RE/MAX Advantage I



Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 5/30/2018

Being a homeowner comes with a lot of responsibility. You'll need to keep up with your bills, cleaning and maintenance, and have a keen eye for managing your finances. What many people don't tell you when you buy a house is that you could also become the victim of scammers who specifically target homeowners. Like computer viruses, scams are constantly evolving to stay one step ahead of the game. However, many of them rely on behavior that should raise a red flag for homeowners. In this article, we'll cover some common scams that affect homeowners and tell you how to avoid them to keep you, your home, and your wallet safe.

You've won!

Congratulations! By reading this article you've won an all-expenses paid trip to the destination of your dreams. One of the most common scams affecting homeowners come in the form of phone calls, mail, or even door-knockers informing you that you've won some kind of prize. Unless you've specifically entered to win a certain prize, you can almost be certain that this is a scam.

Identity crisis

We've often heard of the dangers of identity theft, but homeowners in particular are an at-risk demographic. Identity thieves attempt to steal your personal information in order to commit fraud or crimes. To avoid identity theft, be responsible with your mail. Always shred mail with personal data and be sure to have someone take care of your mail for you when away from home for extended periods.

I noticed your roof needs to be repaired

Many scams come in the form of people knocking on your door to offer a great deal on a service. People who solicit you and ask to be let into your home or onto your property to "inspect" part of your home should never be allowed in. They may actually be a roofer attempting to convince you to repair your roof (regardless of whether it needs to be repaired). Or, they could be a would-be burglar scoping out your residence. These scammers will attempt to sell you anything from "subsidized" and "energy efficient" home energy products all the way down to fixing imagined water/moisture issues in your basement.

Make $60k a year working from home!

Work-from-home jobs do exist, and they're growing in number as technology makes it easier and more efficient than traveling. However, some job offers are too good to be true. Be wary of job offers that require you to enter personal information like your social security number before ever having met the employer. Many of these "too good to be true" jobs can be spotted when they ask you for money to get started. They may say to need to pay for your own training but then can make thousands, or will ask for a company buy-in that will pay off later. Regardless, never give money to a potential employer.

I came to read the meters

Someone in a safety vest with a name tag and clipboard knocks on your door and says they're from the energy company, water company, etc. They seem legitimate and tell you how important it is to have your meter read. The might even say you're eligible for a refund or subsidy. It's important to always ask representatives to show you their ID or ask them to call and make an appointment before letting them enter your home.




Tags: home   scams   fraud   scammers   homeowners  
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Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 1/24/2018

 

Two thirds of American homeowners are somewhere in the process of paying off a mortgage. It may seem like common sense that everyone should try to pay off their mortgage sooner rather than later. However, there are circumstances when it benefits a homeowner more to hold onto their mortgage longer.


In this article, we’ll offer some tips on paying off your mortgage, when you should refinance, and offer some tools that will help you along the long road to debt-free homeownership. If you’re a homeowner and find yourself asking these questions, read on.

I can afford to pay more each month on my mortgage, but should I?

In many cases, paying off your home as quickly as possible saves you money in the long run. A shorter loan term means less interest applied to your loan which could save you thousands of dollars in accrued interest.


What many people don’t think about is whether that money could be better spent elsewhere. If your mortgage interest rate isn’t too high, you might be better off allocating that extra income toward investments or retirement funds where they could earn you more in the long run.


This technique is typically most beneficial for younger homeowners. In your 20s and 30s you stand the most to gain from long-term investments, especially tax-benefitted retirement funds. Ultimately you’ll have to do the math, which is tricky because circumstances change; markets vary, our income goes up and down, etc. However, a good starting place is to determine whether you could earn more in retirement and investments than you could by paying off your mortgage sooner and therefore saving on interest. 

I’ve owned my home for a few years now, should I refinance?

Refinancing is a term that has become ubiquitous for homeowners. There are a few important things to understand about refinancing. First, lowering your monthly payments is not always ideal if it means you’ll end up paying more interest in the long run. Ideally, refinancing your mortgage will help you pay the least amount in total.

One way this can be accomplished is by refinancing to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage which often darry slightly lower interest rates. This option is designed for people who have improved their credit and increased their income since signing their first mortgage.

Math isn’t my strong suit. How can I figure out my finances?

If all of the numbers and percentages associated with mortgages and refinancing seems overwhelming--you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are mortgage and refinancing calculators that will give you a good idea of where you stand if you decide to increase your payments or to attempt to refinance your loan. Here are some great tools:
  • Use this mortgage calculator for determining how much you would save by making extra payments.

  • This refinance calculator will help you understand the potential benefits of refinancing your mortgage.

  • To determine how much you could earn through investments (rather than paying more toward your mortgage) use this helpful tool.

  • You might be able to increase your savings by creating a better budget for yourself. This website will help you make a detailed budget and hold yourself accountable each month.






Tags: home   Mortgage   refinancing   finance  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 11/9/2016

What in the world is home automation?  Almost everyone knows what a timer on an outside lamp post is for, you can program your outside lights to turn on when the sun goes down and back off in the morning.  There are lots of ways to setup lighting to prevent waste and still maximize the benefit.  So what if you whole house could be managed and from one place or even when you aren't at home?  The kids left some lights on when they left for school, and you can turn them off from your phone, with some systems. A product known as X10 has been around for quite some time now, now there are other options.  Home depot has their own products and even Google is making contributions these days.  The whole idea is convince, for example there are products that work with the X10 system that allow you to change the lighting in your home from an iPhone or Android device, you can use this from anywhere you phone works. Setting up a system like this can start to prove costly.  The more devices you want to control, the more expensive the project ends up, naturally.  You should also be aware some products require a moderate level of know-how in the electrical sense.  One of the most useful products is a replacement switch; changing one should always be done with care and proper precautions of course. Spend some time and figure out what your goals are with your project, it can be as simple as putting a few outdoor lights on timers to being able to control and monitor everything in your house no matter where you are.  It's a fun idea at the very least.





Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 10/26/2016

Many first time home buyers go into the market looking for the home of their dreams. They picture a house filled with their favorite furniture, illuminated by plenty of natural lighting, and highlighted by bright and cheery wall colors. While it's good to have aspirations for your new home, it's also important to remember that the house you're buying is essentially a box. Sure, you'll put plenty of nice things in that box, but ultimately you want to make sure it's a sturdy box that's in good shape before thinking about the contents. When shopping for a new home, here are some things you shouldn't let influence your decision.

Walls and carpets

It can be off-putting when you go and view a home and the walls are covered in antiquated wallpaper or painted a color you can't stomach. It can also be hard to ignore, since the walls make up such a large, visible portion of the house. Instead, try to envision the room with the walls painted the colors you would use. If a home has a carpet that looks straight out of the 70s it can definitely be a distraction and give you trepidations about the house. However, just like walls, this is a relatively simple fix if you have the budget for it. Imagine how the room would look with hardwood floors, tile, or a carpet that's more to your liking.

An unkempt yard

The first thing you see when arriving at a house is the yard and driveway. Maybe the grass hasn't been mown in a while, the mulch is looking faded and there are weeds growing up along the walkway. These are all aesthetic problems that can be easily and, if planned correctly, inexpensively fixed. A good rule is to determine if the parts of the yard you dislike can be cleaned up in a few afternoons or if they would require a lot of time and money.

It feels like someone else's home

Viewing a home can be awkward. If the seller still lives in the home you might feel like you're intruding. In some cases, they could even be at home while you're viewing the house. As you walk through the home, be sure to remind yourself that if you lived here the picture frames would have your family photos in them instead. Similarly, if the seller has (to put it nicely) a "different" taste in decoration it can seem distracting and off putting. Fortunately, they'll have to take all their decorations with them when they move--even that wall mounted deer head in the living room.

Decide based on these factors instead

Now that we've talked about the things to ignore, here are the details you should look for when shopping for a new home.
  • Size. The size of the home, the rooms, the yard, and the driveway will all be a huge factor in your decision.
  • Architecture. Take note of how the home was built and if there are certain architectural aspects that you love or hate.
  • Windows and lighting. Natural lighting is an oft overlooked feature that really enhances the atmosphere of a home.
  • Plumbing and electrical. Make sure you're happy with the condition of the home's HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems because these will be time consuming and expensive upgrades.
  • Kitchen and bathroom features. Look for a home that has the kitchen and bathroom design elements you love, the space you need, and the features you desire (appliances, shower type, sink type, etc.)




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 7/6/2016

As house sizes grow ever larger more people find themselves with spare bedrooms in their homes. These bedrooms are often called "guest rooms" by default, even though they're usually just a place where all the extra furniture ends up. When guests do come to stay over, you shouldn't have to worry about cleaning out their room. Ideally, a guest room is low maintenance and includes everything your guest will need to feel comfortable away from home. So, instead of filling the room with the 25 old pillows that have been accumulating in your house, here are some essentials that every guest bedroom should have.

Decorate like you'd want to sleep there

Use bright, but calming colors on the walls, put a bedside table with a beverage coaster near the bed, use curtains that can be closed to block out the morning sun or opened to let in as much light as your guest would like. The important thing to remember is to avoid clutter and personal objects. If your guest feels like they're surrounded by junk they won't feel very at home. Similarly, if there are personal items like your photos, notebooks, or clothing in the room they will feel like they're intruding in your space. Instead, keep your personal items in your own bedroom or office and think of the guest room as more of a hotel within your home.

Essential items

We won't discuss the obvious necessities of a bedroom (i.e., beds and beddings). Rather, here are some items you may not have thought to include in your guest room that will make your guest feel more at home.
  • Cell phone charger. Odds are your guest only brought one charger with them. But if you have an iPhone or Android (micro USB) charger ready for use on the bedside table, it will let them keep their own charger in their bag for use outside the house.
  • Wi-Fi name and password. Write the Wi-Fi name and password down on a notepad and place it on the bedside table. This way your guest won't have to worry about disturbing you late at night to remind them of the log-in info. It's also a good idea to leave a pen with the notepad in case your guest wants to leave themselves any notes.
  • Empty storage space. To help your guest feel organized, make sure they can use the closet or dresser to unpack their clothes and belongings and store away their suitcase.
  • Tissues and wastebasket. A common, but overlooked, courtesy to include for your guest is a box of tissues and a wastebasket.
  • Ear plugs. Even if you don't live in a noisy neighborhood there may be some late night sounds that have become white-noise to you but that your guest isn't familiar with (i.e. trains, heating or AC sounds, wildlife).
  • Shower caddy with useful items. You can buy a small shower caddy at the dollar store and fill it with useful items for your guest, such as: soap, shampoo, shower sponge, razors, Q-tips, headache medicine, and band-aids. Your guest can bring this back to their bedroom and won't feel like they're taking up space in the bathroom.
   







Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team
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