Refinancing – When and How to Do It

Refinancing – When and How to Do It

  Have you been thinking about refinancing? Are you confused about if you should refinance? Or do you just need to know how to refinance and what’s involved? Well, I’m a Realtor, not a mortgage professional, however, I can give you an overview and things to expect when refinancing. Typically, you want to refinance when the current interest rate you qualify for is lower than the one you currently have. Notice what I just said. Just because you had some low interest rates pop up in an ad on your Google feed does not mean that is the rate you would be getting or that there won’t be other charges to inflate the rate or overall cost. This is where talking to a trusted, local professional can be very helpful. I am not slamming online companies. I have actually had some good experiences with them. I have also had some bad experiences with them – but I have had bad experiences with local banks as well. Anyway, I digress. However you go about checking a rate, make sure to ask all the questions: What interest rate do I qualify for? What type of loan is that based on? Does that loan and rate assume I am paying points? What are the other fees associated? How much will I need to bring to closing? If you remember the loan process when you purchased your house, that is the same thing to expect with a refinance. The only thing I have experienced that is slightly different is that you do not have a hard closing date to shoot for so you will only have a general timeframe of when you will close. The only true date to consider is that your interest rate is only locked for a certain period of time. There are typically several people you will communicate with through the process. A loan officer, processor, an underwriter, a title company, and perhaps even an assistant and someone from the corporate office. In a perfect world, all of the necessary paperwork and documentation would be requested of you immediately upon applying for the loan. The reality is, that is rarely or never the case. As the processor and underwriter go through the process of gathering and approving, there will likely be other documentation they will need to make the final decision and approval. When any of these people ask you for any kind of document, feel free to ask questions, however, chances are, if you want the loan, you will have to provide the information they request. You will have an appraisal done on the property so be prepared to be available to allow access to the appraiser when...

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Home Renovations

Home Renovations

  Anyone who has lived through home renovations knows that the process is not the most pleasant thing ever. The contractors get to your house early, probably about the time you are getting ready, getting the family ready, and/or trying to get out the door to go about your day. They are noisy and messy and sometimes they have no regard for your property. Hopefully the end result is worth the hassle. Getting a good contractor is key to a good home renovation experience. But what type of home renovations are the best? What will give you the most return – biggest bang for your buck? Let’s check it out.   Kitchen             We’re not talking a total gut job here. Do a facelift. If your cabinet doors aren’t quite modern enough, leave the boxes and just replace the doors. Refresh with new knobs and pulls. Replace counter top with a less expensive solid surface option. You may consider new appliances if yours are old or don’t match. Paint and call it a day. Bathrooms             Some people are opting to remove bath tubs and have extra-large showers instead. While this is not necessary for resale, you may personally enjoy it. Just remember, if you remove any bathtubs, make sure there is at least one in the house. You could remove a complete buying sector from looking at your house if there is no bathtub. The master bath is the bath with the most value-add, however, a small powder room could be a very inexpensive cosmetic update and have a lot of impact. Master baths with nice vanities, solid counter tops and unique storage solutions are all the rage. Again, unless you have a 1950’s house that hasn’t had the shag carpet removed, you may be able to get by with some minor updates. A new faucet and a coat of paint can really change the look of a vanity. A new framed mirror or medicine cabinet can transform the entire space. Exterior When you are looking to do updates, not much has the bang for the buck like a good cleaning and fresh paint. A lot of exteriors could use a pressure washing. Painting trim and shutters can really freshen the look of a dull exterior. If you really want to change the look but not get into a serious renovation, try adding some stone veneer or cedar shake if the home style allows. This small detail can magically change the appearance with not a lot of cost. A trend that we are continuing to see is outdoor spaces so consider adding a covered or screened patio or deck. You will likely get a lot of use out...

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Are You Allergic to Your Home?

Are You Allergic to Your Home?

Well it looks like the weather has been strange everywhere in the country lately. Rain and flooding in the Southeast, snow in the Midwest and Southwest (Arizona – what?), and very little snow in some of the North. With all the oddities, there is one thing that the weather will probably not have much effect on: allergies. Allergies can be your worst nightmare; Sneezing, coughing, watery eyes. It can make you look like you’ve just seen one of those movies where the dog dies – don’t get me started. Anyway, if you’re like me, you do everything you can to control your allergies from taking over. I don’t like to take medications so I look for alternative ways to help fight the dust, pollen, and whatever else is floating around. There are plenty of things you can do in your home to reduce allergens and help ease the pain of allergies. Have your HVAC cleaned and serviced This should be done at least twice a year for the most effectiveness. Not only can this help your indoor air quality but it can reduce the need for costly repairs by catching potential issues before they go to far and need replacing Change your air filters This is one of the simplest things to do. I have heard from several HVAC specialists that the best thing to do is buy the cheap filters (not the allergy reducing ones) and change them every 30 days. Get your air ducts and lines cleaned If you’ve never had it done, you might be surprised what comes out. Yuck! This is especially true if you have a newly constructed/renovated home or have construction going on nearby. Go into your crawlspace I know it’s not the most fun, however, a lot of household issues start in the crawl space and a lot of homeowners don’t know until it’s too late. Check for moisture, standing water, pests, critters, and mold growth. Check for mold On the topic of mold, mold can be all over your home. Bathrooms are notorious – use your exhaust fan. Kitchen sinks – don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink and clean out the sink after usage. Refrigerators – ditch outdated food even if you don’t see mold, it may be there. Purchase a dehumidifier This can be an easy remedy for a lot of the elevated moisture in your home. Remove rugs/carpet It may not be possible to get rid of wall to wall carpeting but throw rugs can be a breeding ground for dirt and allergens. Get rid of them altogether or at least vacuum them frequently and get them cleaned regularly. Bathe pets frequently I love animals and I am...

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Singing in the Rain – Or Not!

Singing in the Rain – Or Not!

If you are anywhere near Nashville, TN, you are probably ready to build an ark about now. Rain has a way of making people a little blue and lethargic. And water has a way of doing damage to a house. If you’ve never had water issues, consider yourself lucky. Water can be elusive. You can see where it is ending up but you can’t always see where it’s coming in. Here are some tips on places to look, things to check, and ways to prevent water damage. Places to look: Roof Water heater Sinks Showers and bathtubs Toilets   Things to check: Gutters – are they securely attached and draining away from the house? Shingles – are there any visible missing shingles or lifted? Caulking – is it cracked or missing in or around sinks, tubs, or showers? Windows and doors – are there bubbles or chips/flaking in the paint? Rust – anywhere rust is present is a sign of moisture.   Ways to prevent: Moisture barrier in crawl space Ice and water shield on flat portions of roof Water alarm for washing machine pan French drain Landscape and yard elevation/grading   There are plenty of roofing companies, plumbing companies, and HVAC companies that will do inspections to see if you have any areas that are likely to cause water issues and will suggest any needed repairs or preventative measures. Once you have water intrusion, it can be tough to diagnose and repair the damage it may have caused. It is much easier and cost effective to prevent it. So, stay dry and maybe the sun will come out...

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We’re Building a Pool!

We’re Building a Pool!

You’ve bought a house – congratulations! Now you’re thinking about summertime in your new home and declare, “we’re building a pool!” So, you call pool companies, get quotes and design options and choose one that you are excited about. Eric is a nice guy and he gives you a good deal. You sign on the dotted line and he says they can start digging in about two weeks. He comes out to measure and talks to you about setbacks and septic lines – did you say septic lines? If you have a septic system, you have some extra due diligence. The story continues. Eric calls a few days later and tells you the pool needs to be moved because the County imposed a new rule that no part of the pool can be off to the side of the house. OK. Round two. He redraws the design and you approve it. It didn’t have to be moved much and you think it will still look good though you won’t be able to see it all out your side windows like you had hoped. They now can start digging the pool in about another 2 weeks. Onward! The next time Eric calls, it better be to say they are on their way with shovels. Nope, not this time. This time it is to say that the pool needs to be moved further down in the yard, a tree will need to be removed and that with the new design, you will need more pavers and, of course, more money. Ugh. You look at the design, decide that it is actually going to look better than the original and, it’s only money, right? Let’s move forward. Now it is another two weeks before they can begin to dig but at least you can have a pool before summer. Eric calls a few days later with more news, and not the kind you were hoping for. Guess what? That septic system is in the worst possible place, not at all like you thought, and it is not going to be possible to dig a pool anywhere in your yard with all the rules and restrictions. Now what? Well, you do have one final option. Connect to sewer. Sounds easy enough. Bwahahaha. The utility companies have to mark the lines and they have 45 days in which to do so. Tick tock. Then the permits have to be pulled and the actual connection needs to take place but not before paying the connection fee as well as the assessment. About $5000.00 later, you can now have the septic system shut down and the plumbing hooked up to sewer. This means about another $10,000...

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Let’s Get (a) Physical

Let’s Get (a) Physical

  A cold, the flu, broken bones, bruises. Some of these will go away on their own, but sometimes we need the help of a professional. Sometimes, we have symptoms but don’t know what’s wrong. And, other times, we may not have any symptoms at all, or think they are just normal wear and tear on our body but really, they are much more serious. We are told to get yearly exams and a physical from our primary care physician. We are told to get our teeth cleaned twice a year by our dental professional. Some of us see a chiropractor on a regular basis to make sure we stay aligned and in balance. Some may get regular acupuncture or acupressure treatments as well. All to make sure our bodies are performing the way they are supposed to. We all know that when it comes to our health, if we find things out early, we have a better chance of combating illness or disease. If we take care of our bodies by eating right, exercising, and getting enough rest, we have a better chance of preventing the illness altogether. If we don’t take care of ourselves and we don’t go to the doctor until symptoms are severe, we may put ourselves through more pain and suffering than necessary. And at the very worst, we may not be able to correct the problem. It is the same with your house. In my years as a REALTOR, I have seen too many houses to count. Most home owners have done a fairly decent job taking care of their home. Comparing to the human body, they have missed a couple of physicals here or there and maybe only get their teeth cleaned once a year. They’ve had to fix a few things that could have been prevented, but for the most part, it’s in good shape. There are those rare homeowners that stay on top of every maintenance item possible. They have a handyman on call and they spend the money to maintain instead of having minor things turn into major. These are the people that do exactly what their doctors tell them to and are pictures of health. On the other hand, there are many more that wait to go to the dentist until their tooth hurts so bad they can’t sleep and end up having to get the tooth pulled when if they had been getting regular cleanings, the problem could have been solved with a small filling. These are the homeowners that don’t even change the air filter in their HVAC unit – ever. Just like some will argue that you will spend more money to eat healthy and get regular checkups, some will also say that you will spend...

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