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We all know one of the major benefits of owning a home is the freedom to have pets and welcome them as part of your family in a space all your own. Whether moving into your first home, or relocating to a new one, it’s important to make sure your pets are comfortable and adjust to their new surroundings. A move might induce confusion or fear for our furry friends, so here are some things to consider:

Make the Move Comfortable

Be it a dog, cat, horse, or even snake, the ride to the new house should be comfortable, and if at all possible, should be done with you by their side. Make sure to include soothing objects like favorite toys, blankets, beds, or other pet companions. Even if you have to transport pets via plane or tailer, giving them comfort items will help them feel familiar and less anxious.

Set Up a Special Space
Before you even welcome your pet into the new home, try to create a special area for them that will remind them of their old surroundings. If your dog always slept in the master bedroom, for example, then get his bed all set in the same space.

Keep Consistent Rules

As tempting as it may be to let your pet get away with special treatment during a move, try to maintain the same rules of your previous home to instill a sense of control and calm.


Whether you are new to the mortgage process or a veteran of the industry, the terms used in the initial steps of getting a loan can at times be confusing and misleading. Understanding the difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval helps determine how much house you can afford, and if you are qualified to get a loan. Below, we break down the difference between two very similar and equally important terms:

Pre-Qualification:

The pre-qualification is a less involved process than the pre-approval and can be done over the phone or online. As the borrower, you provide the lender your overall financial picture including debt, income, and assets. It does not involve an analysis of your credit report or a close look at your ability to purchase a home. The pre-qualification letter allows you to explore your mortgage options with a lender and ask any initial questions.

Pre-Approval:

A pre-approval letter comes from the mortgage company you are working with and is essentially a commitment that you have a loan approved for a certain amount of money. This letter is required before a full mortgage loan approval and includes the following:

-    Credit check

-    Income/employment verification

-    Financial obligations such as credit card balances

-    Copies of W-2s and bank statements

Once you are pre-approved, you can move forward with looking for a home knowing you have a conditional commitment. This gives you leg up on an offer from somebody who has not been pre-approved.

 


If you recently bought a new home, there are several things you can do immediately to set yourself up for low energy costs, even before you unpack your boxes. Getting a head start on this small list can save you a lot of money in years to come.

1.) Immediately replace the air filters.

This task takes only seconds and is often times forgotten by new homeowners. By replacing the air filter, your HVAC or air-handling system will not overwork at minimal efficiency. Stock up on a few extra filters so you are always prepared. The average home with no pets should have a new filter every 6-12 months, and a average home with a pet, every 60 days or so.

2.) Lower the hot water temperature.

120 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for your hot water heater as most people never use water any hotter than that, and it can be dangerous to human skin. Any energy used to keep water above 120 degrees is not being used efficiently and lowering the temperature will save you money on your energy bill.

3.) Clear all vents.

From dirt and dust, to any furniture or structural obstructions, make sure all of your vents are clean and clear. If a vent is blocked, the heating and cooling units work overtime. Cleaning vents of dust and debris enhance clean air flow and makes for a healthier home.

4.) Check for leaks.

Make sure all toilets and plumbing is running efficiently and there are no leaks. Replace and repair any running toilets or dripping faucets to ensure you aren’t wasting water and throwing away money.

5.) Install new lighting.

By now, we all know that LED bulbs save us a lot when it comes to money and energy. While they are a bit more expensive than other bulbs, they last much longer and are a worthwhile investment. Consider replacing all of the old lighting in your new home with an LED option and you’ll be saving immediately.


Tips for Buying a Home in Retirement

May 29
10:46
AM
Category | General

A lot can change between buying your first home and downsizing to a home you’ll enjoy during retirement. Chances are it will be your last big move and you want to make sure you get it right. Consider the following tips for finding a retirement home that best fits your needs:

Location For Years to Come:

There’s a good chance you want to stay near your family and friends, but you should also consider a location that will allow you easy access to amenities. Finding a home near grocery stores, shopping malls, or public transportation options will serve as a convenience in later years when mobility becomes more of a challenge. You might also have a certain hobby you enjoy, like playing golf or going to the beach; consider the time it will take to get to these places when choosing your home for retirement.

Omit the Stairs:

Even if the idea of struggling to climb a flight of stairs seems years away, you might look for single-story homes to eliminate this inevitable nuisance. If you are thinking of new construction, then take the opportunity to implement features like wide doorways and walk-in showers so you are guaranteed a smooth transition into your later years.

How Much Space Do You Need:

This applies both inside and outside. Do you need or want a large yard that is going to require continued maintenance down the road? Even if you enjoy yard work, make sure you find a home with manageable outdoor space that won’t become a hassle later on. For inside, consider the amount of rooms and square footage you’ll be cleaning and taking care of. Do you still need extra guest rooms and a formal dining room?

Plan for Financing:

At this stage of your life, you might be able to afford a large down payment, or even pay off a mortgage outright and eliminate your expenses. Even though nobody wants to have a mortgage, sometimes it is necessary to give yourself the flexibility to live the life you want and have worked so hard for in retirement. No matter your current circumstance, always be sure to plan for the unexpected.

By considering these helpful tips, hopefully you will have a thorough understanding of just what kind of house you need to enjoy your retirement years and beyond.


Winning a Bidding War

May 15
9:50
AM
Category | General

Today’s market has buyers bidding against each other for a low inventory of desirable homes. As if the prospect of buying a home wasn’t stressful enough, waiting to find out if your offer was accepted can heighten the emotions and make the waiting unbearable. Luckily, there are things you can do to better your chances of winning a bidding war.

Use a Pre-approval Letter:

A pre-approval letter is different than being pre-qualified. A pre-qualification verifies your income and how much your bank might lend you based on your credit. A pre-approval letter means that your lender has essentially underwritten your application and it is simply pending an appraisal. Submitting your financing documents to your lender before making any offers will allow you to act quickly when you are ready to make an offer on a new house.

Start with Your Best Offer:

You only get one chance to make a good first impression, which is why you should submit your best offer up front if possible. By doing your research and determining the value of comparable homes in the neighborhood, you can present an accurate and competitive offer. In an extremely competitive market, most houses will sell for over the asking price, so be sure to factor that into the price of the home you are considering.

Limit Your Demands:

Sellers want clean offers; not those that come with a lot of demands or contingencies. For example, if you can avoid asking the seller to cover your closing costs, or trying to get them to make repairs as part of the negotiations, you might have a better chance of having your offer accepted. Sellers have the advantage in a multiple-bid situation and the less complicated you make yours, the more likely they are to say yes.

Give the Seller More Time:

If you can be flexible with your moving timeline, it might give you the competitive edge to offer the seller more time to move out of the home. Not only will they be selling at a price they are comfortable with, but they now have the added bonus of making their own move less stressful. You can offer to have the seller rent back the home for a period of time, or push back the closing date.

Make it Personal:

It may seem silly, but some buyers are swayed by the personal touch of a hand written letter expressing why their home is perfect for you. You can introduce yourself in the letter, tell the seller all about your family, the things you love about the house, and the memories you hope to create there. If the seller is sentimental, they might appreciate the personal touch you’ve added to your offer and feel better knowing who is going to be living in their home.

Stay in Touch:

Even if you find yourself on the losing end of a bidding war, have your realtor keep in touch. A lot of things can happen between an accepted offer and the actual closing. If your offer was in top consideration, you might win out in the end should the initial buyer have complications


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