Will You Qualify?

What You Need To Get A Mortgage

If you are a first time homebuyer, navigating all the new information about homeownership, the home buying process, and mortgages can seem overwhelming.  If you are beginning the mortgage shopping process, but have no clue as to what information you’ll need and whether or not you’ll even qualify, here is some information that may make the process a little smoother.

Will I Qualify For A Mortgage?

There are essentially three things that lenders look at to determine whether or not you qualify for a mortgage.

Income Verification

When purchasing a property, all income of a homebuyer must be validated by a mortgage underwriter in order to receive a loan.  Income verification can be done using several types of documents such as a W-2 statement, paycheck stubs, or income tax statements that show proof of income. These documents usually will have to span a period of two years or more to show you have a history of a steady income.  Income proof can include such things as child support payments, disability payments, or income from the Social Security Administration.  These additional monthly payments can increase your potential to qualify for a mortgage, as well as the amount you will qualify for, but like regular income, must be validated in order to count.

Debt-To-Income Ratio

Another important factor in getting a mortgage will be your debt-to-income ratio.  This involves looking at your total debt load and monthly payments, including car payments, credit card debt, and any student loan debt.  If the ratio of debt exceeds 40 % of your income, you will likely have to pay off some debt before you will qualify for a loan.  In this case you may want to seek out the advice of a financial advisor to help with this process.

Credit History

The final consideration that lenders will take into account in determining whether you qualify for a mortgage is your credit history and score.  They will not only be looking for a strong history of on-time payments for all your debts, but also that you have already established credit.  You can arm yourself with this information by getting your free credit report from sources such as Equifax, so that you are able to check that it is accurate and up to date.

When getting a mortgage, being prepared with a little background research and all required documents will make the process simpler and less stressful.  Armed with this information, you will be able to get the best possible deal with a lender who is right for you.

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Celebrating New Year’s Eve With Children

Partying until midnight may not be in the cards for you come New Year’s Eve if you have small children.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time ringing in the New Year!  Kids can get in on the fun, too; you will just have to make your plans for earlier in the evening and modify them a bit for a young audience.

A Geography Lesson

Wherever you live, choose a location that celebrates New Year’s Eve earlier than you.  For people on the West Coast, this can simply mean celebrating along with those on the East Coast.  But if you are in New York and can’t wait for the ball to drop, consider celebrating along with the people of Brazil or Portugal instead; they will celebrate the New Year three to four hours before the East Coast of the United States.

Take some time to learn about the place you are choosing and ring in the New Year with some fun food and treats from that place.  Your adjusted New Year’s party can be educational and fun too!

Something Sparkling

Instead of champagne, pour some glasses of sparkling apple cider for your “midnight” toast!  Kids will love having this drink that seems grown up, but is free of alcohol and tastes like apple juice!  Buy some plastic disposable champagne cups, too, in order to add to the special nature of the treat.

Hats And Noisemakers

There’s nothing kids love more than dressing up and making a lot of noise!  Get out those paper New Year’s party hats and pass them around, and make sure everything has a noisemaker to blow in celebration.  Just don’t pass them out too early, or you might be tired of hearing them long before the party reaches its climax!  Everyone can join in the countdown together and make plenty of noise in celebration.

Once the kids are in bed, you can ring in the New Year with some real champagne if you like, but a little early celebration will turn this usually adult holiday into a fun occasion for your children as well.  With a few treats and the chance to make a lot of noise without reprimand, this is sure to be a favorite holiday tradition for any child!

 

How To Host A Fun And Safe New Year’s Party

New Year’s is a great time to host a party for friends and family.  The hectic holiday season is over and it is a time for new beginnings, but if you plan on having a party at your home or are hosting an event somewhere else there are a few things to keep in mind in order to ensure that everyone has a safe and fun time.  Here are a few tips that can help you plan an event to remember while also keeping your guests and yourself protected!

Serve Responsibly

If you are planning to serve alcohol at your New Year’s event, and likely you are, be sure you know how to serve responsibly.  You are responsible for the conduct of your guests, and if they drink on your property you can be held liable for their conduct once they leave.  Your best bet for making sure that your guests drink safely is to serve plenty of food along with the drinks.  It is also a good idea to stop serving drinks an hour or two before the party is over.  This way people have time to digest the alcohol and it will naturally limit the number of drinks your guests can have.  While it may seem obvious, also be sure that you do not serve alcohol to any underage guests or to those who will be driving home.

Designated Drivers

Again, if you are serving alcohol at the event, you can be held accountable if your guests drink and drive.  You can set up a designated driver program for your guests, or ask guests to leave their car keys at the door when they arrive so that you can monitor who might leave intoxicated.  Also encourage your guests to take a cab if at all possible, and be prepared to have overnight guests should the need arise.

Plan Ahead

Hosting a New Year’s party can be a lot of fun if you take all the necessary precautions.  Have plenty of food and activities planned for your guests.  This will not only keep them entertained, but will also limit the amount they may potentially drink.

 

The Right Christmas Wreath For Your Front Door

Choosing the perfect tree is part of any holiday decorating tradition, but finding the right wreath for your front door can really finish off your holiday look and can be a beautiful and elegant addition to your exterior décor.  Choosing the right wreath, however, can be complicated, so here are a few tips to consider for finding a holiday wreath that not only works for your door, but also coordinates with your other holiday decorations and the exterior of your home.

Size

The size of your wreath is an important consideration in making it look its best on your front door.  If you have a large, prominent front door then you’ll want to choose a wreath that matches it well.  A small wreath will get lost on the door and won’t look proportional.

Color

While you may select a wreath based on its appearance and whether it matches your other holiday décor, you will also want to choose a wreath that has colors that complement the color of your door.  If you have mostly red and green holiday decorations, but have a blue door, you may want to consider a blue and silver themed wreath, perhaps hung with white lights, to better complement your front door.

Materials

This is the area where you can really get creative.  From natural to synthetic, from pine to grapevine, there are a number of options from which you can choose.  Again, when selecting a wreath for your front door you’ll want to consider whether it matches not only the other decorations, but the door itself and the style of your home.  For example, if you live in a traditional or historic style home, using natural materials such as greenery and berries may look better than a more modern arrangement.

Decorating for the holidays should always be fun and reflect your personal style. But when selecting particular items for the exterior of your home, it is always a good idea to be sure they accent rather than detract.

 

Preparing Your Home For Holiday Guests

It’s wonderful having friends and family at your home to share the holidays, but it can also be a lot of work.  Hosting for the holidays comes with some challenges that are best met with preparation and an extra dose of patience.  Here are a few quick tips to get your home ready for your holiday visitors.

Overnight Company

Whether you are expecting guests to spend the night or a surprise visit leaves you scrambling to find bedding for everyone, the simplest way to deal with it is to keep an air bed on hand.  Today’s air beds are a lot more comfortable than they were in the past, and you can buy a quality raised air bed for less than a hundred dollars.  A raised air bed will keep guests off the floor and will feel more like a real bed.

A deflated air bed can be stored easily and blown up in a matter of minutes, so you can save space and still have a comfortable guest bed when you need it.  Having an extra in the house comes in handy for all sorts of holiday guests.

Anticipate Their Needs

Be prepared with things holiday guests may use up or simply forget to bring.  Stock up on things like toilet tissue.  Pick up a few extra toothbrushes and toothpaste. Add a few extra towels as well, to avoid having to do constant laundry.

Buying in bulk can save a lot of money on the household items you go through quickly when extra people are in the house—make a trip to your local warehouse store before your guests arrive.

Clear The Clutter

Nothing makes clutter more obvious, or more of a problem, than having extra people in the house.  When you are expecting guests, grab a few storage bins and put away some of the things that tend to clutter up counter tops.  Make a sweep through the house and grab anything that won’t be needed for a while.  The less general clutter you have, the more room you’ll have for guests and their luggage.

Getting through the holidays smoothly and with as few frustrations as possible can be done—even with holiday guests in your home.  Just be ready for their arrival and anticipate what will be needed ahead of time, so you aren’t running around in search of an extra towel.

 

Eight Things To Consider Before Listing

So you have decided that you are going to sell your home.  While your home may work just as it is for you and your family and you don’t want to invest any more time or money into your property, there are a few necessary steps that every homeowner should take in order to ensure that their home will sell quickly and at the highest price possible.

Contact A Real Estate Expert—A REALTOR® can give you advice on what your property’s potential value may be, what improvements your home needs to get the best price, and the best strategy to use to market your home.

Have Your Home Professionally Cleaned—While this may seem like an unnecessary expense, it can give your home that fresh appearance that really appeals to potential buyers.

Make All Necessary Minor Repairs—This is an inexpensive way to give your home a finished look and will convince potential buyers that the home is in good repair.  This includes fixing any damage to walls and ceilings, installing new faucets or lighting fixtures, and making any cosmetic changes to the kitchen and bathrooms that will give your property a modern appearance.

Clear The Clutter—Giving your home an open and clean appearance can definitely make a huge difference in attracting buyers.  Be sure you tidy any messy areas of the home, and depersonalize it by removing most photos and any items or collections that may distract buyers during open houses or while looking at pictures of your home.

Look At Your Home From A Buyer’s Perspective—Because you are use to it, sometimes you may not notice small imperfections or areas of your home that seem not to flow with the rest of the house.  Try to take a walk through your home and on your property with fresh eyes, and be as critical as you would be if you were looking to buy your home again.

Make Repairs To The Exterior—Don’t forget the front and back yards, as well as the roof and brick or siding of your home, when making repairs to your property.  Your investment is always worth it, and creating curb appeal can really make a difference in attracting buyers.

Have Professional Photographs Of Your Property Taken—Photographs are very important tools for home sales in today’s housing market, and having a complete set of high quality photos that best accentuate the features of your home is critical to the success of your marketing campaign.

Consider More Major Renovations If Necessary—If your kitchen or bathroom is very outdated or in bad repair, or you have electrical, plumbing, or mold problems in your home, these are all issues that can really stall the sale of your property.  Fixing these problems will usually not only make your home sell more quickly, but will also increase the value of your home far beyond the expense associated with making the repairs in the first place.

 

Top Ten Home Showing Tips

Showing your home is essential in the real estate business.  After all, who would purchase a property sight unseen?  When a potential buyer stops in, here are ten recommended tips to follow when showing your home:

Tip # 1: Welcome Your Buyers

If you are still living in the home while it’s being shown, graciously greet your potential home buyers and invite them to look around.  Make sure that you instruct them to take their time and to ask any questions that they may have.  It may be a good idea if you leave the home for a short time to allow the buyer to look without feeling restricted by your presence.  A potential buyer is less likely to voice any concerns in front of the current owner, which is why it’s better to leave your buyers with the REALTOR® and announce that you will be returning in 30 minutes.  This should allow plenty of time for your potential buyer to speak candidly with the REALTOR®.

Tip # 2: Be Flexible

Many home buyers are on a tight schedule, whether it be work, school or other commitments.  Time is tough to come by, so try to be flexible about allowing potential buyers to tour your home.  If you are still living on the premises, it’s especially important that you be ready for last-minute visits.

Tip # 3: Climate Control

When a buyer comes into your home, they do not want to feel cold in the winter or overly stuffy in the summer.  If you know that your REALTOR® is bringing a potential buyer to tour the home, make sure that the temperature is comfortable.  Otherwise, your buyer may not spend as much time in the home as necessary in order to form an accurate opinion.  The last thing you want is a buyer who’s in a hurry to leave.

Tip # 4: Quick Cleaning

If you have enough time before the buyer shows up, run the vacuum over the floors and make sure that any clutter is cleaned up.  A clean home appears larger, while a cluttered one gives the appearance of being too small.  If you really want to impress your potential buyers, place a plate of freshly baked cookies on the dining room table.  When they walk into your home, they will be greeted by the wonderful smell.

Tip # 5: Animal Control

If you have pets, remove them from the home temporarily or place them in a contained space, such as a kennel, exercise pen or carrier.  This will allow buyers to tour the home without being distracted by a nervous animal which could result in a nervous buyer.

Tip # 6: Light The Way

Your home should appear open and bright, even if it’s a winter day, so open the curtains and turn on the lights throughout the home.  Buyers will not likely be drawn to a dark, dimly-lit house.

Tip # 7: Educate Your Buyers

When someone is looking for a home, they are looking for more than the perfect floor plan.  If you have recently had the home appraised or inspected, place copies of each report on the dining room table.  Purchasing a home is a big step, and buyers will be drawn to a home that has everything out on the table, so to speak.

Tip # 8: Communicate With Your REALTOR®

If you want certain aspects to be pointed out during the home tour, tell your REALTOR® what they are.  For instance, good neighbors are a big plus to any home, but it’s not something that potential home buyers will see simply by looking at the rooms in your house.  If you have wonderful neighbors, ask your REALTOR® to point this out.  If you live in a family-oriented neighborhood, let it be known.

Tip # 9: Curb Appeal

An important part of showing your home is making sure that the outside looks just as appealing as the inside.  When a potential buyer drives up, you want them to be eager to see what else is in store for them.  You can do this by paying close attention to your curb appeal.  In addition to having a freshly cut lawn and properly maintained flower beds (if applicable), the outside of your home should be free of any clutter and any shrubs should be groomed.

Tip # 10: Ask For Feedback

Once the potential buyer has completed their tour, invite their feedback by placing comment cards in the home.  The information provided could be potentially helpful during your next home showing, and it will make the potential buyer feel as though you value their opinion.