While you're luxuriating in a tropical locale or in a quaint European town enjoying time with friends or loved ones, thieves could be planning to attack your home and ruin more than your vacation. There are some easy steps you can take to make your home look occupied while you're away and protect your property.

"If it looks like there are still people at home, you are much less likely to be robbed, do everything you can to make it look like there is activity both inside and outside the house." said A Secure Life. 

Add a security system

If you don't want to deal with the monthly output, you can buy a DIY alarm system like iSmart Alarm, offering an eight-piece set "with an alarm hub, two window sensors, two door sensors, a motion sensor and two…

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You have signed a contract to purchase a house. Your potential lender has qualified you for the mortgage loan, on the condition that the house will appraise high enough to support the loan. Now you have learned that the appraisal has come in too low, and the lender is not prepared to commit the loan.

You have a number of options.

Let's take this example. Your contract price is $500,000, and you are seeking a loan which will be 80 percent of the purchase price -- or $400,000. Such a loan will help you avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums. However, the lender has appraised the house for only $480,000, and will only lend you $384,000.

Here are some of your options.

1. Cancel the deal. Read your sales contract carefully. Do you…

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The National Association of REALTORS® has announced that there's a housing supply shortage. Homes are selling quickly and home prices are starting to inch up again. It's becoming a seller's market in many areas.

Any time the market changes, it's time to change strategies. During a buyer's market, buyers have the upper hand and can make more demands to sellers over their homes' price and condition. During a sellers' market, buyers concede the upper hand to sellers and are more willing to accept higher prices and terms.

When homes are in short supply, buyers don't have the luxury of taking their time, teasing sellers with lowball offers, demanding that every little thing be fixed, and shopping for homes with multiple real estate agents. Do these five…

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Outdoor living has never been hotter, but decking out your yard can cost as much as a new car—and that's without adding a big-ticket item like a pool. Use these tips to make smart additions in creating an inviting space without going broke.

1. A fire pit

You don't have to hire masons to come and build you a towering outdoor fireplace to create some warmth in your yard. An inexpensive fire pit from Home Depot, Lowes, or Target surrounded by comfy seating can be all it takes to create a seating area you'll want to spend every evening enjoying.

Or, buy an outdoor furniture set with a fire pit built right into your table. You can also make your own with one of these DIY fire pit ideas.

2. A little color

Creating a vibrant garden doesn't…

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Bed bug infestations in hotels and cockroaches’ sightings in restaurants are the pest problems that make headlines and garner attention. But, pests can find their way into your private home, too. Many homeowners don't know how to properly identify a pest infestation. And, often times, if a pest problem is identified, it’s already too late. Read on to learn how to properly identify and prevent common pests in your region:

Identifying Pests

It’s true that many bugs are important to the ecosystem and life cycle. But, not all bugs are good. Insects can spread disease and damage your garden and home.

For example, wood-eating termites can destroy your home by eating away at the foundation. These pests can be spotted flying in swarms, and they often…

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A natural disaster can happen anywhere, at any time. In light of deadly spring-like storms that tore through Texas the day after Christmas, ravaging cities and tearing apart neighborhoods, we thought it was time to take a look at some disaster preparations people can make to protect themselves and their properties. Whether you live in earthquake country, tornado alley, or in a hurricane zone, there are important steps you can take.

Get an inspection

It's a given when buying a house, but you can schedule one in your current home, too. An inspection can turn up items that need fixing or replacing, which can save you money and also eliminate dangers from your home that could prove dangerous in a powerful storm.

Hire an engineer

A Texas-based…

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When you and your REALTOR® sit down to price your home, you'll be looking at competitive homes that are the most similar in size, location and amenities as your home. You may find that prices can be thousands of dollars higher or lower. It's tempting to pick the highest price and say, "Let's list it here." But what if your home doesn't sell at that price?

High prices are a strategy that can work in an accelerating market, but it's risky. Your home can sit for months without selling and you'll end up marking the price down, perhaps lower than it should have sold for in the first place.

Pricing your home is a science. The science is choosing the right price at which your home will sell quickly. How do you do that? By analyzing your local market…

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Identity theft is commonly thought of as a problem only adults deal with. But the truth is children make an easy target. Social Security numbers, names, and other personal information has been used by hackers and other types of identity thieves to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of debt. How do you protect your children's information before they are old enough themselves? Here is a look at the problem and what you can do about it.

How At Risk Are They?

A study done in 2009 and 2010 by Carnegie Mellon CyLab took a close look at child identity theft, and what the report found was astonishing. In fact, the report claimed 10.2 percent of children in the study had someone other than themselves using their Social Security number. That's 51…

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INITIAL BUYER CONSULTATION OF PURCHASING PROCESS AND WHAT TO EXPECT 

HELP ARRANGE FINANCING

  • Assist in locating sources of mortgage loans. 
  • Help you examine home much you can afford but how much you may want to spend.
  • Assist in comparing different financing options.
  • Provide information on purchasing incentives that may be available.
  • Educate and discuss the difference between being prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage.

ASSIST IN FINDING THE RIGHT PROPERTY

  • Identify your needs and wants in  property.
  • Find appropriate available properties. 
  • Set up an automated e-mail alert system that immediately notifies you of properties that fit your requirements.
  • Sort through inaccurate information about homes in the area.

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Homeownership has always been the "great American dream".

To foster and encourage this dream, Congress has consistently enacted tax legislation which favors homeowners. Indeed, much has been written that our tax laws discriminate against renters, by giving unfair and unequal tax benefits to those who own homes.

Every four years, some candidate for high political office tries to focus our attention on equalizing the tax laws, and repealing the homeowner benefits, but these arguments have consistently fallen on deaf ears.

And this coming election year is no different.

For those of us who own homes, here is a list of the itemized tax deductions available to the average homeowner. Every year, you are permitted to deduct the following expenses:

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