A Guide of estimating closing costs!

Calculating Closing Costs

calculator to calculate home closing costs for homebuyers

In the sale, the sellers usually pay the larger figure of closing costs because they are charged with paying out the commission to the real estate agents. But buyers can try to negotiate with the seller for the seller to pay a portion of the closing costs on behalf of the buyer. We’ll assume for the point of this article that the seller is not paying anything for the buyer.

First, there are several variables that go into the closing cost calculation including the cost of your new home. A good estimate for buyer’s closing costs are around 3-6% of the purchase price. According to Bankrate.com, closing costs increased 6% from 2014-2015 but only 1.6% from 2015 to 2016, which is some consolation. Still, the average across the US on a 200,000 home is around $3,000.

But what goes into closing costs for the buyer?

Components of Closing Costs

The following are some of the costs you can expect to pay at closing:

Ways to Reduce Closing Fees

While there are some services that can be shopped around like title insurance and home inspections, there are also a few other tips to help you pay the least amount possible at closing.

calculator with fees and magnifying glass closing costs for home buyers

  • Close at the end of the month: you’ll be charged per diem interest so if you close at the beginning of the month, you’ll have a larger portion to pay than if you close with one day left.
  • Check with your employer and memberships. Some employers like the military (U.S. government) and some unions offer discounts on closing costs or home prices, though they may require a specific lender be used.
  • Ask the seller to cover them. You can negotiate with the seller to pay your closing costs. However, this is probably not advisable in a hot real estate market.

The State Matters

Closing costs do vary by state due to local and statewide regulations and fees. Here’s a list of the least expensive and most expensive states in which to close.

When you first obtain your loan, you will receive an estimated closing statement. Three business days before closing, you’ll receive a revised one. Compare the two numbers. They may be off slightly but should be very close. If not, notify the sender immediately.

At Bay National Title, we put our clients first. We take the time to make sure all of their questions are answered to their satisfaction.

#millenniumsales buyers home waterfront, oceanfront Berta Correa, Broker 954-802-2143

FHA Loan Requirements: What Home Buyers Need to Qualify

If you’re looking up “FHA loan requirements,” you are very likely wondering if you qualify for an FHA loan. These mortgages, which are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, help home buyers secure financing to buy a home despite their low income, lack of savings, or poor credit scores—the kind of things that often prevent people from getting a conventional loan.

“FHA loans are a great option for a lot of home buyers, particularly if they’re buying their first home,” says Todd Sheinin, mortgage lender and chief operating officer at New America Financial in Gaithersburg, MD. And while not all lenders offer FHA loans, many do, because their government backing guarantees that lenders won’t lose their money if the buyer defaults. So it’s win-win all round!

Yet although FHA loans have looser qualification requirements than traditional mortgages, that doesn’t mean they have none at all. While the exact rules and thresholds will vary a bit by lender, here’s a ballpark guide to what you can expect you’ll need to qualify for an FHA loan.

1. A minimum down payment of 3.5%

With conventional loans, it’s generally recommended that you make a 20% down payment, which would amount to a whopping $50,000 on a $250,000 home. FHA loans lower the bar to a far more realistic level, requiring as little as 3.5%. So, on a $250,000 house, you would only need to plunk down $8,750 to qualify for an FHA loan.

This is a boon, particularly for first-time home buyers, who tend to have less money socked away to put toward their dream of home ownership. In fact, a recent study from Apartment List found that more than two-thirds of millennials don’t even have $1,000 saved up for a down payment. And millennials are now the largest group of home buyers.

2. A minimum credit score of 500

To qualify for an FHA loan, your credit score—the numerical representation of your track record paying past debts—will need to be at least 500—although if your score is indeed in this low range, you’ll have to make a slightly larger down payment, of 10%. To take advantage of that teeny weeny 3.5% down, you’ll need a credit score that’s slightly higher, at 580 or above. All that said, keep in mind that credit requirements may fluctuate not only by lender but based on changes in the housing market.

3. You’ll have to pay mortgage insurance

Because the federal government insures these loans, borrowers must pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP). Currently, the fee is 1.75%—that’s $4,375 on a $250,000 home loan. However, once you’ve accrued 20% equity in the home, the MIP should drop off from your mortgage payments. (Note: You’ll want to follow up with your lender at that point, to make sure the insurance premium has been removed.)

Borrowers will also have to pay annual mortgage insurance, currently around 0.85% of the borrowed loan amount—or $2,125 more per year. For most loans, this mortgage insurance remains throughout the life of the loan, or until you refinance out of an FHA loan to get rid of it, says Jordan Dobbs, a loan officer at Washington First Mortgage in Rockville, MD.

4. A maximum debt-to-income ratio of 59%

Debt-to-income ratio is a way lenders determine whether you can afford your housing payments, by comparing the amount of money you make to what you owe. Currently, the maximum debt-to-income ratio for an FHA loan is 31%. In other words, if your monthly pretax salary is $6,000, your housing expenses should not exceed about a third of your income, or $1,860.

More realistically, however, debt-to-income ratio should factor in all of your recurring debts, including college and car loans. In this context, the FHA generally looks for a borrower’s total debt load not to exceed 59% of pretax income. To use the $6,000 example above, that would mean that the maximum amount you should be paying for your mortgage and other debts (credit card not included) is $2,580. Check this FHA handbook for more information.

5. The home must undergo a rigorous appraisal

While pretty much all loans require a home appraisal, so lenders can make sure their money isn’t funding a shack, FHA appraisal guidelines are more rigid than those for conventional loans, and not all houses will get the green light for FHA approval. This may mean that the seller of your desired home will need to make some repairs in order for your lender to approve the loan.

What are the FHA loan limits?

FHA loan programs only insure loans up to the maximum limit, which varies by county. In most areas, the limit is $417,000, but in certain high-cost areas, the limit is $636,150. You can see the FHA loan limits for your county at Hud.gov.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Daniel Bortz is a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, who has written for Money magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, CNNMoney, and more.
First home buyers, Millenniumsales, FHA, morgages, qualify for a mortgage, financial news.

Buying a House With Cash? Don’t Forget These Added Expenses

There’s no question that buying a house with cash will make you feel like a million bucks. Maybe you came into a large inheritance, or you’re just really good at saving. Either way, paying the price of the home in full means you won’t have to worry about making mortgage payments. Plus, sellers love a cash offer because it means they won’t have to wait for mortgage lenders to approve your funding. High-fives all around!

You will, however, still be responsible for other costs that come with buying and owning a house. Don’t forget about these expenses you’ll have to cover, even if you plan on financing the house with cold, hard cash.

  • Real estate transfer taxes charged by the county and/or city
  • Title insurance fee
  • Processing and filing fees for forms being submitted to the County Recorder
  • Appraisal fee
  • Home inspection fee

Even if you’re buying a home with cash, the one-time closing costs, or fees you’ll have to pay during the closing process, can be as much as 3% of the purchase price, according to KW &MSI.

Sadly, your home doesn’t just cost “nothing” in subsequent years. Here are some ongoing costs you should be prepared for—by keeping some money in the kitty.

Closing costs

The purchase price is the biggest number you’ll have to face when buying a house, but there are still closing costs that must be dealt with, says Realtor® Denise Shur with 1:1 Realty in San Jose, CA. Sure, you

Sadly, your home doesn’t just cost “nothing” in subsequent years. Here are some ongoing costs you should be prepared for—by keeping some money in the kitty.

Property taxes

Yep, they say the only things certain in life are death and you-know-what. And it’s true! Even if your entire house is paid off, you’ll still have to pay property taxes each month.

To get an idea of what those bills will look like, check a home’s listing on realtor.com®. Scroll down to the Payment Calculator section, and look on the line that says Property Tax.

To get a more definitive picture, visit your city and county websites to find out the local property tax rates and whether a hike is imminent. You can also check with your real estate agent to get a copy of the current owner’s tax bill.

Homeowners insurance

The cost of the policy will depend on the size and value of your home, your location, your deductible, and your coverage. Talk to your current insurer about the home and area you’ll be moving to to get an accurate picture of your new insurance costs. You might need to add flood or earthquake coverage to your policy if those are real threats in your new neighborhood.

Home maintenance

We hate to break it to you, but things break. That’s why savvy homeowners put aside some money each month for unexpected repair or maintenance needs. Shur recommends considering a home warranty, which costs about $450 a year and provides coverage on a wide variety of elements such as plumbing, electrical, heating/air conditioning, and appliances.

Homeowners association fees

If you’re buying in a community with a homeowners association, you might have to budget for monthly or annual HOA fees. These mandatory fees are paid by everyone who owns in the community and go toward maintaining the common areas.

These fees will be based on the size of your home and the amenities in your community, but for a typical single-family home, HOA fees can cost around $200 to $300 a month.

Utilities

Don’t forget to factor in utilities such as electric, gas, water, sewer, and trash. To get a clear picture of what you’ll be required to pay, ask your real estate agent to ask the sellers what a year’s worth of bills costs. Utilities can fluctuate from season to season, so this is especially important if you’re moving across the country to a new climate.

Deirdre Woollard contributed to this article. 

Buy or sell first? Chicken or egg?

Selling a home is stressful. Buying a home is stressful. Doing both? There should be a new word for that.

But somehow people do it, every day in every part of the country and in every market condition imaginable. So you can do this. And knowing what you’re in for and how to coordinate the sale and purchase aspects will make it more manageable.

Selling a home is stressful. Buying a home is stressful. Doing both? There should be a new word for that.

But somehow people do it, every day in every part of the country and in every market condition imaginable. So you can do this. And knowing what you’re in for and how to coordinate the sale and purchase aspects will make it more manageable.

Buy or sell first? Chicken or egg?

Like the proverbial poultry conundrum, there is no easy answer to which comes first, the buying or the selling. Whichever comes first will put additional pressure on the other side of the equation. But there is an order that will make sense for you. The first step is to take a good look at your finances, your willingness to move twice and the market conditions where you are buying and selling. Let’s look at three scenarios: Sell first, buy first or turn your existing home into a rental.

Sell first

Pros:
• You’ll have cash for a down payment
• No risk of having to juggle two mortgages at once
• No pressure to lower the price to sell quickly

Cons:
• May need to move twice
• Takes your investment out of the real estate market
• Puts pressure on you to find a new house quickly

If you’re like most of us, you don’t have cash to make a down payment on your new house and enough income to make two mortgage payments indefinitely. So it may seem like selling first is the smart, if not only, choice. But selling first leads to one major question: Where will you live in the time between selling and buying?

Gap housing

If you sell your home before you buy a new one you will almost certainly have a gap of time, whether it’s days or months, between needing to be out of the old house and when you can take possession of your new one. Do you mind moving twice, first into a rental or in with extremely hospitable friends or family? Can you find a rental that offers month-to-month leasing?

Even if you plan to sell first, it makes sense to start shopping for your new home right away. If you find one you want, you can be ready to make an offer as soon as your home sells. If nothing else, it gives you a head start and something to do while you’re vacating your home for showings.

It might seem less stressful to sell your home, rent an apartment and give yourself some time to take a breath and look around. But first look at the housing market. In a rising market, time is money. Once you’ve sold your home, you’re out of that market and the longer you wait to get back in, the more it will rise without you. Watching the value of the home you sold soar, along with the prices of potential new homes while you sit out a six-month lease is no fun. If you’re in a slow, or “buyers’ market,” you can probably afford to sit out for a while. But don’t wait too long or the market may turn around on you.

Rent-back

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could sell your house but stay in it until you buy a new one? You can, with the right sales contract. It’s called a rent-back provision. Essentially, when you sell your house you negotiate a deal to become a tenant for a period of time until you can buy and move into a new house. You’ll pay at least enough to cover their mortgage payment but you can stay put until your new home is ready, which can be priceless. There’s a hitch, of course. If you sell with a rent-back requirement, you’ll likely get fewer offers. You’ll also have a relatively short window of time to find a new home because buyers probably won’t want to wait for months to get into their new home.

Buy first

Pros:
• Only have to move once
• No pressure to pick a house that may not be exactly what you want

Cons:
• Pressure to sell quickly
• Financing can be hard to find – and expensive

If you want to be assured of moving directly into your new home without a pit stop as a renter, you’ll have to buy first. But unless you’re sitting on piles of cash that may seem impossible. It’s not. There are a couple of ways to make this work.

Contingency offer

The first and probably most appealing option from your standpoint is to make a “contingent” offer on your new home. What that means is that you enter into a contract to buy the new home when and if you sell your current one. (The contract will include an expiration date, so it’s not like you can promise to buy your new place and then lollygag about selling your old one.) But nothing in life is as easy as that, so of course there’s a downside. In a seller’s market, a contingent offer probably won’t be considered too seriously.

Sellers are already stressed about selling their own home, now you’re asking them to stress about you selling yours as well. A contingent offer also eats up most if not all of your negotiating room. So unless the house is seriously overpriced, the asking price will be the floor, not the ceiling of your offer. Talk to your agent about whether a contingent offer makes sense given local market conditions.

Borrow what you need

If the conditions aren’t right for a contingent offer, all is not lost. You may not have cash to make a down payment and keep up two mortgages. But you do have an asset that you didn’t have when you were a first-time homebuyer: Your home.

Assuming you’ve got some equity built up, you can use it to finance your next move. You may have heard about bridge loans. These are short-term loans to help “bridge” the gap between selling and buying. You can either get a bridge loan to completely pay off your existing mortgage and provide a down payment on your new home or you can get one that just provides a down payment. But beware. These are considered high-risk loans, so they come with a higher interest rate than a typical mortgage loan. They’re also trickier to get than they were a few years ago.

Today more people use a HELOC or Home Equity Line of Credit to finance a purchase before a sale. Essentially, it allows you to borrow against the equity in your home. You can draw money out as you need it to make your down payment and cover the extra mortgage. Like a bridge loan, it’s a short-term solution. (And lenders probably won’t offer you a HELOC if your existing home is already on the market.)

Even if borrowing gives you some breathing room, there is no way around it. If you buy first, you’re going to be under more pressure to sell your existing home.

Become a landlord

Pros:
• Skip the stress of selling
• Add to your real estate portfolio

Cons:
• Don’t get cash out to make down payment
• Stress of being a landlord/finding tenants
• Potential tax consequences

If you can cobble together a down payment without selling your house, either through a HELOC or stellar saving habits, you might want to forgo selling altogether and rent out your existing home. If you can get enough rent to cover mortgage and maintenance costs, it could be a good investment. However, there are tax implications as well as stress implications. So check with a tax adviser about your particular circumstances before committing to this option.

Bottom line: It depends

There are options and which one works for you probably depends upon market conditions. In a buyer’s market, you have more leverage on the buying-side of the deal so you may be able to make an offer to purchase contingent on the sale of your home. In a seller’s market, you may be better able to negotiate a rent-back of your current home. And in either case, invest in some stress balls or a gym membership to get you through.

Like the proverbial poultry conundrum, there is no easy answer to which comes first, the buying or the selling. Whichever comes first will put additional pressure on the other side of the equation. But there is an order that will make sense for you. The first step is to take a good look at your finances, your willingness to move twice and the market conditions where you are buying and selling. Let’s look at three scenarios: Sell first, buy first or turn your existing home into a rental.

Sell first

Pros:
• You’ll have cash for a down payment
• No risk of having to juggle two mortgages at once
• No pressure to lower the price to sell quickly

Cons:
• May need to move twice
• Takes your investment out of the real estate market
• Puts pressure on you to find a new house quickly

If you’re like most of us, you don’t have cash to make a down payment on your new house and enough income to make two mortgage payments indefinitely. So it may seem like selling first is the smart, if not only, choice. But selling first leads to one major question: Where will you live in the time between selling and buying?

Gap housing

If you sell your home before you buy a new one you will almost certainly have a gap of time, whether it’s days or months, between needing to be out of the old house and when you can take possession of your new one. Do you mind moving twice, first into a rental or in with extremely hospitable friends or family? Can you find a rental that offers month-to-month leasing?

Even if you plan to sell first, it makes sense to start shopping for your new home right away. If you find one you want, you can be ready to make an offer as soon as your home sells. If nothing else, it gives you a head start and something to do while you’re vacating your home for showings.

It might seem less stressful to sell your home, rent an apartment and give yourself some time to take a breath and look around. But first look at the housing market. In a rising market, time is money. Once you’ve sold your home, you’re out of that market and the longer you wait to get back in, the more it will rise without you. Watching the value of the home you sold soar, along with the prices of potential new homes while you sit out a six-month lease is no fun. If you’re in a slow, or “buyers’ market,” you can probably afford to sit out for a while. But don’t wait too long or the market may turn around on you.

Rent-back

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could sell your house but stay in it until you buy a new one? You can, with the right sales contract. It’s called a rent-back provision. Essentially, when you sell your house you negotiate a deal to become a tenant for a period of time until you can buy and move into a new house. You’ll pay at least enough to cover their mortgage payment but you can stay put until your new home is ready, which can be priceless. There’s a hitch, of course. If you sell with a rent-back requirement, you’ll likely get fewer offers. You’ll also have a relatively short window of time to find a new home because buyers probably won’t want to wait for months to get into their new home.

Buy first

Pros:
• Only have to move once
• No pressure to pick a house that may not be exactly what you want

Cons:
• Pressure to sell quickly
• Financing can be hard to find – and expensive

If you want to be assured of moving directly into your new home without a pit stop as a renter, you’ll have to buy first. But unless you’re sitting on piles of cash that may seem impossible. It’s not. There are a couple of ways to make this work.

Contingency offer

The first and probably most appealing option from your standpoint is to make a “contingent” offer on your new home. What that means is that you enter into a contract to buy the new home when and if you sell your current one. (The contract will include an expiration date, so it’s not like you can promise to buy your new place and then lollygag about selling your old one.) But nothing in life is as easy as that, so of course there’s a downside. In a seller’s market, a contingent offer probably won’t be considered too seriously.

Sellers are already stressed about selling their own home, now you’re asking them to stress about you selling yours as well. A contingent offer also eats up most if not all of your negotiating room. So unless the house is seriously overpriced, the asking price will be the floor, not the ceiling of your offer. Talk to your agent about whether a contingent offer makes sense given local market conditions.

Borrow what you need

If the conditions aren’t right for a contingent offer, all is not lost. You may not have cash to make a down payment and keep up two mortgages. But you do have an asset that you didn’t have when you were a first-time homebuyer: Your home.

Assuming you’ve got some equity built up, you can use it to finance your next move. You may have heard about bridge loans. These are short-term loans to help “bridge” the gap between selling and buying. You can either get a bridge loan to completely pay off your existing mortgage and provide a down payment on your new home or you can get one that just provides a down payment. But beware. These are considered high-risk loans, so they come with a higher interest rate than a typical mortgage loan. They’re also trickier to get than they were a few years ago.

Today more people use a HELOC or Home Equity Line of Credit to finance a purchase before a sale. Essentially, it allows you to borrow against the equity in your home. You can draw money out as you need it to make your down payment and cover the extra mortgage. Like a bridge loan, it’s a short-term solution. (And lenders probably won’t offer you a HELOC if your existing home is already on the market.)

Even if borrowing gives you some breathing room, there is no way around it. If you buy first, you’re going to be under more pressure to sell your existing home.

Become a landlord

Pros:
• Skip the stress of selling
• Add to your real estate portfolio

Cons:
• Don’t get cash out to make down payment
• Stress of being a landlord/finding tenants
• Potential tax consequences

If you can cobble together a down payment without selling your house, either through a HELOC or stellar saving habits, you might want to forgo selling altogether and rent out your existing home. If you can get enough rent to cover mortgage and maintenance costs, it could be a good investment. However, there are tax implications as well as stress implications. So check with a tax adviser about your particular circumstances before committing to this option.

Bottom line: It depends

There are options and which one works for you probably depends upon market conditions. In a buyer’s market, you have more leverage on the buying-side of the deal so you may be able to make an offer to purchase contingent on the sale of your home. In a seller’s market, you may be better able to negotiate a rent-back of your current home. And in either case, invest in some stress balls or a gym membership to get you through.

#millenniumsales #selling #waterhomeproperties #byowner

Zero-down!

The zero-down loan? It’s making a comeback

NEW YORK – June 16, 2017 – Buyers may soon be able to bring less to closing. They were blamed for precipitating the housing crisis years ago, but major lenders are giving no- and low-downpayment loans another shot.

Several major lenders are reportedly offering loans with just 1 percent down. Navy Federal, the nation’s largest credit union, offers its members zero-down mortgages in amounts up to $1 million. NASA Federal Credit Union markets zero-down mortgages as well.

Quicken Loans, the third highest volume lender, offers 1 percent downpayment options, as does United Wholesale Mortgage. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has offered zero-down loans to eligible borrowers for many years.

Also, Movement Mortgage, a large national lender, has introduced a financing option that provides eligible first-time buyers with a non-repayable grant of up to 3 percent. As such, applicants can qualify for a 97 percent loan-to-value ratio conventional mortgage, which is basically zero from the buyers and 3 percent from Movement. For example, on a $300,000 home purchase, a borrower could invest zero personal funds with Movement providing $9,000 down. The loan also allows sellers to contribute toward the buyer’s closing costs.

So far, the delinquency rates on these low- to zero-down payment loans have been minimal, according to lenders. Quicken Loans says its 1 percent down loans have a delinquency rate of less than one-quarter of 1 percent. United Wholesale Mortgages told The Washington Post that it has had zero delinquencies from the borrowers on its 1-percent down loan since debuting it last summer.

For Movement’s new loan product, the lender will originate the loans and then sell them to Fannie Mae, which remains under federal conservatorship. Fannie officials released the following a statement:

“(We’re) committed to working with our customers to increase affordable, sustainable lending to creditworthy borrowers. We continue to work with a number of lenders to launch (test programs) that require 97 percent loan-to-value ratios for all loans we acquire.” They add that there “is no commitment beyond the pilots,” which are “focused on reaching more low- to-moderate income borrowers through responsible yet creative solutions.”

During the housing crisis, zero-down loans were among the biggest losses for lenders, investors and borrowers. However, housing experts say the latest versions are different from years ago. Applicants must now demonstrate an ability to repay what’s owed. They also must have stellar credit histories and scores, and lenders require a lot more documentation to prove borrowers are in good standing.

Also, many of the programs are charging higher interest rates. For example, Movement’s rate for its zero-down payment option in mid-June was 4.5 percent to 4.625 percent, compared with 4 percent for its standard fixed-rate mortgages.

Some critics say that the borrowers who really could benefit from such options aren’t able to qualify for them. Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage Corp. in Waldorf, Md., told The Washington Post that “it seems like people without excellent credit scores and three months of [bank] reserves don’t qualify.”

Source: “No Down Payment? No Problem, Say Lenders Eager to Finance Home Purchases,” The Washington Post (June 14, 2017)

Buy a home, Millennium Sales, Berta Correa, Investing in Real Estate.

Hurricane season is here!!!

 

what did we learn from Matthew..

When Hurricane Matthew threatened South Florida last October, it gave the region a frighteningly realistic dress rehearsal for the hurricane season that begins Thursday.

Emergency operations centers cranked into action. Shelters opened, brigades of electrical workers went into the field and thousands of government workers set aside their usual jobs to attend to their hurricane battle stations.

The preparations exposed flaws, particularly in managing shelters. There were water shortages, long lines and an insufficient number of Red Cross volunteers. But the storm also showed that the billions spent hardening the electrical grid paid off, as Florida Power & Light was able to restore power much more quickly than in the past.

Officials say the brush with Matthew left South Florida in a stronger position to face whatever challenges come with the new season.

“Matthew was probably one of the best exercises we could have had, in terms of all the preparatory steps we had to take,” said Curtis Sommerhoff, Miami-Dade County’s emergency management director. “It gave us the ability to shake a little bit of the rust off.’’

Hurricane season runs through Nov. 30, with the peak coming in mid-August through September. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts this year’s season will be more active than usual, with five to nine hurricanes, of which two to four will be Category 3 or above, with winds of at least 111 mph.

Hurricane Matthew, which briefly reached catastrophic Category 5 strength, approached South Florida in early October, moving parallel to the coast until it made landfall Oct. 8 in South Carolina. The last hurricane to hit South Florida was Wilma, in 2005.

As Matthew loomed over the region, Palm Beach County was expected to get the worst of it. Officials opened 15 shelters and announced a voluntary evacuation of the coast.

Hardly anyone evacuated. The next day, the county issued a mandatory evacuation, and many coastal residents complied. Such a gradual approach is unlikely to be repeated.

“We originally said something like ‘We strongly encourage evacuations,’” said Bill Johnson, Palm Beach County’s emergency management director. “That could place a bit of doubt. In the future we’re going to be very clear about what we mean about evacuations. I don’t think we’re going to try to mess with voluntary versus mandatory. We’re just going to say ‘Evacuate, period.’”

Johnson said the county had doubled its number of shelters, but he said the Red Cross was unable to fully staff them. The county then quickly trained staffers to step in. Johnson said the Red Cross will retain a role in staffing shelters, but it will be a diminished one, supplemented with county workers.

Roberto Baltodano, spokesman for the American Red Cross – South Florida Region, denied there had been a staffing failure.

“The Red Cross opened and staffed every shelter requested by Palm Beach,” he said.

Another problem appeared at Palm Beach County’s pet-friendly shelter, which quickly got overcrowded — with people. The county requires that family members stay at the shelter with their pets, so each puppy might be accompanied by a family of four. Johnson said this year an additional shelter will be designated pet-friendly.

Still, Johnson said, “We did well in Matthew overall. In spite of the fact that it’s been a decade-long drought, I believe that for the most part our activities went according to plan.’

The Red Cross fully staffed shelters in Broward and Miami-Dade counties during Matthew, but this season the organization said it can staff only half of Broward’s 14 shelters, said county emergency management director Miguel Ascarrunz.

Ten Broward shelters were opened during Matthew and took in more than 2,000 people, according to the county’s report on its response, which listed several problems.

Long lines stretched outside shelters, with evacuees waiting up to two hours as police officers conducted background checks. Water wasn’t immediately available at some shelters. All three homeless assistance centers and the Broward Addiction Recovery Center evacuated 1,100 people by bus to Arthur Ashe Middle School in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Glades High School in Coral Springs, overwhelming them.

Still, shelter staff did “a remarkable job in a short amount of time,” according to the county’s report.

Ascarrunz said Broward has taken steps to deal with problems exposed by Matthew, including meeting with the Broward Sheriff’s Office to avoid to the background-check bottleneck and training 150 county workers to run the shelters.

“We’ve made good progress,” he said.

For Florida Power & Light Co. and its customers, the lesson from Matthew was clear: The investment of nearly $3 billion to harden the grid since the debacle of Hurricane Wilma has paid off.

Although Matthew knocked out power for about 2 million FPL customers, the company restored service to nearly 99 percent within two days. This was a big improvement over the aftermath of Wilma in 2005, when thousands of customers lost power for more than a week, with some waiting up to 18 days for the restoration of service.

Wilma, of course, was a direct hit on South Florida, not a glancing blow. After it struck, FPL was harshly criticized for poor maintenance that allowed rotted out power poles to topple in the storm. The investments made since then included replacing or reinforcing about 115,000 poles, as well as improving technology and redundancy throughout the grid.

“What we learned is that a lot of those investments really paid off for customers,” said FPL spokesman Chris McGrath. “Not a single one of the power poles that we hardened failed in Matthew.”

 

 

LOVE YOUR DOG?

Vacation in Fort Lauderdale – with your dog.

Did you know that a recent survey showed that 90% of dog-owning travellers consider their pet when booking accommodation? If you’re one of that huge number of people, then allow me to introduce to you our Fort Lauderdale vacation paradise – and yes, your dog is most welcome too.

In fact, we have special treats and amenities that are especially for him or her. But first, let’s look at your gorgeous home-from-home.

508HendricksIsle 690
Yes, that’s your apartment on the right – upper floor. It has direct views over the wonderful Rio Grande canal. Right from your apartment, you can watch the water traffic go by. From the upper balcony or from the dock, enjoy your morning coffee or your evening glass of wine watching yachts, cruisers, paddle-boarders and more.

The apartment is located midway between the famous Fort Lauderdale Beach and the fabulous Las Olas Boulevard with its incredible boutiques, galleries and dining options – and many of those restaurants and cafés are dog-friendly.

Your vacation apartment is close to the very best Fort Lauderdale can offer – art museums, theatres, concert venues, historical sites, fine dining and so many attractions and events. And for your dog? In your apartment you’ll find:

  • A beautiful, ultra-soft microfibre dog bed
  • Organic dog treats
  • Feeding and water bowls
  • Custom-prepared book showing all the local facilities available to your pet
  • Aromatherapy dog shampoo and conditioner (great for after the beach)
  • Dog towel
  • Collapsible dog bowl for when you’re out sightseeing
  • Um … waste bags

And for the human guests?

  • A cute Mid Century Modern apartment right on the water
  • Free wifi and cable TV
  • Free designated parking right in front of the building
  • Central air conditioning (so important in Florida)
  • Beach chairs, beach umbrella, cooler for your snacks
  • Onsite manager to answer your questions / supply extra provisions
  • Tourist guides and money-off coupons
  • Top quality linens and towels

What Stays With the House When You Move?

What Stays With the House When You Move?

| Feb 9, 2015

When you’re selling your home, it is natural to assume that anything you can safely remove is yours to keep—like the light fixtures you painstakingly cleaned and repaired, or the appliances you bought last year—but the buyer may want some of those items, too.

Rather than keep everything, you should decide what you can keep and what you should leave as a way to entice buyers into making an offer. Here’s what you should consider:

What stays with the house?

Generally, certain items stay with the house when you sell and move. Here’s what to expect:

Built-ins: Built-in bookshelves, benches, and pull-out furniture generally stays inside the home.

Landscaping: Trees, shrubs, and any flowers planted in the ground should stay in the yard.

Wall mounts: If you have TV wall mounts or picture mounts that might damage the wall if you remove them, it is a good idea to leave them in place when you move.

Custom-fit items: If you have custom-made curtains, plantation shutters, or blinds, leave them on the windows and doors.

Hardware: If you upgraded the knobs and drawer pulls in your bathrooms and the kitchen, you’ll either have to leave those behind or install replacements before you move.

Alarm systems: Wireless alarm systems are designed to be removed. Otherwise, leave the alarm monitoring station attached and either relocate or cancel the monitoring service.

Smoke detectors: Smoke detectors and sprinkler systems should stay in the house, especially if you plan to move before selling the house.

What can you take?

While you’re expected to leave some items behind, in general your belongings are yours to keep. Here are some examples:

Patio furniture, lawn equipment, and play sets: If you have a wooden swing set in the backyard and a bistro table on the front porch, take those items with you.

Appliances: Some lenders require that a home have an oven installed before approving a loan, but for all other appliances, it’s up to you to decide what you will take and what you will offer as part of the home.

Some light fixtures: Generally, homeowners leave light fixtures behind, but if you’re attached to a certain fixture, you can make arrangements with the buyer to take it.

Built-in kitchen tools: If you can safely remove a mounted spice rack or the pasta arm, you can take it with you.

Rugs, basic curtains, wreaths: Small decor items like rugs or curtain rods that can be safely removed can be taken.

What should you consider leaving?

Some of your personal items can be used to help sell your house—or increase the asking price. Before you take everything just to take it, consider offering some hot items like the following:

Appliances: Homeowners, especially new homeowners, don’t always have their own appliances. Many buyers would be more likely to place an offer on a home if it came fully stocked with appliances.

Custom swing and play sets: If you have a swing set or playhouse your children have outgrown and you notice a potential buyer has children, offer to include the item with the deal.

Kitchen built-ins: Built-in spice racks, pantry organization, and windowsill shelves can really help sell a kitchen. Consider offering the items to an interested buyer.

Light fixtures, curtains, rugs, and other upgrades: If you’ve upgraded the light fixtures or have custom rugs in the entryway, a buyer may be willing to increase his or her offer to keep those items in the home.

If you’re not sure what would entice a buyer, ask your Realtor® to provide suggestions.

Angela Colley writes about real estate and all things renting and moving for realtor.com.

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is your home’s first impression on prospective buyers and, as we all know, first impressions matter. Make a big mistake in the presentation, and you’ll have a hard time getting buyers through the door.

But how do you know if you’re making a big mistake? It depends. Check out how close you are to these curb appeal disasters.

1. The outside doesn’t match the inside

Ugly Infill in College Hill

Paul Sableman/Flickr CC

Chain-link fence, overgrown lawn, no landscaping … even if your house is gorgeous inside, potential buyers might not be able to see its beauty if they need a weed whacker to get to the front door.

We’ll repeat it: First impressions matter. No matter how great your personality is, you wouldn’t go on a first date without brushing your teeth and hair and putting on pants (we hope). So you shouldn’t put your home on the market without a little TLC, either.

“There is nothing worse than seeing pictures of a home’s beautiful interior online only to find that they completely neglected the outside of their home,” says Liz MacDonald, Philadelphia-based home stager and host of the web series Shelf Help.

2. Overflowing (or visible) trash cans

whiteday

Charles Wagner/Flickr CC

Trash, shockingly enough, is a nonstarter for most home buyers. Obviously, garbage spilling over your lawn is a big no-no. But even the sight of trash cans on the curb can be a turnoff.

“Make sure to keep those trash bins out of sight and as empty as possible at all times,” MacDonald says. “The last thing you want buyers to think about when making a first impression is the trash.”

If you need to move out before the home sells, make sure to check in on things regularly (or have a friend or neighbor do it for you). Movers may leave stuff behind or the neighbor’s trash may blow into your yard—things happen—just don’t let buyers see it.

3. The half-finished house

Fenton-Mi-half-painted-house

Joffre Essley/Flickr CC

Unless you’re selling your house as is or as a tear-down, don’t leave any outdoor home improvement projects incomplete. If the first thing that buyers see is an unfinished paint job or patchy roofing, odds are good they’ll assume the inside is unfinished as well and just keep on driving.

4. An overly unique sense of style

Ugly

Chad Miller/Flickr

Love your bright violet front door? Think your flock of pink flamingos is delightfully kitsch? Are you certain your giant dinosaur-shaped mailbox is so you? We get it. Being able to display a style all your own is one of the best aspects of homeownership.

That is, until you go to sell your house.

“Keeping items like lawn art or ornaments is too specific to appeal to the masses,” MacDonald says.

Rein it in on the inside and the outside, otherwise potential buyers will just see a whole lot of weekend work ahead.

“Your best bet is to go neutral to appeal to the broadest range of buyers,” MacDonald says. That means no bright colors, no unusual trim choices, and no DIY garage-door mural (even if it is kind of adorable).

5. The barren wasteland

IMG_4294

Carolyn Williams/Flickr CC

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to do nothing at all. No matter how clean, updated, and sellable your house is, there’s something extremely off-putting about not having any landscaping.

Houses with nothing green going on just seem, well, naked. And you don’t even have to do much—or spend much—to make your yard pop.

“Modern and minimal is always the way to go,” MacDonald says.

Add some simple shrubs that are native to your area, a few flower beds or fruit trees for some color, and voila—you’ve got curb appeal.

6. The overcrowded porch

Lawn Ornaments Gone Wild

Karen Apricot/Flickr

A big, comfy porch is like catnip to buyers on the prowl, but only if you’ve done it right. If your porch is overflowing with large chairs, planters, and hanging baskets, buyers are going to feel claustrophobic—not cozy.

“Keeping it simple is key,” MacDonald says. “You want to showcase the space without any clutter or extra pieces of furniture that don’t function specifically for the purpose of enjoying your porch.”

Sellers, buying a house, properties, listing.