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How to Select the Right Sheen to Your Paint!

Many do-it-yourself painters spend hours selecting the perfect paint colors, but give far less thought to the sheen they’ll use. That’s short sighted, according to Debbie Zimmer, spokesperson for the Paint Quality Institute.

“Paint sheen affects not only the initial appearance of a paint job, but also its long-term performance,” says Zimmer. “So, it’s important to carefully consider your options when choosing a paint.”

Leading paint brands come in as many as six different levels of sheen, which is basically a measure of the reflectivity of the paint once it’s applied.

Flat paint is the least reflective, followed by increasingly “shiny” options like matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and–shiniest of all–high gloss.

The Deciding Factors

If the condition of your walls is impeccable, you can choose any level of sheen your eye desires. But if you have sloppy sheetrock, uneven surfaces, or otherwise imperfect walls, be aware that paint with a higher sheen will make these defects more apparent, while a coating with less sheen will help conceal them.

There’s another aesthetic aspect of sheen: The shinier the paint, the more it will reflect light, rather than absorb it. So, if you want to brighten your surroundings without inflating your electric bill, consider using wall paint with some significant sheen–trading up from a flat paint to, say, a semi-gloss coating. The difference will be apparent.

Some of the reasons sheen level is important have to do not just with the appearance of your paint on day one, but rather, the way it will look years later.

“Paints with higher sheen are tougher, more durable, more mildew resistant, and more stain-resistant than those with a flat or matte finish,” says Zimmer. “They’ll hold up better over time. If the room you are painting is heavily used, it’s wise to select a wall paint from the glossier side of the spectrum.”

Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are clearly candidates for semi-gloss, or even high gloss wall paint; so, too, are rooms that are frequented by guests, children, or pets. On the other hand, walls in lesser-used spaces such as entranceways or spare bedrooms will likely hold up well even with flat or low-sheen paint.

  Should they ever become soiled, glossier paints are much easier to clean too. High gloss and semi-gloss paints, in particular, will easily give up fingerprints and many other common stains with just light scrubbing. As a result, they’re ideal for use not just on walls, but also on windows, doors, and baseboards.

Improve or move?

Unless you built a custom home, you probably have a long list of things you’d like to improve in your current home. Browsing online listings might get you in the mood to upgrade to a new home, or you might be thinking about renovating your current home after binging on HGTV. The answer to renovation vs. relocation depends greatly on what you’re trying to fix.

Thinking about a new kitchen? If you’re dreaming of a chef’s kitchen with new appliances and beautiful cabinets, renovating your own kitchen gives you incredible ROI and is less costly than moving. You’ll increase the value of your own home if you ever decide to sell, and there’s a great sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a custom renovation.

Need more space? If you’re running low on bedrooms, there may not be a lot of options. Converting an existing room to a bedroom doesn’t create any new space. If you’re in a condo, an addition is probably impossible. And additions can be expensive even if it’s a possibility. Moving is usually the best option.

If the neighborhood isn’t ideal You may have seen some potential for your neighborhood when you first moved there, but perhaps it still isn’t welcoming the shops and restaurants you expected. If that’s the case, consider moving. There’s no sense in waiting years for the neighborhood to improve, especially if you can move to a house in the same price range in a more preferred part of the city.

How an agent can help alleviate stress

Purchasing a home can be a stressful experience, whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’ve been through the process before. But that’s one of the reasons that working with a real estate professional is so worthwhile. With your agent’s guidance, buying a home should be enjoyable, rather than stressful. Here are some of the more unique circumstances where your agent can make your life much easier.

Out-of-town buyers: If you’re looking for vacation homes or moving to a job in a new city, there’s a good chance that viewing homes will be difficult-you could be a long drive or even a plane ride away. With today’s video messaging apps like Skype or Facetime, your agent can walk you through a property virtually. It’s not the same as walking through in person, but it will at least give you an idea about whether a property is worth pursuing further.

When life is just too crazy: If you’re just getting too busy with everything else going on in your life, a good buyer’s agent should be able to recognize the situation and help you take a step back. They can suggest that you take a few weeks off from your home search to recharge, or only focus on properties that exactly fit your wants list.

Inspection issues: You’re dreaming about move-in day, and then some unforeseen issues turn up during inspection. A good agent can work out those issues by negotiating a lower offer-to cover costs of repairs-or by getting the seller to fix the problem.

Five BIG trends in home decor!

Thanks to websites like Houzz and Pinterest and TV networks like HGTV and DIY, it’s easier than ever to keep up with home decorating trends and find inspiration for improving your own home. Here are five of the top current interior design trends.

  1. Screen-free rooms: After a long day of using your smartphone and computer, it can feel amazing to come home and take a technology break. More and more, homeowners are creating specific screen-free rooms-perhaps a library, craft room, or listening room-where you can escape from technology for a while.
  2. Upholstered headboards: What if you could feel like you were sleeping in a luxury hotel bed every night? The bedding and mattress are an important part of that experience, but so is the aesthetic and comfort of an upholstered headboard.
  3. Earth tones: Natural colors have become increasingly popular, especially deep greens. It’s a great way to bring some of nature’s colors indoors, whether as an accent wall, in blankets and pillows, or for furniture.
  4. Black stainless steel: If you want a sleek, contemporary kitchen, black stainless steel is even more of a statement than traditional stainless steel.
  5. Patterned fabrics: While solid upholstery will never go out of style, patterns have become trendy of late. It’s an easy way to make a bold, eye-catching statement in your living space.

Thinking about buying soon? Make sure your credit is in order!

There’s no more important time to work on your credit score than when you’re about to apply for a mortgage. Improving your credit can save you a ton of money-we’re talking about thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Here are the actions you can take that will have a notable impact on your score.

Pay down your credit card balances Credit utilization is one of the biggest factors in determining your credit score. Your credit utilization should at least be less than 30 percent of your limit, and it’s even better if you can get it below 15 percent. This rule applies to both individual cards and your overall credit limit.

It may even be worthwhile to use some of the cash funds you were planning to use for a down payment to pay off credit card balances.

Do no harm While you certainly want to improve your score if possible, at the very least you’ll want to keep it steady. Avoid opening new lines of credit if you’re applying for a mortgage in the very near future. This will cause a hard inquiry to show up on your credit report.

Take care of negative items It’s good practice to check your credit report for negative items a few times a year-you can get one free report from each of the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) per year.

If you find any negative items (collections, late payments, etc.), write a letter to the original creditor. Explain the circumstances that led to the negative item, and request that it be removed from your report. It can be surprisingly effective, and removing a negative item will improve your credit score in a hurry. You can find some good templates for a request letter online.

How do HOA’s work?

When you purchase a home, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay a homeowners association fee, especially in gated communities, townhouses, condominiums, and other similar planned neighborhoods. The idea is to keep common areas clean and maintained, and there’s usually an HOA board that is responsible for setting the rules and regulations.

Each HOA is different, but most have the same core elements. You’ll typically pay your HOA fees either monthly or annually, and it’s an important factor to consider when you’re weighing your options for a new home. So what is typically included in your HOA fees?

First, the fun stuff Amenities are typically the big perk of living in a community with an HOA. While you lose out on some of the freedom of living without an HOA, you instead get community amenities like a maintained pool, gym, clubhouse, tennis courts, and other amenities. The HOA fees pay for cleaning and maintenance, so-in theory-you’ll always have a clean pool whenever you want to use it.

Protecting the community HOA fees often contribute to insurance for the community amenities, as well as a fund for unexpected repairs to damaged community property-think damage from weather or accidents.

General maintenance Your HOA fees will go toward maintaining the general safety and upkeep of the community. This means things like elevator maintenance for condominiums, snow removal, and trash/recycling services.

Be active in the association There may be a board of directors, but homeowners associations exist for the betterment of the entire community, and every voice matters. HOA meetings-and the amenities they support-provide great opportunities to meet your neighbors and make your community a better place.

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WHAT DOES A TITLE COMPANY DO?

Well, here’s a play-by-play of what a title company does during your home buying process.

When you purchase a home, a title company will research the property to ensure that you are the rightful owner. They’ll look through records for anything that might cause problems-ownership disputes, restrictions, unpaid taxes, liens, and more. Their goal is to document the chain of title and identify any issues that could become major problems down the road.

At the end of the process, the title company issues a title opinion. This is a legal document that states that the title is valid. The title opinion is part of obtaining title insurance. The insurance protects both the owner and the lender if there is a title dispute. If another party is actually the rightful owner of the home, your title insurance protects you from financial loss.

In addition to title opinions and title insurance, title companies also handle escrow accounts and distribute money to the appropriate parties at closing. They’ll also deliver closing documents to the appropriate agencies.

Hope that we can help be an enlightening experience during your real estate purchase journey.

-Heritage Real Estates Services Inc.

NEW HOME BUYER’S NEWS: FHA

Federal Housing Administration officials announced that they will reduce the annual mortgage insurance premium for FHA loans by a quarter of a percent.

The lower MIP rate will apply to most borrowers who use the FHA program to buy a home in 2017, and will save them an average of $500 per year. The lower insurance premium takes effect on January 27, 2017.

FHA to Reduce Annual Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) in 2017

Rising home values and mortgage rates have put the squeeze on home buyers lately, and have reduced mortgage loan application volume as well. Borrowers who use the FHA loan program have another added cost, in the form of an annual mortgage insurance premium, or MIP.

As a result of rising housing costs, and the added burden of the annual MIP, FHA loan application volume has been on the decline lately. So federal housing officials are making a change to attract more borrowers.

On January 9, 2017, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it would reduce the annual mortgage insurance premium for most FHA loans in 2017. As HUD officials stated, this is a modest reduction that “expands credit access and reflects improved economic health of FHA.”

The Federal Housing Administration will lower its annual mortgage insurance premium (MIP) by 25 basis points, or 0.25%. This reduction will apply to most new mortgage loans with a closing / disbursement date on or after January 27, 2017.

The first HUD mortgagee letter of 2017 was sent out to lenders earlier today, with additional details about the annual MIP reduction. To learn more about this FHA program change, refer to HUD Mortgagee Letter 2017-1, which is available online in PDF format.

Here’s a screenshot from the official policy change letter, which shows the current annual MIP as well as the reduced premiums that will take effect later this month. Note the “New MIP” column in this chart.

[FHA annual MIP chart]<http://www.homebuyinginstitute.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/fha-annual-mip.png>

***UPDATE***

President Donald Trump, surround by small business leaders, signs an executive order in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Trump order is aimed at significantly cutting regulations. White House officials are calling the directive a “one in, two out” plan. It requires government agencies requesting a new regulations to identify two regulations they will cut from their own departments. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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