Take Your Bathroom from 😐 to 😍 with These Simple Updates

If you want to spruce up your bathroom but you don’t want any remodeling involved, try a few of these simple updates to give your bathroom an updated look and feel.

1. New Hardware- replace your old towel bar, toilet paper holder, hand towel holder, and vanity knobs with new modern ones.

2. New Shower Curtain and Towels- By hanging a new shower curtain, towels and hand towels your bathroom will have a whole new look and feel. Try a pop of color to add some brightness to the room.

3. Paint the Walls- A new coat of paint is one of the best ways to create the biggest change.

4. Hang a New Mirror- Replace your old mirror with one that has a bit of character.

5. Add a Backsplash- A simple backsplash above your vanity will help give your bathroom that custom look.

You don’t have to go through all the work of a remodel in order to make a big difference!

10 Things You Can Do Now to Add Value to Your Home

It's starting to look like fall here in Philadelphia! With the cooler weather (finally) here, we're feeling inspired to do more around the house. Here are some great ideas you can do now to help add value to your home!

1. Even though your home is not for sale, take a tour of your home pretending to be a potential buyer. Turn a critical eye to the small things you’ve overlooked or learned to live with. Make a list.

2. Most people are well aware of “problem” areas in their homes. Whether yours is a garage that needs organizing or bathroom tile that needs re-grouting, take care of it. Do the little things first.


3. There are many excellent books and videos on how to make rooms look larger: effective lighting, easy window treatments and creating a strong visual appeal. Obtain some, and analyze the impression your home makes on others.

4. How much storage space do you have? Is it neat, well organized and uncluttered? If not, consider some of the easy and inexpensive do-it-yourself closet systems available today.

5. Is the exterior of your dwelling all that it could be? If not, sometimes it is the little things that make a house look its best. Paint the trim, or just the front door. Add a bright new mailbox.

6. Speak to your local paint or wallpaper supplier. They are often willing to provide helpful information on selection and how to do it yourself.

7. Talk to your real estate professional about what buyers like and don’t like about houses that they see.

8. Pay particular attention to the foundation, walls, steps, railings, ceilings and floors. If they are in need of repair, it can create an impression, even if false, that the house is not structurally sound.

9. Your yard is another area to look at critically. Are the plants overgrown? Cut them back. Is it bare? Most counties have agricultural offices that can offer advice on the best and quickest growing plants and trees for your climate.

10. When you’ve done all the little things that help make your home its most appealing, decide if there are major improvements which will add value when you decide to sell.

For a competitive market analysis of your home, reply to this email and I would be happy to answer any questions you have.

For Real Estate Advice that pertains to financial, legal, or tax related information contact the professionals in those fields. The practice of Real Estate representation can vary by state. Ask your Real Estate Representative for agency information pertaining to your state and company.

What if My House Doesn't Pass Inspection?

The fall real estate market is in full swing; which means home inspectors are busier than ever. A home inspection is a crucial part of the home buying process, but what exactly does a home inspection cover?

Unlike a class or test in school, houses don’t technically “pass” or “fail” an inspection. Instead, your inspection report gives you a clear picture of any issues with the home and provides you with recommendations for repairs or further inspection by a specialist.

inspection report in hand, you and your agent can make an educated decision on whether to move forward with this home purchase, or terminate the contract based on the inspection findings.

Don’t automatically assume you picked a bad house if your inspector hands you a lengthy report of issues; inspectors are trained to find every potential problem. Your agent will guide your focus to the issues that need your attention.

Inspections can be unnerving. But remember, no house is perfect. Houses are living breathing things that need maintenance no matter what. Even brand new construction will have items that need to be addressed.

We have several tried and true inspectors we’d be happy to recommend. Just reply to this email to reach Your Trusted Experts for Every Move at Invest Philly! 

A Cozy Home

Your home should be a place you, your friends and family can comfortably enjoy. You want your home to be a place that is inviting and relaxing where even the most unexpected guests will feel at home.

Making your home more cozy doesn’t have to be hard and can be done with a few changes to your décor.

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Throws and Pillows -
Adding soft throw blankets and pillows to your couch and chairs will instantly soften up the room. Don’t be afraid to mix textures to make it even more inviting.

Mix and Match- It’s okay to mix and match different styles just keep a common color throughout that will help tie the pieces together.

Add a Little Vintage- Shop your local thrift stores and vintage markets to find some accessories that will add a sense of charm and history to your home. Reclaimed wood, whether in a piece of art or furniture, is another vintage element that can add some warmth to your home.

Layer Your Window Treatments- Layering drapes over your window shades will instantly soften the room.

Display Family Photos- Feel more at home by displaying photos of those you share it with and who are closest to your heart.

Play With Paint Color- Adding a warmer color of paint to a built-in or other architectural element in your home can add a sense of warmth.

Your home should be a place that reflects your family’s personality and style. Choose elements that you love. Collect items over time that have meaning, and select furniture that is comfortable yet sophisticated.


Why Do I Need a Pre Approval?

It's been a rainy week here in Philadelphia, but it looks like that crisp fall weather we love will be coming soon -- great home buying weather! 

If you're getting ready to start (or get back into) home shopping, read on to find out why getting a pre approval is an important part of the process.

Remember, to successfully navigate the current market, you must act quickly and be ready to strike while the iron is hot! That’s why you NEED a pre-approval from your lender. Having a current preapproval allows your buyer’s agent to submit a complete offer on your behalf and shows the seller you are serious and qualified to purchase his or her home.

Your agent will also have you complete a BFI (Buyer’s Financial Information) Form to accompany your offer. This form provides sellers with an in-depth look at your financials, showing not only are you qualified by a bank or lender, but your income, savings and assets. Hard proof that you are ready, willing and able.

3 Best Remodeling Projects For A Jump In Home Value

Are you thinking about listing your home soon? Here are a few renovation ideas that will help you get the most out of your home sale. 

According to the most recent nationwide research, the following home remodeling projects will give you the best Return On Investment (ROI), for your remodeling projects this year. Fortunately, they are also relatively inexpensive, fast and easy to do.

Number One, in a surprising first place finish for the highest ROI, and in fact, the only home improvement you can make that will return more than you spend is adding loose-fill fiberglass insulation in your attic. On a national average, this improvement will give you a 107.7% ROI.

When adding the insulation, it should be placed on top of the existing insulation. The fiberglass loosefill is then applied until a thickness equating with R-30 insulation value is reached.

Few buyers want to move into a home that has delayed maintenance problems. Buyers know a well-insulated home will save them money and is an indication the home has been kept up well and properly maintained.

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At number two, the second best remodeling improvement you can make to improve your home’s value is replacing your home’s front door. First impressions count a lot. When a buyer walks up to the front of your home, they want to be impressed.Buyers know if they are impressed when they walk up to their new home, their friends and family will be impressed when they come to visit. And who doesn’t want to impress their friends and family who come to visit them in their new home?


However, you can’t replace your front door with just any new, front door. Research has found the type of front door that gives the highest ROI is of a very specific design.

For the highest ROI, you need to replace your existing front door and jambs with a new 20-gauge steel door, including a clear dual-pane half-glass panel, jambs, and an aluminum threshold with a composite stop. The door must be factory finished and of the same color on both sides.

So pick one, two, or all of these projects to complete and you will be thrilled with your new, higher home value.

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day Weekend! Enjoy the extra day to rest and relax!

With the end of Summer coming, we're getting ready for the Fall Real Estate Market. It's an exciting and BUSY time of year for us, and great time to consider buying or selling!

Summer activities are wrapping up, kids are back in school, routines are returning to normal, and homeowners who have been thinking about selling finally have time to make it happen...which is great because the sunny weather and vivid fall colors help a house photograph and look its best!

The calmer pace and nice weather of the season, along with fresh inventory encourage buyers who may have put home shopping on hold to get back into it!

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Ready to Jump into the Fall Market?

 

We're Ready to Help! Just reach out to us at eli@investphilly.com or by phone 215.731.4116 to get started!

Your Guide to Getting a Mortgage


Getting a mortgage takes more than the click of a button, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Follow these steps below to set yourself up for success.

Get Pre-Approved
Often confused with a pre-qualification, a pre-approval demonstrates your lender’s willingness to lend you money, while a pre-qualification is only their best estimate how much you could potentially borrow. To issue a pre-approval, your lender will require detailed financial records, including 30 days of paystubs, federal tax returns, W-2s, and proof of funds, to name a few.
 
Ace The Home Appraisal
Lenders require a home appraisal before they’ll issue a loan, because the home you’re buying is going to serve as collateral. If the home’s appraised value is the same as what you've agreed to pay, you’ve passed the appraisal. If the appraisal comes in at a figure higher than what you're paying, you’re golden—in fact, you’ve gained instant equity! But, if the appraisal comes in lower than what you've agreed to pay, you can address it one of a few ways: negotiate with the seller, appeal the appraisal, order a second appraisal, or walk away.
 
Keep Your Credit Score Stable While Under Contract
Depending on the loan program, lender, and applicant’s specific credit history, the minimum credit score necessary to buy a home varies; but regardless, your credit score must remain stable while you’re under contract on a house. Why? Because the lender’s final clearance and a loan commitment are subject to a last-minute credit check (and other verifications) shortly before closing. So avoid doing any the following while under contract: opening new credit accounts, including financing large purchases like a car or new furniture; closing old credit accounts; missing or making a late payment.

Pass The Underwriting Process
Before your lender issues final loan approval, your mortgage has to go through the underwriting process. Underwriters are like real estate detectives. It’s their job to make sure you have represented yourself and your finances truthfully, and that you haven’t made any false or misleading claims on your loan application.
Underwriters will pull your credit score to make sure it hasn’t changed, review your new home’s appraisal to make sure the value is good, and may also contact your employer to verify the information you submitted.
If you’ve been diligent about keeping your credit score, job status, and debts stable, you’ll pass with flying colors. If the underwriter has a question, don’t panic—the best thing you can do is respond with prompt and complete information.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your agent for help as well; with a wealth of experience to draw from, we can help you troubleshoot any issues.

New & Coming Soon Listings!

It's been a long week for most of us and our team has been very busy serving our clients. We want to wish you a relaxing weekend and also share our unique properties that will be hitting the market next week. 

If you'd like us to schedule any showings for you, email eli@investphilly.com to reach Eli, Your Trusted Expert for Every Move.

COMING SOON

934 N 30th St

Great recently renovated townhome in The Art Museum Area with abundant out door space with both a fenced back yard and a huge roof deck!

COMING SOON

 

1220 S 31st St

Brand new construction townhome! Modern open floor plan and tons of natural light! This 3000sq' + /- home has it all. Approved 10-Year Tax Abatement, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a ROOFDECK and large rear yard.

JUST LISTED

 

819 N Uber St Units 1-6

Brand new construction luxury condos available for delivery October 1st in the desirable Francisville area! Each unit is impeccably finished with a modern, neutral color scheme throughout, covered by a one-year Builder’s Warranty and approved for a 10 year tax abatement. Offering the true city experience, with great bars, coffee shops, shopping, parks, public transport, and overall walkability, the revitalized Francisville Neighborhood provides endless amenities. Don’t miss your opportunity to own in one of the hottest neighborhoods in Philly right now, schedule your visit today!

Stage Your Home Like A Pro

Are you considering putting your house up for sale, but not sure where to start? Here are some tried and true staging tricks that will help you get the most for your home!

Think about staging as a way for prospective buyers to visualize themselves in your home. Imagine you’re viewing your home for the first time as you choose what to display. A few well-placed pieces of furniture allow buyers to gain an understanding of the space and the way their furniture would fit in it.
 

One of the most important steps of staging is to remove as much clutter as you can. Clear off kitchen counters, stash all those appliances you don’t use and put miscellaneous small clutter in a few attractive baskets or boxes. Family photos and collectibles should be stored out of sight. If storage space is minimal in your home, consider renting a storage locker for a month or two while your home is listed.
 

Make your home look like a model by using neutral colors. Furniture is important to give your living space dimension, but less is more. Try taking everything out of each room, and slowly bringing a few pieces back to find the perfect balance. Keep in mind, large, dark furniture can make a small room feel even smaller. If you’re working with a small space, scale the items you use in staging accordingly.
 

Organize your closets – put similar colors together, pants together, skirts together, shirts together etc. Why? Because it will make the closets look bigger. (Really.) An organized closet appears bigger, and you want your closets to look as spacious as possible.
 

The best tip of all? Consult your real estate professional for his or her staging advice. We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t and can offer cost effective solutions to help sell your house quickly and for the price you want!

 

Fun Philly Activities to do before Summer Ends!


We still have a month of Summer left to enjoy! Along with tried and true favorites like visiting the shore or Historic Philadelphia, here are some great activities in and around Philadelphia to add to your Summer Bucket List.
 

The Rail Park
  • When complete, the Rail Park will reach across three miles of unused rail lines, connecting 10 neighborhoods and 50 city blocks. Most of the park is still in the building stage, but Phase One is complete, free to the public, and open daily 7am-10pm. Visit https://therailpark.org/ for directions and more details. 

 

Parks on Tap (Pop Up Beer Gardens)

  • This partnership with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department lets you experience 23 of Philadelphia’s parks and good food and drinks throughout the whole Summer. Check out http://www.parksontap.com/ for upcoming dates and locations.

Spruce Street Harbor Park
  • Featuring a boardwalk lined with swings, colorful hammocks, and games; floating gardens; beautiful lights; craft beer and food from popular Philly restaurants, Spruce Street Harbor Park is the perfect Summer gathering space for locals and visitors alike. There are lots of events throughout the Summer including monthly Jazz in the Park concerts. Visit http://www.delawareriverwaterfront.com/places/spruce-street-harbor-park to see more upcoming events. 

Longwood Gardens

 

Our Philly Market Update

If there's one thing that’s constant about the Real Estate Market is that it’s always changing. Factors like shifting interest rates have real time effects, so a small change in timing can yield very different results for buyers and sellers. That’s why it’s so important to work with a trusted Real Estate Professional; we put the knowledge we gain from working in the Real Estate market everyday to work for you!

You might be wondering, what’s happening in the Philly Market right now? Here are some trends we’ve noticed:

1. It’s a Seller’s Market!

Factors like low inventory and plenty of buyers make this a great time to sell. If priced and marketed correctly, homes are going under contract quickly, often with multiple offers and sometimes for over the asking price.

2. Buyers are Getting More Creative with Their Offers

Because the market is so competitive for buyers, many are making their offers more appealing by asking for fewer contingencies, waiving inspections, or purchasing properties “as is”.

For our client who want the security of a home inspection in case of structural defects or other major concerns, the buyer may agree to address concerns up to a certain dollar amount out of their own pocket, with the option to renegotiate the agreement if the cost of repairs exceed that limit. For example, a buyer agrees to take responsibility for any repairs needed as long as costs do not exceed $5000. If those repairs exceed $5000, the buyer and seller may renegotiate or terminate. 

3. Buyers are Still Very Selective  

Even though today’s buyers are fiercely competitive, they are also very selective. They look for homes with great, high quality finishes and property renovations that have been done correctly.

Bottom line: homes are selling quickly if they’re priced and marketed correctly. Buyers need to act promptly and decisively in this fast-paced market.  So, whether you’re buying or selling, consult your Real Estate Professionals at Invest Philly, and let us put our market expertise to work for you.

2018 Home Design Trends

Whether you're a buyer or a seller, it's smart to stay on top of current home design trends.

Check out some of the trends our team has noticed in 2018 below for inspiration on how to update your current home or to add to your new home wish list! 

All white kitchen cabinets are giving way to a more colorful and quirky trend. We're seeing light upper cabinetry accompanied by darker lower cabinets -- especially in dark blues like the ones shown here! 

Wood floors will always be in style, but the darker wood that was once popular is being replaced by a lighter wood in a wider plank around 5 to 7 inches in width.

Many people are embracing minimalism, eliminating cluttered designs, and expressing their personality through functional, yet unique lighting and furniture, and brighter colors. 

While trends come and go, and things that were once outdated make a comeback, it's important to pay attention and be informed. If you are thinking of selling now or in the future, your design and improvement decisions could impact your bottom line for better or worse.  You should always consult with a real estate professional before making improvements! 

House Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

Knowing how to prevent and detect a house fire is vital to the safety of those in your home.

Here are some common fire dangers according to consumersafety.org:

• Check your home for cords that are worn out or frayed. Remove and replace these cords.
• Stay safe when cooking in the kitchen. It is a good idea to have a fire extinguisher that is easily accessible in your kitchen to quickly put out a fire.
• Smoking in the home is also a cause of house fires.
• Candles that have been forgotten and left burning while not home or set too close to something that is flammable or knocked over by a child or a pet, can all cause a fire.
• Unplug your curling iron or hair straightener when done using and make sure it is placed in a safe spot to cool away from flammable materials.
• When using an outdoor fire pit make sure the fire is at least 25 feet away from any structures and that sticks, branches and shrubs are cleared from the fire area. Use extra caution when lighting the fire and keep a shovel, water and a fire extinguisher nearby in case the fire becomes too big or spreads outside of the fire pit.
• A grill can also be a common cause for starting a fire. When grilling do not leave it unattended and make sure it is placed away from the house and railings, and out from under eaves and tree branches. It is also important to keep your grill clean ensuring the trays below do not have a buildup of grease.
• One key element to fire safety in your home is your smoke alarms. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that you have a smoke alarm in every bedroom, on every level including the basement and outside of all sleeping areas in the home. The alarms should be installed on the ceiling or high up on a wall and at least 10 feet from the stove. The NFPA also recommends that you use interconnected smoke alarms so that when one goes off, the rest of the alarms in the house will go off as well. You should test your smoke alarms monthly. For those who are hard of hearing you can use special alarms that have strobe lights and bed shakers. The NFPA states that all smoke alarms should be replaced when they are 10 years old. If your alarm does go off, make sure you and your family leave the home immediately and if there is smoke, get below the smoke to exit. You should have a fire escape plan that you and your family have practiced so everyone knows what to do in case of a fire and where to meet outside of the home once they have exited the home.
For more information and tips on fire safety visit www.nfpa.org. Sources: www.nfpa.org and consumersafety.org.

- Eli & The Invest Philly Team

The truth about your credit

The truth about your credit

Did you know there are more than 55 different scoring models? FICO is the most common; it’s the one most people have heard of. The letters in FICO stand for the company responsible for it: Fair Isaac & Co. Two men — Fair and Isaac — founded the company 60 years ago. So now it’s an acronym that everyone knows — but few people know anything about.

FICO is a measure of our credit worthiness based on the debt agreements we have, and whether we’ve made payments on time, what our outstanding balances are, and so on.

The major reporting agencies — companies separate from FICO, including Experian and TransUnion, look at common factors, break them up into categories, types of debt, and then the lender — not the reporting agency by the way — makes a decision.

The main areas lenders look at are how long you’ve had credit and how you’re using it. That’s the number of credit accounts and the number of years they’ve been open, and then balance information — how much you’ve borrowed against the total amount available.

Will Credit Inquiries Impact My Credit Score? Inquiries. That’s when someone checks your credit. They have a temporary effect on your credit numbers. When a potential lender pulls your credit report they see who looked at your credit over the last six months. After six months it falls off. Basically every inquiry affects your score by 1 to 2 points. It doesn’t sound like a lot but if you apply for several cards it adds up The lender will look at the inquiries and say, “This person is applying for a lot of credit — more credit than the income from their job would support. 

What about the credit card or line of credit that you haven’t used it in a long time: should people keep the accounts — the “trade lines” — open? When you close out a card you’ve had for 10 or 20 years you cut off 10 or 20 years of positive credit history. It’s better to have a card open and unused than to have had the card and then close the account completely. Just keep the zero balance. Of course, it’s better to use it occasionally and make sure there’s no annual fee.

What about short sales, foreclosure, or bankruptcy? First there’s a time line involved — how long will you have to wait, what were the conditions when credit or that home loan went bad for you, what kind of loan are you trying for now, and so on. The general range for “seasoning” as we call it is between 2 and 7 years

For additional questions regarding your credit and to be connected to a quality lender for a full credit report, reach out to me using my contact information provided on our webiste.

For any Real Estate Advice that pertains to financial, legal, or tax related information please contact the professionals in those fields. The practice of Real Estate representation can vary by state. Ask your Real Estate Representative for agency information pertaining to your state and company. 

Giving Back To Your Community

Giving back to your community can be a rewarding and fun experience. It is something you can do individually or together as a family. When it comes to volunteering it can be a bit overwhelming to get started. Before committing to a volunteer position there are a few things to consider:

1. Time Commitment- How much time do you want to spend volunteering? One hour a week, one Saturday a month, a few times a year?

3. What are you passionate about? If you are passionate about the organization or cause you are much more likely to enjoy the time you spend volunteering.

3. What are your strengths? Do you have a specific skill that you would like to utilize when volunteering? It could be working as a volunteer to help with event planning, construction, working with children, helping people with finances, organizing, etc.

4. Once you have narrowed down these questions down, find an organization to volunteer with.

Volunteering can be a great experience, but don’t get discouraged if the first time you try it or the first organization you volunteer with doesn’t work out. If you don’t enjoy it or the time commitment is too much don’t give up just find something that is a better fit for you and your schedule. There are many benefits to volunteering. It helps you get connected in your community, you have the opportunity to give back and it looks great on a resume! It is also a great way to spend time as a family.

Sincerely,

Eli

WHY HIKING SHOULD BE YOUR NEXT HOBBY (IF IT ISN’T ALREADY)

Are you interested in doing something fun and exciting on a day that you may have off from work or a weekend with no plans?  If you are and if you are like many other Americans, there is a good chance that you may be interested in doing something recreational such as going on a hike.

Hiking is one of the most popular recreational activities in the United States. Most cities and towns have at least one hiking park or hiking trail and many have multiple.

One of the many reasons hiking is such a popular recreational activity is because it can be an easy stroll or a challenging trek, and everything in between.

Hiking is also popular because it can be completely solitary or with a group of friends. It is also a great family activity.

Another reason why hiking is growing as an activity of choice is because it is a workout in nature rather than a boring, stuffy gym.

In addition to being great for us physically, spending time outdoors has been proven time and again to have beneficial effects on our emotional and mental wellbeing. The Vitamin D exposure (safely of course, wear your sunscreen!) and the fresh air are just two of the countless benefits of time spent outdoors.

Finding a hike near you:

  • recreation.gov
  • americanhiking.org
  • americantrails.org

5 Quick Home Makeovers

Whether you’re considering putting your home on the market this spring or you’re simply looking for a new year pick-me-up, try one of the following ideas to give your living space a boost…and your mental state in the process.

 
1. If you hate it, lose it. Why wait for spring cleaning? If you roll your eyes every time you pass that sofa in the sitting room that no one uses and you’ve never liked, get rid of it. See if a friend or family member can use it, list it on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or a neighborhood tag sale site, or donate it to Goodwill or the local shelter. Don’t hold onto objects that make you unhappy.
 
2. Make windows a priority. Windows are a critical aspect of our home environment as they control the amount of light coming into a space…or lack thereof. They are also our connection to the world outside, whether that’s on the 25th floor of an urban high-rise, or a few wooded acres in the country. Make sure your windows are dressed optimally for letting light in, providing privacy and enhancing views. It’s also important to assess your curtains, shades and blinds and make any necessary changes. Rule of thumb—less is more.
 
3. Don’t get walled in. We tend to hang a painting or a mirror on a wall and then let it sit there for years. But who said wall décor needs to be permanent? Our tastes change over the years, so take a good look at your walls and decide if you still like what’s hanging there. If not, check out some great wall décor ideas (photo gallery, mural, unique shelving, etc.) on Pinterest, or your favorite home décor portal.
 
4. Color cures all. Whether it’s painting an entire room, an accent wall or the kitchen cabinets, the quickest way to a fresh feel and change of mood is through a paint brush. Painting also makes for a great weekend project when forced indoors by inclement weather. Too much to tackle? Then change up your existing color patterns with pillows, throws, bedding and area rugs to create a new palette.
 
5. Rearrange the furniture. Have you ever repositioned your bed? If so, then you know how that one small step can create an entirely different feel within your bedroom. Try the same with your living room sofa, office desk and bookcases, or family room entertainment equipment. Even switching up the location of lamps, plants and decorative objects can add a new flow to your environs.
 
Remember, updating your home doesn’t require a major renovation or large investment of time and money. Simple strategies like the above will add welcome changes with little effort.
 
For more quick home makeovers you can tackle today, contact me today.

How to Help Your Child with Student Debt

 

 

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A hot-button topic during this year’s presidential election, mounting student debt is triggering concerns on many levels, not only for students themselves, but for the housing industry and the economy at large.

 
According to the most recent National Association of REALTORS® Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey, while surveyed households still believe now is a good time to buy a home, roughly half of young adults with student debt disagree. The HOME survey revealed that existing student debt is making many young people uneasy at the thought of taking on additional debt to buy a home. According to the survey, roughly two-thirds of non-homeowners and half of respondents under 35 with student debt said they aren’t comfortable also having a mortgage. They also believe they’re less likely to even qualify for a mortgage due to their debt.
 
The student debt dilemma is particularly troubling for parents who want to see their children take flight after working so hard to earn their college degree.
 
Here are a few ways parents can help their graduate get out of debt and on with life faster:
 
-Encourage your child to move back home…temporarily. While you might have gotten used to the empty nest, having your child move back in to save money makes sense in many scenarios. Set up some ground rules and have them contribute to household expenses, but make it clear that paying down their student loan is priority.

-Whether living with you or on their own, help your child create a budget and teach them where they can trim expenses and how to live within their means.

-If downsizing to a smaller home is in your near future, you might want to consider shortening the window and making the move now, sharing some of the profit to help your child pay down their debt.

-Sign up with a rewards program like Upromise, which allows you to earn cash back on purchases like travel, restaurants, groceries, online shopping, and more. You can cash out your rewards via check or use them to pay down an eligible student loan directly.

-Ask family and friends to consider giving your children cash instead of gifts for holidays and birthdays. This money can help pay down student loans faster.

-Encourage your children to look for side projects that can bring in additional income that goes directly toward their loans. Child care, catering gigs, freelance writing, home maintenance jobs—whatever your child’s talents happen to be can be put to good use to earn some extra cash.
 
Most of all, be emotionally supportive and keep the lines of communication open—advise, don’t lecture, and assure your child that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
 
For more tips to successfully help your child with student debt, contact our office today.

Buying a Home? How Technology Can Help

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Technology touches every part of our lives, and buying a home is no exception. With an abundance of websites and apps at the homebuyer’s disposal, how do you know what’s worth your time and what isn’t? And what about a real estate agent? Where do they fit in? Here’s a game plan for using technology to your advantage when searching for your home-to-be.

 
Get prequalified. Before you even begin your home search, find out how much house you can really afford by using an online mortgage calculator. Then start the process to get prequalified for your mortgage. Certain lenders even offer a streamlined online process for prequalification.

Start online. Well over 90 percent of homebuyers start their search online, and this is a good thing. Try a home search portal like realtor.com® or Homes.com, or do a Google search on the cities/neighborhoods/zip codes where you’d like to buy. This will also lead you to the sites of real estate professionals who serve the areas you’re interested in. Then start perusing what’s available.

Look for listings with lots of photos, and better yet, virtual tours and videos. Some videos are even done with drone technology to give you an awesome aerial perspective on properties for sale.

Use social media sites like Instagram and Twitter and check out homes and neighborhoods using hashtag searches that include the towns you’re interested in. This will yield some interesting information not only on available real estate, but on the communities themselves.

Do some drive-by’s. Your online research will help narrow down your choices. Now it’s time to get in the car and drive by the properties you’re interested in. While you’ll most likely notice a yard sign with the listing agent’s information outside the homes you’re interested in, you might even notice a text-for-more-info code. Be sure to take advantage of this technology if it’s offered, as it can connect you with an agent right away who can then show you the home and help you negotiate an offer.
 
Technology will help make for a fluid relationship with your agent. Let your agent know your preferred method of communication—email, text or phone call—to ensure responsiveness. You’ll also find that digital documents and secure electronic-signature technology will streamline the closing process even further.
 
Despite the array of technology that will help you along the way to buying your home, remember that none of it replaces the guidance and local expertise of your real estate agent. Ask them how they use technology and what other apps they may have available to help you find and seal the deal on your home.
 
Contact our office today to learn more about how technology can help in the home search process.