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Since relocating is such a major undertaking, it's vital to thoroughly research your options. This is especially essential regarding an overseas move. Here are five things to assess in a prospective neighborhood to ensure you'll feel at home, no matter whether your new home is here or abroad.

1. Transportation
One consideration is how you'll navigate your new surroundings. Find out whether you'll have access to public transportation or need a car. If you can use public transit, what are the service hours and stops? If you require airport proximity, determine how you'll get there. Do you currently have a job lined up? If so, calculate the distance of the commute from the neighborhood in question. Will the trip be a cakewalk, or grueling? According to World Knowing, the top-ranked countries with the best transportation systems in the world are Hong Kong, Singapore, the UAE, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK.

Even if a REALTOR® lists the distance from a house to a public station, the calculation doesn't always include door-to-door travel time. You may be able to use Google Maps to determine this. If not, the website of a city's public transit system may provide a clue.

2. Businesses
Before visiting a neighborhood, think about businesses you'll be frequenting, such as a bank, grocery store, pharmacy and retail shops. Make sure they're a feasible distance from ...


First-time homebuyers are expected to enter the housing market by the tens of millions within the next five years, with nearly three million projected to join in 2017, according to a recently released study by TransUnion. The study approximates between 13.8 to 17.1 million first-time homebuyers will enter the market over the next five-year period.
 
The findings were determined based on mortgage purchase market growth projections and the percentage of first-time buyers in the agency and government purchase markets against the amount of consumers who do not have a mortgage, and come following Fannie Mae’s recent addition of “trended data” to its underwriting process. Trended data offers “dynamic perspective,” according to TransUnion, to mortgage lenders who have been limited to reviewing only “static” information—a credit card balance, for example, does not reveal the habits surrounding the balance.
 
The results of the study indicate the use of trended data in credit reports could be a boon for the tens of millions of first-time homebuyers expected to enter the market, qualifying them for more favorable mortgage terms. The potential difference in cost of a 30-year $200,000 mortgage, TransUnion illustrates:
 
Super Prime
Interest Rate: 3.75 percent
Monthly Payment: $926
Total Interest Paid: $133,443
 
Near Prime
Interest Rate: 4.25 percent
...


Homes cost a lot of money to maintain. Are you spending extra money unnecessarily on the upkeep of your home? Here are 10 of the most expensive mistakes you could be making.
 
1. Using Traditional Light bulbs
If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its lifespan, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home's bottom line.
 
2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet
A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.
 
3. Using the Wrong Air Filter Size
We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems, or accidentally buy the wrong size. Using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system, and set a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time. You won't ...


The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has lowered its owner-occupancy requirement for condominiums, marking progress in an issue believed to be preventing homebuyers from entering the real estate market. The action, announced in a mortgagee letter issued this week, lowers the requirement from 50 percent to 35 percent, effective immediately.
 
Condo projects older than 12 months with at least 35 percent owner occupancy (and less than 50 percent) can qualify for FHA certification, provided other conditions are met. From FHA’s letter:

  • Applications must be submitted for processing and review under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Review and Approval Process (HRAP) option;
  • Financial documents must provide for funding of replacement reserves for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance in an account representing at least 20 percent of the budget;
  • No more than 10 percent of the total units can be in arrears (more than 60 days past due) on their condominium association fee payments; and
  • Three years of acceptable financial documents (defined in the letter) must be provided.

The action is a win for the real estate industry, which has been advocating for changes, and homebuyers, especially first-time buyers for whom condos are the most affordable housing ...


Halloween can be scary, but having the right insurance coverage can take some of the fright out of the night. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), your insurance policies provide financial protection for a host of disasters whether they occur on Halloween or any other day.

“If you’re worried about Halloween tricksters who may cause damage to your home, there’s probably little to fear,” said the  Insurance Information Institute. “But do contact your insurance professional with questions or concerns about your homeowners or renters insurance policy.”

Standard homeowners and renters insurance will provide coverage for the following:

Vandalism – In the event your home or your personal possessions are damaged by neighborhood tricksters, homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for vandalism and malicious mischief. You are on your own, however, when it comes to removing the toilet paper from your front yard!

Fire – If a jack-o-lantern or other decoration goes up in flames and damages your property, your homeowners or renters policy will cover fire-related losses. And, should the blaze make your home uninhabitable, additional living expenses (ALE) coverage will pay for alternate accommodations, such as a hotel, while your home is being repaired.

Injuries – The liability portion of a homeowners or renters policy comes ...


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