Home Tips

Things to Look Out for at an Open House

Whether it’s your first home or not, it’s important to know what you’re looking for when purchasing a home. Attending open houses is a key step in getting a feel for what you like, what you don’t like, what’s on the market, and what’s within your budget. It’s critical to know what to watch out for during each tour considering that the next house you walk into could be your next home. To help you understand what to look out for, here are a few key things to keep in mind  during every open house you attend.

Location, Location, Location

If you’ve ever watched an episode of House Hunters, you know why we’re covering this as an important thing to keep in mind. As you arrive at an open house, pay close attention to the part of the home you can control the least… the neighborhood. There are a few things regarding location that we encourage you to take note of during your next house hunting venture:

  • Condition of the neighborhood property – How well kept is the overall neighborhood? Are lawns maintained, driveaways taken care of, homes washed? Your home is an investment, and how your neighbors treat their own investment will actually affect the value of yours.
  • Family-friendly – If you are looking for a neighborhood that is family-oriented, look to see if there are children around that are of a similar age. What school zone does the property belong to? Does it meet the expectations you have for your children’s education? If you are hoping for families but instead find a college-aged population, you may want to reconsider that community.
  • Noise – Look to see if neighbors have pets on their property. If they do, are they kept outside? Are they barking and making noise? For some, pets are a welcome sight in the neighborhood, but for others they can be an unwelcome nuisance  or even a danger. Is the house near a busy highway, train tracks, or a hospital? Keep in mind that heavy traffic can be difficult to ignore at night which could negatively affect your family’s sleep habits.
  • Nearby hazards – In Florida communities, small bodies of water are common, creating a hub for the ever-present local wildlife. This can create legitimate safety concerns if you have small children or pets. Be on the lookout for hazards like these because of drowning risks, wildlife like gators, or flooding hazards during the rainy season. Small standing bodies of water are also breeding grounds for mosquitoes which can make any outside space a nightmare during the humid summer months. Proximity is very important when considering how to enjoy the beauty of Florida’s wildlife, ponds, and lakes. Other hazards include things like busy roads, forestry, and even local crime rates.

If you feel comfortable with some of these initial impressions of the neighborhood and surrounding area, make sure to take a walk around the neighborhood before or after the open house. You can even come back to the neighborhood at a different time of day to get a better feel for it.

The Home and Property

It’s important to know what you’re getting into with an open house. A few key home aspects and red flags to look out for at an open house include:

  • Foundation issues – While some small hairline cracks are normal for homes settling, larger cracks could indicate an issue in the foundation of the home. Are the floors level? Do the doors close properly? If you see any of these issues with a home, be wary.
  • Water damage – As you explore the house, pay extra close attention to any staining, warping, or damage as they could be due to past water issues. This includes flooding, busted pipes, or even a leaks in areas like the roof.
  • Mold and mildew – Related to water damage, keep a close eye out for mold and mildew around the home. Open up cabinets, check crawl spaces, and explore corners of the home that could be susceptible to these threats. If the open house smells too strongly of cleaners or air fresheners, it could be an attempt to mask the smell of mold and mildew.
  • Ventilation – The layout of your home will have a large impact on air flow and ventilation of your home. Are the windows and doors set up to be opened to welcome a summer breeze into your home? Is the interior ventilation system designed to remove that extra moisture afterward?
  • Neglected maintenance – As an all-encompassing issue, look out for smaller issues that may have been ignored and not for the betterment of the home. This could be something as small as a burned out lightbulb or as big as a leaking window or faucet. If you see a pattern with these issues adding up, it could be indicative of more problems that haven gone unnoticed and unattended. A house which is cheaper up front could quickly end up costing more than you expected just six months down the road.

While these are all important things to look for during an open house, this is not an exhaustive list and every home (and buyer) is different. We always recommend participating in a couple of open houses to get a feel for what makes a house a home for your family and knowing what to look out for.

The Next Steps

Once you find that perfect house that fits all of your criteria, our team of mortgage professionals can help you live where you love throughout North Central Florida. Contact our team to learn more about the financing options available.

Why Now is the Time to Buy a Home

June marks one of our favorite occasions, National Homeownership Month. Recognized by The White House, we like to take this time to celebrate and highlight all of the homeowners nationwide, but especially our family of individuals who we’ve helped achieve their homeownership dreams in the North Central Florida area including Gainesville, Ocala, Jacksonville, Orlando and more.

Achieve the American Dream

The real estate industry is constantly evolving and at Chris Doering Mortgage, we strive to keep up with these changes. We’re committed to being transparent about the available financing options for our clients to set them up for the best success in owning a home. Becoming a homeowner is often the ultimate achievement for Americans; a testament to the American Dream. It doesn’t just stand as a roof over their heads, it stands as an investment for the homeowner for the present and the future.

Now is a great time to begin exploring the possibilities for buying a home. With a wide selection of homes available now in the summer months, you can find the home of your dreams. Even if you are not ready now, the Federal Reserve indicates potential interest rate cuts for the remainder of the year; a welcomed sign for the mortgages of new homebuyers. While these interest rate cuts may not sound large, they will quickly add up when paying off a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or a seasoned buyer, we want to celebrate National Homeownership Month and homebuyers everywhere.

To further celebrate National Homeownership Month, we’d like to share some of the many economical, physical, and social benefits to buying.

Benefits of Ownership

  • Predictability – Owning a home gives you a predictable fixed monthly mortgage cost, rather than a changing rental rate
  • Stability – Owning a home prevents you and your family from having to continue moving or facing the risk of eviction
  • Retirement – Owning a home provides a source of income into your retirement whether you look to use the house for yourself or to rent it to others while you travel the world
  • Privacy – Owning a home provides a higher level of privacy to you and your family by not having to share walls and listen to your neighbors or vice versa
  • Customize – Owning a home lets owners make continual changes to their place of residence for their dream home; a luxury not available if renting
  • Pride – Owning a home offers a sense of pride and community connectivity as you will be a valued member of the community for longer and able to make friends with your neighbors

To learn about some of the many other economic benefits of owning a home like tax benefits or equity, check out our blog post “Renting? 4 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Home.” If you’re considering beginning your home buying journey, make sure to learn about the countless benefits!

Home ownership is a challenging but rewarding process for everyone. Our team of mortgage professionals are here to help you navigate the process. Now celebrating our twelfth year in the mortgage lending industry here in North Central Florida, we offer a variety of flexible options helping local homebuyers. From home loans like FHA loans or VA loans to refinancing options, our team of consultants can help you choose the best financing option.

While not every month can be National Homeownership Month, we always like to take the time to celebrate the homeowners in our community and beyond. If you’re interested in learning more about the variety of financing options we can help offer in owning a home, contact our team. Let us know how we can help!

What You Need to Know About Foreclosed Homes

When a homeowner is no longer able to afford their mortgage payments and ceases to make their payments, the mortgage lender is forced to take ownership of the home. When this happens, the home goes through what is called a foreclosure and will go up for sale to a new owner.

If you are willing to navigate some of the challenges inherent in purchasing a foreclosure, they can be a financially friendly option. However, there are a few things you’ll want to know before making the decision to buy a foreclosure.

Foreclosures Can be Financially Friendly

Often times, the lender who owns the foreclosed home is eager to sell the home at a discounted price to remove the house from their books. For this reason, foreclosures can be a great option for a home shopper looking for a larger home, or interested in a certain neighborhood that would be typically outside of their budget.

Before you start the buying process, make sure that you check comparable prices around the neighborhood to make sure you understand what level of discount you may be getting.

They May Require More Work

One reason a foreclosure may be discounted is because of the amount of work it requires. The home was foreclosed on because the previous homeowner didn’t have the funds to pay their mortgage, which may mean that they may not have been able to keep the home in good shape.

The longer a home is vacant, the more susceptible it is to vandalism and theft. Break-ins and property damage aren’t unusual and can lead to costly repairs and fixes. Here are some additional issues that may be a problem the longer a house is unoccupied:

  • Mold
  • Vermin
  • Broken pipes
  • Missing wiring
  • Ripped out appliances
  • Structural damage

This is why it is even more crucial to have the home inspected prior to purchasing. If the remodeling is severe, what seemed like a financially good deal may no longer fit your budget taking the repair expenses into consideration.

There May Be Red Tape

Buying a foreclosed home requires extra steps not present in the typical home buying process. It can take weeks to hear back on an offer you put down on a home. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will secure the home during that time because the lenders selling the home will wait as long as possible to make sure they’re getting the best deal.

Patience is the key, but it is not always possible. If you are looking for a new home and need to move in quickly, foreclosures may not be the best option. Along with longer closing times, the previous owner may need to be evicted, which in itself can be a long and difficult process.

Other Things to Consider

Securing a mortgage for a foreclosure can be difficult for several reasons:

  • If you haven’t worked out financing before you put an offer down, the home may go to someone else.
  • Not all lenders will loan money for distressed properties. Make sure that you know who will offer a loan on a foreclosure.
  • FHA and VA loans may not be an option because they often require the home to be in good working condition.
  • Conventional mortgages may appraise the value of the home low based on its condition and require improvements before you secure the loan. Unfortunately, foreclosures often require you to buy the home as-is.

If you need help navigating the process of buying a foreclosure, your first step is getting pre-approved. Understand the challenges that may be ahead, and weigh them against some of the pains and aggravations.

We are here to help make the home-buying process easy and headache free. If you need help and are interested in buying a foreclosed home, come in and see us. We can help walk you through the pre-approval process and work with you so that you can get into the home of your dreams.

Mistakes Made When Buying a New Home

The Complete Move-In Checklist

The Essential Set of Moving Tips

Moving to a new home is an exciting change, but the moving process itself can easily become somewhat hectic when not properly planned out. No matter how thrilled you are to be getting into a new place, you still have to maintain your clarity of thought long enough to actually transition into the new home successfully, and that will require some forethought.

There is a lot to think about as you are relocating, and many different tasks and responsibilities may try to cloud your mind. Therefore, having a list of the important activities to accomplish before, during, and after the move can be a big help to new homeowners, and Chris Doering Mortgage is here to provide that list. We want you have a seamless and simple moving experience, so we have compiled the necessary advice that will make that experience possible. As you are settling into your new home, secure a smooth adjustment by following the steps of Chris Doering Mortgage’s Move-In Checklist.

The Move-In Checklist

Before You Move In

  • Collect important documents
    Packing important documents in random boxes will not help you keep them close at hand for quick retrieval when necessary, and depending on the box you put them in, you may not see them again for a few weeks. Therefore, gather all of your important documents before you move and put them in a secure container that you can easily identify and can access whenever you need before, during, and after the move. These important documents may include moving van documents; real estate papers; closing documents; receipts recording moving expenses that may be tax deductible; and warranties and instructions for new appliances.
  • Update your address
    So that you don’t miss any important mail or delay bills in need of payment during the transition, update your address before you move by filing change of address forms with the post office. Remember to change your address on important items such as your driver’s license, voter registration, and credit cards, and notify your auto insurance company, your Internet and cable TV suppliers, the bank, and newspaper and magazine subscriptions as well. Finally, transfer utilities such as gas, water, electric, and phone to your new address, or choose new providers.
  • Review HOA rules
    No matter how you feel about homeowners associations, you should review the rules of the homeowners association you may be moving into so that you can determine what you can and cannot do in terms of renovations and decorations. These rules will also fill you in with need-to-know information such as trash and recycling schedules, which you should heed as soon as possible.
  • Change the locks and set up a security system
    As soon as the keys to your new home are in your hand, nullify them by getting the locks changed on all of the exterior doors. Whether you buy and install them yourself or have a locksmith handle it, you should get new locks installed immediately. This step should renew your peace of mind in light of the fact that realtors, maintenance folks, and previous owners may still have keys to your place, and it will enable you to take one more step towards making the house truly yours. Enhance your renewed peace of mind even further by equipping your new home with a security system if it does not otherwise have one.
  • Have the mechanical equipment cleaned and serviced
    As soon as you buy your new home, schedule to have routine cleaning and maintenance performed on the heating and cooling systems so that you can reduce the chance of encountering significant problems with this equipment when the seasons change.
  • Pest-proof your new home
    Ideally, you should have your new home sprayed for pests or set off a bug bomb before you and your family get there. Finishing this task early will allow you to avoid exposure to the harsh chemicals and keep the bugs out of your stuff as you are unpacking.
  • Deep clean your new home
    After you pest-proof your home, get your new place in pristine condition by deep cleaning it. Thoroughly wiping down the countertops, shelves, drawers, baseboards, windows, and floors will be much easier before rugs and furniture begin to occupy the space as well, and cleaning out the oven, refrigerator, and freezer will be a breeze before the food arrives. If you have the time to complete a deep cleaning of your home before you move in, save some money and get to know your new house better by doing it yourself, and if you do not have the time, hire a cleaning service to help you get every room spick and span before you unload the moving van.
  • Paint the walls and ceilings
    Getting a fresh coat of paint on all of the walls and ceilings in the home, if it needs this treatment, is a pretty time consuming job, so consider hiring professionals for this task as well. If the walls are slightly damaged with holes, cracks, or other defects, the surfaces will definitely need to be prepped before the new color goes up, so if you do not have the ability to accomplish this before your move-in date, then there is all the more reason to outsource this chore to the pros so that you can focus on more important parts of the move-in process. If every surface needs repainting and you are short on time, choose a neutral hue to cover all of the walls and then plan on repainting rooms in colors you prefer in the future.

As You Are Moving In

  • Install new switch plates and other devices
    If you are moving into an older home, you may see mismatched outlets, discolored cover plates, and rusty air vent covers throughout the home. To give the house a sense of uniformity and cleanliness, replace all of these items yourself if you can, and if any project involves working with electricity, contact the professionals.
  • Double-check repairs
    For freshly built or renovated homes, builders routinely conduct a final walk-through of the space, and this is time to note last minute details that need to be addressed. Your builder will probably take care of them before you move in, but be sure to determine who will be responsible for any open items. Things to look for include a burned out light bulb, paint that needs a touchup, or chipped electrical outlet covers.
  • Inspect your stuff
    After the moving truck has been unloaded, check your inventory list to confirm that everything has been delivered, and to ensure that everything makes it to its new place in the home, review the floor plan as well to figure out what goes where. Then, walk through each room of the house to check that your belongings made it safe and sound. Open boxes containing your most breakable items, such as china or glassware, to see if they survived the trip, and remember that if your breakables arrived in one piece, your other stuff is probably fine as well.
  • Organize as you unpack
    If you have not hired the movers to help you unpack, then resist the urge to try to unpack everything at once. Instead, locate the essentials and put those away, then unpack and organize the rest of your things as you need them. Essentials include towels, bed linens, toiletries, a few sets of clothes, necessary dishes, and the items the kids and pets need to feel settled as well.
  • Get closet organizers
    Before you pull out all of your stuff, survey the closet situation of the house and make a plan about where you will put certain things. To prepare your closets to provide maximum storage solutions, outfit them with closet organizers, and create additional storage options throughout the home by adding shelves, hooks, tubs, and baskets where needed. This step will help you guarantee that everything has a good place to live.
  • Get to know your home
    If you are moving into a new build or a home decked out with a lot of systems, get acquainted with the specifics of these features as soon as possible. Take a tour of your new build with the builder to discover the locations of the electrical circuit breakers, water cutoff valves, and furnace and air conditioning filters, and learn how to operate all new systems such as garage door openers, sprinkler systems, programmable thermostats, water softeners, appliances, home security, home automation, home theater, and more.
  • Get to know your neighborhood
    As you are learning about the inside of your home, learn about the outside as well by meeting your new neighbors, discovering the best places to get groceries and other necessities, and mapping out the major roads and best routes around your home.

After You Move In

  • Add window treatments
    The dual purpose of window treatments is something new homeowners will want to take advantage of as soon as possible: window treatments supply both desirable privacy and the finishing touch to your space. If you do not have the ability to put curtains or blinds up on all the windows right away, at least dress the windows that need it the most, such as those in bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Prepare the beds
    Empower everyone to get a good night’s sleep and feel cozy in the new house by unpacking bed linens for every bed that your family will be using for now. Forgo making the guest beds until a later date if no friends are staying over, and focus instead on getting out the favorite blankets, sheets, and pillows that everyone needs to start enjoying their new bedrooms right away.
  • Throw a housewarming party
    Once you are feeling good about the condition of your new home, celebrate the success of your transition by throwing a housewarming party with friends, family, and neighbors. People might bring gifts to the party to help welcome you to the neighborhood, and you have a chance to meet new people and show off the beautiful space you have created.

The Move-In Mindset

As you are working through this major process and trying to keep your stuff and your sanity intact, remember why you are moving and the vision you have for your new life in this new house. As much as you can, try to fashion the home you always imagined, but don’t pressure yourself to race through every step. Instead, take the time to relax, be with your family, and celebrate even the smallest moving achievements. Chris Doering Mortgage is here to help you master moving with this Move-In Checklist, so to learn more about Chris Doering Mortgage and our services, contact our team today!

Get Organized to Reduce Stress and Home Buying Hassles

Organize Your Important Documents to Simplify the Home Buying Process

Buying a home is exciting, fun, significant, and stressful. In fact, the American Institute of Stress reports that taking on a mortgage is one of the top twenty most stressful things in life, and making a major change in your living situation is within the top thirty on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory. When buying a home, there is obviously much to enjoy and look forward to in the process, but there are also a lot of tasks involved that will probably leave you worrying. Therefore, being as organized as possible can greatly reduce any annoying and unnecessary frustrations you may encounter.

If you cannot find an important document that you need in order to move on to the next step of buying a home, you not only could wind up extremely stressed, but you may not even be able to move on at all. In order to help you be super prepared for presenting every record that the home buying process requires, Chris Doering Mortgage recommends installing a simple and efficient system of arranging and taking care of your documents. Adhering to the following advice with all of your essential paperwork will not only help you avoid unhealthy stress levels, but it will also help you cut down on home buying hassles in general.

How to Organize Your Important Documents

  1. Gather and Group Your Documents

As soon as you can in the home buying process, you should collect every important document you have, or even every document you have. Search all throughout the house, bring papers home from the office, get stuff out of storage, and contact any family members who may be holding things for you. Examples of important documents include:

  • Birth and death certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Social security cards
  • Passports
  • Wills
  • Medical records
  • Real estate documents
  • Insurance policies
  • Automobile documents
  • Credit card documents
  • Investment documents
  • Loan documents
  • Banking records
  • Tax records
  • Transcripts and diplomas
  • Monthly bills and receipts
  • Warranties and manuals
  • Home maintenance receipts

When all of your documents are in one place, begin to sort them. To start, put them into piles based on their order of importance. Obviously, things like birth certificates and social security cards will always be a top priority, while tax records and transcripts may have a slightly shorter shelf life of importance. Therefore, group these documents accordingly, and trash whatever you can to eliminate clutter. How do you know what you can toss? This list holds some of the answers:

  • Bank statements: If you have not yet chosen to switch to paperless statements, then keep the hard copies of your bank statements for three years. For the future, consider going green by utilizing the practicality and expense of online banking in order to spare the environment and your home of excess paper.
  • Credit card statements: first, check the accuracy of these statements with your own records. Make sure that any large purchases are accounted for, and then make a copy of your statement so that you have proof of your payment. Then, especially if these documents have any identifying information on them, shred them rather than throwing them away in order to lessen your risk of identity theft.
  • Tax returns: In general, you should keep tax documents for seven years, but depending on the taxed activity they display, you may want to keep them for longer.
  1. Find a Simple Filing System for Your Documents

Once you have separated your documents into groups based on importance, further systemize these groups according to some order, whether alphabetical, chronological, or whatever makes the most sense to your family. To keep your smaller and larger groups together but still distinct, consider putting all documents relating to one particular category into a file of a primary color such as blue or red, and then use lighter and darker shades of that same color to break that category down more specifically. For instance, all documents having to do with money could go in a green holder, and then within that holder, tax documents could be kept in the mint section, loan documents in the forest section, banking records in the emerald section, etc.

Even if you choose to use something other than colors to classify everything, if you have a lot of documents, getting as organized as possible with categories and subcategories is key to stress-free discovery and delivery. Also, just so you don’t forget your system, create a file index with a table of contents so that you do not accidentally duplicate or misplace any documents.

  1. Protect and Preserve Your Documents

Some of your most important documents will entail extra special attention and care, so make sure that you take the necessary precautions to protect them. For documents that would be very difficult to replace, such as your birth certificates, passports, social security cards, and wills, keep them in a fireproof lockbox or a lockable filing cabinet. This may sound intense or even somewhat risky, but at least all of your most crucial paperwork will be sheltered and secure.

For many of your documents, you will not need to keep the hard copies. For these items, go digital when you can. If you do not already have a digital record of a document, then make one by scanning it. Then, store all of your digital files on an external hard drive or a cloud server. If you choose to use a cloud, go with a storage provider that offers data encryption for your very sensitive stuff, and also opt for more than enough space to meet your needs.

  1. Put Your Documents in an Accessible and Attractive Place

Now that everything is compiled and cataloged, house it all in a spot you can access effortlessly, but feel free to make that space look as neat, lovely, professional, or pretty as you want. Organization does not have to be boring or unattractive, and there are plenty of cute and creative storage ideas out there from which to choose. Do store your documents somewhere safe and aesthetically satisfying within your home, but do not carry them around in your wallet or purse. That is a very bad idea, as doing so increases the chance of an essential document such as your passport or social security card being stolen.

How to Simplify the Home Buying Process

Certain personalities will find this part of the home buying process rather relaxing, refreshing, and even reassuring, but for those of us who do not relish this kind of organizing, there is always the payoff of convenience and efficiency to come, and that feature means that a great amount of anxiety will not be making an appearance when you are buying a home. There are not really any setbacks to getting as organized as possible before taking on such a major and somewhat daunting task, so consider cutting down on the hassles of home buying by starting to take these steps today.

At Chris Doering Mortgage, we are also committed to cutting out the stressful hassles of home buying, and that is why we offer simple tips such as these as well as expert, professional, and friendly mortgage lending services. Contact us today to learn how our team can supply their support to help you move through the home buying process with ease.