How to Find Inexpensive Art for Your Home

Add your own flair to your home through art with these creative & inexpensive ideas.

Your home should reflect your personality, interests, and all the people and things you love. One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is through the artwork you display around your home. When my husband & I moved into our apartment, we initially worried about finding art that was not only beautiful, but at a price point that wouldn’t break our budget. Here’s what we discovered:

Print Your Favorite Photos on Canvas
Some of our favorite artwork displayed in our home is actually photos we took ourselves while traveling, and had blown up & printed onto canvas. Snapfish allows you to create your own canvas photo art starting at $39, and it’s the perfect way to show off your favorite family photos or pay homage to your favorite vacation spot as a reminder to get back out there!

One Word: Ikea
I have somewhat of an Ikea obsession, and their “decoration” department is no exception. Between their extensive collection of artistic prints, frames, and accessories, you could truly find something for every room in your home — and still have money left over for those Swedish meatballs on your way out.

Joss and Main
Clicking around on this website is like digging for treasure – except you always find one .. or two, or three. This site is beautifully curated with discounted art, furniture, rugs, bedding… you get the idea. The best part? You can browse by style, so if you’re going for a certain vibe – coastal, bohemian, rustic – the site will only show you items that align with that style.

DIY
One of our favorite pieces of art in our home is one we made ourselves. I find my inspiration for these projects on – you guessed it – Pinterest! It’s not only a great way to add something totally unique and special to your home, but it provides a great excuse to gather up your art supplies and enjoy a relaxing day of creativity. You can see a few of my favorite Pinterest DIY projects herehere, & here.

Need more home decor ideas? Click here to discover 12 ways to make your home even more awesome!

Posted on September 19, 2017 at 4:00 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: color, curb appeal, decorating, Homeowners, interior decorating, real estate, staging, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Future is Now: The Coldwell Banker Brand Anthem

The power of the Coldwell Banker brand – in one customizable video (and downloadable eCards). View the brand anthem video and get your very own now.

From the CB Zap platform, award-winning CBx Listing Experience App, smart home initiative and record breaking ad campaigns, Coldwell Banker Real Estate has the resources that can help you lead your market and exceed your goals.

Watch above as we show exactly why Coldwell Banker is the real estate brand with real advantages.  And the best part is you can customize this video and download an eCard for promotional use in your local market!

The Coldwell Banker network is filled with trailblazers, trendsetters and doers.  By affiliating with the brand, your business demonstrates a power, reach and recognition of a global brand where we make a difference in the lives of others.

 

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blig

Posted on August 14, 2017 at 8:58 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: community, equity, family, Homeowners, neighborhood, real estate, Smart Homes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pare Down and Declutter By Knowing How Much Stuff Is Enough

So you want to pare down your belongings. But how much, exactly, do you get rid of? And how can you prevent stuff from simply piling up all over again? Part of the solution to a lasting clutter-free existence may lie in numbers. As in, the number of pairs of shoes, towels, place settings and so on that you decide to keep in the house. By deciding how many items in each category of stuff you really need, those numbers become a sort of fail-safe, preventing your home from free-falling into its formerly cluttered state. Check out these ideas on how to get started, then share your own numbers in the Comments.

The “sometimes” dilemma: What to do if you use something but only occasionally? Fancy china and highly specialized cookware come immediately to mind. If you really do love to have these things when the occasion calls for it, and you have storage space for them, by all means keep them. Just be intentional about what and how much you are keeping, and know why. Try to avoid keeping large sets of anything purely out of guilt — if you’ve inherited something you don’t want, see if someone else in the family wants it, sell it or donate it to charity.

More tips on what to do with sentimental pieces

How much to keep? Set a space limit. One way to keep rarely used items in check is to limit the amount of storage space you afford them. Instead of allowing your entertaining arsenal to multiply indefinitely over time, taking over not only cupboards but basement shelves and the attic too, decide on one space to store these items in and stick with it. For instance, keep all china in one nice china hutch — if you acquire more down the road, give away or sell something to free up space.

The Rule of Three: One in the wash, one in the cupboard, one in use. You may have heard this one before, but it bears repeating because it really works. It can be difficult to come up with what seems to be a rather arbitrary number of items to keep, but sticking with one for the shelf, one to use and one to wash keeps things simple. I follow this rule for sheets (per bed) and towels (per person).

What about guests? Unless you are running a boarding house, two sets of sheets for each guest bed and two sets of towels per guest are plenty.

The seasonal exception: Even minimalists may want to keep extra stuff on hand to rotate in depending on the season — and that’s whether or not there are chilly winters.

It can be a nice change of pace to bring out thicker blankets in warmer hues for the winter and light, airy linens in summer. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should double the number of sets you have, if some sets work well year-round. For instance, you could decide to keep one set of sateen sheets for year-round use, two sets of flannels for winter and two cool, crisp sets for summer.

Special case: Clothes. Clothes and shoes may be the most personal (and difficult) category of stuff to put limits on. That said, even those with intense attachments to their wardrobes can find it worthwhile to do a proper inventory.

After figuring out that you actually have 100 pairs of shoes or 20 nearly identical black tops, you may decide to bring that number down … or you may not, but at least you will be informed.

Special case: Kids’ stuff. When a child’s room is overflowing with stuff, it’s hard to focus on any one thing, and pretty soon all of those lovingly chosen toys become just part of the mess. Setting space constraints is a smart way to handle this situation. Dedicate certain shelves, plus perhaps a toy closet (for toys not currently being used in the rotation) for your child’s belongings, and keep it at that. When a bin or shelf begins to overflow, or you notice that stuff is piling up on the floor (because it has nowhere else to go), take that as a cue to give something away.

The everyday stuff: Count it out. Do you know how many basic plates, bowls, cups and wineglasses you own? If you’re not sure, go count them — you may be surprised at just how many pieces of “everyday” tableware you have. Of course it’s nice to have enough of everything that the whole household can eat a meal or two and not worry about getting everything washed and dried, and you’ll want extras on hand for bigger casual dinners with family and friends if you host that sort of thing, but you won’t likely need more than that.

Not everyone wants to stick with one set of white dishes (although for simplicity’s sake, that’s surely an easy way to go). But you can still set a limit at a certain number of sets. If you go over your number, it’s time to start culling.

Special case: Tupperware. What is it about plastic containers that makes them seem to multiply when you’re not looking (but hardly ever with a matching lid)? Start by removing any lids that don’t have mates, then count what you have left. Most of us probably have too many food storage containers — really, how many leftovers are you likely to wrap up at any given time? Three? Four?

Special case: Your passions. Book lovers, athletes, outdoorsy types, musicians, crafters … you know who you are. And more important, you know how easy it is to collect more and more stuff to support your passion.

Being aware of exactly what you already own is a good first step toward reining in your collections — perhaps your yarn stash is in such disarray, you end up buying yarn you already have.

But it’s also a good idea to start paying attention to what you actually use. If you treasure your books, notice which ones you actually pick up from time to time — I realized a while ago that I rarely pick up novels after I’ve read them, so I decided to let go of most books in that category.

Pain-free ways to declutter your library

Just because you have the room to store it doesn’t mean you should. Extra space is deceptive. If you are blessed with large closets and ample storage space, you may be thinking you’re off the hook — but the truth is, everyone can benefit from paring down a little. Having fewer belongings means less time spent cleaning, moving and mending them; less time looking for things; and generally less to worry about. And if you ever need to downsize in the future, the process will be far less gut wrenching if you have already chosen to live with less stuff.

Set your own rules. The point of this ideabook is to help you gain awareness of what kind of and how much stuff you need, so you can tailor your stuff to fit your life. And no one else can really do that for you. It may take a while to figure out exactly the right amount of stuff for you, but once you do, it’s bound to make your life a little easier.

Tell us: What are your numbers? How many sets of sheets, dishes or pairs of shoes are enough for you?

Related Reads
Keep All Fancy Dinnerware in a China Cabinet
Dedicate a Toy Box for All the Kids’ Stuff
Get Help From Local Professional Organizers

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Posted on August 10, 2017 at 2:28 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, buying, cleaning, community, credit cards, curb appeal, DIY, Fixer Uppers, gadgets, inspections, interior decorating, maximizing space, moving, organization, real estate, remodeling, selling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Neighborhood? 15 Things To Do Your First Week, Month, And Year

So you have settled in and ready to start exploring your new neighborhood?  Check this out!

Ready or not, it’s time to jump into your brand-new lifestyle. These tips will help you find your place within your community and make it feel even more like home.

After the hard work of finding and moving into the perfect home, you’re finally ready for the best part: exploring your new neighborhood and city! Here’s what you should do in your first week, month, and year in a new place to help make it your home sweet home.

The first week: Organize and settle in

  1. Get your bills in order.

    You probably had the essentials switched over to your name so you wouldn’t be without them on move-in day. But you’ll need to make appointments for other services, like cable or home security, right after you move in. Other essentials may also have slipped off your radar, like neighborhood trash pickup dates, suggests Michael Kelczewski, a real estate agent with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Wilmington, DE.

  2. Find your local resources.

    No matter how organized you are, there will be items, like extension cords and towel rods, that you will need to pick up quickly to make sure that you feel settled, says Joan Kagan, sales manager at TripleMint Real Estate in New York, NY. Your first week is the best time to seek out these essentials and more. You’ll no doubt become well-acquainted with the nearby hardware store, but you’ll also want to stock that new fridge at the local grocery store, make friends with the barista at the neighborhood coffee shop, and hit the closest post office to have your mail forwarded.

  3. Meet the neighbors.

    This will give you some comfort in knowing who is around you, says Pat Eberle of RASO Realty in Cape Coral, FL. Neighbors are a great resource for [discovering] where all the local hot spots are, where to go for necessary services, and more. If you have children, this will also help them meet the neighborhood kids their age and start making friends.

  4. Find your community online.

    Nextdoor and neighborhood or community groups on Facebook are an easy way to start following what’s happening in your new neighborhood. A subscription to the local city magazine can’t hurt either. This way, you can stay on top of community events, safety issues, and meet more neighbors! says Lisa Sinn, a real estate agent with Keller Williams in San Antonio, TX. Want to untether from the laptop? Head to your local library or coffee shop and scope out the bulletin boards for upcoming events or local businesses to try.

  5. Study the rules.

    Before you jump into those home improvement projects, make sure they’re not against the rules of your homeowners association (HOA) or local zoning laws. If you live in a historic district, you may even have to get your paint colors approved! And be careful not to overlook those easy-to-forget loose ends. During your home-buying process, there are lots of deadlines and time frames to be aware of, explains Eberle. After closing, you will also need to check on items like your property taxes, can you request a homestead exemption, etc.

The first month: Explore and grow

  1. Dine like a local.

    Try different restaurants, supermarkets, coffee shops, and bars in the neighborhood, says Kagan. One of the great things about living in a city like New York is the great variety of resources within walking distance. You can choose your favorites and start to build a community.

  2. Extend invites.

    The sooner you make friends in a new city, the sooner it will start to feel like home. When people find out that you are moving to New York, they will tell you about their college roommate’s niece, their brother-in-law’s cousin, their former baby sitter, all of whom have moved to New York, says Kagan. Whether you live in the city or in a more suburban area, don’t roll your eyes at these connections. Make the effort to get together with all of them they will invite you to meet others and share their tips.

  3. Follow your interests.

    Local charities are always looking for volunteers and church groups are always looking for new members. City recreation facilities often offer classes for kids and adults. This can also be a great way to meet other locals that have similar interests.

  4. Pitch in.

    Offering to assist a neighbor with a project can also be a great way to break into the neighborhood. If you are in a cold area with snow, help with snow removal. If you are where the weather is nice, help with lawn mowing, trimming, raking leaves, or other projects. The favor will likely be returned in the future!

  5. Meet your HOA president.

    This person can be a great ally when it comes to neighbors breaking the rules (ahem, not mowing their lawns, partying too loudly, etc.). Get to know them well, advises Sinn, so you can get your voice heard.

The first year: Practice good citizenship

  1. Take advantage of your city.

    You chose your neighborhood for its character, proximity to work, or its other perks. Now’s the time to explore other neighborhoods nearby for hidden gems. Go to the theater! Visit museums and concerts. Take advantage of your town’s amazing parks! says Kagan. Explore a different neighborhood every month. Knowing your city better will help you feel more connected and give you even more favorite places to come back to again and again.

  2. Start a group.

    Make an effort to stay connected with your neighbors, even if you don’t click right away. In the first year in a neighborhood, you will find that some of your neighbors and you will click and they will become friends. They’re a built-in source of information and support nearby. To stay in touch, launch a book club, dinner club, or other type of regular get-together on a schedule that works for everyone. It’s a low-pressure way to forge a deeper connection with those around you.

  3. Host for a holiday.

    Pick a holiday and plan an event in your home. Invite the neighbors or friends from unconnected groups. Think of it as your own mixer. Who knows? Maybe you’ll inspire some more friends to move to your neighborhood  and make next year’s parties even better.

  4. Attend HOA meetings.

    Attend as many as possible so you’re aware of exactly what’s happening in your community regularly, says Sinn. If you have time, you might consider joining in a more official capacity, which lets you contribute to future plans and provides insights into neighborhood changes.

  5. Make goals for next year.

    Reflect on your first year in your new neighborhood and make goals for the next one. Would you like to get more involved, perhaps in a leadership role with your HOA? Have you noticed congestion or traffic issues that you could work with your neighbors to resolve? Maybe you’d like to support a local nonprofit or school by organizing a 5K race through your neighborhood. Or perhaps there’s a beautification effort you could launch. Whatever you choose, you’ll be on a path to deepen your involvement in your community.

Source: Trulia Blog

Posted on June 6, 2017 at 3:37 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: family, HOA, Homeowners, neighborhood, neighbors, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Are You Forgetting This Crucial Aspect Of Your House Hunt?

Lucky for you, Coldwell Banker Kappel Gateway property search function has a drive time filter! A very important consideration you should be aware of if you are a commuter.

If you had to choose, would you pick the dream house or the dream commute?

Anyone stuck in traffic can tell you just how important commute time is.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 11 million of us drive an hour or more to work each way. In addition, Trulia’s Best and Worst Cities for Commuting, an analysis of American Community Survey data, and a 2015 online survey of more than 2,000 American homeowners, shows that commute times in the 50 biggest U.S. cities have steadily increased since 2009.

This could encourage some homebuyers to consider swapping larger houses and longer commutes for more modest properties closer to work. Others refuse to give up on square footage, a big backyard, and other suburban amenities. But no matter what you’re looking for, your future drive time to work is an important part of the house-hunting puzzle.

How to evaluate your commute before you buy a new house

  1. 1. Map out the route from home to work

    How your commute will affect your day-to-day life is important to know before buying a home. Start by clicking on the commute tab in Trulia Maps to calculate the distance between home and work. Then do a dry run, says Danielle Schlesier, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Brookline, MA. Get in the car, hop a bus, or take the train and do the commute both in the morning and the evening, she suggests. Picture yourself commuting every day, and if the answer is Yes, I can manage this, then go for it. If the answer is no, keep looking for a home closer to your office. Use Trulia’s analysis of commuting methods to figure out how your city gets to work.

  2. 2. Evaluate your work-life balance

    Adding a commute can be a big lifestyle change, so consider all the pros and cons involved in that decision, says Jen Birmingham, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Petaluma, CA. Think about how you feel when you’re on the road. Would a longer commute put you in a gloomy mood that could outweigh the perk of having a spare bedroom or space for a pool? Ask yourself: How will the added drive time impact your personal life and family time? How do these concessions balance out with the benefits of the move?

    And consider alternatives, Birmingham advises. Does your employer offer flexibility in the commute hours? A commute schedule outside of usual high-traffic times can make a huge difference in the hours spent on the road, she says.

  3. 3. Consider your life stage

    Are you single, newly married, raising a growing family, or downsizing? Commuting may not be a deal breaker if you have other priorities. Buyers with families often opt for a larger home in a desirable neighborhood that comes with a longer commute, notes Luisa Mauro, broker/owner at Marathon Real Estate in Austin, TX. Clients with children may live further from their office to be in a specific school district. Typically, the further a house is from the central business district, prices are less for additional square footage, which is desirable for growing families.

    Buyers may also want to evaluate how long they plan to stay in their current job versus how long they intend to live in their new home, adds Schlesier. You may change jobs, so you better really love where you live, she says.

  4. 4. Add up all the costs, not just the financial ones

    Buyers may underestimate the true cost of a lengthy commute, notes Jon Jachimowicz, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia Business School who studies the daily effects of commuting on workers. Longer commutes make people more emotionally exhausted, explains Jachimowicz. If you have to drive into work 300 times per year, versus the 15 barbecues you’re going to have in your yard each year, people overweigh how much joy they’re going to get from those 15 barbecues versus the negative experiences from 300 days of commuting.

    While you should definitely figure in commuting costs such as gas, tolls, parking, train tickets (and even things like extra hours of childcare), think about the psychological costs of commuting as well, adds Schlesier. No matter how much you love a house, it may not matter if you don’t have enough free time to enjoy it.

  5. 5. Seek out alternative routes and travel times

    Experiment with different routes and schedules when weighing a new commute, suggests Mauro. Our clients will work out or shop during traffic hours to maximize the time they have between work and driving home, she says. They’re able to get home more quickly by starting their drive home later.

    Easy highway access also makes commuting more manageable, adds Birmingham. In a community like Petaluma, living 1 or 2 miles from the freeway can make a 20- to 30-minute difference in a driver’s day, so living near an entrance and exit of a major commuter thoroughfare makes life feel a lot easier, she says.

  6. 6. Embrace the upside of a longer commute

    Commuting can be a positive experience, says Jachimowicz, especially if you use that time effectively. His research shows that even small tweaks in your routine can make you more productive. For example, plan out your workday or practice for a performance review or a challenging conversation with your boss. One interesting thing about commuting is, you’re moving both physically and psychologically from one role to the next, says Jachimowicz. People who transition into their work roles as they’re commuting experience fewer negative consequences.

    If you take public transit, adds Schlesier, catch up on work or clear out your overflowing inbox or voicemail. Commuting can also be beneficial if you reclaim it as me time, notes Mauro. Decompress from the workday and separate your professional and personal lives, she says. Listen to podcasts, books on tape, or learn another language.

While these strategies won’t magically cut your travel time in half, they will help you focus on the big picture. Having the opportunity to escape a bustling city and enjoy a more laid-back lifestyle can add a huge quality-of-life boost when somebody becomes a commuter, says Birmingham.

Source: Trulia Blog

 

 

Posted on May 30, 2017 at 6:08 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, Carpool, commute, Drive Time, family, first time buyers, Homeowners, moving, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Relocating? Here’s How to Feel at Home Faster

Moving is always stressful. You just want to settle in already!  Take a breather and checkout these tips!

Moving to a new city, whether it’s 30 or 3,000 miles away from your last one, can be stressful to say the least—perhaps even more so after you’ve dealt with the last of the packing boxes, because now it’s time to get to know your new community and begin to feel comfortable within it.

Relocation professionals offer practical tips to help you feel more at home faster:

Get connected. If they haven’t already done so, don’t wait for the neighbors to ring your doorbell. Knock on the doors of the neighbors to your left and your right to introduce yourself. Even if they don’t become friends, they can be a good source of city information, as well as referrals for reliable window washers, babysitters, medical professionals and other service providers.

Walk or drive around town. Walking your neighborhood is the best way to pinpoint local stores, schools, libraries and more—and driving will widen your familiarity with the city and acquaint you with alternative driving routes.

Don’t hesitate to say you are new in town. Wherever you happen to be, from the dry cleaners to the kids’ new gymnastics school, let people know you are new in town. You may be surprised to find how much good information they will want to share with you about their favorites in the place they call home.

Use social media. Get online to browse upcoming local events, as well as trending restaurants, museums and other local attractions.

Find clubs, schools or shops of interest. Look online for appealing local activities for everyone in the family: Toastmasters, quilting shops, book clubs, photography classes or sports leagues. They can be your best source for meeting new people who share your interests.

Say yes to invitations. Agree to join colleagues for a drink after work or a neighbor’s invitation to a fundraiser. The more people you meet as a newcomer, the more likely you will be to develop friendships.

Update your registrations. Finally, don’t forget to register your car with the DMV, apply for any necessary licenses, and re-register to vote. Identifying with your new location will help make you feel more connected.

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 3:19 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, emptynester, moving, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Sunrise Residences – Inviting & Contemporary New Rentals in Fairfield!

Discover the Enchantment….

This secret garden contains brand new studio and one bedroom units, modestly priced from $1475 – $1575. They are nestled among relaxing greenbelts within a quiet, gated community.

Our interiors include elevated ceilings, rich Euro-frame java beech wood cabinetry, stainless appliances, granite counters, microwave, washers/dryers and much more.

These inviting living spaces are convenient to shopping and commuter access. Lots of Bright Natural light, open floor plans, spacious baths, granite countertops and vanities, washer and dryer in every unit, mirrored wardrobes and lovely front patios. The gourmet kitchens are a chef’s delight! And don’t forget to take advantage of the wonderful community room for fun events. Located at 2750 North Texas Street in a secure gated community. Come on by and visit us for a tour or you can always call us at 707.421.9900.

Posted on May 10, 2017 at 11:59 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Fairfield, moving, real estate, rentals, security, Sunrise Residences, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Pop Quiz: How Well Versed Are You in Home Mortgage Loans?

If you are in the market for a new home, then you’d better read up!  No matter how much you know regarding mortgages, its never too late to learn.

A lot of Americans are caught up in a mortgage nightmare simply because they didn’t dive into the process with some preparation. With a little studying and education, getting a home mortgage can become a far less stressful endeavor.

Here are a few questions that can help you go into the home mortgage process with more knowledge and confidence. Although this quiz doesn’t cover everything you should know,  it’s certainly a good start:

Question 1: What is the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval?

Answer: Pre-qualification is the first step in the mortgage process that involves supplying a bank or lender your financial information in order to find out how much you can borrow on a loan. Pre-approval is when you and your mortgage banker review your credit report to determine if you’re worthy of qualifying for a particular loan amount.

Question 2: What are the two big cash expenditures that require having money on hand to buy a home?

Down payment and closing costs.

Question 3: Generally, a monthly mortgage payment is made up of four different components commonly referred to as “PITI.” What are they?

Answer: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance.

Question 4: Why is it recommended to make one extra payment a year for people on 30-year fixed mortgages?

Answer: Since extra payments cut down the principle of your loan (and not interest), giving one additional payment a year can shorten your loan term by a decade.

Question 5: What is the downside to a subprime mortgage?

Answer: Although subprime mortgages come with lower introductory interest rates, they increase significantly after a number of years.

Question 6: What does LTV stand for and how do you determine it?

LTV stands for loan to value ratio. To find out an LTV, divide the loan amount by the appraised value of the house. So if your home is worth $200,000 and the loan amount is $100,000, then the LTV is 50%.

Question 7: There are three term lengths you can get for a fixed-rate mortgage. What are they?

Answer: 15 year, 20 year, and 30-year terms are your options for a fixed-rate mortgage.

Question 8: Of the mortgage rates mentioned in the last question, which one do most people find the easiest to qualify for?

30-year mortgages since a longer term means lower, more affordable payments. The fact that longer terms also mean bigger tax deductions also plays a role.

Question 9: Is it a good idea to get an ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage) if you plan on owning a home for a long time?

Answer: No. Since the interest rate on ARMs change along with market rates, they are unpredictable. An ARM is only recommended if you’re staying in a home for a short period of time.

Question 10: Lenders will look at your job history when considering offering you a loan. A red flag for them is if you haven’t been at your current job for at least how many years?

Lenders like to see that you’ve kept the same employment for at least two years. This also applies to people who are self-employed and part-time employees.

Question 11: What is it called when you owe more than your house is worth?

Answer: Owing more than your house is worth is called being “upside-down” on your mortgage.

Question 12: Is it OK to open a new credit account during the mortgage process in order to help pay for moving expenses, new furniture, etc?

Answer: No. Since everything must be documented with payment amounts and account statements, doing so can affect your debt-to-income ratio.

Source: DreamCasa.org

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 3:51 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: credit score, financing, first time buyers, mortgage, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Moving with a Baby: The Complete Guide for Parents

Moving is challenging enough on its own. Factor in babies and you better have another set of eyes!  Read on for great advice regarding moving with your special little package.

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing.

On the move with a little mover in tow? Every parent knows having a baby at home is an adventure. Take that everyday baby voyage and mix in moving your home, now your adventure is more like a hike up Mt. Everest! Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps that trek will become a walk in the park (well maybe not, but a manageable stroll up hill.) Before you pack up and gear up for the baby + move exploration, check out this complete guide for parents moving with a baby to ease the stress and enjoy the transition.

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing. You can think of it like pregnancy, nesting and then labor!

Before the Move

Stick to Routine: Baby’s love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!

Create a Moving Calendar: To keep your head from spinning, it is best to plan your move 8 weeks out. Here is a Moving Day Count Down Calendar to copy, print and hang it up where you can easily refer to it while feeding the little one. This way you can take it day-by-day and get the satisfaction of checking off moving to-dos!

Use Childcare: During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so that you can get more done on your moving calendar. There are great nanny and babysitting services that help you find qualified childcare.

Talk To Your Current Pediatrician: Your pediatrician is a great resource. If you are traveling long distance, ask them for tips for keeping your baby happy on a plane or long car ride. If you need to find a new pediatrician, make sure you get a copy of all of your child’s medical records to give to your new pediatrician. Get copies of all your child’s prescriptions and have them called into a pharmacy near your new home. Ask your current pediatrician for recommendations on how to find a new pediatrician close to your new home. When finding a new doc, it is recommended to set up a meet and greet appointment as soon as you move.

Pack a Baby Bag: You know the daily drill; pack half the nursery to carry with you wherever you go. Well, this time the baby bag (box or small suitcase) should include all of your needs for three days (if you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck). Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers and the important squeaky toy. So be sure to pack everything you need for three days (or more) in one place that you keep by your side for easy access on moving day and the first few days after.

Moving In

Unpack the Nursery First: When moving in you should set up the nursery first. This will allow you to change your baby and easily put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.

Setting Up The Crib: All new cribs on the market today meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). When setting up a new crib or reassembling your crib look for the following suffocation and strangulation hazards:

  • Sharp or jagged edges
  • Missing, broken or loose parts
  • Loose hardware
  • Cut out designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Crib slats more than 2 3/8 inches apart (width of a soda can)
  • Corner post extension over 1/16 of an inch high
  • Gaps larger than 2 fingers width between the sides of the crib and the mattress
  • Drop side latches that could be easily released by your baby

Use Safe Bedding: Soft bedding can suffocate a baby, blocking the baby’s airway during sleep. Babies can suffocate when their faces become wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow or other soft object. Use a safe crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress covered with a crib sheet and nothing else in it. To keep your baby warm, use a sleep sack (wearable blanket).

Baby Proofing the New Home

I turned to the uber knowledgeable folks at Safe Kids Worldwide for a Baby Safety Checklist:

Crawl Through Your Home: The first step to a safe home, say the experts at Safe Kids, is to look at the world through your baby’s eyes. See what looks interesting and what can be reached. And I mean it literally – get down on your hands and knees in your new home and check for small things your baby can choke on. You will be amazed at what you discover! If you question if an item is a choking hazard, take an empty toilet paper roll and put the small object in it. If it fits completely into the roll, don’t let children under 3 play with it.

Test Alarms: Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside all bedrooms, outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your new home. Test alarms monthly and change batteries once a year.

Install Gates: Install stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Stair gates at the top must be attached to the wall with hardware.

Secure Furniture: Secure furniture to the wall to avoid tip overs.

Check Windows: When decorating your new place, be sure to use cordless window coverings.

Mindful Unpacking: When unpacking, be sure to lock up medicines, vitamins, cleaning products, pet food, alcohol, poisonous plants, and chemicals (like paint, gasoline, etc.) and store them high out of your baby’s reach.

Your baby’s arrival was certainly the most blissful and incredible life change. Now you get to start the next chapter together in your new home. A home that is safe for your little one to play, grow and explore!

Source:  CB Blue Matter / Lindsay Lantanski

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 3:46 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: babies, family, Homeowners, maintenance, moving, parent, 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,