Francesca Volpe - RE/MAX Alliance



Posted by Francesca Volpe on 8/14/2017

Condominiums and houses offer rent-to-own options. Renting your way into home ownership can take the fear out of owning a home. It gives you the chance to transition from relying on a maintenance professional to make all the repairs on your home to you starting to take on more of that responsibility. Work with a realtor to locate competitively priced rent to own properties in neighborhoods you love. Rent to Own Options You can also research rent to own properties online. Foreclosure houses can yield auction like savings. Walk through foreclosure and short sell properties. Although these homes can net you significant savings, they could also come with repair headaches. After you land on the home that you want to rent to own, negotiate a good price. Depending on the laws in the city where you live and on the particular rent to own agreement that you sign, you could have one to five years to rent the property before you enter an agreement as a buyer. Use this time to save a down payment on the home or another property. You could also use the time to strengthen your credit scores. Unlike traditional home buying agreements, you may have to pay an option price before you move into the house. If you want to rent and leave the option to buy open so that itís not a requirement that you buy the house at the end of the rental agreement, state this in the lease agreement. Other agreements may have rent with the requirement to buy legal verbiage in them. Read through your contract thoroughly. Working with a realtor to find a rent to own property? Ask your realtor to review the agreement before you sign it. Accepting Maintenance Responsibilities If youíre renting so that you can improve your credit and you donít plan to buy the house that youíre renting, consider adding in a clause that makes you responsible for maintenance but that leaves you open to walk away from buying the property at the end of the lease. Youíll gain firsthand experience as to what itís like to perform or pay for all repairs needed at a home. Considering that maintenance is a leading reason why people put off buying a house, this option might be perfect for you. Other reasons to opt to take on maintenance while leaving the requirement to buy out of your lease agreement include if you serve on active duty in the military, work a civilian job that requires you to travel frequently or if you are planning on relocating to another area in a few years. If you do sign an agreement that requires you to own the house at the end of the lease and you donít obtain financing or decide not to buy the property, youíll be out of the option money that you paid. So, give rent to own homes as much thought as you would if you were, in fact, buying the house.




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Posted by Francesca Volpe on 8/7/2017

If youíre hoping to buy a house in the near future, youíll want to focus on saving for a down payment.

Down payments are a way to let a lender know that you are a low-risk investment, and a way to save money on interest over the term of your loan.

If you have your other finances in order--a good credit score and stable income--thereís a good chance that making a 20% or more down payment will land you a low interest rate that can save you thousands while you pay off your loan.

How large should my down payment be?

The larger the down payment you can afford, the more money youíll likely save in the long run. While there are ways to get a loan with no or very small down payments, these arenít always ideal.

First, if you put less than 20% down on your home loan, youíll be required to pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI. These are monthly payments that you make in addition to the interest that is accrued on your loan.

So, if you donít put any money down on your home, youíll accrue more interest over your term length and youíll pay PMI on top of that.

What affects your minimum down payment amount?

Lenders take a number of factors into consideration when determining your risk. If youíre eligible for a first-time home owners loan, a veteranís loan, or a USDA loan, your loan can be guaranteed by the government. This means you can likely pay a lower down payment while still receiving a reasonable interest rate.

When applying for a mortgage, be sure to reach out to multiple lenders and shop around for the rates that work for you. Many lenders use slightly different criteria to determine your eligibility to pay a lower down payment.

Other things that affect your minimum down payment include:

  • Credit score

  • Location of the home you want to buy

  • Value of the mortgage

Saving for a down payment

Youíll get the most value out of your mortgage if you put more money down. However, if youíre currently living in a high-rent area, it could mean that itís in your best interest to get out of your apartment and start building equity in the form of homeownership.

If you want to buy a home within the next year or two, there are a few ways you can help increase your savings.

First, determine how much you need to save. Depending on your housing needs and the current market, everyone will have different requirements. Do some home shopping in your area online and look for homes that are within your spending limits. Remember that you shouldnít spend more than 30% of your monthly income on housing (mortgage, property taxes, etc.)

Next, find out what a 20% down payment on that home would be, adjusting for inflation.

Once you have the amount you need to save, remember to leave yourself enough of an emergency fund in your savings account to last you a month or two.




Tags: Mortgage   down payment  
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Posted by Francesca Volpe on 7/31/2017

Having a cat turns a house into a cozy home. The mess they bring with them, however? Not so much. If only they could keep your house as clean as they do themselves. Iíve got six of tips for you today to keep your home clean so you enjoy your catís company without resenting them for the disorder they can create.

1. Start with a little pampering for your feline friend. Groom your cat regularly if not daily to stay on top of shedding fur to ensure it ends up in the trash instead of all over your furniture. You may also want to trim claws regularly or invest in a set of claw caps to prevent your cat from scratching up furniture or snagging on fabrics. 

2. Vacuum your carpets, drapes, and furniture weekly to prevent hair from building up on every possible surface. You may even want to vacuum high traffic areas a few times a week to maintain your carpetings condition. Investing in a handheld vacuum is a great way to easily swoop in on messes throughout the week without lugging your main vacuum out several times a week. 

3. Dusting regularly is also ideal to cut down on fur and dander from building up on surfaces. Dusting one room per day is an easy way to stay on top of the chore. Keeping a microfiber cloth tucked away in each room makes it even easier to get the job done and keep surfaces clear of debris.

4. Wipe down counters and tables regularly with disinfectant. While you canít guarantee your cat isnít strolling over your counters when you arenít looking and wiping surfaces down at least daily ensures they are clean. Keep germs at bay especially from paws that may have just recently left the litter box by keeping disinfectant on hand at all times.

5. The litter box. The source of the most dreaded of cat messes. Obviously, scooping daily and doing a full clean out every two weeks cuts down on odor. But putting a litter mat underneath the litter box catches litter outside the box right away and prevents your cat from tracking it throughout the house. Some clever placement can also keep cat litter from finding itís way throughout the house. Place the box in the furthest corner from the door and in a low traffic area.  

6. Clean up hairballs asap. Pick up solid messes with a towel and scrape any excess off with a butter knife. Youíll also want to use an enzyme based odor neutralizer to prevent odors from settling into carpeting. Grooming your cat regularly is a not only a great way to keep hair from clinging to every surface as mentioned in tip number one but also prevents hairballs from happening in the first place.

Owning a cat is such a rewarding experience. The messes they leave behind, however, can feel anything but. With a regular cleaning schedule and the right tools, you can keep a tidy home in a manageable way so you can get back to snuggling up with your cat faster.




Tags: cleaning tips   how to   cat  
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Posted by Francesca Volpe on 7/24/2017

When it gets to the thick of the summer season, everything moves at a slower pace. You can literally feel the change in the world around you. People feel more relaxed, and thereís a carefree feeling in the air. Hereís some of the trends for summer that you should consider incorporating into the interior design of your home. With these tips, youíll have a fresh and colorful home that screams ďitís summerĒ all season long. Stay Away From Patterns And Keep It Simple Have you ever looked at something that was so busy that it gave you a headache? When you have too many patterns in your home, thereís nothing for the eyes to focus on. Thatís one of the biggest design mistakes- not having a set focal point in the room. You should trade in your pattern laden items for solid colors. That pillow with the crazy pattern can simply be switched out for one with a solid base. Simple changes like this can make all the difference in your homeís interior. Be Playful Summertime is a fun season. You should add some fun to your home to represent the times. Place games and whimsical figurines around your home to add the fun and light feeling to your home. Everyone who enters your home should have the sense that your home is ready for summer. Summer Is The Light And Airy Season The summer is a time where people are attracted toward bright, clean spaces. Usually people think of white as a clean color. White is a refreshing color which makes it perfect for the summer, which can sometimes be hot and sticky. You can work with white that already exists in your home, finding colors that contrast well like shades of blue. Adding white pieces works as well. Tile and cabinetry are the most common items that youíll find in your home that are white. While you may not want to bring out a paintbrush for the season if your cabinets are a different color, thereís other things that you can do. Swap out your bathroom accessories for a lighter, more airy color. Change up the set of dishes that you use in your kitchen to a set that feels more summery. Color Pops Can Make Any Room Bold† Summer brings out everything that is bold in the world. The sights of summer are more vibrant, the sounds are more crisp and the flavors are more intense. If youíre often afraid to try something out of ordinary or to use color in a new way, give the idea of adding pops of color a try. You can do anything in a room to add some color. You might consider painting a piece of furniture. If you want to keep it simple, think of getting a throw pillow or an accent rug that is bold in color.





Posted by Francesca Volpe on 7/17/2017

Motivating yourself to be more frugal and manage your money more effectively can be very challenging!

One strategy that may help is to focus on multiple benefits, rather that just the most obvious or immediate one. A prime example is using your car less often. Although the price of gasoline isn't as steep as it used to be, daily use of your automobile could easily result in less money in your pocket (or bank account) at the end of the month. While many of us are in the habit of jumping in our car every time we need to pick up a few odds and ends at the corner drugstore or neighborhood supermarket, you'll invariably save money --and often enjoy other benefits-- if you consider alternatives to automobile use.

  1. Walk instead of drive. If you're fortunate enough to live relatively close to stores that you frequent, you could save money on gas and automobile maintenance by putting on your walking shoes more often and hoofing it. As a secondary benefit, you'd also be getting exercise, burning calories, getting fresh air, and taking in some essential vitamin D from the sun. By taking steps to maintain your health, you'll also have more energy, be more productive, and tend to miss fewer days of work. Not everyone lives close enough to local stores to be able to walk there on a regular basis (or at all), but for those who do, there are many advantages.
  2. Carpool to work. This option doesn't occur to everyone because, among other things, we're creatures of habit. We get in the well-worn habit of driving back and forth to work by ourselves, every day, and we don't stop to think that there is a money-saving alternative. When you share the cost and responsibility of driving, you're literally cutting your commuting expenses in half. You're also getting a break from the stress and tedium of commuting in rush-hour traffic. Having someone to talk to during the drive can also make the trip go by much faster -- assuming you enjoy the company of your carpooling companion(s)!
  3. Public transportation may be a viable alternative. If you happen to live and work in an urban environment, you may already be availing yourself of the benefits of public transportation. In addition to saving money on gas and avoiding driving-related stress, there's the added benefit of being able to read a book, listen to relaxing music, or prepare for a presentation on your way in.
  4. Telecommute whenever possible. More and more employers are helping themselves and their employees save money by offering work-from-home options. If you have the opportunity to telecommute a couple days a week, the savings in gas, wear-and-tear on your car, and the cost of lunches out can add up quickly!

If it looks like you're filling up your gas tank every time you turn around, not to mention burning through your paycheck too fast, then finding ways to reduce gas consumption may be one way to stretch your dollar farther.