Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate | Vicki Millehan

Understanding the Difference in Home Security Systems

With so many types of security systems on the market, from smart systems to custom installation, it can be time-consuming to whittle down which type is right for you. Below we break down today’s options for home security systems so that you can make an informed decision.

Professional Installation

The greatest perk of professional installation of home security systems is that you truly get to sit back and let an experienced technician do all of the work. Once you schedule an appointment, the technician will come to your home, install the system, and walk you through how to use it properly. Professional companies may also offer package upgrades and incentives based upon your subscription. They may even offer add-ons that monitor smoke, carbon monoxide, and water damage.

The drawback? Some professional home security systems can be pricey. You’re paying upfront for equipment and, in some cases, monitoring. Some companies offer monthly subscription fees for round-the-clock monitoring, while others charge an annual fee. Also, if you move to a new home you may have to pay a re-installation fee.

Businesses that offer professionally installed home security systems include: SSI (locally-owned Smith Mountain Lake company) and ADT.

DIY Installation

Do-it-yourself home security systems have become popular due to their ease of installation and integration with smart home systems, like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. You don’t have to schedule a time with an installer, and you own the equipment. You can also configure the equipment to meet your specific needs. The systems are ready to install right out of the box, and the instructions are easy to follow.

On the other hand, you do not have the benefit of a professional technician’s experience to guide you through the process. This means that you’re reading the manual, hanging and/or connecting all of the parts to the system, and spending time with tech support if you run into a problem.

Companies that offer DIY home security installation include SimpliSafe, FrontPoint, Wink, and Ring.

What Makes a Good Offer on a House?

Find out why having an experienced real estate agent makes all the difference.

You’ve found a home that you want to make an offer on, but have no idea where to start. How do you know if the number in your head is a good offer?

This is where working with an experienced realtor truly pays off. Your realtor will look at factors such as the current market condition and the inventory in the area that most similarly matches the home and price range that you’re interested in. They’ll also factor in the length of time the home has been on the market, and whether or not a lot of buyers are competing for this home.

While you should absolutely voice your opinion as to what you believe a fair offer should be, it’s worthwhile to let your realtor’s experience shine. Their knowledge of the current market and inventory will allow them to build a winning offer.

What to Do When You Receive Gift Money for a Down Payment

Learn how to properly document gifted money for a down payment on a new home.

Let’s say a relative give you a nice chunk of money as a gift that will be used for a down payment on a new home. Sounds great, right? While a down payment on a home makes for a far more interesting gift than say, an air fryer, using that money for its intended use isn’t as black and white as you would hope.

The Underwriting Process

To understand why gift money matters in regards to purchasing a home, we have to first understand underwriting. Underwriting is when your lender looks over your credit score, income, and assets to determine if you’re a risk.

Your lender wants to ensure that you’re financially able to pay back the loan. This is why they look at your income and credit history, two strong indicators of how responsible you are with your finances. If a relative gives you a one-time gift of $20,000, for example, the bank cannot assume that you’re going to have access to that type of money on a regular basis. Therefore, they cannot count it as part of your income.

Gift vs. Loan

If a sizable amount of money was given to you from a friend or relative, the bank has no means of knowing whether or not that money was an actual gift or a loan. The distinctive question that must be answered is, “Will this sum of money have to be repaid?”

If the money was indeed intended to be a gift, then the donor must write a gift letter to your mortgage company that clarifies the intent of the gift. The gift letter includes the donor’s name and contact information, their relationship to the client, the amount gifted, the date the amount was transferred to the applicant, and a statement that no repayment is expected.

The Bottom Line

Even after your friend or relative has submitted a gift letter, the lender may still determine that you’re not qualified for the loan and ask for additional documentation, such as bank statements or tax returns. However, if you and your donor are prepared going into the process, then your lender will have everything they need to make an informed decision.