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6 Home Repairs Owners Shouldn’t Delay

by Scott Darling

tools

The following article, 6 Home Repairs Owners Shouldn't Delay, just appeared in Realtor Magazine and I thought you could use the reminder coming into the colder weather...

Some home repairs that owners linger on could turn into financial catastrophe. BobVila.com recently highlighted several things home owners should repair in their home before it’s too late, including:

1. Gutters: If not cleared, gutters – crucial for proper drainage -- could be the root of problems for home owners. During the winter, clogged gutters could lead to ice or water damage. Also, gutters and downspouts that are overflowing with leaves or that appear to not be draining properly or draining toward the house can also cause water issues.

2. Decks: Loose railings along your porch, deck, or steps should not be ignored. The fix may be as simple as a few screws that need to be tightened in a few places. But if ignored, a loose rail could give in and risk injury and more costly repairs.

3. Water spots: A spot on the ceiling should be handled immediately. The cause, however, of the water damage may not be obvious. A roofing contractor may be the first source of contact to determine if it’s from a loose shingle.

4. Asphalt cracks: Water that seeps in and then freezes can cause cracks to get wider. The water may also saturate the soil underneath the driveway and cause a shift overtime. Home owners should seal their driveway as soon as they notice any signs of wear to prevent damage from rain, snow, ice, or sunlight.

5. Leaky faucets: A slight drip or a running toilet is not an issue that should be overlooked either. These may be signs of a bigger problem and the fix will likely save you money on your water bills. Small leaks can get bigger if left ignored and become more costly to repair.

6. Blocked chimneys: Proper maintenance of chimneys is important or home owners could risk suffering from a fire or smoke inhalation. Soot and creosote build up in in the interior of chimneys and need to be removed. Also, owners would be wise to inspect the chimney cap to make sure it’s not rusty or damaged to prevent debris or pests from coming into the home.

Source: “Time’s Up: 9 Things to Repair in Your Home Before it’s Too Late,” BobVila.com (November 2015)

Looking to Buy a Home? 5 Mortgage Steps You Need to Know

by Scott Darling

home buyer

The home loan process can seem intimidating, especially for a first-time homebuyer. It is not a simple process, but it doesn't have to be too complicated. There are many resources available to help you prepare for your home buying journey, and your mortgage lender can answer the questions you have throughout the process.

Here are some of the key steps to the home loan process, as well as some tips to help you understand what you can expect:

1. Preparation and self-assessment

Before you dive head-first into buying a home, make sure that you know how much you can afford.  The first step is to calculate your "debt-to-income ratio." You can do this by adding up your current monthly bills then subtracting your total current income. This will help you determine whether you can afford a mortgage payment, and if so, what amount might fit into your budget. Using an online mortgage calculator is a good way to help you determine what the estimated cost of your monthly mortgage payment will be. Doing these calculations first will help you assess your resources and determine your budget to purchase a home.

2. The loan application

Download a blank loan application ahead of time so you can look it over and familiarize yourself with it. This will give you an idea of the information you need when completing and submitting the application. The necessary documents may include: proof of income, proof of employment for the past two years, proof of identity, proof of residency and your social security card.

3. Origination and Underwriting

Origination - The loan officer will review your financing options, work with you to complete the credit application and create the loan account.

Underwriting - An underwriter will review the application and determine the level of credit risk you represent based on your credit score, income, existing debt and down payment. You may be asked to provide additional information about your finances during this step.

4. Satisfying loan conditions and full loan approval

In this step, you will receive a "conditions to approval" list from your lender, which outlines the tasks you must complete before the loan can be closed. For example, the lender may ask for additional documentation to verify income, savings or emergency funds or other proof that you can afford to repay the loan. At this point in the process the lender may offer a conditional loan approval and start the document verification process. If you accept the conditional loan approval offer, once all conditions have been met, the lender will issue a full loan approval.

5. Processing

Once you've selected your dream home, you'll sign a purchase agreement with the seller. The purchase agreement tells the lender how much you have agreed to pay to purchase the home. The lender may then have the home appraised and will provide you with a copy of the appraisal.

6. Closing

In the final step of the process, the lender works with a title company to obtain and review a title report and then finalize your title on the home. The titling company receives a closing package, which contains the documents that need to be signed, recorded and become part of your mortgage loan file. At the closing, you will sign all closing documents and pay any closing costs. The lender then receives all of this signed paperwork to complete the process.

Once this process is complete, you're ready to move into your dream home. The home loan process may take some time, but these steps are well worth the wait. (BPT)

10 Seasonal Tips: Simple Ways to Save Time and Enjoy the Holidays

by Scott Darling

thanksgiving

It may be the most wonderful time of year, but at times, it can also feel like the most stressful. This holiday season, take a fresh approach to your "to-do's list" to save time and energy so you can be merry and bright. These 10 tips and tricks will help you relax, unwind and enjoy all the best parts of the holidays.

1. Wrap while shopping

 It's a given that shopping early avoids the last-minute frenzy, but you can save even more time and stress by getting gifts wrapped while out and about. Many department stores offer gift wrap services, all you need to do is ask.

2. Streamline holiday cards

 Sending cards is a holiday tradition, but it shouldn't cause unneeded stress. No need to worry about a dated address book - an easy trick is to cut return address labels from each card you receive and place in an envelope. Now it's easy to send cards to loved ones and update your address book without hassle.

3. Use baking hacks

Using pre-made foods is one of the simplest (yet yummy) ways to create holiday bakery delights. While you're baking, double the batch to have an extra on hand for a hostess gift.

4. Go tech free

Smartphones ringing, emails beeping, texts buzzing - technology is time consuming. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by designating tech-free times for your family each day. Use this time (1-2 hours) to relax and focus on each other, perhaps with a hot cup of cocoa - the emails and messages will still be there later.

5. Schedule a salon visit

With a long holiday to-do list, it's hard to find time for you. That's why treating yourself to a haircut or manicure can do wonders for your holiday spirit. Plus, you'll look and feel fantastic when you attend all those festive get-togethers.

6. Opt for an open house

Having a holiday gathering adds to the season's merriment, but where will everyone fit and how will you feed them? Instead of a formal dinner, opt for an open house with hors d'oeuvres. You'll have less work and more time to spend with love ones as they come and go.

7. Embrace holiday breakfasts

Start every day off right by enjoying a delicious breakfast with your family. No need to spend hours in the kitchen cooking; instead include iconic breakfast classics that you and the kids love. (BPT)

Real Estate Market Trends for Chester County PA - September 2015

by Scott Darling

christmas dog

Moving into a new home during the holidays can be difficult and stressful. There are so many things to plan and prepare when it comes to either event, but to combine the two is extremely difficult. How are you going to celebrate the holidays while you are packing up your home?

If you stay on top of the process you can enjoy the holidays despite your move. Here are some ways you can do both!

  • New Traditions - You might be used to big, homemade meals around the dining room table, but maybe you change it up a bit.  Look for businesses that are open on that day and eat out or order in.  You can have the same sort of meal or you can go completely out of the box. This allows you to pack up your kitchen beforehand so you can enjoy the day more.
  • Create a Move Zone - Keep your jovial, holiday spirit separate from the pile of moving boxes and clutter by creating a moving zone. Put all of your boxes and items that are ready for the move in that room so you keep it out of the way.  
  • Go on Vacation- Pack and prepare your home for the move before the holidays arrive. Get everything ready to go then get out of town. Even if it is just the next town over, it may help your family relax and will allow you to enjoy the holidays without staring at blank walls, empty rooms, and moving boxes.

Take a look at the number of families who were able move and get settled prior to putting the turkey in the oven…
 

Curious about the value of your home? Get your home's value here!

Tips For Downsizing Your Home and Saving Big

by Scott Darling

downsize

The economy has been bad for quite some time now and although it has improved some over the last few years, it doesn’t seem to be getting a whole lot better.  A good way to save money is to downsize your home.  This is especially a good idea if you have already raised your family and you and your husband are left paying a mortgage on a home that is too large for you.  Let’s take a look at how downsizing your home will help you to save a bit of money, to live more comfortably as well as some easy ways that you can downsize.

  • One easy way to downsize is to look for a home that has a small garage or even no garage at all.  If you and your spouse are living in the home alone and your children are grown it is likely that you don’t have a bunch of stuff to store in a garage.  Buying a home without a garage is a great way to get more house for your money and to downsize your payment. 
  • Finding a home without a lot of land is another way to downsize and to save big.  You can find a lot of cute houses on the market these days that don’t have a ton of land with them.  It is also good to find a home without a lot of land if you are older and don’t have the stamina you once had to do all the yard work that is involved with a house with a lot of land attached. 
  • Buying a home that is one story is also a good way to downsize and to save when it comes to buying a new home.  Buying a home without stairs is good for when you get older as well because you won’t want to or may not be able to climb them once you get up in years. 
  • Realize that you don’t have to give up on the home of your dreams when you downsize.  There are plenty of adorable houses on the market that won’t break your bank account that are 1500 square feet or less.  Don’t let society dictate to you that you need a large house in order to fit in.  There are plenty of upsides to downsizing to a smaller home!

Once you set your mind in the right direction and you realize that you don’t need to have a huge house and that it’s no longer important to “keep up with the Jones’’ you will be well on your way to saving a lot of money.

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling!

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Scott Darling
RE/MAX Action Associates
403 W. Lincoln Highway #101
Exton PA 19341
(610) 594-SCOT
610-363-2001
Fax: (610) 363-5275