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The Hilton Head Homes Blog

Why Your Home Needs a Smart Faucet

These days, homeowners are embracing the future and fitting their abodes with an array of smart home technology, including smart faucets. And there are more benefits to a high-tech, hands-free faucet than you might think.

Following are just a few of the reasons to upgrade your home with smart faucets.

Hands-Free Control
The motion-activated faucet has been around for a while, and those who have one can agree that its a lifesaver when your hands are covered in grease but you dont want to get the sink dirty in order to wash them. These days, smart sinks can sync up with your smart home assistant, so you can use voice commands to turn it on, off, and even heat up the water when your hands are full.

Precise Dispensing
When the recipe calls for two cups of water, you can forget about pulling out the measuring cup. All you have to do is say the amount you need and its as easy as that. You can also give custom commands to make your daily routine easier, such as filling the kettle or coffee pot, meaning that your sink becomes your own virtual assistant in the kitchen.

Monitor Usage
Theres the added bonus of being able to see exactly how much water youre using. Some smart faucets, like the Kohler Sensate, utilize a sensor on the valve to monitor usage and leaks, which is then displayed on an app. If any unusual usage is detected, youll receive an alert on your smartphone.

No Fingerprints and Smudges
Hands-free control, whether youre using voice commands or motion sensors, means your kitchen sink stays cleaner. For those who cant stand a dirty kitchen, those fingerprints and smudges on the faucet can be a real pet peeve. With a smart faucet, you can rest assured your sink will never lose its luster regardless of how much use it sees.

Should You Use Home Equity to Finance a Child's College Education?

For many students and their parents, a college education is a top priority. With education costs continually rising, paying for a degree may seem difficult or impossible. Some parents consider using their homes equity to obtain funds for college but arent sure if that would be a wise move.

Benefits of Using Home Equity for Higher Education
Home equity can be easier to access than a traditional loan. To obtain an educational loan yourself, or for your child to obtain one, a lender would require a lengthy application and credit check. If you already have a mortgage and make payments on time, you may find it much easier to secure a home equity loan. If you already have a home equity line of credit, you can simply write a check to your childs university.

Federal student loan programs limit the amounts that can be borrowed each year. If your child will attend an expensive university, you may not be able to borrow enough to cover the entire cost. Meanwhile, your mortgage lender may allow you to borrow up to 90 percent of your homes equity.

Interest rates on home equity loans are generally lower than rates for loans offered by the federal government or by private lenders. The lower interest rate can make a home equity loan the most attractive option if you need to borrow to finance your childs education.

Danger of Using Home Equity
Using home equity to pay for a childs college education is very risky. If you suffered a financial hardship, such as a job loss or unexpected medical bills, you could have limited options to modify or delay your home equity loan payments. Using your home as collateral means you could lose it if you failed to repay the loan. On the other hand, if your child took out student loans, options such as forbearance, deferment, and loan forgiveness could be available to help in tough financial times.

Other Ways to Pay for College
A variety of grants and scholarships are available from universities, community organizations and businesses to help cover the costs of higher education. Your child could work part-time during the school year and work part-time or full-time during the summer. Another option is for your child to attend a less expensive university, at least for a year or two.

Think Carefully Before Tapping Into Your Homes Equity
Using your home to help cover the cost of college may seem like a good idea. While a home equity loan or line of credit can be easy to obtain and can have favorable interest rates, make sure you fully understand the risks. If you suffered a hardship and couldnt repay the debt, a mortgage lender would be less forgiving than a student loan servicer, and you could lose your home. Think things over carefully and explore other sources of funds, as well as the possibility of your child attending a different institution.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

Six Simple Ways to Increase Home Efficiency

More and more people are looking for ways to increase their home’s energy efficiency"both to conserve energy for the good of our environment and to lower energy costs. The good news, environmentalists tell us, is that there are many ways to accomplish both goals without spending a great deal of money.

From a panel of national energy experts, here are proven ways to do your part:

  1. Unplug appliances. Coffee makers and other kitchen appliances, and even your cellphone charger, draw energy even when not in use. Make it a habit to unplug them after use.
  2. Caulk and weather strip. Properly caulked windows and doors help keep outdoor air from seeping into your home, increasing the overall efficiency of your heating and air conditioning systems. Materials are inexpensive and replacement doesn’t take a lot of time, so check for drafts and replace as needed.
  3. Add insulation. Especially in older homes, adding insulation to the inside of your attic is well worth the minor investment in terms of efficiency and energy cost.
  4. Lower the water temp. A water heater set higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit wastes a lot of energy and creates a burn hazard for children. So while it might take a few extra minutes to get your kitchen faucet water really hot, it will be worth the savings to lower your thermostat.
  5. Replace incandescent lights. The average household spends 11 percent of its energy budget on lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert only about 10 percent of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. New lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50 – 75 percent.
  6. Maximize laundry and dish cleaning. Don’t run a load until the machine is full. Clean the dryer’s lint filter frequently and use lower temperature settings or lower cleaning settings when clothes or dishes are not heavily soiled.

Hope you found this information helpful! Contact me for more insights and info.

Make Moving Easy for Your Furry Friends

Transitioning to a new home can be hard on the furry members of your household. Here are some tips to make your next move as smooth as possible for your pets.

Board Your Pet on Moving Day

Movers can let out your pet unintentionally. Avoid this by boarding your pet or asking a trusted friend or family member to pet sit.

Keep an Essentials Box

Just as you should keep essentials with you during a move, it can be helpful to create the same essentials box for your pet. Include prescriptions, favorite toys, familiar items and their bed.

Make it Familiar

Set up a small area with your pet’s toys, food and bed. Keep routines as similar as possible. Allow your pet to get acclimated to the house.

Fill Out the Paperwork

Update their tags or microchip information to the new address and phone number and request that your previous vet transfer records to a local clinic.

HOAs and How They Can Impact Your Purchase

There are a multitude of things house hunters need to consider before choosing a home, such as price, location, schools, distance to work"the list goes on and on.

Most homebuyers may not think about the costs and rules associated with buying a house thats part of a homeowners association; however, it is an issue they may run across.

For those unfamiliar, a homeowner’s association (HOA) is a legal entity that manages a shared housing complex"that doesnt just mean a condo or a series of town homes. In some cases, it includes a suburban housing development with shared space or a specific neighborhood.

If a home is part of an HOA, the information should be available right in the MLS. You can always ask your REALTOR to be sure. The last thing you want is an unexpected fee tied to your home purchase.

Though the costs vary, most HOAs collect monthly dues and the money is earmarked to fund activities or repairs for fellow participants. This could include things like block parties or lawn maintenance.

Keep in mind that you can’t “choose” to be excluded from an HOA. If you buy a home that has one, youre required to be part of it and pay the dues. The structure of an association can vary, depending on the total number of members, but most have a president, treasurer and some elected board members.

When youre part of an HOA, there are rules you must follow. And depending on how strict yours is, it can be a pain. For instance, there may be a rule about what color you can paint your door, or the type of mailbox you can have, or even where you must place your garbage pails. If you consistently break the rules, you can be fined or, worse, make enemies with those in the neighborhood.

While there are benefits to buying a home thats part of an HOA, you should still understand the requirements before deciding to buy.

Check Your Credit Report Before Applying for a Mortgage

Applying for a mortgage to buy the house of your dreams can be a daunting process. You have to submit an application, paystubs, tax returns and other documentation. In addition, the lender will base their decision and how much money to loan you partially on your credit score.

Reasons to Check Your Credit

Before you apply for a mortgage, its a good idea to know where your credit currently stands. The best way to find out is to request copies of your credit reports. You’re entitled to receive free copies of your reports from the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

One reason? You can compare your score to your lenders guidelines to see if you’d have a good shot at being approved for a mortgage. If your score is too low, you can take steps to raise it. You can pay down your credit card balances, consolidate debt to lower your interest rates and pay it off faster. Additionally, be sure to pay all of your bills on time. It may take several months to have an impact, so the sooner you start making changes, the better.

You should also check your credit before applying for a mortgage to find out if your reports contain any errors. Sometimes records get mixed up if people have the same name or a company reports information incorrectly. If you find an error on your report, it could also be due to identify theft. Data breaches happen all the time, and criminals use stolen information to open fraudulent accounts. You might be unaware unless you check your credit report.

Errors on your credit report could prevent you from getting a mortgage for which you actually qualify. If your credit report shows that you have more debt than you really do or that you’re behind on payments when you really arent, that could cause the lender to consider you too risky for a mortgage.

If you find that your credit report contains errors or accounts that you didnt open, you should contact the credit reporting agency to dispute the information. They can investigate to find out what happened and correct errors. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, contact law enforcement.

Check Your Credit Early

When a lender is deciding whether or not to approve your mortgage application, your credit score is one of the most important pieces of information they’ll consider. Several months before you fill out your mortgage application, request copies of your credit reports. See where your score currently stands and check for errors. Then you can take action to raise your score and correct any mistakes so you can turn your dream of owning a home into a reality.

Inspired Ideas to Upgrade Your Backyard

Spruce up your own backyard and inspire your children to get outside and away from their screens.

Treehouse

For kids, there’s almost nothing more fun or classic than climbing a tree, and having a hangout in the treetops makes it that much better! Make this a DIY project at your local hardware store or hire a pro for a more luxurious look.

Swingset

A staple in almost every suburban backyard, a swingset is a great way to get your kids outside. Some sets include slides and monkey bars, and many different styles of swings, such as a classic seat, a tire and even specialty seats for two!

Pool

On a hot summer day, having a pool to jump in, play in and cool off is enticing, both for kids and adults. Even purchase pool toys, such as floats, pool noodles and even a basketball hoop for days full of fun in the sun!

What Happens When a Mortgage Lender Checks Your Credit

If you plan on buying a house and need a mortgage, a lender is going to perform a credit check to help determine whether to give you a loan and the interest rate youd have to pay. The higher your credit score, the more likely youll get approved and the lower your interest rate might be.

Shopping around for the best deal can save you thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage, but its also important to understand how credit checks work and might affect you. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, here are some main factors to keep in mind:

Inquiries
A credit check is reported to the credit reporting agencies as an “inquiry.” Inquiries tell other creditors that youre thinking of taking on new debt. An inquiry typically has a small, but negative, impact on your credit score that could affect your chances of getting other types of loans. Inquiries are a necessary part of applying for a mortgage, so you can’t avoid them altogether. But it pays to be smart about them.

As a general rule, apply for credit only when you need it. Applying for a credit card, car loan or other type of loan also results in an inquiry that can lower your credit score, so try to avoid applying for these other types of credit right before getting a mortgage or during the mortgage process.

Personal Credit Checks
Because your credit plays a major role in mortgage eligibility and rates, you should make sure your credit is in good standing and the information correct before applying for a loan. Fortunately, doing a credit check on your own does not affect your credit score. You can get a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you find any errors, get them corrected immediately to avoid potential impacts.

Shopping Around
Within a 45-day window, multiple credit checks from mortgage lenders are recorded on your credit report as a single inquiry. This is because other creditors realize youre only going to buy one home. You can shop around and get multiple pre-approvals and official loan estimates. The impact on your credit is the same no matter how many lenders you consult, as long as the last credit check is within 45 days of the first credit check. (Note: The 45-day rule applies only to credit checks from mortgage lenders or brokers"credit card and other inquiries are processed separately.)

Even if a lender needs to check your credit after the 45-day window is over, shopping around is usually still worth it. The impact of an additional inquiry is small, while searching for the best deal can save you a lot of money in the long run.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

Pros and Cons of Buying a House in a Subdivision

If youre searching for a new home, you might want to consider looking in a subdivision. You could find a house with amenities that homes in other neighborhoods lack, but there are some downsides to consider.

What Are Houses Like in a Subdivision?
Houses in a subdivision were most likely built by the same construction company. Therefore, they will be around the same age and may all have a similar style, or a handful of styles may be repeated throughout the neighborhood. Theyll also probably be similar in size, unless some homeowners have built additions.

Homes in a subdivision may have some standard amenities that arent typically found in houses that were built individually and scattered throughout other communities. If youre looking for a master suite or a house constructed with the most energy-efficient materials, you may be more likely to find those features in a subdivision than in other areas.

Other Characteristics of a Subdivision
Subdivisions are generally built outside the center of a city. That means they may not be close to stores, restaurants, parks and other places you visit frequently. That could be a problem if you dont have a car, or you might wind up spending a lot more than you would like on gas and vehicle maintenance.

Houses in a subdivision are generally close together. That can be a good thing if you like to spend time with your neighbors and your kids make friends in the community. You may also feel safer knowing that other people are around and that neighbors can keep an eye on your home if you go on vacation. The proximity could be a problem, however, if you prefer privacy and your neighbors like to socialize.

A subdivision is often governed by a homeowners association. Fees are typically charged for maintenance, landscaping and insurance coverage for common areas, such as a community pool and tennis courts. The fees may be several thousand dollars per household per year. An HOA may have rules governing everything from the colors people can paint their houses to landscaping, fencing, use of yards, where vehicles can be parked, and when and how residents can decorate their homes. Some people like the fact that everyone is held to a consistent standard to maintain the appearance of the neighborhood, but others are frustrated by the lack of freedom.

Is Life in a Subdivision Right for You?
A house in a subdivision may have the amenities and sense of community you want, but it may also have an overwhelming number of restrictions. Before you decide to buy a house in a subdivision, make sure you understand the rules and discuss the pros and cons with your real estate agent.