Our Real Estate Blog
Whether you’re shopping for your first house or your next house, finding a listing you love is exciting. You browse the pictures, check out the property facts, share the link to your significant other, and maybe even schedule a showing.
With the exciting prospect of owning a new home that has all or many of the features you’re looking for, it can be easy to forget about certain details that matter. Most of us look for similar things in a house--close proximity to work, enough bedrooms, an upgraded kitchen, and so on.
In this article, we’re going to give you a list of things to investigate about the house you’re looking at to get a better idea of whether or not it’s the perfect match for you and your family.
1. Re-read the listing
If you’re like me and get lost in the photos of a home and forget to make note of the details, be sure to go back and check out the listing a second time. It will likely give you important details of the house that you overlooked on your initial visit.
Look for things like the year the house was built, information of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and the total acreage of the lot and square footage of the home. These things are hard to accurately represent in the listing’s pictures, but will likely be important to your decision of whether or not you should view the home.
2. Do your online research
The number of things you can learn about a home and neighborhood on the internet is astounding. We suggest that before you go to visit a home, you spend 10-20 minutes on Google researching the following topics:
School district ratings. If you have or plan to have school-aged children, you’ll want to know what your options are for your child’s education. It’s often a good idea to check out the local schools’ websites to see what
Commute times. With Google Maps and similar sites, you can plan out what your new commute will be and see how long it will take. You might find different routes that will save you time or avoid traffic (we could all use those extra few minutes in bed every morning). Google Maps isn’t always accurate when it comes to morning traffic estimates, but it’s a good place to start.
Amenities. Having moved into a neighborhood that has no grocery stores within a 20-minute drive, trust me--you’ll want to know what’s in the area. Use Google Maps to find stores, gas, schools, parks and trails, hospitals, and other things you’ll want close by.
Street view. While we’re on Google, use street view to take a remote look around the neighborhood. You’ll be able to see how the infrastructure looks--if the neighborhood is taken care of and if there are sidewalks that offer a safe place to walk or jog.
Crime ratings. Don’t get too caught up in this section. Crimes happen everywhere, but this is a good way to see if the area you’re moving to is a safe place
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If, after all of your online research, you decide you want to go view a home, don’t be shy when you arrive. It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to be a burden in someone else’s home. But remember--if you’re considering living there someday you’ll want to know as much as possible before making an offer.
Test the plumbing, ask about average utilities, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to neighbors and ask them questions about the community. The more you know, the better. Happy sleuthing!
Unmarried couples often find themselves surprised at the additional steps it takes to buy a home compared to their wedded friends.
This guide will help you prepare for buying a home together as an unmarried couple:
Banks will assess you differently than they would a married couple.
Whereas they look at a married couple as a single financial unit, you and your partner will be assessed individually. This certainly has its pro’s and con’s. Know that if one partner has a significantly lower credit score it can affect your eligibility for a loan as a couple.
Legal ownership of the title will be different.
Unmarried couples have three options when it comes to title ownership: sole ownership, joint tenants and tenants in common.
Tenants in common is the most popular. The difference between tenants in common and joint tenants is this:
In a joint tenancy ownership is 50/50. If one partner were to become deceased, ownership of their half of the property would carry over to the other partner.
Tenants in common ownership can be disproportionate to reflect each partners level of investment. If one partner were to become deceased, their living trust would inherit ownership of their portion of the property if another option is not otherwise specified in their will.
Sole ownership is just that. One partner owns full legal ownership of the property. This option can have tax benefits and increase your financing eligibility if one partner has a higher income or better credit score than the other.
It’s highly recommended for unmarried couples to sign a property, partnership or cohabitation agreement when buying a home together. This is a legal precaution to safeguard both partners in the future should anything happen.
If your finances are separate it is ideal to at the very least create a joint checking account from which to draw the down payment and mortgage installments. This is especially true if both partners are contributing to these payments. It create a clean, clearcut payment process each month.
Know each other's finances.
Discuss your credit scores, debt burden, savings, investments and financial goals. Get clear on where you each stand and how these factors will influence your buying process. Create a budget together as a couple to ensure you can take on not just the responsibility of a mortgage payment but also closing costs, homeowners insurance, property taxes and maintenance costs. Plan for savings like retirement, nest egg, family planning, future vacations, and emergency funds.
Buying a home together as an unmarried couple is a different process than that of married couples. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. With an understanding of what to expect ahead of time and a plan in place, the process can be a smooth one.
Finding the right vacation house is rarely simple. Dozens of quality vacation residences are available in cities and towns nationwide. Yet if you make even a single mistake during your search for the ideal vacation residence, you risk making a poor property buying decision.
As you get set to begin a search for a vacation home, there are many things you can do to boost the likelihood of finding a residence that matches your needs. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you conduct a comprehensive – and successful – vacation home search:
1. Establish Homebuying Criteria
Prior to launching a search for a vacation house, consider the features you want in your dream residence. Then you can hone your search for vacation homes that fall in line with your expectations.
Crafting a list of vacation home must-haves usually is a good idea. This list can focus on distinct features you want to find inside your home – from a modern, state-of-the-art kitchen to a spacious master bedroom. It also can focus on home exterior features like a beautiful front yard or a large driveway.
2. Determine Your Preferred Cities and Towns
Once you know what you want to find in your ideal vacation residence, make a list of preferred cities and towns. With this list in hand, you can focus exclusively on vacation houses in cities and towns you know you will enjoy.
Before you craft a list of preferred cities and towns for your vacation home search, it is important to remember that house prices vary nationwide. Thus, it often helps to take a look at home prices in various cities and towns. This will give you an idea about the average price range for houses in different areas.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
If you want to streamline your search for a vacation home, it typically helps to hire a real estate agent. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive extensive support as you navigate each stage of the vacation homebuying journey.
A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who is happy to share his or her housing market knowledge with you. First, he or she will learn about you and your vacation homebuying goals. A real estate agent next will craft a custom strategy designed to help you achieve your homebuying goals as quickly as possible. Finally, you and your real estate agent can put this plan into action.
Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent provides when a homebuyer is ready to submit an offer to purchase a vacation house, either. At this point, a real estate agent will help a homebuyer put together a competitive homebuying proposal. And if a seller accepts this offer to purchase, a real estate agent then will guide the buyer through the final stages of the homebuying journey.
Take the necessary steps to find your dream vacation home – use the aforementioned tips, and you could accelerate your quest to discover a vacation residence that suits you perfectly.
A home inspection report may prove to be a difference-maker for a property buyer, and for good reason. With an inspection report in hand, a property buyer will need to decide whether to proceed with a home purchase or rescind a homebuying proposal. Therefore, a property buyer must allocate time and resources to review a home inspection report so he or she can make an informed homebuying decision.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why a homebuyer should trust the final results of a property inspection report, and these reasons include:
1. A home inspection is conducted by a property expert.
A home inspection is conducted by a property expert who will perform a deep evaluation of a house. As such, a home inspector will provide a homebuyer with a comprehensive report that details his or her findings.
For homebuyers, it often is beneficial to search for a top-rated home inspector. This inspector likely will provide an in-depth report that outlines a house's strengths and weaknesses. A homebuyer then can use this report to make an informed decision about how to proceed with a house.
2. A home inspection is used to assess all aspects of a house.
A home inspection generally takes several hours to complete. During this evaluation, a home inspector will look at a home's foundation, heating and cooling systems and other aspects of a house. By doing so, a home inspector will be able to identify any underlying issues with a residence.
It usually is beneficial to ask questions during a home inspection as well. If you strive to learn from a home inspector, you can boost the likelihood of making the best-possible decision about whether a house is right for you.
3. A home inspection offers insights that property buyers may struggle to obtain elsewhere.
Although a homebuyer may visit a house more than once before submitting an offer to purchase, a home inspection represents a learning opportunity unlike any other. A house inspection enables a homebuyer to examine a residence both inside and out with a property expert. Then, this buyer will receive an extensive inspection report that he or she can review prior to finalizing a house purchase.
If you're preparing to search for a home, you may want to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional will be able to guide you along the homebuying journey. And once you reach the point where you need to conduct a house inspection, a real estate agent will help you find a top home inspector in your city or town.
Of course, a real estate agent will respond to your homebuying concerns and questions too. As a result, a real estate agent will help you take the guesswork out of buying a house.
Ready to find and purchase a home? Before you finalize a house purchase, perform a home inspection – you'll be glad you did. Because if you review a home inspection report, you can determine the best course of action relative to a home purchase.
Buying a home should be an unforgettable experience. However, problems sometimes may arise that prevent a homebuyer from enjoying the property buying journey.
Whether it's tough negotiations with a stubborn home seller or a property inspection that reveals many problems with a house, problems may occur that can make the homebuying journey memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the homebuying process and ensure you can acquire your dream home quickly.
Now, let's take a look at three tips that homebuyers can use to transform an ordinary property buying experience into an unforgettable journey.
1. Perform Plenty of Real Estate Market Research
Navigating the real estate market can be tricky, particularly for first-time homebuyers. Conversely, homebuyers who evaluate the real estate market closely should have no trouble discovering a wide range of terrific residences.
Examine the prices of recently sold homes in your area. That way, you can establish a price range for homes that match your needs.
Also, analyze the amount of time that recently sold properties were available. This will help you differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one and ensure you can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Buying a home likely will require you to get approved for a mortgage. If you receive pre-approval for a mortgage, you can narrow your home search based on your budget.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with several banks and credit unions. These lenders can explain how a mortgage works and help you find one that suits you perfectly.
In addition, don't hesitate to ask plenty of questions when you meet with lenders. These mortgage professionals can provide expert insights into the different types of mortgages, including fixed- and adjustable-rate options. By doing so, they can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage so you can kick off your search for the perfect home.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to buying a home, working with a real estate agent is paramount. This real estate professional will do what it takes to eliminate guesswork and streamline the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent understands the challenges that are commonly associated with buying a home and can help you overcome any potential hurdles along the way. He or she also is happy to respond to your homebuying concerns and queries and provide you with the support you deserve at any time.
Furthermore, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and negotiate with home sellers on your behalf. This housing market professional will even provide honest, unbiased recommendations to help you make informed decisions throughout the homebuying cycle.
Ready to get the best results from the homebuying journey? Use these tips, and you enjoy an outstanding homebuying experience.