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10 Things You Haven’t Thought of That’ll Make Your Move Easier

BY: JAYMI NACIRI
FROM: REALTY TIMES

Moving is one of the most stressful activities there is. It’s true – experts put it right up there with getting married – and divorced – and remodeling a house. If you’re getting ready to move or are in the process of buying or selling a house, you may have been thinking about the unpacking and the packing and the change of address and turning on utilities. But there may be a few things you haven’t thought of. These tips can help you make a smooth move.

1. Hook up your cable and internet ASAP

Many utilities require only a phone call to switch them to a new address, but cable/satellite and Internet are a different story. There are a lot of options out there today, but not all of them are necessarily going to be available in your home. Doing the research ahead of time, figuring out what’s best for your home, and making any necessary installation appointments as close to your move-in day (or even before, if you’re us!) will help ease the transition from one home to the other – especially if you have kids. And don’t forget to change your address with Netflix and any other similar services to avoid any interruptions.

2. Find doggy daycare options

Animals don’t always adjust to moves so easily. If you need to place them somewhere to minimize the trauma during the actual move and initial unpacking, you’ll want to do the research and make the arrangements in advance.

3. Pack a box of essentials…

And take it with you. Bring anything you think you’ll need for the first night in your home, and then a few extras in case there’s a holdup with your moving truck and your stuff doesn’t arrive for a few days. If worse comes to worse and your moving truck doesn’t arrive as expected, you want to make sure you have the things you need to get you through at least a few days. Things like:

  • A couple of outfits for everyone for a few days – and don’t forget pajamas!
  • Towels and toiletries – soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Medications for every member of the family – don’t forget about any pet meds you have, too
  • A first aid kit
  • Jewelry and other precious items
  • Chargers
  • Toilet paper and paper towels – you’ll be glad you remembered
  • Paper plates and plastic cups and silverware
  • Dog food and bowls
  • Dog leashes and beds
  • Checkbooks and credit cards
  • Important papers including taxes, passports, social security cards, etc.

You may also want to bring a cooler filled with sandwich fixings and bottled water, plus some snacks like protein bars and peanut butter and crackers. It might be a day or two before you’re able to get to the market, and eating delivery pizza for every meal is going to get old pretty quickly.

4. Think about the kids

A simple deck of cards or a new coloring book and crayons can be lifesavers if you have small kids who are getting bored with all that box carrying.

5. Do your due diligence when it comes to movers

Going with any old mover without checking them out first could end up being a disaster. If you’re not loading up a truck and driving your things to your new house yourself, you’ll want to take a few precautions.

“Get quotes from at least three moving companies, and make sure they do in-home assessments so your quote is as accurate as possible,” said HGTV. “Talk to family and friends for recommendations, or get free moving quotes from websites like Relocation.com.”

You’ll also want to research them online. Sites like Consumer Affairs and MovingScam.com are a good place to start.

Finally, don’t forget that moving expenses are tax deductible. “Obtain an IRS Change of Address form, Form 8822, by calling (800) 829-1040 or visiting the IRS website. You will be able to download and print form 8822 and most other IRS tax forms; e.g., Form 3903 to help deduct moving expenses,” said HGTV.

6. Sign up on Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a great way to network in your new neighborhood for things like babysitters and handymen and garage sales and the aforementioned doggy day care. Signing up when you’re moving in will also alert neighbors who may become new friends.

7. Leave the clicker!

If it’s attached to the visor in your car, you may forget and take it with you.

8. Change the locks

You never know who out there could have a copy of your house key. It’s a good idea to change the locks before you move in so you don’t have to worry that the cousin of the friend of the girlfriend of the guy who used to live in your house has an easy way in.

9. Call a cleaning service

Most people clean before they move out, thankfully, but it might not be up to your standards. Plus, there’s just something about moving into a freshly cleaned place. If your realty company didn’t already take care of a move-in cleaning, you’re going to want to.

10. Find a doctor and dentist

If someone gets sick or needs medical attention in your new neighborhood, you want to make sure you know where to take them without having to Google the nearest random doctor. This is another place Nextdoor will come in handy.

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Buying to Renovate: What You Need to Know

BY: JAYMI NACIRI
FROM: REALTY TIMES

If you’re looking for a house that’s not exactly turnkey, you’re not alone. Call it the HGTV effect. Is anyone else OBSESSED with House Hunters Renovation?!

“So you’re thinking of buying a fixer-upper? Maybe you’re a do-it-yourselfer, or you just love this home so much that you don’t mind lavishing extra TLC on it in the years to come,” said U.S. News. “Or perhaps you’re enthralled with home renovation television programs where every home has a camera-ready happy ending.”

Yes, buying a house in need of renovation definitely has its advantages, starting with the ability to make updates that match your style and (hopefully) increase the value of the home. But it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Here’s what you’ll want to know before you make that offer.

Not every home in need of renovation is a diamond in the rough

Some homes might just be too far gone to bring back to life. Or at least too expensive to be a good deal. There is a reason “movie plot lines have been based on the darker idea that rehabilitating a home can result in disaster,” said U.S. News. “Sometimes fixer-uppers turn out to be dismal downers.”

It could be that the house hasn’t been maintained properly and has serious issues that are going to increase the timeline and drive up the renovation costs. Maybe it needs work that’s well beyond your scope – and budget.

“If the house needs significant structural improvements, many real estate experts recommend avoiding it altogether,” said This Old House. “That’s because major repairs – plumbing and electrical system overhauls, foundation upgrades, and extensive roof and wall work – are usually ‘invisible’ and hardly ever raise the value of the house enough to offset the cost of the renovation.”

Inspection, inspection, inspection

Some homes in need of renovation are purchased as foreclosures or at auction, but the problem therein is that you might have to buy “as is.” That means you don’t get to inspect the home before purchase or request any repairs from the seller when you uncover problems.

It goes without saying that this is an idea that is often frowned upon—especially for those who are inexperienced in home renovation. Buy a home “as is” and you may end up with a great big money pit. Making sure your home is inspected before you purchase can help you see the full picture and decide whether it’s a good buy—or a goodbye.

Think about bringing in an architect and an engineer, too

If you’re planning on knocking down walls (and aren’t we all!), you might want to consider hiring an engineer and/or an architect early on. Structural walls or surprises inside the walls like plumbing or HVAC may make the open floorplan you’re dreaming of unachievable – or at least really expensive. It pays to do your due diligence before you purchase, even if it costs a little more upfront.

Who’s doing the renovating?

Planning on taking on some or all of the renovation yourself? Are you a first-timer, an old pro, or somewhere in between? If the grand total of your experience is patching a few nail holes in your college dorm room, you might want to think about hiring a professional.

Some things, like tiling or installing hardwoods, and some types of demolition, can be taught in a clinic at your local home improvement store, or even on a video on YouTube. Other skills like roofing, plumbing, and electrical work are usually best left to the pros. Keep in mind that, depending on what you plan to do to the house, you may also need permits before any work can begin.

There’s a loan for that

Financing is an important factor when buying any home. A traditional mortgage won’t pay for your repairs and updates, and most people aren’t super excited about shelling out a bunch of cash for renovations on top of their down payment and closing costs.

“If you’re buying a home that needs a little TLC, a typical fixed-rate mortgage isn’t going to help you pay for repairs,” said Interest.com. “Your lender isn’t going to approve a $300,000 loan to buy a home that’s only worth $250,000. And, while homeowners sometimes use home equity loans to remodel, you can’t get a home equity loan when you have no equity. This can be a big obstacle for buyers who don’t have extra cash to make needed renovations or repairs before moving in.”

Thankfully, there is another alternative. Several loans build cash for renovations right into the terms. “Four government-backed loan programs are designed for purchase-remodelers,” said Bankrate:

“Each program bases the loan amount on the value of the home after renovations are complete,” they said. You’ll want to talk to a lender and get pre-approved prior to finding a home to streamline the purchase process.

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The Seller’s Roadmap

BY: CHRIS TYRON
FROM: REALTY TIMES
  1. Meet with a Real Estate Professional: There’s no commitment required on your part for the initial meeting. It will be educational and help you identify your next steps.
  2. Establish a Price: Your agent will provide a market analysis, which will help you set an asking price.
  3. Strategic Price: As difficult as it may be, it’s important to review the market analysis and consider your home price objectively.
  4. Prepare Your Home: View your home through the eyes of the buyer and ask yourself what you’d expect. Your agent will offer some useful suggestions.
  5. List It For Sale: When everything is in place your agent will put your home on the open market. It’s critical you make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to view your home.
  6. Showings: Potential buyers may ask to see your home on short notice. It’s best if you can accommodate these requests, you never want to miss a potential sale.
  7. Offers and Negotiation: If everything goes well, a buyer and (most often the agent who represents them) will present your agent with an offer.
  8. Choosing an Offer: Your agent will present the benefits and risks of each offer. You will have the opportunity to either accept or counter any offer based on its merits.
  9. Under Contract: At this point, you and the buyer have agreed to all of the terms of the offer and both parties have signed the agreements.
  10. Final Details: While under contract, the buyer will work with their mortgage provider to finalize the loan and perform other due diligence.
  11. Inspection: The buyer will usually perform a physical inspection of the home. They may even ask you to make certain repairs. Your agent will explain all of your options regarding the inspection.
  12. Closing: This is the transfer of funds and ownership. Depending on when the buyer moves into the home you will need to be all packed up and ready to move.
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10 First-Time Home Buyer Basics

BY: RAHMAN COLSON
FROM: REALTY TIMES

More than seven million American homes are sold every year. But, many new homeowners are not informed and not very experienced in the home buying process. Unaware of what they need to qualify for a home, what is available to buy, or what the heck a property tax is. Well, if your reading this article and have considered entering the market, I’m glad to see your interested in buying a home. And if buying a home is still far off in the future for you, it’s still important to get informed and start planning now so you’ll know what to expect when the time comes. Here a ten tips to get you going in the right direction:

1.  Paying your bills on time. You have to this…Yes, even if you have lots and lots of money. Paying off debt and doing it on time, makes you a lower credit risk and, therefore, a better candidate for a mortgage at the lower rate. Paying your bills now can make it easier for you to get a mortgage later.

2. Keep your credit report up-to-date. Check and update your credit report before starting to look for a home. Credit reports are used by lenders to determine whether you will qualify for the mortgage you seek and for the interest rate you pay, so make sure your report is accurate, at least request a copy to know what is in there.

3. Determine what monthly mortgage payment you realistically can afford. Calculators to determine this can be found by doing a simple google search, but really think about your income and consider what amount you can feel comfortable paying each month.

4. Learn the market. Take time to learn important terms and trends understand their meaning. Become familiar with words, ideas or trends used in the home-buying process. This will make you a more knowlegdable home-buyer and inform your decision making whether it be about your loan details or the market fluctuations or where how close you are to Home Depot.

5.Choosing a lender. Find out what you can afford before you look at houses, this is a very important point. When you do come across a Home you really like, you can’t put in an offer without first getting qualified for an amount! In fact, many real estate agents consider this a sign of an “non-serious” buyer. Getting qualified, is usually a free service and you get to know exactly what you can afford. Shop around. After you are qualified, keep looking around to see if there is something better for you out there. Look at the different types of mortgages and the interest rates offered by different lenders. Have another the lender validate your calculations and confirm what you have already been presented with.

6. Understand the deal. Get a to know the process, how an escrow works and what “earnest money” is. Ask about the closing costs and other fees before you sign documents. Ask about the rules if you decide to refinance or prepay your mortgage. Find out about what short-sales or foreclosures are, and if they may be available to you.

7. Be available and interact with your lender, agent and movers. Quite frequently, they will need to talk with you and may need additional information or decision to be made. Make sure you get back to your whomever contacts you quickly so any loose paperwork or financing issues can be completed as soon as possible.

8. Avoid emotional buying. Before you look at any house have a plan, determine what features you really need, a price range you need to stay within, repairs your willing to make in a potential home and then try to stick as close as you can to the list you made.

9. Find an agent that understands your needs and listens to you. Someone knowledgable, professional,  but also someone you like, because you will be spending a lot of time looking at properties and talking on the phone with this person.

10. Visit as many homes as possible. Find out what you like, get a feel for what you may need and compare and contrast and most importantly…have fun!

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Home Insurance 101: The Fundamentals of Home Quality

BY: RYAN HANELY
FROM: REALTY TIMES

Buying a home represents one of the biggest purchases that an individual can make in his or her lifetime. As such, the decision should not be taken lightly, and you’ll want to review many factors as you search for your dream residence.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported 501,000 homes were sold in the United States last year, up from 437,000 homes one year earlier. Furthermore, the U.S. economy continues to rebound from the Great Recession. This means the number of homebuyers may increase nationwide over the next few years, leading to increased competition among homebuyers.

 Ultimately, an informed homebuyer is better equipped to make the right decision about a residence and whether this house will fulfill his or her personal needs. With the right information at his or her disposal, a homebuyer should have no trouble insuring his or her residence as well.

Home insurance likely is a requirement if you want to obtain a mortgage. However, there are numerous factors that may impact your ability to receive a favorable premium for your home insurance, along with your ability to insure your house altogether.

The key factors that may impact your home insurance premium and/or your ability to insure your house include:

1. A Home’s Location

Location represents an important consideration as you explore the housing market and will affect your home insurance premium.

For example, home insurance premiums will vary for homeowners in Florida and California, respectively, due to the fact the climates in these states create different risks for homeowners.

Sperling’s Best Places ranks several Florida regions among the most likely to be affected by a major hurricane in the near future. Comparatively, wildfires are problematic in California, and the State of California reported these incidents have impacted more than 150,000 acres of land in the Golden State thus far in 2016.

Home insurance safeguards your house, personal property and more. Therefore, if you live in a region that is susceptible to hurricanes, wildfires or other risks, you may be forced to pay a higher premium to insure your house—or you may need to conduct a broad search to find an insurer for your residence.

2. Construction of Your Home

How your home is built might affect your home insurance premium. In fact, if your house consists of older materials, you may need to update your residence so you can insure it.

In addition, many factors may impact the home insurance premium for an older residence, including:

  • Outdated Wiring — Knob-and-tube wiring may be more exposed than wiring that is used in modern homes, creating additional fire dangers.
  • Galvanized Steel Pipes for Plumbing — Older homes often feature galvanized steel pipes that could rust, which may lead to leaks and flooding.
  • Storm-Sensitive Roof — An older roof will consist of older materials, which may make the roof more susceptible to hail, wind or other damage.

Take a close look at a residence’s construction before you make your purchase decision. By doing so, you’ll be able to determine whether home updates are needed, along with how the home’s construction could affect your home insurance premium and/or your ability to insure the residence.

3. Home Replacement Costs

If you buy a home today, the value of your residence may change over the next month, year or decade.

The real estate market fluctuates constantly, and as such, what your home is worth now is likely to change soon. As a result, using the price that you paid for your house to determine the costs to replace your residence is insufficient.

Instead, you’ll need a professional home appraisal to determine what it would cost to replace your residence. After this appraisal is completed, you’ll be able to determine the proper home replacement costs and insure your house accordingly.

4. Flood Insurance

Believe it or not, a standard home insurance policy does not cover the damage associated with floods. On the other hand, you’ll need flood insurance to supplement your home insurance if your house is located in a flood zone.

Also, it is important to note that your home does not necessarily need to be located in a flood zone to suffer damage due to a flood.

Even a few inches of water can cause long-lasting mold problems and flood damage in a home. If you purchase flood insurance – even if you’re outside of a flood zone – you’ll be protected if flooding occurs.

5. Potential Liability Hazards

Your home may have potential liability hazards that can raise your home insurance premium or make it difficult for you to insure your residence.

Some of the most common potential liability hazards include:

  • Animals — If you own a large dog or other types of animals, you’ll need to account for each pet when you evaluate your home insurance options.
  • Swimming Pool — A swimming pool is a must for many homebuyers, but a pool could impact your home insurance premium.
  • Trampoline — Jumping on a trampoline offers a fun, exciting activity for kids and adults alike, but a trampoline may require you to pay more for your home insurance premium.

Consider your home insurance options as you search for the perfect residence, and you may be able to improve your chances of finding the ideal house in no time at all.

Ryan Hanley is the Vice President of Marketing at TrustedChoice.com and the Managing Editor of Agency Nation. He is also a speaker, podcaster and author of the Amazon best-seller, Content Warfare. Ryan has over 10 years of insurance expertise and blogs frequently to help consumers understand complicated insurance topics.