Selling Your Home Over The Holiday Season

Selling your home during the holidays is loaded with pros and cons. Your agent may recommend keeping your home on the market because “you’ll know the buyers are serious.” That may be true in some areas, but keep in mind that real estate agents always want your home on the market, regardless of whether it’s the right time to sell or not. If your home isn’t on the market, agents don’t have the opportunity to make a sale, and it’s as simple as that. They could also worry that, if you cancel a listing during the holidays, you might relist with a different agent in the new year.

On the other hand, some people do need to sell over the holidays, and some buyers have no alternative but to buy a home during the holidays. Whether or not it’s best to keep your home on the market will come down to personal preference, but there are some benefits and drawbacks you should consider as you make your decision.

Drawbacks to Selling Your Home Over the Holidays

There are potential drawbacks to keeping your home on the market throughout the holiday season. Not all of them will apply to you, but it’s best to be prepared for everything that could go wrong with a holiday home sale—then be pleasantly surprised when not all of these negatives apply to you.

  • First-time home buyers, not knowing any better, could think you are desperate. Buyers might try to negotiate or give you a lowball offer.
  • It’s inconvenient during the holidays to always be ready for a home showing at a moment’s notice. Not everybody wants to keep the house spic and span when cooking, wrapping gifts, and throwing parties.
  • You’re appealing to a much smaller inventory of buyers who have specific needs that your home might not match.
  • It’s almost impossible to close a financed transaction in December if the offer is received mid-month. Buyers who want to close after the New Year will probably make offers in January.
  • If you remove your home from the market, it can return as a brand new listing in January, thereby drawing more traffic because it’s fresh and exciting.
  • Your agent might be on vacation in December and unavailable as the market moves into a seasonal slowdown. Other real estate professionals might be unavailable when you need them as well.

Benefits to Selling Your Home Over the Holidays

Some sellers insist on leaving their homes on the market through the holidays. This can work out great for sellers in some cases, but it all depends on factors like local customs, what neighbors are doing, and how real estate activity is viewed by others during the holiday season in your area. Every town is different.

Reduced inventory over the holidays generally means less competition. However, the pool of buyers also drops. In parts of the country where it snows, buyers may think twice about bundling up and trudging through the snow to go looking at homes, when they’d rather be gift shopping or staying at home in front of the fireplace. On the other hand, if you live in an area with a milder climate, buys could be undeterred, and you will only benefit from the lack of inventory on the market through the holidays.

If you have a hard-to-sell home with drawbacks and defects (like a bad location, for example), you might get shoved to the bottom of the showing list if you wait until spring to sell your home. There might be too many other much nicer homes for sale at that time. Your hard-to-sell home might rise to the top when there are fewer homes for sale over the holidays.

Scale Back the Holiday Decorations

If you decide to keep your home on the market, back off on the decorations. Too many decorations can be overwhelming and distracting. Don’t make the mistake of thinking buyers will “see past it,” because they can’t. As agents sometimes say, “the eye buys.”

Minimizing decorations will make your home feel more spacious and keep pathways clear. When buyers enter your home, you want them to imagine putting their furniture in each room, making it theirs, and they can’t do that if your holiday decorations dominate the stage. Not to mention that, by avoiding excessive family pictures and personalized decorations, you are protecting your privacy during home showings.

Holiday Decorating Compromises for Stubborn Sellers

You don’t have to altogether avoid putting up a Christmas tree, menorah, or any other seasonal displays, but you should aim to keep the decorations to a minimum. Here are some tips for sellers who can’t resist the urge to decorate for the holidays:

  • Don’t block or cover up important selling features such as fireplace mantels, stairs, or stained-glass windows.
  • Tone down the size of the tree, if you plan on getting one. In place of a 10-foot tree, try decorating a table-top, four-foot version.
  • Stack wrapped presents in one corner or a closet.
  • Use more splashes of red than green—red is an emotionally appealing color.
  • Resist the urge to hang banners, and use greenery instead, such as evergreen or rosemary garlands.
  • Display centerpieces made from pine cones or other wintry pieces of nature.
  • Set a plate of cookies on the counter, next to festive paper napkins for guests.
  • Simmer spicy apple cider on the stove, and set out cups and serving utensils.
  • Consider hiring a home stager to do seasonal home staging with the buyer in mind.

Posted on November 19, 2020 at 9:26 am
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

Declutter To Feel Better!

Whether you telecommute or go to an office, your home should feel like a breath of fresh air, a peaceful haven where you can relax and unwind at the end of the day. But instead, there’s clutter everywhere,
clogging the shelves, the cupboards, your closets and every surface where you look. Ugh. Not relaxing at all.
If you feel stressed out by all your stuff, you’re not imagining things. According to Psychology Today, that stressed-out, anxious feeling you get when you’re confronted with crowded, disorganized spaces is real.
Clutter overwhelms our senses, distracts us, and creates guilty feelings. Not relaxing at all, right? Luckily, decluttering your home doesn’t mean you have to spend every waking moment going through stuff.

 

It’s okay to start small and tackle one dresser or one room, at a time. If even that feels like too much, set a
timer for 5-10 minutes and go through your medicine cabinet as a simple way to start out. Once you get in
the groove of decluttering your home, you’ll develop that muscle memory and might never want to stop.
Before we get into teaching you how to declutter, here are reasons why you should organize your home right
now.

5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD DECLUTTER YOUR HOME

1. It frees you up to focus on more important and fulfilling parts of life.
Looking at clutter all the time makes your brain think its work is never done. You may be distracted by your
clutter, which makes it hard to be creative or allow yourself to have a lazy afternoon reading on the couch.
According to WebMD, clutter overwhelms some people so much they become unproductive and even
nonfunctional.

2. You’ll create a healthier environment.
Clutter is the perfect home for nasty things like dust mites, mold, and animal dander. Imagine all that
circulating in the indoor air you breathe. Once you get rid of stuff, you can tackle a good old deep cleaning to restore order in your home.

3. Decluttering reduces anxiety.

Back in the caveman days, order and symmetry gave us an evolutionary advantage. Fast-forward to today,
and clutter gives us anxiety. Just taking a few minutes or hours to declutter a room will make you feel calmer
and more at peace.

4. You’ll be way more organized
Piles of clutter are really good at hiding things you need. Like when you’re in a rush to get out the door
and can’t find your keys anywhere. Getting rid of stuff you don’t use or need makes way for you to be more
organized. With less stuff, each item has a proper home.

5. You’ll save money
Once you get rid of stuff, you’ll be less inclined to buy even more stuff. You’ll want to keep that nice, Zen
minimalist environment as much as possible. Not only will you save money, you’ll achieve a sense of inner
peace when you’re not trying to keep up with the Joneses.

SAY GOODBYE TO OLD CLOTHES AND SHOES WHEN ORGANIZING CLOSETS

Oh, the dreaded closets. You may want to reserve extra time for decluttering your closet, especially if it’s
been a few years. Unused clothes and shoes take up tons of extra space and make it hard for you to choose
an outfit every day. Plus, let’s not forget about the emotional baggage tied with too much clutter.
Here’s how to easily declutter your closets:
 Start by trying on clothes to determine what fits. Have a pile to donate and a pile for what fits. After
you’ve determined what fits, decide what you actually like, and what mixes and matches well with
your other clothes.
 Just can’t decide what to keep? Try wearing those clothes for a few weeks to see if you love them,
or hate them. Remember, it’s not necessarily a good idea to keep too-small clothes around just in
case they fit….one day.
 When you’re done decluttering your closet, dust the shelves, wipe them down, and clean the floor.

PURGE KITCHEN DRAWERS AND CUPBOARDS

Do you have a hard time shutting your kitchen cupboards and drawers because you have too much stuff?
It’s not uncommon to have several sets of measuring cups, or five corkscrews.
But you don’t need all that stuff in your kitchen! Especially items taking up precious counter and storage
space.
Here’s how to declutter your kitchen:
 Empty one cupboard and drawer at a time, making sure to get rid of duplicates and keeping only
what you use and need.
 Most families have way too many plates, bowls, and mugs. Unless you have dinner parties for 15
every Saturday night, donate the items you don’t use on a regular basis.
 Analyze your appliances carefully. Do you actually use that fancy mixer? What about the rice
cooker? Decide which appliances you can donate.
 Store any appliances you’re keeping in cupboards to keep your counters nice and bare.
 Do the same thing with your pots and pans, keeping only what you use and love.
 Now you can clean and disinfect your bare kitchen countertops with ease!

SIFT THROUGH STUFF IN YOUR GARAGE

Are you one of those people who stores everything in your garage? Boxes of unused clothes, outdoor gear,
barbecue grills of all kinds? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, one in four Americans can’t even fit one car in
their garage! The garage can be an especially difficult area to declutter, so start small and make weekly
goals. Don’t try to declutter your entire garage in one sitting or you’ll never get around to tackling such a
huge task.
Here are our best tips for decluttering and organizing your garage:
 Start by sorting through the boxes taking up room on your garage floor. Decide which items you
want to keep, which to donate, and which to throw away. If you think you’re going to use an item
“someday,” get rid of it.
 Create a pile of items you use frequently, like tools, gardening supplies, or your dog’s leash. Install
hooks on the walls to hang items, or put in a shelving unit to store neatly marked bins.
 Put rarely used items, like Christmas ornaments and other seasonal decorations, on the highest
shelves.
 Install hooks to hang bicycles on the walls of your garage.
 Go through all your tools and find duplicates to donate, and decide which tools you actually use,
love, and need.
 Pare down your boxes of childhood mementos on an annual basis and decide which truly have
emotional meaning.
 If you end up with tons of stuff to donate, have a garage sale!

REMEMBER, DECLUTTERING YOUR HOME DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PAINFUL

Many people put off decluttering for years because they think it will be too hard or take up too much time.
But once you organize decluttering into bite-size chunks, it’s easier to handle. You’ll see those items flying
off shelves, creating a Zen, minimalist environment you can’t wait to come home to every evening.
If you’ve got a major downsizing and decluttering project on your hands, you may find that an on-site storage
container gives you just the right amount of extra space and motivation you need to get it done.
For example, PODS will deliver a portable container to your driveway so you can store stuff out of the way
as you go. Since the container is rented by the month, you’ve got a built-in 30-day deadline if you want to
minimize costs. You can also keep the container longer by continuing to rent on a month-to-month basis.
And if you need longer term storage, you can have your container taken to a secure PODS Storage Center,
where you can access it easily.
Whatever degree of decluttering you decide to take on, consider these words from the 19th-century author,
William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Yes, they actually had clutter in the 1800s, and they didn’t have the luxury of curbside garbage pickup. But
even in the 21st century, this is an inspirational – if unattainable – goal for most of us humans.

 


Posted on November 4, 2020 at 9:42 am
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

How To Make A Small Space Seem Bigger

 

It’s not unusual to want your home to feel bigger and roomier than it is. Maybe you want your studio
apartment not to feel so small. Maybe you want your small house to feel a little bigger. Maybe you hope your
mansion will feel like the larger mansion next door. Whatever brings you to this desire, here are some ways
you can make your home seem bigger.

1. GET SMALLER STUFF
This tip is brought to you by Captain Obvious. But just because the good Captain has a knack for stating the
obvious, that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Your sprawling couch might have been great for your last house, but
maybe a loveseat is more appropriate for your new space. Do you need a kitchen table that seats 12, or
would a smaller table work just as well? As we said, this may seem obvious — maybe even silly — but the
experts agree on this one.

2. LIGHT, LIGHT, LIGHT
Darker spaces feel smaller, and lighter spaces feel larger. While you probably can’t install floor-to-ceiling
windows (though, if you can, go for it!), there are ways to fill a space with light and make it seem bigger:
Install a skylight, paint your walls and/or ceilings in light colors, replace a dark rug with a light one (or light
wood flooring), and use more electric light — particularly floor lamps — to keep areas bright. Any of these
methods will brighten up and make a room seem bigger.

3. USE STRIPES
The advice you’ve heard about clothing applies to rooms, too. Vertical stripes on a wall help a room seem
taller, and a striped rug with the stripes running in the room’s longest dimension will make a room feel
longer.

4. PULL FURNITURE AWAY FROM THE WALLS
This one is counterintuitive, and you have to see it to believe it. When you pull your furniture (couches,
chairs, tables, etc.) away from the wall slightly, it creates the illusion of spaciousness. This hack sends the
subconscious message, “This room is so large that things don’t need to be put right against the wall!”

5. MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL
It’s not about vanity, it’s about the illusion of space. A mirror on the wall in a room can give the feeling of
more space because, when you see its reflection, it shows another whole room! The larger the mirror, the
more dramatic the effect. That said, remember to keep it tasteful — too large and it’ll start to feel weird!

6. PICK FURNITURE THAT SHOWS SOME LEG
Choose the couch with exposed legs rather than legs that are covered up. Choose the dresser with legs
rather than one that sits on the ground. Put your bed on a simple frame rather than letting it sit on the
ground. Seeing underneath furniture with exposed legs helps a room feel bigger because of the space
between the floor and furniture

7. INVEST IN FULL-LENGTH CURTAINS
When you’re choosing curtains for your windows, use floor-length curtains even if the windows aren’t huge.
Full-length curtains draw the eye upward and create the impression of height, even in a small space.

. BUILD HIGH SHELVES
While we’re on the subject of drawing the eye upward, consider building a shelf higher up on a wall and
putting your books on it. Like floor-length curtains, a high shelf draws an eye upward and helps a small
space seem bigger.

9. KEEP MORE THINGS HIDDEN AWAY WITH STORAGE
Remember how your grandmother had her glass animals, her mug collection, her fine china, and her 153
thimbles on display? Remember how, although you loved her dearly, her house always felt a little
claustrophobic? The more things that you leave visible in your home — particularly smaller items like books,
DVDs, knickknacks, cords, office supplies, whatever — the more cluttered it’ll feel. To make your home feel
larger, keep more things inside drawers, closets, in storage, wherever they won’t be just one more item
taking up space.

If you look around your home and wish it were bigger, there are ways you could make it so. Unless you’re
planning to take a sledgehammer to the walls and expand, tricking the eye into thinking your space is bigger
is your next best bet. Good luck!


Posted on August 21, 2020 at 12:20 pm
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

Delicious Breakfast Recipes

Whether you want to serve breakfast family-style at your dining room table or bring breakfast to your significant other in bed, these 5 recipes are sure to please.

Tater Tot Breakfast Bake

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Major Ingredients

  • Broccoli
  • Bell Pepper
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Half and Half
  • Frozen Tater Tots

This delicious looking veggie-packed breakfast casserole is sure to jump-start your day. This recipe comes together super quickly, and by using frozen tater tots and broccoli, you can cut the time down to just an hour. This casserole makes a ton, so you’re bound to have leftovers. See the full recipe and instructions at TheKitchn.com.

Beer and Bacon Pancakes

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Major Ingredients

  • Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Sugar
  • Egg
  • Beer
  • Bacon

Beer and bacon? It sounds like a dream. The beer really shines in this recipe, so pick your favorite. With the addition of bacon, the recipe’s author suggests adding syrup as the pancakes need a “sweet finish”. The recipe is simple, and requires only that you substitute beer for milk in a traditional pancake recipe. For full instructions and ingredients, visit The Decorated Cookie.

Steak and Eggs

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Major Ingredients

  • Steak
  • Eggs
  • Butter

Such simple ingredients for this classic breakfast. You can never go wrong with steak and eggs, and this recipe comes together in just 40 minutes. Add a quick side of hash browns or roasted potatoes, and you’ve got yourself a pretty great meal! See the full recipe and instructions at Ev’s Eats.

Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring

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Major Ingredients

  • Eggs
  • Bell Peppers
  • Bacon
  • Crescent Rolls
  • Cheddar Cheese

Is there anything better than a warm crescent roll? Yes. A warm crescent roll wrapped around eggs, meat, veggies, and cheese. This recipe is quick and easy, because once the ingredients are assembled, it takes only 20 minutes in the oven. Do you have favorite ingredients in your omelets? You can swap those in instead. Add sausage or onion or mushrooms, or all of the above! You can view the full instructions for this versatile recipe at Jo Cooks.

Country Ham French Toast

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Major Ingredients

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Half-and-Half
  • Maple Syrup
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla
  • Sliced Country Ham
  • Texas Toast Slices

A genuinely delicious mix of sweet and savory, this recipe is sure to get your mouth watering. Like all standard French toast recipes, this one comes together super quick with its dip and fry done in just minutes. Serve it with warm maple syrup, and Dad will remember this breakfast for months to come. See the full recipe and instructions on Country Living.


Posted on June 23, 2020 at 9:05 am
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

Plants That Are Really Hard To Kill

I tell everyone, I love planting things and love the look and how plants/flowers make me feel, but I can seriously kill a cactus.

 

Do you have a knack for killing houseplants? Does your lawn look like a post-apocalyptic dry zone complete with dead grass and holes where the flowers used to be? Maybe the green thumb gene passed you by, but that doesn’t mean that your life should be devoid of plant life. You deserve a little green this Spring! Skip the fussy orchids and keep it simple instead. Try incorporating the following “easy livin’” plants into your home and landscape this year.

Indoor

  • Spider – The spider plant usually hangs from the ceiling. It’s been a household favorite for decades and can thrive indoors or out (weather permitting). If you have a cat, keep this plant out of his or her reach as it’s toxic to felines. Hang in an area with some sunlight and water once a week.
  • Aloe – The aloe plant loves sunlight and will do best in a windowsill. It doesn’t require much water or attention. Aloe is truly a “set it and forget it” plant. It will be there when you need it to treat minor burns. Some people even stir aloe vera gel into water or tea for a medicinal drink, claiming it is beneficial to the digestive system.
  • Rubber Tree – The rubber tree is native to South America but does well as an indoor plant. In the wild and on farms, rubber trees can grow very large and provide sap for latex. At home, your rubber tree can be kept at a manageable size. The tree will only grow as big as its roots allow, so start with a young tree and move it into larger pots as it grows, stopping when your tree has reached the desired size. Rubber trees prefer indirect light and do best with a small amount of water. Sometimes misting them works better than pouring water directly into the soil.

Outdoor

  • Boxwood – Boxwoods are a shrub and have grown popular in landscape planting. They do best in the northern half of the United States. You can purchase a semi-mature boxwood for under $30, making them affordable as well as resilient. Boxwoods only need a moderate amount of water and blend well with almost any landscaping theme. This plant does require a yearly pruning to retain its shape.
  • Jonquil – The jonquil is a lovely perennial that grows from a bulb. It’s technically a type of daffodil and sprouts in early Spring. Proper planting is key, and after that, your jonquils will basically take care of themselves. Plant bulbs 10-12 inches deep and cover with fertile soil. The jonquils should come up every year after that. To ensure continued blooming, cut the stems down to one inch above the soil after the flowering season ends – usually early summer.
  • Autumn Sage – Autumn sage sounds like an herb, but it’s actually an evergreen shrub. A member of the salvia family, autumn sage is drought-tolerant and a great choice for southern climates. It can grow to several feet tall and will flower during the milder months. Deadheading of flowers is recommended after they wilt.

Edible

  • Garlic – Garlic is hard to kill, easy to grow, and tastes AMAZING from a garden! Plant your garlic in the Fall for harvest in late Spring. If you’re too late for garlic planting this year, take the opportunity to buy several varieties of garlic throughout the summer months so you can experiment to find out which is your favorite. When you’re ready to plant, crack your bulb of choice into individual cloves before you plant. They should sprout in mid-spring, but if a few green shoots show up early, don’t worry. Most gardeners just leave the early sprouts alone, and they still produce.
  • Tomatoes – If you know when (or about when) the final frost of Spring is coming, tomatoes are a cinch. Count back a few weeks from the anticipated last frost and start your seedlings indoors. Once you’re ready to transplant, the tomato seedlings can go into a large pot or directly into the ground outside. With tomatoes, the important thing is to make sure that they get tons of water. Tomatoes may be the only edible where the water makes a bigger impact than the soil quality. Also, have some stakes or caging ready to support your tomato vines once they begin to mature. Tomatoes are dense and heavy and will lay on the ground when unsupported.
  • Basil – Flat-leaf basil can be grown indoors or out. It can also start indoors like tomatoes and move outdoors when the weather agrees. If you have any feline companions, your basil will likely disappear once it produces, so find a safe location for your plant. Basil grows nicely next to tomato plants as the two seem to complement one another. Let your basil plant grow as large as you’d like and snip leaves and stems for cooking as needed. Basil plants can also be dried and crushed for use throughout the winter.

Posted on June 23, 2020 at 8:51 am
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

What Loan Is Best For You?

Not all loans are created equal. There are dozens of loan programs that you can choose from between purchasing a new home, building one, or refinancing your current home. It all depends on your needs and situation. In this article, we will go over the most common loan programs. When you decide it’s time for a mortgage, use this as a guide to speak with your loan officer about which loan will be best for you.

The Conventional Loan

As the most popular loan type, these loans are plentiful. They are not offered by the federal government like most of the loans discussed later in this article, which means there is much less paperwork involved. Conventional loans are only available through private lenders, and the ideal borrower has good credit and plenty of money for a down payment.

Why a conventional loan?

No mortgage insurance. While the most common down payment for a conventional loan is 20%, for just an extra 2% down, you can avoid monthly mortgage insurance which is often required for many other kinds of loans. This insurance can be removed at a later date with a conventional loan, but cannot be removed with other loan types.

Immediate equity. Because conventional loans usually require a 20% down payment, you get instant equity in your home as soon as you sign at the closing table. This will benefit you greatly in the future should you decide to sell your home or refinance.

Faster closing. Without the requirements and paperwork required with government-backed loans, a conventional loan is more straightforward. There are less requirements to cover during the underwriting process which allows for a quick closing.

Sellers love it. A buyer with a conventional loan is attractive to sellers because it means you have good financial health. Sellers will often choose these buyers over borrowers of a government loan since the process is simpler and faster.

The FHA Loan

The FHA loan is designed for homebuyers with low-to-moderate income. They are a great option for many people, but especially for first-time homebuyers or repeat buyers with low income or credit. Qualified homebuyers benefit from a lower down payment requirement (as low as 3.5%), lower monthly premiums, and lower closing costs.

Why an FHA Loan?

Low down payment. A down payment on an FHA loan can be as low as 3.5% as long as you have a credit score of 580 or higher. If your credit score is lower, a 10% down payment may be required, but this is still much lower than a conventional loan.

Low credit requirements. Borrowers of conventional loans typically need a credit score of 620 or higher, but with an FHA loan the minimum is 500. FHA loans offer some of the lowest credit requirements of any loan program.

Flexible debt-to-income ratio. A debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is the ratio of your income (your salary plus any salary of others on your home’s title) to the amount of debt you have from credit cards, student loans, car payments, or child support. It is a big factor in determining how much of a mortgage you can afford. With an FHA loan, borrowers can have monthly debt payments that cover up to 50% of their income – much higher than other loans.

Low cost mortgage insurance. Some loans require mortgage insurance which mitigates risk to lenders for borrowers who provide a low down payment on their home. For borrowers with an FHA loan, they must pay mortgage insurance on loans with a 10% down payment or lower. This insurance cannot be canceled, but it is often lower than traditional mortgage insurance.

The USDA Loan

USDA loans make it possible for families living in specific areas purchase their dream home. While typically considered loans for people in rural areas, a much larger percent of the country is covered under this loan. With 100% financing, qualifying homebuyers do not have to put anything towards the down payment on their home.

Why a USDA loan?

No down payment. Many lenders will fully finance your new home with a USDA loan. With no down payment and closing costs rolled into your mortgage, you can move into your home without paying a dime upfront.

Credit flexibility. The USDA loan allows for flexibility in your credit score and credit history. It means you can use alternative documents like subscriptions, rent, and monthly bill payments to create a credit history.

Low PMI. If you do decide to take advantage of the 100% financing and do not provide a down payment, you will be required to pay monthly mortgage insurance. However, USDA loans typically have the lowest insurance rates currently available.

Low income limit. The USDA loan is great for homebuyers who have a low to medium income. USDA loans take into account homebuyers who have an income of up to 115% of the average income in their area.

The VA Loan

Guaranteed by the US Department of Veteran Affairs, a VA loan is available to eligible veterans and their families. A VA loan often has lower closing costs and more liberal terms and requirements. Interest rates can often be negotiable. Qualified homebuyers must receive a certificate of eligibility from the US Department of Veteran Affairs for this loan.

Why a VA loan?

No down payment. Like a USDA loan, a VA loan can also be fully financed by your lender. With no down payment required and low closing costs, you can move into your home without a large payment upfront.

No mortgage insurance. A VA loan is unlike most other mortgages in that it doesn’t require mortgage insurance. This includes whether you provide a large down payment or none at all.

High maximum loan amount. With many government backed loans, the maximum loan amount is capped relatively low. Not so with a VA loan. This loan allows you to purchase a home worth over $400,000 without an issue. You will need to check with your lender to find your county’s limit.

Government guarantee. The US Department of Veteran Affairs has your back. If you are unable to make monthly payments, you may qualify for assistance from the VA.

The Renovation Loan

Want to buy a fixer-upper? A renovation loan gives you the opportunity to buy a home in need of repairs or updates. The improvements can be as simple as a new roof or as complicated as adding a whole new room. Your loan and the value of the property will be based on the value of the home after the repairs are completed. This means you can gain instant equity in your home.

Why a renovation loan?

Certified contractors. Most renovation loans require certified contractors to complete the projects on your home. This is to ensure that the home meets the terms set by the individual loan you choose.

One-time close. Renovation loans are offered with a single closing, even if there is major construction involved in the renovation. This is unlike new construction loans which often require two separate loans and two separate closings. You will only have to pay closing costs and sign paperwork once with a renovation loan.

Credit flexibility. No matter what your financial health looks like, you can probably get a renovation loan. Like an FHA loan, your credit score could be as low as 500.

When researching the right loan for you, remember to include you loan officer! They will be able to answer your questions and give you advice based on your own unique situations.


Posted on June 23, 2020 at 8:39 am
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

Perform A Home Self-Inspection! Very Important!

What to Expect at Your New Home's Final Inspection - NewHomeSourceLook at your home top to bottom with a home inspector’s eyes. Review as much as you can prior to putting your home on the market and/or prior to the home inspection process with a buyer. You would be surprised how a buyer perceives your home when a long list of minor issues adds up and creates a lengthy inspection report, resulting in a more stressful buyer inspection response. Removing half a dozen or more small things can really help your home appear to the buyer as if it has truly been maintained. The last thing you want is a long list of unexpected items to show up on the report that you knew nothing about.  You can also discuss pros and cons of getting a pre-inspection done by a professional with you agent.

The goal of this is to pinpoint problems you may overlook every day being you live in the home.

*Roof – Your roof should be flush with the house. No visible mold or rot. Pay attention to fascia, soffits, and if you feel inclined to do so, use a ladder to get on the roof and ensure there aren’t nails popping up, loose shingles etc.

*Gutters – Verify they are attached securely around the home. No sagging or pulling away. Have them cleaned out if needed.

*Attic – Is your attic properly ventilated? Is the insulation properly disbursed? No strange hanging electrical lines? No mold present? Bath fans and such are venting out of the home. Are the soffit vents clogged? No signs of critters in the attic?

*Walls – Discolored spots on walls, especially ceilings, will lead a buyer to immediately think there is or was a leak. This may result in further exploration for potential mold. This is very important to eliminate concern prior to inspection.

*Basement – Check for condensation, water damage, concrete cracks that are not typical. Is there a sump pump and is it functioning properly?

*HVAC – How old is your system and when is the last time you had a regular maintenance check done? They sign off on the sticker affixed to the furnace and believe me, agents and inspectors do look at that. If you have not had service done within the last 6 months to 1 year, it is highly suggested you do. Be sure the furnace filter is the proper size and clean.

*Windows and Doors – Check conditions of weather stripping for exterior doors. Ensure windows do not have a fog haze to them or water beading up between the panes and this is a sign the seal could be broken.

*Plumbing – Ensure there are not signs of leaking under faucets, at water heater, under appliances. Be sure all fixtures are caulked as they should be (tub faucets are notorious for coming up on inspections) and tightened properly, including toilets.

*Crawl space – We don’t tend to get excited about the idea of getting in a crawl space, however the unexpected during an inspection in a crawl space can become very costly if you have no idea what is going on in there and find out you have mold on your baseboard, standing water, and a number of other issues than can be present, of which you have no clue about unless you take a look.


Posted on May 27, 2020 at 2:20 pm
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

7 Jobs You Can Hire Without Face-To-Face

Pressure Wash Your Home Exterior

 

Warm weather and sunnier days are here! These outdoor jobs allow contractors to come to your home and work without needing them to enter your home and interaction is minimal.

  1. Lawn and Yard Work – Spruce up your landscaping. Mulch. Plant a tree or remove one.
  2. Gutter Cleaning – This is excellent maintenance to do after the Fall and Winter months.
  3. Exterior Painting – Extend the life of your exterior trim or apply a new color to give your home a face lift!
  4. Fencing – Need a new fence? Or repair to existing.
  5. Decks and Porches – Decks, patios, porches….all work can be done fairly quick and other than the initial plan, very little to follow up with during the process.
  6. Siding – How is what you have on your home holding up? Do you like the color and material?
  7. Power Wash – You would be amazed what a good power wash will do for a fence, deck, or concrete walk way.

Posted on May 27, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

You got the house…and want to back out…Now what?!

Buyer’s remorse is seriously the worst. That 80-inch television was just so dazzlingly clear, magical even, hanging on the Best Buy wall. And 10 percent off? Who could have passed up such a fantastic deal? Obviously, not you.

But unlike pricey electronics that can be placed back in the box and returned to the store when your good sense has resumed (always keep those receipts!), that over-budget dream house or better-snatch-it-quick fixer-upper isn’t so easy to give back. When it comes to buying a home, there really is a point of no return, so make sure you know where that is because there’s no box big enough to fit the four-bedroom, two-bath ranch when you change your mind.

The Earlier, The Better

When it comes to backing out of a mortgage, it is best to do it early. There is little harm in house hunting, securing pre-qualification letters, and even making an offer or two on your favorite properties. All of these steps can be walked back, and while your realtor might be a little disappointed, there’s really no harm in changing your mind on the front end of the home-buying process. The bargaining stage is a fairly safe space to just step out of if you don’t feel inclined to continue with the purchase of a home. As long as you are still in the negotiating phase, the consequences of backing out are next to none.

Better Late Than Never

Once your offer is accepted, and a purchase agreement is drawn up, though, you are expected to hand over a good faith deposit (also known as earnest money) to assure the seller you mean business. This amount tends to be minimal, typically averaging under 1% of the overall purchase price; however, on a high-dollar house, this could still put buyers into the tens of thousands. Once that money is exchanged, it is difficult to get back without a viable reason, “cold feet” not tending to be one of them. You have to understand the seller will put their home at a pending status, of which stop buyers from touring it (unless it is a continue to show, however traffic still trickles to nothing usually). Should their home go back on market for any reason, there is time lost. Should a home inspection go awry, or an appraisal come back too low, you should have grounds to stand on, but make sure the purchase agreement allows for these reasons for retraction if you aren’t inclined to wave farewell to a considerable deposit.  There are several reasons a transaction falls apart. Sometimes the seller will be understanding, but the reasons behind the decision to back out, communication between the agents, and timing all matter.

Remember, A Purchase Agreement Is A LEGAL Contract

Now, if your indecisiveness takes too long to grab hold, you might find yourself in a bit of a pinch. Once those closing papers are signed, there is little recourse available for a change of heart. For folks heading into a refinance, there is a three-day window in which the mortgagee can back out, providing the refi is on a primary residence. For a traditional mortgage, however, once those papers are signed, the house and that big loan are pretty well set in stone.

Often, folks who decide to rescind after the ink has dried are left with weighty damages to pay or are deemed responsible for costs incurred by the seller as the property in question was pulled from the market for a time. A significant change in finances (such as divorce and job loss) or false claims made by the seller (incorrect property lines, extensive undisclosed issues with the home, etc.) may increase a buyer’s chances of avoiding such penalties. Should you need to back out, for whatever reason, discuss thoroughly with your Agent and Lender to understand the next steps, specific to your unique situation.


Posted on February 28, 2020 at 10:04 am
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

Home Inspection: What You Should Know!

There are a multitude of steps to climb on your way to the finalized purchase of a home, and the home inspection is one of the most important. Different from a home appraisal, the inspection provides homebuyers with a detailed list of existing issues contained within a given property. An experienced professional adept at identifying both structural and cosmetic problems examines the home and compiles a report including both internal and external problems.

While incredibly helpful in theory, home inspection reports can be difficult for the average homeowner to decipher (especially a first-time buyer). So how do you know the difference between a deal breaker and a deal maker? We’re here to shed some light on this oftentimes cloudy step in the homebuying process.

A home inspection report should include a review of the home’s HVAC and electrical systems, plumbing, flooring, doors and windows, foundation, roofing and ventilation system, and any applicable basement and/or garage. It may also cover a home’s exterior decking or porches and patios. While many folks have a general understanding of these systems and structures, it can be difficult to determine which identified issues within these areas are worth your worry – so let’s start small and work our way up.

 

GettyImages-970156662Minor Plumbing Problems:  Drippy faucets, slow drains, and interchanged hot and cold water knobs are the least of your concerns. These inconveniences are easy, and sometimes not even necessary, to correct once you’ve unpacked and made yourself at home.

Dirty Air Ducts: This minor maintenance issue comes up on inspection reports every day and is no cause for alarm. Most homeowners fail to keep up with the recommended cleanings every 3-5 years, so homebuyers are often left to cover this expense shortly after move in.

Blown Window Seals: This is a common problem in many homes. When a seal ruptures on a window, the R value of that window decreases substantially, leading to less insulation and potentially higher energy expenses. However, aside from minimally raised heating and cooling costs, a broken seal will only cause occasional condensation in between panes and fogginess that may increase over time. It is possible to fix a blown seal yourself but DIY on this type of work is tedious, so hiring a professional is likely your best bet.

 

Water Damage: This one is tricky, and it really all depends on where and why the water damage originated. A leaky drain is a quick fix, but a leaky roof could potentially cost you thousands. Follow your inspector throughout the examination of the home and ask lots of questions to obtain the most information possible. They can be a fantastic resource, and one you are paying for, so use them!

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Electrical Issues: Again, it all depends. If the inspection report includes minor fixes like missing GFIs in your kitchen or a light switch to nowhere, it’s no big deal. If they find larger problems like wiring issues with the breaker box or improper installation and securing of wiring throughout the house, it could present potential fire dangers or a costly bill should you choose to correct these problems. For a larger list of common issues, check out This Old House and their how to guide.

Creepy Crawlies: While the occasional stray ant or mouse sighting cannot be avoided, the constant presence of pests within a home should be taken very seriously. Termites and carpenter ants cause extensive damage to a property and can be difficult to exterminate. Mice and bats left unchecked in attics and outbuildings create potentially hazardous areas due to toxins that can build up in their excrement. Squirrels and other small rodents can tear through insulation and cause fire hazards should they get curious about electrical wires. Signs of a constant or rampant pest presence should be taken seriously and corrected by the existing homeowner prior to any sale. Already signed the paperwork? Here are some helpful hints on how to keep pests out of your home.

Work Done Without a Permit: Homeowners looking to save a buck often try their hand at home improvement jobs or hire folks to remodel without pulling proper permits within their county or township. Regardless of the quality of the finished product, this missed step could be incredibly costly, so beware. Buyers should insist that the seller handle any missing permits and building inspections prior to the property changing hands to prevent expensive fixes in the future.

Mold: Mold is oftentimes the result of water damage or poor ventilation within a home. For example, a bathroom fan that vents into an attic space instead of the outdoors will cause excessive moisture to build, inviting mold. While the ventilation problem is correctable, the existing mold should be inspected by a professional and a proper assessment of remediation obtained before closing the deal. Keep in mind, mold can be treated and prevented.

Foundation Problems: The foundation of a house affects the entire structure, so any time issues arise, they should be taken seriously. Visible cracks along walls, ill-closing doors, sagging floors – these could all indicate much larger problems lurking below ground. There are a gamut of problems connected to a house’s foundation and quite a few warning signs to accompany them, so do your research and be willing to walk away when issues are found.

The home inspection is essentially your chance to test drive a house, so do not overlook this inexpensive means of uncovering costly situations down the road. When done properly and by an experienced professional, this stage of the homebuying process can be a real lifesaver, but it should be more than just a piece of paper. Take time to walk through the inspection with your hired professional and get answers to your questions in real time to prevent a hiccup from becoming a high priced, homebuying mistake.


Posted on February 4, 2020 at 9:05 am
Kristin Bergunder | Posted in Uncategorized |

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