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Five Tips to Help You Prepare for Your Move

Advice from Your Trusted Mortgage Lender

When it comes to relocating, it seems like buying a home and working with a mortgage lender is the easiest part. However, It’s never too early to begin preparing to move, especially if you know a relocation is on the horizon. In fact, the earlier you start preparing, the less stressful moving day will be for you. That’s because you’ll take comfort in knowing you’ve managed to pack up all your belongings, and the moving van is scheduled and ready for you.

As you do the preparation work, there are a few things to keep in mind, like how your furniture will fit into the new home you’re purchasing, how many of your possessions you should bring with you, and what you may need to buy new or secondhand to maximize the usefulness of your new home. Read on for five ways you can begin preparing for your move today.

Declutter and Donate Household Items
Prior to moving is the perfect time to go through all of your possessions and determine which ones you can do without. Professional organizers and declutterers all provide the same strategy, which simplifies the process.

To start decluttering, you’ll want to create two piles in each room or closet space. The first pile will be for items that need to be thrown away, and the second pile will be for items that you can donate to a thrift store or other organization in your community. Anything you intend to keep can remain in its place. (If you intend to fully empty cupboards or closets during this process, you may need a third pile for things you plan to keep, so you can reorganize them when you return them to their places.)

Go room-by-room to create your piles. You don’t have to do it all at once, which can feel overwhelming. Instead, spread the work over the course of a few weeks. Then, combine your donation piles and drop the items off; discard the trash pile, recycling what you can. In the end, you should have significantly fewer items and a more streamlined-looking home, which will be much easier to pack into boxes for your move!


Protect Breakables Without Spending a Fortune
As you pack up your belongings into boxes, you should take care to protect breakables, including dishware, collectables, and vases. Relocation experts recommend purchasing bubble wrap and packing paper for this purpose. The cost of packing supplies quickly adds up, and before you know it, you’ve spent a good chunk of money on boxes and packing materials alone.

To supplement protective wrappings, you can use household fabrics you already own to keep your fragile items safe during your move. Towels, bedsheets, blankets, and even heavy sweaters can do the job in a pinch, so you can allot the money you saved for something really important, like your first mortgage payment or new furniture.


Book Your Movers in Advance
It’s tempting to wait until the last minute to book a DIY moving van or hire movers. If you wait, you tell yourself, you’ll be able to give them a more accurate estimate for the number of possessions they’ll need to haul or fit into a moving truck.

Professional movers and even van rental teams are experts in relocations. They have an uncanny knack for being able to estimate weights of items and the size of truck you’ll need to accommodate your belongings. Give them a call early on in the process, when you know when you’ll be closing on your home and moving in, to get on their schedule or reserve your moving van. Scheduling early means you can get your first choice of movers and equipment and a price point you can afford, instead of whatever’s available when you finally get around to booking.


Plan Your Move Based on Your Closing Date
If you’re selling a house and moving into a new one, or relocating from your rental into a home you’ve just purchased, you’ll want to take careful note of your closing date. Usually, closing dates do not change, but know that the date can change based on a number of factors that are out of your control, and even out of your mortgage lender’s control. Be flexible if you need to.

If you have purchased a house and have been renting previously, we have great news. You can move in as soon as you sign the paperwork and pick up your keys at the title company or your real estate lawyer’s office. If you have sold your home and are moving into a new one, you will want to coordinate your closing so that you close on your new house first, so you have time to empty your current home before your buyers sign the paperwork. The home should be completely empty and ready for the new owners by closing.


Start the Process with a Reputable Mortgage Lender
If you’re looking to purchase a house, your first step should be getting pre-qualified for a home loan. A pre-qualification letter shows sellers and their agent that you are serious about making a purchase when you decide to make an offer on a house for sale.

To get pre-qualified contact Homestead Financial! Once you’re pre-qualified, we can identify the best home loan program for you, whether it’s a conventional loan, or a mortgage through a government-backed loan program, like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans’ Affairs (VA), or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

We help each of our customers secure the best mortgage interest rates and loan terms available. We process loan applications swiftly, focusing on getting you to closing on time with as little stress as possible. And because we serve home buyers in multiple states, you’ll find a Homestead Financial office near you, especially if you live in Kansas City, MO; Kansas City, KS; Overland Park, KS; Olathe, KS; Blue Springs, MO; St. Louis, MO; and Godfrey, IL.

To learn more about our mortgages and to speak with one of our home loan experts, contact us.

To learn more, please reach out!

Plan ahead for the harsh weatherLabor Day Home Improvement

One of the best opportunities to do some home improvement projects to get your home ready for winter is Labor Day weekend. Having an extra day off from work gives you the extra time you need for projects that require more time. The trick is to plan ahead and focus on preparing your home for the harsh weather that winter brings.

If you yearn for BBQ on the last official weekend of summer, look no further than your crock pot. Buy a full slab of ribs on Thursday or Friday before the weekend hits. On Saturday morning get up early and brown the ribs in your oven. Once browned, cut them into separate pieces, place them in the crock pot on low with a bottle of your favorite sauce and simmer for 6-8 hours. When dinner rolls around you’ll have tender meat that falls off the bone and you won’t have to stand next to hot grill after working hard on other projects all day.

One of the best ways to prepare your home for winter is by cleaning the gutters or eaves. This protects your home from any water leaks which can cause roof damage and a wet basement. When gutters are full of leaves, branches and dirt, water pools and your home’s eaves is more prone to sagging, rusting and pulling loose from the house. When this happens water drains into your basement or into your ground floor, damaging drywall, floors and carpeting. Excess water causes mold, an even bigger and more costly mess to clean up.

To clean your home’s gutters you need a ladder and a good pair of gloves to protect your hands from the gutters’ sharp surfaces. This task can be done in as little as 30 minute to an hour depending on the size of your house. It’s best to position the ladder in one spot and clean the gutters from the roof rather than moving the ladder around the house, climbing up and down every time. Better to maneuver on your hands and knees from the top of your roof. Homeowners who experience vertigo, have a fear of heights or are prone to clumsiness should consider hiring someone to do this task.



Replace Door Trims or Weather Stripping

Another Labor Day weekend project that gets your home ready for winter and actually saves you money on your heating and cooling bills is replacing door trims or weather stripping. There are two types of weather stripping for doors. Look for sweeps for the bottom of the door and foam weather-stripping for the area around the door’s trim. Attach sweeps to the bottom of your doors with the screws provided. Be sure your door’s trim is clean as the foam strips have self-adhesive that require extremely clean surfaces in order to stick well.

A third Labor Day weekend project that also protects your home’s outdoor surfaces from the elements is outdoor painting. Grab your scrapers, brushes, rollers, primer and paint so you can protect your home’s siding, trim, doors and eaves before the weather gets bad. Paint is the best way to protect these surfaces before they require a more expensive repair or replacement later. When unprotected wood rots you face a much more expensive and labor intensive project.

A fresh coat of paint on your home’s fascia boards, soffits and under-hangs helps extend the life of your roof and adds more curb appeal and value to your home. When the boards that support your roof are well protected your roof will last longer. Labor Day weekend is also the time to paint or seal a deck or back porch. Textured paint and sealer makes walking on these surfaces when their wet or covered in snow that much safer.

A little bit of elbow grease goes a long way to protecting your home for the harsh weather winter brings. Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to do these home improvement projects.

Getting a home appraisal

The home appraisal. It’s why so many homebuyer’s sweat bullets during the buying or selling process. The last thing a person wants is to lose a mortgage because of a low appraisal when buying or selling a home. Here are some steps to take for getting a fair appraisal.

Professionals are Best for Serious Home-buying Needs

While automated valuation websites like Zillow, HomeGain and Trulia are a convenient and quick way of getting a ballpark figure of the worth of homes in certain areas, they shouldn’t be used when you’re buying or selling a home. Websites like these can only give an estimate because the figures are based on a limited amount of information. It’s okay to use websites like these when you’re at the beginning of your home search but turn to professionals when things turn more serious.

If you’re serious about buying a home, it’s best to work with a real estate agent who can prepare a competitive market analysis (CMA) or provide a broker’s price opinion before you make an offer on a property. Proactive home owners who are looking to sell their homes often have their own appraisal done before pricing their homes. This is especially helpful in a market where prices are fluctuating or where there are a lot of foreclosures. An appraisal usually costs $1,000 or less. Homeowners use appraisals to guide their pricing decisions and as a reference to compare to the appraisal done by the buyer’s lender.

Homestead uses Qualified Appraisers

At Homestead we work with qualified licensed appraisers and homebuyers with the goal of getting a fair appraisal of the home. Our appraisers have residential appraiser certifications as well as professional designations. Home buyers and sellers will work with appraisers who have the Appraisal Institute’s senior residential appraiser (SRA) and member of the Appraisal Institute (MAI) designations.

TFamily in new homehe appraiser should be familiar with the local market in order to arrive at a fair appraisal. To insure a fair appraisal, Homestead works with appraisers who come from the same county or neighboring county.
For home owner’s selling their homes, it’s important to meet the appraisal when your home is inspected. Be sure to share the appraisal you had done or the CMA from your real estate agent. You’ll want to share all the upgrades and improvements you’ve made to the home with the appraiser. If you are aware of any important pending neighborhood improvements like commuter rail lines, shopping centers, parks, roads or schools, you’ll want to provide that information to the appraiser as well. New companies moving to the area or major employers that are expanding are also important items for appraisers to know about and consider as they are assessing the value of your home.

When you’re selling your home you’ll want to do as much as you can to get the highest appraisal so the buyer can get necessary financing to meet your asking price. When a low appraisal occurs, both the buyer and seller should question it. Double check the paperwork to make sure short sales and foreclosures weren’t used as comps and make sure all improvements made to the home were taken into account. Unintentional human error and oversights happen. If a second appraisal is necessary, be sure to ask for a current comp that reflects the current real estate market conditions.

Preparing your home for a tornado could be the difference between life and death for you and your family. In “Preparing Your Home for a Tornado Part I” we discussed steps to take before the storm hits. In Part II we discuss additional steps to take during and after the storm.

Find Immediate Shelter When you Hear the Sirens

Preparing Your Home for a Tornado

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where there are tornado sirens, find out what they sound like. When you hear tornado sirens you and your family should find immediate shelter, moving to an interior room, storm shelter or basement. You and your family should listen for tornado watches and warnings. A tornado watch is issued when conditions are right for tornado development in your area. Whether a severe thunderstorm watch or tornado watch has been issued, you should be aware of weather conditions in your area. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been seen or radar indicated the presence of a tornado in your area. Seek immediate shelter when a tornado warning has been issued.

Tornado emergencies are tornado warnings that are issued because a tornado has been spotted and is heading to a densely populated area. This was the case in Oklahoma City, OK two weeks ago. When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued you and your family should take precaution, staying indoors and watching for the possible development of tornadoes.

Prepare your home for a storm

You may not always be at home when tornado warnings and watches are issued. If you’re in a structure, move to the most interior room on the first floor or to the basement. Stay clear of windows and anything that could hit you like chairs and bookcases. Mobile homes and trailers offer little protection. Move away from these structures to more secure locations. If you are in your car, drive to the nearest shelter away from the storm. If you can’t make it there in time, keep your seat belt on, duck below and cover yourself with a blanket or a coat. Don’t hide under overpasses or bridges. These places will not protect you from flying debris. If you’re caught in an open field during a storm, duck as close as possible to the ground and cover your head. Once you’ve reached a secure location, wait until high winds have died down before you go outside.

If a tornado has touched down in your area, here’s a list of things to do to keep your family and your home more secure. Address your injured family members first. Wait out the storm and seek medical assistance. Next, shut off your utilities. Turn off your water, electricity and gas. Gas leaks are extremely dangers and can cause explosions or fires. If you suspect a gas leak, refrain from using a lighter if you’ve not already turned off your utilities. Before leaving your house, inspect it for structural damage that could harm your family. If any part of your home is not safe, you need to find different shelter. Families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed should seek an evacuation center. While evacuation centers often have supplies, it’s a good idea to bring whatever emergency supplies you can with you.

If you were fortunate that your home was spared, join in the rescue efforts or volunteer. Help your neighbors with the clean-up, removing hazardous objects with care, taking pictures for insurance companies. Follow public officials orders so you are making a positive contribution and not damaging the situation any further.

You’ve seen the devastation caused by the tornado that touched down in Missouri last month. Weeks ago an F-5 tornado devastated Oklahoma City, OK just like the one that killed 161 people in Joplin, MO two years ago. With severe thunderstorms a common occurrence here in St. Louis, you know tornado warnings are not something to be taken lightly. You want to protect yourself and your family the best way you can. Here are some tips for preparing your home for a tornado. Continue reading “Preparing Your Home for a Tornado – Part One”

Spring is the busiest real estate buying season and if your home is on the market you might be a little stressed wanting your home and your “curb appeal” to look amazing. With so much rain and cooler temperatures in the Midwest, it may be tempting to let the outside appearance of your home slide until the warmer and dryer weather comes. Here are some ways for attracting buyers and increasing your homes curb appeal despite the weather. Continue reading “Attracting Buyers: Increasing Your Home’s Curb Appeal”

Good news. Your real estate agent just called with a buyer who would like to see your house. Trouble is, there’s only so much your real estate agent can do and it’s up to you to make your home as presentable and attractive as possible, with the goal of engaging the buyer emotionally. Here are some tips for showing your home. Continue reading “Tips for Showing Your Home to Buyers”

With spring just around the corner, you find yourself watching home improvement shows in the evening, dreaming of the different ways to spend your home equity line of credit. After all, you’ll recoup what you’ve spent when you sell your house. Right? Don’t kid yourself. While prices and returns on home improvements vary regionally, there are certain projects that should be avoided. Continue reading “The Worst Home Fixes for the Money”

In “Getting Ready for Home Appraisal – Part I” we explored the importance of having the right mindset and having your paperwork in order when it comes to preparing for your home’s appraisal. This week we’ll examine other important ways you can get ready for your home’s appraisal.

A big part of preparing for a home appraisal is having your home in order and the time to have any corrections and repairs made to your home is beforehand. Even if you intend to have repairs made but haven’t had time to complete them, having proof of an estimate or scheduled repair to show the appraiser can work to your advantage. Though you and your family may have lived for months with a leaky faucet, damaged window screens, dead smoke detectors or in rooms with poor paint jobs, leaving these maintenance jobs undone can dent the appraisal value of your home. And don’t underestimate the power of curb appeal. A tidy lawn and clean landscape may be the first impression an appraiser has of your home. Continue reading “Getting Ready for Home Appraisal – Part Two”

When the time comes to get ready for a home appraisal it’s important to keep in mind there are factors you can and cannot control. While you can’t control the location of your neighborhood and the value of other homes on your block, you can control what the appraiser sees when he walks up to the front door. Like many things in life, good preparation, careful attention to detail and a dose of fortunate circumstances all play a role in successful home appraisals and there’s a lot you as a homeowner can do to give yourself the best chance for a favorable appraisal. Here are some tips. Continue reading “Getting Ready for a Home Appraisal – Part One”

With home values and home equity taking a beating the last five years, many homeowners are left wondering if there is anything they can do to increase the value of their home and their home equity. While there are some ways to increase your home’s value, many cost more than what you’ll gain, especially if you contract out the work. However, if you’re willing and able to do the work yourself, your “sweat equity” can boost the value of your home and increase your home’s equity. Despite the current economy, now is a good time to do home improvements since interest rates are at historic lows and contractors are scrambling for work. Provided you plan to stay in your home for a number of years and you do the right home improvements, you could enhance your home’s value when home prices recover.
Continue reading “Increasing Your Home’s Value and Equity”

You put your home on the market several months ago but your neighbor’s home sold faster than yours. Why? Because they followed their realtor’s advice, making their home “sparkle.” Realtors know that it takes a lot more than a new roof for buyers to feel comfortable buying a home. When buyers see a well-cared for home, they are often correct that what they can’t see is most likely maintained too. So how do you as a homeowner make your home sparkle? Here are some tips for getting your house ready to sell.
Continue reading “Getting Your Home Ready to Sell”

After closing on a new home, many homeowners know a new house doesn’t feel like home when you first move in. Whether it still smells like the previous owners or it’s bigger than your previous home and the rooms just feel empty, it’s challenging to make your new house feel like home during that first week after the move. Here are some ways to make your new space your own, playing on all your senses.

Scents have powerful effects on us and your favorite smells can play a big role in making you feel more relaxed and at home in the new house. Light candles or incense throughout the rooms. To rid the house of the previous owner’s scent, or the smell of fresh paint, spray Febreze in all the rooms. The goal is to give your new home the same smell and atmosphere as your old one. Continue reading “Making Your New House Feel Like a Home”

Moving creates a lot of anxiety for pets, especially older pets, most cats and skittish pets. That’s why it’s important to do your homework and be prepared. Here are some pre-moving tips for pets that will make your move a smoother transition.

Many subdivisions in the St. Louis area and across the state have various ordinances and pet licensing requirements. Be sure you are familiar with these before you move in. You can familiarize yourself with your new home’s state/province laws by contacting the State Department of Agriculture or the State Veterinarian’s Office. In fact, depending on your new address, your pet may need additional medications, vaccinations or health certificates.
If your pet doesn’t like to travel, be sure to get your vet’s recommendations for behavior modification tactics or medication that can lessen the stress of travel. Your current vet may also be a valuable resource for lining up your pet’s vet in your new home town.
Continue reading “Pre-Moving Day Tips for Pet Owners”

Relocating is challenging and can be especially scary for children. Guiding your child through the experience with patience and knowledge can make your family’s transition into your new home a fun adventure. Your current home may be the only one your child has ever known. Part of your child’s feeling safe in your existing home is his familiarity with the area, his neighborhood friends, the parks, schools and everything around it. From your child’s point of view, these items won’t exist anymore. Understanding your children’s concerns and needs will lessen the stress of the move for you and your family.

It’s important for parents to understand that kids have different concerns at different ages. For preschool children, moving elicits fears of being left behind or separated from their parents. Older kids between the ages of 6 and 12 have concerns about how their daily routines will be impacted. Teenagers worry about what a move will do to their social lives and about fitting in at their new school.
Continue reading “Helping Your Kids Adjust to the Move”

Home is the stage for many of life’s most treasured memories. The front porch is where your husband carried you over the threshold. The living room floor is where your son took his first steps. The weeping willow tree in the back yard is where your daughter posed on her graduation day. Put it all together and it’s easy to see how our homes are literally a member of the family. And when it comes to downsizing, it’s also easy to see how emotionally attached we’ve grown to our homes. Selling our homes is like putting our hearts on a plate and crushing it, especially when potential buyers criticize. But it’s all part of the game. The game of buying and selling houses that is. Buyers want to get the lowest price and sellers want to get the highest price, leaving real estate agents the challenge of getting both parties to meet somewhere in the middle. Emotions can get in the way and prevent home sellers from making good financial decisions. Here are some tips to help home sellers from making costly emotional mistakes.
Continue reading “3 Most Common Mistakes When Selling Your Home”