Kate DeSimone's Blog
Buying a house is arguably the most expensive purchase most people will make in their lives. With real estate prices steadily rising year after year, many Americans are finding ways to save on housing.
At the same time, rent prices too are increasing, especially around metro areas where many young Americans are entering the workforce. With costs rising and wages stagnating, it can be hard to find an affordable place to live while still building equity that can be used later on down the road.
One option that many Americans are considering is the fixer-upper route. However, it takes know-how and a lot of hard work to make this method a good choice to save you money. In this article, we’ll tell you how to make certain buying a fixer upper is a good idea and what costs you can expect along the way.
Adding up the costs
Buying a house that needs work means you’ll need to spend a good amount of time calculating costs and getting quotes from professionals. Even if you’re familiar with several home maintenance tasks, there are some jobs that are safer if left to the pros. This isn’t only a matter of physical safety, however. If you start a job that you aren’t qualified to finish you could end up paying much more than if you had just hired a licensed professional to do the job in the first place.
When estimating costs for reparations and renovations, aim high. It’s better to plan for it to be more expensive and have more left over than to underestimate your projects and go over budget.
Get an inspection report
If you aren’t sure whether or not you want to go through with a deal, make sure you have an inspection contingency clause in your contract. This will enable you to back out if the home inspector makes you aware of any costs that you weren’t told about by the seller.
Don’t forget added costs
There are several closing costs you’ll be responsible for as a buyer. Make sure you keep tabs on how much you can expect to spend closing on the home. If you’re going through a mortgage lender, they are required to give you an estimate of closing costs.
Once you know the purchase price of the home and the closing costs, make sure you account for other aspects of your renovations, such as getting required permits.
If you do plan on taking out a loan to cover the cost of renovations, be smart with how you get and pay back that money. One option is the FHA 203(k) loan or renovation loan.
Renovation loans help you save on closing costs and simplify the lending process by giving you one loan that accounts for the cost of the renovations and of the home itself.
A lot changes when you move into a new home. For the first few weeks you’ll most likely be focused on getting everything arranged and put away in their proper locations. You’ll be adjusting to your new work commute, meeting the neighbors, finding out where to shop, and so on.
It’s easy to forget about updating your budget during the first couple of months in your new home. However, if you want to be mindful of your spending and gauge the true cost of living in your new home, it’s essential to start tracking expenses and creating your budget as soon as possible.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to make a new budget for your new home so that you can start accurately planning your long term finances. That way, you and your family can rest assured that you aren’t living above your means in your new home and can stop stressing about spending.
Cost of living changes
When most of us move we think about the change of our mortgage payments, property taxes, and home insurance. However, there are several smaller changes that will occur in your day-to-day spending habits that you might not think to update in your budget.
First off, make a note of how much you’re spending on transportation (whether it’s train fare or gas for your car) in your new home and adjust this on your budget. This is hard to predict before you move since you can’t be sure of the traffic patterns until your first trip to the office.
Next, make a list of your monthly services, including utilities. We’re talking about internet, cable, trash and recycling, heating and electricity, and so on. At the end of the first month, add each of those to your budget and decide if you want to spend less on any of them.
One surprise expense that many people have when they move is the cost of internet. Your old plan at your former residence might not cut it if you move to an area with different coverage.
Furnishing your new home
Even if you’re moving with most of your furniture and appliances, there will likely still be expenses that you’ll need to plan for in your new home.
It might be tempting to make all of these purchases at once so that you can feel like your move is “complete.” However, the best course of action is to include these items into your monthly budget so that you are prepared for emergency expenses.
Decide which items you need the most in your new home, and prioritize purchasing those on the first month. You’ll likely realize after just the first couple of nights in your new house which items you need now and which can wait.
Budgeting apps and tools
Everyone has their own preferred method of record-keeping. Some people keep their budget in a notebook or planner, whereas others like to use an app that they can access on their phone or laptop.
There are dedicated budgeting apps and web applications that link to your bank account and tell you how much left you can spend that month and if there is an issue with your budget. Several such apps are available for free in both Android and Apple app stores.
For a simpler budget, you can simply use the spreadsheet application of your choice (Excel, Numbers, and Google Sheets are all sufficient).
Regardless of what tool you use, make sure you check in on your budget frequently to ensure you’re sticking to it and making adjustments as needed.
When you've been in the same home for a while, it is common to get an itch to switch things up a little bit. For many homeowners, this means renovating the kitchen. Renovation is a great way to not only add a little bit of style but also increase the value of the home at the same time. There are a few great ideas to think about when it comes to kitchen renovations.
Add a Backsplash
One of the most popular kitchen renovations is to install a backsplash. This is a great way to upgrade and personalize the food prep area. Furthermore, a backsplash is easy to clean, functional and durable. There are plenty of ideas that people can use to make their kitchen backsplash unique. Consider neutral stone tile with colored or patterned pieces randomly interspersed, a pressed metal design or colorful glass tiles.
Open Up The Area
Consider opening up additional space in and around your kitchen. This can be accomplished with the removal of upper cabinets, introducing a window or skylight or, for a larger-scale project, removing walls to connect with other rooms. If you can't change the floorplan of your room, swapping in glass-front cabinets or open shelving for your upper cabinets can create more visual space.
Add Flair to the Counters
Counters are a common target for kitchen renovations. Styles change and, over the years, you may find the need for additional space. One solution is to add a kitchen island. This adds both storage space and workspace for your kitchen. Don't be afraid to go with unique countertop materials like concrete or wood.
Upgrade the Appliances
Finally, consider upgrading appliances to incorporate new technology and conveniences. Newer appliances not only come with new features like convertible compartments and touch screens but are also more energy-efficient than older models. This means you might also be able to save additional money over time with this investment.
The homebuying journey is rarely problem-free. Fortunately, homebuyers who know how to address challenges throughout the property buying journey should have no trouble making their homeownership dreams come true.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you develop an effective approach to address any homebuying challenges that come your way.
1. Be Diligent
When it comes to homebuying challenges, it helps to be diligent. A diligent homebuyer allocates time and resources to understand problems and address them from every angle. As such, this buyer may be better equipped than others to find the right solution to any homebuying challenge, at any time.
Furthermore, a diligent homebuyer often learns about the housing market and analyzes real estate market patterns and trends. With this information at his or her disposal, a homebuyer can use real estate market data to gain an advantage over rival property buyers. And as a result, a diligent homebuyer can use housing market data to make fast, informed decisions throughout the property buying journey.
2. Understand the Worst-Case Scenarios
No one likes to think about the worst-case scenarios. Yet considering potential challenges that could arise during the homebuying cycle may help a property buyer plan ahead for these problems.
As a homebuyer, it is important to prepare as much as possible for all stages of the property buying journey. If a buyer understands potential challenges, he or she may be able to address such problems without delay. Perhaps best of all, this buyer can minimize the risk of encountering possible hurdles that otherwise may prevent him or her from finding the right house at the right price.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
Dealing with a homebuying challenge on your own can cause immense stress. Lucky for you, real estate agents are available who can help you identify and resolve any homebuying challenges before they escalate.
A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who can guide you along each stage of the property buying journey. First, he or she will learn about your homebuying goals and craft a custom property buying strategy. A real estate agent next will keep you up to date about new homes that match your property buying criteria, as well as set up home showings. And once you find a house that you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence.
Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent provides after a seller accepts your offer to purchase a home, either. At this point, a real estate agent will help you schedule a house inspection and ensure that you are fully prepared for closing day. And if you have concerns or questions along the way, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.
Want to become a confident homebuyer? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can bolster your homebuying confidence and address any homebuying challenges with poise and integrity.
You may be thinking to yourself that it’s time to get your hands dirty. The sun is shining and the warm weather has arrived. But, you’re at a crossroad of what to do first. Should you mow? Should you start weeding? Or should you start with the gutters? If these thoughts are a bit too familiar,you should consider hiring a professional. Oftentimes, we become elated that spring is finally here and we can finally turn our home into the beautiful oasis it once was. Take a look at the tips below for why you should hire a professional.
1. Spring and fall clean ups are essential
There are two things that are crucial to the health of your lawn and yard—spring and fall cleanups. A spring clean up entails the rejuvenating of your yard and bringing life back into your lawn and plants—and your home. A fall clean up preps your yard and home for the winter ahead, ensuring that your home will quickly come to life once spring arrives. Together, these deeds will keep your yard in tip-top shape and the envy of the neighborhood. And you didn’t have to lay a finger on it.
2. One less thing on the to do list
You work, have a social life and/or have children, work some more, sleep, and so much more. Simply put, you’re busy. There’s never enough time in a day to do everything you wanted. Now add on the home care demands that come with the warmer weather. So, if you’d rather enjoy the spring and summer months instead of worrying about planting those flowerbeds and mowing your lawn each weekend, hire the professional. The outdoor labor your home requires does not need to be another facet of your demanding life. Go out and enjoy life and leave your lawn care to the professionals.
3. They know what they’re doing
Last, but certainly not least—they know what they’re doing. They’re professionals. They perform this type of work day-in and day-out. Professionals will get the job done right and in a timely manner. And that’s really what counts, right?
Finding a professional is easy. As you drove down the street this morning, I’ll bet you saw at least two landscaping companies already at work. Next time, take note of the companies’ names and check out the work they’ve done. Oftentimes, they are small business and there’s not a lot of information online for you to determine their reputation. The best ways to find out their reputation and work they execute is through word of mouth and inspecting the homes they’ve done work for. But, it is the age of technology and it’s very likely they at least list a phone number and their services online so be sure to check there too.