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Home Ownership

10 Steps to Take Before You Buy Your Home

Purchasing a home is a complicated and time-consuming process, and staying on track is important. Proper planning will make the process go more smoothly and ensure that you end up with the best house possible. Putting in some work before you make an offer can also save you some serious cash. Here are 10 of the most important steps to take before you purchase a new home.

1. Sell Your Current Home First

If you already own a house, consider selling it or renting it out before looking for a new one. Doing so will save you the trouble of making two complex transactions at once. Selling before you buy will also make it easier to determine an appropriate amount for your down payment. 

2. Find an Agent

Even experienced home buyers can benefit from the services of a professional real estate agent. Agents have access to information on neighborhoods and other industry buzz that can help you find the best home possible. They can also navigate the tricky negotiations process to get you a low price with plenty of perks.  A great agent has attended a reputable real estate school and understands the in’s and outs of most deals.

3. Decide What You Want in a Home

People purchase homes for a wide variety of reasons. Figuring out your family’s specific priorities will help you to narrow down your search by eliminating homes that fail to meet all of your requirements. 

4. Check Your Credit History

Obtain a copy of your credit history as soon as possible, especially if you plan on getting a mortgage. If there are any dings or errors in your credit report, try to clean it up as much as you can before you start the mortgage process. 

5. Find a Lender

When seeking a mortgage, compare the rates of different lenders and keep an eye out for programs that cater to your specific situation. Focus on finding a mortgage program with low interest rates and lender fees. 

6. Pre-Qualify for a Mortgage

To make an offer on a home, you will first need a pre-qualification letter from a lender proving that you can afford the mortgage. The pre-qualification process involves a cursory review of your financial situation. Pre-approval is much more extensive and provides a better estimate of your financial capabilities. Pre-approved buyers are generally preferred over pre-qualified buyers.

7. Save Money for a Down Payment

Although the Federal Housing Administration allows payments as low as 3.5 percent, try to make a down payment of at least 20 percent of a home’s contract sale price. A higher down payment will lead to lower mortgage payments and may also reduce your interest rates.

8. Start Researching Neighborhoods

Before you consider buying a house, make sure you know as much as possible about the surrounding area. Search online for information like crime statistics and transportation options. Even if you do not have children, look for an area with good school districts as this will boost the value of your property. 

9. Have the Home Inspected and Appraised

Hiring a professional home inspector is the best way to avoid costly repairs in the future. You will also need to determine the market value of the house and provide your lender with the information. Keep a copy of the appraisal for your records. 

10. Purchase Homeowner’s Insurance

Most lenders will only finance your real estate transaction once the property is fully insured. Homeowner’s insurance is often expensive, especially in areas that are prone to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. Make sure you shop around to find a good deal, and see if your car insurance company will let you add a home insurance plan at a discounted rate.

Home Ownership

5 Easy Tips to Follow for Getting a Home Loan

There are some simple but effective tips that can help you to get the best possible deal on the home loan you want. The worst thing you can do is to rush into getting this type of loan because you will almost certainly end up regretting it. You will need to take your time and do the necessary research so that you don’t end up spending more than you have to.

As long as you make a point of following the tips outlined in this article, you should be able to get a home loan while saving yourself quite a bit of money.

1.      Look for a Reputable Lender

It is absolutely imperative that you find a highly reputable lender to borrow from, otherwise, you are just setting yourself up for lots of aggravation later on. Banks like BB&T offer all kinds of loans, including mortgages, for which they provide contact details for a professional mortgage expert. Make sure that you spend an adequate amount of time finding out what sort of reputation each bank you look into has, so you can select the right one before even applying.

2.      Compare Rates Online

One of the best ways to save yourself money on a BB&T home loan is by comparing interest rates online. The more time you spend doing this, the more likely it will be that you’ll save a substantial amount on your home loan. Make sure that you also compare the terms of each loan so that you can pick the best option overall.

3.      Get a Co-Signer

If you are having issues with getting approved for a home loan due to poor credit, it might be a good idea to get a co-signer. This is someone who will sign onto your loan and agree to take over payments if you are unable to pay yourself at any point, for whatever reason. Most banks are much more willing to approve someone who has a co-signer. Just make sure you choose the right person to sign onto your loan in this capacity.

4.      Check Your Credit

Since your credit is going to play an important role in how easy it is for you to get approved, you will need to make a point of looking at your credit report and score. Make sure that there aren’t any negative items on your report that shouldn’t be there because mistakes do sometimes happen.

5.      Get Pre-Approved

Another way of increasing your chances of getting the offer you put down accepted is getting pre-approved. The pre-approval process doesn’t take very long at all and it can make it a lot easier to get your new house with minimal hassle. Take the time to learn about how to get pre-approved before getting started.

Anyone who wants to get a loan to buy a new house will need to first make some important considerations. This is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make in your life, so you want to take all the time necessary to sort everything out.

Home Ownership

Home Warranties- A Look at the Good and the Not So Good

Renters have a few advantages over homeowners. When you own your own home, you are solely responsible for repairs and maintenance, which can get really expensive. One thing that homeowners might consider is purchasing a home warranty- but are home warranties really worth it? Let’s look at the facts so that you can make an informed decision that is good for your home and for your wallet.

How Much Do Home Warranties Cost?

Home warranties aren’t cheap. If you are considering a policy you should plan on paying somewhere in the range of $300 to $600 each year. Of course, there are some policies that are less and a few that are quite a bit more expensive. In addition to your annual premium, you will also have to pay a deductible each time you need a repair. Once again, the amount of your deductible will vary based on the policy you choose. Generally you can expect to pay between $50 and $100 per service call.

What Do Home Warranties Cover?

While home warranties aren’t cheap, they do offer quite a bit of protection to homeowners. Generally policies cover all of your home’s major appliances including the fridge, the dishwasher and the heater. Most policies also cover your electrical and your plumbing. Some policies allow you to add in additional appliances like the washer or dryer. When it comes to policies, no two are alike, so make sure that you know what type of coverage you are considering. Every policy is different.

How Do Home Warranties Work?

If you have a home warranty in place and something breaks down, you will contact your home warranty company first. They will then arrange for repair or replacement of your damaged item. All you pay is the deductible and the remainder of the repairs will be handled at no charge. This can make repairs very easy and stress-free. You won’t have to worry about finding  a great plumber, electrician and oven repairman, the warranty company will be your call when something goes wrong. Bear in mind that if you have multiple items break down, that you will have to pay your deductible twice even if you only have one service call.

What Don’t Warranties Cover?

Home warranties won’t cover everything in your house. Each policy varies, but generally they do not cover pre-existing problems. They also won’t cover items that are damaged due to inappropriate use. This means that if you throw a wild party at your house and break the dishwasher in the process, you won’t be covered. If you attempt a repair and do not succeed, you can also void your warranty. Each policy is different, but most contain various loopholes and restrictions that your home warranty provider can use to keep from paying for repairs.

Are Home Warranties Worth the Expense?

Home warranties can be a great way to protect your finances. Think about it, if your dishwasher breaks down and needs to be replaced, it will cost you at least $300. If your home warranty costs $400 per year and you have a $50 deductible, you have almost paid for your policy in just one repair, and the dishwasher is one of the least expensive major appliances in your home.

On the other hand if you have a newer home and newer appliances, you might not really get the value from your home warranty. If nothing breaks down, you are out the yearly premium and you receive nothing in return. Also since policies can have loopholes, you may find that your policy excludes your damage.

Another thing to keep in mind is that home warranty companies will always choose to repair if possible. They know that replacing items is expensive and if there is any way to keep your 20 year old heater working, they will patch it back together. Since you have to pay your deductible each time a repair is needed, there may come a time that it is cheaper to replace an item yourself rather than calling out the home warranty company again.

Tips for Shopping for Policies

If you are planning on purchasing a home warranty, here are a few tips that will help protect you and your finances.

  • Read Your Policy Carefully- Since home warranty policies can be filled with loopholes and exceptions, make sure that you read the entire policy carefully. Before committing to a plan you should know which appliances are covered, what you have to pay and what your responsibilities are in regards to maintenance of your appliances.
  • Shop Around-  Don’t turn to the first company that you find. Look at several top companies and compare. It is a good idea to look at several aspects of each company when comparing. If you only look at price or coverage you won’t get a clear picture of which company is the best for you.
  • Choose Reputable Companies- There have been cases of home warranty companies refusing to make repairs and ripping off their clients. Always make sure that you check out the companies that you are considering. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to check providers for complaints.
  • Use Your Policy- If you have a home warranty, make sure that you use it. Don’t attempt repairs on your own or replace equipment without first checking with your home warranty company. If you pay for the policy, you need to make sure that you use it.

A home warranty can be a great choice for protecting your home and your finances if you are a homeowner. When appliances fail, it can be very expensive to replace them. With a home warranty, you don’t have to worry about not being able to afford important repairs. However, they aren’t for everyone or every situation.


Home Ownership

Is it time to replace the old boiler?

Yet again the British summer is dragging its heels, with no sign of any prolonged sunshine coming our way anytime soon. Whilst the lack of rays can be depressing, as there’s not much chance of getting to the beach anytime soon, it’s not the biggest problem.

For lots of us the summer brings relief as our gas bills drop dramatically. When you have a monthly outgoing, that for many now stems in to three figures throughout the winter, it’s always nice to see it drop for at least a short while in the summer months.

Sadly, with the daily temperature struggling to hit double figures across the country the heating is still having to go on and no end is in sight. Add to this, the mentality of the major providers, whose only real concern seems to be squeezing as much money as possible out of the public, and you could be forgiven for thinking the only solution is to buy more woollens or emigrate to warmer climates.

Does your boiler need replacing?

Well, all is not totally lost, as you can take certain steps to bring the cost of your heating down a good bit over the cost of an average month. Taking the time to replace your household boiler can save a substantial amount of money over a short period, not to mention reducing carbon dioxide emissions. However, if you are considering upgrading your boiler, it’s important to speak with a reputable supplier such as Help-Link as it’s vital to have it done professionally and for as little cost as possible.

If you’re concerned that your boiler is costing too much to run, the first step is to speak with an expert, as they are in the best position to advise you. There are many different types of boilers on the market and it may be that yours is very dated, or that it is just the wrong type for your property.

An expert will discuss the types of boiler available to you and what advantages can be gained from the various options available. It may be that a combi boiler is the right option, as for many homes, these are the most cost efficient on the market.

Which boiler is the right one for your home?

Or, maybe your water bills are of an equal concern and a water efficient boiler may the right one for you. Energy efficient condensing boilers save money by recycling the waste gas and then reusing it to generate heat and if you don’t currently have one, you could be throwing valuable money down the drain. Either way, it’s important to consult an expert on this, as not every boiler is right for every home.

Another factor to consider is warranty. Some suppliers will offer a very limited warranty, whereas others will offer a guarantee that can last as much as a decade. This is very important, as the last thing you want to do is to end up paying out a few years after having the new boiler fitted.

The one expense you will have when you fit a new boiler is the initial outlay. Two important factors to remember are as follows. Firstly, you may be entitled to a grant which could help reduce the costs considerably, so it’s best to enquire before jumping in head first. Secondly, it may be that you can take out finance and spread the cost of the boiler, so you are not paying out in one go. This can be a great way of paying as you can offset the cost of the new boiler against the savings you are making from reduced outgoings.

It doesn’t seem that the British summer is going to be here anytime soon so you if you are considering a new boiler, it may be more prudent to speak to someone now, rather than waiting until the winter.

Home Ownership

Six Tips To Saving Money In Every Aspect Of Your Home

Home, it’s where the heart is and it’s where you spend a lot of time. You want your home to be a relaxing and happy place where you can come home from work and put your feet up.

Instead, for a lot of people, home is where you come back from work to find bills you need to pay and messes you need to clean up. Pretty much, you come home from work to work.

While bills can be a pain, there are many things you can do in and around your home to help you save some money and some time. From organization projects to ways to cut the bills back, here are some things you may want to try in your own home to make life just a little more tolerable.

Start With Organizing Your Bills

There’s more to planning a budget than just writing down what you owe and what you have coming in. You also need to organize your bills. Sometimes you have extra bills that aren’t always on the budget plan, like that magazine subscription you just had to have.

Start off by making sure you have a place to keep your bills, and that it is someplace visible. You don’t want them to be out of sight, out of mind. On top of that, always make sure you open all of your bills.

One things that may help is to set up automatic payments, and then just keep a list of what comes out when so you make sure you don’t overdraft your account. Not only does this guarantee bills are always paid on time, it cuts down on waste in your home by going paperless.

Once your bills are all organized and you’ve done the whole budgeting thing everyone does each month, you will be able to see where you could, or should, cut down on expenses.

Cutting Down Your Monthly Expenses

Once you know what bills your have coming and compare that to your income, you can decide what things need to go and what needs to stay. Obviously everyone needs food, shelter, heat and water, but are there ways you can save on those things?

To save money on the electric bill it helps to be more energy efficient. That doesn’t just mean changing your light bulbs though. look for energy efficient appliances when it’s time to invest in new ones. Also, don’t leave things plugged in all the time if you are not using them. They’ll continue to draw energy.

Saving money on the heating bill can be as easy as keeping the heat turned down and bundling up a little bit more when it’s chilly out. You can also have your insulation checked. Good insulation helps hold heat in your home allowing you to keep the thermostat lower.

It’s a similar thing with air conditioning. Only run it when you need to, like when the sun is at it’s highest. Have windows open on cooler days instead. Keep shades closed so the sun doesn’t heat up rooms. And, of course, cook on the grill often to save from heating the stove up.

Saving On Entertainment In Home

If you have a high speed internet service, you may be able to cut out cable all together. Learn more here about some of the high speed internet services that are available. With a good service you can have Netflix and HuluPlus to watch your favorite TV shows and movies.

Look for services that don’t have any hidden costs for using too much bandwidth, which is something you’ll do using things like Netflix. But you’ll go from $30 or more for cable packages to under ten dollars a month for a streaming service.

In order to stream without watching on your laptop or home computer, you will want to invest in a WiFi ready BluRay player. But with that you can also save money on entertainment by purchasing DVDs and BluRay discs when you see a good sale, instead of spending theater prices.

It’s pretty easy to save money on bills if you just take some time to do the math. You may still have a messy house to clean when you come home from work, but at least you’ll have less bills to worry about and more time for fun with your family.