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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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

In real estate, what’s love got to do with it? Well, everything and nothing. I have helped hundreds of people buy houses who have fallen in love with “everything about it” only to sell it a few years later. So what gives? Did they really not love it in the first place or did one of them change?  Here are three things to consider when falling in love with a house. Things WILL change.Neighbors will move in or out so the ones you adore today, may be gone tomorrow and the new ones may not be as desirable as the previous ones. The big tree that shaded you during those hot summer days could topple in a storm. Make sure your love isn’t conditional or you may fall out of love at the first sign of “trouble.” You have to maintain it.It may have looked like a model home when you first saw it. You may have heard angels singing in your head. Who is going to take care of cleaning it, changing lightbulbs, pulling weeds, unclogging drains, replacing the HVAC unit? You are. Or you will need to pay someone. Either way, it’s your responsibility. Will you still love the house if/when it costs you thousands of dollars? You may have to leave.Unexpected things occur. You may get married and your new spouse doesn’t have the same feeling toward the house as you do. You may get divorced and have to leave it behind or sell it. You may outgrow it. If you grow your household and have children or animals, they may require more bedrooms or a bigger yard. You may have an injury. If the bedroom is upstairs and you can’t easily navigate stairs, will you sleep on the couch forever? We throw the word love around so easily. But when it comes to real estate and one of the largest investments most people will make, there needs to be more than love to help make your decision. Does it meet your needs? Does it have the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you require? Does it have a floor plan that works for you? Does it have the outdoor space you desire? Is the location convenient? Do you see a job change in your future? Will that make the commute unbearable? Is it near the places you already frequently visit? Will it require more time/money than you have or are willing to spend? There is nothing worse than being excited about buying a house and then being house poor. Not being able to go out with friends or take vacations because your house costs you too much money is not a life most want to live....

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A House is Not a Home

A House is Not a Home

  A house is not a home. It is a respite. It is an escape. It is a place where celebrations occur. Relationships develop, families are formed, animals are raised, memories are made and love abides. I am a Realtor. I enjoy matching people with houses and being able to help others sell their property to build wealth or to move on to a new house to make new memories. What I love the most, however, is after the closing happens. I am so fortunate that many, if not most, of my clients were either friends before or became friends during and after I helped them buy or sell their property. I get invited to events, holidays, and parties at their homes. I get to see their kids grow up. I celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings and births with them. The house I helped them buy becomes so much more than four walls and a roof. It is where life is lived and memories are made. It is their home. I tell you this because, yes, I love what I do and I truly believe I deliver a valuable service. The point is, buying a house doesn’t make a home. People make a home. Memories make a home. The house you buy will not make you happy. A house will not heal relationships and cure illness. It will not keep families together and cause rainbows to shine from its windows. What I do can facilitate the process of a new beginning. The house can be a foundation (no pun intended) to build on. Put the emphasis on what’s truly important. Don’t worry if you don’t keep up with the Jones’s. The Jones’s may not have love and peace in their house. Take time to make memories and not be so concerned with competing and having the next best thing. A house is not a home, the people are. Value them and make lasting memories that will transcend those four...

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