Matthew Cuddy's Blog
Not every neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly, especially if you live on a busy highway or have no access to sidewalks. However, if you're fortunate enough to live in a walkable area (or have a chance to move to one), why not take advantage of it?
Walking in your neighborhood is a free way to stay healthier, happier, and more relaxed. As long as you don't have any health conditions that would stand in the way of taking regular walks, a daily constitutional can provide you and your family with an array of benefits.
Healthy Lifestyle: Staying physically and mentally healthy is not the result of one or two positive habits, but rather a variety of lifestyle decisions you make throughout the day. Walking on a regular basis can help you achieve weight loss goals, maintain muscle tone, and increase your energy level. A moderate exercise program can also help relieve stress, enhance your mood, and slow down the aging process.
Family Bonding: Walking in the neighborhood or at a nearby public park can be a great way for your family to spend quality time together. It's also an opportunity to take a refreshing break from television watching, social media use, the Internet, and video games. Going for family walks is a simple activity, but the benefits can be far reaching.
Neighborhood Connections: The very act of walking around in your neighborhood, every day, makes you feel more connected to your environment. It also gives you a chance to chat with neighbors, meet new ones, and observe any changes that may affect the character of the neighborhood.
Critique Your Property: When you walk past your house and yard, you can often see features and flaws that may have escaped your notice when you last drove by in your car. Looking at your property from different angles and directions can help give you landscaping ideas and point out ways you can improve the outward appearance of your home. You can also pick up landscaping and property ideas by seeing what your neighbors are doing. Curb appeal is especially important if you're planning to sell your property.
Bargain Hunting: If you happen to be taking a walk in the neighborhood when yard sales are underway, it's easy to stop and scope out the treasures being offered. One caveat: If you do find something you want to buy, especially if it's a large piece of furniture, you may have to return later with your vehicle to pick it up.
Find a New Neighborhood: If you're in the market for a new home, the walkability of neighborhoods is an important feature worth keeping in mind.
Save Gas: Sometimes it's nice to take a break from driving and walk over to your neighborhood grocery store, pharmacy, or post office. On those occasions when you only need to pick up a few small items, hoofing it over to your local retailer is an alternative worth considering!
It’s a competitive selling market and we all know how difficult it can be to entice buyers with your home.
There are a number of ways to highlight the best features of your house. From staging to great real estate photos, marketing your home is a key aspect to ensuring a sale.
However, sometimes sellers miss out on opportunities to give their home a competitive edge in the housing market.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about some of the features in homes that are major selling points for today’s average buyer. That way, you’ll be able to update your listing and materials so that everyone who looks at your home knows exactly what it has to offer.
1. Location and convenience
Odds are you can find some major location selling points for your home if you think about it. Is your home near grocery stores, hospitals, parks, or major highways? Does it lack the rush hour traffic that other neighborhoods have?
Just because you’ve gotten used to the convenient location of your home doesn’t mean it won’t be appreciated by your potential buyers.
2. Low upkeep and utility costs
If you live in a newer home in your neighborhood, there’s a good chance it will beat out much of the local competition in energy efficiency and maintenance costs. If you’ve recently upgraded energy-related parts of your home (think windows, HVAC, insulation, etc.), you should highlight these upgrades in your listings.
This is also a good time to show off your utility savings. Many utility companies show you how much you spend compared to your neighbors. If your home is energy efficient, don’t be afraid to show off in your listing.
3. Storage space
Ever notice how self-storage facilities seem to be popping up just about everywhere? Storage space is a huge concern for homeowners and buyers alike.
Make sure your photos and listings reflect the amount of storage your home has.
4. Major upgrades
If you’ve recently replaced the septic system, roof, windows, HVAC or other major upgrade, be sure to list the date and cost of the system in your listing. They can help assure potential buyers that they won’t need to make any costly upgrades or repairs anytime soon.
5. Pet and smoke-free
If your home is free of any odors or signs of pets or cigarettes, it will likely be a plus for buyers who are only focusing on homes that are clean and move-in ready.
6. Natural lighting
If your home has a lot of windows or skylights, be sure to include them in your photo and listing. Natural lighting can dramatically improve real estate photos, and it will make your home seem more spacious and welcoming.
If you're planning to purchase a home in the near future, one thing's for sure: You've got your work cut out for you! However, when you finally find the house of your dreams, the time and effort will be more than worth it!
Your to-do list will include calculating how much you can afford to spend on a house, obtaining a pre-qualification letter from a mortgage lender, and eventually comparing loan estimates.
One of the first things home buyers usually need to do before getting too caught up in their real estate search is to check their credit score. Your credit report, which is basically a detailed profile of your credit history, plays a major role in your ability to get approved for a mortgage and obtain favorable interest rates. Consumers are entitled to get a free copy of their credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Before applying for a mortgage, it's highly recommended that you check the accuracy of your credit report. If it contains mistakes, inaccuracies, or obsolete information, that could affect your ability to get a mortgage -- or obtain favorable interest rates and terms. Fortunately, errors can be disputed and corrected by the appropriate credit reporting company.
The Impact of Your Credit Score
The most widely used scoring system to determine a borrower's ability (and willingness) to stay current on loan payments is called a "FICO score." Depending on your credit history and bill paying habits, your FICO score can range from a low of 300 to a high of 850. If you're wondering how your FICO score stacks up against other homebuyers and consumers in the U.S., the median FICO score was recently in the neighborhood of 721 (although that number fluctuates). That means 50% of borrowers are above that score and 50% fall below that mark.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the best mortgage interest rates are generally offered to borrowers who have earned FICO scores in the mid- to high 700s. If your credit score falls between the high 600s and the low 700s, the interest rates available to you may be somewhat higher.
Those who are saddled with a credit rating below the mid 600s may have difficulty getting approved for a mortgage. If you're in that situation, your real estate agent or loan officer may suggest applying for an FHA loan rather that a conventional loan. Although FHA loans can be more expensive, the standards for getting approved are more lenient. These government regulated and insured loans also allow for a more affordable down payment of as little as 3.5 percent, as oppose to the "typical" down payment of between 10 and 15 percent.
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