How to Prep Your Home For Vacation

If you’re heading out of town soon, you’re likely packing and preparing. But have you given thought to the home you’re leaving behind?

Webber offers the following tips to prepare the home before leaving for vacation:

Unplug appliances – Appliances continue to use energy even when the device is turned off. It is best to unplug all devices including phone chargers, computers, televisions and coffee pots. This will not only save energy, but it will prevent damage from lightning strikes and power surges.

Adjust air conditioning – The air conditioning system uses a significant amount of energy. Turn the temperature up 10 degrees higher than it is usually set, or have a professional install a programmable thermostat that can be adjusted to turn on and cool the home just before returning from vacation.

Clean garbage disposal – The waste disposal is notorious for developing unpleasant odors while the house is empty. It is wise to flush the garbage disposal out with ½ cup of white vinegar and hot water while the disposal is turned on.

Change the setting on the water heater – There is no need to heat water for an empty home. Adjust the water heater to vacation mode. If the water heater does not have a vacation mode, turn the temperature down. This will save a significant amount of money on the energy bill.

Put lights on a timer – According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), there are more than 2.15 million burglaries each year, with the majority occurring in the peak vacation months of July and August. If a home is dark, it is a sure sign that someone is not home. Put a couple of lamps on a timer inside the home. Set these to go on and off at different intervals. This will give the illusion that someone is home and make the home less vulnerable to burglaries.

Treat stagnant water in toilet – Water left inactive in the toilet can produce a foul odor and a difficult to remove ring that forms around the toilet bowl. To prevent this, place ½ cup of bleach in the toilet bowl just before leaving home.

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How to Prepare for Your Future Home Purchase

Planning to buy a home in the near future? The sooner you get your money situation in shape, the easier it’ll be to take on a mortgage loan. Here’s how you can prepare your credit and finances for a future home purchase.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Focus on building your credit history. The best way to do this is to make sure you pay your bills and rent on time. According to Bankrate:”‘There is no single element that can so dramatically impact the success of an application as your credit history,” says Brian Israel, vice president of Chicago-based Harris Trust and Savings Bank’s residential mortgage division. ‘Another thing, of course, is savings. People should have a good disciplined savings pattern. That’s the kind of behavior that’s going to make them a successful homeowner.'”

To develop a disciplined savings pattern, check out the post on how to start saving for a home down payment.

Also, make sure you pay your rent on time each month. According to Realtor, mortgage lenders want the last 12 months of cancelled checks if you’re renting from a private landlord. If they see you’ve skipped a month, they’ll consider it a “mortgage late.” Realtor says this can hurt your chances of being approved. Also, make sure your checks are dated consistently around the same time each month.

Monitor Your Credit

Stay on top of your credit history and learn how to read and understand your credit report.

Look for inaccuracies, which can hurt your credit score and affect your future mortgage application. If there are any discrepancies, you’ll have to dispute them with the credit bureaus. Here are some sample letters for filing a dispute.

Maybe you have delinquent accounts. These can be accounts that are late, charged-off, sent to collections, etc. These delinquencies can kill your chances of getting a mortgage, as lenders won’t think you can make your monthly payments. Finance writer LaToya Irby suggests you pay off all delinquent accounts before applying for a mortgage:”You need to establish a pattern of timely payments to get approved for a mortgage and get a competitive interest rate. If you have a recent late payment – or you’ve just paid off some delinquencies – wait at least six months before applying for a mortgage. The older the delinquency, the better your credit looks.”

It’s important to note that if you have toxic debt, it might be a sign that you’re living beyond your means. If you have issues with overspending, it’s important to deal with them before you decide to buy a home. The costs and responsibility of home ownership can be overwhelming if your money habits are out of control.

Have Three Trade Lines

Realtor says that most lenders want you to have at least three trade lines (credit cards, student loans, etc.) that have been open for at least a year.

“If you only have one card, open two more now. Your credit score may go down a bit, but you will probably need to wait a year to establish some credit history, so it will adjust back up soon.”

Similarly, Daily Finance adds that closing accounts might be a bad idea.

“Closing a major credit card can actually do damage to a credit score. Lenders look at the balance on revolving credit accounts in terms of its ratio to total available credit. Closing an account can have the unintended consequence of raising the ratio.”

Save and Increase Your Down Payment

A bigger down payment won’t guarantee your loan approval, but it certainly helps. According to Global Post: “The larger the down payment you come up with, the lower their risk. The theory goes like this: If you’ve already invested a large sum of money in your home, you’ll be less likely to stop making payments if you suffer a financial crisis. You’ll have, as lenders say, ‘more skin in the game.'”

If you can find ways to do it, start saving more. Consider a savings vehicle that offers a reasonable return without being too risky.

Do Your Research

Research and understand the costs associated with home ownership. There will be property taxes and insurance. You might have higher utility bills or homeowner’s fees. Maintenance, repair and decorating might also cost more than you think.

Similarly, you should research your mortgage options. Financial expert Liz Pulliam Weston writes: “A lot of people are losing their homes today because they didn’t understand what kind of mortgage they had or they accepted bad advice. The low teaser payments that allowed them to buy a more expensive house have jumped skyward, leaving them unable to pay.”

She suggests a traditional, fixed-rate mortgage.

Avoid Big Purchases

It’s important to have an active credit history. But as you get closer to applying for a mortgage, it’s time to cool it. Bankrate says you should avoid big purchases as you prepare to apply:

“First off, don’t make any big purchases over the next couple of months. Besides the obvious fact that it makes less money available for the down payment, it might require you to get yet another loan.”

They say that a large debt—a $15,000 car loan, for example—will look bad to the lender’s scoring systems.

Shelve Credit Usage 45 Days Before Applying

Mint suggests you pay off your credit cards, and then not using them for at least 45 days before applying for a mortgage.

“Paying the cards off 45 days in advance is plenty of lead-time. You can continue to use your debit, prepaid debit, or gift cards because those don’t show up on your credit reports.”

If you think home ownership is in your future, plan to tackle it responsibly. Get your credit and finances in order today to make the whole process easier in the future.

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This article by Kristin Wong originally appeared in Two Cents, a new blog from Lifehacker all about personal finance.
Here is a link to the original article: http://twocents.lifehacker.com/how-to-prepare-for-your-future-home-purchase-now-1562420833

Please Welcome Heather Crawford to the BHHS Saint Charles County Branch

ECARD_CRAWFORD_HEATHER4Please join me in giving Heather Crawford a warm welcome to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties St Charles County Office. Heather recently obtained her license and is dedicated to learning this business while delivering outstanding service and results for her customers and clients.

We couldn’t be more excited Heather has decided to join our BHHS St Charles Team and know she will be a great addition to our BHHS Select Properties Family. Give her a call today or check out her website-HousesForSaleByHeather.com

The agents just keep coming!!! There really is a HUGE advantage and difference with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties.The BIGGEST name in Real Estate! What are you waiting for? Call today to set up your confidential meeting…

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties WingHaven/Lake St Louis                   Office, 636-720-3000 & St Charles County Office 636-720-1100                   Experience, Integrity & Teamwork, “Successful Formula For Better Results”

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Please Welcome Back Nicci Fears to BHHS Select Properties WingHaven

FEARS E_CARD_Please join me in giving Nicci Fears a warm welcome to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties WingHaven/Lake St Louis Office. Nicci is a seasoned real estate broker who recently reactivated her license and is ready to take the leap back into the world of real estate while continuing to run her other successful local area businesses.

While eager, focused and determined to getting her real estate business back up and running, Nicci is committed to taking the fear out of real estate with her Fear Free Real Estate approach for her customers and clients.

Check out her website and visit her online at- www.FearFreeRealEstate.com

We couldn’t be more excited Nicci has decided to rejoin us BHHS WingHaven and know she will be a great addition once again to our BHHS Select Properties Family.

The agents just keep coming!!! There really is a HUGE advantage and difference with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties. The BIGGEST name in St Louis Real Estate! What are you waiting for? Call today to set up your confidential meeting…

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties WingHaven/Lake St Louis                   Office, 636-720-3000 & St Charles County Office 636-720-1100                   Experience, Integrity & Teamwork, “Successful Formula For Better Results”

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5 Ways to Winterize Your Landscaping

Snow for the Holidays

5 Steps to Winterizing Your Landscape

Autumn is an important time of year for home maintenance, especially outdoors. The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) recommends homeowners prepare their yards for colder months before the fall chill sets in.

“It’s a common misconception that just because most plants and gardens aren’t actively blooming in the fall, they don’t require maintenance during the colder months,” says NALP Vice President of Public Affairs Missy Henriksen. “Many homeowners work hard all spring and summer to care for their yards and gardens, only to let them languish once colder weather arrives.”

According to Henriksen, there are five simple steps homeowners can take to care for their landscape through fall and winter.

1. Start Planting
Fall is the time to plant flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips, as well as perennials, trees and shrubs. The warm soil is great for root development, and plants have several months to establish themselves before the stress of the summer heat.

2. Rake Leaves
Rake and remove leaves to avoid damage to grass. Doing so can also protect water quality. In winter, freezing and thawing can cause leaves, dead grass, plants and other organic debris to release soluble forms of phosphate and nitrates. If these chemicals run off frozen ground during spring snow melt and early spring rains, they can end up in surface water.

3. Apply Mulch
Applying two to three inches of mulch in the fall is beneficial in protecting plant roots from extreme temperatures in the winter months, and also helps to preserve moisture if the region does not receive enough precipitation.

4. Wrap Plants
Many plant varieties like roses, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas and crape myrtles can be damaged by sub-freezing temperatures. To provide plants with extra protection from the wind and cold, wrap them in burlap or a frost protection fabric and plant them along a building or fence that offers wind protection.

5. Fertilize
Look for a fertilizer with a formula designed to meet your lawn’s needs and follow application instructions on the product. The numbers on a fertilizer bag, in N-P-K order, indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, respectively, on weight basis. If you aren’t sure what your lawn needs, consult with a lawn care or landscape professional. A soil test can determine what ratio is best for your lawn. Be sure to check with your local agricultural extension office, as some locations regulate the time of year that fertilizer can be applied to reduce runoff.

Source: NALP 

Please Welcome Shannon Quick to the BHHS St Charles County Branch

E_CARD_QUICK SPlease join me in giving Shannon Quick a warm welcome to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties St Charles County Office. Shannon recently obtained her license and is dedicated to learning this business while delivering outstanding service and results for her customers and clients.

We couldn’t be more excited Shannon has decided to join our BHHS St Charles Team and know she will be a great addition to our BHHS Select Properties Family. Give her a call today or check out her website-www.shannonquickhomes.com

The agents just keep coming!!! There really is a HUGE advantage and difference with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties.The BIGGEST name in Real Estate! What are you waiting for? Call today to set up your confidential meeting…

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties WingHaven/Lake St Louis                   Office, 636-720-3000 & St Charles County Office 636-720-1100                   Experience, Integrity & Teamwork, “Successful Formula For Better Results”

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Charlotte Melrose has Joined the BHHS Select Properties WingHaven/Lake Saint Louis Office…

Melrose E_CARD_Please join me in giving Charlotte Melrose a warm welcome to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties WingHaven/Lake St Louis Office. Charlotte recently obtained her license and is dedicated to learning this business while delivering outstanding service and results for her customers and clients.

We couldn’t be more excited Charlotte has decided to join our BHHS WingHaven Team and know she will be a great addition to our BHHS Select Properties Family. Give her a call today or check out her website-www.CharlotteMelroseHomes.com 

The agents just keep coming!!! There really is a HUGE advantage and difference with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties.The BIGGEST name in Real Estate! What are you waiting for? Call today to set up your confidential meeting…

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties WingHaven/Lake St Louis                   Office, 636-720-3000 & St Charles County Office 636-720-1100                   Experience, Integrity & Teamwork, “Successful Formula For Better Results”

Top work place

Voted Top Work Place by St. Louis Post-Dispatch 2014 & 2015

Please Welcome Marine & Realtor Charles Greene to the BHHS Select Properties St Charles Office

GREENE_ECARDPlease join me in welcoming Charles Green to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties St Charles County Office. Charles has spent the last 15 years serving our country in the MARINES. He’s recently got licensed and is very excited and dedicated to learning this business and delivering outstanding service to his customers and clients.

In true military fashion, he has hit the ground running and is already working on a couple of prospects. Give Charles a call today or online at- http://cgreenehomesforsale.com

We are excited Charles has decided to join us and know he will be an incredible addition to our ever-growing office, company and team…

Help me once again in welcoming Charles to our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties Family! Here We Grow Again!!! What are you waiting for??? Join the #1 Locally Owned & Operated real estate company in St Louis… Call today to schedule your confidential appointment!!!

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties Saint Charles County Office 6149 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, St. Charles, MO 63304 or 636-720-1100

Here we GROW again! Please Welcome Paul Bodlovich to BHHS Select Properties

bodlovich_ ECARDPlease welcome Paul Bodlovich to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties St. Charles County Office. Paul was recently licensed and is an extremely knowledgeable and hard-working agent dedicated to delivering outstanding service and results to his customers and clients.

We are excited Paul has decided to join the BHHS Select Properties Family and know that he will be an incredible addition to our office and company. Give Paul a call, check out his website at- http://paulbhomesforsale.com

The agents just keep coming!!! There really is a HUGE advantage and difference with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties. The BIGGEST name in Real Estate! What are you waiting for? Call today to set up your confidential Interview…

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties Saint Charles County Office 6149 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, St. Charles, MO 63304 or 636-720-1100

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