Things To Do In The Month Of September

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September. The month where summer ends and fall begins…unless you live in San Diego. Then it’s just summer all year. But for most of us as the seasons change so do the things we need to do around our house.

While you may think that it’s a bit early to be considering the coming autumn temperatures, September is actually the perfect month to get a lot of home related items in order as you prepare for a coming change in temperature.

Here is a home checklist of items for you to consider doing this September:

1. Get your chimney and furnace inspected.

This is key for homes that need their heat running efficiently in the winter months. Getting your furnace and chimney checked in September gives you time to have any issues fixed in enough time before the weather turns. I actually learned this lesson personally. I have a chimney, but I don’t have a fireplace so why would I need my chimney inspected? A random chimney company was in the area and gave me a discount to have my chimney inspected and it was a good thing they did. I had damage at the top of my chimney and it hadn’t been cleaned in years which was costing me money as my furnace was having to work twice as hard to heat my home. Take it from me. Get your chimney inspected and cleaned as well as your furnace. Your home (and wallet) will thank you come winter.

2. Plan a weekend to take care of the outdoor furniture.

Whether you have a deck, a patio or just some stuff in the yard, plan out a weekend where you’ll officially put everything away. If you don’t plan on it, you’ll find it’s Thanksgiving and you still have a picnic table in your backyard.

3. Swap out those screen windows for storm windows. 

It’s easy just to leave the screen windows up and just forget about it. But if you have storm windows, your home will stay warmer and heat more efficiently with that extra layer of protection from storm windows. Also if you’re in an area that gets snow, you need those storm windows to prevent that winter precipitation from getting inside your window sills and causing rot. It’s a pain in the neck, but worth it in the long run.

4. Check your windows and doors for drafts.

You probably should have done this before summer began, but if you forgot now’s the time to do a check of all your windows and doors to see if there’s air escaping. You’ll want to seal these up before you burn your money away with heat escaping your home. They can be simple to fix in some instances by just adding some weatherstripping around them. If you’ve got a door that leads maybe to an uninsulated room like a garage or mud room that has a draft underneath it, I highly recommend the Twin Draft Guard. Possibly the best $10 I’ve spent at Target.

5. Head over to YankeeCandle.com and order a pumpkin spice candle.

This is a requirement for all homes once October begins.

And there you have it. A few simple things to get your home ready for the cooler months ahead. Now that you’re done, you can head on over to Starbucks for an early fall treat as they have their Pumpkin Spice Latte available early this year to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

For those looking for more to do around the house, head on over toHouzz who has a pretty exhaustive checklist for your home in September.

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The Perfect Home, According to Pinterest

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We all do it. We imagine what our perfect home would look like. Travel, TV, magazines, and even Pinterest all provide beautiful visuals for how we want our dream homes took like. I am guilty of utilizing all those mediums and I can’t wait to make my future home a reality! My dream is to buy a fixer-upper, gut it, and completely design it from scratch making it as super contemporary as possible. The color pallet would be limited to white, black, and gray. (Crazy, I know)

Moving away from my wild ideas, we here at Coldwell Banker Real Estate thought it would be a great idea to pull the most “pinned” and “liked” images from our various Pinterest boards and construct the perfect home. Below is what would make the ultimate dream home according to our Pinterest followers.

 

We were very surprised to see how it turned out as the decorating taste from room to room varied, but the end result would easily make on of the most interesting homes in world. Take a look

1. A Pinterest Perfect: Exterior $10,750,000

Superb high-end construction and design; this home has exquisite attention to detail and saying it had “curb appeal” would be an understatement. Currently listed by Tamar Lurie with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Greenwich, CT.

2. A Pinterest Perfect: Bedroom $2,750,000

There are four bedrooms and two full baths on the second level of this home, but nothing beats the spacious master suite with a library/sitting room. Currently listed by Jennifer Ames with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, IL.

3. A Pinterest Perfect: Kitchen $3,750,000

This is a gourmet kitchen to marvel at. Complete with Wolf ovens, pantry area, floor to ceiling custom cabinetry, side by side Sub Zero refrigerator freezer, and rare marble counter tops. The adjacent pantry provides additional storage and prep space to help during the holidays. Currently listed by Joanna Parker-Lentz with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Short Hills, NJ.

4. A Pinterest Perfect: Entertainment Room $2,750,000

You may think you have a home theater system, but this is what a home theater really looks like. Currently listed by Elizabeth Mandolawith Coldwell Banker United, Realtors in Tomball, TX.

5. A Pinterest Perfect: Pool $18,250,000

What beats a pool with a gorgeous Rocky Mountain view? Answer: Nothing. Currently listed by Robert Starodoj with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate in Aspen, CO.

For more pictures like the ones you’ve seen here, please visit ourPinterest page or check us out on Instagram @coldwellbanker.

Neighborhood Features to Examine Before Buying a Home

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Location, Location, Location! An obvious and important aspect of buying a home is looking at the home itself, but another, and sometimes forgotten, is exploring the neighborhood. Limited amenities and services, unkempt communities and noisy neighbors can curb a home sale, and to avoid moving into an area that lacks the features owners are looking for, it’s important that buyers examine the community as closely as they do the house.

There are several features to examine when looking at a neighborhood and it can be helpful if buyers have a clear idea of what they want in a community.

Amenities

Individuals may have a specific set of amenities they want their community to have, which may vary based on their family size, age and lifestyle. For example, individuals with young children may seek out a neighborhood with parks and playgrounds, while other demographics may want more cultural features and entertainment options. Those with an active lifestyle may seek out areas with parks, lakes and outdoor opportunities.

In addition, many parents choose communities based on the school systems, and they can rank different school districts by examining surrounding institutions on their state’s website. Some may offer special types of programs, while others are more geared toward athletics and educational initiatives.

It’s also important to consider proximity to work, major cities and schools as well when buying a home. Buyers should factor in driving distance and time to ensure morning commutes are not excessive and inquire about other forms of public transportation. Because really, who wants to sit in rush hour traffic during dinner time?!

Community history

Buyers may also benefit from examining the town’s history of violent crime, pollution, school test scores and growth. These factors may significantly drive the decision to purchase a home in a certain location, and knowing what to expect beforehand can help owners avoid surprises when they close on a new home.

Further, buyers should find out through the city if any large construction plans are expected to be carried out in the future. This may not seem important initially, but owners who are buying a home in a low-key quiet neighborhood may be dismayed if their town starts building more homes, shops and restaurants in the area. This is especially true for owners who belong to a homeowners association.

Last but certainly not least, talk to people in the community. Have lunch in town and communicate with current residents. Their answers can provide valuable insight regarding the neighborhood you are interested in. In addition to those living in the community a real estate professional can also provide their expert advice on the location you are interested in.

What Does It Mean To Be Pre-Approved For A Mortgage?

How To Make Your Lawn Look Like A Baseball Outfield

The greatest lawn cutters on the planet earth work at Major League Baseball parks. The outfield grass at these pro stadiums is unbelievable. It glistens in the sun and has those perfect stripes in the grass.

As I watch baseball games from around the majors, with the exception of Colorado and Minnesota where apparently they like to still play April baseball in the snow, these fields look immaculate already and I wondered if there was a way to replicate some of their tactics on my own home’s lawn.

I did a little digging online and found this pretty entertaining and useful video from LawnCareMidwest.com. The video is relatively short and they share a pretty simple tip to enhance your lawn mower so that it can more easily create those great lawn stripes and patterns in your front lawn.

Take a look at the video above!

6 key considerations when applying for a mortgage

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homeownership is going to mean getting approved for a home loan.

It’s a process that, at best, can be stressful and confusing. Borrowers can be better prepared by taking steps to study their options and learn what to expect from a lender.

“It’s surprising to me that people tend to spend more time in pre-purchase research for a car than they do for a home mortgage,” says Chris George, president of home mortgage lender CMG Financial.

Keeping up to date on changes in the mortgage market is necessary, because the government, which essentially backs 90 percent of new home mortgages, keeps tweaking the guidelines for the loans it will guarantee.

Just this week, the Federal Housing Administration put into effect several new mortgage rules, including one that raises the cost of mortgage insurance for borrowers who take on FHA-backed loans, among other changes.

Here are six tips for improving the chances that the mortgage math will add up in your favor:

1. BUILD A STRONG CREDIT SCORE

One of the main factors that lenders look at to determine a borrower’s creditworthiness is, aptly, their credit score.

Bad borrower behavior like late credit card or other loan payments, having a foreclosure or bankruptcy in one’s credit report and carrying high balances will weigh down your credit score.

Most banks sell the home loans that they make to government-owned mortgage companies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To do that, those lenders must adhere to certain lending criteria.

Loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration will accept FICO scores below 600, but expect to pay a significantly higher interest rate the lower your score. A stellar score ranges from 760 to 850 and can give you greater negotiating power over the terms of the mortgage and ultimately, the total cost of the loan.

One way to mitigate the impact of a low score: Make a higher down payment, George says.

If your credit is less-than-stellar shape, make sure you give yourself time to rack up good credit history well before you attempt to apply for a home loan. This starts by checking your credit.

Consumers are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You can get copies at http://www.annualcreditreport.com.

2. KNOW YOUR LOAN OPTIONS

Apart from increasing the chances of qualifying for a loan, making a down payment of at least 20 percent of the sales price or appraised value of the home will spare you from having to pay private mortgage insurance.

If you can’t afford that, you might qualify for financing on an FHA-backed loan. Those loans allow borrowers to make a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent of the purchase price. That’s great if you’re a first-time buyer and haven’t saved up for a bigger down payment. But to protect itself from potential loan defaults, the FHA requires lenders to charge extra fees to cover monthly mortgage insurance payments.

Until this week, the FHA had dropped the mortgage insurance requirement for homeowners with 30-year loans who made payments for five years and managed to bring their loan-to-value ratio to 78 percent. Now, borrowers with a loan-to-value ratio between 78 and 90 percent will be able to stop making mortgage insurance payments after 11 years. But those borrowers who still have a loan-to-value ratio greater than 90 percent will be required to pay mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.

“No matter how much of your loan you pay down, you’ll always have to pay that insurance premium, and that’s pretty significant change,” says Rick Sharga, senior vice president at mortgage lender and servicer Carrington Mortgage Holdings.Another change that went into effect: The FHA is requiring that borrowers put down at least 5 percent on home loans of $625,000 or more. That’s up from 3.5 percent, but actually less than the 10 percent down that most lenders require.

3. CONSIDER MAKING A LARGER DOWN PAYMENT

Given the prospect of not being able to get out of paying private mortgage insurance, some experts say borrowers who can afford to put down more than 3.5 percent on a home should consider getting a loan that’s not backed by the FHA, sometimes known as a conforming loan.

Such a loan typically only requires that the borrower make a 5 percent down payment. Although that means you still would have to pay private mortgage insurance, at least you’re not locked in, notes Jack Guttentag, Wharton School professor of finance emeritus and founder of http://www.mtgprofessor.com, which offers advice and online calculators for weighing different mortgage scenarios.

That mortgage insurance can be cancelled automatically when the loan-to-value hits 78 percent. “You’re generally better off getting a conforming loan,” Guttentag says.

4. KEEP AN EYE ON FEES

In addition to a down payment, you’ll also have to set money aside for closing costs, which can run into the hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars.

Lenders charge all manner of fees, some of which are negotiable, while others are not. They are required to itemize all fees required to close the deal, so review them carefully.

Your bank could charge you to cover items such as credit reports, appraisals, documentation and administrative costs. The total expense will vary depending on where you live and your particular situation.

Also, if you end up with mortgage insurance, that could cost $100 or more a month, depending on the type of loan.

5. WAIT FOR A GOOD DEAL

Rising home prices and warnings, usually trumpeted by lenders, that interest rates will soon rise can create a sense of urgency to purchase a home. But if your finances and credit score are not solid enough to enable you to qualify for a loan at an affordable rate, it’s best to not rush into buying.

To boost your chances of getting a good deal on a home loan, Guttentag recommends having a credit score of 740 or better, making a down payment of 20 percent.

6. COMPARISON SHOP

It’s prudent to get a feel for what different mortgage lenders will offer. After all, getting a home loan is not unlike getting financing for a car. There is some room for negotiation, says George.

He suggests borrowers approach lenders and state what kind of loan term and interest rate they want, and how much of a down payment they’re willing to make. Borrowers also should ask what can be done to accomplish this with the least amount of points, or fees that can be charged based on a percent of the loan amount.

As leverage, it’s best to have quotes from competing lenders, which can be obtained on several websites. They may be enough to sway the lender to match more favorable terms offered by the competition.

By ALEX VEIGA
AP Real Estate Writer

That First Home Project As A Couple

homememoriesAny homeowner who has a significant other can tell you a story about that first home project together. It might be funny now, but chances are it wasn’t all too funny then. Mine dealt with painting. Lots of painting.

Recently I came across a great modern tale of a newlywed couple who embarked on quite an interesting first home project. Danielle and Eric Wilson (full disclosure: I’ve known Danielle since she was born. Yes, I’m getting old…ish) were just married on December 28, 2012. I remember this because I was there and also it’s the same anniversary as my wife and me. I digress…so here you have a newly married couple just starting to make their own home together.

But these aren’t the 1900′s. This is a tale for a new millennium. So where should any Internet-age first home project start? Pinterest, of course. Turns out Danielle keeps a board of things that she would love to have for her home. Pinterest is perfect for that, but of course what you desire doesn’t always match what you can afford. That didn’t stop the Wilsons. Danielle found a coffee table she loved, but it didn’t quite fit the dimensions they were looking for and it was a bit more expensive than what they wanted to spend.

So for their first newlywed home project, Danielle and Eric built a coffee table together.

danielle drilling That First Home Project as a Couple

Now Eric is an engineer so they had that going for them, but don’t think this was a one-sided project. Danielle jumped right in there, electric drill and power sander in hand, to make an unique and memorable piece of home that is sure to last for generations.

That’s a great first home project.

danielle sanding That First Home Project as a Couple

Danielle has all the details of how they went about picking the table, building it, finishing it, etc. on her blog so you can read the full rundown there. The final product is amazing, and it was even better than the original table found on Pinterest because it was the exact size they needed for their space. Plus it only cost them a little under $75 to make.

But the cost isn’t the important thing here. It’s the fact that this new home they’ve created already has a story that will be told for years to come. Great memories are being made and isn’t that what’s so fun about making a house a home?

coffee table 8 That First Home Project as a CoupleThe final product

Do you have a great first home project as a couple story to share? Tell us in the comments or tweet it to us using the #CBbelieves hashtag.