December Home and Finance Tips

Posted by Jeremy Russell on Thursday, December 14th, 2017 at 11:36am.

Why a first-time home buyer should never go at it alone

It's tempting for a first-time buyer to start shopping for a home without the help of a real estate professional, especially with the abundance of online information. 
But why would a first-time home buyer go at it alone, when the seller usually pays the commission to the buyer's agent from sale proceeds? While commissions are always negotiable, a buyer doesn't pay anything extra.
Another compelling reason why first-time home buyers need the help of a professional is the complexity of a real estate transaction. It's complicated. Real estate agents do this for a living, while buyers have other jobs. 
Agents are experienced and trained to negotiate a sales contract, can help avoid missteps, know the local neighborhoods, and see red flags early in the process. They have the connections to home inspectors, septic or sewer experts, pest inspectors, as well as a list of local plumbers, electricians, and handymen for future repairs. Plus, if something does go wrong, first-time buyers will need the skills of an experienced professional to get things back on track.
The vast majority of people who have bought several homes and are familiar with the process still rely on a real estate agent, because they know that if something unexpected happens, they won't have to fix it themselves.

The one thing you need to know before you refinance

Are you considering refinancing into a mortgage with a lower interest rate because it will reduce your monthly payment by $100 or more? You may save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
However, you need to do this one exercise before you refinance: You need to factor in how many payments are left on your current home loan. If you don't, a new loan with a lower interest rate might actually cost you more. 
To double-check if you'll actually save money, total your payments left on your current mortgage, then compare this against your new total payments. Keep in mind that this comparison assumes you'll stay in a home for 30 years. For those who plan to stay in their homes, this is an important calculation and one many people forget.

3 pro tips for working with holiday lights

Holiday lights add luster to the winter season and help promote the holiday spirit. Here are three pro tips for working with holiday lights:

Start early: Don't wait until the weather turns wet, icy, or cold. It's easier and safer to work when the weather is mild. Even if you don't hang your lights yet, you can prep: Install hooks and hangers and run extension cords now.

Create a map: Create a to-scale map with your home's measurements to figure out how many light strands and extension cords you'll need for each area. This will save you time next year as well if you use the same display.

Go all LED: Today's LED holiday lights are brighter, longer lasting and more energy efficient. Plus, you're less likely to blow a fuse since you can run many strands end-to-end.

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