Gene Mullen's Blog
Becoming a home owner for the first time is an exciting milestone for Millennials! Going from renting an apartment to owning your own property represents a big transition from dependency to independence.
For many people, it even symbolizes making the leap from childhood to adulthood. Once you're a homeowner and a property taxpayer, there's often a newfound feeling of being more established and successful.
While home ownership may bestow upon you a boost in status, the added responsibility of paying for your own repairs, maintenance, and upkeep can take an unexpected toll on your budget. With a little extra planning, however, you can avoid many of the pitfalls of home ownership.
Looking at the Big Picture
Here's a misconception that sometimes creates a financial strain for first-time homeowners: "If we can afford to pay $1800 in rent, every month, then we should be able to afford monthly mortgage payments in that same amount!" While that premise may sound logical, there are a few crucial "missing pieces" from that equation -- pieces which could throw your household budget out of kilter!
In addition to the costs associated with purchasing real estate, such as a down payment and closing costs, there's also the matter of home repairs and property maintenance. Depending on where you decide to live, there could be other fees to absorb, too, including garbage collection, yard waste removal, and water usage. Other expenses that first-time homeowners may overlook include the cost of buying a lawnmower, a snow blower, yard maintenance supplies, tools, and furniture. That's why creating a detailed estimated budget, based on your income, debts, and anticipated expenses can help you determine whether you're truly ready to take the plunge into homeownership.
Enlisting Professional Help
A mortgage broker or bank loan officer can provide you with assistance in calculating your financial readiness for purchasing a home. A good real estate agent can also offer insights and guidance into the process of finding, buying, and owning a house you can comfortably afford. They should be able to provide you with vital information about school taxes, property taxes, average utility bills, homeowner association fees (if any), and any issues revealed in the seller's disclosure form.
One way to avoid -- or at least be prepared for -- costs that often accompany home ownership is to have a qualified property inspector take a close look at the condition of everything in the house from the basement and attic to major appliances and structural features. They can generally tell you whether there are any concerns about mechanical systems, water in the basement, foundation damage, issues with property drainage, the electrical system, potential plumbing problems, and dozens of other vital checkpoints
Whether you're a first-time house hunter or a seasoned homeowner, it pays to understand, anticipate, and budget for the many costs of being a property owner. While owning your own home can be a rewarding and satisfying experience, a guiding principle to keep in mind as you consider available homes on the market is "caveat emptor" (Let the buyer beware)!
Home improvements are a vital part to keeping your home up-to-date with the times and also to ensure that it doesn’t lose value when it comes time to sell.
To save money, many homeowners take the do-it-yourself route and use the tools at their disposal to upgrade their homes. Sites like YouTube have made it easier than ever to follow step-by-step tutorials that show you how to make substantial repairs and upgrades to your home without having to pay a professional.
The down side, however, is that when you choose to DIY, you take on the risk of going over budget by making mistakes. You also risk stretching out your project weeks or months longer than necessary due to a lack of time to work on it.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how you can stay on budget and on track to finish your home improvement project without bringing in the professionals.
Making a timeline
Let’s start with the big picture for your home renovations. When deciding which improvements to make, it’s important to know your limits in terms of the work you can do.
Set a reasonable number of hours you can work on your projects per week. Go easy on yourself. Most of us are already tired when we get home from work and probably won’t be able to start tackling big projects in the evenings. Rather, try to give yourself one weekend day to work on your projects and one weekend day to relax.
The most important aspect of creating your timeline is to try and keep your schedule open. So, write down the time you want to work on your home in your calendar, planner, or whichever app or tool you use to plan your time.
This will help you to avoid creating conflicting events and obligations, and help you stay on track to finishing your improvement projects.
If you’re looking for an evening activity related to your home improvement projects, it’s a good idea to start watching some video tutorials of people doing the same renovations as you. This will help you avoid mistakes and look out for common obstacles that you’ll face along the way.
Budgeting your improvement
You’ll want to save up for your project in advance, if possible, to avoid accumulating credit card debt. Your home improvement project should, in effect, gain you money by increasing the value of your home, not make you lose money on credit card interest payments.
Budgeting in itself is an art that few of us are taught in school. Fortunately, there are several free budgeting apps available. Or, you can simply draw one up yourself.
The key to creating a home improvement budget is to know how much of your monthly savings you can devote to this project without having to dip into other funds. To do this, you’ll need a clear understanding of where your income goes.
Once you have a budget and a timeline for your home improvement project, you’re ready to begin. Just make sure you check in on your timeline and your budget throughout the length of the project to make sure you’re meeting your goals and aren’t overspending.
If you plan to sell your home, it often is a good idea to learn about property showings. That way, you can prepare for showings and boost the likelihood of a fast, profitable property selling experience.
Now, let's take a look at three things that sellers need to know about home showings.
1. A showing may make or break the house selling journey.
As a house seller, you only get one chance to make a positive first impression on a potential buyer. And if your home fails to impress a buyer, this individual is likely to move on to other residences.
By taking care of your home, you can make it easy for a buyer to fall in love with your residence during a showing. In fact, completing home maintenance tasks can make a world of difference in the eyes of property buyers.
Mowing the front lawn and trimming the hedges can help you bolster your residence's curb appeal. Meanwhile, removing clutter, vacuuming the rugs and scrubbing the floors enables you to improve your home's interior. And if you perform these home maintenance tasks prior to a showing, you can help a buyer envision what life may be like if he or she purchases your residence.
2. Even an unsuccessful home showing provides a valuable learning opportunity.
If a home showing fails to result in an offer to purchase your home, there is no need to worry. A home seller should view each showing as a learning opportunity and use it to find ways to upgrade his or her residence.
Remember, there is always room for improvement, especially when it comes to differentiating your house in a competitive real estate market. And if you take a buyer's feedback after a showing to heart, you can use this feedback to explore innovative ways to improve the look and feel of your home.
3. A home seller should strive to be flexible with property showing requests.
Ultimately, a seller may receive home showing requests on short notice. And in these instances, it helps to accommodate buyers' requests.
If a seller is willing to temporarily vacate his or her house to accommodate a last-minute showing request, this individual can make it simple for buyers to view the residence without delay. As a result, this seller can show his or her house to many potential buyers to speed up the property selling cycle.
As you get ready to show your residence to buyers, it usually helps to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can teach you everything you need to know about the house selling journey and ensure you are fully prepared for any challenges that may come your way. Best of all, a real estate agent will do everything possible to help you promote your residence to dozens of prospective buyers so you can maximize your home sale earnings.
Hire a real estate agent today, and you can start showing your residence to potential buyers.
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If you’re looking for the perfect location to live but can’t quite afford the neighborhood that you’re vying for, a good option is to look for what’s deemed a "up and coming" neighborhood. These areas are where buyers can find the perfect house in a place where property values are only going to increase in the coming years. Buyers may feel that this is a gamble. How can you really tell if a neighborhood is one of these areas? There are a few vital signs that you can find below which show a city or town is on the up and up.
New Concept Businesses Are Moving In
If you hear a new grocery store is going in an area, co-working spaces, or vegan restaurants are coming to town; it’s a good sign that the neighborhood is going to be a happening place very soon. Think organic, Millennial minded ideas that are trendy. The key is to find the things and places that people want most. If you can move into one of these areas before it becomes popular, you have struck property gold.
Public Transportation Is Nearby
In any urban area, being near public transportation is a huge plus. Being near any major transit is great for property values. Even homes near major routes are attractive. People will always want easier access to work and the things they need.
Think About How An Area Is Perceived
Cities across the country have flipped from having negative connotations to being an area of luxury. It happens slowly, but it starts with how desirable people believe the area to be. What’s considered “hip” can really affect the way an area is perceived.
Are The Homes In The Neighborhood The Same?
There’s often much potential in neighborhoods where all of the homes have the same design. If you see homes in a place where properties could use some TLC, it may be an opportunity for you. Other buyers or house flippers may have the same idea. It will be like a domino effect, and the neighborhood will turn around quickly.
How Long Have Homes Been On The Market?
If houses in an area have been on the market for an extended period, it could be an opportunity for you to get a bargain. Buyers may shy away from a home just because the area is less than ideal. Your real estate agent can help you to determine places where homes have been on the market for awhile.