Can I Refinance My Mortgage?

Refinancing a mortgage is a powerful tool that can help you to save money on your home payments. Refinancing your mortgage takes advantage of your positive payment history and may enable you to lock in lower interest rates, obtain more agreeable repayment terms, or lower the amount you pay each month. You may even be able to add in the cost of needed home repairs as part of your new mortgage loan.

As with any loan, you have to qualify for a refinance. There are a number of factors that can influence whether you are able to refinance your home loan, including things like the value of your home, how much you still owe, what your credit score is and how able you are to repay the loan. It can be more difficult to refinance in periods of economic turmoil, but even then, it isn’t impossible.

How Refinancing Works

While it’s pretty common for people to talk about refinancing a mortgage, not everyone understands exactly what’s involved with a refinance. Though it’s typically talked about as if it were a loan modification, a refinance is usually a new loan that pays off and replaces the original mortgage. The refinance loan has its own interest rate and repayment terms, typically based on the amount that’s remaining on your home purchase. It is possible to do what is known as “cash out” refinancing, however, increasing the amount that you owe to take advantage of home equity and get cash for major purchases, debt consolidation or other expenses.

While you can refinance with the same lender that issued your mortgage, this isn’t actually required in most cases. Many homeowners shop around at different lenders to make sure that they get the best possible deal on their refinance loan. While this won’t always get you a substantially better deal on a loan, in some cases the time spent comparing lenders can result in significant savings.

Major Refinancing Considerations

There are a number of things that can affect the deal you get on a refinance or if you even qualify for a refinance loan at all. Some of these are well known and will affect pretty much any loan you might try to take out. Your credit score can have an impact, as can your debt-to-income ratio and the stability of your job. The remaining balance on your mortgage versus the value of your home can also affect your ability to refinance.

This can make things a bit more difficult if you’ve spent time out of work or laid off due to factors outside of your control; you’ll need to be able to explain these breaks to lenders and prove that you have the means to repay the loan. Economic unrest may also make some banks hesitant to issue as many large loans, meaning that your credit score and income will have to be a bit higher than usual to net a good deal on a loan. This won’t apply to all lenders, of course, but the fact that this can have an effect is important to keep in mind when shopping around for a refinance.

Is It a Good Time to Refinance?

Deciding whether it’s the right time to refinance depends a lot on you and your personal situation. Some people refinance to get their finances under control or to cover needed house repairs, so these reasons will have at least some influence on the timing of the loan. If you’re not under this sort of pressure, then you have a bit more freedom to pick your timing. It never hurts to shop around and check on possible deals, though if you find that you’re having trouble finding lenders willing to work with you or aren’t seeing the money-saving deals you want, then you always have the option to wait for rates (and possibly your situation) to improve.

Finding the Help You Need

A refinance is only as good as the rates and terms you can find. Why not make sure that you get the greatest chance of finding the perfect loan to refinance your mortgage with? With HomeKeepr, you can find pros in your area that can help you get the best deal on a refinance while making sure you have everything you need to qualify. Sign up for a free account today to be on your way to a better loan tomorrow.


Posted on July 2, 2020 at 6:28 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Is Ring Safe to Use In My Home?

When it first hit the market, the Ring doorbell system seemed like a great way to keep your home safe. Not only do the cameras on the doorbell let you see who’s at the door, they also let you check to see who has come to visit when you aren’t at home. You can even use the video recorded by Ring to see if a missing package got delivered or to try and figure out who put that pink flamingo in your yard.In the past few years, however, there have been some concerns about the safety of these video doorbells. Some reports suggest that the doorbells can be hacked, and certain groups have raised privacy concerns centered around how the doorbells operate. If you’re wondering how legitimate these issues are and whether Ring is safe for you to use in your house, here are some things to consider.

How Ring Works

Ring doorbells are smart devices that provide you with a video camera unit by your front door. A motion detector on the unit alerts you that there is someone approaching the door, giving you the option to see them as well as hear what they say and even talk back to them. Unlike old-school doorbell intercoms, Ring connects to your home network and to the cloud so that you can access video and audio regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. Video clips are even shareable if you desire. Given its popularity, in recent years Ring has expanded to offer full-home security options and even smart lighting as well.

Ring Hacking Concerns

One of the big safety concerns that people have regarding Ring is that there have been cases reported where a hacker or other unwanted third party has gained access to the Ring units in someone’s home or to their cloud-based video vault. An exploit in the Ring software was also discovered wherein, in certain cases, details about your home network (including the access password) could be broadcast by the Ring unit in unencrypted plain text; if a hacker were able to get access to this broadcast, they would be able to log on to your network, and potentially access the computers and other devices that were also connected.

Ring and Privacy Issues

On top of the hacking concerns, the fact that Ring begins recording video in front of your house when motion is detected raised some concerns that it might violate people’s privacy. The fear was that even people who weren’t approaching your home could be captured on film if they were walking by when the camera was activated or if the motion sensor was able to detect movement beyond the boundaries of your property. For those who worry about surveillance or are afraid that videos of them might be shared without their knowledge or consent, this makes Ring-related privacy issues a very real concern.

Is Ring Safe?

The concerns that people have about Ring units being hacked or invading their privacy when out in public are legitimate, though for the most part they remain a very small problem. The issue with Ring broadcasting information in plain text was caught before it could be exploited and has been patched, and the company has instituted additional login security measures to help prevent unauthorized access to accounts. And while there is the potential for Ring cameras to pick up motion outside of a user’s property, its sensors have a fairly limited range and should only be able to detect motion relatively close to your front door.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any concerns to using Ring, of course. Hacking concerns can be reduced by making sure that both your home network and any devices that connect to it are secured with strong passwords. You should also take care to position cameras and motion detectors so that they don’t face your neighbor’s house, and use caution when setting up devices like these if you have a very small yard. With a little care, however, these devices should be safe to use.

Keeping Your Home Secure

Home security is a serious concern, and it’s important that you can trust the devices you use to secure your home. If you’re in need of a more professional security solution, check out HomeKeepr. Sign up for a free account today and we can help you find the security pros that you need to select and install devices that are both safe to use, and trustworthy and reliable when you need them.


Posted on June 15, 2020 at 6:41 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

Making Your DIY Shopping List

DIY projects are a great way to keep yourself busy during social distancing while also giving you a chance to hone certain skills or take care of a few things around the house. With some DIY projects you’ll already have everything you need at home, making it a simple matter of getting everything together and actually doing it. With other projects, though, you’ll have to venture out to pick up a few things. This can be stressful during a period of social distancing.  You need to be conscious of both exposing yourself or others to the virus, so it’s important that you follow CDC guidelines and guidance from your local government for your community.  You’re also going to want to make sure you’re ready with a list of everything you need before you head out the door.

The goal here is to make sure that you can get everything you need in as few trips as possible. After all, the fewer times you have to go out, the less chance there is for you to accidentally expose yourself or others to sickness. To that end, here are a few suggestions that can help you make your DIY shopping list and get everything you need in a single trip.

Build Your Project List

The first thing that you’ll need to do is figure out exactly what it is that you’re hoping to get accomplished. Think about more than just the project that you’re currently working on and look at your overall DIY slate. Not only can taking all of your projects into account help you cut back on trips for supplies, but it can also make it easier to see where supplies can be used for more than one project. You don’t have to list every single project that you might conceivably do, but at least create a list of the next few projects that you hope to tackle.

What Do You Have on Hand?

Figure out everything that you’ll need for the projects on your list, then start looking at what you already have available. Maybe you already have some lumber, wires or fasteners on hand; do you have enough to get through all of your projects? If you don’t have the exact materials that you’d planned on using for a project, do you have anything similar that could be substituted? Be sure and take things like paint, sealer and similar materials into account as well. Knowing what you already have will help you narrow down exactly what you do need, which will keep your costs down and make your shopping trip go faster as well.

What Do You Still Need?

Take into account everything that you’ll need to finish your projects, including any additional tools you’ll need to pick up and anything you’ll need for maintenance or decoration. Organize your list as best you can by items that should be located in the same area, reducing your back-and-forth time and keeping your contact with others in the store at a minimum. Be sure to check this list twice, as anything you miss will mean another trip to the store at some point.

Planning for Multiple Stops

One other thing to consider is that you may not be able to get everything that you need in a single stop. If this is the case, organize your list so that you group everything at each stop together. This means that if you need to hit the hardware store, all of your hardware purchases are in that part of the list. Any big-box specific purchases would be in another part of the list. Once you have these divisions in place, you can use the same tactic from above in regard to sub-grouping items that are in the same part of each store.

You should also use this time to plan other necessities for your trip as well. Make sure that you have a mask or other protection gear, hand sanitizer and anything else you might need and that you’ve made preparations for each stop. It’s also a good idea to come up with a timetable for your trip, figuring out what time everything opens so you can go as early as your schedule allows to avoid crowds. It’s important to be conscious of how social contact can potentially expose you to illness, as well as how you might inadvertently spread it to others; proper social distancing, protective gear and other preparations are as much a part of your preparations to shop as your list is.

Making Your Shopping List

One last thing to consider: While you may be used to keeping shopping lists on your phone or through a digital assistant, if you’re in an area where you really want to minimize potential contact with germs or other contagions then individual paper lists could be a better option. This reduces the possibility of your phone getting contaminated while you look at it or touch it, and the lists themselves can be disposed of once you’re done with them. It can also help with your organization since you’ll just have a single list to work from with each stop that you make.


Posted on April 30, 2020 at 8:10 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

DIY: Raised Bed Gardening

Even though everything seems to have ground to a halt, it’s important to think about things a bit further down the line. This not only helps you to prepare for when things start back up again, but it can also make you a bit more self-sufficient in the future. This is where planning out a garden can be a great idea; it helps to keep you occupied now and yields a variety of healthy vegetables and other foods later in the year.Maybe you don’t have a lot of space, though, or perhaps the soil in your yard isn’t the greatest. Neither of these prevents you from having a garden, though. There are a few different options available to address these concerns, but you might find that a raised bed garden is exactly what you’re looking for.

What Is a Raised Bed Garden?

First thing’s first: What exactly is a raised bed garden? Essentially, it’s a garden that has a box or other physical container around its border that allows you to add more soil to plant your vegetables and other crops in. In some cases, this can be a few added inches of topsoil. In other cases, you’ll need to add a substantial amount of new soil, and some raised beds have so much added topsoil that the plants never actually touch the “real” soil. Regardless of whether you add a little soil or a lot, the growing medium is still raised at least slightly from the ground level thanks to the garden box that surrounds it.

Building the Garden Box

There are a number of options available to you when it comes to building a garden box. You can use landscaping timber, bricks, 2x4s, wooden planks or even concrete. Decide on a height that works for you and pick a material that you’re comfortable working with or have easy access to. You can design a perfectly sized garden box, or you can make one that has gaps in the corners where your material doesn’t quite line up. It doesn’t actually matter what the box looks like, just so long as it is solid enough to contain your soil and is connected to itself or other supports to keep the sides from falling apart.

Just keep in mind that some materials such as pressure-treated wood contain chemicals that could leak out into the soil over time. If you have concerns about this or are using materials that you know present a chemical hazard, be sure to stain or seal your materials before use to keep water from penetrating and leaching the chemicals out.

Filling It In

Once you have a workable garden box, it’s time to add some soil. Ideally, you should till the ground soil before adding any additional soil to the box. Add a layer of garden soil or topsoil, then use a rake or hoe to blend the garden soil and your additive soil a bit. From there you can continue adding soil, mixing it together periodically, until you’ve reached the level you want in your garden box. In some cases, you’ll have room left within the box; in others, the soil will go all the way to the top. After it’s filled, you might want to water it well to let the soil settle a bit before you start planting.

Planting and Garden Care

With the box built and filled with soil, you’re ready to get your plants in the ground. Planting is largely the same as you’d do if you were planting directly into the ground, though your newly filled garden bed likely has softer soil than your yard. Water your garden a little more often than you normally would, as raised beds offer more of a chance for water to leak out or evaporate than ground soil does. Feed your plants as needed, remove weeds or grass when it appears, and do your best to keep pests out of the garden. The raised bed itself may deter some pests, and a small chicken wire fence around the edge of the bed can help as well.

There’s a decent chance that your raised bed garden will grow better than an in-soil garden thanks to the quality of its soil and the added control that you have over your garden environment. With proper care, you should be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest in just a few months.


Posted on April 20, 2020 at 7:54 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

Your March Market Update


Posted on April 1, 2020 at 6:03 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

High Revenue Business for Sale in Financial District SF!


Posted on March 19, 2020 at 2:15 am
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

Sheltering in place Tips

While you’re living out your best socially distanced life, you can always stay informed with the latest ’rona news by visiting the CDC, the WHO, and JHU websites, and check which events are canceled here.

Things to Do When You’re Not Working

spongebob

Learn new skills

Read long-form articles

Read books

Exercise

Buy a few key pieces of equipment that you think you’ll use the most, like a yoga mat, kettlebells, and free weights. Then find some workouts you can follow from home. Some options:

Stay connected to others

The WHO released some tips on how to deal with anxiety. Here’s what you can do if you’re stuck at home, especially if you’re alone…

Cooking

When you don’t feel like cooking: Uber Eats has waived delivery fees for independent restaurants

Parenting

Clean up your life

  • Digital:
    • Delete old and duplicate pictures so that pesky iCloud storage reminder finally goes away
    • Clean your desktop (and build a separate folder so you can stop saving to desktop)
    • Delete unused apps, update your software
  • Physical:
    • Clean out your closet and donate clothes you don’t wear anymore
    • Cancel unused subscriptions

Just Have Fun

Watch…
  • Some favorites
    • Amazon’s Fleabag, HBO’s Succession, and Better Call Saul (old epis on Netflix)
  • A more general list
    • Lists of comforting TV shows you can stream:  list 1 and list 2
    • Not necessarily comforting, but a long list of spring 2020 TV shows
    • Anything from The Ringer’s “exhaustive” streaming guide
    • Westworld season 3 is back on HBO, Marc Maron has a new Netflix special,Frozen 2 is on Disney+, Dave is now on Hulu
    • Or if you want to revel in the apocalypse: I am Legend (Prime), Zombieland (Prime), World War  Z (Hulu, but read the book first), The Day After Tomorrow, Mad Max (Cinemax but who has that), This is the End (Prime)
    • How to watch Netflix with your friends
Listen…
  • Music
Play…

 

 

Neal Freyman – Morning Brew 


Posted on March 18, 2020 at 2:49 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

THE CDC’S FAQS ON COVID-19🦠

Keep Calm and Read the CDC’s FAQs.

Wash your hands a lot. Don’t wear a mask if you’re not sick.

Delay your plans to see the pandas of Sichuan.

 

 


Posted on March 3, 2020 at 10:42 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

Closing Costs Cleared Up

You’ve made an offer — you’re almost there.

In your excitement don’t forget closing costs. Set funds aside to cover these before signing!! 

Need more information? Call me anytime to discuss.


Posted on February 18, 2020 at 4:30 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Reasons to Fall in Love with Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC]

Reasons to Fall in Love with Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

·       There are many benefits to love about homeownership, and they’re not all financial.

·       Being a part of a neighborhood, driving academic achievement, and improving mental health are just a few of these advantages.

·       Let’s get together today to determine if you’re ready to embrace the rewards of owning your own home.


Posted on February 14, 2020 at 8:24 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

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