Buyer’s Post-Settlement Checklist

Congratulations! Closing on your new home is no small feat. You probably feel like you just finished running a marathon, but the trek isn’t over. In fact, your journey as a homeowner is just beginning.

Here is a list of things you should consider doing once you’ve closed on your house:



While homeowners are expected to hand over all keys to the property, you never know who else may have an old copy. After closing on your property, you should change al the locks on your new home. Additionally, if the property has any keypads, you should change the codes of those too.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Safety comes first. You should test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors during your first post-settlement visit. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoke detectors should be replaced 10 years from the manufactured date.

Some maintenance tasks, such as testing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, can’t wait. You, your family’s, and your friends’ safety all depend on functional detectors, so as soon as you’re done basking in the glory of closing title and escrow, check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.


Paint & Flooring

Nothing freshens up a home much more than a fresh coat of paint and new flooring. Over time dirt and debris gets trapped into the walls and carpet and can result in unpleasant smells. Sometimes these phantom odors may become unrecognizable to the owner because they became accustomed to it over time. They may have even been hidden from you during your initial walkthrough. Whether the culprit is a pet, smoke, or otherwise, it may not have bee detected if masked by a candle or another fragrance.  One of the quickest remedies is to remove all carpet and and padding, along with deep cleaning the walls and ceilings before painting. However, if paint and new flooring isn’t necessary or in the budget, wiping all surfaces down with a non-abrasive cleaning solution and renting a professional-grade carpet cleaner is a great alternative.

Walls, Floors, and Fixtures

The property is due for a deep clean. Depending on the condition the property was left in, this task could be an evening project or a multi-day task. Wipe down all walls, countertops, windowsills, and fixtures. Then, vacuum or mops all floors. If cleaning seems to be an overwhelming project, consider asking for help from friends and family, or call a professional cleaning company.


One of the most commonly neglected items in a house is your HVAC system. Routine maintenance for your HVAC system is important. While annual inspections are often recommended, most homeowners forget to regularly replace their air filter let alone have a professional inspect the unit to ensure it is operating properly.

A deep clean of your home is likely to stir up a lot of dirt and dust, especially if you are repairing holes, cracks, or nicks in the drywall. Be sure to replace the air filter and consider contacting a professional to inspect your unit and provide a tune-up. Nothing is worse than having your HVAC unit be nonoperational in the middle of a frigid winter or sweltering summer. Budget for this annual task, as an inefficient system will increase energy bills and will decrease the system’s expected lifetime. A routine maintenance check will help you save money in the long-run.



At settlement, you likely received a closing packet. This typically includes your mortgage, promissory note, deed, and closing disclosures. I would also recommend keeping a copy of your buyer-agency agreement, purchase agreement, seller’s disclosures, title insurance policy, and home inspection report in a separate folder or binder someplace safe. As soon as possible, you should also place a copy of the documents in a fire-proof location, such as a safety deposit box or safe.

Change of Address

Don’t forget to notify required parties of your change your address:

  • Insurance Companies
  • Bank / Financial Institutions / Credit Card Companies
  • Utility Companies
  • United States Postal Service
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Employer
  • Subscriptions (mailers and digital)
  • Related Service Providers (e.g. doctor, dentist, accountant, lawyer, etc.)
  • Friends & Family



Consult with your lender to understand who is servicing your loan and how payments can be made. You may not be in the habit of paying a mortgage ever month, especially if you never owned a home before. However, it is essential that you may each payment on time and in full. Be sure to know when your payment is due and how much money you will need to cover it. I recommend regularly setting aside money to help cover the cost. While mortgage payments are due monthly, I suggest transferring a portion of the mortgage every pay period (e.g. setting aside $600 every two weeks for a $1,200 monthly mortgage payment). You can then use the leftover money as an emergency fund, home maintenance fund, or extra money to pay towards your principal. If you are unsure how much money is owed, review your closing disclosure. You will find a breakdown of the mortgage payment, interest, taxes, and insurance in your closing disclosure.

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

Getting ready to buy a house? You’ve probably heard someone talk about pre-qualification. They may have mentioned that you should get pre-approved. In fact, the two terms are often used interchangeably. However, their actual definition, requirements, and significance are very different.


Pre-qualification is the first step you’ll take if you are ready to start your new home search. To begin, you will contact a mortgage loan officer, inform them that you are looking to buy a house in the upcoming months, and they will begin to gather some basic information, such as income, monthly debts, and credit score. After providing information online, over the phone, or in-person, the lender will be able to provide you with an estimate of your maximum monthly mortgage payment and how much you may be able to borrow. The goal of this process is to give you an approximate starting point so you know roughly how much you may qualify for.



Once you are pre-qualified, the next step in the process will be to get pre-approved. This process is a bit more involved. Your loan officer will require more paperwork. While the process may vary by lender, you will typically need to provide copies of your paystubs, bank statements, and tax returns. In addition to reviewing your financial documents, the loan officer will also check your credit history to evaluate your creditworthiness and financial situation. At the end of the process, the loan officer will provide you with a letter of pre-approval, a document stating how much you are approved to borrow. 

In a balanced market, a letter of pre-approval helps give you a competitive advantage. However, in a seller’s market, a letter of pre-approval is an expectation most sellers will rarely disregard. While the letter isn’t final approval and you will need to go through processing and underwriting, the letter is a symbol of your commitment; it helps sellers know that you have taken the appropriate steps to submit verifiable documentation to a lender – helping them know they are one step closer to making it to the closing table.


Final Thoughts

While nothing is guaranteed and there are some items you will need to be mindful of as you navigate financial aspect of the home buying process, pre-approval brings you closer to your goal of homeownership. Not ready for pre-approval? Not a problem. Pre-qualification can help you understand your current financial situation and provide you with an approximation of what you may qualify for.

If you have questions about the home buying process, do not hesitate to contact me. I can guide you throughout the different stages and connect you with a team of professionals that have the knowledge and experience to help you achieve your dream.

How To Clean a Microwave

The microwave, developed as a time-saving kitchen appliance, has become a household staple for nearly every homeowner’s kitchen. They are a convenient, easy to use, and fast method of heating food. They’re the perfect solution for a quick meal, but they also get incredibly messy over time. All it takes is one container of leftovers or an overcooked bag of popcorn to turn a sparking clean microwave into a disgusting, stinky mess.

5 Ways to Clean a Microwave


Add 1-2 tbsp of dish soap to a bowl of warm water. After mixing the solution, use a microfiber cloth to clean the interior and exterior of your microwave. If needed, use a non-abrasive sponge to tackle those tough stains or grimy clumps. Be careful to not let the suds get into the vents or fans. Once finished, wipe down all surfaces with damp paper towels to remove the soap, grime, and leftover food particles.

Paper Towels

Place a wad of wet paper towels inside the microwave. Then, turn your microwave on high power for up to three minutes. The steam from the paper towels will help soften any splattered food debris and loosen baked on grime. After giving the paper towels a couple minutes to cool down, you can use the warm, wet cloths to wipe down the microwave’s interior. For stubborn, heavily-caked on crud, you may need to repeat the process or use another strategy.


Mix a 50/50 solution of distilled white vinegar and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave on high power for up to five minutes. Then, let the solution sit for several minutes. The steam from the solution will help loose any splatter and will make that pesky hardened gunk a breeze to clean. When you are finished, you will probably want to wipe down the microwave with some soapy water or lemon to help neutralize the strong vinegar smell.


Cut a lemon into quarters. Add the lemon and 1 cup of water to a microwave-safe bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave on high power for up to five minutes. Alike the vinegar solution, let the bowl sit for several minutes. The steam and acid from the solution will help loose any splatter. When you are finished, you will want to wipe down all surfaces with a damp paper towel. 

Don’t have a lemon? You can also try lime quarters, orange slices, or even a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.


Baking soda is a valuable tool. It can be used in and around the kitchen for a variety reasons. From eliminating odors to helping you bake the perfect treat, it is a must-have for everyone’s pantry. Add 4 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 cup of water to a microwave-safe bowl. Stir the solution until is is well-mixed. Then, similar to all of the other methods, place the bowl in the microwave on high power for up to five minutes. Let the solution sit. Then, wipe down all the surfaces with a damp paper towel.

Get Your Garden Ready – Spring has Arrived!

It’s about time! Winter is finally over, which means it’s time to put away the snow shovels and start thinking about spring projects, such as your outdoor garden.

If you are like me, you are probably have that itch to get outside and start getting plants in the ground. While weather in Maryland weather may be a bit unpredictable, with overnight frosts sometimes stretching into April, it may be a bit early to start sowing your summer crops into the ground. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get out in the garden and start to get it ready so you can hit the ground running this year.

Here are some simple steps to get you started:

1. Clean

Make sure your soil is ready for planting. The weather and storm systems can be harsh to your garden, grass, shrubs, and trees. During the fall and winter seasons, your garden may have been left exposed and even neglected. The first step in preparing your garden for Spring is to clean up any weeds, leaves, twigs, or other debris that may have developed over the months. First, rake your yard. Then, clean out old plant material, mulch, weeds, and other debris. Not only are they quite the eyesore, they can limit the growth of your new plants. Afterwards, start to loosen up the  soil and replenish soil in any garden beds that are low. Be careful about using an automated tiler. While they may be great for breaking up the soil, they can destroy your underground ecosystem; the blades may kill earthworms and other microorganisms that help decompose the soil.

2. Groom

Weeds always seem to get an early start growing every year.  Before you know it, they completely overtake your garden – seizing all of the sunlight, water, and nutrients from the desired plants they are competing against. Use a combination of fertilizer and herbicides to enrich the soil and rid the garden of unwanted weeds.


Open up the shed and pull out those garden tools that have been sitting all winter. Spend a few minutes grabbing the gardening tools and clean them off with soap and water. If you use mineral spirits on the wood handles, it will help protect the surface – prevent the wood from splintering.


Decide which flowers and vegetables you will plant this season. Some crops are cold-weather crops and can be sown directly into the ground shortly. Others may need to be started indoors and then transplanted or sown directly into the ground over the summer. Regardless of when the planting will begin, you should start to map out where the plants will be located now. Some factors to take into consideration are:

  • Crop Rotation
  • Amount of Sunlight
    • Full / Partial Sun
    • Will the neighboring plants block sunlight from the nearby plants?
  • Companion Plants
    • Will you plant flowers that may attract pollinators, like bees, to promote growth?
    • Which plants are compatiable or incompatible with each other (deter pests, regulate shade, improve the soil, suppress weeds, etc.)?
  • Ease of Access
    • When it is time to tend to your gardeen for maintenance, are you able to reach what you need to?
    • Are you able to comfortably sit or stand nearby those plants that may require a little bit of extra attention?
  • Water Access
    • Where is your water source located?
    • Are you going away for an extended period of time that may require the configuration of a drip irrigation system?

Get out there and get started! Gardening isn’t an exact science, and it doesn’t always go as expected. However, giving uour garden a little bit of TLC this spring will help set you up for success.

SDAT Announces Improvement to Ground Rent System

Attn: Maryland Homeowners

On March 10, 2022, The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) announced a simplified ground rent redemption system. The new process is designed with Maryland homeowners who are subject to ground rent in mind.

SDAT Announces Improvements to Ground Rent System
BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) today announced a more simplified ground rent redemption system for Maryland homeowners who are subject to ground rent. The new process is designed to reduce the obstacles a homeowner must overcome, as well as the number of documents a homeowner must procure, for them to redeem their ground rent through SDAT.

“Thanks to Governor Hogan’s leadership, SDAT has been able to streamline the process to eliminate residential ground rents here in Maryland,” said SDAT Director Michael Higgs. “This new process will greatly benefit Maryland homeowners who wish to once and for all resolve uncertainty about the status of the ground rent attached to their home’s deed.”

While Baltimore City homeowners will be the most affected by the new ground rent redemption process, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Worcester Counties also have registered ground rents in their jurisdictions.

Every homeowner that has ground rent is able to redeem their ground rent through SDAT, regardless of whether the homeowner knows who they should be paying their ground rent to. More information can be found on SDAT’s Ground Rent Website.

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) operates the Maryland Homeowner Assistance Fund, which can help with past-due mortgage payments and other housing costs, including delinquent ground rent, for homeowners who have experienced financial hardship after January 21, 2020. For more information, visit

DHCD also offers an interest-free Ground Rent loan program for homeowners who want to buy out (redeem) ground leases but cannot afford to make a lump sum payment and are not currently delinquent on ground rent payments.

“SDAT Announces Improvements to Ground Rent System.” 10 Mar. 2022,

Impact on Homeowners


While the greatest impact will be seen by residents of Baltimore City, any Maryland homeowner that owns a property that is subject to annual ground rent will be able to take advantage of the new redemption process.  Throughout the past decade, SDAT has taken great strides in assisting homeowners with accessing information surrounding registered ground rent. Now, homeowners can redeem ground rent in four simple steps:

  1. Complete an Application
  2. Mail Application & Application Fee
  3. Await Notification of Approval then Mail Certificate of Redepmtion with lump-sum payment
  4. Record Certificate of Redemption with your county’s land records office. 

Auction Due Diligence


Caveat Emptor

Real estate transactions are governed by local, state, and federal laws. One of the phrases that dates back to old English law is the Latin phrase, caveat emptor, which means, “let the buyer beware.” The phrase is related to the verb “cavēre”, meaning “to be on guard.” Absent any contract language or terms that contradict this idea, the phrase implies that the buyer should proceed with caution; they are purchasing the property in its current condition, with any flaws that may exist and without any warranties. Buyer due diligence is imperative in any real estate transaction, but it is critical in an auction sale.

Disclosure Requirements

Caveat emptor implies that the seller is not responsible for any additional discourse of adverse conditions that may exist. Due to local legislative action, sellers in your jurisdiction may be responsible for disclosing certain material defects. Depending on the laws that exist in your area, it may be the responsibly of the buyer to provide disclose issues, particularly items in a that may risk an occupant’s health and safety in residential real estate transaction. In some states, sellers cannot waive disclosure with a disclaimer statement. In those instances, a seller’s failure to disclose information may be grounds for fraud. Even though misrepresentation by non-disclosure is a serious offense, like any illegal act, the law only provides recourse for a victim. As a buyer, you will want to best-protect your interest. For that reason, it is recommended that buyers perform their exercise due diligence as much as possible, as nobody will care work to protect your interests more than yourself.

As-Is, Where-Is

As-Is is a term used in warranty law to disclaim the seller’s liability. Essentially, the use of this phrase implies that the buyer is accepting the property in its current state, whether faults to the property are present and apparent or not. This language clarifies that there are no explicit or implied warranties to the properties condition, and it is used to help protect the seller.

The inclusion of an “as-is” clause in a does not necessarily insulate the seller from their common law duty to disclose defects or the required information, as required by local, state, or federal law. Furthermore, “as-is” language does not protect the seller from failure to disclosure, misrepresentation or fraud. Failure to disclose, whether intentional or negligent, is the result of not revealing known concealed defects that are not apparent from a visual inspection of the property.

As previously mentioned, many states have started to require that sellers disclose certain material defects or items related to the condition of a property, even if the property is being sold in as-is condition. In Maryland, for example, a seller cannot shelter behind caveat emptor. In the sale of a residential property in Maryland, sellers need to either complete a multi-page document disclosing the condition of various items, or sign a disclaimer statement. That disclosure statement, although stating that the property is being sold in as-is condition, requires sellers to acknowledge if they are aware of any latent defects – a defect that may be hazardous to someone’s health or safety.

Even if you are buying a property in as-is condition, you should consider hiring a professional to conduct an inspection of the property prior to purchase. There are often many situations where a defect may be visible from a home inspection; whereas, the seller may not have any personal knowledge of the defect.

Take Action – Perform Due Diligence

Performing due diligence means to investigate the facts about the property. Buyers look at performing due diligence as, “doing their homework,” before making an offer or submitting a bid, and then continuing with that same due diligence prior to settlement. The performance of due diligence can seem like an exhaustive, and with experience, the task may only become longer. Although the process may feel daunting, it is an essential step that buyers must take to protect their investment and reduce liability.

Understanding Auctions

What Is An Auction?

An auction is a sales event where prospective buyers place competitive bidders for property. Auction formats can widely vary, but for the purpose of this post, we will focus on the types of auctions and auction formats that are most common in real estate transactions.

When the word auction is mentioned, people usually think of the time they watched an episode of a storage container being auctioned, or maybe they remembered that time they heard an auctioneer quickly reciting numbers as they watched the sale of a historic Aston Martin. Auction chants are often what the general public envisions when they think of an auction, but it is important for buyers and sellers to understand the mechanics of how auctions operate, instead of simply being aware of what auctions appear to be. In short, buyers and sellers must understand why auctions are effective rather than just what an auction is.

Why Auctions?

As mentioned previously, auctions are sales events. They are nothing more than a marketing strategy that buyers use to achieve the best and highest price. With that said, auctions can be attractive options for both buyers and sellers. Now, you may be scratching your head right now asking, “How can an auction be an attractive option for buyers and sellers both?” Right now, you might be thinking that they can’t. However, the honest, more complicated answer is that they can.

You simply need to understand the mechanics behind the auction. Behind all of the theatrics and hyped-up energy that an auction brings, there are motivated sellers and ready, willing, and able buyers. An analysis of those two parties, and their intentions, will help you better understand how auctions can be fruitful for both buyers and sellers, given the right circumstances. Let’s dive into the why – understanding why auctions are effective at bringing buyers and sellers together. Before placing your first bid though, you will need to understand the mechanics of an auction.

Types of Auctions

In the world of auctions, there are a wide variety of auction types – increasing bid auctions, decreasing bid auctions, sealed bid auctions, and more. Each of these auction types are associated with a variety of strategies that can be advantageous to buyers and sellers for numerous reasons. Before you can plan your strategy, however, you need to understand the fundamentals of each auction type.

English Auction

English Auctions, also known as an ascending price auction, is an open bid auction where the price will increase as bids are placed.

Dutch Auction

Dutch Auctions, also known as a descending price auction, is an open bid auction where the price will decrease as bids are placed.

Sealed Bid Auction

A sealed-bid auction is a type of auction where bidders discretely submit their bids to the auctioneer. The bids are submitted in a manner where the bids of others are not disclosed to other auction participants. At the conclusion of the auction, the seller usually accepts the highest bid.

Due to the nature of these auctions, they are not usually used in typical real estate transactions. Instead, they are often used in bidding for situations where the bid or offer for contract involves more than just price. For example, a REO (real estate owned) sale may commonly ask that offers be tendered via a sealed bid auction. Although the offer price plays a large role in the decision-making process, the seller may also consider other terms – settlement timeframe, method of financing, etc. Another example of a sealed-bid auction would a bid for a government contract. This may entail an offer involving cost for services, but the offers being submitted may vary in other terms as well.

Common Real Estate Auction Types

English Auctions are the most common type of auction used for the sale of real estate. Most bidders will encounter two main sub-types of increasing bid auctions – absolute auctions and reserve auctions. Let’s look at how Absolute Auctions and Reserve Auctions work.

Absolute Auctions

An absolute auction is the most classic type of auction. In an absolute auction, the property, whether real estate or otherwise, is sold to the highest bidder regardless of price.

Example of an Absolute Auction

Jamie used to own a restaurant. After experiencing a series of hardships, she was forced to close her business and sell all of the kitchen equipment. She needs to immediately liquidate all of the assets and does not have a minimum price that she is trying to get for the items, as she cannot afford the cost of placing the items in storage. Jamie decided to hire a local auctioneer to sell the items at a live, on-site auction. The auctioneer will start the bidding off at $0. Although the auctioneer may suggest bidding increments to help control the flow of the auction, each item will sell for whatever high bid is achieved. Since Jamie is not reserving the right to withdraw the items from sale if a certain minimum bid is not met, this is an absolute auction.

Absolute Auctions & Real Estate

Due to the nature of what absolute auctions are, many sellers do not elect to sell real estate at an absolute auction. Instead, they tend to sell their property in a reserve auction. It is common for many auctioneers across the United States to advertise some auctions as “Absolute over $x,xxx” (e.g. Absolute over $100,000). These auctions, however, are not true absolute auctions. They are actually reserve auctions with the minimum bid being disclosed and advertised as the starting bid.

Reserve Auctions

Reserve auctions are commonly used in the sale of real estate. In a reserve auction, the seller, trustee, or their agent reserves the right to accept or decline any and all bids. At the conclusion of the auction, the high bid will be placed into the reserve, subject to the seller’s confirmation.

Prior to the start of the auction, the seller usually informs the auctioneer of their reserve price. The auctioneer will not usually disclose the reserve price to bidders prior to the auction. As bidding winds down, the auctioneer usually informs the public whether the high bid will be accepted or if it will placed into reserve for the seller’s confirmation.

In many live auctions, the seller is usually on-site and able to confirm whether the high bid will be accepted. At the conclusion of the reserve auction, the seller has three options if the reserve is not met. The seller can…

• accept the high bid, even though it is below their initial reserve price

• counter the high bidder, disclosing what they will sell the property for

• reject the high bid, and withdraw the property from sale

Example of a Reserve Auction

Mark used to own hundreds of rental properties. He is nearing retirement and is beginning to liquidate some of his assets. He knows the value of the properties, but since the properties are currently rented, he is electing to sell them at public auction. He prefers to provide all prospective buyers the day of the auction, instead of trying to coordinate multiple showings the with tenants.

Comparable properties in Mark’s neighborhood are selling for $120,000, but Mark knows that his properties need some work due to the wear-and-tear from the long-term tenants. Since the properties are rented, Mark doesn’t want to pay for any repairs. For that reason, he is stilling the property in as-is condition with a reserve price of $95,000.

Example A: Reserve Not Met

The day of the auction, the auctioneer opened up bidding at $50,000. The property quickly increased in price from $50,000 to $92,000. As the auction closed out, the auctioneer announced that the reserve was not met and the high bid would be placed into reserve, pending the seller’s confirmation. Mark considered the results of the auction, and had three options:

• accept the high bid of $92,000

• reject the high bid with a counteroffer between $92,000 and $95,000

• reject the high bid, withdraw the property from sale, and consider re-listing the property for another auction

After careful consideration, Mark decided to accept the high bid of $92,000. He knew that the carrying cost and additional risk of letting the property linger on the market. To him, it was not worth the chance of potentially only $3,000 more. He also knew that auctions don’t have guaranteed results. In reality, the next auction could end with a high bid less than $92,000.

Example B: Reserve Met

If Mark’s reserve was met, once a bid of $95,000 is met or exceeded, the auction would convert from a reserve auction to an absolute auction, where Mark would be expected to accept the high bid, regardless of the price.

Reserve Auctions & Real Estate

As highlighted in Mark’s scenario, auctions do not have guaranteed results. Although a reserve auction can help protect a seller from being required to sell the property for less than what they are willing to accept, it doesn’t mean the seller will always achieve exactly what they are expecting. Reserve auctions are often scrutinized because bidders may win an auction and still lose. Some critics of reserve auctions argue that auctions are simply a marketing gimmick to achieve a price at or above their asking price. The reality, however, is that auctions can favor buyers as much as they favor sellers. Buyers and sellers simply need to have a clear strategy in mind before participating in an auction sale.

Prevent a Clogged Kitchen Sink

Knowing how to unclog a drain is an important life skill. Clogs have a tendency to appear at the worst time possible. They are frustrating to deal with and often result in you calling a costly plumber to alleviate the issue. However, there are a few simple ways that you can help keep your drain clog-free.

Avoid Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

Many chemical drain cleaners can do more harm than good. In fact, drain cleaners can exacerbate the issue, damage your drain line, and be hazardous to your health.

So, how do drain cleaners work, exactly?

Not all drain cleaners are the same. However, they are all fairly similar. They contain a blend of different ingredients that create a chemical reaction that is intended to break down the clog’s debris to the point that it cannot adhere to the drain. Unfortunately, chemical drain cleaners often loosen clogs rather than completely eliminating them. When they do, the clog simply travels farther down the line, where it’s even harder to reach and clear. 

While drain cleaner may be effective at disintegrating smaller clogs, they may cause long-term harm. The harsh chemicals used are caustic; they are corrosive and may eat away at your pipes. While your drain may be cleared, these cleaners may be the culprit of a future leak or pipe burst.

If you are lucky enough to have drain cleaner effectively remove a clog without damaging you drain line, you are still endangering your household. As previously mentioned, the blend of chemicals are extremely harsh. The mixture can burn your skin and result in many long-term effects, such as: asthma, poisoning, blindness, or worse.

Stop Using Your Drain as a Trash Can

You might have a garbage disposal, but that doesn’t mean you should dump all of your food scraps and discarded leftovers down the drain. Your garbage disposal it only intended to help with those items that may slip past your kitchen sink drain stopper. If you do have to use your garbage disposal, be sure to:

  • Remove grease from pans with paper towels, then toss.
  • Flush existing waste with cold water for 15 seconds before using the garbage disposal.
  • Periodically run the disposal instead of waiting until it accumulates a lot of scraps.

Don’t Put Grease Down the Drain

Keep an old pasta sauce jar, coffee can, or some other container nearby. Dispose of any excess cooking grease into it before washing the pot or pan, instead of just letting it go down the drain.

How Do I Check My Credit Score?

Before renting an apartment or applying for a loan, you should give your credit score a pulse check. Checking your credit score can provide you with some helpful insight into your financial health, and it is a valuable way to gauge your creditworthiness. In this article, we will walk through how you can easily check your credit report and discuss the importance of monitoring your credit score regularly.

Understanding Credit Reports

What is a Credit Report?

A credit report is a detailed summary that includes information about your credit activity and current credit situation such as loan paying history and the status of your credit accounts. A credit reporting agency can then sell your information to companies that may want to screen your credit history, provided they have a valid reason and proper authorization.

Credit Reporting Companies

In the United States, there are several different credit bureaus, but there are only three major agencies. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, known as “The Big Three.” They are responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disbursing information about consumers in the credit markets. It is important to note that while The Big Three may collect a lot of the same information (e.g. credit account, credit amount, age of the account, etc.), creditors might not report to all three credit reporting agencies. For that reason, it is possible that your report and score vary between agencies.

Importance of Credit Reports

Your credit report shows critical pieces of information that are important in understanding your overall financial health. You should review your credit reports regularly to understand your current credit position. By monitoring your credit reports, you are aware of the information businesses (lenders, landlords, employers, or others) may have access to upon their request. You can then be prepared to proactively address any concerns that may arise or any errors that may need to be disputed.

Disputing a Credit Report

In the event that you need to dispute any inaccurate information that you’ve found in your credit report, you’ll need to contact the credit agency directly. According to a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people have an error on at least one of their credit reports. Errors on your credit reports can lower your credit score. These errors could be very costly or hurt your ability to get new lines of credit.

Understanding Credit Scores

What is a Credit Score

A credit score is a quick snapshot that predicts how likely you are to pay back a loan on time. A scoring model uses information from your credit report to pay generate a credit score. This rating showcases the amount of risk you may pose to lenders, landlords, or others.

Types of Scores

FICO® Score and VantageScore Solutions are two separate, competing companies. They both create and sell credit scores to lenders and other businesses.

FICO® Score: Introduced in 1989, the The Fair Isaac Corporation’s FICO introduced the FICO® scoring model which is used by ~90% of the top lenders to make lending decisions.

VantageScore: Introduced in 2006, the Vantage Score was developed by the three major consumer credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Their mission? Create a “more predictive scoring model that is easy to understand and apply.”

Factors Impacting Your Credit Score

Factors impacting your credit score can be grouped into five main categories:

  • Payment History
  • Credit Usage
  • Length of Credit History
  • Types of Accounts
  • Recent Activity

Credit Scores vs. Credit Reports

As previously mentioned, your credit score is a number that is intended to suggest your creditworthiness. Your credit score is generated from a model that takes a formulaic approach to indicate how good your credit is and how likely you are to pay back a loan on time. The score is generated from information detailed in your credit report. That information in the credit report is a summary of credit history and activity that can be systematically analyzed by credit agencies.

Free Credit Reports

Requesting Your Free Credit Report

Federal law gives you the right to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. Receiving your free report can be completed in four simple steps:

1. Visit and click “Request Your Credit Reports”

2. Complete the Online Form

3. Select the reports you would like to receive (TransUnion, Equifax, and/or Experian).

4. Review your report(s) online. Be sure to print or save a copy before closing the browser. You will not be able to receive the report after closing the window, so you will want to retain a copy for your  own records.

Questions about your rights? Visit

Coronavirus & Impact on Credit

Due to the circumstances individuals encountered throughout the coronavirus pandemic, everyone in the United States was eligible to receive a free credit report each week through April 20, 2022. Furthermore, in connection with various settlements, Equifax will make permit U.S. consumers to receive at least six additional free Equifax credit reports each year through December 31, 2026.

Benefits of Selling with a REALTOR®

7 Reasons You Should Sell with a REALTOR®

REALTORS® aren’t just agents. They’re professional members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict code of ethics. This is the REALTOR® difference for home sellers:

1. Ethical Treatment

Every REALTOR® must adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a REALTOR®’s client, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. The first obligation is to you, the client.

2. An Expert Guide

Selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes. Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved, so you want to work with a professional who can speak the language.

3. Objective Information and Opinions

REALTORS® can provide local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They also have objective information about each property. REALTORs® can use that data to help you determine if the property has what you need.

4. Property Marketing Power

Property doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. A large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts with previous clients, friends, and family. When a property is marketed by a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

5. Negotiation Knowledge

There are many factors up for discussion in a deal. A REALTOR® will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement that allows you the flexibility you need to take that next step.

6. Up-To-Date Experience

Most people sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each sale. Even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS® handle hundreds of transactions over the course of their career.

7. Your Rock During Emotional Moments

A home is so much more than four walls and a roof. And for most people, property represents the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on the issues most important to you.

REALTOR® Magazine | | National Association of REALTORS | Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.