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Tips for making your home ready for winter

Winter is coming! Is your home winter ready?  Here are 3 easy strategies for making your home winter ready.

house winter ready

Preparing your home for the winter can be intimidating, labor-intensive and time-consuming.  But the financial benefits will outweigh any doubts you may be having.  Heating costs can easily skyrocket if your windows are not insulated properly, or your plumbing breaks or if the heating system is out of date.  Just tackle the to do list over 3 -4 weekends and not get overwhelmed. Here are 3 quick and cost-effective actions any homeowner can tackle to prepare your home for winter:

  1.  Prepare the Plumbing:  Drain the water from outdoor faucets and garden hoses. If you have a swimming pool make sure to get properly closed.
  2. Who doesn’t enjoy a cozy evening by the fire?  Make sure to have the chimney inspected and cleaned before the first frost.  If your furnace has a filter check to see if it needs replacing.
  3. Keep drafts to a minimum and install storm windows and doors.  Add weather stripping around the doors and windows and caulk any gaps.

You will be feeling cozy in no time!

Thinking of selling your home?  Whether you want to move up or scale down, we’re here to help sell your home.  Find the market value of your home for FREE.  What’s your home worth?

Why winter is a great time for buyers to find their dream home.


Tis the Season! Why winter is the best time to buy a home

Are you planning on buying a home this winter?  Here is why we think now is the perfect time!

warm winter

  1.  When you list your home in the winter months you have less competition and get more exposure! Serious buyers are the ones looking.
  2. The inventory is less expensive and prices actually increase in the spring.
  3. Because there are less buyers and less competition, that usually means unlikely you will have bidding wars.
  4. Sellers are usually motivated and ready to make a deal!

Are you thinking of buying this winter? View our Hampton Roads Featured Listings

If you are a current homeowner is your home ready for winter?


Choosing a Housing Budget

Deciding on a Realistic Housing Budget

When the time comes to purchase real estate and enter the ranks of homeowners, there is plenty of work to be done before signing the papers and moving into your new home. Deciding on the proper budget to balance your needs and preferences in a home with your available income is the first, most vital step to ensuring your financial and personal future. The biggest mistake that many first-time buyers entering real estate markets throughout the country make is to leave the budgeting of mortgages solely to banks and lenders. Doing affordability calculations on your own will help you avoid the pitfalls of financial constrictions, and, possibly, improve your quality of life for the foreseeable future.

The bank may not be able to see the entire picture when calculating your mortgage payment.

Your mortgage lender will have access to information about your monthly payments and other obligations such as child support or alimony. They’ll also be able to calculate the four major portions that will combine to create your monthly home payment including property, interest, taxes and insurance, but there are other expenses to consider before entering into a fifteen or thirty year mortgage agreement. According to Investopedia, you should begin by calculating your household’s total take-home pay. This amount is the base for your monthly expenditures, and it is important to beginning your search for a new home.

Deduct your monthly expenses from your total take-home pay to find out how much house you can afford.

You should keep a running record of recurring monthly expenses to help you balance your budget over the long-term, but, if you haven’t already, check your bank statements, check book and credit card statements to determine an average for the past six months to a year. Remember to add in the utility costs of a new home, which may not have applied if you’re moving out of an apartment into your new home. The electric bill, gas bill, water bill, cable bill, phone bill, car payments, car insurance and even student loans should all be estimated and included to help give you a better idea of the amount of money you’ve got available each month.

Decide on a down payment that fits into your savings. A larger down payment could save you big bucks in the long run.

The down payment is the amount of initial equity that you’re willing to throw in to show the lender that you’re serious about fulfilling your payment requirements. A large down payment will decrease the amount of loan you’ll need, and you can even avoid the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can add a substantial fee to your mortgage payments each month. If your savings aren’t substantial enough to cover a down payment of at least 20 percent, you may need to account for PMI premiums when budgeting for your home. The added costs will bump up your monthly payments for the first portion of your repayment cycle.

Keep your total monthly payments, including your new home, at less than 36 percent of your available income to increase your chances of getting a mortgage.

According to The Nest, your new budget should leave plenty of room for savings to improve your financial outlook upon the purchase of one of the great residences available on the market. When your new budget is complete, compare it to your monthly income to determine the price range in which you feel comfortable. If you’re not sure about the numbers, ask an independent party, such as an experienced realtor, to look them over and advise you on the best way to proceed. Beginning your housing search with a clear budget and reasonable expectations will help you see the differences between a home at the bottom of your budget and a more expensive offering. Avoiding the pitfalls of unrealistic expectations and short-sighted planning, your housing search will prove to be more rewarding and, ultimately, more successful.

Ensure a happier financial existence by doing your due diligence before beginning a home search. With a little work, and a little help from the experts, you’ll be able to find the perfect home to suit your lifestyle needs without blowing your budget and jeopardizing your financial future.

Chris J. is a writer whose interests include Dallas homes for sale, technology and hanging out with his cat.



How hard is it to get pre-approved?

Most people think getting pre-approved for a home loan is a long drawn out process that takes forever – which isn’t true! You can get pre-approved over the phone in 15 minutes. They will ask for a few pieces of information that will give them the information they need to issue a pre-approval.

Once pre-approved and you are under contract with a home, the actual approval process takes place. This is where they will collect information from you like pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements to fill in the gaps they need from the pre-approval process. Once all of the information is received, the loan goes to underwriting where they make sure you qualify for the loan and all of the documents are in place to purchase the home. They may ask for a few other items, but this is almost the end of the process. Once the loan comes out of underwriting, the loan gets the clear to close and you can move forward to close on the home. The entire process from going under contract to closing takes 30-45 days – depending on the type of loan.

But to be pre-approved – that only takes 15 minutes of your time!

I just got military orders and I’m underwater in my home – what are my options?

Here in Hampton Roads, we have an abundance of military families in our area. With orders to move coming out frequently, we get a lot of calls asking what do they do when they are underwater in their home and they have to move.

A short sale will be their best option in this case. Because they have received military orders, the government has programs that can help forgive the debt they will owe due to the short sale. We always recommend our clients speak to an attorney who specializes in short sales before making any decisions. We have found that this options allows them to sell their home and move to their new location with the least amount of hassle.

If you are facing a situation like this, we have an in house short sale negotiator and a relationship with an experienced attorney that can answer any questions you may have. Just give us a call: 717-1003.