Bo Lee - CENTURY 21 Commonwealth



Posted by Bo Lee on 7/15/2018

The age-old problem of trying to stretch your household budget is a challenge nearly everyone grapples with at one time or another. If you're confounded by the fact that your paycheck(s) seem to disappear within days of depositing them, it may be time to examine your spending habits.

Creating a written budget is often an eye-opening experience, especially if you haven't taken the time to do that recently -- or ever! Itemizing all your monthly and periodic expenses can not only help you realize where the money's going, but it can also give you a greater feeling of control over your life. As an added bonus, reviewing your household budget a couple times a year will also increase your awareness of your debts, your income, and your spending habits. Once you know how tight your budget is and whether you need to reduce expenses or increase income, you'll be in a stronger position to effectively manage your family's finances.

  • Creating a budget: Whether you prefer to use spreadsheets, software, or just a simple income-versus-expenses chart, setting up a budget will help put you in the driver's seat of your cash flow situation. While there are many distinctions between running a business and managing a household, there are probably more similarities than differences!
  • Identifying "money leaks": If your family's budget seems tighter than you'd like it to be, one possible reason is that you're spending more than you need to on some expenses. The perfect examples are homeowners' and automobile insurance. You've probably seen and heard countless ads for well-known insurance companies that say they can save you hundreds of dollars a year on your insurance policies. If you've been dismissing those claims as mere hype, consider the possibility that you may actually be paying more on your insurance premiums than necessary. It may be worth your while to have your insurance agent review your policy with you to make sure you're getting all the coverage you need and the discounts to which your entitled. The best way to remove any doubt is to get two or three quotes from other reputable insurance companies. You can often do this through email or online, so you shouldn't have to go to time-consuming office appointments just to get a few insurance quotes. To compare "apples to apples," make sure to use identical coverage amounts and deductibles for each estimate your seeking; hopefully the agents you deal with will remind you of that. It's also possible to save hundreds more dollars a year by contacting your cable TV company, Internet service provider, and cell phone service (It might be one company) to discuss ways your bill can be lowered. The first step would be to examine your latest invoice and determine whether you're paying for services you don't use or need. If you see charges that are excessive or confusing, don't hesitant to get on the phone and have those issues clarified. If inconsistent utility bills are a problem, then switching over to a monthly budget plan will make your expenses more predictable and manageable.
While there are many strategies for reducing your expenses and regaining control of your household budget, information and a healthy sense of skepticism can often be your most valuable resources.





Posted by Bo Lee on 7/8/2018

If you've decided to put your home on the market, one important thing to keep in mind is that perception is everything -- or close to it, anyway!

The impression you make on prospective buyers can either help seal the deal or break it, depending on whether that impression is positive or negative.

The visual aspects of your home often have the strongest impact on what prospects think of your house, but three other senses can also influence buyer decisions.

The sense of smell: Without getting too specific, there are a variety of unpleasant odors that can quickly sour a prospect on the possibility of making an offer on your home. In many cases, there's justification for a sudden loss of interest. A musty smelling basement, crawlspace, or attic, for example, implies problems with water seepage, plumbing leaks, or mold. That musty odor is unpleasant and gives buyers the (accurate) impression that there are air quality issues in the house.

Pet odors can be another major turnoff, especially if the people touring your home have allergies or sensitivity to certain odors. Strong or artificial odors of any kind, including room deodorizers, overuse of commercial cleaning solutions, and scented garbage bags can also be objectionable and suggest that you're trying to cover up odors.

On the other hand, you've probably heard stories about home sellers and agents who create pleasing fragrances by brewing a fresh pot of coffee, baking a loaf of aromatic bread, or preparing a fresh batch of blueberry muffins or chocolate chip cookies shortly before a house tour is scheduled. While it may be impractical to do that every time, it is a strategy worth experimenting with! The simple act of infusing your kitchen with enticing aromas can help make your home more attractive, inviting, and appealing. Fresh flowers are another nice touch that can enhance the ambiance of your home.

The sense of touch: Probably the main thing you would want to avoid in this category would be allowing countertops or floors to feel sticky, gritty, or wet to the touch! Many people will take notice of how clean (or unclean) your house looks, smells, and feels, and they will undoubtedly deduct "points" if countertops, bathroom fixtures, and floors aren't immaculate. Perfection is not necessary, but the appearance of cleanliness is! As mentioned earlier: Perception is everything!

The sense of hearing: Some noises you can fix; others are beyond your control. Squeaky hinges and dripping faucets are a relatively easy fix, while street noises, barking dogs, and loud neighbors are much more difficult -- if not impossible -- to regulate!

The bottom line, of course, is to control what you can, put your best foot forward, and hope for the best when it comes to noises in the neighborhood!





Posted by Bo Lee on 7/1/2018

If youíre a first-time buyer, odds are youíve never seen or heard much about mortgage applications. However, for something as important as buying a home, it pays off to go into the process knowing what to expect.

Mortgage applications arenít all that complicated in and of themselves. Most of the time, your chosen lender will walk you through the process and answer any questions that arise. However, complications do arise when it comes time to provide documentation on things like your income.

To make things easier for your first application, Iíve put together this list of frequently asked questions that first-time buyers often have about their mortgage application process.

Will applying for a mortgage hurt my credit score?

Mortgage lenders will run a credit inquiry to help determine your lending eligibility. There are two types of credit inquiries: hard and soft. A soft inquiry is a quick credit check that doesnít affect your credit score. A hard inquiry, on the other hand, does. This means your score will be lowered slightly for a few months and then will bounce back.

Mortgage lenders run both types of inquiries. For quick, pre-qualifications, lenders typically run a soft inquiry. Then, as you progress through the approval process, theyíre run a detailed credit report (hard inquiry).

What information should I have available?

Lenders will ask you for various documents. The most common things they will ask for include proof of income in the form of  W-2 forms from the previous year and your most recent pay stub. They will also require a record of your other debts, including student loans, auto loans, credit card debt, and any other outstanding debt that you owe. Finally, they will ask for an inventory of your assets. This could include investments, properties, auto titles, and more.

What if I donít work a conventional job?

People who are self-employed or have unconventional income can still qualify for a loan and will still be required to show proof of income. Lenders may ask for Form 1099 records, tax returns, or any other record or proof of income you have available.

How long does it take to complete an application?

Mortgage applications can be completed as quickly as you gather the required documentation. However, thereís more to getting approved for a mortgage than filling out an application. There will be time needed to process the application, and underwrite your mortgage. This entire process typically takes between 30 and 45 days.

Is it safe to apply for a mortgage online?

Most lenders allow you to start the application process online and their online portals are typically secure. Make sure you check your browser window to ensure that the connection to the site is secured, and you should have nothing to worry about.

Keep in mind that most online applications are designed to get you  prequalified and on your way to getting a mortgage. So, if you want to avoid getting calls from the lender, you might not want to enter any data until you know youíre interested in borrowing at this time.






Posted by Bo Lee on 6/24/2018

The rent vs buy dilemma is something that Americans have been facing for decades. Both options have their benefits, and itís really a matter of timing and preferences when it comes to choosing which is best for you.

However, there are a lot of things to consider before making this decision. So, in todayís post weíre going to break down some of the benefits of renting an apartment and of buying a home. That way you can make your decision with a clearer picture of what each situation looks like.

One thing to note first, however, is that it isnít always as simple as buy vs rent. Some living situations draw on the pros of each type of living. For example, living in a condo might be a good option for people who want the privacy and independence of owning their own home, but who also donít have the time or desire to keep up with maintenance.

So, as we compare buying and renting, keep in mind that the features of each are not mutually exclusive.

Renting an apartment

Most people who are living on their own for the first time start off renting. For younger people just out of school, renting offers the first taste of independence without the prerequisites of homeownership.

When you rent your first apartment, youíll learn the skills associated with budgeting for your monthly expenses, making your rent payments on time, and will start learning some of the skills that it takes to run a household.

In terms of monthly costs, apartments can vary greatly. Depending on where you live (and how luxurious the apartment is) you could end up having rent and utility payments that are much lower or much higher than mortgage payments for a house.

However, apartment leases often come with the benefit of utilities, trash removal, and other expenses built in. They also typically require the landlord to maintain the apartment and the land it sits on.

Live in the northern part of the country and hate shoveling snow? Make sure your lease specifies that your landlord will provide snow removal.

One technique that many renters take is to find an apartment that is small and affordable while they save up for a home. In this case, itís worth living with fewer amenities if your end goal is saving for a down payment.

But, what if you want to own a home someday but havenít quite decided where you want to settle down? Maybe your work keeps you moving from place to place or youíve always wanted to move away to somewhere new.

Renting is typically a better option for those who arenít quite sure what their plans are for the next coming years. They can have a stable place to live while they figure things out and plan their next move.

Buying a home

Once youíve rented a home for a while, you might become increasingly aware that you want more space and more control over your home.

Youíre also likely noticing how much money you spend on rent each month that is essentially a net loss.

When you buy a home, your mortgage payments might be going to the bank, but someday the money youíve paid toward that home will be yours in the form of equity. You can then use this as a down payment for another home.

This financial benefit cannot be understated. Since house values dependably increase over time, owning a home is a great investment toward your future.

So, those are the main pros and cons of renting vs buying a home. Think about your circumstances and determine which one makes the most sense for you right now. Then, start planning for the future.




Categories: Buying a Home   rent vs buy  


Posted by Bo Lee on 6/17/2018

Finding the ideal home for your family's needs is no easy task, but if you stay organized and focused, the right property is sure to come along!

One of your most valuable resources in your search for a new home is an experienced real estate agent -- someone you trust and feel comfortable working with.

They'll not only set up appointments for you to visit homes in your desired price range and school district, but they'll also help keep you motivated, informed, and on track. Once you know and have shared your requirements (and "wish list") with them, your agent will be able to guide you on a path to finding the home that will best serve your needs -- both short- and longer term.

In addition to proximity to jobs, good schools, and childcare, you'll probably want to pick a location that's close to supermarkets, recreation areas, and major highways. If you have friends or family in the area, then that would also be a key consideration.

While your immediate needs are a good starting point for creating a checklist of requirements, it's also a good idea to give some thought to what you may need in the future. Plans to expand your family, possibly take care of aging parents, or adopt pets are all factors to consider when looking at prospective homes to buy.

If you have college-age children or recent graduates in the family, you might have to save room for them in your new house. Many grads need a couple more years of financial and moral support from their parents (not to mention home-cooked meals) before they're ready to venture out on their own. Houses with a finished basement, a separate in-law apartment, or even a guest cottage on the property are often well-suited for multigenerational households.

In many cases, people tend to buy a home based on their emotional reaction to it, and then justify the purchase with facts. For example, if the price was right and a particular house reminded you of your childhood home, then that combination of elements could prompt you to make an offer on the house -- assuming those childhood memories were happy!

Sometimes prospective buyers might simply love the look and feel of a neighborhood or the fact that there's a spacious, fenced-in back yard in which they can envision their children or dogs happily (and safely) playing.

According to recent surveys, today's buyers are attracted to homes that have energy efficient features, separate laundry rooms, and low-maintenance floors, counter tops, and backyard decks. Gourmet kitchens, stainless steel appliances, a farmhouse sink, a home office area, and outdoor living spaces are also popular features. Although your tastes may differ, many house hunters also like design elements such as subway tiles, hardwood floors, shaker cabinets, pendant lights, and exposed brick.

When it comes to choosing the home that you and your family will live in for the next few years, your top priorities will probably include a sufficient amount of space, plenty of convenience, and a comfortable environment in which you and your loved ones can feel safe, secure, and happy for the foreseeable future!







Tags