There has been a lot of talk about home prices and mortgages lately. Mortgage rates are increasing, and some experts believe that home prices will drop. While it’s true that mortgage rates are increasing, the jury is still out if home prices will fall significantly. Based on economics and historical data alone, home prices or anything for that matter cannot continue to rise at the rate they have been over the past couple years. However, it is unlikely that prices will drop in any significant way anytime soon. This isn’t to say that individual markets on a local level won’t see a big price drop, but generally speaking a big decrease is not likely.
What about homebuyers? Is now a good time to purchase a home or should you wait it out? Don’t let the higher interest rates deter you from becoming a homeowner. Mortgage interest is one of the few interests that is still tax deductible, which helps decrease taxes owed from income. While we may not see 3% mortgage rates anytime soon, the current rates floating between 5% and 6% are relatively normal historically. Demand for rentals has increased drastically and when demand increases, you can almost guarantee that rental rates will rise. According to an article published by CNBC, rent prices for single family homes hit a national average of $2,495 per month, which is a 13.4% increase compared to the same period in 2021. Depending on the price range of the home you purchase and interest rate, more than likely your house payment will be equal to or less than that. You may as well be investing in your own asset rather than someone else’s.
Bottom line, don’t ignore your dream of homeownership. A few tips to make sure you are making the best decisions for yourself:
Get pre-approved with a trusted mortgage lender to know what price range you can afford and works best with your budget.
Make a list of your must-haves and preferred neighborhoods.
Work with a reputable real estate agent. They know the market and can help you find the perfect home. They will also assist in the negotiations and contract execution once you find a home.
When looking for that perfect home in Missouri or Kansas, contact a knowledgeable real estate professional from Stutesman Action Realty today, 833.286.8400.
A common question real estate agents are asked is, “What is the difference between a broker price opinion or property valuation and an appraisal?”
A broker price opinion or property valuation is typically completed by a real estate agent or broker; they do not have to be a licensed real estate appraiser. However, don’t underestimate the real estate broker as they are typically professionally qualified in their market to give you a professional opinion of a property’s value based on recent market activity. To determine an estimated value for your property, they will find comparable properties in the market area and base their opinion of value on sales prices and sales dates. This is how a real estate agent determines a listing price for a property. They are basing their opinion on the actions of buyers and sellers in the market.
A real estate appraisal is along the same premise but a bit more complex and detailed. It must be conducted by a state licensed real estate appraiser and adhere to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practiceor better known as USPAP. Appraisers can use one or all three approaches to value: Sales Comparison, Income, and Cost. Most residential properties will utilize the sales comparison approach. This approach is much like the broker price opinion as it relies on the recent sales price of comparable properties in the market. However, an appraiser offers a detailed analysis of the property and comparables. Adjustments will be made to the comparables for dissimilarities with the property being appraised (often referred to as the subject). They then use the adjusted sales prices of the comparables to determine a concluded value for the subject. In order to get a mortgage, a lender will usually require a full appraisal.
Both methods serve their purpose in the market. The broker price opinion helps sellers determine a realistic sales price for their property and the appraisal reaffirms that the purchase price is within a market acceptable range.
Contact Stutesman Action Realty, 833.286.8400, today for your broker price opinion and get your property listed and sold.
You’ve made the decision to buy a home and have put in a few offers, but keep getting outbid. Although this can be frustrating, don’t give up. You can compete in today’s competitive market even if you don’t have the highest bid. For example, we found a house that had only been on the market for one day, but already had offers. The real estate agent told us they were taking bids until noon the following day. We made a full price offer but did not have any contingencies nor inspection requirements. The other bids were above asking price, but they had contingencies and inspection requirements, so the seller went with our offer. When making your offer don’t get too hung up on thinking you need to make one above list price because it’s not always about the sale price.
Tips to win the bidding war without going above budget:
If you are financing, the first thing you need to do is get a pre-approval from a mortgage lender. Sellers want to know that you can actually purchase the home and makes your offer stand out. This also benefits you in determining your budget when making an offer.
Focus on homes at the lower end of your budget. By doing so, gives you a bit of wiggle room when making an offer if you do have to go slightly above the ask price.
In today’s market, it is important to make your “best and final” offer in the beginning. These days, there isn’t much negotiating going on. If it isn’t your best and final, you probably won’t get the house.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you need to offer above list price, consult with your real estate agent and let him/her help you determine a good offer price. Your agent will be able to pull list and sale prices for comparable properties that have sold within the past six or more months. He or she can determine the typical amount above list price, i.e., $5,000, $10,000, etc. that have occurred. You certainly don’t want to pay more than you should and end up with little to no equity in the house because you paid more than the market can bear.
Get your financing in place, work with a knowledgeable real estate agent, do your homework and you will get that home! For all your real estate needs, contact Stutesman Action Realty today!
Thinking of getting in on the hot seller’s market? Who could blame you? There is certainly more demand than supply right now. To get top dollar for your home, take these simple steps before listing:
Give your house a deep cleaning. First impressions are everything, so don’t let dirty floors or dusty surfaces overshadow all the great things about your home. Foul smells are a major turn off to buyers. You may want to consider hiring a professional.
Declutter and organize. This means closets, cabinets, pantries, countertops, etc. It’s hard for buyers to focus on the actual home when it is full of clutter and overflowing closets.
If you’ve been putting off fixing that leaky faucet, squeaky doors, or running toilets, now is the time to do all those repairs and maintenance that you’ve been putting off. Buyers will think the home hasn’t been well maintained.
A fresh coat of neutral paint on the walls will make your home appear bigger, brighter and more welcoming. Especially get rid of any bright walls. Favorite neutral paints are whites, light grays, and light beiges. Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace is a favorite true white and Sherwin Williams’ Repose Gray is a great gray wall color choice.
Now that you’ve gotten the inside in tip-top shape, spruce up the exterior by making any necessary repairs. Make sure the grass is cut, the weeds are pulled, and the landscaping is trimmed.
Hire a professional real estate agent to list your home. By enlisting a professional, your home will get the maximum exposure by being listed on the multi-listing service where thousands of agents and potential buyers will see it.
Stutesman Action Realty can help you list and sell your home. One of the professional real estate agents will offer you additional tips to maximize your home’s selling potential and will be there throughout the purchase negotiations and closing. Call today, 833.286.8400.
The real estate market continues to be at the top of financial news with headlines ranging from supply shortages and rising interest rates. Although housing affordability continues to be a major challenge for buyers, a bit of good news is that first time homebuyers were responsible for 29% of sales in February, a 2% increase from the prior month. Are you thinking of joining the nearly 30% of homebuyers, but aren’t sure where to start? Buying a home can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. Don’t worry just follow these steps and you will be living in your new home before you know it.
Check your credit score to determine whether you qualify for a mortgage and the interest rate lenders will offer. You are entitled to an annual free credit report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. Also, from now until the end of the year, the government is allowing a weekly credit report, so take full advantage of this free service. Take this time to review the report and fix any errors or issues.
Determine your budget and what you are comfortable with. Just because you may qualify for more, doesn’t mean it is right for you. Most buyers prefer not to be “married to a house payment” so they can travel and do other things.
Find a trusted mortgage lender to get the best mortgage and mortgage rate. Once you are approved, a mortgage lender can give you a preapproval letter. A preapproval letter is a great tool when purchasing a home, because it lets real estate agents and sellers know you are serious and can give you an edge over other buyers that aren’t as prepared.
Choose a real estate agent that will help you find the perfect home that meets your needs within your budget. Once you’ve decided on a home, an agent will guide you through the entire process from negotiation to the final closing process.
Tips to help your real estate agent find the perfect home:
What is important to you? Schools? Nearby recreational activities?
Will this be a starter home or a forever home?
Do you want to be within walking distance of amenities such as parks or grocery stores?
Do you want to live in a neighborhood or prefer to have a larger lot?
First time home buying doesn’t have to be scary. Just follow the steps above and find real estate professionals that you can trust to help you throughout the entire process. Stutesman’s Action Realty can help you with all your real estate needs in Missouri and Kansas. Call today, 833.286.8400.
Home inspectors go where none of us particularly wants to go—into all the nooks and crannies around our homes, both inside and out. So you can bet that they’ve seen it all. You know—all that stuff that you don’t want to think about happening in those dark and creepy spaces.
Wait, actually we do want to know. (Is it masochism?) So we asked home inspectors who’ve been in the biz for a long time—and boy, did they deliver, with stories ranging from Stephen King–level horror to just downright weird. Check out some of the crazy things these home inspectors have witnessed. It’s all in a day’s work!
It’s a zoo in there
“Some of the nastiest stuff we find is animals—dead ones in attics or crawl spaces, which are always disgusting, and live ones, which are always scary,” says Reuben Saltzman, president of Structure Tech Home Inspections in Minneapolis. “In Minnesota, we usually find raccoons and squirrels, and inspectors in the Southern part of the country find a lot worse.”
There have been drowned frogs under water heaters, cooked mice in furnaces, frozen porcupines in crawl spaces, and dead fish on a roof. Was it a bird that somehow dumped it there, or something weirder, Saltzman wonders?
“We’ve also found wasp’s nests the size of basketballs inside of attics, and in the basement at the ceiling rim joist, and homeowners who didn’t know they had wasps,” Saltzman adds.
Bruce Barker, founder and president of Dream Home Consultants, in Cary, NC, has collected close to 6,000 photos documenting things like fried lizards and mice inside electrical panels, snakes in basements and crawl spaces, and even a black widow spider.
“We’ve found termite tubes hanging down from the ceiling. Termites need soil to travel and live, so they build tubes out of mud,” he explains. “It looked like there were stalactites hanging down.”
Then, of course, there’s the mass quantities of bird poop, which is nasty, toxic stuff.
“One of the craziest things that I’ve ever seen was a boat trailer being used as the foundation for a home,” Saltzman recalls.
“In the crawl space, I saw a tire half-embedded in concrete. I had to stare at it for a little while to figure out what I was looking at,” he says. “And I realized the whole addition was built on top of a trailer.”
Sometimes projects are half-finished, or half-baked, like a deck being held up by a single, wobbly post.
“This puts the ‘can’t’ in ‘cantilever,’” Saltzman quips about one memorable photo featuring a doomed deck.
Perilous plumbing solutions
Saltzman frequently discovers homeowners have tried to fix leaky plumbing with whatever materials they have on hand. Contrary to popular belief, duct tape does not, in fact, fix leaky pipes, shower wall tiles, or drains, he says.
This sparked some concern.
“People will use caulk, radiator hoses, hose clamps, vice grips—just the craziest stuff—to keep water from coming out of a place where it shouldn’t,” he says.
Perhaps the most alarming things home inspectors come across involve electrical systems and outlets in a home, Barker says.
“I’ve seen people not putting the wire connections in boxes, and just leaving them hanging out. If I had a dollar for every one of those, I wouldn’t have to crawl through crawl spaces anymore,” he says, noting that this is a major fire hazard.
Also in the “What were they thinking?!” department: Another home featured rows of Christmas lights strung directly over a pool (see image above). When the water fountain feature is activated, the swimmers beneath could get seriously injured from electrocution.
One homeowner strategically placed a basketball net with its glass backboard leaning against the roof, making it the ideal magnifying glass fire-starter on a blazing sunny day. Saltzman has also seen a roof so covered in moss and plant debris, it should have been mowed.
Barker has been amazed to see turbine vents in older houses that have lost their covers, unbeknown to the homeowners, or worse, have been covered with strange things—like an upside-down Halloween candy bucket.
Makeshift chimney repairs are often laughably ineffective, adds Barker, who has seen flammable asphalt material used to fix crumbling chimneys.
Weird and wacky windows
In older homes, it’s not uncommon to find wooden window frames that have seen better days, Saltzman notes. What’s odd are the homeowners who think up outlandish ways to fix them.
“One of my favorite photos of all time was taken 15 years ago: Somebody had taken spray foam to fill in all the rotted wood, and then cut the spray foam to match the profile of the wood, which they painted to match,” he recalls.
Other head-scratching discoveries Saltzman’s team has made include a mysterious pile of leaves in the attic, scissors embedded in an electrical panel, a downspout aimed squarely at an electrical outlet, a roof fascia repaired with a hockey puck, and a bunch of unopened bags of insulation in an attic. (Pro tip: A home will always be warmer when insulation is actually laid out and not trapped in plastic.)
It’s not just horrifying for the home inspectors—all this weird stuff could kill a deal. Once potential buyers see things like mushrooms growing out of a floor drain, a crawl space filled with animal excrement and spider webs, or frost in the attic, they’ll wonder what else hasn’t been maintained, Saltzman says. And often, they’ll be spooked enough to walk away.
“We’ve got about 20 inspectors on my team,” he says, “and between all of us, every day someone decides they’re not buying a house based on what we found.”
Thinking About Selling Your Home? Declutter First!
If you are trying to sell your home, there’s no doubt one of the things you’ve heard most frequently is the importance of decluttering. Not only will decluttering help you sell your home faster, there is a good chance you’ll be able to sell for a higher price, as well!
To get started, use these easy to follow decluttering tips and tricks!
In the bedroom, use simple bedding that matches your wall color. Remove any personal items or clutter in the room. Appeal to both sexes by choosing a neutral paint color for the master bedroom. Using a gender neutral paint color allows you to immediately cast a wider net for your buyers, speeding up the sale.
In the kitchen, you can paint your outdated cabinets, rather than replacing them. Or try installing new hardware—this simple switch can have a big impact. Remove any appliances or knick knacks cluttering the countertop, and your kitchen will immediately look more spacious.
The Living Room
In the living room or other common areas, do a sweep to remove any clutter. Open the shades or the blinds, allowing natural light to make your room appear more airy and spacious. If your room is small, consider painting the room in a light color, and strategically hang mirrors across from the windows.
In bathrooms, consider packing up any drugs or medicines that aren’t regularly used. Find a new home for any stray jewelry or extra toiletry items. Remove any stains from the grout, and make sure all plumbing is in good working order.
Potential home buyers will be checking out your closets, an often overlooked area. Make sure your closets are not too full, or you run the risk of buyers thinking they won’t have enough storage space—a huge red flag in their home search. Make sure everything is organized and tidy.
The garage is another area important to potential buyers. Clear any clutter and make sure everything is put away in its place. Try hanging larger items on the wall, opening up the floor space. Remove any bins or items to be donated, making your space appear larger.
The Personal Items
While you’re at it, go ahead and start packing up any personal items, such as family photos, memorabilia, or toys you don’t need in order to create a more neutral and decluttered space. This one is a no-brainer—it not only declutters your home but also gives you a great head start on your own packing.
You’ve decided it’s time to buy a new home, but are a bit overwhelmed with all the terminology! Need a crash course on real estate terms? Our friends at Zillow created this amazing glossary to help you get started!
DTI, PMI, LTV … TBH, it can be hard to keep all this stuff straight. This lexicon of real estate terms and acronyms will help you speak the language like a pro.
Appraisal management company (AMC): An institution operated independently of a lender that, once notified by a lender, orders a home appraisal.
Appraisal: An informed, impartial and well-documented opinion of the value of a home, prepared by a licensed and certified appraiser and based on data about comparable homes in the area, as well as the appraiser’s own walkthrough.
Approved for short sale: A term that indicates that a homeowner’s bank has approved a reduced listing price on a home, and the home is ready for resale.
American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI): A not-for-profit professional association that sets and promotes standards for property inspections and provides educational opportunities to its members. (i.e., Look for this accreditation or something similar when shopping for a home inspector.)
Attorney state: A state in which a real estate attorney is responsible for closing.
Back-end ratio: One of two debt-to-income ratios that a lender analyzes to determine a borrower’s eligibility for a home loan. The ratio compares the borrower’s monthly debt payments (proposed housing expenses, plus student loan, car payment, credit card debt, maintenance or child support and installment loans) to gross income.
Buyers market: Market conditions that exist when homes for sale outnumber buyers. Homes sit on the market a long time, and prices drop.
Cancellation of escrow: A situation in which a buyer backs out of a home purchase.
Capacity: The amount of money a home buyer can afford to borrow.
Cash-value policy: A homeowners insurance policy that pays the replacement cost of a home, minus depreciation, should damage occur.
Closing: A one- to two-hour meeting during which ownership of a home is transferred from seller to buyer. A closing is usually attended by the buyer, the seller, both real estate agents and the lender.
Closing costs: Fees associated with the purchase of a home that are due at the end of the sales transaction. Fees may include the appraisal, the home inspection, a title search, a pest inspection and more. Buyers should budget for an amount that is 1% to 3% of the home’s purchase price.
Closing disclosure (CD): A five-page document sent to the buyer three days before closing. This document spells out all the terms of the loan: the amount, the interest rate, the monthly payment, mortgage insurance, the monthly escrow amount and all closing costs.
Closing escrow: The final and official transfer of property from seller to buyer and delivery of appropriate paperwork to each party. Closing of escrow is the responsibility of the escrow agent.
Comparative market analysis (CMA): An in-depth analysis, prepared by a real estate agent, that determines the estimated value of a home based on recently sold homes of similar condition, size, features and age that are located in the same area.
Compliance agreement: A document signed by the buyer at closing, in which they agree to cooperate if the lender needs to fix any mistakes in the loan documents.
Comps: Or comparable sales, are homes in a given area that have sold within the past six months that a real estate agent uses to determine a home’s value.
Condo insurance: Homeowners insurance that covers personal property and the interior of a condo unit should damage occur.
Contingencies: Conditions written into a home purchase contract that protect the buyer should issues arise with financing, the home inspection, etc.
Conventional 97: A home loan that requires a down payment equivalent to 3% of the home’s purchase price. Private mortgage insurance, which is required, can be canceled when the owner reaches 80% equity.
Conventional loan: A home loan not guaranteed by a government agency, such as the FHA or the VA.
Days on market (DOM): The number of days a property listing is considered active.
Depository institutions: Banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. These institutions underwrite as well as set home loan pricing in-house.
Down payment: A certain portion of the home’s purchase price that a buyer must pay. A minimum requirement is often dictated by the loan type.
Debt-to-income ratio (DTI): A ratio that compares a home buyer’s expenses to gross income.
Earnest money: A security deposit made by the buyer to assure the seller of his or her intent to purchase.
Equity: A percentage of the home’s value owned by the homeowner.
Escrow account: An account required by a lender and funded by a buyer’s mortgage payment to pay the buyer’s homeowners insurance and property taxes.
Escrow agent: A neutral third-party officer who holds all paperwork and funding in trust until all parties in the transaction fulfill their obligations as part of the transfer of property ownership.
Escrow state: A state in which an escrow agent is responsible for closing.
Fannie Mae: A government-sponsored enterprise chartered in 1938 to help ensure a reliable and affordable supply of mortgage funds throughout the country.
Federal Reserve: The central bank of the United States, established in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible and more stable monetary and financial system.
Federal Housing Administration (FHA): A government agency created by the National Housing Act of 1934 that insures loans made by private lenders.
FHA 203(k): A rehabilitation loan backed by the federal government that permits home buyers to finance money into a mortgage to repair, improve or upgrade a home.
Foreclosure: A property repossessed by a bank when the owner fails to make mortgage payments.
Freddie Mac: A government agency chartered by Congress in 1970 to provide a constant source of mortgage funding for the nation’s housing markets.
Funding fee: A fee that protects the lender from loss and also funds the loan program itself. Examples include the VA funding fee and the FHA funding fee.
Gentrification: The process of rehabilitation and renewal that occurs in an urban area as the demographic changes. Rents and property values increase, culture changes and lower-income residents are often displaced.
Guaranteed replacement coverage: Homeowners insurance that covers what it would cost to replace property based on today’s prices, not original purchase price, should damage occur.
Homeowners association (HOA): The governing body of a housing development, condo or townhome complex that sets rules and regulations and charges dues and special assessments used to maintain common areas and cover unexpected expenses respectively.
Home equity line of credit (HELOC): A revolving line of credit with an adjustable interest rate. Like a credit card, this line of credit has a limit. There is a specified time during which money can be drawn. Payment in full is due at the end of the draw period.
Home equity loan: A lump-sum loan that allows the homeowner to use the equity in their home as collateral. The loan places a lien against the property and reduces home equity.
Home inspection: A nondestructive visual look at the systems in a building. Inspection occurs when the home is under contract or in escrow.
Homeowners insurance: A policy that protects the structure of the home, its contents, injury to others and living expenses should damage occur.
Housing ratio: One of two debt-to-income ratios that a lender analyzes to determine a borrower’s eligibility for a home loan. The ratio compares total housing cost (principal, homeowners insurance, taxes and private mortgage insurance) to gross income.
In escrow: A period of time (30 days or longer) after a buyer has made an offer on a home and a seller has accepted. During this time, the home is inspected and appraised, and the title searched for liens, etc.
Jumbo loan: A loan amount that exceeds the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac limit, which is generally $425,100 in most parts of the U.S.
Listing price: The price of a home, as set by the seller.
Loan estimate: A three-page document sent to an applicant three days after they apply for a home loan. The document includes loan terms, monthly payment and closing costs.
Loan-to-value ratio (LTV): The amount of the loan divided by the price of the house. Lenders reward lower LTV ratios.
Market value coverage: Homeowners insurance that covers the amount the home would go for on the market, not the cost to repair, should damage occur.
Mechanic’s lien: A hold against a property, filed in the county recorder’s office by someone who’s done work on a home and not been paid. If the homeowner refuses to pay, the lien allows a foreclosure action.
Mortgage broker: A licensed professional who works on behalf of the buyer to secure financing through a bank or other lending institution.
Mortgage companies: Lenders who underwrite loans in-house and fund loans from a line of credit before selling them off to a loan buyer.
Mortgage interest deduction: Mortgage interest paid in a year subtracted from annual gross salary.
Mortgage interest rate: The price of borrowing money. The base rate is set by the Federal Reserve and then customized per borrower, based on credit score, down payment, property type and points the buyer pays to lower the rate.
Multiple listing service (MLS): A database where real estate agents list properties for sale.
Origination fee: A fee, charged by a broker or lender, to initiate and complete the home loan application process.
Piggyback loan: A combination of loans bundled to avoid private mortgage Insurance. One loan covers 80% of the home’s value, another loan covers 10% to 15% of the home’s value, and the buyer contributes the remainder.
Principal, interest, property taxes and homeowners insurance (PITI): The components of a monthly mortgage payment.
Private mortgage insurance (PMI): A fee charged to borrowers who make a down payment that is less than 20% of the home’s value. The fee, 0.3% to 1.5% of the yearly loan amount, can be canceled in certain circumstances when the borrower reaches 20% equity.
Points: Prepaid interest owed at closing, with one point representing 1% of the loan. Paying points, which are tax deductible, will lower the monthly mortgage payment.
Pre-approval: A thorough assessment of a borrower’s income, assets and other data to determine a loan amount they would qualify for. A real estate agent will request a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter before showing a buyer a home.
Pre-qualification: A basic assessment of income, assets and credit score to determine what, if any, loan programs a borrower might qualify for. A real estate agent will request a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter before showing a buyer a home.
Property tax exemption: A reduction in taxes based on specific criteria, such as installation of a renewable energy system or rehabilitation of a historic home.
Round table closing: All parties (the buyer, the seller, the real estate agents and maybe the lender) meet at a specified time to sign paperwork, pay fees and finalize the transfer of homeownership.
Sellers market: Market conditions that exist when buyers outnumber homes for sale. Bidding wars are common.
Short sale: The sale of a home by an owner who owes more on the home than it’s worth (i.e., “underwater” or “upside down”). The owner’s bank must approve a lower listing price before the home can be sold.
Special assessment: A fee charged by a condo complex HOA when cash on reserve is not enough to cover unexpected expenses.
Tax lien: The government’s legal claim against property when the homeowner neglects or fails to pay a tax debt.
Third-party review required: Verbiage included in a home listing to indicate that the lender has not yet approved the home for short sale. The seller must submit the buyer’s offer to the lender for approval.
Title insurance: Insurance that protects the buyer and lender should an individual or entity step forward with a claim that was attached to the property before the seller transferred legal ownership of the property or “title” to the buyer.
Transfer stamps: The form in which transfer taxes are paid by the home buyer. Stamps can also serve as proof of transfer tax payment.
Transfer taxes: Fees imposed by the state, county or municipality on transfer of title.
Under contract: A period of time (30 days or longer) after a buyer has made an offer on a home and a seller has accepted. During this time, the home is inspected and appraised, and the title is searched for liens, etc.
Underwater or upside down: A situation in which a homeowner owes more for a property than it’s worth.
Underwriting: A process a lender follows to assess a home loan applicant’s income, assets and credit, and the risk involved in offering the applicant a mortgage.
VA home loan: A home loan partially guaranteed by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs and offered by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies.
VantageScore: A credit scoring model lenders use to make lending decisions. A borrower’s score is based on bill-paying habits, debt balances, age, variety of credit accounts and number of inquiries on credit reports.
Walkthrough: A buyer’s final inspection of a home before closing.
Water certificate: A document that certifies that a water account has been paid in full. The seller must produce this certificate at closing.
Parades and fireworks and backyard BBQ’s. With summer in full swing, the month of July can seem to zip by. Make the most of your month with these 14 to-dos from our friends at Houzz, covering everything from weekend guests to flag etiquette.
Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less
1. Clean porch lights. If you have glass light fixtures that are easily removed, bring them inside and wash in a dishpan of warm water with gentle soap. If the fixtures must stay in place, turn the power off and carefully wipe the exteriors with a damp microfiber cloth; dry with a soft cloth. When finished, change lightbulbs as needed.
2. Unfurl a flag for the Fourth. Get in the Independence Day spirit by putting up an American flag on your porch in time to celebrate the Fourth of July. Don’t have room for a full-size flag? Try lining your walkway with mini flags, or hang a pleated fan above the door instead. Whether you hang your flag vertically or horizontally, be sure you keep the union (the part with the stars) in the upper left corner.
3. Check safety devices. Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors should be tested monthly; replace batteries as needed, and replace the entire device if it is more than 10 years old. Interconnected smoke detectors (when one alarm goes off, they all sound) are the safest because it is more likely that everyone in the house will hear the alarm. Also, take a moment to check the expiration date on any fire extinguishers in the house and replace them if needed.
4. Care for furry friends. Summer poses some unique challenges for our pets, but with a little extra care, you can ensure your furry friends are healthy all season long. If you will be traveling this summer without your pet, be sure to plan ahead to set up care. Most pets are more comfortable in their own homes, so consider using a professional pet sitter rather than a kennel, which can be stressful. To keep pets safe in the heat, you should provide access to shade and ample fresh water and never leave pets in a car unattended.
Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend
5. Clean windows inside and out. Keep that summer sunshine streaming in by giving windows a quick rinse with glass cleaner or a vinegar solution, then squeegee them dry or wipe with a clean microfiber cloth. If you want to avoid using a ladder outside, reach exterior windows with a window-washing hose attachment or telescoping window washer, or hire a window-washing service to get the job done.
6. Check window screens for holes. It’s summer, and the mosquitoes are out in full force. If you’ve been getting bitten inside the house, check your window screens and screen doors for small holes and tears. Use a screen patching kit to repair any damage, and keep those pesky bugs outdoors where they belong.
7. Refresh summer whites. Fresh, clean and crisp, nothing says summer quite like white linens. Keep your white textiles looking their best by laundering slipcovers, cushion covers and curtains, or sending them out for dry cleaning if they’re not machine washable. Keep white upholstery and Roman blinds looking fresh by vacuuming them regularly using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment.
8. Conserve water. Cut down on unnecessary water use by watering your lawn and garden during the cooler, early morning hours. If you water when the sun is high, much of the water will simply evaporate instead of sinking into the soil where the roots can access it — and it can even scorch tender leaves. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using a WaterSense-labeled timer for your sprinkler system, which acts like a thermostat for your lawn and can reduce water use by up to 15 percent per year. Inside the house, keep an eye out for leaky faucets and have them repaired promptly.
9. Keep the landscape fire-safe. There ARE summers that are pretty dry in Missouri and Kansas, believe it or not! If the ground gets scorched from the Midwest heat, it’s important to remove weeds, fallen leaves, needles and other items that could become fuel in a fire, particularly from the area immediately surrounding your home.
10. Prepare for summer guests. Before guests arrive, be sure to clear out your own personal items, make up the beds with fresh sheets and set out a stack of fresh towels. Small extras such as bottles of water, a basket of travel-size toiletries (there are some darling ideas here!) and a card with the house Wi-Fi password will be much appreciated. If you host frequent overnight guests, consider adding a trundle bed or bunk to make the most of the space, especially if you know you’ll be having kids visiting.
Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Month
11. Check fences and repair or replace as needed. Inspect fencing and gates around your property. If you find damaged areas (for example, broken boards, sagging areas and soft or rotted wood) schedule repairs or replacement as needed.
12. Upgrade pool safety measures. If you have a pool in your backyard, it is essential to keep it securely fenced with a self-closing, self-latching gate at least 4 feet high, to prevent children from jumping or falling in. Place a safety cover on your pool when not in use, and never allow anyone to swim in your pool alone. The American Red Cross also recommends installing a pool alarm that will go off when anyone enters the pool. And if you have children, it’s important to make sure they all learn to swim well, whether or not you have a pool of your own.
13. Add shade to the yard. Make your backyard more comfortable with an umbrella or shade sail. With ample shady spots to sit, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to spend more time in your outdoor space — and shade is a must for summer backyard parties.
14. Keep your home safe while traveling. Before you leave on a trip, take some time to put safety precautions in place. Let your neighbors know when you will be away and ask a friend to check on your house from time to time. Motion-sensing exterior lighting, timed interior lighting and well-trimmed hedges can make your home a less appealing target for break-ins. If you will be away for a longer period of time, have your mail held for you at the post office and hire a lawn service to keep your yard from getting overgrown while you are away.
Owner / Broker Jennifer Stutesman Yarsulik welcomes new agents to the real estate team. ” We are so excited to be adding professionals to our real estate industry which allows Stutesman’s Action Realty to cover more territory – Kobie Langford will be specializing in Jasper,Barton, Newton, and Dade Counties & Bailey Lyons will be specializing Bourbon, Crawford and Linn County Kansas plus Vernon County Missouri.