Anna Messina's Blog
The decision to purchase a second home may be one of the biggest choices you will make in your lifetime. As such, it is important to consider all of the factors associated with a house purchase before you embark on a quest to acquire a second residence.
Now, let's take a look at three key factors to evaluate as you weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a second home.
1. Your Current House
Consider the state of your current house – you will be happy you did. If you assess your current residence, you may be better equipped than ever before to determine if now is a good time to start a search for a second house.
For instance, if your home needs a new roof or requires other repairs, you may want to complete these improvements first. After these house repairs are finished, you then can kick off a search for your second house. Perhaps most importantly, you can launch this home search with the reassurance that your current house is in good shape and likely won't require significant repairs in the near future.
2. Your Finances
If you still have a mortgage on your current house, you may want to focus on paying that off first. Once your mortgage is paid in full, you can conduct a search for a second house without having to worry about paying two mortgages at once.
Of course, if your current house's mortgage is paid in full, you should still evaluate your finances closely. Ensure you have sufficient finances to cover a mortgage for a second house, as well as your everyday expenses. By doing so, you can hone your search for a second house to residences that fall within your price range.
3. Your Immediate and Long-Term Plans
Think about why you want to buy a second home in the first place. Then, you can determine how this decision may impact your immediate and long-term term plans.
For example, if you want to return to college, buying a second home may affect how much money you have at your disposal that you can use to go back to school. On the other hand, if you hope to get a work promotion in the foreseeable future, you soon may have additional funds to help you make your dream of owning a second home come true.
As you decide whether to launch the search for a second house, take some time to consult with a real estate agent. A real estate agent is a homebuying expert, and he or she can provide housing market insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. Plus, a real estate agent will guide you along the homebuying journey and can help you acquire a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price.
Account for these factors before you start your search, that way you can make an informed decision about whether now is the ideal time to pursue a second residence.
If you’re looking to save more energy and money around your home, perhaps one of the first places that you should look is your plugs. Take a look around your rooms and see what outlets are being used. If every outlet is full of plugs, you may have some adjustments to make.
There are so many things in our homes that require plugs including TV’s, microwaves, toasters, clocks, refrigerators, phone chargers, and more.
Anything that is always plugged in actually adds to your electric bill whether you’re using it or not. This is known as phantom power usage. Even when a device isn’t turned on, it’s still using energy.
You don’t want to go around your home and unplug everything, only to plug it back in when you need to use it. Use this handy guide to discover what you should unplug and what you can leave plugged in your home in order to save some energy and some money.
What To Unplug
Large appliances in your kitchen would be impractical to constantly plug in and unplug. Smaller appliances, however, are much easier to manage. These include toasters, coffee makers, food processors, and microwaves. The small digital clocks on many of these devices, for example, are constantly using energy. Do you really need the function? If you don’t need to know the time, you should just unplug it and save your home some energy usage.
We need to charge just about all of our devices including laptops, iPads, phones, and even electric toothbrushes. these items don’t need to be plugged in all the time. Once a device is charged fully, be sure to unplug it. It’s only wasting energy otherwise!
Unplug your computer each and every night. Screen savers and sleep modes don’t actually save much power from being used while your computer is plugged in. It’s a good idea to keep your computer unplugged for safety reasons as well. A strike of lighting hitting, for example, can cause your entire system to fry.
Keep These Items Plugged In
There are certain items that you can leave plugged in at your home without worry. These items include:
- Power strips
- Nondigital items
- Items without clock or LCD displays
Power strips are particularly useful for items like entertainment centers and computer setups. Flipping the switch to the off position on the power strip helps to stop the phantom power usage. The convenient thing is that you won’t need to plug and unplug everything in individually, and you’ll still save power.
Saving energy and money is easy when you have the right strategies put in place.
Multiple options are available when it comes to real estate loans. Figuring out which one you need can be disconcerting, to say the least. So, if you’re new to the game, here’s a quick guide to help you along.
- Conventional – Loans that fall within the FNMA/FHLMC (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac) guidelines where the Federal government is not insuring the payment through the VA or FHA loan process are known as conventional loans. A conventional loan has either a fixed or an adjustable interest rate, and typically requires ten to twenty percent downpayment.
- Conforming – When a loan conforms to guidelines set by FNMA/FHLMC (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac) where either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac could later purchase the loan, it is said to be conforming. A non-conforming loan would be any loan that does not fit the guidelines, so a Jumbo Loan, for example, would be outside the scope of FNMA/FHLMC because of its size.
- FHA Insured – Loans that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) are made to borrowers meeting specific criteria and often require lower down payments.
- VA – American military personnel and veterans may obtain a mortgage through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) as typically preferred interest rates and/or no or lower down payments.
- Reverse Annuity – This particular mortgage is for seniors on a fixed income and is used to generate monthly revenue from the equity in their home. They continue to live in the house as they like, but ownership reverts to their lender once they move from the home or pass away.
- Wrap around – Sometimes, a homeowner needs to sell, but chooses to keep a preferential mortgage on the home, so the buyer pays a mortgage payment that covers both the original mortgage and the amortized difference between the existing mortgage and the selling price. The seller is considered to have loaned the “wrap around” amount to the buyer.
- Balloon – A balloon mortgage is a loan with a short (three years, perhaps) term that has a fixed principal and interest monthly payment that typically is not fully amortized. At the end of the term, the rest of the mortgage is due in a single (balloon) payment at which time buyers typically refinance. These loans are useful for buyers that intend to sell within the balloon period at an appreciation value (such as for a longer fixer-upper), or who could not qualify for a conventional loan at the time but expect that situation to change during the length of the mortgage.
- Graduated Payment – Sometimes a loan is structured so that earlier payments are lower than later payments and the payments increase on a scheduled basis.
- Refinance – A refinance is a mortgage taken out to replace an existing mortgage. Homeowners sometimes add more money from the home's equity onto the loan to complete home improvements.
Short-Term Home Loans:
In addition to full mortgages, there are several short-term loans that homeowners may take in special situations. These include bridge loans (between buying and selling on contingency), construction loans, non-recourse loans (rare, and when the buyer has no responsibility for payment), and home equity loans or lines of credit based on the value difference between the amount owed on the home and its current fair market value.
If you’re wondering what type loan is right for you, speak to a mortgage professional about your situation and get pre-approved.
When moving one of the room most families dread packing the most is their child’s. Overflowing toy boxes, stuff crammed under the beds, and who know’s what in the closet. It’s an epic task to take on, usually with just as much cleaning needed as packing. But with a move comes a new room and a clean slate.
Here are my top tips to keeping an organized child’s room (and for longer than 2 hours):
The most important step is to downscale the amount of stuff your child has. Toys are usually the number one culprit when it comes to a child’s clutter. Plan a day to have a massive clean sweep with your child where you work together what toys stay and which need to go. The more you can clean out the less you’ll have to move and the easier it will be to organize at the new house.
As you decide what stays think about the different categories the remaining toys fall into it. Which does your child reach for the most? Do they like to play with trains and action figures at the same time but just legos by themselves? Asking yourself these questions will help you to create organizational categories that make sense to your child.
Once you have some categories decided on, think about how to organize them. What systems do you already have in place and how do they work for your child? One of the biggest stumbling blocks families face in maintaining an organized home with children is a lack of understanding for how much a child can handle.
Keeping things simple with baskets and buckets toys can be placed in can make a huge difference in how tidy a room stays. Zippered, closed, sectioned or stacked containers, especially for young children, are harder to manage. Paired with piles of toys a child can become quickly overwhelmed at cleanup time.
By cutting down on the number of toys your child has, organizing them in a way that makes sense to how your child plays with them and opting for open containers sets your child up for cleaning success. The simpler you can make it the easier it is for them to take on the task. Pairing this setup with learning habits like cleaning up one set of toys before moving on to another will keep your child’s room tidy for months, and even years, to come.
And the biggest secret to avoid clutter from building up again? Before each birthday, holiday or gift receiving event go through your child’s toy collection and clean out what they no longer use to make room for new toys. If you want to go even further, encourage friends and family to gift your child experiences instead of material goods for celebrations.
Preparing your home for emergencies in advance is important. Waiting until the last minute increases the danger and could cause harm to your family that you could easily prevent. Here you'll learn how to prepare the inside of your home for emergencies.
Get Familiar with Your Home (and tell your kids too)
Make sure you know how to disable all the utility lines in your home. It means knowing where to find the shut-offs for electricity, gas, and water just in case there is a problem with the services near your home. Downed power lines can cause shorts in your electronics and appliances, which can damage them or even start fires. It's important everyone in your family is aware of where to find these locations and teach everyone in your home as well. Keep your walkways clear in case you need to exit quickly and work with your family members to memorize all the exits from your home. Practice moving through your home in the dark in case of power outages and ensure that your family knows where to find candles and flashlights in the dark. Don't keep this information to yourself, if you happen to be injured, the rest of your family, kids included, will need to know how to help you and to keep themselves safe.
Build an Emergency Kit
OK, so this might sound like overkill, and sometimes it will be. However, if you've ever experienced an emergency with no power, food or water, you know just how important this is. For everyone else, it is better to be safe than sorry. Especially when "sorry" could mean the injury or even death of family or friends. Most of this emergency kit will keep year-round, so get it prepared and accessible, then leave it be. Make sure to update it as your situation changes.
- Water – keep a 3-day supply of water for your entire family. That means 3 gallons per person.
- Medicine – keep a week's worth of medication for your family. That means prescriptions, but also include a first aid kit and over the counter medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin.
- Food – prepare a week’s supply of non-perishable food that is easy to prepare. Your best options won’t require cooking or water, but if they do, make sure to plan with a camping stove and pots as well as extra water.
- Clothing and Sanitation – keep at least a three day supply of clothing (make sure to plan for different weather types) for each family member along with some sanitary wipes, dry shampoo, and emergency blankets.
- Radio – get an emergency radio so you can stay informed. Your best option will be a combination of battery and hand-crank power. Set aside extra batteries but be aware they will run out.
- Tools – get an extra toolkit, car emergency kit, flashlights, extra batteries, and any additional tools for your area such as ice scrapers.
- Contacts – get yourself a pre-paid emergency cell phone and keep it charged and with the kit. Make sure the phone has all your emergency contacts, including their emergency phone numbers when possible. If you end up without power for an extended period, that battery will die, so make sure to list the contacts in a physical notebook and include that as well
- Documents – make copies of all your family's important documents. That means birth certificates, medical notices, passports and IDs, and anything else you can think you might lose if your home is damaged.
- Pets – most emergency shelters don’t accept pets, so if you have them, make sure to find a pet-friendly shelter ahead of time. Your pet will need the same things as your family, so be sure to include water, non-perishable food, extra leashes and anything else you can think of that your pet will need
Remember to update this kit as needed. When your family needs change, update the kit accordingly. Do some research to find out what additional items you might need due to your particular living situation.
Your family needs to be just as prepared as you. Practice reacting to emergencies, and make sure that everyone has as much knowledge as you can. Older children are often capable of memorizing all the aspects of your emergency plan and helping out with injuries, smaller children and the elderly or pets. Explain all the elements of your plan to your children and create a manual or book they can study or reference. Its best to stick with picture-based instructions, think of the emergency flyer on an airplane for inspiration, so no one has trouble figuring out what to do if you aren't home or if they need to explain to their friends. Lastly, make sure that your whole family has everyone else's emergency contact information and knows how to reach emergency services.
If you prepare in advance, you can protect your family in case of disaster. Make sure to ask your real estate professional about the most common hazards in your area.