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6 Near-Genius Ways to Fool Burglars Into Thinking You’re Home

by The Schnoor Team

 

Like telling your lights to turn on and off when you’re miles away.

Your home: You love it, but sometimes you have to leave it.

Whether it’s the eight hours a day or eight days on a dreamy beach, allowing your biggest investment to fend for itself can be stressful. And it’s a legit concern; when your home looks empty, break-ins happen. A lot. Ugh.

You could deter burglars by never leaving your house again. Or you could do the next best (OK, way better) thing, and just make it look like someone is there all the time. Here’s how.

#1 Light Up a Room (From the Road)

Your parents may still rely on their lighting timer — on at 8 p.m., off at 7 a.m. That old-fashioned option still works, but apps are more fun. They not only turn your lights on and off, but can do so randomly for a more realistic effect. And you can decide to flip on your porch light while sipping a mojito in Fiji.

You can Google your options, but one affordable example is the Lutron Caséta Wireless system (about $80 for the device and $55 per switch). You replace your current wall switches with these wireless ones and “talk” to your lights from afar.

#2 Fake a Netflix Binge

Nothing says “we are definitely home” like the colorful glare of a television dancing in the window.

Put the little FakeTV gizmo where it can project light onto a curtain, and that’s exactly what your home will say to passersby.

The device (which runs between about $20 and $40 depending on size) plugs into an adapter and can either work on a timer or with a light sensor, so it can switch on when it gets dark.

#3 Change Up Your Shades Remotely

Leave your window shades down while you’re gone and you might as well put out a “Gone Fishin’” sign.

Check out wireless options to throw some shade on the go. Several companies have systems — including Hunter Douglas PowerView, Pella Insynctive, and Lutron Serena — that allow shades to go up and down at your command for about $300 to $500 a window.


#4 Make Some Noise

Burglars can change plans in a hurry at the first sound of life inside a home — they’re a bit tetchy that way. So one option when you’re just gone for the day is a noise app, like Sleep And Noise Sounds that can play on a homebound phone, tablet, or computer. With noises like vacuuming and a boiling kettle, it can deter a thief who cracks open a window.

#5 Make Them Ring And Run

“Burglars will often ring your doorbell, and if no one answers, they’ll go around back and kick in the door,” says Deputy Michael Favata with the Monroe County Sheriff’s office in New York. Now you can answer the door with the Ring Video Doorbell ($180 for the basic model).

If someone pushes the doorbell, you can talk to them through an app on your phone. Whether it’s your nosey neighbor or a sketchy stranger, you can say, “I’m in the basement” while you’re really on the slopes. They’ll never know. And even if they don’t believe you, they know they’re being watched (insert devilish laugh here).

#6 Try a No-Tech Technique

Not everything requires a gadget. Here are ways to up your home security without downloading a single app:

  • Hire a house sitter. Then someone will be home.
  • If there’s snow, have a neighbor walk up and down the path to your door, shovel a passage up to the garage door and drive in and out of the driveway. If it’s hot out, ask them to keep your plants looking fresh with regular waterings. And don’t forget to bring them a nice gift from your getaway.
  • Ask friends, family, or neighbors to just be present on your property — use your patio, play in your yard, or bring in the mail.
  • Invite a neighbor to keep a car parked in your driveway. During the holidays, they may be happy if they need overflow for visitors.
  • Install a fake security camera for as low as $8. Burglars may not notice these fakes don’t have all the wiring necessary to be real. And their blinking red lights offer reasonable doubt.
  • Get a dog. A real dog. While you’re at work or running errands, nothing deters bad guys and gals like a barking, slobbery security guard. And when you go away, having a pet sitter stay can be as economical as some boarding facilities (especially if you have multiple dogs), and you’ll get the benefit of a human and canine sentinel.

8 Popular Tips That Cost Homeowners More in the Long Run

by The Schnoor Team

Like using lemons in your disposal (don’t do it!).

You’re always on the lookout for smart ideas and hacks to manage your home (and save money!) — whether that means listening to the wisdom of your parents who’ve owned a home longer than you’ve been alive, or scouring every corner of the internet for savvy tips.

But just because a tip has been pinned, shared, and Instagrammed thousands of times doesn’t make it smart. Here are eight tips (myths, really) that most people believe are good advice, but instead will cost you cash you don’t need to spend:

Myth #1: Lemons Are Great for Cleaning Garbage Disposals

What it could cost you: A plumber’s visit (and maybe a new disposal)

Proceed with caution when it comes to this well-circulated DIY fix. Citric acid is a natural deodorizer, but plumbing experts say it can corrode the metal in your disposal. That tough lemon peel can also damage the grinding components and clog your pipes. Next thing you know you’re Googling reviews for plumbers.

The better way: Turn on the disposal and, while running cold water, dump in two or more trays of ice cubes. Despite the clamor, this will safely dislodge buildup on the walls and the impellers, which grind up the food. 

Myth #2: Use Duct Tape to Seal Ductwork

What it could cost you: Pricier energy bills

Despite its name, don’t rely on duct tape to seal leaks in your HVAC’s ductwork. Testing by the U.S. Department of Energy found it deteriorates over just a few years (hot air from the HVAC system degrades the glue), letting conditioned air escape without doing its job.

The better way: Use duct mastic (a gooey substance kind of like caulk that dries after applied) to seal metal and flexible ductwork, and use it along with a layer of fiberglass mesh for gaps larger than 1/16 of an inch wide. Use gloves with metal ducts because the edges can be sharp, and mastic is messy stuff.

Myth #3: Bleach Will Banish Mold

What it could cost you: A threat to your health, plus hundreds of $ (even thousands)

Although bleach can kill mold on non-porous surfaces, it isn’t effective on absorbent or porous materials — you know, the places it loves to lurk, like grout, caulk, drywall, insulation, and carpet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, it just bleaches it so you can’t see it. And diluted bleach can feed future mold growth (yikes!) because only the water will be absorbed, which mold just loves.

The better way: Use a commercial anti-fungal product to take out mold at its roots. And only tackle mold removal yourself if the area is less than 10 square feet and you use protective gear, such as a respirator and chemical-resistant gloves. Otherwise, call in a mold remediation specialist who’ll know how to remove it without spreading it’s yucky (and potentially harmful) spores.

Myth #4: Change Your HVAC Filter Every Month

What it could cost you: Around $100 a year

Although the air filter should be changed regularly to keep your home’s HVAC system operating efficiently, this piece of advice is more of a convenient general rule that could cause you to throw away perfectly good filters (and money!).

“The harsh truth is that it’s easier to say, ‘Do it every month’ and know that means people might do it every three or four months,” says homeowner advocate Tina Gleisner of Home Tips for Women.

The better way: The Department of Energy recommends checking, but not necessarily changing, your air filter every month. Change it if it looks dirty, replacing it at least once every three months.

Myth #5: Buy a Rinse Aid for Spot-Free Dishes

What it could cost you: Dollars instead of cents

Most dishwashers now come with a built-in dispenser for commercial rinse aids, plus a free sample to get you started. So now you’re hooked (spot-free glasses every time!), and it has become a regular item on your shopping list, even if it does cost almost $4 for 8 ounces.

The better way: If you’ve never tried, run your dishwasher without a rinse aid. If your water is soft, your dishwasher may deliver spot-free sparkle without any extra help. But if you’re still seeing spots, just fill the rinse-aid dispenser with plain white vinegar (less than a 50 cents for 8 ounces).

Money Tip: Rinse aid does help dishes dry faster, which stops those annoying wet drips from top rack to bottom when you unload. But instead of spending money, unload the bottom rack first while letting the top rack air dry.

Myth #6: Home Improvement is Always a Good Investment

What it could cost you: Thousands of dollars in disappointment

Dreaming of diving into your own pool or adding a second bath to put an end to those morning squabbles? That’s the beauty of owning your own home, you can renovate to make all your dreams come true. And you’ll get money back on most any improvement you do, but don’t expect it for all improvements. FYI: A new bath returns 52% of its cost.

The better way: First off, your own happiness matters, so by all means, follow your remodeling bliss if you’re financially able. But if payback is important, do some research and talk to a REALTOR® who knows what buyers are seeking in your market. The Remodeling Impact Report from The National Association of REALTORS® (the sponsor of HouseLogic) is a fantastic resource to get the scoop on what projects will boost your equity the most. For example, it points out that small projects such as an insulation upgrade, refinishing floors, and even seeding your lawn will recoup almost all, and in some cases more than, your original investment.

 

Myth #7: Put Dryer Sheets in Air Vents for a Sweet Smell

What it could cost you: Higher energy bills and a potential fire hazard

Social media PSA: Thousands of pins and shares do not mean a remedy is smart or safe. If you follow this popular hack, you’ll block the flow of air in your vents, making your HVAC system work harder and increasing your energy costs. The blockage even can pose a fire risk when the furnace is pumping out hot air. 

The better way: If fragrant air is what you’re after, there are no shortage of options available that won’t burn your house down. Give each room — or each day — a signature scent with all-natural scented candles, sprays, oils, and aromatherapy devices. If you’re seeking a scent to mask an offensive odor, however, it’s important to find and remove the source. Some stinky suspects — like mold, mildew, sewage, and gas leaks — can carry health risks.

Myth #8: Product Warranties Will Save on Repair Costs

What it could cost you: $50 to $100 or more

The last time you bought a major appliance or even a hand mixer, you were probably offered a warranty or service plan. While marketed to cover repair costs, these contracts typically cost more than you would ever spend to fix an item. And keep in mind that most manufacturers offer at least a 90-day warranty anyway.

The better way: Maintain the appliance as recommended by the manufacturer, and smartly stash the dollars you would spend on a warranty in a repair fund instead. Also, buy with a major credit card, such as AmEx or Visa. Many credit card companies extend product warranties (for free!) up to a year or so. Might be worth checking to see if yours does. 


12 Reasons to List Your Home During the Holidays!

by The Schnoor Team

 

Have you ever thought about selling your home during the holidays? What’s your immediate reaction to that?

I think the average person probably thinks that it’s not worth listing their home during the holidays. After all, who could really be moving to Albuquerque, NM when they have to worry about turkey, gifts, and new years?

Since it’s holiday season, I thought I’d take this myth on with a list of 12 reasons that it’s actually a good time to list your Albuquerque home for sale during
the holidays.

12. January is the most popular month for employees to begin new jobs. Since transfers can’t wait until spring to buy, you need to be on the market during the Holidays to capture that market.

11. Some people must buy before the end of the year for tax reasons.

10. Buyers have more time to look for a home during the holidays than they do during a working week.

9. Buyers are more emotional during the Holidays, so they are more likely to pay your price.

8. Homes show better when decorated for the Holidays. Plus you can cook more cookies to make you home smell better.

7. Since the supply of listings will dramatically increase in January, there will be less demand for your particular home! Less demand means less money for you. List now and make more.

6. Serious buyers have fewer homes to choose from during the Holidays and less competition means more money for you.

5. People who look for homes during the Holidays are more serious buyers.

4. There are options for you to sell your home and still remain in your home until after the Holidays.

3. One of the highest percentages of the ‘listing sold’ to ‘listing taken’ occurs during this time of year.

2. Throughout the holiday season, buyers will understand if you restrict showings during your personal family events.

1. When you sell during the winter you have an opportunity to buy during the spring, when more homes are on the market. This means you sell for more and buy for less, and this is one of the few times that this is likely.

BONUS

Moving during the Holidays is easier on your children. School starts in January and they can make new friends right away as opposed to moving in the summer when they have to wait a few months.

You will be surprised at what your home is worth in this market!
The Schnoor Team will help you find your Albuquerque home’s approximate current market value. This CMA (Current Market Analysis) is absolutely free, there is no obligation, it is all via E-mail and it’s just a click away.

7 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Home Cleaner Longer

by The Schnoor Team

Use humidity, a car product, and more wow ideas to save cleaning time.

When cleaning your home, why not do it in such a way that’ll keep your home cleaner with less effort?

Here are 7 ways to keep your spring-clean fresh all year long:

#1 Use Humidity to Defy Dust

Low humidity levels cause static electricity. Not only does static attract dust, it makes it stick, so it’s difficult to remove. High humidity causes problems, too — it’s an ideal environment for dust mites. These microscopic critters are a double threat: They’re a common allergen, and they contribute to dust production. There are as many as 19,000 dust mites in half a teaspoon of house dust, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Yuck!

What to do: Keep your home’s humidity level between 40% and 50%. That’ll eliminate static while decreasing dust mite growth. 

 

Tip: About 80% of dirt in homes walks in from the outside. Stop dirt with a bristly doormat before it’s tracked inside.

 

#2 Apply a Car Product to Keep Shower Doors Scum-Free

You can eliminate soap scum build-up by coating your glass shower doors with a rain-repellent product made for car windshields. When applied to glass, products like these create an invisible barrier that causes water, oils, and debris (like soap suds) to bead and roll off.

 

What to do: Find this product anywhere that sells basic auto supplies. You’ll know it’s time to reapply when water stops beading on shower doors. Keep in mind, windshield rain repellants were made to treat glass, not plastic, so only use on glass door.

Another option: Automatic shower cleaners claim to let you clean your shower and tub less frequently — like every 30 days. After you finish bathing, the gadget will douse your shower and tub with a cleanser that prevents soap scum build-up while combating mold and mildew. You can buy automatic shower cleaners at most big-brand retailers, like Target and Walmart.

Related:

 

#3 Seal Your Stone Countertops

Natural stone countertops, including granite and marble, are porous, so if they’re not sealed, liquids like red wine, juice, or soy sauce can stain them. A countertop sealer repels stains by causing spills to bead instead of getting absorbed. Most countertops are sealed when installed, but the sealant does wear down.

What to do: To keep your countertops in tip-top shape, re-apply sealer twice a year. To see if you need a fresh coat, pour a tiny bit of water on your natural stone countertop. If the water doesn’t bead or doesn’t stay beaded for two to three minutes, it’s time to reseal.

Shopping for stone countertops? Slabs with lots of swirls or veins tend to be more porous, and, therefore harder to keep clean.

 

#4 Use Protectants on Furniture and Carpets

Protective furniture sprays and carpet sealants, like Scotchgard and Ultra-Guard, guard against inevitable spills by causing liquids to bead on the surface instead of being absorbed.

Some of these products also protect fabrics from fading and resist mold, mildew, and bacteria.

What to do: Apply the appropriate sealer once a year after a deep upholstery and carpet cleaning.

 

#5 Clean Your Oven the Old-Fashioned Way

Forget oven cleaners that promise an easy job. Most cleaners give off noxious fumes and make a horrible mess. The basic ingredient in many oven cleaners is lye, which can burn your eyes and your skin; it’s usually fatal if swallowed.

What to do: Use a wet pumice stone to scrape off dirt and grease. It’s faster than oven cleaner and toxin-free.

Tip: Need to wipe your range or anything else down? You can bust filth faster by heating up a clean, damp sponge or cloth in a microwave for 30 seconds before wiping with or without a cleaning product. Put on rubber gloves before you pick up that hot sponge.

 

#6 Do Quick Touch-Ups

Small cleaning projects prevent filth from building up. When you spot clean daily, you can prevent smudges from staining, banish dust bunnies, and even combat allergens.

 

What to do: Create a spot-cleaning kit so you can address small, dirty situations in minutes.

  • Cleaning pads are great for eradicating dirty fingerprints on walls and light switches. 
  • Damp micro-cloths can reduce airborne dander when used daily to wipe down pets.
  • Dry sweeper cloths can quickly pick up dust and dry dirt off floors, shelves, and electronics.

Tip: Keep stored items cleaner longer by shutting closets, cabinets, and drawers, so circulating dust and dirt can’t get in.

 

#7 Update Your Light Bulbs

Okay, It’s not really cleaning. But good lighting can make you and your home look and feel great — and help you spot that spill before it gets funky.

A room lit with low-wattage incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescents can look dark and dingy. “Daylight” bulbs brighten things up. These full-spectrum light bulbs mimic natural light, so they give better visual accuracy. Bonus: Like sunlight, these bulbs can boost your mood.

What to do: When shopping for bulbs, look for those marked “daylight” that have a range between 5,000 to 6,500 kelvins.

 

 

5 Tasks Every Homeowner Should Do in November

by The Schnoor Team

 

 

 

It’s the spring cleaning of fall, so to speak.

With guest season (also known as THE HOLIDAYS) coming at you fast and furious, you want to be sure your home is cozy, but with that fresh-as-spring feel — as opposed to that musty-damp-winter feel.

Here’s how to make that happen (along with a few other timely tips):

#1 Wash Bed Pillows

You love your trusty, old, perfectly-snugged-to-your-head pillow. But guess what’s also snug against your head? Fungus — 4 to 16 species to be precise. Gross!

With fall being the height of guest season, you’ll want your guest pillows fresh, too. Pop them in the washing machine and dryer for an all-over clean feeling. (But check manufacturer advice, too. Some pillows shouldn’t be washed, but replaced instead.)

#2 Clean the Mattress, Too

Sleeping soundly gets even better when you know you’re lying on a clean and fresh mattress. The yuck factor: Skin cells and sweat get into the mattress, then dust mites show up for a dinner party featuring those tasty skin cell morsels.

You’ll want your guest mattress to be at it’s freshest. It’s easy to do: Vacuum it and then wipe it down with a cloth dampened with an upholstery shampoo. But be sure to let it dry; otherwise, you’re inviting mold. Also, be sure to rotate it 180 degrees to help keep it lump-free.

(Another option: if you’ve got a flippable mattress, go ahead and flip it. That, too, can help kill the yucky mites.)

#3 Insulate Windows

Bone-chilling drafts seriously detract from the cozy vibe you want. Keep it cozy by hanging drapes as close to your windows as possible to help you keep the heat inside.

You can even add clear Velcro strips or dots to the back of the drape and attach to fasteners on the wall to help insulate. Be sure to cross one drape over the other when you close up for the night. Insulating shades can do the trick, too.

#4 Stock Up on Snow Supplies

If snow is a given where you live and you’re lacking supplies, take advantage of seasonal sales now to make sure you’re not the one rushing to the hardware store at the last minute — only to find out they just sold out of ice melt.

If you have a snow blower, be sure to have it serviced and fueled up before the first winter storm arrives — and with it, price hikes on all the snow stuff.

Related: 3 Brilliant Hacks to Make Snow Shoveling a Snap

#5 Trim Tree Branches

The last thing you need is a winter storm loosing the wrath of that mighty tree whose branches are angling over your roof. Long limbs invite pests to explore your roof for excess water to seep into cracks in the roof or siding.

Keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from the house. Plus it’s easier to trim branches after leaves have fallen. (If it’s an evergreen, well, sorry about that. It’ll be a prickly job, but the bonus is you’ll have greenery for the holidays!)

Related: 7 Dirty Places Your Guests See, But (Shock!) You Don’t!

#6 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace

It’s time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So yeah, it’s pretty important. 

Tip: If you don’t already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.

 

 

7 Reasons Fall Might Just Be the Best Time to Buy a Home

by The Schnoor Team

 

Spring and summer usually get all the real estate glory with lofty accolades as the best time to buy a home—and, of course, the busiest. Meanwhile, their seasonal sibling, fall, often gets tossed to the leaf pile by potential buyers who might think autumn is just about haunted houses and turkey dinners rather than house hunting.

But surprise! Fall is not only a great time to buy a home, it might also be the best season to find the perfect property (and not just because you can browse the listings while cupping a pumpkin latte).

Read on to discover the many reasons.

Reason No. 1: Lower home prices

The best month to snag a deal when buying a home? October. This isn’t just some random guess; it’s based on RealtyTrac’s analysis of more than 32 million home sales over 15 years. The resulting data showed that on average, October buyers paid 2.6% below the estimated market value at the time for their homes.

For a house that would normally be $300,000, 2.6% translates into a $7,800 discount. Those savings are nothing to sneeze at, so bargain hunters should get hopping once autumn rolls around. (For an even better deal, aim for Oct. 8, when buyers get a home, on average, at 10.8% below estimated market value.)

“For buyers looking for a better deal, fall is a great time to make offers,” says New York City Realtor® Joanne R. Douglas. (In case you’re wondering, the worst month for buyers is in April, when homes sell for 1.2% above estimated market value. The worst single day is Jan. 19, with an average 9.6% premium.)

Reason No. 2: Less competition

Like a beach after Labor Day, the realty market clears out as the days turn crisp. Most summer buyers have already found a home, meaning a fall buyer will have way less competition for the available houses on the market, says Bill Golden of Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside. And don’t worry about those buyers who didn’t close before August, either.

“Many folks will drop out of the market until after the new year,” says Golden, giving a fall buyer even greater room to roam at open houses. There may not be as many properties to choose from, but as Golden says, “a little patience and perseverance could reap big rewards.”

Reason No. 3: Worn-out home sellers

Say hello to your little friend, leverage. Sellers who have their homes on the market in the fall “are generally people who need to sell, which can make for better negotiations for the buyer,” says Golden. And if a home you have your eye on has been on the market all summer, you’re really in the driver’s seat as far as making an offer the seller can’t refuse. The longer a home sits on the market, the more negotiating power the buyer wields.

Reason No. 4: The holidays are around the corner

Not only are most home sellers worn out after the summer selling season, they’re also caught between a real estate rock and a hard place in that the holidays are barreling down on them. If they want to move and settle down in time to host Thanksgiving and put up their Christmas lights, they’ll have to close, fast. So use this pre-holiday window to your advantage by offering to help them vacate fast if they cut you a deal.

Reason No. 5: Year-end tax credits

No one wants to buy a home purely to make their accountant happy. But there’s a sweet added incentive to closing on a home at the end of the fiscal year. Come the following April 15, you might be able to take some nice tax deductions, including closing costsproperty tax, and mortgage interest, to offset your taxable earnings.

Reason No. 6: More quality time with your real estate team

As the year comes to an end, fewer buyers also means you should have the full attention of your real estate agent, mortgage broker, real estate lawyer, and everyone else on your house hunting team. You can take your time to ask all those questions you have about earnest money, due diligence, title transfers, and more without feeling like you’re horning in their busiest season to turn a buck.

Reason No. 7: Home improvement bargains

Once you close on that home you found in the fall, you may want to upgrade your appliances. Luckily, December is when major appliances—refrigerators, stoves, washers, and dryers—are at their very cheapest, according to Consumer Reports. It’s also the best time of year to buy cookware and TVs.

So once you’re settled in (and provided you have any money left), get ready to renovate!

Get Experience On Your Side & Contact Us Today!

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 7-15)

by The Schnoor Team

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a world-renowned attraction and destination for kids of all ages. For more than four decades, the first week in October brings the smells of roasting chilies and the beautiful, magical moving picture show of hot air balloons sailing silently through the crisp fall air. Guests from all over the world come to Albuquerque to celebrate ballooning. Literally, hundreds of balloons will be taking flight from the Balloon Fiesta Park this year. You won't want to miss this city-wide celebration! 

When:  October 7, 2017 - October 15, 2017

Where: Balloon Fiesta Park

See more details in the official Program below!

Virtual Open House, 3 Must See Listings!

by The Schnoor Team

1215 Green Acres Lane,

Bosque Farms, New Mexico​

Must see custom home in the nicest part of Bosque Farms! Street is famous for parades, holiday lights, luminaria tours, trick-r-treating etc. Giant 200 yr old river cottonwood tree dominates the front yard. Absolutely stunning! 

 

See Full Details 

 

7331 Boxwood Avenue NE,

Albuquerque, NM

Lovely home in a great location! Popular Fuller floor plan in desired Desert Ridge Trails. You'll love the serene backyard, beautifully landscaped with lush grass, mature shrubs, and wonderful views of the Sandia Mountains and Balloon Fiesta.

 

See Full Details 

9808 Bentley Court NW,

Albuquerque, NM

Amazing views! Beautiful custom home with 2 true owners suites! Perfect for mother-in-law quarters or multi-generational household. Enjoy stunning views of Sandia Mountains and city lights from the huge covered deck and from several rooms inside...

See Full Details 

 

Want to sell your home? Do these 4 things & it will!

by The Schnoor Team

 

If you want your home sold or if you tried to sell your home and it didn’t sell, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?  You must start by making a commitment to do what it really takes to get it sold.

There are 4- things you must do!

 STEP #1 YOU MUST SELECT THE RIGHT REALTOR

The REALTOR is your trusted advisor and will be responsible for negotiating a contract of sale with the best possible price and terms for you. You need your own Buyer’s  Agent, and it is CRITICAL that you hire the BEST! Ask For, and Check, the Agent’s Knowledge, Experience, Credentials, and References

STEP # 2 YOU MUST PRICE YOUR HOME CORRECTLY ON DAY 1.

PRICING your home properly is the single biggest factor that will determine whether your home SELLS OR DOES  NOT SELL.  The right price depends on Market Conditions, Your Home’s competition, and the Condition of your home.
The goal is to determine a price which positions your home at the top of the list of all competing homes. BUYERS will only look at the homes that give them the Most Value for the Best Price. We use a unique statistics based pricing to position your home above its competition.

STEP #3 YOUR HOME MUST BE IN SHOWCASE CONDITION

After price,  Staging your home for sale is the most important factor that determines whether your home will sell  now or just linger on the market. Staging, like pricing, is positioning your home. Virtually every buyer uses internet pictures to decide whether to see your home. You need to put your home at the top of every buyer’s “must see” list. Properly staged homes are those that are in move-in condition before a buyer comes to look at it.  Every potential buyer needs to be able to imagine wanting to live in your Home, AND if they don’t feel that way, they will move on to your competition.

STEP #4  YOU MUST HAVE AN INNOVATIVE MARKETING PLAN

Among everything else you should check before hiring your REALTOR is to ask them to show you their written marketing plan that details how they will market your home to buyers. To be competitive in today’s marketplace, it is only the Agents who use new and innovative approaches who are can get homes sold faster and for top dollar.  Our goal is to use our years of experience to provide information of value to you. We want to be your Albuquerque Real Estate Resource and you will find we are always available for you.

Home Buying FAQs

by The Schnoor Team

What is an adjustable-rate mortgage?

An adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM, offers a lower initial interest rate than most fixed rate loans. However, that rate resets periodically, usually in relation to an index. When the rate changes, the monthly payment will go up or down accordingly. For example, the rate on a 5/1 ARM is fixed rate for the first five years, and then adjusts annually each year after that.

Should I pay points in exchange for a lower interest rate?

Each point is equal to one percent of the loan amount. Points are considered a form of interest; you pay them up front in exchange for a lower interest rate. This means more money is required at closing, but you will have lower monthly payments.

To determine whether it makes sense for you to pay points, divide the total cost of the points by the savings in each monthly payment. This calculation provides the number of payments you’ll make before you begin to save money by paying points. If the number of months it will take to recoup the points is longer than you plan on having the mortgage, you should consider a loan that does not require points to be paid.

Are there any prepayment penalties charged for MassHousing loans?

There are no penalties for prepaying a MassHousing loan. In rare cases, a federal recapture tax may be due if you sell the house within nine years of purchase, and you make a large profit on the sale. If recapture tax is levied, MassHousing will reimburse you for the full amount.

Can I pre-qualify for a loan before I find a property to purchase?

Yes. Pre-qualifying for a mortgage loan before you find a home may be the best thing you could do!

What is a Rate-Lock Policy?

A rate-lock is an agreement by the borrower and the lender that specifies the number of days for which a loan’s interest rate is guaranteed. Should interest rates rise during that period, the lender is obligated to honor the committed rate. Should interest rates fall during that period, the borrower will still keep the original locked interest rate.

When Can I Lock?

Your lender will lock your interest rate once you have an accepted Offer to Purchase on a home.
Rate Lock Changes

Once your lender rate locks your loan, you will not be able to renegotiate the interest rate.

What are closing costs and how they are determined?

A home loan involves many fees, such as the appraisal fee, title charges, closing fees and state or local taxes. These fees vary from lender to lender. Lenders must give you a complete and accurate estimate of fees in advance of loan closing.

Fees are grouped by type and described below:
Third Party Fees

Third-party fees include the appraisal fee, credit report fee, settlement or closing fee, survey fee, tax service fees, title insurance fees, flood certification fees and courier/mailing fees. Third-party fees are collected and passed on to the person who actually performed the service. For example, an appraiser is paid the appraisal fee, a credit bureau is paid the credit report fee and a title company or an attorney is paid the title insurance fees.
Lender Fees

Points, document preparation fees, loan processing fees and other fees are retained by the lender. This is the category of fees that you should compare very closely from lender to lender before deciding which loan program to pursue.
Required Advances

You may be asked to prepay some items at closing that will actually be due in the future. These fees are sometimes referred to as prepaid items.

  • One of the more common required advances is called “per diem interest” or “interest due at closing”. All MassHousing mortgages have payment due dates of the first of the month. If your loan is closed on any day other than the first of the month, you’ll pay interestfrom the date of closing through the end of the monthat closing. For example, if the loan is closed on June 15, we will collect interest due from June 15-30 at closing. This also means you won’t make your first mortgage payment until August 1. This type of charge should not vary from lender to lender; it is simply a matter of when it will be collected.
  • If one will be established, you will make an initial deposit into an escrow account at closing so that sufficient funds are available to pay the bills when they become due.
  • Whether or not you must purchase mortgage insurance depends on the size of the downpayment you make.
  • If your loan is a purchase, you’ll also need to pay your first year’s homeowner’s insurance premium prior to closing.

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What is title insurance and why do I need it?

The function of a title insurance company is to make sure your rights and interests to the property are clear, that transfer of title takes place efficiently and correctly, and that your interests are fully protected. Title companies typically issue two types of title policies:

1. Owner’s Policy, which covers you, the home buyer
2. Lender’s Policy, which covers the lending institution over the life of the loan

If the loan is for a purchase, Both owner’s and lender’s policies are issued at the time of closing for a one-time premium.

Before issuing a policy, the title company searches public records to determine if anyone other than you has an interest in the property. The search may use either public records or, more likely, the information contained in the company’s own title plant.

After a thorough examination of the records, any title problems are usually found and can be cleared up prior to your purchase of the property. Once a title policy is issued, if a claim covered under your policy is filed against your property, the title company will pay the legal fees involved in the defense of your rights. The title company is also responsible for covering any losses arising from a valid claim. This protection remains in effect as long as you or your heirs own the property.

The fact that title companies try to eliminate risks before they develop makes title insurance significantly different from other types of insurance. Most forms of insurance assume risks by providing financial protection through a pooling of risks for losses arising from an unforeseen future event, like a fire, accident or theft. On the other hand, the purpose of title insurance is to eliminate risks and prevent losses caused by defects in the title that may have occurred in the past.

This risk elimination has benefits to both the homebuyer and the title company. It minimizes the chances that adverse claims might be raised, thereby reducing the number of claims that have to be defended. This maintains low costs for the title company and low premiums for the homebuyer.

What is mortgage insurance and when is it required?

Private mortgage insurance, or PMI, makes it possible for you to buy a home with a downpayment of less than a 20% by protecting the lender against the additional risk associated with low downpayment lending. By purchasing mortgage insurance, lenders are comfortable with downpayments as low as 3% or 5% of the home’s value.

The mortgage insurance premium is based on loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, type of loan, and amount of coverage required by the lender. Usually, the premium is included in your monthly payment and one to two months of the premium is collected as a required advance at closing.

It may be possible to cancel PMI at some point, such as when your loan balance is reduced to a certain amount (below 75% to 80% of the property value). Federal legislation requires automatic termination of mortgage insurance for many borrowers when their loan balance has been amortized to 78% of the original property value.

Is a gift an acceptable source of my downpayment?

Gifts are an acceptable source for part of the downpayment, if the gift giver is related to you or is your co-borrower. The lender will ask you for the name, address, and phone number of the gift giver, as well as the donor’s relationship to you. Prior to closing, the lender will need a copy of your bank receipt or the relevant deposit slip to verify that youve received the gift funds and deposited them into your account.

What happens at the loan closing?

The loan closing is where the loan is finalized and the sale and transfer of the property take place. Learn more in Step 8: Closing the Loan.

Should I have an attorney represent me at closing?

We recommend that you have an attorney at the closing if it will make you more comfortable. If your attorney has any questions about your new mortgage, you should refer them to your Lender.

Can I get advance copies of the documents I will be signing at closing?

The most important documents you will sign at closing are the note and mortgage, sometimes called the deed of trust. Unless there are special circumstances, these documents are usually prepared one to two days before your closing. Other documents are prepared by the closing agent the day before or the day of your closing. If you would like copies of the completed documents to be sent to you after they are prepared, contact your Lender.

I’m self-employed. How is my income verified?

Generally, the income of self-employed borrowers is verified by obtaining copies of personal (and business, if applicable) federal tax returns for the most recent two-year period.

The lender will review and average the net income from self-employment reported on your tax returns to determine the income that can be used to qualify. The lender cannot consider any income that hasn’t been reported as such on your tax returns. Typically, at least a one- or two-year history of self-employment is required to verify that your self-employment income is stable.

What is installment debt?

An installment debt is a loan that is repaid with regular payments, such as an auto loan, a student loan or a debt consolidation loan. Installment debts do not include payments on living expenses such as insurance costs or medical bill payments. Installment debts that have more than 10 months remaining will be considered when determining your qualifications for a mortgage.

What is a credit score and how will it affect my application?

A credit score is one piece of information used to evaluate your application. It is based on information collected by credit bureaus and information reported each month by your creditors about the balances you owe and the timing of your payments. A credit score is a compilation of all this information, converted into a number, that helps a lender to determine the likelihood that you will repay the loan on schedule. Credit bureaus, not lenders, calculate the score, which generally range between 300 and 900. A higher score generally represents a greater likelihood that you will repay the loan on time.

Among the factors that affect your credit score are your payment history, outstanding obligations, the length of time you have had outstanding credit, the types of credit you use, and the number of recent inquiries about your credit history.

Using credit scores to evaluate your credit history allows lenders to quickly and objectively evaluate your credit history when reviewing your application. However, many other factors are taken into consideration when making a loan decision. MassHousing never evaluates an application without looking at a customer’s total financial picture.

How will a bankruptcy or foreclosure affect my ability to obtain a mortgage?

A bankruptcy must have been discharged at least two years prior to applying for a MassHousing mortgage, and the borrower’s credit must be re-established for a minimum of one year. Generally, borrowers with foreclosure and/or deeds-in-lieu less than five years prior to the date of a mortgage loan application are unacceptable. Foreclosures/deeds-in-lieu over five years may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Will inquiries about my credit affect my credit score?

An abundance of credit inquiries can sometimes affect your credit scores since they may indicate that your use of credit is increasing. Note that the data used to calculate your credit score doesn’t include mortgage or auto loan credit inquiries that are made during the 30 days prior to the score being calculated. In addition, all mortgage inquiries made in any 14-day period are always considered one inquiry. Don’t limit mortgage shopping for fear that it will affect your credit score.

Will my overtime, commission, or bonus income be considered when evaluating my application?

In order for bonus, overtime or commission income to be considered, you must have a history of receiving it and it must be likely to continue. W-2 statements for the previous two years and a recent pay stub will be used to verify this type of income. If a major part of your income is commission earnings, copies of recent tax returns may be needed to verify the amount of business-related expenses, if any. The lender will average the amounts you have received over the past two years to calculate the amount that can be considered a regular part of your income.

If you haven’t been receiving bonus, overtime or commission income for at least one year, it probably can’t be given full value when your loan is reviewed for approval.

I’ve co-signed a loan for another person. Should I include that debt here?

Generally, a co-signed debt is considered when determining your qualifications for a mortgage. The lender can ignore the monthly payment of the co-signed debt if you can verify that the person responsible for the debt has made the required payments (by obtaining copies of their canceled checks for the last six months).

I have student loans that aren’t in repayment yet. Should I show them as installment debts?

Any student loan that will go into repayment within the next 12 months should be included in the application. If you are not sure exactly what the monthly payment will be, enter an estimated amount.

If student loans that will not go into repayment in the next 12 months are reflected on your final credit report, the lender may ask for verification that repayment will not be required during this time period.

If I have income that’s not reported on my tax return, can it be considered?

Generally, only income that is reported on your tax return can be considered when applying for a mortgage. Unless, of course, the income is legally tax-free and isn’t required to be reported.

Some lenders may offer a stated income program, which means that you can qualify for a loan based on the income you state rather than the income that can be verified. These programs usually require larger downpayments and offer interest rates that are substantially higher than those of regular mortgage programs. MassHousing does not currently offer stated income programs.

Do I have to provide information about my child support, alimony or separate maintenance income?

Information about child support, alimony or separate maintenance income should only be provided if you wish to have it considered for repaying this mortgage loan.

Will my second job income be considered?

Typically, income from a second job will be considered if you can verify a one-year history of secondary employment.

I’ve had a few employers in the last few years. Will that affect my ability to get a mortgage?

Having changed employers frequently is typically not a detriment to obtaining a new mortgage loan. This is particularly true if you made employment changes without having periods of unemployment between jobs. The lender will also consider your income history as you have changed employment.

If you’re paid on a commission basis, a recent job change could be an issue because, without an established payment history with your new employer, the lender might have a difficult time predicting your earnings.

I am retired and my income is from a pension or social security. What will I need to provide?

The lender will ask for copies of your recent pension check stubs or, if your pension or retirement income is deposited directly in your bank account, your recent bank statements. Sometimes it is also necessary to verify that this income will continue for at least three years since some pension or retirement plans do not provide income for life. This can usually be verified with a copy of your award letter. If you don’t have an award letter, the lender can contact the source of this income for verification.

If you’re receiving tax-free income such as social security earnings, when reviewing your request the lender may take into consideration the fact that taxes are not deducted from this income.

What is an appraisal and who completes it?

To determine the value of the property you are purchasing or refinancing, an appraisal will be required. An appraisal report is a written description and estimate of the value of the property. National standards govern the format for the appraisal, and specify the appraiser’s qualifications and credentials. Most states have licensing requirements for appraisers.

The appraiser will create a written report for the lender, a copy of which you’ll receive at loan closing. If you’d like to review it earlier, contact your lender.

Usually, the appraiser inspects both the interior and exterior of the home. In some cases, only an exterior inspection will be necessary based on your financial strength and the property’s location.

After the appraiser inspects the property, they will compare the qualities of your home with other homes in the neighborhood that have sold recently, called “comparables.”. Using industry guidelines, the appraiser compares the major components of these properties (e.g., design, square footage, lot size, age) with those of your home to determine an estimated value of your home. The appraiser adjusts the price of each comparable sale depending how it rates against your property.

As an additional check on your property’s value, the appraiser also estimates its replacement cost, which is determined by valuing an empty lot and estimating the cost to build a house of similar size and construction. Finally, the appraiser reduces this cost by an age factor to compensate for depreciation and deterioration. If your home is an investment or multi-unit property, the appraiser will also consider the rental income that will be generated.

Using these three different methods, an appraiser will frequently come up with slightly different values for the property. The appraiser uses judgment and experience to reconcile these differences and then assigns a final appraised value. The comparable sales approach is the most important valuation method in the appraisal because a property is worth only what a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept.

It is not uncommon for the appraised value of a property to be exactly the same as the amount stated on your sales contract. This is not a coincidence, nor does it question the competence of the appraiser. Your purchase contract is the most valid sales transaction there is. It represents what a buyer is willing to offer for the property and what the seller is willing to accept. Only when the comparable sales differ greatly from your sales contract will the appraised value be very different.

How long does the property appraisal take to be completed?

The lender orders the appraisal from a licensed professional as soon as the application deposit is paid. Generally, it takes 10 to 14 days before the lender receives the written report. If you are refinancing and an interior inspection of the home is necessary, the appraiser should contact you to schedule a viewing appointment. If you don’t hear from the appraiser within seven days of the order date, inform your lender. If you are purchasing a new home, the appraiser will contact the real estate agent or the seller to schedule an appointment to view the home.

If my property’s appraised value is more than the purchase price, can I use the difference toward my downpayment?

If you are purchasing a home, the lower of the appraised value or the sales price will be used to determine the amount of your downpayment requirement. It’s still a great benefit for your financial situation if you can purchase a home for less than the appraised value, but like most lenders, we are not permitted to use this “instant equity” when making our loan decision.

Are there any special requirements for condominiums?

Since the value and marketability of condominiums is dependent on items that don’t apply to single-family homes, there are some additional steps that must be taken to determine if condominiums meet MassHousing guidelines.

One of the most important factors is determining whether the project that the condominium is in is complete. Because the lender cannot be certain that the remaining units will be of the same quality as existing units, which could affect the marketability of your home, many lenders cannot provide financing for condominiums until the project, or at least the phase of the project in which your condominium is located, is complete.

In addition, a lender will consider the ratio of non-owner-occupied units to owner-occupied units. MassHousing considers the ratio of 60% owner to 40% investor acceptable. This could also affect future marketability because many people would prefer to live in a project that is occupied by owners rather than renters.

Finally, a lender will ensure that the appraisal includes information on comparable sales of properties within the project, as well as sales of properties outside the project to provide a better idea of the condominium project’s marketability.

Depending on the percentage of the property’s value you’d like to finance, other items may also need to be reviewed.

Do I need a home inspection and an appraisal?

Both a home inspection and an appraisal are designed to protect you against potential issues with your new home. Although they have totally different purposes, it makes the most sense to rely on each to confirm that you’ve found the perfect home.

The appraiser will make note of obvious construction problems such as termite damage, dry rot or leaking roofs or basements. Obvious interior or exterior damage that could affect the salability of the property will also be reported.

However, appraisers are not construction experts and won’t find or report items that are not obvious. They won’t turn on every light switch, run every faucet, or inspect the attic. That’s where the home inspection comes in. Home inspectors perform a detailed inspection and can educate you about possible concerns or defects with the home. See Step 7: The Home Inspection to learn more.

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