Annemarie Torcivia - RE/MAX  Trinity

Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 9/18/2017

Before you meet with lenders to refinance your home, thereís certain steps that you should take to make sure that you are ready to refinance and that the entire process will go smoothly. Whether you want to do a renovation or just get a lower interest rate, refinancing can be useful. These tips will be very helpful to you in making an informed decision.  

The Numbers Wonít Lie

Just like when you first purchase a home, youíll need to take a look at your own financial situation to see if refinancing actually makes sense for you. If youíre less than 30 years from retirement, you may want to rethink getting another mortgage that starts from scratch. You can always consider a 15-year mortgage, knowing that your monthly payments will be higher, giving you some breathing room from another 30 years of mortgage payments.  

Know Your Credit Score

You should be checking in on your credit report periodically in order to catch any red flags early. Youíll also know and understand any weak spots in your credit. Youíll have time to eliminate any errors and give your score time to readjust. 

You should also get an idea of where you stand with your credit score. Credit card companies often provide this. Thereís also a few free services that exist to help you obtain your credit score. Knowing this information can be very helpful when youíre looking to refinance a home.

Find Out Your Homeís Value

Lenders want to know that you donít owe more than 80% of what your home is worth. An appraisal will be a part of the refinance process, but before you even start, it will be helpful to know how much you owe versus how much your home is worth. If you owe more than your home is worth, you may want to reconsider doing the kitchen over or going for that lower interest rate. Moving might be a better option financially.  

Get Your Finances Straight

A lender likes to know that youíre in good financial standing before they grant you a loan. Work on paying down your credit card balances and donít max out any cards that you do have. All this can hurt your credit and your chances of obtaining a loan. You can even talk to some lenders beforehand in order to see if refinancing is a good idea. 

Do Your Homework

All lenders are not created equal. You can start with your current lender when it comes to refinancing. Since they want to keep your business, your lender will hopefully have some good deals for you. Youíll need to take some time to compare rates from different companies and find the lowest rates available. If you do your homework, youíll be able to get the best deals and not regret your refinancing decision.

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Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 9/11/2017

An increase in homeowners insurance rates is no small change. If rates rise too much, you might come up short when it comes time to pay your mortgage. Let one thing go wrong with your house, a tree landing against your roof during a storm or someone slips and falls on your property and it could put you back hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars.

Being safe may not keep your homeowners insurance rates from going up

Even more, rising homeowners insurance rates may be the last thing that you expect to go up after you buy a house. Yet, the rates do increase and, at times, with short notice.

Homeowners insurance rates rise for several reasons. Local tax laws aren't the only thing that can change your homeowners insurance rates. Here are three things that can raise homeowners insurance rates regardless of your house type:

  • Previous homeowners insurance claims in the area where your house is located can affect your insurance rates. For example, if a lot of flood claims have occurred in the area recently and in the near and distant past, insurance companies could raise your rates following a new flood. After all, insurance companies are in business to yield a profit.
  • Activities that you perform at your house can also increase your homeowners insurance rates. Examples of these activities include operating a home office business, owning threatening pets and engaging in dangerous sports at home.
  • House residents can also impact rates. Depending on the age of your children and your children's hobbies, your homeowners insurance rates could rise. For example, if your teens wrestle for competition in your basement, that could raise your rates.

You might need to use homeowners insurance one day

It's not just your mortgage lender who may push you to keep homeowners insurance. Environmental storms, structural damages to your house and personal injuries that are caused because of an item or condition on your property can also force you to get and keep homeowners insurance.

What you may not have to accept are continually rising homeowners insurance rates. Familiarizing yourself with the three things that can raise homeowners insurance rates is a first step. Staying in contact with the company that provides your coverage is another step.

Stay empowered while working with homeowners insurance companies

As soon as you receive a letter from the insurance company telling you that your rates are going to rise, reach out to the company and ask them to give you specific reasons why the rates are rising. Don't just accept that you have to pay more. If you can take action to alter or alleviate any of the reasons, consider taking those actions.

Consider switching to another insurance company if your rates keep rising. Avoid letting apologetic lines written into letters sent to you from the insurance company trick you into thinking that the company has no option but to keep raising your rates. Stay empowered. Remain open to finding the best insurance provider, a firm that really does offer its customers low or competitive homeowners insurance rates.

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Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 9/4/2017

A large beautiful home can lose its appeal as soon as pests move in. Although it might be easier to keep pests outside your house if you live in a single family home versus a townhouse or row house, no house is designed to keep all pests out.

You don't have to live with pests at home

But, just because you might live in a house that's connected to a neighbor's home or because you might live in a house that has seen its share of pests, that also doesn't meant that you have to live with pests. The first step to a pests free house is to identify where pests are getting inside your house.

Seal these entryways. Then, treat these entryways with an effective bug repellent. If this step doesn't keep pests out of your home, contact a professional exterminator. An exterminator generally has studied, seen and dealt with a variety of pests. She knows how to spot a nests.

Other actions that you can take to treat yourself to a pests free house include reviewing your daily habits. See if you or your family members are engaging in one or more of these five pests inviting habits:

  • Leaving food on kitchen counters, living room tables and other furniture pieces
  • Eating in the living room, bedroom or den and dropping crumbs on the floor
  • Storing fruit and vegetables openly on counters (this action can invite fruit flies and other pests that feast on fruit or vegetables)
  • Opening house windows and leaving the windows up, even if there are tears or cracks in windows or screens
  • Not washing dishes, pots and pans after you finish cooking and dining

By leaving food on counters overnight, you could also invite pests inside your house. The same applies to leaving dirty pots and pans in a dishwasher over night.

Clean house can equal a pests free home

Before you head to bed at night, get in the habit of sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor. If you ate in the dining room, clean the floor in this room as well. Regarding floors, make sure that you vacuum your carpet at least once a week.

Carpets are great places that hide crumbs. You may not see the crumbs, but pests know where the crumbs are. If you have pets, clean your pets. When it's warm outside, check your pets for fleas, ticks and other pests before your pets come inside your house.

Spot your pets scratching more than normal? Wash and treat your pets for pests. Check with your veterinarian to make sure that treatments that you use are safe for your pet. But, don't just clean your pets and your house, teach your children how to clean up after themselves.

It's also a good habit to teach children to limit their eating and drinking to the kitchen and dining room. To enjoy a pests free house, you'll also want to keep your home dry. This includes wiping down kitchen and bathroom counters after they get wet.

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Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 8/28/2017

Semi-modern row houses have their roots in London. It was during the 1700s that the first row houses were constructed. Similar to apartment homes, row houses reduce the amount of space that it takes to house people.

Row houses offer surprisingly stylish amenities

The dwellings also make it easy to reach neighbors. For some people, it's hard to feel alone while living in a row house. Additionally, as they did when they were first erected, row houses offer as much interior space as traditional single homes.

If there are drawbacks with row houses, it's the narrow hallways that the houses may have. On the other hand, you might absolutely love narrow hallways in a row house. Pictures hung on walls lining both sides of hallways can attract your attention,delighting  you with appreciation as you make your way through the house.

In addition to narrow passageways, row houses are also known for having hardwood floors. For example, a New York City, Philadelphia or Baltimore brownstone might come with cherry hardwood floors. More amenities that you can find and enjoy while living in a row house include:

  • Staircases that turn the higher up they go - Row houses with narrow staircases offer safety in that they make it easy to regain balance by placing your hands against the walls.
  • Intimate dining rooms - You won't feel far away from family and friends while eating or entertaining in a row house dining room. If there's a window in the room, you can observe a bird as it plays or takes flight just outside your home.
  • Antique fireplaces - Red brick might surround your row house fireplace. Add in an antique stove if the kitchen is near the fireplace and you could feel like you've stepped back in time even while you enjoy modern amenities in the house.
  • Large windows - Modern windows introduce lots of light inside your row house. You may love the natural light.
  • Simple ceiling designs - You might not spot many row houses with popcorn ceilings. But, don't be surprised if you come across row houses with simply designed crown molded ceilings.
  • Open floor plans - Don't be surprised if your row house doesn't have lots of doors. These houses are often designed with open floor plans.
  • Multi-levels - With row houses, you may get a finished basement and a finished attic, giving you more room to accommodate overnight guests.

Row houses are a bountiful history

It's not just their stylish exterior, row houses are a great buy because of their access to entertainment, dining and work environments. Live in Baltimore, Maryland, the city in America that has the most row houses, and you can enjoy a broad range of amenities.

There are row houses that are rich with history. In fact, some row houses were integral to the Underground Railroad. Other row houses are former homes of history makers like community and social leaders, educators, scientists and entertainers.

Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 8/21/2017

All houses have character. All houses have personality. Yet, some houses are filled with more history, the type of history that is publicly known and celebrated, than others. Once houses are placed on the national history registry they are rarely, if ever, lived in again.

Living in a history rich house

One such house that is nationally recognized that has been lived in is Biltmore House and Gardens. Some members of the Biltmore family continue to spend time in the house, even if only for a few hours a day, week or month.

The chance to live in a house that's rich with history could come by surprise. You could move into a house and later find out that a famous person once owned the house. Or you might learn that a crime was committed in the house.

Depending on where you reside, you might live in the birth house of a future government leader. An innovative business leader who goes on to develop a worldwide popular product or service might have spent her childhood in the house that you go on to buy.

Let a reporter start digging into this person's past and you could look up and see television cameras posted in your front lawn. Another thing that you might see is pictures of the house highlighted on the Internet. You might even be asked to participate in radio, television or newspaper interviews, sharing personal stories about experiences that you have had since you moved into the house.

Finding houses with history

Agencies that list celebrity homes that are for sale are great resources if you're looking to buy a house with history. Interior designers may also know where celebrity homes in areas that they service are located.

Companies like Zillow also list celebrity real estate directories. Magazines and websites that are geared toward upscale communities and money management also post celebrity homes for sale. If you're simply looking for a house that has lots of history, ask your realtor to tell you about the history of homes that attract you.

Online registries and history sites might have details on whether or not a house was in a historic natural event like a hurricane, earthquake or tornado. Historic registries could also reveal whether or not a house was constructed and lived in during historic events like the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, women's suffrage movement or American Revolution.

To buy and live in some of these homes, you might have to move to another part of the country. For example, you could live in a house that existed during the American Revolution if you move to the Northeast.

Just know that many historic homes, especially houses that were once lived in by a celebrity, are larger and more expensive than an average house. Views that these houses offer can be breathtaking. You also  might land a house that is large enough to comfortably operate a home business out of. Some houses that are loaded with history still have clothes and other belongings once owned and worn by a famous person hanging in the closet or another part of the house. These items can easily drive the value of the house upwards.