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Bethany Young
REALTOR®
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Articles Tagged "Mueller"

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Area Information | 44 Posts
For Buyers | 5 Posts
For Sellers | 2 Posts
Home Improvement | 10 Posts
Homeownership | 8 Posts
September
7

Inexpensive Home Security Upgrades

Home Security Upgrades

When you think of home security upgrades, you may think of expensive security systems. Many upgrades, however, are very affordable and will help your family and belongings stay safer. In many cases, you'll even be able to do the work yourself.

Our real estate agents share the following inexpensive home security upgrades that can make your home safer:  

  • Smart outdoor lighting
    Motion-activated LED lights for the exterior of your home can help shine a spotlight on any potential unwanted visitors. Use this feature for floodlights, step lights, and path lights, and consider buying ones that will send you an alert when motion is detected.

  • Upgraded door locks
    Upgrade the locks on the doors that lead to the outside of your home, and while you're at it, buy a better strike plate (the metal that's on the doorpost). Look for one that has holes for up to six screws, and when you attach it, use three-inch screws. These improvements will make it more difficult for a thief to kick your door in.

  • A safe for valuables
    If you have valuables that are small in size, such as expensive jewelry, a safe provides an extra level of security against thieves. You can get a basic one for around $100, with options such as fire protection raising the price. Bolt your safe to the floor using the holes provided inside in most models and hide it in the back of the closet. If you choose a wall safe, you can mount it inside a wall and cover it with a picture.

  • Foot locks for patio doors 
    Standard patio door locks are easy for a burglar to pick. To make it more difficult for intruders to gain access to your home in this way, add a foot lock. They utilize a bolt that fits into a grommet that holds the door secure, and they're easy to install using a drill.

  • Window stops  
    Window stops prevent windows from being opened more than six inches. This makes it impossible for burglars to raise your windows and climb into your home. Since they open six inches, however, you'll still be able to raise your windows enough to get some fresh air and ventilation inside your home.

  • Tamper-proof shed hinges
    If you have a shed with a standard hinge and a door that swings outward, it's easy for thieves to pop the pins, remove the door, and steal valuable property like lawnmowers and tools. To prevent this buy and install a security hinge that comes with tamper-proof pins and a locking tab.

  • Home security system  
    Wireless security cameras can help monitor your home and provide an extra layer of protection. Consider buying a system that has built-in sensors that are triggered by motion and trigger an alarm. An alert is then sent to your smartphone, and a video clip of the incident is uploaded to the Cloud.

  • Wide-angle door viewer  
    Entry doors don't usually come equipped with peepholes, and if they do, they're usually quite small. This makes it easy for potential intruders to hide out of view and also distorts images, making it hard to identify exactly who's at your door. Install a wide-angle door viewer so the images will be clearer and a burglar won't be able to simply step to the side to remain undiscovered.

Contact us to find out more about home security upgrades and to visit Round Rock homes for sale. If finding a home with some of these features is a priority, we'll help you identify ones that meet your criteria.

August
16

What First-Time Buyers Need to Know About Credit Scores

Round Rock Credit Score

Your credit score is an important piece of financial information that influences your ability to purchase a home. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with 850 being the best possible score. 

Our real estate agents know that lenders will use your credit score when determining whether to approve your mortgage application. Here are a few things you should know about your credit score and homeownership as you prepare to buy your first home. 

  1. There's a Wide Variation in Acceptable Credit Scores
    The required credit score to purchase a home depends on the mortgage that you intend to use. For example, if you're applying for a conventional home loan, you'll likely need a credit score of at least 620. However, if you're interested in a jumbo home loan (a mortgage that exceeds conforming loan limits), it's best to have a credit score of 700 or higher. Some loans are ideal for buyers with less than stellar credit. An FHA loan has a minimum credit score requirement of 500. You'll need to make a 10 percent down payment if your credit score is between 500 and 579. For borrowers with credit scores of 580 or higher, FHA loans permit a down payment as low as 3.5 percent of the home's purchase price. USDA and VA mortgage programs don't have a specified minimum credit score. Instead, the lenders who issue these loans are permitted to set their own requirements. Generally, to qualify for a USDA or VA mortgage, you'll want a minimum credit score of 640. 
  1. Your Credit Score Affects Your Interest Rate and Loan Costs
    Your lender will use your credit score (along with other financial information, like your debt to income ratio and employment status) to decide what interest rate to offer for your loan. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate. A lower interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage. Many lenders also use your credit score when determining the costs associated with a mortgage. For example, buyers with higher credit scores are offered lower PMI (private mortgage insurance) rates. They may also qualify for mortgage programs with minimal mortgage points or lower loan costs. 
  1. There are Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Credit
    Before you start attending showings for Round Rock homes for sale, it's best to take steps to ensure your credit is at its best. Start by making all of your loan payments on time. If you've had late payments in the past, the effects of those late payments will decrease over time. Check the balances on your credit cards. If you're utilizing more than 30 percent of your available credit, pay them down, so your utilization is under the 30 percent mark. Ideally, do this for each card and for your credit card balance as a whole. For example, if you have a $4,000 balance on one card with a $10,000 limit, pay the balance down, so it's less than $3,000. If you have a card with a $2,000 balance and $10,000 credit limit and another with a $5,000 balance with a $10,000 limit, focus on paying the second card down, so it's less $3,000. Thoroughly review your credit reports and dispute any information that's incorrect. If you only have one type of debt on your credit report, consider opening another product to diversify your credit usage. For example, if you only have credit cards, take out an installment loan (and vice versa). 

Are you ready to buy your first home? Contact us today to start your search!

April
5

Behind the Scenes: 5 Things Home Improvement Shows Don't Tell You

Home Improvement Tips

If you're thinking about selling your home, you might be considering some renovations to help you get the highest price possible. Some of the most popular DIY shows may have convinced you that in a matter of days and on a shoestring budget, you can transform your house and have it stand out among other Round Rock homes for sale. Before you jump into any home improvement project, our real estate agents want to make sure you have all the facts and know what home improvement shows don't tell you.

  1. Renovation timelines
    Television may create the illusion that major renovations can be completed in a day or two, but the truth is that most projects take time and leave you without the use of that space for the duration. New kitchen cabinets, for example, will probably take two or three days, but countertops will likely take at least two weeks. A full kitchen remodel will typically mean six to eight weeks with the kitchen out of commission. That also means workers in and out of your home for at least eight hours every day until the work is done.
     
  2. Realistic budgets
    Home improvement shows have sponsors that not only advertise but they also supply materials. Without their contributions, the upgrades featured would be much more expensive. Before embarking on any project, no matter how large or small, create a budget that includes every single item. Even protective materials such as plastic drop cloths should be included. Otherwise, your total cost will be grossly inaccurate. By the way, do you own all the necessary tools? You may be able to save money by renting them, but they are still not completely free. Cheap materials look just as bad as shoddy workmanship, so be careful you are actually adding value to the home.

  3. Skill sets required
    It may look easy on a screen, but if it was, everyone would do their own remodeling, and contractors would be out of business. Even the smallest jobs often require multiple skills. Going back to the kitchen, you may be looking at cabinet makers, tile setters, electricians, plumbers, and painters. Even a licensed contractor will likely subcontract some specialized labor. Don't forget that many home improvements require permits as well as inspections. 

  4. Availability of materials
    If you think you can walk into any big box store and buy all of the materials you need, you're in for a surprise. You may need to wait for weeks for special orders to arrive. You may also have to go to multiple merchants to find everything you need. Before you begin, you should gather everything you're going to need from beginning to end of the project. 

  5. Detailed plans
    It would be impossible to address the issues already described without a detailed plan. Without a clear path, you can easily find yourself in over your head. If you have to hire a contractor to undo mistakes you've made before they start the rest of the work, your costs are going to skyrocket. When you hire an expert, you'll spend a lot of time going over the details of your vision and discussing at length the actual costs as well as your options. 

Whether you are getting ready to buy or sell, our team is here to help you accomplish your real estate goals. Contact us today.

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