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April 2019

Home Safety

The Importance of Home Safety When Buying a House

1000 500 Sam Radbil

You’d never judge a book by it’s cover, yet you’re quick to judge a neighborhood by appearances. Looks can be deceiving, and that’s why it’s essential you consider home safety when buying a house. No matter how safe a neighborhood looks, criminal activity still happens.

In fact, many criminals target these safe-looking neighborhoods because they’re more likely to be relaxed when it comes to their own security. In this guide, we’ll help you determine if the neighborhood where you’re buying a home is actually safe, as well as the best ways to protect yourself in your home.

High Angle Shot of Suburban Neighborhood

Image via Pexels

1. Check Local Crime Mappers

Your first line of defence should be to check local crime mapping services. These websites, such as CrimeReports and SpotCrime, are a great way to check out local crime information. It’s as simple as typing in your address or your prospective address, and you’ll see the recent crimes that have been happening in the neighborhood.

You can compare how your neighborhood stacks up against other ones locally, and that will help you understand if this is actually a safe place to live. However, realize that these websites don’t paint a full picture. Any crime should be a red flag, but don’t make any assumptions just based on this.

2. Talk to the Owners about Home Safety

Another way to get a feel for the area is to simple talk to the previous or current owner. When you’re buying a home, you want to get as full of a picture as possible about the neighborhood. The owner will know more about whether the area is safe, and they might be able to provide more specific insight than an online platform.

3. Talk to Neighbors

Of course, many first-time owners or sellers might not be super upfront about the reality of living in that community. This makes sense. They’re trying to quickly sell their home, after all. Instead, connect with people who currently live in the area. This might mean talking to neighbors face-to-face, attending local events, or even just posting on a local website or online group.

Cherry Blossom Tree

Image via Pexels

4. Explore the Area

Another great option is to simply explore the area for yourself to learn more about home safety. You can get a great feel for a neighborhood by checking it out during different times of day. For instance, many places feel different during the day than they do when the sun goes down.

There are many signs of a safe and secure community. Local events, children playing outside, and popular local businesses are all signs that this is a safe place to live with your family.

5. Install an Alarm

Finally, no matter how safe the neighborhood is and how much you pay attention to home safety, it’s always a smart idea to take precautions for yourself. By installing a security system like one by Adler, you take matters into your own hands even when you’re not physically at home.  An alarm system will help you feel safe 24/7, and here’s why. It’s simply a way to keep your home from becoming an easy target, and it gives you a direct line of communication to local authorities.

Stay Safe in Your New Home

Congrats on your new home and new knowledge on home safety! Now take these steps above to ensure this is the right place for you, and to make sure you’re not painting yourself as a target for intruders. No matter how safe a neighborhood looks, it’s always best to educate yourself about the local crime.

These steps will ensure you’re safe in your home not just today but also for years to come. A little bit of preventative measures will go a long way.

unmarried couple buying a house

Should You Buy A House Before Marriage?

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Are you an unmarried couple buying a house? If so, don’t worry because this situation occurs regularly, and there are three main concerns you need to address.

A Legal Agreement

Married couples don’t necessarily need legal agreements when they purchase property, because state laws cover a lot of eventualities, but if you are unmarried you should have a legal agreement between the parties. This will cover who owns what percentage, who is responsible for repairs, what both of you would like to happen in case one of you dies, who is responsible for the mortgage and other issues. Be sure to contact a good real estate lawyer in your state that can help you sort out the various scenarios that unmarried home ownership creates.

You Both Should Qualify for the Mortgage

Image result for mortgage qualification stat chart pic

Banks and lending institutions will be more likely to lend loan money for an unmarried couple buying a house if both buyers can individually qualify for the loan. Two substantial incomes along with solid 700+ credit scores can pave the way for quick home ownership.

Note: If you do have trouble financing your home, be sure to consider alternative methods like MN contract for deed. A good contract for deed lender can sometimes look past issues like foreclosure and even recent bankruptcy in order to get you into a home. Contract for deed has its own set of requirements, but these can be less stringent than those of a traditional mortgage lender. And hey, if you do need some extra cash, check out the best survey sites and work to make a bit of extra money each month.

Title It Correctly

Image result for home title picture

There are two main ways to title your property. Married persons usually appear on the title as joint tenants. Rocket Lawyer tells us that:

Joint tenants (JT), or joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS), are the forms of ownership most commonly used by married couples. In general, this means that both parties own 100% of the property and there is no divided interest as there is with TIC (tenants in common) The “rights of survivorship” clause means that the property passes directly to the other party outside of the will. This is an excellent benefit to ensure that the property does not go through probate. Unlike TIC, however, one tenant cannot sell their interest in the property, because they have an undivided 100% interest. Any sale has to have the consent of both parties. Joint tenancy is not restricted to married couples, but if you choose this form, make sure you know what it means.

An unmarried couple buying a house would probably choose tenants in in common. Rocket Lawyer explains:

This means that each “owner” has the right to their interest (percentage) of the property, but to their interest only. For example, if you purchase a cabin with a business partner, and you put up 70 percent and he puts up 30 percent, you own 70 percent of the property. If anything happens to you, your 70 percent passes to your heirs, not to your partner or his heirs.

This arrangement is beneficial for unrelated parties, because you call the shots about who inherits your property. It may have to go through probate, but if you’ve left clear instructions about your wishes, it should not be a problem.

An additional benefit is that you can sell your share any time you want, without the consent or approval of your partner(s). You also have the right to mortgage, transfer, or assign your interest–and so do your partners.

As you can see, there are some complex issues to discuss with your legal team regarding proper structuring if an unmarried couple is buying a house, so again, make sure you get qualified legal advice as you proceed.

For more info, check out our blog here. Tons of awesome content that will help you in your home buying journey!

Hiring a Team: Benefits and Drawbacks for Realtors

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You’ve worked hard to build your real estate team and business, but now you are starting so feel some stress.

When you received just one listing at a time, it was easy to send out instant replies to emails, and you could do a great job taking photos and getting your newly listed homes on MLS very quickly.

Now you have a good amount of business — maybe a couple contract for deed deals have gone through — and even though your spouse helps out, you are finding that you just can’t respond as quickly as you would like to, and you’re worried that your great reputation will suffer if you start missing emails. It may be time to hire a team to assist you, but there are pluses and minuses to consider.

Real Estate Team Plus: You’ll Get Some Help

It’s key to hire a great real estate team as your business grows.

Most small business owners started out with very small or non-existent staff, and you fit right into that category. You respond to every call, you send out every email and you go to every meeting. At a certain point, you just may not be able to handle the work load, and you decide to hire an assistant. If you get lucky and your hire is successful, you can off-load a lot of the mundane tasks that are beginning to slow you down. Just make sure your hire isn’t looking for a way to make 10 dollars fast. You want someone committed. And this much needed relief can make you more relaxed, and you can focus on more upper level tasks. If you don’t have to personally answer every phone call, you’ll have a lot more time to do what you do best.

Real Estate Team Minus: It Won’t Be You

Even if the person you hire has worked with you for many years, you can’t expect a clone of yourself. And if you hire an experienced person, he or she may still do things differently than you would. A warm body may provide some relief in the work-load department, but there is no guarantee that you will be completely satisfied.

real estate team and employee motivation

In the beginning, most small business owners do everything themselves, and if that describes your style, you may not be happy with the emails your new assistant writes, or the way he or she answers the phone. Yes, you can adjust and do more training, but there will always be a difference between your employees and you.

Plus: You Can Handle More Business

If you’re on the edge of disaster because of an extreme workload, you’re not going to be very efficient, and you may spend all of your time trying to catch up rather than prospecting for new clients. Again, by taking some of the load off, your new employee(s) will allow you go to get back into the tasks that made you initially successful.

Minus: You Have to Manage

real estate team management
Managing a real estate team can be stressful.

When you were a true sole proprietor, all you had to do was motivate yourself, and you knew that if didn’t work hard you couldn’t feed your family; that was probably enough to get you out of bed in the morning. When you hire employees, you have to be the motivator, and you may find that it takes a while to find out exactly what you need to do to gain excellence from your staff.

It’s great to be busy, and even more exciting to be at the point where you need to hire a team. Just be ready for the road to be a little bumpy at times.