First, some terms and acronyms!
~ FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, which is a large company that provides the software that calculates your credit score. One founder’s last name is Fair. The other’s is…you guessed it…Isaac.
~ Credit is a promise to buy now and pay later
~ Credit risk is the likeliness of you paying back the debt
~ Credit reporting agency (there are 3 major ones) collect, maintain and provide information about your credit history
~ Credit score is the number that all of the above leads to! Your credit score is a number that is compiled to determine your creditworthiness
Credit scores range from 300 to about 850 and if you haven’t guessed by now, the higher the score the better your credit, and perceived willingness to repay a debt. The 3 large reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and Transunion, and for the purposes of obtaining a mortgage, your lender will use all three. But your credit score is used for much more than just getting a loan to purchase a home. Credit card companies, insurance agencies, cable companies, cell phone companies and landlords are just an example of who may want to see your credit score and credit report before saying “yes” to your requests.
Here’s a great link to a booklet to find out much more about FICO and credit scores ~ http://bit.ly/2nmZmh9
And one to find out how to improve your current score ~ http://bit.ly/2mD1GAl
So you have a new house, or a new apartment, or even just new paint and furniture…and you need some flooring help….If you’re looking for an area rug but don’t know where to start, let’s begin with the basics.
- Buy big ~ but not too big, the size of the seating area rather than the size of the room is perfect.
- Your furniture should fit on the rug if possible ~ at least the front legs of the couch, a few feet on each side of your bed, and dining room chairs should all fit on the rug.
- Be colorful ~ this is your place to use accent color and texture.
- Ask advise ~ once it’s down it’s hard (but not impossible) to roll back up and return!
There are many professional home decorators that would love to come into your home and help you pick out the perfect rug (and anything else you need!). But if it’s just one rug at a time, then part of the fun is shopping isn’t it?!
Yes, I know it’s February, but I suspect that the resolutions you made on New Year’s Eve have all been set aside and forgotten. So why not try something a bit more realistic now that the pressure of losing weight and working out is over?
I would suggest that a great way to start (the rest of) 2017 is to take a look at your credit score, and see how you can improve it. With credit scores determining not only if you can purchase a home, your credit score also plays a big part in obtaining insurance, credit cards, etc.
If you’re planning on purchasing a home , the best thing to do is meet with a lender (and yes, I can make recommendations!). The lender will pull your credit and if changes need to be made, will make suggestions.
If you’re already a homeowner, or not yet ready to become one, you can pull your own report for free once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com
Once you know your “number” and if it needs improvement, here are 5 things you can do:
- If there are errors on your report, dispute them ~ it will take some time and effort but really help!
- Set monthly goals to pay down credit cards ~ start with the small ones and then use that money to tackle the larger ones!
- Set up payment reminders ~ it’s easy to forget a payment with so much going on in our busy lives, so my reminder system saves me once or twice a month!
- Set up auto pay on your accounts ~ but remember to have the money in the account when the payment comes out!
- Use cash whenever you can ~ but remember that having credit is a plus on your report so don’t close out accounts, just keep the balance low and pay on time!
So by now you’ve probably been thinking about your Federal and State taxes, and maybe even preparing just a bit for them. And you can wait if you want, even for a few more months, but eventually, you’ll need to read this post and get to work filing your taxes.
As a homeowner, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider. One of the most useful benefits of homeownership, after the right to paint those bedrooms purple, is tax deductions. If this is your first year of owning a home, then check out this list!
#1: Property Tax ~ any money paid during the year to your town/city property tax is deductible.
#2: Mortgage Interest ~ any money paid towards mortgage interest on your first or second mortgage and any private mortgage insurance payments are deductible.
#3: Closing Costs ~ some of the costs paid at your closing are tax deductible (ask your accountant which ones to include). Your may even be able to deduct some of your moving costs.
#4: Home Office ~ you may be able to use your home office as a deduction as well.
There may be others (his is when your accountant not me, your real estate agent is the professional!) so save all of your receipts for purchasing (your Closing Statement) as well as receipts for repairs, remodeling, parts etc. My advice is to save everything for seven years, but again, let your accountant guide you on that!
If your still renting, know that your landlord is getting all these benefits…wouldn’t you rather get them for yourself??
If you’ve been thinking of a new home, and by new I mean really, really (construction) new, there are definitely some things that are totally different from purchasing a pre-existing home. Here are a few things to think about before you make the new construction decision!
#1: You probably won’t be able to negotiate the price. Builders factor many things into their price and with new construction, what it is ~ is ~what it is! You may be able to negotiate a few upgrades, but don’t quote me on this one!
#2: The price you start at most likely won’t be the price you end at. During the construction process, things change. Like you decide that you want hardwood throughout the house, not just in the living room. Or you found lighting that you can’t live without, but it’s higher than the budgeted amount!
#3: Your home is not going to look like the model! White couches, no clutter, perfectly placed knick knacks are not realistic. Don’t worry, you’ll love your home with YOUR things in it as well!
#4: Expect delays. When the builder tells you 4 months from start to finish, plan for your home to be ready in 6 months. That way, if it’s earlier, you’ll be delighted, if it’s later, you’ll be resigned!
#5: Even though everything is brand new, it may not all be perfect. Mistakes can (read “will”) be made. But the builder will go over things with you and create a punch list ~ items to be tweaked and fixed ~ and they should also offer you a warranty. Before you sign anything, ask about their warranty, if it’s not at least one year, find another builder.
The big day is here, and no matter how ready you think you are, chances are, you aren’t!! Have you thought about how to deal with exhaustion? Distractions? Unforeseen obstacles? What about the fact that the WHOLE neighborhood is watching?
Here are 3 tips that might come in handy and might help save your sanity on moving day.
#1: Anticipate Distraction!
Some of the distractions will come from the new neighbors. You’re just trying to unload the moving truck but the neighbors won’t offer to carry anything, they just have questions! ~ what did you pay for the house? are you making any changes? do you have children and want to join a playgroup? Be ready, have your answers rehearsed. The best answer may be “I’d love to chat but can we do this a bit later, maybe tomorrow when the truck is emptied?”
#2: Fight Exhaustion!
The physical and mental stress of moving out of the old home and into the new one, even if you have lots of help, will disrupt your routines. Fast-food and junk food may seem like an easy fix, but you really need more substance to be continually refreshed and recharged during the moving process. Stock up on healthy snacks, bottles of water and energy drinks. And don’t try to do it all at once ~ there is plenty of time to unpack the boxes after the big furniture is in the next day after you’re refreshed and rested.
If you prepare for the worst, you won’t be surprised by some common moving day problems…the couch won’t fit through the door (measure furniture and doorways prior to the big day)…the cable and internet can’t be hooked up for 2 weeks (call the cable company 2 weeks prior to the move and schedule a set up for the day after the move)…the moving truck can’t fit in the driveway (make sure there is a clear path for the movers especially if there is snow or ice on the ground).
Moving day can be fun…if you have the right help, take deep breathes and prepare…prepare….prepare!!
I know you love your dogs. I know you love your cats. And for some reason that I’ll never understand, I know you love your snakes. But not everyone does.
You’ve made the decision to sell your home, and with that comes the knowledge that strangers will be traipsing through your home peeking into closets and cabinets, looking into attics and cellars and sitting at the table and on the couch getting a feel for the kitchen and living room. I’ve yet to have someone lay on a bed to get a feel for the bedroom but……
So you’ve scrubbed, packed, decluttered and staged. The dog hair is vacuumed up, the litter box is clean, empty and odor free. Thank you for that, by the way, your home is now truly “show ready”.
BUT, since you’re a pet owner, you still have one more thing to do. Please remove your dogs and cats prior to the showing! Yes, remove them. There is nothing worse than trying to show a home with barking and lunging dogs and sneaky and escaping cats. If the potential buyer is not a dog lover, the minute they hear a bark, they become nervous. I’ve had buyers decide NOT to look at a home because of barking dogs inside, even if it’s the house they put #1 on their list. If buyers have allergies, walking into a house and having a welcoming cat rub up against their legs can send them right out the door before they even see the foyer.
Cute, I know,but to a non pet lover……
….this is what they look and sound like!!
This may sound harsh, but it’s reality. So find a doggy day care, a cat sitter or pet walker…..but when we’re coming to decide if YOUR home is going to be THEIR home, don’t let your pets be the decision makers!
Oh, and please, cover the snake tank. Please.
Not that you really can prepare for the unexpected (isn’t that why we call it “un”expected?!) but at least if you are planning on selling your home, you can try to overcome two of the most common pitfalls that Sellers face before they happen to you!
In my experience, 24 years and counting, the number one thing that can go wrong once a Buyer and Seller have negotiated, come to agreement, and have a valid Purchase and Sales Agreement (contract!!) is a problem with the Buyer’s financing. Sellers, please please ask the Buyer or the Buyer’s agent to give you a pre approval letter from the lender BEFORE you sign that contract. And Buyer’s, please please have a pre approval letter from your lender BEFORE you sign that contract!! Nothing is worse for either side in a real estate transaction than to realize that the Buyer isn’t quite ready financially to purchase a home. And equally as important Mr and Ms Buyer, once you get that approval, don’t do ANYTHING that changes your financial picture. Lenders WILL run credit again and ask for employment verification again to make sure everything is the way it was when you applied for financing. Trust me, they will. And if you have purchased a new living room set or changed jobs, the whole transaction can quickly fall apart.
The second thing that can go wrong is a bad home inspection. In Maine, a Buyer can terminate the sales contract for an unsatisfactory inspection, and the Seller doesn’t have any say in that or any chance to “fix” things. So Sellers, why not try to find and fix the things that can scare off a Buyer before they find them and run away? A Pre-Home Inspection can be helpful in so many ways, and while not something that a lot of Sellers think of, it’s not that difficult to have done! Check out this link FMI http://bit.ly/1MB9vzL
So have you had a bad experience? Any suggestions to share with me?
If you’re looking for a few, easy things to do to increase your curb appeal before you go on the market or to jazz up some new photos if you’ve been trying to sell for awhile, adding a few simple touches to your front porch or deck is a great place to start. You can begin to show off your home before the Buyers even open the front door. And there are some really easy things that you can do this weekend!
You don’t need to be fancy, just a few simple touches will work. And don’t try to change your style, keep the front porch (or deck) just an exterior version of your interior style. Light and breezy inside? Don’t try to be dark and heavy outside!
Start by just painting your front door. A fresh coat of paint will never hurt you, as long as it’s a color that will appeal to most Buyers ~ your favorite fushia may not be the right color for this project! Add as much lighting as you can, ~ don’t forget that Buyers tend to drive by homes they are interested in at night checking out the neighborhood!
Add some comfortable furniture ~ let the Buyers stop and sit before they leave to get a feel for the home and surroundings.
You get the picture, right? And a picture is what we are trying to create here, that this is a home not just a house, both inside and out!
The new Mainebiz Fact Book 2015 just arrived, and what a great resource for information for anyone already living and working here, but also for anyone who is thinking about relocating home and/or business to our wonderful state! For a digital look at the Factbook, click on http://bit.ly/1fuxdQE.
I’ve been calling Maine home since 1987, and couldn’t be happier here. What about you, are you a native? A new resident? A visitor? What do you love about our Great State of Maine (and that reminds me of the air show coming up soon…more on that later!!