Francesca Volpe - RE/MAX Alliance



Posted by Francesca Volpe on 2/19/2018

Online courses are gaining popularity as a way to learn new skills and subjects without enrolling in expensive certificate or degree programs. They’re also great for working adults and parents who don’t have time to leave the house every night to go to a class after work. Better yet, many online courses are free (or come with a free trial), so you don’t have to worry about losing money if you don’t like the course.

You might be wondering, “What can I really learn from an online course that will benefit me as a homeowner?” There are a number of courses relevant to homeowners when it comes to things like the home buying process, budgeting, interior design, and more.

In this article, we’re going to introduce you to some of those courses in case you have some free hours in the evenings and want to learn something new. Read on for our list of the best free online courses for homeowners (or soon-to be homeowners).

Buying a home

Unfortunately, many of us go into the home-buying process knowing little about what to expect. This can be cause for stress and anxiety as you navigate the complicated steps of building credit, getting preapproved, and making an offer.

Udemy offers a one-hour course on home buying that can help you with this process. First, A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Your First Home will help you prepare for a down payment, understand the housing market, and teach you about things like home inspections and appraisals.

Personal finance

I often wish that kids were taught more practical finance and budgeting skills in high school so they have an idea of what to expect once they graduate and enter the workforce or apply to college.

Making financial decisions is stressful at any time of your life, whether it’s taking out student loans, buying your first home, or deciding when is the right time to retire. Fortunately, edX has you covered with this free personal finance course from Purdue University.

You’ll learn about retirement savings, the different types of investments, how insurance works, and the role credit plays in your ability to make healthy financial decisions.

Interior design

Decorating and designing the layout of your furniture is often something that we just guess at. Maybe you saw layouts and colors that you liked on Pinterest and tried to emulate them, or perhaps you just buy decorations and furniture just because you like them and not because they fit the style of your home.

If you want to gain a better understanding of basic interior design and decorating, this series of video lectures from Howcast is a great place to start. With 53 short videos you can watch whenever and wherever you want, you can browse and learn at your leisure, then try some of these methods in your own home.





Posted by Francesca Volpe on 2/12/2018

Purchasing a residence may seem like a long, complicated journey. However, there are many ways to simplify the homebuying process, including: 1. Become an Educated Homebuyer. The real estate market constantly changes, and as such, you'll want to conduct plenty of research to ensure you fully understand this sector. Remember, an informed homebuyer is better equipped to make the best decisions. And if you study the real estate market closely, you may be able to identify trends that could help you find the right home at the right price. Homebuyers who can differentiate between a sellers' market and a buyers' market, for instance, could reap the benefits of a great deal on a residence. In fact, these homebuyers may be able to determine the ideal time to buy a home and discover the perfect house quickly. Furthermore, don't forget to consider how you'll pay for your home and dedicate the time and resources to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will ensure you're able to budget appropriately, and eventually, can find an affordable, high-quality house. 2. Remain Flexible. The homebuying process rarely, if ever, is simple. As such, you need to understand that challenges will arise during the process and remain flexible to resolve such issues. In many cases, a flexible homebuyer is a happy homebuyer, i.e. one who remains calm, cool and collected under pressure. And if you strive to be flexible, you can negotiate properly and find the best deal on a home. It also is important to note that friends and family members can support you throughout the homebuying process. Plus, if any of your friends and family members have purchased a home recently, they may be able to provide assistance as you work toward buying a home. 3. Hire an Experienced Real Estate Agent. Have you found an experienced real estate agent to guide you along the homebuying process? If not, you might miss out on a golden opportunity to explore a vast array of top-notch residences in your area. A real estate agent is a must for those who want to streamline the homebuying process, and for good reason. This professional knows the ins and outs of the real estate sector and will be ready to respond to any of your concerns or queries. Furthermore, a real estate agent can help you handle negotiations with a home seller and ensure you're able to get the best price on a home at any time. Lastly, a real estate agent can serve as a trusted resource and will help you set realistic expectations for your next home. This professional will be happy to provide honest advice along the way too, ensuring you're able to find the right home for your needs and budget. The homebuying process represents an uphill climb for many homebuyers, and as a result, can be intimidating. But with the aforementioned tips at your disposal, you'll be better equipped to discover the idea home in a short period of time.




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Posted by Francesca Volpe on 2/5/2018

From clogged toilets to a lack of ample shower time, there’s always an issue of too many people and too little bathrooms in a home. Most people will agree that one bathroom isn’t enough in a home. Yet, while you’re on the hunt for a home, should you decide to just settle for a single bathroom or keep hunting for a house with more bathrooms? There is always the additional option of putting in another bathroom as well, although this can be costly.  


 In today’s fast-paced world, we have new bathroom needs that make us look at properties differently. Different cultures are also accustomed to varying standards of bathrooms and home building, and find it a normalcy to have only one bathroom. Also, once upon a time, it was feasible for everyone to have people take their turn in the bathroom-even in America. As the family unit shifted and everyone in the house became accustomed to living on the same exact schedules, it became more necessary to have an extra bathroom. 


Age Of A Home   


While you can survive with one bathroom, the biggest message one bathroom in a home sends is that it’s an older property. That may be the underlying factor that steers people away from one bathroom homes. Many realtors even warn of the difficulties in selling a one bathroom home. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. There’s some things that you should consider when you’re searching for a home and are concerned about the number of bathrooms.


How Many Bathrooms Will You Actually Use?


If you’re a bachelor, living on your own, you may not need more than one full bathroom in a home. For comfort reasons, you could consider places with an additional half-bath, but it may not be necessary. If you’re planning on co-living with your in-laws or friends, you’ll definitely need to consider your need for multiple private baths high.


Home Value


If you can afford the upfront cost, it could be well worth it to put a second bathroom into a one bathroom home. It will add a lot of value to the home once it is sold again and your family will have more privacy and space. Not to mention that your home will be more attractive to buyers once the time to sell does come. 


A Luxury


Homes with extra bathrooms are truly seen as a luxury. Have you ever seen celebrity homes advertised that have more bathrooms than there are bedrooms? There’s probably little reason for that other than the luxury factor. Ultimately, your home search will be a bit harder when you seek out multiple bathrooms. However, if this will increase you and your family’s comfort, the time spent searching is definitely worth it! When you’re on the house hunt, the number and type of bathrooms are just one of many things that you’ll need to consider.




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Posted by Francesca Volpe on 1/29/2018

The number one factor that affects the length of time a house remains on the market is curb appeal. That's the consensus of real estate professionals across the country, and was documented in a recent study by a well-known real estate website.

So if it's such a high priority, then why do a lot of homeowners skimp on that aspect of preparing their home for a fast sale? Sometimes it's a lack of awareness; other times it may be a lack of money. In extreme cases, it can be quite pricey to transform a home from "shabby" to "exquisite!" That's an unusual scenario, though, and in most cases the cost of enhancing your home's curb appeal should be both affordable and cost effective.

Where to Begin

The ideal visual (and visceral) effect you want to achieve can be summed up in ten words: fresh, well cared for, aesthetically pleasing, manicured, meticulous, updated, and clean. Perhaps a more concise way to describe the image you want to project to potential buyers is "pride of ownership." Once you're conveying that impression, people are going to make positive assumptions about the value and condition of your home. While it's not necessary that the front of your property and home look perfect in every imaginable way, it is important to pay attention to small details and overall impressions.

Some homeowners will see this goal as an overwhelming challenge, but it doesn't have to be. The first hurdle is to take care of the basics, such as making sure your lawn always looks freshly mowed and that there's no signs of peeling or faded paint on your home and garage. Pulling weeds, placing a few colorful hanging flower baskets in strategic locations, and trimming overgrown bushes and trees are also effective ways to make your property look more desirable.

An advantage of working with a seasoned real estate agent is that they can quickly size up the outside appearance of your home, and make cost-effective suggestions of ways to improve curb appeal and increase the attractiveness of your property. When it comes to selling your house in the shortest period of time, first impressions are vitally important.

One helpful tactic for getting your house noticed by house hunters and real estate agents is to take a walk (or drive) in your neighborhood to see how your curb appeal stacks up to other homes for sale in the area. Ideally, you want your home to look at least as good, if not better, than other nearby properties. Since potential buyers may be focusing their search on specific neighborhoods, such as yours, you'll be giving yourself more of an "inside track" in the real estate market by making sure your home compares favorably to others in the immediate area -- both inside and out.





Posted by Francesca Volpe on 1/22/2018

Many first-time home buyers are worried about all of the documents and information they’ll have to gather when applying for a mortgage. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably dreading having to dig through the five places that these documents might be. Fortunately, the process is now somewhat streamlined thanks to lenders being able to collect most of your information digitally.

In today’s article, we’ll talk about the documents you’ll need to collect when you apply for a home loan so that you feel prepared and confident reaching out to lenders.

Documents needed to pre-qualify

Before going into applying for a mortgage, let’s talk about pre-qualification. There are three types, or in some cases steps, of approval with most mortgage lenders: pre-qualification, pre-approval, and approval.

Pre-qualification is one of the earliest and simplest steps to getting pre-approved. It gives you a snapshot of the types and amount of loans you can receive. Pre-qualification typically doesn’t include a detailed credit analysis, nor do you need to provide many specific details or documents.

Typically, you’ll fill out a questionnaire describing your debts, income, and assets, and they will give you an estimate of the loan you might qualify for. Might is the key word here. Your pre-qualification amount is not guaranteed as you haven’t yet provided official proof of your information.

Documents needed for pre-approval

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage entails significantly more work on the part of you and your lender than pre-qualification. First, the lender will run a credit analysis. You won’t need to provide them with any information for this step, as they’ll be able to automatically receive the report from the major credit reporting bureaus. However, it’s a good idea to check your report before applying to make sure there aren’t any errors that could damage your credit.

Now is where the legwork comes in.

You’ll need to gather the following documents to get officially pre-approved or approved for a mortgage:

  • W-2 forms from the previous two years. If you are self-employed, you’ll still need to provide income verification, usually as a Form 1040, or “Individual income tax return.”

  • Two forms of identification. A driver’s license, passport, and social security card are three commonly accepted forms of identification.

  • Pay stubs or detailed income information for the past two or three months. This ensures lenders that you are currently financially stable.

  • Federal and State income tax returns from the past two years. If you file your taxes online, you can often download a PDF version that includes your W-2 or 1040 forms, making the process of submitting tax and income verification much easier.

  • Personal contact information. Name, address, phone number, email address, and any former addresses which you’ve lived in the past two years.

  • Bank statements from the previous two months. Also, if you have any assets, such as a 401K, stocks, or mutual fund,  you’ll be asked to include those as well.

  • A complete list of your debts. Though these will likely be on your credit report, lenders want to ensure they have the full picture when it comes to how much you owe other creditors and lenders.





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