Posts for Syndication

When You Can’t Agree on a House

By Virtual Results

Buying a home can be a stressful process. But if you and your spouse can’t agree on which house to buy, your stress levels can go through the roof. In a competitive market, you need to act quickly when you find a home you love. So what do you do if you both can’t agree? Check out these valuable tips on how to compromise when you and your spouse disagree about which home to buy.

Make lists

Before you begin your search, you should each sit down independently and make your own lists of what you need to have in a home. Once you’ve both finished your lists, rank each item in order of importance. Compare lists to see which items you both agree on. This could include the location, the number of bedrooms, or even the size of the yard. When you begin your search, look for homes that feature these items that you both agree are important.

Don’t let your emotions rule

Yes, buying a home can be a very emotional decision. After all, this is the place where you will make many memories. It’s easy to get swept up and forget that this is also one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make. Make a pact with your partner that you will each do your best to keep your emotions in check. Even if you fall in love at first sight, remember to take the financial aspects into consideration. Does the home cost more than you can afford? Are you going to have to put thousands of dollars into renovating it? Will you have trouble selling it down the line? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should seriously rethink whether or not it is the home for you.

Be willing to walk away

If you love a home but your partner has serious reservations, is it worth trying to make your case? Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Do you want them to live in a home that they don’t like? Honestly, fighting over a home purchase can put a serious strain on even the most steadfast partnership. Be willing to walk away if your spouse says this home isn’t the one for them.

Take time off

If you continue to have disagreements with your spouse about which home to buy, then it may be time to take a break. New homes are always coming onto the market. Unless you have a hard deadline, such as moving for a job, you can afford to take a little time off from your home search. This will allow you and your partner some more time to reflect on what your needs and wants really are. The time off may be just what you need to reaffirm why you want to move and to get more specific about what each of you wants.

Work with a professional

Finally, the best thing you can do when you and your spouse don’t agree is to work with a professional real estate agent. An expert agent will have invaluable advice about the neighborhood and the local market. Their expertise can help you and your partner find common ground so that you can both be satisfied with your home purchase.

Courtesy of Virtual Results

Removing Old Wallpaper

By Virtual Results

Removing Old WallpaperIs that outdated wallpaper getting you down? Whether you’ve just bought a new home or you’re getting ready to sell, removing old wallpaper can seriously refresh an otherwise dated room. While removing old wallpaper can be a time-consuming job, it is actually not that difficult. With a little bit of know-how and some elbow grease, you can easily remove that wallpaper yourself. Here’s what you need to know to get the job done right.

Prepare the area

First things first – you need to prep the area where you’ll be removing the wallpaper. This means protecting the floors, trim, woodwork and furniture in the room. Removing wallpaper requires a good amount of water, so you’ll want to protect all your surfaces with drop cloths and painter’s tape.

Start peeling

Once you’ve prepped the room, you can begin peeling off the wallpaper. In some cases, the wallpaper may already be pulling away from the wall. Start there and see how much you can remove by hand without water. Newer wallpapers are easier to strip than older ones. If you’re lucky, you may be able to remove whole sheets of wallpaper this way.

Use water

After you’ve pulled off as much as you can by hand, it’s time to use some water. Spray the wallpaper with warm water. At this point, you can also add a liquid stripper concentrate to the water. This is particularly helpful if the wallpaper is firmly stuck to the wall. Apply the water solution liberally to patches of wallpaper – about much as you can tackle in 15 minutes. You don’t want the paper to dry out before you have a chance to remove it. Let the solution soak into the paper.

Scrape it off

Once the wallpaper is soaked, you can use a taping or joint knife to scrape off the wallpaper. If the wallpaper still isn’t coming off, spray it again and let it soak in. When you’re scraping, be careful that you don’t scratch the wall or remove the top layer of drywall. It’s possible you may find another layer of wallpaper under the top layer. Remove one layer at a time. Keep a trashcan handy so you can easily dispose of the wallpaper you have removed.

Remove paste

After you’ve removed all the wallpaper, you’ll still have bits of paper and paste left behind. The best way to remove this residue is with a sponge. Dip it in the water solution and give the walls a good wash. You may have to repeat this step a few times to make sure all the residue is completely gone. If you don’t, then you may have problems later when you try to paint or apply new wallpaper.

Removing stubborn wallpaper

There are some wallpapers that just won’t budge, even after you’ve tried the steps above. In those cases, you can try removing the wallpaper with a steam stripper. This device uses boiling water to soften that stubborn glue. This can be a strenuous job, so it’s helpful to have two people.

Courtesy of Virtual Results

How to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

By Virtual Results

How to Pay Off Your Mortgage FasterAre you one of the millions of Americans who financed the purchase of your home? Taking out a mortgage is a great way to become a homeowner. But if you’re able to pay off that debt quickly, you can free up money for other things such as an early retirement or a dream vacation. While it may seem impossible to pay off your mortgage early, it can be done. Here are some expert tips on how to pay off your home loan faster.

Buy an affordable home

While it may go without saying, we will say it anyway. The easiest way to pay off your mortgage faster is to buy a home you can afford. Stretching to make your mortgage payments each month is stressful. It can also make it tough to put any extra money towards those payments. Instead, stay well within your budget.

Pay bi-weekly

Instead of making your full mortgage payment once a month, pay half of it every two weeks. Because there are 52 weeks in a year, this results in making one extra monthly payment a year. Believe it or not, that can reduce your 30-year loan by as much as six years. Check with your mortgage company to see if they have a bi-weekly payment plan. Some will allow you to enroll in these plans for a small fee.

Make extra payments

If you’re not able to set up a bi-weekly payment plan, there are still options for you. You can make an extra payment each quarter, for example. This could shave up to 11 years off the term of your loan and save you thousands of dollars in interest. If that is too steep for you, consider making one extra payment each year. Be sure to earmark the payment to be used toward the principal balance. This could reduce the time of your loan by as much as seven years.

Use your tax refund

If you don’t have the extra money from month to month to swing an additional payment, there is another way to find that money. Are you expecting a tax refund next year? Then use that money to make the extra payment toward your mortgage. Since the average tax refund in 2018 was $2,899, you could end up paying off your mortgage several years early.

Make a bigger down payment

If you have the means, then make a bigger down payment when you purchase your home. You can save money on private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you put down at least 20 percent. The more money you put down, the smaller your monthly payments will be. If your payments are manageable, it will be much easier to pay extra and pay off your mortgage faster.

Pay down other debts first

You may not realize it, but you may be able to pay off your mortgage faster if you pay down your other debts first. This is especially true if you have high-interest credit cards. If you can pay those debts off first, you will save yourself from making high interest payments. Those savings can eventually be applied toward payments on your mortgage.

Courtesy of Virtual Results

Settling Into a New School

By Virtual Results

Settling Into a New School

The first day of school is always a little tough on kids. It’s doubly so when you’re the new kid in town. If you moved to a new school district over the summer, then you may be wondering how to help your child transition into their new school. Here are some of the most helpful tips we’ve found when it comes to helping your child get settled in.

Stay in touch with friends

First of all, moving to a new school doesn’t have to mean giving up all your old friends. In fact, it’s the idea of moving away from friends that is often most difficult for kids. With our digital age, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with anyone, no matter how far away they live. Schedule regular FaceTime or Skype dates with your kid’s friends from their old school to help make the transition easier. It will be helpful for them to have someone to talk to and support them on their new adventure.

Take a tour

Walking into a new school on the first day can be very intimidating. Help make it a little less so by scheduling a tour of the school before classes begin. Most schools are happy to accommodate these types of requests. Your child may even get the opportunity to meet their teacher and other school staff. This can certainly help to alleviate a little of the anxiety your child may be feeling about their new school.

Practice getting there

Another way to help your child get settled faster is to practice the route to school. Even if your child is going to take the bus or be driven to school, they should become familiar with how to get there and back. In the case of an emergency, they will be more confident if they know the way.

Plan a special first day

Do you remember what it’s like to wake up on the first day of school with the jitters? It might help to plan a special breakfast for that morning to start the day on a positive note. You can also plan a special dinner for the first day so that your child has something to look forward to. Consider packing a special lunch that includes a note telling your child just how brave they are.

Become involved

There’s no better way to get to know a new place than to get involved. This goes for both kids and parents. Kids can join special clubs at school or at a local community center to make new friends quickly. Parents can get involved by chaperoning field trips or volunteering for the PTA.

Give it time

Finally, it’s important to remember that there will most likely be some bumps in the road. Even the most well adjusted kid may take some time to get used to a new school. Don’t worry too much if your child’s grades suffer in the beginning. Most kids need time to make new friends and get a feel for a new school. Soon enough, their new school will feel like home.

Courtesy of Virtual Results

Beat the Home Selling Blues

By Virtual Results

Beat the Home Selling BluesSelling a home can be a time of big change. And although you may be excited about your upcoming move, it can also bring with it a little sadness. After all – your home is where you make some of your best memories. If you’re beginning to feel the home selling blues, then here are some of our top tips on how to overcome them.

Acknowledge your feelings

You don’t have to pretend that you don’t have some apprehensions about leaving your current home. It’s completely natural to feel sad when you’re selling your house. Acknowledge your feelings and know that they are temporary.

Focus on the positive

Even though you may experience feelings of sadness from time to time as you complete the home-selling process, try not to dwell on them. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your move. Remind yourself why you are moving and find reasons to be excited about it. Maybe you’re upgrading to a bigger house or a better location. Or perhaps you’ll be closer to family members that you’ve missed.

Change your perspective

When you’re selling your home, you’re going to be completing one of the biggest financial transactions of your life. Try to think of it in business terms instead of emotional terms. Remember – you want to get a great return on your investment. It’s difficult to do that if you get too emotional. So try to distance yourself and focus instead on working to get potential buyers interested in your home.

Depersonalize your home

One of the most important things you can do when you’re getting ready to sell your home is to remove all your personal items. Not only will this help you detach from your home, but it will also make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living there. If possible, try to take things with you that have sentimental value – even if it’s just a cutting from the rose bush you planted when you moved in. Knowing that you have a piece of your home to take with you can help lessen the anxious feelings you have about moving.

Take pictures

You probably already have tons of photos of your home, but it doesn’t hurt to take more. Digital photography allows us to take as many photos as we want without filling up too much space, so don’t limit yourself. If there is a certain view you’ve always loved, take pictures of it at different times of day. Photograph the kids standing next to the growth chart on the wall. Take a picture of your garden in full summer glory. This way, you will always have all those memories with you.

Take breaks

You don’t have to be in home-selling mode 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Take whatever time you need to relax and unwind. Take the family out for a pizza party or for an afternoon matinee at the movies. Go to the spa and get a massage or a pedicure. Even taking time to read a good book before bed will help you disconnect from the stress of moving.

Work with an agent

Finally, the best way to beat the home-selling blues is to work with a professional real estate agent. An agent is there to answer all your questions and to help you with the entire real estate process. Knowing that you have a professional on your side can help sideline much of the stress.

Courtesy of Virtual Results

Finding a Family-Friendly Neighborhood

By Virtual Results

Finding a Family-Friendly Neighborhood

If you’re looking for a new nest for your family, then you may be feeling a little pressure. On top of finding a home that meets your needs, you also need to choose a location that is both safe and meets the social and educational needs of your kids. But how do you know if your new neighborhood is family friendly? Read on for some tips on how to find a great new neighborhood that everyone in your family will love.

Check out the local schools

Obviously, one of the first ways to find out if a neighborhood is family friendly is to check out the local schools. You can find a wealth of information on websites such as greatschools.org. Here you can see what kind of classes are offered, the school’s test scores, parent and student reviews, and more.

Look for playgrounds and parks

Another way to determine if a neighborhood is good for families is to see how many playgrounds and parks are in the area. It’s especially helpful if those parks and playgrounds are within walking distance of the homes you are interested in. If you have the opportunity, then visit these places to see their condition and what types of activities they provide. Does the park seem busy? Remember, parks and playgrounds aren’t just great places for kids to enjoy. They are also a wonderful place for parents to meet other parents in the neighborhood.

See if there are kids playing outside

When you schedule appointments to visit possible homes, be sure to leave some extra time to check out the neighborhood. Notice if there are kids playing outside. If possible, visit at different times of the day, especially on weekends or after school.

Access to kid-friendly amenities

Find out what types of activities and programs are available to kids living in your neighborhood. Is there a Little League or other types of youth organizations like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts? Does the library have story time every day? Does the local movie theater advertise matinee specials that feature kid-friendly films? Does the YMCA offer programs that are geared for kids of all ages? Does the local community center offer camps and other events in the summer that are appropriate for kids?

Research the crime rates

You know that your job as a parent is to keep your child safe. So you should definitely research the crime rates in a neighborhood before you make an offer on a home. Click here for a great round-up of websites that will provide you with specific crime rate information about the neighborhood you are moving to.

Talk to an agent

Finally, one of the best ways to find a family-friendly neighborhood is to talk with your real estate agent. Choosing an agent who is an expert in your market can help you narrow down your choices. Your agent can be an invaluable resource when it comes to schools and family-friendly amenities in your area. They can advise you where to look – and which neighborhoods to avoid. In the end, they can help you choose both the home and the neighborhood that will fit the needs of everyone in your family.

Courtesy of Virtual Results

Know These Real Estate Terms

By Virtual Results

Know These Real Estate Terms

If you are buying or selling a home, then you may have come into contact with some real estate lingo that isn’t familiar to you. In fact, some of these terms may not only be unfamiliar, they may also be downright confusing. But as someone who is entering into the real estate market, it is essential that you understand the language. Here are some of the most common terms you’ll encounter when buying or selling a home as well as their definitions.

Buyer’s Agent

As the term suggests, the buyer’s agent is the real estate professional who is representing the buyer during a home purchase. A buyer’s agent is responsible for helping buyers find homes to visit and assisting during the entire closing process. The seller typically pays the commission for the buyer’s agent.

Listing Agent

A listing agent is the real estate professional who is representing the seller in a real estate transaction. They help the seller prep their home for the market and assist with the closing process. The seller also pays the commission for the listing agent.

Pre-approval letter

If you are a buyer, then you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will help you determine how much you can afford and will signal to a seller that your offer is serious. When you obtain a pre-approval from a lender, they will provide you with a letter that you can submit with your offer.

Earnest money

Earnest money is the money that the buyer pays to the seller when an offer has been accepted on a home. It is usually between one and three percent of the purchase price. Earnest money helps to protect the seller should the buyer walk away from the deal. When the deal is closed, the earnest money is usually applied to the down payment.

Escrow

When a home is “in escrow” it means that it is under contract and a third party is watching over the entire transaction. The escrow agent is responsible for holding all money, documents, and instructions until closing. During closing they disburse all money and supervise the transfer of the deed.

Inspection

An inspection is part of the closing process. The buyer schedules the inspection, and a home inspector prepares a report stating the condition of the property and recommended repairs. This allows buyers to determine if they want to move forward with the purchase or negotiate with the seller because of issues that need to be addressed.

Appraisal

An appraisal also happens during the closing process. An appraiser is a third party hired by the lender who assesses the value of a home. This helps the lender to determine whether or not the home is worth the amount of the loan being offered.

Closing

The closing is the point at which the sale of the home is finalized. A closing date is set that allows the buyer to conduct their inspection and the lender to perform the underwriting process including the appraisal. During the closing, both the buyer and the seller sign all the final paperwork and the buyer receives the keys to the house.

Courtesy of Virtual Results

Rainy Day Open House

By Virtual Results

Rainy Day Open House

As much as we’d like to have picture-perfect weather on Open House day, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. If rain is in the forecast, then you may be tempted to reschedule your Open House for another day. But don’t throw in the towel so fast. There will always be people on the hunt for their next home, and a little bad weather won’t deter many of them. In fact, you can bet that those who do show up are serious buyers and not just there to browse. Here’s what you should do to have a successful rainy day open house.

Prepare for umbrellas

If it’s raining outside, then you should be prepared to deal with wet umbrellas. Park a basket outside your door if you have a covered patio or just inside the door if you don’t. Then buyers can leave their wet umbrellas at the door so they don’t get water everywhere inside the house. In addition, if you’d like buyers to see your outdoor area, then have a few extra umbrellas on hand. That way, they can grab one of your umbrellas and have a look around outside without getting too wet.

Have plenty of mats and rugs

You don’t want anyone getting your perfectly clean floors dirty, so be sure to have some mats and rugs on hand. Station one outside and one inside the front door so that people can wipe their feet before they enter. You might even consider asking visitors to remove their shoes before touring the house. Another option is to provide disposable shoe covers in case some people are not comfortable removing their shoes. You can also place mats along all the walkways in the house to keep dirt to a minimum. This shows buyers that you care about the cleanliness of the house and that they can expect the house to be clean when they move in.

Keep the lights on

Rainy days can be deceptively dark, even in the middle of summer. Don’t be afraid to turn on all the lights inside. This will make the house feel cozy and inviting, which is especially important if it’s dark and wet outside. You should turn on all the outdoor lights as well.

Cheer it up

In addition to keeping all the lights on, you can fill your home with fresh flowers. On a rainy day, fresh flowers are a welcome touch and make your home feel cheerful. Limit the flowers to one or two big vases, which will have much more visual impact than several small vases. If possible, buy flowers that have a light fragrance, especially if the rain brings with it a musty smell.

When to call it off

If the forecast calls for more than just a little rain, then it might be time to call off the open house. You should consider rescheduling if dangerous weather is predicted, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, or if flooding is possible. You don’t want to find out during the open house that your basement floods when there is excessive rain, or that water pools in a low spot in the yard. When in doubt, postpone your home showing for a better day.

Compliments of Virtual Results

How Long Does It Take To Buy a House?

By Virtual Results

How Long Does It Take To Buy a House?If you’ve never purchased a home before, then you may be wondering exactly how long the process takes. Although every situation is unique, there are certain average timelines for each phase of the home-buying process. Here’s how long you can expect it to take when you’re buying a house so that you can plan accordingly.

Getting ready to buy a home – six months

Buying a house is typically not something you can just jump into. If you want to get the best deal on the home that’s just right for you, then you need to spend some time preparing. The more time you can spend getting ready before you begin your search, the better. One of the things you’ll need to do when you’re getting ready to buy a home is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This includes shopping around for the best deal and getting all your financial documents in order. You may also need time to improve your credit score or fix errors on your credit report. You should also include the time it will take to save for the down payment on the house. Expect this phase of the process to take as long as six months.

Searching for a home – at least three weeks

Once you’ve secured your down payment and gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, it’s time to begin your search. You can begin online to find out what’s available in your market. A real estate agent can also help you find homes that fit your criteria. Once you’ve found some homes you want to see in person, it’s time to schedule visits. On average, most buyers need to see at least 10 homes before they find a home they like. This part of the process can take shorter or longer depending on your needs, the amount of inventory in your market, and how available you are for home showings. But you can expect this part of the process to take at least three weeks and up to several months.

Closing on a home

Once you’ve found a home you like, it’s time to make an offer. If the seller accepts your offer, then the process of closing on the home begins. There are many steps involved when closing on a home. If you are financing the purchase of the home with a mortgage, then the process will take longer than if you are paying cash. During this time, you will need to schedule a home inspection, and you’ll be submitting many documents. At times you will feel like there is too much to do in a short amount of time. At other points during this part of the process, it will feel as if nothing is happening. On average, you can expect the closing process to take approximately 50 days from when you make the offer until you obtain the keys to the house.

While this is a general guideline to give you a sense of how long your home-buying journey will take, understand that it could be different for you. You can help the sale move along by knowing what to expect, staying organized, and working with an agent who is an expert in your market.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Moving in the Summer Heat

By Virtual Results

Moving in the Summer HeatWe are entering into the dog days of summer and cities across America are feeling the heat. It also happens to be the time of year when many people are moving into new homes. While summer is the most popular time to move, it can also be physically demanding — especially if there’s a heat wave. If you’re getting ready to move and the weather reports are forecasting soaring temperatures, then follow these important tips.

Start early

One of the best ways to beat the summer heat when you’re moving is to get an early start. Try to schedule your move as early in the morning as possible. Once the clock hits 11 a.m., temperatures will be at their peak and they will stay there for several hours.

Take it slow

Hot summer days are not the best times to be working hard and fast. Although you want to get the move over with as soon as possible, you need to take it slow. Allow for extra time so that you don’t have to rush. Take breaks often – you will need them. Keep an eye on older folks who may react more strongly to the heat.

Stay hydrated

Nothing will sap your energy faster on a hot day than being dehydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your move. On the day of the move, always have cold water at the ready, and take frequent water breaks. Avoid drinking beverages with caffeine or sugar as they can make you more dehydrated.

Wear the right clothes

On the day of your move, dress in light clothing that is made of a breathable fabric like cotton or linen. Try to avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester or rayon, as they don’t breathe. Choose light colors that will reflect the heat as dark colors will absorb heat and make you hotter. And don’t forget to wear sunglasses and a hat.

Wear sunscreen

Along with wearing the right clothing, you need to also protect your skin from the sun. Make sure to completely cover any exposed skin with sunscreen. Reapply the sunscreen often. Let’s face it – you’re going to be sweating. Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30, and apply it before you head outside.

Be careful with certain items

The items that you load into the truck first are going to be in there the longest. Be aware that the inside of the moving truck can get very hot in the summer sun. Don’t pack sensitive items such as electronics or anything that could melt at the beginning of the day.

Use cold towels

Another great way to beat the heat is to have cold towels on hand. Fill a cooler with ice and pack it with washcloths and small towels. Whenever you need some relief, grab a cold towel for around your neck.

Know the signs of trouble

Overdoing it in the summer heat can cause health problems, so know what the symptoms are for heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you are feeling dizzy, weak, nauseated, or confused, take a break. Lie down and take a cold shower if needed.

Compliments of Virtual Results