Five Neighborhood Red Flags

Neighborhood Red Flags

red flagsThere is no such thing as a perfect neighborhood and every zip code has pros and cons. You might love a house, but if it’s in a troublesome area, it may have a negative impact on your day-to-day life, as well as the resale value of the home. Here are Five Neighborhood Red Flags to be aware of while checking out a potential new neighborhood.

  1. Too many houses on the market?
    A neighborhood with an abundance of homes for sale indicates there may be housessomething causing homeowners to leave. It could be something about the neighborhood itself, such as social issues like increased crime or falling school ratings, or gentrification of the area raising living costs and reducing affordable housing options. Alternatively, there could be many houses up for sale because of the homes themselves. If a neighborhood was developed all around the same time period and the homes appear very similar, it could be evidence that the houses were constructed by the same builder. Therefore, the homes will age at the same rate and may run into similar repair issues. Multiple homes for sale in this type of development could indicate they were built with poor quality. Think about this when wandering through a potential neighborhood!
  2. Are the homes and yards in good condition?
    A well-maintained property is a sign that homeowners care about where they live. It doesn’t matter if the homes on the street are 1,500 square feet or 10,000, it is obvious to see when a community cares about their neighborhood and its perception. If you feel that all the other homes on a street are in disrepair and the yards are dead or overgrown, you may want to avoid moving into this area. It’s likely that a neighborhood such as this may lead to falling home values as well, so think about your investment before making a purchase.
  3. Less-than-stellar school ratings?
    Have you taken a look at ratings of the surrounding schools? Just like the previous red flag, you can tell a lot about a potential neighborhood by looking at the nearby schools. A shrinking school system may suggest an aging population, or it could signify school quality and the community’s attitude toward public services in general. If you have children or are thinking of starting a family, you will want to pay special attention to school ratings online or ask on community social media pages.
  4. Where are all the people?
    If you attend an open house in the neighborhood where you are thinking of moving, take note of how many people are out and about. Did you see any kids playing in a yard or residents spending time on their front porch? This could demonstrate the culture of the neighborhood, or it could indicate that residents do not feel safe spending time outside in this area.
  5. How are the streets and sidewalks?
    It is common for residential streets to have some potholes or crumbling sidewalks in areas, especially if your region experiences harsh seasons. However, an excess of infrastructure issues could indicate a town or city is lagging in public services. If house hunting in the spring or summer, you won’t necessarily know how the town will maintain the roads in the middle of winter. If a street light goes out and you call the city works department, will they see to a repair, or neglect this neighborhood? See if you can talk to any potential neighbors to ask these questions.

There is a lot to think about when planning a move. Not only do you have to think about the style of the house and the number of bedrooms, but a smart homebuyer must also consider whether the neighborhood meets their needs. Do you want to live in a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other by name and your next-door neighbor would lend you a cup of sugar in a pinch? Or do you desire a more secluded neighborhood where everyone minds their own business?

If you are buying a new home, remember to look beyond just the house, and evaluate a neighborhood as a whole. Check Five Neighborhood Red Flags on this list, and if the neighborhood passes the test, it could be great for your next home!

Then reach out to Me at 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE  Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service and be ready to make an offer on your dream home

5 Things to Be Aware of When Childproofing Your Home

Childproofing Your Home is a necessary step for preventing accidental injury or death to a little one in your home.
Are you ready to bring home your new bundle of joy? Homes are dangerous to babies and young children.  Children are constantly learning and are curious about the environment around them, but this can get them into some unintentional trouble.

Here are 5 Things to Be Aware of When Childproofing Your Home

Be Aware of Falling Furniture
You know well enough as an adult not to hang or climb on heavy furniture, but your children do not. Especially if the furniture is unbalanced, it is a danger to your child. Anchor heavy furniture such as dressers, entertainment centers, bookcases, etc. to the wall using anti tip, earthquake proof straps. You also need to be aware of anything that is on top of desk that can potentially fall and injure your child. Televisions, lamps, and heavy books can easily be pushed or tugged off a table accidentally.

Utilize Locks and Height
Using childproof cabinet locks, be sure to lock up toxic cleaning products, sharp implements, and any medicine (your child might think its candy.)  . You should invest in good quality products, and you should put them in a high location where children are unable to reach them. Toilets and any other places with water should be locked or children should be supervised. Children can drown in very little water.

Pay Attention to Potential Choking Hazards
Children tend to put things in their mouth and anything that can fit through a cardboard toilet paper roll is too small and can potentially be a choking hazard. This includes items such as removable caps, small pieces of toys, dice, plastic insets placed in unused electrical sockets, etc.

Use Gates When Appropriate
Gates can be used when you don’t want your child to have access to a certain area. Use a gate at the top or bottom of stairs if you don’t want them to accidentally fall down the stairs; use a fate at their bedroom door at night to prevent older toddlers and children from wandering around. If you have a pool, make sure to use good quality pool fencing to limit your child from accessing the pool area unattended.

Careful with Electricity and Cords
Electricity and shock is very dangerous to anyone, especially young children. Cover electrical outlets with sliding covers instead of plastic inserts (which can be pulled out and present a choking hazard.) Tuck exposed cords behind molding or use a tubing system, which will help prevent kids from chewing on them. Be sure to unplug hair dryers, straightening irons, etc. and put them on a high shelf.



Save Money for Your New Home in 2019

Did your New Year’s resolution include saving money in 2019? It is possible to buy things you need or want while paying less money for them. All it takes is some save 2planning and knowledge of sales cycles.
The frosty months at the beginning of the year set the stage for excellent sale prices. In addition to decorative items, you can also look for electronics, fitness accessories, and items to make your home feel cozier:

  • Christmas decorations: In the few days before and for a while after Christmas, shop sales for deep discounts — often upward of 50% — on decorations, wrapping paper, ornaments, artificial trees and similar seasonal fixings.
  • Toys: Since toys are a popular Christmas gift, stores generally host big toy sales as the holiday season draws to a close to thin out their inventory for the next year.
  • Bedding, linens, and home goods: Department stores hold “white sales” in January with deep discounts on sheets and towels. You can also expect retailers to have home and apparel sales on Presidents Day Feb. 18th and the weekend preceding the holiday.
  • Fitness equipment: Retailers know you want to focus on fitness during the colder months. You can expect fitness equipment and apparel sales at sporting goods stores.
  • TVs and electronics: Just before Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3rd), retailers normally discount TVs and other home-theater essentials to ensure you have the best sports and commercial-viewing experience.

Everyone looks forward to the snow melting and flowers blooming with the onset of warmer weather. When you can open your windows and start your spring cleaning, look for these sales to freshen up your style, living space, and save a little during that pesky tax season:

  • Grills: Buy your summer grilling necessities in March to avoid the spike in prices when summer arrives, and the items are more in-demand.
  • Vacuums: Buying a vacuum isn’t the most exciting purchase, but it’ll be less painful if you take advantage of a spring-cleaning sale. Look for markdowns at department stores as well as manufacturers like Dyson.
  • Tax-related items: Retailers like to discount tax-prep items in March ahead of Tax Day in April. Pay attention in mid-April for those thoughtful retailers and restaurants trying to lighten the burden of Tax Day with discounts and freebies on services like paper shredding.
  • Spring apparel: By May, retailers will move spring clothing to discount racks since the items have been on display for a month or two.
  • Household items: Memorial Day in May is one of the biggest blowout shopping days, so look for furniture, small kitchen appliances, and home-decor discounts from big-box stores. Some items, such as coffee makers and blenders are normally included in Memorial Day sales and make great wedding gifts if you have any coming up!

Ah, summer is finally here! In between planning weekend trips or scheduling summer camps, don’t forget to look for some unique summer deals:

  • Gym memberships: Consider buying a gym membership at the beginning of summer, when gyms may be looking for new sign-ups after the New Year’s Resolutioners have dropped their attendance.
  • Movie tickets: During the summer months, look out for specials on cheap movie tickets, often for matinée screenings or children’s movies.
  • Personal electronics: Did you know many retailers now offer a “Black Friday in July” sale? Look out for deals, especially on smaller electronics, at big box stores and online retailers (including Amazon’s Prime Day).
  • Swimsuits: Both brick and mortar and online retailers will be clearing their 2019 inventory, which makes August a great time to purchase a bathing suit.
  • Winter Travel: It is often recommended that the prime time to book air fare is 2-4 months before your trip. If you are planning on wintertime travel, start looking for the best fares in the summer!

As the seasons change, so do the sales. School starts, the leaves begin to change color, the days get cooler, but the sales are just warming up! And of course, fall has one of the biggest sale days of them all, Black Friday:

  • Mattresses: If your sleep is no longer restful, September is the time to invest in a new mattress. Expect sales at department stores and mattress centers, often around Labor Day (Sept. 2nd).
  • Appliances: Labor Day famously brings deals on home appliances, big and small. And if you don’t find what you are looking for, check back in November on Black Friday!
  • Outdoor items: When the temperature drops, it is a great time to find discounted outdoor items, such as lawnmowers and patio furniture.
  • Electronics: Black Friday notoriously offers the best deals on electronics such tablets, laptops and gaming systems. Look for discounts on smartphones and wearable technology as well.
  • Tools: While it might not be exciting for all you savvy, stylish shoppers, home improvement stores discount tools and other building supplies during Black Friday promotions.

If you maximize holiday and seasonal sales by knowing what time of year is best for some of your larger purchases, you may just be able to keep that New Year’s resolution throughout 2019.

5 Secrets to Buying a Home

Most tips for buying a home start with figuring out how much you can afford. But what else is there? Are there other tips for buying a home that can make a big impact?
Yes! From my  experiences and those of my real estate colleagues, here are the 5 Top Little-Known Secrets for Buying a Home you’ll love. 
1. Know Your Borders
There have been situations where the previous owners of the property “blurred” the legal property lines, taking a bit more space than was theirs. Rather than discover that you need to move your fence three feet inward or possibly remodel your garage because it extended too far past the property line, get a surveyor to map out the legal property lines. cul-de-sac-1
2. Bigger Isn’t Always Better
It’s the American dream to own a big home. Indeed, we often measure our success by how big or expensive our home is, and it’s only natural to want the nicest house on the block. But consider this: if you plan to re-sell your home, the best house on the block will appreciate less than others. Home values are based not only on the individual home but also on the surrounding homes – essentially placing a cap as to how much houses go for in that area.
3. Don’t Buy Solely on Emotion
Some people make the mistake of falling in love with a home so fast that it fogs their ability to see potential problems. For example, buying a home because it has a custom-built treehouse and playset for the kids but overlooking that it will add 20 minutes to your work commute, could be a problem. Focus on logic and instinct to choose your new home, and don’t rely too much on emotion. 
4. Understand the Neighborhood Nuances
To get a real feel for what it’s like to live in a new neighborhood, you should visit during various times of day and night. For example, all may seem quiet on a Tuesday afternoon, but what you don’t know is that your future neighbor likes to work on his car Saturday afternoons with loud music. Is that okay with you? Just like dating someone before you commit, date your neighborhood before saying yes. 
5. Check With the Town Planning Committee
Is there a brand-new commercial development in the works that will be located across the street from your potential home? Decide if that is something you want to deal with over the next few years, and potentially forever.

Call Me @ 860.945.9284 with all your home purchase questions and concerns and to take advantage of my FREE Mortgage “Jump Start” Pre-Approval with Rate Assurance service. Let’s talk about the right mortgage option for your family.

Know Your Lender – Mortgage Fraud is Out There

sharkWatch out for mortgage fraudsters that are lurking and ready to take advantage of unsuspecting borrowers.
The Good News:  You can beat them by knowing the red flags of mortgage–related fraud.

Rest assured that most mortgage lenders are legitimate. However, there are some fraudsters who pose as mortgage lenders with the intent of scamming borrowers out of their hard–earned money — especially in climates like today with upward pressure on mortgage rates and home prices in certain areas.  These fraudsters prey on unsuspecting or inattentive borrowers as they seek to close more transactions and pocket more money. Unfortunately, involvement with an illegitimate mortgage company can cost you thousands of dollars, negatively affect your credit, and cause emotional distress.

Fortunately, many types of mortgage fraud can be spotted by watching out for these red flags:

  • Demands from “specialists” for advanced fees to replace your current credit history and make you a stronger candidate for a new mortgage, purportedly through a higher credit score or a new credit reputation.

  • Pressure to “act fast” or sign any paperwork that you haven’t had a chance to read or don’t fully understand.

  • A company/person you don’t know asks you to release personal financial information online or over the phone.

  • Advertisements by phone, letter or door–to–door with phrases such as “guaranteed mortgage” and “no credit check.”

  • Loan officer changes at the last minute, replacing your existing relationship and contact with one you don’t know.

  • Changes in your personal information that appears in final documents, including income, employment and savings — as well as any changes to the type or term of the loan you applied for.

Identifying a legitimate mortgage lender is essential to your success as a borrower and a homeowner.  As with all companies requesting personal information — especially regarding your finances — you need to be cautious and do your homework. If something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

If you’re looking to get a new mortgage or refinance your existing loan, be sure to beware and stay aware. Visit My Home by Freddie Mac® for more information about renting, buying or owning a home.

Call Rick Cignoli @ 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE Mortgage “Jump Start” Pre-Approval with Rate Assurance service. And be ready to make an offer






The Perfect Loan for the Almost-Perfect Home

203k 2Your Dream Home is Within Reach!

Did you know that when Purchasing or even Refinancing a home, buyers can include additional monies for renovations and repairs.
The FHA 203(k) Rehab Loan allows homeowners to purchase and/or renovate their home with just one loan…monies to purchase it and monies to renovate it.

Program Benefits:
Eligible for 1 -4 Unit Owner-Occupied Properties and Mixed Used Properties too.
♦ Mortgage Based on after-improved value
♦ One closing and then the repairs begin
♦ Perfect solution to problems with older homes
♦ Enables borrowers to buy short-sales and foreclosed property when they don’t have the cash to do the needed repairs

Eligible Repairs:
♦ Modernize Plumbing, Heating , Ac And Electrical Systemshome repair 2
♦ Roofing, Gutters and Downspouts
♦ Weatherization (Storm Windows, Doors and Insulation
♦ Interior or Exterior Painting and  Remodeling
♦ Update Appliances, Kitchens and Bathrooms
♦ Flooring, Tiling and Carpeting
♦ Handicap Accessibility
♦ Basement Remodeling and Water Proofing

Many of the homes on the market today are functionally obsolete because they are older and don’t have the amenities today’s buyers are looking for in a home.
The answer is this: You can get a mortgage to buy a house and fix it up at the same time using the same loan. Smart Home Buyers are buying properties in need of attention and turning them into their dream home with the help of the FHA 203(k) Rehab loan.

Reach out to Me @ 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE Mortgage “Jump Start” Pre-Approval service.





Mortgage Recasting Can Lower Your Monthly Payments

Mortgage Recasting is an option for homeowners to lower their monthly mortgage castingpayments after the loan has closed. Mortgage Recasting applies only to Conventional  Loans.
Borrowers may make a large lump sum payment toward the principal of their conventional loan to secure lower monthly payments for the duration of the loan. All other loan terms including the interest rate of the original loan will remain the same.

You Might Want To Apply If …
♦  You received a large lump sum from the equity of the delayed sale of your prior home that occurs after the closing on the mortgage you are paying down.
♦  You receive a large inheritance and would like to apply those monies to lower your monthly payments.
♦  You would like lower monthly payments without the risk of refinancing which requires re-applying for a mortgage and incurring all the associated closing costs.

Benefits of Mortgage Recasting …
♦  Re-amortize your current loan after paying a lump sum toward the principle for a lower cost than refinancing.
♦  Lower your monthly payments while increasing the equity in your home.
♦  Retain the low interest rate of your current loan.
♦  Avoid closing costs and appraisal fees of a new loan.
♦  Avoid having to re-qualify for a new loan.

Reach out to Rick Cignoli @ 860.945.9284 to see if Mortgage Recasting is the right mortgage  option for your family.