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5 Important Tips for REALTOR Safety

Today’s Guest Blogging topic is: REALTOR Safety
With: Sonia Figueroa, BROKER @ Century 21 Affiliated 

My passion has always been about real estate especially helping those that don’t have a clue about what home buying is all about. I embarked on my real estate journey 13 years and still going strong as if it were just yesterday that I started.

I never thought about safety in my last 12 years but this last year my perspective completely changed. I was in 3 major life threatening incidents that nearly killed me, literally. All three of them happened while on the job and it made me think of how dangerous my job can be.

The first incident was being attacked by a pitbull that nearly chewed my leg off, the second was a drug deal gone wrong in a vacant building while I was showing it. I was heading up to the second floor when I had a gun pointed at me and lastly my real estate office was robbed while I was inside. They three teenagers took my purse and the receptionist belongings as well.

I finally had it and decided to choose my own destiny by getting my conceal and carry license. My story was featured on NBC and the Chicago Tribune.

Now I feel safe at all times, I know this is a big deal for many and some choose not to use a firearm. Just know that when it comes to your safety you should at least use something like pepper spray.

In the 2017 Realtors report, 25 percent of men and 44 percent of women said they had experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information. Don’t let fear dictate your life.

 

Here are my 5 quick tips for realtor safety:

1. Be mindful of your environment

Be aware of your surroundings. We get carried away with our daily routines and never even know what’s around at times. Is there someone that looks suspicious in a car? While you are texting in your car who is next to your vehicle? How many people are watching you walk into a house? These are just some questions on why you should be mindful when showing a home especially going into a vacant house. Take a quick pause throughout your day and check out what’s around you. Don’t ever walk with your head down.

2. Comfort Level

As realtors we meet people for the very first time without knowing their background. If the first phone conversation you had with this person makes you uncomfortable do not meet them by yourself at the property. Ask that person to meet up with you a local coffee shop, at your office somewhere in a public place first.

While you are talking to this person take notice of unusual behaviors. Is he or she asking odd questions or lingering a little too long? Don’t be afraid of being impolite. Trust your gut if someone or something is making you uncomfortable.

If you must meet with client for the very first time at a property take another realtor or your broker with you. Let them know that for safety reasons we work in tandem.

If can’t take your broker with you or another teammate then its good practice for any uncomfortable situation, threatening or not, to have friend who knows where you are and knows you would only call if you needed help. Call your friend and say an agreed upon phrase that lets them know you need help before alerting the potential threat. They can then send help without alerting the threat that you are privy to the situation.

 

3. Daylight savings time- Schedule

Keep showings during the daytime when at all possible. As we change our clocks the day turns into night very quickly. Someone is less likely to try something during the day and people are more likely to witness any suspicious behavior. When possible, rearrange your schedule — if you know you are dealing with previous clients, schedule those appointments in the evening. Keep new clients and open houses during the daylight.

4. Safety Apps

If you are not the kind to get a firearm or pepper spray then at least have some safety apps on hand. Here are some that I recommend.

Watch Over Me – Watch Over Me greets you with a screen that presents two statements, ‘Watch Over Me While I…’ and ‘For…’, followed by two buttons. For each statement you fill in an action (‘walk home’, ‘walk to my car’, ‘take a cab’, ‘meet someone’, or add a new event), and a time frame (hours and minutes). Watch Video

bSafe – bSafe has some of the same features as Watch Over Me—for instance, it allows you to add contacts (it calls them Guardians) who can follow you when you’re on your way home. Watch Video

StaySafe – StaySafe is centered on a timer that you set when, for example, you go out for a run. If you don’t check in safely when your timer is up, the app notifies your contacts. StaySafe sends your GPS location via email or SMS, and you can add the details of your trip or event so your contacts know that they’re receiving an alert because, say, you haven’t checked in from your typical 7 p.m. jog. Watch Video

 

5. Methods to Defend Yourself

If you do find yourself in a scary situation, make sure you learn de-escalation techniques and implement them into the situation. These can include simple self-defense techniques to deter the threat and allow you time to get away. It can also mean not showing your anger or fear in a situation until you can alert someone to help.

These steps are so simple, but could be the tools to saving your own life when necessary. I know from experience that these situations are more common than you might think.

Aside from self defense classes, firearms and pepper spray there are other items that are not common to the public.

There are also cute kitty keychains are not toys, but are in fact a very serious defense weapon. The design has been around for years, but the technology has gotten better. They are now made of an ultra-tough plastic material that is very hard to break, which is exactly what you need should you ever have to use this device.

A personal alarm on a keychain can also be used as a panic alarm or medical alarm.

No one has the right to take away your feeling of safety in the workplace. For that matter, no one has the right to take away your desire to go out there and be the boss! By implementing this safety checklist, we can take back our business and our lives.

More about the Author:

Sonia Figueroa is a Broker in Chicago with Century 21 Affiliated. Sonia been in Real Estate for the last 12 years and loves every minute of it.  She loves helping people realize the dream of homeownership and prides her self on creating long lasting relationships with her clients. She was born and raised in Chicago earning a Bachelors Degree in CIS and an Associates Degree in Computer Science. She is the Queen of Facebook Live and uses her vast expertise on Social Media Marketing to grow her business. 

Contact Sonia @  773.308.5505 or you can send email her at Sonia@SeeSonia.com
Website: www.SeeSonia.com

Disclaimer: : The views, data, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corp.
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Do I Need a Mortgage Pre-Approval?

WHY You Need a Pre-Approval

 

 

If you’ve thought of buying a home, you’ve probably heard that one of the very first items on your ‘to do’ list needs to be obtaining a pre-approval from a lender.  Not a pre-qualification.  Some of the more common reasons on why a pre-approval is necessary involve making sure a credit profile is up to par, making sure your scenario meets lender guidelines, and giving sellers a warm & fuzzy feeling when you walk into their home.  These reasons are

Mortgage preapproval is necessary for the best homebuying experience
Getting a pre-approval is non-negotiable if you’re serious about buying a home, especially in a competitive market.

important, but what about the “perfect” buyers?  The ones with modelesque credit, tremendous income, lots of 0’s on the end of their assets, and an overall profile that has bankers knowing at their doors.  Well, they need a pre-approval, too.  A full and complete one.  But WHY?  We’ll get there.

 

 

The Basics

 

If you’re not pre-approved and you’re not a “perfect” buyer, you’re kind of wasting everyone’s time (we say “kind of” to be kind).  But think of it this way – you’re asking a real estate professional to take time to meet you, learn your wants and needs, and to spend time finding the perfect place for you to call home.  THEN, they’re meeting with you to tour these homes, hear why you don’t think they’re so perfect, and go back to find more listings for you after getting feedback.  Nobody’s complaining, as that’s part of an agent’s job, but would you do all of that with 0 chance of ever seeing a dime of compensation?

 

 

Let’s face it though, you’re a decent person so you probably care about your real estate professional that’s working their butt off for you, but what’s really important is you.  Do you want to go out, fall in love with a certain price range, style of home, or area, only to find out you’ve got no chance at buying, or a few years to go before you’re going to be able to buy?

 

 

In a hot market, the time between putting in an offer and agreeing to close is often one way to gain an advantage in a multiple offer situation.  Even if you CAN get preapproved, there may be some work that can be done along the way to improve your rate and terms – with a short escrow or contract period, you may not have the luxury of that time.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have some extra time to consider these things that could potentially save you thousands of dollars.  With a pre-approval, you’ll have that time.

 

 

If you made it this far and are still thinking “But I’m PERFECT!” this next one’s for you:

 

 

Let’s say you’re in a hot market and are working with an agent that’s agreed to show you homes sans pre-approval.  You find THE ONE.  This home is nearly as perfect a house as you are a buyer.  The listing agent demands a pre-approval letter when an offer is submitted.  “No problem” you think, and you call your Mason Mac loan officer to work on the pre-approval.  Your loan officer gets back to you in what seems like no time at all, your agent gets ready to send over your offer, annnnd just like that, it’s gone.  While you were getting your pre-approval, someone (less perfect of a buyer, no doubt) came through with the pre-approval they obtained before they looked at the home, and made the seller an offer they couldn’t refuse (even if the offer was less desirable than yours may have been).   You just lost the home of your dreams because you didn’t have a pre-approval.

 

The Bottom Line

 

A full pre-approval protects everyone – your lender, sellers, your buyers agent, and most importantly – you.  Is it an inconvenience?  Not if you’re serious about buying a home.  If anything, it just gives you a head start by providing your lender with documentation they’ll need anyway once you find a home.  If your real intent is to buy a home, a pre-approval prior to looking at homes is a must.  Especially in a hot market, you don’t want to miss out on a chance at your dream home because you don’t have your pre-approval completed.

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Top 10 Tips for Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is a big deal!  There’s  a whirlwind of feelings involved from the excitement of getting your house keys to the stress of trying to figure out what exactly is it going to cost.  First time home buyers (FTHB) have a lot of questions along the way, and your home buying team should be able to answer each and every one, but reading this list of 10 tips/FAQ answers will put you on the road to home ownership, feeling comfortable and confident.

Buying Your First Home Doesn’t Have to Be a Challenge

 

Get Pre-Approved (or better, pre-underwritten)

 

The worst feeling in the world is finding your dream home, saying “YES! Let’s put in an offer!”, and then swiftly losing the house to someone else while you’re getting a pre-approval, which every serious seller will require with an offer.  Getting a pre-approved long before looking at homes will help you in several ways.  Your loan officer can help you figure out how much you

qualify for and how much house leaves you with a comfortable payment.  They can also review your credit and offer tips on improving your scores (better credit scores = more loan options, better rates, and lower costs).

Even better, many lenders -we may be biased, but we recommend Mason McDuffie ; ) – will get a full underwriting approval for you before you even find a home!  This gives you a huge advantage over other buyers who only have a pre-approval, especially in a seller’s market.  You can put in an offer with no financing contingency, and have the same power of a cash buyer!  To learn more about pre-underwriting, discuss it with your loan officer when applying and being pre-approved.

 

Build Your Credit

 

As we mentioned above, if you start your pre-approval process early, you’ll have time to maximize your credit scores.  This gives you the most loan options along with better rates and terms when compared to lower credit score borrowers.  This can save you money up front, and even more money in the long run, as even small differences in interest rates add up over time.

 

Organize Your Funds

 

Lenders will usually require a 2 month history of the assets you’ll be using to buy your home (down payment and closing costs).  This means 2 months complete statements for things like checking and savings accounts.  If you have many large deposits, money transfers, and cash moving around a lot, this could create a headache in documenting your assets for the lender.

If you can, get your cash together in an account you’ll be using, and keep it there.  This way, your lender can simply review your statements and call it a day without asking you for additional documentation.

 

Freeze Your Credit

 

Since you were smart and went over your credit before looking for homes, you’ve had time to get it maximized and in the best possible spot.  Now don’t move!  Opening new accounts, having people look at your credit, and increasing balances on credit cards can all damage your credit scores, and financing large ticket items like furniture or a new car could sabotage your home buying dreams altogether.

If you must make a financed purchase or open a new account, talk with your loan officer first to make sure it won’t have any negative impact on your home buying plans.

 

Find a Great Real Estate Agent

 

Why is this so low on the list?  It’s not because it’s not one of the most important moves you’ll make in buying your first home.  A real estate agent’s job is to help you find the right home and guide you through the contract process.  But they can’t help you if you aren’t in a position to buy a home, or aren’t even close to prepared.  So we recommend getting well prepared first, but…

It’s strongly recommended that you use a great real estate agent (emphasis on great).  Sure, your 3rd cousin Eddie may have his real estate license, but if he’s not a good agent and isn’t going to give you a professional level of experience and guidance, it’s best to take a hard pass.

Your real estate agent will help you search, negotiate, and get your offer accepted, but that’s only the start – a home buying experience is a paperwork-abundant tornado with multiple people (and their personalities) involved.  When you have a good real estate agent, you have an advocate in your corner, and you won’t notice the craziness behind the scenes (well, at least not as much).  Without a good agent, that craziness is guaranteed to keep you awake at night and turn what should be an exciting time into a miserable one.  Trust us on this one – a good real estate agent is worth their weight in gold, especially when buying your first home.

 

Consider More Than the House

 

You may come to hate even the most perfect house if the commute to work is killing you every day.  You may love the space in your master bedroom, but never sleep there because of street or train traffic right outside your window. Do you love the house enough to live there 24/7 because you have no local recreation or entertainment?

When buying a home, you need to consider the house, the yard, the neighborhood, and the surrounding areas.  For the best buy, make sure you’re buying a home you love in an area you’ll enjoy living.

 

Get Inspections (and a Survey)

 

When buying your first home, you’ll want to know what kind of shape the house is in, even the parts of the house not shown in listing photos.  A professional inspector will be able to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly on the investment you’re about to make.  There’s nothing worse than spending a ton of money on a new home, then getting hit with even bigger bills when the home repairs start piling up.  A home inspector can help you avoid that pitfall, and offer up great advice on maintaining your new home.

If you’ve got land or property boundaries you’ll want to have a survey as well (some states require one).  Knowing what land belongs to you is incredibly important when it comes to using your yard, and putting on additions (and knowing what land is yours when your neighbors do additions to “their” property).

 

Don’t Stretch

 

If your lender says you’re pre-approved for up to $300,000, don’t buy a $350,000 house.  A beautiful house means nothing if you can’t enjoy your home.  A mortgage payment that leaves you strapped for cash each and every month is a major mistake if it means you have no room for savings, financial planning, or fun.  Sure, you’re going to love your home, but make sure you’re buying with enough financial room to enjoy getting away from it from time to time, too.

 

Keep Reserves and Savings

 

Though there are positives to putting down a larger down payment, and sometimes buying points, spending more up front isn’t always a wise move.  Life happens, so you want to make sure you’re leaving room for emergencies.  Having money to address things like a leaky roof or water heater replacement, along with life’s other curve balls, is a smarter move than dumping all of your money into your new home, even if it means putting less than 20% down.

Your loan officer can guide you through the options, and work with you to determine how you can get the most financially savvy mortgage while making sure the other areas of your financial life remain in great shape, too.

 

Think Today and Tomorrow

 

When you’re buying a home, how long will you be calling it ‘home’?  You may need to consider short and long term goals in determining your perfect home.  Do you plan on having a family within a few years?  Maybe that extra bedroom isn’t a bad idea.  Do you regularly have guests and entertain?  Additional bathrooms and an outdoor entertaining area can make the post-party clean up much more pleasant.  Keeping in mind your short term and long term plans & goals will ensure that you enjoy your house today, tomorrow, and however long you call it home.

 

Buying a home is a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful process.  If you use our tips and hire good professionals for help with your home search and mortgage, the process can be streamlined, and the road to home ownership can be an easy one to travel.  For questions on the home buying process and help with getting prepared, call your Mason Mac loan officer today.

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Delaware Budgeting: Your Home is Our Piggybank

Prior to this past Sunday, Delaware was the state that charged the highest property transfer tax in the country.  Customarily 3%, split between buyer and seller, with half the money going to the state and half to the local county in which a property was sold.  After Sunday, Delaware is the state with the highest property transfer tax in the country, by a much larger margin.

Mason Mac specializes in Delaware home loans
Newark, DE, home to the University of DE and one of the best small towns in New Castle County

Thanks to a failure to pass a state budget by the deadline of June 30, a midnight deal on the Sunday of a holiday weekend was struck, increasing the state property transfer tax on real estate transactions up a full 1%.  Also included in the measure were increased SIN taxes (those on alcohol and tobacco products).

So a few cents more for your smokes, a few cents more for your booze, and thousands of dollars more in fees if you plan to buy or sell a home in the 1st state.

On a $300,000 home sale, the result is an extra $1,500 out of pocket for buyers and an extra $1,500 out of pocket for sellers.  It doesn’t take a partisan point of view to consider this a terrible move by the state and it’s “leadership”.  At a time when home ownership rates in the United States are their lowest since the 60’s, and would-be buyers struggle to enter the market largely due to the associated costs, this move by Delaware is a pathetic way to address budget issues.

More and more states and federal governments are looking to the housing market to compensate for decades worth of fiscally irresponsible practices, so it’s important for people to take this into consideration come election time.  Home ownership has historically been one of the biggest and best steps for individuals to achieve financial wealth, but through actions like this one taken by Delaware and not long ago the federal money grab through conventional mortgage “g fees” one of the best financial moves an individual can make is under attack from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Buying and owning a home is a huge piece of the American Dream, and at Mason Mac we’re helping people achieve that dream every day – while we always educate our clients and partners on the mortgage world, it’s important to know when things like this happen, too.  We have clients, business partners, and tons of friends in Delaware, and we hate to see their homes and home ownership dreams treated like a piggybank by the people in charge.  We hope our Delaware friends don’t see any further increased costs going forward, and that you’ll all remember this 4th of July surprise when election time rolls around.

 

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5 Ways Your Lender Can Help You Get the House

In today’s competitive housing market where many areas nationwide are seeing a far-leaning seller’s market with limited inventory, it’s important for buyers to put their very best foot forward and have all their t’s crossed and i’s dotted before they find “the one”.

Most buyers don’t consider just how much their mortgage lender can help them land their

Loan officers can help buyers win in a competitive sellers market
Your mortgage lender should be an asset in getting your offer accepted

dream home, but aside from a buyer’s real estate agent, the lender is the next most important asset a buyer has when putting together an offer.  Using these 5 tips will help ensure you’ve got yourself in the best position to get an offer accepted.

Work with a Reputable Lender

One of the things a listing agent will consider when advising their seller whether or not an offer is a good one is the name of the mortgage company on the pre-approval letter.  Especially in a multiple offer situation, a seller is likely to choose the offer that’s most likely to make it to the closing table on time and with no headaches or financial harm.   That means if your competition is working with a reputable lender and you’re pre-approval is from anonymousmortgage.com or ABClowestrateXYZ Mortgage, you’ll be at a disadvantage with all other things being equal.

It’s a bonus if the listing agent knows the company and has had a good experience in the past.  If the seller asks for their input, reassurance and a seal of approval from their agent can help an offer in getting accepted.  On the flip side, if a listing agent has had a terrible experience with the lender, the seller will likely hear all about it before making a decision.  Choose your lender wisely, and be wary of internet refinance lenders.

Have a Responsive Loan Officer with Stellar Communication

Sometimes that dream home is viewed at 7pm, or 10am on a Saturday.  Sometimes, that dream home will be slightly above the amount on your pre-approval (or maybe you have a pre-approval, but need one for a different amount).  In a competitive market, if you need an update from your loan officer and their business hours are 9-5 Monday-Friday, or if they take days to respond to your questions or voicemails, you’ll be at a serious disadvantage if other offers are going in ahead of yours.

Your loan officer shouldn’t be available 24/7, but a good loan officer is always responsive, always returns phone calls, and has an eye on their email in the evenings and on weekends – after all, the real estate business doesn’t stop in the evenings and weekends.  Your loan officer shouldn’t, either.

Get Pre-Underwritten (and DON’T get “prequalified”)

If your lender hasn’t reviewed your application, your credit, and supporting documentation, then you’re not pre-approved regardless of what they tell you.  A ‘prequalification’ is a flimsy notice that you may qualify for a loan, but it’s not nearly as assuring as a pre-approval, which involves a complete application, credit, automated underwriting, and supporting documentation reviewed by the loan officer.

Better yet, work with a lender that offers a pre-underwriting program to let the seller and their agent know that if they choose your offer, there won’t be any surprises.  With pre-underwriting, your mortgage lender will put together a full file and submit it to underwriting before a property is found.  This way, once an offer is accepted, all that’s left to do is the property-related work – inspections, appraisal, and insurance – giving a buyer the same strength as a cash buyer.  Pre-underwriting says to a seller “we’re better than pre-approved, we’re fully approved pending you accept our offer”.

Your Loan Officer Should Explain Your Pre-Approval ON Your Pre-Approval

Put yourself in a seller’s shoes and consider what looks better:

“Mr/s Seller, this buyer is preapproved” OR “Mr/s Seller, we have reviewed this buyer’s credit, income documents, proof of funds needed to close, and have received an approval through automated underwriting.”

Of course letting the seller know that the loan officer completed a thorough review of a buyer’s loan application is the better way to go – but few mortgage lenders do this.  Make sure you work with a loan officer that does.

Make Sure Your Lender Calls the Listing Agent

Your loan officer should act as a huge advocate when you’re putting an offer in on a house.  Calling the listing agent offers the opportunity to explain your strengths as a buyer, but just as importantly shows the listing agent that the lender you’re working with is professional and a good communicator (one of the biggest complaints of real estate agents is that lenders lack proper communication skills).

When buying a home, it’s a team sport.  Buyers want to buy a home, and sellers want to sell.  A loan officer should let a seller and their agent know that they’re a part of the team, and that they’ll do everything they can to make everyone’s life easy, not just the buyer.  A quick phone call also gives the loan officer a chance to explain the pre-approval process, and gives the listing agent a chance to ask any questions they may have.  Communication is very important in the home buying process, having a lender that’s proactive in this area is a major bonus. If you’re currently perusing your mortgage options, please reach out to one of our Mason-McDuffie Mortgage professionals.

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Realtor Safety

iStock_000000849284MediumRealtor safety when showing vacant properties has always been a concern. Recently there have been many stories published on the subject, but none more horrible than the kidnapping and death of Beverly Carter.  With safety now at the forefront, it is time for all firms to make use of available tools to help keep their agents safe.

We have listed some of those tools in this blog post.  You can also read a recent article from Inman here (http://www.inman.com/next/real-estate-agents-using-apps-wearable-tech-to-stay-safe/) which talks about some of the tools we list below.

Push to Alert – Smart Phone app for security at Open House or Private Showings. “Faster than calling 911 and triangulates location”.  If threatened Realtor can press assault icon on the smart phone which immediately dials 911 and locates home address.  Sends message in stealth mode and allows four seconds for user to cancel the alert.

Available for download in the iTunes store.

Guardly Safety App – Smart Phone app offers automatic connection with emergency services, real-time notification to designated people, real-time location tracking and an emergency beacon.

Download is free, a monthly subscription for most features is $1.99, with a one-year subscription of $19.99

Moby App – iPhone, Blackberry and Android (coming soon). Features include Tracking tool that allows you to reveal your location to select contacts.  App can be set to send your GPS location periodically to whomever you choose.  App will send messages at predetermined times that ask, “Are you OK?”.  If two questions go unanswered, the app will automatically notify the contacts you select that you failed to respond and provide your GPS location from smartphone.  Alert tool: with one touch of a button, you will be able to alert your contacts or emergency personnel if you need help.  Alert includes  your GPS location.

Available on iTunes

Real Alert – for iPhone and Android – App allows you to quickly alert your emergency contacts or police when you feel threatened as well as discreetly record “creep data”, key details about suspicious people you encounter.

Cost $1.99

Other Security Options

Secure Show – Starts by purchasing a verification, either singularly or in packs.  Whoever you wanted to verify is sent a verification link, their cellphone number is confirmed, and the prospect is walked through a process where they scan and upload their driver’s license, passport or state ID.  Secure Show verifies that the photo matches the ID, while a third-party company checks the ID against other databases.  It is not a criminal background check.

Once your identity and their identity are verified, both parties receive notifications with photos of each other and a special identifying code.

Normal Turnaround time is 30 minutes or less.

Wearable Devices:

Cuff – is a small device that fits into several cuff versions and also a necklace.  Billed as “Smart Jewelry”, cuff has features like phone notification and activity tracking. Cuff also has a built-in safety feature that, when pressed, sends out a message to designated friends and family with your location, as well as audio that the device picks up. Available for preorder and delivery in March 2015.

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Looking for a Value-adding Upgrade? Why Residential Solar Panels Are Becoming a Popular Renovation

Looking for a Value-adding Upgrade? Why Residential Solar Panels Are Becoming a Popular RenovationIf you’re looking for a home upgrade that can add resale value to your home while paying itself off over time, look no further than a solar panel setup. In the past few years, the cost of installing residential solar has declined while the efficiency of the panels has increased. This combination has made home solar one of the best investments that a homeowner can make – provided they live in an area that receives a good deal of sunshine.

Solar Adds Immense Value To Your Home

While solar panel installations are not inexpensive, in almost every case they add at least their total cost to the value of the home as soon as they are installed. If you decide to sell your home, it will be very attractive to those who are interested in leaving a lighter footprint or for anyone who was thinking of going solar after they bought their new home.

A Quality Install Will Pay For Itself Over Time

As they generate electricity which can be used in your home or sold back in to the public grid, residential solar panels are one of the only home upgrades that will pay for themselves over time. If you live in a very sunny area and watch your home energy consumption, you may even find that after a few years your solar setup actually begins generating a profit each month. Home solar setups typically come with a 25-year warranty so you can rest assured that your panels will be producing energy for at least the next couple of decades.

Tax Credits And Incentives Reduce The Up-front Financial Cost

Renewable energy sources like solar quality for significant tax credits and rebates which will vary depending on the city and state or province that you live in. A quick web search will show you which types of incentives that you will qualify for, or you can call a local residential solar installer as they’ll be fully aware of all of the various incentives that are available.

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Considering a Vacation Home? Six Tips for Buying a House or Condo for Relaxation and Vacation Use

Considering a Vacation Home? Six Tips for Buying a House or Condo for Relaxation and Vacation UseIf you’ve just returned from the vacation of a lifetime, you probably wish that wonderful time never had to end. When you buy a vacation home or condo, you can guarantee that you have an escape that will provide you with years of enjoyment. Before you take the plunge, though, take advantage of these six helpful tips about buying a vacation home.

Choose Someplace Versatile

When buying a vacation home, it’s all about getting the most out of your investment. Consider choosing a place that you can enjoy throughout the year. Your ideal vacation home will be a haven in the summer, a beauty in the fall, a refresher during the spring, and the perfect place to celebrate the winter holidays.

Think About Convenience

When you choose your vacation home, you will want to find a relaxing getaway that fits your lifestyle. If you love to have easy access to the grocery store and other amenities, don’t buy in a remote location. If instead you’d prefer something secluded, opt for a home that is hidden far from civilization.

Consider Your Neighbors

Depending on where you choose to buy a vacation home, you’re likely to be surrounded by others who love the area as much as you do. You need to decide if you want to have many others who are in close proximity or if you prefer having your space to yourself.

Find Out About Taxes

If you are opting for an extremely popular location, beware of high taxes. You want to go into your purchase with your eyes wide open. If you choose a home that is off the beaten path, you could have a more favorable tax rate.

Learn About Restrictions

You may have restrictions to deal with when you buy a vacation home. From a Home Owner’s Association that stipulates regulations about the care of property to restrictions in paint schemes, you may not have complete freedom with your property.

Look For Excellent Deals

Whether it is due to the strained economy or someone who has to make a property move quickly, you could find a phenomenal deal. Don’t rush into any sale until you’ve reviewed all of your options. Buying a home that is in a community neighboring a hot spot (instead of in the hot spot itself) could make for better prices as well.

A vacation home is a great real estate investment that can make vacation planning much easier. With these tips in hand, you’ll be well equipped to find the perfect vacation home for your budget.