For many homeowners around the country, fall is a critical season to prepare your house for colder weather. Especially for first time homeowners, or those who have recently moved into your home and have yet to experience a winter in your house, here are some tips to help you prepare!
Check your roof for any signs of damage or moss, clear your gutters and downspouts, and check any vents or small openings to ensure small animals can’t come inside. It is much easier to deal with roof repairs now than dealing with ice dams and leaks mid-winter!
Prep Your Yard
If you have any overgrown shrubs near your house, consider giving them a good trim before the snow flies. Not only can this help your plants survive winter, it will also keep moisture away from your home and make your windows fully visible to let the most sunlight in. While raking your fallen leaves, you may also want to mulch your perennial plants to help them throughout the cold months. Lastly, after your yardwork is complete, turn off the water supply to your exterior faucet, and bring outdoor furniture, grills, and umbrellas indoors.
Seal It Off
Check all of your windows and doors to make sure they close properly, and update any missing or damaged weather-stripping. Also remove summer screens and swap with storm windows if you have them. Doing so will keep you warmer and may even help reduce your heating bills! If you have exposed exterior outlets, cover them with weather guards. Consider resealing your driveway or pathways, if you have small cracks you are concerned about worsening from the freeze/thaw cycle.
Lastly, before the bitter cold sets in, have your furnace or other heating system serviced. Test your smoke detectors and CO alarms. And if you haven’t already, make a snow removal plan, whether it is a tune up on a snowblower, purchasing sand and salt, or making arrangements with a plow company.
And last but not least, if you want to give your house a festive outdoor glow, string up decorative lights earlier than you’ll turn them on, so you’re not battling cold temperatures or ice later on!
So many families around the country are facing choices about the start of the school year, whether that means in-person learning, distance learning, or a hybrid solution. These decisions often mean deciding how to create a space at home that fosters focus and education. This will look different for each family, as it depends on how many children you have and their ages (from pre-K to university!), whether parents are also working remotely, as well as the indoor and outdoor space you have available at home. The following tips may help spark an idea that works for your family!
The classroom doesn’t just have to exist within the home! Your outdoor space, whether it is a balcony, a yard, or a nearby park, provides an essential change of scenery for a school day. An outdoor quiet reading spot, a scavenger hunt walk, or a mid-day recess may entice students of any age.
Picking a spot! Some children may have a desk in their bedroom and can work independently. But that is often not the case. Choosing one set location in your home for classes and homework can help the whole family adjust to this new routine. Some things to keep in mind are choosing a spot that adults can easily keep an eye on, as well as a spot that has limited distractions.
Reducing distractions! Once you have the best spot chosen for your family, try to set expectations that it is a device free (or reduced) zone. Obviously, this does not apply to computers or tablets that are needed to attend classes. But cell phones, hand held gaming devices, or TVs can all be extremely distracting. Even pets and other family members can be distractions, so try putting together a family game plan now to deal with these distractions!
Sharing is not just for your pre-K children to learn! Sharing workspace between multiple children and adults can take planning and patience. Try to be courteous of noise levels, let others know when you have a video meeting or class, and use earbuds or noise cancelling headphones for some peace and quiet if needed.
Students are used to having a daily schedule, no matter what education level they are. Mimicking this routine at home will be crucial to everyone's success. Wether its setting up a weekly family calendar for classes, assignments and meetings, or just monitoring time spent on activities each day, sticking to a routine will help students who are distance learning (or in a hybrid back to school plan). Make sure to schedule in times for naps, lunch, 'recess', and relaxation breaks for a balanced day.
This school year is bound to look different for all families. Try to have a plan, but also know that you will have to be flexible with each other at times. It may take some time to work out what is best for your family. And, if you find that you simply do not have enough space, and looking for a new home is in your budget, know that a Norcom Loan Originator is available to help you! Call to discuss your financing options, and get pre-approved. This will give you a leg up when putting in an offer on the perfect home in today’s competitive market!
So many of us are learning that video meetings, presentations, and interviews are becoming a regular fixture in our work schedules. There are simple changes we can all make to be more productive and professional during video meetings, from avoiding background distractions to finding our best light. The most important step though is to treat a video meeting as closely as possible as you would a meeting in person. Keep reading for our top ten tips for video meetings!
1. Lighting is key
Natural light is ideal, if you can, sit with a window in front of you. If the window is behind you, you will appear on the call to be in a dark or shadowed room. If its evening, poor weather, or you don’t have access to natural light, try to have artificial light sources that illuminate you from the front. This is more flattering than direct overhead lighting.
2. Know how to share your screen
Make sure to have what you’re trying to present queued up and ready to go before the meeting starts. This way, you can jump into the PowerPoint presentation, Excel spreadsheet, or web document immediately when you click the screen share button.
3. Know how to mute/unmute yourself
There are often keyboard shortcuts, such as clicking the space bar, to switch between a muted or unmuted mic, depending on the video platform you are using. Additionally, if you’re the meeting host, know how to mute everyone upon entering the meeting. This can help if you are presenting a webinar and do not want any interruptions.
4. Distracting background?
Think about what is visible in your background. Is it a cluttered room that could be visually distracting or a common area of the house with people walking through? Is it full of windows behind you, that will illuminate the background thus putting your face in a shadow? All of these elements are important to check before your video meeting.
5. Background noise
Think of the background as not just what could be visually distracting, but also the audible distractions. Do you have children, pets, electronics, or other sources of noise that could be potentially distracting? Try to move to a quiet area so others in the video meeting can easily hear you when you speak.
6. Living with others
If you are living with others who are also working, studying, or playing at home, let everyone know in the morning about your day’s meeting schedule. If they know you will be on a video call from noon to 1 pm, there will be fewer unexpected interruptions. If you have smaller children, see if you can plan meetings around nap time or independent play time.
Remember that if you are on a video call for work, dress as if you are AT WORK! No PJs, giving the illusion that you are barely awake and available to work. There are plenty of comfortable and professional outfit options.
8. Be attentive and engaged during the call
As tempting as it is, try not to do any other work, send emails, scroll through your phone or eat during a video meeting. Try to look into the camera when you talk. When you’re not talking, make sure to pay attention to whoever’s speaking or sharing their screen and that you’re looking at any materials you may need to reference.
9. Stay organized
Are you in charge of the meeting? Email an agenda beforehand. It is tempting to start video meetings with some chit chat, but most participants will appreciate getting to the topics on the agenda quickly. If you are looking for participation and collaboration, make sure everyone has a chance to speak. After a meeting, send a summary of what was discussed, action items for team members to work on, and schedule the follow up video meeting.
10. Join a couple minutes early.
Treat a video meeting online just as you would treat a meeting in the office. Show up a couple minutes early to be prepared, have your notes ready, check your internet connection, check that your mic and camera are working and muted, etc. This means you will be ready as soon as the meeting begins!
Mortgage rates are still at historic lows, which is good news for many homeowners looking to refinance. This can benefit borrowers in many ways, such as lowering monthly payments or shortening a mortgage’s term to pay it off sooner, just to name two. Just like when applying for a mortgage to purchase a home, refinancing requires the submission of financial, employment and credit documentation, and also requires closing costs. Still, many homeowners see the benefits of refinancing, and how it can help them reach their financial goals.
If you are still wondering if refinancing is a good option for you, or trying to understand when is the “right” time, please read our top five benefits of refinancing your home:
- Reduce the monthly payment
This is the most common reason homeowners are looking to refinance, and we understand why! By refinancing at a lower interest rate than that of the original mortgage, monthly payments can reduce by a significant amount, saving a homeowner money in the long run.
- Pay off a mortgage faster
Some homeowners opt to refinance their home with a shorter term. This results in fewer monthly payments overall, so the mortgage is paid off sooner. While refinancing from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage may result in higher monthly payments, it will also help a homeowner build equity in their property faster, and the shorter term will save money by reducing total interest paid over time.
- Make upgrades to a home
Did you know you can refinance to restore your home? A renovation loan gives homeowners a convenient, economical way to make renovations or repairs, and increase the value in their home through improvements, all in one loan with one monthly payment. This refinance option is available to borrowers of all income levels, on almost any type of property.
- Cash out some equity
When paying a mortgage, the first few years of payments go more towards the interest than paying down the principal. However over time, the mortgage payments will be directed more and more toward reducing the principal amount borrowed, thus building equity. Some homeowners choose to refinance and “cash out” this equity to pay for unforeseen financial needs.
- Reduce or remove mortgage insurance
Most homeowners, unless they put down a large deposit when purchasing their home, pay a monthly mortgage insurance. This is on top of their regular principal and interest paid. But for homeowners who have paid down a significant portion of their balance owed, refinancing can allow them to reduce or entirely remove their monthly mortgage insurance.
If you would like to see what you could specifically achieve by refinancing, please reach out to a Norcom Loan Officer today!
During this time of social distancing, it is crucial that our employees, borrowers, and industry peers such as realtors and attorneys stay safe, while we continue to provide the seamless lending experience that we have worked hard to put in place. Norcom has the technology to help you with your mortgage process, while safely in your current residence.
First is the Norcom Mortgage Easy Street App. This app allows our borrowers to view their basic loan, closing, and payment information, 24/7 in the app. Borrowers are also able to simply and securely upload their documents, without the need of a fax machine or scanner. We will keep borrowers updated on the status of your mortgage, as it moves through the process, with app push notifications. This app is also a great tool for realtors, as it provides easy to use mortgage calculators, automatic notifications, and easy to access contact information.
We also are able to offer Day 1 Certainty to our borrowers. This means, borrowers can allow Norcom to collect data directly from their financial institution. This eliminates the need for paper statements, which would have to be collected and delivered. This process also allows us to obtain tax return information directly from the IRS, removing the need for tax returns.
Lastly, we are able to offer our borrowers and closing attorneys our electronic closing platform, dubbed Swift Sign. This digital solution streamlines the closing process, saving both time and paper, and significantly reduces time spent at the closing table in an attorney’s office. Mike Dimech, SVP Operations Manager, stated, “Norcom Mortgage is excited and proud to be the first CT-based lender to offer electronic closings to our customers. By maintaining a true, 100% digital loan process, our borrowers will see drastic improvements over the traditional paper mortgage process while Norcom will further develop our internal efficiencies.”
We want to reassure those looking to purchase or refinance their home that we are still here to help. Please reach out to a Norcom loan officer via phone or email. We are happy to help you, and are confident that we can deliver a great mortgage experience through our online platforms.