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10 Easy and Affordable Home Safety Resolutions for 2016
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10 Easy and Affordable Home Safety Resolutions for 2016

January is the month for New Years’ Resolutions, and it’s the perfect time to revisit your home security strategy and safety planning for 2016. While there is nothing more important than the safety of your home and family, it can be challenging to know what changes you need to make and the areas in which you and your household can improve. Is this the year you’ll finally invest in a home security system, or does it make more sense to focus on smaller goals like fire safety and indoor air quality?

Here are some practical home safety resolutions for 2016 that are affordable, easy to implement, and, most importantly, will keep the people you love safe all year long.

1. Incorporate Smart Safety Products

2016 is the year to explore adding “smart” safety features to your home; locks, doorbells, smoke detectors, and even motion-triggered security lighting can be controlled from the convenience of your mobile phone or home automation hub. Bluetooth-enabled smart locks from trusted brands like Kwikset and August are very affordable, and can offer a higher level of security for the main entrances of your home. Smart sensors like the Nest Protect alert your phone when there is environmental danger, and test themselves to make sure they are always operational. To avoid being overwhelmed with options, try investigating two safety features in your home you’d like to improve with home automation in 2016 and focus on integrating these.

2. Check Your Sensors and Alarms Regularly

Perform operational tests and check the battery charge of all of the smoke, carbon monoxide, and radon sensors in your home. Smoke alarms and other household sensors are supposed to be checked once a month, but many homeowners and renters never test their alarms. Set a realistic schedule for testing your sensors and stick to it in 2016.

3. Maintain Healthy Air Quality

The average person spends over 90% of their time indoors, so the air quality of your home can definitely have an effect on your respiratory health. Take steps to improve the indoor air quality of your home this year by increasing ventilation, changing furnace and air vent filters regularly, and perhaps even purchasing a few air-scrubbing plants that oxygenate your home naturally.

4. Invest in a Home Security System

Home security is more affordable than ever in 2016. Many top brands now offer DIY installation packages that can be up-and-running in 24 hours, and monthly monitoring fees starting at just $15 per month. Security system features and pricing vary, so do your research and find a system that fits your budget and reflects the safety needs of your home and family.

5. Replace the Hide-a-key

While hide-a-key gadgets can seem convenient on the surface, in reality they are a beacon for burglars. There are far more crafty ways of hiding a spare key outside your home that attract less attention. Ideally, avoid placing a spare key outside your home and instead entrust one to a neighbor or friend in case you should accidentally lock yourself out.

6. Focus on Fire Safety

According to the National Fire protection Association, 369,500 homes burnt down in 2013. House fires are a preventable tragedy, but many home owners are not adequately prepared and do not own basic fire safety equipment. Educate yourself and your family about fire prevention tips and make sure you have one or more fire extinguishers on each floor of your home that are easily accessible to every member of your family.

7. Make a Plan for Natural Disasters

While we all hope that a natural disaster never affects our home, it’s best to prepare an emergency communication plan and educate your family about how to react in different types of emergency situations. Select a safe zone in your home where members of the household will meet during an emergency, and research which types of natural disasters are most likely to occur in your area and how to respond. Prepare a “Go Bag” for each member of the family, and decide on a safe place to meet outside the home should you have to seek shelter elsewhere.

8. Re-think Gun and Weapon Safety

If you store guns or other weapons in your home for recreation or self-defense, reconsider the security of your weapons from children and intruders. According to the Bureau of Justice, 1.4 million firearms were stolen during household burglaries from 2005 to 2015. Consider purchasing a gun and weapon safe for your home, and make sure to educate children about weapon safety.

9. Limit Online Updates When on Vacation

Many homeowners mistakenly think there is no link between their online activity and home security. In fact, many burglars and home intruders use your social media status and photo updates to predict your movements and determine the best time to enter your home. One study suggests that a shocking 78% of thieves monitor Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare before they pinpoint a specific house to rob. Avoid posting to social media when you are on vacation or will be away from your home for long periods of time.

10. Secure Hazardous Substances

Hazardous substances like medications, caustic chemicals, and reactive materials are a safety concern that is often overlooked and can prove deadly in homes with young children or pets. Avoid storing cleaning products and other chemicals in easily-accessible places like under the sink or on lower shelves in your pantry or garage. Keep chemicals in their original bottles or clearly label them when transferring to a new container. Also be careful where you keep medications, and try to place vitamins and other pills in child-safe bottles to avoid accidental overdose.

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has passed, you finally have time to reflect and plan some practical home safety goals for your home in 2016. While it can be hard to know where to implement changes to improve security, these 10 home safety resolutions should help you on your way to a safer and happier new year.

Posted on: 2016/11/7 13:41
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How Should You Price Your Home?
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How Should You Price Your Home?

Hoping a buyer will overpay for your home isn’t a strategy, it’s a wish. It’s also self defeating.

As a seller, you naturally want to get top dollar. Chances also are good that you have a deep emotional attachment to your home. Combined, those factors often lead sellers to insist on a high price. But testing the waters can actually hurt a home’s value in the long run.

Here’s why: New listings get an average of 80 page views on Redfin.com the day they hit the market. Houses with price drops get only 47 views.

First impressions matter. If your home is overpriced when people first see it, chances are good they won’t look again. We estimate a house listed for sale gets three-and-a-half times more web traffic in the first seven days than it does a month later. After the first three days, web traffic to existing listings slows more than 65 percent. In three weeks, it’s down 85 percent.

In short, your home’s debut is its best chance to shine. An overpriced property is more likely be ignored. In this market, don’t expect a rush of lowball offers. People won’t assume you’re willing to negotiate.

By the time you lower the price, your home will have the taint of being a languisher. Fair or not, a home fresh on the market at $399,000 looks different than one reduced from $425,000 to $399,000.

“Even if it’s objectively a good home, if it’s been on the market for a while, many buyers will wonder if there’s something wrong with it. Once that stigma is there, it is going to be hard for a seller to get full asking price,” said Redfin real estate agent Steven Centrella. “If there’s already a price cut, savvy buyers start smelling blood in the water. It’s not a good situation for sellers to be in.”

Remember, most buyers will look at your home online the first day it comes to market – make that impression count by pricing right. You’ll get more and better offers that way, and you’ll get them sooner.


We looked at all listings on Redfin.com in our established markets, from Jan. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2015. Only price drops greater or equal to 0.5 percent of the home’s original asking price were considered; multiple price drops of the same home were only counted once, during the first price drop.

Posted on: 2016/8/12 18:06
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Thinking About Buying? Here’s The Real Cost to Own a Home
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Thinking About Buying? Here’s The Real Cost to Own a Home

Owning a home means you can blow out a wall to create a more spacious kitchen or paint your bedroom a flaming fuchsia — things that are certainly deposit-forfeiting and likely eviction-motivating offenses in rental land. Let’s say you want to buy your own place, but you want to know if it’s really a good idea for you right now. When the buy-vs.-rent issue comes up, consider the basics first and then drill down.

Adding up the Costs of Homeownership

The basics begin with your monthly payment. To make it an apples-to-apples comparison, you’ll need to compare your rent payment to monthly homeownership costs. Because those include more than just the principal and interest portion of a mortgage payment, typical mortgage payment calculators can be a bit misleading.

You also need to estimate property taxes and homeowners insurance, as well as other potential costs. These can include private mortgage insurance, homeowner association dues and condo or common community fees.

Other costs to factor in include:

Loan closing costs, which typically amount to three percent to five percent of the value of your loan. This covers everything from a professional appraisal to a home inspection, as well as lender fees.
Costs for utilities, yard care and painting or other upgrades (in other words, all of the stuff the landlord usually takes care of when you rent).
Maintenance and repairs, which homeowners can expect to total one percent to two percent of their mortgage costs annually. There will be surprise expenses too, so it’s a good idea to earmark a portion of your savings for a household emergency repair fund — in addition to your day-to-day emergency fund.

Where You Live Makes a Big Difference

The real cost of homeownership (and renting, as well) stems from where you live — not just the state or the city, but the neighborhood. And it’s not only about the cost of real estate and being able to afford the rent or the mortgage; it’s also about commuting and other transportation costs.

Most Americans spend about half their income on housing and transportation, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which developed a Location Affordability Index tool. It lets you pinpoint virtually any location in the U.S. and get a real sense of what it costs to live there, considering median income as well as housing and transportation costs. You can even compare the difference in the total costs of owning or renting in a locale, with results that might surprise you.
When to Rent and When to Own

Other considerations in the rent-or-own decision go beyond just minding your money.

Reasons to continue renting can include:

Mobility: Do you need to be able to move to a new city for career advancement?
Flexibility: Buying a home means committing to a neighborhood, possibly for several years. Being able to walk to your favorite coffee shop or happy hour club may mean a lot to you now. But later, if you start a family, you’ll care about school districts more than drink specials.
Uncertainty: Price appreciation can be elusive and dependent on your local real estate market. Home equity is never guaranteed, particularly over the short term. It’s probably a good idea to forget the old “your home is an investment” thing.

However, good reasons to buy might be:

Tax deductions: Discount points, mortgage interest and property tax — the more you earn, the more these tax breaks are worth.
A historic opportunity: Mortgage rates are very low. One day, we may look back on these low-interest days fondly: “Remember when rates were below 4%?”
Help entering the market: A 20 percent down payment doesn’t have to break the deal. These days, there are ways to put down less, especially for first-time homebuyers. And saving up a down payment may be easier if you follow some savings hacks.
Price appreciation: After you buy, you’ll ultimately sell. And net proceeds of a sale are typically not taxed, with a capital gains exclusion of $250,000 — or $500,000 if you’re married and file jointly.

The Bottom Line

The real cost to own a home can be eye-opening — but the fact is, these days renting is less of a bargain than ever. Considering all of the financial and life-stage factors involved can help you quantify whether now is the time to buy, or whether you should keep on renting.

Posted on: 2016/7/12 19:00
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Renting vs. Buying your home
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Renting vs. Buying your home

Deciding whether to buy or rent a home is one of the most difficult choices that anyone has to make. There’s a lot to consider, and the costs and benefits of renting versus buying are complicated. But don’t worry-- we’ll break it down for you and leave you saying “Now I Get It.”

Maybe you’re ready to move but you’re not sure if you should rent another place or take the plunge and buy a house. The first thing you should do is compare sale and rental prices in your community. And don’t just look at the sticker price. When you buy you’ll need to factor in your mortgage principal and interest payments, homeowners insurance, property taxes and how long you plan to stay in your home. You will also want to budget 1-3% of the cost of your home each year for repairs and updates.

Seem overwhelming? It can be. But that’s why we have the internet. There are plenty of calculators online that will do the legwork for you and tell you what the real monthly payments on a home will be.

If your neighborhood is up-and-coming and home and rental prices are steadily increasing, you might take that as a sign that now is a good time to buy there. But remember, there’s no way to tell with certainty that your home will go up in value so don’t rely on that too much as a factor.

Next you’ll want to ask yourself what your five-year plan is. If you want to change careers or make a move across the country, renting may be the more viable option. If you plan on starting a family you’ll also want to take that into account while looking at homes.

Finally, take a look at your savings and credit profile. You’ll need cash on hand for a deposit, down payment, and closing costs if you decide to buy-- that’s quite a bit of money. For the lowest possible mortgage rates, you’ll need a credit score of 740 or higher, but if your score is below 640 you’re going to have trouble getting any mortgage at all. If you rent you’ll probably need to pay the first month of rent and a security deposit up front.

By now you should have a good inkling of whether renting or buying is best for you -- but don’t be afraid to reach out to a realtor or lender if you have more questions, they’re here to help you.

Posted on: 2016/4/21 15:35
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10 Tips to Help You Sell Your Home in the Winter done
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10 Tips to Help You Sell Your Home in the Winter done
How to Choose the Best Mortgage Refinance Lender done
Thinking About Buying? Here’s The Real Cost to Own a Home done
How Should You Price Your Home? done
10 Easy and Affordable Home Safety Resolutions for 201done
6 Money-Saving Home Projects to Tackle This Winter

Posted on: 2016/3/28 16:58
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How to Choose the Best Mortgage Refinance Lender
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How to Choose the Best Mortgage Refinance Lender

If you’re like most homeowners, you likely spend more time and effort deciding on where to go for a $30 meal than for a $300,000 mortgage. For most everything you buy — from smartphones to fajitas — you probably research reviews, compare prices and check the social media buzz, except when it comes to your biggest financial decision: a mortgage.

If you’re looking to refinance your mortgage, it’s probably more important than ever to find the right mortgage refinance lender. You’re looking to lower your interest rate, your monthly payment, and maybe even the number of years it will take to pay off your loan. That’s worth a bit of your time. And odds are, the best refinance lender won’t be your current mortgage holder.

How to Find the Best Refinance Rate

Failing to shop around for rates can bite you big time. More than three-quarters (77%) of borrowers apply to a single lender, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And the CFPB’s research found that shopping a 30-year mortgage among multiple lenders can lead to interest rates varying by more than half of a percent, which could save you thousands of dollars on your mortgage payments in just the first five years of a loan.

And that’s why your current mortgage holder is probably not the best bet for your refinance. Chances are, you didn’t shop around much for that first mortgage. You were probably just happy to get approved and close the loan, right? But now you know it’s important to compare lenders and apply to more than one. If your current lender offers the best loan package, you’ll know for sure this time.

To receive an official loan estimate from a lender, you don’t have to hand over a bunch of written documentation. Usually, it’s just a matter of providing a handful of key details: your name and income, Social Security number, property address, an estimate of your home’s value and the amount you wish to refinance. But the more information you provide, the more accurate the estimate you’ll receive.

Most lenders will charge a fee of somewhere around $20 to pull your credit report. Then each lender will provide you with a standard loan estimate that will detail the terms and costs of its mortgage refinance proposal.
More Online Mortgage Refinance Options Than Ever

And it’s easier than ever to shop mortgage rates. With the rapid growth of alternative mortgage lenders, an online search will get you off to a good start. Not only will you find direct lenders such as Quicken Loans, SoFi and Loan Depot, but also mortgage marketplaces such as Lending Tree and Mortgage Hippo.

From there, you can broaden your search to more traditional — as well as local — mortgage lenders.
Consider a Credit Union for Your Home Refinance

Credit unions — nonprofit, member-owned financial institutions — offer some of the best bargains on the better-than-a-bank block. Credit unions originated a record amount in mortgages in 2015 but still have only a sliver of the total pie — just 8.5% of all mortgage loans in the U.S. But that’s about double the amount they originated in 2010 .

Posted on: 2016/3/9 21:08
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10 Tips to Help You Sell Your Home in the Winter
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10 Tips to Help You Sell Your Home in the Winter

1. Do a Deep Clean

Give your house a thorough cleaning before you open it up to potential buyers. Wipe footprints from snowy or muddy shoes, clean the carpets, dust all surfaces, and remove any moisture or debris that comes in with the wind. If you’re pressed for time, hire a weekly cleaning service to help with the upkeep.

2. Cut the Clutter

Clutter creates a sense of chaos, and chaos does not sell houses. Organize your space and trash or donate any clothing, appliances, trinkets and other items you no longer use. (You’ll be glad you did this when it comes time to move.)

3. Remove Personal Effects

With buyers in mind, move personal items like family photos and children’s drawings into storage. When potential buyers walk through your home, they should get the feeling that they could make it their own. If your personal stuff is strewn about in every room, it will detract from that feeling. In fact, they may feel more like they’re invading your privacy.

4. Light it Up

With the sun setting sooner and gray overtaking the sky, your home could begin to look dreary. Use lighting to brighten your home’s interior and exterior, and consider adding a timer or more lighting where necessary.

5. Fix the Small Problems

If there are small issues with your home that could detract from its value, fix them. If you don’t have time or the experience to do the jobs yourself, hire a handyman or contractor.

6. Cook Something for the Season

Real estate agents help buyers feel welcome by putting out cookies. In the winter months, consider filing your home with the scents of hot apple cider, hot cocoa or pots with simmered cinnamon and orange peels.

7. Deal With the Exterior

The appearance of your home’s exterior is just as important as the appearance of its interior when it comes to selling. To prepare your exterior for the winter weather, you will need to:

Trim trees and shrubs
Shovel snow off the driveway and walkway
Deal with any patches of ice that could cause injury

8. Utilize Holiday Decorations

Depending on when you’re selling, think about adding tasteful holiday decorations to the living room and kitchen. For Thanksgiving, maybe a nice centerpiece on the dining room table. For Christmas, maybe a tree (preferably fake) or some holiday lights.

9. Show Off Winter-Friendly Spaces

Since buyers could be spending many months indoors after their move, show them which rooms in your home are the most comfortable. Basements, exercise rooms, home theater rooms — these all look cozier in the winter. Ask your realtor to mention these rooms and their benefits during the walkthrough if needed.

10. Keep it Warm

Make sure buyers aren’t shivering as they walk through your home. Turn the heater up or put it on a timer. Start a welcoming fire in the living room if you have a fireplace. And, if your HVAC is in need of repairs, hire a heating contractor to ensure that things are working properly.

Posted on: 2016/2/24 21:02
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6 Money-Saving Home Projects to Tackle This Winter
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6 Money-Saving Home Projects to Tackle This Winter

1. Check and Seal Air Leaks

Winter is an excellent time to find air leaks. Turn the heat on so that your home is warm, then walk around and try to find and seal any air leaks you find. You can feel for them with your hands, use a candle or use air leak detectors if you believe you have a hard to find leak. This improvement is a great way to save money on energy.

2. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

This is simple and effective. When you reverse your ceiling fans, you circulate warm air around your home, which can potentially save you money on your heating bill. Look on top or underneath your ceiling fans for the button that allows you to switch the direction. It’s usually on the motor housing. If you want to make it more of a “project,” take time to dust and clean your fans, and check to see if any light bulbs need replacing.

3. Insulate Your Attic

Attic insulation is valuable all year, and since you’re more likely to do DIY projects inside your home during the winter, it’s not a bad time to give your attic a look over. Recycled insulation has grown very popular recently, and should be considered for this project. It’s also not a bad idea to take this opportunity to check for air leaks, remove clutter, inspect your roof and plug any holes you can to prevent pests in the new year.

4. Brighten Your Home with Indoor Lighting

Winter is when the nights are longer, but that doesn’t mean you have to live in darkness. Winter is a great time to make your rooms brighter. Now is the best time to add indoor lighting all around your home, whether it’s through floor lamps, ceiling lamps (if you’re handy with electrics), or simply upgrading the bulbs around your home to some that are brighter and more lively. If you install LED lighting, you’ll also save yourself some money on energy and replace your lights less often

5. Tune Up Your Heating System

Most homeowners rarely touch their heating system unless there is a problem. But the average heating system benefits from regular tune-ups, which are designed to not only improve energy efficiency, but also potentially reduce the likelihood of carbon monoxide leaks. Give your heating system a tune-up , and enjoy a much more relaxed and warm winter season.

6. Replace Your Old Windows

Winter can also be a great time to replace your old windows, although it may be best to fit that into a few short days to avoid turning your house into a refrigerator. If you have an older home, upgrading to windows that have Low-E glass can save you a lot on your energy bill, as these windows prevent issues with radiative heat. You may also find that your window itself has a leak from age that can be fixed with a new window installation.

There are countless money-saving home projects available in winter for those who like to be handy. Taking time during the cold months to focus on the inside of your home will keep you off the couch this winter and will leave you loads of time to tackle warm-weather projects when spring finally returns.

Posted on: 2016/2/5 15:58
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Words to Know When Buying a Home - Warranty (New Home Warranty Program):
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Words to Know When Buying a Home - Warranty (New Home Warranty Program):
Coverage in the event that an item under the warranty needs to be repaired. If the builder doesn’t repair it, the repair will be made by the organization that provided the warranty. All provinces have New Home Warranty programs for newly built homes. However, there are currently no such programs in the Territories.

Posted on: 2016/1/22 21:22
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Words to Know When Buying a Home - Vendor take-back mortgage (Sometimes called take-back mortgage):
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Words to Know When Buying a Home - Vendor take-back mortgage (Sometimes called take-back mortgage):
The vendor, not a financial institution, finances the mortgage. The title of the property is transferred to the buyer who makes mortgage payments directly to the seller. These types of mortgages, can be helpful if you need a second mortgage to buy a home.

Posted on: 2016/1/6 20:52
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