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Honoring the Symbol of Our Unity

As Americans, we are stronger together. Even in challenging times such as this, we have shown that, when we stand united, we can overcome anything.

Our flag reminds us of this fact. It’s a sign of hope, of bravery, of freedom. On Flag Day, as we honor this symbol of the American people, remember that each star and stripe exists thanks to those who fought together before us, and all of us who continue to persevere together today.

3 Plays You Need to Bring Home a Win This Homebuying Season

Basketball isn’t the only madness taking place in March.

Spring kicks off the house-hunting season, and without a game plan, you might find yourself in the losing bracket. Here are three offensive plays you need to score a win this homebuying season:

Get pre-approved before you start house hunting.
With a pre-approval , you’ll know what you can afford, that you’ll qualify for a loan*, and that sellers will take your offers seriously.

Get your finances in order.
Understand all the costs that come with buying a home , and make sure you have enough cash on hand to pay for necessary expenses, such as earnest money, inspection fees, and closing costs.

Find a good real estate agent.
An experienced agent will help the whole process run smoothly, from sending you quality listings that match your criteria to negotiating with the seller on your behalf. Need a referral? We’re happy to provide one.


Ready to get pre-approved or discuss next steps? Start your application online or give us a call (866) 667-0900

*Subject to certain conditions.

Making the most of your tax refund

Are you expecting a tax refund this year? If you’re caught up on your bills and have an emergency fund saved up, consider reinvesting that extra money into your home.

Here are some ways your tax refund can help you as a homeowner.

1. Make an extra mortgage payment.

It’s not right for everyone, but an additional payment can end up saving you money in the long run by decreasing the principal that you owe and by helping you pay off your mortgage quicker.

2. Make money-saving improvements.

Low-flow toilets, faucets, shower heads, and even sprinkler systems can make a dent in your bills. Installing Energy Star appliances can improve your home’s efficiency and help you keep costs down. And when it’s time to sell your home, you will have increased its value, to boot.

3. Tackle your maintenance list.

While a chunk of cash in the form of a tax refund doesn’t exactly scream, “Seal the driveway!”, making the little repairs and replacements that keep your home running is a great way to spend your cash. Break out the honey-do list or the we’ll-get-around-to-it list of home maintenance jobs, and check off every item once and for all.

We are not tax preparers or advisors, nor financial consultants. Consult your tax advisor or financial advisor for more information.

Don’t Gamble With Your Future

 

Are you still on the fence about making a move to homeownership this year?

It’s important to remember that interest rates are on the rise, and as they go up, it will diminish your purchasing power.

While renting might feel comfortable right now, you could be gambling with your financial future.

Instead of building equity for yourself, you’re contributing to your landlord’s wealth. Instead of the security of a fixed-rate loan where your payments are locked in, you’re at the mercy of rising rents.

If buying a home is in your future, then the future is now.

Not convinced? Take a look at this:

Worried about coming up with funds for a down payment?

There are low or no down payment assistance programs available to help you purchase a home! Let’s find out if you’re a candidate.

Contact a Cason Loan Officer to get started and to lock in a low mortgage interest rate!

FINDING YOUR DREAM HOME

 

Once you’re aware of all the costs involved and have worked with your lender to determine what you can afford, it’s time to begin your search for a home.

Finding a Real Estate Agent

Your real estate agent is a valuable partner in the homebuying process. He or she will help you find your dream home and present the offer to the seller on your behalf. When looking for an agent, start by asking your lender, a friend, or a family member for a referral. Be sure to talk to a few agents before choosing one. Here are a few things to consider when looking for an agent:

  • Licensing: All agents and brokers are required to be licensed by the state in which he or she does business. Do a quick internet search to verify your agent’s license is in good standing and that no disciplinary action has been taken against them.
  • Experience: Has the agent been around for just a few years, or are they a seasoned professional? Do they have experience in your market? Are they unafraid to negotiate to get you the best deal? These are all important to factors to consider to make sure you find an agent that’s right for you.
  • Reputation: One of the best ways to identify a good agent is by what past customers say about them, so be sure to read reviews online before choosing your agent. Doing so will give you insight into the opinions and experiences of other homeowners and will help you make a more informed decision.

Finding the Right Home

House hunting can be an exhilarating yet draining process. What should you look for, and how do you keep track of the features you loved, as well as the things you didn’t? Here are some things to consider each time you view a new property:

Research

  • Neighborhood safety
  • Community life
  • Schools
  • Local home values
  • Cell phone coverage
  • Additional fees (like HOA)​

Interior Features

  • Flooring, windows, and ceiling
  • Walls
  • Bathrooms and kitchen
  • Rooms
  • Stairs
  • Doors

Exterior Condition

  • Roof
  • Foundation, driveway, and pool
  • Siding
  • Landscaping and curb appeal
  • Garage
  • Patio/deck
  • Pests​

Making an Offer

Once you’ve found the home you love, it’s time to make an offer. The offer, or purchase agreement, is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Address and legal property description
  • Purchase price
  • Down payment amount
  • Earnest money that must be paid
  • Expiration date for the offer
  • A commitment by the seller to provide a clear title to the property
  • Target closing date
  • Target move-in date
  • Any contingencies the agreement is subject to, such as the buyer’s need to obtain a mortgage or get a home inspection

In some states, your real estate agent will prepare this document, or the state may require an attorney to draft it. Be prepared for the seller to come back with a counter offer before fully signing off on the deal.

What is Earnest Money? Earnest money is a deposit you put down when making an offer. It’s a sign of good faith to show you’re serious about the transaction. The amount varies, but it could be between 1% and 3% of the purchase price. The money gets held in an escrow account until the transaction is finalized, at which point it will go toward your down payment.

The Home Inspection

After both parties have signed the purchase agreement, it’s time to get a home inspection. A home inspection is not typically required to buy a home, but it is strongly recommended. In some cases, it may be a contingency on your purchase agreement, meaning it must take place, or the deal will be void.

Why You Should Get a Home Inspection

A home inspection is a thorough examination of the property that assesses the home’s structural and mechanical condition and points out any needed repairs. On average, an inspection costs between $300 and $500, although cost varies depending on the location, age, and size of the house. While a home inspection will cost you a small sum of money up front, it can help you know what you’re buying. For instance, if the property needs major repairs, an inspection will help you know ahead of time. Keep in mind, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to pay for repairs.

 



Posted from VibrantLiving Newsletter – https://www.homebuyingjourney.com/single-post/2017/11/03/Finding-Your-Dream-Home

This article is for information purposes only and is not an advertisement to extend customer credit as defined by Section 12 CFR 1026.2 Regulation Z. Program rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at any time.

Cason Home Loans | Equal Housing Lender | NMLS# 162651

House Hunting Checklist: 7 Awkward but Necessary Things to Do When Viewing a Home

A home is a huge investment. For most people, it’s the biggest and most expensive thing they’ll ever buy. So why would you ever sign a contract on an enormous item if you’re not sure all its parts are working properly?

Shyness, awkwardness, call it what you will, but it can feel weird to poke around in someone else’s home … especially if they’re still living there. Opening cupboards, lifting toilet seats — it feels like you’re intruding. Sorry to break it to you, but this is no time to be shy.

Below are some items you should check yourself when visiting a home you may want to purchase.

Sure, your home inspector will perform a thorough review of the home and will even cover some items listed below. But a home inspection costs money! Before you make an offer and start shelling out cash for inspections, or putting down nonrefundable earnest money, you can have a better idea up front if the house you’re interested in needs more work than you’re prepared to take on.

Not planning a move anytime soon? Share these tips with a friend who is, or save this article for future reference. It may come in handy down the road!

Check the water pressure.

Not just in the kitchen sink, but the bathroom sink, toilet, bathtub, and shower, too.

Low water pressure is a sign of bad plumbing.


Lift every rug.

Is that rug hiding something? The floor could be stained, warped, or even rotting!

A warped floor is very serious and can indicate the room has been flooded in the past or there’s a leak

under the floor.


Delve into the closets and cupboards.

What is that cluttered closet hiding? If the owners have left items in storage areas, move them aside. Too much to move? Ask your real estate agent to arrange another showing after the owners remove their belongings. Same for the garage, attic, basement, and any outbuildings.

You’ll want to be sure the home has adequate storage space for all your belongings and note any damage that may be concealed behind piles of stuff.

Note: Make sure there’s nothing piled against the house or any outbuildings as this could be hiding damages, flaws, and even pests.


Examine the windows, doors, and walls.

While an older house may have settled a bit, it’s still not good to have a door you can’t close all the way or a window that won’t open. Cracks in the walls could be caused by normal settling or the result of a house being empty for a while with no climate controls — but it may be something more serious.

If the home has “settled” so much that doors are sticking or the cracks are large, irregular, or diagonal, that could indicate a problem with the foundation of the home, or even a structural issue within the walls. You will need to consult an expert to determine the cause and whether it’s easily fixable.

Note: Hairline cracks near windows and doors are generally not a big issue and can be taped and painted.


Use your sniffer.

Smell anything musty? How about pet odors? Were the owners heavy smokers? Check that the fans over the stove and in the bathrooms work.

A musty smell could indicate water damage. Cigarette smoke and animal urine are very strong smells that can soak into the floors and walls. Getting those smells out can be a nightmare — or impossible.


Look for signs of water damage.

This is an especially important issue you need to investigate. Discoloration on ceilings and walls, bubbling paint, rusted metal items, and mold spots all indicate problems. Yes, you should check every cabinet. Pay extra close attention to basement walls and cabinets under sinks.

Water damage can be expensive and difficult to repair and may involve taking down walls and rebuilding them. Watermarks near appliances that use water or in the basement can indicate poor plumbing — another expensive issue to address.


Meet the neighbors.

Having good or bad neighbors makes a huge difference on how happy you’ll be in your new home. In some locations, meeting the neighbors beforehand could be a bit of a challenge, but you should at the very least drive by at different times of day and on different days to check out the neighborhood.

Is there a school or church nearby? Street parking could be a nightmare at dropoff and pickup times and during services. Are there neighbors throwing wild parties? How is the traffic flow during rush hours? Do cars roar up and down the street, or do you see signs of a neighborhood on its way down?


You’ll want to know the answers to these questions before making your final decision.

By taking the time to thoroughly inspect the properties you view before you make an offer, you can save yourself time, headache, and buyer’s remorse.

And don’t forget to get Pre-Approved before you go House Hunting – It’s quick and easy to do with Rapid.App, our mobile app or online application.

6 Smart Ways to Reinvest Your Tax Refund Into Your Home

Are you expecting a tax refund this year?

With the average American’s refund coming in at roughly $3,000, that’s a sizable chunk of extra change. And while the urge to splurge can be strong, the more savvy financial decision would be to put your extra cash to work for you. One way you can do that is by putting it back into your home to help boost its value. So, instead of spending this year’s refund on that new 4K TV, consider the following ways you can reinvest it in your home:

  1. Routine Maintenance. We’ll admit it, home maintenance is not the most exciting use of your extra funds, but it’s something you’ve got to be prepared for. Think fixing roof leaks, repairing cracks in the foundation, or getting the HVAC system tuned up. Homeowners should plan to spend around 1% to 3% of their home’s purchase price each year on maintenance costs. So, for a $300,000 home, a repair budget based on 1% would equal $3,000 — the average tax refund!
  2. Home Improvements. If your maintenance budget is at a healthy balance, why not tackle that remodeling project you’ve been putting off? Unlike repairs, some home improvements have certain tax benefits . In addition to maximizing the tax perks, be sure to choose a project with the best ROI. Insider Tip: Refinishing hardwood floors reaps a 100% cost recovery at resale and will only put you back about $3,000, according to the Remodeling Impact Report .
  3. Energy-Efficient Upgrades. Taking steps toward a more sustainable home can have big payoffs, including lower utility costs, better air quality, and even increased home value. A few ways you can do this include upgrading to a more energy-efficient HVAC unit, installing solar panels, or switching to Energy Star appliances. Check out more ideas for how to go green at home .
  4. Smart Home Features. Home automation is the way of the future, so why not get ahead of the curve and make your home more tech-friendly today? Smart homes provide better security and added convenience — not to mention they usually consume less energy. From smart surveillance systems to smart appliances to smart lighting, there are numerous possibilities. Learn more about smart home ideas and benefits .
  5. Extra Mortgage Payment. Making extra mortgage payments not only helps you pay off your loan sooner but also helps you save money on interest by reducing the principal you owe. Depending on your situation, however, you may be better off putting that money into an interest-bearing investment account. Talk to your financial advisor to see which route is best for you.
  6.  Down Payment. If you’re saving up to buy a home, your tax refund can add a significant boost to your down payment fund. Consider this scenario: Let’s say you want to purchase a $200,000 starter home, and you qualify for 3% down. Estimating a tax refund of $3,000, you’d be halfway to your down payment goal! And with all the wealth-building opportunities that come with buying a home , allocating your extra cash toward a down payment can be a really smart move.

Don’t let your tax refund burn a hole in your pocket this year.

Before you spend it, think of strategic ways you can use it to benefit you as a homeowner.


Posted from Waypoints Magazine Newsletter - https://www.waypointsmagazine.com/single-post/2018/01/18/6-Smart-Ways-to-Reinvest-Your-Tax-Refund-Into-Your-Home

This article is for information purposes only and is not an advertisement to extend customer credit as defined by Section 12 CFR 1026.2 Regulation Z. Program rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at any time.

Cason Home Loans | Equal Housing Lender | NMLS# 162651

Immunity-Boosting Tips to Stay Healthy at School or Work

 The winter blahs can often lead to the winter aaaaaahs — as in, open up and say “Aaah” to your doctor.

Being cooped up indoors with lots of other people — at the office, exercise class, at the library — exposes you to a plethora of germs that can take advantage of a weakened immune system and knock you down. Boosting your immune system is a great way to reduce the chance you’ll catch something. Here are some ways to strengthen and support your body’s natural defense.

Wash

Wash your hands often and well, with warm soap and water. This is one of the best defenses against picking up germs! Hand sanitizer is not as effective but can be substituted when soap and water are unavailable.

Sleep

When you sleep, your body produces chemicals that help boost your immune system. Healthy adults need between seven and nine hours  of sleep to allow their bodies to rejuvenate and recover.

Eat

There should be a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Be certain to load up on foods fortified with vitamin D, the nutrient we get from sunshine, as your exposure to the sun may be limited at this time of year.

Hydrate

Heated air dries out your mucous membranes, which help protect you from ingesting germs. Drink lots of water and consider putting humidifiers around your home.

 

The information in this article is not intended to replace the care and advice of your doctor. Use caution when using any homeopathic or naturalistic home remedies. Source: Mayo Clinic, “How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?”, April 2016.


Posted from Waypoints Magazine Newsletter - https://www.waypointsmagazine.com/single-post/2018/12/31/Immunity-Boosting-Tips-to-Stay-Healthy-at-School-or-Work

This article is for information purposes only and is not an advertisement to extend customer credit as defined by Section 12 CFR 1026.2 Regulation Z. Program rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at any time.

Cason Home Loans | Equal Housing Lender | NMLS# 162651

How to Maximize a Small Living Space

As we get older and our life events and situations change, we often find that the cute little two-bedroom house we fell in love with and bought a few years ago just isn’t quite big enough for our current needs. But what if you’re not ready or able to move up into a bigger home yet?
That’s when it’s time to get creative. There are about a million articles online telling you how to maximize your minimal space, which can be overwhelming. So we’ve got a few basic ideas to get you started. Make some room in your home — and your heart — so your little nest can really work for you.

With minimal space, you need to make sure there’s a place for everything, and that everything goes back where it belongs when you’re done using it — every single time. This includes making your bed every day, drying the dishes and putting them away immediately, and putting your shoes and coat back in the closet as soon as you remove them. Tidying can also reduce your stress levels and instill a feeling of control over other parts of your life as well as your home. In a little house, tidying up daily will make your space feel larger and help you feel a sense of accomplishment.

In your little castle, sorting and thinning out your possessions must be a part of your routine to prevent your home from becoming overfull and uncomfortable. You may only need to do this once a month, but it’s critical that you do it regularly. If you find an item that never seems to have a home when you’re tidying up, make it the first thing that goes in the Goodwill box. Let go of the hobby materials you’ve never used and the skinny jeans you’ve been saving for 10 years for when you lose that last 10 pounds.

With minimal space, you need to make sure there’s a place for everything, and that everything goes back where it belongs when you’re done using it — every single time. This includes making your bed every day, drying the dishes and putting them away immediately, and putting your shoes and coat back in the closet as soon as you remove them. Tidying can also reduce your stress levels and instill a feeling of control over other parts of your life as well as your home. In a little house, tidying up daily will make your space feel larger and help you feel a sense of accomplishment.

Bookcase as headboard? Check. Drop-leaf dining table so it “shrinks” into a console table when you’re not using it? Check. Wall-mounted fold-down table for dining and working? Check check check!
If you’re really tight on space, you may need to get really creative with this one. For instance, let’s say you only have two bedrooms and need the second bedroom to function as an office, guest room, and living area. If you have the ceiling height, you could build a loft with stairs to the bed (or use a ladder), and create a padded bench underneath that functions as a sofa. Install a fold-down table, so you can use it as a workspace when needed.

Need more ideas? How about:
Platform bed with drawersCoffee table that opens into a small desk with storageStairs with slide-out drawers in each step

Do you really need two closets full of shoes? Is your guest room just wasted space, having never hosted a guest? Does owning two complete sets of dinnerware make you feel fulfilled? Give yourself permission to turn that guest room into a room you really need, like a nursery or workspace. Remind yourself that you can only eat off of one set of dishes at a time. Empty a closet (read: sort out your stuff) and use it for a little home office. When there is something you really need to make your little home more efficient and a pleasure to be in, then it’s time to take a hard look at wasted space and start making changes.
If you’ve really outgrown your home, these ideas obviously only work as a stopgap measure, but at least you’ll be a bit more comfortable in your small space — and you’ll have less to move when the time comes!
6 Brilliant Ideas for an End-of-Winter Getaway

 The winter season may be wrapping up, but there’s still plenty of time to squeeze in a last-minute winter retreat.

While you could escape the cold with a tropical excursion, let’s be honest: We’ve been there, done that. This year, bundle up and embrace what winter has to offer with these magical destinations for an end-of-winter getaway.

1. See the Northern Lights Along the Alaska Railroad

Enjoy a scenic ride through Alaska’s wilderness aboard the Aurora Winter Train, which runs from Anchorage through Fairbanks. Take in remarkable views of the Denali Mountain peaks and experience the occasional moose sighting, all against the backdrop of powdery white snow. The main attraction here is the Aurora Borealis — or Northern Lights — which are at their highest intensity in March. To witness the majestic violet and emerald glows fill up the night skies is an experience like none other.

2. Sleep in an Ice Castle at Hôtel de Glace, Québec

Each year, the Hôtel de Glace is reconstructed into an architectural masterpiece made entirely of snow and ice. During an overnight stay, you’ll sleep inside arctic sleeping bags atop a bed with a solid ice base. Complete with a bar, café, and wedding chapel, this frozen palace is like stepping into a real-life fairytale. Hurry — the hotel is only open from January 4 to March 28!

3. Play in the Snow in Park City, Utah

Fun is never in short supply at this popular winter sports destination, offering activities such as downhill skiing, snowboarding, dogsledding, and tubing. For the vertically disinclined, try cross country skiing or snowshoeing along snow-packed trails. After a day on the slopes, wind down with an afternoon of shopping and dining in Park City’s charming downtown area. Park City is also home to the Sundance Film Festival, which takes place annually in January. Book your 2019 tickets now to ensure a spot for next year!

4. Gaze at Steaming Geysers in Yellowstone National Park

Even if you’ve visited Yellowstone in the summer, don’t be too quick to brush this one aside. This massive national park transforms into a completely different world from early November to late April as snowy landscapes and wildlife take center stage. Take an Old Faithful Area Snowshoe Tour, where you can explore the trails and watch as Old Faithful erupts against the snow. When its almost-boiling water hits the icy-cold air, the droplets turn into tiny ice crystals. Wildlife is also easy to spot thanks to the white, snowy backdrop. Expect to catch a glimpse of bison, moose, wolves, coyotes, and bighorn sheep, to name a few. Most roads are closed until mid-March, making snowmobile or snowcoach the only viable modes of transportation (but well worth the adventure).

5. Sip on Fine Wine in the Twin Cities

Take a break from the great outdoors and resign to the big city — or cities, that is. Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota (the Twin Cities for short), are packed with winter activities, including traditional winter sports like skiing, ice skating, and even snow fishing. Visit March 2-4 for the 24th annual Minnesota Monthly Food & Wine Experience, where you can sip on fine wines or craft beers while filling up on gourmet cuisine. Fun fact: Minneapolis was named No. 23 on The New York Times’ 52 Places to Go list in 2017.

6. Stargaze in Sedona, Arizona

This desert town is filled with breathtaking scenery and geological wonders — not to mention more mild temperatures for those who don’t want to brave the frigid cold. Explore the red rocks on foot or by hot air balloon, where you may be lucky enough to witness a rare snow dusting on top of the rusty-hued canyons. With fewer crowds, more affordable lodging, and temps that aren’t too hot or too cold, late winter is the ideal time to visit.


Posted from Waypoints Magazine Newsletter - https://www.waypointsmagazine.com/single-post/2018/01/18/Ideas-for-an-End-of-Winter-Getaway

This article is for information purposes only and is not an advertisement to extend customer credit as defined by Section 12 CFR 1026.2 Regulation Z. Program rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at any time.

Cason Home Loans | Equal Housing Lender | NMLS# 162651

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