Filed under: Blog, Down Sizing, Exclusive Buyer Agent, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Home Maintenance, Homebuyer Advice, Relocation, Retirement, South Florida Real Estate by Kim Bregman
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The sensitive information of almost half of all Americans has been compromised, all because the company safeguarding that information reportedly failed to upgrade and update software despite being warned to do so.
To make it worse, company execs sold millions in stock after the breach, but before they told the public what had happened. The company continued to sell consumers like you pricey identity protection packages, even though they knew they were guilty of exposing that same consumer data to hackers. And it seems they suffered another hack earlier in the year but failed to notify us of the potential damage.
No wonder consumers feel helpless as they try to protect themselves from identity fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put together some very helpful and comprehensive background information on the Equifax breach, chock full of consumer tips. You can read that guidance here.
Do a test
Visit the Equifax website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to see if your personal data has been exposed.
Here’s the how-to’s from the FTC: “Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.”
Monitor your credit
If you’re affected, sign up for the year of free credit monitoring that Equifax is offering. Even if you are not affected, you should monitor your credit to make sure no one else is taking out loans in your name. (Many big-name credit card companies offer free credit monitoring as a cardholder perk. Use it).
Once a year, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major bureaus (Experian®, Equifax®, TransUnion®) at annualcreditreport.com.
Here’s some additional advice from credit card lender Capital One: “It’s important to review all three reports—some lenders don’t report to every bureau, so they may have different information. Read through each report carefully and make sure you recognize the accounts. If something strange turns up, start by contacting the lender to investigate. For more info, take a look at this article on checking your credit report.”
Practice safe financial habits
Keep a close eye on your finances by reconciling bank accounts and credit card statements monthly, shred financial papers, change passwords often, use different passwords for different financial accounts, be careful what you click on, and practice safe computer habits.
It’s not a bad idea to enroll in purchase notification programs with your bank or credit card providers. They’ll alert you by text or email if there are large or unusual purchases in your accounts. Some even let you lock or unlock your card via mobile app. (I’ve got some funny stories to share about the purchase alerts I’ve gotten for my college age kids. Definitely TMI).
Fraud alerts and freezes
There’s been a lot of talk about fraud alerts and freezes. Putting afraud alert on your credit reports lets potential lenders know what’s going on, explains Capital One, and alerts them to take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.
According to Capital One, “you only need to notify one of the three credit reporting companies to put a fraud alert on your credit report and they’re required to tell the other two companies. Make sure you keep copies of all letters and renew the alert every 90 days until the issue is resolved. You can also check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information.”
A credit freeze provides more protection but is time-consuming. A freeze restricts access to your credit report. Without reviewing that info, few lenders will open a new account for you. “This makes it harder for potential thieves to apply for credit or open accounts in your name,” says Capital One. However, freezing your accounts may involve service charges, takes time on the phone or online, and can get in your way the day you want to buy a new car or make some other consumer purchase using credit. To learn more about credit freezes, click here.
Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Homebuyer Advice, Real Estate, real estate news, South Florida Real Estate by Kim Bregman
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The Internet is full of checklists and resources to use if you are planning to move. There are packing timelines. There are lists of packing supplies. There are even directions on how to pack boxes.
But moving is much more than purging and organizing your personal affects. There are legal tasks you need to take care of too.
Here are 5 legal tasks to complete when you move:
When reclining on South Florida’s sandy beaches there’s no need to feel that tug of guilt about your best friend back home. Your dog could be right here with you, frolicking in the blue-green waters of the Atlantic, or fetching a ball or Frisbee on one of South Florida’s dog-friendly beaches.
Remember to always have plenty of water on hand for your pets to avoid dehydration, which can sneak up on humans and dogs alike in Florida’s heat all year round. Seek out frequent breaks for your dogs in the shade while visiting dog-friendly beaches in Florida, and consult with your pet’s veterinarian about special sunscreen for dogs. Bring plastic bags to clean up after your pet and leave the beach like you found it and don’t forget to test the temperature of the sand. If it is too hot for you to walk on it is too hot for your best friend too.
The 80-mile stretch from Jupiter to Miami offers a number dog beaches for you and your pooch to explore. If your dog is friendly and likes to play in the sun and sand, certain beaches and parks in this South Florida region provide designated play areas just for dogs. Each location maintains rules about conduct and charges a nominal access fee; Some municipalities allow visitors to purchase beach passes online or on location. Bring your dog’s current rabies certificate with you to show as needed.
Palm Beach County Dog Beaches
Starting in the North part of the county is Jupiter’s Off Leash Beach. Dogs are welcome on a 2.5 mile stretch of beach on this coastline at A1A and Marcinski Road in northern Palm Beach County. The cost is free and so is parking along the beach. Free dog bags are provided by Friends of Jupiter Beach.
Bark Beach on Spanish River Beach, in Boca Raton is open on Friday’s, Saturday and Sundays from 7-9am and 3pm to sunset from Nov-March and from 5pm to sunset from March to Nov. The dog beach is located between the lifeguard towers 18 and 20 at 3001 N. Ocean Blvd. You will need a valid parking permit if you are a resident of Boca Raton or pay the daily parking fee.
Broward County Dog Beaches
Fort Lauderdale Canine Beach at Sunrise Boulevard at A1Ainvites dogs of all sizes and breeds to its 100-yard beach open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in winter and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in summer for an annual fee. When you visit the canine beach, your dog must be leashed. You also must bring waste bags to pick up after your dog, and you must have a permit. You can pick up a permit to let your dog play in the unfenced area from the City of Fort Lauderdale (1350 West Broward Boulevard; 954-828-7275) with proof of current vaccines including rabies.
Dog Beach of Hollywood welcomes socialized dogs to its sandy dunes, equipped with its own park ranger. The beach strongly enforces picking up after your dog to ensure that the area remains sanitary. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., November through March and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., April through October, Dog Beach of Hollywood charges a fee at a daily or annual rate. All dogs must have current vaccines. You can purchase a beach pass on site or at Hollywood Parks Recreational and Cultural Arts Office (no website; 1405 South 28th Avenue; 954-921-3404).
Miami-Dade Dog Beach
The only dog beach in the City of Miami Beach is the Miami Bark Beach, this dog beach sits adjacent to North Shore Open Space Park, which is also pet-friendly and a great place for a stroll after a swim in the ocean. There are also plenty of outdoor pet-friendly restaurants nearby. At the beach, dogs must be on a leash except in the designated area. Proof of your dog’s vaccinations is required.
If a flood swamps your home, will insurance cover the damage? That depends on the value of your home, the amount of water damage and whether you have a flood insurance policy.
Let’s look at some persistent myths about flood insurance.
Myth: You must live in a flood plain to get coverage.
If you live in a flood plain, your mortgage company will likely require you to buy flood insurance. But you can purchase it even if you don’t live within a flood zone. “Almost anybody can get flood insurance who wants flood insurance,” says Chris Hackett, director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. The price through the federal flood insurance program is based on standardized rates and depends on the home’s value and whether or not it’s in a flood plain.
Myth: Flood insurance covers everything.
When it comes to the physical structure of your house, federal flood insurance policies top out at $250,000. If you have a $300,000 house that’s a total loss because of a flood, the most you can recoup through the program is $250,000 to cover the structure itself. For your personal possessions, the cap is $100,000 under the federal program.
Myth: My homeowners policy covers floods.
“Unfortunately, a lot of folks may be under the impression that their standard homeowners policy might cover flood damage,” Hackett says. But the standard policy does not! The typical home insurance policy doesn’t cover earthquakes or floods. So a homeowner wanting coverage for either of those disasters will need to pick up separate, specific coverage against those types of disasters.
Myth: Water damage is water damage. When it comes to your insurance, not all water damage is the same.
If there’s a storm and your “roof comes off and water comes through, that would be covered under your homeowners policy,” Hackett says. “Versus a flood situation where the water is rising from an over flowing riverbank overflows or an unnatural amount of rain that is rising from the street.
Myth: Flood maps don’t change.
Flood plains (and flood plain maps) change and evolve. Just because you weren’t in a flood plain when you bought your home a few years ago doesn’t mean you’re not in one now.
For more information, visit FloodSmart.gov.
Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, Flood Insurance, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Homebuyer Advice, Homeowners Insurance, Insurance Claims, Real Estate, Real Estate Investment, real estate news, South Florida Real Estate by Kim Bregman
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Filed under: Blog, Down Sizing, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Homebuyer Advice, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, Real Estate Investment, Relocation, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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Do not read this list and become overwhelmed, it is an extensive list meant to cover basic home maintenance. Not all of these maintenance items will apply to all homes. This is a comprehensive guideline designed for homes in the South as well as Northern climates.
Spring cleaning is a way to demonstrate pride in ownership (or rentership). A home and its contents are investments; money spent on something you really love or really need (ideally both). When you take the time to clean thoroughly and properly, you can maintain and prolong the life of the item or finish for years. Further, it means you live in a cleaner and healthier home; less dust, dust mites, allergens, odors, and dirt.
Always start from the top and work your way down. Think about it like this: dust falls down (like rain or snow) so if you start at the top, you’ll never have to re-clean a surface (which is a time waster). It doesn’t make sense to clean the floors first and then dust the tabletops; you’ll just have to clean the floors again. Use gravity to your benefit and always work from top to bottom. It also helps you not miss anything!
General Spring Cleaning Tasks:
These are a list of some of the things that need to be done around the house, and spring is a great time to do them. So often we don’t remember to do them, so let this be your wake-up call!
Tests and replacements:
Test smoke alarm
Test carbon monoxide alarm
Check flashlight batteries
Check fire extinguishers
Change air filters
Check all window screens for tears and repair or replace as required
Overall Spring Cleaning Chores:
Remove fingerprints and dirt from light switches and door handles
Spring Clean Outside:
Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Home Maintenance, Homebuyer Advice, Real Estate, Real Estate Investment, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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Before you let that dream home slip away, consider these strategies to help bridge the transition:
Make an offer that’s contingent on the sale of your house:
A seller may be persuaded to accept your offer with the caveat that you’ll have to sell your house before closing on theirs. You’ll strengthen your chances of getting a seller to take a chance on you if you can show that your home is priced properly and has a solid marketing strategy. Successful contingency offers depend on good communication between the real estate agents representing both sides. It’s up to you and your agent to reassure the seller that the closing won’t be delayed. Obviously, in hotter housing markets with potentially multiple bids, it can be harder to get sellers to accept such an offer.
Offer the seller a rent-back option:
One way to buy yourself extra time to complete your sale is to offer to buy the new house, then rent it back to the seller after closing. A rent-back agreement is typically for just a month or two. But this arrangement can give sellers extra time to move – or to find a new house of their own – while putting a little money in your pocket and keeping you from having to pay two mortgages at once.
Tap the equity in your current home:
If you have a high credit score and considerable equity in your house, you could free up some of the latter with a home equity line of credit. A HELOC lets you use up to 85 percent of your home’s value, less the balance remaining on your mortgage, and is fine-tuned based on your credit profile and income. Most HELOCs have a variable interest rate, so it’s in your best interest to pay off the loan as soon as your current home sells.
This strategy may let you buy a house before you sell, but it’s not a last-minute option. A HELOC requires an appraisal, income verification and a thorough credit check, so it takes time – generally 30 days or more – to qualify, says Tim Beyers, mortgage analyst with American Financing in Aurora, Colorado. If you’re thinking of going this route, make sure you run the numbers with an expert upfront, Beyers says.
To qualify for the new loan, a lender will evaluate your current mortgage payment, plus the HELOC payment and your new monthly mortgage payment, to calculate your debt-to-income ratio for the new mortgage approval, Beyers says. If your income is high enough to have a debt-to-income ratio below 40 percent with all those payments and other monthly expenses taken into account, only then should you consider a HELOC, he adds.
“Once you start dipping into your home’s equity, that changes the equation when you apply for a new mortgage,” he explains. “Taking too much out can hurt your qualification chances on a new mortgage. Don’t make an offer, then try to scramble to do the math.”
Add a HELOC to your new mortgage:
With this strategy, you break up the financing on your new home with a first mortgage for the amount you need, plus a HELOC to make up the difference in your shortfall for a downpayment, says Elise D. Leve, senior mortgage banker at Citizens Bank in New York.
Once you sell your current home, you can pay the HELOC portion off in full and end up with the single mortgage you wanted in the first place, Leve says.
Get a Bridge Loan:
A much riskier strategy is what’s called a ‘bridge’ or ‘swing’ loan. Using your existing home as collateral, you take out a bridge loan for three months to five years to use as the down payment on your new home. Once you’ve purchased your new home, you sell the old one and pay off the mortgage and the bridge loan. Such a loan is less risky in a fast appreciating market where appreciation can cover the extra payment on the old home. Even in the best market, however, swing loans can be expensive, last-ditch propositions that are fraught with caveats. Bridge loans can cost 5 to 10 percentage points more than a typical equity loan. Your home must be lien free. Excellent credit is mandatory, as are good income-to-debt ratios. It may be a better idea to get a cash-out refinance, second mortgage or equity loan to use as a bridge loan. Traditional financing is cheaper and less risky, but that could preclude you from landing another mortgage for a new home should the lender consider you stretched too thin.
Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Home Financing, Homebuyer Advice, Mortgage Information, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, Real Estate Investment, real estate news, Real estate trends, Relocation, Retirement, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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Flipping is when real estate investors buy real estate and then resells them at a profit months down the road. Can you make money doing this? Yes.
Can you make a lot of money doing this? Yes.
But you can also lose everything you own if you make a bad decision….Absolutely!
A renovation can be an overwhelming experience with high stakes. Investors must create an overall vision for the project, gauge its financial feasibility, build a reliable team that includes a Realtor, contractors, lender, accountant, insurance agent, designer or architect, and attorney or Title Company, be highly capitalized, and hope that their assessment of the market is accurate and that the property sells quickly. The longer your cash is tied up and you are paying expenses the less profitable your investment.
Thanks to tighter lending standards you will need plenty of cash, and nerves of steel, to get into flipping. So what do you need to get started?
What Makes a Good Real Estate Investment?
Finding an undervalued property in this market can be a challenge. With foreclosure rates down and bank owned property inventory drying up, there is a shortage of inventory compared to just a year ago. Utilizing real estate professionals will greatly assist you in finding suitable properties.
Now Get Working
Relist and Sell
Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Home Financing, Homebuyer Advice, House Closings, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, Real Estate Investment, real estate news, Real estate trends, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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