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VALENTINE’S DAY EVENTS in Bucks County

Love is in the air in Bucks County! Come celebrate Valentine’s Day with the special person or people in your life with a perfect day and night filled with delicious food, entertainment and more. Go above & beyond and plan a romantic weekend getaway in Bucks County for you and your sweetheart.

THINGS TO DOvalentines1
• Make it a sentimental weekend with a stay at the Radison Hotel Northeast Philadelphia February 12-14. Book your room and enjoy a champagne toast upon your arrival, a delectable dinner followed by a performance from the world-famous Duprees, and a hot breakfast the next morning. Can’t make the whole weekend? Just come for dinner and the show; DJ Lou Costello will also be on-hand providing musical entertainment throughout the night.
• Celebrate Valentine’s Day under the sea in a unique dining experience at the Adventure Aquarium February 13. That’s A-Moray Valentine’s Event is an adults-only evening that includes a buffet dinner and dessert, an after-hours Aquarium experience, up close sessions with animals and much more. Make your date’s night even more special by adding a “Diver-gram” where divers display a personal message in the 760,000-gallon Ocean Realm exhibit!
• Come dance the night away February 13 at Parx Casino with the Don’t Call Me Francis Band. You’ll be sure to have a great time with one of the most requested bands in the region!
• Did you know February is Heart Health Awareness Month? Come meet author Marylou Streznewski on February 14 at the Doylestown Bookshop, and hear about her battle and triumph over heart disease.

WINERIESvalentines2
• Wine lovers rejoice! Wineries on the Bucks County Wine Trail are offering seasonal wine favorites and special pairings and tastings for wine enthusiasts.
• Check out special wines or bottles being offered at Buckingham Valley VineyardsPeace Valley Winery, Rose Bank Winery and Unami Riudge Winery just in time for Valentine’s Day!
• At Crossing Vineyards and Winery, learn about the world’s most romantic wine February 12, treat your sweetheart to a romantic candlelit dinner February 13-14 or enjoy wine and chocolate with your loved one February 14.
• Join New Hope Winery for a four-course Valentine’s Day dinner and live music in the Rustic President’s Room February 14.
• Spend an exciting afternoon with your sweetheart by indulging in a sit-down, guided food and wine tasting February 14 at Sand Castle Winery. Enjoy samples of new and delicious wine paired with delectable morsels. It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day experience!
• Show someone special how sweet they are with a wine and chocolate pairing featuring Skip’s Candy Corner at Chaddsford Winery February 12-14. Each couple will receive a special memento!

DININGvalentines3
• Treat the one you love to dinner and a show. Start off the night with a delicious dinner at one of these Bucks County downtown dining spots. Then, head over to Acting Naturally Inc’s production of Steel Magnolias in Langhorne February 11-12.
• Indulge in delicious Italian specialties like Pork Milanese or Salmone al Vino Bianco at Bella Tori at the Mansion for an incredible evening with your loved one February 12-14.
• Charm your valentine with a delectable dinner along the scenic Delaware River and Fall in Love with the Black Bass Hotel February 14-15. The four-course meal features Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Cider Drizzle, Poached Pear and Blue Cheese Tart and Chateaubriand for Two!
• Fill your heart and your stomach this Valentine’s Day weekend at the Spring Mill Country Club February 12-14! Choose from a variety of mouth-watering appetizers and entrees that are sure to please you and your sweetheart like Broiled Lobster Tail and Maple Miso Dijon Salmon.
• Start the romantic holiday with a lovely four-course food and wine pairing brunch or dinner at The Raven Restaurant February 14 or you can end the night right by dancing and getting carried away in your loved one’s arms at The Love Ball with DJ David Pertilla.
• Enjoy a delightful Valentine’s Day brunch or dinner at the Washington House Restaurant February 14. Sip on a complimentary glass of champagne or mimosa with brunch or make it a date night by reserving a table for a luxury four-course meal later on in the day.
• Nothing says “I Love You” more than a romantic weekend February 13-14 with your special someone at the charming Logan Inn. Book a stay and you’ll receive champagne and chocolate upon your arrival as well as an exquisite three-course meal.
• Make your dinner reservations at the Spinnerstown Hotel February 14 and dine on special menu items that will make for the perfect sweetheart meal.
• Spend Valentine’s Day listening to a live piano and vocal performance by the talented Gene Galligan at the Brick Tavern Inn February 14.

FAMILY FUNvalentines4
• Celebrate early with your little sweethearts during the Love is in the Air! Valentine Party at theMargaret R. Grundy Memorial Library February 10. Perfect for kids ages three through seven, the party will feature crafts, love stories and songs and some sweet treats.
• Bring the kids to BounceU of Langhorne for some Valentine’s Day fun! Children 7 and under can wear red as they bounce, create special Valentines and enjoy sweet treats February 12.

*Photo of Crossing Vineyards and Winery courtesy of Anthony Sinagoga
*Photo of Marsha Brown Restaurant courtesy of Anthony Sinagoga
*Photo of Washington House Restaurant by Natalie Wi, courtesy of Allure West Studios
*Courtesy of www.visitbuckscounty.com

 

 

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A Guide to Hiring the Best Contractor for Home Renovations

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If you’re planning to complete some renovations on your home before putting it on the market, you may be unsure of the best way to go about finding the right contractor for the job. While there are probably many contractors available who can do your renovations right, here’s how you can get to the bottom of who will work the best for you.

Make A Few Phone Calls
Once you’ve done some research and determined a short list of prospective contractors, you’ll want to call each contractor to determine that they can complete your project in good time and are the right candidate for the work required. If they’re not available or are cagey about your question, this can be an easy way to whittle down the list.

Arrange a Meeting in Personrenovations
While a phone interview should provide you with some good insights right off the bat, you’ll also want to meet your potential contractors face to face before making any final decisions. If you get along well with the contractor and they are able to answer the questions you ask with confidence, it’s a good sign that they may be the right pick for your project.

Check Out References
Once you’ve decided between a few candidates, make sure you contact their former clients to determine how happy they were with the work and the contractor. Since you may have a date in mind for when you want to put your home on the market, it will be important to know if the job was completed in good time, as well as if any final issues were left hanging in the air unfinished.

Consider the Estimated Costs
Last but not least, you’ll want to have each contractor break down the project and provide a projected cost for labor and materials. You should be able to get a good sense of exactly what it’s going to cost and which bid is the most realistic. While it may be tempting to go for the lowest bid since you’ll probably be moving soon, you’ll want to strongly consider which contractor and which price will turn out the best in the end.

It can seem complicated to hire a contractor for your home renovations, but by conducting simple interviews and checking references you should be able to determine who the best person for the job is. If you’re curious about renovations and how they can impact the purchase price of your home, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more insights.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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February Events in Bucks County PA.

Get ready to bundle up for some fun in Bucks County this month! From comedy nights to Presidents’ and Valentine’s Day celebrations, these happenings are worth braving the bitter cold of winter.feb1

• January 30-February 21 - Four women in the 1950s meet every Wednesday to share recipes and secrets in A Taste of Things to Come at the Bucks County Playhouse. The Betty Crocker Cooking Contest may not change their lives, but the 1960s sure will!

• Through February 24 - Be prepared to laugh during Joe Conklin’s Comedy Night! “The man of a thousand voices,” Joe Conklin and three hilarious comedians will be at 360 Nightclub at Parx every Wednesday.

• February 4 - Calling all Harry Potter fans! The Doylestown Bookshop is holding Harry Potter Book Night: A Night of Spells. Celebrate the magic of J.K. Rowling’s beloved characters with a night of games, activities, and food.

• February 6 - In celebration of African-American History Month, the Mercer Museum will present an Afternoon with Benjamin Bannekar. Actor and storyteller Bob Smith will portray the distinguished surveyor, mathematician, astronomer, and farmer. Guests will be invited to “meet” Bannekar and learn about the tools he used to form the basis of his work.

• February 7 - Stay warm inside with the kids and learn about Native Americans during the Lenape! Join the fun at Churchville Nature Center where there will be entertainment including Native American Stories and games.feb2

• February 11 - Come out to the Sellersville Theater to hear an incredible night of music from the award-winning artist Ana Popovic. Her music blends smoking electric funk with slide guitar, jazzy instrumentals, and her soulful vocals. It’s a sound you won’t want to miss.

• February 12-14 - Love is in the air this month in Bucks County and we will post a list of fun Valentine’s Day activities for you and your special person.

• February 15 - Celebrate President’s Day with a bounce! Bounce U of Langhorne is throwing a Presidents’ Birthday Party. Bring the little ones for lots of bouncing, cupcake decorating and games!

• February 15 - Learn the history behind one of Bucks County’s historic towns. Jeffrey Marshall, the President of the Heritage Conservancy, will talk to the Newtown Historic Association about “The Man Who Built Newtown” at the Half Moon Inn.feb3

• February 18-21 - Take a step back in time with “Old Blue Eyes” during Steven Maglio’s Sound of Sinatra at the Bristol Riverside Theatre. Listen to Maglio’s take on Sinatra’s greatest hits as he evokes the legend’s vocals.

• February 19 - The 80′s are back for one night only! Get your groove on during an 80′s Dance Party at the Plumsteadville Inn Restaurant & Bar. Be sure to dress in your best 80′s garb for a chance to win a prize!

• February 21 - Did you know George Washington is turning 284 years old? Come out to Washington Crossing Historic Park to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday with children’s activities and cake. Don’t forget to bring a homemade birthday card!

• February 21 - If you like wine and cupcakes, you’re in luck! Crossing Vineyards and Winery is holding a Pairing Wine & Cupcakes Class. Sample some of the vineyard’s award-winning wines complimented with different cupcake flavors. Yum!

• February 24 - Come see Tammy Schane in her portrayal of Martha Dana Mercer at the Heritage Conservancy. Willie Mercer’s wife and hostess at Aldie Mansion for more than 30 years, Martha Dana Mercer spent a lot of time giving back to her community.

• Through February 27 - When the Moulin Rouge starts to lose business to the club down the street, the owners come up with a plan to get their customers back. But will it turn deadly? Find out at the Murder Mystery, Murder at the Moulin performed by Without a Cue Productions every Saturday at Fisher’s Tudor House.

• February 27 - Terry Klinefelter and Friends are bringing their beautiful jazz music to the James A. Michener Art Museum. Terry Klinefelter is an experienced jazz artist who has performed at the Kimmel Center and Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Be sure to grab advanced tickets for a night of great jazz!

**Photo courtesy of Bucks County Playhouse
**Photo courtesy of Sellersville Theater
**Photo courtesy of Bristol Riverside Theatre
**Photo courtesy of Anthony Sinagoga
**Courtesy of www.visitbuckscounty.com

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How to Discuss Repairs with a Seller after a Home Inspection

home inspection1When it comes to selling a home, it is a common belief that once the offer is accepted, there is nothing else to be negotiated. However, issues and obstacles that can arise during the home inspection can be a cause for discussion with the seller. Whether you’re currently searching for houses or your offer has already been accepted and you’re preparing for the next step, here are some tips in the event that the home inspection isn’t up to par.

Be Cautious About What You Say
Without a doubt, anything that you discuss with the real estate agent regarding the property you’re looking at is going to be addressed with the seller. Instead of telling the agent everything is fine and dandy, maintain a poker face with any deficiencies in the home so you can assess them after the inspection. While a seller may think they have you on the line if all seems fine during the inspection, maintaining your peace and negotiating after the fact may end up providing a better post-inspection deal for you.

Decide What Deficiencies Are Most Important
Before negotiating any repairs or defects with the seller and how this can benefit you, ensure you prioritize what deficiencies must be fixed and what you can live without. There may be leaks and small dings in cupboards that may not be much of an issue, whereas damage in a hardwood floor that you don’t want to renovate may serve as a deal breaker. Deciding what is most important will ensure that the seller knows you’re really interested, and it will likely convince them that the fixes will make for a successful sale.

Request A Credit for Repairshome inspection4
If a seller knows you’re interested in a home, you may be able to get a little bit of leeway in terms of what you can negotiate following the inspection. Instead of expecting them to deal with the hurdles of home repair, ask the seller to consider a credit so that you can ensure the repairs are completed on your own. This will not only enable you to have the repairs completed the way you would like them done, it may also make the moving process a smoother transition for all of you.

There are certain deficiencies that can show up during the home inspection, so it’s important to consider how re-negotiation can benefit both the buyer and the seller. If you’re curious about home inspections and other aspects of purchasing a home, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

If you have any questions about buying a new home, or are selling your home and need advice on staging tips for your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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Some Ideas on Beating Cabin Fever During A Big Snow Storm

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The snow will be falling this Friday evening through Saturday with snow totals expected to accumulate to as much as 17 inches, or more in areas of Bucks County. Hopefully everyone is prepared and ready for what a major snow storm brings and have stocked up on essential winter storm supplies.

Now what? Being snowed can be pretty exciting for the first few hours, until the novelty wears off and boredom and anxiety set in. Keep you and your family happy and entertained with a few ideas to beat cabin fever.

Catch up on your must reads: Know how you’re always wishing you had more time to read? Well, guess what — you have all the time in the world right now! Catch up on must reads from the past year, or tackle something you’ve always meant to read but — ahem — haven’t had time to.

Get crafting! What better time to attempt that DIY project you’ve been wanting to try, than a day you’re stuck indoors? One tip: keep your projects easy and fun, and make sure you have all the supplies you need ahead of time. A snow day is not the time to get in over your head on a difficult project!

Stage an indoor scavenger hunt: If there are kiddos in your housebound group, send them on a mission to keep them occupied. Give them a list of unusual household things to find, and set a time limit to make things more interesting.

Break a Sweat: if board games are making everyone sluggish, get everyone up and moving with something that’s more active. Games like Charades or Win, Lose, or Draw can break both the silence and monotony of being snowed in your home.

Do some baking: make some of your favorite baked goods. It will not only take up some time, but it will make the house smell great. The other perk is that you get to eat it afterwards

 

 

 

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Things That Will Kill Your Chances for a Mortgage Approval

mortgage reject1

If you’re about to seek approval for a mortgage, you’ll want to ensure you have a solid credit score and clean financial records to boost your likelihood of being approved. There are certain characteristics that lenders want to see in a mortgage applicant before they agree to give a loan, and you want to prove that you’re a responsible borrower. But certain behaviors can easily tank your application and crush your home ownership dreams.

Before you seek approval, make sure your finances are in order. Avoid these three mortgage-killing habits while your lender evaluates your loan and you’ll quickly find yourself holding the keys to your new home.

Using Up Most of Your Available Credit
It can be tempting to start buying furniture when your mortgage is about to be approved, but you’re better off waiting on the shopping trip until after you get the green light from your lender. Using a significant amount of your available credit – or applying for new credit – will impact your debt-to-income ratio and change your credit score. You might even end up getting yourself a higher interest rate or reducing your credit score to below the qualifying range – so don’t go credit-crazy until after you’re approved.

Being Late On Your Monthly Billsmortgage reject3
Payment history makes up one third of your credit score, so you’ll want to make sure you pay all of your bills on time and in full if you’re looking for a mortgage. A single 30-day late payment on a bill can easily knock 50 to 100 points off your credit score. Even worse, some lenders require a full year of on-time payments before they’ll even consider you for a mortgage.

Co-Signing Someone Else’s Loan
mortgage reject2Co-signing on a loan is generally risky under any circumstances, but if you’re trying to get approved for a mortgage, taking on liability for someone else’s debt will change your debt-to-income ratio. Being on the hook for a debt you don’t own makes you look like a risk to lenders – if the primary borrower on the loan you co-signed stops making payments, you’ll need to pay the loan, and that could divert your cash away from your mortgage.

Getting approved for a mortgage is a critical part of the home buying process, but too many would-be homeowners torpedo their own chances of getting a mortgage by making poor decisions. Contact a mortgage professional near you to learn how you can give yourself the best possible chance of getting a mortgage.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages, or advice about buying a home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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The Heritage Conservancy and Barns of Bucks County Tour

conservancy2The Heritage Conservancy is based in Bucks County, PA, and is committed to being the region’s premier, nationally accredited conservator. They are a community based organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of significant open spaces, natural resources, and our historic heritage. A champion of conservation best practices, Heritage Conservancy believes that everyone is responsible for stewardship and seeks to enlighten, engage, and empower others to help achieve this mutual vision.
Their national accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission affirms the organization’s commitment to excellence, trust, and permanence. The Heritage Conservancy is a proud member of Pennsylvania Land Trust Association(PALTA).conservancy1

The Barns of Bucks County is a self – guided tour event that the Heritage Conservancy host. In Bucks County’s history and heritage there are some incredible barns. Many of them stood witness to the American Revolution and the founding of this country. Whether these barns are still used on working farms or reused as houses or offices, they remain relevant guardians of our history.

You can learn more about these “castles in the field” and about the Conservancy’s self-guided driving barn tours of Bucks County from the expert, Heritage Conservancy President, Jeffrey L. Marshall. You can register with Tammy at 215-345-7020 ext. 107. The cost is free for Conservancy members and $10.00 for non-members.

*Courtesy of Heritage Conservancy

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How to Tell If You’re Ready for Home Ownership

ownership1

Are you ready to make that leap from living at home or renting to owning a home of your own? While everyone moves at their own pace, here are some signs that you can use to determine if it is time to own your own home. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you can use to justify your decision.

Are You Sticking Around?
If you plan on moving soon for a job or think that you won’t be in town much longer, it may be better to rent. However, if you are thinking about living in the same town or within the same county for years to come, it is time to put down roots. The stability that comes with home ownership may make you more prepared for a marriage and/or a family if that is something that you want. This stability may make you more attractive if you are single and searching for a long-term relationship.

Do You Have a Steady Job?
Those who have a steady job and know that they have a stable salary may want to make the move to home ownership. As long as there aren’t any other major debts eating into your income, you can probably handle a mortgage and other costs associated with home ownership. The equity that you build in your home can help you build wealth for the future if and when you want to retire. Your home may also make a great rental property in the future, which can help you diversify your portfolio and ownership2keep you solvent for years to come.

Watching Television Shows Related to Home Ownership
You may have caught yourself recently watching shows revolving around people or couples who are looking for homes. You may also be watching programs dedicated to giving tips as to how you can upgrade your home. If you watch these shows frequently, it may be a sign that you are ready to move out on your own and take on the exciting challenge of being a homeowner.

Are you ready to be a homeowner in the near future? Only you can say for sure if it is time to make that leap. However, those who are looking for a long-term housing solution may be ready to make that move. For more information, it may be worthwhile to talk to a real estate agent today.

If you have any questions regarding home mortgages, or advice about buying a home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.

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INDOOR FUN IN BUCKS COUNTY

Looking for something fun to do indoors? Take a walk through a concrete castle, catch a show at a historic theater or turn the kids loose on a three-story obstacle course. No matter what you choose, you can enjoy the great indoors without missing out on all the fun Bucks County has to offer!

FOR THE HISTORIAN:indoor

• Transport yourself to early America when you walk through the Mercer Museum, a six-story concrete castle home to more than 40,000 artifacts from America’s industrial past. A Conestoga wagon, horse-drawn carriage and antique fire engine are among the many items uniquely displayed in alcoves, suspended above the atrium and even attached to the ceiling!

• Take a tour through Fonthill Castle, Henry Mercer’s palatial Doylestown home. This National Historic Landmark is made up of more than 40 rooms, with 18 fireplaces to keep you warm while you admire the original handcrafted tiles that adorn the ceilings.

• Explore Bucks County’s artistic side with a trip to the James A. Michener Art Museum. This museum exhibits the largest public collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings, hosts nationally touring special exhibitions and showcases area artists like Bucks County designer-craftsman Paul Evans, whose sculpted metal furniture will be on display beginning March 1.

FOR THE KIDS:indoor1

• Let the kids burn off their excess energy at Giggleberry Fair in Peddler’s Village. Let them climb to the top of Giggleberry Mountain, a three-story indoor obstacle course, and enjoy a kid-friendly meal at the Painted Pony Café. Don’t forget to take a ride on the vintage 1920s carousel!

• There’s competitive fun for the whole family at Monster Mini Golf in Feasterville. Whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment outing or a birthday bash, this exciting destination offers 18 holes of indoor, glow-in-the-dark mini golf, an arcade with games and prizes and an on-course DJ.

• Create lasting memories with your children or grandchildren as they explore interactive and educational exhibits at the Bucks County Children’s Museum. The smiles will never stop as visitors can dig for buried treasure, ride in a hot air balloon or even design and build a race car!

• Feel like you’re flying high when you soar at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Levittown. The fun-filled facility offers open jump, fitness classes, Ultimate Dodgeball and the Foam Zone for kids of any age, shape or size!

FOR THE COUPLE:indoor2

• Snuggle up together at the Bucks County Playhouse while you enjoy a show at one of America’s most beloved theaters. Grace Kelly, Robert Redford and Liza Minnelli are among the many top stars that have taken the stage at this New Hope landmark in its 75-year history.

• Relax together with a soothing massage at national award-winning day spa Skin ‘N Tonic. Open seven days a week, the experienced and friendly team at Skin ‘N Tonic will help you relax and unwind using organic and environmentally-friendly products.

• Travel together along the Bucks County Wine Trail for a true taste of Bucks County. Nine family-owned wineries make up the trail, each one offering a variety of unique flavors to please every palate.

FOR THE FOODIE:indoor3

• Looking for something on the sweet side? No matter the time of year, it’s never too cold for ice cream! Support Bucks County’s local farms and stop by OwowCow Creamery for some handmade ice cream. Using only locally sourced and organic ingredients, OwowCow offers fresh takes on traditional vanilla and chocolate with experimental flavors you won’t find anywhere else.

• Let your taste buds experience fresh, natural and local ingredients at the Golden Pheasant Inn. Nestled between the Delaware River and the canal, this 1857 fieldstone inn creates the perfect atmosphere for a romantic dinner or Sunday brunch.

• Enjoy the breathtaking view of the Delaware River while you dine on gourmet European-style cuisine at the Black Bass Hotel. The river deck is the perfect place to take in the view of the Delaware while without having to step outside. Pair their signature dish, the Charleston Meeting Street Crab, with a refreshing bottle of wine for the perfect night out.
*Courtesy of ww.visitbuckscounty.com
*Photo of the Mercer Museum by Bob Krist, courtesy of Visit Philly
*Photo courtesy of Monster Mini Golf
*Photo of the Bucks County Playhouse courtesy of Anthony Sinagoga
*Photo courtesy of Golden Pheasant Inn

 

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What to Expect at a Mortgage Loan Closing

closingSo you’ve found the perfect home, the seller has accepted your offer, and now you’re just waiting for the mortgage to close before you wrap up the sale and take possession of your new home. It’s time for the closing, and you may be wondering what to expect. Here’s what you need to know

The Day Before: Walking Through the Property
The day before your closing, you’ll be given an opportunity to walk through the property and do a final inspection. During this inspection, you’ll be able to look for any damage that may have occurred between contract and closing, which means you can negotiate repairs with the seller.

It’s generally a good idea to schedule your closing date around the 20th of the month, so that if you do find any problems during the walkthrough, you can address them before you take possession.

The Mortgage Closing: Title Insurance, Contracts, And More
closing1Typically, the mortgage closing and the home sale closing happen at the same time. During your closing meeting, you’ll need to sign, and bring a variety of documents in order to take possession of the home. You’ll want to ensure that you bring your good faith estimate, proof of homeowners’ insurance, contract, and inspection reports to this meeting.

You’ll also want to bring any and all documents that you sent to your bank as part of the home buying process. At this meeting, you’ll discuss the sale with the seller, the seller’s agent, the representative from the title company, the closing agent, the lender, and any attorneys that may be present. By the end of the meeting, you’ll receive a variety of documents, including a deed of trust or mortgage contract and a settlement statement.

You may also be required to sign a mortgage note, which is a note that states you intend to repay the mortgage loan. This note details the terms of your mortgage, including the amount of the loan and what action the lender is entitled to take if you miss payments.

A mortgage loan closing doesn’t have to be complicated. Although there’s a lot that will happen at a closing and there are a number of documents you’ll need to bring. A qualified mortgage advisor can guide you through the closing process. Contact your local mortgage professional today for a list of what you’ll need to bring and what you can expect to happen at your closing.

If you have any questions regarding mortgage process, or other advice about selling your home, feel free to call me directly at 215-519-1399.
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