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Tips for Preparing for Retirement from Equifax

Active adult community planningWhether or not retirement is on your immediate radar, if it is within a few years for you, it’s no doubt something that’s on your mind. Preparing to leave the workforce, downsizing into a smaller home (maybe finding a home in a Jacksonville active adult community) and budgeting to live off of savings will all be an adjustment. The retirement experts at the Equifax Finance blog offers three tips for planning for retirement in the recent article, “

Three Retirement Tips for 2014 Retirees.”

First, plan out how you are going to spend your time during retirement. Experts agree that it is important to find fulfilling ways for retirees to spend their time, from volunteering to pursuing a passion.

Second, decide when to claim Social Security. There is no magic time at which each person should do this, but it is something that should be carefully decided upon. Take into consideration your health, your cash flow and your employment during retirement. You can either take the reduced benefit starting in your early 60s or wait a few years to receive the full benefit. Contact your local Social Security office or visit to assess your benefits.

Third, look into your current savings and decide if any changes are needed. Revisiting your asset allocation may show that you might want to lower the risk in your investment portfolio. Your portfolio should keep up with inflation without being too risky. Keep in mind, of course that asset allocation does not ensure or guarantee better performance, and it cannot eliminate the risk of investment losses. It can however, help you stay on track with your retirement plan even during fluctuations in the market.

Get more tips on retirement at the

Equifax Finance blog, where you can also get tips on credit, identity theft protection, taxes, insurance and more.

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Cost Effective Jacksonville New Home Repairs

Jacksonville new home maintenanceDuring the holiday season, we often times focus all our money and efforts and buying presents for friends and loved ones. This holiday season, Jacksonville new home residents should also plan on spending time and money on keeping their home running smoothly and efficiently.

Here are some top cost effective tips for making sure you and your loved ones stay safe in your home during the holidays:

  • Inspect and repair broken hand railing or walkway cracks
  • Clean out rain gutters and downspouts
  • Push the “test” button on electrical outlets to make sure they are working properly
  • Repair stucco cracks
  • Install and test smoke detectors throughout the home
  • Use high-quality exterior paints
  • Cut back plants that have grown close to the foundation
  • Repair and seal window leaks
  • Recaulk sinks, toilets, showers and bathtubs to keep water off the floors and walls
  • Schedule a roof inspection

By keeping up with these easy maintenance tasks you will not only save yourself and your wallet from a headache later on, but will also guarantee everyone can enjoy the holiday season!

For more of the latest Jacksonville real estate news, be sure to explore our site!

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Diversify Your Income for Financial Success

Money management tips for saving and avoiding debtJust like with

retirement savings, it can pay to diversify your income. The Equifax Finance Blog makes some suggestions on how to increase your income in the article, “

Money Management: Ways to Diversify Your Income.”

If you already have a job and are trying to think of other ways you could make money, here are just a pair of ideas for your family to consider:

  • Another job: Consider taking on another job. This doesn’t mean that the primary breadwinner has to be the one to take on a part-time job in addition to their full-time job. Another member of the family could seek out part-time work, like a stay-at-home spouse. This is especially feasible in families where the children are school aged.
  • Home business: One of the best ways to cultivate another source of income is to start a home business. This can include anything from offering childcare in your home to freelancing to operating a drop-ship business. No matter what you decide to do, though, realize that you will need the proper licenses for your area.

There are many other ways to increase your income and just as many options for what to do with the money you earn, so it is important to make a budget and plan. One of the first things you should consider is to live off of your primary income stream and put the additional income into an emergency fund. This fund needs to have nine months to a year’s worth of living expenses that can be drawn upon in the event that you lose your original job, have a major medical emergency or suffer another loss of income.

For more

money management advice, explore the wealth of options on the Equifax Finance Blog.

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HUD Homes Moving Quicker Than Ever

HUD real estate is selling fastMoney and real estate writer Ilyce Glink explains the process of

buying a home through HUD with “

How to Buy a HUD Home” on the Equifax blog.

The Federal Housing Agency (FHA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are working on making it easier for homebuyers to find and purchase affordably-priced HUD homes. While professional investors are out there buying up these properties, HUD really wants to make the process as easy as possible for owner-occupants

HUD homes are those that were purchased with an FHA loan and fell into

foreclosure. The process for buying one of these homes is very different from buying a traditional home, as homes are sold through an online bidding process and there are all kinds of regulations and options. Homes for sale are listed at:

Glink outlines the following steps to those looking to purchase a HUD home.

  1. Find a good real estate agent. You must choose a HUD registered agent, but just because they are registered, it doesn’t mean they are good. Glink recommends searching through for winning bids on homes in the area you are looking to buy and contacting the agents on those bids. Then, call the agents and ask if you can meet with them to determine who will best represent you.
  2. Inspect the property before putting in an offer. While FHA includes a no-cost as-is appraisal, you want to explore the property to see for yourself what you are really getting into. Your agent and the HUD agent can both access the home, and you can take notes and photos so you will be able to consider repair/improvement costs in your offer.
  3. Make an offer. Only owner-occupants can bid for the first 30 days.
  4. Close on your home. The HUD home buying process is becoming more streamlined, and homes are moving from the old owners to new ones faster than ever before.

Since homes are moving more quickly, buyers need to be prepared to take action when their dream home comes available. To be ready, line up your financing ahead of time and do lots of research now.

Visit the Equifax blog for more information about buying a HUD home, real estate in general, as well as retirement, credit, insurance and more.

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St. Augustine Housing Market is Recovering According to National Economist

Times are tough, but good news is, the housing market may be improving. According to a leading national economist, the St. Augustine housing market has been recovering with a 10.4 percent increases in overall sales.

“Locally, the market is beginning to stabilize,” Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist and senior vice president of research, told an audience of Realtors, community leaders and Chamber of Commerce members.

USA Today has called Yun one of the nation’s top forecasters. From the county Multiple Listing Service, Yun announced that new homes listings have decreased by 21 percent.

Although the St. John’s County Property Appraiser’s office says it’s too soon to tell if the housing market is actually improving, Yun is optimistic that area sales will continue to increase.

Yun believes that the only way for national and local markets to fully recover is to eliminate the large surplus of homes in the market. Florida alone has 1.5 million vacant houses that are waiting for homebuyers.

In addition, Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area builders reported that last year had the fewest requests for housing permits in three decades. Because it is more expensive to build than to buy from the existing home market, which makes up 90 percent of total homes, home construction has stalled.

To learn more about St. Augustine housing market, check out our site for all news on St. Augustine real estate. Visit the full site for more Florida real estate news.

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Two Florida Estate Homes Up For Auction

Jacksonville SkylineConcierge Auctions recently announced that two estate homes owned by J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver are up for auction. The well-known couple are the owners of the Shoe Carnival chain and prior owners of the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Two new families will soon be able to call these estate homes their own, if the price is right!

The Jacksonville home, located at 6120 San Jose Boulevard West, has 14,000 square feet with six bedrooms, six full baths and two full baths. The home also has a spacious formal dining room, wet bar with wine cellar, media den, gourmet kitchen, butler’s pantry, library, game room, sauna, steam bath, exercise room and a lanai pool. Attached to this tree-lined river front home is a one bedroom cottage.  The home was originally listed for $10 million and can be sold prior to the auction date for a price of $5.5 million.

The St. Augustine home, located at 642 Santa Teresa Court, has over 5,000 square feet of indoor living and over 1,000 square feet of outdoor living. This custom home includes five bedrooms, six baths, two-story foyer, living and dining rooms, den/library, game room with bar, gathering room with entertainment center, three-car garage and an outside lanai pool area. This home is in the master-planned Palencia community which has a 40-acre Village Center, 33,000 square foot clubhouse, championship golf course and parks, trails and open areas. This home was originally listed for $3 million and can be bought prior to auction for $1.87 million.

Both of these homes will be auctioned off on May 24. Interested buyers can preview the Jacksonville home by appointment. The St. Augustine home is open Saturday and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. and by appointment during the week. For more information on these properties, visit

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Jacksonville Real Estate in North St. Augustine From Mattamy Homes

Family in their Jacksonville new homeThere are even more single-family homes available from Mattamy Homes, as they continue to expand in Florida. If you’re in the real estate market looking for a new home, you can find quality, affordable single-family homes from Mattamy Homes, located off of U.S. 1 in North St. Augustine. A recent acquisition of 84 new home sites in the area has enabled the builder to provide the community of Old Sebastian Point in the area.

Mattamy Homes U.S. Group, originally the largest home builder in Canada, will start construction on three, four and even five bedroom homes at Old Sebastian Point soon, according to Dennis Ginder, division president for the Jacksonville region. Homes feature attractive locations, quality amenities in the interiors, and best of all affordability for families, with pricing from the $190,000s.

Not only are these homes built with families like yours in mind, they provide ample living space, ranging in size from 1,700 square feet to 2,900 square feet, on 60-foot home sites. Old Sebastian Point is a picturesque, preserve community, which borders the Red House Branch Creek and the San Sebastian River.

Ginder says inventory homes will be available for sale starting this month, and the model home in Old Sebastian Point will open for viewing in January 2011. For more information, please visit

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Own an Award-Winning Home Today from Mattamy Homes

If you’re a home buyer looking for Jacksonville new homes, you could own an award-winning home from Mattamy Homes, builders with many communities in Fla., and division offices in Jacksonville and Orlando. During the 2010 Parade of Homes for Model Homes , Mattamy Homes was awarded two Gold Awards for their model homes at Durbin Crossing in St. Johns, Fla. and at Sevilla at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.

The first award was given to Mattamy Homes for their Santiago model, in their Durbin Crossing community in St. Johns, Fla. Excellent for families, the home has two stories, four bedrooms, and offers a loft and optional fifth bedroom, and two-and-a-half baths. The Santiago has a total of 2,715 square feet of living space, and a two-car garage, and comes at a price of $393,990 as shown.

The second award was for the Emerald model home, in the Sevilla at World Golf Village community, in St. Augustine, Fla. Located at 109 Casa Sevilla Ave., it is also a two-story home, with a spacious 2,189 square feet of living space. The model home features three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, and also a loft, and over-sized two-car garage, priced at $324,805 as shown.

“The Santiago and Emerald model homes have been very popular with new home buyers,” said Dennis Ginder, division president for Mattamy Homes in the Jacksonville region. “We are delighted with the recognition from the professional home building industry.”

These prestigious awards were presented to Mattamy Homes earlier this month, at a banquet at the Marsh Creek Country Club. The St. Johns County 2010 Parade of Homes was sponsored by the St. Johns Builders Council.

Mattamy Homes added divisions in the U.S. in 2003, and is originally based in Canada, the largest and most active builder there with revenues exceeding $1.3 billion. Communities and offices in the U.S. are located in Jacksonville and Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix and Minneapolis. For more information on buying a Mattamy home, and about the Gold Awards, visit, or contact:

Kerry Soltis – Marketing Manager in Jacksonville – (904) 279-9502

Dennis Ginder – Division President in Jacksonville – (904) 279-9500

Larry Vershel or Beth Payan, Larry Vershel Communications – (407) 644-4142

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HAMP Expands Mortgage Assistance With Help for Underwater Loans

homeowner looking at houseThe idea of “water” in the summer usually conjures up images waves pounding the beach, quiet days at the lake or sparkling blue swimming pools. This summer, the Home Affordable Modification Program has news for people who are not so fond of “water” terms at all – because their home mortgages are “underwater.”

If  you owe more on your home than the home’s current value, the new HAMP program offers hope. It divides your mortgage into two parts – one for the amount of the current property value, and one for the difference. The second one is interest-free, and it’s forgiven over three years.

The Equifax Personal Finance Blog  recently published an article about the new program. Written by Ilyce Glink, the article is entitled “

Want a Principal Reduction Loan Modification? The New Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) Rules You’ll Have to Live By.”

To qualify, homeowners must owe more than 115 percent of the current value of their home, they must be in default on their mortgages (or are about to be), and their house payment must be more than 31 percent of their income. Loans acquired through FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not eligible for the HAMP program because those lenders will be announcing programs of their own later in the year. Some private banks are also introducing their own programs for people who don’t qualify for government-sponsored assistance.

If you think the program might help you, check out the details at the

Equifax Personal Finance blog today and get started. One of the benefits of the new program: you should get your answer in 30 days. People used to have to wait months and go through a modification trial period. And if you don’t qualify for this program because you’ve lost your job, you’ll find information on the blog for a separate HAMP program designed just for you.

Featured Jacksonville Real Estate News St Augustine Real Estate

Bury a Statue if You Must, But Also Follow These Tips to Sell Your Jacksonville Home

Woman w Moving Boxes feaDating back to 1979 in the U.S., some home buyers have claimed that burying a statue of St. Joseph in your yard will hasten the sale of your home. According to, a site dedicated to publishing facts about urban legends, rumors and myths, no conclusive evidence has been found to show that statues of the Patron Saint of Homes and Families helps sell homes. says that “prudent” real estate agents advise their home sellers to accompany the burial with a combination of making home repairs, staging their home, and pricing it correctly for the market.

It’s not surprising that burying St. Joseph in the yard did not make the list of home selling tips that recently appeared in the

Equifax Personal Finance Blog. Instead, real estate expert Ilyce Glink talks about a different modern-day phenomenon: reality TV.

Rather than helping to sell homes, TV shows that follow homeowners as they prepare homes for market or follow buyers as they make their selections could be making the process harder on the rest of us. According to Glink, buyers who’ve watched hours of programming showcasing homes staged for television have extremely high expectations for the homes they visit. So her first tip: “make your house look good enough to be on TV.”

The article, “

Selling a House: 4 Tips to Get More Buyers through Your Door,” continues with several practical and proven ideas for selling your home. Glink starts by acknowledging the difficulty of selling in today’s climate, when the number of people looking for a home has fallen by as much as 40 percent since the passing of the tax credit deadline.

Her tips give recommendations for getting your house online, researching your competition and pricing. The pricing section discusses the effect of changing appraisal rules and why those rules could mean you need to price your house lower.

For Glink’s complete, sensible advice on this and other real estate topics, visit the

Equifax Personal Finance Blog. And if you have had success using a statue of St. Joseph to sell a home, we’d like to hear about it right here!