Adjusting Pets to Your New Home

Moving to a new home can be stressful for every member of the family, including the Brown Lab Ballbeloved family pets.  Don’t forget about their wants and needs during this hectic time, it can be rough on them too.

Transitioning to new surroundings is difficult for many pets.  The stress and worry can cause out of character behavior, as well as lowered immune responses.  Here are a few suggestions to help keep them happy and healthy!

  • Keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible.  Be consistent with feedings, walks, playtime, and bedtime.  Keep accommodations consistent; if your dog is used to using a doggy door, install one in your new home right away.  If your cat likes outdoor time, arrange for it, using a leash initially for safety and to prevent him from running away.
  • If you will be traveling long distances with your pet, plan on making frequent stops so they can stretch, eat, and for bathroom breaks.  Confirm that hotels you will be staying in allow pets.  Make sure they are secured safely in your vehicle using either crates or restraining harnesses.  Practice on short trips, before moving day, to help them become familiar with traveling in the car if they aren’t accustomed to it.  For fish or smaller pets, visit a local pet store for suggestions on transporting them.
  • Bring along favorites; this is not a good time to introduce new items.  Bring your pet’s favorite bed, toys, food and water dishes, treats, and other familiar items.  Put them in places that are similar to your previous home.  This helps your pet feel more in control and at home more quickly.
  • If you are moving out of the area, visit your Vet to make sure your pet is current with all vaccines and treatments, to refill prescriptions, and maybe even consider micro-chipping your pet.  Moving is a common time for pets to get lost.  Obtain an updated copy of your pet’s medical records as well.  Since your Vet is familiar with your pet, ask for their advice on making this move easier.
  • Get a new pet ID tag as soon as you know your new address and phone number.  This improves your pet’s chances of getting back home if they take off.  Do this before traveling should they decide to wander off at a rest stop.  Having a recent photo of your pet is also a good idea.
  • Be patient while your pet sniffs around their new digs.  Let them explore.  If they decide to hide for a little while, this is ok, as long as they know where the litter box or doggy door is located.  Their behavior may change for a little while, including eating, barking, pacing, or being protective.  They will need time to adjust, just as you do.  If bad behavior persists, talk to a professional.
  • Find a dog park, local veterinarian, and other pet resources in your new hometown to aid in the transition.

Be sure you give your pet the attention they are used to and maybe even a little extra during this tough time!

Moving in to our out of Maryland or Pennsylvania? Take a look at our online relocation guides.

Central Pennsylvania Relocation Guide
Berks / Schuylkill Haven Pennsylvania Relocation Guide

Baltimore Maryland Relocation Guide

Metro DC Relocation Guide

Adjusting Pets to Your New Home

How to Prepare for Selling in the Spring Market

If you are planning on putting your home on the market, don’t wait around for the April showers to bring May flowers before you get ready to sell. Preparing a few months in advance allows for an easier selling experience. Spring is an extremely busy season for real estate; make sure you stay ahead of the crowd by being proactive now.

 shutterstock_173866832

Remove the Clutter

Model homes and staged open houses have something in common; they are both clutter free. Even though everyone has clutter, when buyers walk through a home they want to be able to envision themselves living there with their own things. That is why it is extremely important to keep your house as neat as possible once your home is on the market. A simple way to make this task easier is to decrease the current amount of clutter you have now. For example, pack away items that are collecting dust and knick-knacks that are barely used.

Break out the Cardboard and Tape

Even though you might not be moving for a few months, you will eventually have to, so you might as well get a head start on the process. You don’t have to pack away your entire house, organize items in your storage closets, basements…etc., and determine what you want to sell, toss and keep. Once you box up these items, certain spaces/rooms will look larger and more organized when it comes time to show your house.

Improve Your Home

You should consider minor repairs and improvements that will give your home a fresh look for prospective buyers. Repair little things such as replacing the caulk/grout in your bathroom, old doorknobs, doorbell, outdated fans and light fixtures. Even painting your front door and trim will add curb appeal to your home.

Interview a Real Estate Agent

When choosing a Real Estate Agent to represent your home, your decision should be based on recommendations, experience, compatibility, trust and instinct. Using the right listing agent will make a significance difference in how quickly your house is on the market. Ask your friends to recommend their previous Realtors and interview agents to see which one is the right fit for selling the type of home you live in; price range and location.

If you are planning on selling your home now or in the next few months, then contact your local Homesale Agent for buyer/seller help. For more real estate information, please visit our Homesale website.

How to Prepare for Selling in the Spring Market

Closing the door on 2014

house

Yesterday, S&P Dow Jones Indices released the latest results for the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices. The index tracks home prices nationwide and in 20 major cities.

There are two composites conducted; 10-City and 20-City. Both of the composites saw year-over-year declines in October compared to September. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded prices grew 4.6% in October 2014 compared to October 2013. Although this is the slowest paced price growth since September 2012, many economists say it is healthier for buyers and sellers than the aggressive growth (double-digit) growth last year at this time.

From September to October housing prices scantily climbed to 0.7% (after adjustments). The results from the 20-City composite reveal that San Francisco and Tampa, Fla were the strongest gains, and Chicago and Cleveland were the weakest gains. Even though the price gains have been gradually slowing since the beginning of 2014, David M. Blitzer, chairman of Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, noted that the October numbers could be a positive change in direction. “After a long period when home prices rose, but at a slower pace with each passing month, we are seeing hints that prices could end 2014 on a strong note and accelerate into 2015,” stated Blitzer.

Stan Humphries, Zillow’s Chief Economist, commented on the report, “Housing definitely came back to earth over the second half of 2014, and we welcome and expect to see more of the same as we look ahead at 2015.” Humphries also stated, “A slower-moving housing market is inherently more stable, more balanced between buyers and sellers and more sustainable over the long-term. We’re ending 2014 on a good note, and this momentum will continue.”

If you are planning on moving or know of someone who is thinking about moving in 2015, then contact your local Homesale Agent for buyer/seller help. For more real estate information, please visit our Homesale website.

 

References: RIS Media, Forbes
Closing the door on 2014

7 Things to Avoid Before Purchasing a Home

 

If you have been approved for a mortgage for your next home, you might be assuming you can breathe easy now and concentrate on packing. Not quite yet though.mortgage

While most of your hard work of building a good credit profile and gathering savings for a down payment and closing costs is behind you, it’s important to remember that the lender will recheck your credit just prior to your settlement date and will also need confirm a few details such as your place of employment to make sure nothing has changed.

That’s the key phrase—“nothing has changed.” You will want to maintain the same credit profile you had for the loan approval until your mortgage paperwork is completely signed.

Source: money.aol.co.uk

 

Avoid the following actions to ensure a smooth settlement:

 

1. Don’t apply for new credit: It may seem natural to apply for a credit card at a home improvement store or a furniture store when you are about to become a homeowner. It’s almost become cliché in the mortgage industry, but the warning still bears repeating: Don’t buy a truckload of furniture until after your loan closes. Applying for credit can lower your credit score. Not only will you lose a few points because of a credit inquiry, but if you are approved for new credit, a lender may worry that you will spend up to your new credit limit and then default on your loan.  If you absolutely need to obtain new credit or accrue debt before closing, talk with your loan officer as soon as possible.

 

2. Don’t close any credit accounts:You may be feeling that this is a good time to get your financial house in order by closing unused credit accounts or transferring your debt to a new credit card with a zero-interest balance transfer offer. While that’s a smart move financially, it’s a bad one for your credit score because you lose points when you have a higher usage of debt compared to your limit on one credit card and to your overall credit availability. Wait until your closing is complete before you make these changes. 

 

3. Don’t shuffle around your dollars & cents:Your lender will need the most recent bank statements before you go to settlement, so if you have any unusual deposits you will need to provide complete documentation of where the money came from. If possible, it’s best to move the cash you will need for your home purchase into one account before you apply for a mortgage. If not, make sure you have complete and accurate records readily available.

 

4. Don’t increase your debts:In addition to your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio is extremely important to a loan approval. If you take on more debt you could be in danger of going above the maximum acceptable debt-to-income ratio. Along with increasing your debts, do not co-sign on a loan. It is especially risky during the mortgage lending process since you will be financially liable for someone else’s debt.

 

5. Don’t skip a payment or make a late payment: One of the most important elements of your credit score is your history of on-time in-full payments. Payment history comprises about a third of your credit score. 

One solitary 30-day late payment can clip 60 to 110 points from your credit score. Maybe not a huge deal if you had an 800 score, right? Possibly. However, if that 30-day late payment is a mortgage or rent payment, some lenders will boot your application altogether. Many will require at least 12 consecutive months of on-time payments in order to qualify for a home loan. So don’t get so caught up in your move that you forget to keep up with paying basic bills.

 

6. Don’t buy a car: You may be feeling that a new car would be a nice addition to the driveway of your new home. Resist that feeling. Even if you can easily afford a new car, the depletion of your savings or the addition of a new car loan could derail your mortgage application. Wait until after you have moved to switch to a new car.

 

7. Don’t change jobs if you can help it: While a job change could mean a raise or a path to a better future, it could also delay your settlement. Your lender needs to verify employment and will need paystubs to prove your new income before your loan can go to settlement. Lenders crave stable, reliable income that’s likely to continue.

Lenders are likely to slam on the brakes if you take a new job in a different field, or if you decide to start your own business. Or even if you get a promotion but see some or all of your income shift to a commission basis.

The bottom line: Any change to your employment is significant. Keep your loan officer in the loop, and ask questions when in doubt. The last thing you want is to waste time and money on a home loan you have little chance in getting approval.

 

*****In other words, no matter how hard it is at this exciting time, it’s better to do nothing than to do anything.

 

Sources: Realtor.com & Yahoo.com
7 Things to Avoid Before Purchasing a Home

Open Houses: Are you asking the right questions?

 

open house2

open house

Are you in the Market for a New Home?

If so, then it’s a good idea to find yourself a buyer’s agent.  A buyer’s agent will always look out for your best interests and will provide you with the most up-to-date information about homes that fit your criteria.  However, you’ll still want to be sure to ask the right questions and take the right precautions while attending an open house, let alone making an offer to purchase.  If you play your cards rights, an open house can tell you a lot more about a property than its floor plan or what the current residents consider to be “clean”. The key is asking the right questions, or making sure your agent is asking them for you.

To help you determine if the house you are viewing has the potential to become your home; here are some items (exterior and interior) you should be asking questions about….

 

Roof:  A leaky chimney can cause all types of problems, which can be costly to repair. Leaks around the chimney are not always evident right away, but they can cause serious structural damage if ignored. When moisture enters the roofing, attic, and possibly the ceiling areas, it causes wood rot, roof damage and dry wall damage.  Therefore you’ll want to ask; if/ when the roof was replaced, what kind of shingles are on the roof and how many layers of shingles. You’ll also want to look for flashing around the chimney if there is one.

 chimneySource: http://www.aardvarkair.com/chimney-services/

 

Gutters: Where the downpipes are located, where they drain to, and how far away they drain from the home (should be about 4-5 feet depending on drainage and terrain).

 

 

Foundation: What kind of material is used (stone, block, poured concrete)? Look for wetness, discoloration on the foundation walls, as well as any support beams that might indicate previous standing water.  Also look to see how straight the walls are; there should not be any bowing or movement.

foundationSource: http://foundationrepairshop.com/


Plumbing:  (in basement, under sinks in kitchen and bathroom) check the water pressure; look for discoloration from minerals in the water (“hard” water), look for wetness or dampness, leaks.

 

 

Heating:  You’ll want to know the energy source for the heating system and how long ago it was installed. You might even be able to find out the sellers’ average monthly heating cost.  During the home inspection they should test the heat output to make sure the entire house is getting heat and there are no blockages.  Check for multiple thermostats and whether the home is split into zones for individual temperature control.

 

 

Electrical: Make sure you know where the circuit breakers are located; you’ll want at least 150 to 200 amps.  The electrical box should be neat and the wires should be in good condition (no fraying, striped wires, etc.).  Also, there should be electrical collars (little fittings that keep the wire from shifting) at the entrance of each and every wire to the box (not necessarily a big deal, but it indicates poor work and potential electrical problems)

circuit breakerSource: http://completeelectrical.biz/electricity-101-what-is-a-circuit-breaker/

 

 

Floors and Ceilings: Check ceilings for water marks or discoloration.  Check floors for bowing or movement as you walk (indicates poor support from the floor below).  Ask if/when the floors were replaced?

bowingSource: http://www.wikihow.com/Locate-a-Leak-and-Repair-a-Buckled-Wood-Floor

 

 

Doors and Windows: Check windows and doors, specifically how well they seal to the outside. Even though a door may close, it may not seal tight enough to keep your heat inside and the cold air out.

 

 

***Other things to consider are gas/oil leases for the property, and any right-of-ways on the property or to get to the property.  You’ll also want to check ceiling heights on each level and in the basement, as well as door heights and widths.

Open Houses: Are you asking the right questions?

Moving Day Etiquette, Mind Your Manners

blog feb 5Moving is a hassle, no matter how much you pack, plan, and prepare for the big day.  You will most likely hit a few bumps along the way!  It is highly recommended that you use a checklist to help you survive this arduous task.

Aside from being organized for the actual move, you also need to take into consideration those around you who will also be affected that day.  Like your mother always said, “mind your manners”.  Here are some etiquette guidelines:

Time of Day – The most recommended moving time slot is between 9am and 4pm on a weekday if possible.  During this time most neighbors will be away at work, therefore reducing any inconvenience to them.  Also remember to keep noise level low; do not allow movers to blare music from the moving van, etc.

Last Impression – Make sure the last moments spent in your old neighborhood are good ones.  Be careful not to block driveways and streets with vehicles or furniture.  Keep an eye on the moving crew; some will take short cuts they shouldn’t, through yards, flower beds, etc.  Be considerate of others!

First Impression – The same consideration described above should also be given to your new neighbors!  If you see that the moving truck will be blocking a neighbor’s access, knock on the door, introduce yourself, and explain the situation to them.  Apologize in advance for any inconvenience!  Be readily available if something needs to be moved.

Help – Don’t just sit around and watch or give orders.  Roll up your sleeves and help out, even if you have paid movers.  You can always start unpacking boxes in your new home, be busy!

Refreshments – Offer some basic refreshments to your trusty “crew”, whether it be a group of hired pros or your family and friends.  Provide some snacks, as well as some refreshing bottles of water and sodas; consider offering coffee or hot chocolate if you are moving during colder weather.

Clean up – Once your old home is vacant, take time to clean up any trash, vacuum, dust, and leave it in presentable condition.  Also make a trip around the exterior, cleaning up any debris left behind from the move.  The same holds true for your new home keep an eye out for trash or debris that may be left outside.  Clean it up immediately so your neighbors don’t have to.  Also try to avoid leaving a large trash pile by the curb for pick up. Instead, make a trip to the dump to dispose of these items.

Pets – If possible, take them to the home of a friend or family member, vet, or pet daycare.  If not possible, keep them comfortable in a room away from the noise and commotion.  Pets can become agitated and noisy during a move.  The risk of them getting out and getting lost is also higher during a move.

Thank you – Don’t forget to tip and say “thank you”.  For paid movers it is generally 5% of the total bill.  If using family and friends, show your gratitude by buying a few pizzas for dinner and saying thanks.  People like to feel appreciated.

How you handle yourself on moving day goes a long way in determining what type of relationship you will have with your new neighbors.  Make sure you get started on the right foot!

Moving Day Etiquette, Mind Your Manners

INFOGRAPHIC – Confidence in the Market Jumps Sharply

Confidence in the real estate market is on the rise, and millennials still believe in the American Dream. However, there is a knowledge gap that calls for advice and guidance from real estate professionals. Consumers have their eyes on interest rates.

Prudential Real Estate Q2 2013 Consumer Outlook Survey Infographic

Prudential Real Estate, an HSF Affiliates LLC company, and Prudential Homesale Services Group released results of their second quarter Consumer Outlook Survey indicating that millennials are increasingly optimistic about residential real estate. A full 80% of respondents ages 25-34 said their perception of the housing market is “favorable” or “somewhat favorable,” representing a 9 percentage point increase from the Q1 study.

Among all respondents, the national survey also found that confidence in real estate and home values jumped sharply, reaching 83% vs. 77% in Q1 study and 73% at year-end. Confidence is highest in both South and West regions at 84%.

“Young Americans, like the majority of survey participants, are feeling much better about homeownership,” said Earl Lee, chief executive officer of HSF Affiliates LLC and president of Prudential Real Estate. “People are looking optimistically at housing for all right reasons – a place to feel secure, build a future and raise a family.”

Among all respondents, 70% said that finding the right home and community is crucial to family happiness. Millennials were even more emphatic about the emotional side of homeownership: 93% favor a home for “more space for my family,” while only 75% view it as “financial security to borrow against.”

“Consumers are mindful of the challenges faced during the real estate downturn,” added Earl Lee, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC and president of Prudential Real Estate. “Though homeownership makes a solid, long-term investment, a home should never be considered a siding-clad ATM.”

-more-

Mortgage and Rate Watch
On securing a mortgage loan, consumer sentiment continues reflecting the challenges people face through strict underwriting guidelines and credit-score requirements:
•    57% of respondents said securing a mortgage is more difficult than it ever was prior to the market crisis.
•    Nearly 40% said lenders are “overly cautious” when it comes to mortgage financing.
•    Anxiety and fear of losing a real estate opportunity are respondents’ main emotional challenges in seeking home financing.
•    With rates rising recently, 71% said they are encouraged to buy a home now rather than later. It is worth noting that 78% of respondents indicated that homeownership is valuable regardless of shifting rates.

While 65% of respondents said they watch rates closely, there is confusion about recent rate trends. Among those who claim to watch rates closely, 43% believe that rates are holding steady or falling, though rates have risen so far this summer.

The knowledge gap calls for advice and guidance from real estate professionals to help people make the best choices. Of survey respondents, 63% indicated that a good agent can help them make the right choices about the type of home and community they want. And having a trusted source of information and guidance is important to 64%.

“Our survey shows that Americans who are looking to find and purchase a home remain positive about their prospects, and they’re looking to the guidance of quality real estate agents to navigate the entire process,” said Stephen Phillips, chief operating officer for HSF Affiliates LLC. “Home buyers are more informed than ever with their Internet searches and ongoing research; however, there’s a critical need to transform that information into analysis and advice that helps consumers make the best home-buying and selling decisions.”

The full survey details are available upon request. An infographic illustrating survey findings can be seen above.

Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey Methodology
Interviews with 2,600 Americans who are “in the market” to buy or sell a home were conducted online by Edelman Berland in June-July 2013, Respondents are aged 25-64 with a household income of at least $50,000, and either recently bought/sold a home or are considering buying/selling a home. The margin of error is ± 2.0% for all respondents.

INFOGRAPHIC – Confidence in the Market Jumps Sharply