Joseph D. Federico's Blog
If you want to buy a home in the near future, you’re going to need to really focus on the goal. Buying your first home is no small feat. There are a few habits that you’ll want to start right away once you decide that you’re ready to take the plunge into homeownership.
Make Savings Automatic
If you’re going to start saving for all of the expenses that buying a home brings, the best thing that you can do is automate your savings. The down payment is usually more money than most people can even plan for. If you have a small amount of each paycheck go into a dedicated account for the house fund, you’ll be in better shape financially. You can never start saving too early or too much. The goal is to save as much as you possibly can. Put the money in a place where you won’t have easy access to it. If you don’t see it, you won’t spend it!
Check Your Credit Score
Your credit report is one of those things that can’t be magically fixed. It takes some time and a little work to keep your credit score up. You’ll need to make sure that you make on-time payments each and every month. If there are any glaring mistakes on the report, you’ll need to fix them, as it could take some time for any changes to show up. The most important thing is to keep your credit record clean by making on-time payments, refraining form opening too many new accounts, and paying down any outstanding debt. Once you check your credit score and see what you have to work with, you’ll be in good standing in no time.
Become A DIYer
When you move into a home, there’s a lot that may need to be done. If you can do some of the work yourself, instead of hiring contractors and other people, you may be able to save some money. This wouldn’t include anything dangerous like electrical work or complicated plumbing issues. There are plenty of projects that you can safely take on in a home that will save money and keep your home in great shape.
Learn To Budget
Owning a home can actually be cheaper than renting in some cases. If you learn to budget, factoring in things like food, utilities, and how much you spend on entertainment, you’ll see how much you have to work with. See how much you’re spending and then decide where you can cut down costs from there. You’ll find more money that you can be saving towards a home. The best part about buying a home is that you own it! There is no middle man telling you what you can and cannot do in a space.
If you’re hunting for a new home, it can be tempting to make an appointment to view as many as possible. However, it can be a better use of your time to narrow down the search beforehand and eliminate houses from your list based on some at-home research. That way you can use those extra hours for fine-tuning your home search and make sure you visit only the houses that will suit your every need.
In this article, we’ll teach you some ways to research a home, neighborhood and town before you take the time to visit.
Things to Research about Your Potential New Neighborhood
So you’ve found a listing that looks nice. Your next step should be to find out as much as possible about the area the home is in to make sure it suits your needs.
A good first step is to head over to Google Maps to find out which amenities are in the area. Schools, banks, grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, parks… the list goes on. This is also a good time to map out how long it will take you on average to drive to work from this house and to see if it will lead you through any high-traffic areas that might affect your daily schedule.
You can also research other homes in the area to see if the house is selling higher or lower than average. This will give you a question to ask the real estate agent if you choose to reach out for further information.
Another step to take on Google for this home is to look up statistics for things like neighborhood crime, ratings for the school district, and the state of local businesses.
Is the area up-and-coming with healthy businesses and low crime? If so, it could be worth pursuing further.
If you’re planning on having children or already do, the quality of the education could be of importance to you.
Finally, get an idea of the local tax rates so you know how much you’ll owe the government for your property and excise taxes.
Researching the house itself
If you’re comfortable with the town and neighborhood, there’s still some research you can do online before you schedule a showing.
See if you can find out if the house belongs to a homeowner’s association. Look up their rules and fees to see if they’re agreeable to you and your family’s lifestyle and plans for the future.
Look up the sale history for the home. If there are several recent sales, this could be a sign of problems with the home or neighborhood. Similarly, if the price has increased or decreased dramatically more than nearby houses, consider asking the real estate agent why this is.
Finally, see if you can view the number of days the home has been on on the market, commonly abbreviated as “DOM.” This will give you some insight as to how desirable the home and neighborhood are.
Once you have all of the information at your disposal, you’ll be in a position to decide whether or not to schedule an appointment to view the home.
When you find a house that you love a lot, your main concern may be that other people really love the home too. How can you make your offer stand out? You might want to write an offer letter to go long with your proposed purchase price for the home. While making the highest offer s typically the best way to secure a bid on a home, if sellers get a few similar offers, they may be enticed by an extra bit of effort on the part of the buyer.
There are certain ways that you can craft an offer letter to help a seller be intrigued a bit more and accept your offer. Many times, sellers have a certain type of attachment to a home. They want someone who loves the home as much as they did. Most sellers who have taken pride in their homes want to pass that on to the next owner. Be sure you tell the owners that you appreciate the care that they have taken to keep their home nice. You can also mention that this home will be a great place for you and your family to grow. If you let your enthusiasm stand out, you’ll be able to shine among other offers.
Give Your Backstory
If you happen to be expecting your first child, or maybe your family is expecting another addition, you may want to note that in your letter. Getting personal with a stranger may seem kind of odd, yet sharing a bit of your story can help a seller feel more comfortable about accepting your offer as opposed to any others. If you have family or good friends that live in the neighborhood, let the seller know about that as well. Sometimes, sharing your story gives that extra touch that you need to have a winning offer.
Just as you would praise the seller for taking good care of the home, you also want to point out any specific updates that will make your life easier. If there’s a newly landscaped backyard, mention it. If the new roof looks great on the house, include it in your letter. If you notice that the sellers have dogs, let them know how much your dogs will love being in the house as well. You’re not brown-nosing, you’re just giving the sellers a little something to be proud of, letting them know that you took notice!
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Sentimental
If the home happens to be in the same neighborhood that your family grew up in, then by all means include that in your letter. If your mom lives a few blocks away and is hoping to be closer to the grandkids, it doesn’t hurt to tell the seller about it. The bottom line is to get a bit personal and let the seller know why you want the home. From the home itself to how it will suit your needs, a seller will feel good accepting an offer that they have a connection to.
Searching for a new house that will meet your needs without breaking your budget can sometimes feel overwhelming! There are dozens of factors to consider and countless details to handle at any point in time.
Fortunately, there are strategies for getting it all done, maintaining your sanity, and being satisfied with the final outcome.
If you feel like you're getting off track (or can't even find the train station), here are a few tips for getting organized:
Create a priority list. If you haven't clarified and discussed with your spouse what you want and what's important to both of you, then there's a good chance you won't get it. You do not have to go it alone, though! A top-notch real estate agent can help you create a working list of priorities and preferences that you can use as a measuring stick when evaluating homes for sale. Better still, once you develop this list with your agent, he or she will have the information they need to efficiently locate properties that conform to your wish list and requirements. Your priority list will be based on a lot of criteria, including your desired lifestyle, the size of your family, and proximity to good schools, recreation, and shopping centers. If may also be important to you to live within a short drive to work, childcare facilities, or houses of worship. One of the best ways to organize your wants and needs is to get a copy of a homebuyers' "wish list" from your Realtor or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Key factors to consider when developing your list may include items like architectural style, the amount of remodeling you're prepared to do, and the size of the yard. Privacy, space between neighboring houses, and distance from busy highways are also important factors to weigh.
Choose the right real estate agent: The ideal way to find a real estate agent you'll be pleased with is to get recommendations from family, friends, and trusted business associates. If someone you know well has had a favorable experience with a specific real estate agent, chances are good that your experience would be similar. Since most real estate agents value referrals, a smart agent will strive to make a positive impression on both you and the person who referred you. It's often advisable to talk with more than one real estate agent before making your final decision, though. That way you'll be in a position to compare qualities like experience, knowledge, personality, rapport, and energy level. It's vitally important that you feel comfortable with the agent you decide to work with, and that they're responsive to your questions, concerns, and requirements.
While a "wish list" and a "must have" list are essential components of a successful real estate search, the process unfolds much more smoothly when you remain open minded, flexible, and realistic.
When you’re searching for a house, the location is often key. Maybe you have found homes in your desired city or town. Yet, all homes are not created equal. Locations aren’t created equal either. There’s advantages and disadvantages to the type of street that a home is on. If you’re on a main road, you may have more accessibility to what you need, but traffic noise could be a negative aspect of this living situation. Living on a cul-de-sac gives you the best of both worlds. You can be in your desired location, but also enjoy some peace and quiet. Your kids will even have a fairly safe space to play on without worry on your part about traffic conditions. Here’s some of the best reasons to find a property on a cul-de-sac:
There’s No Through Traffic
No one will be using your street as a shortcut for anything, since it’s a dead end! This provides a safety net for you as you’ll know the types of vehicles that should be on the street at any given time. Neighbors can be mindful if they happen to see strange people or vehicles lingering in the neighborhood. This allows streets with dead ends to have lower crime rates. Everyone is more alert, because there’s generally so little happening on the street that any activity is noticeable. Criminals also tend to shy away from these types of neighborhoods due to the fact that people are much more aware.
It’s Better For Children
You always need to watch your children and teach them basic safety rules. Living on a cul-de-sac may actually help relieve a bit of the burden in allowing your children to play more freely. Cars that are traveling down the street won’t be doing so as fast. Your children will be visible right form your home as well.
Also, since everyone lives so close together and basically in a visible range of one another it’s easier to develop neighborhood friendships. Children will be able to play with other kids their own age and have a common meeting spot- at the end of the street! Even as a parent, you’ll have a better opportunity to get to know other parents and meet up with those in the neighborhood. There’s just something about living on a dead-end street that allows for a more tight-knit community.
Home Values Rise
All of the positive things that we have emphasized here about living on a cul-de-sac are part of the reason these properties keep their high values. With better curb appeal, more safety, and a strong sense of a community, it’s hard to pass up a chance to live on a cul-de-sac.