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PLAN YOUR MOVE – REDUCE YOUR STRESS!

Moving and all that entails: choosing a mover, getting quotes, insurance, packing, over-packing, etc. can create a stress level that is anything but fun and exciting.  In our heads we create this fabulous experience yet without some solid planning and due diligence, the result will most likely be “I will never move again!!” Let’s look at a few things you can do to help create the fun move fantasy that lives in your head.

1. Choose your mover wisely.

Yes, there are moving scams so beware and be diligent. Again, remember the cheapest price is rarely the “Best” deal! Moving can be very costly so take the time to do your homework and review both details listed on websites AND random reviews. Check out the name of the company you’re considering on Ripoffreport.com. Not only can you see negative reviews & complaints, but how well the company handled the complaints thru the Better Business Bureau. You can also research your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation to see if your company has been flagged for complaints and misdeeds. Any of your friends, family or co-workers moved recently? Find out who they used and what kind of experience they had.  If they rave, take note and get a quote. If they say, it was ‘ok’ or less than satisfactory, you’ll know what companies to cross off your list hence not wasting your time.

2. Comparison shop and review quotes carefully checking out every ounce of small print or exceptions.

When hiring a moving company, one of the first indicators of their price to value is their willingness to come out to your home and provide you with a professional detailed estimate and not quote you over the phone based on your inexperienced information. Unless you have done this several times before or are in the industry, there are many factors that you just won’t be cognizant of so educate yourself by choosing a company that will walk you fully through the process, pricing and incidental factors that can arise and increase your bottom line dramatically. If they won’t come, tell them no thanks!  Just like any major purchase, it’s best to get multiple quotes and compare not just their price, but how they treated you, advised you and were willing to take time to answer all your questions. An attention to detail at this starting point will usually reflect an attention to detail throughout the process. As nice as the company rep or owner might be and all the extras they say “they’ll throw in”, say thank you and then GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING!! Note: If this is a short  move, you might want to compare the costs and headaches of hiring professional movers with doing the job yourself with the help of some wonderful friends and family. Always good to do those old fashioned pros and cons list to determine if this is a feasible option.

3. Schedule your move as early as possible.

Getting quotes and choose a moving company can take time when you do it right, so make sure and leave yourself enough time and do it far enough ahead of when you will be moving so that you don’t get stuck having to use an inferior company simply because they’re the only ones available. Companies with great reputations and minimal complaints will book up quickly so get them out, choose the one you want to use and get on their schedule. Even if it’s months ahead of your actual move, when push comes to shove, this is one thing you won’t have to worry about.

4. Pack with ease and cost in mind.

Do you really need to move baby clothes that your children have outgrown or your grown children don’t want for their children. I get the sentiment…right there with you and this is a tough one but remember each box added to the moving truck adds considerable cost to your bottom line. That goes for nik naks, boxed up ‘treasures’ that you haven’t looked at since you moved them from your last home to this home, books you never plan to read again (this one can really pay off because books make for very heavy boxes), clothes you haven’t worn in over a year, pans you never cook with, etc etc etc.  This is a great time to purge and start fresh in your new home. Go through your bins, boxes, closets and shelves and make piles: Toss….Give away to a friend or family member who will appreciate what you’re sharing with them….Give to charity…..Sell at a garage sale. Sometimes it is very hard to let go but if you’re going to have to pay for a storage place at your new home to accommodate all your ‘extra stuff’, or load up your basement or garage the day you move in, think of the word “Edit” and begin the journey to a less cluttered, less cumbersome and more free lifestyle in your new home!

5. Start packing from the moment you decide to move!

Packing is fun for around the first few hours. After that, well, let’s just say your mood will be less than happy and excited! You can reduce the stress of packing by starting immediately and doing it in small increments of time instead of all at once. Go room by room with a clipboard and make a list of items that can be packed ahead of time and stacked and ready to go…ie: off season clothing, linens, blankets, holiday decor, etc. Remember the most important step, LABEL ALL YOUR BOXES AND BINS not  only with what room they go in but a breakdown of what’s in there. This will be very helpful at the other end so you know which boxes or bins to open first or set aside for later. This will allow you to settle in gracefully instead of pulling out your hair trying to find your utensils or mugs and coffee maker which you want right away.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!!!

We all have those friends and family that will be more than willing to assist us when we need help. It will be much kinder and easier to get them to help if you are doing your packing in spurts. A couple of hours on a Saturday, Sunday or evening here and there is much more palatable than asking someone to give up their entire weekend because you dropped the ball  with planning.

REMEMBER THE ADAGE, IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN YOU PLAN TO FAIL.  This is so true when it comes to something as huge and significant as moving.

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HOA Pros and Cons

Homeowner’s Associations have grown in number especially with homes built within the last 10 years. Some think that’s great and others have discovered the downfalls of living under the thumb of their HOA. So let’s address the possible pros and cons. Then decide whether you want to live with the extra cost and rules.

Pro: Because of the rules established by your Homeowner’s Association, you can be pretty assured that your neighborhood will be well maintained. Some typical items under the HOA’s control are: Keeping your lawn manicured; Garbage cans must be put out after a certain time and brought back in within x number of hours after pickup; Restrictions on street parking or leaving boats/trucks in the driveway; Limitations on exterior home paint colors creating a uniformity within the neighborhood.

Pro: Many of your upkeep costs are shared by all members of the HOA ie: Common lawn areas and entries of the subdivision; Community snow removal which can definitely be a plus after big snowfalls guaranteeing that your streets will be plowed and you can get out and to work or the kids to school; Upkeep of community amenities like pools, fitness center, clubhouse party rooms, social areas, trails, boat docks, playgrounds, parks, etc; Newsletter distribution with updates, announcements and community events; some even offer 24 hour emergency maintenance!

Pro: Community Amenities might be included in your fee providing activities for your family that you might otherwise have to pay seasonal fees or costs to take advantage of ie: Pool, Clubhouse, Fitness Center, Social Activities like game nights, cards, billiards, tennis courts, etc.; Parks, Trails, Kid’s pools and playgrounds; Manned and unmanned gated entry to the subdivision and in some cases Security Patrol as well.

Pro: By participating in the HOA ( by joining the board or participating in community sponsored events) you have the opportunity to meet and get to know more of your neighbors, which can be a real plus if you’re new to the area.

Pro:  In the event you and your neighbor find yourself disagreeing about something that pertains to your properties, you can ask your association to mediate by filing a grievance with your HOA Board or your Management company.

Con: HOA Dues. When determining how much home you can afford, you will need to definitely factor in your monthly dues + any reserve funds required in the event there are major repairs necessary in the neighborhood. You DO NOT want to get behind on your HOA fees as they have the ability to put a lien on your home and even foreclose in spite of the fact that your mortgage is current.

Con: If you purchase a home and then decide you want to expand on it say with a screened patio, or a deck or even in some cases planting flowers, you may have to get permission from your board to do so and they very often say no so even though you own your home, you don’t own what you do with it.

Con:  If your HOA is poorly managed and gets into financial problems, it could bring down the values of all the properties in the subdivision and even affect your ability to get a loan on your home if you’re trying to refinance your mortgage or take out an equity loan.

Con:  You have to follow the rules even if you don’t agree with them. You can petition to try and get the rule changed but will have to live with the result even if it’s not in your favor.

The point is, HOAs can be very very good BUT they can also be very very bad. Before you purchase a home, condo, townhome that lives within an HOA, take the time (and it will take time) to read the entire bylaws. It will be time well spent so you can make an educated decision on your true dream home!

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Happy Independence Day!

Let today be the day you use ByOwner.com to help you declare your independence from renting by helping you find your dream home! As a seller, let us help Set You Free from your current home so you can move on to your new adventure!! Happy Independence Day!

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Share Lifestyle not Structure!

 

Does everyone mention how amazing green your grass is….or how great your yard is for summer entertaining….or how beautiful your garden is….or how fabulous your yard looks all lit up for relaxing on your deck in a night summer breeze or swimming under the night sky in your fabulous pool? 

Summer selling definitely can slow down due to graduations, weddings, holidays, vacations, etc. So you need to get creative and highlight all those details that make your home the perfect summer getaway! Give buyers a reason to choose your home right now over others that might offer some benefits yours does not.

* Make sure your landscapes are manicured and your flowers fresh and well cared for. 

* Take pictures of your home at night and PRINT THEM in at least a 5 x 7 size so you can show them to daytime shoppers

or folks who come to your open house.  Image result for free images of pool living spaces lit up at night

* Consider having a dusk Open House so you can let them really experience the outdoor lifestyle of their dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Had See the source imagea wedding in your yard (big enough to utilize a huge white tent) or around your patio & pool? Again, blow up photos to show your prospective buyers.  

* Pick some of your beautiful perennial garden flowers and showcase them throughout your home in large and small vases. Live plants invoke oxygen into indoor spaces and create a very positive energy. Image result for free images of at summer flowers in vases

* ‘Set’ the outdoor living space with a pitcher of crisp water loaded with colorful fruits (strawberries, kiwi, orange slice, pineapples, red & green grapes) and some lovely summer looking glasses for your ‘guests’ to enjoy while looking at your beautiful yard or inviting pool.

* If you’re on a waterfront property with spectacular views from the home and outdoors make sure that they are highlights of your home tour. If the Master Suite or any living area opens out to a patio or balcony, have those doors open so as they walk into the room it’s as if they’re walking right out into the view.

Showcasing and showing your home do not have to be scary or difficult. Just remember, no matter what time of the year, don’t sell them your home but rather the lifestyle your home offers!

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Update Your Kitchen & Baths without Downgrading your Bank Account!

It really is true that the most important rooms to update when selling are Kitchens and Baths. Sometimes that can seem overwhelming cost wise but there are ways to update your countertops, vanities, sinks, faucets and even appliances at a minimal cost by shopping really smart!

Shop clearance aisles at your local big box stores or outlet stores like Sears Outlet where you can find any appliance including washers and dryers at a very reduced cost due to a slight scratch or dent. The beauty of these is that often the blemish will be hidden next to a wall or cabinet due to the format of your room so the appliance looks brand new yet cost far less than it would blemish free.

A kitchen sink is a necessity, but it also can be the focal point. For this reason, the sink should always be in good shape. Take a look at your sink. Is it porcelain and badly stained? Is it stainless steel but dull and lifeless? If doing a deep cleaning won’t help, watch for sales at big box stores or places like HOBOs (Homeowners Bargain Outlet…specific to certain areas but you may find another similar type store in your area) Keep in mind if you shop this kind of store, if you see something you want buy it because it may never be there again. to further keep your cost down make sure the new sink is the same size as the old one.

Updating your faucets and hardware (Kitchen and Baths) can bring your home from the 1980s into the 21st century. There are many inexpensive options available in many stores that look far more expensive than they cost. To keep your cost down get the same style as the existing faucets (1-2-3 piece). That way if your sink is still in good shape by simply updating the faucet it can look brand new.

You can even get a great deal on new countertops by eliminating the middle man. Instead of buying at a big box store or Kitchen design center, go directly to a wholesale stone or granite company and purchase directly from them. You can save hundreds to thousands of dollars by eliminating that one step.

Update your light fixtures. If you can’t afford to have recessed lighting installed, make sure your ceiling lights are current. Again by at outlet or discount big box stores.

Baths: Need a new vanity? Have an old dresser? Convert it into a custom vanity by hollowing out the center and adding a sink. Get rid of mirrors that sit flush to the wall and replace with a more modern look by adding a framed mirror. Have a double sink vanity? Put two separate frame mirrors and you’ll duplicate what you find builders will do in custom homes. Instant update!

You don’t have to break the bank to update your Kitchen and Baths. Be creative, shop smart and marvel at your results. The only problem with this is you may like what you’ve done so much, you might decide not to move!

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Common Buyers Closing Costs

Monies You’ll Be Responsible to Provide at Closing

As a Buyer, if you are purchasing your new home subject to a mortgage, you will have certain costs that will be settled at your closing. Some of these may vary by state but as a general rule, before they hand you the keys, you will be handing them:

Down payment:  This is the difference between your purchase price and your mortgage and ultimately represents how much equity you will possess on day one.
Escrow funds: Your mortgage lender will require these funds at closing to make sure that there’s enough money in your account to pay upcoming tax and insurance.
Third-party fees: Third party costs incurred in the processing of your loan. ie: appraisal fees, title insurance & fees for your credit report if applicable.
Per diem interest: This covers the daily interest cost covering the time frame between your closing date & your first mortgage payment due date.
Homeowners association (HOA) dues: If your new home requires HOA or Condo Assoc dues, you may be required to pay the first year’s cost at closing. Sometimes this is negotiated with the seller and if they have paid the fees as part of your agreement, they should provide proof of payment at closing.
Discount points: A discount point is a fee you’ve agreed to pay to lower your interest rate. This is due at closing.
Commission:  Though this is typically a seller’s cost, if you’ve agreed to pay your agent any part of the commission due, that will be deducted at closing.
If you have any other costs, they will be detailed on your Closing Disclosure form which you will receive 3 days prior to your closing date for review. If you question any of the costs on that document, contact the closing agency asap to ensure your closing is not delayed.

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We Honor and Thank Our Military and Their Families!

 Image result for memorial day images freeFirst, let me state that we, at BuyOwner.com,  are grateful for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and appreciate and thank our active military and veterans for your service. There are home ownership and rental benefits for both active military, veterans and the families of those who were lost in battle. When you’re ready to get started with your BuyOwner.com advertising, we will gratefully provide you with a Military discount! To help you on your journey to home ownership or leasing options, below you’ll find valuable information that will make your home search more manageable, less stressful and lead you to your new home!

One of the first places to check for eligibility, benefits and assistance is the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Some of their offerings include $0 down payment mortgages, housing grants for disabled veterans (with service related disabilities) and even have help if you’re choosing to rent instead of own. So let’s get started so you can move into your well earned lifestyle!

VA MORTGAGE GUARANTY PROGRAM

Veterans and service members can use this mortgage program if they are wanting to buy a home with no down payment. VA mortgages generally do cost less and provide for more flexible qualification requirements than traditional conventional mortgages.

BENEFIT FOR SERVICE RELATED DISABLED VETS – ADAPTIVE HOUSING GRANTS

If you are a veteran suffering with service related disabilities, you are eligible to receive assistance with the costs of altering your existing home or with building a new home. Visit the VA website to review details regarding 3 possible programs designed to help you live as independently as possible. They are: Special Housing Adaptation, Specially Adapted Housing and Temporary Residence Adaptation.

FORECLOSURE PREVENTION

Already own a home but suffering from some financial challenges; before you give up and walk away (which will incur more challenges in the future) contact your local VA office or the VA website to speak with counselors specifically focused on helping you avoid foreclosure. You can take advantage of this help even if your mortgage is not a VA loan.

ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE THROUGH YOUR HOME STATE

Active duty personnel and veterans can access state assistance with housing related benefits such as the Military Housing Assistance Fund. This provides help with closing costs related to your new mortgage. If you’re disabled, you may qualify for partial or full exemption from property taxes (may not be available in all states).

EMERGENCY AID FOR HOMELESS VETERANS

Several local agencies work in tandem with the VA to provide housing vouchers and subsidized rents for vets who are already or in danger of becoming homeless. If you need this help now or fear you may need it in the future, contact your local VA Medical Center via: 877-424-3838. You can also access information and assistance by going to va.gov/homeless.

Again, we at BuyOwner.com, appreciate your service and hope to assist you to the best of our ability with your home ownership/leasing goals!

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And They Lived Happily Ever After!

So you’re moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone but want to find a home in a neighborhood that suits your personality, lifestyle and family needs. How do you find your perfect home?

  • Family Friendly:  If you have children and are hoping to find a neighborhood where there are other children close in age and schools that are ranked for excellence then spend some time driving through areas you’re considering on a Saturday or Sunday.  Look for people with strollers, kids on trikes or bikes, parks where kids are playing sports, etc. Also research school districts online. All  pertinent information regarding recognition, class size, or problems are readily available via multiple websites. If you really want your kids to be able to walk to school, remember to do a walk from the home you’re considering to elementary, middle and high school.
  • Community Involvement: If you’re seeking an area where block parties are  common, community parades, events and social activities are the norm then        pumpkincheck out the city’s website. They will have details of recent and upcoming events plus typically include a photo gallery to let you know how much fun it is to live there. If you don’t see any of that on the city’s website, you might want to reconsider your location.
  • Singles Amenities: Check out the area on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Are you seeing active night life in restaurants, bars or clubs? Maybe you want to partylive near a sports stadium…ie: Wrigleyville in Chicago offers night time games, lots of bars and restaurants and lots of into the night activities. So, if that’s what you seek, check it out in the evening or late night. If you’re looking for a quiet night neighborhood, you’ll know this isn’t the place for you even if you like the homes available.
  • Automobile Friendly:  If you’re looking into urban areas and you own a car, you might want to check out included garage or deeded parking spaces. If there’s permit street parking that could be good for you but could be a problem if you like to entertain. Check out accessibility to highways and public transportation if commuting is going to be a factor in your decision.
  • Access to Shopping: Do you want to be able to run to the grocery store in under 5 minutes? Then a rural area is probably not a good fit for you and both suburban and urban areas might offer their own challenges so if you find a neighborhood you like, take the extra time to explore how close you are to stores and malls. Too close because you don’t want the added retail traffic? Or too far because you don’t want to have to run 20 minutes away for some needed milk or bread.
  • Crime: There are numerous sites online where you can simply put in an address with crime rating and you will be able to learn a lot.
  • Walking Score: Typically this is more specific to urban areas and includes neighborhoods agreeable to both families and singles.

Urban vs suburb vs rural vs acreage…..Sit down before you even begin looking and decide what type of area(s) fit you and suit your wants, needs and don’t forget…your budget. Take your time to research both online and in person. Make an educated vs emotional decision and you can live your happily ever after!

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Control Your Credit Score!

As anyone who’s applied for a credit card, a loan or a lease (not to mention a mortgage) can tell you, your credit rating matters. And while it’s important to remember that you can’t raise your score overnight, there are some steps you can take that will improve it over time. Consider these:

1. Always pay your bills on time. This factor carries a lot of weight in how your credit score is factored so don’t allow yourself to believe that being late once in a while doesn’t really matter because it really does! This essentially is what good credit is all about. When you’ve established yourself as someone who can consistently pay what you owe, you prove you are a responsible credit user. Also, the longer you’ve been paying on time, the better.

2. Pay down your debt. If you haven’t been paying your credit cards on time (thus the problem with your credit in the first place), the best way to repair the damage is also the simplest: pay down the debt! Simplest in getting results but this can seem impossible and overwhelming. Taking the time to do some reading and studying on what will be the best method for you to follow to reduce your debt will definitely pay off with a less stressed lifestyle and the ability to make life decisions such as buying a home with confidence.

3. Don’t apply for multiple cards at one time or within short spans of time. It’s a common misconception that having many cards = better credit. In reality, the key is establishing good credit over time, and that’s why it’s not smart to open lots of cards at once. Doing so may red flag your credit rating that you may be not handling your money well. Better to have only a couple of cards that you consistently pay on time or off monthly which will allow you to see credit increases on those cards which then in turn will show you are a low risk buyer.

4. Know the facts. Did you know paying off a collection account won’t take it off your report? Not for seven years. Did you also know closing unused credit cards can possibly lower your score? This can negatively change your debt to credit % causing your score to drop even though you, in essence are still a good risk. Knowing these things can make a difference in how you approach credit.

5. Check your reports. Want to know what your current credit report reveals? The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires three reporting agencies — Trans Union, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian—to provide you with an annual report, free of charge. For more information, click here. Most credit cards now offer free monthly or quarterly FICO scores that you can review online. This does not include your full report but does give you your score and what is positively or negatively affecting it. It also typically will notify you if there has been a change up or down in your score.

6. Dispute errors. One of the reasons it’s such a good idea to check your credit is that there may be errors affecting your score. When you check your annual reports, be prepared to dispute any incorrect items. If you receive a notification from one of your credit cards that your score has changed check it out immediately so you can get the problem resolved asap. This is especially important in the event your identity has been compromised.

 

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Home Inspection: Value For and Would Waiving This Contingency Ever Serve You?

Getting a home inspection certainly sounds like a very important step in your buying process. So what is the value and is there ever a time when waiving having this done would serve your ultimate goal of living in your dream home?

There is certainly value to you as a buyer to get a good home inspection (meaning do your homework researching possible home inspectors you would use BEFORE you make an offer!). You may only have a typical 5-7 days allowed to have the inspection done so after you are under contract is not the time to start looking for an inspector. A good home inspector will be able to make you aware of possible troublesome issues of a house. But keep in mind, they can only “see” what they can see. They won’t be opening up walls or pulling up tacked down carpeting to take a closer look. They will tell you if utility systems and appliances are in good repair and working order and some will even tell you what kind of life span you could expect from them, also, if there are any issues with the roof,  been water or obvious mold issues, electrical, plumbing, fireplaces and chimney liners, etc. Now, that said, can some things get missed? Sure, but, again, if you do your due diligence in seeking out a very good inspector with an A+ rating and excellent reviews, you can move forward with your purchase with the most confidence possible.

Should you ever waive the inspection in order to get your offer accepted?  If you are in a market that is so strong that homes are sold as soon as or before they even hit the market, are mostly all cash offers or offer a 10-21 day close then insisting on a home inspection may cause you to be sitting on the sidelines watching your dream home(s) slip away one after the other. You may have to consider waiving contingencies including the inspection if you want to WIN the battle of the buy!