Preparing for Retirement and Active Adult Living

Retirement and Active Adult Living PlanningIf you are even within a few years of retirement, you are likely thinking about how you’ll make it work – how you’ll leave the workforce, how you’ll spend your time, how you’ll budget your finances and live off of savings and whether or not you’ll stay in your existing home or if you will downsize to a smaller home. You may be considering a move to an active adult community.

In the recent article, “Three Retirement Tips for 2014 Retirees,” the retirement pros at the Equifax Finance blog offer three tips and some important considerations for those nearing retirement.

First, decide how you will spend your time. Retirees benefit from having a plan for spending their time; whether that’s volunteering, working part time, pursuing a passion, spending dedicated time with family, etc. Second, the experts recommend cautiously deciding when to claim Social Security. Some retirees may need to start taking their reduced benefit at a younger age, some may be able to wait a take the full benefit at a later age. Carefully take into consideration your health, your savings and your employment. Contact your local Social Security office or visit www.socialsecurity.gov and assess your benefits to help you make this important decision.  Third, revisit your asset allocation. You may want to consider lowering the risk in your investment portfolio. Keep in mind that your portfolio will need to keep up with inflation over your many retirement years. You cannot completely eliminate risk but you may be able to better stay on track throughout your retirement regardless of what’s going on in the market.

Get more retirement advice at the Equifax Finance blog, where you can also get tips on insurance, credit, identity theft protection and more.

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How to Trick-or-Treat Safely Near Your Metro Atlanta Home

affordable Atlanta homesWhile Halloween may be your child’s favorite holiday thanks to all the delicious candy, the holiday can quickly turn into a nightmare if you aren’t careful. And, with Halloween just a day away, many parents are looking for tips to help their children safely trick-or-treat near their metro Atlanta homes.

Here are six tips from Smith Douglas Communities:

  • Plan ahead: Make a plan of which houses you want to visit and in what order before you leave the house. Stick to roads and paths you are familiar with to avoid getting lost.
  • Fill up: Instead of filling up on candy, have your child eat a nutritious, filling dinner before going out to make sure they don’t overload on the sugar.
  • Stay visible: Since the sun sets so early this time of year, make sure you can properly see and be seen and always stay on the sidewalk. Some costumes are made of very dark materials, which can make it harder for drivers on the road to see your child.
  • Keep it short: While your child may love that long following Cinderella gown, they won’t love tripping over it all night. Keep your child’s costume at a shorter length to keep an accident from ruining the night.
  • Avoid masks: Masks can make it difficult to see and breathe. Consider using non-toxic face paint or make-up instead.
  • Check the goody bag: At the end of the night, be sure to throw away any candy that isn’t in a wrapper or that might be dangerous for your child to eat. Also remember to keep all chocolate away from any four-legged family members.

If you’re looking for a treat of your own this Halloween (other than candy), consider Smith Douglas Communities’ communities of affordable homes in Atlanta. Their low pricing, superb locations and high quality features and finishes are no trick, so these homes might be just the treat you need.

Learn more about all of their metro Atlanta new home communities by calling 770-485-7086.

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Equifax Reports on Today’s Real Estate Market

Helpful info on the real estate marketBuying a home can be scary; but there is a ton of info out there to help. So then the problem becomes where to go for real estate information and tips. The trusted experts with the credit solutions leader Equifax share advice on a range of real estate related topics on the Equifax Finance blog.  Topics range from foreclosures to home improvements to home buying, mortgages and more.  The site includes articles as well as videos and webinars. A recent Equifax Finance blog article, “Buying a Home? What’s Happening in Today’s Real Estate Market” covers trends in the market today from some of the real estate industry’s leaders. The expert sources in this article were Amy Crews Cutts, chief economist for Equifax, Steve Cook, former vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Realtors and Ilyce Glink, real estate author and radio host.  The article discusses, among other things, mortgage interest rates, current sales inventories and home prices and whether or not now is the time to buy.

Cutts explained that mortgage interest rates are still low (not as low as they were last year, but still relatively low), but are slowly rising. Cook explained the supply/demand action going on with home sales across the nation. Home prices are up and inventories are tight in markets across the U.S., but Cook expects prices to fall and inventories to grow in the coming months. And whether or not now is the time to buy? Check out the article for Glink’s answer to that question!

Read the full article on the Equifax Finance blog. Check out the real estate section for all of their real estate advice; then browse through the resources on credit scores, taxes, insurance, retirement and more.

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Know What Questions to Ask About Identity Theft Insurance

Identity theft protectionHave you ever thought about purchasing identity theft insurance? If so, here’s what you need to know, thanks to the insurance pros over at the Equifax Finance blog.

First, know that identity theft insurance can’t insure against identity theft, in other words, it doesn’t protect you from falling victim to identity theft. What it does do is help in the event of identity theft. If you ever do fall victim of identity theft, your identity theft insurance would help you with the costs of repairing your identity, which can be high.  If you think identity theft insurance is something you might need, here are their recommendations:

  • Do your research – understand what it is you are buying.
  • Get the policy limits; most policies cover up to $10,000-15,000.
  • Find out how much of a deductible is required (this could be $100-$500).
  • Ask if the policy covers lost wages and what the limits on those are.
  • Find out about attorney’s fees – some policies will cover these; others will not. The work may have to be pre-approved and it may be limited; find out about this in advance.
  • Comparison shop; compare policies’ price, coverage, limitations and deductibles among multiple insurers.

Get more identity theft protection information, from privacy protection to monitoring to what to do if your identity has been compromised, all at the Equifax Finance blog. While you’re there, you can also get loads of information on credit scores, retirement, real estate, taxes and more.

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When to Buy a Home After a Short Sale or Foreclosure

Rebuilt credit score means buying powerIf you’ve been through a short sale or foreclosure, you are not alone. Many Americans fell victim to the economic crisis and lost their homes in recent years. Now, the economy is on the rebound and you may be wondering when is the best time for you to buy another home.

The answer is highly specific and depends on your individual circumstances, but the real estate and finance experts at the Equifax Finance blog present the factors that must be taken into consideration in the recent article, “Can I Buy a Home After a Short Sale or Foreclosure?”  The experts say you definitely should work toward purchasing another a home, and the big question is when. Understanding the five variables that go into your decision will help you decide when the time is right. In the meantime, do the best you can to save money and rebuild your credit by paying all of your bills on time.

The five variables are:

  1. Duration of delinquency – how long you went without paying – unfortunately, this period is dragged out during the foreclosure or short sale process, but the length of time that passed while you didn’t pay will impact your ability to buy

  2. Deficiency judgments – during the foreclosure or short sale process, you may have been left with unpaid negative debt that you are responsible for; this amount can impact your ability to buy Continue reading “When to Buy a Home After a Short Sale or Foreclosure” »

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What to Do When a Neighbor Causes Damage to Your Property

Homeowners insurance protectionIt’s one of a homeowner’s worst fears: the terrible neighbor. He doesn’t cut his grass and he blows all of his leaves into your yard, his dogs bark all day and night, his trash can gets left out at the curb all week and he always has visitors parked on the street. While all of these things are all annoying, they don’t compare to the frustrations you’d experience with a neighbor that causes damage to your property and doesn’t have proper insurance coverage.

So what would you do if say, your neighbor’s tree fell on and broke your fence? And to top it off, they don’t have insurance? The insurance pros at the Equifax Finance blog answer this question in the recent article, “Tips for Handling Claims When Your Neighbor Has No Insurance.”

According to the article, the quickest way to repair your property would be to call your insurance company and make a claim on your insurance policy. Most people hate this idea because they don’t think that they should have to pay for damages caused by someone else and/or because they are afraid that their insurance rates will go up if they make a claim on their own policy (which is not always true, according to the article). Continue reading “What to Do When a Neighbor Causes Damage to Your Property” »

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Top 10 Cities for Foreclosure Buying

Top American cities to buy foreclosed homesFor real estate investors, it’s all about the bottom line. Sure, location, amenities, features and aesthetics matter, but unless the price is right, a deal won’t happen.  And for that reason, for the past few years, many investors have turned to purchasing foreclosures and selling them or renting them for a profit. Foreclosures have been plentiful, their prices have been low and their locations have been in desirable areas across the U.S. Renters for their properties have also been plentiful, so investors had no trouble finding tenants and making a profit.

But, as real estate cycles go, investors purchased so many of these foreclosures that inventories decreased, driving prices on the homes up, as explained in the recent Equifax Finance Blog article, “Top 10 Cities for Buying Foreclosures.” Prices on foreclosures in traditional hotbed cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Miami have increased so much in some areas, that some are selling for higher prices than non-distressed homes. These areas are now on their way to recovery and the greatest opportunities for investors can be found in the Midwest and Northeast, where many of the nation’s judicial states are located. The foreclosure process is handled through judicial state’s court systems, so foreclosures in those areas take longer to process, and lead to a backlog of foreclosures hitting the market. Continue reading “Top 10 Cities for Foreclosure Buying” »

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Don’t Let Your Outdoor Gathering Turn into a Mess with Inadequate Insurance Coverage

Summer reasons to upgrade homeowners insuranceWho doesn’t love a good family barbecue? A summer cookout with friends and neighbors? A pool party that makes your home the hot spot?

The one thing that could completely ruin these gatherings is an accident that causes damage to your property or injury to one of your guests, an accident that you are liable for.

The insurance experts at the Equifax Finance blog offers some help to avoid being in that situation in the recent article, “5 Reasons to Update Your Homeowners Insurance This Summer.”

The article explains that the outdoor space is something that homeowners don’t think about insuring, but homeowners may want to review your homeowners insurance policy this summer if:

  1. You have made recent outdoor improvements that might not be included. Call your insurance company to find out if your new hot tub, pool, outdoor kitchen, gazebo, or storage shed, is included under your current policy.
  2. Your outdoor property is in bad shape. If someone were to get hurt because of the condition of your property, you could be on the hook. The article recommends making sure that your outdoor spaces are in good shape, checking periodically for wood decay on your deck, making necessary repairs promptly and performing ongoing maintenance. Damage due to problems that could have been avoided with routine maintenance (like damage from termites, rodents, rust, rot or mold) may not be covered by your insurance.
  3. It has been a while since you reviewed your policy. You may now be eligible for savings or discounts.

There are two more reasons explained in the article for reviewing your coverage; see the full article for those and more helpful tips. Browse the Equifax Finance blog for more helpful articles on topics like insurance, retirement, credit scores, real estate, taxes, identity protection and more.

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The Social Network of Remodeling

Save money with social media when remodeling

There are a wealth of ways to save money and find inspiration on social media when remodeling.

Whether you are sprucing up a whole home or a single room, remodeling your home is a task that takes hard work and dedication. From visualizing a final product to deciding whether or not to hire a contractor, many decisions must be made in the renovation process. Regardless of the home remodeling market’s current climb, it can still be difficult to find design matches that fit your aesthetic and financial needs but Equifax is here to help with inspiration and ways to save money with “Five Ways to Use Social Media for Home Remodeling.”

Consider these ways to utilize social media to help you get the job done:

  • Organize your ideas: Social media sites like Pinterest allow you to create a digital bulletin board of your wants, needs and inspirations. Photos from around the Web can be searched or browsed, then pinned to your “board” so they are there for you to reference. Each “pin” is equipped with a link to a website to explore even more of your remodeling desires. Continue reading “The Social Network of Remodeling” »
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Spring Real Estate Trends from Equifax

Things to be ready for with Spring real estateThe “busy season” for retailers is Christmas time. The “busy season” for coastal vacation business owners is May through August. The “busy season” for accountants is January through April and the “busy season” for real estate agents and brokers is Spring.

This year, the real estate market started heating up in February, with rises in existing home sales and home prices. And Freddie Mac says this spring could be the strongest home-buying season in the past six years. If you are a buyer, the experts over at the Equifax Finance Blog have come up with the following home buying trends to keep in mind in your home search: Continue reading “Spring Real Estate Trends from Equifax” »

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