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					Summer Vacation: Burglarproof Your Home                                                    Handling
Before You Leave                                                                           Low Offers
Summer will probably find your home empty more than
 any other season, between weekend trips to the beach                                      Selling your house may
 and longer family vacations. To guard your home                                           leave you feeling
 against break-ins while you’re away, make it look like                                    vulnerable: Not only is
 you haven’t left, says The National Crime Prevention                                      your house a huge
 Council.                                                                                  financial asset, but you
   Put several household lights on timers, and set them to turn on and off at              have strangers peeping in
appropriate times to create the illusion that someone’s home. Keep shades and              your closets, appraisers
blinds in their normal positions. In addition, if you’re going on a long trip, stop mail   judging your home’s value
and newspapers and arrange to have the grass mowed while you’re gone. You                  and inspectors noting its
may even want to put a radio on a timer.                                                   flaws. A low offer in the
   Before you leave, also check all your door and window locks to make sure                midst of all of this can
they’re in working order — and use them. Each external door should have a                  seem like a personal
sturdy, well-installed dead-bolt lock. As you head out the door, activate your alarm       affront. However, no
system if you have one. Then enjoy your holiday, knowing your home is secure. ■            matter how well you have
                                                                                           prepared your house or
                                                                                           how certain you are that
Pre-approval Letters: Good Idea for Buyers                                                 it’s priced fairly, receiving
                                                                                           a low offer is a possibility.
If you’re thinking of buying a house,       letter. To receive pre-approval, however,      Prepare yourself ahead of
you’ve probably been advised to get a       the lender will require the documentation      time to not take it
mortgage pre-approval letter from a         to verify what you say. Thus, pre-approval     personally. Instead of
lender. Despite the mountain of             carries more weight than the pre-              falling into a grudge
paperwork involved, it’s a smart idea for   qualification.                                 match, do one of two
many reasons.                                  The information that lenders verify also    things: Reject the offer, or
   You can call up a lender any time,       allows them to accurately calculate the
                                                                                           counter it and move on.
answer a few questions about your           maximum mortgage amount you qualify
                                                                                               If you do decide to
financials and get a pre-qualification      for. Knowing exactly how much money
                                            you can borrow is a great benefit of pre-      counter the offer, try to get
                                            approval; you may be surprised by the          as much information as
                                            figure, which is difficult to translate from   you can about why the
                                            the monthly mortgage payments you think        offer came in at the price
                                            you can make.                                  it did. While the buyer’s
                                               Just as you will be more confident          agent will not disclose
                                            knowing you are able to obtain a               information that may put
                                            mortgage, so will the owners of the home       his or her client at a
                                            you want. A pre-approval letter is a good      disadvantage, take any
                                            bargaining tool that may help you get a        information you can get to
                                            better price on the home of your dreams        help you structure the
                                            and may make you the winning bidder            counteroffer. ■
                                            when several people are vying for the
                                            same home. ■