General

Turning Foreclosure Homes Into Profit

Do you find yourself attending open houses or looking in the classified ads when you're thinking of upgrading to a new house? You might even have a real estate agent's number handy so you could have them show you new homes. But have you ever considered checking on foreclosure listings? Rather than paying the market price of a new home, you can opt to buy a foreclosure that just needs a little TLC. You might even get a good bargain on the house, ending up with a home that would be worth much more than what you paid for it.

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If you've been following the real estate market trend then you’ve observed the rise in foreclosure inventories. An increase in foreclosures is an opportunity—that is if you're willing to put money and time into purchasing foreclosures to have it rented out or flipped—buying and selling in a short period of time without actually living in the home. Now is a great time to invest in foreclosures, however, just like any type of investment you must do your research and consult an expert before you dive in.

Take note that not every foreclosed property would be a great deal. Profiting from foreclosures can't be guaranteed and if you want to get into the business you must approach the process carefully and always know when to drop the sale. The time that you have to retain the ownership on the purchased foreclosure may vary by the demand for houses in the location. Learning how to profit from a foreclosure requires you to determine how to add value to a property and effectively budget the purchase price and repair to maximize your profit.

There are four things that you should check out before diving into the process of profiting on a foreclosure. First, you should have a list of foreclosed property or properties that have potential. Next, research the area pricing and the demand for real estate properties in the market. Of course, you have to consider your budget from purchasing the foreclosed property to renovating it. Lastly, you have to find a reliable contractor that would take care of all the renovations and ensure that the foreclosed property could be listed back to the market.

Once you've decided to try out profiting from foreclosure properties, here are five things that you need to keep in mind throughout the process:

1. Start Now, Revisit Later

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Even if you're not yet ready to start investing in foreclosures, it's best to prepare ahead of time. Start tracking distressed properties now to give you a practical idea about the workings of the foreclosure process. You can attend foreclosure auctions to see how the buying process works. In these auctions, you can also get a chance to talk to other investors to discover how they have profited from buying and selling foreclosures as well. It may get too overwhelming so you might want to consider finding a knowledgeable local real estate broker who specializes in foreclosures. Some brokers work with banks that have foreclosed homes in their inventories. They could help you find repossessed homes a little more easily than just waiting for another auction.


2. Get Local

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Take advantage of being in the know of foreclosed properties in your area and start preparing before other real estate investigators get wind of the distressed property. Foreclosure properties which have been mentioned in public records, advertisements, and real estate listings attract investors into diving head first to get the deal. Being a resident of the area, you could get dibs on the property, review the price that the investor bought the home for, how long he held the property, the amount it sold for and when it was sold, long before the information becomes available in the county clerk's or country assessor's office.


3. Rent or Sell

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Check out the foreclosure property if it has been vacant for a long time. Chances are, damages may have worsened over time or it was vandalized by the former owners if they have been forced out. Depending on the location of the property, you should find out if the home has been winterized causing bad pipes and other problems. After assessing scopes for fixtures, decide whether you want to buy and rent out the property or repair and sell it as quickly as possible.


4. Calculate for Repairs

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Before the foreclosure sale, it's high time to contact the homeowner of the distressed property. While there is not much competition to deal with at this stage, going with this strategy would have the homeowner give in and get rid of his debt in whatever way he can before the tedious foreclosure process begins. Advanced assessment of the property would allow you to budget for repairs up to a certain degree of cosmetic touch-ups. Take into consideration the hiring of contractors when you plan for repairs.


5. Set Your Limits

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You might get carried away in winning your first bidding war leading to spending more than what you had intended to. Always consider at least 20% in profit when setting a price after bidding and repairs costing estimate. Also, since you're still a beginner, focus on one property at a time and learn to test the waters before venturing on the next opportunity.

 

Foreclosure investments are a fast-paced environment and may make you feel that you have to move quickly to not lose the opportunity. However, if you're just trying out foreclosure investment as your new venture, it would be best to be cautious with your steps to not incur substantial losses on your first try.

The Annual Home Maintenance Checklist: A Guide For New Homeowners

Keeping up with home maintenance tasks can be daunting, especially for new homeowners. It may be hard to accept the fact that sometimes you have to cancel a weekend brunch so you can clean out the gutters and mow the lawn.

While these responsibilities could be frustrating, it’s what you have to do to protect your biggest investment. Staying on top of these tasks can save you from costly repairs later, and can keep your house running as good as new.

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While there are many tasks that homeowners should complete each season, this list outlines the chores you should take care of once a year. If you’re a homeowner who is or will be celebrating the anniversary of your home purchase, it’s a good idea to start off with this to-do list and give your home the TLC it deserves.

 

1. Check and update your smoke alarms, alert systems, and carbon monoxide detectors.

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Alarm systems and smoke detectors are crucial to minimizing damage and saving lives in the event of a fire. Change the batteries of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and ensure that the systems are in working condition.

Now is also a good time to check your fire extinguishers. Make sure you have at least one fire extinguisher and see if it is still within the expiration date.

 

2. Pressure wash.

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One of the best ways to make your home’s exterior look clean is through power washing. Doing so will also minimize the risk of mold growth and infestation, particularly if you do it once a year. Give your house a good scrub by using a garden hose, renting a power washer or hiring a professional cleaner to do the job. Don’t miss out on cleaning the siding, windows, and patio as well to get rid of any grit. For heavily soiled areas, spot-clean them using cleaning materials that won’t harm your plants.

 

3. See if your house needs a freshening up with paint.

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To check if your house’s exterior needs a fresh coat of color, look for signs of chipping paint. New paint will not only give your home a new look, but it will also protect it from water damage and rot. This job is best started in the spring.

 

4. Check your home’s humidity levels.

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The humidity level in your home should be kept at average levels: between 30% and 50% humidity. High humidity is dangerous because it can cause mildew and black mold, while low levels can cause damage such as chipping paint. Low humidity can also make you and your family uncomfortable, causing itchiness and even sore throats! Check your property’s humidity using a hygrometer at least once a year.

 

5. Clean your air filters and air ducts.

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You should clean your air conditioner parts at least once a year to ensure clean air is circulating in your home. You can clean the air filters and air ducts by yourself or hire a maintenance technician to do the job.

 

6. Check for termites and pests.

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For many homeowners, just the thought of having termites in their home can make them cringe, but facing reality is another thing. You should include a termite inspection, which costs no more than $100, in your annual checklist to make sure these pests are not taking over your property.

Likewise, don’t forget to book an appointment with a pest control service once a year. Unless you want your home to be infested with bugs and other critters, you have to include it on your cleaning schedule.

 

7. Clean your tile and grout.

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Cleaning the tile and sealing the grout lines need to be done at least once a year. Not only will it make your home look clean but will help prevent mold growth. While there are many firms that offer professional tile and grout cleaning, you can also do it yourself. You just have to carefully choose the products or materials you’ll use so you won’t damage your tile or prevent further damage.

 

8. Sort out your things and declutter.

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After spending a year or more living in your home, it might surprise you to realizehow much “stuff” has piled up, taking over your storage space. It’s a good thing to sort through your belongings and declutter unnecessary items after you’re finished doing the essential maintenance chores.

The 7-Step Decluttering Guide to Organizing Your Home this New Year

We often talk about starting a home improvement project, like a bathroom or kitchen remodel, because we’re dissatisfied with the house and are looking for ways to make it even better. But what if the first thing that’s hindering us from appreciating our biggest investment is the enormous amount of clutter that we’ve accumulated over the years?

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Decluttering is a difficult thing to do, especially for those who have been planning to downsize or simply move out of their current home. Deciding which items to keep, which to give up, donate, or throw out will never be easy. But too much clutter in our home can lead to chaos that can cost us money, time, and even limit our productivity and concentration.

According to the Ikea Life at Home 2017 survey Beating The Battles, having “too much stuff” was the single biggest cause of stress in the home. And the simple act of choosing which items to keep and which to discard can ultimately free people from guilt and worry and allow them to focus on what really matters most in their lives, even if taking that step is difficult.

New Year is a good time to have a fresh start, so right now is a great time to achieve a more peaceful home by decluttering and organizing your stuff. Here we’ve gathered some of the best techniques and principles to help you declutter so you can appreciate your home more.

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Before starting anything, think about what your goals are and your reasons for decluttering. If you don’t have a clear goal in mind, you’ll start enthusiastically after sorting through a few items, then find yourself losing momentum because you haven’t started with the right mindset. Experts suggest you create your vision first and think things through before you start organizing.

Don’t just say to yourself that you’re going to organize your closet or sort through your cupboard. Instead, think about how you want to maximize your storage space, how you want to store your clothes, or how you can easily get to your preferred herbs and spices when you’re cooking your meals. Take the time to assess your space and understand how you want to organize a particular area in your home.

 
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If you’re still having a hard time deciding where to start, begin with something easy. Get rid of any broken or expired items, especially hair, makeup, and other cosmetic products, old prescriptions, and medicines. The same goes for any food or canned goods in your pantry that are already past their expiration date.

 
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Make it easier for you to focus on your goals by organizing one room or area at a time. Break the job into smaller parts so you won’t get overwhelmed with the task at hand. Try choosing a space that makes you feel uncomfortable — whether it’s your makeup and beauty products taking over your vanity drawer, the shelves crammed with books you don’t have time to read, the pile of messy clothes in your dresser, or the unruly cords and cables in your home office. Taking it item by item will help you get things done in a short amount of time.

 
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Things like gifts, souvenirs, and inherited items can be the hardest things to part with. Putting a great deal of sentimental value on every item we’ve ever received as a gift or every item we’ve ever purchased on a vacation is a trap that we all fall into, and it can be impossible for you to get rid of unnecessary clutter if you don’t learn to let go. Even though these things can be connected to a specific memory in our lives, the fact remains that these are still objects, and while some may be worth keeping forever, it’s worthwhile to examine whether all of those items are still creating a positive effect on your life, or if they’re contributing to your stress.

It’s important to remember that you are not required to keep all the gifts you’ve received in your lifetime. When evaluating an item, determine whether it is really worth keeping. If you can retain the precious memory without keeping the physical object, then it might be wise to let go. You can check these tips by The Spruce to help you get rid of sentimental clutter without feeling guilty.

 
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As you set out to declutter a space in your home, adapt the four-box technique suggested by Becker in BecomingMinimalist.com to help you with this process. Prepare four boxes that will be titled trash, give away, keep, and relocate. As you consider and evaluate each item, try to place them into one of these four categories so it will be easier for you to sort things out later on.

After you’ve finished, you can return and double check all the items in the boxes and then put them back in their proper locations, or think of ways to discard them. You can always donate them, pass them on, give them away to friends and relatives, or sell them for some extra cash.

 
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The biggest pitfalls when organizing are the unending distractions and diversions that will come your way. When you start the task, do your best to ignore any texts, email alerts, or notifications from your social media accounts. Also, avoid the temptation to finish that book you found in a drawer you were cleaning, or review the full menu of a restaurant in that flyer you were supposed to throw out. These little distractions could send you down another path and make you lose focus on your goal. So outsmart these temptations at all costs and remember the tips given above to achieve an organized home.

 
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Many of us just don’t have the time to focus on getting rid of unnecessary items, but we can still manage the issue if we acquire less stuff to begin with. Before bringing a new item into your home, take a hard look at the things you already own. Disorganization could cost you money when you bring home a new item only to realize you already own something similar. When there’s less clutter, you’ll spend less time trying to find things, less time wondering if you already have something, and less money overall when you’re able to find things quickly and know you don’t need a duplicate.


After you’re finished, take a step back and look around. Have you missed any area that still needs attention? Once you’re happy with what you’ve accomplished in your newly organized home, it’s now easier for you to dream of your next home improvement project.

8 Of The Most Unexpected Things US Homeowners Found In Their Properties

The process of selling, buying, and moving into a new home can be very complicated and overwhelming. But on the lighter side, it is also a journey full of fun and exciting discoveries. Part of a homeowner’s discovery and realization is finding their ideal neighborhood, their dream backyard, their perfect kitchen, and a wall full of snakes... Wait, what?!

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Yes, you’ve read it right. As bizarre as it sounds, homeowners from around the world have discovered many strange and unexpected things on their properties. Some may have lived in their home for a couple of months before encountering weird things, while others already owned their home for years before finding things that are impossible to anticipate. Here we reveal some of the strangest discoveries that happened in our own backyard. Well, you may consider them to be a fun and interesting part of real estate—just don’t forget the hard-earned lessons you can pick up along the way.

1. Some serious cash

Well, the first word you can think of is: lucky, isn’t it?

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Artist Josh Ferrin discovered the treasure stashed away in the attic of his home in Bountiful, Utah. When he brought up the discovery—a total of $45,000 in cash and coins—to his family, there was some disagreement on whether they should keep it or return it to its original owners. To teach his two boys the value of honesty, Ferrin returned the money to the previous homeowners despite the thoughts of car and house payments in his head. He says it was a “teachable moment” for his kids that he would never get back again. How cool and sincere was that?

 

2. World War II love letters

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In this digital day and age, sending and receiving handwritten love letters is a practice that can really make your heart melt.

When Zac and Shannon Carter bought a renovated 1970s house in Pensacola, Florida in 2016, the home inspector informed them he discovered a stack of old letters in the original cabinetry. It wasn’t until the Carters moved in that they realized the letters, postmarked from 1948 to 1949, contained a blossoming love story between a World War II veteran and his sweetheart.

They couldn’t help but read the vintage letters and understood that the letters belonged to the original homeowner, veteran William Middleton. Middleton wrote them while he was in school in Georgia after serving in WWII and sent them to a woman named Doreen in Canada. The Carters later learned that the two eventually got married and had children, so they passed on the letters to them to let them read their parents’ wonderful blossoming story.

 

3. An old cemetery

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While the first two discoveries were pleasant surprises, not all homeowners were fortunate enough to encounter such things. This one is quite a good setting for any ghost or haunted story.

Of all the things homeowner Helen Weisensel can find in her century-old home in Jefferson County in Wisconsin, nothing can be as disturbing as unearthing a child’s skull in the basement while they were doing much-needed repairs on its foundation.

They soon found out that her home was built atop an old, long-forgotten cemetery. Archaeologists and local historians even estimated it to be among the earliest burial ground in the county, and more human remains were uncovered.

Subsequently, Weisensel’s nightmare started. She was flooded with pertinent inquiries from her neighbors asking her if she’d experienced weird things happening in her home. And since her remodeling project involved her trying to fix her house and do some serious foundation work, it all became impossible the moment her home was discovered to be an official historic burial ground.

 

4. Mammoth bones

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Unearthing something of a prehistoric significance is already a delight of its own. Well, more so if you made the discovery in your own backyard. When Iowa man John and his two sons went blackberry-picking near a creek on their property in Oskaloosa in 2010, one of his sons noticed what he believed to be a ball in the creek.

That piqued John’s curiosity and interest in archaeology when he realized that the “ball” was no toy—it was actually a 4-foot-long femur of a mammoth dating back as far as 100,000 years ago. That started a historic archaeological event as John’s backyard has become an excavation site, with the University of Iowa’s Museum of Natural History leading the search.

Besides the mammoth’s femur, they had found its feet bones and thoracic ribs. Experts say while it is not unusual to find mammoth fossils in Iowa, it’s a rare find to discover so many bones belonging to the same animal in the same place.

 

5. A wall full of snakes

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Here we have Ben and Amber Sessions, who found what seemed to be their picture-perfect five-bedroom rural home in Rexburg, Idaho. It seemed like a real deal since it was listed for just over $100,000.

Until they found a snake in their yard, which is no big deal since they help keep mice away. But soon after moving, they found dozens more every day. Ben even found over 40 snakes in his yard in a single day. Soon, they also spent sleepless nights listening to what seemed like slithering noises on the walls.

When Ben removed a panel of siding it revealed dozens of snakes living in their crawlspace. Their new dream home was in fact what’s known by locals as “The Snake House.” It was sitting atop an enormous snake hibernaculum, a kind of den where the snakes gather in large numbers to hibernate in winter. What’s more troubling is that they also found out that their tap water (which has a curious taste and smell) was infested with snake musk and feces, a good way for anyone to catch salmonella and other diseases. The Sessions also referred to their home as the “Satan’s Lair.”

The home also had a distraught history of owners leaving in haste after finding out the snaky problem. It turned out that the only way to neutralize the issue of a snake den beneath the home was to raise the entire house off its current foundation and lay down a new concrete foundation beneath it. But that job would cost a massive amount, even more than $100,000 at that time. So in 2009, the Sessionses also ended up abandoning their home and had to file for bankruptcy.

According to real estate experts, the Sessions’ story is a valuable lesson for all home buyers to give importance to due diligence when searching for your dream home.

 

6. A hidden room full of toxic black mold

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Back in 2005, young couple Jason and Kerri Brown with their 2-year-old daughter found a sweet deal in a form of a five-bedroom, two-bath house that was in foreclosure for $75,000 in the cozy town of Greenville, South Carolina.

As they started renovations on the fixer-upper, they removed bookcases in a bedroom when it revealed a passageway that led to a hidden room—a secret corridor!

Well, it can be an exciting discovery for any new homeowner especially if it looks like a passageway towards a hidden world like Narnia. However, it turned out the secret room has a serious mold problem and that the house is contaminated with toxic black mold. What seemed to be a pleasant surprise turned into a nightmare for the young couple.

Inside the room, the first thing they found was a chilling note from the previous owner saying: “You Found It! Hello. If you're reading this, then you found the secret room. I owned this house for a short while and it was discovered to have a serious mold problem. One that actually made my children very sick to the point that we had to move out." It was from George Leventis, who’d lived there for a while. After discovering the problem, since he has little money and was unwilling to take the matter to court, he stopped paying the mortgage and moved out. But not without leaving the note to serve as some warning.

The Browns have taken it very seriously and hired an environmental engineer to do further testing. The house’s toxicity levels turned out to be so high they have to permanently cancel their move-in plans and took the serious matter to court.

 

7. A live artillery shell

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There’s the story about our love letters dating back in WWII. Then there’s this real bomb scare for a family who lived in Goshen, Indiana. Wally and Linda DeForests found a live mortar round in their basement as a kind of a housewarming gift after moving into their home in 2010.

Linda initially discovered the approximately foot-long military-grade weapon sitting in a cubby space while she was hanging things on the wall. She even told her husband she found a “torpedo.”

The DeForests have had help identifying what it was from their consulted family friend and army veteran Joshua Blackenship, who kindly explained that it was either a round for a mortar or a lightweight anti-tank weapon.

The family contacted the Elkhart Police Department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit to come and take it away. Some police officers discerned the old mortar round may have been from the Korean or Vietnam War. Well, it’s a quite a unique way for the DeForests to be introduced in their new neighborhood and be welcomed in their new home.

 

8. Faberge figurine

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Since we started with finding some hard cash, let’s cap off this story with another amazing find. It’s a common thing for many homeowners to display porcelain figurines in their homes, but do you have any idea how much does one figurine cost? A particular figurine was found stashed in an attic in upstate New York of descendants of a gallery owner who bought it in 1934. The tiny statute was unlike no other because it was one of only 50 in existence and was crafted by renowned Russian jeweler Faberge. It was studded in precious jewels and diamond and was sold at an auction for a whopping $5.2 million! Dated to 1912, the particular figurine depicts a personal bodyguard to royalty and was given by Russian Czar Nicholas II to his wife.

 

Bottom Line

Let’s incorporate the lesson we mentioned in the Snake House story: remember the importance of due diligence. Home buyers should “do their homework” before buying what they’d like to be their dream home. While it can be a time-consuming process, you can ensure that you’ll get the most out of your biggest investment. Many unwanted surprises can be avoided by asking the right questions, hiring an experienced local real estate agent, and giving importance to a home inspection. Following many of those established pieces of real estate advice can help lead you to your ideal property and avoid ending up in a house full of snakes (Yikes!)

5 Things You Must Do To Prepare For A Hurricane

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Here are five steps you must take to make sure you are ready for this hurricane season:

1. Create an evacuation plan and discuss it with your family

Create an evacuation plan and discuss it with your family to make sure they know the evacuation routes and destinations. Also take note of the local emergency shelters or evacuation centers and make sure that your plan includes the latest emergency contact numbers. Pet owners should also have an emergency plan for their pets.

2. Prepare an emergency supply kit

Assemble a basic storm kit and keep them in a safe spot so they’re available in case you need them, especially once you evacuate. Your emergency supply kit should get you and your family for three days even without electricity and other basic services. It should include necessities like water and food, flashlight, batteries, a first-aid kit, extra cash, blankets, clothing, and others. Also, consider the special needs of your family members and add them to your kit.

3. Collect and secure important documents and other valuables

Store your home insurance policies, ownership or mortgage documents, other important papers, family pictures, and other valuables in waterproof containers or a safe-deposit box. That way, they won’t be damaged if a hurricane causes flooding and you can carry it with you if you need to evacuate. Once disaster strikes, remember that you will need your insurance papers as proof for claims and assistance. You will also have to prove that the affected property is yours. Likewise, make sure you know what types of damage your policy will cover and confirm that it is up to date.

4. Shut off utilities once authorities told you so

Turn off water, gas, and electricity once local officials told you to do so to prevent damage to your home or within the community. You should also unplug all small appliances in case there’s a power surge. Moreover, set the freezer and refrigerator in the coldest setting. That way, your food will stay cold a little longer and you can preserve perishable items you will need in case there’s a power outage.  

5. Bring in all outdoor objects and furniture

Once a hurricane warning is issued, bring inside all your outdoor objects — backyard furniture, toys, garden tools, bicycles, garbage cans, etc. These things are not tied down and can be moved by high winds, cause additional damage, or possibly hurt someone. Secure them in a safe place in your home but away from stairs and exits.


How To Properly Deal With The Threat Of Foreclosure

The prospect of losing your home to foreclosure can be heartbreaking, and dealing with it can be equally devastating for you and your family. After all, when the bank decides to foreclose on your home, your credit report may be permanently stained -- leaving your financial future scarily uncertain. On top of this, you will be challenged to find a new home and make necessary lifestyle adjustments.

Given the overwhelming amount of work it entails, dealing with a foreclosure can be a grueling endeavor for a lot of homeowners. However, rising above this situation is perfectly possible if you have the right information.

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Most people fall into the trap of believing that nothing can be done after your mortgage goes into default. But is important to note that a default status is not a death sentence. Reports show that a large number of homes are saved even after the dreaded default status, with very minimal damage done to the homeowners’ credit.

In short, THERE IS HOPE!

Here are few things you have to know before blindly surrendering to the proceedings:

1) Know your rights.

When your home is a candidate for foreclosure, a sufficient understanding of your rights will be a crucial tool in keeping your home, or at the very least limiting the damage done to your credit and overall financial health.

More often than not, you can negotiate with the bank for a modification in your loan. Assuming that your main goal is to keep your house, a small hit on your credit file should be acceptable.

Lenders are also required to follow state laws, and most states require a written notice of default given to the homeowner. The notice should stipulate a certain amount of time for the homeowner to make good on his or her late payments. This means coming up with a plan to gradually settle all amounts due, including interest, penalties, and any other charges allowed by the law or the mortgage.

2) Understand that the banks are not after your home.

It may appear that the banks are working against you in order to get a hold of your home, but this is definitely not the case. The opposite actually holds true, as most banks do not like dealing with such situations. Lenders are in the business of making money through lending--not by reselling foreclosures.

It is in their best interests to keep you in your house, as long as you are willing to remedy the situation within a certain amount of time. Foreclosure is their last resort as much as it is yours.

3) You have to pay for your entire mortgage in order to keep your home.

The default status notification is a tool to communicate urgency--and will most likely include a requirement along the lines of you having to pay your mortgage in full. It is important to be aware, though, that this “acceleration clause” does not imply that you are not allowed to negotiate. Again, when you are willing to cooperate as a homeowner to get your mortgage back in good standing, the lender is most likely to take you up on your offer as long as it is law-abiding and reasonable.


Important note:

If you firmly believe that there has been a mistake (i.e. the amount that the bank/lender is claiming is inaccurate), and that you shouldn’t be receiving a default notice, you are allowed to clearly explain in writing why you think the lender is mistaken. Back your claim with the necessary documents that can prove your stand. Even if the explanation is not accepted, you still have the right to go to court along with your evidence. When it comes to this, the documentation you sent to the lender will be a very useful tool.

7 Advantages of Buying Your First Home in Your 30s

When is the right time to buy your first home? It’s a common thing to be pressured by family and peers in considering the right age to buy your own property. Some people are eager and ready enough to fulfill this American dream early while in their 20s. But others may want to take their time—nice and slow—and buy a house after they reached their 30s. For many people, this age means becoming more responsible and mature enough in dealing with their actions, decisions, as well as their finances.

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Here are some of the reasons why it makes sense to buy your first home in your 30s:

1. You’re secure enough in your job to make big financial commitments.

Job security is an important factor that lenders take into account when borrowers apply for a mortgage loan. They want to see a solid history of employment and a steady flow of income that will help pay for the loan. While it’s never easy to find a job that you can see yourself doing for a long time, many of those who are in their 20s are still figuring out what they really want to do. Many are still hopping from one job to another to look for “the one” and settle in the industry that they really love. And while they’re in the early stages of their career, it may be difficult for them to provide a stable work history. Those career-building years also typically mean they will be looking for a promotion or a job change that might require them to relocate.

For many people who are in their 30s, they’ve already reached the point where they have a secure job and are gradually establishing their careers. That puts them at a greater advantage when they take a plunge into homeownership. They are likely making much more than they were in their 20s, which makes big purchases like buying a home less difficult.


2. You’ve fully learned the value of money.

While in your 20s, you must have spent most of your money on many unnecessary expenditures—buying specialty coffees, eating out on new restaurants on weekends, or getting new gadgets every now and then. Well, we’ve all enjoyed that phase of our lives anyway. But as you grow older, you realize that those things won’t really help you build up your wealth. You’ve now learned how to handle your money responsibly and become more conscious on where you spend your hard-earned cash. You treat yourself only once a month and on special occasions, which helps to gradually build up your savings.

Being in your 30s likely means you’ve already paid down most of the debts you accumulated in your younger years, like student loans, car loans, and credit card debt. It’s important that you’ve reduced your debts first before making bigger financial commitments such as a home purchase. Banks will be more willing to approve you for a loan if they see that you handled your debt payments successfully and that they don’t eat up most of your income.


3. You’ve built up a good credit score needed to apply for a mortgage loan.

Your credit score is crucial when applying for a mortgage loan because lenders will use it to evaluate your capability as a borrower. For many young people, it’s a common scenario to get rejected for a mortgage because of a bad credit score. Waiting until your 30s to buy your first home gives you time to build up your credit so it will only show what lenders would like to see. And as you grow older and wiser enough in handling your finances carefully, there’s a good chance that you’ve established a good credit history which makes you an ideal borrower.


4. You have saved enough for a down payment.

Buying your first home in your 30s gives you more time to put cash aside specifically for a down payment. Putting in the ideal 20 percent down will put you in a good position to qualify for a low-interest mortgage loan. And while you can buy a home even without putting 20 percent down through various grants and programs available, you still need to ensure that you have a significant amount of money that you can use for other costs associated with homeownership. There’s the closing costs, repairs and maintenance, HOA fees, homeowners insurance, etc. The last thing you would want is to be house poor when you’re already a homeowner.

Those who are solidly in their 30s are more likely to achieve that significant amount of money given their years of earning and saving. You will not exhaust all your funds after spending a large amount and you will also be able to replenish your savings and have enough funds for any unexpected emergency, health issues, and travel and leisure expenses.


5. You know (more or less) where you want to settle down.

After years of renting and moving in several cities or states, by 30, you may already have decided where you would want to settle down and raise your family. You already have a clearer idea of what you’re looking for in a long-term home. It can be somewhere near your current workplace, or in a suburb where you can have a house with a bigger backyard.


6. You have a clearer view of your priorities.

Similar to deciding where you want to settle down, when you are in your 30s, you are now fully aware of your priorities. It’s by this time that you must have realized that you really want to be a homeowner, which can help you build stability and equity. You must have decided about the type of house you want to buy, planned out your budget, and reviewed all other aspects related to homeownership. If you’re not the type to tackle necessary DIY projects, then you know that you need to buy a move-in ready home or a new construction. This can be fairly difficult for young people who are still weighing their priorities and figuring out their life commitments.


7. You’re knowledgeable enough about life after years of experiences.

Like what they always say: experience is the best teacher. As you get older, you also get wiser in knowing many of the technical things you didn’t know you’d care about when you’re relatively younger. Your young and carefree years may be going away faster than you think, but surely there are valuable lessons gained along the way. Terms like inflation, insurance, real estate, mortgage, and whatnots are just some of the things you will start to care about.
And as you meet different people from all walks of life and take on more responsibilities, you also learn how to communicate effectively. You’ll know when to agree, prove your point, or when to compromise, which is crucial when negotiating for the house you want. Talk about adulting!

 

They say age doesn't matter. Well, maybe it does when it comes to buying a house, which is a major financial decision that needs to be carefully considered and planned. Buying a home before reaching your 30s is definitely a great achievement as long as you’re handling your finances well. But waiting a few more years until in your 30s is a better idea if you want to be as prepared as possible, especially in building up your credit and savings. Think of it as your edge compared to those who rushed things to buy a home. Aside from that, you must have already read hundreds of tips and guides about real estate and the home buying process. Those preparations definitely help you become all set to have a place you can call your own.

5 Things That Might Cost You If You Hide Things From Your Landlord

As a renter, there’s nothing more valuable than maintaining a good relationship with your landlord or property manager. One way you can keep a positive connection is by being honest and upfront right from the start. However, one surefire way to form a negative relationship is to lie or hide things from them. And because you will usually be found out anyway, you’ll have to deal with the consequences of your actions sooner or later. This could make your life more stressful in the long run.

Some of the most common things tenants hide from their landlord include pets, a roommate, damage or problems to the property, running a business, or even DIY repairs or improvements. While many of these things might not seem like a big deal to you as a renter, there are reasons why landlords choose to enforce these rules to their unit in the first place. Here are some of the things that might cost you if you’ve been dishonest to your landlord:

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1. MONEY

Hiding things from your landlord can definitely cost you additional expenses. If you are

lucky enough, you will be simply charged with a fine and be required to pay extra rent or deposits as outlined in your lease. If your landlord discovers that you’re secretly keeping a furry friend—which could be against your apartment’s pet policy—the management company could slap you with a hefty fine or charge back pet rent and deposit. In one of the worst-case scenarios, they may even ask to remove your pet and may consider terminating your lease. And that security deposit you’re holding onto that you can put towards a new place may be forfeited.

2. A PLACE TO LIVE

More than a simple fine, you can also get evicted if you break rental contract rules.Landlords have their reasons when they say they don’t want a pet or an unlisted roommate in their rental property. Your pets may not be covered by their insurance, and unlisted people may not be held liable if they caused damage to the property. It is simply not worth it to skirt the rules and breach the terms of your lease if it would mean you’ll be out of place to live. To avoid a stressed out life brought about by the ramifications of breaking your rental contract, do some research before you sign the lease.

3. CREDIT SCORE

If you’re still hoping to own a house as part of your American Dream, this can be one of the most important things you don’t want to risk while you’re still a tenant. If your landlord decides to evict you for breaking the terms of your lease, it can seriously affect your credit rating. And having a good credit score is certainly crucial for finding a new rental place or getting approved for a mortgage loan. It plays a big role especially when time comes for you to buy a home. The eviction may cause a serious drop in your credit score and it will likely appear on future tenant screening reports.

4. LEGAL ACTION

We know it’s something we all want to avoid, but hiding things from your landlord could even be a cause for a lawsuit if things escalate further. Some states allow landlords to sue tenants for damages or repairs they caused during their occupancy. It’s even a more likely scenario if your pet accidentally bites someone or your additional roommate incurred damage to the unit. As the renter, you have the option to countersue, but just think of how much time and money it might cost you during the process. Your landlord may also choose to take legal action if you refuse to pay fines or bills to cover the damages to the property.

5. YOUR REPUTATION

Aside from paying for additional expenses, losing your place to live, and risking an attractive credit score, what about your reputation? And we’re talking here about you losing a good rental reference, which is necessary when it’s time for you to apply to a new apartment. Even if your landlord is kind enough to let you stay on his property and only charges you with a fine, he/she will still likely bring up the dishonesty with your prospective landlords. Or the property’s management company could give you a negative review every time they areasked about your performance and reputation as a tenant. Without strong references from past landlords, this could make it rather difficult to secure a nice place that you actually want to live in.

 

Bottom Line

While rules differ from state to state and the consequences of your actions depend on the severity of the situation and the rental management style, being honest to your landlord is still the best policy. Do some research on the rental property before you sign the lease. If you want to move in with your pet or have been planning to get one soon, choose a pet-friendly unit where you’ll need to pay the necessary pet deposit and extra charges. If you have a friend who wants to temporarily move in, get written permission beforehand to know if it’s even possible. Likewise, read your rental agreement carefully before you dare break the rules. At the end of the day, always contemplate the lesson of the old maxim: “Honesty is the best policy.”

12 Telltale Signs It’s Already Time For You to Move

According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2016, more than 42 percent of people said they moved for a housing-related reason. Many of them either wanted a new home or a better apartment. Other reasons people cited for moving include family and employment-related reasons. “The decision to move can be personal and contextual. What causes one person to move might not be enough to convince another,” says David Ihrke, a survey statistician in the Journey-to-Work and Migration Statistics Branch.

So whether you’re looking for a new job in another city or just plain sick of your neighbors, there can be plenty of good and practical reasons why it could be time for you to move.

Here are 12 common signs to help you decide whether it’s already time for a fresh start:

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1. You need a bigger space.

This is a common dilemma for many first-time homeowners who live in starter homes. You don’t remember your house to be this small in the first place, and it served you well. But now you realize you just don’t have that much storage space, things are getting a bit tight in your household, and you’re now often waiting in line for the bathroom (especially in busy weekday mornings!). If you find yourself in one or more of these situations, then it’s an obvious sign your house has become too small for your needs and that it’s time for you to move. Especially if nothing has changed even after you cleared out your clutter and reorganized your home. A remodel can also be an option, but if you find it’s not even possible in your current home and it can even be costly, then it’s high time you move to a bigger place.

2. Your family is expanding.

If you’re planning to have more kids and/or pets, it might make more sense to move to a larger home to accommodate your growing family. Because it will always come to the point when your sweet and nice two-bedroom bungalow won’t be able to carry the load anymore. You’ll definitely be needing more space—whether it’s a big backyard, individual rooms for your children, extra rooms for work and play areas, extra bathrooms, and even a bigger kitchen. Because of these reasons, selling your current home to move to a bigger one is often a logical solution. Also, there can be various aspects you want to add as you begin a new house search, like moving in a great school district and near pet-friendly parks.

3. There’s just too much empty space.

Another scenario: your grown-up children have moved out, leaving you and your spouse in your empty nest. There are too many unoccupied rooms that you don’t need. Yet, you’re having trouble keeping up with the maintenance and demands of your spacious home. For empty nesters, it can be a fairly difficult decision to move out. After all, every part of your humble abode holds too many fond memories. However, downsizing is also a great reason to sell. Decluttering and moving to a smaller home can also be rewarding in many ways. There will be lower maintenance costs, lower utility bills, and less time cleaning the house, which means you’ll have more time to do what you love and engage in new hobbies.

4. There’s a change in your relationship.

A change in your relationship status might also mean a time for a change of place. If things are going well with your significant other and you decide to move in together, your humble condo or apartment may already be too small for two. You and your partner will definitely need a bigger space for your clothes and other belongings. If your closet space is barely enough for your own clothes, then there’s no way it can accommodate your partner’s as well. Otherwise, if the relationship is getting shaky and you’re both starting to be indifferent (we’re sorry to hear that), then it may be time to reconsider and move out for good.

5. Other family commitments

In life, there can be various family commitments that will require you to make a move—maybe you need to take care of a sick or aging parent, your partner needs a job transfer, or you really need to move near your in-laws so they can help take care of the kids while you work. Since it’s family-related, just try to look at the brighter side of things and see what you can look forward to in your potential relocation.

6. Your financial situation changed.

Whether it’s turning for the good or for the worse, a change in your financial situation will also prompt you to decide if it’s already time to move. If you’re always stressing out about utility bills and a hefty mortgage and it’s taking a toll on you and your bank account, then moving to a smaller and more affordable home may put you in a less stressful financial situation. It may also be an only option if you were unlucky to have lost a job or lose a significant amount of money.

Likewise, it’s very fortunate if your financial standing has improved—especially if your career is steadily improving, you received a raise, or you landed a higher-paying job. It’s also a time to think whether you want an upgrade and live in a nicer home in a better neighborhood (perhaps it’s something you’ve always dreamed of and worked hard to achieve). While you still have the options to renovate your current home, if those renovations will actually cost you more and will give you problems along the way, moving in a new home is a better idea. You may also find that there are features that you can’t easily add in your current home however you want to, like a bigger backyard, central air conditioning and heating, or a modern kitchen.

7. It would cost you less to move to a new house rather than to keep repairing your current home.

And speaking of renovations, it might be helpful to take a step back and examine your finances if the work you’re putting in is already too much. Despite the fact that you have already put too many repairs and DIY work in your beloved home, it’s now time to think how it affects your wallet and your overall stress level. See if the repair costs of your current home are eating up your hard-earned cash and whether it will be more practical to move to a new home that needs less upkeep. It’s especially crucial if you live in a fairly old home and your repair costs are slowly getting out of control. Seriously consider whether the costs already outweigh the emotional attachment you have with it.  

8. Your neighborhood is in decline or you just don’t like it anymore.

If your neighborhood’s quality is starting to decline and it has lost its former reputation and charm, it can be a very compelling reason for you to move. Anyone who’s experienced the home buying process would have encountered the real estate mantra: location, location, location. Well, the importance of location should not be underestimated even when you’re already a homeowner. It’s now time for you to consider if your once good and welcoming neighborhood is now showing signs of going for the worse—increasing crime rates or a recent spike in police activity, dogs barking loudly at night, unruly neighbors, increased pollution and other environmental hazards. If your neighborhood is already becoming too dangerous and/or unbearable to live in, it might be a good idea to relocate as quickly as possible before it gets harder to rent or sell your place. There’s nothing more important than living in a safe and secure neighborhood. You need to also consider the fact that the value of homes in bad neighborhoods can also decline, including your home.

9. You desire a different climate.

If you never seemed to stop complaining about the weather all year round, it’s also a good reason for you to seriously consider relocating. Are you getting tired of weathering the endless cold and snow (and shoveling snow on your driveway) all these years? You’re probably already dreaming of living in a city with a sunny and warm climate. Or maybe you’re already frustrated with the never-ending heat. The thought of living in a new city with a more pleasant climate is a desirable factor for many people to move.

10. Your commute is slowly killing you.

If you live far away from work and your commute time is already killing you, isn’t it time for you to consider selling and move? Just think: commuting to and from the office takes so much of your money, gas, and precious hours every day. Your time could have been better spent with your family and loved ones, or in doing more important things. Studies have already established the benefits of a shorter commute to a person’s health and well-being. Moving closer to work will also give you more time for sleep and relaxation. If your current job is looking secure in the long-term run, there’s no other reason why you can’t start a new house search and pack up.

11. There’s a job opportunity in another city.

Likewise, getting a new job or the need for a job transfer is also a common reason why people move. Maybe you’ve been given a promotion or an opportunity to further develop your career, or you’re moving into another city where there are more opportunities available for your specific industry. Whatever it is, employment-related reasons remain as one of the most popular and perhaps one of the most exciting reasons why people relocate.

12. You want to experience suburban living.

Are you one of the many city dwellers who are already tired of living in the so-called concrete jungle? Then perhaps living in a more peaceful suburb is captivating enough for you to want to move. Many couples and young families choose to move into the ‘burbs every year because of many factors, including safer neighborhoods and tight-knit communities, lower cost of living, and great school districts. Not to mention that houses there tend to have bigger square footage and more outdoor space compared to houses of the same price located in the city.

10 Thoughtful and Heartwarming Gift Ideas for First-time Homeowners

The spring real estate market is already here. Despite the strong competition, it’s a great time for home buyers to score their dream home because of high market inventory. And soon, there will be fresh batches of buyers who have just finished closing and will soon be moving.

Purchasing a new home is a big milestone for anyone, so welcome your friend or loved one to their new life with a thoughtful housewarming gift. It could be something practical, sentimental, or anything in between. Remember that they can have a list of things they are going to need for their new home but they might have a tight budget after paying the down payment and other costs, so a nice thoughtful gift will be appreciated.

In case you need help in coming up with ideas, we’ve collected some of the best gifts you can give to new homeowners. If you’re still in doubt about what to choose, remember that it will always be the thought that counts.

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1. Fresh flowers or a plant in a beautiful vase

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Who wouldn’t love smelling a lovely bouquet of fresh flowers, especially if you’ve been surrounded by boxes and packages in the last few days? Brighten up their new abode with some colorful blooms that will be more attractive if you put them in a beautiful vase that new homeowners would love to keep. Studies have long established that flowers can help decrease anxiety and worries, so they can definitely help reduce moving-related stress. If you want to give something that will last longer than a bouquet, pick out a plant that is low-maintenance but could still add life to an otherwise empty space. Gift a succulent (which is a growing trend nowadays) in a cute vase, or go for a good luck bamboo or a snake plant.

2. A welcome mat

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A welcome mat can certainly make a new home feel pleasant and welcoming. Perhaps this is something they were planning to buy later, so you’d be doing them a nice favor by giving this simple yet thoughtful gift. You can always get something plain and basic. But if you want to make a lasting impression, go for a custom-made mat with their initials, a fun saying, or a quote that you know the homeowner would love. Yes, it will be better to pick up something beyond those that say “Welcome!”

3. Gift certificates or gift cards

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There’s nothing more wonderful than receiving gift certificates for a certain restaurant or service. Since a new homeowner may still be overwhelmed with a lot of things to do, help them take a break by giving them a gift card for a nearby coffee shop or restaurant. It will allow them to get more acquainted with their neighborhood and discover new weekend favorites. Since packing and moving all require hard work, you could give them a certificate for a massage and spa to help them relax after all the hard work.

4. Tool kit/toolbox set

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Being a homeowner means getting ready for important home maintenance and repairs (as well as the costs!), so give them a set of essential hand tools, including a hammer, measuring tape, screwdriver, wrench, pliers and such. A toolkit can be especially useful for those who are moving to their very first home and have not immediately thought of acquiring most of these basics. You could also gift a humble set of gardening tools if you know the new homeowner has a green thumb and is now itching to tend to their garden during this spring season.

5. A spa-like gift set

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Scented candles and oil diffusers are one of the best housewarming gifts due to their aromatherapy properties. Candles can evoke feelings of warmth and relaxation and can be a nice addition to a new home. Choose a fragrance that the new homeowner loves and could help them relax, like lavender, vanilla, or eucalyptus. You can even personalize these candles by attaching a card or putting a lovely rustic packaging for that stylish look, then bundle them with a nice set of bath towels and aromatic soaps to complete that perfect spa-like gift set.

6. A fun household game

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There’s no stress a fun game couldn’t relieve, especially for a young family who just moved in. It’s especially perfect for anyone who’s invited friends over to their new place. Bring in fun card games like Cards Against Humanity and Uno, or classic board games like Scrabble and Monopoly, that will surely be loved by the new homeowner and enjoyed by everyone.

7. A trinket dish or any lovely home decor

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Because not all gifts should have a functional purpose, why not give a trinket dish or any stylish home decor for a new homeowner who also aims to make his/her home “instagrammable.” Trinket dishes, decorative plates and bowls, and even marble coasters would look beautiful on a tabletop, mantel, or desk. Choose a decor with a natural but elegant design, and perhaps made out of unique materials like exquisite wood or marble.

8. Freshly baked goods and sweets

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Who can resist the smell of freshly baked goods and sweets? Especially if the homeowner has a sweet tooth, you can bake a fresh batch of sweets yourself and bring them over. Or, if you’re not the type who loves to bake homemade goodies, head to a local bakery near their new place or pick up something from their favorite bakery in their old neighborhood. The aroma of those baked goods can certainly evoke special memories and make everything slightly better.

9. Cooking spices

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Since cooking spices and herbs are a staple in every pantry, why not give a starter set for the new homeowner, especially if he/she also enjoys cooking. It’s both a flavorful and essential gift for any home cook. There are spice gift boxes already available in major supermarkets, so you can just wrap them up in lovely ribbons before giving them as gifts. If you’re a lover of homemade gifts, you can also get ideas online to help you create the perfect DIY spice mixes.

10. Cozy blanket

A home wouldn’t be complete without a cozy blanket. And since a first-time homeowner can never have too many of those, it can still be appreciated especially on cold nights where you only want to snuggle down and relax with friends and loved ones. Include a decorative or trendy pillow and you’ll be wishing a good night’s sleep to the homeowner who, after what could be years of house-hunting and surviving the stressful closing, finally have a place they can really call their own.

 

If you’re a home buyer or a new homeowner, you might as well share this with your family and friends, too! That way, they’ll have an idea of what to give you on your future housewarming party. Cheers and Happy Housewarming wishes in advance!