As we prepare to wrap up a record-breaking year for real estate, potential homebuyers are wondering if 2022 will bring more of the same.  Despite the fact there were sellers a bit apprehensive to make a move during the pandemic due to economic volatility, the real estate market in 2021 saw a record setting boom.

Sales were at an all-time high while mortgage rates were at an all-time low. The combination of the two created a favorable sellers’ market with tighter competition amongst buyers. With interest rates expected to remain low in the upcoming year, homebuyers looking to make a move in the coming months should start preparing sooner rather than later.

Being one step ahead of the competition is a good idea especially if inventory remains low. While the housing market may pick up with additional inventory right after the new year to satisfy buyer demand, there’s no guarantee.

One way to stay on top of the real estate market is to work closely with an agent. Buying a home is not as simple as we’d like it to be, but the process doesn’t have to be as stressful as you might believe it will be. While buying a home is no simple task, working with a real estate agent offers you overall support each step of the way. Their knowledge of the local market coupled with the skills to get you where you need to be will alleviate some of the stress that often comes along with buying a home.

Before starting the home search and teaming up with a local real estate agent, there are a few questions to ask yourself so that when you do find the right place to call home you’ll be ready to move forward.

Credit Score

Ask yourself, is my credit score in good shape? If it isn’t, take the necessary time needed to boost it up to where it should be before you begin applying for a mortgage. Your credit score is an important factor when it comes to obtaining a loan. Not only does it affect whether you’ll get approved, it also affects the rate at which you’ll qualify.

The higher the score, the more likely you are to get approved at a more favorable interest rate. There are different types of mortgages, each with their own credit score requirements. It’s a good idea to talk with a mortgage lender ahead of time to gather information on all of the various loan requirements. That way, once you obtain your credit score, you’ll know exactly where you stand.

Boost your credit

Once you obtain your credit score, there may be a chance you’ll need to boost it up. Make sure all bills are paid on time and if possible, pay down as much of your existing credit card debt (if not all) before starting the mortgage process.

If you plan to purchase a home in the near future, resist opening any new lines of credit as this will affect your credit score. While the discount many stores offer with the opening of a new credit card may sound enticing, resist the urge to apply. You may save a few dollars today, but long-term this can hurt you when applying for a mortgage.

And lastly, when looking over your credit report, check it carefully for any potential errors. If anything looks incorrect or even suspicious, you’ll want to correct and/or rectify it before starting the mortgage application process.

Save, save, save

With home prices being on the higher end of the spectrum, agents and their buyers are seeing sales for over asking price, whether it be the result of a bidding war or anxious buyers offering higher to secure an acceptance.

To remain in the game in such a competitive market, having a strong down payment shows a strong interest in the property and a commitment to get the deal done. While there isn’t a specific number required to put down, many times buyers hope a larger number will help them get their offer accepted over the competition.

Plenty of lenders will allow you to put down less but on a conventional mortgage you’ll be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI).  While mortgage insurance isn’t a bad thing, it’s an additional expense homebuyers tend to try and avoid especially with home prices being falling on the higher side. Why add to your monthly payment if you don’t have to?

Research different neighborhoods

Before heading out with an agent, conduct a bit of research on home prices in the different neighborhoods. This will give you a better idea of which areas are more feasible. Together with your real estate agent you can create a game plan and focus on the properties that fit within your budget. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a home that exceeds your finances.

It’s finally here, moving day! Whether you’re heading into a new home or apartment, the excitement, and stress that comes along with the process is one that cannot be avoided.

Did you know that moving is consistently rated as one of life’s most stressful events? It ranks right up there with death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, etc. Even if your move is a happy one, it doesn’t lessen the stress that comes along with it. It is still a massive disruption of your routine, combined with all that is familiar to you. And no matter how well you plan, that feeling will not change.

Now, you’ve spent weeks (maybe even months) planning and packing, so when the actual day arrives, you’re bound to be in overdrive. Along with all of things you’re going to have to take into consideration, if you’re a pet owner, add another item to your pre-moving check list.

If you think the process is tough, imagine just how stressful it can be for your pet. Dogs especially can easily become stressed out when there is unexpected activity in the home, or even when introduced to a new environment.

Animals are creatures of habit, and for them, change, no matter how big or small we think it may be, can be both confusing and stressful.

So while you’re planning out the specifics for moving day, it’s important to also plan ahead for your pet. In order to ensure he or she is relaxed, and safe, on the big day, we’ve compiled a few top tips to help make the move a success for all members of your family.

Contact your vet

If you’re moving out of state, or out of the local area, contact your vet to obtain your pet’s medical records along with any current prescriptions. Part of relocating involves finding new doctors and that includes a new veterinarian. Ask your current vet if they can recommend a new doctor before beginning to do so on your own.

Plan Ahead

Prior to moving, it’s a good idea to visit your vet. According to Dr. Rachel Barrack, Founder of concierge veterinary practice Animal Acupuncture, you should make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations. If you’re traveling by air, Dr. Barrack stresses the importance of checking with the airline beforehand to confirm all necessary paperwork prior to the day of departure. If traveling by car, make sure your pet is used to their crate and plan ahead for bathroom and water breaks.

Pack An Accessible Bag for Your Pet

Included in your pet’s to-go bag should be a leash, bowls for food and water, food, medications, wee-wee pads or litter box, bed, and favorite toys so when you get into your new home you won’t be rummaging through boxes, Dr. Barrack points out.

Keep pets away from the action

One of the best ways to help your pet remain calm is to keep them in a quiet area although that might not be possible on moving day. You don’t want them getting underfoot or accidentally getting out. A good idea to consider is either boarding for a night or two or doggy daycare. If that’s an option you’d like to explore, Brooklyn is home to a variety of options. A few local places include:

Keep in mind, before your pet is able to board or spend the day in daycare, most animal facilities require the animals go through an evaluation to ensure they’re a fit, and to protect the safety of all the animals already at the facility. All vaccinations will need to be up to date as well so make sure to find out from your veterinarian which ones your pet will need. And lastly, some months may be more popular than others at the facility, so once you have your moving dates, call to reserve your pet’s spot.

Move the house before you move your pet

Set up as much of your new home as best you can before introducing your pet to his or her new digs. Let them slowly adjust to their new surroundings. Re-introduce familiar objects and make sure to give your pup lots of attention in the process. You can even walk them from room to room to take in the new scents they’re sure to pick up on.

Update information

Once you’re settled, make sure to update your new contact information. That includes notifying your vet, ordering new ID tags, and if your dog is microchipped, calling the company and ensuring they have all of the new and most current information.

Stick to a Schedule

Dr. Barrack stresses the importance of sticking to a schedule once the move is complete. Even though you’re in a new place, sticking to their usual eating, exercise, and sleeping schedule as best as possible will help to minimize the stress.

Most pets love predictability and routine, so a move can throw them into a tailspin. Change can be confusing and stressful so be mindful of their needs as you prepare your move.

And most importantly, Dr. Barrack stresses the importance of being patient. Once you arrive at your new home, it will often take even the most well-behaved pets a few days to adjust to their new surroundings.  Consult with your vet as well on the best ways in which to ensure a smooth transition.

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