Monday, May 12, 2014

Mortgage rates hit a 2014 low

The average interest charged to borrowers for a 30-year, fixed rate loan fell to 4.21% from 4.29% last week, according to Freddie Mac's weekly mortgage rate report. Rates have not been this low since the week of November 7, when they were at 4.16%.

The 15-year, fixed rate mortgage, a popular loan for homeowners refinancing existing mortgages, hit 3.32%, down from 3.38% last week. Full Article

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

10 Major Moving Mistakes to Avoid

Not Letting Someone Else Do the Grunt Work

There's a middle ground between shelling out for a moving company and saving money by doing everything yourself. Companies like Old Dominion and U-Pack will drop the trailer off in front of your house, then drive it to your destination and leave it for you to off-load. It's a nice solution if you don't trust moving guys to pack your fragile items. 

Failing to Purge

Be honest with yourself, and consider moving as an opportunity to get rid of stuff you don't need or want. There's no sense in moving things and then throwing them out. 

Cheaping Out on Supplies

We're all for recycling when appropriate, but getting beat-up boxes with food stains from the supermarket is a bad idea. They're weak and sometimes quite dirty. Buy new, clean boxes specifically sized for what you need to move. Also buy lots of packing tape, bubble wrap, moving blankets, packing supplies for dishes and delicate items, sealable plastic bags to store hardware for furniture or other items that require disassembly, and 3-mil contractor bags for loose, lightweight, but bulky items (chair cushions, stuffed toys). Of course, when you're done moving, you can recycle the cardboard. 

Moving Things Twice or More

Don't make moving any harder than it already is. Pack up your boxes, stage them for easy access on moving day, and leave them there. 

Forgetting to Label Boxes

Label each box on top and on a minimum of two sides (on all four is even better). Use a large Sharpie pen so your writing is easy to read for whomever ends up carrying the box. 

Burying Tools and Work Gloves

Pack them last because you'll need them first. There are the obvious reasons, such as opening boxes. But moving also brings unexpected surprises: You might need to remove a door from its hinges to get furniture through, or hang a few things on the wall while it's convenient. 

Lifting and Carrying Everything

Big mistake. Put your machismo aside; use hand trucks, dollies, and carpet glides whenever possible to save your back. 

Forgetting to Secure

Purchase ratchet straps, rope, and especially shrink-wrap to secure the load while in transit. Run rope or shrink-wrap around large groups of boxes to keep them from shifting or sliding inside the truck. The load should be secured to the truck and fully inside it so there's no room for movement.

Pay extra attention to entertainment centers, tall cabinets, and anything that can tip over. Cross-lash these items to the side of the truck (that is, secure your rope or ratchet straps in the form an X). Tall stacks of boxes with air space on one side can tip or tumble over inside the truck during a sharp turn, or if you stop abruptly. Reduce the stack, or shrink-wrap the boxes into one mass that can't move. 

Stacking Heavy Stuff on Top

It's a simple tip, but one that's easy to forget. Keep your heaviest boxes and items on the ground, where they won't come crashing down on you if you move another box the wrong way. 

Neglecting the Weather

If moving day turns out to be bright and sunny, that's great. But chances are you've been planning your move for weeks or months and can't delay it because Mother Nature isn't cooperating. Have some plastic sheets and tarps on hand to cover your stuff and protect it from precipitation as you carry it inside. A nearby home center might be a good place to find an entry mat, but be careful about any kind of makeshift one you set up inside the front door. Old towels are okay if you're not carrying stuff; otherwise, they can become a tripping hazard. If you have a rug of some kind that you're bringing, and you expect rain, pack it so it can be among the first things you remove. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The 6 Most Essential Homebuyer Tips

INFOGRAPHIC: The 6 Most Essential Homebuyer Tips