Real Estate

MortgageReal EstateVA Loans

Give Yourself a Financial Break as a Military Veteran

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Take advantage of special home loans if you’re currently serving in the military or have served in the military. You could qualify for mortgage cost savings as an active duty member or as a reservist. Specific mortgage cost savings that you could qualify for include a zero down payment, low interest rates, a cap on how much you have to contribute to closing costs and foreclosure protection. However, serving in the military isn’t always a home loan savings slam dunk. Preparation and the right documents are important. So too are the following actions.Prepare to Meet and Negotiate with Mortgage LendersReview your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Clear up discrepancies, including erroneous charges, collections and other late payments that you previously resolved. Pay down debt. Set a goal to pay off credit cards, especially high interest credit cards. Avoid opening new credit card accounts.Lenders are going to take a pulse on your overall financial health. High debts could indicate that you’d struggle to pay your mortgage should even one event change in your life. High interest credit cards could also lend the appearance that your credit isn’t good enough for you to qualify for low interest credit cards, so again, pay off high interest credit cards early.If you receive a housing allowance, provide this information to lenders. A housing allowance is a benefit that active duty military members receive but may overlook when applying for a home loan. Should your spouse and you both serve in the military, the combined amount of your monthly housing allowance should be higher than if you were single. Contact your military human resources department if you’re unsure how much you receive in a monthly housing allowance.Get your financial records in order, meaning that you get paper copies of bank or credit union statements, a copy of your Statement of Service, DD-214 (if you’re retired), paystubs, tax returns and paperwork on existing loans including any small business loans you took out to start a company. Before you meet with lenders, determine how much house you can afford. Take advantage of online mortgage calculators.Factors to include in your calculations when you’re determining how much house you can afford are monthly homeowner’s insurance premiums, homeowner’s association fees (if they apply), the down payment you’re going to put on your new home, property taxes, repairs, closing costs and inspection fees. If you’re thinking about buying an older home, consider increasing the amount you’ll spend on repairs annually.Documentation together, it’s time to start the loan pre-approval process. Meet with lenders who are approved by the Veterans Administration to offer mortgage cost savings to retirees, reservists and active duty members. Do this before you meet with realtors, as getting pre-approved for a loan can yield you greater mortgage cost savings. Use your military housing allowance to prove your loan repayment power. Prepare to negotiate with lenders to get the best interest rates and mortgage premiums that you can.In addition to your financial records, other factors that lenders will review about you include your marital status and your length of service. Lenders may focus on whether you just joined the military, are soon to be discharged or if your military job requires you to relocate often.

Real EstateHoahomeowners association

A Guide to Homeowners Associations

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While they have become ubiquitous with the emergence of suburban neighborhoods and townhouses, homeowners associations (HOA, for short) are a relatively new phenomenon.

In modern America, there are many ways to live: apartments, condominiums, houses, townhouses, and now even “tiny houses” are gaining traction. But it wasn’t until the late 1900s that property owners began to experiment with alternative ways of living that revolved around share, “common spaces.”

What constitutes a common area?

Whether you live in an apartment, a house, or in your RV you likely experience common areas every day that are owned by the government. Roads, bridges, and parks are all common areas in that they are used by multiple people and their upkeep is paid for with taxes.

If you take that analogy and apply it to the greenways and lobbies of a condominium, or the streets and sidewalks of a gated community, there are few differences.

What is a homeowners association?

When a developer plans a new community they will often create a homeowners association that will be managed by the people who move into the houses or condominiums. Once a certain number of people have moved into the development and joined the HOA the developer will typically hand over ownership to the HOA and relinquish their legal rights and responsibilities of the land. From there, the HOA typically has complete control over management. Though it should be noted that states have their own HOA related laws with varying levels of oversight.

What does an HOA do?

The most common thing we associate with HOAs is fees and rules. People who move into a community governed by a homeowners association are typically required to join the HOA and are therefore obligated to pay fees and adhere to the guidelines set down by the HOA board.

The fees you pay will go towards maintenance and development of the common areas of your community. That usually amounts to landscaping, maintaining pools and fitness complexes. Fees can range from anywhere between $200 and $450 per month depending on where you live.

HOAs also enforce regulations that homeowners must follow. These vary depending on the community but often include building restrictions for things like fences and additions, as well as other ways that homeowners can customize their homes such as paint and vinyl color. Some homeowners associations go so far as to regulate whether or not a homeowner may fly the flag on their favorite sports team over their door.

Advantages and disadvantages

So what are the advantages and disadvantages you can expect when you belong to a homeowners association? Let’s start with the clear disadvantages. If you are a tinkerer or someone who relishes the freedom to do what they want with their property, living in an HOA-run community might not be right for you. If your salary isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, the cost of living in an HOA neighborhood, along with the monthly fees, might be a bit more than you’re comfortable with.

What about the advantages? First, you can expect that the neighborhood will be well-maintained. This brings about another advantage in that you can expect your property value to grow or at least remain stable thanks to the quality of the neighborhood being carefully managed.

Real EstateHoahomeowners association

A Guide to Homeowners Associations

Fotolia_73393519_Subscription_Monthly_M

While they have become ubiquitous with the emergence of suburban neighborhoods and townhouses, homeowners associations (HOA, for short) are a relatively new phenomenon.

In modern America, there are many ways to live: apartments, condominiums, houses, townhouses, and now even “tiny houses” are gaining traction. But it wasn’t until the late 1900s that property owners began to experiment with alternative ways of living that revolved around share, “common spaces.”

What constitutes a common area?

Whether you live in an apartment, a house, or in your RV you likely experience common areas every day that are owned by the government. Roads, bridges, and parks are all common areas in that they are used by multiple people and their upkeep is paid for with taxes.

If you take that analogy and apply it to the greenways and lobbies of a condominium, or the streets and sidewalks of a gated community, there are few differences.

What is a homeowners association?

When a developer plans a new community they will often create a homeowners association that will be managed by the people who move into the houses or condominiums. Once a certain number of people have moved into the development and joined the HOA the developer will typically hand over ownership to the HOA and relinquish their legal rights and responsibilities of the land. From there, the HOA typically has complete control over management. Though it should be noted that states have their own HOA related laws with varying levels of oversight.

What does an HOA do?

The most common thing we associate with HOAs is fees and rules. People who move into a community governed by a homeowners association are typically required to join the HOA and are therefore obligated to pay fees and adhere to the guidelines set down by the HOA board.

The fees you pay will go towards maintenance and development of the common areas of your community. That usually amounts to landscaping, maintaining pools and fitness complexes. Fees can range from anywhere between $200 and $450 per month depending on where you live.

HOAs also enforce regulations that homeowners must follow. These vary depending on the community but often include building restrictions for things like fences and additions, as well as other ways that homeowners can customize their homes such as paint and vinyl color. Some homeowners associations go so far as to regulate whether or not a homeowner may fly the flag on their favorite sports team over their door.

Advantages and disadvantages

So what are the advantages and disadvantages you can expect when you belong to a homeowners association? Let’s start with the clear disadvantages. If you are a tinkerer or someone who relishes the freedom to do what they want with their property, living in an HOA-run community might not be right for you. If your salary isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, the cost of living in an HOA neighborhood, along with the monthly fees, might be a bit more than you’re comfortable with.

What about the advantages? First, you can expect that the neighborhood will be well-maintained. This brings about another advantage in that you can expect your property value to grow or at least remain stable thanks to the quality of the neighborhood being carefully managed.

Real EstateSelling Your HomeCleaning

How to Clean Your Kitchen Effectively

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Nothing beats the warm, inviting feeling that you get when you enter your kitchen. However, failure to keep your kitchen clean can impact the quality of your kitchen. This ultimately can make a big difference in how homebuyers perceive your kitchen, along with whether they decide to submit an offer for your home.Fortunately, there are many simple ways to keep your kitchen looking great day after day, including:1. Use baking soda to clean your tile floors.Your tile floors were beautiful after they were installed. But since that time, they’ve become dirty, grimy and tough to clean.But we have a surefire solution to help you revamp your kitchen’s tile floor – baking soda and water.The combination of baking soda and water serves as a wonderful tile floor cleaner that is easy to apply with a mop. And within minutes of using it, you may notice that your kitchen’s tile floor looks as good as new.2. Eliminate wall splatters.Over the years, you’ve prepared a wide range of meals in your kitchen – everything from spaghetti and meatballs to sloppy joes. Unfortunately, not every dish has been an instant success. And as such, there have been many splashes of various ingredients that have landed on your kitchen’s ceiling, floors and walls.Eliminating wall splatters may seem impossible at first. Luckily, there are numerous viable options to help you remove them without delay.For stains on painted walls, you may want to use a wet cloth or paper towel. The combination of a wet cloth or paper towel and tough scrubbing will allow you to eliminate stains on painted walls immediately.Comparatively, oily stains may require water and dishwashing soap. This mix is powerful and will ensure that you can remove cooking grease and other oily stains.3. Disinfect the garbage disposal.Your kitchen’s garbage disposal has served you well, but bad garbage disposal odors may persist if you’re not careful. On the other hand, home sellers who focus on keeping their kitchen’s garbage disposal clean can avoid such odors altogether.Looking for a great way to clean your kitchen’s garbage disposal? Using a mix of vinegar, water and ice cubes can help you clean and deodorize your kitchen’s garbage disposal quickly and effortlessly.Dedicate the necessary time and resources to disinfect your kitchen’s garbage disposal, and you can guarantee that this disposal remains clean and performs consistently.4. Wipe out the refrigerator.In many cases, home sellers may include a refrigerator in a home sale. As such, you’ll want to keep this refrigerator looking and performing great.Wiping out your refrigerator and removing expired items regularly is essential. By doing so, you can remove the risk of bad odors from escalating in your kitchen.Of course, don’t forget to keep an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator, too. This box should be changed periodically and will provide a fresh scent any time you open your refrigerator door.Keep your kitchen clean, and by doing so, you may be able to boost your chances of a quick home sale.

Real EstateHome DesignSelling Your Home

Add a Personal Touch to Your Home

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Accessories are the things in your home that give it character. There’s plenty of things in your home that give visitors an idea of who you are. When we want a house to feel like a home we add the small touches. There’s ways that you can make every room of your home visually exciting without breaking the bank. Whether you’re selling your home, or it’s just time for a change, these tips will keep your home feeling like a place anyone would want it to be-cozy. While home staging is an important part of real estate, there’s a human factor involved in the marketing of homes that is completely authentic with each family that resides in a home. From keeping things organized to using personal memories, there’s ways to make your home attractive to both visitors and potential buyers.Keep everything organizedLess clutter equals less fuss. When everything has a place your house just works better for everyone. Even pictures laid out on the coffee table should be placed in a strategic manner. Items like souvenirs, pictures, or vases shouldn’t be placed in your home without a rhyme or reason. Be sure that you have the tools needed to keep organized. When the time comes that company is coming or you’re selling your home, you’ll be glad that you’ve kept organized.Use colorThe power of color can make any room visually exciting. Even one item that may seem out of place in a room can help bring character into your home. Funky looking mirrors, outrageous artwork, or a brightly colored wall can bring a focal point to a room that lacked one previously. Color can be a powerful tool to make a statement. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous with color.Remember that memories are pricelessYour life should be reflected in your home. You can creatively use pieces of memorabilia to display in your home and tell a story. Not only will this remind you of your favorite moments, but it will allow you to give visitors insight into your life and share your experiences.Use your judgmentDecorating with accessories doesn’t have to be complicated. If items can simply be lined up and look great then keep them the way! The science behind making a house a home is all about what makes you feel comfortable. What looks great to one person may not look as attractive to someone else. But there’s something to be said for being true to the way you like to live. The key here is to use your best judgment when decorating the inside of your home.