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Coronavirus Keeping You From Touring Homes for Sale? Stay in the Hunt with Live Video-Chat Tours

It’s difficult being a homebuyer these days. Buying a house is already tricky, but add on a global pandemic that’s closing stores and locking down countries, you probably feel like it’s impossible to move forward with buying a home – let alone touring one.Luckily, your house hunting …

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How to Easily Check the Square Footage of Your House

A house that sounds roomy and spacious online may actually have 800 of its square feet contained in a four-foot-tall dirt-floor basement. What’s up with that? In Washington DC, clients are often confused at the square footage discrepancy between what’s listed and what they see on tour, and colleagues …

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How To Buy A House With Bad Credit

Buying a house can be an exciting yet confusing process. It can also be frustrating when you are trying to buy a house with bad credit and don’t know where to turn for answers. Many people rent with the dream of going through the home buying process and purchasing their first home. But if you have bad credit you may think homeownership is out of reach.

How to buy a house with bad credit

Can You Buy A House With Bad Credit?

The answer is yes. But what does a bad credit score mean, and what are the types of home loans available to those with bad credit? We’ll answer those questions as well as detail the necessary steps you need to take to buy a house if you have bad credit.

Mortgage lenders and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) look at a credit score range when considering a home mortgage loan. A credit score between 669-580 ranks your credit as “fair,” and is considered a higher risk for a mortgage lender. Lenders view a score of 579 or less to be “bad credit.” Scores this low can make finding a home loan challenging, but not impossible. 

Your credit score tells a lender about your spending habits, payment reliability, and the likelihood of mortgage repayment. A low credit score means you’re a higher risk for a lender but does not have to mean your dream of owning a home has to come to an end.

How To Buy A House With Bad Credit 

First, find out your credit score by getting a credit report. There are sites where you can get a free credit report like FreeCreditReport.com.  They provide credit reports from the 3 credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at no charge to you.

Depending on your credit score, you may have work to do, and it may take some time to get your credit back on track.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Focus on these two financial habits to help you boost your credit score if it’s lower than 580:

Improve your payment history: Payment regularity is a crucial factor used to determine your credit score. With a plan for regular on-time payments on your debts, you will improve your credit history & score with every payment. 

Pay down your overall debt to increase your debt-to-income ratio: Your available credit is also a big factor in your credit score. If you are maxed out and have no credit, it will be a challenge to improve your score. Focus on paying down debt to give yourself a credit cushion, and your score will rise. 

For assistance, consider a credit repair service to help get you on track for buying a home. In fact, once you get your free credit report you may notice some errors that are bringing your credit score down. A credit repair service will help get those errors fixed so your credit score can start moving in the right direction and help you get a better rate on a home loan.

Loans For Buyers With Bad Credit

To help applicants with bad credit buy a house, the FHA has a loan insurance program for lenders. However, not every lender may offer FHA loans so be sure to shop around.

FHA-backed loans help you:

  •             Qualify for low down payments, possibly as low as 3.5%.
  •             Avoid the requirement to verify two years of employment.

The downside? You will likely pay a higher interest rate on your home loan.

When your credit score is above 580, you could qualify for a mortgage with as little as 3.5% down and allowed a loan-to-value ratio (LTV) of 96.5%. A loan-to-value ratio is used by lenders to describe the loan size you’re taking out compared to the value of the property you want to purchase. 

For example, you could purchase a $200,000 home in Sacramento, CA with an LTV ratio of 96.5%, meaning you couldn’t borrow more than $193,000, making $7,000 (or 3.5% of the home’s purchase price) your minimum down payment. With a score of less than 580, you will need a larger down payment of at least 10%, and you may be capped at a 90% LTV. 

VA Loans: Military veterans with a credit score of at least 620 have access to Veteran’s Administration (VA) loans. If you can boost your credit score to qualify, additional VA loan benefits include: 

  •             No down payment
  •             No private mortgage insurance (PMI)
  •             Lower interest rates 

USDA loans are available for homebuyers who are lower-income and considering buying in rural areas. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also requires a credit score of 620, but there are additional program benefits, including: 

  •             No down payment
  •             No private mortgage insurance (PMI)
  •             Lower interest rates 

Take steps now to improve your credit score and move closer to your dream of homeownership. Depending on your circumstances, you could qualify today for an FHA, VA, or USDA loan. 

Do your homework to find mortgage lenders who will work with you to apply and qualify for these financing options so you can buy a house even with bad credit. 

Source: Redfin Blog

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10 Home Improvement Projects to Tackle Before Moving Into a New House

Congratulations on your new home! We all know that moving into a new house is stressful, and the last thing you probably want to do is add more things to your to-do list. However, it’s actually best to tackle some home improvement projects before all the boxes and furniture get in the way. So if you want to save money, time, and hassle down the road, here are 10 home improvement ideas to consider before making the big move.

front of new house

1. Change the Locks

First and foremost, it’s important to keep your family and your new home safe. So before moving in, be sure to call a locksmith and have your locks changed. You never know who might have a spare key and it just isn’t worth taking the risk. When the locks are being installed, don’t forget the back door and garage door locks, as well as any sheds or other buildings on your property.

2. Remove Popcorn Ceilings

Older homes may have textured “popcorn” on the ceiling, an unsightly trend that makes the interior of your home look dated. It’s also important to note that these types of ceilings may contain asbestos – which makes removing it an even greater priority. It doesn’t matter if you live in Phoenix or Atlanta – if your house was built before the 1980s and has popcorn ceilings, it is highly recommended to have a professional test and then remove it.

couple painting home improvement project

3. Paint the Interior

Adding a fresh coat of paint is a simple and affordable home improvement project that can add color and personalize your space quickly. It also helps defend your home’s surfaces from wear and tear. Whether you do the work yourself or hire someone to do it, it’s a lot easier to paint an empty room. Plus, redoing your walls before moving day means you don’t have to live with the smell of drying paint in your home.

Remember, choosing paint isn’t just about the color. The finish of your paint, from matte to gloss, can dramatically change the look of a room. If you have a paint color in mind, bring home samples with a few different finishes, to see which you prefer.

4. Make Electrical Upgrades

You can do these upgrades anytime, but everything is easier to get to in an empty room. If you’re moving into an older home, especially one built in the mid-‘90s or before, consider installing extra electrical outlets or upgrading the existing ones. Many older homes don’t have the electrical capacity for the number of electronics and powerful devices that many people use today. Additional outlets in your rooms can make it easier to arrange furniture, including computers, speakers, gaming systems, and will make room for everyone to plug in their phones. Consider also making electrical upgrades to allow for programmable thermostats and light fixtures.

Living Room in Home Interior

5. Replace the Flooring

If you’re moving into a brand new home, you may not need to make any improvements to your floors. However, if you’ve bought a home with carpet or tile that you hate or hardwood that needs to be refinished, this is a perfect time to make changes. If you put it off you will have to deal with moving all of the furniture out of the way. And who wants to move furniture twice? When the flooring is being updated, the contractors can also replace baseboards and any other trim work to match.

6. Install Fencing

The house you’ve just purchased may not have adequate fencing for your pets or children. If so, this is a great time to consider adding it. Fencing can provide safety for your family, conceal a swimming pool or hot tub, protect landscaping, give you privacy, and much more. It’s also a desired feature by many. So when it comes time to sell your home years down the line, this home improvement project may increase its value and make it stand out in the local housing market.

7. Call Pest Control

Even if you don’t see bugs, mice, or other pests in your home, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there or that they won’t decide to move in. You can prevent ants, roaches, and other insects from making your home theirs by bringing in a professional pest control company. Here’s something you may not realize – if your neighbors all have chemical pest barriers, and you don’t, then colonies of insects may relocate to your house, simply because it’s more readily accessible.

You may also wish to have quarterly inspections for larger pests like mice or squirrels if you live in an area where they are prevalent. Besides the “ick” factor, these animals can be very destructive to your house, creating holes in the walls or roof, ripping out insulation, and leaving disease-causing droppings.

easy home improvement: upgrading your kitchen appliances

8. Deep Clean

Whether you do it yourself or hire a service, all homes can benefit from having every nook and cranny scrubbed, especially the bathrooms and kitchen. Don’t forget to include cleaning the cabinets and drawers, too. This may also be a good time to install shelf liners and any drip-protectors to preserve the life of the cabinets.

9. Add Storage Options in Closets

You may wish to replace wooden clothing rods with aluminum ones or install shelving and shoe trees. Pantries and storage closets may need extra shelving and organization too. If you have a tight space, additional shelves up to the ceiling can help you keep organized and your space less cluttered.

10. Remodeling an Entire Room

If you’ve ever redone part of a home, especially an area that is used often like a kitchen or bathroom, you know that it can be a major inconvenience. You could end up cooking meals outside or having everyone in the family getting ready in one bathroom. So if you already know you will be doing some remodeling, consider doing so prior to move-in. Also, before moving forward with your remodel, be sure to discuss with your contractor if your home improvement project will require a building permit.

Source: Redfin Blog

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Housing Market 2020: February Update

Low mortgage rates and even lower inventory are fueling a competitive start to 2020. Daryl Fairweather offers advice for buyers in this seller’s market.

Read the Transcript:

Hi guys, Katy from Redfin here and I’m standing here with our chief economist Daryl Fairweather. Thanks for being here, thank you for having me.

We are going to talk about the housing market predictions what happened in January and why it looks like it’s going to be such a hot market for buyers this year. 

So Daryl, what happened in January and what’s the housing market doing right now?

Buyers came back in January thanks to low mortgage interest rates. Mortgage interest rates are nearly a percentage point lower right now and they were this time last year which means if you’re a buyer, you can afford more house it’s really attractive to get out there make an offer and lock in a home. We’re seeing a lot of buyers coming out and doing just that.

So is it more than we expected at the end of last year? Is January bigger than we even thought it would be?

We’re hearing from our agents that January is like the new spring. Plenty of buyers are out there more than they would have expected for this time of year and so yeah, it’s been really busy very early in the year.

With this accelerated January being so hot, is that an indication that spring is going to be even hotter? Will it cool down in the spring at all or we’re on the on-ramp and we’re going?

I think that a lot of buyers are trying to get a jump on the spring market but there will still be more buyers who are going to wait until it’s the right time for them personally. We know when their kids are about to be out of school in the summer that’s usually when we see the most activity and I expect that to also be true this year. 

So it’s just heating up quick and going to stay hot? (that’s right) I wish that’s what our summer was going to be like.

So let’s talk about what’s out there for buyers. Lots of buyers, are there a lot of homes on the market?

Because there are buyers who are snatching up homes there are actually fewer homes for sale right now that we’ve seen in two decades at least. But we do expect there to be more new listings coming on the market because builders are taking advantage of low interest rates too and are trying to build to meet the demand.  But the last 10 years there hasn’t been enough new construction to meet demand. That’s true this year, it’s going to continue to be a problem. So there just aren’t enough homes out there for everyone who wants them. If you know you want a home it’s good to be aggressive and take charge.

Speaking to that, what can buyers do to really prepare to make sure they’re aggressive and make sure they’re able to take charge? 

Buyers should set a budget, talk to their lender, get pre-approved. Figure out exactly how high they can go. If they do get into a bidding war and they have to escalate the price also figure out where the nice-to-haves and where the must-haves so that they can figure out which homes actually fit into their budget most perfectly and really give them everything that they want. Even though there aren’t as many options right now there are still homes out there and it’s good to just know going right in how much you’re willing to pay and what it is that you really want.

Awesome so it sounds like yes, it’s a competitive market but it’s competitive because there’s an advantage for buyers being those lower interest rates than we’ve seen in a really really long time. 

Yeah, if you know what you’re doing if you have an agent advising you, you’ll be successful so just hang in there and know the market’s faster but you still have a good chance of getting a home. Got it, so having all your ducks in a row, making sure you’re pre-approved, and having an agent probably who can help you navigate those competitive situations and offer advice on contingencies and escalation clauses and all the intricacies of writing a competitive offer in this market. That’s right. Awesome. 

My last question is what advice do you have for somebody who needs to sell and then buy right away?

There are some options available if you have RedfinNow available for example you can get a cash offer on the home that you own and have some flexibility as to when you move out which makes moving into the next home really convenient you have the cash to do it. If RedfinNow isn’t available there are other options. You can get a bridge loan for example you might want to sell your home and then rent a home in between so that you have some flexibility as to when exactly you can move out. There are options out there but it is a difficult thing to time the sale with buying a new home. 

So it sounds like it’s going to be a crazy housing market this season and 2020 is going to be full of surprises. A competitive market, an exciting market for sellers. We will keep you informed here at Redfin, thank you so much for hanging out with me today and explaining what buyers can do to get ahead of the game and we will talk to you soon.

Sounds great. Alright, thanks guys!



Source: Redfin Blog

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The Ultimate Guide to Relocating – Before, During, and After the Move

So, you’ve decided to take an exciting new step in your life and relocate. You may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the scheduling, packing, and expenses that go into moving – after all, relocating is considered one of the top stressors a person will experience in their life. Whether you’re relocating for a job, moving closer to family, or just wanting to start over, important steps in the relocation process can often be overlooked. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate guide to relocating, including steps to take before, during, and after the move.

relocating graphic

Before Relocating


Learn about your new city/town

Become better acquainted with your new community by researching the local culture, weather trends, cost of living, public transportation, while also finding out how much house you can afford in different neighborhoods. If you have any relatives or friends who live in the city, reach out to them for any suggestions or advice. Familiarizing yourself with the new area will help you begin thinking like a local in no time.

Find the best neighborhood for you

The best way to truly get a feel for every neighborhood is by simply visiting and spending time in each one. While you’re exploring, keep in mind what qualities are important to you and don’t hesitate to jot down the pros and cons of the area. Perhaps you value restaurants and shops within walking distance, parks and schools nearby for convenience, or just the quirkiness of a quaint neighborhood. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you’ll be able to compare information like median home prices, walkability, crime rates, and school reviews and rankings.

Lean on your realtor 

It’s the real estate agent’s job to support you through the homebuying process, so take advantage of their neighborhood expertise and industry knowledge. Your agent will be aware of housing market trends, potential red flags, or anything else you may have concerns about. When it’s time to make an offer, they will help you make a good offer price and assist with the negotiating process. Buying a home is a big decision and can be an emotional process, but working with an agent you trust will give you the support you need.

Budget for moving costs

People have a tendency to underestimate just how much relocating will cost. Expenses can add up quickly, and you could end up way over your budget before realizing it. Prepare financially by taking the time to create a list of all expenses throughout your moving process, and any purchases you’ll likely make immediately after. To avoid any surprises, you may also consider including potential costs you may incur during the move. This can include anything from cleaning and repairs, moving and storage fees, child or pet care, utility set-up, and additional furniture.

Research storage options

If you are choosing to move some of your belongings in stages or looking to store items for an extended period of time, you’ll need to consider all of your options and factor in storage costs. Research storage companies and compare rates while keeping in mind the length of time you’ll be storing items, the size of the storage space, and any additional services offered, such as central air/heat and surveillance. Or maybe you’re interested in the portable storage option, a popular alternative among those storing belongings for a short duration. The company will drop the container off and once you’re done packing your belongings, you have the option of storing the container at the facility or shipping it to your specified location.

Research moving companies

Hiring a reliable moving company to do the heavy lifting can relieve some of your stress, and generally results in a safer moving process. Moving companies typically offer different levels of services – full service, basic service, and specialty services – so it’s important to weigh the prices and options when deciding who to work with. Full service will handle everything from packing, moving, and unpacking. If you opt for basic service, you’ll be responsible for packing and unpacking, while the movers will handle transporting your items. It’s true you’ll save money upfront by handling everything yourself, but you may find that it takes significant time and effort.

Ask for a quote in writing, and don’t forget to double-check customer reviews, licenses, and credentials – knowing you’re working with a reputable company will provide peace of mind. Even if you’re relocating from Sacramento to New York City, their job is to transport your belongings from point A to point B safely.

Decorate with purpose

With the help of an interior designer, you’ll get expert guidance and can make your new space feel like home even prior to moving in. Examine the floor plan or blueprint to find what works best with the layout of your new home, and begin creating your masterpiece. Not only will you get amazing results and save time, but your interior designer can help your vision come to life while staying under budget. Moving into a space that already has a touch of your style can even support an easier transition.

beautifully decorated kitchen

Update your mailing address and retrieve important documents

Before relocating, remember to forward your mail and notify banks and credit cards of your new address. If you have kids, inform the school district of your upcoming move, and request transcripts in advance for a smooth transfer. Don’t forget to retrieve medical records, and cancel any subscriptions or memberships – anything from gym memberships and magazine subscriptions to utilities, electricity, cable, and internet. Consider creating a moving checklist to revisit while you’re packing and on moving day.

Organize and Declutter

Set aside a binder for move-related paperwork so you’re able to access any documents quickly. Before packing, remain organized by creating a detailed inventory of your belongings noting the condition, location, and size of the items. This will help you get a better idea of how much you’ll actually be moving and if any belongings require specialty packing services because of their size or fragility. Also, if your belongings are damaged during the move and you need to submit an insurance claim, an inventory list will come in handy. You can also begin to sort through your belongings and decide what items you’ll keep, discard, or donate. If you’re downsizing, don’t be shy when giving items away – consider organizing a garage sale or donating to a charity. 

Hire a cleaning service

Before getting settled into your new home, save time and start fresh by hiring a cleaning company to clean your new home before all your belongings are moved in. Sometimes the previous owners of your new home hasn’t done a thorough clean and are not required to, so paying for a cleaning service will allow you to focus on packing and moving safely while the cleaners take care of tidying up your new home. They’ll be sure to leave your home spotless, cleaning everything in and out of sight, and especially those hard-to-reach corners.

Sell your home

Before listing your home on the market, be proactive by hiring a home inspector, then make any repairs or minor updates necessary. The time you would save sure beats having to do repairs during the negotiation phase when the homebuyers hire out their own home inspector. Also, research the U.S. housing market and homes that have recently sold in your area to get an idea of what your home is worth and how competitively you should price your home. This will just be an estimate, so don’t forget to hire a professional to get your home appraised. Make your home stand out by hiring a cleaning service and working with a staging company to prepare your home for professional photos and open houses. Staging your home to sell with professional listing photos will, on average, sell for more. 

During the Move


Pack strategically and stay organized

It’s common to begin packing and realize that you’ve accumulated far more than you’ve ever imagined. In this situation, staying organized and creating a plan of attack is essential. While tossing everything into uncategorized boxes may be the quickest option, unpacking identical boxes will create unnecessary work. Instead, label your boxes strategically using stickers, a numbering system, or even color-coding.

About three weeks before relocating, pack non-essential items that you won’t be needing during the move, such as decorations and books. One week before moving day, begin packing the essentials, with the exception of enough plates and silverware for everyone in your household. Be sure to label “open first ” on a few of your boxes containing bedding, toiletries, towels, and tools, and a “valuables” box including birth certificates, fragile belongings, and passports.

orange tabby cat in moving box

Drop kids and pets off at day-care

Heavy furniture, tools, and sharp objects are safety hazards for kids. So if family and friends don’t live nearby, arrange for child-care and/or pet-care on the day you’re packing for your move. This will help reduce the number of distractions and stress, and you’ll be able to focus your attention on ensuring a smooth transition.

Collect receipts of all transactions

If you’re starting a new job or relocating with your current employer, the company may offer relocation assistance helping to cover any expenses you’ve incurred during the move. Depending on the agreed-upon contract, the relocation assistance could cover things like gas, storage unit rentals, and moving services, so it’s important to save all of your receipts from the moving process to confirm the transactions.

Check-in with yourself

It’s common for people to experience moving anxiety and relocation depression, especially when relocating. We tend to underestimate the toll moving can have on our bodies, physically and mentally. Activities like napping, journaling, exercising, and refueling with food and drink can change your mood and give your body the break it needs. Your health comes first so be sure to listen to your body and recharge when you need to. On moving day, don’t hesitate to ask for additional help from family and friends.

Settling into Your New Home


Unpack

If you’ve labeled your boxes and can identify the contents of each, unpacking should be a breeze. Be sure to check all boxes and furniture for any damages associated with relocating, especially valuables and appliances such as the stove, dishwasher, washer or dryer. Refer back to your inventory list to make sure nothing was lost in the transition. To avoid becoming overwhelmed when you’re unpacking, focus on one room at a time, and if possible, even one box at a time. 

Perform a general safety check

Even if you hired a home inspector during the homebuying process, it’s important to perform a safety check throughout your new home. Change locks on the doors, be sure all windows lock, and perhaps look into installing a new security system. Other precautions include checking the electrical system and water pipes, the fire and smoke alarms, and the air filters and HVAC systems.

Register to vote and update your driver’s license

Visit the DMV with a couple of forms of identification – like your current driver’s license, social security number, and proof of residency – to obtain a new state driver’s license. Pay attention to time restrictions as some states require you to update your driver’s license within a certain time-frame. You may be able to kill two birds with one stone by registering to vote while at the DMV. Otherwise, register online or visit the local town hall to update your voter registration.

Find new services and professionals

Find new healthcare providers, including a new dentist, doctor, veterinarian, day-care, and optometrist. Research different options to find one that is best for you and your family’s needs. When you’ve chosen, keep the contact information handy, and make sure all family members know where these numbers are located.  

Contact insurance companies

Insurance provides financial security and peace-of-mind in case an emergency happens, so confirm that you’re still covered under your current policies. If not, work with an insurance agent for new house, auto, and health insurance policies. More than likely you’ll be required to get new homeowner’s insurance, or at least update your current information on the existing policy. 

Explore the neighborhood and meet new friends

Get a better sense of your surroundings by walking, biking, or driving around the area. This is a good way to find the nearest grocery stores, parks, libraries, and pharmacies. And once you’re all settled, introduce yourself to your neighbors. Ring their doorbell and simply say hello, partake in neighborhood gatherings, or even host a housewarming party.

park in the fall

Check-in with your kids

Moving can be tough on kids and could possibly affect their mental health. They may have concerns of their own that you’ll need to talk through with them – like their first day at the new school, leaving their friends, or missing their previous home. Explain that the feeling of uncertainty is only temporary, and illustrate the move as a positive shift. Make sure your kids are comfortable in the new spot, maybe even unpack and decorate their room first. Stay consistent with any daily routines they’ve developed and don’t forget to stay positive so your children will too.

No matter your reasoning to move, relocating is no doubt a stressful task, but staying organized, planning ahead, and using your resources can help. Follow this guide so you can focus on what is important, enjoying your new adventure.

Source: Redfin Blog

Posted on

The Ultimate Guide to Relocating – Before, During, and After the Move

So, you’ve decided to take an exciting new step in your life and relocate. You may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the scheduling, packing, and expenses that go into moving – after all, relocating is considered one of the top stressors a person will experience in their life. Whether you’re relocating for a job, moving closer to family, or just wanting to start over, important steps in the relocation process can often be overlooked. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate guide to relocating, including steps to take before, during, and after the move.

relocating graphic

Before Relocating


Learn about your new city/town

Become better acquainted with your new community by researching the local culture, weather trends, cost of living, public transportation, while also finding out how much house you can afford in different neighborhoods. If you have any relatives or friends who live in the city, reach out to them for any suggestions or advice. Familiarizing yourself with the new area will help you begin thinking like a local in no time.

Find the best neighborhood for you

The best way to truly get a feel for every neighborhood is by simply visiting and spending time in each one. While you’re exploring, keep in mind what qualities are important to you and don’t hesitate to jot down the pros and cons of the area. Perhaps you value restaurants and shops within walking distance, parks and schools nearby for convenience, or just the quirkiness of a quaint neighborhood. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you’ll be able to compare information like median home prices, walkability, crime rates, and school reviews and rankings.

Lean on your realtor 

It’s the real estate agent’s job to support you through the homebuying process, so take advantage of their neighborhood expertise and industry knowledge. Your agent will be aware of housing market trends, potential red flags, or anything else you may have concerns about. When it’s time to make an offer, they will help you make a good offer price and assist with the negotiating process. Buying a home is a big decision and can be an emotional process, but working with an agent you trust will give you the support you need.

Budget for moving costs

People have a tendency to underestimate just how much relocating will cost. Expenses can add up quickly, and you could end up way over your budget before realizing it. Prepare financially by taking the time to create a list of all expenses throughout your moving process, and any purchases you’ll likely make immediately after. To avoid any surprises, you may also consider including potential costs you may incur during the move. This can include anything from cleaning and repairs, moving and storage fees, child or pet care, utility set-up, and additional furniture.

Research storage options

If you are choosing to move some of your belongings in stages or looking to store items for an extended period of time, you’ll need to consider all of your options and factor in storage costs. Research storage companies and compare rates while keeping in mind the length of time you’ll be storing items, the size of the storage space, and any additional services offered, such as central air/heat and surveillance. Or maybe you’re interested in the portable storage option, a popular alternative among those storing belongings for a short duration. The company will drop the container off and once you’re done packing your belongings, you have the option of storing the container at the facility or shipping it to your specified location.

Research moving companies

Hiring a reliable moving company to do the heavy lifting can relieve some of your stress, and generally results in a safer moving process. Moving companies typically offer different levels of services – full service, basic service, and specialty services – so it’s important to weigh the prices and options when deciding who to work with. Full service will handle everything from packing, moving, and unpacking. If you opt for basic service, you’ll be responsible for packing and unpacking, while the movers will handle transporting your items. It’s true you’ll save money upfront by handling everything yourself, but you may find that it takes significant time and effort.

Ask for a quote in writing, and don’t forget to double-check customer reviews, licenses, and credentials – knowing you’re working with a reputable company will provide peace of mind. Even if you’re relocating from Sacramento to New York City, their job is to transport your belongings from point A to point B safely.

Decorate with purpose

With the help of an interior designer, you’ll get expert guidance and can make your new space feel like home even prior to moving in. Examine the floor plan or blueprint to find what works best with the layout of your new home, and begin creating your masterpiece. Not only will you get amazing results and save time, but your interior designer can help your vision come to life while staying under budget. Moving into a space that already has a touch of your style can even support an easier transition.

beautifully decorated kitchen

Update your mailing address and retrieve important documents

Before relocating, remember to forward your mail and notify banks and credit cards of your new address. If you have kids, inform the school district of your upcoming move, and request transcripts in advance for a smooth transfer. Don’t forget to retrieve medical records, and cancel any subscriptions or memberships – anything from gym memberships and magazine subscriptions to utilities, electricity, cable, and internet. Consider creating a moving checklist to revisit while you’re packing and on moving day.

Organize and Declutter

Set aside a binder for move-related paperwork so you’re able to access any documents quickly. Before packing, remain organized by creating a detailed inventory of your belongings noting the condition, location, and size of the items. This will help you get a better idea of how much you’ll actually be moving and if any belongings require specialty packing services because of their size or fragility. Also, if your belongings are damaged during the move and you need to submit an insurance claim, an inventory list will come in handy. You can also begin to sort through your belongings and decide what items you’ll keep, discard, or donate. If you’re downsizing, don’t be shy when giving items away – consider organizing a garage sale or donating to a charity. 

Hire a cleaning service

Before getting settled into your new home, save time and start fresh by hiring a cleaning company to clean your new home before all your belongings are moved in. Sometimes the previous owners of your new home hasn’t done a thorough clean and are not required to, so paying for a cleaning service will allow you to focus on packing and moving safely while the cleaners take care of tidying up your new home. They’ll be sure to leave your home spotless, cleaning everything in and out of sight, and especially those hard-to-reach corners.

Sell your home

Before listing your home on the market, be proactive by hiring a home inspector, then make any repairs or minor updates necessary. The time you would save sure beats having to do repairs during the negotiation phase when the homebuyers hire out their own home inspector. Also, research the U.S. housing market and homes that have recently sold in your area to get an idea of what your home is worth and how competitively you should price your home. This will just be an estimate, so don’t forget to hire a professional to get your home appraised. Make your home stand out by hiring a cleaning service and working with a staging company to prepare your home for professional photos and open houses. Staging your home to sell with professional listing photos will, on average, sell for more. 

During the Move


Pack strategically and stay organized

It’s common to begin packing and realize that you’ve accumulated far more than you’ve ever imagined. In this situation, staying organized and creating a plan of attack is essential. While tossing everything into uncategorized boxes may be the quickest option, unpacking identical boxes will create unnecessary work. Instead, label your boxes strategically using stickers, a numbering system, or even color-coding.

About three weeks before relocating, pack non-essential items that you won’t be needing during the move, such as decorations and books. One week before moving day, begin packing the essentials, with the exception of enough plates and silverware for everyone in your household. Be sure to label “open first ” on a few of your boxes containing bedding, toiletries, towels, and tools, and a “valuables” box including birth certificates, fragile belongings, and passports.

orange tabby cat in moving box

Drop kids and pets off at day-care

Heavy furniture, tools, and sharp objects are safety hazards for kids. So if family and friends don’t live nearby, arrange for child-care and/or pet-care on the day you’re packing for your move. This will help reduce the number of distractions and stress, and you’ll be able to focus your attention on ensuring a smooth transition.

Collect receipts of all transactions

If you’re starting a new job or relocating with your current employer, the company may offer relocation assistance helping to cover any expenses you’ve incurred during the move. Depending on the agreed-upon contract, the relocation assistance could cover things like gas, storage unit rentals, and moving services, so it’s important to save all of your receipts from the moving process to confirm the transactions.

Check-in with yourself

It’s common for people to experience moving anxiety and relocation depression, especially when relocating. We tend to underestimate the toll moving can have on our bodies, physically and mentally. Activities like napping, journaling, exercising, and refueling with food and drink can change your mood and give your body the break it needs. Your health comes first so be sure to listen to your body and recharge when you need to. On moving day, don’t hesitate to ask for additional help from family and friends.

Settling into Your New Home


Unpack

If you’ve labeled your boxes and can identify the contents of each, unpacking should be a breeze. Be sure to check all boxes and furniture for any damages associated with relocating, especially valuables and appliances such as the stove, dishwasher, washer or dryer. Refer back to your inventory list to make sure nothing was lost in the transition. To avoid becoming overwhelmed when you’re unpacking, focus on one room at a time, and if possible, even one box at a time. 

Perform a general safety check

Even if you hired a home inspector during the homebuying process, it’s important to perform a safety check throughout your new home. Change locks on the doors, be sure all windows lock, and perhaps look into installing a new security system. Other precautions include checking the electrical system and water pipes, the fire and smoke alarms, and the air filters and HVAC systems.

Register to vote and update your driver’s license

Visit the DMV with a couple of forms of identification – like your current driver’s license, social security number, and proof of residency – to obtain a new state driver’s license. Pay attention to time restrictions as some states require you to update your driver’s license within a certain time-frame. You may be able to kill two birds with one stone by registering to vote while at the DMV. Otherwise, register online or visit the local town hall to update your voter registration.

Find new services and professionals

Find new healthcare providers, including a new dentist, doctor, veterinarian, day-care, and optometrist. Research different options to find one that is best for you and your family’s needs. When you’ve chosen, keep the contact information handy, and make sure all family members know where these numbers are located.  

Contact insurance companies

Insurance provides financial security and peace-of-mind in case an emergency happens, so confirm that you’re still covered under your current policies. If not, work with an insurance agent for new house, auto, and health insurance policies. More than likely you’ll be required to get new homeowner’s insurance, or at least update your current information on the existing policy. 

Explore the neighborhood and meet new friends

Get a better sense of your surroundings by walking, biking, or driving around the area. This is a good way to find the nearest grocery stores, parks, libraries, and pharmacies. And once you’re all settled, introduce yourself to your neighbors. Ring their doorbell and simply say hello, partake in neighborhood gatherings, or even host a housewarming party.

park in the fall

Check-in with your kids

Moving can be tough on kids and could possibly affect their mental health. They may have concerns of their own that you’ll need to talk through with them – like their first day at the new school, leaving their friends, or missing their previous home. Explain that the feeling of uncertainty is only temporary, and illustrate the move as a positive shift. Make sure your kids are comfortable in the new spot, maybe even unpack and decorate their room first. Stay consistent with any daily routines they’ve developed and don’t forget to stay positive so your children will too.

No matter your reasoning to move, relocating is no doubt a stressful task, but staying organized, planning ahead, and using your resources can help. Follow this guide so you can focus on what is important, enjoying your new adventure.

Source: Redfin Blog

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11 Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Downsizing Your Home

Whether you’ve decided to eliminate debt from your life, or finally convert that school bus to be free to live that nomadic lifestyle on the road, you’re now ready to downsize your home. But before you start downsizing the family home, it’s important to understand that there are many potential missteps along the way. This guide will help you navigate common mistakes so that you can make the most of your new, downsized lifestyle. 

Downsizing your home into a smaller space can save money

1) Not setting goals before downsizing your home

While the financial benefits of moving into a smaller space can be plentiful, it’s important to set goals before you begin downsizing the family home. Here are the most popular reasons for downsizing your home:

  • Combat debt – The number one financial reason to downsize is because of the power it gives you to attack your debt head-on. Selling your current home and moving into a smaller one allows you to put the proceeds from your home sale towards your new home, reducing your mortgage payments or eliminating them altogether. How much easier it would be to pay off other high-interest debts if you didn’t have to worry about a mortgage?
  • Turbo-charge your retirement fund – Even if you don’t have debts to pay off, you’ll still need to consider saving for retirement sooner rather than later. But if the bulk of your income is going toward your current mortgage and bills, that’s easier said than done. By downsizing your home, you can afford a larger monthly contribution to your retirement savings.
  • Pay off your mortgage instantly – Depending on the amount that you still owe on your current mortgage, you could use the proceeds from selling your home to buy a smaller one in cash. Just think about how much money you’d be saving if you eliminated your mortgage payments.
  • Saving money after retirement – Once you’ve retired you’ll most likely be living on a fixed income dependent on your savings, investments, and social security benefits. Downsizing will allow you to not only shrink your mortgage payments but also reduces many of the costs with homeownership since smaller homes cost less to maintain than larger ones. This will also stretch your retirement savings out further than if you were to stay in a home that is too expensive for your retirement budget.   
  • Reducing home upkeep and maintenance – Downsizing can provide physical benefits as well as financial. The older you get, the harder it’ll become to regularly complete chores around your home and yard. By downsizing, you’ll also reduce the amount of maintenance and upkeep your home requires. 

2) Ignoring hidden costs

Although you’ll be saving money on your mortgage and utilities by downsizing, that doesn’t mean you can throw financial caution to the wind. When you’re house shopping, make sure that the home you’re considering either doesn’t require extensive repairs or maintenance or at least make sure that you can comfortably afford them. Also, ensure that your new home doesn’t come bundled with expensive property taxes and/or HOA fees that might eat into your savings. And if your downsize is taking you to more expensive markets, like homes for sale in New York, be sure to factor in the potential increase in the cost of living as well.

3) Forgetting to budget for your move

As you begin to realize how much money you’ll save by downsizing, don’t forget about the costs associated with moving to a new location. While you may be thinking about cutting your costs by doing all the moving yourself, take a moment to consider hiring a moving company. Not only would you have someone to pack, move, and unpack your belongings, but most movers provide insurance, meaning that you’ll be reimbursed should anything break. Since you’re already selling your current home and buying a smaller one, you should also think about downsizing all your belongings as well.

4) Not determining your lifestyle needs

After setting your goals, take some time to figure out what features you’d like to have in your new home. This is especially important when you’re downsizing as you’ll have less living space. If you’re downsizing because your kids have gone to college, then make sure that your new home will permit the lifestyle you want and that whatever belongings you’re taking with you will fit.hat king-sized bed might not fit in your new condo.

5) Paying for rooms you won’t use

When you stop to think about which rooms you use the most in your home, it’s probably pretty simple: the living room, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. If you’re not using your dining room, den, and third or fourth bedroom, why even have them at all? By thinking about what rooms you currently do and do not use, you can simplify your search for a downsized home. 

The same tactic can be applied to your yard. If you find yourself spending little of your free time enjoying your yard—rather just maintaining it—then consider looking for a new home either with a smaller yard or without one. 

6) Being unorganized

Good organization is key to any move but it will prove especially useful when you’re downsizing your home. So take some time to look through your garage, closets, and spare rooms for anything that’s collecting dust. That sword you bought at the renaissance fair eight years ago might be awesome but do you really want to keep holding on to it?. Start by rounding up these sorts of belongings and then work your way through old clothes, toys, old appliances, etc., and separate them into three piles: keep, maybe, and donate.

Get organized before downsizing your home

If you find that you still need help with organizing for your move, reach out to a professional home organizer for assistance. They are experts in helping you decide what you should keep and what you should get rid of. They can also help you get organized in your new home as well, something that will prove vital to making the most of your downsizing efforts. 

7) Taking Too Much Physical Media With You

There’s a good chance that when you downsize, you won’t have room for all those old photo albums anymore. While you may want to hold onto some of the physical copies for sentimental reasons, the majority of those photos can be digitized. By uploading your photos to a hard drive or cloud service, you’ll save space and also protect them from any future wear and tear as well.

You can also digitize old CDs, DVDs, cassettes, VHS, photo slides, film strips, and documents as well. While you should hold onto the physical copies of things like birth certificates and social security cards, most other documents can and should be scanned and uploaded to a hard drive or cloud service instead to save space.

8) Trying to take all of your furniture with you

While your two-story home is more than capable of housing all of your furniture, your new home won’t prove quite so spacious. So before you start loading king size beds or sectional sofas onto a moving truck, keep the limitations of your new home in mind. Also, furniture that is too large for a room will only make a room look smaller, so you may want to consider getting a new couch that will truly work in your new space.

If you’re feeling intimidated by the process of selecting and placing new furniture, consider hiring an interior designer. By doing so, you’ll be getting someone who is an expert at squeezing the most potential out of a room and budget while also making sure it fits your taste and lifestyle. 

9) Skimping on storage

In addition to saving important documents that you don’t require frequent access to, a storage unit is a great option for saving sentimental items like an old onesie that your child has long since outgrown or seasonal items like winter coats. Whether you’re downsizing temporarily or for the long haul, renting a storage unit is a great option for those items that you don’t have space for but just can’t bring yourself to get rid of. 

10) Not creating a downsizing schedule

Moving is a ton of work, even before you add downsizing to the mix. Avoid getting too stressed out by the process by remembering to take it one step at a time. Set a timeline for yourself and create a schedule accordingly, rather than attempting to tackle everything all at once. By creating a downsizing schedule, you’ll stay better organized throughout this process while also reducing stress.

11) Choosing the wrong type of home

When you’ve made up your mind to begin downsizing your home, you’ll then need to consider what type of home you want to move into. The type of home you decide on will depend on factors like your finances, health requirements, and the type of lifestyle you’re seeking. With that in mind, check out our rundown of the types of homes you may consider downsizing to and why they might be for you.

Single-Story

Moving into a smaller, single-story home will prove to be the most familiar option for those downsizing out of their larger, two-story home. This option proves best for anyone looking to maintain a similar lifestyle to what they currently have. 

Downsizing to a single story home can save money while maintaining your lifestyle

A single-story home will also provide you with more square footage than a condo, tiny home, houseboat, or van but will still require the most maintenance and upkeep compared to other downsizing options. 

Condos

What you give up in terms of square footage when you move into a condo, more than makes up for in location. Buying a condo allows you to live downtown in a major city where purchasing a house may not be financially viable. Living in a condo also means you’ll be able to take advantage of amenities like a swimming pool, gym, tennis court, shuffleboard, etc. You also won’t have a yard to take care of either and major structural repairs are usually covered by HOA fees.

A condo is a great downsizing option for those looking to live a more urban lifestyle, close to restaurants, bars, and shopping. The limited maintenance also means that condos are a great option for anyone who is retired or soon to be retired.

Tiny House

Buying a tiny house is trending these days because they’re affordable and eco-friendly. In fact, while the median sale price of homes in the U.S. housing market is $312,500, the average tiny home costs between $30,000 to $40,000. And if you’re anything like most tiny homeowners, you won’t have a home loan, meaning you’ll save on mortgage payments as well. You’ll also be paying significantly less in heating, cooling, and electricity costs, so you’ll be saving money and reducing your carbon footprint at the same time. 

With the combination of savings and environmental-friendliness, tiny homes are a great option for anyone looking to help their wallet and the environment.

Houseboat

Do you like the idea of combining a tiny home with a maritime lifestyle? If so, then a houseboat may be for you. Clocking in at an average of 600 square feet, houseboats typically provide the space of a large tiny home or smaller condo, but with the added benefit of waves lulling you to sleep. Houseboat living provides many of the financial benefits of tiny homes like low upfront cost, little to no mortgage, more affordable utilities, as well as some of the benefits of condos such as amenities like a pool, laundry facility, and easy access to grocery stores.

Living on a boat does, however, require you to spend additional fees on maintenance as your home’s hull will need to be cleaned once or twice a year and repairs do not come cheap as they require specialized labor. If you feel the pros of a nautical lifestyle outweigh the maintenance fees, then a floating home may be for you. 

Van Life

The beautiful thing about living in a van is that it allows you to go on road trips whenever you want, and if you don’t like your neighbors it’s easy to move. Van life also allows you to spend more time outdoors, something that should appeal to anyone interested in reconnecting with mother nature. Monthly expenses are also extremely low, you just need to be willing to commit yourself to a minimalist and nomadic lifestyle.

Source: Redfin Blog

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The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Buying a House

Buying a house for the first-time or even second time can be extremely exciting, but it can also be one of the most complex purchases of your life. Not knowing what to do when and how to start can make it even more daunting. To simplify things, we’ve broken down the timeline and created a step-by-step guide to help you navigate all the twists and turns along the way.

Timeline for buying a house

6 Months Out

Assess your situation and get your financials in order. Before jumping into your home search, you must determine how much you can afford. You may have saved enough for your down payment, but don’t forget to account for closing costs, taxes, insurance, and any other unforeseen expenses that may arise when buying a house. This is also the time to make sure you’ve paid down your credit cards and that your credit score is in good condition, ensure you’ve filed your taxes, and that you have a paper trail for all recent major financial transactions.

Get pre-approved and find a mortgage lender. It’s important to apply for a mortgage pre-approval before you begin house hunting in earnest. Not only will this help keep you realistic about your options, but it also shows sellers that you’re a qualified and serious buyer. Don’t be tempted to just go with your current bank. It’s best to shop around to find the best rate and determine which mortgage and lender are right for you. Pre-approval letters do have an expiration date, so be aware of when yours is. It’s okay if you have to apply again later on.  

3 Months Out

Find a buyer’s agent. A buyer’s agent is a licensed real estate agent who will represent you throughout your buying journey. A good buyer’s agent will be an expert on the home buying process, know your area inside and out, be familiar with local listing agents, and be a skilled negotiator.

Begin searching for homes. Ask the questions that will help set parameters for your home search. Are you looking to move to a new city such as Sacramento or Portland? Are you set on buying a house in a particular school district or neighborhood? How many bedrooms do you need? Do you want a single-family home or are you open to a townhouse, or maybe even a condo?

Attend open houses and go on tours. When you’re touring multiple homes, it’s easy to confuse different features or concerns so take notes as you’re touring. Don’t forget to pick your agent’s brain and ask for their input.

2 Months Out

Submit, or resubmit your pre-approval application. If you didn’t get a pre-approval letter, now is the time. Most letters last for 60 to 90 days. If your search extends beyond that, reapply. 

Make an offer. You’ve found the home you want to call yours. Submit your offer as soon after touring the house as possible. Speed is of the essence in a competitive housing market with limited inventory. Talk with your agent about the terms of your deal and the competition you face to determine an offer price. You and your agent will work together to write and submit the offer letter to the seller’s agent.

Negotiate Home Price. Counter-offers are common and should even be expected when buying a house. Common counter-offers can include proposed changes to the price, closing date, or purchase contract contingencies. You may go back and forth with the seller a few times before you come to terms you both agree on. 

Enter the closing process. Once you and the seller agree on the terms, you’ll enter the closing process, which usually takes 30 to 45 days. You’ll likely be in very close communication with your agent, lender, and escrow agency during this time. 

1 Month Out 

Deposit earnest money. Once the seller has accepted the offer, the earnest money will be deposited into an escrow account or held by the listing agent. Once the sale of the home has been completed, the earnest money you paid will be applied toward your closing costs.

Order your title. You’ll receive a preliminary title report from an escrow agent or attorney within a week after you reach mutual acceptance on an offer. Once the transaction closes, you will receive a final title policy.

Line up a home inspection. This step is critical as it allows you as the homebuyer to discover any material defects or necessary repairs before buying the house. Pay special attention to the results of the inspection because many states hold a buyer responsible for understanding and investigating issues raised during inspections. Also, if there is an inspection contingency, you can negotiate with sellers to cover the costs of certain repairs, ask for concessions, or back out of the sale.

Finalize the home sale. Now that you’ve completed all negotiations, it’s time to finalize and sign the purchase agreement with the seller.

Complete the mortgage application and book an appraisal. While you have been pre-approved, you still need to meet with your lender and finalize your mortgage application. The lender will also request an appraisal at this time.

1-2 Weeks Out 

Receive Loan Approval. A licensed appraiser will determine the home’s market value based on comparable recent sales of homes in the neighborhood. After the appraisal has been completed, it will typically take around two weeks for the lender to get all the paperwork and approval completed. 

Final walk-through. This is when you can verify that the condition of the house hasn’t changed and that all updates and repairs have been made. The final walk-through usually takes place 24 hours before the scheduled closing day. 

Closing Day

Pay closing costs and sign all paperwork. Come to closing day prepared with your government-issued ID and any requested documents. Bring a cashier’s check for your down payment and be prepared to pay any closing costs. Now all that’s left to do is close escrow and sign the required paperwork. 

Get your keys. Congratulations on your new home! Depending on if your house is turnkey ready or not, there might be some maintenance and remodeling you want to complete before moving in. You’ll also want to think about hiring movers, buying new furniture and appliances, setting up your utilities, etc. You’ll pay for these after the house is yours but may want to factor them into your budget or create a separate post-move budget.

Source: Redfin Blog