a home they’re about to buy. Don’t burden your potential buyers with unnecessary repairs. Invest in a home warranty to fix any outlying repairs needed for your home, and even consider gifting a home warranty to potential buyers to help put their mind at ease when placing an offer on your home.

3. Declutter and Depersonalize

While staging your home is a great way to allow the potential buyer the opportunity to envision themselves living in your home, you want to make sure your home looks open and decluttered. You also want to make sure you remove any pictures of your family or knick knacks that can distract the buyer. Consider renting out a storage unit to hold any extra belongings until your home has been purchased. Be sure to also color your home is neutral colors. This will ensure your home appeals to a wide variety of buyers.

4. Make It Shine

Don’t leave your house dirty when a showing is about to happen. Make sure your home is perfectly clean. You want your home to appear open and inviting so that anyone can see themselves living in your home. This factor revolves around enticing all the senses. So be sure to remove any bad odors from the home, such as litter boxes and even the trash cans. From the ceiling fans to the floors, make sure your home is so clean it sparkles.

How to Sell Your House Faster

Guest Post By:Paige A. Mitchell

Many homeowners dream of “upgrading” their current residence to one that’s more in line with their ideal neighborhood and amenities. However, the process of selling one home and closing on another can be a particularly nerve-wracking one.

That’s especially true when the ability to close on your new home hinges upon the sale of your current home. Bay Area homes are most expensive, and you don’t have much time to waste in situations like this.

To streamline the process and prepare you for what’s to be expect during this transition, we’re going to look at some strategies you can employ to sell your home faster.

TLC

When you’re looking for a buyer, remember that your home is effectively the product you’re selling. When you shop for a used item, do you settle for one that’s falling apart?

Most of us are more likely to buy a home that looks as though its past owners have put some real love and care into it. San Francisco homes have history and character to them, but that charm can quickly fall into disarray without proper maintenance.

That means ensuring that your house clean and tidy, and that all appliances and systems are up and running. Don’t show your home with screens falling out of its windows or with a dented and scratched front door. Do your best to show potential buyer’s that the home is “gently used”.

Curb appeal

Just like books, many buyers judge a home by its cover despite the story that awaits them inside. They make snap decisions, even if they don’t realize it. Your home might be comparable to those on the rest of the block in terms of interior upgrades, but what does its exterior look like?

Appearance plays a big role in whether or not someone is drawn to an item. This is as true in real estate as it is anywhere else. To that end, make sure that your home looks nice from the curb! Consider adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door, landscaping the yard—even if it’s small—and fixing cracked walkways or broken steps. Taking the time to address these issues can help your home make a great impression from the very start.

Home inspection

Is your home in good working order? Your major appliances may seem to be working, but what about the electrical and plumbing systems that you can’t see? It’s important to understand the answer to that question before you put your home on the market.

Let’s say, for example, that your home looks nice but a home inspection reveals a laundry list of surprising repairs that need to be made. Every one of those repairs is going to negatively impact the value of your home.

Avoid the shock by having your own inspection done and address problems head-on before you list the property. Research the best home warranty companies in California to streamline the repair process and provide new buyers some priceless peace of mind.

Stage to sell

Finally, make sure that your buyer’s can envision themselves in your home. You can do this by decluttering the space and making each area as clean and neutral as possible. In other words, give buyers a clean slate upon which they can visualize their future in the home. The faster someone else can picture themselves living in your home, the quicker you’re likely to receive an offer. Note that this can also sometimes mean removing some belongings and sending them to storage.

Are you hoping to sell your Bay Area home? Follow the tips above and you’re sure to get there sooner rather than later!

A Realtor’s Guide to Closing Quickly

A Realtor’s Guide to Closing Quickly

Paige A. Mitchell

San Francisco, a city like no other. Native San Franciscans love their city’s outdoor adventures, world class cuisine, mild climate, phenomenal arts scene, and booming tech industry. It’s no wonder that everyone wants to live here, except for the fact that the median cost of a home is over half a million dollars and the housing market is one of the most competitive in the nation. Competition will affect every stage of the home buying process, even through closing. Savvy real estate agents must be aware of how they can ensure the best close on a home sale that will leave everyone happy, especially the new homeowners.

Anticipate and prepare

While there are laws, requirements and procedures that govern all major real estate transactions, there are, of course, the inevitable unknowns—Murphy’s law and the “human” factor. Much of real estate happens on paper but it also involves critical face-to-face interactions between buyer and seller, attorneys, mortgage loan officers, title companies and real estate agents, as well as their various stakeholders, all of whom can derail a real estate transaction.

A 2015 survey by The National Association of Realtors revealed that nearly a third of closings are delayed, and 6% of those deals fall through completely. Given this alarming statistic, it is important to anticipate and prepare for the most common issues that arise in closing. Traditional wisdom suggests that 90% of success is preparation. Those real estate agents who are organized and prepared are often equipped to either prevent disaster at closing or can manage the “snafus” that arise with more aplomb.

The most common issues that can deter a quick close include financing problems, home inspection complications, issues with the contract, mistrust between buyer and seller, and security breaches. Makeitbetter.net states that problems in financing account for about 50% of the delays in real estate transactions and typically it’s due to a problem with the buyer’s mortgage. If your client is the buyer, it’s important that you help them stay on top of the mortgage process by keeping them abreast of deadlines, helping them gather and forward appropriate documentation to all relevant parties, and ensuring that all financial transactions prior to the closing clear the bank on time.

Inspections

Another common reason for delay is the final walk-through. Parties may not have fully agreed on what stays in or goes in the house between the buyer and seller and problems with the house are sometimes not revealed until the final walk-through. If there’s damage that has been missed, the buyer can ask the seller to cover the costs of the repair before close.

Fortunately, agents can take measures to prevent this ahead of time. First by ensuring that home inspections are thorough and scheduled early on in the process. This gives sellers time to make repairs. Agents should also educate themselves and their clients on what to look for each time they visit the house. This will help clients understand what stays and what doesn’t and what to expect in that final walk-through. Sellers can then sell the house without a bathroom mirror or appliance holding them up, and buyers won’t have to invest even more money after the purchase to make significant repairs.

That being said, it pays to help the seller get the home ready to sell. Homeowners should always consider that their property, often their most important and valuable asset, will most likely be sold at some point and ongoing maintenance, modernization, and beautification is necessary to helping the property hold its value, particularly in such a competitive market like San Francisco.

Agents can give a monthly home checklist to sellers to help them prepare their home for resale several months ahead of time. Additionally, encourage clients to include a home warranty in their offer. Home warranties are not only helpful in streamlining home repairs while a house is on the market, but they can also be excellent marketing tools. Offering a one-year home protection plan works wonders to ease the mind of anxious buyers while building trust and goodwill.

Cybersecurity

In our increasingly digital world—especially in Silicon Valley—cybersecurity threats have made their way to real estate. Emails are hacked, large sums of cash are tracked, and fake emails can be sent to buyers requesting that they wire their down payment. Real estate agents should work vociferously to educate their staff and their clients about the best practices for maintaining security, like sending financial information via email. Wire transfer information should be given in-person or over the phone if possible and cybersecurity measures should be implemented at all stages of the sale to protect both the buyer and the seller in the process.

Human psychology

No matter how well we prepare the paperwork and the property, nothing can stop a sale like human psychology. MoneySense states that it’s important to understand the ways in which realtors make sales and money off their clients, and furthermore, clients should choose a realtor who will use psychology effectively in negotiations without crossing ethical lines.  A good realtor who does not want a difficult close will seek to create a constructive working relationship with goodwill and trust between the buyer and seller. Effective real estate agents should act as trusted advisors who put their clients’ interests before their own, they should listen closely, communicate regularly and be an active problem solver.

Every good realtor knows that each home sale is a complex transaction involving multiple stakeholders, many moving parts and a lot of human emotion. With effective preparation and organization, excellent communication, trust-building and negotiation skills, and a keen awareness of the common and potential pitfalls of real estate closings, realtors will successfully navigate any closing with success.

The Importance of Having a Good Credit Score

The Importance of Having a Good Credit Score to

Protect Yourself, Your Family, And Your Insurance Rates

This article was provided by Rentown.net

If you think that your credit score is used only to get a loan application approved or getting a job then think again. Credit score also holds great significance when it comes to insurance rates and keeping your financial condition strong.

Whether you’re getting an insurance for your vehicle, home or even your life, your credit score will be looked into.

The outcome is simple. People with a bad credit score are charged with a higher insurance fee than the ones who have a good credit score.

Why Insurance Companies Look Into The Credit Score Before Deciding The Charges?

Insurance providers are known to gather financial data of a person before giving them insurance rates. They do this so as to know the amount of risk they’re taking with the person by providing them with insurance.

They will look into your FICO score (which should be above 700 to lay a good impression) to determine how you have been dealing with your finances in the past.

If your credit score is good, they see it as a low risk, hence less price will be charged on you. In case your credit score is low then the insurance providers see it as a risk and will charge you a higher fee.

What Do They Look Into:

  • Financial History.
  • Driving Records.
  • Employment history.
  • Family’s information.
  • Diseases you have.
  • Smoker or not etc.

What they look into largely depends on the type of insurance you are applying for. For example, your health will be looked into if you apply for life insurance, but they will not care for it as much in case of phone insurance.

Other than this, they will look into your financial history to see how you have been dealing with your finances. If you have existing debts or had several in the past, they will take the amount of time it took for you to pay the debt.

If in case, you had failed to pay your debts then you’re looking at skyrocketing insurance rates because it gives an impression that you’re irresponsible when it comes to managing finances.

Your credit history will also be looked into to see how you are with utilizing credits. If you have gone bankrupt in the past by using too much credit or have made late payments then you are seen as a risky person.

Your driving history will also be dug up and looked into your driving track record in case you’re going for vehicle insurance. For instance, how many speeding tickets you’ve got so far. How’s your driving record etc. How many accidents you’ve been into. All these things will pose a threat to the insurance provider and will make them charge a higher insurance rate on you.

They will learn about your employment history and determine your employment risk for your current job.

Other than that, they’ll look into your payment schedules to see if you pay your dues in time and how much in debt you are currently or had been in the past.

They’ll learn about you and your family’s medical condition as well. Also, if you had paid medical bills on time or not.

Since some of these factors can be judged just by looking at your credit score, it is important to pay attention to it. In case you have a low credit score, your insurance provider will most probably see you as an insurance liability and will charge a lot more than what they’ll do to a person with a good credit score.

How To Get The Lowest Insurance Fee?

It’s possible to get insurance for you and your family in the lowest possible fee if you have a good credit score.

A good credit score implies having a good credit history, no bankruptcy, no debts, no late payments etc.

All in all, getting charged at a low insurance fee depends upon how good your credit score is.

Sadly, a lot of Americans do not have a good credit score. But, worry not. There are ways to improve it. Let’s have a look:

How Can You Improve Your Credit Score?

  • Paying your bills on time.
  • Having no more than one or two credit cards (more credit cards can be difficult to manage).
  • Disassociate accounts in case of a joint account.
  • Watch out for credit card balances and keep them low.

While all these tricks work, but if your score is really very low, you will have to look for professionals. There is help available in the form of credit repair companies.

Such companies do not only help improve your credit score, but can also help you find a reliable insurance provider so that you can get a good rate on your insurance.

Final Verdict

All in all, a bad credit score is risky not only for you but your entire family. Hence, make sure you have a credit score before you apply for insurance.

12 Monthly Home Checklists for 2019

By: Paige A Mitchell

The end of each year is a time of reflection for all of us. We promise ourselves that, starting in the new year, we will be and do better. We will get our lives back on track, we will be productive, and we will make this year our year.

Well, the new year is here. In addition to our get-fit-fast goals and our target toward a better work-life balance, we should also look to our homes for areas of improvement. After all, we spend 90% of our time indoors, so we might as well make it the most enjoyable environment we can. Here’s home improvement broken down into 12 attainable monthly goals.

January—Organize and prioritize

Start small by going through a planning phase. List the home improvement projects you want to get done this year and prioritize them. Consider whether you’ll DIY or hire a professional. Planning ahead will help you budget for the bigger projects you have coming up. Contact local service providers for a quote or follow up on your home warranty coverage.

February—Conserve energy

So, you decided to be more environmentally friendly this year. A good start to hitting your green living goals is by switching to the most energy-efficient light bulbs. Go a step further by installing motion-sensor exterior lights and smart interior light switches. These bright ideas can save you money on your energy bill, but it can also help you get through the final dark hours before Daylight Savings begins in March.

March—Add color

March marks the beginning of spring. Warm up your winter neutrals by adding some color back into your life. This could be anything from a vibrant area rug to leafy green houseplant. If you want something fresh and fun, try Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019 is living coral.

April—Clean

Most homeowners get another burst of motivation this time of year. Take April to do some well overdue deep cleaning. Washing windows, clearing gutters, replacing HVAC filters, spraying for insects, and power-washing siding are just some ideas.

May—Tend to garden

April showers bring May flowers, which means it’s time to get in the garden if you haven’t already. Cosmos and marigolds are pretty summer flowers to plant in May, according to SFGate. Gardeners should also do their due diligence by weeding, pruning, and inspecting for slugs and snails.

June—Paint

Summer is the best time to give your house a fresh coat of paint. Collegiate Painters explains that we can’t rely on consistently dry and warmer weather until June. If your home’s exterior doesn’t need new paint, you might still find value in changing up the look of the front door or staining the deck.

July—Reclaim the garage

There’s nothing quite like a hardworking garage. This room should store all or most of a homeowner’s tools, workout and sports equipment, and at least one vehicle. However, the reality is that the garage gets cluttered so quickly that many of us are forced to park in the driveway. Use a series of Saturdays to chip away at the mess that is, but will no longer be, your garage.

August—Remodel

Remodeling can sound intimidating and expensive, but it’s only as involved as you want it to be. You don’t have to gut your entire bathroom or kitchen to transform the space. To do so, focus on function rather than aesthetics. Start by replacing old fixtures and faucets. Try tiling or regrouting. Then, if there’s room in the budget, splurge on a new dishwasher or vanity.

September—Redecorate

There’s no better time to decorate than fall. Year after year, craft and home decor stores go above and beyond by stocking their shelves with the coziest accents. Buy some candles while they’re on sale, rotate in new throw pillows, and don your door with a pretty fall wreath.

October—Stock the guest room

Be prepared for overnight guests this upcoming holiday season. Clean out the guest bedroom if you have one. Buy a big plastic tote where you can keep spare bedding and linens fresh. Add extra toiletries to your grocery list too.

November—Ditch drafts

As the temperatures drop, it’s worthwhile to inspect your doors and windows for drafts. If you feel cold air coming through closed entrances, seal them with weatherstripping. This will help lower your heating bills and make your home more comfortable overall.

December—Rearrange furniture

You might have moved furniture to accommodate a Christmas tree or holiday guest. Or, as you were hosting, you might have discovered that your living room layout just isn’t working. Shake things up a bit going into the new year by angling armchairs toward each other, as to promote conversation, or letting the kids switch rooms.