Date Archives: September 2020

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September
25

The real estate market is hot, hot, hot. If you are among the many American families relocating to a new home, organization is key.

  • Six to eight weeks before the move - Make a list of what you will keep, sell or donate. Plan a garage sale and/or schedule a donation pick-up. Notify schools and/or medical providers. Begin buying or collecting moving boxes, tape, markers and bubble wrap. If you will be using a mover, start getting quotes.
  • Four to six weeks out - If you are moving from a rental, notify your landlord. If you will be doing your own packing, start packing non-essentials, such as extra linens, dishes and glassware. Notify utilities to start the process of closing out service at your old address and starting at your new one.
  • Three weeks out - Strategize food-use. Plan to deplete your pantry and freezer so you will need to move as little food as possible. Complete change-of-address forms for the post office, credit card companies and banks. Order new checks and address labels. If your home and/or car are insured, arrange to transfer coverage to your new residence. 
  • Two weeks out - If you are doing your own packing, get serious. Box up everything but the bare essentials and be sure everything is labeled, not just with contents, but the room where it's to be unloaded. Keep valuables, like jewelry or important papers, in a safe place so you can transfer them yourself.
  • One week out - If your old place or your new home needs thorough cleaning, make arrangements for it. Properly dispose of anything that should not be moved, such as old paint, gasoline or propane.
  • Five days before the move - Confirm the date and time of your move with your moving company. Pack an essentials kit with medicines and any other items you will need when you arrive at your new home 
  • The day before moving - Clear and clean out the fridge, freezer and pantry. Put all items you will be transporting in one place. 
  • On moving day - Point out anything fragile to your movers. Be there as the truck is loaded. Sign the bill of lading when you are satisfied that all is accounted for. Do a final sweep of your home, checking every room, cabinet and closet.
September
18

If you want to buy a house and you'll need to take out a mortgage, getting your credit score as high as possible should be a top priority before you begin searching for a home. Your credit score will be used to set your interest rate, so be sure to stay on top of it.

Check Your Credit Reports for Errors
Start by requesting copies of your credit reports from the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Check them for inaccurate information and dispute any errors. It's important to check all three credit reports since the bureaus may have different information.

Pay Down Debt
Your credit utilization ratio is calculated by dividing the sum of your credit card balances by the sum of your credit limits to arrive at a percentage. A lower utilization ratio will translate into a higher credit score. 

If you're using a lot of your available credit, work on paying down your debt. You can do that by cutting expenses, looking for a second job or side gig, applying gifts or income tax refunds to your credit card bills, selling some of your belongings or consolidating high-interest credit card balances into one loan with a lower interest rate.

Pay Bills on Time
Your payment history is another important piece of your credit score. Late payments, accounts in collection, bankruptcies and other derogatory marks can stay on your credit report and affect your score for different periods of time. Pay your bills on time each month. If you have any past-due bills, pay them off or contact the companies and work out repayment plans. 

Keep Old Accounts Open
Credit bureaus consider the length of your credit history when calculating your score. If you have old credit cards that you don't use often, don't close the accounts. That would shorten the length of your credit history and would also reduce your available credit and increase your credit utilization ratio. Keep old accounts in good standing by making occasional purchases.

Be Careful With New Credit
Applying for a new credit card could be helpful, especially if it would allow you to transfer high-interest balances to take advantage of a lower rate. Just don't apply for too many new accounts in a short period of time. That could hurt your credit score since lenders might think you were struggling financially or couldn't handle credit responsibly.

Give Yourself Time to Work on Your Credit
The length of time it will take to raise your credit score and how much you will be able to increase it will depend on your current score, your payment history, your debt level, your income and how much you can afford to apply toward existing debts each month. Think of boosting your credit score as a medium- to long-term endeavor. Create a plan to address any problems so you can achieve your goal of owning a home.

September
11

Your home is likely your largest (and most important) investment. Not only is a home purchase a huge financial undertaking, but your house keeps you safe from the elements and welcomes you home after a long day. To keep your home as comfortable as possible (and to protect your largest asset's value) it is crucial that you understand the basics of home maintenance.



Here is your crash course on home maintenance 101.

Monthly to Seasonal Maintenance Items:

  • Change HVAC filters (frequency need depends on pets and dust in your home)
  • Test smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers
  • Each season's respective outdoor maintenance (including lawn and garden care)
  • Vacuum lint from dryer vent
  • Clean gutters

Each season will come with its own list of to-dos, and while it may be easy to push them aside until later, a small time investment now will mitigate the need for costly and time-consuming repairs in the future. With each season, be sure that you know the extra tasks you need to complete in addition to the ones listed above (such as covering spigots and wrapping pipes in winter).

Annual Maintenance Items:

  • Roof Inspection
  • HVAC Inspection
  • Flush Water heater (You may need to do this as often as monthly depending on the mineral content of your water)

As you can see, annual maintenance involves a good deal of inspections to the more expensive components of your home. While you can go the DIY route, experts recommend that you hire a professional to check for any issues that a novice may have difficulty spotting. Issues like loose tiles on a roof can cause extensive home damage under the right circumstances; it can be well worth the investment to hire a professional.

September
4

"Come hell or high water" there will be a 2020 fall selling season, and once again, real estate professionals will wear many hats as negotiators, marketers, sales experts, counselors, mentors and community leaders. Thank goodness, however, they will not have to "hang their hats" as interpreters for news media, doctors, scientists, law enforcement officials, lawmakers or politicians. 

As the saying goes, "We are all in the same storm. But we are not all in the same boat."
Rest assured, we cannot control the path of this once-in-a-lifetime worldwide pandemic, but this fall, it is critical for real estate professionals to lead their customers through the "infodemic" fog that prevails 24/7 in everyone's life.

Now is the time to intensify the focus on your craft, to educate yourself, to network and to communicate with your customers about what is taking shape in the real estate space both locally and nationally in these unprecedented times.

The playing field is becoming clearer for the fall. Between demographics and interest rates the housing market is not only showing signs of stability and strength this fall, it has the potential to boom in 2021.

Home at the Center: Homes have evolved into the epicenter of our daily workplaces, classrooms and safe havens.

Housing Industry Standing Strong: Despite tight inventory, the massive $33 trillion-plus real estate industry once again stands as one of the strongest pillars of the U.S. economy.
 
Interest Rates Making History:
Mortgage interest rates have entered unimaginable territory—the cheapest on record.

Moving is Top of Mind: Movement is afoot as Americans are rethinking where they will plant their future roots.

Keep Millennials in the Cross Hairs: The millennial market will still be a force.

The bottom line is that U.S. real estate has held up relatively well despite a worldwide health threat and relentless economic roller coaster ride. The real estate and settlement services industry is weathering the storm. Look for technological adoption, automation and strategic alliances to transition from "fast track" to "hyper-speed" in the fourth quarter and into 2021.

Neither your local community, state or the entire country is out of the woods yet, but just like the spring and summer of 2020, the fall real estate season will surely be one for the history books.

As we enter this new season, let us stay the course and never forget that the most rewarding aspect of being a real estate professional—the fruits of our labor, even this year—will be making nearly 5 million houses a home for families in which to proudly "hang their hats."

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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