When you are looking to purchase a home, it's a good idea to get it inspected first. Think of it as a test drive before you plunk down your life savings and most likely, commit yourself to lengthy mortgage. You want to make sure you're getting a quality home. Below is everything you need to know about getting a home inspection.
Why get an inspection?
A home inspection is the examination of a home, from top to bottom. Just like a routine physical that will alert you to any hidden health problems, an inspection will reveal if a home's structure or if any of its systems are in need of significant repair. Purchasing a home is a big investment -- you're likely to be spending thousands of dollars to buy your new home -- so, you'll want to be sure that your purchase is a smart one. (And that you don't buy the real estate equivalent of a lemon.)
In fact, 99% of all agents counsel their clients to have a home inspection performed of homes they are looking to buy.
Hire a professional
When you hire an inspector, look to hire the best -- it only make sense, since buying a home can be an expensive endeavor.
Look to get a professional who's knowledgeable about a home's system -- that person is likely to be a licensed professional engineer (PE). You can search for a PE in your area on Nabie.org, the website for the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers. You may also want to check up on inspectors you're considering on sites like the Better Business Bureau and Angie's List.
What does a home inspector check?
A home inspector...
What a day! Back to school AND a solar eclipse?! I think that's a good sign for all of our brilliant young minds - a sign from the stars that this school year, 2018-2019, will be the best by far!
We're here to make it better. Are you looking to downsize now that your high school seniors are off to college? What are you going to do with all that extra space upstairs? Or, is your family growing and you need another room or 2? We would love to help you find what you are looking for, so please don't hesitate to call us anytime! We have an abundance of resources for you!
Talk to you soon!
Thinking about mortgage refinancing? You’re not alone, with some of the best mortgage rates available in history many people are debating whether they should spend the money and refinance.
The benefit of refinancing comes from borrowing at a lower mortgage rate so you can either lower your payments or reduce your loan term, either way saving thousands of dollars over the life of your home loan.
However, there are some pitfalls to watch out for; here are some of the mortgage refinancing mistakes you will want to avoid:
1. Paying high closing costs.
When you refinance, you are essentially getting a new mortgage to replace your old mortgage. This means fees; origination fees, administrative fees and other closing expenses.
Many people simply pay them, adding them to the cost of the loan and reducing the savings benefit of refinancing your home. Instead, shop around and compare costs between various banks and credit unions. Check out this article on how to lower your home loan closing costs.
2. Not getting a big enough discount on the rate.
Many people refinance because rates have dropped but then find that the difference in the interest rate wasn’t big enough to really save them money. If there is only a small difference, the closing costs can erode the savings you are getting.
If you don’t stay in your house for five to seven years after you refinance, this small difference can actually result in you losing out over all. The generally accepted rule of thumb is that the new rate should be at least a full percent lower than your current rate, and you should be planning to stay in your home for a few years....
From paying off student loans to saving for retirement.
For grads who are stressed about the numbers in their bank account—take a deep breath. This week's "Adulthood Made Easy," with host Sam Zabell, breaks down the most important issues young adults need to worry about, as well as the savings plans that will set them up for the future. Zabell is joined by Donna Rosato, a business journalist and senior writer at MONEY, who shares her wisdom on the major money issues most grads will face upon graduation. Below, some of her advice on the most important topics:
1. Student loans: Rosato's best advice is to increase how much you're paying when your salary increases—it might seem like a big financial commitment initially, but dragging it out over a standard 10 year plan can mean that you pay a lot in interest. If you need help deciding on a payment plan that's right for you, she suggests using the government's Repayment Estimator to help map it out.
2. Budgeting: Think of it more as a "spending plan." Everyone...
If you get a flat tire, your car battery dies, or severe weather forces you off the road, will you be prepared? You may already keep essentials such as your owner's manual and proof of insurance in your car, but what else should you have on hand? Even if you pay for a roadside assistance service, here are some essential items to keep in your car in case of emergency.
1. FIRST AID KIT
You can buy a prepackaged kit or assemble your own. Be sure to include bandages in multiple sizes, gauze, an antibiotic cream, over-the-counter pain relievers, allergy medicine, hand sanitizer, and cotton swabs. To be even more prepared, consider packing a thermometer, heating pad, battery-powered radio, and any medications you and your family might need.
2. WATER BOTTLES
Whether you store a case of water bottles or a few jugs in your trunk, water will do more than quench your thirst. You can also use water to clean oil off your clothes or pour into your radiator if your car overheats.
You can use your cell phone as a light source, but you’ll definitely want to preserve your battery in an emergency. A heavy duty, waterproof flashlight will allow you to take a look under the hood and make a nighttime car emergency less scary. Just make sure you have extra batteries.
4. WARM CLOTHING
Keeping blankets, sweatshirts, and other warm clothing in your trunk can be a lifesaver when the temperature drops and you’re stuck in your car without a working heater. If you live in a colder part of the country,...
You're moving! Now it's time to decide how you're going to get there. Before you start filling boxes with your belongings, consider which moving options work best for you.
So you've made the decision to pack up and put down your roots in a new place. Maybe you've found a better apartment across town or a dream job across the country. Maybe you're buying your first home or retiring to a cozy cottage in the woods. Now it's time to decide how you're going to get there. Before you start filling boxes with your belongings, consider which moving options work best for you.
- Move consultant. If the mere sight of a cardboard box leaves you feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring someone to handle the nitty-gritty of your move. These consultants are the relocation industry's answer to wedding planners and travel agents -- they can arrange for movers, pack your stuff, switch over your utilities, and transfer school and medical records. If you can swing the price tag, or if your company is ponying up for relocation costs, a consultant can make your move relatively stress-free.
- Moving company. A professional mover does the heavy lifting while you supervise. (For an extra fee, most companies will handle the packing, too.) Prices and reliability can vary widely...
“Work a lifetime to pay off a house.
You finally own it, and there’s nobody to live in it.” – Death Of A Salesman
After twelve years of methodically refinancing my property whenever rates dipped, and consistently paying down principal every month, I finally own my two bedroom condo in Pacific Heights, San Francisco free and clear!
The condo originally cost $580,000, which I thought was relatively good value for a 2/2 with parking and a park view in 2003. I had relocated from Manhattan two years earlier where all park view condos cost a bloody fortune. Go watch Millionaire Dollar Listing New York to see for yourself. My condo is nothing fancy, but it has everything one needs to live a comfortable life in my favorite city in America.
According to Zillow, USAA, and a one bedroom sale in the same building last month, the value of the condo could be worth double its purchase price with a little bit of updating. Whatever the real value is, I don’t plan on ever selling because it is an income generating engine. Real estate is “forced savings” at its finest.
THE PROCESS OF PAYING DOWN A MORTGAGE
Whenever I was feeling liquid, I’d mosey down to the local Citibank branch to pay down some extra principal – $500 here, $10,000 there, it adds up. When paying down a mortgage off cycle, it’s important to instruct the teller to pay down “principal only,” otherwise, they may use your money to pay down your upcoming principal and interest payment.
Make your home warm and inviting
to boost your home’s value and
speed up the sale process.
The first step to getting buyers to make an offer on your home is to impress them with its appearance so they begin to envision themselves living there. Here are seven tips for making your home look bigger, brighter, and more desirable.
1. Start with a Clean Slate
Before you can worry about where to place furniture and which wall hanging should go where, each room in your home must be spotless. Do a thorough cleaning right down to the nitpicky details like wiping down light switch covers. Deep clean and deodorize carpets and window coverings.
It’s harder for buyers to picture themselves in your home when they’re looking at your family photos, collectibles, and knickknacks. Pack up all your personal decorations. However, don’t make spaces like mantles and coffee and end tables barren. Leave three items of varying heights on each surface, suggests Barb Schwarz of Staged Homes in Concord, Pa. For example, place a lamp, a small plant, and a book on an end table.
3. Scale Back on Your Furniture
When a room is packed with furniture, it looks smaller,...
The startup Cape calls itself “the world’s first online drone flight platform,” and they do exactly as the name implies: Cape lets you fly a real drone, in a real-world location, without ever leaving the comfort of your desk chair.
Sign up for the company’s public beta, and soon you’ll be invited to launch one of Cape’s drones placed all over California. Once you’re in, use your computer, tablet, or smartphone to launch and fly the thing—no pesky FAA certificate required, no worries about crashing an expensive investment, and (apparently) almost no lag between the controls and the drone.
We haven’t gotten access to the public beta just yet *shakes fist in the air*, but DPReview has and the setup seems pretty simple.
You simply pick an available DJI Inspire 1 along the coast or in the desert of California—each location is active at different times and days—read over the controls really quick, and hit enter to automatically take off. Once you’re in the air, you’ll be automatically fenced into a safe zone, kept at a legal altitude, and otherwise prevented from having too much fun at the expense of Cape’s fleet, but otherwise you’re free to fly around to your hearts’ content.
As a bonus, you never know what you’ll find. Cape posted this picture of a...
You're ready to buy a home, but you're also looking for a bargain. A foreclosed home seems like the ideal solution: You know that foreclosed properties typically sell for less — sometimes much less — than homes listed and sold on the open market by real estate agents and owners.
But what you might not know is that buying a foreclosed property can also prove challenging to anyone who isn't a professional real estate investor. You might not know, either, that some foreclosed homes come with so much damage that the repairs needed to make them livable will quickly eat up any savings on their sales prices.
Then there's the matter of actually buying a foreclosure. Depending on how you buy such a property, you might find yourself competing with others who buy, repair, and sell foreclosures for a living. Trying to outbid these pros for your foreclosure is no easy task.
To sum up: Buying a foreclosure can be a challenge, one that could cost you plenty of time and money. Here are seven things you absolutely must know if you plan to buy a foreclosed property.
1. Foreclosure Inventory Is Falling
It's becoming more difficult to find a foreclosed property today. That's because fewer homeowners are falling into foreclosure. According to RealtyTrac, foreclosures were reported on 1.08 million U.S. properties last year. That's a drop of 3% from 2014, and a huge fall of 62% from 2010. Back in 2010, more than 2.87 million U.S. properties had foreclosure filings against them.
2. You Can Buy Foreclosures in One of Two Main Ways
There are two main ways to buy a foreclosed home. In the first, lenders auction off homes after the owners of these homes stop paying their mortgages. These properties are then sold at public auctions. The second main way to buy a foreclosure — the way that works better for most buyers who...
You’ve made your budget. Then, you forgot Christmas was coming and you want to buy gifts. Your A/C or heating bill went through the roof this month. The once-a-year bill arrives for the home owner’s association dues. You went out after work to grab a diet coke with some friends, and it turned into dinner, three glasses of wine, and an Uber ride home.
Budget busters – we’ve all had them. The best-laid plans can often get derailed for all kinds of reasons. Here are the best ways to fix your budget if you’ve gotten off track.
1. Take a deep breath
First is to recognize there is no perfect budget. That’s not an excuse for constant overspending though. The variable expenses in life – groceries, gas, utilities – mean you will always be a little over or a little under (preferably a little under) every month.
For example, you budgeted $500 for groceries and spent $493. Or you budgeted $200 for gas but gas prices went up, and you had to make an extra 2-hour drive somewhere, so it cost you $210 instead.
In other words – you’re human.
Welcome to the club.
Action item: Recognize where you are over/under for a month and adjust next month’s budget as necessary. It can also be helpful to build in some fluff to those budget categories where you might expect some overspending. If you end up with extra at the end of the month – hooray!
2. Forgetting to budget for things
"I forgot to budget this year for the annual membership fee my new gym. It was $49 and not in the new 2017 budget." – Scott
See – eleven years of doing a budget and this stuff still happens.
And this was after Scott...
School is done - no more rushing around to beat the tardy bell! Now it's time for "Mom, can I have a snack" every 5 seconds!
We all love Summer here at The Mark Cabal Team and we also know that's when a lot of families start to consider downsizing (if they had a Senior graduate this year), upsizing (if their family is growing) or just trying to get closer to the school they wish to see their children in. Whatever the case, we are here to help put that plan together to get you where you need to be before school starts again!
Call us if you have questions, poke around our website a bit - we have some information on school ratings under our "Buyers" link. We would love to be a valuable resource to you and your family!
Enjoy your Summer!
Getting started on finding a new place to live doesn’t have to be scary or a chore. With a bit of organization and pre-planning, your apartment search can go smoothly and result in a fabulous new place to live. Here are some tips to get you going in the right direction.
Determine the kind of apartment that will meet your needs.
It’s hard to start apartment hunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. One bedroom? Two? A community pool? A separate office? How much do you want to spend?
Before you start your search, you need to know what you want in an apartment in order to weed out places that aren’t going to fit. Answer these basic questions before you kick off your search:
- How much can you afford?
- How much do you want to spend?
- What area of town do you want to live?
- How many rooms do you want?
- What kinds of amenities do you want? Do you want access to a gym? A pool?
- Do you prefer a gated community?
- What features do you want inside the apartment? For example, a washer and dryer or dishwasher?
Once you have a basic outline of what your minimum requirements are, you can then start considering optional luxuries — more expensive kitchen appliances, a covered parking space, included utilities, etc.
Set some dates
The amount of time you allow for finding your apartment will depend on how quickly you have to move or how much time you can devote to an apartment search. If you are under no time pressure, allow yourself one to two months to find an apartment. Mark your calendar with your intended move date and move backwards, making sure to leave enough lead time to pack, move and...
It may be tiny, but the new 160-square-foot home feels much bigger thanks to its long panoramic windows that draw the outdoors in.
Steve Niedorf / Courtesy of Escape Vista
This gorgeous new design from tiny home builder Escape Homes starts at $40,000 and includes all the small living features one needs such as kitchen amenities, a bathroom with full shower, and of course a comfy place to rest your head. And with the ability to gaze outside from almost every inch of the place, it’s just begging to be parked at a scenic spot. Vacation in the mountains, anyone?
Steve Niedorf / Courtesy of Escape Vista
The living space is small but efficient. There’s a double-sized daybed (queen-bed optional), extensive storage and LED lighting.
...some gave all
From all of us here at The Mark Cabal Team, we thank you.
Don't. Just don't. Ariel Skelley/Getty Images
Contrary to what you might have heard, a buyer’s first impression is no longer that special moment when they first pull up to check out your curb appeal. In fact, more often than not, they've already checked out your place from front to back online—and for all you know, they may have decided to cruise right by.
Most buyers spend weeks stalking perusing online listings, making Pinterest dream boards, texting must-see homes to their agent, and, well, judging.
And what is the key difference between a home deemed a HILF (home I’d like to finance) and one doomed to be mocked on social media? Photos.
Photos are the curb appeal of the digital age, and those shots have to be good. Freaking out? Don’t. Check out these pro secrets instead.
1. It doesn’t matter how many megapixels your (or your agent’s) smartphone has
To get a good photo, you need the right equipment, including a high-end camera and some full-featured editing software.
The bigger sensors of a professional-grade camera capture more information,...