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September 2020

Whether you own a home or are looking to buy or sell one, here are some useful tips, ideas and advice. When you’re ready to make your move, give me a call or drop me a line.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Texas Realty
Nicki Turner
REALTOR®
563-343-7193
Nicki.Turner@BHHSTxRealty.com
www.NickiTurnerRealtor.com/

 

HOMEOWNERS’ ADVICE

Who Pays for Utility Disruptions?

As a consumer of electricity, gas, sewer and water services, you have certain protections under state law. If you submit required deposits, pay your bills on time, and protect your interior and exterior equipment from overload or breakage, you should not be denied service and should rarely, if ever, experience a disruption in your utilities.

Yet, utility interruptions occur frequently. A water, gas or electric company can slow down or shut off flow to your home if there’s an outage, to protect the public safety or, to protect reserves and to keep prices competitive.

Sometimes, utility delivery equipment simply fails. Pipes burst, animals chew through lines and extreme weather can cause outages. In most cases, if the equipment is on your property, including a damaged meter, you’re as responsible to pay for repair or replacement as the companies are to monitor equipment performance before it breaks.

Extreme weather can wipe out utilities in large areas for weeks at a time before service is restored — a major reason why clean energy supporters lobby for micro-grids to limit outage areas and to encourage more subsidies for wind and solar power. Unlike fossil fuels which are switched on and off, wind and solar power can be stored in batteries for future use, which can help restore power to homes quicker.

According to Audubon.org, every state has a public utility commission that regulates your utilities and the companies that provide them. Get involved and help reduce outages the cost of utilities in your area.

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HOMEBUYERS’ ADVICE

The Renewed Appeal of Suburbia

It’s typical for single-family home sales to surge in the spring and summer, but this year, there are some differences due to Covid-19. The pandemic is causing more urbanites to move out of the city say The New York Times, Forbes.com, NPR.org and other news services.

Many of the attractions that make city living attractive, such as theater, shopping and dining out, simply aren’t available, causing some homebuyers to feel pent-up in their small apartments. They’re questioning if there isn’t a better way to live.

The result is a notable increase in home searches and purchases for single-family homes in smaller towns, exurbs and suburbs as many city-dwellers, particularly millennials, decide to ditch living in close quarters, paying high rents and home prices, and settling for views of buildings instead of trees.

One factor that’s driving the decision to move out of the city is that many white-collar workers believe they will continue to work from home permanently. The Star Tribune reported that Ford Motor Company, for example, intends to make many telecommuting jobs permanent, partly due to worker polls in favor working from home.  

If you’re of like mind, what can you expect when you shop for a home in the ‘burbs? According to Realtor.com, on average, a suburban home costs $230,000 compared to $431,000 home in the city with 300 more square feet of living space. You may pay over list price or get into a bidding war, due to intensifying demand, but you’ll still save a bundle.  

FINANCIAL ADVICE

Mortgage Guidance for the Self-Employed

Yes, you can get a mortgage if you’re self-employed, but it’s challenging in the age of Covid-19. Guidelines are changing monthly as the crisis continues, but the following requirements are generally true:

Work history: According to USnews.com, you’ll need a two-year employment history. Fluctuations in earnings are acceptable as long as you can show stable or increasing income. A shorter history may be okay if you’ve been employed in the same industry for a period of at least two years.

Down payments: You’ll likely need to put 20 percent down, which minimizes risk to both you and the lender, but you may be able to get away with as little as 10 percent down if you have a FICO score of 720 or above, says NJlenders.com

Cash reserves: If the worst happens and your business declines, you must show enough cash on hand to pay your mortgage regularly and on time.

Credit history: You’ll need a high credit score and an income to debt ratio of 43 percent or below, depending on guidelines. Lenders carefully check how you use revolving credit, other outstanding loans, and payment histories.   

Documentation: Supply your ID, your personal and business tax returns for two years, earnings and bank statements, business name verification plus evidence of business such as a web site, invoices, etc., license if applicable, list of debts and expenses, and payment verification for your home’s rent or mortgage.

Loan requirements are fluid, so contact your lender to learn the latest guidelines.

HOMEOWNERS’ ADVICE

The Dish on Fine China

Choosing a china pattern is a great way to express your taste and accent your new home. You’ll enjoy the presentation of meals and how your table looks every time you serve breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.

So what is fine china and how is it used? According to Scullyandscully.com, fine china is made from a white clay called kaolin. It’s made of “soft paste,” where as porcelain and bone china are “hard paste,” explains Madehow.com. Porcelain is fired at a higher temperature than either fine china or bone china. Bone china has bone ash added which gives the fired dish the illusion of light.

One way to tell the difference is that fine china is always opaque. Porcelain and bone china are translucent, which means you can almost see through the dish when light hits it. Where porcelain and bone china differ is that porcelain is white, while bone china is a softer cream color. Embellishments include everything from hand painting, decals, beading, to gold and silver leaf, but manufacturers may recommend that decorative china be hand-washed to avoid chipping. 

Like clothing, china tableware can be casual, semi-formal or formal, which is why many households have more than one set of dishes on hand. For everyday use, you may prefer a simpler, unadorned china pattern that is dishwasher and microwave-safe and in some cases, oven-safe.

Whatever you choose, don’t save fine dishes for parties or holidays. Use them and enjoy them often and make your own special occasions.


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