Rufo Realty's Blog
Getting a mortgage is one of those things that everyone seems to have quite a bit of advice about. While people surely have good intentions, it’s not always best to take the buying advice of everyone you meet. Below, you’ll find the wrong kind of mortgage advice and why you should think twice about it.
Pre-Approvals Are Pointless
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can give you an upper hand when it comes to putting in offers on a home. Even though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee, it’s a good step. It shows that you’re a serious buyer and locks you in with a lender so they can process your paperwork a bit more quickly when you do want to put an offer in on a home.
Use Your Own Bank
While your own bank may be a good place to start when it comes to buying a home, you don’t need to get your mortgage from the place where you already have an account. You need to compare rates at different banks to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal on a mortgage. You’ll also want to check on the mortgage requirements for each bank. Different banks have different standards based on down payment, credit scores and more. You’ll want to get your mortgage from the bank that’s right for you and your own situation.
The Lowest Interest Rate Is Best
While this could be true, it’s not set in stone. A bank with a slightly higher interest rate could offer you some benefits that you otherwise might not have. If you have a lower credit score, or less downpayment money, a bank offering a higher interest rate could be a better option for you. Low interest rates can have some fine print that might end up costing you a lot more in the long term. Do your research before you sign on with any kind of bank for your mortgage.
Borrow The Maximum
Just because you’re approved for a certain amount of mortgage doesn’t mean that you need to max out your budget. It’s always best to have a bit of a financial cushion for yourself to keep your budget from being extremely tight. When life throws you a curveball like unexpected medical bills or a job loss, you’ll be glad that you didn’t strain your budget to the end of your means. Even though the bigger, nicer house always looks more attractive, you’re better off financially if you’re sensible about the amount of money you borrow to buy a home.
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Do you know how to get your house ready for the real estate market? If not, you may miss out on opportunities to showcase your home to the right buyers. Perhaps even worse, you may struggle to maximize your home sale earnings.
When it comes to selling your house, it usually helps to plan ahead. Fortunately, we're here to help you do just that.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get your house ready to sell.
1. Clean As Much As Possible
Let's face it – a messy kitchen, bathroom or bedroom is an eyesore. And if you fail to clean your house prior to listing it, you risk alienating buyers time and time again.
Cleaning is a necessity for home sellers, regardless of a house's age or condition. If you allocate time and resources to ensure each room in your home looks pristine, you can increase the likelihood that your residence will make a positive first impression on buyers.
Mopping the floors, wiping down walls and taking a room-by-room approach to home cleaning generally is recommended. In addition, if you need extra assistance, you can always hire a professional home cleaning company.
2. Perform Home Exterior Maintenance
Although you may spend a lot of time cleaning your house's interior, you shouldn't forget about your home's exterior as well.
Ultimately, how your home's exterior looks may dictate how quickly your residence sells. If your house boasts a beautiful front lawn and immaculate exterior, a buyer may fall in love with your home instantly. Conversely, if your home's front lawn is uncut and your house's siding is damaged, your residence is unlikely to impress potential buyers.
When it comes to home exterior maintenance, it helps to do as much as you can. Trim the front lawn, repair damaged home siding and perform assorted home exterior maintenance. By doing so, you can immediately bolster your house's curb appeal.
3. Remove Clutter
Over the years, you may have collected a lot of items. But these items may make your house appear smaller than it actually is – something that all home sellers should try to avoid.
If you have a large collection of clutter, you may want to consider selling or donating various items. Or, you can always rent a storage unit for assorted belongings and move these items to your new residence after your current house sells.
Clearly, there are many ways to prepare your house for the real estate market. If you want to ensure the best-possible results from the home selling journey, you may want to reach out to a real estate agent too. This housing market professional can guide you along the home selling journey and ensure you can get the support you need to achieve your desired goals.
Start getting your house ready to sell – use the aforementioned tips, and you can quickly and effortlessly enhance your residence before you list it.
Many prospective homeowners choose new construction over an existing home because they're able to customize the design. While there's no argument that It's fun to choose countertop options and bonus rooms, this is a good time to consider adding green solutions as well.
Homes with green, or eco-friendly features, have a higher resale value. They save homeowners money in heating and cooling costs, too. If you're in the early stages of contracting a custom-built home, ask about eco-energy and other green-living upgrades like the ones listed here.
1. Solar Power
It may cost as much as $20,000 to add solar panels to your new construction but they'll quickly pay for themselves in the amount of energy you'll save. In some areas, you may even sell extra solar-generated kilowatt hours back to your utility company for credit on your next bill. Currently, 30 states plus the District of Columbia take part in these Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Also, through 2023, the federal government offers tax credits that may cover up to 26 percent of the cost of setup, purchase and installation of your new solar energy system. It's also good to note that the average homeowner who purchases a medium-sized solar installation can save up to $1,500 a year on home energy costs.
2. Geothermal Heat Pumps
If you're looking to save money on heating and cooling, solar power is a good option. However, going underground may be even better. Geothermal heat pumps bring heat into your home in winter and push hot air out of your home in summer. They do so through liquid-filled pipes that run underground. The liquid in the pipes maintains a steady temperature thanks to the soil that insulates it. As a result, it takes much less energy to heat and cool the air inside your home.
A geothermal heat pump can be as much as 70 percent more efficient than traditional window units or HVAC systems. That's big savings throughout the year for savvy homeowners who build a geothermal heat pump into a new construction. It's also a tremendous advantage when you're ready to sell your home.
3. A-, B- or C-Rated Windows
Window energy ratings are something every new homeowner should understand. Some windows simply perform better than others due to several important factors including:
Many things can affect the performance of a window, including the materials used to make the frame, the type of glazing used, installation and more. The most energy-efficient windows - ones that save homeowners the most money in heating and cooling costs - are rated A or A+. These windows may be pricey, for homeowners on a budget. If energy efficiency is your top concern, windows that are rated B or C are good alternative options. They'll still do a good job of conserving energy but are typically a bit more budget-friendly. Eco-friendly windows can save homeowners up to $465 annually in utility costs.
If you're building your new home from the ground up, now is the time to incorporate green features such as these. The costs of running and maintaining your home will be greatly reduced without sacrificing the comfort of your family. Additionally, you'll have the added bonus of a glorious return on your eco-friendly investments.
Whether to protect your belongings when you’re not home or to protect your loved ones when they are, you might consider a security system. Burglars are getting smarter, and your home should follow suit. One way to improve your home’s security is by installing a smart lock.
Replacement or Add-On
In general, there are two categories of smart locks: (1) those that replace your traditional bolt lock entirely, and (2) those that install over the top of your existing door lock system. When you replace your current lock with a completely new locking mechanism, the device changes the appearance of your door handle on both front and back. When you use a retrofitting lock, it typically keeps the appearance of your traditional door handle. This distinction is crucial if you have a specific aesthetic you need to follow.
What Features to Look for in a Smart Lock
The idea of electronic, wireless entry with remote identification is excellent. However, technological advancement does have its issues. For example, if your Bluetooth or wireless connection is blocked, your lock could end up keeping both you and intruders out of your home. Insist on a system that offers an alternative to wireless entry such as a key fob, keypad, fingerprint reader or self-powered touchscreen.
Here is an abbreviated list of other features to look for in a smart lock system for your home:
- Auto-lock and unlock – some systems detect when the person with a key fob or smartphone app, for instance, is near to the door and will instantly unlock for them. This is useful when your arms are full of groceries or luggage. The detection distance (geofencing) is typically set by the user.
- Voice activation – Many new locks offer control through a household or smartphone operating system such as Siri, Echo or Alexa. Typically, these require voice recognition or a PIN code to enable the "unlock" command.
- Power systems – Many smart locks operate on batteries that alert you when they’re low on power and need replacing or recharging. LED indicators also inform you when you need to change the batteries. Depending on the functions your lock performs and the type of battery it has, battery life can be from three months to a year.
- Assigned PINs or keys – Many smart locks, including retrofit models, allow the user to assign separate keys or PINs to those approved for entry. Temporary PINs could let in a delivery person or cleaner, while permanent PINs monitor when family, housemates or clients (such as for short-term rentals) enter and leave.
- Compatibility with other smart home systems means integration into your home’s other routines such as dimming the lights or controlling the temperature. Make sure your smart lock integrates with the system you have.
- Finally, determine how weatherproof your system needs to be. Locks rated as having IP water/dust-proof protection from solids and liquids means your lock will operate through most wear and tear and outdoor conditions. Look for the IP ratings for the inside electronic works as well as the exterior parts.
If you’ve retrofitted your home’s lock, let your agent know to promote your home’s smart features when you sell it.