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Serving South Florida

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For over 35 years

Posts Tagged ‘Down sizing’

How To Set Up A Home Office

Home Office

Home Office

I’ve spent more than three decades with a home office. When you work at home, even part time, you discover that a makeshift desk area on a kitchen counter or the dining table isn’t the best setup. Having a dedicated home office, even if it’s compact, makes a big difference in comfort and productivity. Having a dedicated space also serves as an important signal to those who live with you that you’re ‘at work’. Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand.
Stake Out Your Spot 
You need to pick a spot in your home with the fewest distractions, and where all the essentials (like electrical outlets and your modem) are close by. Modern WiFi is a wonderful thing but understand it can still be inconsistent in even the most tech-friendly neighborhoods. I anticipate that our connectivity speed will be further degraded by all the streaming and game-playing that is happening now, in addition to everyone trying to work from home as well……be patient and see if you can upgrade to a higher speed with your home Internet provider.
Also, try to find a spot near a window with some natural light so you don’t feel completely tucked away from the world. Think about storage and try to keep work-only items grouped together. Think outside the file box to find an organizational system that works for you; see what you can use around your home. It’s more important to give everything that has been sitting out in piles a permanent home than it is to buy new containers. Here are a few ideas for organizing your home office:
·     A grid of clipboards on the wall can make for a handy place to keep papers organized.
·     Wall-mounted cups keep frequently used supplies neat and within reach.
·     Cups and bowls borrowed from the kitchen make great desktop and drawer organizers.
·     Labeled, open-top baskets on shelves are great for people who like piles
·     Traditional files are still useful for important documents.
Set Ground Rules with the People in Your Space
Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. I say “morning,” but not everyone who works from home follows a nine-to-five schedule. Yours might be a “getting started” routine at another time of day. I want my elderly parents to be able to call me anytime, but have reminded them that “after 6” is the best time to get my undivided attention. I ask other family members and friends to respect my work hours and stick with the less obtrusive email or text for non-emergencies.
Act as if you are “going to work”. Whatever your routine was when you were going to the office, try and maintain it now that you are working from home. Exercise, shower, get dressed (not pajamas), and then “go to work”. I try and avoid eating at my desk and taking a coffee break, lunch break, etc.  Use these times to reconnect with other household members and address their needs and concerns.
Think About Your Back, Feet and Shoulders 
Pick a back-friendly, ergonomic chair if at all possible and always make time for exercise (don’t forget to stretch!). I prefer to stand or walk around while I am on the phone but now that my husband is working from home as well, we find that this is distracting to one another. Go outside and get some fresh air while on that call.
Although you can easily work on a laptop from anywhere, an entire day, week, or even a month spent looking down at a screen is not going to do your neck muscles any favors. If you have the space and the budget, think about upgrading to a decent-sized computer monitor to plug your laptop into. I use two monitors so that I can multitask between emails, software applications required for my work, calendars, and more.
Most desks, chairs and monitors and still designed for the average sized man. I have made adjustments by ensuring that my monitors are at eye level. You can use boxes, books, magazines or anything you have around the house to easily accomplish this…no need to be purchasing special desks, risers, etc. If your chair is not adjustable, use pillows, etc. to ensure that you are sitting at the right height to keep your back straight. I have purchased an ergonomic cushion that provides comfort and support for my spine as well as adds two includes to my seat height.
Make Friends with Your Postal Worker or Delivery Person 
Thank goodness for USPS, UPS and FedEx!!! These people get bonuses at Christmas for their daily deliveries to my door. I have always been an online shopper for convenience and time-saving and now that I am getting deliveries for food, office supplies and more the visits to my front door have increased ( still can’t find toilet paper however).
Take the time to let your local postal worker or delivery person in your neighborhood know you’re now working from home if your work involves a lot of envelopes and packages. I have made a point in the past to have a few daily words with the drivers that frequent my home. It helps when my local delivery person knows I’m working at home and sending and receiving envelopes and packages on a regular basis.  In today’s world something as simple as leaving a note on your door explaining your situation will work and be appreciated.  My UPS driver told me a couple of days ago that I can leave the package outside my front door with a note to pick it up or if I see him in the neighborhood to just hand him the box…..no need to go out to the UPS store!!!
Pump the Brakes with Social Media
Social media can be absolute poison if you don’t limit yourself. It’s definitely good to stay on top of the news during these uneasy times, but if you allow yourself to be sucked into endless posts, you might look up at the clock and discover you lost three or four hours of your day.
I enjoy social media and participate for both personal and work reasons, but I have learned to use it wisely.  I check it before I head to my office with my morning coffee and then again at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean you can’t laugh at someone’s funny online story, or post about your favorite sports team or TV show. Just try to limit the damage during work hours.
Freshen up.
Give yourself a big pat on the back, because the hardest work is now behind you! Today is all about making your home workspace fresh and clean, so it will be a healthier, more pleasant place to spend time in.
·     Vacuum your home office from top to bottom. Use an attachment to clean window treatments, high corners and fabric lamp shades.
·     Wipe down shelves and surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth.
·     Use monitor wipes to clean your screens.
·     Use a keyboard cleaner to blow dust from between the keys or gently clean them with cotton swabs.
·     Bring in some fresh plants to help clean the air.
Straighten up your home office before you are done working each day. Bring the coffee cups back to the kitchen and completely clear your desktop.
We are all anxious and a routine will help keep our life as “normal” as possible in these difficult times. Don’t be hard on yourself if you are not as productive as when in the office. Working from home is a mindset and a discipline and cannot replace a normal work environment. It takes time, discipline and commitment to find the right balance for your personal and family needs.

Types of Movers for Home Buyers

relocation

 

relocation

Moving to a new house, city or state is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. Even when everything goes smoothly, you’ll likely be exhausted when all is said and done. Whether it’s down the street or across the country, moving is a major task that requires much effort and coordination. For this reason, many people choose to hire a moving company, but knowing who to entrust your belongings can be a daunting task.

While you do have the option of going the DIY route when moving, things will be so much easier and more convenient for you if you hire professional movers instead. You’ll incur certain costs by doing so, but the help they can provide is worth it.

It’s also a common mistake to hire the first moving company you lay your eyes on in an ad. There are so many moving companies out there, but not all are created equal. The movers you should hire are legitimate ones with licenses, insurance and other vital considerations. You should also get quotes from at least three movers to determine the best deal. Ask for references and verifying credentials. And remember to never pre-pay for a move!

Local Movers

There are many kinds of moving companies depending on the type of move you’re looking to make. Some companies specialize in local moves and will have limitations on the distance they’re willing to travel. Local movers are great for small cross-town moves since they typically charge by the hour.

Long-Distance

If you’re moving across the country, you’ll want to find a long-distance mover. These movers have special licensing that allows them to operate across state lines and they typically charge a bulk rate based on how quickly you need to be moved and how many items you’ll be moving. In some circumstances, you may even need to move out of the country. International movers will help you pack and get your items overseas. These moving companies are usually prepared for immigration and customs issues.

Full-Service

If you want a completely stress-free move, you should consider a full-service moving company. These companies take all the hassle out of your move by disassembling and packing up your old house and then unpacking and reassembling everything in your new place. Additionally, they provide all of the materials so you don’t have to worry about how much tape you’ll need or what size boxes to get.

How to Declutter for the New Year!

The idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff sounds attractive to many. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter but some get quickly tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

Many begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated around the idea of decluttering their homes. That’s too bad. The decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. In fact, there are a variety of people who have come up with some pretty fun, creative ways to get started.

Below are three decluttering philosophies to help you clear out and clean up your home and life.

Feng Shui — The driving principle behind this Eastern philosophy is to create harmony and balance between an individual and his or her environment. Good feng shui invites prosperity and brings an overall sense of well-being into your space. From the front door to the bathroom, small changes to color, decor and furniture arrangement are believed to promote health, wealth, happiness and good energy.

The KonMari Method — Famed Japanese organizer Marie Kondo promises that you can drastically improve your lie by tidying up.  In her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” she explains a two-step approach. First, you take all of your possessions and lay them out categorically (clothes first and sentimental pieces last). Then, you hold each item in your hand and decide whether or not it brings you joy. If it doesn’t, you let it go.

The 90/90 Rule (Minimalism) — This home organization concept also relies on a two-part process. When implementing the 90/90 rule, assess each belonging based on two simple questions: Have I used it within the last 90 days, and will I use it in the next 90 days? If not, it’s time to say goodbye.

While some of these techniques require a big commitment of time, energy and emotional “letting go”, it may require starting with small steps before you fully embrace the concept of minimalism, if at all.

Consider this list of 10 creative ways to declutter your home:

Give away one item each day.  By giving away one item at a time and donating it to someone less fortunate you can declutter and enrich your life.

Fill one trash bag. Early in your journey towards simplicity, a favorite decluttering techniques is to grab a simple large trash bag and see how quickly you can fill it. This could also be used to fill a bag for a needy charity or just toss in the trash.

Try the Oprah Winfrey Hanger Experiment:  While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home (cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies and craft items).

Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. This challenge actually became a quick competition … and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.

9. Use your imagination. Psychology Today recommends using your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” These creative techniques may prove to be very helpful for some with difficulties removing unneeded clutter.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. How you remove it is up to you.

Ultimately, there’s no shortage of ways to declutter and simplify your life. The important thing is to be willing to let go of the items that no longer serve you and make way for new experiences.

Mortgage Rates and The Fed

The Federal Reserve kept the benchmark rate unchanged on September 21st, in a divided vote that alludes to the possibility of a hike before the end of the year.

“The Committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened but decided, for the time being, to wait for further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives,” the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released in statement. “The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.”

“Our decision does not reflect a lack of confidence in the economy,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a press conference, later adding, “We’re generally pleased with how the U.S. economy is doing.”Today’s action was largely expected by analysts as policymakers stood fast this summer, despite initially forecasting four hikes this year. The federal funds rate informs the trajectory of mortgage rates, which remain at historic lows.

Perhaps no sector has benefited more from ultra-low rates than housing, which was devastated by the real estate crash. Home sales are expected to total about 5.7 million this year, up from 5.4 million in 2014 and 4.6 million in 2011. The recovery can at least partly be traced to 30-year fixed mortgage rates that remain below 4%, down from about 6% in 2008, keeping borrowing costs low for buyers.

But today’s housing market is supported by far more than low mortgage rates — namely steady job and economic growth. What’s more, 30-year mortgages are priced off 10-year Treasury note yields, which do rise as short-term rates climb, but not as steeply.

Doug Duncan, chief economist of Fannie Mae, the giant government-sponsored funder of mortgages, expects this week’s Fed hike of a quarter of a percentage point to have virtually no immediate impact on Treasury or mortgage rates, noting markets already have priced in the move. Assuming the Fed raises its rate by a percentage point over the next year, Duncan expects 30-year mortgage rates to drift from 3.9% to 4.1% during the period. That would boost the monthly cost of a typical $225,000 mortgage by $26 to $1,454 — not enough to deter most buyers.

Adjustable-rate mortgages, many of which are modified annually, could increase about twice as rapidly, by about a half a percentage point. Yet as long as job growth and aggregate U.S. incomes increase proportionally, Duncan expects any market impact to be modest. A far bigger restraint on home sales, he says, is a limited supply that should push up prices by nearly 5% both this year and in 2016. As a result, Duncan expects home sales to increase 4% in 2016, down from 8% this year, with higher rates holding back 1% to 2% of deals.

“As long as the rate rise is gradual, I don’t see it as a hugely important factor,” he says.

Location, Location, Location!

There are many things that should be considered when buying a home. Since most home buyers expect to buy a bigger and better home someday in the future, resale value is an important factor in decision-making. While no one can guarantee that your home will grow in value, there are steps you can take that maximize your potential gain.
“Location, location, location,” is a common and almost overused phrase in real estate and has been in use at least since 1926, according to the New York Times. It is just as relevant now as it was then.
The idea is to buy a house that will appeal to the largest number of potential future home buyers. A careful choice of location can minimize potential negative influences on future resale value, and maximize positive influences.
So if “location, location, location” is so important, what makes a location good? Here are five characteristics to look for when buying a home. If you can get all five, chances are the home will be a good investment.
Some “good” and “bad” qualities simply vary by community. If you know your local community, you know which parts of town are less or more desirable.
Safety:
People want to live where there’s little or no crime. Naturally, they want to feel safe in their homes and will pay extra for it. A safe neighborhood means people will feel free to walk around, be outdoors and interact with their neighbors.
Good Schools:
Whether you have children, plan on having them, never want children, or they are out of the house; the better the school district, the higher the values of the surrounding homes can be. . The reputation, the quality and the district are additional factors in finding a good school. Homes surrounding good schools are in high demand. Found a home you love but the school district is subpar? Be aware of that issue for resale down the road.
Convenient access to work, popular places, shops and restaurants
Everyone wants to be near the best commercial districts. The closer to the hubbub of a particular town or the best parts of a city, the better the location – and the more someone is willing to pay for a home. The distance from point A to point B is so important. A long commute burns more gas and wastes more time than necessary. Therefore, evaluate the time it takes to travel from the home to the following: work, school, store, hospitals and favorite hangouts. Buyers without cars must live in communities with public transportation access. A community containing local amenities close by is valuable to buyers.
View, Views, Views:
No matter which town or city, someone will always pay for a great view or to be on or near the water.  An interior location with lack of road noise is also an important consideration. If the community does not offer views, then the backyard area and how it is designed is a consideration.
Access to public transit and/or freeways:
In major cities, the farther you live from the bus, subway or other types of mass transit, the less valuable the home. A good location means being very close, and having easy access, to public transportation. Being near a train or bus can get you anywhere in a short amount of time. In some towns, where a commute by car is inevitable, easy access to the freeway makes for a good location. Adding 20 minutes to a commute just to get to the freeway never helps a location.
It’s almost easier to talk about what constitutes a bad location than to discuss good locations. There are some common characteristics that make a location “bad,” no matter where you are. That is because the qualities that make a good location desirable can vary, depending on whether you’re looking in the city, suburbs, the country or the mountains. Bad locations, by their general nature, are easier to pinpoint. Some examples are:
Commercial/industrial areas:
Unless you live downtown, commercial buildings on your block diminish residential real estate values. Part of the reason is because homeowners cannot control loitering. Homes next to gas stations or shopping centers are undesirable because of the noise factor and compromise safely.
 
Railroad tracks, freeways or under flight paths:
Some city dwellers have homes close to railroad tracks and endure rumbling and other noise 24-hours a day. If you have a choice to be in a quiet area, free from road noise within the same community, this is the better choice of residence.
Economically depressed areas:
If owners show no pride of ownership in maintaining their homes, evidenced by lack of maintenance, poor landscaping and junk in the yard, you might think twice about moving into such an area.
Close to hazards:
People don’t want to live next door to power plants or substations. Few home buyers want a transformer in their yard, either. Understand the flooding risks and exposure to natural disasters and the preventative measures that have been taken to minimize them.
Other factors that can make for a “bad” location: very close proximity to a fire station (good if your house is on fire, not so good if you’re trying to sleep); a hospital (frequent ambulance sirens); an airport (sounds of jet engines 18 hours per day) or a school (traffic from buses or parents dropping off children or kids yelling and playing).

Common Fees When Buying A Home

When buying a home, most people focus on how much the home costs and what interest rate they can get on the loan. While understanding the lending process is very important, the other fees that home buyers overlook when it comes to their home purchase.

There are some fees that will require up-front payment. Other fees may be rolled into the loan for your home. It’s important to understand the difference and know what you’ll be expected to pay.

Earnest Money Deposit

To prove you’re “earnest” in your purchase commitment, a buyer can expect to deposit to a trust account 1% to 2% of the total purchase price as an earnest money deposit within days of entering into a contract.This amount can change depending on market factors. If demand in your area is high, a seller could expect a larger deposit. If the market is cold, a seller could be happy with less than 1%.

Other governing factors like state limitations and rules can cap how much earnest money a seller can ask for.

Escrow account

An escrow account is basically a way for your mortgage company to make sure you have enough money to cover related taxes, insurance and possibly mortgage insurance. The amount you need to pay varies by location, lender, and loan type. It could cover costs for a few months to a year.

If you only provide a small down payment, you may be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance, commonly referred to as PMI, is typically provided by a private mortgage insurance company to protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults.

Sometimes this means you are required to pay a full year’s worth at time of purchase, or it will be rolled into your monthly payment.

Escrow accounts are common for loans with less than a 20% down payment and mandatory for FHA loans, but it’s not required for VA loans.

Origination Fees & Points

The origination fee is the price you pay the loan officer or broker for completing the loan, and it includes underwriting, originating, and processing costs.

The origination fee is a small percentage of the total loan. A typical origination fee is about 1%, but it can vary. You should shop lenders for more than interest rate, but all of the fees associated with the loan.

Inspections

You want to be assured your new home is structurally sound and free of defects before you complete the purchase. Those assurances come with a price.

  • Home inspection: This is critical for homebuyers. A good inspector will be able to notify you of structural problems, defective applianes, leaks, and other potentially serious problems. Expect to pay $300 to $800 for a home inspection, although cost varies by location and the size of the home and how many stories it is.
  • Radon inspection: An EPA-recommended step, this inspection will determine whether your prospective home has elevated levels of the cancer-causing agent radon. A professional radon inspection can cost several hundred dollars.
  • Pest inspections: Roaches are one thing. Termites or wood fungus are a whole different story. Expect to pay up to $150 for a Wood Destroying Organism inspection.

Attorney

Some states, such as North Carolina, require an attorney to be present at closing. In other states, such as Florida, this is optional. If you use a lawyer, expect to cover the costs, which vary by area and lawyer and what the attorney is being asked to do.

Credit check

Just because you can get your credit report for free doesn’t mean your lender can (and they will actually pull all three). You have to reimburse the lender, usually around for these reports that usually run about $30.

Insurance

If you live in a hazard-prone area, you might need to purchase extra insurance in addition to homeowners insurance, these can include wind and flood. Lenders will require that you purchase the required insurance to protect their investment. If you are a cash buyer, you have the option of buying insurance or self-insuring. Make sure you understand the risks.

Appraisal

Your lender will not approve a loan for a home without knowing what its fair market value is. They will determine this value based on an appraisal.  Appraisal costs vary by market area and the size and complexity of the property. An appraisal will typically cost $250 to $1000.

 

Title Insurance

Title insurance covers you in the unlikely case that the person who sold you the house didn’t actually own it or if information on the title was false. Typically this is verified before the purchase of your home, but this insurance protects the lender or the buyer against loss arising from disputes over ownership of a property.

The lender will require you to have title insurance for the value of the loan. You are also required to have title insurance on the value of the property. Whether the buyer or seller pays for this is area specific and is a protocol not a mandate and can be negotiated as a condition of the contract.

Survey

A survey is not required in all instances, but your lender may require a professional surveyor to determine exactly where your property lines are drawn. Your attorney will also review the survey to ensure that there are no encroachments. Prices vary widely, but expect to pay at least $100.

Document preparation fees:

The lender, broker, Title Company or closing attorney will usually have a fee to cover the preparation of the required documents for the loan and closing paperwork. These fees are typically rolled in closing costs for the home and may be covered by either the homebuyer or seller.

 

State Recording Fees:

Depending on where you live, there may be a fee required for recording and holding the information regarding the sale.

Ensure A Smooth Mortgage Application Process

What to do before closing:

  • You can still be denied for a mortgage loan, even after you’ve been pre-approved by the lender. The pre-approval is not a commitment or guarantee. You’ve been conditionally qualified for loan. But you need to stay qualified all the way up to the closing. The less your financial situation changes, the better.
  • If you withdraw or transfer funds for any reason before closing, your lender will probably ask for a written explanation. They will also want to see a record of the transaction, such as your bank statements.
  • Make sure you have a home owners insurance policy in place. Your lender will require this. They might even require you to pay the first year’s premium in advance, by setting up an escrow account. The lender may contact your insurance agent before closing day, to verify the policy and coverage amount.
  • If you make any large deposits into your account, tell your lender about it. It will only help your cause, as far as mortgage approval goes. Provide any documents you have relating to the deposit.

 

What to avoid before closing day:

  • Don’t spend a lot of money. Implement a self-imposed “spending freeze,” as much as possible. You obviously have to buy groceries, gas for your car, and other necessities. But don’t spend anything beyond that. Keep things as stable as possible until after you close on the home.
  • It’s best to avoid any major purchases during this period. Your lender might have certain cash-reserve requirements for the loan. So a major reduction in assets could hurt your chances of getting the final approval.
  • Don’t open any new credit lines, such as credit cards. The same goes for buying a car, applying for a store credit card, etc. These things will change your debt ratio, which could cause problems with your final approval. Mortgage lenders hate surprises.
  • Don’t switch jobs before closing, unless it’s completely unavoidable. A new job usually brings a change in income, as well. If your income goes down, it will alter your debt-to-income ratio in a bad way. A change in employment will also require a lot of paperwork changes. Some lenders will verify your employment again, just before closing day.

 

Most Often Asked Homebuyer Questions – Answered!  

Buying a home is a major lifestyle and investment decision. Homebuyers have a lot of questions throughout every step of the process and I have found that many of the questions are common to many. Here are some answers to the most common questions I get asked.

Q: What home can I afford?

That depends, of course-on your income and other financial obligations. There are many Home Affordability Calculators for a ballpark figure. A visit to the Optima Properties website will offer you many tools under the  Finance Center!

Before you start to shop, make sure that you know exactly what you can afford by getting pre-qualified by your financial institution of mortgage broker.

Q: Can I buy a home and sell my current one at the same time?

Yes, you can-but it’s the real estate equivalent of walking a tightrope. This is one of the trickiest questions to answer, on the one hand, if you buy a home before you sell the one you’re in, you’re overextended financially; if you sell before you buy, you might need to rent a while before finding a new place. There are ways to do both at once, and one option is to request a “sale contingency” in your contract. This means you only agree to buy a home if you can sell the one you’re in. The only downside is if your seller doesn’t agree and will not agree to this condition….it never hurts to ask!

Q: How many homes should I see before making an offer?

As many as you need to!  While home shoppers these days can look at hundreds of homes online, most need to physically visit the area and stand in the properties before they put in an offer. Keep in mind, this varies tremendously for each person. Some people find their home within hours of looking or make an offer sight unseen because they have definitively defined their criteria. For others, it takes months and sometimes over a year if they are trying to determine the area, lifestyle, and type of home that meets their requirements.

Q: What do you think the seller will accept as a fair price?

As a rule of thumb, knocking 5-10% off the list price

won’t ruffle any feathers for an initial offer. If the property has been sitting on the market for months, you can venture below that, but the bottom line is, you never know how low a seller will go, as they have different motivations for selling.  Your Exclusive Buyer Agent should develop a Comprehensive Market Analysis to determine the market value of the property. This should be your guideline as to how much to offer and how high to go.

Q: How do I know if the property is a good deal?

While there’s no crystal ball on whether a certain home is a bargain and will appreciate, rest assured that with research, you can keep surprises to a minimum. The best way is to check out comps-what similar properties are selling for in the area.

Q: How quickly can I close?

If you are paying cash you can typically close in the time it takes to get the home inspected and have a lien, permit, and title search conducted. The new TRID requirements for home loans have extended the time required to get a mortgage.  I advise all my buyers to not commit to a closing for less than 60 days from the effective date of the contract.

Q: Should I get a home inspection?

My only answer to this question is YES, YES, YES! A certified and licensed home inspector ( not your father in law) will look into the condition of the roof, electricity, heating and air, plumbing, among other functions and conditions of the property.  Even if you are just purchasing land you should check for soil contamination, septic perkability, etc.

Q: Can I back out if I change my mind?

While buyers can always back out of a deal, doing so without good reason may forfeit their earnest money and full deposit.  The form of contract you choose to use may provide you with different outs. Contingencies are great “escape clauses. For example, if you enter into an AS IS contract upon an unsatisfactory home inspection, the buyer can ask for their deposit back. Another contingency is “subject to appraisal.’” That means you can back out if the appraisal either ordered by your closing agent or your lender results in a valuation that is less than the agreed to purchase price.
Bear in mind that the more contingencies you include in your offer the less room you have to negotiate other terms and conditions of the contract with the Seller.

There is not question to small or unimportant when purchasing a home.  There is a wealth of information available and your agent should assist you in getting your questions answered in a timely manner.

 

 

Why Fla. is the Best State for Retirement

Sunshine, beaches and a laid-back lifestyle have made Florida one of the top destinations for retirees looking to live out their golden years in peace and comfort.

Now a new study from WalletHub.com has named the Sunshine State the best place in the U.S. to retire based on its affordability, quality of life and healthcare. The website pointed out that nearly a third of non-retirees have no retirement savings or pension and said it made its choices to help retirees find the states that offered the most bang for their buck.

Rounding out the top five for 2016 after Florida were Wyoming, South Dakota, South Carolina and Colorado.

At the bottom? Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii, Washington D.C. and Rhode Island.

Here are the top six reasons why Florida is the best place to retire, according to WalletHub.

Hole in one!
From Seminole Golf Course in Juno Beach (the state’s top ranked links, according to GolfDigest) to Trump National Doral, Florida has the most golf courses per capita in the nation.

Company
Looking for new friends? You won’t be lonely in the Sunshine State, which has the highest percentage of people aged 65 or over of any state.

Out on the town
It’s not Broadway, but theatergoers in Florida have more and better options than ever before. The state has the sixth-most theaters per capita in the U.S.

Help at home
The cost of hiring a nurse and other in-home help can break the bank for many seniors. But Florida has the eighth-lowest cost of in-home services of any state.

Low taxes
Many retirees don’t realize they may need to pay federal and state taxes on Social Security income and withdrawals from IRA and 401(k) funds. Florida’s low taxes make it the 10th-best state for retirees come tax season, according to WalletHub.

A night at the museum
Miami’s burgeoning cultural scene means locals don’t have to travel to New York for their museum fix. From the Pérez Art Museum Miami to the under-construction Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science to HistoryMiami, South Florida museums are on the upswing. Nationwide, Florida has the 15th-most museums per capita.

So what are you waiting for? Florida is calling.

 

Miami Herald, Written by Nicholas Nehamas

What You Should Do After Closing

You searched for homes over the course of months or even years. You endured a series of offers and counter offers, property disclosures, inspections, loan applications, due diligence, and packing. Finally, after so much excitement, stress and anxiety, the house hunt has come to an end. But the story isn’t over yet. Here are some next steps to consider before you actually move in.

Make Copies of your Closing Documents.
The first stop you make after closing should be your local copy shop. While all the documents are still together and in order, make at least one copy of everything. Put one set in your folder for tax filing and one set in a file for house records.
Get a Safe Deposit Box and Put the Original Documents In It.
Keep your photocopies on hand at the house in case you need them in a pinch, but store the originals of your mortgage loan docs and your title certificate in a secure, off-site location. That means a safe deposit box at the bank, or on file with your attorney.
Got the keys? Great, now change the locks.
Assume that every one and his brother has a set of keys to your new home. The seller’s real estate agent likely gave copies to his or her assistant, a stager, handyman, or even another agent at some point during the marketing period. That does not even take into consideration the spare keys that the Seller’s gave the neighbors, their family, cleaning lady, and babysitter. That’s why the first person you should call after getting the keys is a locksmith. Spend the money to get all the locks changed or re-keyed right away. Don’t forget to reset any key code combinations that can be used to gain entry to the house as well including the garage door opener, garage keypads and alarm combinations should be changed.
Hire a cleaning crew.
There’s nothing worse than showing up with the movers, dozens of boxes and your personal belongings only to discover the seller hadn’t had the place cleaned as thoroughly as you would have liked.

Assume the worst and get a professional cleaning crew and painters in there the minute after the closing along with carpet cleaners. You want to start life in your new home with a clean slate. The movers might make a mess while moving in. But the bones of the place will be sparkling clean and you will have freshly painted closets and walls before the furniture and clothing gets in place.
Have a handyman, small contractor or designer on call.
Moving in can take days, if not weeks, and is made up of the kind of stuff you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Things like aligning your framed artwork, centering the couch in the living room or getting the large rug set up in the master bedroom can drive you crazy. Nailed multiple holes in the wall in an attempt to get your family photos lined up on the staircase? Not all of us are cut out to do this kind of stuff. While it may seem like a luxury, investing a few hundred dollars in hiring someone to take orders, help with setting up and take over some of these mindless tasks will save time and potentially relieve you of a giant headache.
Play “what went off”:
Turn all of the lights on, plug radios, lamps, etc., into as many outlets as possible, then turn circuits off one at a time; make a list of which breaker controls what, and post it near or on the inside of the panel(s). Make sure you know where the main water shutoff is, and test it to see if it works. If you have a water filter, check it or replace it.
Check the furnace filters/replace if not new looking. Check gutters and leaders for blockage; clean if necessary. If you have a fireplace, have the flue inspected by a professional. Check/change batteries in smoke detectors.
If you control your own hot water, you’ll want to check the temperature pretty early on during your first day in the house. Developers of new homes have a bad habit of turning water heaters to “vacation” mode just before closing. This saves their utility bills but will result in a cold surprise when you go to take a shower. The temperature dial on your water heater should have a tick mark at the best setting. You don’t have to turn it all the way to the hottest point unless you need near-boiling water at all times.
 Put your Name on the Mailbox & Buzzer. If you’re living in a multi-unit complex, like a condo building, you’ll want to get your name on the mailbox as quickly as possible, since the post office won’t deliver to nameless boxes. People are of mixed opinions on whether you should also label your intercom buzzer. It can compromise your privacy, but if you’re expecting a lot of guests or deliveries it will make things easier.
Cover the Windows.
The residents of your new neighborhood are about to watch you parade all your belongings into the house. Don’t let them figure out what you’ve done with them so easily. Make sure you’ve got something in the windows of each room – it can be towels, shower curtains, cardboard – doesn’t matter what for now. Just make sure your privacy is safeguarded so your windows don’t become a walking advertisement for burglars and peeping toms.
Photograph everything. 
You’ll eventually want to take an inventory of everything you move into your house, but before you do so it’s a good idea to take pictures of your house in its native state. Once furniture is in place it will be difficult to remember where outlets are and what your home looked like when it was brand new. In the event of a catastrophic loss, you’ll need to refer back to those pictures in order to restore your home, so make sure you store them offsite, email them to yourself at a webmail address, or upload them to a cloud-based server.
Meet your new neighbors.
Getting to know your new neighbors and trading phone numbers can be very beneficial in case of emergencies. There is always value in having a good neighbor.
Make sure your first weeks and months of homeownership are safe and pleasant.

Plan first. Party later.