Across the U.S., severe weather is disrupting daily life. From hurricanes to heavy snow, torrential rains and flooding, cold snaps and other extremes seem to be affecting every corner of our country.
Even if severe weather hasn’t affected you directly, it serves as a reminder that we all need to be prepared should nature take a turn for the worse. The first place to start –put together an emergency kit.
Keep in mind that your emergency kit needs contain enough supplies to maintain you and your family for at least 72 hours without transportation, food, electricity, or water. Customize your kit according to needs and family size but here is a basic list to help you get started building your kit:
One gallon of water or more per day, per person.
Three days’ worth of non-perishable, ready-to-eat food. Remember the can opener!
First aid kit
Cell phone, charger, and backup battery
Flashlight with extra batteries
Personal care items such as toilet paper, soap, moist towelettes, paper towels, toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitizer.
Tools such as screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches as you may need to turn off utilities.
A few changes of clothes, shoes, and jackets.
Important family documents in a watertight bag (or scan and store in cloud-based storage.)
Sleeping bags, pillows, blankets
Large plastic sheets and duct tape in case you need to make an emergency shelter.
Medication, extra eyeglasses, eye solution, etc.
Of course, those are just basic suggestions. There are products such as water purifiers, “space blankets,” pop-up shelters, and other innovations that you may want to consider for your kit.
Remember your pets need a kit too! Here are some ideas for a simple emergency kit for pets:
Medication and documentation for your pet
First aid kit
Non-perishable pet food
Collar and leash
Bottled water and bowl.
Where to Store Your Emergency Kit
The best place to store your kit is in a dark, dry, and cool place. Make sure everything is in an airtight, plastic container and easily accessible. Though a basement may seem like a convenient place, retrieving it in an emergency (or flood!) could make it impossible. You’ll also want to make sure that everyone in the family knows where the kit is located.
Remember to check it every year to ensure everything is still in good repair and the food has not expired.
What about your home and mortgage?
There are federal, state, and private programs that you can use to help repair your home and provide temporary housing if needed. Depending on the disaster, the location, and whether it has been declared a state of emergency, you may qualify for federal aid from FEMA. Private home and disaster insurance (this is separate from the insurance you may have on your mortgage) also provides much-needed assistance during times of disaster.
Your mortgage payments may also qualify for forbearance or partial payment. Call Tara Mortgage Services for more information.
At our office, we don’t just work with loans, we work with people –that’s why we feel it’s important that you prepare for an emergency. And please, forward this information to friends and family!
Alex Deacon’s Pittsburgh Landlord Group meets this Thursday, March 14th! Come network with other landlords as we continue last month’s conversation: Tenant Screening!
Network with over 650 Real Estate Investors! Join Alex Deacon’s Real Estate Networking Group on MeetUp.com, and be one of the first to receive updates on upcoming events!
When compared to past generations, the millennial generation is the most college educated. If you’re part of this group, you may recall being told that a college education is essential to career advancement and wealth.
The final word on whether college was absolutely necessary is a personal matter…only you can answer whether the debt is worth it. But one thing we can all agree on is that student debt is a significant burden. So much so that housing experts say that student debt may be the cause for a drop in homeownership among Millennials.
Can this be true? With stats that show that student loans account for about $1.5 trillion in debt, surpassing even credit card and car loan debt, it certainly appears to be true. And with the cost of tuition rising plus a job market competitiveness that requires education beyond a bachelor’s, we can expect these numbers to increase.
But you don’t need stats to know that this is true. If you’re a Millennial or a Baby Boomer with a Millennial still living at home after college, then you know it. While student debt poses a significant hurdle to homeownership, there are things you can do to make it easier.
Here are our best tips for buying a home with student debt:
Focus on your credit score.
Student debt may not be the only hurdle you have to buy a home. Your credit score could also hurt your chances. Your credit, or FICO score, is what’s used to determine not only if you qualify for a mortgage but also the amount and at what interest rate. If your credit score is too low or you have a credit history that’s plagued with late payments, then you out of the running for a mortgage.
Another thing to consider is that even if you do qualify for a mortgage with poor credit, the monthly payments may be higher than you can afford. That’s why our first tip is to work on building and repairing your credit.
Work on your debt-to-income ratio.
Another factor looked at when applying for a mortgage is your debt-to-income ratio. This number is used to determine whether you can afford to carry the additional debt of a mortgage payment. Essentially, can you pay your mortgage every month?
To raise the ratio, you’ll want to increase your monthly income and lower your debt. You can focus on one or the other, but we recommend doing both. Taking a side gig to earn a few hundred a month and using a portion of that to pay off debt can make a BIG difference pretty quickly.
Research down-payment programs.
Even with student loan debt, there several down payment assistance programs that you may qualify for. Government loans like FHA, USDA, and Veteran home loans have many perks, including down payment assistance. USDA loan even has zero-down mortgages! Contact Tara Mortgage Services to learn more.
Apply for a mortgage.
This tip may seem out of place, but there’s no better way to know how close you are to buying a home than to apply to see where you stand. When you get pre-qualified, we can give you a better picture of your financial standing. We’ll also give you personalized guidance as to what would make the most significant impact on your home loan-worthiness.
Whether student debt, credit debt, bankruptcy, or poor credit, having the answers to your homeownership obstacles puts the power back in your hands. When you know the big picture and a solid plan based on facts, you’ll see how close you actually are to buying a home. Who knows –you may qualify for a low rate RIGHT NOW. Contact Tara Morgage Services today to get mortgage answers and guidance!
Alex Deacon’s March Real Estate Networking Workshop has been announced, and he’s bringing in two huge guest speakers: Josh Caldwell and Matt Beam! The trio will be discussing Creative Financing Concepts, ideas, laws, etc. Don’t miss out on the most highly anticipated workshop of every year! RSVP below!
Join Alex Deacon’s Pittsburgh Landlord Group and be the first to receive updates on our monthly networking meetings!
Paying off debt as soon as possible is always is a good thing –but does that rule also apply to mortgage debt? Is making an extra payment each month to pay off the mortgage early worth it?
In this week’s post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of paying off the mortgage early.
Not a homeowner yet? We can help! Get started the pre-qualification process now using our secure online application.
Pro: Save On Interest
Making an extra payment to the principal balance of your mortgage helps save you money by lowering the amount of interest you pay. Although you can make an additional payment towards your principle at any time, this method is most effective when you first get your loan. This is because the principle is higher at the beginning of the loan. Hence, you are paying more in interest. Making an extra payment will result in saving in interest over time.
Con: Miss Out On Other Investment Opportunities
If you have the extra cash to put toward making an extra payment, that means that you have the extra cash to invest. Instead of trying to save money on your mortgage, you could, instead, making your money work for you. Making additional contributions to your 401(k), especially when you’re 10 years or more away from retiring, can result in significant earnings –sometimes more than what you could save by paying off your mortgage early.
Pro: Peace Of Mind
Reducing monthly expenses brings peace of mind and considering that your mortgage payment is likely your biggest expense, you can start to imagine how good it would feel to eliminate it early. Also, when calculating the cost of living, inflation, and what the average, fixed, retirement income is, getting rid of a housing expense becomes even more attractive.
Con: Prepayment Penalty – Sometimes
Some mortgages carry a prepayment penalty, meaning that you’re limited as to how much you are allowed to pay off and when. Though this may seem unfair, it’s not all bad news. The types of loans that carry prepayment penalties often have lower interest rates or other perks that save you money.
When it comes down to it, deciding to pay off your home loan early is a personalized is not a one-size-fits-all decision. It depends on your ability to pay, the type of loan, how mature your loan is, whether your extra cash would be more useful in other investments, how close you are to retiring, as well as other factors.
Even if you don’t currently own a home, if you plan to pay off your mortgage early, then you’ll want to make sure you choose a home loan that allows for prepayment.
Call Tara Mortgage Services today for expert and personalized home loan guidance, and together we can find a mortgage option that works for you.
A lot of buyers, especially first-timers, worry about whether or not they’re going about their home search the right way.
On the one hand, buyers fret that if they find their “dream home” too early, they might be missing out on something better. But, on the other, if the process takes a while, they worry that they’ll never find a home that works for them. The FOMO is real.
Keep reading to find out if you’re on track with your home search and what you should do if you find that you need to go back to the drawing board.
How many homes should you see?
Honestly, that depends. While we understand the impulse to try and rely on hard-and-fast statistics, homebuying is a truly personal experience rather than a science.
Trust your intuition. You know your needs, likes, and dislikes better than anyone else. You’ll know when you’ve landed on the property that makes the most sense for you to call home.
That said, though, there are a few things you can do to help speed your search along:
If you’ve been looking for a while and haven’t really found anything that meets your needs, it might be time to redefine search criteria. Sit down and take some time to think about which features you really need to have in your new home versus which are more nice-to-have, wishlist items.
Narrowing your search
Sometimes, narrowing search criteria can get tricky. If you’re unsure of where to start, try using the following as a starting point.
Focusing in on a particular area is one of the easiest ways to refine your search. You can start by doing research into different neighborhoods by you. Think about what you commute to work will look like, if the area has amenities that you enjoy, the quality of the school district, and home values.
With that in mind, though, you getting too hung up on a particular zip code can also limit your criteria. The key is keep an ideal location in mind while still staying open to possibility.
Bedrooms & bathrooms
When searching for a house, you should have a firm idea of how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’re after. Whether you’re just looking to accommodate yourself and the occasional guest, are thinking about starting a family in the near future, or want the option to convert a spare bedroom into an office, this information will surely help narrow your search.
We advise against compromising on this feature because, while it is possible to put an addition on later, doing so takes a substantial amount of time and effort. More often than not, homeowners find that they would rather put their home on the market than go through the hassle of trying to renovate it to fit their changing needs.
This is the big one. Once you have the above two details settled, it’s time to narrow your search results further to only those homes that you can truly afford. If you’ve already applied for a pre-approval, that number can be a good place to start. However, remember that a pre-approval shows the maximum amount that you can ask for in a loan. You may not want to borrow up to that amount once you factor in the rest of your monthly expenses.
To find a more comfortable sale price, we recommend using a mortgage calculator to get a sense of what your monthly payment could look like at various loan amounts and interest rates. Then, once you’ve landed on a number that works for you, try plugging that into your monthly budget to get a sense of how the payment will feel in addition to your other costs.
The good news is that once you’ve narrowed your search down, your pool of available properties will likely be much smaller than it was before – and much more targeted to meet your needs. From here, your search will be about zeroing in on your perfect match on the basis of which property was the best fit for your personal tates.
You’ll know when a property feels like it could become home versus when you’d be trying to make the best of an imperfect situation. Keep hunting until you find the former.