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8 Tips for Buying a Home for Retirement

There usually comes a time in a person’s life when the hustle and bustle becomes less appealing, and one looks for a peaceful setting to live out their later years. When that time comes, a retirement home may feel like the ultimate blessing.


 People living out their golden years deserve a forever home where they can spend their time the way they want. Plus, having a retirement home for oneself means you’re the boss of everything. That degree of control over one’s own decisions in life is important for many of us. Here are some tips for purchasing a retirement property:
 
1. A Location That Sustains Your Needs
As with all real estate purchases, location plays a critical role in deciding to buy a property for retirement. There are factors to consider like the climate/weather, availability of utilities and conveniences such as healthcare, shopping and entertainment venues.
 
2. Go for a Single-Story
If you need anything in your house, you don’t need to climb any stairs to get to it. Avoiding the stairs and staying away from activities that ask you to shift up and down can prove to be quite beneficial in the long run. A 2018 NAHB survey revealed that 80 percent of baby boomers prefer one-story homes.
 
3. Showers vs. Bathtubs
You should consider a walk-in shower or a familiar type of bath style rather than traditional bathtubs or Jacuzzis. Having a bathtub/shower combo is much more preferable, as they allow an easy point of entry. Bathtubs can prove to be difficult to get in and out of as one gets older.
 
4. Bigger Hallways and Entryways
Tight hallways have never done anyone any favors. Look for a space that provides you with hallways and entryways that you can spread your arms in without butting into things or knocking items over unintentionally. According to Houzz.com, a generous measurement for hallways should have a height of more than 9 feet and width of 54 – 72 inches.
 
5. Space for Your Partner
Room for a significant other is what can make your house complete and transform it into a home. Regardless of age, people always seek out companionship. Space for a significant other in your retirement home should not be overlooked. Make sure there’s room for two so that you and your other half can stay close to each other.
 
6. Remember Your Pets
Pets are the emotional sustenance we all need in our lives. Many simply cannot survive without their pets; such is the bond between them. Even with their non-spoken relationship, there is so much more they add to our existence.
 
A retirement home without your pet would surely feel empty. Plus, who in this world would even wish to part with a dear friend just because their new home wasn’t big enough to let them stay.
 
7. Take Mobility Into Consideration
Retirement doesn’t mean isolation from society. There are still going to be a lot of dinner parties and other events that you’ll likely want to attend. Theater, music, fine art and a range of activities await you, which is why many look into retirement homes that offer an easy commute to the city you intend to visit. Whether it’s private or public transport, mobility should always be considered.
 
8. Home Security
Even if theft isn’t a concern, home security is also used to safeguard you against mishaps. There are services available that can send help within a couple of minutes by simply pressing a button.
 
There are many things to consider when buying a retirement home. Take your time and discuss it at length with your partner, because only you two should decide where and when to buy a retirement home.
 
John William currently works as an interior designer at Crowd Writer as well as a trainer at Student Essay, where scholars can acquire a professional research proposal writing service from experts. In his free time, he likes to spend quality time with his family, friends and loved ones.
 
This article first appeared on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall.

Creative Ways to Use That Spare Bedroom

If you’re lucky enough to have a spare bedroom, you may want to think of it less as a rarely used landing spot for guests or a place to store extra ‘stuff,’ and more as a blank canvas – a pleasant spot you can use for rest, relaxation, hobbies or exercise, or even as a money-making option.

 

Consider these inspiring ideas from room designers and creative thinkers:

  • Get crafty – Do you sew occasionally? Like to draw or paint? Love to do amazing gift-wraps? Fill the room with smart choices of furnishings, storage, tables and accessories to make your hobby more fun than ever.
  • Make it personal – Turn the room into a ma’am- or man-cave, with comfy furnishings, a TV and sound system and anything else you need to make it a cozy, personal retreat.
  • Make it a study – Create a cheerful home office space where you or your kids can pay bills, read online or study without interruption. Install a work counter/desk across one wall, add enough chairs and supply drawers, plus computers and printers as needed. 
  • Build your own library – Book lovers can line the walls with shelving, collect books to their heart’s content, install a chair or two and some great reading light, and revel in a private library. 
  • Make music – For parents and/or kids with a passion for making music, lay down thick carpeting to soak up sound, add a few comfy floor cushions for musically inclined visitors and make room to jam with friends or solo with as many instruments as you wish. 
  • Start a garden – Wish you had a greenhouse? You can cultivate seedlings in that spare room from the waning days of winter through early spring. Buy ready-made shelving and add light fixtures and supplies appropriate for nurturing baby plants.
  • Sweat it out – Whether you practice yoga, run or do strength training, you’ll be more motivated, better disciplined and more excited about your workouts in a dedicated exercise space. Drag that treadmill out of the basement, add all the exercise equipment you want and go!
  • Airbnb it – Make a few extra bucks by renting out your guest room through Airbnb. Outfit the space with attractive towels, linens and toiletries, and make sure your home’s Wi-Fi password is prominently displayed.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Buyers: How to Get Noticed Among the Competition

As potential home sellers put their plans on hold due to the widespread impact of the coronavirus, available inventory of for-sale homes shrunk, making the landscape a little more challenging for buyers. If you’re currently in the market for a home, you can expect more competition, but there are strategies you can implement to help make your offer stand out among the rest. Consider these suggestions from Homes.com National Speaker and real estate professional Rebecca Donatelli:



Get in touch with the listing agent. Talk to your agent about how they’ll communicate with the agent representing the home seller. Have them ask questions about the home’s availability and if there are other offers on the table…and what they may be like. The listing agent may be unable to share this information based on the seller’s request, but it’s worth trying. Donatelli also recommends finding out about the seller’s preferences in terms of timeline and title company so that you can be as accommodating a buyer as possible.

Make a straightforward offer. The fewer contingencies associated with the offer you make on a home, the better. In these trying times, sellers will gravitate to a deal with simple terms. Also keep in mind that it’s not always about price—the best offer will be the sum of the terms that work best for the seller, says Donatelli.

Be quick. In a seller’s market, you need to be ready to move fast, otherwise, you’ll be overlooked for another offer. Talk to your agent about their availability for showing homes, and how much they’ll be able to do virtually…which can save you both time. 
 
Help expedite the review process. Once you make an offer, there can be a lag as the seller and their agent start the review process—especially when multiple offers are present. Donatelli suggests working with your agent to create a one-page outline that highlights the terms and contingencies to add to the front of your offer package. This will allow the seller and the listing agent to get a quick view of your offer in order to move things along.

All-cash offers are extremely attractive in a seller’s market, so if that’s an option you can provide without overextending yourself financially, it may be worth considering.

4 Signs That Pests Are Damaging Your Home

If you’ve noticed unusual signs of damage around your property, pests may be to blame. Rodents, insects and other types of pests can wreak havoc on properties and cause unforeseen damage that ends up resulting in costly repairs.



Here are four signs to look for to determine whether pests are damaging your home:

Unstable Floors
The sudden feeling that the floors in your home are unstable could be a sign of a pest problem. This may be especially true if you have hardwood floors that are damaged because of termites. You might notice the boards curling on your floor as damage persists. Flaking and crumbling may also become noticeable as your floors continue to deteriorate from the damage. Crushed-looking wood at structurally significant points can be another obvious sign of a pest problem.

Tap Test Failure
Damage that’s impossible to see can sometimes be detected by performing a tap test on wood surfaces around your home. Wood that’s solid all the way through should produce a thudding sound when tapped, and any hollow sounds could mean that termites or other pests are wearing away at the wood. Hollow sounds also mean that significant portions of your wood have already been lost. Calling a termite treatment specialist and contractor to repair the damage can resolve the problem.

Electrical Problems
If lights, appliances or other equipment around your home that’s powered by electricity start to fail, you might have a pest problem on your hands. Lights that dim or completely go out, as well as appliances that don’t have as much power or fail to turn on when plugged in, could mean that pests are damaging the wires. Rodents are known to chew through wires, which can also create a fire hazard in your home.

Mud Tunnels
Tubes that appear to be made of mud may be visible in your yard and even on the side of your home. These tunnels are often constructed by organ pipe mud dauber wasps to store their larvae. Termites are also known to build tunnels that look like mud but are made from a combination of soil and wood along with a substance consisting of their saliva and feces. You might find these lining walls and floors, acting as a sure sign of infestation if you find them in your home.

Learning about the signs of pest damage will make it easier for you to act quickly to resolve the problem. Pest damage isn’t always obvious, and taking the time to perform a thorough inspection will allow you to stay on top of any situation that may arise.

Source: Meghan Belnap/RISMedia’s Housecall

4 Things Homebuyers Should Know About New Construction Homes

Being the first person to own a newly built home can be a source of immense pride and enjoyment. Having the chance to build a house to your exact specifications gives you a great opportunity to move into a home that you can enjoy for many years.



As a potential buyer of a new home, there are some important things to keep in mind throughout the research and building process that will help make the process simpler. To help ensure you’re fully prepared, here are four things homebuyers should know about new construction homes:

There Are Lots of Options
It’s easy to miss when you walk through a completed home, but the number of options available when you’re constructing a new home is staggering. If you’re buying a home in a new development, you can simplify this decision-making process by choosing from certain pre-selected packages. Of course, you can choose each option individually, keeping in mind that this will take quite a bit of time and could result in an unexpected finished product if you don’t have a decent handle on interior design.

There’s Time Involved
New construction homes don’t just pop up overnight. Most new homes take a few months to build, meaning you need to have a plan for where you’ll live in the meantime. To be sure, the end result is more than worth the wait. It’s important, though, to keep in mind that the waiting period will likely be longer than if you buy a pre-existing home. To help maintain your excitement, you can drop by the building site on occasion to check out the construction progress.
 
Home Warranties Are Encouraged

There’s no doubt that home builders work hard to produce the best homes they can. However, that doesn’t mean that a home warranty is not a smart idea, even when the home you’re protecting is brand new. If one of your appliances should turn out to be a lemon, for example, you don’t want to have to pay to replace it when you’re already working hard to pay down your mortgage. Before you move into your new home, it’s important to understand the warranties that are available to you so that you can take advantage of the options that are best for your situation.

It’s Good to Have a REALTOR®
Even when buying a new construction home straight from the developer, it’s a good idea to have a REALTOR® to represent you. A real estate professional can help make the paperwork process much easier and ensure that you’ve completed all the small details to make your transition into your new home far smoother. Plus, a REALTOR® will ensure that you’re getting a fair price and you didn’t miss any details that could turn out to be problems later on.

It’s Totally Worth
Even when the completion of your home seems a long way off, the reality is that moving into a new construction home is usually worth all the effort involved. Knowing that you’re the first family to make memories in a home serves as a daily reminder of the hard work that has gotten you to this point. Plus, with the right planning in place, buying a new home can be as simple as buying any other home!
 

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

Why You Should Avoid Using Credit Cards When Shopping for a House

If you’re looking for a new home, you probably already know that a mortgage lender will consider your credit score, percentage of available credit used and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. If your score is too low or your credit utilization or DTI ratio is too high, the lender may charge you a high interest rate or reject your loan application altogether.

Buyers often run into trouble because they don’t understand a key fact about how mortgage lenders vet candidates. A lender checks a borrower’s credit when an application is submitted, and again shortly before closing. If a borrower uses credit cards to buy furniture and appliances or to pay for moving costs, the person’s credit score, utilization ratio and DTI ratio may rise enough to cause the lender to raise the interest rate or decide not to grant a mortgage at all.

How to Protect Your Credit and Get a Mortgage
While you’re in the process of house hunting, it’s important to keep your credit in the best shape it can be and to avoid using credit cards as much as possible. If you normally use credit cards for food, clothing and entertainment, don’t. Use cash or a debit card, or don’t buy certain things at all. If you must make an important purchase, ask yourself if you can live without it until after you’ve closed on your home.

If you receive a letter inviting you to apply for a new credit card with a low introductory rate or rewards, it can be tempting, but you shouldn’t apply while you’re looking for a new home. Too many hard inquiries in a short period of time can hurt your credit score. You shouldn’t apply for an auto loan while house hunting for the same reason.

Make Sure You Have Enough Savings
You’ll have to save money for a down payment, but you shouldn’t put all your savings toward that. If you do, you’ll be left with no cushion to deal with any unexpected bills for things such as medical treatments or car repairs. You also won’t have funds readily available to buy furniture and appliances before you move into your new house. That means you may be tempted or forced to use credit cards, which may jeopardize your ability to obtain a mortgage.

Don’t Lose out on Your Dream Home
Even if your mortgage application has been approved, that doesn’t mean the decision is final. The lender will check your credit again before you close on the house. A sudden rise in credit card balances and a higher utilization ratio and DTI ratio could cause the lender to change its decision and to reject your mortgage application. Set aside money for any planned or unexpected expenses you may encounter so you can avoid using credit cards as much as possible until you’ve closed on your new house.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

6 Security Tips for Your New Home

Buying and moving into a new home is exciting, but it also requires a lot of attention to detail, from closing the deal to figuring out the logistics of getting all your belongings from point A to point B. Amid all the excitement, planning and unpacking, many new homeowners overlook one essential factor: the security of their new house.

Open door with keys, key in keyhole

If you’re moving, consider these six tips from the home security experts at ADT to help keep your family and your property safe and secure:

Change the Locks. You never know who lived in your property before you moved in. Do yourself a favor and change the locks regardless of the situation.

Transfer or Invest in a Security System. There’s no better way to ensure your home is secure 24/7 than installing a home security system. Burglar-proof your house by adding video surveillance and motion sensors for complete security. If there’s already a security system in the house, have it properly looked over and reactivated. If you’d like to bring the security system that you’re currently using to your new house, consider relocation services.

Install Indoor and Outdoor Lighting. Don’t stand out as the “new neighbor” by being the only dim house on the street at night. Keep your family protected by making your house look occupied at all times using light automation.

Keep Your Outside Area in Excellent Condition. Did you know burglars see the exterior of your property as a bullseye? If your lawn is unkempt or you have large shrubbery, burglars will see that as an invitation to break in.

Talk With the Neighbors. Having trusted neighbors can immediately make living in a new place much safer. They may be able to help keep your house look occupied while you’re away by simply picking up the newspaper, shoveling your walkway, etc.

Remind Your Kids to Be Cautious. Moving to a new neighborhood means a lot of unfamiliar faces for you and your family. Make sure your children are aware that they should never let a stranger into the house, leave the garage door up when they come in or go exploring too far until you’re more familiar with the area.

By taking care of these security measures when moving, you can turn your focus to truly enjoying your new, safe home.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

How to Save Up for a Down Payment

Saving up for a down payment is one of the biggest challenges for aspiring first-time homebuyers. A typical down payment can range from 5 to 20 percent of a home’s purchase price–that’s no small chunk of change. Although it might seem overwhelming to rack up thousands of dollars, practicing some discipline and using the right tactics can help you pull it off, making it possible for you to go from renter to proud homeowner.

To help you save for a down payment, consider these tips from the American Bankers Association:

Develop a Budget and Timeline. Start by determining how much you’ll need for a down payment. Create a budget and calculate how much you can realistically save each month–that’ll help you gauge when you’ll be ready to transition from renter to homeowner.

Establish a Separate Savings Account. Set up a separate savings account exclusively for your down payment, and make your monthly contributions automatic. By keeping this money separate, you’ll be less likely to tap into it when you’re tight on cash.

Shop Around to Reduce Major Monthly Expenses. It’s a good idea to check rates for your car insurance, renters insurance, health insurance, cable, internet and cellphone plan. There may be deals or promotions available that allow you to save hundreds of dollars by adjusting your contracts.

Monitor Your Spending. With online banking, keeping an eye on your spending is easier than ever. Track where most of your discretionary income is going. Identify areas where you could cut back (nice meals out, vacations, etc.) and instead put that money into savings.

Look Into State and Local Home-Buying Programs. Many states, counties and local governments operate programs for first-time homebuyers. Some programs offer housing discounts, while others provide down payment loans or grants.

Celebrate Savings Milestones. Saving enough for a down payment can be daunting. To avoid getting discouraged, break it up into smaller goals and reward yourself when you reach each one. If you need to save $30,000 total, consider treating yourself to a nice meal every $5,000 saved. This’ll help you stay motivated throughout the process.

Homebuyer Tips: Moving During Uncertain Times

Our country faces challenges all the time. Whether it’s a recession, natural disaster or, yes, even a global pandemic—no matter what’s happening in the world, life still happens. Today, many families find themselves needing to move at a less than ideal time.

Happy family with two children having fun at new home. Young multiethnic parents with two sons in their new house with cardboard boxes. Smiling little boys sitting on floor with mother and dad.


 
Moving is always stressful, but moving while trying to navigate certain restrictions and safety regulations can quickly become an overwhelming undertaking. While many may attempt to reschedule their moves to less turbulent times, some families can’t delay the process. Maybe you sold your home before the pandemic hit and now are left to figure out the best move.
 
If you find yourself needing to move during these challenging times, here are some tips to make the process as smooth as possible:
 
Get Rid of What You Don’t Need

Decluttering and downsizing should be implemented during any move, no matter the state of the world. Many of us have recently been spending more time at home due to stay-at-home orders; use the downtime as an opportunity to go through your belongings and get rid of what you don’t use, need or want anymore. Don’t waste time and money by moving items to your new location that are just going to get tossed out soon anyway.
 
Go Virtual
The safety of your family should always be your top priority. Complete as many necessary tasks as you can virtually to avoid traveling when it isn’t safe to do so. Many real estate professionals have been offering virtual home tours during the pandemic, and this practice is something that is likely to continue moving forward. Communicate with your agent via video chat, phone and email as much as possible. Important paperwork and other steps involved in the closing process are often allowed to take place online during times of crisis.
 
Assess Your Financials
Any nationwide emergency will likely impact the economy, putting many Americans in a state of unease. Today, the country is facing massive economic upset and widespread layoffs; according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the U.S. officially entered a recession this February. Before you fully commit to moving, make sure you understand your financial situation and what you have to work with monetarily.
Ask yourself: what’ll my income look like over the coming months? How much cash and credit capacity do I have? Do I have a plan in place to stay on top of my bills? With these answers, you can start to get a sense of how your budget will change and if you can afford a move.
 
Keep an Eye Out for Deals
Times of crisis can offer the best investment opportunities for those who are prepared. When the masses shy away from investing in real estate due to economic uncertainty, it might just be the best time to buy. When the housing bubble burst in 2008, most were running away from the market, but the smartest investors made tremendous deals during that time. Because real estate tends to slow in uncertain times, sellers are typically more willing to negotiate. Today’s mortgage rates are at a record low so, while it may seem stressful, now may actually end up being the best time for you to purchase a new home.
 
Do What You Can on Your Own
Services you might typically use like shipping and professional movers are likely to be disrupted along with most other industries. To avoid paying hefty service fees or endure long wait times, and to ensure the safety of your family and workers, you might consider tackling as much of your move on your own as you can. Consider doing your own packing and moving, and realize that if you’re shipping any of your belongings long distance, they may take longer than expected to arrive. If you do need to pay for assistance, research different companies and ask questions about how their operations have changed during the pandemic.
 
Moving is no easy feat, especially when turbulent times put a strain on your plans. Do your research, educate yourself and make sure safety is your top priority!
 
Brentnie Daggett is a writer and infographic master for the rental and property management industry. She loves to share tips and tricks to assist landlords and renters alike. To learn more about Daggett, and to discover more great tips for renters, visit www.rentecdirect.com.
 
This article first appeared on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall.

How to Save for a Down Payment If You’re Currently Renting

If you are renting an apartment but want to buy your own home, you’ll have to save enough money for a down payment first. The amount will depend on the price of your dream home and the terms of your mortgage, but it’ll most likely be several thousand dollars more than you currently have in your bank account. Saving money for a down payment while putting a significant percentage of your monthly income toward rent can feel daunting, but you can do it if you make some strategic decisions and commitments.

Money bag with the word down payment. Payment used in the context of the purchase of expensive items such as a car and a house, whereby the payment is the initial upfront portion of the total amount



Figure out How Much You Need
If you have a pretty good idea of where you want to live and the size and features you want in your future home, you can look at recent sale prices and come up with a ballpark estimate of how much you’ll need for a down payment. Having a target can help you stay on track.

See Where Your Money Goes & Look for Ways to Cut Expenses
Keep track of every dollar you spend for two or three months. Knowing where your money goes can help you identify areas where you can make changes to save. For example, you may be surprised at how much you spend on things like eating out and entertainment.

If you live in an area where rental costs are high, consider relocating. You might have a longer daily commute, but cutting your rent bill could give you hundreds of extra dollars each month to put toward your down payment. If moving isn’t an option, consider getting a roommate to share expenses.

Utility bills can fluctuate from month to month as your usage changes with the season. If possible, find an apartment with some or all utilities included. The rent payment may be higher, but paying the same amount each month can make budgeting easier. If you can’t find an apartment with utilities included, look for ways to use less electricity and water.

Increase Income & Reduce Debt
You can earn additional income by taking on a part-time job. Whether you capitalize on an in-demand skill that you have or look for odd jobs or a freelancing gig, every extra dollar can bring you closer to your down payment goal.

If you have credit card balances, high interest rates can cause you to pay thousands of dollars extra. Paying off your debt means that money could go toward a down payment instead. Eliminating credit card debt can also raise your credit score and help you get a mortgage with a lower interest rate.

Focus on a Goal & Create a Strategy
Saving money for a down payment can be tough if you’re paying to rent a home, but it can be done. Set a goal, figure out where your money is currently going each month and then look for changes you can make to reduce your living expenses. A multi-pronged approach can help you reach your goal faster.

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