How Much Cash Will You Need To Close?

For first time buyers, the amount of money that is needed to seal the deal can often come as a bit of a shock.  Known as the closing costs of the deal, this amount of money involves a number of different factors that can add up to several thousand dollars out of pocket for the buyer.  You should be prepared ahead of time to pay this amount—or find alternative ways to take care of them.

What Things Fall Under Closing Costs?

Some of the things you will commonly see included in closing costs are a number of fees and types of insurance.  First of all, there are origination fees on the loan, which are usually a percentage of the amount financed.  You will also see an appraisal fee and a credit report fee, both of which the buyer is usually responsible for.  There are also fees for the home inspection and other possible fees such as bank processing fees and flood certification.

You will also have to pay for the homeowner’s insurance policy on the home for the first year in order to close, and for title insurance.  You may also have to pay property taxes on the home.

How Much Will It Be?

All of these costs are so varied that there is no way to guess at them.  They are determined in some cases as a percentage of the loan amount, and in other cases based on the home itself, such as with homeowner’s insurance.  In most cases, closing costs are thousands of dollars.

You should be provided with an estimate of the closing costs ahead of time so that you aren’t shocked with the amount at closing.

Ways To Pay

Of course, you can opt to pay all of the closing costs out of pocket in cash, but there are other options as well.  Many people choose to roll some or all of the closing costs into the mortgage itself, raising the monthly payment slightly but avoiding the need for a large amount of cash.  In some cases, you can also get the seller to pay some of the closing costs, but this will need to be agreed upon ahead of time.

Closing costs are a part of every loan and involve paying fees for the many services required to close on a loan.  Be prepared ahead of time, and you won’t find yourself surprised by the amount that is due.

 

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Unclutter Your Home In Ten Easy Steps

Clutter, which is defined as things that lie about untidily, is often linked to creativity.  So, just how much imagination will it take to tidy up your space?  To be exact, you can make it happen in ten easy steps.

Step # 1: Set A Schedule

You are much more likely to stick to a routine, whatever it may be, if you work on a schedule.  In addition, this allows you to clean when you can minimize interruptions and maximize your time.

Step # 2: Set A Goal For Each Room

If you can visualize what you want, you will be better able to achieve it.  By setting goals for each room, you can note the things that need changing and work toward that goal one day at a time.

Step # 3: Create A Timeline

When do you hope to have your home completely free of clutter?  One week, two weeks or even a month?  Depending on your schedule and the amount of clutter that you have, it may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before you can kick back and relax again.

Step # 4: Start Small

The clutter in your home didn’t appear overnight, and it won’t disappear overnight either.  If you start small, you will be less likely to get frustrated and give up midway through your cleanup.

Step # 5: Categorize Your Clutter

When cleaning, it’s important to categorize your items into groups.  By separating the items that you want to keep, toss and donate, you will be able to move through your clutter quickly and efficiently.

Step # 6: Letting Go

A good rule of thumb for uncluttering your home is to get rid of anything that you haven’t used within the past year.  If it’s still useful, consider donating it to a good cause.  Otherwise, toss it.

Step # 7: Storing Your Seasonal Apparel

When storing seasonal clothing, purchase a sturdy plastic storage bin with a lid and roll your clothes instead of folding them in an effort to maximize storage capability.  When full, snap the lid on and slide the unit into your closet.

Step # 8: Closet Organization

Did you know that your choice of clothes hangers can greatly impact the storage capacity of your closet?  Wire hangers take up less space and can save your shirts from getting that annoying shoulder bump that often arises from the use of plastic hangers.

Step # 9: Shoes Blues

When it comes to storing shoes, many homeowners are fighting a losing battle with clutter.  How many pairs of shoes do you own?  How neatly are they stored?  If your shoe storage has you down, try purchasing clear lidded shoe boxes.  These handy creations can house each pair of shoes and can be stacked neatly in your closet.  And best of all, you can see your shoe collection without having to sift through a sea of sandals.

Step # 10: Read The Labels

If you have medicine, food or anything else with an expiration date in the home, check to make sure that the items are still good.  If the expiration date has already come and gone, throw them away.

 

Selling A Home When You Have Kids

Selling a home is stressful for everyone, and having young children in the house can add to the stress for the parents.  Let’s face it—kids have a way of making a mess in a hurry and leaving it behind for someone else to deal with.  They are also problematic in other ways when it comes to selling your house.

Of course, you can’t ask your kids to move out while you sell—but you can find some smart solutions to the difficulties of selling a home in which children are living.

Lower The Clutter Quotient

During the home selling process, pack up some of your kids’ excess toys and other items and put them in storage.  Let them help pick which items will stay out, and if the sale process goes on for a while let them trade a few items now and then.  Removing a portion of the clutter that comes with kids will make it a lot easier to keep the house clean and ready to show, preventing the stress of trying to clean up a mess of toys when people are on their way to see the house.

Set Up A Showing Plan

Whenever possible, you should try to show the home when your children are not there.  They can be a major distraction to potential buyers and may say or do things that could cause you some embarrassment or put the buyer off.  Try to set up showings while your children are at school or extracurricular activities.  If you have to do a showing when they are normally home, enlist help.  Ask a friend or family member if they would mind having the kids over for a while, or even just taking them for a walk while the house is being shown.

Kid Friendly, But Not Too Kid Friendly

For some buyers, a home that is set up for kids is a plus; for other buyers it might cause them to see the house in a different light and pass on it.  Try to keep the kids’ items contained to one space, and reduce the number of kid-friendly features such as high chairs or potty stools that buyers might not want to walk around when they see the house.  Some things can be moved just before a showing if you need them every day, but others should be removed entirely during the selling process.

Your kids are a big part of your life, and it’s their home, too—but bear in mind that buyers sometimes have trouble seeing past clutter and too much kid stuff.  Keep it as clean as possible, while still livable for the whole family.

 

Home Buying Negotiating Tips

When it comes to buying a home, the ability and willingness to negotiate is a must for both the buyer and seller.  In general, sellers ask for more than they are actually willing to accept and buyers offer less than they are willing to pay.  The trick is to find the perfect balance so that you, as a buyer, feel good about the purchase price without leaving the seller feeling insulted.

Know Your Market

Real estate is a business that either favors the buyer or seller, hence the terms buyer’s market and seller’s market.  When negotiating a purchase price, it’s important to know which of the two you are in.  As the buyer, you will have the best chance at a successful negotiation if you research the price of other comparable homes in the area before making an offer.

Make It Personal

When you make an offer, the seller will see nothing more than a piece of paper with some numbers on it that represent the price you are willing to pay.  If you really want the seller to take your offer to heart, let them know why you want to buy the home.  You can do this by preparing a handwritten letter expressing your interest and the reasons you fell in love with their house.  If you have a family, tell them about everyone who will be living in the home.  Let them get to know you and allow them to picture the happiness that you can bring to their house.  Believe it or not, some sellers actually look at the process like finding a good home for a lost puppy.  They want quality people to buy their home, so do your best to show them that you are sincere.

Nobody Likes Rejection

Not every offer is accepted, so don’t be disheartened if your first offer isn’t a winner.  In some cases, the seller will make a counteroffer for your consideration.  Have you ever heard the old saying, “never take the first offer?”  The same is true in real estate, and almost every seller knows it.  Your first offer is likely to be less than you are actually willing to pay, which leaves you some bargaining room.

Why Your Offer May Not Be Accepted

There are a number of reasons why a seller may choose to reject an offer, including a feeling that the offer was just too low, the house is newly listed on the market or another offer may be higher than the one you created.  In some cases, sellers may also reject an offer that includes owner financing or other requests that are impossible to meet.  One example may be an offer that requires the house be available within a certain amount of time.  Most contracts require that the seller move out within 30 days, but anything less would require negotiation.

Read The Fine Print

Before you sign anything relating to a real estate transaction, make sure that you read over every detail of the agreement.  If you have any questions, ask your REALTOR®.  After all, real estate is their business and they are there to help you through every step.

 

Choosing The Right Listing Agreement

When listing your home with a REALTOR®, you will be required to sign an agreement.  This document will outline all of the agreed upon terms, including the asking price of the property, the REALTOR’S® commission, length of the agreement, cancellation policy (if any) and other details that will govern how the listing is handled.  As a homeowner, it’s important to choose the right listing agreement to fit your needs.

Evaluate Your Options

When you decide to sell your home, talk with several different REALTORS®.  Speak with them over the phone, meet with them in person, ask for references or do anything that you can to get a feel for how they do business.  In real estate, punctuality is a must.  The REALTOR® that you choose should return your calls, answer your questions and should provide a listing agreement that coincides with any verbal agreements that you may have had regarding the listing.  For instance, if you tell your REALTOR® that you only want to list your property for six months, make sure the listing agreement reflects six months and not one year or longer.  In addition, make sure that your asking price is the same in the agreement as you agreed upon in earlier discussions.

Exclusive Right-To-Sell Real Estate Agreement

This contract is the most common in the real estate industry.  With this agreement, the REALTOR® will earn a commission regardless of whether they sell the house or you sell the house yourself.  Always make sure you understand what you are signing.

Open Real Estate Listing Agreement

This type of contract allows a homeowner to list with more than one REALTOR® in a non-exclusive manner.  The agent responsible for presenting a buyer who purchases the property will receive the commission, which means REALTORS® will compete to see who can sell the house first.  If the owner eventually sells the home without the help of a REALTOR®, they are not required to pay anyone a commission.  An Open Listing Agreement is not common with REALTORS®, but it is one option to consider.

Exclusive Real Estate Agency Listing

This type of agreement requires that the homeowner list their property with only one real estate agency.  Unlike an Open Listing Agreement, where the homeowner can list their property with multiple REALTORS®, an Exclusive Agency Listing entails only one agency being granted permission to list the home.

Read The Fine Print

Before signing any type of contract, homeowners must read over every detail to ensure that it represents the full agreement between themselves and their REALTOR®.  Some things to consider include the length of the contract.  Some REALTORS® prefer to have a minimum of one year to list a property, but the homeowner will have the option to negotiate.  Some owners prefer a shorter term, such as one to six months.

Every real estate contract should outline a cancellation policy, which will provide details surrounding a release and/or fees and penalties.  Some agents will offer a cancellation policy that allows the homeowner to cancel the contract by providing a 30-day written notice at any time.

 

Backyard Summer Entertainment Ideas

When it comes to entertaining outdoors, there’s no place quite like your very own backyard.  Many families enjoy the warm summer weather by spending as much time outside as possible, and one way of doing that is by making it a fun place to be.

Get Out Your Grill

The smell of a freshly grilled hot dog or hamburger… the unmistakable taste of a meal that’s been prepared outdoors… the excitement of getting together with family and friends for a barbecue… these are all things that you are sure to enjoy and, if you really want to get things cooking, you will get out your grill and cook up something that your entire family will love.

A cookout is a fantastic idea for summer entertainment, which means it is perfect for both small and large groups.  Whether you prefer a quiet dinner with your family or you want to make your outdoor grilling adventure into a party by inviting your friends from the neighborhood, outdoor grilling is a fun way to make use of the summer heat.

Host A Pool Party

If you have a pool in your backyard, there’s no better time than summer to put it to use.  When the sun comes out and the temperature heats up, a pool party is the perfect way to spend the day cooling down.  Before you start picking out your swimsuit, make sure that the pool is properly cleaned and ready for guests.  In addition, make sure that there are flotation units for those who need a little help in the water and towels for everyone to dry off when they step out.

Hosting a pool party also means having something to eat and drink for your guests.  Whether you’ve planned lunch or just a light snack for everyone, make sure that you have something on hand to curb those cravings.  If you’re inviting children over for a pool party for the youngsters, make sure that you have their parents’ permission beforehand.

Sports Fun

Believe it or not, many homeowners enjoy setting up a backyard sporting event and inviting everyone to join in.  Whether it’s volleyball, horseshoes or just a friendly game of basketball, there’s no better court than home court.  If you plan to create a sporty atmosphere, make sure that you have plenty of water on hand for everyone to drink.  It’s also important to refrain from playing when the sun is at its peak, which is typically in the early to mid-afternoon hours.  Instead, wait until it cools down before heating up your backyard with some friendly sporting competition.

 

Things Needed After Purchasing A Home

Now that you’ve signed all the paperwork and your loan is approved, it’s time to move in.  But wait!  Before you put your feet up, there are a few things that you will need in order to make your new house a home.

Locks

Regardless of whether you purchase a newly constructed home or one that was formerly owned by someone else, it’s important that you have the locks changed.  Everyone from REALTORS® and contractors to friends and family of the former owner may have a key, which is why getting new locks should be at the top of your list.

Furnishings

You can’t hang your hat without a hatrack, so don’t forget to add some necessary furnishings.  Some homes may include appliances and possibly even some furniture, but most homeowners prefer to decorate their house themselves.  After all, someone else’s taste in decor may not necessarily be the same as your own.  If you purchase from a furniture store, they will handle the delivery for you.  Otherwise, you can hire a moving company.

Appliances & Cookware

Even if your new home is equipped with appliances, you may still need to add a few items into the mix.  For instance, a coffee maker, toaster, microwave or blender may be items you want for your kitchen.  You will also need flatware, tableware and a quality dish drainer to hold your dishes that require the handwash method.

Tools

When you move into a new home, there will likely be some things to do that require the use of tools.  Whether you need to assemble furniture, a desk for your office or just need to tighten some bolts here and there, a good set of tools is a necessity.

Personal Touches

No home is complete without personal touches that represent the new owner’s taste, so don’t forget to include them on your shopping list.  Pictures, paintings, special window dressings, accent pillows, plants, decorative throws, accent rugs and bedding sets will create a custom interior that’s all about you.  Other things to consider include portable air cleaners, water filters, an answering machine, wastebaskets and a bathroom plunger.

Outdoor Décor      

If you like to entertain, equipping your backyard accordingly is a must.  Patio furniture, an outdoor grill, landscaping tools and garden supplies are essential to creating an outdoor atmosphere that your family and friends are sure to love.  Speaking of the outdoors, don’t forget to purchase a lawnmower and trimmer unless you live in a subdivision where lawncare is included in the maintenance fees.  If you live in an area that’s prone to snowfall, keep this in mind when shopping for maintenance supplies.

The best way to tackle a large list of necessities is to keep a pad of paper nearby and write down each item as you think of it.  Think about each area of your new home and do a mental inventory of what is needed.  There will always be new items to add to the list, but you will cover the basics with your handy checklist of necessary items for your new home.