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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WingHaven/Lake St Louis- 636-720-3000 & St Charles County- 636-720-1100
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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

Is Your Current Broker Serving Kool-aid???

Frustrated WomanAre you feeling lost and frustrated with your current broker or company? Have they not delivered on all the training, tools and technology needed to grow your business? Is your real estate career really where you thought it would be or in desperate need of a change? QUIT DRINKING THE KOOL-AID!!!

If you’re feeling lost in the shuffle, lack support, have no direction or lead generation tools then it’s time for a change. We live by a motto at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties, “Everyday is School!” You could be a full-time student with all of the one on one coaching, technology training, broker support and our mentor program that is offered within our company.

Here’s just a few of the classes offered to our agents.

  • Microsoft Office & Office 365
  • Social Media for Real Estate
  • iPads, Tablets & Real Estate
  • Understanding and Leveraging Teams
  • Use Your Website to Get ListingsfACEBOOKTHUMBSUP
  • Website Design & Customization
  • Website Search Engine Optimization
  • YouTube for Real Estate
  • Online Forms & eSignatures
  • F.I.R.E.- Fundamentals In Real Estate
  • Stop Selling, Start Connecting
  • Win Win Negotiations
  • Overcoming Common Real Estate Objections
  • Quick Start for Real Estate
  • Open House Tips & Techniques
  • Contracts, Counters & Contingencies! O My!
  • Real Estate Boot Camp

All real estate companies are not created equally. Bottom line… BHHS WingHaven & BHHS St Charles have the tools, training, technology and support staff to take your business to the next level. Just ask our agents! Let them tell you what were all about. If you just want to stop by to see what’s going on or take our technology for a test drive, please don’t hesitate to email us or give us a call.

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

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties named Top Workplace by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch!

best workplaceBerkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties is pleased to announce that it has been selected as one of St. Louis Post Dispatch’s 2015 Top Workplaces for the 2nd consecutive year.  Special recognition was given to us as #1 for Clued-in Senior Management, scoring for “Senior managers understand what is really happening.”

“This is a great achievement for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties. The company prides itself on helping its agents and employees reach their own personal goals and the results of the survey reflect that.” says Maryann Vitale Alles, President/CEO.

Select Properties is committed to fostering a healthy working environment that employees and agents can enjoy and thrive in. The results of this survey prove how much pride the entire Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties team takes in the company. This is truly one of the top workplaces in the entire region!

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The St. Louis Post Dispatch published the complete list of Top Workplaces on June 28, 2015.  The Top Workplaces are determined based solely on employee feedback and conducted by Workplace Dynamics, LLP, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement.

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Rent vs Own… Advantage or Disadvantage???

Is it better to Rent? Is it better to Own? This is a debate that has been going on for years. Personally, I think it depends on YOUR situation. They both come with pro’s and con’s…

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Advantages of Renting

  • Less financial responsibility. Renters generally don’t have to do the work in maintaining the place. They don’t have to fix the water heater or a leaky faucet. The Landlord is responsible for appliances and system maintenance and the costs associated with it.
  • Minimal commitment.  When the lease is up, you can just move.You don’t have to take care of making sure someone else is going to rent that space.
  • Less work.  There is generally less work in maintaining an apartment.
  • Less up-front cash. Up-front costs can be less when renting than with buying. You generally only have to put up the first month’s rent plus a security deposit, which is usually less than a down payment on a home. After you’re done, you get your down payment back provided the place is in acceptable condition.

Disadvantages of Renting

  • No Equity.  As a renter, you have to pay so much every month for rent, but that money never goes toward ownership.  Instead, you help pay your landlord’s mortgage bill each month.
  • Limited personalization.  There are some restrictions on painting and improvements that can be made. Renters generally aren’t allowed to fashion their living space to their preferences, like putting in different flooring or putting up wallpaper. Your improvements do not increase the value of the property.
  • Limited Space. In apartment-style renting you have limited space for your personal items.  Apartment usually only provide a storage closet or storage locker instead of a full garage or basement.
  • No tax advantages.  Since you are making rent payments you can’t deduct mortgage interest from your taxes.  Your landlord gets any tax breaks.
  • Close Proximity to Neighbors. Noisy or nosy neighbors can also pose more of a problem since, in most apartments, you share walls with them.

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Advantages of Owning

  • Personalization.  Because you own your home, you can design and decorate to your own taste. If you want to add an addition or remodel the kitchen, the only thing limiting you is your imagination. And the more you remodel and upgrade, the more you increase the value of the home.
  • More Space: Typically in a home you have more space such as a basement, attic and garage.
  • Equity.  When you buy a home, part of the money you pay towards your mortgage every month gets applied toward your principle. This means you build equity every time you make a mortgage payment, until you eventually own your home outright.Homeowners also build equity through appreciation. Your home is typically your largest financial asset and the value can be positively affected by factors like home improvements, inflation and the demand for land.
  • Tax advantages. Tax benefits can make home ownership one of the most profitable investments you can make. Mortgage interest is tax-deductible.
  • Low or No Down Payment Programs. In today’s market you don’t have to have a large amount of out-of-pocket up-front costs. There are loan programs that allow you to buy a home with little or no down payment.There are even loan programs, such as interest-only loans, that allow you to buy a more expensive home than you might have thought possible.

 

Disadvantages of Owning

  • Selling Commitment. If you want to move, you have to arrange for the sale of your home.
  • Financial & Maintenance Responsibility.  Work needs to be done by you, or paid for by you.  This includes everything from routine lawn care to major repairs such as appliances, plumbing, electrical and roofing.
  • Possibility of Value Loss.  While historically, home values across the country have risen, there’s always a possibility that home values in a local area may fall.

As earlier stated,  there are advantages and disadvantages with both. To discuss those in detail and to find out what is best for YOUR situation, don’t hesitate to give a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties Agent a call today!

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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

 

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

Looks who joined our BHHS Select St Charles County Office…

Harger_JeffPlease join me in welcoming Jeff Harger to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties St Charles County Office. Jeff recently obtained his license and is very excited and dedicated to learning this business and delivering outstanding service to his customers and clients.

He has a vast knowledge of home building, construction and remodeling. Give Jeff a call today or check him out on the web at- www.JLHRealtor.com

We are excited Jeff 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 Jeff 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

Please Welcome Kathy & Phil Willis to BHHS Select Properties St Charles County Office

WILLIS_ ECARDPlease join me in welcoming Kathy Willis back to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties and the St. Charles County Office.

Kathy was licensed for years out of our Des Peres office before her and her husband Phil relocated to Chicago. They’ve moved back, Phil obtained his license and recently joined our office. They’re both extremely excited to not only to be back home, but to get started again in real estate. Kathy and Phil are extremely bright, outgoing and committed to delivering outstanding service and results for their customers and clients.

Give them a call today or check out check out their website at- www.KPWillisHomes.com

Help me once again in welcoming the Kathy and Phil back to St Louis and to our BHHS Select Properties Family! Here We Grow Again! I’ll say it again, what are you waiting for??? 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

Discounted Tickets to Six Flags St. Louis!

Six-Flags-eCard-image-2015As a thank you to our past customers and clients, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties would like to offer you discount pricing on Six Flags passes all season long.

Your daily pass for $39.99 or season pass for $57.99 Click on the picture and login with: Username: BHH   Password: SixFlags8 (case-sensitive)

More Flags! More Fun! Six Flags!

“You know you’re from St. Louis when you take highway ‘farty-far’ to get to Six Flags.” Take advantage of these discount tickets all season long!

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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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