Tag Archives: Homeowner

3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)

There’s no other way to put it: Moving is stressful. But it doesn’t have to be a waking nightmare. Here’s how to avoid a move from … you know where.

Nightmares aren’t supposed to take place in broad daylight, but some common life events bring so much tension, uncertainty and anxiety that they can easily rank as “quality nightmares.” Moving house tops the list of stressful experiences that can feel like a bad dream — and it can easily come true unless you take precautionary measures.

Problems can occur at every stage of the relocation process: A violent storm hits just when the moving truck is parking in front of your door. The elevator is out of order when you arrive at your new high-rise building. You lose the keys to your car on the morning of moving day. The list goes on.

However, the most common moving nightmares fall into three main categories. Here’s how they typically play out — and how to avoid them.

Bad movers

Many moving horror stories involve rogue or incompetent movers.

  • The movers are late or don’t show up at all. The agreed-upon time comes and goes, but you see no sign of an approaching moving truck. When you call the moving company to demand an explanation, your relocation nightmare begins. Regardless of the excuses you receive (a traffic jam, a breakdown, a delay on a previous job, a mistaken date, etc.), the inevitable result will be lots of stress and wasted time. Worst of all, you may not be able to reach the moving company at all: fraudulent movers may have taken your deposit money and disappeared with it.
  • The movers are careless or inexperienced. If your movers arrive late, in a smaller moving truck than needed, or lack the required know-how and the proper equipment to handle your items safely and efficiently, your relocation can quickly turn into a nightmarish experience. The amateur movers may drop your plasma TV, break your heirloom china, scratch your antique dresser, dent the floors, or cause other overwhelming emotional and financial damage.
  • The movers are scam artists. In the worst case scenario, you may fall victim to unscrupulous moving scams. Rogue movers will often request much more money than previously negotiated based on some alleged extra services. They may hold your belongings hostage until you pay a considerable extra “fee” as ransom, or steal your more expensive belongings and just discard the rest.

The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid such nightmares. All you need to do is carefully research your movers before hiring them to make sure you are dealing with licensed and experienced professionals you can trust. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.

Traffic problems

Heavy traffic or road accidents can also turn your move into a real nightmare.

  • Traffic jams. The moving truck is delayed and there may not be enough time to proceed with your move as planned. You may have to postpone the relocation to another day, or you may miss your flight.
  • Traffic accidents. if there has been an accident on the road, the moving truck will have to wait until the damaged vehicles are removed and normal traffic is restored. However, the scenario could get much worse: You may lose all your possessions or receive them badly damaged if the moving truck crashes, catches fire, or gets trapped somewhere because of adverse weather conditions like heavy snowfall or torrential rains. It’s even possible that thieves could break into the vehicle and steal your goods.
  • Breakdown. If the moving truck breaks down on the road, you’ll have to wait for the moving company to send another vehicle. What’s more, your items can easily get damaged while being transferred.
  • Parking issues. The moving truck has to circle the neighborhood for hours until an appropriate parking space is vacated, or the movers have to park far away from the entrance to your home. In such cases, you’ll not only lose valuable time, but will also have to pay an extra fee for the delay or an additional long-carry fee.

Of course, there’s nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or breakdowns. But you can at least reserve a parking place directly in front of your old and new homes, and choose a moving company that has experienced drivers and several moving vehicles in good condition.

Poor organization

The only way to avoid problems when moving house is to plan each phase of your relocation adventure in meticulous detail and stay one step ahead all the time. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing any of the following all-too-common moving ordeals.

  • Packing chaos. It may turn out that you’ve packed more items than previously discussed with the movers; packed items that can’t be loaded onto the moving truck; haven’t labeled the boxes properly; or forgotten to prepare an “essentials box.” Worst of all, you may not be ready when the movers arrive. All these packing mistakes will result in lost time and money.
  • Furniture troubles. If your large furniture doesn’t fit through the doors, you may be forced to leave some treasured pieces behind, or request hoisting services that will cost you dearly and will delay your move considerably.
  • Paperwork problems. If you forget to transfer the utilities, you won’t have electricity, gas, and water on move-in day. If you forget to change your address, you won’t have your mail delivered to your new home. If you forget to update your driver’s license and car registration in time, you’ll be fined. Not taking proper care of your documents will most certainly get you in trouble.
  • Overspending. If you book your movers at the last moment, require too many extra services, fail to create a realistic moving budget, pack all your items without sorting them out first, or allow any other financial imprudence, you’ll end up paying much more than you expected.
  • Safety issues. Make every effort to prevent injuries and accidents on moving day, as getting hurt is one of the worst things that can happen during your relocation endeavor.

Post courtesy of zillow.com

Homeownership 101: Are You Ready?

Owning your own home is part of the American dream. But it takes more than just dreaming of buying and maintaining a home. Before you take the plunge, here are some things to ask yourself.

Does it make sense to buy?

Buying instead of renting needs to make sense financially. To help you decide, play with Zillow’s Buy vs. Rent calculator to see how many years it will take before the cost of buying equals the cost of renting. It’s called the breakeven horizon, and it varies by area of the country.

If you plan to stay in your home past your breakeven horizon, then buying makes financial sense. If you think you’ll move earlier, then renting may be the way to go.

Are you financially ready?

Buying a house involves raising a down payment and paying a monthly mortgage, which lasts anywhere from 5 to 30 years, depending on the home loan you can afford and are offered. There are other costs as well, but let’s focus on the big money.

Down payment: It’s the lump sum you’ll pay upfront that funds equity in the property and proves to lenders that you’ve got skin in this homeowner game. Down payments vary. In the go-go days that led up to the housing collapse, some lenders dismissed the down payment altogether – and we see how well that ended. Today, 20 percent is preferred and often gets you the best rates, but some loans allow down payments as low as 3 percent. Sometimes parents or friends can offer help with the down payment. If you have a choice, take a gift rather than a loan, not only for obvious reasons, but because lenders will add that debt to other monthly obligations and potential mortgage payments to determine your debt-to-income ratio, which generally can’t top 43 percent to qualify for a home loan.

Monthly mortgage payments: This is what you’ll pay each month. In most cases, a mortgage includes the loan principal and interest (both amortized over the life of the loan) plus homeowners insurance and property taxes (pro-rated). When credit was tight, getting a mortgage at any rate was reserved for only the most credit-worthy borrowers. Things have loosened, but lenders still want to know that you’re a responsible, gainfully employed and credit-worthy candidate.

Are you emotionally ready?

Owning a home is a huge commitment so before jumping in, consider if you are ready to make lots of decisions, from picking an agent to picking paint colors. Are you confident enough to select a neighborhood where you’ll want to stay for a while? And are you up for devoting the time and attention to maintaining a home? Weekends will disappear under chores like pulling weeds, cleaning gutters, shoveling snow, sealing counters and decks, and on and on. Taking care of your biggest investment can be gratifying but only if you’re ready.

Do you have the skills?

Your home will require regular maintenance and repair, and there’s no landlord to call for help. You’ll need some basic handyperson skills so you won’t go broke hiring a repair professional to remedy every odd sound or smell. Here are some things every homeowner should learn how to do:
• Change a toilet flapper
• Shut off the main water valve and outdoor faucets
• Change a furnace filter
• Clean gutters of debris
• Change smoke detector batteries
• Locate and flip breaker switches
• Locate studs to hang shelves
• Paint a room

Post courtesy of zillow.com

How To Add Value To Your Home

Photo credit: Naphat_Jorjee / shutterstock.com

It is common for homeowners to make changes to their houses that increase the comfort level and make their homes look better. These changes may be based on personal taste or they may be to make their home life more convenient. In many cases, these changes add value to the home. This means that when the time comes for the house to be sold, potential buyers will be willing to pay more for the home because of these added improvements. Smart homeowners make their upgrades based on these value-added changes. They prioritize how they are going to improve their homes based on the changes that will make their home worth more. One of the main ways to determine if a change will add value is to consider what room you are improving. Bathroom remodeling adds more value than swapping out bedroom carpet. Improving toilets, showers, tubs, and sinks, or adding new tile to the space attracts buyers to take a second glance at your home. If you are remodeling, these should be some of the first improvements you consider.

The next room you should consider adding upgrades to is the kitchen. Potential buyers know their families are going to be spending a lot of time in their kitchen. This means they are going to want modern appliances, comfortable seating, and plenty of space for cooking and entertaining. Make sure your kitchen is a wide open space that allows you to share family time even when you are cooking or cleaning up.

Another change you can make that will benefit you long before you sell your home is to make energy-efficient upgrades. Trade in old appliances for modern ones that save energy and save you money. If you have drafty old windows, swap them out for ones that seal up the air in your home and block out the sun’s damaging rays. If you are looking to make major investments, consider solar panels for heating.

The outside of your home is one of the major places to add value. There are few places in your home where cosmetic changes make a big difference as they do outside. When buyers pull up to your home or drive by while they are browsing, it is the curb appeal that will catch their eye. Make sure the exterior of your home is in good repair, add some color to the front door and the garden areas, and keep the grass green and trimmed.

Finally, the most important thing you can do to add value to your home is to keep up with the maintenance. As busy homeowners, it is all too easy to let things slide and concentrate on them only when something breaks for is in disrepair. To save yourself a lot of money and ensure your home will retain its value, take care of it. Just as you would change the oils and rotate the tires on a car to extend its life, do the same for your home. Keep up with seasonal maintenance and handle things before they become an expensive problem.

8 Times When It's Smarter to Rent a Home Than to Buy

8 Times When It’s Smarter to Rent a Home Than to Buy

8 Times When It's Smarter to Rent a Home Than to Buy

Photo Credit: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock.com

Buying can make financial sense for some people, and home ownership has been the American dream for many families. This dream vanished for many during the housing market crash of 2008. Since then, home prices have increased, and mortgages have become more available with interest rates that haven’t been seen in decades. However, life has changed for many families, and home ownership may not be a good plan for people who fall into one of the following 8 categories.

  1. You Might Not Be Able To Stay In a Home for Five Years

 

Experts say it takes about five years for your investment to earn money, or more importantly, to not decline. The most important factor influencing your decision to buy or rent is how long you believe you will be in the home. Changes in your career path and your personal life should be considered. Make a realistic assessment of your lifestyle preferences. Can the home you buy now fulfill the expectations you have for your life?

  1. If You Can’t Put 20% Down

A small down payment means higher costs. The interest rate will be higher, and you will be charged a mortgage insurance premium to protect the lender should you default. If you have to sell the home soon after you move in, then you will likely have to pay to sell.

  1. If You Have Found a Rental Bargain

If you are renting a lovely home at a low rent payment, then you might consider using this time as an opportunity to save money towards a down payment. You will need to weigh all factors including savings in maintenance and the loss of a tax deduction.

  1. When the Housing Market Is Priced Too High

Carefully consider the price of homes compared to what you can get for the money. A home may be priced too high for your budget, but it may be what the market is selling at.

Equally important is the need to assess your ability to buy a home in this type of market. Know your budget limitations and don’t let someone talk you into purchasing a home that you know you can’t afford. Purchase price is one thing, but taxes and upkeep are a totally different and often expensive part of buying a home.

  1. If Buying Extends Your Commute

If you need to drive a car to your job, then you need to consider commuting time and costs. Sitting in traffic on a freeway gets old quickly. Gas and car insurance costs increase along with the commute. Free time is valuable time.

  1. If Your Credit Isn’t Very Good

Your credit score will determine the interest rate you will pay and even your down payment requirement. Think about the impact of a low credit score over the life of the mortgage. You could be paying a lot more money for many years.

  1. If You Are Not a Person Who Likes To Do Maintenance Chores

There will always be things to do around the home – both inside and outside. The costs of maintenance could be up to 10% of the price of your home each year. You might also have to pay an HOA fee. Some tasks are very foreboding like cleaning gutters and inspecting the roof for leaks.

  1. If You Are New To the Area

It can take up to a year to get to know a new area well enough to know where to buy a home. Let your brain guide you and not your heart. Be sure of the area you select. Even if you don’t have children, the quality of the schools will be essential for sustaining the resale value.

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

When you are a first-time homebuyer you can expect a whirlwind of emotions—it is very exciting, yet also nerve-wracking if you are not completely sure on what you are expected to do. However, if you plan ahead and do your own financial homework, these questions can be solved.

Use these five tips to help make the process of buying your first home a breeze.

  1. Check your credit

When qualifying for a loan, the homebuyer’s credit score is one of, if not the most important factors to take into consideration. It is imperative that you start the process of checking your credit at least six months before you begin the process of looking for a home.  To get an idea of where your personal credit stands, visit a credit scoring website, such as AnnualCreditReport.com to get your free credit report. Once you have done so, score the reports for any mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts. Fixing damaged credit takes time, and money, so it is crucial that you take care of this business before shopping for your home.

  1. Evaluate assets and liabilities

As a first-time homebuyer, you should be knowledgeable about your budget—how much is owed and how much is coming in? It is a smart idea to track your spending for a few months and see where your money is going and coming in from. Furthermore, first-time homebuyers should be well-informed on how lenders will view their income, which requires being familiar with the basics of mortgage lending.

  1. Organize documents

When in the process of applying for mortgages, homebuyers must document their income and taxes. Usually, mortgage lenders will request a variety of documents—two recent pay stubs, the previous two years’ W 2s, tax returns and the past two months of bank statements. As soon as you decide that you are looking to buy a home, prepare these documents. The process of buying a home can be extensive, however knowing what documents you will need from the beginning will save you time.

  1. Qualify yourself

It is very important for first-time homebuyers to know what they can afford both up front and monthly before the mortgage lender tells them how much they qualify for. The front-end ratio inquires that no more than 28% of your gross monthly income should towards housing costs. The back-end ratio—the portion of income that covers all monthly debt obligations—should be 36% or less, but in some cases borrowers have been approved with back-end rations of 45% or higher.

  1. Figure out your down payment

Although figuring out your down payment can be a task that takes a lot of effort, there are programs that can help buyers with their qualifying incomes and situations. It is also a good idea to speak with a mortgage lender when you are beginning the process of buying a home.

6 Tips For Buying From Out Of State

6 Tips For Buying From Out Of State

 6 Tips For Buying From Out Of State

Photo Credit: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock.com

Buying a home in another state need not be a challenging task. You will find plenty of help when you locate a realtor in the new area. Some planning and advance preparation will go a long way to make your move easy on everyone. Actually, the relocation can be easy when you take the appropriate steps to ensure success. We have put together the following 6 tips for buying from out of state.

1. Find a real estate agent that knows the area you are moving to. The search should start with a local realtor who will undoubtedly have connections in the new area, or they will know other agents who do. Find an agent who understands the market you will be buying in as well as the neighborhood you want to move to. Another good source is social media and websites that offer the performance history of their work. Many agency websites will describe the market they specialize in so you can avoid the agents that work out of your price range.

2. After you have selected a realtor and you have decided to visit the area, ask your realtor questions about the neighborhood such as the quality of the schools. Find out where the restaurants and the grocery stores are located. Look for medical facilities including hospitals and urgent care centers. Check the nearby streets for traffic patterns that may be worrisome.

3. Take a tour of the neighborhood with your realtor as the guide. Look at all of the attractions and amenities that are in the area of a home you just looked at. You want to be sure that the neighborhood doesn’t suddenly transition into a undesirable neighborhood that is close by. Many towns have various pockets of housing ranging from run down properties to elaborate homes. You might want to avoid both, and especially if you have children.

4. Check the crime statistics for your new neighborhood and for the town. A lot of dangerous criminal activity could be a problem. The local police department can provide you with this information. You might want to check for registered sex offenders living in the neighborhood.

5. Check the insurance coverage that a mortgage company would mandate. Check the prices, and if you are moving to an area that requires hurricane or flood insurance, then check the cost of the coverage. Always check the property taxes so you can determine if the property is affordable based on insurance and taxes. Also Inquire about home owners association payments.

6. Don’t forget the home inspection. Your realtor can recommend a qualified home inspector to conduct a thorough inspection of the home you intend to buy. The realtor can coordinate the inspection for you, and they can ensure that you receive a detailed report.

7 Ways To Give Yourself A Leg Up When Looking For A New Home

7 Ways To Give Yourself A Leg Up When Looking For A New Home

7 Ways To Give Yourself A Leg Up When Looking For A New Home

Photo Credit: Konstantin L/Shutterstock.com

Buying a home is making the most expensive purchase of your life. You want the home that checks all of the boxes on your wish list, but finding this home is not easy in today’s housing market. We have assembled some tools and strategies to help you successfully navigate the house buying waters which can be rough.

1. Improve Your Credit Score and Eliminate Errors In Your Credit Report

A mortgage approval is largely dependent on your credit score. While other criteria is important, a low credit score can stop you before you get started. The best mortgage terms are available to applicants who have the high scores. Review your credit reports compiled by the three reporting agencies. Fix any errors and follow their advice on how to improve your score.

2. Make Sure You Have Enough Savings For The Down Payment

You may need a down payment as high as 20 percent to get the best interest rate. You may also be required to have enough additional savings equal to the first two months of your net income.

3. Obtain A Mortgage Pre-approval

A pre-approval will prove to real estate agents and sellers that you can get a mortgage. The pre-approval amount will also help you understand the homes that you can afford to buy.

4. Deal Directly With Home Builders

You may decide that the home you want is likely to be a new build. You may want to initiate a relationship with a home builder to either build a home for you, or help you find a home that is already built. When you know a builder, they can be more helpful than they might be for someone they don’t know.

5. Limit Your Requirements

Sellers in a competitive market can choose who buys the home, so limit your requests of the seller. This doesn’t mean that you should forego having a home inspection, but it does mean that you might want to make some of the suggested repairs yourself.

6. Be Flexible

Buying in a seller’ market means you will face a lot of competition. Sellers can afford to ignore picky buyers, and they will instead look for buyers who are more flexible. Let the seller set the closing date which is usually an important consideration.

7. Research

Learn as much as you can about the entire home buying process so you will be prepared to participate effectively. An informed buyer is easier to work with, and you will also benefit from being knowledgeable. Researching home prices and neighborhoods will help you decide when you have found a good buy. Learn the selling prices of homes in the category you want to buy. You can find the selling price online, and this would be the best indicator of the value of the home.