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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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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Waiting for a Snowstorm

Waiting for a Snowstorm

  If you have lived in Tennessee long enough, you have experienced the agony or joy (however you look at it) of waiting to see if we actually get snow or not. You plan, you prepare. The kids are out of school, you take your work home with you, you stock up at the grocery store and you dig the shovel and the sleds out of the depths of the garage. Then you wait. And wait. It gets cold. The kids get excited. They watch out the window for the slightest sign of white stuff falling from the sky. You’re waiting for a snowstorm but nothing happens. The sun comes out, warms up the roads and all that preparation and excitement was for nothing. That can, unfortunately, be how waiting for an offer on your house feels. You do so much to get your house ready to sell. You check off the to-list, hire the handyman, declutter, and tell your family that if they so much as sneeze in the house after it is clean, that they are not to show their face in your presence. Ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration. However, by the time you have planned and prepared, the waiting for an offer can be excruciating. So what can you do? What do you tell your kids when the snow doesn’t come after all the hype? Is it really the weatherman’s fault or are some things (like Mother Nature) out of their control? Those people get a bad rap. I mean, I feel it too, but they do their research, follow the patterns and if, at the last minute, the wind turns or global warming decides to show its face, there’s not a lot they can do to make it snow. The most they can do is keep you updated as weather changes so you can make the appropriate changes to accommodate her. So, when you prepare to sell your house and you do everything right but it still doesn’t sell right away, is it the real estate agent’s fault? Hmm, well, maybe not. Maybe, like Mother Nature, the market turns. It shifts, rates change, the government shuts down, suddenly 5 other houses on your street go up for sale. Any number of things can happen to cause a shift and your house not to sell. Sometimes, the best you can do is stay updated as to the current market and make the appropriate changes to accommodate it. That’s not to say that there is not a human element. Just like the meteorologist, the real estate agent could have been wrong or gave you bad advice – after all, they are human. When you are...

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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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