Buying A Home That Can Grow With Your Family

If you are a first time homeowner, or are purchasing a home after a major life change such as marriage or having children, what should you consider to be sure your new home can grow with your changing family?  The time and effort that go into purchasing and decorating a new home, not to mention finding it in the first place, means that you’ll want to ensure that your home will be right for you and your family for years to come.  So what should you look for in your new home so that it will give you enjoyment and be functional both now and in the future?


Though a cute two-bedroom home may be right for a newlywed couple, this type of space will likely soon be outgrown if there are any children in your future or if you and your spouse like to entertain.  You will also want to consider the number of bathrooms and the facilities in them.  Having only one toilet or shower can certainly put stress on a growing family.


Special features of a home, such as a finished basement, central air, and a large yard can make your home a more functional and enjoyable space, especially if you have or are considering starting a family in the near future.  You may also want to consider the age of the home you purchase and its features or appliances, as this may lead to future costs that may put stress on your financial situation at a time when one spouse may be at home caring for the children.


Location is also an important consideration when choosing a home that can grow with your family.  Choosing a safe neighborhood is always an important point when selecting a family home, but you will also want to consider the proximity of good schools, community centers, and shopping.  Also, facilities such as parks and libraries can make a neighborhood truly a great place for families.  You may also want to consider the demographics of the area in which you are purchasing in order to be sure it is a match with your values.

As the old adage goes, home is where the heart is, and choosing a family home that is right for your family can really make all the difference in having a happy, fulfilling, and safe family life.



Eight Things To Consider Before Listing

So you have decided that you are going to sell your home.  While your home may work just as it is for you and your family and you don’t want to invest any more time or money into your property, there are a few necessary steps that every homeowner should take in order to ensure that their home will sell quickly and at the highest price possible.

Contact A Real Estate Expert—A REALTOR® can give you advice on what your property’s potential value may be, what improvements your home needs to get the best price, and the best strategy to use to market your home.

Have Your Home Professionally Cleaned—While this may seem like an unnecessary expense, it can give your home that fresh appearance that really appeals to potential buyers.

Make All Necessary Minor Repairs—This is an inexpensive way to give your home a finished look and will convince potential buyers that the home is in good repair.  This includes fixing any damage to walls and ceilings, installing new faucets or lighting fixtures, and making any cosmetic changes to the kitchen and bathrooms that will give your property a modern appearance.

Clear The Clutter—Giving your home an open and clean appearance can definitely make a huge difference in attracting buyers.  Be sure you tidy any messy areas of the home, and depersonalize it by removing most photos and any items or collections that may distract buyers during open houses or while looking at pictures of your home.

Look At Your Home From A Buyer’s Perspective—Because you are use to it, sometimes you may not notice small imperfections or areas of your home that seem not to flow with the rest of the house.  Try to take a walk through your home and on your property with fresh eyes, and be as critical as you would be if you were looking to buy your home again.

Make Repairs To The Exterior—Don’t forget the front and back yards, as well as the roof and brick or siding of your home, when making repairs to your property.  Your investment is always worth it, and creating curb appeal can really make a difference in attracting buyers.

Have Professional Photographs Of Your Property Taken—Photographs are very important tools for home sales in today’s housing market, and having a complete set of high quality photos that best accentuate the features of your home is critical to the success of your marketing campaign.

Consider More Major Renovations If Necessary—If your kitchen or bathroom is very outdated or in bad repair, or you have electrical, plumbing, or mold problems in your home, these are all issues that can really stall the sale of your property.  Fixing these problems will usually not only make your home sell more quickly, but will also increase the value of your home far beyond the expense associated with making the repairs in the first place.


Finding Your Perfect Home

As the old saying goes, real estate is all about location, location, location.  But, there is a lot more to it than just plain geography when it comes to finding your perfect home.  There are a lot of things to consider during the search because, for most, a home is the most significant purchase they will ever make.

Choose A Good Area

When searching for your perfect home, the obvious place to start is with the selection of a location.  If you have children, you may want to choose a home that is close to good schools and is also located in a family-oriented neighborhood.  Many people also look for a home that offers a short commute to and from work.  If you are shopping within a specific price range, you can also narrow the choices by finding an area that offers the best value for your dollar.

Select A Style

The perfect home for you is one that has all of the elements that you want.  Whether it’s a garage, basement, extra bedroom or bath, a large kitchen, fireplace or open floor plan, choosing the style of home that you want is an important first step in finding the perfect place to hang your hat.  You may also want to consider whether you prefer a single-level or two-story home.  Many home buyers also factor in floor plans when searching for a house, including those that offer an open and flowing design.

Get Pre-Qualified

Now that you know what you want and where you want it, it’s important to find out how much of a home you can afford.  Pre-qualification is not the same as pre-approval.  With pre-qualification, your lender will request specific information relating to your income and expenditures and will offer a possible price range for you to keep in mind while shopping.  Pre-qualification does not guarantee that you will receive an approval, but it does give you a good indication of how much you can afford based on your current situation.


Nobody knows the real estate business like a REALTOR®, so let them help you in your search for the perfect home.  They can answer questions relating to the neighborhood, recent inspections on a particular home and any needed repairs.  Because a REALTOR® has access to a number of area homes, they have the ability to show you various choices within your preferred area and price range.

Ask About Amenities

One of the most significant concerns of any home buyer is what a home has to offer.  Utilities, such as water, sewer, cable, phone and electricity are just a few of the things to consider.  If the home is in a subdivision that requires the payment of association dues, how will these funds be used?  What amenities does the home owner’s association offer?  These are all questions to ask your REALTOR® when shopping for the perfect home.

In conclusion, you should know that the search for your perfect home is a journey.  It may be either long or short and with or without some bumps along the way, but the greatest satisfaction will be at the journey’s end and your future’s beginning.


Choosing The Right Listing Agreement

When listing your home with a REALTOR®, you will be required to sign an agreement.  This document will outline all of the agreed upon terms, including the asking price of the property, the REALTOR’S® commission, length of the agreement, cancellation policy (if any) and other details that will govern how the listing is handled.  As a homeowner, it’s important to choose the right listing agreement to fit your needs.

Evaluate Your Options

When you decide to sell your home, talk with several different REALTORS®.  Speak with them over the phone, meet with them in person, ask for references or do anything that you can to get a feel for how they do business.  In real estate, punctuality is a must.  The REALTOR® that you choose should return your calls, answer your questions and should provide a listing agreement that coincides with any verbal agreements that you may have had regarding the listing.  For instance, if you tell your REALTOR® that you only want to list your property for six months, make sure the listing agreement reflects six months and not one year or longer.  In addition, make sure that your asking price is the same in the agreement as you agreed upon in earlier discussions.

Exclusive Right-To-Sell Real Estate Agreement

This contract is the most common in the real estate industry.  With this agreement, the REALTOR® will earn a commission regardless of whether they sell the house or you sell the house yourself.  Always make sure you understand what you are signing.

Open Real Estate Listing Agreement

This type of contract allows a homeowner to list with more than one REALTOR® in a non-exclusive manner.  The agent responsible for presenting a buyer who purchases the property will receive the commission, which means REALTORS® will compete to see who can sell the house first.  If the owner eventually sells the home without the help of a REALTOR®, they are not required to pay anyone a commission.  An Open Listing Agreement is not common with REALTORS®, but it is one option to consider.

Exclusive Real Estate Agency Listing

This type of agreement requires that the homeowner list their property with only one real estate agency.  Unlike an Open Listing Agreement, where the homeowner can list their property with multiple REALTORS®, an Exclusive Agency Listing entails only one agency being granted permission to list the home.

Read The Fine Print

Before signing any type of contract, homeowners must read over every detail to ensure that it represents the full agreement between themselves and their REALTOR®.  Some things to consider include the length of the contract.  Some REALTORS® prefer to have a minimum of one year to list a property, but the homeowner will have the option to negotiate.  Some owners prefer a shorter term, such as one to six months.

Every real estate contract should outline a cancellation policy, which will provide details surrounding a release and/or fees and penalties.  Some agents will offer a cancellation policy that allows the homeowner to cancel the contract by providing a 30-day written notice at any time.


The Home Remodels That Will Most Increase Your Selling Price

So you are ready to sell, but you know that there are a few things in the home that could stand some updating in order to increase your selling price.  Your remodel budget is limited, and you are wondering where to spend it.  The good news is that there are some solid answers.  But there are certain remodeling jobs that can increase your selling price more than others.

Whether you are getting ready to sell or simply want to remodel now for the best value when you do sell later, these are the remodels that give you the best return on investment.

The Kitchen

Remodeling the kitchen is one of the most important things you can do in your home, especially if the kitchen is dated.  It is often one of the first rooms a potential buyer will see, and it should make an impression.  The kitchen is often considered the soul of the home, and most people spend a good deal of time here.  Upgrades to countertops, cabinets, and appliances are one of the wisest investments you can make in your home.

The Bathrooms

Second only to the kitchen, the bathroom is the room in the house where dated fixtures or flooring can cost you a sale.  People want a bathroom that is clean, comfortable, and modern, a place of privacy and peace.  Spending money on a bathroom remodel will almost always be the best way to spend your money, and you will see it in your selling price.

Curb Appeal

Getting people in to look at your house is the first step.  Spending some of your remodel money on the exterior of the house and the landscaping is the best way to do that.  Improving the look of the house from the outside means you can bring more people in to look and to buy.  There is no underestimating the importance of curb appeal.

An Addition

With a small house, adding on square footage can mean adding a lot to the selling price.  If you can swing it, an addition is a smart way to make your house worth a lot more money.

Remodeling your house now for a better sale price later is a smart move.  The sooner you do it, the more you will be able to enjoy it before it is time to sell and move on.  With these smart remodels, you will make maximum profit.


A Nice Home Or A Nice Neighborhood: Which Matters More?

When you start shopping for a home, you probably have a very specific image of what you would like that home to look like.  You probably also see the perfect neighborhood surrounding that perfect home.  Every buyer sets out with an image of the house they want to own, but in reality compromises are often necessary in order to stay within your budget.

Compromising On The House

There may be certain things that are non-negotiable when it comes to your new home, such as the number of bedrooms or a two-car garage.  But as you take a look at the homes that are within your budget, you may discover that it is not likely you will get everything on your wish list.  But the great thing about owning a home is that you have the power to remodel it at any time.  Once you are in your new home, you can renovate or even add on if necessary to create the home you really want.  And if you have managed to stay below your budget, you will even have the extra money each month to make some of those changes.

Compromising On The Neighborhood

So you’ve found the house of your dreams, but the neighborhood isn’t precisely what you were hoping for.  Too much traffic, some houses that are becoming run down, or many other issues can mar the area your house is in.  In most cases, you will have to accept that you cannot change the neighborhood, and this means that you have to decide if the problems are things you can live with or not.

In some cases, buying in a run-down neighborhood can be a strategic move.  If many people are buying up the houses and improving them, then your home might one day be worth a lot more.  However, you must realize that this is a risk and it might not work out that way.

Another thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to buy the nicest house in the neighborhood, you may have trouble selling it down the line.  If other houses in the area are available for less, why would anyone buy your expensive house to get into the area?

So Which Matters More?

In the long run, when it comes down to choosing between the right house and the right neighborhood, you should choose the right neighborhood.  While you can change your house for the better, you can’t count on your neighborhood changing; in fact, it might get worse.  So choose the best neighborhood you can afford even if the house there isn’t perfect.


Buying A Home With Past Credit Problems

Buying a home can be both exciting and stressful but, for those with past credit problems, the process may also seem intimidating.  The good news is that many lenders have adapted to the idea that many hopeful homeowners simply need a second chance, which means that past credit problems no longer have to define your future.

Credit Blemishes

When life unexpectedly takes a turn for the worst, it’s not always possible to come out without a few bumps and bruises.  Every day, people are faced with late or missed credit card payments, mortgage foreclosures, bankruptcy proceedings, auto repossessions and even civil judgments that will affect their credit reports for years to come.  Whether it’s from a job loss, injury or just a simple case of temporary hardship, credit blemishes are often a part of life.  The good news is that they no longer have to prevent you from becoming a homeowner.

Give Yourself A Little Credit

After experiencing a credit problem, most lenders will want to see an attempt to rebuild your credit through a steady payment history with a new account.  This can be accomplished by applying for a credit card and maintaining a responsible use of the account.  If you aren’t approved for an unsecured card, you can always apply for a secured credit card.  Either will rebuild your credit over time and will help to show lenders that your past credit problems are just that – in the past.

Clean Up Your Credit Report

Before applying for a home loan, make sure that you check your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.  Every 12 months, consumers can request a free copy of their credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  If anything is incorrect or found to be inaccurate, filing a dispute with the credit reporting agency can help to get the information corrected before speaking with a lender.

When you apply for a home loan, the lender will access your credit report for the purpose of determining your creditworthiness.  In an effort to ensure that you have the best possible chance at being approved for the loan at the best possible interest rates, making sure that your credit report is accurate is a must.

Save Up For A Down Payment

Some homebuyers often qualify for a mortgage with down payments as low as five percent (three percent for FHA loans), but those with past credit problems may be required to shell out up to 35 percent or more for a down payment on their new home.  A buyer who pays a larger down payment obviously has more vested interest in the home and may, thereby, be less likely to default on a loan.  If you have past credit problems, check with your lender about specific down payment requirements and start saving!

Creative Financing Options

If you’ve exhausted all of your conventional efforts and are still turning up empty, don’t give up just yet.  Alternative financing is an option that many homebuyers use to purchase a home.  Your REALTOR® can provide you with details regarding any lease purchase and/or owner financing properties, which may require no credit check, no bank qualifying, a low down payment and competitive interest rate options.