Bobby Jose's Blog
There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.
Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way you’ll feel confident knowing you’re getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.
What is a VA Loan?
VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).
If you’re hoping to buy a home soon and don’t have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.
Loans that are guaranteed by the VA don’t require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasn’t guaranteed
VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.
Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if you’ve ever bought a home before, you’ll know how quickly closing costs can add up.
Who is eligible?
There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, we’ll cover all the bases of eligibility.
If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:
You’ve served 90 consecutive days during wartime
You’ve served 181 days during peacetime
You’ve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard
Your spouse died due to their work in the military
There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.
Applying for a VA Loan
There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, you’ll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VA’s official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.
Next, you’ll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender. If you haven’t chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.
Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and you’ll be on your way to buying a home.
Creating curb appeal is an essential ingredient to attracting potential buyers to a house for sale. Similar to the concept of "dressing for success," when you make a strong first impression, your chances for producing positive results are greatly enhanced.
Looking good from the outside is the first step to capturing people's interest, but that's only the first of several hurdles that you have to clear. The last thing you want to do as a home seller is disappoint prospective buyers when they start looking around inside. That's why it's important to start strong and finish strong! While that may be easier said than done, it's a principle of success you can't afford to ignore.
Once you put your house on the market, there are two factors that could potentially work against you: the elements of time and competition.
- Time is of the essence: Time can either be your friend or your adversary, depending on how long your house has been on the market. When house hunters see the words "just listed," it creates a feeling of excitement and urgency. For many eager home buyers, those two words mean there's a fresh opportunity to discover the house of their dreams... or at least a reasonable facsimile! It's especially enticing to frustrated buyers who have already looked at a lot of homes, without having found the right one yet. When a new house is listed and put on the market, couples will be thinking and saying "Maybe this house will be the one!" Your challenge as a home seller is to do everything possible and cost-effective to live up to their expectations! An important factor to keep in mind is that the longer a house is on the market, the less appealing it generally is to prospective buyers. Once a house has been languishing on the market for more than a couple months or so, it also puts the sellers at a negotiating disadvantage.
- Competition is a fact of life: Buying a house is weighty decision. No one takes it lightly, and few buyers are going to make an offer on a house if they haven't looked at several others, too. Well-organized house hunters will have wish lists, "must have" requirements, and detailed notes and recollections about how each house stacks up. So it's important to work with your real estate agent to present your home in its best possible light. When your home compares favorably to other similar properties on market, your chances of getting it sold within a reasonable period of time are greatly improved.
You may not think much about your hot water heater. Unless of course, your hot water heater ends up breaking down. Hot water is so important in our homes, yet we take this resource for granted. Hot water does a lot in our homes from clean our laundry to disinfect our dishes to heat up our showers. We use it without thinking about it.
If you neglect your hot water heater it can cause some costly damage to your home. Your basement could end up flooded. Pipes can burst. You can be without the use of hot water for days- even weeks- if you’re not vigilant about taking care of your hot water heater.
Once water is gushing from the source, the best course of action is to simply shut the water off to your home. Before you even get to that point there are some tell tale signs of damage to your hot water heater that can be detected before major issues arise. First, if you notice any type of water around your hot water heater, you should get it checked out. Don’t look at it as “no big deal.” Any type of moisture or water stains around the water heater itself are a sure sign that something isn’t right with the unit.
As a homeowner, you should know just how old your hot water heater is. Usually, the installation date on the heater is noted somewhere along with the serial number. The typical hot water heater lasts about 9-11 years. If you live in an area with hard water, this number can vary.
Once the damage is done to your hot water heater you’ll likely have a large cleanup project on your hands. You’ll need to call water extraction services that will help dry out the area and clean up any baseboards that can become hazardous. Sometimes, these projects can get a bit bigger than you’d ever expect. After the water is pumped out, the cleanup has only just begun.
Why Hot Water Heaters Fail
The minerals from water tend to build up (especially in the case of hard water) and cause the unit to rust out form the inside. While the inside of the tank contains glass, it does have metal pieces that can rust. You can replace certain parts of the hot water heater from time to time to keep it in good working order, the best prevention is to replace your water heater when the time is right. Don’t let the unit sit until way past its expiration date.
Being The Homeowner
As a homeowner, you probably wonder if something like a broken water heater were to happen if your insurance would cover the cost of the damage. The insurance will cover the cost of cleanup and repairs. The insurance will not cover the cost to replace the hot water heater or any labor costs. The only way the entire cost would be covered is if you have a home warranty.
A simple thing that you can get to help alleviate major damage to your home from a hot water heater is to get an alarm. This little device is inexpensive and will alert you when any water hits near the areas of the alarm. This could save you a lot of costly damage and repairs. The most important thing that you can do in your home to prevent major damage from a hot water heater is to stay vigilant and keep on top of maintenance and replacement timelines.
If you intend to sell your house, you'll need to put together an engaging home listing. By doing so, you can increase the likelihood that homebuyers will want to check out your residence in-person – something that eventually may lead to a home sale.
It is important to do everything possible to differentiate your home listing from others. This will boost your chances of a fast home sale, along with raise the possibility of receiving a home offer that matches or exceeds your initial expectations.
Ultimately, there are several things that separate an ordinary home listing from an exceptional one, and these include:
1. Home Location
All home listings include details about a home's address. However, only the best home listings highlight information about where a residence is located relative to popular landmarks and attractions.
For example, if your house is located near some of the state's top schools, you may want to include information in your home listing about your home's proximity to these high-quality schools. With this information, your home listing may stand out to parents.
On the other hand, if your residence is just minutes from an amusement park, gym or other popular local attractions, you should include this information in your listing as well.
2. Home Upgrades
If you upgraded your house's heating system or installed new windows only a few years ago, it may be worthwhile to incorporate this information into your home listing.
Remember, as a home seller, you'll want to provide homebuyers with as much information about your residence as you can. And if you include details about assorted home upgrades, you can show homebuyers that you've allocated significant time and resources to improve your residence.
3. Home Photographs
When it comes to home photographs, there is no need to settle for "basic" pictures. Instead, a home seller should look carefully at home photographs and incorporate only those that showcase the true beauty of a residence into a home listing.
In many instances, a homebuyer will examine home photographs before he or she decides whether to continue to read a home listing. If a homebuyer is turned off by home photos that make a residence look small or cramped, he or she may move on to other home listings.
For home sellers, it is paramount to clean and declutter a house before you take photos of it. This will ensure your residence looks pristine both inside and out and guarantees that your home photos can make a distinct impression on homebuyers who view your home listing.
Lastly, if you need help preparing a home listing, a real estate agent can provide expert assistance. This housing market professional can collaborate with you as you put together a home listing and offer plenty of tips and recommendations along the way.
Take the guesswork out of crafting an effective home listing – consider the aforementioned home listing items, and you can create a home listing that helps you stir up significant interest in your residence.
After a move, everything feels fresh and energizing. This is, of course, in part because of the energy that comes with a big change. But it also comes from having a neatly, organized home. In the jumble of packing and unpacking, junk gets tossed and items get new homes. Everything gets a new dedicated area where it belongs. Everything is tidy, as it should be.
So how then can you maintain this wonderful feeling and continue to keep things neat and tidy?
First, you need to make a daily habit of doing a quick clean sweep every day. Whether you do it in the morning, afternoon or before bed isn’t important. What is important is that you do it every day.
Go through the house to make to corral up stray dishes, put items back into their dedicated places, and give homes to those who don’t have one yet.
And if you can’t think of somewhere to put it? Question its purpose and consider either donating or tossing it.
Aim to keep your surfaces clear of items. Allowing things to accumulate is one of the fastest for clutter to quickly take over. Stop it in its track by tidying up when you’re done using this “station” of your home.
Practice not being “lazy”. If you bring your tea to sip on the couch when you leave the room take your mug with you straight to the dishwasher. If you finished the last of the chips put the clip away where it belongs instead of leaving it out on the counter. Put pens back away after using them to jot out notes. Recycle magazines when you're done reading them.
If you find things are building up as clutter quickly you might have too much stuff. Which is okay, it happens!
Decluttering isn’t a one and done process. We need to consistently be assessing the things that collect in our homes and what benefit they are adding to your life. Sometimes we once used all the time have fallen out of favor or need to be repaired/replaced.
Make time once a month for a quick declutter session and once a season for a more detailed one.
And the best way to avoid clutter is to closely monitor what you’re allowing to come into your home in the first place. If you find you love to take things home just because they were free or on sale, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself why.
After all, the less stuff we have in our homes the less there is to manage. Which means more time spent doing what you enjoy doing, like spending time with your family, and less time organizing it all.