For a convenient worksheet, go to pueblo.gsa.gov.
Your credit report affects a lender’s willingness to give you a loan, and if there’s a mistake that negatively impacts you, you can try to correct it.
Real estate agents and lenders can help with this, or use one of the mortgage calculators on the Web (such as on bloomberg.com).
Look for the best rates and terms and a good-faith estimate of closing costs.
You won’t waste time looking at houses you can’t afford. Plus, a preapproval letter will demonstrate your viability as a buyer (a good edge, when you bid on a house, if there are multiple offers), and you’ll save time once a bid is accepted.
An agent, who will be paid by the seller, can do a lot of the legwork for you. To find an agent, ask friends and family, interview several candidates (make sure they’re licensed and have access to Multiple Listing Service). Decide who you’re most comfortable with, and contact references if possible.
Investigate issues like crime rate, schools, local services, proximity to museums or other institutions that are important to you, commuting distance, ethnic diversity, and property taxes.
Divide it into must-haves and like-to-haves.
Read the newspaper real-estate section, check out online sources (like realtor.com), go to open houses, and use your agent. Print out a checklist of things to look for in each home you tour at hud.gov.
But it should be contingent on the results of a home inspection and your ability to secure a mortgage.
To find a qualified inspector, ask for recommendations, or search for a certified inspector at nachi.org. Ask for and check references.
Once the sale is final, use the Moving Checklist to help you hire movers, order supplies, and pack up your belongings.
1. Check your hot water heater's thermostat. You might want to set it to 120 degrees, suggests Andy Farmer, education resources manager for Virginia Energy Sense, a statewide initiative developed to encourage electric energy efficiency and conservation in Virginia. "The default manufacturer setting for many water heaters is 140 degrees Fahrenheit," Farmer says. "However, 120 degrees is typically sufficient for your water heating needs all year round, according to the Department of Energy."
[See: 8 Energy-Efficient Home Improvements That Save Money.]
But then again, you may not want to set it there. Many dishwashers – especially the newer models – need 140 degree water, so before you do anything, check the manual. If it indicates that the appliance needs 140 degrees, the next time you buy a dishwasher, you could get one with a booster heater – and then lower your hot water heater's thermostat to the 120 degree setting.
It might be worth the hassle. Farmer says the lower temperature should save homeowners an estimated 6 to 10 percent on their utility bill, which could be significant. "On average, water heating is the second-largest energy expense in homes, accounting for about 18 percent of your utility bill," he says.
2. Look for – and fix – leaks. Repair leaking faucets, toilets and pipe; a leaking roof is a good idea to check out, too. An easy way to check for leaks – aside from eyeballing your sink – is to check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used, says Mark LeChevallier, director of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship at American Water, a public utility company that serves 30 states and parts of Canada. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak somewhere.
3. Cook with something smaller than the oven. You bought your stove for a reason. Still, it's probably not a bad thing to be aware that any time you use a toaster oven, electric skillet, slow cooker or microwave, you use less energy.
4. Run your appliances in the evening. Especially if it's a brutally hot day. Why? "Because these appliances produce heat, it will cause your air conditioning to work harder," says Farmer, adding that holding off in the evening helps your neighbors, too. "It can also reduce any potential strains on the grid." Of course, if you really want to save money on your electric bill, Farmer points out that you could wash your dishes by hand.
5. Replace your filters. You hopefully are doing this anyway, since clogged air filters often lead to air-conditioning units and other items breaking down. Even if that weren't the case, an unchanged air filter means the air-conditioning unit, dryer or what have you will work harder or run longer, and – you guessed it – use more energy.
[See: 10 Ways to Live Green On a Budget.]
6. Turn off the ceiling fan. That is, when you aren't home. "Ceiling fans don't actually cool your home; they only circulate air to make you feel cooler," says Kathy Lyford, vice president of New England Operations at the National Grid, an international electric and gas company servicing the northeastern United States and England. So when you're at home, by all means, let your fans whirl away. But to let the blades spin for hours on end when you're gone – that just adds to your electric bill.
7. Use electric fans. Instead of constantly running the air conditioner, try an electric fan. Even if they're on continuously, they use little electricity compared to an air conditioner, Lyford says.
Flowers always make a home seem more welcoming. Adorn your entrance with assorted annuals and perrenials to keep color year long. Petunia, Snapdragon, Lily-of-the-Nile, and 'Gertrude Jekyl' roses are great additions.
If you have a small space beetween your house and the street, try putting a low fence in front. It gives the illusion that your house is farther from the street than it really is, and it also makes for a great space for planting flowers and vines.2. Dress Up Your DrivewayBy carefully sculpting the landscape and choosing the right plants and materials, you can hide your unattractive driveway. Start by creating a slightly raised island of lawn in the center of the drive. Then, add a low boxwood hedge toward the back of the island with roses, annuals, and perennials rising above the hedge in the front. Blend a variety of colors, textures, and heights for a great look. Try 'Crystal Fairy' rose for height, lamb's ears for texture, and 'Butterfly Deep Rose' pentas for color.3. Add Height with Planters and BasketsAdd dimension to your yard with elevated planters and hanging baskets. It creates a sea of beautiful color. Plants love the good drainage and aeration that raised planters provide.
By carefully sculpting the landscape and choosing the right plants and materials, you can hide your unattractive driveway. Start by creating a slightly raised island of lawn in the center of the drive. Then, add a low boxwood hedge toward the back of the island with roses, annuals, and perennials rising above the hedge in the front. Blend a variety of colors, textures, and heights for a great look. Try 'Crystal Fairy' rose for height, lamb's ears for texture, and 'Butterfly Deep Rose' pentas for color.
Add dimension to your yard with elevated planters and hanging baskets. It creates a sea of beautiful color. Plants love the good drainage and aeration that raised planters provide.
by Amy Goyer, June 10, 2011
When my parents moved from their home of 28 years to an apartment in a continuing care retirement community, there was no question that their beloved dog, Jackson, would move with them. For older family members, bringing a pet along when moving can be the key to a successful transition. Research has shown that pets can reduce stress, improve health and lengthen our lives.
See also: How to solve common cat problems.
But moves can be stressful for our pets, too. They may feel unsure about their new environment, which can lead to behavior issues that were not a problem in the past. Some pets will absorb their caregivers' emotions: if you feel anxious, they may be jumpy and extra-sensitive; if you feel scattered and chaotic, they may feel insecure. They may become focused on establishing their "territory" in their new home, or they may want to stay under the bed or in their crate and hide.
Jackson had a tough time adjusting to his new home: He developed separation anxiety and wouldbark continuously when he was left in the apartment alone. This caused problems with the new neighbors, which didn't help my parents. We sought out guidance from a dog trainer, who showed us how to make Jackson feel more secure and happy in his new home. Using the advice below, Jackson went from a nuisance to a favorite in the senior community.
Here are some ways to help a pet transition to a new home:
Be consistent. Keep your routine schedule for feeding, walks, playtime, cuddling and bedtime. If a dog is used to using a doggy door, set one up in your new place. If your cat is accustomed to outdoor time, arrange for that — even if you have to use a leash initially for safety purposes and to keep him from running away.
Bring favorites. You may be tempted to get your pet new accoutrements, but this is not a good time to introduce new items. Instead, bring your pet's favorite bed, crate, toys, food and water dishes, treats and other familiar items. Put them in similar places as they were in your previous home. Favorites will help your pet feel in control and at home more quickly.
Next: Make your pet feel secure.
Minimize anxiety. Think of ways to ease your pet's transition. Some animals will feel best being near you no matter what you're doing. Others will do better in a crate away from the moving madness. Or perhaps it's better for your animal buddy to stay at a friend or family member's home during the actual move; joining you once you've unpacked. The more secure they feel, the better they'll weather the change.
Keep them safe. During the packing stage, the actual move and the transition in the new home, plan for your pet's safety. Some animals will be upset and scared once the boxes and suitcases take over. They may hide or run away. Set aside a safe place where they can't get lost or hurt. Make sure your pet has identification and your contact information, and that you have copies of veterinarian records. Learn about any aggressive animals in the neighborhood, or any structural risks in the home or yard.
Be patient. Allow your pets to take their time sniffing around their new digs. Let them explore — and if they decide to hide for a while, that's OK as long as they know where the doggy door or litter box is. Allow them to come out when they are ready. Their behavior may change for awhile, including eating and "potty" habits, barking, pacing or protection behaviors. They need time to get used to their new home, just as you do.
Love 'em up. Give your pet the attention he is used to. A bit of extra loving will go a long way as they come to feel at home in their new surroundings. Remember that difficult behaviors are a result of their discomfort with the change and a sense of not feeling in control. Difficult behaviors don't mean the pet is bad and can't change. Get help from a professional trainer or veterinarian if your pet's difficult behaviors persist, and remember all the unconditional love they give you.
Sparkle is free, and sparkle sells homes. A potential buyer may not realize why your home seems so inviting but will feel drawn to it if the windows are spotless and your mirrors reflect sunlight.
Clean out dead leaves and debris in your lawn. Don't let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home.
Your hardwood floors should be refinished, if necessary. Make your ceramic and linoleum floors twinkle and shine. Bleach dull grout. Thoroughly clean all area rugs.