12 Effective Ways to Cut Your Moving Costs

Cut your moving costs by dismantling and reassembling your own furnitureThere are many ways to minimize the total cost of relocating, provided you know how to alter certain aspects of planning and executing your relocation. This Buzzle article will tell you some effective ways to cut your moving costs.
DIY Moving Tip
If you plan to do your own packing and moving, use newspaper instead of bubble wrap to pack your stuff. This can help you save some bucks.
If your lease has expired or you are moving to a new home, you might have thought about hiring professional moving services. This is a good option, but availing these services can sometimes turn out to be expensive. The best option would be carry out the entire task of relocation as a DIY project. That would definitely be cheaper, but more time-consuming and tiring. Hence, hiring a moving service provider or company is a smarter albeit pricier option. However, employing certain ways to pack and hire can cut down on your moving costs significantly. If you intend to hire a moving company or service, it is imperative that you hire a reliable one.

It is highly recommended that you check AMSA’s list of certified ‘ProMovers’. You can also check reviews of the service provider on various websites, and visit their social media pages to gain more knowledge. Apart from this, you can compare price quotes of various companies or professionals to get a fair idea about costs and services. After having done the hard part, here is the easy part in the form of a few guidelines that will tell you how to cut costs when moving.

De-clutter
There are many things which we hoard in our houses when we could do away with them any day. For example, if your son has out grown his crib, you might as well sell it or donate it. There is no point in packing and moving things that will hardly be of any use to you.

Compare the Options
Don’t just hire the first moving company you see on the internet. Compare costs and benefits of various moving companies. As an extension to what I mentioned above about finding the right moving professional, you can even consider recommendations from friends and family about moving companies. The point to emphasize here, is to choose a reliable company or professional who will help you move your stuff at an affordable price.

Dismantle and Reassemble on Your Own
Many times furniture items like shelves, beds, sofa, etc., need to be dismantled before moving. Also, if you have heavier gym equipment, you will have to disassemble it. Instead of asking your moving company to do it, disassemble and re-assemble it yourself and save money.

Pack on Your Own
You can further curtail packing expenses by undertaking the entire packing and moving task as a DIY. Unless the stuff is fragile, like an LCD screen or a crystal lampshade which requires special packing, pack on your own. This will help save a significant amount on packing costs. Keep all the things packed, ready, labeled and coded for the moving day. You can avail help of companies like PODS and 1-800-PACKRAT which will send a storage unit at your doorstep for loading all your stuff.

Move During the Off-season
Most people plan to move during summer (mid-June through mid-September) after their children begin their summer break. However, summer is peak season and the moving rates are sky-high. Plan your move during the winter when the rates are low. Also, try to move during the middle of the month as the beginning and end of the month have higher rates.

Rent Reusable Boxes
Instead of spending a large amount on environmentally hazardous cardboard boxes, rent reusable ones. You will be surprised to know how much are able to save by using these boxes.

Moving Discounts and Coupons
Keep an eye on advertisements in the local newspapers, direct mail, magazines, etc., for discount coupons and offers. Many moving companies offer such discounts, especially during the off-season.

Rent/Share a Truck
If you don’t have a lot of stuff to move, you can share the moving truck with another person. This way, you will also collectively bear the cost of the truck. However, beware that there can be a mix-up of boxes, and this can lead to further expenses, not to mention the hassle of returning and picking up stuff. If you plan to carry out all the moving on your own, then you can rent a truck, and ask for help from friends and family to load and unload your stuff. However, it is essential that you know about the mileage and fuel charges before you rent a truck to avoid last-minute surprises.

Get Insurance
You must insist on getting a moving insurance. Remember that your goods can get lost, stolen, or damaged during the journey. Hence, if you are covered, you can avail compensation for lost or damaged property. Check if your items are covered under the homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

Inform Any Change
Any last-minute change to move certain goods should be immediately informed to the moving company. If you dropped the old bicycles from your list of moving, let your moving company know about it. Make a list of all the items to be moved so that an accurate estimate can be made. This will reduce the cost. Confirm with the relocation company about the total cost of moving and packaging, overhauling up the stairs, lifting heavy stuff, etc. The last thing you would want is to be charged for stuff that you were unaware about.

Pack Light for Long-distance Moves
If you are planning to move to a long-distance location, the moving company will weigh all your items to determine the moving cost. This is exactly why you should get rid of the heavy treadmill which you no longer use.

Avail Tax Deductions
If you have decided to relocate for a new job, you can deduct expenses incurred during moving, like storage, transportation, and packing, from your annual tax returns. If you want to know more, visit the IRS website.

As mentioned above, moving or relocating can be expensive, whether it is within the state or across the country. But you can surely cut down on your expenses by a little planning, preparation, and information. What’s more, the money that you save on moving costs can be used to decorate your new home.

Pros and Cons of Buying an Old House

Pros and cons of buying an old houseOne must be aware of the factors to look for when buying an old house, as it may result in a loss-making proposition. Here are few pros and cons of buying an old house.
Old homes leave buyers super-impressed with their charm, allure, and character. Also, the exclusivity attached to older homes is one feature which attracts many prospective buyers. However, there are certain pros and cons of buying an old house. As the community in which the old house is located is already established, there may not be any new zoning changes. Also, with old houses, you have the benefit of becoming a part of a close-knit and well-established neighborhood, which a new community may lack.

However, you may incur considerable expenses for repairs and refurbishment. Also, there may be certain health and safety concerns which may need your immediate attention. One may also find that there is little or no scope for renovation in an old house. Here are few advantages and disadvantages of buying an old house.

Pros

Architectural Details
Remember that old houses often have intricate woodwork which was crafted or carved out by carpenters manually, as no modern-day carpentry tools were available. Hence, the architectural details in such homes is often unique and irreplaceable. No two homes will be similar in their look and style, unlike new-age homes. If you are someone who thoroughly enjoys aesthetics and architecture, then old houses are definitely meant for you.

Cost-effective
Old houses are relatively cost-effective. This is because you can get more square footage area for a limited price than you would get in the same amount for a new home. It is often observed that old homes are bigger than the new ones, and one may end up getting a better bargain. You may also get a larger yard than a new home.

Return on Investment
Old homes have always enjoyed a good demand in the realty market. As the area is more and the construction sturdy, many people actually prefer to invest in an old home. It also leads to excellent growth of capital. You will be surprised to see how the price of an old home appreciates with time. Even if you put the house on the market, after a few years, you will still be able to get an excellent return on investment because of the rarity quotient.

Central Location
Nowadays, new houses may be located far away from schools, hospitals or supermarkets. Hence, you have to drive through bumper-to-bumper traffic to reach your house in the downtown. However, many old houses are centrally located, and are within walking distance from these vital places. Hence, buying an old house is a wise decision if you have school-going children or aged people in your family, who may require sudden medical attention.

Rich History
If you have bought a Georgian or Victorian home, it will have its own history to tell. The ambiance will simply leave your guests awestruck. Who knows, you may have an interesting story to share about the house. Not only this, but a rich heritage will also help you to gain better prices when you decide to sell the house.

Large Yards
Old houses often have bigger yards. You can utilize this additional space for having a gazebo or swimming pool. Needless to say, if you intend to undertake some creative landscaping, you will have ample space to experiment. Also, if you have pets, they can have enough space to move around.

Cons

Cost of Repairs and Refurbishments
In all probability, if the house is not maintained properly by the old owner, it will mean you will have to shell out more money for repairs and refurbishment. Especially, if your house is situated in a coastal an area, it can lead to rusting of pipes and plumbing. You may also have to check the roof for leakages. Apart from this, peeling color, non-working appliances and systems, etc., will add to the expenses.

Modification Limitations
In a new house, one can decorate the interiors as per his/her taste. However, you do not have this artistic liberty when it comes to an old house as the cabinet, windows, carpets, landscaping, etc., are all present already. If you are to make any drastic changes or undertake renovation, you will have to bear the additional cost.

Health and Safety Concerns
If you are buying an old home, you can be in for some really unpleasant surprises. There is no way to tell if the house is infested with rodents and pests. Also, one cannot determine for sure if the house is lead-/asbestos-/mercury-free. Also, it may not have a fire or burglar alarm, and you will have to install it separately. Also, it may so happen that the electrical wiring and insulation may have aged and is no longer functional. All these situations may pose health and safety hazards.

Root-cause of the Problem
In all probability, the earlier tenants may have planted trees to create a landscape. Roots of older trees often grow farther below the soil, and hamper the plumbing and foundation of the house. You may never be able to detect such problems by looking at a house, it is only when you actually start living there that such issues surface. It will not only mean a hole in the foundation of your old house but also your pocket.

Storage Issues
With the growing consumerism and increase in earnings, we have become serial hoarders or pack-rats. We tend to hang on to clothes that don’t fit us anymore, the gym equipment that we no longer use, travel bags are left gathering dust, etc. All this requires a huge storage space which is not found in old houses. Many times, these houses have sloping roofs, which cause storage problems in the attic, and you may have to get new customized storage options. And if you own three cars, it is pointless to buy an old house which offers a single garage.

Too Small, Too Soon
Even though old houses were built for large families, they do not cater to the need of a modern-day family. You may find that your 60s home is too small even for a family of 4, especially after the kids grow up. With the growing need for a separate living room, study, bedrooms, guest-rooms, kitchen, etc., an old house may seem like it is too cramped up and lacks space.

Undertake an house inspection before buying it so that you get an idea about the required repairs. Unlike a new home, there won’t be a builder’s guarantee. However, you can then ask the owner to either get the maintenance done or pay you for the expenditure. Old houses have steadfastly faced the test of time without giving in to changes in weather or climatic conditions. Now that you know about the pros and cons of buying an old house, hope you will make the right decision.

How to Relocate to Another State

Relocation involves a lot of paperwork and hard work. Find out all that you need to consider while you’re relocating to a different state.
With today’s competitive attitude and the entire world being looked at as an opportunity, relocating to another state isn’t uncommon anymore. Every year, cities that are more developed in sectors such as education, finance, and other moneymaking opportunities attract millions of new residents. With so many people shifting their base, quite a few people want to know about the basics of relocating.

Current Area of Residence
The first thing you need to do is find yourself a place in the new state. Once you find that, give your landlord a notice period. If you own the place you stay in, take a decision of either putting it up for rent, or keep it vacant till you return. The moving out date you give your landlord is your deadline, you have to get everything ready till then.

Change of Address
The next most important step is informing everyone about your change of address. First the post office, then your credit card companies, your bank, friends, and then your other acquaintances. All these entities follow different procedures; they’ll guide you through them.

Car, Pet, and Your Other Stuff
Your car needs to preferably get to your new residence before you do. You can either use a road transport company or ship it, depending on how much you want to pay. If you have any pets, get their papers together. Different airlines have different requirements. Some might want to see everything from age-related queries to vaccination details. Also, visit the particular airline’s website for necessary details a month before you move. This will give you time to ready paperwork that’s not in place.

Knowing The Area
Every city has hundreds of neighborhoods, which adds confusion to the selection process. With the advancement in technology, you can shortlist a few neighborhoods by doing some research with the help of the Internet. Consider the distance of this neighborhood from your new office/college, the money/time you’ll spend in transit, how well is the area equipped with basic necessities, the crime rate, etc. If you know a few people who live in that city, take inputs from them.

Do Your Homework
Get acquainted with the roads, places, police stations, hospitals, theaters, etc., in the initial days. You can get all this information from the Internet even before you shift. This way, the area won’t be alien to you after a couple of weeks. If you want to search for a new job opportunity in this place, it is advised you do so beforehand, to avoid a cash crunch.

Packing
Packing all your stuff together is a task that can tire you to no end. While holding a yard sale will help you reduce your possessions considerably, donating the remaining that you really don’t need is also a great option. If you have family staying back, you can take some stuff, little by little, with you on each of your trips. Packing isn’t as easy as it seems. It is advised you plan a complete move with a moving company. Zero in on a company after asking for multiple quotes―you know the drill.

How to Buy a House Without a Realtor

Learn about some simplistic ways on how to buy a house without a realtor, which will help you save a whole lot of money when buying a new home.
When one buys a new home their first move is to get an agent or realtor to help them with the process of buying a new home, who wraps up the deal and ties up loose ends to make things a breeze for the buyer. It is a recommended choice to make when it comes to buying a new home, since realtors know how it works and what papers are involved, including the legalities that have to be addressed. The only plus point here is that you get to save a whole bunch of money, since the share that realtors take for their services are ludicrously high. There are a lot of people who do their share of research and learn the ropes on how to buy a house without an agent, doing just fine once the deal is closed.

How to Buy a House Without a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to the steps for buying a house, there’s a lot that goes into the initial stages than the later. Go through advertisements and websites for homes in your area or a little away from it according to your preference, that are up for sale. Let the owners be the ones who give you a preview of the house, and not a realtor showing it to you instead. There are important things to look over when you kick-start the process.

Look Up Information on Home Buying
Before you buy a new home, you’d first have to evaluate your expenses and see if you have enough to pay for the house yourself, or if you’ll need a bank loan to begin with. When you save all that extra cash on not hiring a realtor to get the job done, you can use the money instead for something better. Like say maybe paying a heavier down payment so that the mortgage fees on your part when it comes to the monthly payments are much lesser due to the low-interest they will charge you. Get ample research done from others who have homes of their own, and read into it all online about what is involved when getting into home buying.

Check All Documents
I remember when my folks were selling off our house, there was a lot of scurrying about for some ancient document that needed to be found, signed by a man who was just as old, and passed through god knows how many offices. How many times I saw that one lawyer for the paperwork, I’ve lost all count. That is why it is important to know your documents, especially the power of attorney and the likes, because without the necessary papers you’ll be doomed. Buying or selling involves the same papers, so make sure you have it all, and vice verse with the previous owners who will hand over the house and documents to you.

Inspection of the House / Apartment
To know that a house is well worth every penny, you’d have to do an extensive checkup on maintenance costs, availability of running water / electricity, safety in the neighborhood, security personnel if any, cleanliness of the house, furnishings if any, and the likes. Once you tick off these important area that need evaluating, you’re good to go.

Lawyer
You’ll need to hire a lawyer, which is easy since there are places that provide a list of lawyers that will do your job by being paid hourly for their services. This way you save again on finding a lawyer that will dump hefty charges for a whole day or more of paperwork. Make sure you look through the documents handed to you by the owners of the previous apartment or house, and make sure that you understand everything that is being said, to avoid overlooking important details. If you have anything to ask, make it clear to your lawyer to get rid of the possibilities of any loopholes or misleading legal statements. Before you sign the final contract, the papers need to be dealt with right down to every word and period to avoid any future mishaps. Once the closing deal is in place, always make copies of your original documents, while the copies are safely put away should the need come up to present them in any future scenarios. You’re now ready to move into your new home!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Realtor

As much as I’d like to assure you that a situation like yours will work well sans a realtor, there are pros and cons that you must weigh when it comes to not hiring one. Let’s take a look at the ups and downs of such a move and accordingly you can see what works well for you since without a realtor, a lot of home buying settlements have been achieved.

Advantages

Like I said earlier, a lot of money can be saved by not hiring a realtor to do your bidding where ample research can do conducted on how to get the job done without one.
You can have one-on-one interactions with sellers and have all the details of the house conveyed on a firsthand basis, without a realtor blurring the facts.
You can play the role of a realtor by inspecting all the details that need to be covered, with the help of your lawyer.
The only charges you need to worry about besides buying the home, are those that need to be paid to your lawyer and if documents need small fees of any kind for formal / legal processing.

Disadvantages

It is a time-consuming activity to cover all areas of what has to be taken care of during the house buying process.
Important paperwork and other legalities will need to be addressed directly to you, with the burden on your shoulders to run around to see that it has been done or attained.
Certain things will come off as alien, therefore you’ll find yourself stuck in many situations that will have you wishing you hired a realtor.

There are realtors whose services are reasonably priced, where the entire process is taken care of without delaying your need to buy a home. Nonetheless, handling this on your own is still something that is possible, given time and patience. Completing the task at hand without a realtor isn’t an inconceivable idea. Just remember to get help from those who know how the business works from experience, so that you are equipped with knowledge about what is involved.

Property Investment For Beginners

If you are sitting on a pile of savings and searching for investment options with high returns, real estate investment is worth considering. This article is a short guide to property investment for beginners.
Traditionally, one of the best high return investment options has been investment of money in real estate. While the property prices may go up and down in the short term, over the long term, they have always appreciated substantially. The ownership of a piece of land is an investment you can eventually bank upon, as it acquires value through development of the areas in its vicinity. With the falling of property prices, many people will advise you to stay away from investing in real estate. However, if you look at it from a different perspective, you will see opportunity in this situation.

Properties which were once beyond your budget reach are suddenly within your range. For those of you who have been smart enough to save money throughout the past bearish decade, now is the time to invest and take advantage of the opportunity, which has presented itself. In this Buzzle article, I shall share some tips on real estate investment for those of you, who are smart enough to recognize the opportunity this recessionary background has presented.

Tips on Property Investment for Beginners

Any investment comes with its share of risks, which cannot be entirely eliminated but lessened through research and planning. Same goes with real estate investment. You have to do your homework and get your research right to end up on the winning side. Here are some tips for beginners.

Know about the Range of Real Estate Investment Options
Firstly, you need to begin with a study of the varied range of investment options in real estate, which you may consider. You may invest in buying residential houses, commercial properties, condos, apartments or purely specialize in land investment. There are a lot of options out there and you need to consider the entire range, to decide which would ideally suit your investment budget and align with your future plans.

Invest to Sell or Invest to Rent out Properties
There is the important decision of deciding whether you buy to rent or buy to sell again for a profit. The former option is open, if you buy residential properties. You can create a regular income source for yourself by investing in rental property.

Otherwise, you also have the option of entering the house flipping business, which is buying old houses, renovating them and selling them back again for profit. You may buy a piece of commercial property, hold it till the prices rise and sell it to make a substantial profit.

It’s All About Location
Remember when it comes to property investment, it’s all about location. The price of any real estate property is largely a function of location. The localities decide the price range and therefore you need to research the price trends according to location, before you make a purchase.

Research & Do the Math
Once you have decided on what kind of property you plan to buy, what purpose you intend to buy it for and are clear about the amount of money you are willing to spend, start researching real estate listings to find properties that fit the bill. Calculate the returns you plan to gain from the investment and the amount of mortgage loans you can afford to apply for.

Networking With Real Estate Agents
A real estate agent can make your job easier in finding properties that are exactly what you are looking for. Creating a good network of real estate agents who can point you towards good investment properties is essential. Real estate brokers can handle the legal affairs associated with purchase and sale of property for you. They can make an offer to owners on your behalf and negotiate on your behalf.

Making Financial Arrangements for the Investment
Once you have decided on the property and made an offer, you need to arrange for the money you plan to invest. A pooling up of your own savings and a mortgage loan if needed, can cover the total investment amount. Talk to financial institutions and mortgage brokers for financing options.

The key to making good investment decisions in real estate, lies in research. For a property, the location is the most important aspect of consideration and all other points come later. Good location, with access to resources in its vicinity, creates an opportunity for eventual growth of property value. With a pooling in of your own savings and a mortgage loan, you can buy strategically located properties and rent them to generate revenue, or sell them as the prices appreciate substantially. You can’t eliminate risk, but minimize it by putting your money into properties with high potential of price appreciation. Get a good real estate agent to advise you and a mortgage broker to assist you in the arrangement of finance.

How to Avoid Moving Company Scams

Tip to avoid moving company scamsJust search for a good moving company online and you will get a number of results. They will offer a user-friendly website and amazing discounts which will impress you instantly. However, don’t hurry to hire a moving company that will offer the least price. Many such fraud companies offer less prices initially, but once the truck reaches the destination, they become adamant that you pay them almost double the cost. If you refuse to pay them, they will just take your possessions and drive away. At times, they flick some of your valuable items or abscond with the entire truckload of your belongings. However, you can definitely avoid being scammed in this way by the movers. Conduct research about the reputation of these companies and spot the red flags before trusting them with your goods. Here are a few tips that will definitely help you to be alert and avoid becoming a victim of moving company scams.

Check Their Reputation

You should ask help from friends, family, and colleagues in order to find a reputed moving company. You can also consult your real estate agent for getting hold of a good agency. One of the easiest ways to check the reputation of moving companies is to check their BBB grade. You can also have a look at the complaints registered against them and verify their status with the state and federal agencies. Most of the genuine movers will also be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Inquire if it is a member of the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA). You can also verify if they have the proper licensing and insurance by visiting protectyourmove.gov. You can also log on to mymovingreviews.com to read what people have to say about them. Also, check the public opinion on their social media pages and other review websites.

Know the Right Time to Move

The peak season for business of movers is summer. This includes months from June to August. Also, as many renters prefer to move during the last days or initial days of the month, this period is very busy. Needless to say, Fridays―being the starting days of weekends―are preferred by people who move so that they can sort their things over the next two days. Hence, try to avoid moving during this time as movers will not be in a hurry or may not combine your boxes with those of others to rush through the work. Don’t hire companies for a last-minute move decision as they are bound to rip you off a lot of money.

Beware of Online Companies

There are many companies which offer online or over-the-phone estimates, and require you to fill out an inventory list. All this is offered at the lowest rates. However, beware that cheap rates do not necessarily qualify for quality service. Also, they add many ‘extras’ to boost the prices later on. Hence, hire a company that has a local office and will visit your house to give you an actual estimate.

Finding Scam Companies

The easiest way to eliminate the scam companies from your list is to call them first. If the operator answers by saying “Hello Movers” or “Hello Moving Company” without specifying a name, you can understand that it can be a bogus company. Also, check if the address mentioned on the company website is authentic. You can even get an idea about a company if the employees do not have uniforms or the truck does not have the branding of the company. This may indicate that the employees and the truck are on a hired basis.

Hire a Professional Company

Shortlist at least 3 to 5 good companies, and have their representatives give an estimate after visiting your house. You will be able to detect the fraud companies immediately after studying the vast disparity in the competitive estimates. Not only this, but also visit their offices personally to understand the level of professionalism in their work. Also, check if the company has stringent rules about paperwork and other formalities. Check how cooperative the manager is. A genuine company will provide you a copy of all the necessary state or federal booklets related to moving.

Verify the Costs

Usually, if you are located within 50 miles distance from the moving company, their representative will come to your house, and do the valuation of goods personally. There are a few companies who will charge you a minimum amount for a few hours of work. In most cases, if you are moving within 100 miles, the charges will be calculated on an hourly basis. However, for long distances, it will be based on the total weight and the mileage covered. Many companies also calculate the amount based on the cubic feet covered. Do not allow them to charge you on the basis of cubic feet, as you will definitely end up paying more. It is advisable that you decide upon a maximum price which should not be exceeded, in order to avoid being duped by the company into paying a large amount as ‘additional costs.’

Take Precautions

Do not just allow the movers to fill in their truck and leave with your things. Take photographs and videos of the truck and all the boxes in it. Label all the boxes, make a list of which box contains what, and keep it with you. If possible, try to follow the moving truck in your car. Be personally present on the premises while loading and offloading the boxes. Count and verify whether all the boxes have arrived safely without any damage or theft.

Understand about Extra Payment

Many fraud companies offer a low estimate initially and then rake up the prices after the truck has reached the destination. They do not allow you to have your possessions until you pay an extra price. To avoid this, understand when you are entitled to pay more. If they are cramming your boxes in the elevator or carrying them upstairs, they may ask you to shell out extra money. Also, if the truck does not get closer than 75 feet in front of your door, they will ask you to pay ‘long carry’ fees. You may also have to pay more for packing and unpacking of your goods and providing storage. Ask questions beforehand about which services are free and which are not.

Insurance Coverage

One of the indicators of a fraud company is that they will tell you that all your goods have been covered by insurance. Find a genuine company who will explain to you about the coverage and offer you additional insurance for the complete protection of your goods. It is advisable that you pay a little extra and get the additional “replacement value” or “cash value” coverage. This will come in handy in case your goods are damaged or stolen. If only the goods are damaged, it will mean that you had not packed them carefully. Hence, ensure that the box carrying them is also damaged before filing a claim. Also, check if these damages are covered under the renters’ or homeowners’ insurance. Know about the policies and procedures of the moving company in order to file a claim.

What to Pack

It is important that you pack all your glassware properly, and put a ‘fragile’ sticker on the box. Ensure that the box does not go below a stack of heavy boxes and damage your goods. Also, do not pack precious jewelry, checks, passports, cash, credit cards, etc., and send them with the moving truck. Don’t be surprised if you find that the box carrying valuables goes missing from the truck.

Movers’ Contract

You must always demand to retain a copy of the contract with you. Also, a genuine moving company will give you a Bill of Lading and a copy of your ‘Rights and Responsibilities.’ There are two types of agreements involved in moving which are binding and non-binding. The first one includes a written record of the advance taken and also has a fixed cost, while the latter is an estimate from the mover’s end, and can change based on the actual weight, distance traveled, and services offered. Make sure you choose the right option according to your requirement. It has to be signed by both the parties and should also bear the correct dates. Also, do not sign on a blank form, partial contract, or one that does not mention all the clauses.

Verifying the Payment

There are many companies who will demand that you pay the entire amount as deposit even before loading the truck. Do not fall for this as they can just take your hard-earned money and run away with it. This happens a lot in the case of fly-by-night movers. They will just close the shop and run away with your belongings. They may even dump them at a private storage, and you will have to shell out lot of money to retrieve them back. Try to avoid a company which will demand a deposit. It is also advisable that you make the payment by check or credit card and not by cash. This will act as evidence in case you have to file a case against the movers.

Know the Rules and Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which belongs to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) protects consumers who intend to move their goods interstate. It is mandatory that all the movers hand over a booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” when they are handling an interstate move. You can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation and the BBB against the movers, if they have scammed you. In case you wish to press legal charges against the moving company, collect all the evidence and hire an attorney.

Remember, do not fall into the trap set by bogus online moving companies which promise to offer more services for less cost. Some companies may even cramp up your boxes behind those of other customers and reach your destination late with damaged goods. Also, there are companies which will cause unnecessary delay and ask you to pay more for it. Now that you know how to avoid being scammed by movers, conduct a background research on the companies, and hire only an authentic one.

Buying a House with No Money Down

People, who are interested in buying a house with no money down, may benefit from the following options. It is important to understand the dimensions of the methods undermentioned, before you sign on the dotted line.
Buying a house with no money down was easy before the crash of the housing market. There were a number of sellers, who were more than willing to help an aspiring homeowner purchase a home with virtually no down payment. Then, there were piggyback loans that were provided by the primary mortgage lender, or in some cases, the owner of the property, and if none of these avenues were open, the buyer could always consider purchasing Private Mortgage Insurance. Lease to own is a modified form of seller financing that was also available to people with limited finances. The aforementioned options had their pros and cons.

Piggyback loans were the most popular means of financing amongst cash-strapped people, who were desirous of owning a home without making the requisite down payment. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) was next in order of popularity. Seller financing — in case of piggyback loans — also became popular as home prices continued to escalate.

Today, piggyback loans are much harder to come by, although some lenders are still willing to consider Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). In addition to these options, eligible borrowers can avail zero down VA-insured loans and 100% USDA financing. Buyers, financing through state Housing Finance Agencies and certain non-profits, can use the $8000 tax credit for making the down payment on the secondary financing provided by the aforementioned entities for availing a FHA-insured home loan.

Feasible Methods

► Private Mortgage Insurance
No-money-down homes have been made possible by allowing the borrower to procure a mortgage loan that requires private mortgage insurance as an alternative to the requisite down payment. Typically, the expected down payment is 20-25% of the purchase price of the home. PMI makes it possible for a person to obtain a mortgage loan, without paying a dime by purchasing insurance that protects the mortgage lender in the event of the former defaulting on the loan. Of course, the borrower/aspiring homeowner is required to pay insurance premium on a regular basis.

Although the premium is tax deductible, people often preferred piggyback loans to Private Mortgage Insurance, since the amount of insurance premium was generally more than the interest on piggyback loans. However, today PMI is the best bet for a person, who is keen on buying a house with no money down.

► USDA 100% Financing Program
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a loan guarantee program that is better known as Section 502. The Housing and Urban Development Program (HUD) aids in financing buyers who are purchasing a house or a property for the first time. This program specifically is designed for low-income families so that they may own a property without suffering the grind of down payments. It is meant to provide 100% financing to first-time homeowners and people living in structurally unsound homes to help them purchase a home in the targeted rural areas. The best part about these loans, for people who qualify, is that the borrowers do not have to purchase private mortgage insurance even though the loan is a zero-down mortgage. Moreover, the sellers are allowed to finance up to 6 percent of the purchase price of the property in lieu of closing costs. The rate of interest on the zero down mortgage loan is adjustable.

► VA-insured Loans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides eligible veterans, the facility of buying a home with no money down. These loans are known as VA-insured loans and are meant for all veterans as well as active military personnel in the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard. The best part about these loans is that the mortgage is a 30-year fixed-rate-level payment obligation. Applicants with less-than-perfect credit are eligible to avail zero-down mortgages that can be used to purchase single-family homes, approved condominiums, and townhouses.

► FHA-insured Loans
Although Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured loans require 3.5 percent down payment, the first-time home buyers tax credit of $8000 and the subsequent legislation, allowing borrowers to monetize the tax credit and apply it toward their home purchase, has resulted in borrowers being able to buy a home without making the necessary down payment. This is because people financing via state housing finance agencies and non-profits can be assisted by the latter with the amount of down payment on an FHA loan, thus providing ample scope for zero-down mortgage loans.

► House Trading
This is one lucrative way of buying a house with no money down. Active investors swear by the policy of trading properties. When one trades one property for another, the investor is also spared of legalities concerning capital gains — a factor that companions the scenario when a property is sold. This, precisely, is one spot-on pro that selling a property offers. Either it is one large property traded for a syndicate of small properties or skipping their city to buy a house in an all-together new town tagging it their holiday home.

► Leasing with an Option to Buy
Renting a property may be accompanied with an agreement stating the option to buy the said property, as well. Under the terms and conditions of registration mentioned, the lessee and the lessor draw up a negotiable amount that ought to be deposited at stipulated time period in lieu of the property being used. Besides, this agreement also inserts a clause that states the disposition of the lessee to purchase the property formerly leased, at a price set during the lease period.

► Federal Programs
Ad hoc programs are arranged in order to facilitate low-income families to own a house. The Rural Economic and Community Development Administration offers loans with humble interest rates. These programs are deemed pro bono efforts to encourage the underprivileged families to acquire a property of their own.

► Piggyback Loans
Prior to the sub-prime crisis, piggyback loans were the most popular means of financing for a person, who was desirous of owning a home without parting with the requisite amount of down payment. Although, the popularity of these loans has declined on account of these loans shouldering much of the blame for the sub-prime crisis, some mortgage lenders, still may be willing to provide no-money-down mortgages.

As per the guidelines issued by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, people, who intend to buy a home by availing a home loan are required to down pay 25% of the purchase price of the home. The remaining amount can be borrowed from a primary mortgage lender. However, the borrower can circumvent the 25% down payment by obtaining a second mortgage simultaneously. In other words, the primary mortgage lender provides a loan for 80% of the purchase price, and the second mortgage lender, the remaining 20%. Here, both mortgages are secured with the same underlying house as collateral. The second mortgage piggybacks on the primary mortgage and carries a much higher rate of interest than the primary mortgage.

Traditionally, piggyback loans were 80-10-10, 80-15-5, or 75-15-10 loans. The first figure from the left indicates the percentage of the purchase price funded by the primary mortgage lender, the second figure is the percentage funded by the second mortgage lender, and the final figure is the borrower’s skin in the game. In time, the final figure was reduced to zero and resulted in no-money-down home loans. Thus, the borrower could easily buy a house with no money down. The second mortgage that piggybacked on the primary mortgage was typically provided by the primary mortgage lender, who gained in terms of higher interest rates than those charged on the primary mortgage. In some cases, the second mortgage was provided by the seller/owner of the house. This brings us to the concept of seller financing.

► Seller Financing
Seller financing often accompanied piggybacked loans, since the second mortgage was either provided by the seller, or by the primary mortgage lender. Seller financing involves transferring the title of the house to the buyer in exchange for a note, and the right to foreclose the property in the event of default. The note is pretty much like a mortgage that is paid off as a balloon payment within a period of 5 to 10 years. Since it is a mortgage, the buyer is expected to pay the seller a hefty interest on the loan. The seller, in turn benefits in the form of a high rate of interest on the loan, in addition to a security interest in the house.

Although 100% seller financing is a thing of the past, it may be possible for an aspiring homeowner to down pay less than 20% and still buy a home, if the seller is desperate to get rid of the house.

In the present scenario, lease contract with option to buy is the best option for people, who are interested in buying a home with minimum down payment. By paying as little as 1 to 5% of the price of the property, the aspiring homeowner can acquire the right to buy the house at an agreed-upon price at some point of time in the future. The aspiring homeowner (lessee) can then rent the house for a period of 3 years or so and pay the amount of the rent to the landlord or the lessor. At the end of this period, the lessee can buy the home from the lessor at the predetermined price or may abstain from exercising the option. Considering the present situation, most sellers are persuading aspiring homeowners to enter into a lease contract with option to buy.

Investing in Commercial Property

Buying commercial property as an investment can be a daunting task for the beginner, with several pitfalls. To enable a smart investment choice, some useful tips have been shared in this article.

In the aftermath of the real estate property market meltdown, people were naturally averse to taking risks, by investing in residential and commercial property. As a seasoned investor would advise you, in such bearish times, there are a lot of opportunities to take advantage of. With the real estate prices hitting rock bottom in recent times, many properties can be bought, at a fraction of the price they would have earned during boom time. While there is substantial amount of risk involved in buying commercial property, with proper research and wise choice, there’s profit to be made. At the outset, let me expound some of the advantages of investing in properties of the commercial kind.

Advantages of Investing in Commercial Property

Commercial properties primarily include office spaces, shops, storage warehouses, industrial spaces or any other piece of real estate that is leased out or used for commercial purposes. Location and space are two of the prime requirements of businesses and leasing a property is a much more affordable option for them, instead of buying it. This presents commercial property investors with an opportunity to make substantial profits.

One of the prime advantages of investing in commercial properties are the long leases and high rent that owners can earn. Compared to residential properties, commercial ones tend to maintained a lot more professionally, which automatically reduces expenses. The high percentage of return on investment, in excess of 8% to 9%, justifies commercial real estate investment.

Properties in prime locations can expect an annual hike of 3% to 4% in rent, which guarantees higher returns in the future. By handing over the maintenance and administration to a commercial property management firm, you can simplify your life and reap profits in the long term. Commercial property that are located in prime business zones are always in demand and hence you can expect a decent resale value in the future, when the prices in that locality appreciate substantially.

Commercial Property Investment Tips

You need to appreciate the prime importance of ‘Location’, when it comes to investing in commercial real estate. Businesses are looking for office, shop spaces, warehouses with all the necessary amenities and resources in their vicinity. So choosing a commercial space in the right location is the first important thing and it requires a substantial amount of market research to find such properties. You will have to network with real estate agents, who have a database of such properties on sale.

Decide on how much you are willing to invest, which will automatically limit your choices and help you focus on what kind of properties you can afford to invest in. Once you have shortlisted a few properties, determine the asking price and the projected returns through lease, after accounting the maintenance and taxation costs. If you are thinking of buying commercial property and plan to arrange for the investment corpus through a mortgage loan, do the math and determine the profits you will gain in the future after maintenance costs and loan installments. If the math shows you that the investment is a feasible one and you are guaranteed that your principal is safe with decent returns, go for it!

If you have a commercial space in a prime location, there is always going to be demand from businesses and the chances of your investment being highly profitable are higher. Work out the yearly maintenance costs for the property, research every aspect of the investment thoroughly before going ahead. Here’s me wishing you all the very best for your commercial property investment endeavors!

How to Decide Whether to Remodel or Relocate

Deciding between remodeling and relocatingNot happy with your home and contemplating whether to relocate or remodel? Well, it’s a choice that depends on emotional and financial calculations. Buzzle puts down a few factors to consider in order to help you come to a decision.
Tip
Before remodeling, check the zoning restrictions in your area. While your existing house may be complying with the standards, consider how your remodeling activities fit in the larger scheme of things.
Many times when children grow up, the house which was comfortable earlier for a small family may seem to shrink in space. You may need to allocate separate bedrooms to children, and the house just doesn’t offer that liberty. The only option left with you is to either remodel the house or relocate. While the former is a relatively cheaper option, it may take up too much time and cause inconvenience. On the other hand, moving to a different location may be costlier and will not leave much option for customization. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of remodeling or relocating. You will have to compare both the options for different parameters, like requirement, cost, convenience, etc., to get the exact answer. For further help and insight, read the following points.

Cost

Cost Comparison
Make a cost comparison. Understand if you can afford a mortgage loan or a home equity loan. Know the money you will have to put into remodeling. If you find moving out will be cheaper, go ahead and do that instead of spending a huge chunk of your savings on redoing the house. Many times, remodeling will be cost-effective.

Financing Options
Financing a remodeling project is not as easy as buying a new house. You will have to avail a homeowner or bank loan. It will allow you to take a second mortgage on the property. You may require a higher credit score for this. You may even get an increased rate of interest and shorter term of payment.

Added Remodeling Expenditure
Apart from considering the cost, there are several other expenses that will also need to be factored in. You will have to store your belongings in a storage, move furniture, be put up at a hotel, or get alternate living quarters and thrive on takeout meals. All this will definitely add up to your cost of renovation.

Community

Some people like the community they live in, and enjoy the company of their neighbors. This happens mostly when people are staying in the same locality for a long period of time. You tend to have a strong bond with the people in the community and the security it offers. If you do not feel like leaving your ‘comfort zone’ and moving to another place, you can opt for remodeling your house instead of relocating.

Customization

Even if you buy a new home, unless you do some kind of remodeling, it will not fit in your idea of a dream home. Hence, instead of incurring so much cost, you can customize your existing home by making the necessary changes as per your requirements.

Change is the Only Option

You may not like a few features in your current home like proximity to the main road, away from the urban area, too far from your workplace, traffic, pollution, etc. Such things often affect the quality of one’s living. So, one can think about moving to a quieter and pollution-free place. At such times, there is no point in remodeling the place as it will rarely help solve your problems.

Compare Amenities

Suppose your family has just expanded and you need an extra bedroom for your baby. Owing to this, you decide to move out and go to another place. However, you will have to settle for a place that will give you an extra bedroom, but may compromise on other aspects like a patio, sun deck, space, etc. At such times, remodeling your existing space is much better than moving out.

Security

You may be living in an area where security in the neighborhood might be a prime concern. At such times, you will have no option but to move out. No amount of security measures like a burglar alarm will make you feel safe. Moving out will be the only option. However, ensure that you study the crime rate in the area where you plan to move.

Buying a New House

Many times, while buying a new house, we only consider the purchasing amount to be the expense. We conveniently forget the sales commission, real estate fees, appraisal expenses, taxes, legal costs, interest on loan, rent for storage, moving costs, interior decoration, insurance, etc. This can really multiply your total cost. Hence, after considering all the points if the new house is blowing up your budget, there is no point in buying a new one.

Buying a Secondhand House

If you buy a secondhand house, sometimes, it comes with an added cost. Not only does it require repairs and refurbishment, but also some serious overhauling work which will increase your cost. If the house is by the sea, you will have to get a lot of items replaced as they usually detonate due to the salty air. All this will cost you a bomb; instead if you can make some changes to your existing place, it will be cost-effective.

Inconvenience

For all the days that remodeling goes on in your house, you will have to bear the brunt of extreme inconvenience. It may take months for the remodeling to get over, which will mean that you will have a difficult time throughout that period. Especially if you have a pregnant woman, baby, or elderly people in your family, it will maximize their troubles. Hence, if moving into a new house with all the required amenities is easier, go for it.

Heirloom

So, you live in a house that has been a witness to history since the early 20th century and has been passed down to you through your ancestors. While you have sentimental attachment with it, you still long for more comfortable interiors. Selling the house will not be a solution. Go ahead and renovate; expand it to suit your needs, but don’t sell or remodel it completely.

Condition of the House

If it is a particularly old house, it may not be fit for a full-length remodeling effort. Sometimes, the very foundation of the house may not be in a good condition, and renovating will not help. It is advisable that you get a professional to study the house before you take a decision.

Tax Benefits

Buying and selling a new house has certain tax benefits. You will need to consult a tax expert to know about them, along with the favorable conditions. You may even get a tax credit if you buy the property at a certain period of time. Under some conditions, a married couple may also be allowed to exclude a certain amount from the sale of property. Hence, buying a new house will prove to be more beneficial.

Getting Good Contractors

It is very important that you get good contractors for your work. Get a proper estimate for everything before they resume work. Otherwise, your work will be extended for months at a stretch, and the cost will keep increasing. Unless you’re absolutely sure that you have the right contractor for the job, renovating your house can be a risky affair.

By opting for remodeling, you will definitely be able to do away with buyer’s remorse. Before remodeling, ensure that you will get your investment back. If the prices are not going to rise in your neighborhood, there is no point in investing in it.

Buying a Foreclosed Home

The pros and cons of buying a foreclosed home should be considered by the buyer before embarking on the same. Besides, one must bear a few tips in mind to strike a genuine deal, when buying a foreclosed home.
In the current scenario, buying a foreclosed home seems like a wonderful investment. A number of economists feel that today, homes are as affordable as they were in 2004. Of course, there is a chance that people may not witness noteworthy appreciation in the price of the property for a long time. Given the state of affairs, a foreclosed home may be good purchase for people, who need a place to stay, rather than people looking at it from an investment perspective. However, aspiring homeowners need to be very cautious while buying a foreclosed home. More so, if the foreclosed property is going to be their first home purchase.

Find the Listings

The internet is the best place to find foreclosure listings. Typically, bank websites and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) websites have detailed foreclosure listings. People should look for foreclosed homes sold by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Customs, U.S. Marshals Service, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation, and General Service Administration. The website of the National Association of Realtors, also has a plethora of information on home foreclosures for sale. Newspapers, too, carry information regarding proposed auctions, the names of the homeowners, and the lenders.

Important Tips

Foreclosed homes are disposed off at auctions held on the steps of the county courthouse. People, who have considerable experience in buying foreclosures, can buy the foreclosed home at this stage. Risk-averse individuals should not buy a home that is being auctioned on account of the following reasons:

☛ The bidders are not allowed to inspect the property before making a bid, although it, certainly is possible that the home may be in need of serious repairs. The successful bidder is expected to make the payment right away and may not have time to inspect the property again. The title deed may be unclear, and there may be additional liens against property that may have to be borne by the buyer. The buyer also has the unsavory task of evicting distraught tenants from the property, and the latter may vandalize the house out of spite before bidding goodbye to a home that was once theirs. House auctions also tend to inflate the price of the property and may end up costing the bidder much more than it, actually is worth. Thus, buying at an auction is not advisable for a novice. Even a seasoned player may find it difficult to navigate the aforementioned risks of buying a foreclosed home at an auction.
☛ If the property is not sold off at an auction, the bank winds up with the deed to the property. The home that is now a part of the bank’s inventory, is referred to as real estate owned (REO). The bank may price the REO at a reasonable figure just to get rid of it. In addition to low cost, there are numerous benefits of buying a foreclosed home from a bank.
☛ The buyer can inspect the house before purchasing it. At times, banks may pay for repairs that are found during preliminary home inspection. Buying a bank foreclosed home is a good deal for the first-time home buyer, since the buyer does not have to concern himself/herself with evicting tenants. The bank also tends to negotiate with other creditors and gets rid of taxes and other liens against property.
☛ A seasoned investor may consider purchasing a tax-lien foreclosure that is the result of the homeowner defaulting on property or income tax. The home, again is sold at an auction, and it may be disposed off for as low as 60% below its market value, since the government is only interested in recovering the taxes.

Finer Points

❒ A mistake that most first-time buyers commit: They do not weigh the pros and cons before buying the property. Majority are lured by the price tag. A lower price does not mean the deal is in your favor. Well, this, precisely is not the real deal. Before you sign on the dotted line, question yourself on a few important variables. Does the house need major repairs; would you be refurbishing the house and renting it in the future; do you have the capital to maintain the house, if you don’t find a tenant to rent the place — these are a few questions that may help you judge your efforts and sort your options better.
❒ Inspecting the house, thoroughly, before you make up your mind to possess the property, is an absolute requirement. If you are planning to buy a foreclosed home in another city, you need to make several trips to the site and recce the place. Asking someone else to do the job for you is a waste of time. It is you, who needs to be proactive and take the final step.
❒ Know that the neighborhood matters. If there have been a number of foreclosed properties in the vicinity of the house you are planning to buy, you may be unable to cope with major repairs as the value of the house itself is deprecated. Besides, learn how the neighborhood looks during the day and the nighttime. The neighborhood that looks lively, however, does not breed hubbub, fetches potential buyers to invest in the property.
❒ Another important variable you must counter-check is the current condition of the house. The present state of the house does matter. It reflects on the degree of refurbishment the house requires and the amount you must shell out for the purpose. Besides the filth and the muck build up, there are various plumbing- and sewage-related problems that set in. Better check, if the pipes are in a good condition; if not, make way for modifications. If the problem is not sorted, there may be complications in the future. Water leaking, courtesy of the cracked pipes, which seeps onto the walls is not a pleasant situation to be in and amending the same after you have rented out the house is not an entertaining idea.
❒ What adds to the house price, is the landscape. Overgrown bushes, unkempt trees with occluded branches lead to depreciation of the property. There are times when overgrown branches gatecrash the spaces, predominantly the windows of the house, and pave the way for deterioration.

Hopefully, the aforementioned tips on buying a foreclosed home will be of use to a buyer, who is keen on buying his/her first home. Price of comparable properties is an important factor that has to be taken into account regardless of whether one buys a REO, a tax-lien foreclosure, or bids at an auction. The absorption rate, or the length of time required to sell the current inventory given the present rate of sales, also needs to be calculated, since a low absorption rate is a bargaining chip for the buyer.