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10 Pro Tips for a Smooth Home Move

Whatever your circumstances, the road to the closing table can be riddled with obstacles — from issues with showings and negotiations to inspection surprises. But many of these complications are avoidable.

How To Stretch Your Holiday Budget in Season of Inflation

Stretch Budget LinkedIn

You don’t have to break the bank to celebrate the holidays in style—even in this season of inflation. Prices may be higher on everything, but there are still plenty of opportunities to stretch your holiday budget and find extra savings. 

35 Tips to Furnish New Home For Less

35 TIPS Furnish New Home For Less

35 Tips to Furnish New Home for Less Buying a new home is one of the most exciting experiences in life. And if you’re like most homebuyers, you’ll be planning your furniture placement and decor before the ink dries on your offer letter. But before you run to the nearest home goods store, take a deep breath. First, you’ll need to delay any major purchases before you close on your new home. A large outlay or additional line of credit could lower your credit score and, thus, impact your mortgage terms.1 Second, moving and closing costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to be strategic with your remaining budget. But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to save on home essentials, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorites to share with you.  PRIORITIZE WHAT YOU REALLY NEED BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING According to Home Advisor, the national average cost to furnish a new house is $16,000, but it can easily soar higher.2  That’s why we recommend starting with a thorough assessment of what you already have and what you actually need to start life in your new place. Here are some steps to help you prioritize your purchases and keep spending in check.  Make a list of everything you need. Going room by room could help you brainstorm—for example, you might list items ranging from a mattress to blackout curtains for your new primary bedroom. Inventory what you already have. Cross the big (dining table) to the small (kitchen knives) off your list as you go. Divide the remaining items into three groups: things you need right away (a mattress), items you’d like to have in the near future (a coffee table for your living room), and pieces that can wait (an area rug). Calculate your budget. Figure out how much money you’ll have available for immediate purchases after the sale has closed, and start researching the items on your priority list to understand how they’ll fit into your budget. Don’t rush the process. Bringing older items to your new space doesn’t mean you need to keep them forever. Consider hanging onto pieces that can tide you over for a year or two until your bank account has recovered from the costs of a home purchase.    Before you start shopping, make sure you know which appliances and fixtures are included with your home purchase. We can inform you of the standard contract terms when you’re making an initial offer and note any additional items that you would like to request. TIME YOUR PURCHASES TO MAKE THE MOST OF SEASONAL SALES Did you know that some home items predictably go on sale at certain times of the year? If you can wait to buy these pieces when prices are lower, you could save significantly. Here are some of the best times to buy household essentials:3,4 Bedding and linens: January TVs: Black Friday/Cyber Monday and late January (before the Super Bowl) Furniture: February and August, as well as Black Friday, Memorial Day, and Labor Day Large appliances: Labor Day through October Small kitchen appliances: May Mattresses: Holiday weekends, especially Memorial Day, Labor Day, and 4th of July Vacuum cleaners: April Tools: June Outdoor furniture: August through October Generally speaking, holiday weekends (as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday) tend to be great times to find deals. If the item you’re looking for is seasonal—like patio furniture or holiday decorations—waiting until the end of that season usually pays off. FIND ALTERNATIVE SHOPPING SOURCES Can’t wait for a sale? It’s time to think outside of the box (the big-box stores, that is). There are plenty of surprising places to find great furniture and houseware deals.  Check out overstock and liquidation stores. These stores purchase items other retailers haven’t sold and offer them at a steep discount. The inventory can be hit or miss, but you can often get a great deal if you find what you’re looking for.5 Try private membership/warehouse stores. Retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club often have great deals on home goods. If you’re not already a member, ask family or friends if they are willing to take you to look around before you commit. Consider open-box items.  When buyers return items like furniture or electronics, retailers can’t always sell them as new, even if they haven’t truly been used. Look online for open-box deals from retailers like Wayfair and Amazon Warehouse or visit local retailers to see what they have in stock. Give scratch-and-dent appliances a chance. These appliances are brand new but sold at deep discounts because their external packaging was damaged. Typically, this means that flaws are purely cosmetic—but it’s always possible that the merchandise has suffered more serious damage. So, be sure to check out the appliances carefully and ask about included warranties.6 Expand your window treatment search. Window treatments can be surprisingly expensive, but it’s often possible to save by buying off-the-shelf offerings in standard sizes. If you need a custom size or material, consider ordering online from a discount supplier and installing them yourself. Shop secondhand. In addition to thrift stores and garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, and Craigslist are all great places to find deals in your area. Are alternative shopping sources still a stretch for your budget? Check out local Freecycle or “Buy Nothing” groups, which are often hosted on Facebook. Participants offer big and small items they no longer need—everything from furniture to clothing hangers—for free to other members.7,8 DON’T BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE FOR A BETTER DEAL Many people don’t realize that prices for home goods, from furniture to appliances, are often negotiable. While asking for a discount can be intimidating, it’s common practice in many industries, although more so at independently-owned stores than chains. Here are a few tips:9,10 Comparison shop before you walk into a store. If you can find a lower price for the same item elsewhere, many retailers will match it. Ask the store associate or manager for the best price

First Time Home Buyers: How to Budget For a House

It’s not easy being a first time home buyer right now. At the end of last year, housing affordability hit an all-time low. Here are some workarounds to consider as you plot your first home purchase.

Selling Your Home: Sellers Checklist

Sellers-Checklist-Prep-Your-Home-For-Selling-Blog-Image

If you want to maximize your sale price, it’s still important to prepare your home before putting it on the market. We have included a check list for your convenience.

Free Admission Days To Recreation In Florida

National Parks that typically charge an entrance fee will waive it on special days of each year, providing free admission to everyone on the following fives days listed below in 2023.

Florida Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday September 2022

Florida’s tool time sales tax holiday begins September 2, 2023, which means shoppers won’t pay sales tax on most of the things found on the tool time list! The Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday ends September 8, 2023.

8 Strategies to Secure Lower Mortgage Rate

8 Strategies to Secure a Lower Mortgage Rate This year, mortgage rates have been on a roller coaster ride, rising and falling amid inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty. Even the experts are divided about where rates are headed next1 when it comes to predictions. There is hope for you in that you might get a lower mortgage rate. This climate has been unsettling for some homebuyers and sellers. However, with proper planning, you can work toward qualifying for the best mortgage rates available today – and open up the possibility of refinancing at a lower mortgage rate in the future. How does a lower mortgage rate save you money? According to Trading Economics, the average new mortgage size in the United States is currently around $410,000.2 Let’s compare a 5.0% versus a 6.0% fixed interest rate on that amount over a 30-year term. Mortgage Rate (30-year fixed) Monthly Payment on $410,000 Loan(excludes taxes, insurance, etc.) Difference in Monthly Payment Total Interest Over 30 Years Difference in Interest 5.0% $2,200.97   $382,348.72   6.0% $2,458.16 + $257.19 $474,936.58 + $92,587.86         With a 5% rate, your monthly payments would be about $2,201. At 6%, those payments would jump to $2,458, or around $257 more. That adds up to a difference of almost $92,600 over the lifetime of the loan. In other words, shaving off just one percentage point on your mortgage could put nearly $100K in your pocket over time. Therefore, how can you improve your chances of securing a low mortgage rate? Try these eight strategies: 1. Raise your credit score. Borrowers with higher credit scores are viewed as “less risky” to lenders, so they are offered lower interest rates. A good credit score typically starts at 690 and can move up into the 800s.3 If you don’t know your score, check with your bank or credit card company to see if they offer free access. If not, there are a plethora of both free and paid credit monitoring services you can utilize. If your credit score is low, you can take steps to improve it, including:4 Correct any errors on your credit reports, which can bring down your score. You can access reports for free by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Pay down revolving debt. This includes credit card balances and home equity lines of credit. Avoid closing old credit card accounts in good standing. It could lower your score by shortening your credit history and shrinking your total available credit. Make all future payments on time. Payment history is a primary factor in determining your credit score, so make it a priority. Limit your credit applications to avoid having your score dinged by too many inquiries. If you’re shopping around for a car loan or mortgage, minimize the impact by limiting your applications to a short period, usually 14 to 45 days.5           Over time, you should start to see your credit score climb — which will help you qualify for a lower mortgage rate. 2. Keep steady employment. If you are preparing to purchase a home, it might not be the best time to make a major career change. Unfortunately, frequent job moves or gaps in your résumé could hurt your borrower eligibility. When you apply for a mortgage, lenders will typically review your employment and income over the past 24 months.5 If you’ve earned a steady paycheck, you could qualify for a better interest rate. A stable employment history gives lenders more confidence in your ability to repay the loan. That doesn’t mean a job change will automatically disqualify you from purchasing a home. But certain moves, like switching from W-2 to 1099 (independent contractor) income, could throw a wrench in your home buying plans.6   3. Lower your debt-to-income ratios. Even with a high credit score and a great job, lenders will be concerned if your debt payments are consuming too much of your income. That’s where your debt-to-income (DTI) ratios will come into play. There are two types of DTI ratios:7 Front-end ratio — What percentage of your gross monthly income will go towards covering housing expenses (mortgage, taxes, insurance, and dues or association fees)? Back-end ratio — What percentage of your gross monthly income will go towards covering ALL debt obligations (housing expenses, credit cards, student loans, and other debt)?   What’s considered a good DTI ratio? For better rates, lenders typically want to see a front-end DTI ratio that’s no higher than 28% and a back-end ratio that’s 36% or less.7 If your DTI ratios are higher, you can take steps to lower them, like purchasing a less expensive home or increasing your down payment. Your back-end ratio can also be decreased by paying down your existing debt. A bump in your monthly income will also bring down your DTI ratios.   4. Increase your down payment. Minimum down payment requirements vary by loan type. But, in some cases, you can qualify for a lower mortgage rate if you make a larger down payment.8 Why do lenders care about your down payment size? Because borrowers with significant equity in their homes are less likely to default on their mortgages. That’s why conventional lenders often require borrowers to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) if they put down less than 20%. A larger down payment will also lower your overall borrowing costs and decrease your monthly mortgage payment since you’ll be taking out a smaller loan. Just be sure to keep enough cash on hand to cover closing costs, moving expenses, and any furniture or other items you’ll need to get settled into your new space.   5. Compare loan types. All mortgages are not created equal. The loan type you choose could save (or cost) you money depending on your qualifications and circumstances. For example, here are several common loan types available in the U.S. today:9 Conventional — These offer lower mortgage rates but have more stringent credit and down payment requirements than some other types. FHA — Backed