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

Boone Bridge Demolition Scheduled for Tomorrow Morning…

Starting at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, February 18, crews will close all lanes on eastbound and westbound I-64 between Boone’s Crossing in St. Louis County and Route K in St. Charles County.  Additional closures include:

  • 9 a.m. – the ramps from Chesterfield Airport Road and North Outer Road to westbound I-64 will close.
  • 9:45 a.m. – the ramps from Route 94 and Research Park to eastbound I-64 and the ramp from Boone’s Crossing to westbound I-64 will close.

Daniel Boone Bridge

The interstate will be closed for approximately an hour.  All lanes will reopen after debris from the demolition has been removed from I-64.  This will be the first of two blasts to take down the old bridge.  The second demolition will be held at a later date.

There is limited public viewing for the blast, but those interested in watching can park at the Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex located at 17925 North Outer 40 Road.  Parking is at the west end, between the A Fields parking lot.  Spectators will then have to walk down the Monarch Levee Trail for about a mile to the posted viewing area.

Drone operators are advised that there will be no flying allowed due to the proximity to Spirit of St. Louis Airport.Construction on the $111 million Boone Bridge project began in January 2013.  The new eastbound bridge opened to traffic in June.  The 1980s bridge was then rehabbed and opened to westbound traffic in November.

Information for this blog provided by MoDot. For more information on the I-64 Daniel Boone Missouri River Bridge project, go to www.modot.org/boonebridge.

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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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Welcome Kelli Cradick to the BHHS Select Properties WingHaven/Lake St Louis Office

CRADICK E_CARD_Please join me in giving Kelli Cradick a warm welcome to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties WingHaven/Lake St Louis Office. Kelli 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 Kelli 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- http://www.KelliCradick.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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Choosing the Best Mattress for You

mattressesHealth experts agree the average mattress should be replaced after 10-15 years. But traditional mattress types have given way to new breeds. If you are in the market for a new mattress, which type is best for you?

“The only way to choose the right mattress is to lie on it for at least 20 minutes,” said Omaha mattress store manager Joe Paginolo. “Don’t let anyone rush you. Get comfy in the position you usually sleep in—and try it out for at least that long.”

Paginolo points out some of the pros and cons of four basic mattress types:

Innerspring

  • Pros: They range in firmness, price and fluffiness of the pillow top to satisfy nearly everyone’s preference and budget.
  • Cons – The cheapest may not have enough springs and cushioning to offer proper support. Be sure the mattress you choose has at least 390 coils. Firmer versions are best for the overweight and people with chronic back pain.

Memory foam

  • Pros: By molding to the shape of your body as your weight shifts through the night, memory foam reduces pressure points and relieves pain. Memory foam also absorbs movement, so if you sleep with a partner, you’re not likely to be disturbed by his tossing and turning.
  • Cons – Because they are temperature sensitive, they soften and mold with body heat, so they can make you feel hot during the night. Also, some memory foam mattresses have been known to emit an unpleasant chemical smell.

Latex

  • Pros – Made from either natural or synthetic rubber, they provide a very firm, bouncy support that is uniform throughout the bed. They are supportive but comfortable for most sleepers.
  • Cons – If you don’t like the feel of a firm mattress, latex is probably not the right choice for you.

Air mattresses – (Unlike the blow-up kind you use for overnight guests, the high-end types known as ‘sleep number’ beds use air-filled chambers instead of coils, and are covered by a foam layer on top.)

  • Pros – The firmness of each side can be altered, so they are a good choice for couples who have different firmness preferences.
  • Cons – They can tend to pop up on one side when you sit on the other. Be sure your choice has multiple chambers, so this does not occur.

***Choosing the Best Mattress for You was written By- Barbara Pronin***

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New Study Suggests Strong Outlook for Green Home

Green HomesDuring the prolonged housing downturn, green homes provided support to the ailing residential market and now promise to be an important element of the recovering market as well, according to a new study conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics, in partnership with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and with the support of Ply Gem Industries, a leading manufacturer of exterior building products in North America.

Despite the headwinds created by growing concerns about the cost of building green, a high percentage of home builders and re-modelers are already building green and expect to do so in the future. While home builders and re-modelers report that consumers of all ages are interested in green, the study also finds that consumers age 55 and older are the most important group driving the current green market. The findings also demonstrate that consumers’ association of green with healthier homes leads to even higher potential for growth in the future, as do increased use of renewable technologies by 2018. To download the new study, “Green and Healthier Homes: Engaging Consumers of All Ages in Sustainable Living SmartMarket Report,” click here.

  • The 2015 study, which surveyed 232 builders and re-modelers from across the U.S., demonstrates that they recognize the benefits of green building:
  • Over half (54 percent) of home builders are currently constructing at least 16% of their new homes green, and 39% of re-modelers report that at least 16% of their remodeling projects are green.
  • By 2020, nearly all (81 percent) home builders will be constructing that level of green, with over half (51 percent) building at least 60 percent of their new homes green.

By 2020, re-modelers report a similar level of growth, with nearly three-quarters (74 percent) making at least 16% of their projects green, and over one-third (36 percent) completing over 60 percent of their projects green.

These expectations of higher green involvement emerge despite growing concerns about the cost of building green. 77 percent of home builders and re-modelers report that building gogreenhomegreen has an incremental cost over traditional construction of 5 percent or more, notably higher than the 60 percent in 2014 and 58% in 2011 who noted that level of increased cost. While higher cost is also the top obstacle to green reported, it does not appear to have dampened the drive toward green in the market.

“Builders and re-modelers have long recognized that green is the future of home building,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, MO. “Since we first began partnering on this study with Dodge Data & Analytics in 2006, we’ve seen that commitment grow. The study’s recent findings reinforce this continued growth, with new homeowner feedback showing a desire and expectation that new homes be high-performing, particularly when it comes to energy conservation. Most builders recognize that they need to be at least conversant in green to stay competitive.”

One key factor driving the growth of green is the association of green homes with healthier living. Home builders and re-modelers certainly recognize the potential: most (83 percent) believe that consumers will pay more for homes that are healthier.

“We have seen the commercial sector of the construction industry focus on the impact of buildings on the health of their occupants in the last few years, but these findings suggest that attention to healthier homes may offer an even higher gain for green in the residential market,” said Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights at Dodge Data & Analytics, “especially as consumers become better informed about the features that make homes more sustainable and healthier, and begin to demand them.”

Another factor leading to growth in the residential market is the increasing use of renewable energy. The study demonstrates that the use of renewable technologies is expected to grow across the board, revealing an interest in energy performance that goes beyond green. By 2018, nearly half of home builders and re-modelers expect to be using solar photo-voltaic (48 percent) and ground source heat pump (52 percent) technologies. Net zero homes are also emerging as an important trend, with nearly one-quarter (21 percent) of home builders having built a net zero home in the last two years.

One interesting finding of the new study is that the greatest impetus for green homes comes, not from millennials as many people might expect, but from consumers age 55 and older. Data from the study suggest that greater familiarity with home features leads to an emphasis on home performance. Therefore, as the environmentally minded millennials gain more experience with home ownership, it is quite possible that there could be even greater demand for green in the future.

To download the new study, “Green and Healthier Homes: Engaging Consumers of All Ages in Sustainable Living” SmartMarket Report, click here.

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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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10 Easy Home Upgrades That Can Increase Your Homes Value

 

living-room-728732_640Whether planning to sell the house, have it rented out, or simply for personal satisfaction, a little renovation and upgrade is always necessary to help increase its market value. In order to boost a house’s value in the market, it is first important to learn what prospective buyers or tenants are searching for in a house. For most homeowners, the biggest concern is usually the budget required for upgrade, renovation and home maintenance.

The great news is that there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars for home improvements. Just follow these 10 tips for the best home upgrades to add home value.

1. Knock down a wall and go for open concept. Not only will it create an illusion of a bigger space, but it is a home design trend that is very much in demand today. Just make sure to have the wall assessed for possible electrical wires housed behind it before hitting it with a sledge-hammer.

2. Make the kitchen area workable. This means making the kitchen area a functional place where you can actually cook a decent meal. Update faucets, fix leaking pipes, buff the counters and repaint cupboards and cabinets. It is not necessary to replace everything with a new kitchen system. Simply repaint worn out furniture and replace outdated knobs with modern handles to make it look more expensive.

3. Brighten up the bath. Bathrooms are among the most important considerations for many tenants and prospective home buyers so it is pertinent to get this area of the house right. Buff up the tiles and replace the faucets, shower heads and toilet seats. There’s no need to replace all the tiles, just those that are cracked and chipped. The trick is to find the right cleaning agent that can help whiten the tiles to make it look good as new.

4. Add more storage. 
If there’s an extra wall or area of the house that does not seem to have any function, add in a laminate closet system or have a carpenter install small built-in cabinets, racks or pantries. Making every extra space of the house functional will help make it look more livable.

5. Turn that extra space into an extra room. A house with a lot of rooms will always look impressive when advertised in the market. If the house has a huge attic, a den, or extra space that can be turned into another room then by all means, fix it up to look like an additional room. Simply add in a built-in closet and a window and it should be good to accommodate.

6. Update the lighting system.
 Still using an old chandelier or unflattering fluorescent lamps? Hire an electrician to place some decorative lighting fixtures or dimmers that will give the house a more modern feel and mask any unflattering curves on the walls and ceilings.

7. Buff the floors.
 The moment a buyer or tenant steps inside the front door the first thing they will notice are the floors. Tiled or hardwood floors need to be buffed till it sparkles. Carpeted floors need a touch of professional carpet cleaning to make it look, smell and feel brand new. Hiring professional cleaners is a small investment compared to the big impact it will make.

8. Apply a fresh coat of paint on the walls or replace an uncharacteristic door with a rustic barn door. Choose modern color palettes to give the house a fresh new look.

9. Add outdoor dining furniture in the front lawn or backyard. These areas can become extended living and dining areas.

10. Hire an electrical and plumbing service to look at the overall state of the house. It is much better to catch the problems early on than find out much later when the problem has already worsened such as replacing the entire plumbing system or re-wiring the entire house.

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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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