Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Moving your pet

You've sold the house and closed on a new one. Timelines are set in motion for the move. You've talked to the kids and scheduled the movers. Make sure that you're not leaving out the furry members of the family when it comes to the logistics of your move.

There are two challenges facing pet owners when it comes to moving to a new home. The first is the actual moving. The second is helping your pet to adjust to the new surroundings. (Cats take longer to adjust to new surroundings. As with anything else, they are stubborn and move at their own pace.)

Here are some guidelines.

Keep them out of the way

On the day of the move, keep the pet in a crate or closed room. Doors opening and closing, strangers in the house, boxes everywhere - all of this can cause anxiety. Plus, people with boxes don't need a skittish pet running around when they've got full arms.

Using a crate

When transporting, it's best to use a crate. Your pet should always ride up front with you; never in the cargo area of a moving van. If you're flying, make sure it adheres to airline guidelines. Your pet should be able to 1) stand up; 2) turn around; and 3) lay down naturally.

Packing their bag

Everyone has a travel bag, right? You’ve got CDs, magazines, books. Kids have DVDs, video games, gadgets and books. Packing a travel bag for your pets will help make the ride easier. The kit should include:

  • Water bowl

  • Food bowl

  • Chew toys

  • Food

  • Leash

  • Water

  • Waste bags

  • Towels

  • Litter box

  • Kitty litter

Stretching their legs

Stop often to let your dog walk around. However, it's a good idea to not let your cat out.


If your pet gets really anxious during long travel periods, you may want to ask your vet about sedation. If you're flying, however, tranquilizers and altitude are not a good mix for your pet.

Pet-proof your new home

Look for things left behind by previous occupants such as cleaning products and sharp objects. In the back yard, look for poisonous plants and mushrooms and eradicate them.

Exploring the new home

Help your dog get familiar with new surroundings in the house, yard and neighborhood. Take long walks on a leash to help him explore the new territory.

Cats take longer to adjust to their new homes. Put them in a closed room in their crate with the door open. Place the litter box, food and water dishes, toys and scratching post in the room with them. Even though this may not be "their" room, it will help your cat to be more comfortable.


Make sure their nametag has your updated information. If they happen to get out to explore new surroundings, it will help whoever finds them get in touch with you sooner. Update licenses as soon as possible.

Finding information

Search for new resources including groomers, sitters, dog parks, veterinarians and boarding facilities.

Moving is difficult for everybody in the family. Pets are no exception. By making sure that your pet has everything they need during the move and for the first few days of living in their new home, the transition for your pet will be smoother and quicker.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Points – what they are, when to buy them and when to avoid them

When you take out a mortgage on your home, you will notice, of course, that you don't just pay the principal plus interest. There are a variety of added money that goes into making your monthly payment, including fees and points. Those points are what we'll be discussing today.

Good points

A point equals one percent of the principal amount of a mortgage. If the mortgage is $200,000, each point is $2,000. By paying more points on a loan, homeowners can negotiate a lower interest rate, which will then lower their monthly payment.

Each point you pay can reduce your interest rate anywhere from one-eighth to one-quarter of a percent. The discount depends upon the lender and the daily fluctuations in the mortgage market. You can purchase up to four discount points or even more. Keep in mind that discount points are tax deductible.

Bad points

Origination points is actually a fee that you're charged when you take out a mortgage. These points do not provide any value and should be avoided if possible. If you have a bad credit rating, the lender may require these points in order to make a loan.


There are two major points to consider when thinking about whether to purchase discount points. The first, of course, is whether you can afford them. Points are paid up front, just like the down payment, which is usually a requirement. Points, being optional, do not have to be purchased. After paying the down payment, you may not have enough cash on hand to pay for them.

Secondly, you'll want to determine when you'll break even on the points. It's a financial decision, after all. Let's say your mortgage is $100,000 at 6 percent, your payment is $599.55 per month. If you purchased three discount points, your interest rate would drop to 5.25%, and your monthly payment would be $552.20 per month. The points would cost you $3,000 and you'd realize a savings of $47.35 per month. Your break-even point is 63 months on your purchase. Considering that the standard loan is 360 months, if you plan to stay in your home for many years, you would realize significant savings.

For more information on points, talk to your mortgage lender or real estate agent.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Reasons why people move

According to data, American homeowners will buy and sell their homes between five and seven times. To some who find a home and stay in it for decades, this seems to be an odd phenomenon.

You may not think you're in danger of moving any time soon, but chances are, you'll move within the next few years.

Home is too small

An increasing family size is probably the number one reason people buy a new home.

Home is too big

Some people call it downsizing, or maybe empty nest, but some people find they have too much house. Kids move out; a big house is hard to clean and maintain; utilities are expensive. Some people find that they don’t need all that space and a smaller home makes more sense.

Better schools

The neighborhood you live in usually dictates where your children go to school. Some schools are better than others and parents find themselves looking for better schools to give their kids the best education.

Change in personal relationship

Getting married, moving in together, and yes, breaking up or divorcing usually means that a move is imminent.

Save on commute time

For some, the commute is a time to wind down from the day. However, depending upon where you live, commute time could be an hour or more in a car, using gas that isn’t getting any cheaper.

Job change

Whether you’re taking a new job across town or being transferred across the country, a change in employment is probably the second most common reason to move.


Although it may seem shallow, people long for bigger and better. As they grow more successful and make more money, it’s natural to want a larger home with more amenities.

Neighborhood changes

Neighborhoods evolve, and not always for the better. It may start to experience more crime. Or perhaps the new interstate went in a half mile away and you constantly hear the low-grade hum of traffic.

The yard

Some people love a big yard and all the work that goes into it, with landscaping, mowing, planting and maintenance. And some people hate it.

See family more often

Seeing family, being in close proximity is important to some people.

See family less often

For others, the farther away, the better.


With the advancing age of baby boomers, there are more retirement communities for active age retirees than ever. Some want to spend their retirement doing what they love – fishing, golf, on the beach – which is why Florida is so popular for retirees. But many will find or build a lake house and move there.

Health problems

For those with physical ailments such as bad knees or back, downstairs laundry rooms become physically demanding and in some cases, downright dangerous. For people with mobility issues, moving to a one-story home (or even an assisted living facility) becomes a necessity.

Cost of maintenance or remodeling

Replacing the roof, air conditioner or heating system, or major renovation, is a cost that often can’t be recovered fully when the home is sold. So many people choose to move rather than commit the resources.

Serial remodeler syndrome

There are those who enjoy taking on the challenge of a fixer-upper. Once the work is completed, they become restless because there is nothing left to do and they are ready to move on to the next project.

Cash on hand

Some people would rather have cash in their savings account rather than in equity in their home. Yes, it’s odd.

Lifestyle change

For some people, home ownership becomes less of a priority, and they choose to liquidate to pursue other interests. For some, it may be travel; for others, something that gives their life purpose.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Are we in a buyer’s or seller’s market?

Conditions in real estate go in cycles and buyer’s and seller’s markets are usually measured in months or even years. And it’s usually easy to tell whether the buyer or the seller has the advantage. Emphasis on usually…

The different markets are easy enough to define. When there are more homes for sale than buyers looking for a home, it’s a buyer’s market. Supply is greater than demand, and it follows that homes will be lower priced, making it a more attractive time for buyers.

By contrast, a seller's market occurs when the number of buyers outnumbers the number of homes available. This leads to sellers receiving offers from a number of different buyers, which can drive up prices.

Conditions in the market are volatile today. Industry experts debate on whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market. But one thing they can agree on – these days it’s almost impossible to predict from month to month what is going to happen.

No matter which market we’re in, whether you’re a buyer or seller, there are some things you can do to give yourself an advantage.

If you’re a buyer in a seller’s market

  • Get pre-qualified and have your lender write a letter indicating that amount. Strengthen your offer by submitting that letter with your offer.

  • Make your first offer your best offer. You’ll want to try to avoid negotiation. If you are competing with others for this home, you may not get a second chance.

  • Avoid including items in the offer asking the seller to pay fees usually paid by the buyer.

  • Showing some flexibility on the closing date is a favor to the seller; it gives them time to relocate.

  • Shorter inspection deadlines may make your offer more attractive.

  • If possible, try to have a larger than required down payment.

If you’re a seller in a buyer’s market

  • Visit open houses in the area to determine if your house measures up to the competition.

  • Make sure your home looks its best inside and out.

  • Set a realistic price and make sure you are competitive.

  • Consider offering incentives such as leaving appliances or furnishings or specific items such as pool tables or décor unique to the home.

  • Be prepared to negotiate on price, closing date, needed repairs or allowances. In a buyer’s market, you never know when you’ll see another offer.

No matter which market we’re in… or whether you’re a buyer or seller… it’s a good idea to consult the experts. Your REALTOR® will help you determine the best course of action.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Buyers aren’t the only ones who go to open houses

If you’re planning to sell your home, your real estate agent may advise you to schedule an open house to help sell it. He’ll help you get the home ready to show, talk to you about minimizing the personal effects in the house, and in case you didn’t already know this, he’ll tell you not to be home during the open house.

For many sellers, it’s odd to think about dozens of strangers walking around their home. But potential home buyers aren’t the only people who will show up at your open house.


Your neighbors will drop by to see inside the home, either because they’re curious or nosy. One is good; the others, not so much. The good neighbors are usually good to have around because they can tell potential buyers more about the neighborhood, schools, etc.

Other sellers

Yes, other sellers do (and should) frequent open houses to see how their home stacks up against the competition.

DIY home decorators

Especially in upper-end homes, people will stop by an open house to look for inspiration for their home’s décor.


It’s rare, but it happens occasionally. Better safe than sorry. Lock up the jewelry.

Serial open house attendees

There are some people who simply can’t resist an open house.

Other real estate agents

Whether they were the agent who lost the listing or one who is viewing the home as a potential for some clients, real estate agents will attend open houses that are not their own.

An open house can potentially help you sell your home quickly. Make sure that you’re in communication with your REALTOR® if you have any questions about the process.