Joe Kapell's Blog
If you’re thinking about buying a home, you’ve probably heard a lot about closing costs. Closing costs can come at a hefty price- up to 5% of your home’s purchase price. When that amount must be paid up front, you need to make sure you have a sizable amount of cash on hand.
There’s many different kinds of fees included in the closing costs. Your lender will give you an estimate of what your closing costs will be, but you may not know what any of the terms that are included actually mean.
The Loan Origination Fee
This is the fee charged by your lender that covers the administrative costs that are associated with creating and processing a mortgage. This could also be called an underwriting fee.
Title Search Fee
This is how much the title insurance company charges to perform research on the title of the home. In some cases, the title may have some issues associated with it, so this research is to protect you. There’s also title fees known as lender’s title insurance and owner’s title insurance. You need to have lender’s title insurance, but owner’s title insurance is completely optional.
Credit Report Fee
This covers the obtaining and review of your credit report.
There’s also a fee when it comes to reviewing your mortgage loan application.
This fee covers the appraiser who is chosen by your mortgage company in order to assess an accurate value of the home.
Tax Monitoring Fee
This fee supports tax research on the home to determine if property taxes have been paid.
The property survey covers all aspects of the property bounds including gas lines, roads, walls, easements, property improvements, and encroachments.
The attorney fees will cover all of the document reviews, the agreements, and the escrow fees.
When you close on a home, your entire first year of home insurance payments must be made at the time of closing. If you have bought your home with an FHA loan, you’ll need to pay mortgage insurance premiums at closing as well. You’ll also need mortgage insurance payments if you put less than a 20% down payment on the home.
Escrow Property Taxes
The lender requires that you pay your property taxes up front. This money will be held in escrow and the taxes paid from there.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes on during the closing of a home. Make sure you have some water handy, it’s going to be a long process! Understanding what will happen at closing when you buy a home can help you to avoid any surprise fees or financial burdens.
If you plan to attend an open house, it usually pays to be prepared. That way, you'll know exactly which questions to ask during an open house and can ensure that you can gain the insights that you need to determine whether a residence is right for you.
Now, let's take a look at three key questions to ask a listing agent during an open house.
1. Why is this home for sale?
Although a home listing provides plenty of information about a residence, it is unlikely to explain why a homeowner is selling his or her house. Thus, you should use an open house to find out exactly why a home is for sale.
In many instances, a listing agent will be honest and forthright about why a homeowner has decided to add his or her residence to the real estate market. Once you receive an answer to your query, you can better understand whether a house matches your expectations.
On the other hand, if a listing agent hesitates or shies away from your question, you should be skeptical. At this point, you should continue to dig for more information about a residence to learn about any potential flaws.
2. Are there any home problems that I need to know about?
An open house enables you to get an up-close look at a residence. Furthermore, the event allows you to find out about a residence's pros and cons from a listing agent.
Ask a listing agent about any home problems – you'll be glad you did. The listing agent should be able to provide you with plenty of insights into a home's condition, ensuring you can make an informed decision about whether to submit an offer.
A listing agent is likely to be honest with you about any problems with a house. By doing so, this agent will reduce the risk of a homebuyer later rescinding an offer after a home inspection.
3. Have there been any offers on the house?
It is important to find out if there is any competition for a house, especially if you discover your dream residence. Thus, during an open house, you should ask a listing agent if any offers have been submitted on a residence.
If a listing agent responds "Yes" to your query, you may want to act fast to submit a competitive offer on a house. Because if you wait too long to make an offer on your dream residence, you risk losing this house to a rival homebuyer.
Lastly, if you need help getting ready for an open house, you should collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can provide deep insights into a residence before you attend an open house. Therefore, a real estate agent will help you take the guesswork out of getting the most out of any open house, at any time.
Want to optimize the value of an open house? Ask the aforementioned questions, and you can get the information that you need to fully evaluate a residence.
If you work from home part or all of the time, chances are you have a specific place in your house where you go to work to be free from distraction.
Many people spend a lot of time thinking about the decor of their home office. They decide how much light they want to let in, what they need on their desk, and which distractions to keep out of the room entirely.
Surprisingly few people, however, consider the ergonomics of their home office.
What is ergonomics?
Simply stated, ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in the workplace. When it comes to office work or working at home, that means studying things like posture, desk height, eye strain, and much more.
In this article, we’ll talk about some ways you can improve the ergonomics of your home office to prevent injury and to make your office a more productive and less stressful place to work.
Choosing a desk chair
Let’s begin with one of the most common complaints in offices and home offices around the world: chairs.
You could spend several hundred dollars on an ergonomic office chair. But in reality it only needs to meet a few criteria that you can often find in inexpensive computer chairs. When buying a chair, look for the following:
Lower back support what will help you keep a straight spine
Adjustable heights for the chair, the backrest, and the arm rests
A firm, but comfortable cushion that you won’t slide down on
Picking the right desk
The most important ergonomic factor of a desk is that you can easily fit your legs under it and don’t have to crane over it to write.
Regardless of where you keep your keyboard, it will help if your arms can fall on it naturally and at a close to ninety-degree angle.
Screen height and distance
The vast majority of work performed at home is done with the use of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.
Ideally, the height of your screen should be adjusted so that you can view it straight on, and not have to look down or up at it. This will help protect your neck from strain.
For eye strain, it’s a good idea to keep the monitor a couple feet from your eyes and to adjust the brightness so that it’s easy to read but not too bright.
The best thing you can do to avoid headaches and eye strain is to set reminders for yourself to look away from the screen every twenty minutes or so or get up and go for a walk.
Take more breaks
Speaking of taking breaks; sitting in one position for too long can contribute to muscle and joint pain. If you’re working at home, it should be easy to get up and stretch or move around every half hour or so.
You don’t have to take a long break; even a minute or two is sufficient enough to help take the strain off of your tired eyes and stiff back and neck.
Sooner or later, just about everyone invests in a major home remodeling project, like redoing a bathroom or updating a kitchen. Those kinds of changes almost always have a transformative effect on the appearance, value, and marketability of your house.
However, if you own a recently built home or simply aren't ready to spend $15,000 (give or take) for a major remodeling project, then there are still plenty of less expensive ways to make big improvements.
A piecemeal, but cohesive approach to upgrading and redecorating your home can spread out the cost for you, without having to wait years to enjoy the results. The perfect example is replacing outdated kitchen counter tops, sinks, and/or cabinets. If your kitchen cabinets look like they've been around since the era of black-and-white TV, then it might be time to replace or reface them. Refacing cabinets is an option many people consider because it's typically less expensive and time consuming than a full replacement. The finished result, however, can be almost as impressive as getting new cabinets. With a little imagination, small touches like a new back splash, cabinet pulls, or even a fresh coat of paint can breath new life into the appearance of your kitchen area.
But Where to Begin?
If you're unsure what area of your home to prioritize for redecorating or remodeling, the kitchen is often a good place to start -- especially if it's a frequent gathering place for family and friends. Bathrooms are another area of the house that are typically in dire need of some TLC. If one or more of your bathrooms are looking outdated and worse for the wear, there are many ways to spruce it up without having to spend a bundle of money. Repainting the walls and ceiling, installing a new sink and vanity, or even putting in fancy new faucets can help invigorate a tired looking bathroom.
Here's a simple fix: Replacing faded old bath towels with fluffy, colorful new ones is another small, but effective way to upgrade the look and feel of your bathroom. Another inexpensive way to upgrade the appearance of your bathrooms is to clean the dirty, discolored grout between your tiles. You can either hire a professional service to get it done or tackle the job yourself.
From a curb appeal standpoint, some relatively inexpensive enhancements you can make include repainting your front steps, replacing an old front door with a snazzy new one, or simply washing the outside of your house and windows. It doesn't take more than a few seasons of weather changes and other conditions for environmental pollutants, pollen, dust, bird droppings, and splatters of mud to give your house a very unappealing grunge look!
If your home improvement budget is too tight, right now, to invest in new counter tops, bathroom vanities, new kitchen appliances, and cabinet work, remember that a series of small changes done over a period of time can significantly enhance the appearance and beauty of your home -- both inside and out!