New home? Don’t forget these maintenance tips!

So, you’ve just bought this brand new home and you want to keep it looking as new as possible for as long as possible. Although it can seem daunting, this is the easy part! Whether you live in Lakeville, Apple Valley, Burnsville, or anywhere in between, a few simple things can keep your home looking brand new with very little time and effort from you.

#1 Create a New Home Maintenance Checklist

Life is going to get busy and you’re bound to forget about which tasks need to be completed throughout the year. Make yourself a checklist to remind you which projects need to be completed and how frequently. Consider putting both exterior and interior tasks on your list. Check out these links for a starting point:

Better Homes & Gardens
New York Times
Prudent Reviews
The Family Handyman

These are just a starting point – but it’s good to start with a basic list, and you can develop it into a reasonable list for you. Don’t be afraid to hire out tasks that are beyond your time availability, or do-it-yourself skill set, which leads to #2 below!

#2 Make a List of Home Maintenance Professionals

Some of your home maintenance will need to be conducted by professionals. Create a list of plumbers, electricians, lawn care, and roofing experts, so you have this information handy when the time comes. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations to add to this list. Make sure to do your homework, including checking out Google and Facebook reviews on contractors that you may be hiring – the last thing you want is a botched project that ends up costing you more time and money.

#3 Set Boundaries with Kids and Pets

Your family is bound to show the house some tough love, but by instilling a sense of responsibility and firm guidelines, you can minimize the destruction caused while increasing the amount of pride and enjoyment you all feel.

For pets:

– Maintain designated elimination areas to help reduce odors and stains.
Establish a reasonable crating routine for when you are away. Consult your veterinarian if you are unsure of the proper amount of time your pet can be crated.

– If you work long hours, consider hiring an extra set of hands to take your favorite canine for a walk midday. The exercise will be good for your dog mentally, as well as physically, and help with behavior issues.

– If your pet is experiencing destructive tendencies, consult a pet behavioral expert to find ways to enrich your pet’s mind and reduce anxious or stressful behaviors.

– Attend to mishaps immediately to help reduce repeat offenses.

– Don’t forget the treats! Pets are usually very motivated by food and this is a fast way to help your pet learn.

For children:

– Establish reasonable chore routines based on your child’s age and abilities

– Communicate clearly the positive impact of having your children contribute to home cleanup and chores

#4 Change Filters Regularly

A clean and healthy home is a reflection of the residents inside and will greatly mirror your quality of life. Change your air and water filters regularly to keep your family happy and healthy. Don’t forget about dryer vents!

By following these simple steps, you are taking responsibility and displaying pride in your home. Regular maintenance keeps your new home looking brand new for much longer, and you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come!

Photo credit: Getty images/Demaerre

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Getting Ready for a Mortgage Application? Read this!

Mortgage lenders require a lot of documentation to complete a mortgage application. Forgetting something or getting the wrong information can cause lengthy delays. It could even cause borrowers to miss a deadline and lose the house they have their eyes on. Therefore, applicants should make sure they have all the documentation they need organized and ready to go, prior to getting your home mortgage loan.

Documents Needed for a Mortgage Application

Each lender has a different set of needs, so it’s important to ask before you begin. However, there are a series of documents most mortgage lenders will need. In general, there are fourteen document categories lenders will use to examine four main areas of an applicant’s life.

Credit Reports and Past History

First, the mortgage lender will want to verify that all applicants have good credit. To avoid any surprises and save time, have the lender pull credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion ahead of time. These documents will also give the lender a preliminary look. If there is something significant on them, he or she can say something without having to do a hard credit check. Learn more about how you can manage your credit score to help reduce your loan’s interest rate here.

Bankruptcies and foreclosures will also need to be addressed. Therefore, gather documents for any that have occurred in the last seven years. The goal is to show the lender that they have been satisfied and any associated financial demands associated with them have ceased.

Liability Verification

Next, the lender will want to examine an applicant’s expenses and liabilities. Start by compiling a list of debts. Include proof of the balances for each one or the monthly expense incurred. Canceled rent or mortgage checks or some other type of proof that these have been paid on time will help here as well. Lastly, if an applicant has been divorced, include copies of the divorce decree as well as any court orders for child support, alimony, or additional expenses they pay. Paperwork showing these have been paid on time can be helpful as well. Once again, pulling an early credit report will help with many of these items.

Asset Assessment

With all the expense portions out of the way, it’s time to address assets. Start by creating a list of assets and providing proof of their value. These could include cars, art, investments, or anything of significant value. Lenders will also want at least two months of bank statements for each bank account to show the amount of cash on hand.

If friends or family will be helping an applicant with the down payment, the lender will want proof of this as well. Generally, a letter from each person will be enough. In these letters, the individual should include the amount and expressly state that the money is a gift and not a loan. This will prove to the lender that the money will not have to be repaid. Your lender will have the appropriate verbiage to help you out.

Income Verification

Just saying the household brings in a specific amount of money each month isn’t enough. Mortgage lenders will want proof. In most instances, one month of pay stubs will prove the applicant is still employed and how much income they bring in each pay period. Applicants will also need W-2 forms for the last two years as well as at least two years of tax returns.

The lender will also want to see proof of any other income. Individuals who are self-employed will need to provide year-to-date profit and loss statements to show the business is financially stable. Child support payments and alimony coming into the household can help. Other types of income could include SSI, commission, bonuses, tips, or a Schedule E form for rental income.

As a general rule, it’s better to have extra paperwork on hand than not enough. Applicants can bring in two or three months worth of pay stubs, for example. This can help avoid delays by having the information, if there are additional questions.

Once all the documents have been collected together, organize them to make them easy to find. Accordion files with large envelopes work perfectly for this. By having everything gathered together and organized, it also shows the mortgage applicants attention to detail. Quick books or some other form of electronic filing make this quick and easy as well.

As your Realtor, I’m here to answer questions you may have as you move through the process. My goal is to help you feel comfortable and confident through the entire home buying process.

Photo credit: Getty images/Marchmeena29

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