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Thinking About Buying A Home? Improve Your Credit Score With These Tips

Your credit score plays a key role in the homebuying process. Having a high credit score can help you score a lower interest rate on your mortgage—which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your loan.

But if you have a less-than-perfect credit score, there’s no reason to panic! There are steps you can take to increase your credit score—and snag the lower interest rates that come along with it.

A recent article from Apartment Therapy outlined five key strategies to improving your credit score, including:

  • Paying your bills on time, all the time;
  • Keeping credit card balances low;
  • Auditing your credit report on a regular basis (and correcting any mistakes);
  • Limiting hard inquiries; and
  • Giving your score time to grow

The Takeaway:

Bottom line? If you make these five strategies a rule, your credit score will improve—and you’ll be able to save money on your mortgage as a result.

January Expected To Be An Active Time For Homebuyers To Start Looking

The temperatures may be dropping outside—but for house hunters, things are just about to start heating up.

recent analysis from realtor.com found that while most people believe spring to be the hottest season for homebuyers, house hunters are starting their search earlier in the year—and January has become one of the most active times of the year for potential buyers on the market for a new home.

20 out of the 100 largest metros in the US saw their highest number of listing views online in January 2019 (based on average monthly views per listing on realtor.com 2015 to 2019)—compared to just three in 2018. And according to the realtor.com team, this trend is poised to continue in January 2020.

“As shoppers modify their strategies for navigating a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier,” said realtor.com® Senior Economist George Ratiu in the analysis’ press release. “With housing inventory across the U.S. expected to reach record lows in 2020, we expect to see this trend continue into the new year.”

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about buying a home in 2020, don’t wait until spring to start your search—because as it turns out, January is the perfect season for house hunting! And, if you’re thinking about selling, it’s not a bad idea to get your house on the market before the actual Spring market.

Top Flooring Trends For 2020

A new year is officially upon us—and with a new year comes new design trends. If you’re thinking about selling your home, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending in the interior design space and what buyers are looking for—and that includes flooring.

In a recent article from realtor.com, design experts outlined the flooring trends they predict will be all the rage in 2020, including:

  • Porcelain tiles that look like other materials. Porcelain tiles are a go-to for homeowners thanks to their versatility and durability. But if you don’t like the look of porcelain, you’re in luck! One of the biggest flooring trends of 2020? Porcelain tiles that look like other materials—particularly wood and marble.
  • Waterproof vinyl floor planking. Like laminate, vinyl floors can give you the look and feel of wood—but because vinyl is waterproof, it’s much more durable. Expect homeowners to embrace waterproof vinyl wood floor planking in their bathrooms and kitchens in 2020.
  • Stained concrete. Modern, industrial design is set to be a major interiors trend in the upcoming year—and if that’s your style, stained concrete is a great way to carry that trend through your flooring.

What does that mean for you? Flooring is one of the most noticeable design features of your home—so if you’re thinking about selling your home in 2020, make sure your flooring speaks to today’s on-trend buyers.

7 Expert Moving Tips To Make Your Winter Move Fast and Easy

 

Winter is a great time to buy a home — there’s less competition, so that often means you can get a better home for a cheaper price. Talk about a happy holiday!

But moving in the winter? Not so great.

There are definitely challenges that go along with packing up everything you own and moving it to a new location in the dead of winter — especially if you live in an area with extreme winter weather.

But it’s not impossible! Here are seven expert moving tips to make your winter move fast and easy (and have you settled into your new place with a nice, hot cup of cocoa before you know it):

1. Keep an eye on the forecast

This one should go without saying, but if you’re planning on moving during the winter months, it’s extremely important that you keep an eye on the forecast.

Winter weather can be unpredictable, and snowstorms can hit with little warning. Check the forecast once a week in the month leading up to your move. The week of your move, check every day.

If there’s a significant amount of snow forecasted – the kind of snow that could close roads or make driving unsafe – consider postponing your move date until after the snow passes. The last thing you want is to get stuck on the side of the road with all of your belongings in the back of a truck.

2. Confirm with your movers (and then confirm again)

One of the best things about moving during the winter is that it’s a slow time for moving companies — which means a better deal for you on your moving services.

But if you do hire movers (or rent a moving truck), it’s super important to make sure you confirm all the details (like the day, time, and location) of your move. You should plan to confirm the appointment a week before and then check in the day before your move to make sure there’s no winter weather that will keep things from going as planned.

You don’t want to get stuck in a house with no heat or electricity, waiting hours for movers who have the wrong time. Make sure you reconfirm.

3. Hire a babysitter and/or petsitter

Moving in winter is tough.

But you know what makes it tougher?

Having a bunch of children and/or pets running around.

If you’re a parent (or a pet parent) do yourself a favor and hire a babysitter and/or pet sitter for the day. This will save you a ton of time and stress. Instead of trying to keep track of your children or four-legged friends as you lug boxes through the snow, you can focus on the task at hand, which will get you through the move (and into your warm home) faster.

4. Start your move as early as possible

Not only do the days get colder in the winter — they also get shorter.

Because there’s fewer hours of daylight during the winter, you’ll want to get your move started as early as possible. That way, if you run into any speed bumps along the way, you still have daylight hours to figure things out.

Even if you’re not a morning person, get started early. A winter move can be tough, but a winter move in the dark is even tougher.

5. Protect your floors

If there’s snow on the ground, that means when you move, you’re going to get snow on your shoes. And, eventually, that will mean snow (and water) all over your nice, new floors.

You don’t want damaging your floor to be the first thing you do when you move into your new home. If you move on a snowy day (or the ground is wet from a previous storm), lay down plastic tarps to protect the flooring before you start moving things in.

6. Make sure the heat is turned on in your new place…

Before you move, make sure you’ve switched your utilities and the heat is turned on in your new place. The last thing you want to do is arrive and find you have to spend the first night in your new home bundled up because you have no heat!

7. But turn it off during the move

That being said, turn your heat off during the actual move. As you move things in and out, all the heat will escape through the door, which will not only make it cold inside, but will also stick you with a hefty energy bill.

Moving in the winter can be a challenge, but with these tips you’ll be moved and snuggled up by the fire in your new home in no time!

Tis’ The Season For Home Buying

The holidays are right around the corner, which means it’s the best time of the year for festive parties, eggnog, and giving (and receiving!) the perfect gifts.

And, apparently, it’s also the best time of the year to buy a home.

According to a recent analysis from real estate data firm ATTOM Solutions, the best days of the year to buy a home all fall in the month of December. And the two best days of the year to buy a home just so happen to coincide with peak holiday season—December 26, the day after Christmas (-0.3% below full market value) and December 31, New Year’s Eve (-0.1% below full market value).

“Closing on a home purchase the day after Christmas or on New Year’s Eve can be one of the most financially beneficial holiday-season gifts you can get,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions, said in the article. “While lots of folks are shopping the day-after Christmas sales or getting ready to ring in the New Year, our data shows that buyers and investors are buying homes on those days at a discount. That’s a far cry from buying during June, when they are likely paying about a 7 percent premium.”

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about buying a home, you should definitely consider giving yourself the gift of homeownership this holiday season. Not only will it make for a happy holiday, but it can also make for a great deal.