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Anne Arundel County Real Estate Blog

Frank Taglienti

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 112

Tips for Installing Your New Flat-Screen TV

by Home Action News

Tips for Installing Your New Flat-Screen TV

 

In this day and age, it is rare to find a television that is not a flat screen. In fact, many modern TVs come with "smart TV" features such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity along with all of the traditional options for cable and video input, so they essentially operate as an extension of your computer system. No matter how you use your flat-screen TV, you will want to exercise care when mounting it on the wall.

Step No. 1: Find the studs.

The first step to successfully installing your new flat-screen TV is to find the studs in your wall. The studs are much stronger and more stable than the drywall, so you will want to make sure that your TV is attached to a stud when you mount it on the wall. The easiest way to do this is to use a stud finder, but if you have experience with other home improvement projects, you will probably be able to find the studs just by knocking on the wall. Another easy way to find studs is to measure 16" from the corner of the room. This is likely the location of the first stud, and you will be able to find studs in 16" increments from there (assuming your house is built to code).

Step No. 2: Choose a high-quality bracket.

You will need to attach the brackets to the back of your flat-screen TV before you mount it on the wall, so make sure that the brackets you have chosen are high quality and appropriate for the size and shape of your TV. A good wall mount will run you between $50 and $60, a small price to pay for a sturdy resting place for your TV. Most TVs have three or four holes in the back where you will screw in the wall mount, so double-check that the TV and bracket are compatible before you purchase anything. 

Step No. 3: Remove the base of the TV.

Many flat-screen TVs come with the option to either mount them or leave them sitting on a shelf or TV stand. If your TV has a base already attached, you will need to remove the base when you attach the brackets to your TV.

Step No. 4: Keep the TV screen protected while you are installing the brackets. 

You will need to keep the TV safe and stable while you attach the brackets, and the easiest way to do this is by protecting the screen with a soft cloth. If you choose to go this route, carefully lay the TV face down on the cloth before you begin attaching the brackets. However, some manufacturers recommend leaving the TV upright (this is more common with plasma screen TVs), so make sure that you read the owner's manual before beginning the work.

Step No. 5: Drill holes in your wall that match the bracket.

Do not try to make holes in your stud/drywall with just the mounting screws. Drill holes ahead of time, and then screw the wall mount into those holes. This will be much easier and foolproof than trying to combine the steps.

If you are trying to hide the TV cords in the wall, you will want to drill those holes now as well. Your mounting bracket should have a square hole you can line up with for this step. You will then want to cut a matching hole in the wall about a foot from the floor. The TV cords will go in the top hole (through the bracket) and out the bottom hole. 

Step No. 6: Mount your TV.

Carefully line up the holes in your TV bracket with the holes in the wall mount. Bolt your TV bracket to the wall mount, tightening the bolts carefully. Exercise caution when releasing the TV and make sure that the bracket will hold. 

Once your TV is up on the wall, you will be ready to watch all of your favorite programs.

5 New and Improved Ways to Protect Your Home

by Home Action News

5 New and Improved Ways to Protect Your Home

 

While most people know that the best way to keep your family and home safe is to install an alarm system, new innovations in home security have made older alarm packages nearly obsolete. Because of this, it is important to know about all the must-have features for today's home security systems before you start looking to upgrade your home's security features. This includes easy, do-it-yourself additions, as well as more complex systems that may require the assistance of a professional.

Security Feature #1: Door Chimes

Many security systems will allow you to set a door chime to go off every time a door is opened or closed. This is useful because it is active at all times — not just when the alarm system is armed. Having a door chime will let you know anytime an exterior door is opened in your home. This chime can alert you to any number of things — from unwelcome intruders to wayward children wandering out of the house. 

Security Feature #2: Video Surveillance Systems

While video surveillance systems have been in use for years, new advances have made them far more reliable and useful. You will be able to tap into your home's video system from your laptop, phone or tablet, making it easy to monitor the interior and exterior of your home on the go. 

Security Feature #3: Doorbell Cameras

Many newer doorbells are equipped with cameras or video surveillance. For example, one popular model will send a photo to your phone every time someone steps onto your front porch. This will let you know who is there before you even open the door. This can be useful for security purposes, but also for more mundane purposes. For example, if you know that your visitor is just the delivery man dropping off a package, you will not need to rush to open the door. 

Security Feature #4: Bluetooth Deadbolts 

Many newer door locks are Bluetooth-enabled. This makes getting in a snap — if you have your phone on you, simply tap the deadbolt and it will unlock due to the close proximity of your phone. This is more secure than a traditional lock that can easily be picked. You will also be able to remotely monitor your door using your smartphone. This way, you can double-check that the door is locked when you are at work or out running errands. 

Security Feature #5: Floodlights

Having a motion-activated floodlight in your yard can help alert you to any nighttime activity outside your home. The threat of being detected can frequently scare away would-be intruders, so the floodlights alone are often enough to protect your home from a break-in. 

Consider adding one or all of these features. They can provide you with both convenience and peace of mind.

4 Times an Umbrella Insurance Policy Could Save You

by Home Action News

4 Times an Umbrella Insurance Policy Could Save You

 

An umbrella insurance policy covers you above and beyond your regular insurance policy. It is meant to help you if some type of accident occurs and the coverage needed exceeds the amount of your regular policy. Basically, it covers you for an issue that you can be deemed responsible for. Let's look at some examples.

1. When Your Dog Bites

Our dogs are our friends, but sometimes they can act out of character for whatever reason, and we may not be able to control the situation or may not be around. This could lead to a dog biting another person on your property. If this results in bodily injury to that person and he or she files a claim, it could possibly exceed your regular policy. The person could take you to court as well, resulting in even more cost to you. An umbrella policy will give you the extra cushion to cover those expenses.

2. You Have the Coolest Jungle Gym in the Neighborhood, Until Someone Gets Hurt

Having the best jungle gym or the only pool in the neighborhood can be fun when you have kids and all their friends come to hang out at your house. (Such potentially dangerous delights are known in the insurance world as "attractive nuisances.") Then a kid gets hurt and the fun stops. While we hope that parents understand things happen when kids are playing, sometimes it is not that simple for the parent of the child who got injured. This can result in them filing a claim against you and, depending on the severity of the injury, the costs could well exceed your regular policy. Your umbrella policy will give you a cushion to fall back on.

3. Landlord Liabilities

If you own rental properties, then you can have liabilities tied to those properties. Sometimes they may be things that you haven't noticed, like a crack in the walkway. If something like this results in bodily injury, then it is possible that you will be held responsible and legal action could be taken against you. Just as in the other examples, the umbrella policy will cover you for additional expenses above your homeowner policy.

4. Be Careful What You Say About Others

You may have been told that if you do not have anything nice to say, then do not say anything at all, but sometimes it is hard to hold your tongue. In these cases, it is important to be careful about what you are saying, as well as about what audience you are saying it to, or through what outlet. Something negative said or written could be considered slander or libel by the person it is being said about. 

This could result in legal action taken by that person, and — you guessed it — an umbrella insurance policy will cover you.

Things You Might Not Think of When Refinancing Your Home!

by Home Action News

Things You Might Not Think of When Refinancing Your Home

 

Are you planning to refinance your home this year? If you're interested in lowering your mortgage payments, decreasing your interest rate or more, chances are you've probably thought about whether or not you should refi your mortgage. This lengthy process can have a number of advantages and disadvantages depending on your situation, so you'll have to weigh your options carefully before taking the plunge.

When you're ready to learn more about preparing for a new mortgage, here are six things you might not think of when refinancing your home. 

  1. You'll have to get an appraisal. You'll have to get an appraisal when refinancing your home, so keep your house's value and your savings in mind when determining whether or not you should pursue smaller monthly mortgage payments or a lower interest rate.
  2. You'll need to pay closing costs. You'll need to pay closing costs a second time when refinancing your home, so make sure you have an adequate amount of money saved to pay these upfront fees and any other costs associated with a mortgage refi. 
  3. You'll have to go through the same process. To a certain extent, it's like buying a house all over again, so think back to when you bought your house and make up your mind about whether or not you can dedicate enough time to the effort. 
  4. You'll need to get your credit checked. The bank is going to want to check your credit score when you're refinancing your home, so keep in mind that you won't be able to negotiate a better deal if your credit score is lower than it was when you were first approved for a mortgage. 
  5. You'll have to think about the interest rate. Are rates higher than they were when you first financed? Are they lower? Even a small difference can mean a lot of money over time. Take into account the full picture: the number of months you'll be paying the new mortgage and the rate you'll be paying compared with your current timeline and rate.    
  6. You'll need to live in your house a long time. Refinancing may not be worth it if you're planning to move in the near future. Figure out how long you plan to live in your current place and how much your closing costs will be before making the refi decision.  

These six things you might not think of when refinancing your home are important to take into account before you start shopping around for a new mortgage. Because a refi can lead to a number of benefits and costs down the road depending on the outcome, you'll need to prepare for every scenario before making a commitment. 

We're here to help, so if you think refinancing might be right for you, we can help you decide what your next steps should be.

 

Interest Rate vs. APR: Know the Difference

by Home Action News

Interest Rate vs. APR: Know the Difference

 

In real estate, you will see these two terms come into play when it pertains to mortgages. Mortgages can have many different aspects to them, whether it be how they are set up or what the different fees are.

What Is the Interest Rate?

Your mortgage interest rate, according to consumerfinance.gov, is the cost you are paying each year to borrow money for your mortgage. In other words, this is the fee that you pay throughout your mortgage to have the financial institution loan you money.

What Is APR?

The APR is the annual percentage rate. It is like the interest rate but includes more fees. Because of this, you will most likely notice that the APR is typically higher than the interest rate. The additional fees that are included in the annual percentage rate are not only the interest rate but the points and additional fees that may be associated with the mortgage.

What Are the Points?

Points are essentially a trade-off or an exchange between the lender and the individual taking the loan. If you pay points, you will be paying additional upfront costs at closing when you buy your home, but over the long run you will be paying a decreased interest rate for paying the points. This is advantageous to those who know they are going to have the loan for a long time and would like to pay reduced interest.

Should I Be More Concerned With the Interest Rate or the APR?

Both should be considered when looking at a mortgage. When you are looking at the interest rate, you are essentially looking at what the monthly payment will be for you, so the lower the interest rate, the lower the monthly payment will be. However, the APR takes into account what the total cost of the overall loan will be over its lifetime. It is important to weigh both, as the APR and interest rate can both give you information that you need to know.

When to Be Concerned With APR?

The annual percentage rate should be taken into consideration the most when you are planning to see a loan out to its full life or just before its full life. This is assuming you are doing a typical 30-year mortgage loan. This is because if you are paying points to reduce your interest rate, you will not see the true benefit until later in the life of the mortgage. Utilizing points can be in your favor as well in both reducing interest for monthly payments and reducing the overall cost of your loan over time.

To discuss current interest rates and APRs in your area and how to go about assessing which mortgage is correct for you, please contact me directly.

10 Ways to Save on Utility Bills During the Summer Months

by Home Action News

10 Ways to Save on Utility Bills During the Summer Months

 

The summer heat is often the culprit behind jumps in electricity costs during the summer months, so do what you can now to conserve energy and avoid additional costs as the weather heats up. If you're looking to cut back on your spending throughout the summer, your utility bills are great places to start when making changes to your everyday life. 

Here are 10 ways to save on utility bills during the summer months, adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle and avoid overspending on household expenses this year. 

  1. Switch Off the Lights When You Leave a Room – Turning off the lights when walking out of a room is a great way to curb your energy consumption in the summer.  
  2. Use Rain as a Free Water Source – Collecting rainwater in buckets during a storm is an active way to cut down on your water usage while taking care of your yard this season.
  3. Close Your Blinds and Curtains During the Day – Keeping the heat out on bright, sunny days is an effective way to control your energy expenses this summer. 
  4. Keep Doors and Vents Shut – Closing off parts of your house where you don't spend much time is a convenient way to limit cooling costs while at home during the summer. 
  5. Spend Your Free Time Outside – Going out every day to embrace the warm weather and enjoy the great outdoors is a smart way to use less energy in the summertime. 
  6. Find Creative Ways to Cool Down – Drinking ice-cold beverages and taking cool showers are small ways to save money on utilities while making the most of the summer. 
  7. Put Wet Clothes Out on a Clothesline – Using the hot summer sun to dry your clothes after washing them is an effortless way to reduce utility bills and spend time outside. 
  8. Monitor the Temperature on Your Thermostat – Setting a default number for your air conditioning is a simple way to keep your energy bills from rising when it's hot outside. 
  9. Opt for Fans Instead of Air Conditioning – Circulating air throughout your home with fans is an economical way to cool down your living space while using less energy.
  10. Unplug Electronics That Aren't Being Used – Pulling out their cords when you're not using your electronics and chargers is an easy way to limit your energy usage this summer. 

These 10 ways to save on utility bills during the summer months will keep you from breaking the bank when the weather gets warmer this year. Whether you're focused on using less water, running your air conditioning on a lower setting or another method, it's possible to cut back on power usage and save money in the process. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about how to circumvent high utility bills in the summertime, so please don't hesitate to reach out to me today.

 

4 Reasons to Consider Investing in Real Estate

by Home Action News

4 Reasons to Consider Investing in Real Estate

 

Many serious investors are looking for ways to diversify their investments. Once you have maxed out your IRA or 401(k), you might look into investment strategies that do not involve more stocks and bonds. One popular way to diversify an investment portfolio is to purchase real estate. Investment properties can help increase your net worth over the long term, but they also have the added benefit of increasing your monthly cash flow.

Parents may also be considering buying a home for their young adult children, who can pay rent to their parents, perhaps splitting it with a roommate. Read on to learn about some of the reasons that investing in real estate is a great idea.

Reason #1: Real estate is an appreciating investment

While some markets can become stagnant or temporarily decrease in value, the long-term real estate market trend usually follows an upward trajectory. Over time, your property is likely to increase in value, allowing you to make more money if or when you eventually sell the property. As with most investments, there are no guarantees; but real estate can be an important part of a long-term investing plan.

Reason #2: Real estate can boost your monthly cash flow

A real estate investment can increase your monthly cash flow in the form of rent. This is a major selling point for many investors, since they may not reap the benefits of traditional investments until much later in life. 

That being said, do not underestimate the cost of owning and managing a property. In addition to your mortgage payment, you will be responsible for property taxes as well as ongoing maintenance on the property. Some years, this might be a very small amount, but you should make sure that you are prepared for inevitable, pricey repairs as well. A good rule of thumb is to save between 10 and 20 percent of your rental income for future maintenance issues. In the long term, you will want to ensure that the rent payments you collect are enough for you to cover all of these costs and have a little extra left over as profit. 

Reason #3: The longer you own an investment property, the more profitable it becomes

Every investor's goal is to increase his or her monthly cash flow and, in the long term, increase his or her net worth. Achieving this through investment properties becomes easier the longer you own a property. This is because rent prices and home values typically rise over the long term, but a fixed-rate mortgage remains the same.

Reason #4: Investing in real estate can provide immediate gratification

Some people prefer to own something concrete rather than relying on the volatility of the stock market. As long as you have a well-planned strategy for how you will pay the costs associated with your investment property, real estate is a relatively safe and stable investment. 

If you have extra money that you would like to invest outside of your more traditional investments, and have carefully considered your long-term investment strategies and the risks involved, give us a call about properties you can buy to improve both your long-term investing prospects and immediate cash flow.

 
 

Making Extra Mortgage Payments Can Help!

by Home Action News

Making Extra Mortgage Payments Can Help

 

Do you want to pay off your mortgage sooner? Whether you've bought a home recently or you've been paying your mortgage for a while, making extra mortgage payments is a smart way to save money over the long term. The effort you put into paying more now and saving later will benefit you in the future even though the process might seem overwhelming right now. 

By saving your money and refining your repayment goals, you can take the next steps toward additional mortgage payments and experience your return firsthand. Your motivation for making as many payments within your spending limits as possible is knowing you'll be able to pay off your mortgage faster and bask in your return on investment sooner. In addition to taking years of interest off your loan, you'll also end up making fewer payments at lower prices over time. 

How to Make Extra Mortgage Payments 

Write down your mortgage value, your interest rate and the number of years you have to pay your loan; once you see the savings you'll make in the next few decades with these three tips, you'll want to start making extra mortgage payments today. 

  1. Add a Small Dollar Amount Each Month. Commit to adding a small amount of money like $10 or $25 to your mortgage payment every month. You won't notice the difference, and you'll also decrease the number of months you spend paying your mortgage while saving money in the long run.
  2. Make Extra Payments Early in Your Loan Term. Execute your additional mortgage payments as frequently as you can early in your loan, depending on how much your current budget will allow. You'll end up paying your bills for a shorter amount of time and spending less money in the process. 
  3. Make Lump-sum Payments Sooner Rather Than Later. Carry out larger extra mortgage payments in the first few years of your mortgage term to pay more now and save a lot in the long term. You'll make an immense dent in the overall amount you contribute to your loan and avoid paying thousands of dollars in interest. 

Because making one or more extra mortgage payments per year can help tremendously, keep these examples and tips in mind as you review your budget, set your goals and start saving. Cutting back on spending and putting effort into these additional payments will be worth it once you've finished paying off your mortgage and saved thousands of dollars along the way. If you're wondering about the other ways you can ease the burden of your loans as a homeowner, I'm always available to contact for more information. 

 

Make Easter This Year Fun!

by Frank Taglienti

Easter Weekend is fast approaching, make sure to plan for some local activities. This year, Easter Sunday will fall on April 16th, 2017. With many different communities doing a multitude of activities, see the following links to plan your Easter Weekend:

We all know this time of year means candy candy candy. Make sure to get you and your family out and about, and stay healthy! Maryland has many parks & events that offer great outdoor activities to make sure you stay on your feet coming into a beautiful spring. 

Smart Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

by Home Action News

Smart Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

 

It's a goal as cherished as early retirement. Everyone who buys a home for keeps dreams of the day they make their last house payment. Sadly, the majority of homeowners in the U.S. never even get close. However, there are some smart ways, some tried and true, some you may not have thought about, that will allow you to pay off your mortgage early.
 
Old-fashioned methods can work. The difficulty is disciplining yourself to actually follow through. Step one to paying off your mortgage early is to make a plan. Keep in mind that Rome wasn't built in a day and you are not going to pay off your mortgage in a few months, maybe not even in a couple of years. But here are some smart ways to go about paying off early.
 
Make Savings Automatic. Saying you are setting aside $200 per month for your payoff amount (above and beyond your regular monthly payments) sounds good, but it only works if you actually do it. Open up a savings account just for your remaining balance, and make that monthly percentage automatic.
 
Put Extra Away. Saving every month is a great start. But when you get that income tax refund, instead of going on a shopping spree, put it in your payoff savings account. Any extra money — a bonus, a lottery ticket win, a small inheritance — should all largely go to your payoff savings account.
 
Ditch the Waste. All work and no play makes you a very dull boy or girl, so ditching the waste doesn't mean cutting off your cable, although that could add up to a couple thousand dollars a year. It means buy some Folgers instead of stopping at Starbucks every morning for a cup of Joe.
 
Think about it; $4 a day, five days a week, for 52 weeks each year. That's over a thousand dollars a year just for a cup of coffee you could make at home for a few cents a week. Here are some other wasteful expenses you can ditch and how much you could save each year.

  • Your Unused Gym Membership – or even your used one — is $40 or $50 dollars a month. That adds up over time. You can exercise at home for free, and modest home equipment will pay for itself.
  • The Latest Gadgets – Changing your cell phone plan alone can save you around $100 per month.
  • Cook a Meal – Fast food, the movies, sit-down restaurants — they all eat up $100 a week out of your budget. That's right, you're talking potentially over $5,000 per year you could be saving just by eating in and streaming a movie instead of paying $15 per ticket at the box office.
  • Carpool and Walk – If your corner store is literally down the street, walk or ride a bike, don't drive. When you go to work, find a carpool. You'll be surprised how much money you can save on transportation with just those two ideas.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 112