Questions to ask yourself before buying your first home
Buying your first home. It’s one of the biggest decisions people will ever make and usually represents the biggest investment a consumer will make in his or her lifetime. So how do you know if you’re ready to take that plunge? Just as with kids, adults should look for “readiness” signs, as described by OpenDoor’s Heidi Knight.
“The first sign that you’re in the right position to become a homeowner is that you’re ready to put down roots — at least for a little while,” says Knight. “Conventional wisdom states that in order for your purchase to make financial sense, you should plan on staying put for at least five years.” She goes on to explain how that is the length of time it takes to begin to see appreciation on your investment, building enough equity to offset the money you spent on closing costs on the home’s purchase as well as agent fees associated with selling the home.
Knight offers questions you should ask yourself, such as if you can you see yourself staying at your job for that long, or will you be looking for new opportunities? How about if the right position came along. Would you be willing to move for it? Then there are your comfort zones. Do you like the area you’re living in, or would you like to explore other options? Are you planning on moving in with a significant other or expanding your family? “If any of these questions make you uneasy, you may want to consider renting for a bit longer or thinking about a for-a-few-years home vs. a forever home,” she says.
And then there are finances. Becoming a homeowner is expensive when you take into consideration not only the monthly mortgage payments, but also the funds you’ll need to make a down payment, closing costs, any needed repairs, insurance, etc. Online mortgage calculators can help you get an idea of what your monthly mortgage payment could be based on estimated interest rates, down payment amounts and income. Start with the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a home and then work toward saving a down payment. Of course, the amount of your down payment could vary based on the type of financing you intend to use (FHA, VA, or conventional) and if you put less than 20% down, there may be additional private mortgage insurance involved.
Another question is whether you’re ready for the responsibility of it all and not just the fun stuff like planning a kitchen upgrade or installing new hardwood floors. “As the owner of a property, you’re solely responsible for its maintenance and upkeep,” says Knight, who asks, “Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and tackle home maintenance issues that arise?”
As for the home you seek, it’s preferable that you leave some room for flexibility. First determine your “deal breakers” such as location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, external features like a backyard, or nice views. Then remain flexible on any other, less important features such as the cosmetics, which can always be changed down the road.
Source: OpenDoor | TBWS
Vaccine scams begin infecting American lives
As with anything promising and in sudden demand, scammers are on the prowl to capitalize on it — looking to rip you off or infect your computer — leaving thousands of victims in their wake. As ABC7Chicago’s Jason Knowles and Ann Pistone report, bad actors are already on the prowl.
“Security experts said vaccine scams are going to be inundating your smartphones and computers, and as the demand for the shot increases thieves will prey on people,” they tell us. ‘The subject line may say “URGENT INFORMATION LETTER: COVID 19 NEW APPROVED VACCINES.’ Or they could be emails saying you can buy the COVID-19 vaccine.”
When the reporters asked a random group of people about falling for these scams, they heard stories of people desperate and vulnerable or have been affected personally by it, desperate to get the vaccine. The conclusion is that it’s everyone’s responsibility to tell loved ones and elders that they shouldn’t be opening suspicious texts and emails, because you can NOT buy the COVID-19 vaccine online.
According to the report, the Better Business Bureau and the Food and Drug administration have already issued vaccine scam warnings, saying that these fraudsters are preying upon the most vulnerable in the hopes of getting a vaccine sooner so they can go back to living their lives the way they used to, before the pandemic hit. “Vaccine scams can also come in the form of phishing texts or emails which look like they’re from a reputable company or government agency,” say the reporters, who add that the emails or texts could look like they are coming from your doctor or a government agency like the Centers for Disease Control who ask that you click on a link to access the vaccine. What they really are are scammers hoping you will enter personal information like a social security number or Medicare information. Other scams include verbiage that may fool you into downloading a so-called “vaccine schedule.”
Click on those links at your peril, as you are sent to a website to which they download or ask to download a spreadsheet of local areas that you can go and queue up for your vaccine. And when you do so, that document leads to a computer infection, which becomes a virus to which they can then either target you for ransomware attacks. “In a ransomware attack, the scammers hold your device hostage for a high payment,” say Knowles and Pistone.
Their best advice is to follow up with your doctor or trusted pharmacy and NEVER respond to any random texts or emails. “If you get any correspondence from a government agency or your doctor, even if you think it is real, you should still delete the email or text,” they add. “Call the agency or email them directly by going to the official website, on your own.”
Source: ABC7Chicago | TBWS
Permanent remote work is making many Americans rethink where they live
“WFH.” It now has an acronym all its own. “Work from home” is used to connote a stop-gap way for employers to keep their employees productive. Now? Employers are finally admitting it’s all working out just fine, and employees are considering they can work from anywhere — including somewhere other than where they currently live.
NPR’s Adedayo Akala reports that as coronavirus cases continue to spike and working from home seems permanent, many Americans (an astonishing 14 million to 23 million of them) intend to relocate to a different city or region as a result of telework, according to a new study released by Upwork, a freelancing platform. This was a survey conducted from Oct. 1st to the 15th using information gathered from among 20,490 Americans aged 18 and up.
“The large migration is motivated by people no longer confined to the city where their job is located,” says Akala. “The pandemic has shifted many companies’ view on working from home. Facebook announced plans for half of its employees to work from home permanently. The company even hired a director of remote work in September to ease the transition.”
Upworks chief economist, Adam Ozimek, admits,” As our survey shows, many people see remote work as an opportunity to relocate to where they want and where they can afford to live. This is an early indicator of the much larger impacts that remote work could have in increasing economic efficiency and spreading opportunity.”
The study says big cities will see the largest exodus — around 20% of respondents. And because many expect remote work to continue long term, more than half are planning to relocate anywhere from 2 hours or farther away from their current home.
On the average, the United Van Lines report says nationally there is a 32% increase in moving interest compared with this time last year. “The most common reasons associated with pandemic-influenced moves were: concerns for personal and family health and well-being, desires to be closer to family, changes in employment status or work arrangement (including the ability to work remotely), and desires for lifestyle change or improvement of quality of life,” says Akala. “Customers told the moving company that the pandemic made them reevaluate what was important to their family, which meant being closer to extended family and friends. Other customers said they had to widen their job search to out of state.”
Source: NPR | TBWS