Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley - CENTURY 21 Cobb Real Estate



Posted by Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley on 9/3/2017

Shoppers are more confident than ever in making purchases online. Moreover, younger generations are more likely to make their purchases online, which means the e-commerce industry shows no signs of slowing down. This comes as no surprise in an economy where many of us are hoping to save a few pennies when we can, and what better way to find the best deal than to compare prices online? Buying furniture online is no different. In busy cities where many people do not have a means to transport furniture, the prospect of having a new dresser delivered right to your home for free is appealing. Online furniture shopping offers a wider variety and sometimes better prices than a brick-and-mortar experience. So, the question is, should you make your next furniture purchase online? Here are some things to consider before clicking the "check out" button on your next furniture purchase. Shipping and returns Have you ever bought clothing online only to find out that it didn't fit when it was delivered? You can face the same problem with furniture. It's important to check beforehand with the online store what the shipping and return details are. If you are worried that there might be fine print in the company's "free returns" policy, get it in writing from a customer service representative that there will be no fees and that shipping labels will be provided. Customer reviews One of the beautiful things about online shopping is the ability to find honest, sometimes ruthlessly so, feedback about the company or furniture item. Never make a purchase without reading the reviews. With online shopping no news does not equal good news. If there are no reviews, look for a similar item that has plenty of positive feedback. Get to know the company Buying furniture is a commitment, and an expensive one at that. If you walked into a furniture store that was filled with cheaply-made items with no employees in sight, you probably wouldn't make the purchase. The same goes for online purchases. Check out the website, read the "About Us" and testimonials. If the website looks like something that you used to wait for 20 seconds to load on your AOL dial-up, you might want to steer clear. Don't depend on the photos Things don't always look the way they do in the pictures. You might order a coral sofa to find that it's hot pink. The texture of fabrics looks different in images, and some photos are edited to give furniture smooth edges where they don't exist. If the store has a brick and mortar location, you could go in to try before you buy. If not, request a color or fabric  swatch to be sure it's the right fit for your home. Double check your measurements Before you check out, go back and read the item description to be sure that the product your buying is the correct size and dimensions. Similarly, double check the measurements at home. Follow these pointers and you should have a good online furniture shopping experience. But if you don't, be sure to leave a review on their site for the next potential customer.




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Posted by Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley on 8/27/2017

Applying for a mortgage can be a lengthy and difficult process. Lenders want to know that they are going to get a return on their investment.

To ensure that they’ll see that positive return they will take a number of things into consideration, such as your income, credit score, employment history, and financial capital.

First-time homeowners often struggle when it comes to these prerequisites since they have fewer years of numbers for lenders to consider. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry--you can still purchase a home.

First-time homeowner loans, which are guaranteed by the U.S. government, and a number of private loans enable people to borrow money for a home without paying a huge down payment or having a vast credit history.

One downfall of said loans is private mortgage insurance, or “PMI.”

In this article, we’re going to talk about what private mortgage insurance is, how to avoid it, and how to get rid of it. 

What is PMI?

If you make a down payment on a mortgage that is less than 20% of the loan amount, you will most likely have to pay private mortgage insurance.

PMI exists as a way for lenders to help guarantee they won’t lose money off of your loan. If you make a down payment of 20% or more, then lenders are typically satisfied that they won’t lose money from doing business with you.

PMI is not to be confused with home insurance, which protects you against damage and theft. Rather, it is an additional fee you’ll pay to your lender each month that is added to your mortgage payment.

PMI is calculated based on a few considerations. Lenders will take into account your down payment amount, the value of the mortgage, and your credit score.

In terms of costs, PMI typically costs between .5 and 1% of the total mortgage amount each year.

Avoiding PMI

Naturally, it’s best to avoid paying private mortgage insurance altogether. Private mortgage insurance has no future value for you and your family since it doesn’t count towards building equity and doesn’t protect you from any potential financial harm (your lender is the sole beneficiary of PMI).

Saving for a down payment can take time, and sometimes you’ll need to rent or cut costs while you save. However, if you do take on a loan with PMI, you can still cancel it at a later point.

Canceling your private mortgage insurance

The first thing you should know about canceling PMI is that it usually isn’t easy. You’ll need pay off at least 20% of the home, write a letter to your lender, and wait for an appraisal of the home. Once you’ve done this, you still have to wait while your lender considers your request. In all, this process could take months--months that you’re still required to pay PMI.

Once common way to get out of PMI is to refinance. If the value of your home has increased since the time of you taking on the loan, the new lender likely won’t require PMI. However, you’ll want to make sure that refinancing will get you a lower interest rate and cover the costs of refinancing. 




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Posted by Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley on 8/20/2017

Buying a home will be the biggest purchase of your entire life. It’s not a decision that anyone should or will take lightly. You want to buy a house that you can live in. Sometimes, it’s even best to think of your home purchase from the perspective of others. Ask yourself, “Would other people want to live here?” When it comes to your home, the financial buzzword is “equity.” As the buyer, you want to be able to build some equity into your home so that if you should choose to sell it, you’ll make a profit. Whether your home is only meant to live in for a few years until your family outgrows it, or you think it’s going to be a forever home, life happens and you don’t want to be stuck with a home that you must take a loss on. Keep these aspects of the home in mind when you are ready to buy: Size Most people search for 3 to 4 bedroom homes. Whether they are married and want to have children or just need extra space for another baby that is on the way, families typically look for places where they have room to grow. The number of bathrooms in a home is also key. Families don’t want to share one bathroom among 4-5 people. These factors are even more important than the actual space available in the home by square footage. On the flip side, you don’t want your home to be too big either. Larger homes aren’t as energy efficient and can cost more to maintain. Know that there is a “sweet spot” for your square footage. Usually this is somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet of living space. Room To Expand Look at the home to see if there is room to expand. Perhaps you need another bathroom, but there’s some space to construct an additional half bath. This factor of expansion is key when it comes to a home or property. Look Past The Appearance Things like paint colors, floors, carpets and other aesthetics aren’t as important as the big things when it comes to buying a home. You can easily change these without much cost or effort on your part. While everyone loves a move-in-ready home, don’t let a little paint separate you from a home that you love! Curb Appeal Helps While it’s easy to fix some things like the color of a home or the shrubs, find your vision to give the home you’re about to purchase some curb appeal. If you can see past the imperfections and make your home your own from the outside in, your home will be attractive. There’s plenty of things you can add and fix from doors to landscaping to paint to a new mailbox. All of these can give your home some serious curb appeal. Sound Structure If the structure of the home is not in good condition, you’ll face many problems down the road. You want to avoid costly repairs by ensuring that you buy a home without serious structural damage or wear. The most important part of a home’s structure is that of the foundation. If a home has a cracked foundation, it’s going to cause some problems. Be sure that you hire a reputable inspector and attend the inspection so you know exactly what’s going on with the home you are about to purchase. You can prepare yourself for any problems or issues this way, and make a decision from there. A home that has a good structure to start will undoubtedly continue to help you build equity in your purchase.





Posted by Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley on 8/13/2017

Whether you are a recent transplant to the area or have been a New Englander all of your life it’s hard to resist the charm of the classic New England style. The crisp clean lines and simplicity make one feel instantly at home. Keep reading to discover how you can add a touch of New England charm to your home. Furniture. New England style still holds its roots from it's early settlers. Look for simple, rustic furniture. Ideally, it should be a handmade piece built for quality to last the tests of time. Speaking of time, no New England home is complete with at least one antique and preferably one handed down generation to generation. If you are not so fortunate to have an heirloom piece start hunting the antique fairs for one you love. Color. New England homes are deeply inspired by their natural surroundings. When choosing colors for your home think sky blues, sunny yellows, sea foam greens, sandy beige, pine greens and nautical navy. If you need some inspiration visit the cape or some nearby woods to gather your color inspiration. Visual Interest. New England style may be simple but it’s not devoid of visual interest. If you don’t have at least something covered in plaid you should consider a shopping trip in the near future. Whether it’s a blanket, kitchen curtains or even some wallpaper, having plaid is practically a must. Braided rugs are another New England staple and not always one limited to floor coverings. You can also find braided table runners, placemats, coasters, chair pads, and potholders. Decorating. Books, books, and more books. A large home library is not hard to find in New England homes. Collect interesting titles and visually appealing book spines for a collection that makes a statement. Nature landscapes, seashells, lobsters, ducks, and shells are all common themes found within this homey decor style. Woven baskets and rustic pottery are also New England staples to be placed on shelves or hung from hooks. Shelving and hooks will be your best friend as New England style maintains it’s clean simplicity by having a place for every item and keeping them off the floor. Features. A wood stove and/or fireplace are practically nonnegotiable. And while a stack of split wood nearby and fireplace tools are a practical necessity there also a form of decor. Invest in a visually appealing log rack and hearth toolset. White washed walls and wide wood plank floors, usually of pine, are another classic New England feature hearkening back to its first settler roots you will want to look for when home shopping or replicate in your redesign. If you’ve been lusting after New England style homes gracing the pages of your favorite interior decorating magazine it’s probably time to add some of that charm to your own home. Whether you just add a few touches by switching up your decorations or overhaul your house top to bottom you should have a better idea of how you too can have a cozy New England style home.





Posted by Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley on 8/6/2017

Buying a vacation home is something that many dream of, but for some it’s not just a dream. And it’s certainly not something that is only for the rich and the famous. Maybe you have been saving for one your whole life, got a large bonus at work that you want to use as a down payment, or are just going out on a limb; there are several things to consider before taking the plunge and buying a vacation home. Cost: First and foremost, what kind of financial position are you in? Are you able to put down 20% and if not will you be able to afford the potential higher interest rate that goes along with less money done? If you are planning to buy farther away, can you afford the airfare cost for as often as you’d like to spend there? Can you afford the inevitable maintenance that will be necessary? You certainly do not have to be a millionaire to purchase a vacation home, but it’s important to know what you can afford and cannot afford. Location: Do you want to buy a vacation home that is within a couple of hours from your home? Or would you rather buy one a plane ride away that may be in a location that’s warm year round? Or do you want to buy a home in another country? This is certainly something that should be determined before beginning your search. Condo vs. Single-Family: Do you want the privacy of a single-family home or do you want the amenities that come along with living in a condo? There is a level of privacy that comes with owning a single-family home versus a condo, as well as there are condo fees to consider. This decision may not matter much to you, but it’s important that everyone involved agrees on the type of home they would like to buy. Rent It: Do you plan on renting out your vacation home when you are not there? Are you looking at homes in locations where renting is possible? Can you afford the home if you do not rent it out? If you can’t afford the home without renting, how often do you need to rent to be able to afford it? Do you want the hassle of renting it? It’s important to consider this possibility even before you begin your house hunt. Buying a vacation home is extremely exciting, but it’s a large investment. It should be well thought out and planned out. But, once you have those details worked out— go out and buy the vacation home of your dreams!