Date Archives: November 2016

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November
18

Since relocating is such a major undertaking, it's vital to thoroughly research your options. This is especially essential regarding an overseas move. Here are five things to assess in a prospective neighborhood to ensure you'll feel at home, no matter whether your new home is here or abroad. 1. Transportation One consideration is how you'll navigate your new surroundings. Find out whether you'll have access to public transportation or need a car. If you can use public transit, what are the service hours and stops? If you require airport proximity, determine how you'll get there. Do you currently have a job lined up? If so, calculate the distance of the commute from the neighborhood in question. Will the trip be a cakewalk, or grueling? According to World Knowing, the top-ranked countries with the best transportation systems in the world are Hong Kong, Singapore, the UAE, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK. Even if a REALTOR® lists the distance from a house to a public station, the calculation doesn't always include door-to-door travel time. You may be able to use Google Maps to determine this. If not, the website of a city's public transit system may provide a clue. 2. Businesses Before visiting a neighborhood, think about businesses you'll be frequenting, such as a bank, grocery store, pharmacy and retail shops. Make sure they're a feasible distance from your prospective home. Also, ensure their customer service is reputable and prices are reasonable. For example, if there's a grocer nearby, does it stock staples, or only expensive gourmet goods? Where can you find fresh produce? You may be able to minimize leg work by reading online business reviews. Yelp is expanding internationally, with websites emerging in Europe and Asia. Reviews are also conveniently available via iPhone and Android apps. Local Yelp announces business openings and events in major cities. 3. Schools If you have children, REALTORS® will tell you that another must-have is access to quality education. Many overseas schools provide bus services, but trip length must be tolerable for kids. In towns where public schools are sub-par, you may want to enroll your children in private school. If so, consider the extra expense of entrance fees, tuition, uniforms and transportation. Did you know there's a correlation between the presence of schools and crime? A 2011 study by the University of New Mexico found that elementary schools have a protective effect against property crimes. Middle schools, however, promote drug felonies, and high schools foster both property and narcotics crime. So, regarding school proximity, aim to be close enough for a short trip, though not a hop, skip and jump away. Concerning school reputation, attend a PTA meeting at a given school. By speaking with other parents, you'll get firsthand information on the school's quality. A good school district increases a home's value, should you wish to sell in the future. 4. Amenities Is culture important to you? If you're an avid fan of art, theater and music, this is a consideration. Do you like to frequent restaurants, pubs, or dance clubs? If these are high on your wish list, how close are they to the home you're debating? If you must travel to a distant town, factor in transit costs. Also, research proximity to free entertainment, such as parks, museums and libraries. If you're a sports enthusiast, assess the distance to athletic arenas. There's one caveat regarding crime: Steer clear of a neighborhood where bars are prevalent. The study mentioned above concerning schools and crime found that ready access to alcohol promotes violence and vandalism. 5. Economy Neighborhood decline has telltale signs. Drive through the streets of a potential town, and look for financial clues. Examples of red flags are unkempt parks, littered streets and a prevalence of "For Sale" signs. Are people moving out of the area? Are businesses closing up shop? Query librarians about the town and whether it's fiscally sound. Ask if the library has cut down its hours, another clue to a suffering economy. Look for indications that people care about their property and each other. Do houses and landscapes look maintained? Are neighbors interacting? If any seem friendly, ask about their experience of living there. A Smart Move Now you'll be a savvy traveler while exploring a new town. To ensure a successful move, evaluate the local:
  • Transportation
  • Businesses
  • Schools
  • Healthcare system
  • Amenities
  • Economy
Like a good journalist, get detailed information from reliable sources. Invite conversation, and record your observations. Then, make your smart move. You'll be able to settle down for as long as needed in a wonderful neighborhood, whether that be in the United States or abroad. By Dixie Somers This post was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

November
11

Our military personnel do a great deal for our country, and one of the ways the government thanks them for their service is with the VA loan program, which allows both past and current military personnel a better option for financing. Originally established in 1944 as part of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, a VA loan is available for any individual who has served in active duty in any branch of the U.S. military for a minimum of 90 days, and it has helped millions of people and their families purchase a home. In addition to servicemen and servicewoman, non-active duty personnel, such as individuals in the Army Reserves or National Guard, may apply for a VA-backed mortgage, provided they have completed six years of service. The spouses of deceased or missing military members are also eligible if they have not remarried. The major advantage of a VA loan is that it doesn't require a down payment. It also doesn't have private mortgage insurance. It does require the borrower to pay a one-time funding fee on their purchase, which can be paid up front or financed into the total cost of the loan. The funding fee for regular military members is 2.15 percent of the loan. Reservists pay a fee of 2.40 percent. According to recent figures by the Department of Veteran's Affairs, more people took advantage of the program in 2013 than ever before, with close to 630,000 VA loans given out. This was mostly due to historically low interest rates. Still, many veterans, especially those discharged years ago, often don't realize that such a benefit exists. That's why the Department of Veteran's Affairs has increased its efforts to let veterans know about the VA loan program, and all the benefits it offers. To qualify, borrowers must show enough monthly income after paying personal debts and housing costs to meet "residual income" levels set by the department. A VA loan must be for a primary residence and the limits on the amount someone can get are based on area median home prices. The 2014 limits range from $417,500 to $1,094,625. One other important note: borrowers who received a dishonorable discharge from any military branch are not eligible. To learn more about the VA loan program, contact our office today.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

By Keith Loria

November
9

We are proud to say, it has been a longstanding tradition for Century 21 American Homes to give back to the community. One of the organizations we support is the Easter Seals.  This organization has been near and dear to our hearts for many years. With the support of our realtors, friends, family and customers, we have consistently been a Top Century 21 contributor to the Easter Seals. Next week, we will be continuing our tradition of supporting this organization by sponsoring "A Night at the Races." a_night_at_the_races-01 Event: A Night at The Races Location: The East Meadow Fire Department, 97 East Meadow Ave, East Meadow NY 11554 Date & Time: Thursday, 11/17/16, 6:00pm Cost: $35.00 Food, Beer & Wine Included - All Proceeds go to Easter Seals!   The money raised by CENTURY 21 American Homes will help the Easter Seals to make a profound difference in the lives individuals with disabilities and their families. For information about the event or to purchase a ticket in advance please contact: Carmel Romano Carmel@c21amhomes.com Office: 516-796-8900   For more information on Easter Seals
November
4

Interest rates will rise, but not until December at the earliest, the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday, confirming a long-held view that the Fed would not raise rates ahead of the presidential election. The benchmark interest rate determines the movement of mortgage rates, which currently linger around 3.5 percent.   "The Committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has continued to strengthen but decided, for the time being, to wait for some further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives," according to a statement released by the Fed. The announcement comes following a divided vote in September that resulted in the decision to hold steady on rates. "Our decision does not reflect a lack of confidence in the economy," Fed Chair Janet Yellen said at the time. "We're generally pleased with how the U.S. economy is doing." The economy since then has shown slight improvement, growing at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the third quarter. On the housing front, single-family starts came in ahead of estimates in September, and homeowner wealth in equity has continued to accumulate. The Fed last raised the benchmark rate, up 0.25 percent, in December 2015. By Suzanne De Vita Published with permission from RISMedia.

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