What Will Give Your Home the Most Curb Appeal?

 

The Jury is IN!  You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Curl Appeal is one of the single most important details you need to address when putting your home on the market!  If your home looks amazing on the outside, Buyers will naturally assume that it looks equally as awesome on the inside. Here’s how:

How attractive your property looks when viewed by passer-byers can make all the difference in today’s market. To make sure potential homebuyers get a great first impression, consider improving your place by doing the following:

1. Revamp the front door.

Never underestimate the impact the main entrance of your house has on its curb appeal. Make sure it looks great by giving it a new coat of paint that stands out but still fits in with the rest of the home’s color scheme. Unless it’s worth replacing, in which case we recommend a custom wood door, be sure to give the door a good cleaning and polish before painting it.

2. Include nice porch furniture

If you have a porch that’s visible from the street, you can make your place look more inviting and homelike by adding some furniture. Things like nice wooden benches and a wicker patio set can make your curb appeal skyrocket. If you have the money, swap out your ruined rockers and other old porch furniture in favor of something new gliders with matching ottomans, for example.

3. Redo the house numbers

There’s just something about neat, eye-catching house numbers that leaves a good impression, especially to people on the hunt for a new house. If you don’t believe us, walk around your current neighborhood and you’ll see the difference big, bold house numbers make. It also helps to make them stand out by using aged copper, hand-painted tiles, or something unique when compared to other nearby houses.

4. Light up the place

Making sure the front of your place has great landscape lighting can improve your home’s curb appeal while making it a safer place. Switch out old lamps, pendant lights, and wall sconces with new ones that look better and offer more lighting. Pathway lights, especially solar-powered, that illuminate the walking path in your home will make the property appear better and more secure.

5. Spruce up the verdure

While there are exceptions, most people find a house with no plants outside boring-looking. If your front yard is lacking in the foliage department, invest in some new plants to give your home some vibrancy. Plant flowers, add potted plants, replace ugly weeds with a fresh lawn whatever it takes to make the area look lively and attractive.

6. Tap into your artistic side

Add a touch of style and class to your front yard by including outdoor artwork. We’re talking about things like birdbaths, fountains, and sculptures that leave a lasting impression on passer-byers. If you’re on a budget, even a few wind chimes or home-made wheel planter can do their part to improve your house’s curb appeal.

7. Doll up your windows

Unless your windows are already gorgeous and just need a good cleaning, consider investing in attractive shutters made of materials that complement the rest of your house These days exterior shutters can be made of anything from vinyl and wood to aluminum, fiberglass, and wood. You’d be surprised by how much your home’s curb appeal goes up thanks to beautiful windows.

8. Replace (or touch up) anything else that looks old

At the end of the day, it may just be an old gutter system or exterior walls in serious need of repainting that’s dragging down your property’s curb appeal. Cracked walkways, time-worn fences, and even a rusty door knocker are all things you should look out for. Instead of adding to the front of your porch, sometimes all it takes is revamping the old to significantly improve your home’s look.

Source:  Dream Casa

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 12:20 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: curb appeal, decorating, remodeling, selling, staging, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

16 Genius Storage Ideas You Probably Haven’t Thought Of

Too much stuff and no where to store it?  Read on for ingenious ways to find a nook and cranny for all the items you can’t bear to give up!

Here are some awesome ideas to get you get organized and find a “home” for all of your things.

When your home has a place for everything it is magical. You open up cabinets to neat piles of Tupperware. Your closet is organized with shoes, belts and accessories organized in a way that would give Carried Bradshaw envy. Your garage is neat and each tool is hung with care while your children’s toys are lined up and ready to be used at their convenience.

Let’s be serious, there are very few who can actually say their home has enough space for all of their things. In the battle of you vs square footage, you rarely feel like you come out on top. Here are some awesome ideas to get you get organized and find a “home” for all of your things.

Underneath Steps

Don’t let that space underneath your stairs go to waste. Depending on the size available you may even be able to create a small office like the image in the bottom left.

Images via shelterness, artemendoza and homedit

Inside Cabinet Doors

The inside of cabinet doors are hidden which makes them a perfect place for storage. We especially love the idea for the spices below.

Cabinet Door Storage

Images via iheartorganizing, Houzz, Instructables & thesepreciousdays

Up!

Look up and you will be amazed at all of the places you can find to store things. From the garage ceiling to the space above doors, it is important to use every inch without making a room feel cluttered.

Images via dgdoors, accentondesign, flor & marthastewart

Underneath Your Counters

If you have a smaller kitchen you know what it is like to open up a cabinet and have things fall onto you…it’s miserable. Clear up some space by taking advantage of the area underneath your counters.

Under Counter Storage

Images via thedesignfile, kellysthoughtsonthings, stashvault & kitchenstuffplus

Souce: CB Blue Matter / Lindsay Listanski

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, cabinets, cleaning, interior decorating, living small, maximizing space, organization, projects, small space, steps, storage, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

8 Steps You Need to Know Before Redecorating Your Home

Breaking out the paintbrushes, fabric samples and hitting Home Goods and Pinterest for some good ideas?  Here are some 8 steps you need to know before you get started!

Here’s how to prioritize your game plan for your room makeover.

If you have a DIY decorating project on your horizon but don’t know where to start, here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the process.

1. Commit to a Budget and Timeline

First, figure out your total project budget. If you skip this step, you’ll likely spend much more than you anticipated and make poor purchasing decisions you’ll later regret.

Also pick a date to complete your project by, even if you don’t have a looming reason to do so. Creating a complete-by date will fuel your project so it can take flight. Completing one stage of a project informs the next and the next. Otherwise, approaching your project piecemeal will delay completion, if you even complete it at all.

By Mitchell Parker 

Set up a good system to keep track of your expenditures. I use an Excel spreadsheet, but even a spiral notebook can work for smaller projects. The key is to keep it updated.

Here’s an example of how I keep a running log of project expenses. While the main goal is tracking the total amount spent, I also indicate the store (which I left off here because stores will vary based on your location and preference), method of payment, general description and any notes, such as delivery fees — useful information that may come in handy later.

Keep all of your receipts together in one location. You can refer to them easily for warranty information and returns, if needed. I use a small zip pouch made for holding pens and pencils while I’m out shopping. After I return and enter them into the spreadsheet, I stapled each receipt to a piece of paper and store that neatly in a project folder.

Photo by Dina Holland Interiors 

2. Evaluate Your Needs and Lifestyle

Separating wants and needs is a hard one. Prioritize your needs by first creating a list of the furniture and accessories you envision going into your space. List any work you want to do, like painting or wallpapering, too. Then rate each item 1 through 5, with 1 indicating an absolute must and 5 reflecting a nonnecessity. Reorder the items on the list with the necessities at the top and the more wishful items at the bottom. Involve other family members in this process. They may identify overlooked items.

Also, be honest about your family’s lifestyle requirements today instead of at some far-off idyllic future date. For example, if the kiddos use your family room as a playspace, include toy storage on your list. You may have some child safety needs too. Also note any special concerns about pets, such as shed fur or the potential for furniture to get clawed.

3. Decide What Stays and What Goes

Based on your list, identify any pieces of furniture or accessories that you absolutely want to keep in the space. Remove the pieces you don’t plan to reuse; consider donating them if they’re in good shape or selling them online or through a local consignment store.

4. Draw a Preliminary Furniture Plan

If your project is small, this step may not be necessary. However, if you’re buying new furniture or just considering a new configuration, it’s extremely helpful to try out pieces in different locations to see what fits and what doesn’t. The last thing you want is to end up with a too-big piece of furniture. You’ll need a tape measure or laser measuring tool to measure your space and a scale ruler to draw it to scale. A simple sketch illustrating only the outside dimensions is all that’s necessary.

If you don’t have these items or don’t feel comfortable with drawing to scale, an alternative is to “draw” the outlines of furniture with masking tape on your floor or cut furniture-size shapes out of butcher paper to maneuver around on the floor.

Don’t forget about circulation space. Ideally, you’ll want to keep 18 inches between the edge of the sofa and the coffee table. Maintain 36 inches for comfortable general circulation. Since you may not have found specific furniture pieces yet and don’t have detailed furniture dimensions, you may need to revise the size of some furniture pieces as your project progresses. Nonetheless, this exercise is a good starting point.

Also measure your entrance door and the pathway to the room, including building elevators if you live in a high-rise. Bring these notes with you when shopping. If there are any delivery dimension concerns, you can address them then and there.

Photo by Colordrunk Designs

5. Concentrate on Big Items First

Focus first on the big-impact items, then concentrate on smaller accessories. Too often people get hung up on a small detail that can derail the flow of the bigger items. The idea is to work from large to small.

Find furniture. Unless you’re lucky to find the furniture you want in stock, most furniture takes eight to 12 weeks for fabrication. However, even in-stock furniture may not be delivered right away. If available, get a swatch of the upholstery or finish sample to help with other room selections.

Unless you’re comfortable working with a complex color palette, minimizing your scheme to two colors, as in the space here, will make shopping easier — and your space will look sharp and put-together.

Work the walls. Compared with any other design material, wall paint gives a room the most bang for your buck. I find it easiest to select a wall paint color or wallpaper after the furniture is selected. You have much more leeway with paint color choices than furniture upholstery. Plan to get your space prepped and painted prior to the furniture delivery.

Photo by Sroka Design, Inc. 

Hit the ceiling. Color instead of conventional white on the ceiling is another cost-effective attention-grabber, especially if you have crown molding to separate it from the walls, like in this living room.

6. Move Toward the Mediums

After you’ve figured out your furniture layout and color scheme, focus on finding the midscale items that will pull your space together, such as an area rug. Your scaled drawing will also come in handy to see how prospective rugs will work with your furniture layout.

Photo by Country Curtains

Window treatments like Roman shades and drapery can offer lots of style compared to run-of-the-mill Venetian blinds. They can minimize less-than-perfect windows and help save on energy bills, too. New window treatments don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Ribbon-trimmed cordless shades like the ones shown here here can be ordered online for $100 to $125.

Photo by Meg Adams Interior Design 

A feature light fixture, like the one in this dining room, can become a stunning design focus.

7. Save the Small Stuff for Last

Fill in your scheme with decorative accessories toward the end of your project. You’ll be able to see what areas need attention and have a better sense of scale, especially with artwork. With the furniture in place, you’ll also have easy access to key dimensions, like the clearance between shelves.

I also like to shop for table lamps, particularly lamps that will sit behind a sofa, after the furniture is delivered so I can see how all the heights work or don’t work together. Cord lengths and switch locations are also easier to evaluate when the furniture is in place.

Photo by Larette Design 

8. Leave Room for the Unexpected

You may come across something surprising in your decorating journey that has special meaning or even adds a bit of humor, like these Hulk hand bedpost toppers. Don’t discount originality or quirkiness; it’s what makes your home truly yours.

Source:  CB Blue Matter / RisMedia

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 3:29 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: curb appeal, decorating, DIY, interior decorating, projects, real estate, staging, trends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

6 DIY Backyard Projects From Lighting to Fire Pits

With summer swiftly approaching, it could be time for sprucing up the ole backyard a bit!  Here are some great DIY projects that are sure to add some summertime family fun and enjoyment!

Remember backyards? Those things we’ve been ignoring for the past four months? They’re back! They might not be looking as sharp as they did before winter, but we’ve got some rad DIY backyard projects to bring it back to life.

1. Ground-Level Trampoline

Photo Credit: Little Green Fingers

Do you live in constant fear of your kids falling off the trampoline? Honestly—parenting fears aside—trampolines might be fun, but they’re pretty ugly structures. Well, with these sunken trampolines, you’ll never have to worry about either of those things. Just dig a hole, place your trampoline, and voila! (Ground-Level Trampoline Instructions)

2. The Only Thing Better Than a Tree House

Photo Credit: LazySundayCooking.com

Marta Potoczek was looking for a treehouse alternative, something that looked nice but offered a little distance from the main house. Her solution was this adorable garden house, originally for her daughter to play in and now a perfect woman cave. Moral of the story: Your treehouse need not be on a tree.

3. Tin Can Lanterns

Photo Credit: GrowCreativeBlog.com

This project is both DIY and eco-friendly (because recycling is good). They are easy to make, and will elevate your backyard to the next level. It’s a win-win! (Tin Can Lantern Instructions)

4. How About Some Outdoor Tic-Tac-Toe?

Photo Credit: DesignDiningandDiapers.com

I don’t have a backyard, but I’m considering making one of these anyways. Not only is Tic-Tac-Toe the best (especially when you’re super good at it), but it also scores high in decorative value. With little effort, you’ll come across as cool and tasteful. (Outdoor Tic-Tac-Toe Instructions/Supply List)

5. Vertical Garden

Photo Credit: 99Pallets.com

Since we’ve already installed a sunken trampoline, a play house/woman cave, and have a Tic-Tac-Toe board lying around, how about we go for space efficiency with this one? A vertical garden can cover any and all walls. It looks good, it smells nice, and you can eat it! That is the best of all the worlds, if you ask me. (Vertical Garden Instructions)

6. Last, but Not Least: I Promised a Fire Pit

Photo Credit: KeepingItSimpleCrafts.com

If you can’t roast s’mores in your backyard, is it even a backyard? I’m going to go with no. This DIY project costs only $60 to make, but look how fancy. This fire pit will make the perfect centerpiece for the intense fantasy backyard we just built together. (Also: s’mores.)

An awesome backyard is just one DIY away.

Source: RisMedia

Posted on May 4, 2017 at 10:04 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, decorating, DIY, projects, real estate, summer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

8 Home Issues That Could Cause A Home Sale To Fall Through

You’ve put your home on the market and have a nice offer to put into contract. Check out these ways to avoid the pitfalls of your own escrow from falling through!  Sage advice!

Do you know what issues most often turn off buyers or kill a sale? Here are some of the big ones.

From a leaky or aging roof to a positive radon test in the basement, there’s probably a lot on your home sale to-do list. And while, yes, you want your house to look its best for prospective buyers, there are some less-than-obvious issues you should probably address before you list your home for sale. Whether you’re selling a home in San Angelo, TX or planning to list your here’s the lowdown on some common issues that can cause a home sale to fall through.

8 Home Issues To Be Aware Of Before Listing Your Home

  1. Leaking or Old Roof. Roof issues are responsible for 39% of homeowner insurance claims, according to the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association. The typical lifespan of a roof is 20 to 25 years for shingles, and if your for-sale home’s roof is approaching the end of its lifespan, replacing it could get you to the closing table faster.
  2. Damaged Gutters.  Routine gutter maintenance could prevent thousands of dollars in damage to the foundation of a home Recognizing the importance of this chore may require a big storm to pass through, but you’ll be glad you did when your home’s siding, windows, doors and foundation avoid water damage.
  3. Creaky Doors and windows. Expect buyers to open and close doors and windows. A jammed window or creaky door is a quick fix for you but could be a red flag to buyers who want a well-kept home. Replacing windows can bring a 50% to 80% return on your investment, but if they’re not a imperative fix, some sellers would be better served to bump this down a few notches on their must-do list.
  4. Outdated Appliances. Most buyers know they can easily buy a new fridge, but if most of your appliances look as if they belong on That ’70s Show, buyers may wonder what else needs replacing. If you’re planning to take your refrigerator with you when you move, make sure that’s mentioned in your sellers’ disclosure.
  5. Old Heating and Air Conditioning System . A well-maintained HVAC system can last up to 25 years, but an aged one could be a point of concern for buyers — and costly to repair or replace on the fly for a seller who doesn’t want to lose a sale.
  6. Termites. Termite infestation causes more than $5 billion in damage to U.S. homes each year, and sellers are typically required to disclose it. Adding a termite warranty from a remediation company can give your buyer peace of mind. But be warned: termites in your home can often be a deal breaker.
  7. Cracks in Foundation. Cracks in walls or a foundation are often a sign of larger problems. Be prepared to fix structural problems before your house hits the market, or have a plan in place for repairs if a buyer balks after an inspection.
  8. Radon. Radon is a naturally occurring, carcinogenic, radioactive gas that’s formed from the breakdown of uranium. In the home, radon is typically found in the basement or in lower levels. To put in perspective just how dangerous radon can be, consider this: Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer — radon is No. 2.
  9. Bonus: High listing price. Pricing your home too high could ultimately cause your house to miss out on the right buyer, stay on the market longer, and bring in a lower price than the market supports.

Source: Trulia Blog

Posted on May 4, 2017 at 9:59 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: escrow, inspections, maintenance, overpricing, real estate, selling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

You’ve decided to go for it. You know mortgage rates are enticingly low. Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for first-time homebuyers. It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect.

Take these five steps to make the process go more smoothly.

Check Your Credit
Your credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.

“In addition, the standards are higher in terms of what score you need and how it affects the cost of the loan,” says Mike Winesburg, formerly a mortgage planner in Wheeling, W. Va.

Scour your credit reports for mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts.
Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn’t mean your credit is stellar. The amount of credit you’re using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score.

The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.

Repairing damaged credit takes time. If you think your credit may need work, begin the repair process at least six months before shopping for a home.

Evaluate Assets and Liabilities
A first-time homebuyer should have a good idea of money they owe and money they have coming in.

“If I were a first-time homebuyer and I wanted to do everything right, I would probably try to track my spending for a couple of months to see where my money was going,” Winesburg says.

Additionally, buyers should have an idea of how lenders will view their income, and that requires becoming familiar with the basics of mortgage lending.

For instance, some professionals, such as the self-employed or straight-commission salesperson, may have a more difficult time getting a loan than others.

The self-employed or independent contractor will need a solid two years’ earnings history to show, according to Winesburg.

Organize Documents
When applying for mortgages, you must document income and taxes.

Typically, mortgage lenders will request two recent pay stubs, the previous two years’ W-2s, tax returns and the past two months of bank statements—every page, even the blank ones.

“Why it has to be every single last page, I don’t know. But that is what they want to see. I think they look for nonsufficient funds or odd money in or out,” says Floyd Walters, owner of a mortgage company in La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

Qualify Yourself
Ideally, you already know how much you can afford to spend before the mortgage lender tells you how much you qualify for.

By calculating debt-to-income ratio and factoring in a down payment, you will have a good idea of what you can afford, both upfront and monthly.

Though there’s not a fixed debt-to-income ratio that lenders require, the standard dictates that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income be devoted to housing costs. This percentage is called the front-end ratio.

The back-end ratio shows what portion of income covers all monthly debt obligations. Lenders prefer the back-end ratio to be 36 percent or less, but some borrowers get approved with back-end ratios of 45 percent or higher.

Figure Out Your Down Payment
It takes effort to scrape together the down payment.

There are programs that can assist buyers with qualifying incomes and situations.

“I’ve helped arrange assistance loans for $10,000, which are interest- and payment-free, and forgivable after five years. Although considered a loan, they’re more like grants. Other programs can provide up to $40,000 interest-free,” Winesburg says.

Finally, speak with mortgage lenders when you’re starting the process. Check with friends, co-workers and neighbors to find out which lenders they enjoyed working with and ask them questions about the process and what other steps first-time homebuyers should take.

Posted on March 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, credit score, financing, first time buyers, mortgage, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Boost Curb Appeal in a Day…

 

Sometimes when planning to sell a house, in the name of renovating interior living spaces, updating bathrooms, replacing appliances and adding decorative touches throughout the bedrooms, homeowners leave outdoor curb appeal as a last priority. While of course the inside of a home is important, sellers make a big mistake when they neglect the exterior. Why is a home’s exterior so important? Consider this: Curb appeal is often a potential buyer’s first impression of a home, the very thing that helps him/her decide whether or not to come inside. Whether they’re shopping online or by cruising through neighborhoods, the outside of your property is the first thing they’ll notice. If you’re selling your home or about to, how can you quickly and effectively tackle the outdoor appeal? Here are some key tips for boosting the curb appeal in a way that means quick turnaround and increased home value:

1. Start with the Front Door. Believe it or not, your home’s front door can be one of its most important assets. A new steel entry door consistently ranks as one of the most rewarding projects in home repairs, yielding an increase in home value that’s greater than the costs to install one. Likewise, to make the door especially captivating, consider painting it a bold, pleasing color that will grab attention and add charm. When buyers see a new door that looks attractive, they see another asset that makes your home the one to buy.

2. Make Any Necessary Repairs. Is the driveway cracked or the front doorbell busted? Now is the time to call a repair company or get out your own toolbox to make repairs. Buyers want turnkey, move-in-properties, and that means they want properties with repairs already done. Do the work now to get your home in ship-shape condition.

3. Keep Up with Landscaping. From mowing the lawn to pulling weeds, make sure you’re keeping up with your outdoor landscaping so that your home looks presentable and well cared for at all times. Overgrown bushes and dying plants are a surefire signal to potential buyers that you’re not caring for your home and leaving more maintenance for them to handle.

4. Add Lighting. While most buyers will come visit your home during the daytime, it’s not at all unusual for the most interested ones to also drive by at night to see what nighttime curb appeal is like. Landscape lighting can make all the difference in terms of how a home looks, so make an investment in attractive lighting options that illuminate and add interest to your property. “Solar landscaping lights are a great addition to any yard because they don’t require complicated and expensive wiring,” says Bob Vila. “Remember, though, you get what you pay for—cheap lights won’t last as long and simply won’t look as good.”

5. Touch Up Paint. A fresh coat of paint is just as powerful outside as it is inside, so to update your home’s look, repaint the exterior or at least touch up problem areas. Another idea is to paint the trim a new color that creates either a nice complement or contrast to your home’s overall look.

6. Make Over the Mailbox. You might not think a mailbox matters much, but it’s yet another one of those little details that can add up together to make a strong impression on a buyer.

7. Add Outdoor Furniture. From rocking chairs on the front porch to an outdoor patio set on the back deck, outdoor furniture creates outdoor living spaces that expand your home’s appeal. Look for attractive, durable pieces that will endure weather damage and look good for years to come — whether or not you include these pieces with the home sale, setting them up is a great way to stage your home for greater resale value.

The bottom line when it comes to curb appeal is that a little investment today can add up to big rewards tomorrow. Take the time to update, clean, repair and add value to your property’s exterior now and you will make it more attractive to buyers, not to mention more beautiful to come home to. Use the tips above to get started now.

Source: Rismedia

Posted on March 4, 2017 at 11:58 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: curb appeal, maintenance, real estate, selling, staging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get Your Credit Score Ready for Homebuying Season!

Getting ready to buy a home this spring? Make sure there aren’t any cracks in your credit. A good credit score is essential when it comes to securing a mortgage.

“If (your score is) below 600, you’re probably not going to buy a home in the short term,” says Mike Sullivan, director of education at nonprofit credit and debt counseling agency Take Charge America.

Given the slew of stringent regulation introduced following the housing crisis, most lenders simply won’t risk extending this demographic credit. In fact, even consumers with good scores should polish up the ol’ credit report.

Qualifying for the best mortgage rates starts at a 740 credit score. Scores below that threshold will likely have higher interest on their home loans.

So if you plan on hitting up the housing market this April, make sure to pull a copy of your credit report and check to see where your score stands.

Check Your Status

Under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or Credit CARD Act, everyone is entitled to one free credit report from each credit bureau every year.

Obtain a copy of this report from AnnualCreditReport.com. It won’t come with your score—you can purchase that for a nominal fee. But there also are websites that offer free versions of your score year-round.

A recent version of your credit report will show you where you stand in terms of creditworthiness. The report should also spell out what you need to do to improve your score.

“You don’t have to entirely guess,” Sullivan says. “You simply look at what (the score) takes into account and you deal with those issues.”

Get Current

You’ll definitely want to address any delinquent accounts on your record.

“If you are behind, you want to bring those up to date as soon as possible,” says Kathryn Moore, a certified consumer credit counselor with GreenPath Debt Solutions. Delinquent accounts are a huge red flag to mortgage lenders because they demonstrate a lack of ability to repay debts.

They’re also the quickest way to tank your credit score. A missed payment—particularly following an extended period of good credit behavior—can cause a drop of 70 to 90 points.

Sadly, you won’t immediately recoup all those points once the account is reported as up to date.

Instead, “you need to be patient and make all of your payments on time and slowly build your score up” again, says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America.

The role that time plays in building stellar credit is why it’s ideally “a good idea to look at your credit at least a year out” of shopping for a mortgage, says Bruce McClary, a spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Getting a Quick Boost

If you are behind this timeline, there are a few steps you can take to potentially give your score a quick boost.

For starters, scan your credit report for accuracy. An error—such as an old, bad debt; incorrect account balance; or worse yet, a phantom foreclosure—could be needlessly weighing down your score. Have these errors corrected by contacting the credit bureau in question.

“There’s a link (on your credit report) to dispute any inaccurate information,” Moore says. “The credit bureau from there will have to resolve that dispute within 30 days.” Once a negative error is removed, your score should improve.

You can also engineer a quick boost by paying down existing debts, particularly high credit card balances. This move improves your credit utilization rate—essentially how much debt you are carrying versus how much credit has been extended to you — and should bolster your score.

Experts generally say to keep your credit utilization below 20 to 30 percent of your collective credit. However, “you really want to get that ratio down to rock bottom if you’re looking for a house,” McClary says.

Clearing out existing balances will also improve your debt-to-income ratio, which a “lender looks at” closely during their mortgage decision process, Moore says.

Lenders typically say the “back-end” debt-to-income ratio—or the amount of your income that is needed to cover all your monthly debt obligations, including credit card bills and other loans—should be 36 percent or lower.

Finally, if you recently missed a loan payment because you, say, didn’t know about the bill, try calling up the issuer (or lender) to see if they will refrain from letting the credit bureaus know about your faux pas.

What to Avoid

Once you have your score in the upper echelon, make sure it stays there. Avoid running up your credit card balances again, which will help keep your credit utilization in check.

Also avoid applying for other loans, including store credit cards, particularly in an attempt to improve this aforementioned credit utilization rate. Applying for new credit generates hard inquiries on your credit report, which could ding your score.

And “if those inquiries don’t necessarily show up as approved accounts, that sends up a red flag” to lenders because it could look like you were turned down for a credit line, McClary says.

Not to mention that you’re more likely to miss a payment when you have multiple cards at your disposal, Brobeck says.

Conversely, don’t close any accounts while you are looking for a mortgage, as the closure could send your credit utilization skyrocketing in the wrong direction.

Source: RisMedia/Bankrate.com

Posted on March 4, 2017 at 11:50 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, credit score, financing, first time buyers, investor, mortgage, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MUST DO’s Before you move into your new home!

The moving frenzy never ends: Even after you close, the to-do lists drag on and on—endless pages of bullet points that keep you up at night when all you want is to begin your new life. Some of them are fun, like redecorating and buying new furniture.

 Others, not so much.

“When you move into a new house, you’re more concerned with decorating and taking stuff out you don’t like,” says Kevin Minto, president of Signet Home Inspections in Grass Valley, CA. “But let’s not forget about the less romantic things that are mundane—but more important in the long run.”

Once you’ve got the keys, feel free to give yourself a break. You deserve it! But don’t rest on your laurels too long—and make sure to do these eight things right away.

1. Change the locks

Before moving even one tiny piece of furniture into your new home, change the locks—or at least have them rekeyed. It’s not that you don’t trust the sellers (who are, we’re sure, perfectly respectable and upstanding citizens). It’s that you shouldn’t trust everyone who’s had contact with those keys over the years, any of whom could have copied the keys for some unsavory purpose.

2. Change the alarm batteries

Making sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries may not seemlike a pressing issue while you’re in the middle of a stressful move (and aren’t they all), but it’s the kind of thing that gets ignored and then forgotten. Better to deal with it now, when the home is empty and you can make a quick sweep of the house—without lugging a ladder around furniture.

3. Review your home inspector’s report

Can’t find your inspector’s report? Minto says reports are often filed with the escrow papers—but don’t wait until something goes wrong to pull them out. A good home inspector will outline the most important issues in their report, so use their expertise as a guide for your first few days of ownership. If they’ve marked anything as particularly pressing, make sure to handle it before moving in.

4. Find the circuit breaker

If you were there during inspection, you should know where your junction box is, but if you don’t, finding it “should be the first and foremost thing that should be attended to,” Minto says. During a move, when you’re plugging all sorts of electrical doodads into the wall, you don’t want to be lost in the dark hunting for that elusive metal box. (While you’re there, find the water shut-off, too.)

Then, get familiar: If it’s not already well-marked, have your spouse or another family member stand in different parts of the house while you flip different switches, and make a note of which ones handle different rooms.

5. Deal with any water problems

Looking at that inspector’s report? Deal with water-related issues immediately, says Minto. These tend to be troublesome because they’re so easily ignored—”out of sight, out of mind,” he says. A leaky toilet might seem minor, but the steady drip can damage internal structural components.

Check your roof, too: If the rubber vent boots on your roof are leaking, you might not know it for a while.

“By the time they see it in a ceiling, there’s been a fair amount of water,” Minto says.

6. Caulk everything

This one isn’t mandatory, but caulking is a whole lot easier if you do it when the house is empty, letting you see all the nooks and crannies that might need a little sealing—and don’t forget the exterior. Minto says he sees caulking issues on “every home,” and while they might seem minor, it doesn’t take long before cracking gives way to leaks and even more water issues.

7. Plan your emergency exits

Before you begin bringing in furniture, walk through every room and decide how you would escape in an emergency. This can help

Posted on March 4, 2017 at 11:47 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, first time buyers, inspections, insurance, maintenance, move up buyer, real estate, security | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Buyers Offer More for a Staged Home

Posted on February 28, 2017 at 8:10 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, emptynester, first time buyers, maintenance, move up buyer, real estate, selling, Smart Homes, staging, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,