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Home Ownership

Why Homeownership Matters

Homeownership is the American dream and there are many benefits of owning that roof over your head.

Most consumers know that homeownership is among the most sound investments an individual can make to begin building their personal wealth. However, owning a home is not just in the best interest of the homeowner. It has positive impact on families, provides social stability, builds communities and is a driving force for the national economy.

Social stability: Improved educational performance, lower crime rates and improved health are a few social benefits linked to homeownership. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth, which opens doors to more engagement in communities through volunteer work, involvement in social activities and electoral participation.

Strong communities: Homeowners tend to stay in their homes longer than renters, dedicate more money to improve their home and are more engaged in enhancing their community. Homeowners are often more invested in their home and their surroundings, which leads to stronger neighborhoods and communities and increased interaction between neighbors.

Economic force: Being a homeowner also has a positive local and national economic impact. That is because homeownership creates jobs through remodeling, landscaping, lawn service, furniture and appliances, home improvement and real estate services. When a home is sold in the United States, the income generated from real estate-related industries is over $20,000 and additional expenditures on consumer items is about $4,500 – a boom to the economy.

Brings families together: Along with being more involved in their communities, homeowners are often active and connected to their own families. Family dinners and game nights at home could mean a more-connected, happier family. Home is where people make memories and feel comfortable and secure.

Consumers can keep up with housing-related tips, news, stories and policy issues by visiting Homeownership Matters and HouseLogic.

For more information about buying or selling a home, please search our directory to contact one of our REALTOR® members.

How to Avoid Real Estate Cyber Scams

Phishing, hacking, wire fraud – these are all ways people attempt to steal from others online. As real estate searches and transactions move more and more online, the chances of being caught up in a cyber scam have become even greater.

By now most people have heard of the Nigerian prince scams or phishing emails asking for social security or banking information, but many people don’t know that they need to watch out for possible scams when buying or selling their home. Cyber crimes have become increasingly sophisticated over the years and the people perpetrating them focus on situations where a lot of money is changing hands, making real estate transactions an ideal target.

The National Association of REALTORS® recently warned its members and consumers about one example, a wiring scam during the closing stage of the home buying and selling process. Hackers will break into the email accounts of consumers and real estate professionals to get details about a real estate transaction. The hacker will then send an email pretending to be the buyer, seller, real estate agent or someone else involved in the closing process and say there has been a last minute change and provide new wiring instructions; the instructions send the closing costs funds directly into the hacker’s bank account.

While it may seem like there are hundreds of ways for a criminal to take advantage of a consumer online, there are just as many ways consumers can protect themselves. Here are a few tips from to help home buyers and sellers recognize and avoid real estate scams:

Do not send sensitive information via email. Do not send banking information, your social security number or anything else that could be used to comprise your identity over email. If you absolutely must send personal or sensitive information via email, only use encrypted email.

Do not click on unverified email. If you do not recognize the name or email address of the sender, do not open the email. Beware of any attachments or downloadable files from unknown email addresses; they can contain viruses or provide a way for a hacker to access your computer.

Do not use unsecured Wi-Fi. It may seem harmless to check banking information using the free Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop, but using an open connection can leave you vulnerable to hackers and scammers. Only access sensitive information on your home computer or on a secured network.

If you suspect fraud, tell someone. If you suspect that fraud has or is in the process of occurring, contact all parties contacted to the transaction immediately. Unfortunately, often there is nothing that can be done to retrieve money stolen in the scam, however, you should still report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information on how to safely and securely buy or sell a home, consult with a REALTOR®.

When Moving into a New Home, First Things First

 You have just completed the biggest financial transaction of your life and can now call yourself a homeowner. You purchased your first home, signed all the necessary paperwork and are about to walk up to your front door, keys in hand.

As you walk through your brand new house, you are probably thinking, now what? This is a common question new homeowners ask themselves when the time comes to settle into a new home. With all the excitement and work involved in finding a first home, first-time buyers may not have a transition plan or a checklist for the first few days in their new house.

Some checklist items are as simple as steam cleaning the carpet while others involve familiarizing yourself with your home’s circuit breakers and water valves. Having a game plan for your new home will give you peace of mind and allow you to settle in quickly and stress free.

Below are important items to focus on during the transition into your new home.

Change the locks. You never know who else has keys to your home, so it is a good idea to change the locks on all doors. This will help you sleep at night knowing that you are the only person who has access to your home. You can install new deadbolts yourself for less or call a locksmith to ensure proper installation.

Set-up service. This may not sound like a top priority, but it is important to contact local utilities and service providers, like trash pick-up to set-up a new account and avoid disruption. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the pick-up schedule for trash and recyclables to avoid garbage stacking up during the first week in your new home.

Know the circuit breaker. It is a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. You will need two people for this exercise: one person monitoring the power as it goes on and off and the other tripping the fuse in order to test the breakers.

Buy the right tools. It is likely you own the basic tools, such as a drill, screwdriver, hammer, level and tape measure. Yet, homeownership may require a few new ones you might not have needed before, such as a pry bar for removing nails, trim or tiles and a ratchet set for adjusting nuts and bolts in hard to reach places. When hanging pictures or shelving on the walls, be sure to have a stud sensor handy to detect studs, cables and ducts.

When you are a new to homeownership, the list of responsibilities can feel overwhelming at first, but with the help of a REALTOR®, you can be sure to transition into a new home in a smooth and hassle-free fashion.