Congratulations! You have closed on your new home and probably have a list a mile long of things you want to get done. While you might be tempted to dive into unpacking, these 5 tasks should be your top priority: 

  1. Change the Locks and Security System – the previous owners could have made copies of keys for family members, dog walkers, etc. so changing the locks will give you peace of mind. In addition, make sure any security systems are updated with your names, contact information and new codes. The code to automatic garage key pads should also be changed.  
  2. Change your address and register to vote – update your address with USPS to start receiving mail at your new home. You can also register to vote with in your new town. If there is an election within the first 60 days of your move, you can vote at your old polling location or mail in an absentee ballot.
  3. Register and License any pets – Some towns have a specific time of year when they push to have all pets licensed. However, if you can remember to take care of this and update the address on any ID tags, it will save you a headache and possibly a licensing fee later. If your pet is microchipped, don’t forget to update the address on file so your furry friend will be returned to you in case of an emergency.
  4. Change your License and Registration – Most states require you to update your license and registration within 30 days of a new move. Some DMV locations offer an online change of address service. If you’ve changed states, your car will need to be registered within 60 days.
  5. Update Insurance Policies and Bank Accounts – Insurance rates can vary depending on location, to make sure to update all insurance policies immediately after your move. Any other important accounts, including your bank account should be updated as well.

5 Benefits of Owning vs. Renting

Apr 3
Category | General

If you are one of the many people weighing the pros and cons of renting vs. buying a home, there are several things to consider before making a decision. After working through the various cost comparisons, deciding on a location, and researching the market values in that area, you might find yourself still on the fence. Owning a home can come with a lot of benefits, some financial, and some simply based on personal preference. Below are 5 reasons why owning your own home might be the right move for you this spring:

  1. The money you spend is an investment – when you own your own home, you are essentially depositing a monthly payment into a building bank account. Every monthly mortgage payment you make builds equity. When you rent a home, the owner of that property is benefiting from your monthly investment.
  2. Freedom to do what you want – a huge advantage to owning your own home is that you can do whatever you want to do it. There are no restrictions when it comes to paint colors, repairs and upgrades, what kind of pets can live there, how often you can have guests, etc. Nothing is more frustrating than handing over a large sum of money every month to then be told how you can and can not live in your own space.
  3. Fixed costs –  If you opt for a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payment will not change. Renters are at the mercy of what their  landlords decide, unless they are living in a rent-controlled building. If you know that you are going to be in one area for a long time and choose a 30-year mortgage, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your rate will not increase.
  4. Building credit – Once of the best ways to build your credit score is by paying a monthly mortgage payment on time. Since you cannot self-report rent payments to credit bureaus, you might miss out on the opportunity to increase your credit score.
  5. Taxes – As a homeowner you can deduct the interest paid on your mortgage from your taxable income and therefore save yourself money. Newer mortgages with higher interest payments each month yield the best tax breaks.

There is a lot to be said for owning your own home, primarily because it is a long-term investment that essentially forces you to save over time. As always, it is best to consult with a mortgage professional to discuss the details of your individual circumstances and determine which loan product is the best for you.

We all dream of it; owning our own vacation home, maybe somewhere on the beach or a ski condo we can bring the family to. While owning a second home in an ideal location can be a great long-term investment, there are certainly things to consider before committing to the purchase.

Commitment to Location: With so many vacation rental sites that allow you to hop from destination to destination, owning a home in one solitary location is a big commitment. Make sure that you are head over heels in love with where you choose to buy your second home and have spent a significant amount of time there already.

Remember, it is Still a House: Just because your vacation home is the destination for relaxation and having a good time, don’t forget the amount of maintenance that comes with owning a home. Some houses may require several days of preparing it for a particular season. Keep in mind some of your vacation days will be spent working on the house just as you do at your primary residence.

Who Will Be There When You Are Not?: The additional costs of a vacation home can often be offset by making it available to renters. Take into consideration who would manage the property when you weren’t there. Are you close enough to act as landlord and prepare it for when guests arrive? Or will you need to hire a management company? Take into consideration the time that you want to spend in your home. If you make it available to renters, are you willing to give up some of the peak season, depending on the location of your vacation home, in order to ease the financial burden?

Travel Time: Similar to loving the location of your second home, it’s also important to consider how difficult the journey to it will be. Are you able to hop in the car and drive a couple of hours to be there, or do you need to get a flight whenever you want to enjoy it? Nothing ruins a vacation more than wasting a day or two just to get to your destination. Be realistic with how often you will be able to use your vacation home.

The kitchen is the heart of any home and is typically the first room homebuyers consider investing in. Kitchen remodels can range from simple to extravagant and the amount of money spent can greatly vary. Regardless of the level of upgrade you plan to do, consider these helpful tips to help you save and plan for the perfect kitchen. 

Save on Plumbing: The number one tip for saving money in a kitchen remodel is to leave the plumbing lined up the way it is. Moving water and gas lines is very expensive; if you can avoid this cost, you’ll be off to a great start. 

Keep the Cabinets: If your existing cabinets are in good condition and made of quality materials, then consider refreshing them instead of replacing them. New cabinets are one of the highest costs when remodeling a kitchen. You can repaint your cabinets, update the fronts, or add new hardware.

Match the Appliances: These days, most companies offer matching sets of dishwashers, ovens, and refrigerators, which can give your kitchen an expensive look for less. Make sure you don’t buy separate pieces from different manufactures and do your research on affordable appliance options.

Find Free Services: Many large home improvement stores offer computerized design services that help with layout and style. Oftentimes the planning help is free, and they can also assist with installation and project management.

Keep a Fixtures Budget: At the end of your kitchen renovation, you want to make sure there’s enough money left over for the finishing touches. Fixtures like drawer pulls and cabinet handles should be a priority in your budget planning. Not skimping on these items will give your renovation a polished and complete look.

By following these tips you’ll be enjoying your new kitchen in no time, with a little extra cash in your pocket!

Save Money on Your Move

Mar 12
Category | General

Let’s face it, moving is a chore! Even if you have great friends willing to help you out in return for beer and pizza, the actual cost of a move can add up quickly. If you’ve got plans on the horizon to pack up, take note of these great ways to save you as much money as possible.

Look for Materials Online
Purchasing new moving boxes and packing supplies can certainly cost a lot. If you spend some time searching online, you can probably source what you need. Check sites like Craigslist and your local Facebook groups as they tend to update regularly.

Clean Out
Use your move as the perfect opportunity to go through your belongings to see what you can get rid of. Unload the extra weight and start fresh in your new home with less clutter. You’ll save on packing supplies, and your moving estimate.  

Save Your Receipts!
If you are donating large bags of items as you declutter from your existing space, keeping an itemized receipt for tax purposes is a great idea. Find the value of your items on the Salvation Army Donation Value Guide and see how much you can deduct at tax time.

Get More Than One Estimate
Schedule at least three moving companies to give you an in-home moving estimate. Check out their reviews and ratings to determine which company is going to be the best fit for you and then try to negotiate cost by sharing the other quotes you received.

Set Up Your Change of Address
Going online to setup your change of address through USPS can automatically get you $750 in coupons from places like Home Depot, Pottery Barn, etc. Use these savings to set up your new home when you arrive. You can register your change of address up to three months prior to your move.

Find a Place to Stay
If you need a temporary housing situation while you move, look for hotels that have flexible cancelation policies. That way, if there’s any issue with your plans, you won’t be out any extra money. Avoid home rental reservations that have strict policies.


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