Investing Your Money in Real Estate

Selling Your Home During the Holidays? Here’s How to Add Some Festive Cheer Without Frustrating Buyers

Posted by on Nov 21st, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Selling Your Home During the Holidays? Here’s How to Add Some Festive Cheer Without Frustrating Buyers

With the holiday season in full swing, you’re probably thinking about adding a little festive cheer to your home—except that your home is also up for sale. Having your home on the real-estate market can complicate things when it comes to Christmas decorations. After all, the last thing you’d want is for prospective buyers to feel uncomfortable buying your home. Fortunately, selling your home doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up giving your home a little festive cheer for the holidays. The following offers plenty of tips you can use to tastefully decorate your home without losing buyers in the process. Decorate with a Light Touch With all of the Christmas ornaments you might have accumulated over the years, it’s easy to go a little overboard with the decorations. Unfortunately, a heavily decorated home can easily scare off potential buyers. To keep that from happening, go for a minimalist approach toward decorating. Use simple color schemes and resist the urge to inundate every surface with ornaments. Ease Up on the Lighting This year isn’t the year you’ll want to get into a competition with your next-door neighbors over who has the biggest and brightest Christmas lighting. Decking the outside of your home in a large array of multicolored lights and elaborate ornaments can easily give prospective buyers second thoughts about viewing your home. Instead of going wild with multiple colors and elaborate setups, this year’s aim should be to keep your Christmas lighting as simple as possible. A thin string of white LED lights around some of the most notable architectural features on your home can do wonders for creating a festive exterior without the risk of going overboard. You’ll also want to severely limit the number of outdoor ornaments you plan on using—or better still, don’t use any at all. Choose and Trim Your Tree Carefully Christmas trees are the staple of practically every decorated home during the holidays. This year, you’ll want to pay close attention to the type of tree you choose, as well as how you trim your tree once it’s in your home: If you have a two-story great room or living room, you can use a tall Christmas tree to highlight the room’s spaciousness. You may have to visually disguise the tree’s wide base so that it doesn’t dominate the floor space. Have a smaller living room? Stick with a smaller, thinner tree to avoid overwhelming the limited space you have. Ditch the gaudy ornaments and keep your decorations simple and tasteful. Your Christmas tree décor doesn’t have to be sparse, but it should be relatively light and have a cohesive theme that’s appropriate for your home’s overall décor. If you’re purchasing a real Christmas tree this year, keep it in good health at all times. A water-starved tree can be a tremendous turn-off to prospective home buyers. Using an artificial Christmas tree? Make sure the one you’re using mimics the appearance of a real tree as closely as possible. Check for any bent or missing leaves and branches as well as other signs of damage.    Decorate with All Creeds in Mind It’s important to remember that Christmas and Hanukkah are religious holidays that most people celebrate, but potential buyers can come from a wide range of faiths. To maximize your home’s...

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2 Clever Tips For Selling Your Home For Top Dollar

Posted by on Oct 25th, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2 Clever Tips For Selling Your Home For Top Dollar

When it comes to selling your home, you might have one thing on your mind: the final selling price. Although you might be tempted to do a few massive renovations in order to drive up the price of your home, the fact of the matter is that you might be able to sell your home for more by using a few smart techniques. Here are two clever tips for selling your home for top dollar. 1. Price It Perfectly Pricing your house can seem intimidating, especially since you might need a certain amount of money to pay off your old mortgage and move forward with your new home purchase. Although you might be tempted to list your home for the $300,000 that you need to get on with your life, there are some very compelling reasons to list your place for $299,000 or even $240,000—that is, if you care about surpassing that $300,000 goal. Here are some tips for pricing your home perfectly. The 99 Rule: Many times, buyers go to their real estate agents with a ballpark figure of what they feel they can afford. For example, a couple might tell their agent that they don’t feel comfortable going over $300,000. Because real estate agents typically have to wade through hundreds of listings, many set their search criteria to only find homes under a certain price. If your home is listed at $300,000 instead of $299,000, you might miss all of the buyers who want to stay under $300,000—just because you wouldn’t compromise on $1,000. Also, the more buyers you appeal to, the higher the likelihood a bidding war will ensue. Subtract 10-20%: To generate instant interest in your home, some experts recommend figuring out what your home is worth through a real estate appraisal and then pricing your home for 15-20% less than what it is actually worth. For example, if you know that your home is worth $300,000, pricing it between $240,000 and $255,000 will likely generate more offers. Also, the more buyers are interested in the home, the more likely they are to offer and counter-offer, which means you might meet or exceed your goal price.  Skip The Creativity: You might love threes, but pricing your home for $293,333 might leave potential buyers wondering what you are thinking. Also, because some people are superstitious or wary of certain numbers, pricing your home creatively is never a good move. Instead, opt for nice, round numbers that mostly consist of zeros. Before you finalize the price, talk with your real estate agent about comparable properties in the area to see if your pricing is on track with the rest of the listings on the market. Keep in mind that the more that price stands out as a great deal, the more offers you will have the chance to explore. 2. Set the Scene After finding the home of your dreams, you might be ready to clear out your house, get it on the market, and move on with your life. However, buyers can’t always imagine themselves in a completely vacant space, which is why staging is vital to getting a better price for your home. Staging does more than show buyers that you care about selling your home. It also helps buyers to understand how you use...

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Comparing 4 Common Types Of Mouse Traps

Posted by on Oct 3rd, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Comparing 4 Common Types Of Mouse Traps

There are several different mouse traps on the market, and many people feel overwhelmed when they try to weigh the pros and cons of each type. Here is a comparison of four popular types of mouse traps so you can choose the one that is best suited to your needs. Snap Traps Snap traps are the oldest mouse trap design, with the first spring-loaded bar trap being patented in 1899. Despite their age, these traps are still a viable choice in many cases. Snap traps are reusable, easy to set and release, and very affordable. Since they kill mice almost instantly in most cases, they are also considered to be very humane traps. Snap traps have been around so long because of their reliability, but they can be rendered ineffective if they are used improperly. For most effective use, spread a tiny smear of peanut butter on the trigger and place the trap against a wall with the trigger facing the wall. Another downside of snap traps is that mice can sometimes eat the bait without depressing the trigger no matter how little bait you put on the trigger. Glue Traps With no moving parts, glue traps are perhaps the simplest mouse traps available. These traps consist of a piece of plastic or cardboard with one side coated in a non-toxic adhesive. Glue traps are disposable, so you can simply throw away both the trap and the mouse once the mouse dies. While glue trap disposal is convenient, these traps are controversial because many people consider them to be cruel. It can take days for a mouse to die from hunger and thirst on a glue trap, and mice will often suffer with a painful injury during this time that they received while trying to escape. Electric Traps Electric traps are a modern solution that improves on older designs in a number of ways. Electric traps are the most humane traps you can buy aside from live traps, as the voltage that they deliver is enough to kill a mouse instantly. The bait and electrodes are located inside of the trap casing, with an opening that is large enough for a mouse to enter but small enough to keep pets and children’s hands out. For most people, the biggest downside of electric traps is that they are more expensive up-front than other types of traps. They also require more consistent monitoring than other types, as they will be made useless if you forget to change the batteries regularly. Fortunately, most electric traps have indicator lights to remind you to change the batteries. Live Traps Live traps are the best option for people who don’t necessarily want to harm the mice in their home, but instead just want to get them out. Also known as catch-and-release traps, live traps usually consist of a cage or box with a trigger-activated door. When the mouse takes the bait, the trigger is activated and the door slams shut. Live traps require more homeowner interaction than any other type of mouse trap. To use a live trap as intended, you must check the trap daily so that you can release the mouse before it dies of hunger or thirst. Additionally, you will have to drive the trap a significant distance away when you are...

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Careers For Retirement: 4 Low-Key Job Options For Seniors

Posted by on Aug 18th, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Careers For Retirement: 4 Low-Key Job Options For Seniors

If you’re retired, you can definitely miss the larger income you enjoyed when you were working full time. However, going back to full-time work is not possible for many seniors who experience more health challenges and less energy as they get older. If you’re looking for some part-time income that fits in with an active senior lifestyle, here are some job options you should consider.  Freelance Writing This is an area where your life experience and full-time career will benefit you. There are many freelance writing websites where you can post contributions for sale. Articles can be on almost any topic, but many clients are looking for website or blog content that highlights their business and services. If you have how-to knowledge in medical topics, mechanics, engineering, construction, or have worked as a plumber or electrician, you can write quality content that will be easily marketed.  Other freelance writing opportunities include writing in other languages, which can be great if you know two languages. You can also edit if you are good with grammar — many seniors have excellent command of English because their formative education placed a higher emphasis on grammatical excellence.  Help Desk You can contact your local hospital, nursing home, or library and see if you can work the help desk for a few days a week. This job helps you to stay current in the community as you direct phone calls and greet people who come to use public facilities.  Real Estate Real estate is a great second career option for those in retirement. It takes some training and money to become licensed in your state. Usually, the training courses can be completed online through an online real estate school, and you’ll need to take an online test. But once you’ve passed, you can help people in your community find homes. If you’ve lived in the area for decades, you’ll have great information to pass to your clients about specific neighborhoods, housing trends, and properties. If you’re integrated in the community already, you’ll even have an instant client base; family and friends will come to your for their real estate needs.  Just remember that to work in real estate, you will need to be reasonably well-versed in modern technology, such as sending and receiving emails and faxes, text messaging, and keeping track of listings online. You also should be willing to work flexible hours and weekends, because many people need to view houses during their time off work.  For more ideas about how to get started with a career in real estate, talk to an online real estate school of about the licensing requirements in your state. Get started on the required hours of education now so that you can enjoy a career that helps you stay current with the life in your community.  Home Health This job is not for the faint of heart, but can a great option for the senior who wants to play the grandparent role and get paid at the same time. Many parents need caregivers for children or adults that have special needs. Sometimes, these patients can be too rambunctious, but some children and adults have conditions that leave them bed-ridden or in wheelchairs, but still in need of companionship. Energetic retirees can be an invaluable home health companion...

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3-Step Guide For Safely Keeping Termites Out Of Your Untreated Deck Wood Using Natural Ingredients

Posted by on Jan 15th, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3-Step Guide For Safely Keeping Termites Out Of Your Untreated Deck Wood Using Natural Ingredients

If your house has a deck built with untreated wood, you may worry about termites infesting it. However, you may be reluctant to use harsh, toxic chemicals that could affect your family or pets. If so, use the following three-step guide for using natural ingredients to prevent an infestation. Step 1:  Carefully Inspect The Deck’s Wood Before you begin treating your deck, carefully inspect the wood. Look for any signs that you already have termites infesting it. If so, you may want to contact a pest control service to inspect the damage and find out what needs to be done to get rid of the invading bugs. While the treatment below may get rid of some of the termites, it may not penetrate deep enough to kill all of the bugs, which may require professional assistance. If you do not see any signs of an infestation, check the wood for moisture. If it has recently rained and the wood is still damp, wait a few sunny days before proceeding with the next two steps. The methods of treating the wood require that it be as dry as possible so they can fully soak into the wood fibers. If there are no signs of a current infestation and the wood is dry, go on to step two. Step 2:  Wipe On An Orange Oil And Borax Treatment This part of the treatment involves wiping a liberal coat of a homemade treatment made with orange oil and borax. Not only does the smell deter termites, but orange oil also contains D-Limonene, a chemical that dries up their exoskeletons. Along with the drying power of the borax, any termites that do wander onto your deck looking for a new home are killed. This step of the process is done twice a year: once when the weather turns warm in spring and again in the fall before the first frost. This ensures that the treatment stays active year-round. In a small bucket, combine two cups of water, a cup of borax and a cup of orange oil, and mix well. The water is included to make the application process easier. After it evaporates, the oil will soak into the wood, pulling the borax with it. Using a sponge or soft-bristle paintbrush, coat the wood with the treatment. Continue until the entire deck is covered, making more if necessary. Let the wood dry for a day or two, then go on to the third step. Step 3:  Spray With An Aloe Leaf And Clove Oil Mixture The third step involves spraying the deck with an aloe leaf and clove oil mixture once a month. The scents of both of these ingredients are repugnant to the termites, helping to keep them away from your deck. You will need a garden hose with a sprayer attachment for the application. Crush 20 aloe plant leaves, and place them in a gallon bucket. Bring a half of a gallon of water to a full boil, then carefully pour it on top of the leaves. Add 20 drops of clove oil, and leave the bucket overnight to allow the juices from the leaves to infuse fully into the water. The next day, pour two cups of the mixture into the sprayer, and attach it to the hose. Spray your deck...

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Moving For Work? 2 Things You Should Ask Your Employer To Roll Into Your Relocation Package

Posted by on Dec 14th, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Moving For Work? 2 Things You Should Ask Your Employer To Roll Into Your Relocation Package

As soon as your boss asks you to move for work, he might start mentioning other job relocation perks, such as a complimentary moving services or a home-hunting trip on the company’s dime. However, while those benefits can simplify your upcoming move, they aren’t the only expenses you will come across during your relocation. Here are two things you should ask your employer to roll into your relocation package and why: 1: A Monthly Stipend For Your New Cost of Living Moving to a swanky city in a new state might sound like an exciting change of pace, but how much will that new lifestyle cost you? Because the cost of living can vary significantly from state to state, it should be carefully calculated into your relocation package. For example, if you are moving from Twin Falls, Idaho to Portland, Oregon, your housing alone will cost about 96% more. That means that your modest $200,000 home in Idaho might cost a staggering $392,000 in Portland. If you think that housing is the only thing that might cost more, think again. Groceries cost 26% more in Portland and healthcare is 23% more expensive. That means that your monthly grocery bill will increase by almost a quarter, and your $300 per monthly health insurance premium might increase to $369. Before you negotiate your relocation package, take the time to evaluate your new cost of living by using an online calculator. These helpful tools can help you to know what to expect, so that you can request a monthly stipend to offset your costs. For example, you might be able to request a monthly mortgage allowance to offset that new, pricey mortgage, or to help you to cover the cost of dining in your new state. If your employer offers you a higher salary to cover cost of living, take the time to do the math. Calculate an estimated monthly breakdown of your new expenses, and compare it to your new income—minus taxes and other withholdings. If your new salary won’t cover the difference, request more money.  2: Loss-On-Sale Protection If you weren’t planning on moving anytime soon, you might not have given a lot of thought to your local housing market. Unfortunately, if the market in your area is experiencing slow growth, you might be looking at taking a loss on your home. Also, since corporate relocations are typically based off of your employer’s timetable, you might be pressured to accept the first offer that comes your way, no matter how low it is. Fortunately, some employers offer loss-on-sale protection, which keeps you from losing money due to the sale of your home. For example, say that you purchased your home for $250,000 ten years ago. Although you kept your house pristine and made a few upgrades, the apartment complex that went up across the street caused your house value to plummet—putting the new value at around $175,000. Instead of taking a $75,000 loss on your place, your employer might pay the difference, so that you can move without destroying your finances. To calculate the reimbursement rate of your real estate deal, your employer may take into account the amount that you owe on the home, the current real estate market trends, and the appraisal value of your place. Your employer...

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4 Important Factors To Evaluate When Purchasing Land To Build A House On

Posted by on Dec 11th, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Important Factors To Evaluate When Purchasing Land To Build A House On

If you are looking for a parcel of land to build a home on and have already selected your house plans and set your budget, there are a variety of different factors you should look into before making an offer on land for sale. It is vital to evaluate these factors, because they can affect what you will be able to do with the land you buy, and they could also affect the expenses you will incur when you begin building your house. Here are four of the most important factors you should evaluate as you look for land to purchase. Zoning Laws The very first thing to examine with a parcel of land is the zoning restrictions. If you are purchasing land within a subdivision, you will have no problem building a house on the land, because this is what subdivision land is zoned for. On the other hand, if the land you are purchasing is located within town limits, there might be zoning restrictions that could prevent you from using the land for residential purposes. If you use a real estate agent to help you locate land for sale, he or she will help you find land that is zoned for the purpose you need it for. If you inadvertently purchase land that is not zoned properly, you could apply to have the land rezoned. Unfortunately, this is not an easy process to complete. It can also take time and cost a lot of money. Condition Of The Soil The second thing to consider is whether or not the land is suitable for building a home. While it may seem like you could build a house on any piece of land, this is not the case. If the land happens to be located in a flood zone, you may not be able to get approved for a home loan to build a house on this land. In other cases, the soil on the land is not suitable for building. The lot might be too low, which could be another factor that could stop you from building. If you are not sure what to look for with soil on a piece of land, you could order a soil review. While this may cost you some money to do, it will be better to find out the condition of the site before you buy it. This could end up helping you save a lot of money in the long run. Water And Sewer Evaluating how water and sewer activities are handled is also an important step in the process of choosing the right piece of land. If the land is located in an area that has city water and sewer, you may be required to hook up to these things. If this is something you want, then that piece of land might be fine for you to choose. If you were really hoping to have well water and your own septic tank, you probably would not want to choose land that has city water and sewer services. Utilities Finally, you should look into the utilities in the area. If the land is located near other homes, you will probably be able to get your utilities hooked up for a reasonable price. If the land is located far out of...

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Tenant Tips: How To Avoid Having A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Posted by on Nov 12th, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tenant Tips: How To Avoid Having A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Renting can offer you several pros and cons. However, in order to enjoy the pros of renting, you need to know how to avoid the cons. As a tenant, you have certain rights, knowing what those rights are and adhering to certain tips can help you avoid having a bad day related to eviction, financial troubles, repairs, and even fraud. Avoiding a Terrible Day Related to Eviction Each year, many tenants face the threat of eviction. Between 2010 and 2013, various states experienced an increase in eviction filings such as Kentucky with an 8% increase, Massachusetts with an 11% increase, and Maine with a 21% increase. Evictions threaten the livelihood of many tenants such as yourself. Coming home to an eviction notice on the door can certainly be the root of a terrible day. However, when it comes to eviction, there are a few things you should know. For starters, your landlord must go through a court process in order to evict you. A verbal eviction notice is not sufficient nor valid in a court of law. Just because your landlord informs you that you are evicted does not mean you are. You are not officially evicted until a judge makes that determination. Speak to a tenant service in order to verify your rights. Keep in mind that tenant rights vary by state. A tenant service can help you identify your rights when you are faced with an eviction, depending on the state in which you reside. Make sure you let the service professionals know the details of your eviction so they are better equipped to assist you. Avoiding a Horrible Day Related to Finances Tenant services may also frequently offer counseling and financial advice. If you live paycheck to paycheck, you are not alone. Approximately 76% of Americans live the same way, which can make paying rent on time, if at all, a seemingly difficult task. One tip to be aware of is the fact that you should avoid misconceptions regarding your rent. One mistake renters make is thinking that they can afford rent that is a maximum of 35% of their income. However, there are several experts and sources that suggest otherwise. In fact, it is recommended that your rent does not cost more than approximately 25% of your income. If you can keep it below that, it could put you in better financial shape. If your rent is too costly for your income, it can leave you pinching pennies and perhaps even missing rent payments. A tenant service can help you determine if the home or apartment you are living in is too expensive based on the amount of money you make. If you insist on spending up to the maximum on rent, then consider cutting your costs in other areas such as cable to help you make your rent payments on time. Missing rent payments could very well lead to a horrible day if you are not careful. Avoiding a No Good Day Related to Repairs Make sure you pay attention to your rental lease prior to renting a home or apartment. Ensure that the landlord is responsible for any repairs needed ranging from appliance replacement to roof leaks, broken windows, and more. If the lease does not specify that your landlord is responsible, you...

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Timing—the Crucial Factor to Sell Your House Quickly

Posted by on Nov 3rd, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Timing—the Crucial Factor to Sell Your House Quickly

When a house is listed with a real estate company and does not sell within a few months, it can be frustrating for the seller. If you want to avoid this frustration by being able to sell your house fast, you may want to be selective with your timing. Timing your listing can make a difference in the price you get for your house and in the speed of the sale. Here is more information you should know about timing your listing for your benefit. The Season Matters for Speed According to most statistics and experts, houses tend to sell faster in the spring. Spring is a season when the weather begins to change and people feel excited for summer. This excitement leads to a variety of decisions, and many people make the decision to start home shopping once this season hits. June is the month when home sales typically peak, but shopping for homes typically begins around March or April. Homes also tend to look nicer in the spring, which is an attractive trait for buyers.  Because of this, you may want to start talking to a real estate agent during February or March at the earliest. You do not necessarily have to list your home when you initially talk to an agent, but you can ask questions and learn more about selling your home. One issue to discuss with an agent is the price of your house. Choosing the right listing price can also have a big impact on your ability to sell your house quickly. By April, you should consider getting your house on the market so you do not miss any of the spring home shoppers. The Season Matters for Price In addition to being able to sell your house faster if you list it in the spring, you may also end up getting a higher price for your home. According to Zillow, houses that sell in the spring typically sell for around 2% more than usual. While 2% may not be a huge amount, it can make a difference. For example, if your house would have sold in the fall for $200,000, you might be able to get $204,000 if you sold it in the spring. That is an extra $4,000 in your pocket just by timing your sale properly. A Sellers’ Market Is Beneficial Finally, you should realize the difference between a sellers’ market and a buyers’ market. A sellers’ market refers to time periods when it is most beneficial for people to sell their homes. Some of the characteristics of a sellers’ market include: Large number of people looking for homes Limited number of homes on the real estate market for sale Low interest rates Low unemployment rates Positive view of economy and the future These characteristics are all beneficial for sellers because they cause the prices of homes to increase and the chances of selling to improve. Sellers’ markets do not occur at certain times of the year, and they do not even always occur each year, but they do happen periodically. A buyers’ market, on the other hand, refers to time periods when buyers can land great deals on homes. During a buyers’ market, there are a lot of homes for sale and the prices of these homes tend to drop....

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5 Reasons To Purchase Your Home During The Winter

Posted by on Oct 16th, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Reasons To Purchase Your Home During The Winter

The perfect time to purchase a home usually comes down to when you are financially and emotionally prepared for a long term commitment. You may have saved enough for a down payment at any point during the year, but many people wait until spring or summer to start looking for a home. This can be because the nicer weather makes exploring neighborhoods more comfortable. But the same weather that makes going for an afternoon stroll a lovely idea can influence your purchasing decisions, causing you to buy an ideal summer home that you may not love year round. Below are five reasons that viewing properties in the winter will give you a more realistic idea about the home you are purchasing.  Get a Realistic Idea of Heating Costs If someone currently lives in the home that you are considering, then their heating system will be on during the winter. This can allow you to experience how the heating system works and whether there are any cold drafts in the home. You may notice that the house is cooler than you would like during the winter, which may mean you will have to update the heating system or pay large heating bills, or maybe it feels overly stuffy while the heating system is running.  In a new home or a home that does not currently have residents, the heating system may not be turned on. However, you can still get an idea of how well the house holds heat during the winter and whether it has enough south-facing windows to stay warm without stressing your heating system during the day.  See Your Potential Yard and Driveway When Covered In Snow  While you will likely spend the majority of your time in the yard during the summer, knowing what it looks and feels like during the winter can help you realize if you will like your home year round. You may realize that the pool the house has requires too much winter care to be worthwhile or you may find that a two-car driveway requires too much snow shoveling for your lifestyle.  You Can Experience the Neighborhood During the Cold Months Most neighborhoods tend to be the most lively during the summer months. However, you may be interested to see how active your potential neighborhood is when it gets dark early and it is cold outside. If there are children playing in the snow, then you know your children will have people to play with during cold weather. If the restaurants and coffee shops seem abandoned, you might wonder if there will be enough personal interaction to help you fight the winter blues.  After a Long Closing Period, You Will Move In During the Spring  Most home closing periods are about a month long. However, for first time buyers and other special situations, the closing period can take around 45 days. Sometimes, there are delays in closing periods that can lengthen the closing time even longer. Purchasing in late winter means that your closing should be completed and you should be ready to move into your home as soon as the weather gets nice. If you close in late summer, however, you risk having to move in the fall or winter, which can be more difficult.  Your Home May Cost Less ...

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