Gene Mullen's Blog
You found the perfect home. It has everything you want from location to bedrooms to that art studio in the back, AND the mortgage payment will be lower than or the same as your current rent. You got qualified for the loan and the agent has all the paperwork ready to go. So that’s it, right? Time to buy!
In all the excitement of finding that new home, it’s easy to ignore the warning signs of “overspending” and forget that there are more costs than just the mortgage payment. This can be a dangerous game because once those papers are signed, you are stuck with your purchase.
Additional Monthly Costs
For the best home-buying experience, calculate ALL your monthly costs and try to budget that into your life before you make any final decisions. Determine what you are willing to give up in order to get that extra bedroom or live in that perfect neighborhood. Some additional monthly charges include:
- PMI “Private Mortgage Insurance”: Pay attention to the mortgage you qualify for and make sure to calculate for PMI in your new monthly budget if it applies. PMI exists to protect your lender in case you default on your mortgage loan. It’s usually included when you have a lower credit score or a smaller down payment and can range from $75 to $300 per month or more.
- Homeowners Insurance: You’ve been paying renters insurance for a while now probably, but homeowners’ insurance is a completely different ball game. Your insurance cost will be based on the estimated cost to fix or rebuild your home after a catastrophic event, NOT its market value. That means any special features with historic value, specialty windows, etc. will increase the price. Also check out if the home is in a weather damage area, somewhere prone to tornadoes, flooding, hail, etc. It also covers everything inside your home from furnishings to clothes and electronics. The more stuff you have, the greater the cost to insure it.
- Property Tax: Unlike tenants, owners pay taxes to local governments for schools, roads, city governments, etc. These vary greatly from area to area, so be sure to find a good local property tax calculator to help estimate what those charges will be. If you’re buying a home in a new neighborhood or a gentrifying one, there may be additional taxes to cover the cost of roads, streetlights, parks, and other new area features.
- Association Fees/Dues: Nearly all condos belong to Home Owners Associations (HOAs). Depending on the neighborhood you choose, your single-family home may belong to one as well. HOAs handle neighborhood maintenance including streetlights, pool upkeep, exterior maintenance, parks, and even security. HOA dues can range from $50ish per month up into the hundreds of dollars or even more.
- Services: You know all those utilities and local services currently included in your rent? As an owner, you must pay for all of them separately. That means water, power, trash, sewage, recycling, internet, cable, and phone bills all get added on top of your monthly payments as well. Some cities such as Austin, Texas, also have local monthly fees separate from property taxes, usually to cover extra city features like parks.
The most difficult costs to calculate or plan for are maintenance costs. If your landlord currently covers bug treatments, light bulbs, paint, carpeting, landscaping and generally all other maintenance, you will need to try and estimate how much of that you’ll need to pay for in your new home. There is no one else to pitch in, so this can end up being a huge additional cost.
So, How Do I Buy a Home Safely?
First, find yourself a good agent. A well-qualified agent who is familiar with your area and property needs can help you figure most of these costs. All you must do is ask. If your agent is unable or unwilling to help you plan for these, find yourself a new agent.
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Preparing to put your home on the market almost invariably involves three things: painting, cleaning, and organizing. Since you might also need to do some repairs and updating, it's crucial that you prioritize your tasks and make sure you're not spending more money, time, and energy than necessary.
Consulting with your real estate agent about what projects are the most important will help you make the most of your available resources.
All home sellers have a different timetable in which they need to get their home ready for potential buyers. Few people, however, have the luxury of tackling those projects slowly or sporadically. When you factor in your busy schedule with everything that typically needs to be done before a house goes on the market, time management and self motivation become crucial elements in the process.
Wall painting often tops the list
In spite of your best intentions, walls and doors are going to get scuffed, scratched, and marred. Small, but noticeable holes from nails and thumbtacks also have a way of increasing with every passing year. Regardless of how careful you think you've been, it's virtually impossible to keep your walls looking fresh, clean, and well maintained. Bathrooms pose even more of a challenge because moisture and steam from showers will gradually cause paint to crack, peel, and lose its original smooth quality. Bedroom walls, especially those of children and teenagers, will also be subjected to a lot of wear and tear.
Fortunately the cost of a couple gallons of paint, along with brushes, rollers, and other basic supplies, is an affordable solution for most home sellers. It's one of the most cost-effective methods of freshening up your house, and it significantly enhances your home's eye appeal and marketability.
One of the pitfalls of repainting your walls, however, is the possibility of choosing colors that may turn off some potential buyers. Colors which you may describe as vibrant, splashy, or cool, might be viewed by others as garish, tacky, or "over the tip." That's why it's often best to play it safe by choosing colors that are considered neutral, such as grey, beige, tan, eggshell, and ivory.
By veering away from colors that might be considered too bold and strident, you're increasing the likelihood that your décor will appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. While there may be exceptions to just about every rule -- especially as it pertains to decorating -- your objective as a house seller is to increase the probability that your home will appeal to as many people as possible!
"Immaculate" is a good goal
Another thing prospective buyers will frequently notice is the level of cleanliness in your home. While it's difficult (at best) to keep your home absolutely spotless all the time, it does pay to establish a few family rules and expectations to help you maintain a semblance of order until your house is sold!
After you buy a house, it may be only a few weeks before your closing date arrives. At this point, you and the home seller will finalize your transaction. And if everything goes according to plan, you'll own a new home.
Getting to closing day, however, sometimes can be difficult. Lucky for you, we're here to help ensure you can enjoy a quick, seamless home closing.
Now, let's take a look at three steps to close on a home.
1. Complete Your Mortgage Application
A mortgage is a must-have for a homebuyer to close on a residence. Fortunately, it often can be simple to obtain a mortgage that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Consult with several local banks and credit unions. By doing so, you can learn about all of your mortgage options and select a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.
After you complete a mortgage application, a bank or credit union can provide you with mortgage options. Then, you can make an informed decision about which mortgage suits you perfectly.
2. Perform a Home Inspection and Appraisal
A home inspection is paramount, as this assessment will enable you to identify any underlying home problems and address them before closing day arrives.
During a home inspection, a property expert will assess your residence both inside and out. This expert also will provide an inspection report that details his or her findings.
Review the results of a home inspection report closely – you'll be glad you did. If you assess a home inspection report, you can review a home inspector's findings and determine whether you still want to purchase a house.
If you accept the inspection results and decide to move forward with a home purchase, an appraisal may follow.
Like a home inspection, an appraisal requires a property expert to visit your home. This expert will evaluate your home's interior and exterior, as well as comparable houses in your city or town. Following a home appraisal, you will receive a property valuation.
Oftentimes, a property valuation may match or exceed the price that you intend to pay for a house. If it does not, there may be instances in which you can still walk away from a home sale or ask the seller to lower a house's asking price.
3. Buy Home Insurance
Home insurance safeguards your residence and personal belongings against loss, damage or destruction. As such, it is essential to purchase home insurance before you close on a house. Because with home insurance in place, you'll be good to go to protect your house and personal belongings against myriad disasters.
The closing process can be long and complicated. But if you work with a real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support leading up to closing day. In fact, this housing market professional is happy to provide tips to ensure you can streamline the closing process.
Get ready for closing day – follow the aforementioned steps, and you can speed up the process of acquiring your dream house.
Going green in the laundry room is a way to save costs, extend your clothes' lifespan and also preserve the ecosystem. Going green is also a great way to conserve water and energy consumption in every home. Going green doesn't require much from you, with a little tweaking here and there, you too can join the eco-friendly community.
Below is a list of what to do to join the green laundering team.
You don't have to wash after every wear
Deciding to go green means that you increase the lifespan of your clothes. If the clothes are not dirty, smelly or stained, you don't have to wash them after every wear. Materials like jeans and dark-colored clothes are top on this list. Don’t make this an excuse to become dirty though, wash your jeans after the third time of wear.
Consider your detergent
You can choose eco-friendly high-efficiency detergents for washing. Doing this ensures you use chemicals that are green friendly and not toxic to the environment. Concentrated laundry detergent has a lower carbon footprint, making it ideal for going green. Be sure though that your machine is rated to us whatever choice of soap you choose to buy.
It might not seem to be true considering the time and stress required to hand wash, but there are some advantages you stand to benefit from when you wash your clothes by hand. Hand washing helps you determine how many clothes you wear within the week; it’s also a great way to preserve the texture of your fabrics. To make hand washing easy, take your laundry with you into the shower. You'll get about twice as much use out of the water.
Cold water washing
Most of the energy consumed in washing is for heating water. Using hot water to wash is not necessary anymore as almost all detergents are effective in cold water. More so, constant hot water washing wears your clothes out faster and causes them to shrink.
Spread it out to dry
If the weather looks bright and sunny, put your clothes out to dry. Taking advantage of sunlight energy reduces carbon dioxide, cuts down on your power consumption and reduces your clothes wear and tear. Drying your garments under sunlight helps your clothes retain their texture, thereby reducing the cost of you having to replace.
Who likes to iron anyway?
Going green also involves you limiting your use of the iron. Having to iron clothes is a task most people shy away from because it's tedious and time-consuming. Restrict ironing to only clothes that are wrinkle prone; this way, you save a lot on energy consumption.
Going green with your laundry is an effective way of reducing cost, saving energy and giving back to the ecosystem.