Closing At The End Of August? Plan Ahead For Labor Day Weekend.

Labor Day ClosingPlanning to make a late-August purchase closing? Keep an eye on your calendar. The last Friday of this month coincides with Labor Day Weekend, which may make for a complicated, end-of-month closing.

If you’re planning to close on, or around, August 31, 2012, plan ahead. Leaving anything to the proverbial last minute could delay your closing by hours in a best-case scenario, and by days in a worst-case.

This is because Labor Day is among the most popular vacation times of the year in the real estate, title and mortgage industries and, as Labor Day approaches, it’s increasingly hard to resolve “issues” related to settlement — not all parties are readily available for resolution.

A small closing issue, therefore, can spiral into a major one when you can’t reach your attorney; or, when the title company is short-staffed, for example. 

For home buyers currently under contract, and for homeowners with a refinance in-process, the best defense at a time like this is a good offense. Get proactive with the mortgage process.

These steps can help your end-of-month closing go more smoothly this month :

  1. Prepay your first year of homeowners insurance, effective your closing date. Provide proof of payment to your lender.
  2. Document and deposit all gifts and retirement withdrawals to be used in conjunction with your closing as early in the process as possible.
  3. If applicable, get Power of Attorney forms signed by all parties, and lender-approved in advance. Don’t leave this for the last week.
  4. When your lender makes requests for paperwork, fulfill the requests within 24 hours, when possible.

In addition, if you’re a home buyer, consider scheduling your home walk-through for as early as can be reasonable. That way, if there’s an issue to resolve, there’s ample time to address it among all parties.

Furthermore, if you have planned vacation time between today and your closing date, make it known to all parties, and make sure to be reachable in the event of emergency by phone and/or email.

Real estate brokerages, title companies and mortgage lenders are notoriously short-staffed as Labor Day approached. Routine tasks take longer than usual. Plan ahead for August 31, therefore. It would be foolish not to.

Planning For A Memorial Day Closing

Memorial Day ClosingsPlanning to close on your home at the end of May? Plan ahead. Memorial Day is coming and the holiday may delay your closing.

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and the 3-day Memorial Day weekend is a popular vacation time in real estate-related industries.

Real estate agents tend to take time off because fewer of their clients are actively home shopping on a holiday weekend; mortgage lenders are closed because banks don’t operate on a federal holiday; and, title agents are often away from the office because the former two groups aren’t working.

But what’s supposed to be a 3-day weekend is actually a 4.5-day one. This is because many people leaving for a Memorial Day vacation will not go to work on the Friday before the holiday, and then getting back into the “work groove” on Tuesday can be a half-day affair.

Therefore, if you’re under contract to buy a home , or to sell one; or if you have a refinance in progress that’s expected to close at month-end, there are some steps you should take to get pro-active with your closing. If you’re going to lose 4-and-a-half days at the end of the month, you’ll want to try to make those days up while the month is still young.

Here are 3 quick tips to speed up your closing and approval.

First, get your homeowners insurance policy picked out. Do your comparison shopping, select an insurer, and then prepay your first year of insurance, effective your closing date. Pay by check and not credit card, if possible, to avoid harming your credit score.

Provide your proof of payment to your lender immediately.

Next, if you’re using a Power of Attorney, have your documents signed by all interested parties and submit them to your lender for review. Don’t assume that your attorney’s Power of Attorney documents will be acceptable to a bank — banks require specific verbiage. If the documents are rejected, make the requested fixes and resubmit.

Banks do not compromise on Power of Attorney letters.

And, lastly, if you’re accepting gifts or using retirement funds for your downpayment, be sure to have your paperwork reviewed and on file with your lender as soon as possible. Do not wait to withdraw funds until just before closing, either. Have everything in the proper checking account at least one week in advance, and ready for your closing.

There are other steps you can take, too, to make sure your end-of-May closing goes smoothly and they all amount to “preparedness”.

When you’re asked for paperwork, provide it quickly. When you’re asked to sign a document, sign it on the same day. When you’re needed to attend a home inspection or an appraisal, do it during your first available opening.

Just leave as little as possible to the “last minute”, and everything should go well.

How to Host an Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg HuntDo you remember the excitement of hunting for chocolate eggs on Easter when you were a child? 

Now that you have a family of your own you can create an Easter egg hunt for your little ones so that they can enjoy searching for hidden treats.

Here are some tips on how to create the best Easter egg hunt ever:

Create Magic

Part of the fun of the egg hunt is in believing that the eggs have been left by the mysterious Easter Bunny. You can add to the illusion and create a magical feeling on Easter by leaving “evidence” behind of the bunny’s presence.

For example, your children can leave carrots out the night before, which will have been nibbled on the next day.

The More the Merrier

If you want, invite a few of the neighborhood children over and create a larger egg hunt with the other parents. This way you can share the work of setting up and the kids will have friends to play with.

You can also organize Easter related games and activities for the little ones to enjoy.

Make it Fair

Nothing ruins an Easter egg hunt more than siblings squabbling over their chocolate. You want to make sure that the eggs are divided evenly and that no one feels left out.

You can keep the peace by letting your children know that the eggs will be divided evenly at the end no matter how many they find, taking the competitive edge out of it.

You can also give younger kids a head start and make some hiding spots higher up and trickier for older ones.

Think Outside the Egg

You don’t have to hide just chocolate eggs on Easter. Be creative and think of other prizes that you can hide, such as teddy bears, stickers, small toys and more.

These other treats will be just as exciting for your little ones to find and it will mean that they get less sugar-high from overloading on candy!

Have a fun Easter and enjoy hosting your Easter egg hunt with your children.

Are You Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Do you know the story behind this Irish holiday?

The History of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patricks DaySt. Patrick was born in the 4th century, to parents who were the deacons of the Church. He was kidnapped as a teenager by Irish raiders and made a slave.

He claims that he was visited by God in a dream, who told him to run away from captivity and head towards the coast, where he would find a ship that would take him back to Britain. He later joined the church and became a priest.

Many years later he was called back to Ireland once he had become a Bishop, to convert the Irish people from their native beliefs of polytheism to Christianity.

The shamrock has become a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day because St. Patrick used it to explain the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland.

March 17 was the day that he died and was buried at Downpatrick.

St. Patrick’s Day in the USA

Since there are so many Irish descendents in the USA, St. Patrick’s Day is a much-celebrated holiday here.

There are many celebrations all over the country featuring parades, displays of green shamrocks, large feasts, religious observances, copious amounts of alcohol, and lively parades.

People who are participating in Lent are allowed to break their sacrifices for one day in order to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, making this one of the leading days for alcohol consumption in the USA.

The tradition is to wear green clothing on St. Patrick’s Day and those who are caught without an item of green clothing are pinched by their friends as punishment.

Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

If you are going to be joining in the Irish fun this year, here are some ideas of what you can do on March 17th:

  • Head to an Irish Pub for a drink and a bite to eat. You don’t have to go all the way to Ireland, as almost every city in America will have at least one Irish drinking establishment. Try a hearty glass of Guinness or a fine Irish whiskey to wash down a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew.
  • Don’t forget to wear green, unless you want to get pinched! Anything green will do, even a scarf or a hat.
  • Go to a parade. There are hundreds of St. Patrick’s Day parades all around the USA, from Boston to New York to Chicago. The city of Savannah, Georgia even dyes its downtown fountains green during the celebration.

Have fun celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this March and enjoy this ancient Irish tradition!