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Back-to-School Survivial Guide

Terms

Teachers this is for you:

  • When the going gets tough and it will, remember why you began teaching in the first place. Write it down and put it in a place that you can see as a daily reminder.
  • Engage in self care. Self-care is a strange phenomenon. Self-care is critical to refilling what the daily grind drains. Figure out what works best for you. Try to do something every day. Taking even a few minutes for yourself can make a big difference.
  • Keep a jar of successes and memories. Use a jar of memories to keep yourself motivated. During the school year, anytime something funny or memorable happens in your classroom, write it down on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. On tough days, open the jar and pull out a few memories to read. This will shift your focus to better times and better days.

Students this is for you:

  • Select a good study space: Do not just start studying anywhere. Find a quiet, orderly place. A peaceful environment will be an immeasurable help to your concentration.
  • Call friends: Talking with a trusted friend or family member about how you are feeling helps because most of them have been there, done that or are in the same boat as you. Talking things out can have the immediate effect of reducing stress levels. Sharing with someone else helps us feel we aren’t alone which can be so helpful.
  • Prioritize & Plan: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Plan how to allocate your time and what to study. Engage
  • Ask for Help:  Many students are afraid to ask for help. If you do not understand what to do or study, ask someone. You could speak to your teacher during office hours, or talk to your friends and classmates. You are all working together and in the same boat. Your teacher wants to see you succeed and so do your friends; they most likely will be glad to help.
  • Catch some sleep: Everyone has different sleep habits, but it is never healthy to pull an all-nighter. Make sure to get the sleep your body needs.

Parents this is for you:

  • Don’t let lunch boxes get the better of you: Freeze sandwiches, slices of homemade cake and squeeze pack yogurts to help you in the desperate moments.
  • Your child WILL be tired and moody: That’s because they will be exhausted. Primary school timetables these days are a merry-go-round of Chinese, sport, art etc. So let them relax after school.
  • Be a friend to make a friend: It’s not only your child who may feel nervous as they start at school. It can be daunting for new parents, especially if you don’t know many people at the school. Be bold — ask about their lives, offer to meet for coffee. If you don’t hit it off, move on. The friends you do make can be “emergency friends” to call on when cars break down or a work crisis strikes.
  • Create some sanity savers: Put all the uniforms, sports kits, homework and bags in one cupboard instead of being scattered through bedrooms. Get children to put on shoes before breakfast. Do anything in advance to save your sanity in that moment when you rushing out of the door.
  • Don’t feel guilty if you can’t volunteer: If you work full time or care for babies or toddlers it’s hard to be able to volunteer to help with class reading, trips and so on. Don’t feel guilty. Where possible, choose one or two tasks a year so you feel connected.
  • Slow down school years: The terms can rush by in a blur of shouting and stress, so try to slow the pace. Occasionally get to school early for a play; head to the park or beach for a picnic instead of the usual evening routine.

Top Confusing Mortgage Terms Explained

Terms

If you think mortgage jargon is confusing, you're not alone. And it's not just first time homebuyers who are baffled. Some of the terms are so tricky even the experts don't agree on exactly what they mean.

To help ease the frustration, here are a list of the most common confusing terms:

Conforming Loan
A conforming loan is a mortgage that follows, or "conforms," to a set of loan guidelines or standards. By far, the most common type of conforming loan is one that meets Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines.

Non-conforming Loan
Loans that don't conform are known as "non-conforming." A non-conforming loan is a loan that fails to meet bank criteria for funding. Reasons can include the loan amount is higher than the conforming loan limit, lack of sufficient credit, the unorthodox nature of the use of funds, or the collateral backing it to name a few.

Government Loan
This category is comprised of FHA, VA and USDA loans. FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. VA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. USDA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA loans are also called RD or Rural Development loans, after the USDA division that handles them.

Jumbo Loan
Jumbo loans have a loan amount that's higher than Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines known as loan limits. The current limit in most U.S. counties is $417,000. Loans for more are jumbo loans.

Conventional Loan
This category includes all conforming loans and many non-conforming loans, but no jumbo, government or subprime loans. A conventional loan is a mortgage that is not guaranteed or insured by any government agency.

APR (Annual Percentage Rate)
The cost of credit on a yearly basis, expressed as a percentage. Required to be disclosed by the lender under the federal Truth in Lending Act and Regulation Z. Because it includes certain costs paid to obtain the loan, it is usually higher than the interest rate stated in the mortgage note. Aids in comparing the true cost of loans offered by lenders.

‘Private mortgage insurance’ or just ‘mortgage insurance’?
This category includes all conforming loans and many non-conforming loans, but no jumbo, government or subprime loans. A conventional loan is a mortgage that is not guaranteed or insured by any government agency.

Conventional Loan
Mortgage insurance, which may be required when a borrower's down payment or equity is less than 20 percent of the home's purchase price or value. Some mortgage insurance is called private mortgage insurance (PMI) and some is simply called mortgage insurance (MI) or mortgage insurance premium (MIP). Why two different terms?
PMI is private mortgage insurance, and is for conventional or conforming loans. It is a risk-management product that protects lenders against loss if a borrower defaults.
MIP is mortgage insurance premium, and that is on FHA and USDA government loans. The VA doesn't have MIP, it has a funding fee. It doesn't have mortgage insurance, so it's not applicable.

DTI (Debt-to-income ratio)
The ratio, expressed as a percentage, which results when a borrower's monthly payment obligation on long-term debts is divided by his or her gross monthly income.

Discount point
A discount point, paid upfront to the lender, and generally is used to lower the borrower's interest rate over the life of the loan. This interest rate reduction is sometimes called a "buy down."

Origination point
An origination point is a fee or collection of fees. Unlike a discount point, an origination point doesn't buy down the borrower's interest rate.

Conventional Loan
This category includes all conforming loans and many non-conforming loans, but no jumbo, government or subprime loans. A conventional loan is a mortgage that is not guaranteed or insured by any government agency.

Closing
Closing is perhaps the happiest term in a real estate transaction since it refers to the process by which the loan is completed and everyone receives his or her due, whether that's the proceeds of a home sale for the seller or the title to a property for the buyer.

Settlement
Settlement refers to the reconciliation of accounts or accounting process that takes place as part of the real estate closing.

Escrow
SEscrow refers to an account or entity that holds funds for others prior to disbursement.When used to describe the mortgage servicer as collecting a portion of your payment every month and holding it on your behalf to disburse payments to taxing authorities or insurance companies; this is an escrow account (sometimes referred to as an impound account).

If you have any questions at all in regards to home mortgages, please don’t hesitate to contact BOE Mortgage!


Mortgage Shopping Mistakes to Avoid

Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you’ve bought a home before or it’s your first time at the rodeo, it’s a complicated process involving much more than making an offer and having it accepted. Unlike most transactions where you hand over some cash or swipe your debit card, buying a home involves a lot of different parties and there are a lot of boxes to be checked.

And because it’s probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, it’s important to know the pitfalls to look out for that can cost you a significant amount if you aren’t paying attention. Here are some of the most common mortgage-shopping mistakes that prospective homebuyers make:

FAILING TO CHECK CREDIT BEFORE APPROACHING LENDERS
A surprising number of people only learn about problems in their credit report when they apply for a mortgage. Not only can what you don’t know about your credit cost you more on a mortgage, it can also derail the whole process. Plus, you can’t really shop for a mortgage and have any idea of what rate you’ll be offered if you’re in the dark about your credit report or credit score.

Check your credit before you start shopping for a home or a mortgage, so you know where you stand. Being familiar with what’s in your credit report gives you the opportunity to address errors and take other steps to improve your credit profile before you approach lenders; you’ll qualify for a better rate and won’t get any nasty surprises after your offer has been accepted on your dream home. By law, you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) once a year.

APPLYING FOR OTHER CREDIT WHILE APPLYING FOR A MORTGAGE
Each time you apply for credit, the credit check is rated as a “hard inquiry” on your credit, and will cause your credit score to temporarily dip. Closing old accounts can also have a negative impact – even if you aren’t using them, closing them reduces the amount of credit you have available, which will affect your credit score. Keep in mind that all credit inquiries for home loans made within a couple of weeks of one another will only count as one inquiry, so if you’re shopping around with several lenders, be sure to submit all your applications at around the same time.

Each time you apply for credit, the credit check is rated as a “hard inquiry” on your credit, and will cause your credit score to temporarily dip. Closing old accounts can also have a negative impact – even if you aren’t using them, closing them reduces the amount of credit you have available, which will affect your credit score. Keep in mind that all credit inquiries for home loans made within a couple of weeks of one another will only count as one inquiry, so if you’re shopping around with several lenders, be sure to submit all your applications at around the same time.

SKIPPING THE PRE-QUALIFICATION PROCESS
Pre-qualification allows you to go through the application process before you start shopping for a home; the advantages include knowing how much you can spend, loan type and an idea of what interest rate you qualify for before you start looking around. In addition, pre-qualification demonstrates to sellers that you’re a serious buyer and that you won’t be rejected for a mortgage – which means they might be willing to accept a lower offer, knowing that it’s a sure thing. Once you do find the home you want and have an accepted offer, all you have to do is provide the lender with the address and details of the offer, and the mortgage process can move forward.

Bank of England Mortgage is always happy to educate homebuyers and answer any question. We’ll help you gain an understanding of the mortgage process so you can make the best choices for your home financing goals.


SELECTING THE RIGHT MORTGAGE LENDER

Moving Tips

Are you hunting for the perfect mortgage lender? One to help you move into that long-anticipated dream home or provide the best refinance option for your current dream home? Be cautious… Exercising caution to make sure you find an agreeable lender is a vital step in realizing your dream. It can make a world of difference when the long term payments set in. Taking time to find the right professional will make sure getting what you need assures smooth and thorough service. Lenders that pride themselves on excellent customer service can reduce the stress of home financing.

The best mortgage professionals take pride in guiding you through what could be a confusing process. They are knowledgeable about their loan products, willing to spend as much time as possible to explaining in detail, and have your financial goals in mind. It pays to do advance research on loan options before you meet with a mortgage lender. Doing your homework and equipping yourself with some basic knowledge about the home financing process is important. This will help in making a sound assessment about a mortgage lender's skills, abilities and honesty, while boosting your confidence.

PURCHASER'S RIGHTS
Buying a home is intimidating on a number of levels. The mountain of forms, declarations and even financial terminology can be daunting to inexperienced homebuyers. It’s always smart to exercise care during the home-buying process. Understand what you are signing and any obligations you are assuming. A signature is a permanent commitment. Some buyers may have a very short time to back out. Otherwise, they are liable for what’s in the document. Even if you back out during that short period, you will likely forfeit deposits because you broke the contract. Extra costs can be avoided if you take time when signing all agreements, ask questions and understand the answers. If a lender is rushing you through paperwork and pressuring you to sign the form, he or she is not doing their job properly.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR LENDER
The best mortgage lenders will focus on understanding your long-range financial goals. They will ask you how long you intend to remain in your home. Your answers will help in discovering the best mortgage products to suit your needs.

SEEK LOCAL LENDERS
Seeking out a mortgage lender in your community is the best option. Interest rates vary on a daily basis. A local lender will know the rapid changes happening in the community's housing market. They will understand how these changes may affect you. Local lenders can monitor your loan application closely, and will be more accessible to answer any questions you may have.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PERSONAL REFERRALS
Ask your friends and family about their experience with mortgage lenders. They may be comfortable recommending the same professionals they used for their home loans. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to identify quality professionals in your area. Once you have a list of possibilities, verify their backgrounds so you can will confident in their ability to help you.

We hope you have gained some valuable and useful information from this article. Bank of England Mortgage would be honored to be a part of your home financing journey. Rates are showing a lowering trend, so now may be a great time to purchase or refinance. Give your local team a call, they’re excited to answer all your questions.


Moving Tips

Moving Tips

While moving, and having a new home to make your own is exciting, it can also bring a little more stress than anticipated. But there are ways to survive the process without pulling your hair. Here are manageable tips that will lower your stress before, during and after you’ve boxed up your whole life and moved into your new abode.

Create a moving tasks calendar and to do list. Get organized! When you move homes, you inevitably end up having 600 different things to do and remember. Don’t let all these tasks and important reminders, no matter how seemingly obvious, slip your mind.

Don’t hoard unnecessary things to your new home. Get rid of it! While it could sometimes be a tough decision to make on what to hold on to or toss, it will be such a stress reliever when it comes time to unpack and you’ve already sorted through the clutter beforehand.

Don’t wait until the last minute and throw anything you can get your hands on in random boxes. Plan and take the time to pack like items together, so that when you are ready to unpack you can put things in their place quickly and easily. You don’t want to find yourself digging through a box of kitchen items and find toiletries.

Set stuff aside if you have the time flexibility to sell items you no longer want. Have a garage sale, post on Craig’s list, local Facebook selling page.

Avoid confusion for yourself and those that are helping unload by labeling boxes accordingly. Not only should you label by room, but labeling the boxes by content makes it much easier as well.

Schedule a free donation pickup. Save yourself the trip and make the call, while helping others!

Change your address a week before you move. This is one of those things everyone forgets to do until they’re two weeks into life in a new home and they realize their Amazon Prime shipment still hasn’t arrived. Change your address ahead of time so your bills, credit card statements, and packages can arrive on time and without hassle.

If you are hiring movers, do so at least a month in advance. If you are flexible on your moving day, then you could get a lower cost for weekday moving.

It will be an added expense but renting a moving truck helps a lot with the process. Even if you are only moving across town, it’s simpler to load a truck and move everything at one time.

When loading the moving truck, do so by grouping the boxes by room. Obviously, there will be some items that need to go in certain spots – like all the heavy items being along the walls so that you can tie them down. Trust, you will be so glad you didn’t skip over this tip!

Good luck with your exciting new move, we at BOE Mortgage wish you all the success for a stress-free move!


Should You Buy a Home or Rent?

Should You Buy a Home or Rent?

Years ago, everyone knew the answer to this question, or thought they did. Owning a home was considered one of the cornerstones of the American Dream. Then we had the housing crash, and a slew of articles advising that buying a home was a scary bet. Over the last several years, that advice has become more mixed, leaving some consumers confused about whether buying a home makes financial sense.

Home ownership is not a one-size-fits-all proposition; the decision to buy is a personal one that hinges on the circumstances of your life, where you live, and how long you plan to stay in one place. Most consumers have by now heard that it doesn’t make sense to buy if you plan on staying in the home for less than three to five years; because most of the early payments on a mortgage goes to paying down interest and closing costs on a mortgage can be substantial, a few years isn’t enough time to accumulate equity to offset the closing costs. For short-term living situations, renting may be the better option.

Beyond this, the situation gets a little murkier. Don't plan on making a big profit by buying a home and selling it one day. Owning a home can still be a good investment, but you shouldn’t expect the value of the home to increase more than the rate of inflation. Over the long term, home values have always tracked pretty closely to the inflation rate; we aren't likely during our lifetimes to see another bubble market with skyrocketing values like we saw in the 2000s, and we probably don't want to see that again, considering the aftermath of the last one. While there are several housing markets in the country where home values continue to outpace inflation, they are in large urban centers such as New York and Los Angeles; the factors in play in those markets do not apply to central Arkansas or most of the rest of the country. Outside of booming urban markets, buyers should expect home values to continue to track pretty closely with inflation.

Purchasing a home can still be a wise investment, especially if you plan to remain in one place for 10 years or longer. In areas where home values are increasing and the cost of renting is close to the cost of a monthly mortgage payment, purchasing a home makes sense. A home purchased with a fixed-rate mortgage represents a known housing cost; rents can and will increase over the course of 10 years. In addition, over that period of time, a homebuyer will build up a substantial amount of equity; if they had rented instead, they would be walking away empty-handed.

The answer, then, is that purchasing a home is still a good bet – if you plan to remain in one place for more than five years, if you buy into an area with increasing values, if the costs of rent are close to the cost of a monthly mortgage payment, and if you’re prepared to shoulder the maintenance responsibilities that come with home ownership. Owning a home provides accomplishment and there is no other feeling than that of laying down roots and providing stability. A home isn’t just a place to keep warm and dry, it’s the place where memories are created that last a lifetime. Bank of England Mortgage is always happy to help educate homebuyers. We’ll help you gain an understanding of the mortgage process so you can make the best choices for your home financing goals. If you’re ready to take the home buying plunge, locate your local branch and give us a call!


Credit Do’s and Don’ts in the Mortgage Approval Process

Credit Do’s and Don’ts in the Mortgage Approval Process

While pre-qualification allows buyers to know how much they are qualified to borrow for a new home before they start shopping, and it can speed up the mortgage application process once they find a home they like, prospective homebuyers need to keep in mind that pre-qualification is not final approval. Events and decisions affecting a borrower’s financial profile that occur after pre-qualification but prior to closing can determine whether or not the loan is ultimately approved.

Especially now, as the mortgage industry adjusts to new financial regulations, it is more important than ever to ensure that the financing of your new home goes smoothly; thanks to the time constraints of the new regulations, even minor bumps can really slow down the process. Following the tips below will make the process go more quickly and smoothly, help to prevent unpleasant surprises, and reduce the stress of the approval process.

    Do:

  • Make mortgage or rent payments on time.
  • Pay all bills on time.
  • Stay with the same employer.
  • Stay with the same insurer.
  • Continue living at your current residence.
  • Keep credit card balances at or below 40% of credit limits.
  • Call your lender before doing anything regarding your employment, credit cards or assets.
  • Ask your agent or seller if the property is in a flood zone as you may be required to obtain flood insurance.
  • Notify your lender of any changes to the sales contract (closing date, sales price, etc.)
  • Provide a copy of both sides of your earnest money check after it has cleared your bank, along with a bank statement reflecting the withdrawal.
  • Promptly provide legible copies of all pages of each document requested by your lender throughout the mortgage process.
  • Provide your lender with contact information from your homeowner's insurance agent.
  • Communicate openly and honestly.

    Don't:

  • Make any major purchases (car, boat, etc.).
  • Take out any large cash advances.
  • Apply for new credit cards or loans of any kind.
  • Pay off any collections or charge-offs before consulting your lender.
  • Bounce any checks or overdraft any accounts.
  • Change bank accounts or banks unless advised by the lender.
  • Consolidate your debt into fewer accounts.
  • Start any home improvement projects.
  • Deposit cash or non-traceable funds.
  • Close credit card accounts.
  • Borrow money.
  • Transfer checking or savings balances from one account to another.
  • Max out or overcharge existing cards.
  • Quit or change jobs.
  • Do anything that might raise red flags for the underwriter (co-signing on another person's loan, changing your name and address, etc.).
  • Plan a vacation during your loan transaction without informing your loan officer.
  • Give notice to your landlord before consulting your loan officer.
  • Take it personally if you're requested to provide additional information about your income or deposits. All information will remain completely confidential.
  • Hesitate to contact your lender with any questions throughout the process. They are there to help!

Bank of England Mortgage is always happy to help educate homebuyers. We’ll help you gain an understanding of the mortgage process so you can make the best choices for your home financing goals.


Make a Good Impression

Home stagers will make selling your home a lot less stressful.

Today’s market is very competitive, so making a good first impression is crucial. Home staging is the act of making a home look visually appealing to buyers. There are ways to highlight your homes qualities, de-emphasize its shortcomings and engage potential buyers.

Home stagers will make selling your home a lot less stressful. They have an eye for home appeal and can transform it into a welcoming, attractive product that anyone might want and will perceive as a much higher value.

Staging your home yourself or having a professional home stager do the work for you depends on your budget. Either way, the first impression is imperative.

Homeowners, reluctant to spend the money or admit that their decorating choices might not be catnip to buyers, are often loath to pay strangers to impose their tastes on their premises. Home staging has evolved over the past decade. Today, stagers are increasingly tackling all-out transformations in some cases that translate to a much higher selling price and even bidding wars. So if you are thinking of putting your home on the market, consider home staging.

    Home Staging Tips

  • Be Creative with Color, often when it’s time to sell, some aspects of a home can be dated due to its color. Finding the best color combo to make it look fresh can be really eye catching to a buyer, so don't be afraid to use it creatively.
  • De-clutter everything but the bare bone essentials should be removed or thrown out
  • Less is More… select your best pieces of furniture and rearrange them.
  • Let Light In, good lighting accentuates the best qualities of your home and illuminating essential areas.
  • Bring The Outdoors in. There’s nothing like a fresh healthy plant. Decorating with greenery will add charm and beauty to your home.
  • Make an Entrance by making the entrance feel welcoming, you honor all who enter. Make it count!

    Benefits of Staging (Yourself and Professionally)

  • You will make a profit. The cost of professionally staging your home should be included in the sales price. If staged professionally, more often than not, the home is sold at asking price or very close to.
  • Your home will sellmuch quicker. On average, well-staged homes sell faster for more money.
  • Selling "as is" in any market doesn't work well. It’s always a buyer's market, so give them what they want. Successful agents know that the key to selling competitively is professional staging.
  • Most homebuyers can't see their home unbiasedly. When you create a feeling buyers are looking for and get them emotionally involved with your home, they are more likely to buy your home
  • You can unwind. You will have the fulfillment of knowing you have done everything conceivable to affect a quick sale of your most valuable commodity and for as much as possible!

Mortgages By The Numbers

Mortgages By The Numbers

For the first-time home buyer, mortgages come with a seemingly incomprehensible flood of numbers. Even seasoned home buyers can find themselves confused; between interest rates, credit scores, and down payment percentages, there are a lot of numbers to juggle. To help sort through the confusion, the following are the numbers you most need to understand in order to make a sound financial decision.

25% - the number of first-time buyers who report being completely in the dark about the mortgage process.

It’s important to understand the process, because not knowing can cost you big. Working with a lender who’s willing to take the time to walk you through the process and answer your questions can help you make the right decision.

77% - the percentage of borrowers who only apply to one lender.

Big mistake - not shopping around can cost you. You shop around for other big purchases, and you should do some shopping around for your mortgage as well, since it’s likely to be one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make. Get estimates from several lenders and study the terms closely before deciding which lender offers you the best deal. The lender that communicates and explains the answers to your questions, typically, will be more efficient through the process. Also, trust your intuition!

740 – the credit score that will qualify you for the best interest rates on mortgages.

Having a lower score won’t shut you out from buying a home, there are many programs for borrowers with all kinds of situations. Don’t count yourself out, a good lender knows what options you have and will help you get the loan that best fits your needs.

Prospective lenders will pull your credit score as part of the loan application process, but if you’d like to know your score before you start shopping around, you can get a free copy of your credit report from many online credit reporting companies.

20% - cash down payment required for a conventional loan.

Don’t have 20% to pay down, there are loan programs that require much less, some even offer 0% down payment. Find a lender that offers a multitude of programs.

60% - number of homebuyers who used retirement savings to make down payments in 2015.

Just because a lot of people are doing it, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Before you dip into your 401(k) or IRA for a mortgage down payment, consider the tax implications. Consult your certified public accountant for advice.

13 – the average number of year’s home buyers stay in their homes.

The amount of time you plan to remain in your home makes a big difference in what type of mortgage will work best for you. If you’re in a job where you move every few years, you may decide that lower rates offered on ARMs (adjustable-rate mortgages) makes sense. On the other hand, if you plan on staying in the same place indefinitely and need the assurance of a predictable monthly payment, you’ll probably want to take advantage of today’s historically low mortgage interest rates by locking in at a fixed rate for 15 – 30 years.

40% - number of seniors 65 and older who carry a mortgage.

If your goal is to be mortgage-free in retirement, you will want to select a loan with a shorter term, so it will be paid off before you reach retirement.

Bank of England Mortgage is always happy to help educate homebuyers. We’ll help you gain an understanding of the mortgage process so you can make the best choices for your home financing goals.


Holiday Party Do’s for Success

Holiday Party Do’s for Success

Everyone enjoys being a part of a holiday party, especially one that is well put together. Great music, appetizing food, and enjoying the company of family and friends. It takes patience, planning, and thought to throw a successful party. To make the most of your holiday party, skip the unnecessary plans and focus on the things that are most important. The Do’s.

Although, everyone on your guest list won’t be able to attend the party, you want to aim for a non-conflicting date for most of your prospective guests. It becomes more difficult for friends and family to attend the closer it gets to the holiday. Try setting a pressure free date.

Choose the colors or theme of the party to match the invitations. There are so many options, which may make it harder to choose, but be sure to stick with the same color or theme throughout. If you’re planning a fancier party, paper invitations are almost a must. It helps set the tone for your event. Online invitations are fine if the event is more casual.

Determine how many people you are inviting to decide whether you will need the services of a caterer, a personal chef, or if you can manage preparing the food on your own. Be careful though, if you are choosing to handle the cooking, that you are not spending more time in the kitchen than you are with your guests.

Note on the invitation what type of food you will be serving. Whether it be heavy appetizers, sit-down dinner, dessert and drinks, or a potluck. Tailor the start time of your party to the type of food you will be serving.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Friends and family always want to know how they can be helpful. Have them bring an appetizer, drink, dessert or whatever you’re needing to the party.

Lastly, have entertainment that will interest your guest, like party games and a music playlist.


Purchasing a home in winter could save you BIG $$

Purchasing a home in winter could save you BIG $$

New information demonstrates that prospective buyers could save money by purchasing a home in the late fall and winter over the late spring. Information for the 50 most crowded metro areas in the United States over two years uncovers that home costs topped during summer and dunked in fall and winter, implying that buyers could save thousands. As fall nears, listing values somewhat fall. There are local changes as well. For instance, the biggest drop amongst summer and fall was in the Hartford-West Hartford-East region of Hartford, Connecticut.

Realtor.com’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, said, “If your circumstances give you the freedom to be able to choose the best time to look to sign a contract on a new home, there’s no question that the market dynamics favor you the most to do that in the dead of winter...”

So, When’s the Best Time to Buy a New Home?

Everybody realizes that spring is the best time to purchase or offer a house? The weather is nicer, there are more buyers, and kids are nearing the school year end. It's easily the busiest time in the real estate year.

Land and home building specialists say that an accentuation on the spring home purchasing season has its roots in practical reasons and in some enduring misperceptions about the marketplace.

One things for sure, in spring, individuals who have been cooped up over the winter are prepared to bust free, get out and test the daylight. Also, for some, a potential address change around then fits pleasantly with the school calendar.

Reconsidering the Seasons

Many real estate brokers recommended that the best time to offer their property for sale is in the fall or winter.

“True, in fall and winter, you have less inventory out there, fewer homes to look at. But people who are buying a home in fall or winter, those are serious buyers.” Said recently by a real estate broker in Huntsville, Alabama.

It may feel good to have 35 people come through your open house in May, of which most are less than serious buyers. It deems more favorable and less time consuming on everyone’s part to have a couple people with their agents come through in December that are ready to buy and serious about it.

What's Your Moving Timetable?

One approach to set an individual real estate timetable is to choose when you need to be in (or out of) a house, and work in reverse from that point. The time it takes from contract to closing table can differ regionally, but agents recommend that a month is sensible. For most homebuyers the entire process from finding a home to backing up the moving truck is 2-3 months.

For sellers, it will rely on local market situations and value, both of which have experienced a change in numerous areas since the first of the year.

In the event that you expect to move into a recently constructed home, planning backward from a move-in date is even more critical. Builders Offer Both Built-from-Scratch and Quick Move-In Homes. You have a few timelines to consider. If you’re buying a quick move-in or “spec” home – a home that is built on speculation– the time from contract to move-in might fit that one-month (or slightly longer) span.

If you're outlining and building a home starting with no outside help with a production or large volume manufacturer it could take 4-6 months. It may take longer if building a new home from scratch with a smaller or custom builder.

Real Estate Agent Advice for Buying and Selling in the Winter

You may have doubts about being one of those house seekers conquering the rain, hail or snow to locate your ideal home in the winter months. But, as these tips from two experienced real estate agents will say, winter real estate is full of possibilities.

“Buyers who are house hunting in the winter ought to keep their inquiry going, paying little mind to the season”, states a realtor in the industry for over 26 years, “…a home that meets their optimal criteria and at the right cost can appear available whenever.”

Advice from one realtor, suggests a few things to help close a deal more quickly. “Have an agent who can keep you educated of any present and more up to date listings as a seller. A skilled real estate agent can charm and wow a winter buyer over the competition in any season.” “Concentrate on getting your funding in order so that you can submit aggressive offers.”

Oftentimes, the down payment isn’t the biggest concern for sellers. It’s more about the financing type, short inspection periods, short closing periods, and if you can give the seller time to stay in the home after closing if they need it.”