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Moving This Winter? Here Are 5 Relocation Tips That Will Help Ease the Stress of Moving
By Peta-Gay
December 2, 2015

Moving is not exactly enjoyable at any time of the year, but it can be especially stressful in the winter. Moving all of your items when it is snowing and blowing outside makes things a lot tougher. However, if you prepare accordingly and have the right attitude, you'll find that your move will go much smoother. Here are five relocation tips that will help ease the stress of a move.

Do not Pack Your Winter Supplies

When you are moving in the wintertime, you should keep your winter supplies, such as a snow shovel and salt, in the car with you. For example, let's say you get to your new place and there is a lot of snow on the ground. If you have your shovel nearby, you can dig out a path from the driveway to the front door. If you see ice on the ground, you can sprinkle salt on it to prevent falling and hurting yourself.

Pay Attention to the Weather

It is a good idea to watch the weather reports the day of your move. If they are predicting a big snowstorm or other dangerous conditions, it may just be best to reschedule your move to a different day.

Hire Movers

Hiring movers will cost some extra money, but it will be well worth it. If you hire professional movers to move your belongings, you will not have to worry about carrying heavy furniture in the snow and ice. They have the experience to get your items moved in a timely manner.

Get Your Car Serviced

If you are moving a long distance, you should get your car serviced beforehand. Take it to a trusted mechanic and have him check your tires and brakes. If you let a professional look at your car before your move, you will be less likely to break down on the road.

Protect Your Entryways

When you move in the winter, you can bring in a lot of snow and salt from the outside, damaging your floors. That is why you should place cardboard or plastic on your flooring before you start the moving process. It will prevent snow, ice and other particles from ruining your floors.

Moving during the winter is not exactly pleasant, but it does not have to be impossible. If you follow these helpful tips, you will have a much easier move. If you have any more questions, you should contact a trusted real estate professional today.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

You Ask, We Answer: Four Reasons Why Selling a Condo is Different Than Selling a House
By Peta-Gay
December 3, 2015

Listing a property is a delicate dance. From the initial marketing to the final price negotiations, everything needs to be tailored to the type of home being sold. However, because of their main differences, this process can look very different when selling a condo versus selling a house.

Reason #1: The Homeowners Association or HOA

As all condo owners will know very well, almost all condos come with some type of HOA, or homeowners association.

The HOA generally handles common areas like swimming pools, the exterior of the building, and landscaping. Sometimes, the HOA is also responsible for holding social events throughout the year.

However, all of this comes at a few costs. The first is money; a HOA cannot operate or pay necessary expenses without charging residents a monthly fee. The second is freedom; most HOAs have rules that need to be followed.

When selling a condo, potential buyers will balance the costs of each HOA with the benefits.

Reason #2: Real Estate Investors

When selling a condo, it's reasonable to expect a larger number of investors considering the property than when selling a home. After all, renting out condos is a big business.

As a result, selling a condo could mean a faster closing, a cash offer, or even competing bids if the condo is on prime property.

Reason #3: The Type of Buyer

Different types of buyers look at a condo versus a home. For starters, condos are generally smaller, don't have yards, have all landscaping handled professionally, and frequently come with amenities like a swimming pool or fitness center.

While a good majority of potential buyers with children would love a swimming pool with zero maintenance, they aren't willing to make the trade for a smaller space. This means that when selling a condo, potential buyers will generally be single adults, newly married couples, or retired professionals looking to downgrade to an easier property.

Reason #4: Location, Location, Location

Every real estate agent knows that one factor, above all others, is most important when selling a property: location. Being close to town versus far away from traffic, near downtown excitement versus in a quiet neighborhood, or near shopping centers versus on the edge of nowhere all come into play for a property's value and desirability.

Generally speaking, condos tend to be closer to urban areas, shopping, and entertainment. This also means that their price per square foot is frequently higher. As a result, owners looking to sell their condo should carefully consult with their trusted real estate agent about the best way to market their property and a fair listing price.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Worried About Mortgage Rates Going Up? 3 Steps to Prepare Yourself Financially
By Peta-Gay
December 1, 2015

Mortgage rates have been at record lows for quite some time, making it easy for new homebuyers to finance their dream homes. But what comes down will eventually go back up, and with the world economy expected to rebound in 2016, we’re about to start seeing more expensive mortgages.

So what can you do to prepare yourself before mortgage rates start to rise? Here are three strategies that will keep you ahead of the game.

Start Saving More Money Now

If you have a variable rate mortgage, you’ve benefitted from great interest rates that this world won’t see again for quite some time. Hopefully, you’ve taken advantage of this low-interest period to save up some cash. If so, you’re going to be in a great position for when interest rates rise – and if not, you’ll want to start saving as much as you can now to ensure you can weather the storm.

It’s far easier to save money now, with interest rates low, than it will be when your mortgage payment starts to rise. So start squirreling away as much of your paycheck as you can.

Pay Down as Much of Your Principal as Possible

Another great way to prepare for the rise in interest rates is to pay down your principal amount. The total amount of interest you’ll pay goes up when rates go up, but by paying down your principal, you can take a big bite out of your debt before it has a chance to snowball. So pay down as much of your principal as you can afford – it’s easier to pay down interest on a smaller principal amount.

Switch to a Fixed Rate Mortgage

One of the best ways to take advantage of low rates and ensure you get a great deal is to switch your floating rate mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage. Locking in your low interest rate with a fixed rate mortgage means you’ll pay less interest over the term of the loan, but it also means you’ll only have a set amount of time to pay your mortgage in full. If you’re in a position to predict when you can pay back your mortgage, you’ll save a lot of money by locking in your low rate.

Mortgage rates haven’t been this low in a long time, and likely won’t be this low again for many years to come. That’s why, if you’re a homeowner, you’ll want to do everything you can to prepare for higher interest rates before they get here.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Winter Staging: How to Make Your Home Look Beautiful when It's Miserable Outside
By Peta-Gay
December 14, 2015

When the weather outside is frightful, you may feel anything but delightful if you're hoping to attract potential homebuyers. When you're staging a home for sale, you want to make it as appealing as possible -- especially during the winter months. Even if the outdoors aren't exactly in your favor, you can still create an unforgettable interior that will leave everyone impressed and longing for a second look.

Embrace The Season

Winter has an allure all its own, so take advantage of that when deciding on your staged decor. Catch the seasonal spirit and place festive accents throughout the home like Christmas trees, ornaments and holiday vignettes. This evokes a pleasing "home for the holidays" feel and will delight anyone who steps foot into your house.

Although there are many possibilities for wintertime decorations, be sure your choices are tasteful, but not overdone. Too many blinking lights or faux wreaths can look tacky, so use your best judgment as you decorate. The age-old adage, "less is more" rings quite true in this scenario.

Keep It Clean

In the colder months, it's all too easy to drag the outdoors in. If you live in an area prone to snow, you're no stranger to the inevitable mess brought on by a winter storm. Keep entryways clean and clutter-free, and provide a sturdy mat on which visitors can wipe their shoes. Vacuum up any dirt or residue and give the area a quick tidying-up with a sweeper-mop before showings.

Warm It Up

Few things are more welcoming than a warm, cozy home. Just as you layer your clothing in the winter, try applying the same concept to your furniture with extra throw pillows and blankets. Create an inviting mood with scented candles placed tastefully around the home. Choose rich scents like cinnamon and vanilla that fill the air without being overpowering.

If you have a fireplace, take the opportunity to fire it up and enjoy the crackling ambiance. Visitors will be sure to envision themselves huddled around the blaze on a cold winter's night -- and that's just what you want them to do.

If you need additional tips for staging a home during the winter, an experienced real estate agent can make an excellent resource. Many will be happy to come to your home and offer suggestions to ensure you get the best possible results.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Closing Paperwork: How to Read and Understand the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure Statement
By Peta-Gay
December 15, 2015

When you close on a home purchase, you can expect to receive a great deal of paperwork. If you applied for your mortgage before October 3, 2015, one important document you'll be given is the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure. This disclosure form plainly lays out your upfront and long-term mortgage costs, making it easy to see what you'll need to pay and when.

However, these disclosure documents aren't always easy to read. Here's what you need to know about your Truth-In-Lending Disclosure and the various terms contained inside it.

Annual Percentage Rate: Not Just Interest

The annual percentage rate resembles an interest rate, but in fact, it's higher. The APR is calculated based on a combination of the interest you'll pay over the life of the mortgage as well as prepaid finance charges in order to give you a good idea of what it will actually cost per year to carry the loan.

The APR includes the loan origination fee, the discount fee, points, tax service fees, the mortgage broker fee, the assumption fee, mortgage insurance premiums, closing fees, and more.

Finance Charges: Fees You Can Expect To Pay

The finance charges are the total dollar amount you'll expect to pay over the course of the mortgage in the form of interest, insurance premiums, and prepaid charges. Several of the fees you'll need to pay may not be included in your finance charges. This figure will be based on the assumption that your mortgage loan continues through to the end of its term without any prepayments, refinances, or additional payments.

Special Features: Key Terms To Look For

Your Truth-in-Lending disclosure statement will also include certain special terms and features specific to your loan that you'll want to watch for. If you applied for a variable rate mortgage, the disclosure will state that your interest rate can change and affect the APR. It will also discuss the final balloon payment, if your loan requires one.

Your TILA statement will also tell you if your mortgage has a demand feature – a clause that can require you to pay the balance of the mortgage early if you violate the terms.

The Truth-in-Lending disclosure statement is a critical document that plainly outlines the terms of your mortgage, making it a document you'll want to refer to if inconsistencies arise. By knowing how to read a TILA statement, you'll be able to fully understand your mortgage terms and determine whether any key terms have changed between mortgage initiation and closing. Talk to your local mortgage professional today to learn more about what a TILA contains.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com