Getting a home loan is a complicated process and many first-time home buyers are unaware of all the pitfalls they might face during the loan process. Have you been wondering what to do or what to avoid as you go through this process? Here are a few tips for a smooth and hassle-free loan closing.
Once you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, do not make any major purchases such as car, jewelry, furniture or appliances. Continue paying all your rent or mortgage payments on time. Do not apply for any new lines of credit or make unusual deposits or transfers of funds. If possible, do not change jobs or bank accounts during this time. Changes in debt-to-income ratio can disqualify you for many loan programs, and other changes may otherwise raise questions about your ability to handle a new mortgage.
Homebuyers should keep the process moving by responding to loan officers’ requests for documentation as quickly as possible. Be prepared to explain any sizable deposits in your bank accounts, which might be called into question when not documented completely and accurately.
Lastly, enjoy purchasing your home but remain objective throughout the process and make decisions that are suitable for your current situation. Remember that pre-approval is not a guarantee. Therefore it's possible to be denied for a mortgage even after you've been pre-approved. However, following these tips should give you confidence that you will receive final mortgage approval.
If you are ready to make your move in the market, either buying or selling, contact Jay Buinicky today at 704-821-7777. Jay would love the opportunity to earn your business and assist you every step of the way.
Let’s be honest: The home-buying process is an enormous time-suck. Between the negotiations, the mortgage paperwork, the home inspections, and the number crunching (and recrunching), it’s easy to get bogged down by the weightiness of it all.
But for a buyer, it’s important not to let the little things slide ahead of closing day. Tick these things to do before closing on a house off your to-do list, and your move-in might prove a (more) seamless affair.
1. Book the movers
Once you have that closing date in hand, nail down movers ASAP. If you’re changing addresses during a busy moving month (e.g., June or September), the choice companies tend to book up quickly; if you’re planning on doing the transport yourself, you still need to book a rental truck and any additional equipment. You definitely don’t want to find yourself bereft of help on moving day itself, begging that friend with a pickup truck to bail you out.
2. Call the locksmith
Nothing more exciting than getting the keys to your new place! Too bad those keys are about to become obsolete. No matter how trustworthy the previous owners may seem, you certainly don’t want them holding on to some spare master key that can access your new home. Book the locksmith as close to your move-in date as possible so it’s one less thing you’re stressing about the first night in your new place.
3. Research security systems
Start sleuthing online about various burglary/security systems, keeping in mind that some systems are better suited to condo life than to single-family-home living. If the previous owners already had a security system and you want to continue the service, you’ll still need to call the company and have the account switched over — and you’ll probably have to spring for new sensors, motion detectors, and a keypad. (If the security serviceperson is nice, he might leave you all of the old stuff, just because.)
4. Switch the utilities over
This one is easy to forget about, but gas, electric, and cable all need to be switched over (and phone if you’re still among the landline living). Make the calls at least two weeks ahead of time to play it safe.
5. Book the contractor
Planning on ripping out that avocado-green kitchen as soon as you sign the closing docs? Start interviewing general contractors now. Good GCs are the unicorns of the home-repair world; don’t spend months after move-in trying to find that single reliable contractor. Get references from friends, make your calls, look up previous work online, and if possible, try to get general time and money estimates based on the photos and dimensions of your future home.
6. Book the floor and paint companies
Maybe you’re not doing any major work on the place, but it’s still likely you’re repainting walls and buffing a few floors. Book those workers several weeks in advance, ideally for a time after you close but before you move, so that you’re not in permanent purgatory in your new place. It’s a lot easier to paint the walls and redo the floors when there’s no furniture in there to begin with.
7. Order the furniture early
Don’t want to wait 12 weeks for that living room couch you’ve had your eye on for years? If the measurements and color reallytruly work in your new space, put in the order now so you’re not spending months sitting in lawn chairs to read the Sunday paper.
This one comes with a HUGE caveat: Generally speaking, you should institute a spending freeze during the escrow period. Assuming you can pay for new furniture in full immediately, one well-priced couch shouldn’t put your mortgage at risk, but resist buying a five-figure living room set until after closing.
8. Transfer all your home services
Do you hire out for a monthly housecleaning? Weekly lawn mowing? Periodic snow shoveling? The last thing you want is for your go-to home maintenance lifesavers to show up at your old place only to find that you’ve flown the coop, wasting their precious work hours in the process. Make a personal call to each one to make sure they have your new address.
9. Hire a babysitter/pet sitter
You know what else you don’t want to deal with on closing day? A screaming child or a wandering dog. Leave the kids with a babysitter (ideally, tack on a day or two for the actual move as well) and find a friend or relative who can watch the pets for a few days so they’re not frazzled by an empty apartment and the chaos of the transition. If the kids and pets can arrive at a somewhat unpacked new place with their new sleeping areas already set up, so much the better.
10. Start hoarding takeout menus
The very last thing you want to do on your first night in a new place is cook. Drive through your pending new neighborhood and collect menus for pizza, Chinese, and any other delicious-looking takeout spots (online menus are frequently incomplete and outdated).
11. Clear your calendar
Closing day is not something to take lightly. For every story about a quick and painless experience, there are the tales of undiscovered liens and lawsuits, never mind regretful, histrionic sellers.
Wipe the day free of meetings, let your co-workers know that you might not be easily available, and make sure your phone is fully charged in case the proceedings last for hours. And if it’s a quick and painless closing, you’ll be glad your phone is powered up to snap a triumphant “Got the keys!” pic for Instagram.
Selling your home during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to hold back on the festivities. Let your home shine while attracting buyers during the most wonderful time of the year with these seasonal touches.
Deck the halls:
Don’t let selling your home stop you from spreading the holiday cheer. Subtle hints like a welcoming evergreen wreath at the front door, mulled cider brewing on the stovetop or hand-sewn stockings hanging from the fireplace awning gives the space a jolt of spirit.
Trim the tree:
Usually the most eye-catching piece of the living room during the holiday season, make sure your spruced-up Christmas tree matches the aesthetic you want to sell to potential buyers. If your living room has a clean-cut scheme with ivories and whites, for example, make sure your baubles fall under the same color palette.
Tone it down:
As tempting as it is to blow up some lawn ornaments to celebrate the season, it’s best to go for a minimalist approach during this crucial selling time. Neatly highlight the defining elements of your home’s exterior with snow-white lights or hang a fresh garland with bright red bows from your rooftop or mailbox.
Before open houses, make sure your home feels as cozy as possible. Now’s the perfect time to light a fire in your fireplace and warm up your home. If your home is lacking the fiery centerpiece, turning up the thermostat to a comfortably toasty level gives potential buyers extra incentive to linger for a while to escape the brutal cold outside—and allows them to fully digest the best qualities of your home.
Fill up the hallways with contemporary holiday classics while potential buyers are roaming the halls. Make a mix of festive favorites: go old-school with Frank Sinatra’s “White Christmas” or Natalie Cole’s take on “The Christmas Song”…or just play Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas (Is You)” on a loop.
Feed the masses:
The best way to make somebody feel at home—potentially at their future home—is through their stomach. Whip up some holiday-themed cookies and mocktails to serve during your open house; the extra hint of hospitality will keep you in the mind of prospective buyers even after the last present is unwrapped during the holidays.
Congratulations! Buying a home is an exciting time for every family.
The next step is packing up your current home and moving into your new one. Moving can be overwhelming but, luckily, we have a checklist to help you make your move efficient and organized.
The Ultimate Moving Checklist:
1. Disconnect all utilities: Before you move schedule for your cable, internet, electricity, etc. to be turned off. Call your provider about a month before the move to let them know the date that you want to stop the service.
2. Schedule new utilities: Let there be light! A month before your move, call all your providers to schedule to have your utilities setup.
3. Measure doorways and furniture: Take the extra precaution of measuring all your furniture and doorways in both your new and old home. Inform the movers of the measurements and make sure they have a backup plan in case some pieces can’t fit.
4. Change mailing address: Don’t let your mail get lost in the shuffle. Call your post office five weeks before the big move and let them know of your change in address.
5. Leave a change of address: It’s better to be safe than sorry. Leave a note for the new residents, informing them of your new address. If any stray mail gets through the postal system, they’ll be able to send it your way.
6. Get covered: It seems like a tedious task but it’s important. If you’re moving outside of your current neighborhood, it’s best to call your old pharmacy and transfer all your current prescriptions to a local pharmacy closer to your new home. Tell your doctors that you are moving and ask for referrals and record transfers. If you have children, make sure to register them for school in your new school district.
7. Notify accounts of your move: Whether it’s your newspaper and magazine subscriptions or your credit cards, don’t miss anything. Call all the important companies and providers in your life to give them your new address. Don’t forget to get your homeowners insurance changed to your new address!
8. Tag your furniture for placement: You get to your new home, furniture is all moved in, and it just so happens that everything is in the wrong place. Prevent that by sticking notes on larger pieces of furniture, signifying where they belong in the home.
9. Create a “just in case” kit: If the movers are late or get lost on the way, it’s best to be prepared. Fill a box with cash, a first aid kit, toilet paper, snacks, and any other daily essentials you may need to get yourself through moving day.
10. Get a new driver’s license, voter’s registration, etc.: Changing your address through the postal service and other accounts are important, but don’t forget to take care of personal documents as well. Change your address on your driver’s license, insurance policies, and voter’s registration.
Moving to a new home is the start of a new chapter. Be prepared in all aspects to ensure that you have the best moving experience ever! by CENTURY 21
Cooler weather, changing leaves, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and great outdoor activities: It’s officially fall. It’s time for fun activities like apple picking and foliage-filled walks. It may also be an ideal time to spruce up your home before the cold weather comes. But what do you need to do? Our checklist may help you keep track of all of your fall home improvement projects.
What to do Inside:
What to do Outside:
Remodeling can cost thousands of dollars, which can take homeowners months or years to save.
– Photo courtesy of Modify Your Space
In the interim, how do you make improvements to rooms like bathrooms and kitchens? Instead of taking out loans for an expensive remodel, consider investing in a few of these less expensive remodeling alternatives:
1. Refinish bathtub
If you have a porcelain bathtub that looks a bit worn, the alternative to replacing it is refinishing the tub. While refinishing is a long process, it costs less than a new bathtub, about $300 to $1,000 according to ImproveNet. The process involves getting off all of the dirt and grime and then sanding it before putting on new layers of paint and primer. It’s a process that will leave your bathtub looking almost new if you have the right tools and want to invest at least a day working to refinish it.
2. Refinish wood floor
Over time wood floors get scuffed, scratched and worn down by foot traffic in kitchens, living rooms and hallways. While homeowners might consider replacing parts or the whole wood floor, another option is to refinish the wood. The DIY approach is to sand down the wood floor and then re-stain it, which requires a lot of elbow grease and time to complete. If you want to have a flooring professional do the work, you might pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for wood floor refinishing depending on the square footage.
3. Replace cabinet and drawer hardware
When cabinets are opened and closed continuously, the hardware can wear down, hinges may start to squeak and areas may crack. Instead of replacing the entire cabinet door, you can go to a local home improvement store and find knobs, hinges and pulls. Then on the weekend, using some screwdrivers and a drill, you can take off the old hardware and replace them so the cabinets have brand new knobs and hinges that don’t squeak.
4. Paint cabinets
If paint starts to chip away from your kitchen or bathroom cabinets because of usage over time, you can take the doors off with a screwdriver and repaint them or have them professionally finished. This will save on having to replace the entire cabinet, and you can have them personalized for the room. If you choose to paint them yourself, be sure to choose quality paint that can last so you won’t have to go back and do it again. You also want to be sure and cover the hinges and knobs. It might be good to consult with a painter ahead of time just in case.
5. Update lighting
For those who want to have a greener home, an inexpensive project is updating your lights from fluorescent or incandescent to LED. You can go to your local home improvement or big-box store and purchase LED bulbs for around $10 and install them in about any fixture. These will cut down on your utility bill while giving off the same glow without that bright, buzzing haze. You can also replace many of your hanging fixtures with recessed lighting, which can optimize ceiling space but might require an electrician’s expertise for handling exposed wires.
6. Paint appliances
Many older homes have appliances that are oddly colored in pastels or pinks and blues. While these appliances are still in working order, they don’t match modern demand for stainless steel. Instead of replacing them, innovation now allows for homeowners to paint their appliances. Homeowners can buy painting kits to transform these retro appliances from old to new without spending thousands on all-new appliances. However, if you aren’t certain about doing it yourself, there are professionals who refinish appliances every day.
These are just some of the inexpensive alternatives homeowners have to remodeling rooms in their home or ways to revitalize rooms while saving up for a remodel. If you need other ideas for updating without gutting a room, consider options like plumbing, furniture upholstery, heating and cooling and other small projects that will save you time and effort on a remodel.
An open house may be the best way to show potential buyers your listing. A house might look nice in a few photos but not so nice in person, or vice-versa. So how do you put on the kind of open house that is likely to leave you with an offer? Our Open House Checklist can show you what to do (and what not to do) to increase your chance of putting on the best and most successful open house.
What to do before the open house:
You need to take your place from lived-in to open-house-ready. At a loss for where to start? Follow these suggestions!
Everyone has different preferences, but the following things may have an adverse effect on potential buyers. Avoid these mistakes when you’re planning your open house.
It can be easy to get lost and confused during the home buying process. Proper planning is paramount. It’s also helpful to learn from other people’s mistakes. Here are some of the most common errors people make when shopping for a new home.
Not budgeting for everything: Yes, this sounds obvious, but many people forget about some of the costs of buying a home. There are added costs such as furniture and appliances, DIY projects, moving fees, or your first mortgage payment. This last one is especially important—setting a budget may help you determine how much you can comfortably afford to pay for your mortgage.
Neglecting your credit score: Your credit score will play a major role in the home buying process. This 3-digit number might be the thing that keeps you from your new home! Credit reports often contain errors or misinformation, so it’s important to retrieve your report ahead of time and fix any errors before sending it out to lenders. Looking at your credit reports may also give you a better idea of what interest rates you can expect so you can make room for them in your budget.
Trusting verbal agreements: A home seller can verbally accept your bid and still turn around and give it to someone else if a higher bidder comes along. So before you celebrate your new home, make sure you’ve signed paperwork!
Skipping the home inspection: You can’t expect the seller to tell you about all the potential problems you might face if you buy their home. There might even be issues with the house that the seller isn’t aware of, which is why it’s crucial to hire an inspector to take a look through the house. An inspector will examine the overall foundation and structural features of a house. It’s their job to find these areas of concern so that you don’t have to worry about them later on! (Tip: Don’t be too reliant on the inspector. You may catch these problems that they sometimes miss.)
Sweating the small things: Don’t like the color of a house or the wallpaper inside? Is there something about the kitchen that you just can’t stand? Don’t sweat the small things! Focus instead on the location and the overall structure of the house. Once you move in you can change the small things you don’t like and make your house a home!
If you avoid these mistakes and work closely with a CENTURY 21® Affiliated Sales Associate, you may just find the home you’ve been searching for!
When you are in the process of buying or selling a home, there are a lot of tasks that need to be handled. It can seem overwhelming, but with the right tools, you can stay organized and on top of everything that needs to be done. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Use these apps to help stay productive and organized during the home buying and selling process.