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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,