Guy Bocicaut's Blog
Aside from locking our doors at night and parking cars in a safe place, most of us don’t think about security for more than a couple of minutes a day.
In many ways, the United States is a safer country than ever. Property crimes, such as burglary, robbery, and theft, have all plummeted in recent years. However, billions of dollars are still lost each year due to property crimes.
A type of theft that is on the rise in the United States in identity theft. We are all taught the dangers of identity theft, but are rarely given specifics on how to keep our data more secure.
In this article, we’ll cover basic security tips that will keep you, your family, your property, and your data more secure at home.
Securing your home
First, let’s start with the simple things. Check the exterior of your home. Do you have accessible windows, and are they kept locked? Similarly, are any of your doors glass? If so, thieves may easily break the glass and unlock the door from the outside. At night, keep your home safer by installing motion sensor lights around dimly lit areas.
Speaking of locks, make sure yours are high quality deadbolts. Also, keep track of all keys and don’t leave keys in careless places such as under doormats or flower pots.
Use the latest tech to your advantage
Smart home technology isn’t just good for clapping lights on and off. You can use smart home security systems to lock and unlock your doors from work, check security cameras, and protect you and your family from fire and carbon monoxide all from an app on your phone.
Buy a safe
Safes aren’t just for millionaires and they don’t just prevent burglaries. A good safe will keep things secure from fire and water hazards, as well. Items you’ll want to keep secure include important paperwork, passports, social security cards, copies of financial documents, jewelry, emergency cash, and hard drives or flash drives with photos and documents on them.
Keep your home safe while you’re away
One of the most important times to keep your house secure is when you’re not in it. An empty home is an easier target for those seeking to gain entry into your home. While you’re away, be sure to let a trusted neighbor know you’ll be gone. Have them take in your mail for you so it doesn’t look like the home is unoccupied. Before you leave, check that the windows are locked and that nothing has been left on in the house except for a light.
Protect your identity
To keep your information safe from prying hands hoping to turn a profit, here are some best practices to follow.
Shred documents with your personal information, don’t throw them out with your garbage
Don’t fall for phone or email scams; unless you entered something you probably didn’t win anything
Don’t let anyone enter your home unless you called them first
Be selective of the information you share on social media. Never post photos of your forms of identification, or tell others when your family will be away (a.k.a. Your home empty)
Always keep your smartphone locked with a passcode
Change your passwords to various websites frequently. Don’t use the same password for multiple sites, and make your passwords complex. Instead of words, use pass “phrases” or series of words.
Depending on how many years you’ve been working, retirement can seem like it’s too far in the future to worry about or too close to be able to effectively make any real change.
However, retirement is about more than doing the math and investment planning. Retirement includes making several life decisions, and considering things you may not have thought of before.
In this article, we’re going to talk about planning aspects of your retirement including your home and assets, your savings and investments, and setting and achieving goals for yourself.
Pay yourself first
If it feels like your paycheck is spent before you get a chance to set any aside each week, you’re not alone. However, it’s never too late to start setting aside money for retirement. The “pay yourself first” theory states that you should set aside a certain amount for bills, savings, and retirement plans before you spend a dime of your paycheck each week.
The easiest way to achieve this is to take advantage of an employer-based contribution matching program such as a 401K. However, if you are self-employed you can still open up an individual retirement account (IRA) or a Solo 401K. With an IRA, you determine where you want to invest your money, and can choose safer or riskier investments based on your own preferences.
Draw up your plan, literally
There’s no better way to start planning than to actually sit down with a notebook or your computer and start figuring out what you want to save and how you want to achieve those savings.
You’ll want to determine how much money you can accrue in your savings account, estimate the price of your assets and properties, and look at the projected return on investment for any IRAs or 401Ks you have in place.
As you likely know, these numbers are all projections. There’s no way to know for sure how much your home will be worth, or how well your investments will do by the time you’re ready to retire.
So, one of the most important aspects of making this checklist is to return to it yearly to determine if you should change your investments or alter your retirement goals.
Determine your lifestyle needs
Whether you have dreams of settling down in a quiet town for retirement, touring the country in an RV, or traveling the world, you’ll need to find out how you can make it possible on your retirement plan.
You and your spouse will need to sit down and draw up a plan for your mutual retirement goals. Determine which expenses you can do away with in retirement so that you can fulfill other goals. Having these conversations now will help you more effectively plan for the future. And, remember that the time of your retirement is always closer than you think.
If you’re hunting for a new home and have come across one that fits all of your requirements and more, it can seem like the only thing you can do is make an offer and wait.
However, your first choice could also be another buyer’s dream home. And, if a higher bid isn’t feasible, you have to find other ways to win over the seller. One way this can be achieved is through writing a letter to the owner of the home.
If you’re bidding on your dream home, writing a letter the the owner can be anxiety inducing. Choosing what to reveal and finding the right words can be scary, even for the most seasoned writer.
So, in this article we’re going to walk you through writing a letter to a seller to give you the best possible chance of winning the bid for a new home.
Tell them why you love their home
If you’ve fallen in love with certain aspects of the home, there’s a good chance the sellers did too. Be personal in your explanations. Rather than just say you love the location, mention that it is a perfect distance to walk to the playground with your children or pets. This will help buyers better understand you and your story.
If you have family who lives nearby, or if the home has features that can greatly improve the life of you, your family, or your pets, be sure to mention this in the letter as well.
Don’t press or plead, just be polite
It can seem desperate and off-putting to receive a letter pleading with you to sell your home to someone. So, when you’re writing your letter and you come to the end, simply thank the buyer for their time and for reading, compliment them once more, and wish them luck in their new home.
Revise and review
It can be tempting to send your letter immediately after writing it, especially if writing is you don’t like writing in general. However, it’s always a good idea to revise. I suggest writing your letter one night, then reading it again the next evening to give yourself time and distance from it--this way you’ll be reading it with fresh eyes and will be able to find any wording that sounds strange or confusing.
It’s also a good idea to run your writing through a free proofreader like Grammarly. And, finally, there is no substitute for having an editor. Ask one of your friends or family members to read the letter and give you feedback.
Stand out from the crowd
There are a few things you can include in your letter to set you apart from other potential buyers. Including a family photo will help the sellers put a face to the names you mention in the letter.
It can also be helpful to print and mail the letter, rather than sending it electronically. Since we so rarely receive a physical copy of a letter these days (unless it’s from a bill collector), it can be nice to receive something positive in the mail for a change.
When you think of buying or selling a house, the first thing that comes to mind may not be the legal aspects associated with the process. You may want to reconsider this rather boring part of the process as an important one. Hiring a lawyer can help both buyers and sellers to get through many hurdles that buying a home can present.
There will be many negotiations and a lot of back and forth throughout the process of buying a home. Everything that’s involved with buying a home needs a contract for it to be legally binding. A real estate attorney will negotiate on your behalf and be sure that the contracts adhere to all state and local laws. The lawyer will also help you to address issues that may affect the future of the property such as botched inspections, liens against the home, and other items that could affect you as the home buyer.
Real estate attorneys will perform what is called a title search. This allows them to see if there are any outstanding liens or judgements against the house. This title search will also make sure that the seller has the right to actually sell the property that’s being sold. An attorney can do all of this much quicker than the average person since they have working relationships with title companies.
Transfer Of Property
If a property is being transferred through a corporation, trust, or partnership, things can get complicated. It’s good to have an attorney who is used to working with these complex situations and understands the legal boundaries within the state or municipality that the property is in.
If You Choose Not To Have A Real Estate Attorney
Many times, a real estate attorney isn’t required to buy a property. It is advisable to have one, however. Without an attorney you increase your chances of problems arising in the future. You run the risk of:
- Being sued for failure to disclose information
- An improper property transaction takes place
- You could miss relevant facts about the property
- Failing to file the correct documents at both the state an local levels
- Deeds are not transferred
- Building permits weren’t correctly filed
Having a real estate lawyer on your side is important due to the complex nature of property transactions. While some states require that an attorney be present throughout your property transaction, many states do not have this stipulation. You are smart to hire a competent real estate attorney to protect your own interests as either a buyer or a seller.
Putting an offer on a home is an exciting event. You don’t want to get so excited that you overlook the important factors that go into buying a home. Follow the tips below before you put an offer on a property.
In order to come up with a price to offer on a home, you need to do some research. You should have a general understanding of the local market. Although your realtor will have a good grasp on this, it’s always a good idea to be an informed buyer. You can work with your realtor to find the right price. You don’t want to blurt out a number that is completely out of line for the neighborhood or market conditions.
A good place to start is by taking a look at what the homes in the the neighborhood are selling for. You can also look at what homes in the area have recently sold for. The advantage to hiring a realtor is that they have easy access to all of this research and information. Be sure that the properties that you look at are comparable to the one that you hope to put an offer on. You can even do this ahead of time if you have an idea of what kind of property you’re looking to buy.
Another useful tool in the research part of making a offer is the history of the property. When did the seller purchase the property? At what price? If the seller has moved in more recently, you may have some wiggle room for negotiations.
Getting pre-approved gives you some buying power. First, you’ll know how much house you can afford. Next, you’ll know that a lender is dedicated to lending you that amount to buy a home. Your offer will be taken more seriously if you have been pre-approved because the seller will know that you can get the funds to purchase the home.
Get The Help Of A Realtor
When you hire a realtor, you’re getting the agent along with the team of people that they work with. Realtors can recommend you to everyone from home inspectors real estate attorneys. An attorney is an especially helpful advocate in the process of buying a home because they can check to be sure that your offer meets the legal requirements within your state and protect your interests as a buyer.
The attorney will also look at the purchase agreement for the home. This will include all of the details of the property transaction:
- The date of the offer
- The address and property description
- Amount offered for the home
- Loan details including the down payment amount
- The closing date
- Any contingencies
These will all be very important to you as a buyer and a lawyer make sure that everything is legally sound will be a great protection for you.
Now, you’ll be ready to seal the deal!