Date Archives: March 2017

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March
30

There is something awesome about buying a fixer upper and doing the renovations yourself. Some people fix them up a bit at a time, using cash as they have it available. If you want to make a big impact by doing small things, here are 10 things you need to include. Paint cans ready to be used on white background 1. Change Out the Lighting Nothing says outdated like an old-fashioned gold chandelier. Lighting is something that can be updated easily and won't cost a bunch of money. It is one of the smallest things you can do that will have the biggest impact. 2. Paint There is an old saying: "If a barn needs to be painted, slap some paint on it." You will be amazed at what some paint can do to your home. A new hue can cover imperfections and give the room the blast of color it needs. Forget drab, white walls that are lackluster. Give your home a color makeover. 3. New Fixtures Just like the lighting, the fixtures in the home become outdated quickly. Start with the kitchen faucet and then move on to the bathroom. You can update and upgrade a fixer upper by just adding these small touches. 4. Paint Cabinets/Add New Hardware If you have new cabinets in the budget, then you should go for it. However, if your budget is limited, then you may want to try to paint them. Painting old cabinets and installing new hardware will give the kitchen a facelift. If the cabinets are old but sturdy, then you can bring them back to life. Painting is inexpensive and has a huge impact. 5. Rip Out Old Carpeting Carpet is great when it is new; however, when it is old and dingy, it can really have a negative impact on a space. Hardwoods are the best option, followed by laminate floors. However, if you are stretched for money, you may try a bag floor or a penny style one. There are creative options online that allow you to do great things with your floors for less. 6. Add Curb Appeal The curb appeal of the home is everything. It does not matter how great the inside looks if the outside is in shambles. Clean up any dead plants and add some new ones. Be sure to pick flowers and shrubs that bloom at different times. This will allow you to have color year-round. Add some shutters and a fresh coat of paint to the porch. Use decorative numbers to display the address. Finally, replace the mailbox if necessary. 7. Repaint Ceilings Ceilings are often overlooked. They are usually white and the color is reserved for the walls. However, people do not realize how dirty these ceilings can be. A fresh coat of paint on the ceiling can really enhance the whole room. The walls are not the only thing that needs to be painted. 8. Upgrade the Exterior Façade The biggest impact you can have on the outside of a home is to replace or paint siding. If you have it in the budget, you can add brick and stone accents. Most fixer upper homes have chipping paint and worn out siding. Splurge for some nice siding or paint a great color to update the home's look. 9. Replace the Windows New windows are expensive, but they are important. If you have old windows in your home, you need to spend the money to upgrade them. Windows are great for keeping the elements at bay. You will save yourself money in the long run by sealing offdrafty openings. 10. Update the Heating and Cooling Unit To help the process of heating and cooling a home, you need to make sure the home has an updated HVAC unit. The air filters are just as important as the unit. Filters with a rating of Merv 11 have "astro pleating" to help ensure no dirt or dust gets into your system. Extend the livelihood of your unit by selecting quality air filters. By Cary Teller Editor's Note: This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin' now at blog.rismedia.com:

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

March
24

Being a first-time homebuyer can be an intimidating prospect; it seems like there's so much to learn! The process doesn't get less challenging the second or third time around. Here are five tips to help you research and prepare for your next home-buying experience. Location, Location, Location It's a cliché but it's true: location really is the most important part of the real estate equation. However, the right location isn't the same for everyone. Take your family's priorities into account and know where you would buy a home and where you would not. Try to be flexible; if you're longing for a place with a yard, then a balcony might not cut it—however, a roof deck might! Always look for the exception to the rule. It's also a good idea to compare home prices around the home that you're considering. This will help you figure out if your house is a good deal and in line with the market expectations. Find Your Financing Finding the perfect house can take years, but once you find it things will move quickly. Most real estate markets are fast-moving and a great house at a great price can easily go on the market in the morning and be under contract by the evening. When you find that house, you have to be ready to jump on it. This means that you should have your financing figured out before you make an offer. Ask friends, family, any law or finance professionals your family uses, or your REALTOR® for a recommendation for a mortgage company. Be sure to get quotes from several different firms so you have a general idea of what your rate really should be. Understand the Vocabulary You should educate yourself about some of the jargon that comes with the real estate territory; otherwise, you might find yourself completely out of your league when discussing purchasing terms. Check Out the Neighborhood If you're looking for homes outside of the neighborhood you live in, the best way to get a feel for it is to go and spend the day there. Find a few open houses you're interested in and go make a day of it. Have lunch, stroll the streets, check out the parks and schools, and find out what kind of people live there. These are the things that give a neighborhood its flavor, and things that you can't know until you go there and see for yourself. Choose an Agent A real estate agent can make or break your home-buying experience. If you don't have an agent you already know and like, ask for recommendations and check local ratings sites. This can be a very personal relationship, so if you find an agent you believe in, hang on to them! Buying a home is an exciting and stressful process, but with these tips, you'll have a great experience researching, shopping for and purchasing your next home. Published with permission from RISMedia.
March
16

A lot goes into the decision to buy, sell or remodel a home. After all, this is one of the most significant investments of your lifetime, so there are a lot of factors to be weighed and considered...including how happy your pet will be. Yes, you read that right. In fact, 81 percent of respondents to a recent report from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), reported that animal-related considerations play a role in determining their next living situations. In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either have a pet or plan to get one in the future, so it stands to reason that our animal companions will play a significant role in our housing decisions for the foreseeable future. According to NAR's 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact report, 99 percent of pet owners said they consider their animal part of the family, and 89 percent of those surveyed said they would not give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations. In fact, 12 percent of pet owners have actually moved in order to accommodate their furry, finned or feathered family member, and 19 percent said they would consider moving to accommodate their animal in the future. No one knows the relationship between homeowners and their animal friends better than REALTORS. Those surveyed for the report said that one-third of their pet-owning clients often or very often will refuse to make an offer on a home because it is not ideal for their pet. Other interesting statistics from the report include: - 67 percent of REALTORS say animals have a moderate to major effect on selling a home. If you're selling your home, make sure you've cleaned or replaced any areas affected by pet damage or odors. - 52 percent of respondents said they had completed a home renovation project specifically to accommodate their pet, such as fencing in their yards, adding a doggie door or installing a pet-friendly laminate flooring. - 80 percent of REALTORS consider themselves animal lovers, so you'll have lots of support in accommodating your pet's housing needs when buying! Source: National Association of REALTORS Published with permission from RISMedia.
March
13

With a winter storm approaching our region late tonight into tomorrow -- a Blizzard Warning is in effect from late Monday night through late Tuesday night, with heaviest snow expected Tuesday morning/afternoon. Accumulations of 2-4" per hour are likely with total accumulation expected to be from 12-18." Wind speeds will be 20-30 mph with gusts of 35-50 mph. During the storm, it is expected that travel will be almost impossible (and not recommended) and it's likely most businesses and schools will be closed.   Below you will find emergency phone numbers and Red Cross safety information.   ~~~~~~~~~~   SNOW EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS   Emergencies: Dial 911   To report power outages or downed power lines: • PSEG 24 hour hotline(800) 490-0075   To report gas outages or gas safety emergencies: • National Grid 24 hour hotline(800) 490-0045   Information on mass transit service: • MTA/LIRR/NYC Transit: www.mta.info • LIRR 24 hour travel information center: 718-217-5477 • NICE Bus travel information: 516-228-4000 • NYC Transit travel information: 718-330-1234   Up to the minute information about traffic conditions on Long Island's major roads: • NYS Department of Transportation's 511 service: www.511ny.org or call 511. ~~~~~~~~~~ Local Numbers:
March
9

(TNS)—You've decided to go for it. You know mortgage rates are enticingly low. Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for first-time homebuyers. It's difficult to know exactly what to expect. Take these five steps to make the process go more smoothly. Check Your Credit Your credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. "In addition, the standards are higher in terms of what score you need and how it affects the cost of the loan," says Mike Winesburg, formerly a mortgage planner in Wheeling, W. Va. Scour your credit reports for mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts. Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn't mean your credit is stellar. The amount of credit you're using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score. The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used. Repairing damaged credit takes time. If you think your credit may need work, begin the repair process at least six months before shopping for a home. Evaluate Assets and Liabilities A first-time homebuyer should have a good idea of money they owe and money they have coming in. "If I were a first-time homebuyer and I wanted to do everything right, I would probably try to track my spending for a couple of months to see where my money was going," Winesburg says. Additionally, buyers should have an idea of how lenders will view their income, and that requires becoming familiar with the basics of mortgage lending. For instance, some professionals, such as the self-employed or straight-commission salesperson, may have a more difficult time getting a loan than others. The self-employed or independent contractor will need a solid two years' earnings history to show, according to Winesburg. Organize Documents When applying for mortgages, you must document income and taxes. Typically, mortgage lenders will request two recent pay stubs, the previous two years' W-2s, tax returns and the past two months of bank statements—every page, even the blank ones. "Why it has to be every single last page, I don't know. But that is what they want to see. I think they look for nonsufficient funds or odd money in or out," says Floyd Walters, owner of a mortgage company in La Canada Flintridge, Calif. Qualify Yourself Ideally, you already know how much you can afford to spend before the mortgage lender tells you how much you qualify for. By calculating debt-to-income ratio and factoring in a down payment, you will have a good idea of what you can afford, both upfront and monthly. Though there's not a fixed debt-to-income ratio that lenders require, the standard dictates that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income be devoted to housing costs. This percentage is called the front-end ratio. The back-end ratio shows what portion of income covers all monthly debt obligations. Lenders prefer the back-end ratio to be 36 percent or less, but some borrowers get approved with back-end ratios of 45 percent or higher. Figure Out Your Down Payment It takes effort to scrape together the down payment. There are programs that can assist buyers with qualifying incomes and situations. "I've helped arrange assistance loans for $10,000, which are interest- and payment-free, and forgivable after five years. Although considered a loan, they're more like grants. Other programs can provide up to $40,000 interest-free," Winesburg says. Finally, speak with mortgage lenders when you're starting the process. Check with friends, co-workers and neighbors to find out which lenders they enjoyed working with and ask them questions about the process and what other steps first-time homebuyers should take. ©2017 Bankrate.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC Published with permission from RISMedia.
March
2

Homebuyers are concerned about the effect rising interest rates have on their ability to afford a home, but not enough to spoil their plans, according to a recent survey issued by Zillow Group Mortgages. Eighty-three percent of homebuyers who plan to purchase a home in the next three years expect to see those plans through, even if their monthly mortgage payment increases by $100 due to rising rates. Forty-nine percent will forge ahead even if their payment increases by $200. Rising rates will have an impact, however, on the location and size homebuyers settle on, according to the survey. Twenty-five percent of homebuyers with $100 in additional costs would change their plans, opting for a home with less square footage or in a more affordable community. "For years, falling interest rates have been a boon to the U.S. housing market, keeping monthly mortgage payments low for first-time and move-up buyers alike, even as home values rose," says Erin Lantz, vice president of Mortgages for Zillow Group. "As rates rise this year, first-time buyers and those looking to buy in expensive markets where affordability is already an issue will feel the pinch of higher rates on their budget." Homebuyers overall in the majority of the top 35 metropolitan areas would have minimal added expense if their mortgage rate were to rise from 4 percent to 4.25 percent—in fact, a 4.25 percent rate on a median-valued home ($195,300) would tack on about $23 to a monthly mortgage payment. Comparing an even higher increase in specific areas: Zillow_Rising_Interest_Rates_Chart "For most borrowers, there is quite a bit of head room for rates to rise before home-buying becomes unaffordable," Lantz says.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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