IS HANDS-FREE ACTUALLY SAFER?

handsfree

IS HANDS-FREE ACTUALLY SAFER?

A recent poll by the National Safety Council showed that 80 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that using a hands-free device while driving is safer than using a handheld device.

The truth—according to more than 30 studies—is that hands-free devices are no safer, because the brain remains distracted when you’re having a phone conversation.

“While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it’s just not true,” said David Teater, senior director of Transportation Initiatives at the National Safety Council. “The problem is the brain does not truly multi-task.”

Talking on a handheld device while driving has been banned in 12 states, but there are no bans on hands-free devices, so it’s easy to understand why drivers may be confused about the risks.

For your own safety, try to avoid talking on the phone while driving, regardless of whether it’s handheld or hands-free.

Top 5 Foreclosure Tips

My Top 5 Foreclosure Tips

5 top tips for buying foreclosures, foreclosure power search, foreclosure search, foreclosure, foreclosures, biloxi foreclosures, gulfport foreclosures, long beach foreclosures, ocean springs foreclosures, gautier foreclosures, st martin foreclosures, woolmarket foreclosures, north biloxi foreclosures, diberville foreclosures, pass christian foreclosures, bay st louis foreclosures, waveland foreclosures, diamondhead foreclosures, harrison county foreclosures, hancock county foreclosures, jackson county foreclosures, foreclosures for sale, foreclosure homesWe’ll give you 5 Top Tips in buying it right!  Foreclosures can be a tricky purchase due to several issues that can arise in the home buying process.  With the last few years giving us more foreclosures on the market than usual, everyone is looking for a great deal.  You can get a deal and sometimes a steal, if you play your cards right.

The big lure of foreclosures is the price… but it comes at a cost.  All bank owned properties are sold “AS IS” with no seller’s disclosure of the property and most of the time sold granting the buyer a Special Warranty Deed, not a General Warranty Deed.

 

1.) Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

foreclosure home mortgage approvalGetting pre-approved for a mortgage is a huge advantage over other foreclosure buyers you may be competing against.  Having a pre-approval letter to submit with your offer significantly increases your odds with the bank’s opinion of you.  It says you can actually go through with what you are claiming in your offer.  Banks mostly require a pre-approval letter to be submitted and if you already have this done, you can make the offer on the spot… not having to wait to get pre-approved.

2.) Get a Home Inspection

get a home inspection when buying a foreclosure in biloxi, gulfport, ocean springs, gautier, pascagoula, long beach, pass christianWhen buying a foreclosure, getting a home inspection is a must and can be worth its weight in gold!  A good home inspector can give you insight into a home that even the seller wouldn’t be aware of most times.  Over time, a home can fall into disrepair in areas that can’t be seen.  Home inspectors have a huge checklist to go through from checking the attic vents for leaks to checking the plumbing connections under the kitchen sink.  They can give you a very detailed report with pictures of concerned issues which is very helpful in making an offer. Another big reason you want a home inspector is to check for Chinese drywall.  This is still a big issue today since a lot of homes had drywall repairs after Hurricane Katrina.  Chinese drywall can be very harmful to people and pets… and the house suffers as well.

3.) Check With the Home Owner’s Association (HOA)

home owners association, hoa, hoa dues, foreclosures in biloxi gulfport ocean springs mississippiMore times than most, buyers do not check with the Home Owner’s Association before putting in an offer.  Not only do you want to see if the past property owners paid their HOA dues which may be due, you want to ask people in the HOA about the neighborhood and the property if they know of any past issues. When dealing with a bank foreclosure, the bank doesn’t have any knowledge of the property’s history and they are exempt from filling out a “Property Condition Disclosure Statement”.  Another thing you want to get from the HOA (if there is one), is to get a copy of the restrictive covenants. This way, you won’t be surprised after you move in that you can’t erect a fence or have pets.

4.) Read the Fine Print

Read the fine print when buying a foreclosure home in biloxi gulfport ocean springs long beach pass christian pascagoula mississippiBefore putting in an offer on a bank owned foreclosure, you will have to sign off on the bank’s disclosure package.  Sometimes it can be 50-60 pages of fine print… some pertaining to you on this specific property, some not.  The reason there are so many pages is because of so many different types of properties and issues the banks have had when foreclosing on properties across the United States.  Here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we don’t have to worry much about snow or basements, but some of the disclosures you may have to sign could pertain to these.  When I say “have to sign”, I mean it.  All banks will not accept an offer on any of their foreclosures without having the paperwork on their side.  This is what you are giving up for price… some liability.  I say “some liability” because if you do what we are saying here, your liability will be reduced.

5.) Find Out Why It Was Foreclosed

Find out why a home was foreclosed on or not selling before you buy a foreclosure in biloxi, gulfport, ocean springs, pascagoula, gautier, pass christian, long beach, diamondhead, mississippi gulf coastIf the house was foreclosed… why?  Was it the layout?  Was it not priced correctly?  Was it listed previously?  If it was listed, compare the old and current listings to see if you can see any discrepancies. We have an article on this site under the “Selling” tab at the top of this page named “Looking to Sell?  Here’s the Top 5 Reasons Why It May Not”.  Read this article to see why this house didn’t sell.  It could have been the location, functionality or condition.  Whatever it was… you want to try to figure it out before you make an offer, not after you move in.  If you need to sell the home later, you want to be able to without surprises. The more you do now, the better off you will be!

INSTANT HOME MAKEOVER

INSTANT HOME MAKEOVER

Not every home makeover has to be a major project that lasts days, weeks, or even months. There are a ton of quick touch-ups and fixes that can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your home, even though you can finish the project in less than an hour.

mailbox

A new mailbox: Chances are you’re still using the same mailbox that came with your home. But giving your mailbox a fresh coat of paint—or even replacing it entirely—is pretty painless, and it instantly upgrades your home’s curb appeal.

mailbox

Declutter: Less is usually more. Go through your home and consider all the stuff that you haven’t used in years. If it’s no longer serving a purpose, sell it, donate it, or throw it away.

declutter

New hardware for your drawers: Painting kitchen and bathroom cabinets can be a big undertaking—drop cloths, tape, washing brushes and rollers, etc. But you can change out your drawer hardware in just a few minutes—all you have to do is pick out the new fixtures.

drawer pulls

DON’T BE A VICTIM: TRIM THOSE SHRUBS

overgrown shrubs

DON’T BE A VICTIM: TRIM THOSE SHRUBS

Crime prevention studies show that burglarized homes have less visual access (overgrown shrubs) than their neighbors who were not burglarized.

Burglars seek to victimize homes with easy access in and out, and most importantly, they don’t want to be seen.overgrown shrubs

A common thread in burglaries are homes with overgrown trees and shrubbery.

When walkways and windows are covered in green they may look great to you, but they look like “opportunity” to the would-be burglar.

When looking at your home from the street, can you see all access points clearly and easily? If not, make sure you trim the green and keep you and your family safe.shrubs

PHRASES TO AVOID WHEN YOU’RE BUYING A HOME!

three things not to say

AVOID THESE PHRASES WHEN YOU’RE BUYING A HOME!

Sometimes you need to keep a poker face when you’re buying a home. It’s not in your best interest to be totally candid with the seller and listing agent when you’re considering a home. Here a few things that are better left unsaid until you are along with your buyer’s agent OUTSIDE of the home and property.  Even if the Seller or the listing agent is not there, it’s always best to not say anything about the home until you are away.  Many of the security systems nowadays have audio AND video capabilities and the home owners COULD be watching and listening  while you tour their house.

“This is at the top end of our budget”: Don’t let the listing agent know that a home is at the top of your budget. You want to keep all the bargaining chips you can, and letting the seller know your budget can hurt you when it comes time to negotiate.

“I hate the paint”: Or furniture. Or cabinets. Or any of the decor. No matter how hideous the wallpaper in the kitchen is, take care not to insult the seller’s taste. If they’re considering multiple offers, you don’t want to be the buyer that offended the seller!

“We can’t wait to renovate”: Customization is one of the big perks of homeownership, but it’s best to keep your renovation plans quiet for the moment. The seller may have a lot of memories in the home, and may not appreciate your plans to immediately tear down some walls.

REFINANCING: THE RIGHT MOVE?

refinance

REFINANCING: THE RIGHT MOVE?

If you have an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, consider these factors about refinancing.

The federal reserve recently raised interest rates, and if you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), it may be a good time to consider refinancing your home. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether your should refinance, so here are a few of the main considerations.

How long does your introductory rate last?
Most ARMs have a fixed rate for the beginning of the mortgage. This is an introductory period (usually 3-10 years) when your rate will remain constant before it can be adjusted. If you have several years left in your introductory period, you can monitor interest rates for a while before making a decision. But if the intro rate is ending soon, it’s a great time to explore refinancing at a fixed rate.

How long are you staying?
If you plan to sell your home soon—especially if you’re still on a fixed introductory rate—there’s not much motivation to refinance. But if you’ll be at your home indefinitely, you should consider your refinancing options. You could eliminate the stress of not knowing what your future mortgage rate and payments will be.

What’s your loan balance?
The change in your mortgage payment will of course be determined in part by your remaining balance. If you owe $100,000-$200,000, a new interest rate may not greatly affect your monthly payment. On the other hand, if you owe $500,000, a change in interest rate could lead to a much higher payment.

Other factors
The previous items are just a few of the factors that should go into a decision about refinancing. Changes in income and your current credit score should also be considered, so be sure to weigh your options and make an educated decision.

FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE US HAPPY WITH OUR HOMES

happyhome

 5 THINGS THAT MAKE US HAPPY WITH OUR HOMES

According to a recent survey conducted by houzz.com, here are five things that consistently make people happy with their homes.

  1. Big windows and comfortable furniture: Nearly 75 percent of respondents listed these two items as major difference-makers. It’s a no-brainer—people like lots of light and a good place to relax.
  2. A big-screen TV: This is more likely to be a key feature for men than women. 40 percent of men said having a big-screen TV makes them happy with their homes, compared to just 17 percent of women.
  3. Overall design and layout: 87 percent of the 6,000 people surveyed said the design of the home is a major contributor to overall happiness. If you’re unhappy with your home and there’s a project you’ve been wanting to tackle, get to it!
  4. Home cookin’: 39 percent of respondents said the scent of good cooking or baking made them happiest. Clearly, it helps to have a capable chef around the house!
  5. Keep it tidy: 72 percent of homeowners said they’re happiest when their houses are clean and well-organized. If you want to be happier with your home, try having a place for everything, and put everything in its place.

WHICH FEATURES ARE MILLENNIALS LOOKING FOR IN A HOME?

millenials

WHICH FEATURES ARE MILLENNIALS LOOKING FOR IN A HOME?

Millennials are the second-largest segment of home buyers, ranking behind only baby boomers, according to the National Association of Realtors.  Here are five features that tend to entice millennials who are looking to buy.

An up-to-date kitchen and bath
Younger buyers often have limited funds for renovations, so it’s important that they have functional and inviting bathroom and kitchen spaces from the very start.

An open floor plan
Having a formal dining room isn’t of particular importance to millennials, in fact, many prefer open spaces with no separation between kitchen, living room, and dining room. An open concept makes it easier to entertain everyone at once.

An office
More and more jobs are offering work-from-home options, and there are also plenty of freelancers and telecommuters among millennials. A dedicated space for getting some work done can be a key attraction.

Friendly location
With gas prices rising, many millennials prefer walking, biking, or public transit for their commutes. A great location is key.

Energy savings
Millennials are often more conscious of energy conservation and efficiency. Energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient windows, and quality insulation can make a huge difference.

THINKING OF SELLING?

time to sell

NOW MAY BE THE TIME.

Low inventory is a problem in many markets throughout the country. In a healthy market a particular neighborhood would have six months of inventory. Many neighborhoods are seeing inventory as low as one or two months. This means home buyers are not finding the homes they are looking for.

Eric Sachs, President and Co-founder of BreakthroughBroker.com, said he speaks with Realtors throughout the country, and the main concern voiced by Realtors is that there are not enough listings.

One agent told of a recent story where a new listing had 19 offers on the first day listed. As the spring selling season ends, now is the time to list if you have thought about selling in the past or may want to sell in the future. Call your trusted real estate advisor to see if you live in a low inventory area.

5 MYTHS ABOUT SUN SAFETY

sun-safety-myths

5 MYTHS ABOUT SUN SAFETY

The warm weather is here, and it’s the perfect time of year to get outside and have some fun with your family and friends. But it’s also important to protect your skin. Here are five common myths about sun safety.

Myth No. 1: It’s fine to tan as long as you don’t burn.
A sunburn is certainly more harmful than a simple tan, but any extended exposure to the sun can be harmful, regardless of your skin tone.

Myth No. 2: An umbrella will completely protect you from the sun.
Though an umbrella will go a long way toward keeping your skin safe during a day at the beach, the sand still reflects 17 percent of UV radiation. Wear sunscreen in addition to staying in the shade.

Myth No. 3: You don’t need sunscreen on overcast days.
False! About 80 percent of the sun’s rays still pass through on cloudy days, so you still need sunscreen.

Myth No. 4: The sun can’t pass through windows.
Glass filters out some UV rays, but not all. Be especially cautious if you or your passengers are exposed to the sun on a long car ride.

Myth No. 5: You need sun exposure to avoid vitamin D deficiency.
Extended exposure isn’t necessary—your body will get enough vitamin D from food, multivitamins, and minimal time in the sun.