Monday, March 30, 2015

Simple Spring Lawn Care Tips

After this year’s chilly winter temperatures and dormant growth, spring lawns need some extra care. If you take care of your lawn the right way during spring, you will be rewarded with a beautiful, healthy summer lawn.

Whether you want to spruce up your new home or add curb appeal in order to sell your home, now is the time to give your lawn some well-deserved TLC! Here are some simple lawn care tips will convert your lawn into something you will be proud of and add value to your home:

Mow your lawn

The most important thing you need to do focus on to make your lawn look fantastic is regular and correct mowing. Cut the grass whenever it grows, which will likely be a weekly task or even more frequent as the weather keeps warming up in spring. Try to keep grass at the same height throughout spring. 2.3-4 cm high would be ideal for most lawns, but if your lawn takes lots of wear and tear, then you can raise the height to 5cm. If the area is extremely shaded then 7.5 cm would be the right height. Be careful while mowing, because if you mow too short you will weaken the grass and increase chances of moss and weed development.

Feed your lawn

The next important thing you need to do during spring is to feed the grass. If you feed your lawn with a good fertilizer, it obviously will make your grass green, but more importantly, it will help your grass grow thicker. Fertilizing your lawn also increases its health and strength, and makes it better prepared to compete with moss, weeds, and any stress from weather conditions. During spring you should opt for a granular feed that will offer your lawn with regular amount of nutrients through several weeks. Make sure you apply your granular lawn feed evenly over the entire lawn, and the best way to do so will be to use a lawn spreader.

 Aerate your lawn

With time, your lawn’s soil becomes compacted, and this reduces the air pockets that allow water and nutrients to reach the roots of your grass. If you want to tackle this problem, you must aerate your lawn annually. Spring is the best time for lawn aeration and once the process is complete, your lawn will again get its proper share of water and nutrients. Before long, your lawn will spring back to life and stay healthy all the year round.

Treat weeds

Lawn weeds are little culprits that can prevent you from enjoying a healthy full-grown lawn. Early spring is the best time to apply herbicide, as it prevents weeds from developing. It is a lot easier to get rid of weeds even before they develop than to deal with them once they have completely matured. So make sure you apply a pre-emergent weed killer in the spring and it will offer you great results.

Over-seed to cover bald patches

As the lawn ages, the reproduction rate also slows down. Nobody likes bald patches in their lawns! Apart from looking bad, these areas also increase chances of weed and moss development. As soon as the last snow disappears, spread grass seeds all over your lawn at the recommended rate. New grass will start developing soon filling in those bare areas. This will help to make your lawn look healthy and beautiful once again. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Buying a Short Sale Home

When buying a home, you may notice that some properties are listed as short sales. When a listing is labeled as a short sale, it means that the seller’s lender is willing to accept a discounted payoff in order to release the existing mortgage on the property. 

In such a transaction, the lender agrees to accept an amount that is less than what is owed on the mortgage. The sale benefits the lender because it allows the lender to avoid repossessing the property in foreclosure as this is not only expensive, but also time-consuming. The seller also benefits from the sale as it allows them to avoid creating a poor credit record that may come with a foreclosure.

When buying a short sale home, there are several important things a homebuyer needs to know:

How short sales work

The lender does not own the home in a short sale. However, it will seem as if the buyer is buying the property from the bank because the bank will approve the sale. Although buying a short sale home is similar to a traditional purchase, there are some few differences in how the purchase agreement between the buyer and the agent is drafted. While the only party who needs to approve the sale in a normal transaction is the seller, a short sale contract has to specify that the terms are subject to the lender’s approval. Additionally, the contract has to state that the home is being purchased “as-is”. 

The buyer is also allowed to include language in the agreement that allows him/her to back out of the deal if an inspection of the property reveals considerable problems. However, the general rule is that the buyer should not expect the lender to reduce the price in order to account for any repairs. It is also unlikely that the bank will make any repairs, and the seller is even less likely to assist because they are often short on cash. The buyer needs to make that they have enough money for the closing costs.

The waiting game

If you’re buying a short sale property, be prepared to play the waiting game. Banks/lenders are notorious for taking a long time—up to several months in some cases—to respond to an offer on a short sale. In order to limit the wait time, experts recommend that a buyer should give the lender a deadline. Although it’s not clear if the strategy will push the bank to act fast, it is worth trying for those who can’t stand the stress of waiting for months to get a response. Nevertheless, if the bank has not approved the short sale at the time the buyer is making the offer, it will be useless to implement a deadline because it may take a couple of months just for the lender and the seller to reach to an agreement. 

Weighing the benefits

Experts can’t agree on whether a short sale is a good deal for the buyer. Some believe that short sales are often priced below the market value, which creates an opportunity for the buyer to get a good deal or for a first-time home buyer to own a home when they otherwise might not be in a position to afford one. Others say that lenders don’t have an interest in selling property below market value and will conduct a comparable analysis before accepting a price for short sales.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Staging Your Home During The Holidays

When you're selling your home, first impressions always matter. However, the holidays require special attention when it comes to staging. The more well-staged your home is, the higher the price it will fetch, and the faster it will be off the market.

Simply put, home staging means uncluttering your home, removing certain personal items and enhancing your décor to appeal to buyers. Do not allow the thought of selling your house during the months of winter dampen your holiday moods. With just a little effort, you can create a festive and buyer-friendly environment using the following timeless staging tips:

Use neutral holiday adornments

The key to holiday home staging is to accessorize smartly. If you are used to being overboard with elaborate décor every holiday season, you need to tone it down a little. A recent study has revealed that majority of realtors recommend sellers to use non-religious holiday décor during an open house, to avoid putting off some potential buyers. You can keep your décor festive without going all out, with simple non-religious touches such as an evergreen wreath, a pinecone centerpiece, or a few eye-catching ornaments above your fireplace. All holiday accessories must complement your usual décor.

Get your lighting right

No doubt, outdoor holiday lights are especially beautiful in the winter season, and really add to the appeal of your home, but only if you do them right. So rather than hanging up every string of multi-colored lights in your possession, map out a plan. Only use light colors that will enhance your home’s appearance. You do not have to throw up lights on every corner of your home. You could simply highlight a gorgeously designed roofline or shed light to a beautiful tree in the compound. Warm colors give your house a welcoming feel during the dark nights of December, which is when buyers are more likely to see your home. 

Blaze up your fireplace

During the cold winter holiday, it is essential to keep your home warm day and night. In fact, according to statistics, it’s one of the fast things potential buyers will notice. The trick is to make your home cozy by cranking up the heat by a few degrees, so that when buyers enter, they can immediately feel the warmth after being out in the cold. However, a simple yet alluring way to maintain the warmth is to light your fireplace. The warmer buyers will feel, the longer they will remain in your home admiring its homeliness. 

Entice with winter fragrance and tasty bribery

Most realtors advise home sellers to use winter home fragrances before opening up their homes to potential buyers to make it smell lovely and desirable. You can also get buyers to stick around a lot longer and endear yourself to them by serving delicious snacks and drinks. You can kill two birds with one stone by serving freshly baked cookies with hot chocolate. The aroma from these tasty treats will create a comfortable and homely experience, and help potential buyers picture their future in the house. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Should You Buy a Historic House?

There is nothing quite like the quaintness and uniqueness of a historic home. Many homebuyers and investors fall in love with historic houses because they are richly attractive pieces of historical beauty. They are also known for their established neighborhoods. But are historic homes worth the purchase?

If you have been considering buying a historic home, there are some things you should consider. This article from Total Mortgage  discusses factors that you need to think about before making an offer. Some of these factors include higher property taxes, possible repairs, and the cost of keeping the historic home looking authentic.
According to the article, you may pay more for a historic home in the long run, but your home value will be higher. Plus, you can enjoy the beauty and charm of your historic home!

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Sell Your House Without a Real Estate Agent

Most people rely on a real estate agent when they want to sell their house, but it is possible to get a buyer on your own. It may take a little more effort but you will end up saving the commission you would have paid to the agent. Here are a few tips to help you make the sale:

Do your research

The first step towards a successful house sale is to know about real estate operations. Master the language used during the transactions by reading through your home’s contracts and other documentation. You need to have all the paperwork required to make a sale including legal documents, disclosures, and insurance documents. 

You also need to identify professionals who will help you with the sale process such as appraisers and estate attorneys. A title company may also be necessary in some situations. 

It is also important to determine how you will structure the sale. Do you intend to offer any incentives to attract buyers such as lease-to-own or owner financing. Learn how each incentive option works to determine how it will apply in your situation. 

 Organize your house

Once you have completed your research, you need to organize your house and make sure it is ready for a sale. Fix any functional problems in your house. Paint the entire house in bright colors, refinish floors, and replace your carpeting. Identify any items that need to be repaired or replaced such as heating, roof, appliances, and air conditioning.
It is also essential to get rid of clutter and stage the house. Your objective should be to make the house appear spacious and dazzling. There are certain things you may be unable to change such as the location and neighbors and this have to be factored in the price. 

Set your price

Most homeowners set a very high price, putting off potential buyers. Check home prices in the neighborhood and come up with something reasonable. You can also use an appraiser to help you set an appropriate price. 

Advertise, advertise

Advertise the house on several online listings. It is advisable to use sites that feature sales by owners. The sites you select should get a lot of traffic. You can also rely on social networking sites and print media to advertise. 

Negotiate the offers

Get ready for offers and counteroffers. A real estate attorney can help you negotiate if you find it difficult. 

Make the sale

Organize all the closing paperwork and have it ready for a sale including documents required by federal and state laws. There may be some delays in the sale process even when you get a good offer. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Paying off a Mortgage before Retirement

As we get older and closer to a retirement age, it is important to have a comprehensive retirement plan in place. This includes a steady flow of income of which you will survive on after retiring. To achieve this, it often requires you to reduce outstanding dues, debts, loans, or mortgages as much as possible.

Mortgage payments that are high will eat into your retirement plan, and this may lead to a financial future that is not as secure as you intended. This is why most people prefer to pay off their mortgages before retiring, or reduce the outstanding balance to manageable levels.

There are various ways in which one can successfully pay off their mortgage before retirement is apparent. You will still need to pay associated fees like home owners associations and property insurance taxes. However, eliminating the principle and interest from you list of bills before retiring will significantly improve your income. Paying off a mortgage depends on a lot of factors including:

• Current budget and income
• How deep into payment you have reached
• Loan terms and balances

It is important to clearly map out your budget and income to see places you can adjust to provide increased payments towards the mortgage. This usually results in increasing monthly payments so that the duration is shortened.

Refinancing is a possible option for reducing the period of repayment. Refinancing for a shorter term may reduce your paying period by five or more years depending on the amount you are capable of comfortably paying. Refinancing does have additional closing costs and transaction fees.

Some people will be better off paying extra costs in their current payment scheme rather than refinancing and then incurring closing costs. One of the most effective ways of paying off mortgages before retirement is through extra payments. Add extra payments during the course of payments or better yet, pay lumps of money after receiving reliefs like tax-deductions or refunds. This will have a big difference in your overall interest. Your outstanding balance will also be significantly reduced. Adding extra payments will definitely give you the liberty of being mortgage free a few years before the original plan. It also goes a long way in reducing the total amount of interest you end up paying.

It is important to contextualize your mortgage payoff decision. This does not only set defined targets and commitments but also clearly exposes impractical solutions. Eliminate other side-debts that are not tax-deductible before you begin paying off a mortgage. You may want to see an experienced financial planner and lender to discuss your status and options.

Paying off mortgage interests and principle before retiring is very important. The steady income used in payments during working years is no longer available, and paying mortgage from your pension plans may be strenuous on your budget. It is also important to ensure you make all the necessary payments in time to avoid rising interests and penalty fees that may extend your owing period.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mortgage Applications and Trigger Leads

You applied for a mortgage loan from a lender and suddenly, out of the blue without any initiative from your end, another lender calls. Now why did this happen? Well, you became a trigger lead. Read on if you don’t want to get caught off guard.
This is what happens: You decide to buy yourself some property, so you get in touch with a mortgage broker whom a friend or family member recommends. In all probability, this mortgage lender is very reputable and you may have even done past business with him. You make a loan application and get your preapproval letter.
Suddenly, another mortgage lender calls. He might say his company is affiliated with some credit bureau or put forth another random reason for calling. You get suspicious and wonder how he knew you’re going in for a mortgage.
When you make a mortgage application, your lender first wants to ascertain your credit rating. So he gets ahold of your credit report. As soon as he does this, an inquiry is triggered.  Very often, the credit bureau goes ahead and sells your details to different mortgage companies. Since it's not illegal for bureaus to make money by passing on your details to other vendors, they make the most of it. This is known as a trigger lead.


Since you’re at the threshold of what is possibly your life’s biggest transaction, you surely wouldn’t want loan reps calling up and offering phony rates of interest. Make sure not to buy over a phone call. Instead of dealing with some telemarketer, try to deal with trusted professionals.
Here are some tips to stop harassment due to trigger leads:
  • Enlist your phone number and name on the Do Not Call List at the national level. You could also register using a cell phone number. Make sure to do this a complete month before applying for a loan since it becomes effective after 31 days. This order will be valid for 5 years, so ensure that you re-register after the period ends.
  • If you don’t want mortgage lenders to send direct mails, you need to register yourself at the Direct Mail Association. This will cost you a dollar whether you register via email or online, and you can use your credit card for the payment. The registration is valid for five years.  DMA puts out its lists quarterly and it’s better to register early. It may take a while for your registration to become effective.
  • If you register for Opt Out Prescreen, you are assured that 4 credit bureaus do not sell your details in the form of a trigger lead. The names of the bureaus are: Experian, Innovis, Equifax and TransUnion. As per the Fair Credit Reporting Act your name can be sold, but when you opt out, trigger leads are stopped for five years.
It’s been heard from lenders that when you choose to opt out, you can up your credit score by 10 - 15 points. To get permanent relief, you could email your registration. This is also available at the OptOut Web website.