What You Can Learn from Visiting Open Houses

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Takeaways:

Visiting open houses allow you to learn about the home-buying process as a newbie buyer.

Visiting many open houses gives you the insight you need to make informed decisions on a home.

You should study the home(s) on your own to determine if it’s the right buy for you.

Homes for Sale

As a homebuyer, it’s your job to check out as many open houses as possible to make an educated and informed decision about buying the right home. So that means you’re going to have to check out lots of homes for sale and start searching the neighborhoods you’re interested in to find homes for sale you may be interested in purchasing.

So if you haven’t been learning as much as you can about each property you’re interested in purchasing, here are some great tips to help you out!

Visiting Open Houses

Visiting Open Houses

Open houses are still the best way for buyers to sell their homes. They want as many people to check them out, so feel free to visit as many as possible. Now you don’t have to sign in, but make sure to say hello and be courteous to the agent and homeowners if they happen to be there.

Visiting Open Houses

Our friends and real estate pros, Keith and Kyle Hiscock, share the pros and cons of open houses. He states that if you are uncertain about the home-buying process, an open house is a great way for you to learn the first steps to buying a home. It allows you to check out a home without feeling pressured. And it is a great way for you to meet a qualified real estate agent who can even become your agent when you’re finally ready to buy.

While visiting open houses, you also want to watch how the guests act. Are they leaving quickly? Are they talking to the agent one-by-one? Are there lots of whispers or commotion about the great price on the home?

These are all things you need to be aware of to help you determine if you want to make an offer on the home or get the heck out of there!

Talk to the Agent

The real estate agent is there to help you. They will tell you everything you want to know and be as open and honest with you as possible. They have to disclose everything about the home, so you shouldn’t worry about any secrets they might be hiding from you.

Visiting Open Houses

Be sure to ask them if there is anything wrong with the home. If the home is a fixer upper, they’ll tell you what needs to be repaired or replaced. If the amount of work needed on the home sounds like too much for you to take on, then you know the home isn’t the right buy for you.

Study the Home

Do some searching around the home on your own. Ask the agent if you can walk around the home on your own to learn everything about it to determine if you like it or not.

If you find that it’s in great shape, and you love everything about it, then you should get the agent’s contact information to call them to discuss the possibility of making an offer.

Visiting Open Houses

You should always look at more than one home. So don’t be too eager if you already want to purchase the first home you visited. You may regret it during the purchasing process or after you’ve already moved in if there is another home you would have preferred or things you don’t like about the home once you’re stuck with it.

Visiting open houses is the best way to learn the process of buying a home. So do yourself a favor and learn all that you can about every open house you visit. This way, you’ll have the advantage and end up buying a home you and your family really love!

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What Is a Reverse Mortgage?

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By American Advisors Group

As you pull into your driveway and up to your garage, you take a good long look at your house.  The fresh exterior paint you had applied about a year ago still glistens in the sun, and the roof shingles you had installed still sit perfectly in neat rows.  The bushes that line the driveway are perfectly manicured, and have grown twice as tall since the day you planted them as little shrubs.

Throughout the years, you have thoughtfully added an upgrade here, and an enhancement there, knowing you are investing in one of your biggest assets.  Slowly but surely your equity is growing, and one of these days, you may want to cash in on your investment in order to help you supplement a fixed income or increase your cash flow in retirement.  Fortunately, you have access to a powerful financial tool to help you do just that.

what is a reverse mortgage final

The History of Reverse Mortgages

In the early 1960s, a new loan type emerged in the mortgage industry and steadily gained in popularity due to a few distinctive features.  The loan was known as a reverse mortgage, and for the first time, borrowers were introduced to the possibility that they could access their home equity without having to sell their home or pay a monthly mortgage payment. This unique home equity loan is still available today and continues to help seniors achieve financial independence.

Designed for the senior homeowner age 62 or older, a reverse mortgage defers repayment until the borrower permanently leaves the home, as long as all loan terms are met. With no required monthly mortgage payment to meet, borrowers are relieved of one of their largest monthly expenses, thus giving them more control over their finances. If the borrower moves or passes away, the funds from the sale of the home would repay the reverse mortgage loan in full, and any remaining equity is returned to the estate.

In addition to its beneficial features, consumer safeguards and federal regulations have been added over the years in order to improve the borrower experience. Today, the government-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which accounts for approximately 90 percent of all reverse mortgages in the U.S., is a federally-insured non-recourse loan. HECM reverse mortgages require that the borrower undergo independent, third-party mandatory counseling. Borrowers now must also go through a financial assessment by the lender to ensure they are capable of meeting the financial obligations of a reverse mortgage loan associated with payment of property taxes, insurance and home maintenance. Bolstered by these important safeguards and equipped with a number of valuable and unique features, this loan has helped thousands of seniors live financially independent and comfortable lives.

 

Why You Should or Shouldn’t Get a Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage loan is not for everyone, so take the time to closely review the following considerations.

You may not want a reverse mortgage if:

  • You plan to leave your home for more than 12 consecutive months, such as moving into a nursing home, or a family member’s home. Doing so will render the loan due and payable.
  • You are not sure you want to age in place. Perhaps you may want to travel for extended periods or switch between your home and a vacation home throughout retirement.
  • You are unsure you can uphold the financial obligations of the loan, including paying for your taxes, insurance, and home maintenance.

You may want a reverse mortgage if:

  • You want to age in the comfort of your home.
  • You want to access your home equity in cash, to use however you wish.
  • You do not want to be tied down to paying a monthly mortgage payment.
  • You do not plan to move away from your home or sell it in the near future.
  • You are capable of continuing to pay your property taxes, homeowners insurance, and basic home maintenance.
  • You appreciate the protection of federal insurance.

 

Reasons for a Reverse Mortgage

Reverse mortgage borrowers seek this unique loan for a host of wide and varied reasons. Some want to supplement their existing, fixed retirement income with additional funds.  Others have used it as a ‘standby’ financial strategy to ensure ready funds as emergencies arise, or to balance their investments.  Most borrowers use it to help pay off existing debt, including credit card bills and medical costs. Read the following testimonials from actual reverse mortgage customers to learn about how they used this versatile loan.

“I did it for the freedom.  I asked myself, why am I not enjoying my life now?  I had to let go.  I am not going to take my house with me.  Before, I always had to be on a budget and now I can get up and do the things I want to do: keep up my beauty regime, continue my healthy, active, and fun lifestyle, like going to Zumba every day, and decorate my home and make it pretty.”

  • Lisa M. of Los Angeles, CA

“My home was paid for and I had no monthly mortgage payment, but I was having a very hard time keeping up with my bills.  I had credit card debts and all my bills were currently up to date, but I knew in 3 month I was doomed!  My last resort was to just sell and find another place to live.  I have a nice home on a lake, have a nice neighborhood and friends, and I just don’t want to go anywhere else.  I’m doing well now [after a reverse mortgage] and it looks like I’m in the black.  Hooray!”

  • Ralph G. of Grantham, NH

“Our bills were mounting and our income wasn’t. We needed cash. The process was as painless as any I’ve experienced.  We were lucky in that we received our loan just in time.  My husband now has a terminal illness and is in hospice care. I couldn’t have paid for his care without the loan.”

  • Jeane W. of Sacramento, CA

“I am disabled and am on a fixed income.  I had a good deal of medical bills.  To be able to live month to month, I had to use my credit cards.  Even though I was not late on anything and always paid more than the minimum payment, the balances on my cards kept creeping up.  I now have paid off my credit cards and have money in the bank and still have my home.”

  • Margaret T. of Summerfield, NC

If you think a reverse mortgage loan may be a good option for you, take the time to get educated on it–you owe it to yourself to find out.  Research the facts, pros, cons, and learn about the loan process. And, make sure to read real borrower testimonials to better understand their loan experience.  Speak with reverse mortgage experts: ask questions about how this loan could help you, and have them provide an estimate to see just how much you can get from your home equity.  When considering any financial product, it is a smart move to fully understand what your obligations are before you decide to move forward.  Following these steps will help you find the best solution for the comfortable and financially-stable retirement you have been looking for.

 

Sources:

Lim, Alberta.  “The Pros and Cons of a Reverse Mortgage.”  Equities.com.  21 July 2015.  NP.  Web.  22 July 2015.  http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/personal-finance/real-estate/the-pros-and-cons-of-a-reverse-mortgage

“Reverse Mortgages: The Pros, Cons, and Misconceptions You Should Know”.  Banks.com.  15 July 2015.  http://www.banks.com/life/reverse-mortgages-pros-cons-and-misconceptions-you-should-know

“The History of the Reverse Mortgage.”  www.AAG.com.  NP.  ND.  Web.  20 July 2015.  https://www.aag.com/news/history-reverse-mortgage

“Understanding 4 Key Reverse Mortgage Loan Features.”  SeniorLiving.com.  ND.  NP.  Web.  Today’s Date.  https://www.seniorliving.com/article/understanding-4-key-reverse-mortgage-loan-features

Understanding the Pros and Cons of a Reverse Mortgage.”  AAG.com.  American Advisors Group.  ND.  Web.  25 June 2015.  https://www.aag.com/news/the-pros-and-cons-reverse-mortgages

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Best Time to Move to Ease Stress

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By Jonathan Deesing

Moving is always stressful, but choosing the right time of year to plan your move can make a big difference. Outside factors like weather can play a huge role not only in how easy it is to transfer your belongings to your new home, but also in how well you acclimate to the area and meet new people.

Is there a best time to move? There may not be a perfect time to move, but there are definitely better times to move. Keep these times in mind when you’re planning your move to help reduce your stress.

best time to move final

When the Weather is Right

Pay attention to the seasons before deciding on a moving date. Selling a home in the middle of winter might help mask a dead or ugly yard, but it doesn’t do you any favors when trying to move. Roads are often slick with ice or snow and the cold can make transporting your belongings inconvenient. Many people prefer to move during the summer, but if you live in a hot climate, or are moving to one, avoiding the extreme heat of summer may be a good idea. It can cause irritability — which will add to your stress — and too much physical exertion in the heat can result in health problems.

Take into account storm seasons for your current and new locations, as well. While some areas of the country are relatively dry and warm all year long, others experience flood or tornado seasons that make moving more difficult and dangerous.

When School’s Out

If you have school-age children, it’s important to think about their school schedule when planning a move. Moving in the middle of the school year might be difficult for them, both socially and academically. Waiting until summer will give them time to adjust to their new home and make new friends before starting school.

If waiting until summer isn’t an option, or if your child is in summer school or year-round school, consider scheduling your move around a long weekend or a semester break. When dealing with a tight schedule, it’s a good idea to sit down and work out a moving timeline so you know you’ll be prepared when moving day arrives.

When It Meets Your Budget

Moving costs a lot of money. Between the moving truck and other supplies, storage rentals, and potentially taking time off work, you could end up losing a pretty penny. Avoid moving around holidays like Labor Day and Memorial Day if possible: moving companies tend to charge more during spring and summer because they are popular seasons to change homes. Instead, plan your move during the “off season” for moving companies — fall and winter — as their rates tend to be lower then.

You don’t want to move during a time of year when you’re strapped for cash. If you have a lot of weddings to attend in the spring, are taking an expensive vacation in the summer, or have to buy presents for a large family in the winter, work around those periods.

When Your Friends Can Help

Friends and family often play a helpful, and cheap, part in the moving process. Schedule your move around when they’re in town and available to lend a hand. Otherwise, you might have to and spend even more money on professional movers on top of the amount you just put down on your home. Keep in mind that people often plan vacations during the summer and around winter holidays, which means you might find fall and spring the best times for moving.

While it doesn’t guarantee a stress-free move, you can save money, time, tears, and stress by picking a time of year that works well for everyone involved, and these tips should help get you started.

 

“Jonathan Deesing is a relocation and packing specialist with imove, where he spends most of his time popping bubble wrap. For more moving help and tips take a peek at some of imove’s helpful resources!”

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Back to School Home Organization

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Takeaways:

  • Help your kids understand they’re going to be on a daily routine again by going back to school.
  • Clean and declutter every room in your home to prepare for the upcoming school year.
  • After getting your home ready, prepare your kids by supplying them with whatever they need to start the year off right.

Since summer is coming to an end, the kids will be going back to school soon. That means new backpacks, clothes, and helping the kids keep up their grades! But before you start the coming school year, there are some things you need to do to prepare. So let’s go through some home organization, and after, you and your children will be ready for the new school year.
Back-to-School

Declutter

If there are items scattered all throughout your home, start to pick them up and put them away! Grab a hamper and go room by room, searching for any and all items that need to be put away. Go to your local home improvement or department store if you want to find great deals on organizing bins, shelves, and containers. This will allow you to organize everything you need by always having a place for the loose items in your home.

Back to School

As you put away items, throw out and donate items too! Go through your children’s closets and ask them if certain clothes still fit them. If not, donate those clothes and unwanted items to a local charity or secondhand store.

Cleaning Your Home

After decluttering, look through each room and determine how you’re going to clean. Some rooms may need little work, while others—like the bathrooms and kitchen—need plenty of cleaning.

Take a day or two to mop, vacuum, dust, wipe, and spray any rooms that need deep cleaning. Empty out your fridge, clean it, and restock it with all the food that is still fresh and get rid of any food that is outdated or unwanted. So be sure to toss out that leftover tuna casserole no one wants to finish!

Back to School

As for your bathrooms, give the toilets, tubs, and showers a deep scrub. Use household or organic cleaners to really do the trick. Use sprays for the mirrors and look through your medicine cabinets for any expired medications or medicines to be replaced—always dispose of them properly.

Organization and Scheduling

Help your kids understand their schedule by creating a scheduling board placed in the kitchen or an area that it will be seen throughout the day. Use an old chalk board or marker board for this design. Get some small binders or buckets to attach to the board and hold all necessary materials each individual family member needs.

Back to School

This is great for paperwork that needs to be signed and sent back to the school or your job. You’ll need to keep pens and markers nearby to write your family’s plans or schedules on the board for the entire week. So if Sammy has a dentist appointment at 4:30 this Thursday, make sure to write it on the board!

New Clothes and School Supplies

After you’ve gotten rid of the clothes that don’t fit, and school supplies your kids do not use anymore, it’s time to go shopping. There are tons of back-to-school deals for clothing and supplies at local department stores and malls near you. You don’t have to spend a lot on school supplies and clothes, but you definitely need to purchase whatever your kids need to start the year off right.

Back to School

Stick with the necessities: pencils, pens, papers, folders, backpacks, rulers, calculators, crayons, and colored pencils to start. After your kids return to school, their teachers are going to let you know about anything else they’ll need to excel in their classes.

As for clothes, help your kids pick out clothes they like. Don’t force any clothing style on your children . . . but that doesn’t mean you should let them wear anything they want either! Their school has a dress code—so make sure they follow it.

Back to School

Once you’ve helped your kids understand that going back to school means a routine, organization, and time spent doing homework and studying again, you’ll be able to have peace of mind knowing they’re ready for the coming year.

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Retire Without Rent [Infographic]

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If you want to retire without rent, you need to start planning your mortgage now. We’ve compiled some stats about retirement age incomes and developed a formula to ensure anybody can go into their golden years with equity under their belt and bills off their minds.

Retire-Without-Rent

 

Retirement age is 65. The average social security payout per month is $1,180.80. The average 401k at the time of retirement is just north of $100,000 as of 2015, meaning there’s a monthly payout of roughly $270.77. Unfortunately the average mortgage payment int he U.S. is $1,061. That’s almost the entireity of an retiree’s expected $1,451.57 monthly income.

The average age for a first time home buyer is 31, and the average income is $61,800. So if you buy a house at 31 and get a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, that still leaves you 4 years for unforeseen circumstances and major upgrades. Then you can retire at 65 with equity and no debts!

Sources for this information come from New American Funding, U.S. News, and Fool.com. Copyright 2015.

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