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Facebook and Nextdoor offer communities a chance to gather online and share local events, businesses, and recommendations. These groups offer you a great opportunity to not only reach out to prospective clients but to also ensure that your name is familiar to your target demographic. Neighbors trust each other more than they trust an ad on the internet or a random message from a stranger, which is why any kind of business can experience rapid growth if they can start getting mentioned in local groups. Online groups on platforms such as Facebook and Nextdoor allow people to connect with their neighbors and find reliable businesses that they can trust. If someone is just beginning to look for a specific service, there’s no better place to start than with their neighbors that have already had that experience. Make sure that you’re the one that they’re recommending to start growing in a concentrated area.  How to Find Local Groups on Facebook, Nextdoor, and More When you join a group that’s made up of people who match your target customer, you’ll have multiple opportunities to improve awareness of your business by being helpful. To find local groups, simply create a profile on one of these platforms and type in a keyword or topic into the search box of the home page. Once you’ve located a group to join, you’ll see that people are asking a lot of questions within these groups. Look for questions that allow you to demonstrate your expertise or highlight your specialized skills.  You can choose to answer the questions outright, share helpful blog posts, or even mention your own products and ...

The way we work has long influenced where we live and the type of home we buy. With an increasing number of companies warming up to the idea of remote work, we’re spending more time in our homes than ever before and it’s changing our criteria for when we shop for a new one.  According to data analyst Treh Mangertz on a Zillow blog post : “Nationwide, the typical starter home is currently valued at $131,740. But similar starter homes in 37 of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas — home to the lion’s share of the country’s jobs — are more expensive than in the country at large, often by a wide margin...As a result, owning even a modest home (and taking advantage of the wealth-building opportunities that can bring) is out of reach for many households as long as they need to be within commuting distance of a physical workplace.” But as the pandemic marches on, the possibility of remote work becomes more permanent each day. The restructuring or elimination of the daily commute has allowed renters to start contemplating other housing options.  Zillow economist Jeff Tucker views remote work as a potential opportunity for a shift in the housing market. However, he also acknowledges that there are other factors outside of the commute to consider when it comes to deciding on a place of residence. In a statement for Zillow, Tucker said:  “If remote work becomes a bona fide long-term option especially with the pandemic, that could reshape the U.S. housing market by opening up homeownership to people renting in expensive parts of the country. However, it's unclear how ...

If working and learning from home has left your space feeling chaotic and disorganized, know that you’re not alone. And while no one can plan for a pandemic, many families are trying to reorganize for the long-haul by better preparing their at-home classrooms.  One of the most important lessons we learn is how to make the best out of a tough situation. So whether your kids are going back to a physical or digital classroom this fall, they’ll be spending time working on assignments at home. Here are some ideas to make a practical and exciting workspace for your kids without breaking the bank.  Finding Success Despite Limited Square Footage It’s important to structure your physical environment so there’s a separation between home and school. Where you work, and even what you wear, helps signal to your brain what mode you’re supposed to be in- and the same applies to your kids. Even if separate spaces aren’t built into your floor plan, you can easily define separate work spaces with folding screens, bookcases, or curtains. If you’re worried about square footage, wall-anchored desks that can be stowed away at the end of the day are a great option. Consider investing in comfortable chairs as well, especially considering the amount of time you and your kids will spend being seated.  If possible, put school stations near natural light sources to help the room feel larger and more welcoming than it really is. But, as with many things these days, there are no rules. Work spaces can be found in unexpected locations, so don’t hesitate to convert garages, laundry rooms, or playrooms into ...

With today’s low mortgage rates, you may be considering refinancing your home.  There are a variety of reasons that lead many of us looking to refinance our mortgages, however you may not be familiar with what refinancing can do for you. Here are a few changes that motivate people to refinance:  Getting a better interest rate Change the length (term) of your loan Convert an adjustable-rate loan to a fixed-rate Cash-out refinancing Borrowing against the built-up value to pay for remodeling, etc. The fact is that you can refinance as often as you want, but some lenders look for a waiting period between home loans and appraisals. You also need to have equity to qualify for taking out cash against on your loan. And because most lenders will typically only approve you for 80-90% of your loan’s total value, it can be difficult to obtain more than one cash-out refinance.  However, taking another refinancing route can be beneficial in some scenarios. If interest rates have dropped, you could save thousands of dollars over the course of your loan. Refinancing is also a possibility if you’re facing foreclosure due to not being able to make your payments.  The Rules of Cash-Out Refinances Cash-out refinances function differently than rate-and-term refinances. Some lenders have a waiting period after the closing date of 6 months before you can take cash out on a traditional mortgage.  If you have a VA-backed mortgage, you must make at least six consecutive payments before applying for a cash-out refinance. You also have to prove that your ...

Mortgage insurance has been a staple in the mortgage industry since the late 1950s. Private mortgage insurance, or PMI, is in fact an insurance policy much like any other. Mortgage insurance on conventional loans is required when the first mortgage exceeds 80 percent of the value of the home.  If the borrowers put down 20 percent or more, no mortgage insurance is needed. Should the loan ever go into foreclosure, the lender is compensated by the difference between the borrower’s original down payment and 20 percent of the value of the home. This amount will vary based upon other factors but generally speaking that’s how mortgage insurance works. Yet up until the passage of the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998, mortgage insurance was a lifetime affair. Unless the mortgage was retired by sale or refinanced, the mortgage insurance policy would always be a part of the mortgage, regardless of the current market value of the home. This Act provided ways for consumers to get rid of mortgage insurance, either by a direct request or natural amortization, for all loans issued on or after July 29, 1999. Borrower’s Request Borrowers may request cancellation of a mortgage insurance policy by writing the current lender asking for a review and removal of PMI once the mortgage balance is naturally paid down to 80 percent of the original value of the property. The time it takes to reach that amount is determined by the amortization period of the loan. A 15 year mortgage will be paid down sooner than a 30 year loan, for example. There really aren’t any requirements of the borrowers other than making the official request and waiting for the ...

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