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Category — Blogroll

The Importance of Assets


Lenders dissect the entire credit history of a potential client with strict attention to income, credit, collateral and assets. Of the four, assets are perhaps the least discussed, yet may be the most important in securing credit and buying a home.

Assets include the amount of money needed for the down payment plus closing costs, pre-paid costs (e.g., insurance and taxes, escrow fees and funds that would be available in case of an emergency).

Assets could be considered a reflection of a one’s fiscal strength. Savings and budgeting could be a significant factor in assessing paying habits.

What are assets? Common considerations for a loan include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, 401Ks, retirement accounts, life insurance, cars, boats, antiques, jewelry and other real estate.

The source and timing of assets is also critical as restrictions have tightened. When borrowers are paying off credit cards to get their ratios in line, lenders want to know where the money came from. If it can’t be determined when a direct deposit is made from your employer or a transfer from one account to the next, a letter of explanation and a showing of proof of where it came from is likely to be required. It may not be advisable to make cash deposits or take any monies from someone personally unless it is a gift from a relative.

Large and recent savings deposits raise underwriter concerns as they can indicate loans that have yet to appear on borrowers’ credit reports. Borrowing from relatives to boost savings and credit worthiness also doesn’t help. If funds aren’t reflected on income statements and tax returns, they can’t be used to qualify for mortgages.

Make sure your assets are in order with proper documentation. Your preparation can speed you on the road to homeownership.

November 25, 2015   Comments Off

A Glance at Green Benefits for Smith Mountain Lake real estate


Single-family homes are responsible for more than 20% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. A green home can help reduce the causes of climate change and more homebuyers are looking to purchase homes with eco-friendly features. Consumers want homes that are sensitive to the environment.

Solar panels aren’t for everyone. A home must be in an area with sufficient sunshine and be in an appropriate location. They typically require an up-front investment but because they are clearly visible from the street, they are likely to command a price premium.

There are more inexpensive ways to make a home green. Energy-efficient appliances can reduce utility bills. Tankless water heaters mean less time and waste. Replacing old furnaces can lower your heating bill. Consider replacing windows and doors and finding ways to insulate the home.

Producing 12 months of past electricity bills can signal to potential buyers that the home has an added bonus.

A potential buyer may notice a swimming pool or great kitchen, but the home’s energy efficiency and “greenness” is harder to see. Therefore, a homeowner should make their home’s green features well known.

November 20, 2015   Comments Off

Think about adding a Theater to your Smith Mountain Lake home


Home-theater technology has evolved. Prices continue to drop, placing the concept easily within reach for many Smith Mountain Lake households. It’s where the family comes together to be entertained—and is likely one of the most occupied room in the house.

There are several ways to make the home theater more appealing prior to showing a home:

Clean all surfaces: Keep wiring discrete. While seating space is practical in a media room, consider reducing the number of sofas to give a spacious look to the room.

Smart furniture choices: Choose furniture that improves the look of the room and creates the movie environment that so many desire.

Keep equipment out of sight: Blu-Ray players, gaming consoles, speakers—should be kept out of sight. Unique features such as hidden wheels, flow-through ventilation, adjustable shelves, built-in media or speaker storage, and integrated cable management systems can make a big difference.

Indeed, we’re in the golden age of gadgets and components. Rooms focused on technology and entertainment can be extremely appealing.

November 17, 2015   Comments Off

15 vs. 30 Year Mortgages


Which is better: A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage or go for a lower-interest 15-year one?

Typically, 15-year mortgage allows you to pay off your mortgage quicker and save a significant chunk of money on interest. However, a 30-year may be a logical choice for most people because it has more advantages. Let’s take a look at the differences:

  • Payments are less with a 30-year mortgage which enables more consumers to qualify for home purchases.
  • Generally, you can make additional principal payments to pay off your loan faster without penalty.
  • A 15-year loan means you are committed to giving that extra money to your lender each month, whether you can really afford to at the time or not.
  • The higher payments of a 15-year mortgage make little sense if they keep you from building savings or contributing to a 401(k) plan, IRA or college fund.
  • The amortization schedule of 30-year fixed is back-heavy, with early-term payments big on interest and light on principal.
  • A 15-year fixed is always light on interest which lowers its taxpayer benefits.

While it’s true you gain more of a tax break from a 30-year loan, it shouldn’t be the main consideration when deciding on a term. The 30-year borrower pays less in yearly taxes because they pay significantly more in interest.

So it all comes down to choice and circumstances:

  • Choose the 15-year loan if you have the financial wherewithal to assume the payments. Your interest savings will be substantial and you’ll own your home faster.
  • The 30-year loan offers lower payments and greater flexibility. You can always choose to pay more on your mortgage when the money is available.

October 12, 2015   Comments Off

Get Your Smith Mountain Lake Home Documents Organized


As a Smith Mountain Lake homeowner, you accumulate all sorts of documentation the moment you make the offer on your home. Loan documents, inspections, insurance policies, receipts and warranties are just a few of the documents you may be collecting. Knowing where these items are can save you a lot of time and money.

Keep closing papers such as the deed, settlement statement, appraisal, disclosures, mortgage note, inspections and title insurance policy together in one place—preferably in a safe deposit box.

For other records, a practical record-keeping system doesn’t have to be expensive. Purchase an accordion file and label each flap with a different category. Those might include:

  • Insurance Policies.
  • Purchase and House Data.
  • Property Taxes.
  • Home Maintenance and Improvements.
  • Warranties, Manuals and Receipts.
  • Home Inventory.

Organizing your Smith Mountain Lake home files may take a considerable amount of time initially, but it will definitely be time well spent in the event you need the documents in the future.

October 9, 2015   Comments Off

Making color work in your Smith Mountain Lake home


Don’t be offended if an agent suggests that you paint before placing your Smith Mountain Lake home on the market. They understand “color psychology.” Since people’s reaction to color is immediate, it can have a tremendous influence on their daily choices.

You can make your home stand out from the competition, sell more quickly and at a higher price if you use color effectively. Blues will feel cool, reds and oranges feel warm. Deeper shades of color imply intimacy and serenity.

Lighter exterior colors are favored because they can make the property seem larger. For older homes, you may want to consider historical accuracy, as this could be a big selling point as well.

For the interior, consider the purpose of each room. Kitchen and dining areas painted in “food colors” such as coffee browns, celery greens and scrambled-egg yellows will make the rooms feel more natural. Hallways are a great place to bring in the exterior colors for overall harmony. Master bedrooms in medium shades of green or blue for warm selling seasons, and rouge red for cooler weather. Other bedrooms can be painted in creamy tones of green, blue or a pale shell pink. Shades of blue, green or lavender can form a relaxing atmosphere in the bathroom.

When thinking about color, common sense helps. You should match other things in your home and keep a comfortable environment as well.

October 7, 2015   Comments Off

LED lighting can make a real difference

Most Smith Mountain Lake homeowners want to be eco-friendly, yet they worry that making changes in that regard might be costly and time consuming. Incorporating energy-efficient lighting is a great way to make a big impression with green-conscious homebuyers. In fact, studies have reported that 80% of homebuyers identify energy savings and comfortable surroundings as key factors when deciding between listings.

It isn’t just limited to fluorescent tubes or CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps). LEDs are an energy-efficient light source that began growing in popularity around 2007. LED lighting can be used as accents to better showcase a home’s features. From track lighting over the fireplace to under-counter cabinet lighting and recessed lighting in the hall, LED fixtures can cast dramatic light on your Smith Mountain Lake home’s best features, while at the same time, remaining cool to the touch and easy on the wallet.

Here are some interesting facts about LED lighting:

  • Offers the same bright white output as incandescent lighting
  • Uses 75% less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs
  • Uses 75% less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs
  • The Department of Energy estimates that replacing regular light bulbs with LEDs could potentially save 190 terawatt-hours annually—the equivalent of lighting over 95 million homes

While buyers can make these changes themselves, savvy sellers know that they will judge your eco-friendly actions in a positive light and may be more inclined to deal with you.

June 2, 2015   Comments Off

Dealing with the Down Payment

Ever dream of owning a Smith Mountain Lake home but don’t think you can because you lack the down payment and closing costs? Here are a few tips:

  • Borrow from your retirement account: A 401(k) or traditional IRA may allow a first-time homebuyers to borrow up to $10,000 for their down payment without incurring a penalty. If you’re self-employed or your employer allows it, you may also be able to borrow up to $50,000 from your current 401(k) and pay yourself back over five years at a reasonable interest rate.
  • Ask family: If you are able to get help from a family member, the lender may ask you to sign a gift-letter form, attesting to the relationship. They may also require your relatives to explain where they got the money and prove that they are financially able to make such a gift.
  • Look for down payment assistance grants: Down payment assistance and community redevelopment programs offer affordable housing opportunities to first-time homebuyers, low-income and moderate-income individuals and families who wish to own a Smith Mountain Lake home.
  • Come to a lease/purchase agreement: Smith Mountain Lake homeowners who can’t sell their homes may consider a lease/purchase agreement, where you rent the home you want to buy and a percentage of your rent is applied to the down payment. Make sure you get a contract outlining all the details so both parties are protected.
  • Add it to the wedding registry: Some mortgage companies allow those getting married to set up a down payment registry.
  • Cut back and save: If nothing else, there’s always the old-fashioned “saving for a rainy day.” Try putting aside 10% of each paycheck and eating at home instead of eating out. If you’re married, save the money you would spend on birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents and put it toward your house. You also may need to forget that vacation this year.

These sacrifices may seem significant but they will be worth it once you’re inside your own Smith Mountain Lake home.

May 19, 2015   Comments Off

Five tips to beautify the bath.


Updating a tired-looking bathroom is a great way to increase a home’s resale. The fixes don’t need to be costly or labor intensive:

  1. Beautify: Add decorative glass, stone tile or accents to make a bathroom stand out. Extra-wide wall tiles are popular and wood cabinets can be embellished with carved wooden inlays.
  2. Lighting: Add more lighting options around the room to reduce shadows and glare. Mood lighting around the tub area is also very popular.
  3. Bath/Shower: A new tub and a spa-like atmosphere can do wonders for a bathroom. Adding a massage element to the showerhead will appeal to buyers.
  4. Update Fixtures: Changing the fixtures in a bathroom can add a great deal. From cabinet handles to faucets, the addition of brushed nickel or other metals is always a huge hit. And if space permits, add a second sink.
  5. Think Green: Install fixtures that save water. A low-flow showerhead, low-flow faucet aerator and a dual-flush toilet can save thousands of gallons of water. Energy-efficient windows is another easy option.

A renovated bathroom offers an intimate, contemporary feel and is one of the things people will remember about a home.

May 8, 2015   Comments Off

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Wins Inman News poll as the Top National TV spot in Real Estate

Consumers and network professionals have spoken! Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ commercial, “Calls,” was today named 2015’s best national TV spot in real estate by an Inman News poll of more than 15,000 readers. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices secured 5,522 votes to win the poll, which included TV spots from industry competitors Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and Re/Max. The spot, celebrating that magical moment when clients first learn they’ve sold their home, is now running on HGTV but you can watch it right here!

May 5, 2015   Comments Off