Things to Do in Buffalo: Oktoberfest Edition

Things to Do in Buffalo: Oktoberfest Edition

By the end of this month, two major Oktoberfest celebrations will have passed through Buffalo.  On September 22, Canalside will host the 50th celebration of The German American musicians.  Craft, beer, and wine vendors will make this party great.  A keg tapping ceremony at 4:30 gets the party started.  For more information about this festival, click here.

The other festival, the largest in WNY, takes place in the Buffalo Central Terminal.  The event draws in more than 5,000 people each year and continues to grow.  Come out on Thursday, September 29 for food and drink.  For more information, click here.

New Short Sale Guidelines Meant to Prevent Foreclosures, Stabalize Markets

New Short Sale Guidelines Meant to Prevent Foreclosures, Stabalize Markets

Fannie Mae just announced a new, more streamlined process for short sale documents and procedures.  These new guidelines will update the documentation process, waive deficiencies for borrowers that complete a short sale, and will set standard payments for mortgage holders.  The bank hopes that these new guidelines will make it easier for more buyers to qualify for short sales and also help borrowers avoid foreclosure.  Most importantly, Fannie Mae is reducing once-strict guidelines for approving those who qualify for short sales: borrowers who have certain “hardships” such as death of borrower or co-borrower, divorce, or illness are able to qualify for short sales without defaulting on a mortgage.

Houses Featured in Classic Sports Movies

Houses Featured in Classic Sports Movies

While most scenes play out on fields or courts, many sports films give glimpses into the star’s home life.  Many of those homes are actually someone’s home in real life, too:

1.  Rocky

The Rocky films accrued quite a following, and fans will remember from the first film his urban apartment.  The apartment, located in downtown Philadelphia, was built in 1920 and today features three bedrooms and one bathroom in 754 square feet.

2.  The Sandlot

Everyone who has seen The Sandlot can remember Smalls’ pink house, the place where he sulked in loneliness.  The house, located in Salt Lake City, just sold in 2009 in near-original condition– complete with green shag carpet.

3.  A League of Their Own

This film about an all-female softball league featured a beautiful and large brick home where the women lived together.  Located in Henderson, Kentucky, the home was listed for sale at $799,000 in 2011, only to be removed from listing earlier this year.

4. The Fighter

The Fighter takes place in a Lowell, MA crack house, where Dicky Eklund still lives today.  The home remains in the same condition as it was in the film.

5.  Field of Dreams

The beautiful white farmhouse from the 1989 film is said to attract some 60,000 visitors every year.  The new owners are said to be developing a 24-field baseball and softball complex for visitors.



Things You Must Know About Reverse Mortgages

For many Americans, a reverse mortgage is attractive because they offer a way to keep their home.  Seniors especially, who may be overwhelmed by medical bills and property taxes, benefit greatly from such a program. The bad reputation that reverse mortgages has comes from many situations where people didn’t make decisions that were positive for them, often they did not obtain sound advice from people they perhaps should have talked to first. I would strongly recommend that prior to entering into this arrangement, you discuss the matter thoroughly with someone who is well versed in financial matters who has your best interest in mind and has nothing to gain by any action you take.  Despite its high closing costs the reverse mortgage program can work in some cases, so long as you take these things into consideration:

1.  How it works:  Revere mortgages (or HECM) allow you to convert a portion of your home’s equity into cash.  Borrowers do not need to repay that cash until the home is no longer their principle residence or if they fail to meet mortgage obligations.  HECM, however, is only available to Americans 62 and older who currently live in the residence the reverse mortgage is being taken out on.  More information on these mortgages can be found here.

2.  Is the lender reputable?  There are many scams out there, so getting to know your lender’s reputation and past is important.  The HUD/FHA is one of the best, most reputable lenders.

3.  Lump sum payments can be dangerous:  More than 70% of those borrowing under an HECM program elect to have their money paid out in a lump sum.  That means, once the money is gone, it’s gone forever.  That means you can still lose your home even after taking out a reverse mortgage.  While lump sum payments are at a fixed rate and monthly payments are adjustable, those monthly payments could mean more stable income that allows you to stay in your home.

4.  Dirty little secret: When a homeowner has remarried, his or her death could result in their spouse being evicted from the home.

While reverse mortgages are a good option for staying at home, they should only be used when all other alternatives have been exhausted.

Home Security Tips for Vacationers

Home Security Tips for Vacationers

With summer wrapping up and kids heading back to school, August is traditionally a big vacation month.  With parents driving college students back to school or heading on one final vacation, homes are often left alone for a few days.  Here are some tips for keeping your home safe while you’re away:

1.  Ask for neighbor’s help: if you can, have someone house sit.  If that isn’t an option, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to stop by periodically.

2.  Watch out for water: a burst pipe could cause serious damage to your home.  Shutting off the main water valve means or the valves for major appliances (dishwasher, refrigerator) decreases the chances that you’ll have water problems.  Also, checking on your sump pump could help save your basement from flooding.

3.  Notify the post office to stop delivery of mail for the duration of your trip, or ask a neighbor to collect your mail for you.

4.  Make sure your security system is on.

5.  Consider buying motion sensor lights for the front and back of your house.

6.  Place lights on electric timers in various rooms throughout the house.