Real Estate and Housing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4810/all en-US Mortgage Application Declined? Here’s How to Respond http://www.wisebread.com/mortgage-application-declined-here-s-how-to-respond <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mortgage-application-declined-here-s-how-to-respond" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/7 Steps to Take If Your Mortgage Application Was Declined_PHOTO.jpg" alt="Couple reviewing their finances" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sponsored by Chase Mortgage Banking. <a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C652%7C2029&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fmynewhome" rel="nofollow">Review their resources</a> to help you find and finance your home.</p> <p>Buying your first home (or a subsequent one) may fill you with excitement. Making the decision to become a homeowner is likely one that you have carefully considered. After possibly months of searching, you may have found the perfect home &ndash; one where lifelong dreams for stability, community belonging, and the start or growth of a family will be fulfilled.</p> <p>You may think you have done everything right in getting ready for this big step. But then, your mortgage application is declined. Here are ways to respond.</p> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkIH3wVkwuU">Don&rsquo;t panic! Here&rsquo;s what to do if your mortgage is declined</a>:<br /> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jkIH3wVkwuU" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <h2>Talk to Your Mortgage Lender</h2> <p>If your mortgage loan request has been denied, ask why your lender rejected your application. You have a right to know &ldquo;the specific reason for the rejection&rdquo; according to the <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0347-your-equal-credit-opportunity-rights">Federal Trade Commission (FTC)</a>.</p> <p>You may learn that your ratios, such as your debt-to-income or loan-to-value ratios, were too high or your credit score too low. If you have done an independent evaluation of your numbers, then you can confirm whether the lender has cause for concern or if there has been a miscommunication.</p> <p>Get your documents in order to discuss and tackle problems that led to the rejection.</p> <h2>If You Were Rejected Due to a High Front-End Ratio</h2> <p>Consider whether your proposed mortgage payment realistically fits within your means. Just as mortgage lenders often do, look at the percentage of your income devoted to your mortgage payment. Specifically, calculate your front-end ratio (<a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/front-endratio.asp">monthly housing expenses divided by monthly income</a>, expressed as a percentage) to determine if you could struggle to make payments. Ideally, this <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/how-much-house-can-you-buy--1.aspx">ratio will be 28%</a> or less.</p> <p>At first glance, your income may readily cover the principal plus interest associated with the mortgage loan. However, other expenses may be included in your mortgage payment, such as property taxes, homeowner&rsquo;s insurance, and private mortgage insurance. Depending on the location of your home and the amount of your down payment, these numbers could dramatically increase your monthly payment, moving the affordability of a home from entirely possible to extremely difficult.</p> <p>Identify ways to reduce your mortgage payment, particularly via add-ons that you may be able to control. For example, talk with your insurance agent about increasing your home&rsquo;s security features to reduce the cost of your homeowner&rsquo;s insurance.</p> <h2>If You Were Rejected Due to Debt Load From Other Loans</h2> <p>When evaluating your financial picture, look at your outstanding loan balances including credit card debt, student loans, and vehicle loans. Consider how much of your current monthly budget is applied to payments that service this debt.</p> <p>Generally, your mortgage lender needs you to keep total loan payments (including your proposed mortgage payment) to 36% of your monthly income. This percentage is your <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/back-endratio.asp">back-end ratio (aka debt-to-income ratio)</a> and is calculated by dividing total monthly debt expense by monthly income, expressed as a percentage.</p> <p>Think about how and why you have acquired debt. Have you borrowed for your college education and a vehicle in order to build a career that generates significant income? Or have you spent carelessly and accumulated credit card debt? How have you managed your income to reduce your debt load?</p> <p>If you make payments on time and are steadily reducing debt, then you may have no problem handling your current debt load plus a mortgage payment. But if you have struggled to keep up with payments and your credit card balances are growing, then you may need to take aggressive action to deal with your loans.</p> <p>Measure your progress toward paying off non-mortgage debt. Develop a plan or simply stay focused on your current plan to reduce outstanding balances. Consider paying off one loan in order to eliminate a payment and reduce your back-end ratio.</p> <h2>If You Were Rejected Due to Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Consider that your creditworthiness may have prevented you from obtaining the mortgage you wanted. To deal with this issue, start by pulling your free credit reports at <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. Make sure your information is correct and up-to-date.</p> <p>In addition, you should be able to get your <a href="http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/6/i-got-my-free-credit-reports-but-they-do-not-include-my-credit-scores-can-i-get-my-credit-score-for-free-too.html">credit score</a> from the mortgage lender that declined your credit application. Often, a lower credit score may simply mean higher mortgage costs, not a flat-out rejection. However, a higher interest rate may have priced the mortgage payment out of your reach.</p> <p>Based on your credit information, identify methods of potentially improving your score, such as eliminating credit card balances.</p> <h2>If You Were Rejected Due to the House Value</h2> <p>You may have fallen in love with a house and decided to buy the property at nearly any price. But since your mortgage application was denied, contemplate whether your offer (and loan request) may have been out of sync with the home&rsquo;s market value.</p> <p>The lender&rsquo;s rejection of your mortgage application may have had nothing to do with your financial worthiness and readiness, and everything to do with the value of the home. No matter how great your ability to repay a loan, lenders must protect themselves by making sure that the loan collateral (your home) has a certain financial value. As a result, lenders may require a certain <a href="http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-rates/buying-a-home/loan-to-value-ratio/">loan-to-value (LTV) ratio</a>.</p> <p>If your real-estate deal falls through because the home is valued at substantially less than your offer (and loan request), consider making a counteroffer or verifying the accuracy of the appraisal. Or make a larger down payment in order to reduce the LTV to a level acceptable by your lender.</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://vc.cdn.fm/video_conversationalist/system/published/opportunity/88244652/289_2029.js"></script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mortgage-application-declined-here-s-how-to-respond">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-simultaneously-buy-and-sell-a-house">How to Simultaneously Buy and Sell a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money">5 Appraisal Facts That Could Save You Big Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-essentials-to-consider-before-buying-a-vacation-home">5 Essentials to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-can-you-stay-in-your-home-after-you-stop-paying-the-mortgage">How Long Can You Stay in Your Home After You Stop Paying the Mortgage?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing chase credit cards mortgage Mon, 18 May 2015 16:43:14 +0000 Julie Rains 1425891 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times You Shouldn't Rush to Pay Off Your Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-rush-to-pay-off-your-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-you-shouldnt-rush-to-pay-off-your-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/father_daughter_000039463172.jpg" alt="Father not rushing to pay off his mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're fortunate enough to have disposable income, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">paying off your mortgage</a> early might seem like a smart way to spend your cash. It's definitely a better approach than wasting your money on shopping and recreation. And given how a mortgage loan can take up a third of your monthly income, getting rid of this debt lets you do other things with your cashflow. But just because you have extra cash to pay off a mortgage doesn't mean you always should.</p> <p>Here's a look at five times when you shouldn't rush to pay off your mortgage.</p> <h2>1. You'll Miss Out on Tax Advantages</h2> <p>During the first half of a 30-year mortgage, a large percentage of your mortgage payments go toward paying down the interest, so your principal balance only decreases a little from year-to-year. It's frustrating to say the least, but think twice before dumping your disposable cash on extra principal payments.</p> <p>Some people will jump at any opportunity to pay off their home sooner, but there are tax advantages to keeping a mortgage loan. If you itemize your yearly tax return, there's the option of writing off your mortgage interest payments and lowering your taxable income. This reduces the amount owed to the state and federal government, or it might result in a bigger refund. This single deduction reduces my tax liability by more than $2,000 a year.</p> <h2>2. You Don't Have Any Type of Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Everyone needs an emergency fund, period. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, if you're a middle-income American, you're going to hit at least one rough patch in your lifetime. A six to 12-month cash reserve is your backup plan for unexpected expenses or major setbacks like a job loss. However, you might feel paying off your home takes priority over saving. Your home is your biggest investment, and naturally, you want to protect it. But ask yourself: How's your savings account looking?</p> <p>If you have plenty of cash in a rainy day fund to handle life's curveballs, paying off your house early isn't a bad plan. But if you don't have any type of emergency savings, the focus should be on building your account. Paying more toward your principal builds equity and gets you closer to owning the property outright, but this plan might backfire if you find yourself unemployed without a cushion.</p> <h2>3. You Don't Have a Solid Retirement Plan</h2> <p>A few years ago I had a conversation with a couple that was committed to paying off their 30-year mortgage early. They put every extra cent toward their mortgage, sometimes paying an extra $400 or $500 a month. Both were in their early 40s, and despite their age, neither had started saving for retirement.</p> <p>Their plan was to focus on retirement planning after paying off the house. From their point-of-view, the house was their retirement. Without a mortgage, they wouldn't need as much monthly income later in life. I understand their thinking, but there are no guarantees a plan like this will work.</p> <p>Their plan didn't take into account curveballs like long-term unemployment due to illnesses or layoffs. If for some reason they couldn't pay their mortgage, they would potentially lose their house and their equity &mdash; and essentially their retirement.</p> <p>There's nothing wrong with paying extra toward your mortgage, just make sure you're also planning for the future and saving enough for retirement.</p> <h2>4. You Have High Interest Debt</h2> <p>What you paid for your house is probably more than what you owe on credit cards, and getting rid of your biggest expense may seem like the best way to attack debt. But although we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying a house, average mortgage interest rates aren't as high as some credit cards'.</p> <p>Credit card debt is a never-ending battle, especially when you have a high interest rate and you're only paying your minimum. Paying off your mortgage early is an excellent goal, but don't rush. Make high-interest debt your priority. These include credit cards, personal loans, and other lines of credit. Besides, paying off these debts gives your credit score a boost. Once you have these creditors off your back, you can focus on paying off your mortgage.</p> <h2>5. You Have a Prepayment Penalty</h2> <p>Some mortgage lenders stick borrowers with a prepayment penalty, which is basically a fee for paying off their mortgages early, usually within the first five years. This penalty discourages early pay-offs. Lenders calculate an estimated rate of return for each loan, and the longer a borrower owes on a loan, the more a bank earns.</p> <p>Typically, a prepayment penalty only applies to refinances and cash payoffs, and most banks waive the fee if a borrower sells the home. If you're coming into money and thinking about paying off your home, read your paperwork to learn whether your mortgage has a prepayment penalty.</p> <p><em>Did you pay off your mortgage early? Do you have other tips on why we shouldn't? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-rush-to-pay-off-your-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-mistake-could-delay-your-retirement-by-10-years">This One Mistake Could Delay Your Retirement by 10 Years</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-paradox-of-choice-and-the-mortgage-crisis">The Paradox of Choice and the Mortgage Crisis</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-are-the-8-most-common-homebuying-mistakes-foreclosure-experts-see">These Are the 8 Most Common Homebuying Mistakes Foreclosure Experts See</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing debt investments mortgages savings Mon, 18 May 2015 09:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1421641 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Times It's Actually Okay to Be Underwater on Your Home http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-its-actually-okay-to-be-underwater-on-your-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-times-its-actually-okay-to-be-underwater-on-your-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_mortgage_water_000021615609.jpg" alt="Times it&#039;s okay to underewater on your home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the last decade or so, it's become quite common for people to find themselves underwater on their home loans. When real estate values plummeted around 2008, millions of people ended up owing more than what their properties were worth. This led to mass foreclosures and big financial problems throughout the country.</p> <p>Being underwater on your home is rarely a good thing, but there are some cases when homeowners can get through unaffected as long as they are responsible and otherwise in good financial shape.</p> <p>Here's a look at some cases when owing more than you own is not the worst thing in the world:</p> <h2>1. If You Have No Immediate Plans to Sell</h2> <p>The best advice for anyone who is underwater on their home is to stay put. It's obviously hard to predict what life may throw at you, but if you've purchased a home with the intention of staying in it for a long time, being underwater on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">your mortgage</a> doesn't matter too much. This is especially true if you have a fixed-rate mortgage and are making the monthly payments without trouble. Someone who continues to live in a home really doesn't need to worry about its value. If you keep making payments, you'll eventually own the home free and clear, no matter what happens to real estate values.</p> <h2>2. If You're Working to Make Your House More Valuable</h2> <p>You might find yourself underwater, but if it's because you've spent money to boost the overall value of the home, it's probably okay. Maybe you renovated the entire kitchen or even added a family room or bedroom. Maybe you spent money to finish the basement. This money should be viewed as an investment that will pay off down the road. Just make sure you continue making payments on the mortgage in the meantime, as you wait for the value of the home to shoot up.</p> <h2>3. If the Home Is Generating Healthy Rental Income</h2> <p>If you're renting out the home and have tenants with good credit, being underwater is okay. If you're lucky, the rental income will meet or even exceed the mortgage payments. Be sure to have a plan if the rental income goes away, however.</p> <h2>4. If You Want to Offset Capital Gains</h2> <p>Generally speaking, selling a house for less than you paid for it isn't a good thing. But if the house is not your primary residence, there may be ways to save on your taxes by selling at a loss. If you own a rental property for more than a year, you may be able to sell it at a loss and have this count as a reduction of your income. This is called a <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p544/ch03.html#en_US_2014_publink100072547">section 1231 loss</a>, according to the IRS. You can also use a capital loss to offset a capital gain, if you made a profit on another property. Note that this only works for investment properties, not for properties serving as your primary residence.</p> <h2>5. When Your Property Taxes Will Be Reduced</h2> <p>One of the silver linings about seeing a house decline in value is that you might pay less in property tax. If you're paying 1.25% annually in property tax, and your house has declined in assessed value by $50,000, that's a $675 savings. If your plan is to stay in the house for a long time, then you should be pleased to pocket a little bit of extra savings. Note that in these cases, there may be a difference between the home's market value versus the local government's assessed value for tax purposes, so check with your municipality.</p> <h2>6. If You Are Getting a Good Return on Your Money Elsewhere</h2> <p>These days, interest rates are so low that there's less of an incentive to make extra mortgage payments. You may feel tempted to boost your payments to ensure that your equity is more than what you owe, but if you have no plans to sell immediately, you may be better off placing that money in the stock market or other investments. As long as you continue making payments on the house, you may find that earning a 9% return from an index fund is a better deal than pumping the mortgage.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been underwater on a home? How did you deal with the situation?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-its-actually-okay-to-be-underwater-on-your-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-home-purchase-in-2010">How to Prepare for a Home Purchase in 2010</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-rush-to-pay-off-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Rush to Pay Off Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-mistake-could-delay-your-retirement-by-10-years">This One Mistake Could Delay Your Retirement by 10 Years</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home ownership loans mortgages values Mon, 11 May 2015 15:00:11 +0000 Tim Lemke 1414191 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow's Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_keys_000044377414.jpg" alt="Money moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Borrowers who start preparing for a mortgage loan long before they're actually ready to apply for one are making the right move. They can identify potential trouble spots early enough to resolve them before lenders start picking apart their financials. Prepping for your mortgage application as long as a year ahead of time? That's not a bad plan, say mortgage lenders.</p> <p>Here are six steps you can take today to get ready for that mortgage application tomorrow.</p> <h2>1. Study Your Credit Report</h2> <p>Your first move should be to order your free credit report from <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. You are allowed one free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus &mdash; TransUnion, Equifax and Experian &mdash; every 12 months. Don't order your reports from anywhere else. Other sites might try to charge you or provide their own reports rather than those from the big three bureaus.</p> <p>Once your report arrives, study it carefully. Your report will list basic information such as your name and address. But it also lists your open accounts. If you owe $10,000 on a car loan, your report will list it. If you owe $5,000 on a credit card, that information will be there, too.</p> <p>Your report will also list any negative judgments against you. This could be something big, like a foreclosure or past bankruptcy filing. This section will also list late payments on student loans, car loans, credit cards, and other debt. These negative judgments can all <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score">cause your credit score to drop</a>.</p> <p>If you find any errors &mdash; maybe you never did make that late payment on your car loan, or maybe you paid off and closed that credit card account years ago &mdash; make sure to ask for a correction. This is easier today: <a href="http://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html">Experian</a>, <a href="https://www.ai.equifax.com/CreditInvestigation/home.action">Equifax</a> and <a href="http://www.transunion.com/dispute">TransUnion</a> all let consumers dispute report information online.</p> <h2>2. Get Your Credit Score</h2> <p>The information in your credit report is used to determine your credit score. Lenders rely on credit scores to determine the interest rates they charge consumers. And if your score is too low, you might struggle to qualify for a mortgage at all. Lenders today generally consider a FICO credit score of 740 or higher to be an excellent one.</p> <p>Unlike your credit report, your credit score usually isn't free. You can order your score from any of the three credit bureaus. If your score is low &mdash; say, under 700 on the FICO scale &mdash; it's time to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score">take some steps to boost it</a>.</p> <h2>3. Pay Down Your Debt</h2> <p>If you are using too much of your available credit, your score will suffer. Pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible before you're ready to apply for a loan. But be careful. It often doesn't make sense to completely close a credit card account. If you close a credit card &mdash; and take away that available credit &mdash; the percentage of your credit that you are using could automatically soar. Better to pay off your credit cards but not close them.</p> <p>Framarz Moeen-Ziai, senior vice president of national sales and production for San Ramon, California-based Commerce Home Mortgage, says that credit card management is key for consumers preparing for a mortgage application.</p> <p>&quot;Some people live their lives on mileage cards. They charge everything because they want to earn their miles. Then they pay off the entire balance at the end of the month,&quot; Moeen-Ziai says. &quot;That's fine. But what if we get your credit information at the same time you have $7,000 or $8,000 worth of charges on a card with a balance of $10,000?&quot;</p> <p>Moeen-Ziai says that he's seen big credit swings because of balance management.</p> <p>&quot;If your balance is zero, your score is 770. If it's nearly maxed out, it might fall to 700,&quot; he says.</p> <h2>4. Pay Your Bills on Time</h2> <p>The other big drag on your credit score? Missed or late payments on credit cards, auto loans, student loans, and other forms of revolving credit. Resolve now to never again make a late payment. Your score will gradually rise as the months of on-time payments pass by.</p> <h2>5. Calculate Your Debt-to-Income Ratio</h2> <p>Lenders prefer to work with customers whose debt-to-income ratios are 43% or lower. What does this mean? That your total monthly debts, including estimated monthly mortgage payments, equal no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is higher than 43%, it's time to either boost your monthly income or pay down as much debt as possible.</p> <h2>6. Talk to a Lender</h2> <p>You might think you're wasting a lender's time if you're not prepared to apply for a mortgage loan in the next three, six, or even 12 months. Stop thinking that way. The sooner you speak with a mortgage lender about your finances, the more time you have to prepare for a mortgage. And just because you talk to a lender, doesn't mean you have to actually take out a mortgage loan with that professional.</p> <p>&quot;My advice is to call a lender as early in the process as you want to,&quot; says David Atis, senior loan officer with Home Point Financial Corporation in Parsippany, New Jersey. &quot;You want to work with someone who is ready to go on the journey with you, not someone who refuses to work with someone who isn't going to close in the next 30 days.&quot;</p> <p><em>Did you prepare for a mortgage application in advance? What steps did you take?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-home-purchase-in-2010">How to Prepare for a Home Purchase in 2010</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-affordable-home-really-isnt">Why the Affordable Home Really Isn&#039;t</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-its-actually-okay-to-be-underwater-on-your-home">6 Times It&#039;s Actually Okay to Be Underwater on Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit reports credit scores home buying loans mortgages Fri, 08 May 2015 11:00:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 1410183 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Essentials to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home http://www.wisebread.com/5-essentials-to-consider-before-buying-a-vacation-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-essentials-to-consider-before-buying-a-vacation-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5 Essentials to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home_PHOTO_NEW.jpg" alt="Couple relaxing in a vacation home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Sponsored by Chase Mortgage Banking.&nbsp;<a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C652%7C1969&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fmynewhome" rel="nofollow">Review their resources</a>&nbsp;to help you find and finance your home.</em></p> <p>Wouldn&rsquo;t it be wonderful to have a little place waiting for you on a tropical island or a woodsy lake? Apparently a lot of Americans think so: second home purchases were up by a nearly a third in 2013 <a href="http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2014/04/vacation-home-sales-surge-in-2013-investment-property-declines">according to</a> <a href="http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2014/04/vacation-home-sales-surge-in-2013-investment-property-declines">the National Association of Realtors</a>. The pros are pretty obvious. It&rsquo;s a place where your family could make memories over generations; an opportunity to become part of a vacation community and make new friends you see year after year; and a place for getaways that require little planning. But there are also cons to owning a second home, compared to other vacation options. You may yearn for variety after spending a few summers in the same town, or the chores involved might make vacation feel like work. Here are five critical questions to ask yourself before you make the leap.</p> <p>Does that vacation property meets your needs? Review the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHY1LJBUIcY">video below to find out</a>.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EHY1LJBUIcY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <h3>Do You Have Enough Saved for the Down Payment?</h3> <p>You may have bought your primary home with only five percent down, but that&rsquo;s not likely to happen for a second home purchase, which is considered a riskier deal from a bank&rsquo;s point of view. Lenders may ask for <a href="http://www.realestate.com/advice/should-you-buy-a-vacation-home-84561/">30 to 40 percent</a>.</p> <h3>Have You Taken the Expenses Into Account?</h3> <p>Beachfront properties can take a beating from storms and sun, and houses that sit empty for long stretches or get beaten up by renters may have higher maintenance expenses. Some families have found themselves paying tens of thousands in maintenance costs for every week that they actually use their vacation home &mdash; money that could put you in a five-star hotel instead. One adviser recommended this rule of thumb: if the total costs from both your primary and second home add up to <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-13/bought-a-new-vacation-home-i-m-so-sorry-.html">less than 30 percent of your income</a>, you&rsquo;re good to go. If not, think twice. Beyond maintenance, you need to account for homeowner&rsquo;s association fees, furnishings, taxes and possibly the costs of an additional vehicle.</p> <h3>Do You Understand the Tax Implications?</h3> <p>Income tax rules governing your vacation property may be different than those for your primary home when it comes to <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p936/ar02.html">mortgage interest deduction</a>, <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/vacation_home.asp">profit from sale</a>, <a href="http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc415.html">profit from rent</a> and other issues. Then you will have to note your property tax responsibility for the second home too. Consult an accountant to get a clear picture of the taxes you will owe.</p> <h3>How Stressful Will it Be?</h3> <p>Advertisements frequently tout &ldquo;stress relief&rdquo; as one of the benefits of a vacation home. But real-life owners know that in some ways, owning a second property can add stress to your life. First, there&rsquo;s maintenance. Unless you are wealthy enough to pay a caretaker or other employee to maintain your vacation home, part of every &ldquo;vacation&rdquo; there is likely to be taken up by fixing, painting and making service appointments. &ldquo;People become slaves to their homes,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/24/business/24wealth.html?pagewanted=all">Milton F. Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, told the <em>New York Times</em></a>. For just the end of the season, there is a <a href="http://buildipedia.com/at-home/design-remodeling/summer-vacation-property-maintenance-interior-exterior-checklists">20-point list of recommended maintenance chores</a> for summer cottages. You&rsquo;ll also need a plan in place for <a href="http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/maintenance-repair/maintain-your-vacation-home/#.">emergency repairs in your absence</a>. Then there&rsquo;s worry. Will you fret about possible break-ins or bad weather when you are miles away from your property? If you rent the property out, you will have to either pay a management agency or deal with the inevitable work of answering tenant queries and cleaning up after their messes.</p> <h3>Are You Buying as an Investment or a Luxury?</h3> <p>When the real estate market was on a long boom, many people saw a second home an investment whose value increase would offset expenses. But the <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122002210930483439">crash changed that</a>. Nowadays, experts are split on whether buying a vacation home is a good investment. Many warn that expenses eat up any rental income the property may generate when you&rsquo;re not using it. &ldquo;Financially, most vacation homes are probably a train wreck. I&rsquo;ve had one for about 10 years and to be totally honest I&rsquo;ve never made enough cash flow to cover my mortgage,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.biggerpockets.com/blogs/2872/blog_posts/24097-are-vacation-homes-good-investments">wrote real estate investor </a><a href="http://www.biggerpockets.com/blogs/2872/blog_posts/24097-are-vacation-homes-good-investments">Dave Van Horn</a>. Others point out that the market for vacation homes is <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/breakout/the--luxury--investment-even-the-missle-class-should-consider-141146807.html">recovering more slowly</a> than the rest of the real estate market, so bargains might still be get-able that would put the buyer in the position to cover expenses through appreciation and rental income. And, the emergence of the sharing economy via companies like Airbnb have made it easier for property owners to get generate cash with vacation properties.</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://vc.cdn.fm/video_conversationalist/system/published/opportunity/88244652/289_1969.js"></script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-essentials-to-consider-before-buying-a-vacation-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mortgage-application-declined-here-s-how-to-respond">Mortgage Application Declined? Here’s How to Respond</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-simultaneously-buy-and-sell-a-house">How to Simultaneously Buy and Sell a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money">5 Appraisal Facts That Could Save You Big Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back">20 Tips for Getting Your Security Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing chase vacation home Mon, 04 May 2015 11:00:40 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1368909 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Best Affordable Cities to Start a Family http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-affordable-cities-to-start-a-family <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-best-affordable-cities-to-start-a-family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/chicago_city_view_000026130108.jpg" alt="Chicago is an afforable city to start a family" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Looking to start a family? Many major metro areas can be tough choices, given their high cost of living, crime statistics, and public school quality. So, we've dug a little deeper to uncover seven U.S. metro areas that offer the best environments for starting a family.</p> <h2>1. Virginia Beach, Virginia</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/virginia_beach_000041511570.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>If you're looking to mix business with pleasure at an affordable price, Virginia Beach is an option that should be within your consideration. With several large companies in and around the area, along with a plethora of government opportunities nearby, the economy is strong and the property values are solid with an <a href="http://www.zillow.com/virginia-beach-va/home-values/">average home price</a> of roughly $240,000. Plus, wouldn't you love to take your kids to the ocean every weekend without having to board a plane or endure a long car ride?</p> <h2>2. Chicago, Illinois</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/chicago_city_view_000026130108.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>If you can bear the cold (it gets and stays well below freezing for weeks during the winter), Chicago is a fantastically affordable city, relative to its size and offerings. Its many amenities will keep your entire family entertained no matter what your interests. And its <a href="http://www.zillow.com/chicago-il/home-values/">housing costs</a> are among the lowest of any metropolitan area in the country, with an average home price of about $230,000.</p> <h2>3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/city_of_pittsburgh_000021195550.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Pittsburgh is a city on the rise, quickly becoming a top education and health care center. These two industries have stabilized and grown an economy that once relied on the steel industry. The city's many museums, active waterfront, nearby natural areas, sports teams, parks, and festivals make it a wonderfully diverse area for families. The <a href="http://www.realtor.com/local/Pittsburgh_PA/home-prices">average home price</a> in Pittsburgh is approximately $230,000.</p> <h2>4. Nashville, Tennessee</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/Nashville_000021951973.jpg" alt="&copy;iStock.com/MoreISO" width="605" height="340" /></p> <p>Music City is one of the greatest areas of innovation and arts in the country at the moment. People from all over the world are visiting and moving there thanks to the vibrant cultural and local business scene. It's no wonder that celebrities who want a lower profile and a high quality of life are buying homes in Nashville. It also happens to be a winner for families and kids, thanks to all of its culture and natural beauty. <a href="http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Nashville-Tennessee/market-trends/">Average home prices</a> are still a bargain here at about $205,000.</p> <h2>5. Madison, Wisconsin</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/Madison_000050792842.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Madison is a top pick for those who love the vibrant energy and cultural opportunity of a university town. Complete with one of the best farmer's markets in the country, a tight-knit community feel, and award-winning family-friendly attractions, Madison is an ideal place for families. <a href="http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Madison-Wisconsin/">Median home prices</a> in Madison are some of the most affordable in the country at around $195,000.</p> <h2>6. Austin, Texas</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/Austin_000048267910.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>&quot;Keeping it weird&quot; is Austin's motto, and they own it. This is a &quot;come as you are&quot; kind of town and known for its friendly, supportive vibe. Here, originality and creativity are highly encouraged and celebrated. Austin offers mild winters, some of the best music in the country, plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and a growing economy based in the technology sector. <a href="http://www.zillow.com/austin-tx/home-values/">Typical housing costs</a> hover around $345,000. Though this is more expensive than most of the other areas on this list, it's still a far cry cheaper than places like New York City and San Francisco.</p> <h2>7. Chapel Hill, North Carolina</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/Chapel_Hill_000022409564.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Like Madison, Chapel Hill is also rich with university town resources, but its winter is more moderate than Wisconsin's. As part of the Research Triangle, the economy is strong, and like many of the other cities on this list, it has a community vibe to match. Chapel Hill's calendar is loaded with kid-friendly events, and it boasts dozens of places to stage them, including its numerous gardens and parks. <a href="http://www.zillow.com/chapel-hill-nc/home-values/">Median home prices</a> are closer to Austin's at about $330,000.</p> <p>If the time is right to start a family and you're looking for a new city to begin that adventure, this list offers a strong starting point for your search. Curious about how the cost of living between different cities compares? Check out this <a href="http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/">cost of living comparison tool</a> to find out.</p> <p><em>In which cities are you considering starting a family?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-affordable-cities-to-start-a-family">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-into-a-good-school-district-for-less">How to Get Into a Good School District for Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved">Self-Employed? Here&#039;s How to Get Your Apartment Application Approved</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/re-nesting-tips-for-moving-back-in-with-your-parents">Re-Nesting: Tips for Moving Back in With Your Parents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-places-it-pays-to-relocate-to">6 Places It Pays to Relocate To</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Real Estate and Housing affordable living cities having kids metros moving raising family relocating Wed, 29 Apr 2015 15:00:26 +0000 Christa Avampato 1401147 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Appraisal Facts That Could Save You Big Money http://www.wisebread.com/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5 Appraisal Facts That Could Save You Big Money_PHOTO-605.jpg" alt="Looking closely at home appraisals" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Sponsored by Chase Mortgage Banking.&nbsp;<a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C652%7C1879&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fmynewhome" rel="nofollow">Review their resources</a>&nbsp;to help you find and finance your home.</em></p> <p>An appraisal is a professional&rsquo;s opinion of your home&rsquo;s market value. Lenders will order an appraisal for home purchase loans to make sure the home is worth the price being paid. Often appraisals are <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/refinance/pros-and-cons-of-refinance-appraisals-1.aspx">needed to refinance</a> as well. Here are five things you should know about the appraisal process, whether you are buying, selling or refinancing.</p> <p>The appraisal takes dozens of factors into account. Learn more about them in the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuD3rVCaoQw">video below</a>.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UuD3rVCaoQw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <h3>1. Your Property is Not the Only Thing the Appraiser Will Look At</h3> <p>&ldquo;When I inspect a home for an appraisal, the inspection is really the &lsquo;tip of the iceberg&rsquo; of the work I do,&rdquo; San Francisco Bay Area appraiser Ann O'Rourke writes on her web site, <a href="http://www.appraisaltoday.com/nonappr.htm">Appraisal Today</a>. Before arriving at your home, the appraiser has probably already obtained a plat map and researched the zoning and public records. After checking your property against the map, and noting any improvements and damage, the appraiser will compare your home to others that recently sold to formulate an estimate of its value.</p> <h3>2. You Can Educate the Appraiser About Your Home</h3> <p>If an appraiser visits your home, this is your opportunity to show it at its best. <a href="http://homeguides.sfgate.com/steps-before-having-home-appraisal-2491.html">Complete any small repairs</a> before the appraisal date. Clean up the yard and house. Even though appraisers aren&rsquo;t supposed to take clutter into account, they are human, and no one feels upbeat when faced with a mess. Besides, cleaning <a href="http://www.realestate.com/advice/how-to-get-a-high-house-appraisal/">shows that you take good care of the home</a>. While the appraiser looks, let them know about improvements you may have done (New furnace? Bathroom renovation?). You can also give him or her a written list and may even want to provide receipts to show what you have invested in the home.</p> <h3>3. A Low Appraisal Can Stop the Sale or Reopen Negotiations</h3> <p>If the seller has researched the market and set an appropriate price, the appraisal is likely to come in at close to the agreed-upon price. But sellers should beware that if the appraisal comes in low, the deal will probably not proceed as agreed. Since the buyer most likely <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/12/home-appraisals.asp">won&rsquo;t be able to get a mortgage for a house priced above appraisal</a>, the deal may fall apart or the seller may have to agree to a lower price.</p> <h3>4. You Can Challenge a Low Appraisal</h3> <p>So the worst has happened and your appraisal came in below the selling price. All is not lost. You can request a copy of the appraisal and review it with your real estate agent. Pay special attention to the comparable homes the appraiser selected. If those homes sold for less because they lack updating or some other feature that your home has, you can have your agent <a href="http://www.trulia.com/blog/12-steps-fight-low-appraisal/">submit a list of more appropriate homes for comparison</a>. You can also write a letter listing improvements and features that the appraiser may have overlooked. <a href="http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2013/02/27/low-appraisal-challenge/">The Bigger Pockets Blog</a> has advice on how to keep the letter non-confrontational, and even offers a template for download.</p> <h3>5. As a Buyer, Guard Against Inflated Appraisals</h3> <p>Once you&rsquo;ve agreed to pay a certain price, you naturally hope that the appraisal will back that up. But in reality, appraisers are protecting both the lender and the buyer against inflated prices. So it&rsquo;s a good idea to ask the same questions about an appraiser that a seller would: Is she licensed and local? Did he really visit the home?</p> <p>Request a copy of the appraisal, not only to check for accuracy, but as an information source to make sure you know all about your future property&rsquo;s strengths and weaknesses.</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8">if ("" === document.location.pathname) { var fm_custom_kvs = "fm-post=88244"; }</script><script type="text/javascript"> (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', "UA-47115411-1", {'name': 'fmTracker'}); ga('fmTracker.set', 'dimension1', '289'); ga('fmTracker.set', 'dimension2', '88244'); ga('fmTracker.set', 'dimension3', '1879'); ga('fmTracker.send', 'pageview'); </script> <p><img class="tracking" width="0" height="0" src="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289|652|1879&amp;k3=&amp;k4=&amp;img=true" alt="" /><img class="tracking" width="0" height="0" src="http://pixel.mathtag.com/event/img?mt_id=424466&amp;mt_adid=120808&amp;v2=s289&amp;v3=n101&amp;s1=c88244" alt="" /></p><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mortgage-application-declined-here-s-how-to-respond">Mortgage Application Declined? Here’s How to Respond</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-simultaneously-buy-and-sell-a-house">How to Simultaneously Buy and Sell a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-essentials-to-consider-before-buying-a-vacation-home">5 Essentials to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-worst-home-sale-horror-stories">The 8 Worst Home Sale Horror Stories</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-your-house-suck-heres-how-to-sell-it-anyway">Does Your House Suck? Here&#039;s How to Sell It Anyway</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisals chase credit cards home buying home sale Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:00:06 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1368848 at http://www.wisebread.com Self-Employed? Here's How to Get Your Apartment Application Approved http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_cartoon_apartment_000044030686.jpg" alt="Self-employed couple trying to rent an appartment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While there are great benefits to being self-employed, like setting your own hours and working on projects you really enjoy, there are a few downsides to not getting a regular paycheck. Aside from the inconsistent income, you also have the added hurdle of <em>proving </em>your income when you want to move to a new apartment. This is something my husband and I are dealing with, because we both work from home.</p> <p>The standard apartment application includes providing proof of current employment and copies of your latest paycheck stubs. So how do you get approved for a new apartment when you don't have either of those things?</p> <p>Here are a few things to do if you're self-employed and moving to a new place.</p> <h2>1. Seek Out Independent Landlords</h2> <p>Any landlord wants the best tenants to ensure the rent gets paid on time. But larger property management companies often have stricter policies and guidelines for renting to self-employed individuals, so it may be best to avoid the big complexes.</p> <p>Opt for smaller, individually-owned duplexes or triplexes, where you can connect to an independent landlord. Their rules may be a bit more flexible, and allow you to apply for an apartment without a traditional paycheck. It's also a good idea to ask local contacts, friends, or family members if they know of any landlords who are open to self-employed individuals.</p> <p>We have an appointment with a landlord who was introduced by one of our family members, and on top of being lenient with self-employed income, we may also get a discount on our rent because of our connections.</p> <h2>2. Enlist a Real Estate Agent to Help</h2> <p>Of course, a real estate agent can help you <em>buy</em> a new home, but they also come in extremely handy when you're looking to rent an apartment &mdash; particularly in a new city. It's a real estate agent's job to know the local laws, as well as contacts for landlords who accept self-employed applications.</p> <p>They will be able to most effectively help if you share <em>all </em>the information about your work and lifestyle situation. I have a freelancer friend who had a difficult time finding roommates because they didn't want someone working from home all the time. I'm not sure why, but perhaps it's because many people view at-home freelancers as lazy or messy.</p> <p>In any case, be up-front with your needs and explain how you work during the day. This will also help you be the most productive if you need a place that's quiet and free of outside distractions.</p> <h2>3. Keep Your Financial Records Organized</h2> <p>There are several things you will likely have to hand over to your landlord or apartment management company during the application process. So it's important that your financial records are accurate and organized.</p> <p>Since you don't have the advantage of simply printing off copies of your latest paycheck stubs or W-2s, you'll most likely need:</p> <ul> <li>Six month's worth of bank statements</li> <li>Three year's worth of tax returns</li> <li>Copies of long-term client contracts or big projects that prove consistent income</li> <li>A healthy savings account that covers at least three month's worth of rent</li> <li>References in writing from previous landlords</li> </ul> <p>If you don't have a lot of extra debt, this will help your case as you become much less of a risk to the landlord. Obviously a few other things that will help are to dress appropriately when meeting the landlord, and sharing any other advantages you bring as a tenant (in my case it's the fact that we don't have kids or pets). Sell them on how great a tenant you are and make them feel good about having you in their apartment.</p> <p>Finding a new apartment is a bit more difficult when you're self-employed, and you'll likely have to save up a bit more money to prove you're financially responsible. However, by using these tips you can find a new place that works for both you and your landlord. Happy apartment hunting!</p> <p><em>What steps have you taken to find a new apartment while self-employed?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-financial-questions-you-must-answer-before-going-freelance">6 Financial Questions You Must Answer Before Going Freelance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-fund-your-new-business-without-borrowing-a-dime">4 Ways to Fund Your New Business Without Borrowing a Dime</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back">20 Tips for Getting Your Security Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-its-time-to-make-your-side-gig-your-career">6 Signs It&#039;s Time to Make Your Side Gig Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-benefits-of-having-a-roommate-besides-saving-on-rent">The Benefits of Having a Roommate (Besides Saving on Rent)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Real Estate and Housing freelance landlords moving renting self employment Fri, 17 Apr 2015 11:00:06 +0000 Carrie Smith 1392099 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Simultaneously Buy and Sell a House http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-simultaneously-buy-and-sell-a-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-simultaneously-buy-and-sell-a-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/How To Simutaneously Buy and Sell a House_PHOTO_NEW_1.jpg" alt="African American couple standing in front of new home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Sponsored by Chase Mortgage Banking.&nbsp;</em><a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C652%7C1832&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fmynewhome" rel="nofollow"><em>Review their resources</em></a><em>&nbsp;to help you find and finance your home.</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>Selling a home is an overwhelming experience. Buying a home is an overwhelming experience. When you&rsquo;re moving, you&rsquo;re often taking on both of these herculean tasks simultaneously or within a very short time frame. Here's a comprehensive checklist of all the financial and logistical concerns you need to take care of during this doubly complex process.</p> <p>Timing is critical when buying a new home while selling your old one. Here&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcb4nbOYiEw">how to get it right</a>.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kcb4nbOYiEw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <h2>YOUR SALE</h2> <h3>Start the selling process before you find your next home.</h3> <p>Once your home is on the market, it may take <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/realtorcom/2013/04/05/selling-times-in-hot-and-cool-markets-some-benchmarks-for-spring-and-summer/">three months or longer</a> to sell &ndash; and that&rsquo;s not counting the two to four weeks needed to <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/real-estate/T010-C000-S002-how-to-sell-your-home-fast.html">prepare a well-kept home</a> for market. More time is needed if you have years of clutter to pack up or <a href="http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-preparing-staging-a-house-for-sale">plan extensive staging</a> or repairs. Most people will need their sale proceeds for the down payment on the new home. But even if you can afford to buy before you sell, keep in mind that <a href="http://freefrombroke.com/reasons-why-you-should-sell-your-home-before-buying-a-new-one/">selling first puts you in a better negotiating position</a>. A truly simultaneous close, where you sell and buy on the same day, can be risky, because if your sale transaction falls through at the last minute, your purchase is endangered as well.</p> <h3>Use the sale contract to make sure you don&rsquo;t end up homeless.</h3> <p>Assuming you haven&rsquo;t yet purchased a home when you accept an offer, your agent can put a contingency in the contract saying you don&rsquo;t have to go through with the deal if you don&rsquo;t find a new house. Or if the buyer won&rsquo;t accept that, at least <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/sell-home-before-buying-another-4.aspx">ask for a slow close</a> to give yourself time to shop. You can also ask for the right to rent the home back from the new owners after the close if necessary.</p> <h3>Pick the best agent, and fill her in on your situation.</h3> <p>Get recommendations from friends and family who have sold in your area recently, research online reviews, and interview potential agents carefully. During the interview, mention that you are shopping for a new home too. Whether you choose to have your selling agent also represent you as a buyer is up to you, and there are <a href="http://www.inman.com/2012/05/10/pros-and-cons-using-same-agent-sell-buy/">pros and cons either way</a>. Just make sure the agent you hire is on board with your choice.</p> <h3>Cooperate with your agent.</h3> <p>Keep the house <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/top-things-real-estate-agents-knew/story?id=21125199#5">clean, clutter free and smelling good</a>, and for goodness sake never be home when the prospects arrive. When your agent calls with a showing request, try to always say yes. If a buyer on a tight schedule can&rsquo;t get into your house on the first attempt, they may never look back.</p> <h3>Review offers with a keen eye.</h3> <p>Think about the closing date proposed by the buyer. If you haven&rsquo;t yet started house hunting, a fast close is probably not what you&rsquo;re looking for in a purchase offer. Conversely, if you already purchased a new home, a 90-day close may be something you ask a buyer to change. Beware of buyer requests for price reductions or repairs that may leave you short for your new home&rsquo;s down payment.</p> <h3>If you&rsquo;re not getting offers, find out why.</h3> <p>After <a href="http://www.realtor.com/advice/what-to-expect-after-listing-your-house/">six weeks on the market</a> with no offers, meet with your agent to figure out what&rsquo;s wrong. It might be time for a price change, or to make cosmetic improvements.</p> <h2>YOUR PURCHASE</h2> <h3>Track down all financial statements.</h3> <p>Even after you submit that thick mortgage application, you may not be done with loan paperwork. It&rsquo;s not uncommon for lenders to request &ldquo;one more thing&rdquo; shortly before closing day, or want an updated bank statement if the escrow lasts longer than 30 days. You don&rsquo;t want all your paperwork and computer to be packed in moving boxes when those requests come in.</p> <h3>Create a paper trail for any large money movements.</h3> <p>If, say, a parent helps you financially with the purchase, the lender will need to see exactly where that extra $10,000 in your account came from. Photocopy large checks before depositing. You may need a letter confirming that the money does not need to be paid back.</p> <h3>Write your offer carefully.</h3> <p>Tell your agent exactly what you want in the contract, and read it before it gets submitted. A good agent will not forget anything that could be to your advantage when making an offer. Want to keep the appliances and the curtains? <a href="http://www.zillow.com/blog/5-things-not-necessarily-included-in-your-home-purchase-86738/">Put it in writing</a>.</p> <h3>Go easy on your credit during escrow.</h3> <p>It may be tempting to start shopping for furniture for your new home, but if another credit check is run and your credit isn't as good as it was initially, you could lose the loan. Shop with cash or at least <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/financing/mortgages/dont-apply-for-new-credit-before-your-mortgage-closes/">avoid opening new credit accounts</a>.</p> <h3>Get a good inspection and be ready to go back to the table afterward.</h3> <p>Interview and research inspectors just as you did your real estate agent &mdash; their role is very important. Get a thorough inspection that enumerates every problem with the home, preferably with estimated dollar amounts attached. Then <a href="http://blog.findwell.com/buying-a-home/negotiating-after-a-home-inspection/">decide which if any of the home&rsquo;s flaws the seller should remediate</a>. If you are in a seller&rsquo;s market, keep in mind that the seller may have the chance to sell the house to someone else as is. On the other hand, buyers are often successful in getting money back for some repairs detailed in the inspection report, especially safety-related ones.</p> <h3>Get extra inspections.</h3> <p>A general home inspection is a must, but it may be just a starting point, especially if you are buying an older home. Go over the report with your inspector and ask if she or he recommends any <a href="http://homebuying.about.com/od/homeshopping/f/31309_TypesInsp.htm">specialist inspections</a> for the roof, foundation, plumbing, or pest damage, and get estimates when possible. Not only could these inspections reveal deal-breaking information, they are your backup if you need to request a price reduction.</p> <h3>The walk through is not a stroll.</h3> <p>Don&rsquo;t schedule the walk through on closing day &mdash; <a href="http://www.homefinder.com/content/Buying-Guide:Handling_Closing_Problems_and_the_Final_Walk-Through">make it the day before</a> so that the seller has time to fix any issues that come to your attention. Bring a written checklist of items that were supposed to stay on the property. Turn on every faucet and flush every toilet. Turn on appliances and the furnace and AC to make sure they all still work. Note any personal property still in the home and request that the seller remove it before move-in day.</p> <h3>Have a plan for closing delays.</h3> <p>Mortgages can be harder to get nowadays, and it&rsquo;s not uncommon for <a href="http://www.zillow.com/home-buying-guide/closing-issues/">closings to get pushed back</a> more than once. Make a backup lodging and storage plan so you won't be left stranded if you can&rsquo;t move when you expected.</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8">if ("/how-to-simultaneously-buy-and-sell-a-house" === document.location.pathname) { var fm_custom_kvs = "fm-post=88244"; }</script><script type="text/javascript"> (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', "UA-47115411-1", {'name': 'fmTracker'}); ga('fmTracker.set', 'dimension1', '289'); ga('fmTracker.set', 'dimension2', '88244'); ga('fmTracker.set', 'dimension3', '1832'); ga('fmTracker.send', 'pageview'); </script><script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8">var _sf_startpt=(new Date()).getTime(), _sf_async_config={};_sf_async_config.uid = 25666;_sf_async_config.path = document.location.pathname;_sf_async_config.domain = "federatedmedia.net";_sf_async_config.authors = "289";_sf_async_config.sections = "1832";_sf_async_config.sponsorName = "[88244] chase-my-new-home";(function(){ function loadChartbeat() { if ("/how-to-simultaneously-buy-and-sell-a-house" !== document.location.pathname) { return; } window._sf_endpt=(new Date()).getTime();var e = document.createElement("script");e.setAttribute("language", "javascript");e.setAttribute("type", "text/javascript");e.setAttribute("src", "//static.chartbeat.com/js/chartbeat_pub.js");document.body.appendChild(e);} var oldonload = window.onload;window.onload = (typeof window.onload != "function") ? loadChartbeat : function() { oldonload();loadChartbeat();};})();</script><img width="0" height="0" src="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&k2=289|652|1832&k3=&k4=&img=true" /><img width="0" height="0" src="http://pixel.mathtag.com/event/img?mt_id=424466&mt_adid=120808&v2=s289&v3=n101&s1=c88244" /><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-simultaneously-buy-and-sell-a-house">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mortgage-application-declined-here-s-how-to-respond">Mortgage Application Declined? Here’s How to Respond</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money">5 Appraisal Facts That Could Save You Big Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-essentials-to-consider-before-buying-a-vacation-home">5 Essentials to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">5 Best Cash Back Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buy and sell a house chase credit cards Mon, 06 Apr 2015 11:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1368908 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/moving_000025551302.jpg" alt="Young couple packing their belongings and should have hired movers" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I dread moving. Every part of it. From the packing, to the lifting, to the unloading, to the sifting; moving is on my list of least favorite things to do right next to &quot;have ingrown toenail surgery.&quot;</p> <p>Thankfully, now that I'm in my 30s and have a little more disposable income, I can afford to hire movers when I need them &mdash; and it's money very well spent. If you're not a convert yet, you should be. Here are six reasons you should always hire a moving company. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-unexpected-moving-expenses?ref=seealso">5 Unexpected Moving Expenses</a>)</p> <h2>1. There's Less Chance You'll End Up in the Hospital</h2> <p>I have one disastrous image in my head when I think about moving accidents, and it's that huge piano free-falling from a high story of a tall building &mdash; and splat! It's a totally valid nightmare in New York City, which is why I bump into lampposts all the time; I'm always anxiously looking up. Outside of killing somebody else with your ill-preparedness and overall negligence, you can hurt yourself pretty badly when you don't know what you're doing.</p> <p>Moving heavy items like sofas, beds, and furniture is awkward, requires either multiple people or the right equipment, and it needs to be done twice &mdash; moving out of one home and moving into another, explains John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, a digital home platform for the homeowner lifecycle. &quot;Hiring a professional mover eliminates the potential for injury.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Your Friends and Family Won't Regret Knowing You</h2> <p>One word: <em>pivot</em>!</p> <p>If you're a &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Friends-The-Complete-Series-Various/dp/B000H6SXMY">Friends</a>&quot; fan you know what that means, and if you're not, well, you should look up the clip on YouTube so you don't annoy and alienate your friends on moving day like Ross did.</p> <p>&quot;No matter how much they say they will help, friends and family hate helping you move because it's tiring and stressful,&quot; Bodrozic says. &quot;Keep your friends and family happy by just inviting them over for the housewarming party, not the moving bit.&quot;</p> <h2>3. You'll Free Up Time for Other Important Moving Day Issues</h2> <p>There's a lot more that needs to be done on moving day besides the actual moving. Perhaps you need to set up cable and utility service, maybe you need to get a new driver's license, or your time might be better spent readying the new place by making it move-in friendly. Professional movers can free up a huge chunk of time by taking that burden off your back &mdash; literally &mdash; so you can concentrate on other important tasks and exercise efficiency.</p> <p>&quot;Moving yourself will take you a lot more time,&quot; says Bodrozic. &quot;Having a company come in and do it for you with the right truck, the right hand tools, and the right resources gets the job done much more quickly.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Movers Will Have All the Right Equipment</h2> <p>You know what's worse than having to move your entire bedroom set down four flights of stairs? Realizing that you don't have the IKEA-issued Allen wrench you need to dismantle the darn thing. Forget about breaking your back; that aneurysm you're about to have will probably kill you first. But not if your superhero movers and personal saviors are on the job.</p> <p>&quot;Professional movers will size the contents and have the right sized truck and other hand tools to move equipment,&quot; Bodrozic says. &quot;Oftentimes, people who do it themselves will rent a smaller truck requiring more trips, and they forget about various hand tools are other things that make it much easier to move.&quot;</p> <h2>5. All Your Valuables Are Insured With Professional Movers</h2> <p>I don't trust myself with moving my own valuables. I don't put all my faith in the movers either, but I'm at least comforted that if they break it, they buy it. On the other hand, if I break it, I throw a fit and cuss at inanimate objects.</p> <p>&quot;Let's face it, if you drop your TV, you can't exactly collect from yourself,&quot; Steve Pardun, managing partner of FlatRate Moving Denver, says. &quot;Licensed and professional moving companies offer various coverage options to insure your goods against damage. In shopping around and checking out reputable companies, it's always important to ask what your options are for insurance as a consumer.&quot;</p> <p>I'll take the gold package, please, and I'll totally understand if some of my out-of-date appliances bounce off the concrete until they're unrecognizable.</p> <h2>6. It Can Potentially Save You Money in the Long Run</h2> <p>The major hesitation of hiring movers, of course, is the cost. I'm always telling you that should cut corners where you can &mdash; and, granted, hiring movers is definitely not one of life's necessities &mdash; but you may save money by letting a few jacked-up dudes do the heavy lifting.</p> <p>&quot;Despite the initial price tag on a professional move, you could end up saving yourself time and money &mdash; yes, money &mdash; when you hire professionals,&quot; says Joe Devost, operations manager at You Move Me in Canada. &quot;Oftentimes we underestimate the costs of moving on our own: the rush that can result in breakage, injury, or loss of items; the refreshments and dinner for friendly helpers; the time this job carves out of your day. We forget about all the tools and equipment that are needed, how much gas for a moving truck costs, and, most importantly, whether or not we are insured if something goes wrong.&quot;</p> <p>Way to bring it home and sum it up nicely for me, Joe. My work is done here.</p> <p><em>Do you have other reasons why we should always hire a moving company? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-affordable-cities-to-start-a-family">The 7 Best Affordable Cities to Start a Family</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-rid-of-all-your-crap">How to Get Rid of All Your Crap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved">Self-Employed? Here&#039;s How to Get Your Apartment Application Approved</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/leave-town-fast-essentials-for-making-a-last-minute-move">Leave Town Fast: Essentials for Making a Last-Minute Move</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement">Big Lessons From the Tiny House Movement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Real Estate and Housing movers moving new house relocating Thu, 02 Apr 2015 17:00:10 +0000 Mikey Rox 1366163 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Simple Ways to Live Rent-Free http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-live-rent-free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-simple-ways-to-live-rent-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-hotel-worker-tray-room-food-iStock_000025670142_Small.jpg" alt="woman room service" title="woman room service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all need a roof over our heads and a place to sleep at night. Living with mom and dad is an obvious way to live rent-free, but you might prefer your privacy and independence. Fortunately, there are other tricks to score free rent that don't involve getting help from your folks. Here are five of them.</p> <h2>1. Work With an Accommodations Company</h2> <p>Contact hostels or private hotels and negotiate free rent in exchange for working for them on a part- or full-time basis. Some larger chains won't agree to this arrangement, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If a hotel or hostel has vacancies, or if it's understaffed and looking for ways to cut costs, the manager may consider your proposal. You can work in a variety of roles depending on your skill set, ranging from housekeeping to administrative tasks.</p> <h2>2. Home Share With an Elderly Person</h2> <p>Some elderly people live alone, and because of their age or health, they get behind on housework and home maintenance. If you have the skills and time, offer to home share with an elderly person on a temporary basis. In exchange for free rent, you agree to tasks such as cleaning, cooking, running errands, or handling repairs and maintenance. It's a win-win, since you provide your elderly roommate with companionship and assistance around the house, while you save money toward your financial goals. If I were actively seeking rent-free accommodation, this is totally a situation I'd pursue. I love elderly folks, and elderly folks love me. We'd watch our soaps, make fresh sandwiches for lunch, take afternoon naps, and get all gussied up for church bingo. Sounds like my idea of paradise.</p> <h2>3. Live in Your Van or RV</h2> <p>It might get a little cramped inside, but if you're serious about saving money for whatever reason, living in your van or RV for several months to a year (or longer) can really build your savings. This is especially true if you can park the vehicle on a friend or relative's property for free. Almost all RVs are equipped with small kitchens and bathrooms, so it's easier to be self-sufficient. On the other hand, if you live in a van, you'll need to borrow a friend or relative's kitchen or bathroom, unless you're planning to eat out for every meal or shower at the gym before work.</p> <h2>4. House-Sit for Free Rent</h2> <p>Some people are nervous about leaving their home and pets for days while out of town, so they ask a friend or relative to house-sit or check on the property. But what you may not realize is that some career house-sitters don't pay a dime for rent.</p> <p>&quot;House-sitting in return for a free retreat is growing in its popularity as more and more home and pet owners enjoy having the freedom to choose their sitter and having peace of mind that their fur family are kept in their own environment,&quot; says Rachel Martin, co-founder of <a href="http://trustedhousesitters.com">TrustedHousesitters.com</a>.</p> <p>You might not receive compensation for house-sitting, so you'll need an income source to cover other monthly expenses such as food, transportation, entertainment, and so on. However, it's a fair trade-off, considering you're able to stay in someone's home without paying rent or utilities.</p> <h2>5. Find a Job That Includes Accommodations</h2> <p>This is similar &mdash; but not identical &mdash; to my first suggestion. If you have the appropriate skills, look into employment opportunities that include free accommodations. You can work as a live-in nanny for a family who needs assistance caring for their children. Some boarding schools employ full-time resident advisors who live inside dormitories to supervise students. If you have experience in property management, some apartment complexes give employee rent discounts, and apartment managers can often even live in a unit for free. (Heck, I wouldn't mind being a modern day <a href="http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0025226/">Mr. Furley</a>.)</p> <p><em>Have you legitimately lived rent-free? What did you do? Tell us your story in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-live-rent-free">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-try-to-reduce-your-rent">Should you try to reduce your rent?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford it</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-really-afford-to-live-in-your-dream-city">Can You Really Afford to Live in Your Dream City?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-appraisals-ten-things-most-people-just-dont-understand-about-them">Real Estate Appraisals - Ten things most people just don&#039;t understand about them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/low-interest-rates-do-not-make-homes-affordable">Low Interest Rates Do Not Make Homes Affordable</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Real Estate and Housing accommodations free rent housing recreational vehicle rent Mon, 16 Mar 2015 08:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1338585 at http://www.wisebread.com Denied a Mortgage? Here's How to Fix It Fast http://www.wisebread.com/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-real-estate-agent-talking-house-Dollarphotoclub_65072638.jpg" alt="couple real estate agent" title="couple real estate agent" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're applying for a mortgage, be prepared to fulfill a long list of guidelines set by the lender. You need acceptable credit, sufficient income, a consistent work history, and cash for mortgage-related expenses. If you're missing any piece of the puzzle, the lender might turn down your request. But getting denied for a mortgage doesn't mean that you have to give up your dream of owning a home. It is your inalienable American right, after all.</p> <p>Still, there are a number of reasons why a lender rejects an application, and depending on the reason for your denial you may be able to resolve the issue quickly and get approved. Here are five things you can do to undo a mortgage rejection.</p> <h2>1. Renegotiate With the Seller</h2> <p>Getting pre-approved before shopping for a house is a smart move. A pre-approval lets you know early on if you even qualify for a mortgage, and how much you can expect to receive. You can wait until after submitting a bid to apply for a mortgage, but then you risk bidding on houses you can't afford. If you need more than a bank is willing to lend, the lender has no choice but to deny the mortgage request. To keep the ball in your court, you can go back to the seller and renegotiate the deal. If the seller can reduce the price to an amount that's affordable for you (remember &mdash; you ain't too proud to beg), the mortgage lender may approve your application.</p> <h2>2. Bring More Cash to the Table</h2> <p>In today's fickle housing market, many home sellers aren't walking away with a ton of cash. They might sell a house for exactly what they need to break even and pay realtor commissions. For that reason, going back and re-negotiating a lower sale price might not be an option. But this doesn't mean you've lost the battle. If the bank rejects your mortgage because you don't qualify for the sale price, you can make a bigger down payment and cover the difference out-of-pocket. This only works if you have a sizable cash cushion. For example, if you need $200,000 to purchase a house, but you only qualify for $190,000, give the seller a 5% down payment instead of 3%.</p> <h2>3. Pay Off Existing Debt</h2> <p>Don't underestimate the consequences of too much debt.</p> <p>A mortgage lender will examine your credit report to see how much you owe elsewhere. The bank looks at your credit card balances, auto loans, student loan debt, and any other loan payments you may have. And unfortunately, a high debt-to-income ratio can be the kiss of death when applying for a mortgage. An underwriter may deny the mortgage if you're juggling too many expenses and your income can't support another monthly payment.</p> <p>If you don't have a cash reserve, a high debt-to-income ratio isn't something you can fix overnight. You'll have to develop a debt-payment strategy and slowly pay down balances. But if you do have a cash reserve, immediately paying off your credit cards or loans might save the deal. Typically, mortgage lenders don't want an applicant's total debt payments &mdash; including the mortgage payments &mdash; to exceed 36% to 43% of gross monthly income, depending on the type of mortgage.</p> <h2>4. Rapid Rescoring</h2> <p>You might not know about this trick, but if you're denied a mortgage because of errors on your credit report, <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/06/29/rapid-rescore-can-fix-your-credit-score-in-hurry/">rapid rescoring</a> can fix these issues in a matter of days. Errors on your credit report can pull down your credit score. Although you can dispute these errors, it can take weeks or months for the bureaus to investigate and delete negative information from your file.</p> <p>Rapid rescoring can correct errors faster than disputing the traditional way. There's a fee for each corrected item, as much as $25 to $30 per account, depending on which rescore company you use. Proof of errors are expedited to the credit reporting agencies, and removal takes place within three business days. A mortgage lender can put you in contact with a rapid rescore company.</p> <h2>5. Apply With a Different Bank</h2> <p>Just because one bank denies your mortgage request doesn't mean another bank will. Many banks have different credit score requirements. For example, one financial institution may require a minimum credit score of 700 for a conventional loan, whereas another bank only requires a 680 credit score. Find out why a lender denied your mortgage, and if it had anything to do with your credit score, you might have a different outcome working with another bank.</p> <p><em>Were you ever denied for a mortgage? How did you fix it in your favor?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-interesting-ways-technology-can-help-you-buy-a-home">6 Interesting Ways Technology Can Help You Buy a Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/things-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-bought-my-second-house">Things I Wish I Knew Before I Bought My Second House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-the-same-house-twice-for-less-than-buying-it-once">Buy the Same House Twice for Less Than Buying It Once</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit credit repair home buying mortgage Thu, 05 Mar 2015 12:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1316790 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Interesting Ways Technology Can Help You Buy a Home http://www.wisebread.com/6-interesting-ways-technology-can-help-you-buy-a-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-interesting-ways-technology-can-help-you-buy-a-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-looking-at-houses-on.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">In the early dot-com days, my husband and I used an online real estate agency to buy our first home. I liked the idea of a Palm Pilot-toting agent who would keep me updated via e-mails and an online calendar. I felt pretty cutting edge.</span></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">That was in 2000. The Internet today offers an array of even more amazing capabilities. Whether you use a traditional or an online agency, using the web is a helpful, even fun, part of your homebuying process. In fact, in a recent <a href="http://investorrelations.discoverfinancial.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=204177&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=2010824http://investorrelations.discoverfinancial.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=204177&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=1990390">survey</a> commissioned by Discover Home Loans, more than three quarters of recent homebuyers reported that technology made them smarter buyers, and nearly half said tech tools helped them save money. </span></p> <p>Based on my experience, the Internet has changed homebuying for the better in at least six key ways.</p> <h2>1. Neighborhood Reconnaissance</h2> <p>When moving to a new neighborhood or city, the web can help you zoom in on target neighborhoods before you visit. According to the survey, 72% of homebuyers used online maps to explore neighborhoods.</p> <p>When my family considered an international or cross-country move three years ago, I started my research by visiting official city websites and reading Wikipedia entries about neighborhoods.</p> <p>I also looked at each area's <a href="https://www.walkscore.com/">Walk Score</a>, a commute report that shares the different transportation types and what is &ldquo;walkable,&rdquo; checked police department crime maps, and evaluated potential public schools for my children if we lived there.</p> <p>Finally, I used <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/views/streetview?gl=us">Google Street View</a> to virtually stroll down the street around the property. I eliminated several properties based on Street View, which can provide more of a feel for the environment than any statistics or neighborhood association description.</p> <h2>2. Agent Search</h2> <p>Back in 2000, my online real estate agency assigned us an agent without any input from us. Nowadays, similar to an online dating site, you can select an agent with sites such as <a href="https://www.redfin.com/real-estate-agents">Redfin</a>. Or if you're using one of the still-dominant traditional agencies, you can read the agent's profile on their agency site or on <a href="http://www.realtor.com/realestateagents/">Realtor.org</a>. In addition,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.trulia.com/directory/">Trulia</a>, an online real estate site for homebuyers and sellers, also provides reviews and allows you to see an agent's track record.</p> <p>Past homebuyers can serve as great resources as well. You can reach out to your Facebook or other social network friends for recommendations, or ask other local buyers for tips and advice in an online forum.</p> <h2>3. Property Search</h2> <p>The number-one way the Internet has changed home shopping is by making the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) available to prospective buyers online. Browsing online listings has become so easy that many of us get sucked into spending too much time doing it. In fact, 67% of respondents in Discover Home Loan's survey &mdash; and 78% of millennials &mdash; reported that looking at listings became addictive.</p> <p>Before, homebuyers depended on their agent to share and search for potential homes, but now you can browse homes instantly yourself by using sites such as <a href="http://www.mls.com/">MLS.com</a>, <a href="http://www.zillow.com/">Zillow.com</a>, <a href="https://www.redfin.com/">Redfin.com</a> or from a number of home search sites.</p> <p>The survey also found that while most homebuyers still work with agents, technology is helping us become more and more involved in the homebuying process, something that rings true from my own experience. Nearly half of buyers felt they were better at finding potential properties than their agents.</p> <h2>4. Price Research</h2> <p>This is another area in which shoppers used to be more dependent on agents. A great agent will still have the best data about trending neighborhood prices to help you make the best offer, but you also can search recent home sales in the area yourself by checking the local newspaper website or sites like Zillow.com for this data.</p> <h2>5. Mortgage Application</h2> <p>I always use Bankrate.com to check prevailing rates before applying for a home loan. Many mortgage lenders also list the most recent home loan rates if you want to do your own research.</p> <p>My own bank&rsquo;s website was also helpful and made it easy to gather the personal financial information needed to apply for a home loan. By logging into my account, I was able to print out balances, past activity and anything else needed. I was also able to save these pages as PDFs and email them directly to my mortgage lender.</p> <p>Many online mortgage companies also provide great tools that make the financing process convenient. Wise Bread&rsquo;s editor-in-chief Lynn Truong had a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-experience-with-discover-home-loans-great-service-and-rewards-programs">great experience using Discover Home Loans</a>. Lynn enjoyed the personalized customer service, the 24/7 online access to check the status of her loan, the helpful <a href="https://www.discover.com/home-loans/mortgage/affordability-calculator/">online calculators</a>, and the lightning-fast responses that helped her secured her loan to purchase her dream home.</p> <h2>6. The Transaction</h2> <p>Some agents still do everything on paper, but others are equipped with online applications that make signing all the documents needed to complete a transaction easier, especially if you are geographically distant from the agent. E-signature programs, which are my favorite, are convenient tools that allow you to sign a document electronically and alert you if you've missed a signature or initial, so you don't lose time sending incomplete documents back and forth.</p> <p>These are just a few ways technology has made homebuying a faster and likely easier process. Real estate buyers and sellers are likely to continue to become more comfortable using Internet-based research and tools to help them find properties and secure loans. At the same time, those tools are likely to become more robust and more responsive. Maybe in another few years we&rsquo;ll be viewing homes via Google Drones and signing mortgage documents with thumb scans on our iPads.</p> <p><i>Have you taken advantage of technology in your homebuying process?</i></p> <p><em style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 22.1000003814697px;"><a href="https://www.discover.com/home-loans/LP-SF-ds-hl/?sc=H000000000009GT&amp;amp;cmpgnid=ds-hl-H000000000009GT">Discover&nbsp;Home Loans</a> has provided me with compensation for&nbsp;my&nbsp;time and efforts on this article. As always, all&nbsp;opinions&nbsp;are 100%&nbsp;my&nbsp;own.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-interesting-ways-technology-can-help-you-buy-a-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast">Denied a Mortgage? Here&#039;s How to Fix It Fast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/things-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-bought-my-second-house">Things I Wish I Knew Before I Bought My Second House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-the-same-house-twice-for-less-than-buying-it-once">Buy the Same House Twice for Less Than Buying It Once</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Discover Discover Home Loans home buying home buying technology millennials mortgage redfin survey results Zillow Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1316188 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Cheap, Easy Ways to Make Your Home Safer http://www.wisebread.com/15-cheap-easy-ways-to-make-your-home-safer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-cheap-easy-ways-to-make-your-home-safer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/deadbolt-door-Dollarphotoclub_44563535.jpg" alt="deadbolt door" title="deadbolt door" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Safety may not be the first thing you daydream about when picturing the home of your dreams. But your ability to insure, resell, or even just live comfortably in your home may be dependent on several safety and security factors. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/must-do-home-maintenance-that-saves-you-moneyand-might-save-your-family?ref=seealso">Must Do Home Maintenance</a>)</p> <p>Though some major structural flaws may require a larger budget, most home safety hacks can be accomplished with a sensible to-do list and at a modest cost. Here are some of the top tips for making your home more habitable for less money than you think.</p> <h2>Mitigate Mold</h2> <p>Mold, a potentially dangerous uninvited guest, can cause illness and decrease the value of a home quickly. Peter Jacobus, an agent for <a href="http://insurance-agency.amfam.com/NE/peter-d-jacobus/default.aspx">American Family Insurance</a>, tells homeowners to be proactive in their efforts to keep a home safe from this unwanted affliction.</p> <h3>1. Reduce Humidity</h3> <p>By keeping the level of moisture in your home below 40%, you can often outsmart mold. Avoid excessive dampness by using dehumidifiers in rooms that collect steam. An air-conditioner will perform this role in the summer.</p> <h3>2. Ventilate</h3> <p>In addition to reducing moisture, overall good airflow is key. Your home should have exhaust fans in both the kitchen and bathroom, for starters.</p> <h3>3. Paint With Care</h3> <p>By using an inexpensive mold inhibitor mixed into your paint, you can further protect your walls and ceilings against mold growth. (Products cost around $6 per packet and can be found at home home improvement stores.)</p> <h3>4. Skip the Carpet</h3> <p>Per square foot, carpet can be more expensive than other floor coverings and is never appropriate for moisture prone areas &mdash; like bathrooms.</p> <h2>Confuse Criminals</h2> <p>While no home can be 100% robbery-proof, some simple changes to your set-up can keep you clear of break-ins. Sadie Cornelius, Security Expert for <a href="http://www.asecurelife.com/">A Secure Life</a>, recommends some simple precautions and security upgrades.</p> <h3>5. Add Deadbolts</h3> <p>All outside facing windows and doors should have one. They don't have to be fancy &mdash; they just need to work!</p> <h3>6. Stash the Spare Key</h3> <p>Just don't put it outside. Fake planters, rocks, or other &quot;in plain sight&quot; hiding places are well-known by career criminals.</p> <h3>7. Invest in Motion Sensors</h3> <p>Just having some outside lights that flick on when they detect a visitor can spook away a thief. Motion lights start around $10, and can be found at most hardware stores.</p> <h3>8. Get a Peephole</h3> <p>They're not just useful for hotel rooms. Knowing who's outside from behind the safety of your door is a good idea!</p> <p>In addition, you're always wise to keep news of an empty house to yourself.</p> <h3>9. Skip Oversharing on Social</h3> <p>Please, no posts on Facebook about how much you're enjoying your vacation in Hawaii. Wait until you get back to post photos, and turn off location services from any apps that post on your behalf while you're gone.</p> <h3>10. Leave a Light On</h3> <p>Don't keep your home completely dark. Consider investing in a timer for your television to have some activity happening in the home during your prime time viewing hours.</p> <h2>Discourage Slips and Falls</h2> <p>Home safety is important for everyone who lives there, as well as visitors. Keeping injuries to a minimum isn't just important for the health of your family; it can keep insurance premiums low, too. National Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford, host of the nationally-syndicated TV and radio program, <a href="http://www.todayshomeowner.com/">Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford</a>, suggests a couple of fixes.</p> <h3>11. Create No-Slip Surfaces</h3> <p>Stairs, especially concrete entry stairs, can prove dangerous to visitors and family members alike. &quot;It's easy to add a self-adhesive anti-skid strip to the front flat edge of steps to provide traction,&quot; says Danny. Concrete porches and decks can benefit from a good paint or stain with some playground quality sand mixed in prior to applying.</p> <h3>12. Secure Handrails</h3> <p>After years of use, it's not uncommon for them to come loose or fall off completely. Using lag bolts or epoxy adhesive to put them back in place makes good sense and can prevent a serious fall.</p> <h2>Organize Maintenance Tasks</h2> <p>Homeownership can feel like a tremendous burden if you try to do all the necessary cleaning and repair tasks at once. Be proactive and lighten the financial load by scheduling safety-related tasks throughout the year.</p> <h3>13. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors</h3> <p>Do this monthly, and replace batteries at least once a year.</p> <h3>14. Clean Lint From Your Clothes Dryer</h3> <p>This should be done at least once a year for the average user. (Our family of eight needs it done at least every few months, due to the number of loads we do, as well as the fact we own pets that shed.) Family Handyman has a great guide for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.familyhandyman.com/appliance-repair/washer-and-dryer-repair/dryer-lint-cleaning-tips/view-all">cleaning lint from dryers</a>, and you'll want to be sure to never run your dryer when you are not home!</p> <h3>15. Check Your Garage Door Sensor and Closures</h3> <p>With pets and kids in the house, keeping the heavy weight of a garage door in check is essential. Get tips for how to do this at the International Door Association's <a href="http://garagedoorcare.com/garage-door-safety.html">safety page</a>.</p> <p>All of the above tasks, as well as any other household to-dos can be easily planned and tracked with <a href="http://www.homezada.com/homeowners/home-maintenance">HomeZada's online app.</a> You can track your progress, save photos and notes, as well as store all of your maintenance records in case you ever sell your home.</p> <p><em>These are just 15 of many steps you'll likely take in your lifetime to secure your home and practice responsible living. What home safety tip did we forget? Which one is most important to your family?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-cheap-easy-ways-to-make-your-home-safer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/protect-your-home-and-family-from-fire-with-these-easy-safety-basics">Protect Your Home and Family From Fire With These Easy Safety Basics</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-safest-cities-in-america-from-natural-disasters">10 Safest Cities in America from Natural Disasters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-these-5-hidden-costs-of-winter">How to Avoid These 5 Hidden Costs of Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-on-a-long-distance-move">10 Ways to Save on a Long-Distance Move</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Real Estate and Housing home maintenance home safety safety security Mon, 02 Feb 2015 12:00:04 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1284262 at http://www.wisebread.com The 4 Most Overpriced U.S. Housing Markets http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-overpriced-us-housing-markets <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-4-most-overpriced-us-housing-markets" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-buying-house-Dollarphotoclub_72606391.jpg" alt="couple buying house" title="couple buying house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A great deal has changed since the housing bust of last decade. No longer are many markets in the Southwest hugely underpriced due to high foreclosure rates. Instead, most of the country has since normalized &mdash; and in some big-city markets, home prices are back at pre-recession peaks. While the average American home is still <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-most-overvalued-and-undervalued-housing-markets-2014-10-01">undervalued by approximately 3%</a>, homes in some of the biggest metropolitan areas are actually overvalued by up to 19%. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-shouldn-t-buy-a-home-if?ref=seealso">You Shouldn't Buy a Home If&hellip;</a>)</p> <p>If you're considering purchasing a home in the coming months, it behooves you to know which markets are overpriced. Here's a look at the four most overpriced U.S. housing markets.</p> <h2>Denver, Colorado</h2> <p>While Denver's home market is only overpriced by about 7%, it's <a href="http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_26289384/price-hikes-slowing-but-denver-housings-verge-unaffordable">nearing unaffordable</a> for many of the city's residents. In May, housing in Denver cost, on average, 33.64% of income. In a balanced market, that number is closer to 30%. This means that residents are spending more money on housing, so they are spending less on other things, like food and entertainment. Denver isn't yet <em>unaffordable</em>, but you may find it hard to purchase a home there unless your income is well above average for the area.</p> <h2>Honolulu, Hawaii</h2> <p>While <a href="http://www.valuewalk.com/2014/02/honolulu-ties-new-york-as-most-overpriced-us-city/">Honolulu no longer ties with New York</a> as the most overpriced city in America when it comes to housing, homes there are still overvalued by about 10%. Hawaii is known for its high cost of housing, caused in part by the fact that there is a limited amount of land available for construction. In addition, nearly all building and repair materials must be imported, which makes it more expensive to build and maintain homes. If you're buying a home in Honolulu, keep in mind that you're likely to pay inflated local prices.</p> <h2>California</h2> <p>While it's an oversimplification to say that all homes in California are overvalued, most of the large metropolitan areas have significantly overpriced housing. Los Angeles and Orange County tie at the top of the list, with houses overvalued at 15%. San Francisco is next, at 12%, followed by Riverside-San Bernardino at 11%, San Jose at 10%, and Oakland at 7%. California has long been known for its high cost of living, and it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon.</p> <h2>Texas</h2> <p>Texas is a state with some significant disparity when it comes to home value. Homes in at least a couple of metropolitan areas, though, are overvalued. In fact, Austin topped Trulia's most recent list, with houses there overpriced by 19%. Houston also made the top 10, though homes there are only overvalued by 8%. These two cities are growing quickly &mdash; some may even say that they are experiencing something of a renaissance. Growth like that almost always causes home prices to go up, but when it happens this fast (especially in Austin), there may come a time when <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/top-best-most/overpriced-housing-markets%E2%80%94headed-for-a-bubble-165358921.html">the bubble has to burst</a>.</p> <h2>Does It Matter?</h2> <p>Whether your local housing market is overvalued may matter more to certain types of buyers. If you're planning to live in a home for a long time, for example, you may be willing to pay a bit more. Or, if it's cheaper to buy a house than to rent one, then whether your housing market is overpriced will be less of a concern.</p> <p>If, on the other hand, you're getting into real estate as an investment (or you hope to resell within a few years), you'll care a lot more about what's happening in your housing market.</p> <p>In general, however, if you're ready to buy a home and can comfortably afford to do so, then go ahead &mdash; interest rates are low and it may yet be possible to score a great deal.</p> <p><em>Are you looking to buy a home in one of the overpriced markets? How do you think about your home's value as you consider the future?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-overpriced-us-housing-markets">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-worst-home-sale-horror-stories">The 8 Worst Home Sale Horror Stories</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/low-interest-rates-do-not-make-homes-affordable">Low Interest Rates Do Not Make Homes Affordable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/once-again-safe-as-houses">Once Again Safe as Houses?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/finding-a-starter-home-thats-also-a-forever-home">Finding a Starter Home That&#039;s Also a Forever Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-its-actually-okay-to-be-underwater-on-your-home">6 Times It&#039;s Actually Okay to Be Underwater on Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home buying home ownership home prices housing market rental prices Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:00:07 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1277861 at http://www.wisebread.com