DJ Richmond's Blog
"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!" That saying (and old song) has been around for generations, but it's as true today as it was a century ago. Almost everyone would agree that your home should be a refuge from the calamity and dangers of the outside world.
A related saying which has been repeated for even longer is "A man's home is his castle." That age-old concept not only emphasizes that fact that we all deserve to be safe and secure in our own homes, but it's also the basis for certain legal principles. Unfortunately, the mere existence of our rights as homeowners does not prevent burglaries, break-ins, and criminal intrusions from happening, so it's necessary to take steps to help protect your home and family from crime.
The good news is that there are literally dozens of things you can do to make your home a safer, more secure place. While it can be costly (but often worth it) to implement an elaborate, high-tech home security system, there are plenty of inexpensive measures you can take to discourage burglars. Here are a few crime-prevention tactics which can greatly reduce the chances of a break-in or intrusion taking place at your home.
Be security minded: If you live in a low-crime area, it's easy to let your guard down and become complacent. When it comes to keeping your property, family, and possessions secure, though, it's much better to "err on the side of caution." One regrettable mistake many people make is to leave their doors unlocked when they go out to "run a few quick errands." Not only can errands take longer than originally planned, but experienced burglars can be in and out of your home in minutes. By being consistent with locking doors and securing your home before you leave, you'll significantly reduce the chances of becoming a crime statistic. Instilling that awareness and those habits in your children is also an important element of any effective home security strategy.
Simple security solutions: Although glass panels alongside a front door can be an attractive design touch, it can provide potential intruders with a glimpse of the inside of your home -- including its layout, a view of valuables left out in the open, and whether your security system is activated. There are several ways you can obscure the view people have of your home's interior, including frosting the glass using a special spray, temporarily attaching a decorative window film, or installing etched glass. Customized window blinds may also do the trick.
Innovative ideas: Burglars generally tend to target homes that appear vacant or unsecured. Half the battle is creating the impression that someone is home, even if you're not. While you've undoubtedly heard about the technique of hooking up timers to your lights to make them go on and off at designated times, here's an interesting variation on the theme: You can purchase a device for $20 or $30 that simulates the flickering light that a TV gives off when it's being watched. While this is not a standalone or foolproof technique, it can be a low-cost part of an overall home security strategy.
Your credit score can play a major role in your ability to get the financing that you need to buy a house. As such, you'll want to do everything possible to improve your credit score before you enter the real estate market.
Now, let's take a look at three quick, easy ways to boost your credit score.
1. Pay Off Debt As Quickly As Possible
Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report annually from each credit reporting bureau, and you should take advantage of this perk so that you can learn about your outstanding debt.
If you have lots of outstanding debt, you'll want to start paying this off as quickly as possible. Because the less debt that you have, the more likely it becomes that you can get a favorable mortgage from a credit union or bank.
Don't wait to begin paying off outstanding debt. If you pay off even a small portion of your outstanding debt regularly, you can move closer to getting the financing that you need to acquire a terrific house.
2. Avoid New Credit Cards
A low credit score can be worrisome, and it may cause you to consider a variety of options to manage outstanding debt. However, if your credit score is low, there is no need to take out additional credit cards.
New credit cards may seem like viable short-term options to help you cover various expenses while you pay off assorted outstanding debt. But these cards are unlikely to help you resolve the biggest problem – paying off your outstanding debt to bolster your credit score.
Instead of signing up for new credit cards, it often helps to cut back on non-essential bills. For instance, if you don't need cable, you may be able to eliminate this expense and use the money that you save to pay off outstanding debt. Or, if you have first-rate items that you don't need, you may want to sell these items and use the profits to pay off myriad bills.
3. Keep Your Credit Card Balances Low
Once you have paid off your outstanding debt, you'll want to keep your credit card balances low.
It often helps to have one credit card that you can use in emergencies. If you keep one credit card and get rid of any others, you may be better equipped than ever before to maintain a high credit score.
Lastly, if you require additional assistance as you prepare to kick off a home search, you may want to work with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you narrow your home search to residences that fall within a specific price range. That way, you can avoid the risk of spending too much to acquire a house.
Increase your credit score – use the aforementioned tips, and you can raise your credit score before you launch a home search.
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Buying a home is a decision that could have a major impact on your life for the next five to ten years (if not longer). That's why it's extremely important to know your requirements and what you need to be happy.
If you're in the process of looking for a house to buy, it pays to do an analysis of your financial resources, your goals, and your desired lifestyle.
For example, if expanding your family is part of your five-year-plan, you'll want to make sure the home you buy has enough bedrooms, play areas, and safety features to meet your future needs. The broad category of "safety features" could cover everything from the neighborhood crime rate to the amount of road traffic the street is subject to. Proximity to emergency services is also among the many things to consider when shopping for a new home.
Choosing an experienced real estate agent to help you navigate the many challenges of house hunting will increase the probability that the property you choose will be a good fit for your needs. A bank loan officer or mortgage broker can assist you in determining the type of mortgage you can afford and be approved for.
Other than affordability, sufficient space, and safety considerations, here are a few other items to keep in mind as you shop for your next home.
- Commuting distance: Finding the ideal house that is located less than a half an hour from your business or place of employment can be difficult. That challenge becomes even greater if both you and your partner commute to work every day.
- Number of bathrooms: Some homes only have one bathroom, which can quickly become a source of conflict and frustration in growing families. Making sure your home has enough bathrooms to meet your current and future needs is a key priority for all house hunters.
- Miscellaneous requirements: Depending on your lifestyle and other factors, your home-buying priority list could include everything from a two-car garage and basement to a backyard patio and deck. If privacy is high on your must-have list, features like fencing, privacy hedges, and sufficient space between neighbors will also be important. Other items to consider may include a fireplace, space for a home office, and an eat-in kitchen.
Finding a new home that will meet your family's current and future needs requires a clear mental picture of what you want and your desired lifestyle.
While you may not be able to get every item on your new-house wish list, knowing your priorities is the first step to realizing your goals.
For many growing families, having a spacious eat-in kitchen is a high-priority. Here are a few reasons a large kitchen can enhance the enjoyment of your new home.
Entertaining guests: If you like to host holiday gatherings, birthday parties, and other celebrations at your home, a spacious kitchen lends itself to everything from food preparation and buffet setup to mingling with your party guests. Kitchens are a focal point of social gatherings, and can play a major role in the success or failure of your parties, dinners, and other events.
Increased efficiency: Without enough counter space and room to comfortably move around, meal preparation can turn into more of a chore than a pleasure. Ideally, there should be unobstructed paths between key work stations, including the stove and kitchen sink (You'll want to have a clear path when you're ready to drain cooked pasta or carry pots of water to the stove.) Generally, the more people you're serving, the more crucial it is to have plenty of space for working, staying organized, and keeping track of cooking times. Since food preparation is both an art and a science, it requires planning, proper execution, and the freedom to express your creativity.
Family harmony: There are at least two ways that ample kitchen space can contribute to harmonious family relationships. First of all, gathering in the kitchen at mealtime, every day, helps foster good communication between members of your family. When you're facing each other and sharing stories, plans, and concerns at the kitchen table, it's easier to know what's going on in the lives of your spouse and children. A roomy kitchen also helps keep the peace in your family. For example, when more than one person is getting a snack, making a meal, or cleaning up, having a little extra space can help keep family members from bumping into each other and feeling cramped. Conflicts sometimes arise, especially among siblings, when there's a shortage of personal space. On busy days when everyone is rushing in opposite directions, often at a hectic pace, having enough counter and floor space in the kitchen can help minimize drama and keep family traffic flowing smoothly.
Whether you're entertaining dinner guests or baking cookies for a school bake sale, the process is sure to go more smoothly when you have sufficient counter space and a work flow area that helps gets things done in the shortest period of time.