Monthly Archives: August 2019

5 real estate myths debunked

Real estate may be the only investment you can live in, but this familiarity hasn’t stopped several real estate myths from taking root. Buying or selling a home is an uncommon event for most people, and because of that, it’s not fair to expect everyone to be a real estate expert. To help you prepare for your next home purchase or sale, here is the truth behind five real estate myths.

1. You can look up a home’s exact value online

Several popular real estate websites appear to publish precise home values for just about every address in the country. Read the fine print, however, and you’ll learn that these figures are just rough estimates based on public information fed through computer formulas. These numbers may be okay for getting a ballpark idea of the values of most homes, but for a more reliable estimate, you should consult a local expert like a real estate agent or home appraiser. These professionals will examine the home in person and compare it to the recent sale prices of similar homes in the area to produce a more precise estimate of the home’s value.

2. There’s no need to get a home inspection when buying a home

At a typical cost of $200 to $500, it may be tempting to skip the optional home inspection step when buying a home. Some homebuyers even believe that a home appraisal covers the same points as an inspection (it doesn’t). Getting a home inspection is highly recommended because it helps protect you and your new investment. A home inspector will examine the home from top to bottom to look for issues that might cost you money, put your safety at risk or expose you to legal liability in the future. If any negative items are discovered, you may be able to ask the seller to fix them, request a credit on the sale price or back out of your purchase entirely.

3. Your only upfront homebuying cost is the down payment

With mortgage down payment options as low as 3% or even 0% for qualified homebuyers, purchasing a home today can be very affordable. However, your down payment is unlikely to be your only upfront homebuying expense. Closing costs – the fees and taxes related to your purchase – can range from 2% to 5% of your loan amount (for example, $4,000 to $10,000 on a $200,000 loan). Thankfully, you may be able to negotiate to have the seller pay some or all your closing costs, and special mortgage programs with down payment assistance may also be available. Ask your real estate agent and your loan officer about your options.

4. You should always bid low when buying and price high when selling

Most home prices are negotiable, so it makes sense to try to get the best deal you can. Therefore, it’s easy to assume that you should always start with a lowball offer when buying a home and always ask for more than you expect to get when selling a home. Sometimes, however, the opposite strategies are best. If you’re trying to buy a home that’s already priced fairly in a competitive market, you might need to make an offer near or even above asking price to get the home. When selling your place, setting a lower price usually results in a quicker sale – and it may be a way to get multiple buyers to bid against each other and drive up the price. Your real estate agent can advise you on which approach they recommend for your situation.

5. The first step of buying a home is looking at homes

You wouldn’t go grocery shopping without your wallet, and you shouldn’t go home shopping without home financing. Your first step when buying a home should be to get preapproved for a mortgage and a specific loan amount. Your preapproval will help set your homebuying budget, show home sellers that you’re a serious buyer and eliminate extra steps, paperwork and stress once you’ve found a home to buy. Working with your loan officer to get “mortgage-ready” early may even save you money by getting you into a better loan program.

Conclusion Buying or selling a home is often an exciting time, an important life event and a major financial transaction. By learning the truth behind myths like these before you get started, you’ll have an added edge in your home purchase or sale.

5 tips for a lower home cooling bill

Soaring summer temperatures mean higher electric bills for many homeowners. A well-insulated home with an efficient air conditioning system is the best way to keep your energy bill down, but you don’t need to make major upgrades to enjoy savings. Here are five simple ways you can minimize your cooling bill this summer.

  1. Keep your AC flowing free. Your air conditioner needs some occasional TLC to keep running at peak performance. Old air filters, blocked vents and dirty evaporator and condenser coils can all make your system work harder than needed. Clean or replace your filters once a month (to save as much as 5 percent to 10 percent on energy), keep vents free of dust and obstructions, clean your air conditioner components at least once a year and trim back foliage to at least two feet from outdoor equipment.
  2. Shut out the sun. A sun-filled home is a lovely sight, but it can make for a scary electric bill on hot days. Keeping the sun out with proper curtains, blinds or shades can save as much as 45 percent in cooling costs. Insulated window treatments that are light-colored or reflective and hang close to the glass will have the best effect.
  3. Don’t help the heat. It’s hard enough to beat the sun’s heat without contributing any of your own. Whenever it’s hotter outside than in, consider delaying or avoiding activities that generate heat. Cooking, appliance use (especially dishwashers and clothes dryers) and bathing are some prime culprits. Consider putting off these chores until after dark when temperatures fall. Exhaust fans can also help to vent the heat from these sources.
  4. Become a fan of fans. Ceiling and circulating fans can make your home feel as much as 8 degrees cooler and save up to 40 percent on air conditioning bills. Make sure your ceiling fans are set to summer mode – rotating counterclockwise to blow downward – and turn off any fans when not in use.
  5. Roll back your thermostat. If you can stand the heat, turning your thermostat up a few degrees is a guaranteed way to save. A programmable or smart thermostat can help further by adjusting the temperature when you’re away or asleep. These strategies can shave as much as 10 to 20 percent off your bills.

For more energy-saving tips, check out this page from energy.gov. Stay cool out there!

Why waiting to buy a home may cost more

If you’re on the fence about purchasing a home, here’s an important piece of advice: buying a home sooner rather than later could save you money.

This is because three things can happen while you’re waiting to buy:

  • Mortgage rates can increase
  • Home prices can increase
  • You’ll delay building equity in your new home

Let’s look at just the impact of mortgage rates alone. Here’s an example of how much a one percentage point increase in your mortgage rate might affect the cost of financing a $400,000 home with a 20% down payment loan1:

Interest RateMonthly Payment
Lower-Rate Mortgage3.875% | 3.961% APR2$1,504.76
Higher-Rate Mortgage4.875% | 4.996% APR2$1,693.47

Payment Difference
Monthly$188.71
1 year$2,264.49
5 years$11,322.46
10 years$22,644.92

As you can see, that difference in rate could mean paying $22,000 more over the course of ten years!

Mortgage rates are currently near historic lows, but there’s no knowing how long they will last. The only way to ensure you can take advantage of these low rates is to lock in a mortgage while they’re still available.

If you’d like to learn about your options for financing a home purchase, contact us today for a free mortgage consultation and loan preapproval.

1Based on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment for an owner-occupied single-family home. Includes principal and interest payments only; does not include taxes, insurance and other homeownership costs. Rates are used for example purposes only.2Annual Percentage Rate

Get more from your mail

Even in the age of email, old-fashioned “snail mail” is still an important and well-used service. However, traditional mail has its hassles and limitations. These include issues like misdirected items, damaged parcels and messy mailboxes. Thankfully, there are a few great high-tech ways you can improve your postal experience. Here are some tips to help you better track, direct, protect and declutter your snail mail.

See your mail online

You don’t have to visit your mailbox to check on your snail mail anymore. Services are available that can alert you to incoming mail or even allow you to view the contents of letters – all from the convenience of your Internet-connected devices.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers the free Informed Delivery service. If you sign up, you’ll receive a daily email with a summary of your incoming mail. This includes scanned images of the exteriors of the pieces that will be delivered to you that day and tracking info for any packages that are on their way to you through USPS.

To receive notifications about inbound packages from other carriers, you’ll need to sign up for their services, such as Delivery Manager from FedEx and My Choice for UPS.

Private paid services such as PostScan Mail go even further, allowing you to redirect your mail and have its contents scanned and uploaded for you to read from an online account.

These options may be especially useful for those who travel frequently or have multiple addresses.

Go paperless for bills and statements

Bills are no fun no matter how they’re delivered, but receiving them by snail mail may be the least appealing option. Hardcopy deliveries can create extra clutter and are susceptible to being delayed, lost or stolen.

Instead, consider opting for paperless bills and statements instead. Many utilities, subscription services and financial providers offer this option, which typically means you’ll receive a monthly email with your bill or statement or a notification that it is available to review on the company’s website.

If you make the switch, be sure to keep paying your paperless bills on time.

Protect your packages with a parcel box

Are you worried about package thieves or rain showers getting to your deliveries before you do? If so, a parcel box may be the solution. This is a secure, weatherproof container for receiving your incoming packages. While there are many purpose-built options, the do-it-yourself route may be cheapest. You can simply purchase a waterproof garden tool storage trunk, place it on your porch with an unlocked padlock and post instructions for the delivery person to deposit your packages and then lock them up.

Hold or redirect your mail

The hold mail and address change services from USPS are nothing new, but they’re still important tools for managing your mail. Both services can be conveniently activated on the USPS website.

If you’ll be out of town for a while and don’t want mail piling up at your address, the Hold Mail service allows you to stop delivery of your mail for 3 to 30 days. When initiating the hold, you may choose to have your accumulated mail delivered at the end of the hold or held at the post office for you to pick up.

UPS also offers the option to hold deliveries, as does FedEx. The Access Point service from UPS and hold at location service from FedEx also allow you to have your packages delivered and held at local businesses for you to pick up.

If you’re moving or otherwise want your mail forwarded to another address, the Change of Address feature from USPS allows you to redirect your mail for 15 days to one year. While this service is a convenient catchall, it’s still best to have your inbound mail addressed directly to its final address, so don’t forget to notify all the relevant parties after a change of address.

Conclusion

Snail mail may still lack the speed and convenience of high-tech communication, but with the help of these tools, you can benefit from the best of both worlds.

Tips to freshen and deodorize your home

How your home smells can affect how much you enjoy living in it. Positive smells can cheer you up and bring back good memories, while bad smells can dampen your mood or signal unclean conditions. Store shelves are filled with air fresheners and odor busters, but a fresh-smelling home doesn’t come from an aerosol can. Here are the most effective ways to help your home smell its best.

Eliminate the source

The most effective way to banish odor is always to remove the source. This can range from cleaning or throwing out specific items to scrubbing down entire surfaces or rooms that have attracted smells over time. Use these methods to attack unpleasant odors at their origin:

  • Regularly take out the trash, do the laundry, clean out the fridge and wash pets.
  • Sprinkle carpets with baking soda or carpet deodorizer, let the powder sit for several hours or overnight and then vacuum with several passes.
  • Vacuum or clean rugs, drapes, upholstery and mattresses according to their care instructions
  • Wash hard surfaces (including glossy/semi-gloss walls) with a mild cleaner that will not harm their finishes.
  • Use dry cleaning sponges to clean matte paint and wallpaper, discarding the sponges as they become soiled.
  • Clean appliances inside and out.

Ventilate and dehumidify

Funky smells thrive in conditions with poor ventilation and high moisture. Don’t indulge them. Keep air circulating and humidity down using these methods:

  • Take advantage of your home’s HVAC system or open windows when possible to circulate air.
  • Use vents to manage steam and moisture from cooking and bathing.
  • Keep doors open throughout the house when practical.
  • Consider adding a dehumidifier if areas of your home – like the basement – tend to stay humid (above 50% humidity).
  • Ensure your HVAC filters are replaced frequently, and consider using carbon filters for extra odor control.
  • If you don’t have an HVAC system with filtration, consider an air purifier with odor reduction capability.

Neutralize and cover

Masking or minimizing unpleasant odors only goes so far. However, if you’ve exhausted your other options, or you enjoy fragrances for their own sake, you may find these options worthwhile. Here some ways to knock down bad odors or introduce pleasant ones:

  • Boiling a pot of white vinegar is said to neutralize airborne odors, and the vinegar smell itself should dissipate relatively quickly.
  • Odor absorbers such as odor absorbing gels or bags of activated charcoal or cedar chips can counteract undesirable smells.
  • Scented candles, incense, wax or oil warmers, diffusers and air fresheners are all popular options for adding pleasing fragrances to the air, however, frequent use of some of these products may leave soot or a film on surfaces and even cause discoloration.
  • Fresh flowers, potpourri or simmering pots of citrus, vanilla or spices (e.g. cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg) are more-natural ways to impart pleasant scents to your living space.

If the methods above do not eliminate unpleasant odors to your satisfaction, consult with a professional cleaner. Once you’ve found the solutions that work for your home, keep up your good habits to maintain a fresh-smelling living space.

How to stop the sale of your credit info

You’re probably used to receiving a steady trickle of credit card, car insurance and other financial offers in the mail. When you apply for a mortgage, however, that trickle can quickly become a deluge of marketing phone calls, emails and letters.

Why does this happen? It’s because credit reporting companies are allowed to sell your credit information – and that’s exactly what they do. The businesses that buy your information then use it to contact you with financial offers. These are known as “prescreened”, “preapproved” or “firm” offers.

This sale of your credit details, and the solicitations that often follow, can create three problems for you:

  1. It can be annoying: The large number of calls, emails or letters you may receive can be frustrating, especially when you’re in the process of getting a loan.
  2. It can be misleading: If you’re applying for a mortgage, solicitors may falsely claim to be working with your lender, or they may use other deceptive sales tactics.
  3. It can be risky: The more people have access to your personal information, the greater your risk of identity theft.

Thankfully, the credit industry offers a way for you to block these prescreened solicitations and the trade of your credit information.

You can opt out by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com.

While we respect your right to manage your privacy and consider financial offers as you see fit, we recommend opting out for the reasons above. Opting out does not impact your credit scores or credit reports, and it does not affect your ability to obtain new credit.

You may choose to opt out for five years or indefinitely, and you may opt back in using the same phone number or website at any time. Opting out halts the exchange of your information for “firm offers” on all credit and insurance products, including credit cards and car insurance.

If you’re planning on applying for a mortgage, opting out earlier rather than later is usually best. Your opt-out request will be processed within five days, but it may take up to 60 days before the prescreened offers stop. If you’ll be applying for a joint mortgage, both individuals on the mortgage will need to opt out to be protected from the related solicitations. You can read more about prescreened offers and the opt out process at this Federal Trade Commission webpage: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0127-getting-mortgage-offers

How the wealthy make money with their mortgages

If you thought mortgages were just for people of modest means, think again. From the upper class to the uber affluent, the wealthy across American make big use of home loans. Even billionaires see a benefit to financing their homes.

Why do people with these kinds of resources want mortgages? It’s an important question, and the answer shows how a home loan can be an asset to almost anyone. Regardless of your wealth or income, here are the ways a mortgage may benefit you:

Getting into a home sooner

Even if you earn enough to save up to buy a home in cash, doing so may take years. A mortgage is often the quickest way to get into a new home and start enjoying the benefits.

Accessing “cheap money”

Mortgages typically have some of the lowest interest rates of any type of lending product. Therefore, borrowing on your home may be a cheap way to keep more of your money or avoid more expensive borrowing elsewhere.

Avoiding expensive withdrawals

Even if you’re wealthy enough to purchase a home outright, getting at that money can come at a price. Dipping into investments, accessing retirement funds or selling off property can result in fees, taxes or losses. Borrowing on your home can be an efficient way to avoid those expenses.

Making smarter investments

If your mortgage has a 4% interest rate (4.139% APR) and your investment accounts are returning 7%, where’s the best place to put your money? Investing comes with risks, but for many people, it makes the most sense to put their extra money where the expected payoff is highest.

Maintaining financial security

Unexpected expenses are a fact of life, and quickly accessible cash funds are often the most reliable safety net. Having a mortgage can enable you to set aside the cash you need to protect your financial security.

Conclusion

For these reasons, purchasing a home using a mortgage, making the standard payments and refinancing the loan when advantageous can be a wise financial strategy. It may even be beneficial to increase your mortgage balance at times by taking cash out to consolidate debt or put toward a home renovation, college tuition or another investment.

This doesn’t mean simply buying a home or getting a mortgage will guarantee you wealth. It does mean, however, that if you want to imitate the successful habits of the affluent, you can start by looking for opportunities in your home financing. Contact us for a free mortgage consultation for your specific situation.

Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp. does not provide financial planning, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, financial planning, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice. You should consult your own financial planning, investment, tax, accounting or legal advisers before engaging in any transaction.

SMART HOME DEVICES FOR PETS

Pets don’t ask for much, but giving them the care they need can be a challenge in today’s busy world. While there’s no substitute for personal time with your pet, there are countless smart devices that can help you care for your four-legged family member when you can’t be there. Here are some smart devices to enrich the lives of you and your pet.

Convenient cameras

Pets can get up to some serious mischief when no one’s around to provide a watchful eye. Web-connected home security cameras let you check in on your pet from a computer or mobile device while you’re away. Pet-specific models like the Furbo or Petcube may even allow you to dispense treats or remotely interact in other ways.

Futuristic food dispensers

Keeping your pet fed – but not overfed – and hydrated can be tricky when you’re not at home. Automatic feeders can provide your pet with a set amount of food on a schedule, and pet drinking fountains are a source of clean, running water.

Versatile vacuums

Not every vacuum is equipped to keep up with the mess of a shedding pet. Pet hair vacuums are designed with these hairy situations in mind, and a robotic model can patrol your home automatically to clean up pet hair.

Discerning doors

A pet door means greater freedom for your furry family member, but it can also let in unwanted guests, both domestic and wild. Smart pet doors restrict access by remote control, a preset schedule or a microchip on your pet.

Precise position trackers

A runaway pet can mean a big hassle for you and a major safety risk for them. With a GPS tracker, you can pinpoint their location from your smart device, helping you locate them quicker and return them home safely.

While you shouldn’t rely on technology alone for the welfare of your pet, it can be a valuable tool to help keep them happy, healthy and safe.

Awards & Recognition:

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