Winter months bring cold days and long nights. While you wait for the weather to warm up so you can get out into the garden, there are still plenty of great DIY projects to tackle, even in the winter. Here are 7 terrific ideas for the “Do it Yourself-er” in you.
- Paint Your Walls – Paint an accent wall or an entire room with a fresh color.
- De-clutter – Sure this sounds like a fancy name for house cleaning, but de-cluttering is more than that. Remove excess furnishings to make your rooms seem larger and more inviting.
- Update Your Kitchen –A new back splash or cabinet pulls can quickly change the look and feel of your kitchen.
- Add Insulation – This will provide instant satisfaction as those cold, drafty rooms feel warm and cozy. If you have some real skill, you can include changing out old windows or doors as well.
- Smarten Up – This is a great time to automate your home with Smart devices. Add security cameras, a smart thermostat or smart lights and plugs.
- Build Something – For the handy, winter months are a great time to add cabinets, a TV hutch or bookshelves to your home.
- Re-Grout Your Tile – From kitchen counters to floors, re-grouting can freshen up the room.
The A Team
You probably instinctively realize that rising interest rates will affect home buyers. The interest rate you pay can make a big difference in the size of the home loan you will qualify for as well as the price of the home you’ll be able to buy. Mortgage brokers use the monthly mortgage payment to determine how much you can afford to pay. Of course the larger the payment, the harder it is to qualify.
Interest Rate And Its Effect On Affordability
All mortgage payments include principal and interest as part of the total cost. Lenders use this payment to determine how much you can borrow for the home loan. Commonly, you can have 31-35% of your total monthly gross income as a loan payment. It follows that you want the principal portion of your home mortgage payment to be as high as it can be so you qualify for a more expensive home.
Risks Of Waiting To Buy
We are still seeing all-time low rates but more increases are predicted. A home mortgage is the best hedge against inflation. By purchasing a home now, you lock in your monthly housing cost, which as we’ve already seen is the largest monthly expense for most families.
Interest rates are one of the biggest factors that affect your ability to finance a home purchase. Along with your credit score and employment history, the amount of interest you pay on the loan has a big impact on affordability.
The A Team
With the start of the New Year, thoughts naturally turn to change. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to sell your home, then making the right resolutions can help you sell your home quickly and for the best possible return.
- Move Up Spring Cleaning – Time to do your spring cleaning now. Declutter, depersonalize and make the home look roomier.
- Stage Your Home – Whether you hire someone or do it yourself, this is the time to rearrange your furniture to make your rooms look bigger and brighter.
- Think it Through – Before you spend money on renovations and upgrades, think carefully and don’t overspend by guessing.
- Take Care of Neglected Repairs – This is a great time to hire a handyman or break out the tool belt to take care of deferred maintenance and take care of minor repairs.
- Interview Real Estate Agents – Hiring a real estate agent is critical to your success. Take the time to interview a number of agents and choose the right one for your needs.
- Check out the Competition – Go see homes listed for sale in your area and adjust your timing, staging and pricing based on the market.
- Prepare Mentally – Selling a home can be stressful. Be prepared for low offers, picky buyers, drop-by agents and odd terms. Prepare yourself now so you will take them in stride when you’re on the market.
The holiday season is here. Decorating magazines and store fronts are filled with beautiful wreaths, themed pillows and festive decorations, but this can be expensive. Decking the halls doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Add some freshness to your home this season with these inexpensive ideas
DIY Ornament Wreath – Find some inexpensive ornaments and use your hot glue gun to attach to a wreath shape.
Fresh Greenery – Extra cuttings from the tree or even an evergreen in your yard add charm to your front door, table or mantle.
Candles – Real or fake, candles create ambiance throughout the home. Use silver or white candle sticks and holders to contrast with fresh greens for a modern look.
Candy Canes – Fill jars or glassware with multi-colored candy canes and leave on coffee tables and dressers.
Wrap Your Gifts Early – Nestle wrapped presents under the tree or in piles in corners. Use festive, colorful paper to add to the charm of the room.
Holiday Pillows – Discount stores offer inexpensive holiday pillows to through on sofas, beds and chairs.
Fairy Lights – Adding battery powered light strands to wreaths, tucked in greens and trimmings and clear bowls filled with ornaments can add a sparkle to the room.
These are just a few tips for decorating your home this year for less money, and have fun doing it.
The A Team
There are plenty of real estate terms used in transactions so naturally, it can be confusing for both buyers and sellers trying to navigate the process. The home loan process might feel overwhelming and difficult to understand. Both buyers and sellers find terms like “Pre-Qualification” and “Pre-Approval” used interchangeably, so it’s no wonder they find themselves wondering how to proceed.
The first step in obtaining a home loan is to meet with a lender and discussing your financial situation. The lender will discuss income, job stability, debt and credit. Once they have performed a basic review of the qualifications and run credit, they will issue a Pre-Qualification Letter to the potential buyer. This letter will identify the maximum sales price, down payment requirement and basic terms of the loan, such as interest rate.
The Pre-Qualification letter is used to provide evidence that the buyer has been reviewed by a lender who is vouching for their ability to obtain a loan.
A Pre-Approval is quite different. In this case, the lender collects all the necessary information and proof of eligibility and has it reviewed by the lender underwriter for approval. A Pre-Approval letter is almost like shopping with cash, the only remaining piece of the puzzle is the property they are buying.
The A Team
Home sellers and real estate agents often fear the winter months because it
seems like a poor time to list. The truth is, winter can be a great time to list
your home for sale!
Conventional wisdom tries to say that taking your home off the market in winter,
or waiting to list, until the spring selling season starts is the best way to sell your
home. The truth is that if you are trying to sell your home, wouldn’t you rather list
while the competition is less?
With the end of the summer season, often homes are removed from the market,
likely because the sellers mistakenly believe they need to wait for the spring. But
when listings flood the market in April, prices can go down as a “buyers’ market”
takes hold and inventory increases.
Buyers in the winter also tend to be more serious about a home purchase. The
holidays are a time to relax and enjoy family and friends. In real estate, studies
show that if a buyer is out looking for a new home during these months, they
have a reason to move, which tend to create better offers.
Home sellers can enhance their ability to capitalize on the slower pace and
smaller inventory by listing their homes for sale now. Winter is the perfect time to
get the highest possible sales price while the competition is drinking pumpkin spiced
lattes and waiting for Spring.
The A Team
Contingencies are commonplace in contracts of all kinds. A contingency allows for one party or another to legally back out of a contract in the event of some specific condition occurring. They are protection against the unknown.
In real estate, there can be contingencies inserted for either buyer or seller or both. These take many different forms and until removed in writing, either party may change their minds based on the result of the contingent event or issue.
Some examples of home buyer contingencies:
- Home inspections – condition of the home
- Specialty inspections – mold, geological, roof inspections
- Code Violations – an investigation into improvements made without permits
- Lender appraisal – ensures the offered price is not too high
- Sale of current home – allows the buyer to back out if they cannot sell their current
home in specific time frame
- Final loan approval – loan is ready for signature and close
- HOA CC&Rs – review of documents to ensure rules and regulations do not infringe on
enjoyment of property
- Insurability – home owner’s insurance available at a reasonable rate
Home sellers can also have contingencies included as well, such as one which states the sale is contingent on finding a replacement home. Contingencies are a fact of contract law. In real estate, they ensure that the offer is concluded as expected.
The A Team