The Pre-Home Search, Home Search

So, you know you’re ready to buy a home and will be purchasing a new home soon. You’re excited that you finally have the down payment and are itching to start your home search. While you’re meeting with real estate agents and interviewing candidates to help you find your home, you can’t help but get started on your own. Everyone goes through this, you see yourself starting to look online and browse around. You may have an idea about your budget and financial and special requirements. That’s good! Just remember that it’s easy to stray outside your guidelines when you’re browsing online. Your real estate agent will ultimately guide you to properties that fit your requirements, but while you’re browsing around you may want to consider setting some boundaries or search guidelines for yourself. 

First, know that browsing current listings online can help you create a productive list of features, preferences for your real estate agent to work with. You should feel encouraged to browse around, just remember to think about some basic direction you should consider before you start. This mostly pertains to your mental state when browsing, but know that your browsing will influence your actual buying strategy in the end. 

Looking for homes online allows you to look at every price level, area and feature imaginable, or at least available within a range of your current city. It actually isn’t a bad thing to look at home out of your price range, but you should focus on homes within your price range. This can help you understand what your money can get you. You can see what features and locations are available in your price range, as well as above, so you can hone in on the significant areas and features you want to discuss with your real estate agent. 

While looking at homes online, you should remind yourself to look at features, price, and location generally, and not focus in on a single home. The house you’re looking at online may or may not be available when you ask your agent. Furthermore, the home you’re looking at may or not be real. Even if you see something awesome online, you should always ask the advice of a trusted agent. They can verify the listing against the official MLS listing and contact the homeowner or their listing agent before you become too invested in the home. 

Bottom line, feel free to search online while you select a real estate agent to facilitate your home search. Just remember to be smart, keep yourself from becoming overly obsessed with a single house and always ask the agent you choose to contact sellers on your behalf. With the help of your agent’s guidance, you’ll be well on your way to finding your new home.

What every new home owner wishes they new about the first year

There’s a lot that goes into the process of buying a new home. Buyers often think that once the closing process in complete they can move their stuff in and things will go back to normal. But they are often caught off guard throughout that first initial year by maintenance tasks. Tasks that they could have been prepared for at the beginning if only they had known. So today I want to talk about how to stay one step ahead when you first move in to avoid surprises months later or worse years down the line. For the most part, these should each take you all of ten minutes a few times a month.

Be sure to write in reminders on your calendar for monthly maintenance and annual inspections to stay on top of any issues that may arise. Maintenance is key to good homeownership. You’ll save money in the long run as you find and repair issues when they are still minor. You’ll be so glad you didn’t find out the hard way – by a burst pipe or major crack in your foundation.

Speaking of maintenance and saving money, wait to invest in top to bottom renovations, especially those that are purely cosmetic. Buying a new home is a large investment and most families need time to bounce back financially from the buying and moving process. Funnel what finances you do have towards initial repairs that will need to be made. And since you no longer have a landlord to depend on when repairs need to be made it is wise to start building an emergency fund for future home repairs.

For initial repairs that will need to be made be sure to hire professionals to take care of any and all that are technical. Don’t try to fix repairs yourself that you aren’t qualified to do. And no a Google search isn’t enough to qualify you to do electrical or plumbing work. You’ve just made a major investment. So ensure to protect that investment for years to come by having things done the right way the first time. This also saves you money in the long run from having a professional come to undo your mistakes and set it up the right way. Or worse, from medical bills.

Keep a binder to track and save receipts for all home improvements. Doing so will help you to maximize your tax-free earnings if and when you decide to sell your home. And while the line between home improvements and repairs can get vague in some areas it’s best to track everything. Invest in an accountant, especially for your first year of homeownership, to help you sift through these receipts and maximize your returns. This binder will also come in handy for years to come. You’ll be able to refer back to when you purchased a new water heater or last had a home inspection done, for example.

Invest in sufficient home insurance. Not all basic plans include fire and flood protection. You will also need life insurance policies if you have dependents. This will ensure that if anything were to happen to you, your dependents would gain ownership of the house. And since you now own a large asset it is wise to ramp up your car insurance policy.

Don’t get caught off guard. Take 10 minutes a few times each week after you’ve closed on your house to set up these appointments and systems. For such a small amount of time, they have major pay off. And come tax season or time to make a repair you’ll be so glad you did.

Are You Ready to be a Homeowner?

We’re not taught much about homeownership when we’re young. Like paying bills and taxes, it’s something we’re all expected to pick up along the way. But with something as important and expensive as buying a home, there should be a guide to help first time homeowners determine if they’re ready to enter the real estate market.

Today, we’re going to attempt to provide you with that guide. We’ll offer some of the prerequisites to homeownership to help you determine if you’re ready to buy your first home.

A rite of passage

Buying a house is a significant moment in anyone’s life. It’s often a precursor to starting a career, a family, and settling in a part of the country you will likely call home for a large portion of your life.

It’s also overwhelming.

There’s much to prepare for before buying your first home. You’ll be calculating a lot of expenses, thinking about jobs and schools, and learning new things about home maintenance. Here are some things to think about before buying your first home.

Can I afford it?

The most obvious question first time buyers ask themselves is whether they can afford a home. What many don’t ask, however, is if they can afford all of the unexpected expenses that come with homeownership.

Everyone knows they’ll be making mortgage payments. But to decide if you can really afford a home you’ll have to make a detailed budget. Here are some other expenses to consider:

  • Mortgage closing costs

  • Property tax

  • Home insurance

  • Maintenance and repairs

  • Home improvement

  • All utilities

  • Moving costs

Do I plan on staying in the area?

When you buy a home, you’re not just committing yourself to the house itself, but also to the area you live in. Typically, it only makes sense to buy a home if you’re planning on staying in it for a number of years (usually five or more). Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you can truly commit yourself to your area.

  • Could my career lead me to transferring to another location?

  • Could my spouse’s career lead them to transferring?

  • If children are in the present/future, is the local school district what I’m looking for in terms of education for my child?

  • Will I want to move live to family?

  • Will I have to move soon to care for aging parents?

  • Do I like the weather and culture in the area?

Is my income stable?

Owning a home is much easier when you have a stable income or two stable incomes between you and your significant other. It help you get preapproved for a mortgage and help you rest easy knowing that you can keep up with the bills each month to maintain or build your credit.

Stability doesn’t just mean feeling comfortable that your company won’t get closed down or that you’ll be dismissed from your job. It also means that there are frequent openings in your field of work in the area you choose to live. So, when planning to buy a home, make sure you factor in the potential travel distance to cities or places you could potentially work.

Am I prepared to put in extra work?

If you currently rent an apartment, you’re most likely not responsible for maintenance outside of basic cleaning. Owning a home is a different story. You’ll be taking care of the house inside and out. That means learning basic maintenance and buying the tools for the job.

It also means mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, shoveling snow off of the roof, and other menial tasks that you’ll need to make time for.

Are Starter Homes Worth It?

Many people think of their first home as a “starter home.” This refers to a home that is fairly small and typically is for young people who are just starting out in a new phase of life. These types of homes are generally not thought of as “forever homes.” Many times, as families expand, they will move on from their starter homes to bigger and better homes. This includes living in desirable neighborhoods and adding extra comforts that the first home may not have had. Other times, people expand on their starter home in order to make more room for children and the needs of a growing family. These homes truly are jumping off points.

Studies show that the idea of starter homes is disappearing. It could be that the requirements of first-time homebuyers are changing and therefore the types of homes that are being sought after are few and far between. The expectations of buyers have increased greatly. Buyers would like adequate space and hope that their first home is not only in a great location, but ready for them to move in without much work as well. Really, buyers are looking for everything anyone would want in their forever home in their starter homes.

So, is it a smart idea to search for a starter home, only to move a few years later? The answer is multi-faceted. Starter homes are typically the homes that you can afford at the present time in your life. If you decide that you can save up longer and go for the house you really want, that may be a smarter financial decision for you. There’s always an option to wait for more homes to go on the market while you rent a place. If you do decide to go for a starter home, here’s some tips for you:

Don’t Try To Get Everything You Want For A Low Price

Buyers tend to have wish lists of the things they desire in a house. While that’s a great idea, don’t expect to get everything you want in your starter home. Manage your expectations along with the cost of the home.

See Where You Can Expand

Many homes have great potential, but buyers have what they see set in their minds and fail to see what can be done in the future. Look at homes with open eyes and picture the possibilities.

Know There Will Be Work Involved

Purchasing a starter home means that you’ll usually need to participate in home improvement projects. Don’t go for a home that needs major work done if you’re not up for the challenge. Typically, you’ll need to be able to get your hands dirty by doing things like changing out wallpaper, painting walls, or sanding cabinets. These are the little projects that make your house your own.