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  • 4 Steps to Take When Preparing to Buy a Home

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Property Q&A, Credit Score  |  March 17, 2012 10:56 PM  |  420 views  |  No comments

    Interest rates are at record lows, and many homeowners have priced their homes to sell. Many buyers who waited for rock-bottom prices know that now is the time to buy. Whether you want to buy a home before the end of the year or wait until 2012, there are some things you can do now to prepare.

    [See 10 Places to Buy a Retirement Home for Under $100,000.]

    1. Find out how much home you can afford. Before you do anything else, find out how much home you can afford. To do this, look online for a quality mortgage calculator (Zillow has one that works well). Mortgage calculators show you how much home you can afford based on your income, an average interest rate, and the length of the loan.

    You also need to calculate your debt-to-income ratio, which shows the amount of your income that goes toward paying your debts. The higher your ratio, the less likely you will qualify for a home loan. Find out if you can get a mortgage before you begin searching for your dream home. If your debt-to-income ratio is more than 36 percent, you should think about getting out of debt, or at least reducing your debt immediately.

    Your credit score also plays a role in your loan eligibility. If you have a higher credit score, you will be eligible for better loan rates. If you have a low credit score, on the other hand, you should first learn how to improve your credit score before you get pre-approved for a loan.

    [See 10 Ways to Start Earning Extra Money Now.]

    2. Get pre-approved. Take the time to get pre-approved before you begin looking at homes. In fact, many real estate agents won't work with you until you have received pre-approval for a mortgage. Regardless, you should look to get pre-approved anyway. You might find the perfect home, and then find out the bank denied your loan application. This heartbreaking scenario wastes your time and your agent's time, too.

    Going through the mortgage-approval process can be a frustrating experience, so be prepared. In addition to all of the paperwork, you have to answer a lot of very pointed questions about your income, net worth, and credit worthiness. If you have a 20 percent downpayment, a high credit score, and a steady job, then you have a better chance of being pre-approved for a loan.

    3. Find a real estate agent. Once you've improved your credit score and you know how much home you can afford, you need to find a great real estate agent. Your agent acts as your representative, provides you with information about market prices, and helps you find a home. Finding a real estate agent you can trust can take time. Talk to friends, family, and co-workers for potential referrals, and use your intuition. If you feel uncomfortable with a real estate agent, keep looking.

     [See 5 Reasons You Should Buy a Small House.]

    4. Take stock of your financial situation, again. By the time you get ready to buy a home, you may be sick of thinking about money. After following each of these steps, look at your available income one more time, and review your short- and long-term financial goals. Ask yourself: Do I really want to invest $100,000 or more into a home? Do I want to stay in this neighborhood, or state, for the next several years? Or do I want to put that money towards some other dream?

    Final thoughts. We're currently experiencing a buyer's market. You can find wonderful deals on homes, and you may qualify for a low interest rate. However, this also means that if you buy a home in the next year, you may need to stay in it for several years until home prices begin to significantly appreciate. Review your short and long-term goals carefully to make sure buying a home is right for you. Follow the steps outlined here, and when the time is right, get ready to buy your home.

    SOURCE:  http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2011/11/01/4-steps-to-take-when-preparing-to-buy-a-home

    Sharyn Willard, Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
    Chinowth & Cohen Realtors

  • Senior Finances

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing, Property Q&A  |  March 4, 2012 6:03 PM  |  225 views  |  No comments

    The current economy is confusing for everyone, regardless of age. Especially for those who have held on to real estate for many decades, a house often is the largest asset people have.

    How to best tap into and deploy those resources is a challenge in strong and less energetic economic times.

    Clarifying the Financial Picture

    Need assistance with sorting out the complex decisions and figuring out what role your real estate investment plays in your overall financial picture? Those considerations include taxes, retirement savings withdrawal schedules, long-term care needs, inheritance issues and others.

    SRES® Designees Have Financial Expertise For Seniors

    SRES® designees understand managing capital gains and the tax implications of owning real estate. They can provide information that addresses a host of issues, such as the uses of pensions, 401K accounts, and IRAs in real estate transactions, and how Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security affect real estate decisions for senior citizens.

    Are you or a loved one ready to talk rehttp://www.seniorsrealestate.com/finances.cfmal estate? Get the specialized attention you deserve. Find a local SRES® designee today.

    Sharyn Willard
    Chinowth & Cohen Realtors


    Posted Under: Home Selling, How To..., Property Q&A  |  February 28, 2012 6:46 AM  |  239 views  |  No comments



    While this winter has been a relatively mild one in many regions, it is probably several months since you last paid attention to any outdoor maintenance. So within the next month or so it will be time to do a winter-end check to make sure everything is in order and your home is ready to withstand those pending spring-time showers.

    One area that typically requires special attention at the end of the winter season is the roof. To identify possible roofing concerns, look for:

    1. Ceiling stains – A possible warning sign that your roof system needs repair or replacement. If localized, it may be an isolated point of roof damage or a flashing leak. Ceiling stains can also be associated with excessive attic moisture and/or ice dam conditions, which may require additional attic ventilation and/or insulation to prevent a recurrence. If there are stains on lower level ceilings, a plumbing leak could also be the cause.

    2. Loose or missing shingles – Any loose or missing shingles should be repaired or replaced immediately to avoid additional leakage and damage to the roof deck or interior of your home.

    3. Loose, lifted or cracked flashing – This is the sheet metal or other type membrane found at the base of chimneys and roof penetrations. Damaged flashing should be repaired or replaced to prevent leakage. Any open gaps should be sealed with roof cement.

    4. Lifted or curled shingles – This may be an indication the roof is worn and at or near the end of its service life, or, at the very least, makes it conducive to wind damage. If found just in an isolated area, spot replacement may be possible, but if widespread, get a professional opinion on the roof’s condition.

    5. Heavy granule buildup in gutters or at base of downspouts – The granules on roof shingles gradually wear away to the point where the underlying material is exposed over large areas. Once this happens the rate of shingle deterioration accelerates. If granule loss is excessive, it may indicate aging shingles that need replacement.

    Any roof maintenance check should also include gutter cleaning. This is an area often not paid attention to until an overflow creates problems. Gutters need to be checked year-round to help avoid expensive water damage to the siding or house structure. Extensions or splash blocks at downspouts help divert water away from the house, avoiding soil erosion and infiltration through basement or crawlspace walls.

    If you have questions on your roof system, consider utilizing the services of a professional home inspector or qualified roofing contractor to determine conditions.

    SOURCE:  Housemasters

    Sharyn Willard

    Chinowth & Cohen Realtors




    Posted Under: Home Selling, Tech Tips, Property Q&A  |  February 28, 2012 6:36 AM  |  329 views  |  No comments



    Chimney Cap Chimney caps (aka flue guards or rain guards) help prevent rain water from entering the chimney and causing leakage in a house. But they also help prevent the deterioration of metal and masonry chimneys, vents, fireplaces and heating systems. Chimney caps can also help keep leaves, and other debris as well as birds, raccoons and other creatures out.

    Metal chimneys and vents need caps to prevent corrosion of the metal. Even if stainless steel, caps are required. Manufacturers of prefabricated chimneys and vents supply the appropriate vent for their systems. Use of the improper type/size vent can result in venting problems that could lead to a fire. Restricted flow through a chimney or vent can also cause a backdraft and possibly the buildup of toxic carbon monoxide in a house.

    While it was not common practice to add caps to masonry chimneys years ago, those without caps are more likely to have greater deterioration. Sometimes caps for masonry chimneys are made of slate or other masonry material, particularly if the flue did not have a liner; however, a less expensive approach is to install a cap designed for a masonry flue.

    In areas of high fire risk or when there is a wood roof, chimneys caps should also have spark screening to prevent the spread of embers. Only caps and screening specifically designed and listed for this purpose should be used. It is important to periodically verify the integrity of the rain cap, especially after heavy rains and winds.

    SOURCE:  Compliments of Housemasters

    Sharyn Willard

    Chinowth & Cohen Realtors



  • Senior Housing Options

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Tulsa County, Home Selling in Tulsa County, Property Q&A in Tulsa County  |  November 22, 2011 8:10 PM  |  677 views  |  1 comment

    Senior housing is categorized by the level of care available to residents. At one end of the spectrum, there are communities that offer little or no care; at the other, facilities that provide continuous care. Between those extremes are a wide range of housing choices that can meet changing needs.

    Trying to get up to speed on all the new senior housing options? SRES® designees can offer insight on creative new options, such as intentional senior retirement homes and communities and co-housing environments, as well as more traditional senior housing choices, including:

    Independent Living: Condos, townhouses and single family homes that are smaller and more maintenance free than large family properties are frequently people's first choice, especially if they're healthy and active.

    Active Adult Senior Retirement Homes and Communities: Active adult senior retirement homes and communities aim to service the interests of active adults over the age of 55. Housing types often include condos, townhouses and single-family properties, and all are designed with an eye toward delivering a maintenance-free lifestyle for residents. Such communities offer a vast array of on-site activities, including exercise, social clubs, art instruction and lecture series.

    If you're looking for more hands-on care or anticipate needing such care in the future, SRES® designees can make expert referrals and discuss options, including:

    Assisted Living Senior Retirement Homes and Communities: Residents live in their own apartments, but have the benefit of an on-site staff, meal service in communal dining spaces, and planned activities and outings. Some assisted living communities also offer access to nurses and daily living assistance. Others may offer more extensive medical and personal services.

    Adult Family Senior Retirement Homes: Such properties are licensed to care for up to six residents in a home setting. Services typically include meals and housing maintenance and attending to residents' safety and care. Facilities may specialize in addressing specific health concerns and provide care and an environment tailored to those conditions.

    Alzheimer's and Dementia Care: Facilities specialize in caring for patients with dementia and Alzheimer's disease offer programs that address residents' needs and provide an environment where they can live safely. Housing services typically include personal care, such as bathing and dressing and administering medicine, along with dining and housekeeping. In addition, many buildings incorporate over 50 design features, such as safe wandering paths and color coded areas to help with way-finding. Such designs provide comfort and ease residents' anxiety.

    Continuing Care Retirement Living Communities: A Continuing Care Retirement Living Community offer progressive levels of assistance, depending on a person's needs. They include independent and assisted living and nursing care.

    Weighing Senior Housing Options
    Choosing the appropriate senior living arrangement is challenging, not only because it entails an emotional dimension, but also because of the complex issues you need to weigh, such as cost, location, services, amenities, activities, and current and future care needs.

    SRES® designees can consult with you to make the best senior housing choice for you or your loved one. They can also work with you to anticipate care needs as you age to ensure that today's senior housing choice will serve you well tomorrow.

    For more information and advice on senior housing options and senior retirement homes, contact an SRES® Designee.

    Sharyn Willard, SRES
    Chinowth & Cohen Realtors
  • Why use a Realtor with a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation?

    Posted Under: Quality of Life, Home Selling, Property Q&A  |  November 13, 2011 6:21 PM  |  521 views  |  1 comment

    Over the age of 50 and considering selling the family home?

    You need a REALTOR® with senior experience, knowledge and marketing savvy.

    Those qualities, along with a special knowledge of managing the sale of a home for those over the age of 50, are what SRES® designees can bring to your next real estate transaction.

    SRES® designees are certified senior specialists and astute to the financial and emotional challenges senior clients face when they sell a long-held family home.

    SRES® designees not only can create a customized approach to marketing and selling your property, but they also can work with you to explore your housing options to ensure that your next home best serves your current and future needs.

    Such certified specialists have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages and the importance of universal design to the uses of pensions, 401k accounts, and IRAs in real estate transactions.

    They’ll also help you steer clear of loan schemes and scams that victimize aged 50+ borrowers.

    And when you need help from other professionals, SRES® designees can tap their network and put you in touch with qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs and other experts.

    SRES® designees have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

    So if you're thinking of buying, selling, renting or relocating, find an SRES® in your area for specialized help with your real estate transaction.

    Sharyn Willard, SRES
    Chinowth & Cohen Realtors


    Posted Under: Property Q&A  |  November 13, 2011 11:00 AM  |  323 views  |  1 comment
    (Money Magazine) -- Face it. Mom and Dad are getting up there. And their finances aren't getting any simpler. Some of life's trickiest money tasks -- managing a large but basically fixed nest egg, figuring out how to spend it down while never running out -- are in the hands of people who at some point may not be up to doing the work by themselves.

    The normal wear and tear of aging can mean worsening eyesight, fatigue, and enormous life changes (such as caring for an ailing spouse) that make it harder to deal with reviewing bank statements or tracking a portfolio.

    And as your parents get older, they are also at risk for difficulties with reasoning or memory, which recent studies have found can show up first in their financial skills.

    "Neuroscience research suggests people beginning to suffer cognitive impairment make significantly more financial errors than those who aren't," says Robert Roush, associate professor of geriatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. All of this means you have a tough new job to add on top of planning your own retirement and getting the kids through school: helping your parents manage their money.

    It's a delicate art. You're used to Mom and Dad being the authority on most things, especially money. So are they. You can't demand out of the blue that they show you their checkbook.

    But if your folks are over 70, you and your siblings should start getting them comfortable with the idea that you can help.

    "If you don't take action, you can end up paying unnecessary costs or handling things differently from the way your parents would have wanted," says Andrew Lo, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lo is well-known on Wall Street as a leading expert on number-crunching hedge fund strategies, but he still had to negotiate with his own mother to help with her money. He's been urging financial advisers to be more aware of aging problems.
    For the complete article click on this link:

    Sharyn Willard, SRES
    Senior Real Estate Specialist
    Chinowth & Cohen Realtors

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