General Interest

Down Payment – Why Size Matters

House and Money with Pad of Paper and PenWhether you are a first-time home buyer or a seasoned vet, a down payment is typically required by the lender.  The amount required can range between 3-20% of the final sales price on the property.  So how much should you put down and what will that mean for your monthly mortgage payments?

A larger down payment can benefit you in several ways.  As the size of a down payment increases, the overall monthly amount due will decrease because less money is borrowed.  The size of the down payment will also determine the types of mortgages you are eligible to apply for.  For example, if you are only able to put down 5% you will be limited in the loans you qualify for as well as the number of banks that will loan to you.  Additionally, a higher interest rate might apply.

There are several mortgage calculators available online that calculate the monthly mortgage payment based off the price of the home, interest rate and down payment amount, like this one on Zillow.

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

New Year’s Resolutions Go High Tech

MaleSmartPhone.adamrIt’s that time again, where everyone set’s a lofty list of resolutions for the New Year and usually winds up breaking them within the first few weeks.  Only about 8% of American’s actually are successful in keeping their goals.  How can make sure you stay on top of your list and fall privy to the norm?

There are several mobile apps that can help keep you motivated and on track whatever your resolutions maybe.  If you are trying to lose weight or get healthy check out apps such as Happy Scale, MyFitnessPal, WellnessFX, CodyApp (one of my favorites), or SleepCycle.

Did you know that two-thirds of Americans don’t have a budget, according to a Gallup poll?  If keeping your finances in check is your resolution, look to download Level, Mint, or a mobile app provided by your personal bank.  This can keep you on budget while on the go and help you set goals for spending and saving.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions and how do you plan to keep them?

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

How to Get a Little R&R

ChristmasThe Holiday Season is in full swing now with Thanksgiving behind us.  December, for many of us, is full of parties being thrown by friends, workplace socials, and family gatherings, as well as traveling.  As the hustle and bustle of this time of year start to commence, how does one find a little R&R (rest & relaxation)?  Here are a few tips:

  • Say No: This is a favorite of mine and sometimes the hardest to do. If you are overbooked and stressed, it’s okay to RSVP no to an invite.  Stay home that night instead or get a spa treatment.
  • Hire Some Help: If you are hosting a party or the big Christmas dinner, hire people that can do the cooking for you, the clean up afterwards or to do the grocery shopping.  This will give you more time to get some R&R. If you can’t afford to hire the help ask your friends to volunteer to bring food or drinks.
  • Workout: It sounds counter-intuitive to try to squeeze in time to work out when you barely have time to sleep but even 30 minutes of a quick walk or yoga practice can help distress you and leave you feeling reinvigorated and relaxed.
  • Breathe: Really breathe – deep inhales and exhales with intention. This has been shown to reduce stress immediately and has a calming effect on the body and mind – instant R&R anywhere, anytime and fits any budget.

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Holiday Travel on a Budget

Thanksgiving Dinner.pThanksgiving is almost a week away and Christmas will be here before you know it.  This time of year is among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year.  With holiday parties to throw, food to buy, presents to gift and plane tickets to purchase, money can be tight.  Here are a few tips for traveling this holiday season on a budget.

  1. Traveling on the actual day of Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years can help you avoid big crowds at the airports, shorter security lines and cheaper airfares. Make sure to buy your ticket in advance to get the cheapest price available.
  2. Stay with family or friends at your destination if possible. Hotels tend to increase their room rates during the holiday travel season.  If this isn’t an option there is a growing trend called CouchSurfing that allows travels to crash on peoples couches free of charge.
  3. Book airfare for large parties separately. If you are traveling with your family or a group of friends book each ticket individually.  This can save lots of money due to the way the airlines charge for seating based on group size.
  4. The cheapest dates to fly according to for domestic travel are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Travel demand for these days tend to be less than other days.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for saving money on holiday travel?

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Who’s Got Game?

BasketBall.hin255.PFall is in the air and basketball season has begun.  For those that enjoy watching the game this is always an exciting time of year.  There are a few big news points to know going into this game season.  LeBron James decided he would leave the Miami Heat and return to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, which he left in 2010.  One of the main reasons James decided to return to the Cavaliers was for the opportunity to play with Kyrie Irving, said to be one of the best point guards in the NBA league.

Another headline is the return of Kobe Bryant to the game.  Last December Bryant suffered a season-ending knee injury but will return this season to play with his team, the L.A. Lakers.  Bryant has said he has really missed playing the game and everything that comes with it.  As the season is underway he will slowly be integrated back into the game making sure not to overdo it at the risk of possibly re-injuring his knee.

What team will you be cheering for this season?

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Top Interview Mistakes

HireMe.CE.b2Jobless claims recently reported hitting a 14-year low, meaning more people are finding work.  The key to landing a position that several other people may be vying for is to have strong interview skills.  Here are some big mistakes that people make that can cost them the job:

  1. Wearing inappropriate clothing:  This ranks as one of the top mistakes that millennials make during an interview according to a Forbes article that states about 75% of the surveyed hiring managers.
  2. Bringing a parent along:  A CNBC post cited in a study that almost 8% of recent college graduates brought a parent with them to an interview.  Some parents even participated in the interview.
  3. Posting inappropriate material on social media:  Companies today do extensive internet searches on prospective employees.  Posting of offensive language, bad grammar or pictures from late night partying do not reflect well on one’s professionalism.
  4. Lack of Research:  It’s important to always do homework on a company before an interview.  Know what position you are interviewing for and try to find out some information about who will be interviewing you.
  5. Not asking enough questions:  Just as the interviewer will be asking many questions directly at the person hoping to land the job, it is equally important for that person to ask the interviewer questions.  Show that there is interest, find out additional details about the position, the company’s long and short term goals, and what qualities and skills they are seeking.

Dress for Success – What to Wear

REASuiteMale.bAs a Realtor, what you choose to wear and how you present yourself to your clients will make an everlasting impression.  So with constantly changing fashion trends, how do you decide what to wear?

It’s important to always look clean, neat and professional but where you work (i.e. large city, small town) can dictate your style.  Business attire is more appropriate in larger metropolitan cities while casual attire may be more appropriate for smaller towns.  One of my favorite rules – you can never be overdressed.

Women can wear a pant suit, or skirt with a shirt or sweater and a jacket.  Men can wear a suit and jacket with a tie or dress slacks with a button down shirt.  If you chose to wear an item that is more trendy/flashy, like colorful shoes, opt for the rest of your outfit to be more conservative.  This will create a balanced look that still allows your style and personality to show through.

Falling for Fall Flavors

The season of fall has officially commenced and the temperatures have started to cool (a little).  I always get excited about the new foods and recipes that come with the change in seasons, especially anything involving Pumpkin!

Latte.2One of the popular fall drinks over the past few years has been the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL).  It evokes memories of cooler weather, fall flavors and the holidays.  This drink is easy to make without the added sugary, pumpkin-flavored syrups and is easier on the wallet (who doesn’t like to save a little cash?).  Try this recipe from Averi Cooks for her healthier take on the PSL.

One of my absolute favorite fall pumpkin recipes is Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart.  This dessert will wow your guests and have them coming back for seconds and thirds; it’s become a staple for me when entertaining during this time of year.

What is your favorite fall food or recipe?

Lessons on How Not to Annoy your Real Estate Agent

AnnoyedAgentHaving a good relationship with your real estate agent can make things easier and it’s important to remember that treating them kindly can go a long way and will encourage them to go the extra mile for you.  Here are a few things NOT to do to your real estate agent:

  1. Don’t cheat on your agent.  Find one agent to work with that you like and stick with them.  They work hard for you in hopes of getting paid.
  2. Don’t haggle over price.  If you are selling your home and your agent thinks you have received a great offer, don’t hold out for a better one.  If you are buying, don’t significantly low-ball the asking price.
  3. Don’t skip out on showings.  If you set up an appointment with your agent to see a home, don’t be a no-show.  This is inconsiderate to your agent.
  4. Don’t waste your agent’s time.  If you aren’t serious about making an offer on a particular property, do not request multiple showings pretending that you are interested.
  5. Don’t stick around for an open house.  If your agent is trying to sell your home, it’s proper etiquette to leave the premises until the event is over.  This allows potential buyers to feel more comfortable to explore your home.

Pay Your Mortgage Off Quicker

PayQuickerAs people inch closer towards retirement, owning their home outright can help give a since of financial security.  Especially for those that have lived through a financial crisis and/or the recent foreclosure crisis.  About two-thirds of the nation’s homeowners are paying on a mortgage while more than 20 million own their homes free and clear.  What are some ways you can get closer to making that last mortgage payment?

  1. Pay more than you owe – You can do this monthly or once a quarter.  Paying a few extra dollars a month or making an extra payment each quarter can help you get closer to your goal.  When you pay more than you owe, the extra amount goes towards the principal which effectively decreases the amount of interest you will owe over the course of the loan.
  2. Refinance your mortgage or pretend you did – Obtaining a 15-year fixed rate mortgage will have higher payments than a 30 year fixed rate but you won’t have to pay twice as much.  If you are unable to refinance you can act like you did by making payments as if your loan were a 15-year mortgage.  This can lead to a lot of interest savings.
  3. Split up your payments – By taking your regular monthly payment and breaking it up into 2 monthly payments or weekly payments during the month you avoid paying extra interest since interest accumulates daily.  If you made biweekly payments on a 30-year mortgage you could end up paying off the loan six years earlier depending on your loan’s terms.

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.