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Four Steps to Create the Home Inventory You Need If Disaster Strikes

Posted on January 22, 2018 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (3)


Four Steps to Create the Home Inventory You Need If Disaster Strikes

After a fire, flood or other disaster, your insurance claim needs to list all items that are lost or damaged. Having a home inventory makes this easy—and speeds up the process.

Step 1. Decide between photos and video. Photos need to be labeled with the item’s description and cost—but some smartphones and digital cameras let you add this when saving. With video, you can just say this info while shooting. Apps are also available.

Step 2. Walk through your home, shoot and describe (or write down) the contents. Turn on all lights and open all cabinets, drawers and closets. Count clothing by category—10 shirts, 6 sweaters, etc. Collect receipts, record serial numbers. Ask your insurance agent if jewelry and collectibles need special coverage. Don’t forget pictures, mirrors, ceiling fixtures, basement, attic, garage and off-site storage.

Step 3. Store your inventory in an online storage account or on an external drive kept with paper documents safely off premises.

Step 4. Update the inventory with new purchases.

When you’re ready to give your contents a new home or refinance for an upgrade or lower rate, please text, email or call us any time.  (469) 363-3298

Ten Things You Need for Home Repair Emergencies

Posted on December 6, 2017 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

10 things you need for home repair emergencies

Fire Extinguishers. By the time firefighters arrive, it’s usually too late to save things. Fire extinguishers can prevent fires from spreading, saving property and even lives. Put one in the kitchen, garage and on every floor.

Lights with Fresh Batteries. Keep flashlights and lanterns in every room.

Tarps. Severe weather can damage windows and roofs. Tarps stop rain and debris from entering.

Clear Plastic Sheeting. Not as strong as tarps, but good for furniture, and over windows.

Duct Tape. Great for everything from cracked glass to cracked pipes.

Nails and Screws. Have a good supply in lots of sizes.

Plumbing Fittings. Ask your plumber what fittings you need to close damaged pipes.

Spare Parts for Appliances. Ask your appliance repair service what parts are useful to have on hand.

Tools. Adjustable wrenches, claw hammer, screwdrivers, pry bar, tape measure, hand drill.

Extension Cords. Have different sizes to reach areas where power may be cut off.

Please text, email or call us any time for information about financing a home purchase, or refinancing for a lower rate or for upgrades.  (469) 363-3298 

Mortgage rates are still near historically low, so don’t wait to contact us about today’s excellent options.

Moving Time!

Posted on November 29, 2017 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)



Moving is no fun. I’ve heard that a person can truly find out who their real friends are on moving day. For all the excitement that comes with finding and closing on a new house, moving into that house offers the opposite. It is stressful and hard work. It is a time to evaluate your possessions and decide whether or not you even need them. It can also be a good time to weed your possessions and donate to charity. 

Packing. Loading. Unpacking. In my moving experience, I’ve tried it both ways: packing and moving everything ourselves and hiring a company to do it all. There are positives and negatives to both. The important thing is to make the right decision for your family’s situation. If you have the time and physical ability to pack and move everything yourself, you’ll save yourself a lot of money. Plus, you can rest assured that things are done the right way. No one is going to take care packing your stuff like you. On the other hand, doing it yourself is a lot of work. If you don’t have physical limitations and can afford it, why not outsource the work to someone else?

The first time we moved across the country, my son was eight weeks old and my daughter was two years old. With an infant and a toddler at home, we could hardly find time to wash our hair. Finding time to pack all of our earthly possessions and then load them onto a moving truck was laughable. Without a moving company, we would not be moving. We also had financial considerations (hello children!) and couldn’t spend an exorbitant amount of money. I soon realized that getting a moving quote wasn’t as easy as clicking some boxes and entering some information online. Before they would give us a quote, the moving companies needed to come out and look at our stuff. We chose the most reasonable quote and signed up. On the scheduled day, they came with boxes and supplies, packed everything up, and loaded the truck. When the stuff arrived at our new house 1,800 miles away, they unloaded it all. We were responsible for unpacking. While unpacking our stuff, we quickly realized that we had paid to move a bunch of unnecessary stuff that I like to call “junk.” If we had taken the time to go through our stuff and donate some of it prior to hiring the moving company, it might have cost us less and we wouldn’t have to deal with unpacking (and donating) all of that stuff while moving in. 

Four years later, when we were moving back, we decided to move ourselves. Our kids were older (free labor!) and we had the time and help that we needed to pull it off. This time, we began to weed through our stuff, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically. My husband and I seriously considered selling all of our furniture and just buying new stuff for our new house. There was no guarantee that our “old” stuff would work in our “new” house. I’m glad that we came to our senses and kept some of our stuff because, let’s be honest, who has enough money to re-furnish an entire house? We certainly don’t. And our gold sectional couch fits just perfectly in our new home. To complete this job, we rented a U-Haul, loaded it up, and hit the road. It was a lot more work, but cost us about 35% of what hiring a mover would have cost. 

Every time we move, I say that we’re never going to move again. This time I mean it. Unless something too good to pass up hits the market. I do still get those real estate notifications…

12 Tips to Dial Up Your Online Security

Posted on October 4, 2017 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

12 Tips to Dial Up Your Online Security

1.  Install updates immediately. They often patch the latest viruses.

2.  Get anti-virus software for all devices.

3. Watch devices. Hackers can install spyware in under 30 seconds.

4. Strengthen passwords.Use caps and lower case, numbers, punctuation marks. Write in an address book. If hacked, change passwords. Never re-use passwords.

5. Get two-factor authentication. Adds an extra step at log-in, usually sends a text with a code. You’ll know if anyone tries to log in from another device.

6. Avoid free Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi draws hackers. Make your smartphone a password-protected mobile hotspot and connect.

7. Keep data to yourself. Don’t store credit card info and passwords on sites or browsers. Enter it each time.

8. Don’t click on a link in an email or text, even from someone you know (hackers hijack contacts). Hover your mouse over link, or copy and paste it into a search engine, to see where it goes.

9. Don’t download unexpected attachments. Call the sender first.

10. Back everything up. Use outboard hard drive, cloud service, or both. Then ransomware criminals can’t hold your data for ransom because you always have an up-to-date copy.

11. Use a credit monitoring service, such as EZ Shield, Identity Guard or Lifeflock. If hacked, freeze accounts at all three credit bureaus.

12. Slow down! Hackers love people in a hurry. Carefully check details.

If you’re looking to buy a home, or refinance for a lower rate or to fund improvements, please text, email or call us... (469) 363-3298

Mortgage rates are still low, but don’t wait to contact us about today’s excellent options!


24 Preventive Maintenance Must-Do's

Posted on September 21, 2017 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

24 Preventive Maintenance Must-Do's

Safety

Smoke, Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Check operation, replace batteries.

Fire Extinguishers. Make sure they’re accessible and have adequate pressure.

Dryer Vent. Clear out lint that could catch fire.

Wires. Replace frayed cords.

Railings, Steps, Walkways. Fix unsafe conditions.

Exterior

Roof. Check and repair shingles, flashing, eaves, soffits.

Chimney. Repair cracks, clean flue if needed.

Gutters, downspouts. Clean, check slope, add extensions to take water away from foundation.

Drainage. Grade soil to drain water away from foundation.

Faucets. If you get freezing temperatures, shut off supply valves, open spigots and drain. Put hoses away.

Windows, Doors. Repair, caulk cracks, replace weather stripping, install storm windows if needed.

Paint, Siding. Check, repair.

Decks. Repair, reseal.

Trees, Shrubs. Trim away from house and power lines.

Driveway. Seal cracks that could later expand.

Interior

Attic. Check insulation, leaks.

Ceilings, Walls. Check and repair cracks and water stains.

Tile, Tubs, Showers. Repair grout, caulking.

Kitchen, Bath Fixtures. Repair leaks.

Refrigerator. Vacuum and clean coils.

Central AC. Schedule annual service, cover outdoor units in cooler climates

Heating. Schedule annual service, change filter in forced air systems, bleed radiators in hot water systems.

Hot Water Heater. Flush, remove sediment.

Basement. Check for cracks, dampness, mold.

 

If you’re looking to maintain another home, or to refinance for a lower rate or fund improvements, please text, email or call us... (469) 363-3298

 



Credit Where Credit is Due

Posted on June 18, 2017 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Here’s the thing about credit-- it’s a system built on trust. It’s the same basic concept as personal relationships: if someone tells you they are going to do something and then they don’t do it, you lose a little bit of trust in them. With a little bit of grace, we can overlook these small transgressions every once in awhile, but if they become frequent enough, trust is eroded.


It’s also the same with no credit. When you first meet someone, you usually don’t distrust them (unless they’re super creepy and then always trust your intuition) but you don’t trust them either. Real trust is built on time and history, and if you have no credit, there’s no history there. If you’ve never borrowed money you’ve never showed that you can and will pay it back. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not a good thing either.


While I am by no means an expert on credit, my personal experiences over the years have taught me a lot. My ex-husband had terrible credit when I met him (should have been a blazing red flag) and he wasted no time opening several lines of credit in my name. When I was 22, I decided to leave that disaster of a marriage and ended up filing bankruptcy. The house that we had bought together ended up in foreclosure within the year. When I called Team Neal two years later, my credit score was a whopping 480.


The credit rating system gives a person a numerical score based on how much they “trust” them. The credit rating scale runs from 350 to 850; any score under 600 needs work (under 500 is pretty horrible). Your credit score is primarily based on the past twelve months; the past twenty-four months are also considered. The better your credit score, the better rate you’ll get on your mortgage and the more options you’ll have.


All of this comes into play when you decide to buy a house because you are basically asking a bank to trust you with their money. They’ll loan you the money and you promise to pay it back. They don’t know you from Adam- this is where your mortgage professional comes into play. Of course, this is an oversimplification of the process and I am not a mortgage professional, so be sure to contact Team Neal if you have any questions. Credit can be tricky and the more informed you are, the better off you’ll be.