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Simple Tips to Keep in Mind When Purchasing a Home with a Friend

January 10, 2014 6:51 pm

Buying a home is a momentous time in anyone’s life, and today, more and more people are going through the process with a friend by their side. While sharing a mortgage with your best friend may seem like a great idea, there are many things that should be taken into consideration before jumping into a home purchase with a friend.

1. Be absolutely sure. Before agreeing to this life-altering decision, all parties should be willing to disclose their financial information, agree upon the type of home and location they are after, and make sure they are really comfortable with living with one another. If you are having any doubts whatsoever, say something before it’s too late.

2. Hire a lawyer. A contract between the parties is vital, as is listing each person’s name on the deed and the mortgage papers. In addition, the percentage of ownership must be clearly stated in the contract, including details of each person’s share of the down payment and the way in which mortgage payments will be divided. This sets the stage for deciding each person’s share upon sale. Also, have contingencies in place in case the circumstances change for one or both parties.

3. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Mortgage companies aren’t always thrilled with lending to unmarried or unrelated people who are looking to buy a home together. Odds are those buying a home will need to jointly qualify as co-borrowers on a single mortgage in order to purchase a property held in TIC or Joint Tenancy.

4. Understand each other’s wants and needs. House options, mortgage rates and contract terms will be contingent on each individual’s credit history, financial health and both short-term and long-term obligations, so it’s smart to discuss all of this ahead of time. During the house hunting stage, you may run into issues if you’re looking for two different things. Therefore, it’s crucial to sit down before you even begin looking for homes and list what features are most important to each of you, as well as what each of you is willing to give up.

5. Have an exit strategy. There’s always the possibility that a job may change or a surprising romance could eventually evolve and lead toward marriage. What happens to the house then? This is something that should be agreed upon before the house is bought. Additionally, each person should buy a term life insurance policy and name the other as beneficiary so in the event of death, the whole mortgage will be paid off.

6. Consider the negatives. Make sure you really know your friend as you’ll want to be sure they stick it out through problems instead of walking away from arguments. It’s also important to understand that you don’t get the federal and state protection typically given to married couples. Plus, if one party has credit problems, those financial troubles can become yours, too.

Once everything is agreed to and a mortgage commitment is in hand, things still aren’t easy. It’s hard enough finding the perfect home, but to have to find the perfect home for two is even tougher. If you go into the process with a solid plan and a willingness to not let anything affect the friendship, buying a home together could be one of the smartest things you’ve ever done.

To learn more about purchasing a home with a friend, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top 5 Resolutions for Buyers Looking to Get Off the Sidelines and into the Real Estate Game

January 10, 2014 6:51 pm

If 2014 is the year you’re going to jump off the sidelines and into the housing market, the following resolutions will undoubtedly make the home-buying process a little simpler for everyone involved.

1. Hire a Reputable Agent. With the merging of technology and real estate, things often move very quickly during the house hunting process. This means you’ll want an agent to help you identify the best home for your specific needs and the best way to make your dream house a reality. An experienced real estate agent will save you time and money and simplify the stressful nature of the hunt.

2. Know Your Credit Score. Your financial history will be a driving force in your hunt for a house, as this simple number can affect how much banks will be allowed to loan you for your mortgage. Therefore, it’s crucial to know your credit score from the beginning. And if you find any errors within your credit report, start working on getting them fixed immediately. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the credit reporting bureaus once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com, but correcting mistakes can be costly and time consuming. Don’t wait until you find a house to learn that your credit score isn’t strong enough to let you borrow the money needed to make a purchase.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage. While you’ll want to shop around for the best mortgage, once you find the one that fits your needs, get a pre-approval letter so you can prove to sellers that you are serious about any bids. The last thing you want is to lose your dream home to someone who swooped in with a bid while you were waiting to find out if you would be approved for financing.

4. Assemble a Team. In addition to an agent, you should also have a lawyer, mortgage lender and home inspector on hand who will be at the ready when your search is over. These real estate professionals are a necessary part of completing a real estate transaction, so be sure you have done your research ahead of time and have talented people ready to help.

5. Dare to Dream. If you’ve been dreaming of a four-bedroom house with a finished basement, sunroom and a pool and you’re shown a house you like sans the pool and sunroom, don’t jump at it just because it’s close enough. Search for your dream home and even if you have to make concessions down the line, make sure it’s a house you can see yourself living in for a decade or more. Don’t make any rash decisions and be happy with the house you eventually decide to buy.

For more tips on buying a home, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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New Year, New Home: 5 Resolutions Sellers Can't Afford to Overlook

January 10, 2014 6:51 pm

Now that we’ve ushered in a new year, sellers are taking advantage of the promise of new beginnings and ramping up their efforts in order to get their homes sold. Whether your home has been languishing on the market—or you’re in the early stages of preparing for its market debut—the following resolutions should be on your list in order to ensure the process goes off without a hitch.

1. Declutter. This is one of the biggest pieces of advice real estate agents give to clients who are in the process of preparing their home for sale. While getting rid of old clothes or photos is a good start, it’s not enough. If you really want to declutter your space, take the time to go room by room and dispose of anything that isn’t essential for you to live in the house. If you’re not ready to get rid of things for good, think about storing them elsewhere. When going through the decluttering process, minimize the amount of clothing in your closet, throw out any food that’s been sitting in your cabinets for months and store away any exercise equipment that may be sitting in your basement. In the end, the emptier the house appears, the closer you will get to a sale.

2. Stay Positive. Selling a home can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life, and for every house hunter that comes through the door without an offer, your hope diminishes a little more. But don’t give up. Remember, all it takes is one person to like your home for there to be a sale. Keep a brave face and before you know it, you’ll be getting that important call from your agent that your house has been sold.

3. Be Reasonable. If your agent is telling you that your house is priced too high or you don’t want to make the repairs necessary to appease a possible buyer, think again. Not only do sellers often assume that their house is perfect, they also think buyers will ignore its flaws because of its perfection. When going through the process, be sure to keep a cool head and consider what people around you are saying. And try to keep an objective mind at all times.

4. Paint. Spruce up the rooms in your home with some fresh paint. Make sure to use neutral colors and don’t forget about the bathrooms or hallways. This is a relatively cheap way to get your house looking great and can help make a positive impression when someone comes to view the home.

5. Stage Your Home. Whether you hire a professional stager or take the advice of some fashionable friends, make sure each room in the home gives off a look that will make potential buyers want to see more. By adding some eye-catching furniture and decorative accents, each room within your home will look like it belongs in a magazine.

For more tips on preparing your home for sale, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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In this Edition: Fire Safety

January 10, 2014 6:51 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters, brought to you through our company's membership in RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), examines five resolutions every seller should add to their list to ensure a successful home sale. Other topics covered this month include six factors that need to be taken into consideration when purchasing a home with a friend and how to enhance your space and attract prospective buyers through the use of furniture. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Protecting a Home from the Ravages of Winter

January 10, 2014 5:03 am

As temperatures across the country reach dangerous levels, now is the time to make sure that your home is prepared to deal with the icy conditions. Fremont Insurance offers a few tips to help homeowners protect their homes against two of the most significant winter risks: ice dams and frozen pipes.

Ice Dams occur when heavy snow buildup melts during the day then refreezes as temperatures drop overnight. After several days of this cycle, the melted water and ice work up under the shingles entering the attic and damaging ceilings, walls and contents. To help prevent dams from forming:

• Keep gutters and down spouts clear of debris, snow and ice, so melting roof snow can flow.
• Keep snow on your roof to a minimum. Roof rakes let you stand on the ground to safely pull the snow off the roof.
• Evaluate attic insulation and ventilation. Good airflow is essential to a cool, dry attic.

Frozen Water Pipes cause extensive damage to many homes and businesses every winter. If you think turning the heat down while you're away or on vacation will save you money, think again. If your water pipes freeze and burst, it could cause thousands of dollars in damage. Homeowners can take some simple preventive measures:

• Locate and insulate pipes susceptible to freezing – typically near outer walls, in crawl spaces, or in the attic.
• Wrap pipes with UL-approved heat tape and seal air leaks.
• Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
• Drain and shut off the water supply (except indoor sprinkler systems) if you expect to be away for several days.
• Have someone check regularly to ensure the heat is still on and things are okay.
• Make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water to your home.

If you do discover frozen pipes:

• Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
• If pipes burst, stop the flow of water as soon as possible to minimize damage.
• Be mindful of the risk of electric shock in and around standing water.
• Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent right away.

Source: Fremont Insurance

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Rates Stay Largely Unchanged

January 10, 2014 5:03 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, showing average fixed mortgage rates little changed amid a week of light economic reports.

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.51 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 9, 2014, down from last week when it averaged 4.53 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.40 percent.

• 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.56 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.55 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.66 percent.

• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.15 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.05 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.67 percent.

• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.56 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.60 percent.

"Mortgage rates were little changed amid a week of light economic reports. Of the few releases, the private sector added an estimated 238,000 jobs in December, which exceeded the market consensus and followed an upward revision of 14,000 jobs in November, according to the ADP Research Institute,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “Also, the Institute for Supply Management reported a greater slowing in growth in the non-manufacturing industry in December than the market consensus forecast."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Eating Clean All Week Long

January 10, 2014 5:03 am

With the New Year in full swing, let’s face it: eating healthy is hard work. Sure, eating fruits and vegetables can be healthy, delicious and rewarding, but it’s also a lot of work! It takes lots of planning and shopping to set yourself and your family up for success. Here are a few things you can do on Sunday night to prepare yourself for some home cooked and healthy meals throughout the week.

Take Inventory: Before hitting the grocery store, look inside all of your cabinets, your refrigerator, and your freezer and see what you already have. What items can you make meals with? What do you need to make that happen? Plan for meals based around what you already have and save money while doing it.

Rinse and Chop: Wash fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk and get ready to chop. Using a chopper or a really good knife, chop everything you think you’ll need for the week and store them in individual Tupperware or plastic bags. Having common items like onion and garlic chopped and ready to go will save you precious time midweek and will make it a cinch to throw together quick sauté-based meals during the week. It’ll also be easier to grab fruits and veggies on the go this way and it’ll prevent you from grabbing chips or other salty snacks.

Cook in Advance: If you find yourself with free time on Sundays, pre-cook 1-3 meals in advance. Split up meals into portions using Tupperware or carefully store it for the following night’s dinner. Having a healthy veggie stirfry cooked and ready to go will help you eat healthier come Monday night. Meat eaters can simply cook or grill some lean protein whenever they’d like and add it to the already prepared meal. Cooking in advance is the best way to help you stay on track throughout the entire week.

Pro Tip: Rinse your fruits and vegetables in a solution of 10 parts water, 1 part vinegar. Using this solution will help your healthy snacks stay way longer than simply sticking them in the fridge.

Always remember that a little planning can go a long way. If you put in a little extra time on the weekends, you can be well on your way to clean eating in no time.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Keep Those Resolutions in 2014 with Almonds as a Go-To Snack

January 9, 2014 5:00 am

Happy New Year! How are those resolutions sticking? Whether your 2014 goal is to get back on a healthier lifestyle track after a decadent holiday binge, or if you are simply looking to make smarter snacking choices, keep in mind that the simplest solution is the one with crunch power: almonds help give you the nutrition and power you need for a successful year ahead.

Apart from being tasty, nutritious and satisfying, almonds pack a powerful punch, making them the ideal snack to help you tackle New Year's resolutions, whatever they might be. A one-ounce handful of almonds provide six grams of protein, four grams of hunger-fighting fiber, good fats, and important vitamins and minerals. Ounce for ounce, almonds are higher in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin than any other tree nut. What's more, almonds are endlessly versatile and 100 percent gluten free, so they're a pantry essential for those living with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Heart-smart, nutrient-rich almonds can help maintain weight and improve cholesterol levels. In fact, nearly two decades of research shows that almonds can help reduce the risk of heart disease. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of almonds as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease."

What's more, a recent study suggests snacking on almonds can be a weight-wise strategy. Despite consuming approximately 250 additional calories per day from almonds, 137 adult participants at increased risk for type 2 diabetes did not gain weight over the course of the four-week study. The combined positive effects of daily almond consumption seen in participants on blood glucose response, hunger and appetite control, and vitamin E and monounsaturated fat intake without any impact on body weight suggests almonds are a smart snack choice that can help support a healthy weight, although the study did not measure the long-term impact of consuming almonds and almond consumption was self-reported.

Source: California Almonds

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Toy Safety Tips

January 9, 2014 5:00 am

Roughly three billion toys are sold each year in the United States with a significant number of those toys purchased during the holidays. According to a recent annual report on toy safety guidelines, however, not all toys on the shelves are safe for children.

Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC, a Portland-based personal injury law firm, shared highlights from the 28th annual "Trouble in Toyland" toy safety report on their personal injury blog. The blog post called “Toy Safety Tips - Avoid Hazards this Holiday Season” warned consumers about dangerous and toxic toys still sold in American stores despite recent progress to remove them. Created by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the Trouble in Toyland report identifies hazards in toys and children's products that could cause acute injuries. The key findings of the 2013 report highlighted the following hazards:

Choking Hazards – toys such as small, powerful magnets pose choking hazards if swallowed.

Toxic Hazards from Chemicals – toys still sold contained high levels of toxic substances, including high lead, toxic metal anatomy, phthalates and cadmium.

Noisy Toys that Can Damage Hearing – some toys exceeded the 65 decibel limit for toys held close to the ear.

To avoid accidents, adults and parents should take immediate steps to inspect children's toys received over the holidays and recommend parents read and follow these four helpful toy inspection tips from Safe Kids Worldwide:

-Make sure there are no sharp edges or small removable parts on the toys that one's child could remove and swallow.
-Make sure the toys are age-appropriate for your child, read all the instructions included, and inspect all toys for safety.
-Avoid marbles or other toys with small parts that could pose a choking hazard.
-Despite taking preventive steps to help keep kids safe with toys, children can still be injured or sickened as a result of a faulty toy or play equipment. Parents of these children are encouraged to contact experienced product liability attorneys to find out if they have a product liability case related to a dangerous and defective toy.

Source: Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips to Support a Healthy Lifestyle

January 8, 2014 5:00 am

(Family Features) If the decadent dishes and busy schedules of the holiday season have set back your efforts towards a healthy lifestyle, fear not. With the right plan in place, it’s easy to get back on track, re-energized and refocused for the year ahead.

Shorter days and colder weather may seem to heighten the desire to indulge in comfort foods, just as much as it can lessen the motivation to take part in physical activity, like hitting the gym or taking an afternoon stroll.

Health expert, author and registered dietitian, Patricia Bannan, shares a few simple changes to help re-charge your routine and get excited, no matter what the thermometer reads outside:

Set realistic expectations
If you haven’t been running in months and plan to jump on the treadmill tomorrow, it’s important to take your new workout in stride. Having high aspirations for your health is a wonderful thing, but there’s nothing wrong with starting small. Setting achievable goals – such as jogging or walking for a certain amount of time each day – will help to keep you working toward the goal of running a10K in the long term.

Buddy up
By now you’ve likely commiserated with friends about the lapse in your health and wellness goals. This is the perfect opportunity to ask someone to partner up in your healthy pursuits. Ask friends, family, neighbors or co-workers if they are interested in joining a gym, taking a boot-camp class, or participating in a healthy cooking course.

Supply your body with quality nutrition
Beyond getting in your required fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains through a balanced diet, taking a high-quality supplement can help bridge any nutrient gaps and help you get what your body may be lacking. Bannan recommends Adult Gummies Energy B12 from Nature Made®. Vitamin B12 supports cellular energy production by helping the body convert food into energy, and gummies offer an enjoyable way to take your vitamins.

Swap out ingredients
Healthier alternatives exist for all of your favorite dishes. If you crave a hearty bowl of chili, switch out ground beef for a leaner variety of ground turkey. Use whole-grain pasta in your favorite Italian dishes or whole-grain breads for sandwiches. These changes are small, but can have a big impact on your overall nutrition when put into practice.

Source: www.naturemade.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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