Categories
Blog

How to Buy a House That Is Not For Sale: Get Your Dream Home!

To buy a house that is not on the market, you have to be prepared to make lots of effort. House stalking is no easy feat, but it’s way easier with real estate professionals.

You will end up with a house if you practice the things we discuss below. Eager home shoppers are more likely to get their dream home! With our guide, learn how to buy a home that’s off-the-market right now.

1. Get the Details, Contact the Homeowner

letter

What better way to know if getting your dream house is even possible than by directly asking the owner?

First, try to know the reason why the house isn’t on the market. There’s a possibility that property’s been listed in the past, but it was withdrawn or expired. Maybe the owner had a change of plans. Perhaps the owner deliberately avoids putting it up on the market because they don’t like too much attention. To get clarification, you can either get a real estate agent to communicate with the owner or send a letter yourself.

It’s time to send that letter that might change everything. It doesn’t need to be a literary masterpiece- you can go as simple as you like, by stating your name and your intentions, or you could include your home search story and how much you love seeing their home to add some personality. Some people are so desperate that they go about making an offer.

You can “sell yourself” too by mentioning how good your gardening and housekeeping abilities are or how much you love the neighborhood. Sometimes they’ll be compelled to leave their house to someone responsible enough – if they’re willing to sell the house.

If you aren’t too caught up on that specific home, asking them for personal recommendations also helps.

You don’t even have to write a letter if you don’t want to – a phone call works. But the advantage of a message is the homeowner can read it anytime they deem convenient.

2. Get Ready for Rejection

letter of rejection

This is unpopular advice, but it’s appropriate for a home buyer: it’s better to expect the worst outcome from this situation than to get your hopes up for nothing. At least if you get mentally prepared for rejection, and the bad news arrives, you had something to soften the blow. But when the outcome is pleasant, and you get your dream home, it’s a win!

The best way to go about this is to put yourself in the homeowner’s shoes: if you were a happy homeowner who gets approached by a random person that wants to take your dear house from you, you have every right to reject their wishes. Sometimes there’s more to life than money, so no matter how good your offer is, you can’t persuade the owner to sell their house to you if they’re keeping it for sentimental reasons.

In some cases, a real estate agent can make the rejection feel less personal and more business-like.

Another thing to keep in mind is never to make an offer that you will regret later to persuade the owner to give up home ownership. If you do that, you’ll end up financially destroyed and possibly without a house.

You always want to be ready to move on and keep looking for another home if things don’t work out. Go to lots of open houses, try Make Me Move. As sad as it sounds, sometimes you need to accept that you can’t have everything you want.

3. Research

real estate agent

Have a real estate agent check canceled, expired, withdrawn listings

A skilled real estate agent can make all the difference in your off-the-market home buying experience.

They can do the tedious task of research and negotiation for you. Instead of you having to do all the work of writing letters, making phone calls, finding a home, and approaching homeowners, you can leave it to them.

Realtors are also experts in checking for canceled, expired and withdrawn listings. These professionals have connections with other agents that can find off-the-market or upcoming for-sale homes. The National Association of Realtors have a great strategy to expand your home-searching horizon.

Make inquiries for other options

phone call

For sure, there are still so many options out there that aren’t on the housing market. The best way to uncover them one by one is to do your research by exploring the web or asking your friends and family for recommendations. You might be surprised what dream houses you’ll find even on Facebook.

Real estate listing websites like Zillow and Trulia let potential buyers set alerts on any address. It doesn’t matter if these property addresses are listed or not. The website, Zillow, posts homes that are pre-foreclosed by RealtyTrac. Meanwhile, sites such as realtor.com give out foreclosure listings to those interested. These websites also feature properties where the homeowners missed their mortgage payments, so said properties are still up for grabs even though they aren’t technically for sale.

It’s always nice to find homes that are still off the multiple-listing services (MLS) or public real estate sites since you don’t have to participate in bidding wars.

As always, there’s a good and bad side to everything. That seemingly perfect house you see on the street may not be so flawless on the inside. It’s important not to be deceived by looks alone when you want to buy a home! Research and home inspection are both important. You might find out that the reason that home is off the market is because of a mold problem or floors prone to rot.

Final Verdict

Buying a home that is not on the market is a slow and difficult process, and that’s okay. With the help of real estate agents and your drive to research and keep looking for options, you’ll get your dream home.

Keep in mind that your personal finance should lead the decision-making since home-buying is a long-term commitment. You should still be reasonable and not be swayed by the beauty of a house.

Categories
Blog

Fee Simple vs Leasehold: What is the Difference in Ownership?

Choosing between the two types of land tenure, the fee simple vs. leasehold ownership, would affect your real estate’s value. It’s critical to differentiate them if you’re looking to buy a property in a leasehold state like New York, Hawaii, or Florida.

Fee simple is the most commonly chosen real estate ownership, making it more familiar to people. In contrast, leasehold ownership only applies to select states. Below, we’ll discuss leasehold ownership, fee simple ownership, and useful facts about leasehold.

What Is the Difference Between Fee Simple and Leasehold?

property

Fee simple

It’s sometimes referred to as fee simple absolute or freehold since it’s the most straightforward and complete form of real estate ownership.

If you’re a fee simple buyer, you’ll have the title to the property, including the land and future improvements to said land. You’ll end up purchasing the entire property.

No time limit exists on a fee simple buyer’s ownership of the land, and he could do whatever he wants with it: sell it, trade it, give it to someone, lease it, or pass it on upon his death.

Since fee simple is the most familiar form of ownership, this is what most people choose.

Leasehold

On the other hand, a leasehold involves a lessor (property owner) and a lessee. A leasehold interest is formed when a lessor, the fee simple landowner, makes an agreement or ground contract with a lessee, who pays for the use of the real property with his lease payment.

The lessee has ownership over the improvements to the land, but at the end of the agreement, the property goes back to the lessor- unless a new lease is agreed upon.

If the leasehold real estate is passed on to the new owner, land use is limited to the remaining years the original lease covered. At the end of the pre-determined period of time, the land returns to the lessor (also known as reversion).

Important Things to Know About Leasehold

lease agreement

Lease rent

The lease rent is the amount paid to the lessor for the use of their land.

Fixed period

The fixed period is the period wherein the lease rent is fixed.

Expiration date

The day the lease ends is called the expiration date.

Renegotiation date

Renegotiation date is the date where the renegotiation of the lease rent occurs.

Reversion

When the lessee gives the property back to the lessor, that event is known as a reversion.

Surrender

The terms of the reversion are known as surrender. It states what happens to the building or unit at the expiration date. Sometimes, the building gets to be the lessor’s property at the term lease expiration.

Leased fee interest

The leased fee interest is the amount a lessor is willing to accept to give up his fee simple ownership.

Lease term

A lease term is the duration or length of the lease period. It can usually go from 55 years and above. You will have to know if there’s a right to extend stated in the terms.

Lease provisions

The lease would have a formula for the new lease rate calculation to determine the increase in rent. It’s based on a percentage of the market value of the fee simple land at renegotiation.

Frequently Asked Questions

leasehold

What’s the reason for me to buy leasehold property?

The luxury lifestyle can now be within your reach since it comes at a lower cost. With this setup, you’ll be paying a monthly lease rent that’s less than a typical mortgage payment.

Furthermore, if you don’t have heirs where you can pass your property, this option will end up the best for you. You can enjoy your retirement at a more affordable cost.

Should someone purchase a leasehold property if they’re worried about the investment return and risk?

In a fee simple ownership, the return on the initial investment would make the purchase worth it. An ideal scenario is for someone to get a property with the intention of using it as a vacation rental. However, there’s always a risk of reversion when the lease ends.; it’s up to the investor to take the risk. It’s still nice to consult a lawyer and investment manager if you want proper guidance.

Which Is the Right Choice?

The choice between fee simple and leasehold ultimately depends on personal preference. Many older people see the leasehold as a better option due to the limited amount of time they intend to enjoy the property.

To be sure about the entire process, we recommend consulting with an attorney who is knowledgeable about leasehold contracts.

Categories
Blog

Advantages and Disadvantages of Renting an Apartment

Before making your decision, you should keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of renting an apartment.

Renting an apartment is not such a long-term commitment compared to buying a house. It’s way easier on the budget, plus you don’t have that much responsibility with the home maintenance. It’s easy to go to shopping centers, pools, and other amenities when you’ve got them all close by.

We discuss the pros and cons of renting an apartment here.

Pros of Renting an Apartment

apartment

One of the obvious advantages of renting an apartment is a lesser financial burden than buying a house since rent is way cheaper than a mortgage. Other than that, maintenance and utility bills would be lower due to the smaller space.

Renting an apartment would also save you time and energy on the upkeep since you don’t have to worry about shoveling snow or mowing the lawn.

Amenities like pools, gyms, tennis courts and laundry services have never been more accessible than in apartment complexes.

Safety is also a plus since you’ll live close by plenty of neighbors. This is clearly an advantage for the elderly and children. And because of the nearby people, you’ll have the opportunity for social engagement, support, and knowledge on apartment safety tips whenever you need it.

Apartment renting is an excellent option if you’re looking for a short-term living space when you’re still working to save up for your dream home.

Overall, an apartment is the best option if you live alone. Things are kept simple, and the smaller living space should be more than enough.

Cons of Renting an Apartment

limited space apartment

Compared to a house, an apartment can only give you limited space. This doesn’t sound like a bad thing if you’re living alone, but apartment living becomes a problem if you have a companion.

Apartments also have set strict rules on remodeling, decoration, and pets. These limitations can be a bad thing if you like modifying your home interiors.

Living in an apartment is not always peaceful. Sometimes, your neighbors might get too noisy and disrupt those nearby. The smell of cigarette smoke can bother you if you aren’t a smoker.

Apartment life also gives you the problem of parking space. In an apartment block, parking spaces can cost so much, especially if you do not have dedicated parking. This can be not very pleasant to visitors, and even more so if parking in the apartment vicinity requires a permit.

Ultimately, you won’t get to enjoy tax deductions that homeowners have.

Pros and Cons of Buying an Apartment

apartment remodeling

Buying a home can be the better choice if you’re concerned about making profit in the future. Houses and apartments will steadily increase in value, which means that if you do buy, you’re guaranteed to make a profit if you want to sell it. If you take out a fixed-rate mortgage, there’d be no ups and downs in your payment.

When you buy a home, you have complete freedom over any modifications you wish for it to have. You can do as many apartment decorating as you like.

The downside to buying instead of renting an apartment is the bigger responsibility in property management: you’ll be the one to fix problems and keep the apartment in good condition. In owning a home, you have to deal with mortgage payments, property taxes, HOA fees, repairs, and insurance.

The choice between renting and buying an apartment depends on your budget and your lifestyle.

Categories
Blog

Things to Consider When Buying a House With a Sibling

Buying a house with a sibling sounds like a more economical choice than buying a home alone, but there are things to keep in mind before jumping right in. A lot of planning and consideration is needed to make this financial decision go well between siblings.

Should You Buy a Home With a Sibling?

buy a house with sibling

Buying a home with a sibling sure does sound appealing when you’re both short on money. However, there’s one way for your housing arrangement to go wrong: what if one of you wants to back out? Things are going to be way different from a divorce scenario where dividing assets (in this case, shared residence) are concerned.

So, is buying a home with a sibling a good idea at all? The following are things you should consider when co-owning a house with a sibling.

Plan Ahead With a Contract

contract signing

Contract Signing

All home buyers should have their names on the property title, which serves as official documentation of the legal owners. It is incredibly essential so that no one loses out if ever an ownership dispute arises in court.

A real estate attorney is the best form of future-proofing you have here. These professionals are well-equipped for dealing with written contracts that officially state how the homeowners would pay for home repairs and maintenance, how they’ll sell the property, how potential rental profits would be split, and what happens when one person decides to back out of the ownership.

A contract is important in sealing the deal and establishing each party’s right as a property owner.

Partition Action and Planning Ahead

When married couples choose to end their marriage, said couples would have to decide what happens to their property. For non-married homeowners, the situation is different – it’s a longer, more expensive process for everyone involved.

Non-married homeowners have to file a formal, civil lawsuit that forces the other party to either buy their interest or sell the home when they don’t want the joint ownership anymore. It’s called a partition action, and it makes things more complicated in times of major life changes.

While this process can be daunting, there’s always a way to prevent all of this: with the signed contract mentioned earlier. Said contract should have a fall back plan to save everyone the hassle. It’s always important to plan and be specific with a legal framework!

Co-Ownership Legal Options

In buying a home with a sibling, working with a lawyer would make things much easier. There are multiple ways to go co-ownership of a house with a sibling, based on the American Bar Association.

Tenancy in common

splitting bills

You can split the house in whatever way convenient for both parties. For example: if one of you provides 60% of the downpayment, that person would own 60% of the property. But, if one owner passes away, it goes not to the surviving party, but the late owner’s heirs.

Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship

With this one, both owners take an equal share of the property. However, if one of them passes away, the living owner gets the property all to themselves automatically.

Advantages of Buying a House with a Sibling

Here are some reasons why buying a house with your brother or sister is a good idea:

Ease of loan qualification

When it comes to debt-to-income ratio and credit score, lenders have quite a demanding standard. Therefore, it becomes much easier to meet those high standards if there’s more aggregate income.

Aside from that, home expenses such as a mortgage, utilities, home renovation, and maintenance would cut less on your budget since you don’t have to shoulder it alone.

You can also claim mortgage interest on your taxes, although you have to partition the amount with your co-borrowers.

Ability to afford a more expensive home

home

If you split the expenses with another person, you can now buy the pricier, usually bigger and better property on the market.

A better home is a huge investment, and affording is now possible if you pool your income together. There are lots of benefits to buying a pricier home with a sibling: better location, better ZIP code, upgrades, security, better amenities, and more.

Splitting the bills instead of paying for it alone

This is the number one reason why anyone would even consider sharing a home with their siblings. Utility bills are so expensive, and having the option to split it in half is what makes co-ownership so attractive. In the event of home maintenance, renovation, or any other extra resource hogs like that, the burden of home upkeep won’t seem heavy.

Disadvantages of Buying a House with a Sibling

There are a few downsides to purchasing a home with a sibling. Can you bear with these in the long run?

Limited personal space

limited personal space

There comes a time when the person you spend a lot of time gets on your nerves. It’s up to you to consider if the convenience of splitting the bill outweighs the inconvenience of living with someone you don’t like. Or better yet, make it a point to have better communication so you can live under one roof in harmony.

More difficult to cancel the mortgage

When there are multiple borrowers tied to the same mortgage, it’s harder to deal with the said mortgage if one wants to back out.

The whole thing becomes a mess once a co-owner doesn’t want to keep up with their financial commitment anymore. This situation will affect everyone involved, and there’s a possibility to endure credit damage on your personal finances.

Co-owning a home with a sibling can be wonderful, but only if you trust everyone to be financially responsible in the long run.

FAQ

The following are some common questions about co-ownership of a home.

Are there co-ownership mortgage loan programs?

Fixed-rate conforming loans are the most sought-after due to the stability and the fact that rates are low nowadays.

However, sometimes siblings only plan to temporarily stay in a home, in which case an adjustable-rate mortgage for 5, 7, or 10 years would be more convenient.

VA loans wouldn’t be applicable in this situation because they are for the military, veterans, and spouses. Meanwhile, FHA loans wouldn’t be possible either since married couples use them.

Home-sharing with siblings is still a great decision overall since both owners would stop paying rent and instead be co-owners of a home.

What are some joint ownership examples?

No lending rules exist against the purchase of a home with a sibling. Aside from buying a house with your sibling, here are some more scenarios people find themselves in when it comes to homeownership: co-ownership of parent and child, two or more families living in one home, living with a partner, a married couple buying their second home, and two people co-owning an investment property.

Can I buy a home with my mother instead of my brother or sister?

Yes. You can even buy a house with both of your parents. There’s also the option of purchasing a home with the help of someone who isn’t a family member or spouse. Many people are choosing to buy a home with a friend too!

Can I avail of a joint mortgage with parents?

Yes. It’s one of the most common co-owned mortgage arrangements because it is easier on the budget for everyone involved in the home buying.

How do I buy a house with two owners?

Qualifying for a joint home loan is the first requirement. You’ll go through the same process you would go with an individual loan, with the only difference being that the incomes and assets of both applicants would be considered one. That’s not such a good thing if you have good credit while the other person has a bad credit history and lots of debt.

Bottom Line

Is buying a house with a sibling the right choice to make? If the home purchase offers a lot of convenience to everyone involved, then yes, it is. A few things to consider when buying a house with a sibling are financial responsibility, healthy relationships, and cooperation.

Categories
Blog

Tips Buying a House After Bankruptcy in 2020

You recently filed for bankruptcy, and you want to buy a home – it will take some time, sure. Meanwhile, you can keep yourself informed and ready for a new, financially stable life of car loans and new credit cards.

You’ll have to face hardships for a few years to grow your savings, but at the end of the tunnel is a light that guides you towards finally buying a house. Also, bankruptcy attorneys and real estate agents got your back.

What are the most popular types of bankruptcy?

Before you worry about home buying, it’s important to be informed about your specific bankruptcy classification.

Chapter 7: The more serious debt resolution

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is when the court relieves you from all your existing debt (student loans, child support, alimony, court fees not included, though).

Chapter 7 is the most prevalent bankruptcy filing since it’s the most straightforward and attractive solution. It comes with a downside – your credit will fall miserably, stay on your credit report for up to a decade, liquidation will occur, and most importantly, it will be almost impossible to get a mortgage.

It will take four years after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy before you can “recover” or become dismissed by the court. Then, you can go back to normalcy and finally get a conventional loan.

However, there’s some good news for government-backed mortgage loans: you’ll only wait three years before you can apply for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan.

Lastly, taking a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan equates to a shorter waiting time of two years after dismissal.

Chapter 13: Keeps off foreclosure

Chapter 13 is more lenient since it doesn’t impact your credit score as bad as Chapter 7 does. For Chapter 13, you’re setting a plan to repay your debts within a three to five-year installment.

If you have enough regular income, you’re qualified for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. As long as you have under $394,725 in unsecured debt and $1,184,200 in secured debts, you can file for Chapter 13.

This filing grants you a suspension from current foreclosures and other debt payments and postpones while waiting for the court to approve a plan, but it won’t get rid of the debt. If all goes well, the said plan will let you proceed with regular payments to stay in your house.

It’s not the quickest method like Chapter 7 is, but it’s better than liquidation.

How long after bankruptcy can you buy a house and apply for a mortgage?

Can you buy a house after bankruptcy? Not immediately, that’s for sure.

Lenders will put your financials under observation for quite a while before applying for a mortgage loan. That’s why it’s extremely important to work on rebuilding your credit (more on this later) as soon as you get discharged.

If you’re careful, you’ll qualify for a new mortgage in a couple of years. Understand that your bankruptcy filing is a “stain” on your record and can only go away with time and effort to improve your financial responsibility. That’s the best you can do to prove to lenders that you pay your bills on time and keep debt to a minimum.

Below is a handy guide for how long you have to wait to get different mortgage loans.

LOAN TYPE CHAPTER 7 WAITING PERIOD CHAPTER 13 WAITING PERIOD
Conventional mortgage loan 4 years 2 years
FHA and VA mortgage loan 2 years 1 year
USDA mortgage loan 3 years 1 year

What Mortgage Can You Get After Bankruptcy?

mortage

Frankly, most lenders won’t be too keen on giving you low-interest rates upon seeing your credit record history. That’s just how it is; you can’t control someone’s first impressions of you.

An FHA mortgage is your best bet if you want to purchase a home.

1. FHA Loans

It provides the most favorable interest rate that lets you obtain a fairly affordable home. Although FHA requires additional mortgage insurance fees for eleven years (at least), it gets you a relatively low downpayment (can be as low as 3.5%), low closing costs, and easy credit qualifying.

With FHA, the federal government pays the lender of the mortgage. However, this loan can’t consider anyone who incurred a Chapter 7 discharge within the last couple of years, as opposed to someone with a Chapter 13 where you don’t need to wait for the discharge for FHA’s approval, provided you pay all your bills on time to the trustee within a year.

There’s another condition for the FHA, aside from the lender’s consent: the bankruptcy court needs to approve of the debt that comes with home-buying. These courts will only do that once they compare your rent payments to your monthly mortgage and conclude that you’re in good financial standing.

2. VA Loans

Servicemembers, military veterans, and surviving spouses can avail of VA loans. As for the waiting period, the same goes for the FHA: you get bankruptcy waiting periods of two years and one year for Chapter 7 discharge and Chapter 13 filing, respectively.

VA loans are helpful for said eligible people in getting, building, repairing, or keeping a house either directly through VA itself or courtesy of a private lender (VA-backed home loan). Like FHA, it’s their key to more reasonable terms.

3. USDA

USDA’s Rural Development Program is responsible for this type of loan. USDA prioritizes lower-income, rural area residents.

As mentioned in the table above, three years after Chapter 7 discharge and one year after Chapter 13 discharge are the waiting times – except for extenuating circumstances such as job loss, government benefit reduction, and serious illness. For said cases, the waiting period is reduced to one year both for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, provided that you’ve made payments on time for the latter.

Said extenuating circumstance needs to have happened within 12 months of the bankruptcy filing, and it should be the cause of your bankruptcy.

4. Conventional loan

Conventional loans aren’t part of a government program. These cost less than FHA loans but are harder to get.

The two conventional loans are conforming and non-conforming. The former can have either a government-set loan limit or a company-set limit, while the latter is more flexible.

Some large conforming loan companies, namely Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, can guarantee most US mortgages. The two of them are government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that make loans more affordable and a 30-year fixed-rate loan possible. They both need private mortgage insurance that will serve as protection from default with conventional loans.

Chapter 7 waiting period Chapter 13 waiting period Minimum credit scores
Fannie Mae Regular: 4 years after discharge

Extenuating circumstances: 2 years after discharge

2 years after discharge or 4 years after dismissal (2 years in case of extenuating circumstances) Regular: 620

Adjustable: 640

Freddie Mac Regular: 4 years after discharge

Extenuating circumstances: 2 years after discharge

2 years after discharge or 4 years after dismissal (2 years in case of extenuating circumstances) Regular: 620

For certain circumstances: 640

Do note that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t the only options for banks. Some banks have their own set of terms, but this is so much work to go through.

Consider seller-financed or rent-to-own homes

Recently foreclosed homes are a great opportunity for a cheaper-priced property, since the sellers, who hold the title until it’s fully paid, are desperate to make a sale to new homeowners. Because of that, no one has to do a credit check, and zero percent higher interest is added in their selling process – they’ll hand the property over to you. The seller-financed home is the best and quickest option you have of homeownership after bankruptcy.

On the other hand, rent-to-own agreements will cost you a couple of hundred dollars more per month but allow you to live in exactly the house you want for 3-5 years. The reason for such a drastic increase in monthly dues is the agreement that you’ll officially buy the house after renting it temporarily. A percentage of the total monthly payment will be considered as a downpayment for ownership of the house.

The advantage of rent-to-own contracts is the level of control you have in choosing a dream home, and the security that it will be officially yours after a few years. The disadvantage is the possibility of you eventually backing out of the deal with the real estate agent, which means that the extra monthly fees you paid beforehand were all for nothing.

To avoid the cons, you have to work a lot on rebuilding your credit, which we’ll discuss below.

How can you apply for a mortgage after a bankruptcy and rebuild your credit?


In buying a home after a financial disaster, it’s only reasonable to make significant changes to your lifestyle that lead to credit repair.

1. Reset personal finances, aim towards good credit after you file for bankruptcy

Let your experience with bankruptcy serve as a motivation to rebuild your life. It’s okay to take it slowly. What’s important is you aren’t stuck in a rut or make the same mistakes you did with regards to debt management.

Focus on paying your remaining credit card debt, and opening secured credit cards and installment loans. The credit card will let you pay your monthly debt after bankruptcy.

Each month, exert all your energy towards paying your bills on time. For extreme measures, you might want to consider an auto-pay.

Sacrifices will have to be made during these trying times, but your future self will thank you.

2. A detailed explanation letter goes a long way

Nobody wants to deal with bankruptcy, and your lender is no exception. To soften the blow of your lender’s initial disheartenment upon seeing your credit history, you might want to send them a detailed explanation as to why you declared bankruptcy, your unfortunate circumstances, and the steps you’re taking to recover from bad credit fully.

It’s fairly easy to write an explanation letter since all you need to do is address the cause of the bankruptcy and the fact that you’re working on a solution to your problem. Examples of some valuable information are recovery from a past illness (high medical bills) or an abandoned business. These facts, coupled with the proof of your financial stability, will help beat the stigma surrounding a bankruptcy history.

It is by no means required, but the letter adds warmth and sincerity to the otherwise cold atmosphere surrounding the world of finance.

Conclusion on How to Buy a House After Bankruptcy

You’ve to wait a while before you can buy a home after bankruptcy, and it all depends on your circumstances and loan type, but to summarize:

For Chapter 7, you’ll wait two years to four years to recover. Chapter 13 bankruptcy encompasses a less definite timeline. You can apply immediately or after four years. In that period, you have to put all your effort into raising your credit score. It would be best to prepare a letter of explanation for your lender when they check your credit report. To support your message, you need to have a good, steady credit record improvement to back it up.

Ultimately, you should keep your head up and not let your income (or your lack thereof) define your self-worth. What’s important is you keep moving forward and strive for a good future, since bankruptcy doesn’t mean you have to give up.

Categories
Blog

New House Checklist: Essentials Things for Your First House

Moving usually ends up harder than it was planned to be. There are too many things going on that you just want to finish it all, and finally rest at your new place! This is mostly applicable when it’s your first time buying a home after years of renting a space. You want to be sure that everything is set and flows smoothly.

The best way to do that is to make a physical new house checklist. After all, you want to do all the moving in one day alone and not extend it to a few more days. So, here is a checklist to finally give you relief. Moving into your new home deserves all this preparation!

Move in Essentials. What to do?

When you are transferring into a new home, you are also leaving your old one. That means you will need to have a clean exit with your old place and a clean entrance too with your new place. While most of us pride ourselves to be excellent homeowners, some of us miss a few things during moving day. Some common moving mistakes are:

  • Forgot to set up the utilities at your new place before moving in. The last thing you want is spending your first day in your new house without water and power.
  • Forgot to cut off your water and power account at your old place. Unless you were renting, you are the one responsible (and not the landlord) for doing this.
  • Forgot to take into account moving taxes. Some items are subjected to tax when moved.
  • Forgot to bring the essentials like a cutter, packing tape, marker pen, and trash bags.
  • Forgot to change your address. You do not want the hassle of going back to your place or doing a lot of calls to receive a wrongly sent package.

Your moving checklist is similar to your first apartment checklist. The only difference is you are managing two properties now – your old and new place (for the first few weeks only).

What do you do on the first day of a new house?

Just like in a new job, the first day is critical. Everything could go wrong, but nothing should be. Here are some moving tips to make you prepared for the actual moving and when you finally moved in.

  • Check all the lightbulbs. We understand that it is frustrating to have busted bulbs in some parts of the house. It adds stress on top of the exhaustion from moving. To be extra sure, you should bring spare light bulbs. Even if all the lightbulbs are fine, you will use the spares ones eventually.
  • Introduce yourself to the neighbors. Nobody likes a rude neighbor. You would not be given free food whenever they have parties or borrow a hammer when you need it. Also, it is common courtesy and the right thing to do.
  • Take some rest. The chances are that you moved during the weekends and will be working again on Monday. Rest and recharge for that day. Moving is stressful, and there is no other practical way to beat stress than to take a bath, lie down, and call it a day.

What do you need to do when moving into a new house?

This section will be a more in-depth discussion of your new home checklist involving various categories. Now, these moving tips will not assure a mistake- and hassle-free moving; rather, these tips will minimize the chances of those happening.

From faulty programmable thermostats to home insurance affairs, here is the only checklist you need in your life. Even if you move from one country regularly in your lifetime, this list will still be applicable.

Security System

new house essentials

Home security is a priority wherever you go. If not your property, your life could be at risk when you have a weak home security system. Most homeowners overlook this feature because most have not been subject to a crime.

While property crime has dropped by 69% from 1993 to 2017, you cannot be too sure of your safety. It is better to be safe than sorry.

To have peace of mind when sleeping and when away, here are things you should do:

  • Change your locks. Even if it is a newly built house or an apartment for rent, there may be duplicate keys to the locks. It is like giving a stranger access to your home. Aside from people having keys, the pre-installed locks may be wobbly that a straight kick to it could dislodge it.
  • Know the previous owner. Also, another thing to include in your new homeowner checklist is to get to know the previous owner. You should know at least who are they, their contact information, and why did they leave and sell the house. Even if they lived there years ago already, it is better to know the essential information about the house’s past.
  • Install a home security camera. It is said, in Baltimore and Chicago, that CCTV cameras deter crime well that the city “earned” 50% of the cameras’ cost in terms of safety units. They are a good investment if you want to see what is going on outside of your house even when you are away. Also, if you have neighbors with kids, they might come to your property and hurt yourself. Chances are, you will be liable for the damages unless you have video footage of them coming in.
  • Make sure the records are legit. The best way to secure your home is to see if the documents are legit. These records include property title, police clearance of the previous owner, business permit of the building, and others.

Lighting

lighting

Lightbulbs are items in the house that you will only notice when they stop working. Here are some things you should do to have the best lighting in your home:

  • Use LED light only. The reason why LED light is more expensive than the typical incandescent and halogen bulbs is because of its excellent cost-benefit ratio. Simply put, you will save at least $100 in your power bill in one year. The bulbs have also significantly dropped its market price by 85% from 2008 to 2012.
  • Have an emergency light. It is obvious to always have an emergency kit in your house. The thinking is it is better to have one even you don’t need it than to need it when you don’t have it. You need a flashlight with spare batteries or a dedicated emergency light that automatically powers up when the main power goes out.
  • Clear up the windows. Want to save more in your power bill? Use natural light. You might reduce your power bill up to 60%. Usually, just like with your car’s headlamps, window glass can get hazy over time that the amount of light coming in is reduced. You will see the difference immediately. You have spent a lot of decorating and renovating your house; you should also give it the light it deserves.

Letting the sunlight in your house is also linked to increased productivity and better mental health.

Lightbulbs are items in the house that you will only notice when they stop working. Here are some things you should do to have the best lighting in your home:

Bedroom

bedroom

Bedroom is the place where you spend after have a tiring day, so make sure you have everything that optimize your rest.

  • Have the essentials. Your bedroom is your domain. Having the essentials is just the first step in making it a room for you. You already know these items; instead, we will list down underrated bedroom essentials that is all function and zero gimmicks.
  • Add a night table to keep things organized. Having a solid shelf, table, or desk is an excellent way to keep all the essentials at arms reach. Important things like your phone, your water tumbler, flashlight, wallet, or self-defense items should always be reachable.
  • Insulation. If you live in a cold area, you know that having bad insulation in a beautiful home can be a deal breaker. This is because lousy insulation could lead to the higher electric bill due to the need for cranking up the heater. A cold room can also hinder productivity and mood.
  • Sturdy bedframe. Nobody wants a squeaky bed frame. It can make the most annoying sounds with just a small turn on your bed. This might be because of the screws loosening or the material degrading. Always buy a bed frame that is made from fewer pieces (meaning fewer screws and joints) and is also made from solid hardwood.
  • Buy the best mattress. People say that you should invest in your shoes and mattress because you are either in your shoes or mattress. If the room comes with an old mattress, try it out and see if it works. When you keep turning and having a hard time sleeping, it is time to change it. Having a nice mattress is known to reduce stress levels and improve sleeping quality of a person.
  • Use space wisely. A lot of your stuff will most likely end up in your bedroom. It is good to have an efficient under bed storage system like buying a bed frame that comes with cabinets underneath or simply putting important stuff underneath using hard plastic baskets.
  • Sheet sets
  • Comforter + duvet cover
  • Under bed storage
  • Night stand
  • Alarm clock – wake up light
  • Dresser
  • Full length mirror

Bathroom

bathroom essentials

This is the room where we clean up. A good bathroom experience can reverse an otherwise bad day. This is where our daily rituals happen, and here are some tips to get the best out of your bathroom.

  • Basic but premium bathroom items. These are your showerhead, shower curtain, towels, and all the things you and your family will use in the bathroom for the rest of your stay in your new house. You will notice significant changes in your daily routine with just the small items like having the right thickness in your towel or having different shower options.
  • Keep the outlets protected. Accidents can happen in a bathroom in unexpected ways. The floor is slippery, there are a lot of edges, and power outlets can be drenched with water. That is why putting the outlets on a higher level is a smart idea. You can also use rubber outlet covers for extra safety.
  • Buy only quality soap, shampoo, and cosmetics. Anything that goes into your body (food) and on your body (cosmetics) should be of quality. You do not want any risk and end up harming yourself (and, not to forget, racking up a lot of medical bills). Always buy products from trusted brands. But if you want to branch out to lesser known and independent brands, always make sure you understand what you are buying.
  • Shower curtains
  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet brush
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Soap

Kitchen Essentials

kitchen essentials

  • Buy an impressive smoke detector. Do not cheap out with your smoke detectors. You do not want your kitchen drenched just because of steam or be in flames instead because of its weak sensor. Smoke detectors, after installing them, should be low-maintenance and will function correctly without continually checking on it.
  • Have separate bins for your trash. Be a good inhabitant of our planet and segregate your waste. The organic ones should be thrown to your compost or buried underneath so it could be a soil conditioner instead of rotting inside a plastic bag.
  • Invest in quality kitchen appliances. It is such a hassle to keep replacing your kitchen appliances every year. If you spend a bit more to get a robust coffee maker, blender, or microwave, you can be sure that you will not be spending again for many years for its replacement and repair.
  • Chopping board
  • Knifes
  • Skillet
  • Pan and pot
  • Oven
  • Toaster
  • Napkins
  • Can opener
  • Kitchen trash bin

Living Room

living room must have

Your living room is where you will be spending a lot of time before sleeping. It is where your visitors will get a glimpse of your house and, to some point, your personality. That is why it is essential that you make your living room functional and beautiful. Any new home can look drab with the wrong style of the living room.

When moving into a new home, checklists are your guide to keep everything followed and streamlined. Here is a list to follow for your living room:

  • Keep it simple and spacious. A living room should not be cramped with unnecessary ornaments and fixtures. It will look tacky. Since it is also one of the more visited areas in a house, you should keep it clutter-free. Also, a simple living room will be easier to clean than one with a lot going on.
  • Comfort sofa
  • Television. A sofa is where everyone will sit, and a TV is where everyone will look at. It is obvious why you should invest in both. After work, most people do not immediately go to bed and lie down. Most sit on the sofa and try to relax.
  • Good speakers will make the room better. Re-watching your favorite movies with a better TV and sound system is a beautiful experience. You will hear a lot of unnoticed sounds and generally immerse you into the environment of the movie.

Appliances

When it comes to appliances, you should always go for versatile ones. Why buy a fan and an air-conditioning unit when a hybrid AC fan can do both? Here are some essential appliances you should own:

  • Surge protectors. They are a better version of the basic extension cords. A surge protector protects the plugged-in appliances from drops and spikes – when the increase is more than three nanoseconds; it is a surge; if less, it is a spike – in the electricity.
  • Portable air-conditioner. Technology has allowed for powerful motors to be smaller and be fitted in compact frames. Again, a dedicated through-the-wall air-conditioner will have a high power consumption and has a fixed location (so you need to increase the power so that all rooms will be cooled). A portable one can be brought anywhere in and outside the house (good if you are moving again).
  • Multi-purpose vacuum cleaner. Traditional vacuum cleaners only suck in air. Now, most can blow out the air too. This is useful in cleaning the dust of shelves or the wire mesh attached to the window. If you buy a more powerful machine, you can even use it as a leaf blower.
  • Dehumidifier
  • Air conditioners
  • Refrigerators
  • Air purifier

Household Items Checklist

Most of your home checklist will be composed of household items. Here is a list that is personally curated:

  1. Stack-able and nest-able containers. We all know this too well. Your unused containers are lying on your shelves and taking up too much of your precious kitchen space. The solution to this is to buy a set of stack-able and nest-able containers.
  2. Peg or wire board. This wire board will not be a replacement for shelves or cabinets as this can be only an additional organizing option. You simply attach hooks, small and large containers, and racks to it. This is a good option for your technology accessories and stationery supplies.
  3. Foldable tables. Again, this is not a replacement for your dining table. We are sure our readers are coming into this article, knowing the essential things to buy for a new house. A foldable table, however, can be brought anywhere. This is nice if your daughter suddenly needs an additional table for her books or if you will be hosting a barbecue night.
  4. Keep your house clean. A good set of brush, mops, and soap can go a long way. No need to hire a cleaner when you can make your house-cleaning session fun. Also, keeping your house clean is an excellent way to maintain a reasonable resale price and make the environment conducive for family and individual affairs.
  5. Have a laundry set. Most people are ditching now their washing machines, dryers, and ironing board in exchange for drop-off/self-service laundry. Sometimes, things could go wrong, and a shirt could be stained or be placed in another customer’s basket.

Doing your laundry will keep you in control of everything. You can make sure nothing can get stained, faded, or burnt. You will also save money.

Smart Home and Technology

You can always prefer a more traditional way of keeping a house, but a lot of people are moving into smart home and technology for a good reason: it makes everything easier. Here is how to keep your house smart and, in turn, make you smarter:

  • Use a centralized smart thermostat. If you opt for a centralized air-conditioning unit, chances are you have the option to use a smart thermostat.
  • Try using home virtual assistants to make your home smarter. The joy in being in a new house is better if you have a virtual assistant to help you. A lot of smart speakers are being used by more homeowners today. Amazon’s Alexa Speaker or the Google Home are just some of the leading smart speakers in the market right now.
  • Robotic vacuum cleaner
  • Smart door lock with fingerprints system

Final verdict

A good house is a sum of the right items and correct actions you will take. Moving into a new place, new home, and a new culture can be daunting at first, but that is why checklists exist. It helps you know what to do next when everything seems to change. A simple checklist is better than having none.

Categories
Action Auction Bank Protests Blog Day Of Action

Foreclose On Wells Fargo: Day 1

On the eve of Wells Fargo’s annual shareholders meeting in San Antonio, TX on Tuesday, home defenders, students, community groups, and activists in ten cities took peaceful action against the bank. Petitions signed by thousands of people were delivered to Wells Fargo branches and offices across the country calling on CEO John Stumpf to change the bank’s predatory practices. 

The day kicked off in Springfield, MA at the home of Diane and Ray Perkins, which was scheduled to be auctioned off by Wells Fargo on Tuesday morning.  

Springfield6

Members of Springfield No One Leaves, neighbors, and community members mobilized in front of the family’s home to stop the sale, causing Wells Fargo to postpone the foreclosure until May 12! They were joined by Doris Hair, Hildegard Spielmann-Dergamini, and Raphaela Vega, three other homeowners facing imminent foreclosure by Wells Fargo. Following the rally at the Perkins’ home, the group marched to a local Wells Fargo branch and successfully delivered the petitions to the bank’s representatives. 

Springfield Petition delivery

Over in New Jersey, home defenders joined forces with bank workers to take action in two cities. In Trenton, members of CWA Local 1037 passed out leaflets and delivered a petition asking Wells Fargo to put an end to excessive sales goals that force employees to push products on customers even when it’s not in their best interest. 

CWA Trenton

In Irvington, members of New Jersey Communities United marched to two different Wells Fargo branches to stop Wells Fargo’s evil stage coach from running away with community wealth. 

IrvingtonStageCoach1

They were joined by Mayor Wayne Smith who spoke of Wells Fargo’s record profits, and Jonelle Rodriguez- a former Wells Fargo employee who shared her experience as a bank worker trying to keep up with the pressure of meeting excessive sales goals. 

Jonelle

Yolanda Andrews, an NJCU member fighting to save her home from Wells Fargo, traveled to San Antonio as part of a contingent of homeowners planning to confront the bank executives directly at the shareholders meeting. 

IrvingtonMarch

Occupy Our Homes Atlanta joined forces with the Moral Monday Georgia movement to take on Wells Fargo who has carried out the most foreclosures in the state.

ATLMoralMonday

After a rally downtown, the group marched to a local Wells Fargo branch, where Reverend A. Motley of historic Lindsey Street Baptist Church led the group in calling on the bank to stop profiting off the backs of communities of color. 

ATLRevMotley

State Senator Vincent Fort, legendary civil rights activist Fred Taylor, faith leaders, and students also spoke before the group delivered thousands of petitions to the branch. 

ATLPetition

Actions also took place in Inverness, Fl, St. Louis, MO, Minneapolis, MN, Orlando, FL, and Seattle, WA on Monday with more expected on Tuesday

Anfrea

Make sure to follow Occupy Our Homes and the Home Defenders League on Facebook for more photos and updates!

Stop Wells Fargo

Categories
Bank Protests Blog Day Of Action

Foreclose On Wells Fargo: National Days of Action April 28 & 29

 

Earlier this month, we put the word out that we were planning to take on Wells Fargo and the response we got was overwhelming. So many people registered for an organizing conference call that we had to schedule a second one just to accommodate everyone.

Well’s Fargo’s well-documented history of abusive and discriminatory lending, servicing, and foreclosure practices have caused millions of families to lose their homes or be underwater on their mortgages. The bank’s actions have devastated communities across the country- impacting everyone from homeowners facing foreclosure, to students struggling to afford school, and immigrants fighting to keep their families intact. Even Wells Fargo employees are stepping forward to talk about how the company’s predatory practices hurt their workers and communities.

 

On April 29, Wells Fargo will celebrate it’s record as the country’s most profitable bank at their annual shareholders meeting in San Antonio, TX. People around the country are organizing to send a message to the bank that these predatory practices have to stop. Home defenders have launched petitions online, and planned actions at local Wells Fargo branches and offices, and some are even traveling to San Antonio to confront the bank’s executives directly.    

 
Join the fight to hold big banks like Wells Fargo accountable. Click on the links to take action, sign a petition, or get involved! 
 
Categories
Action Bank Protests Blog Day Of Action Home Defense Start2

Home Defenders Take Action Against Wells Fargo in Support of 86 Year Old Grandmother Facing Foreclosure

On Wednesday February 19, supporters delivered petitions signed by over 2,000 people to Wells Fargo branches around the country, urging the bank not to foreclose on Lavinia Curry, an 86 year old Grandmother in Irvington, NJ. 

 

Despite being the most profitable US bank in 2013, Wells Fargo has continued to foreclose on struggling homeowners, instead of working with families to keep them in their homes. The latest victim, Lavinia Curry, purchased her Irvington, NJ home in 2003 with the help of her daughter Paulette. In 2010, the family missed ONE mortgage payment, but attempted to make the missed payment the very next month. Wells Fargo refused to accept the payment and began the process of foreclosure instead. A sheriff’s sale of the family’s home is scheduled for next month. 

 

With the help of New Jersey Communities United, the family launched a petition on start2.occupyourhomes.org that quickly gained over 2,000 signatures. “We have the money to pay, bu Wells Fargo refused to accept it,” said Ms. Curry’s daughter Paulette McQueen, who has been leading the fight to save her mother’s home. “For more than three years, we’ve been battling the bank to save our house so our mother can live out the rest of her years with dignity and respect in the place our family calls home. Wells Fargo needs to do right by our family.” 

 

In response, home defenders in multiple cities– including Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, and Orlando–held small demonstrations and delivered copies of the petitions to local Wells Fargo branches in solidarity with a similar protest that took place in Irvington. These actions represent the growing number of homeowners and community members who are calling for more solutions to the housing crisis, and for banks like Wells Fargo to reduce principal and offer affordable modifications that would keep struggling families in their homes. 

 

The city of Irvington has been particularly hard hit by foreclosures, leaving 47% of all homeowners underwater on their mortgages according to Zillow. This has led the city to to consider using eminent domain as a way to provide principal reduction, following the lead of Richmond, CA. 

 

 
Click here to see more photos from the day of action!
Sign the Petiton!
Categories
Blog Training

Housing Justice Academy in New Jersey

Join NJ Communities United, Occupy Our Homes, and the Home Defenders League for the Housing Justice Academy in Newark, NJ on December 7th & 8th!

We’re bringing people together to learn how we can fight back against Wall Street greed, strengthen our connections to each other, and build a movement that has the power to push back against Wall Street and the big banks. Learn how to: 
• Organize your neighbors
• Lead direct actions
• Execute eviction defenses
• Participate in non-violent civil disobedience
• Talk to the press
• Launch online petitions

WHEN WE FIGHT, WE WIN!!!

Food and beverages will be provided. For more information, contact Thais Marques at Thais@UnitedNJ.org or (973)623-1828 Check out the Facebook event and RSVP here!

Space is limited so register today!

REGISTER

Check out the Facebook event and RSVP here!