Posted by Jeff Smith on 2/26/2018

For many people, nothing beats condo living. As such, the demand for condos continues to grow, and many property buyers are relocating to condos across the nation.

Before you buy a condo, however, it is important to remember that condo living is different from living in a traditional house. Therefore, property buyers who plan accordingly can set realistic expectations for condo living.

How can a property buyer find out what it's like to live in a condo community? Here are three tips to help you prepare for condo living.

1. Learn About Condo Communities in Your Area

Condo communities come in all shapes and sizes, and you should take a close look at the condo communities in your city or town to find out what they're all about.

Even a quick drive through a condo community may prove to be exceedingly valuable. This will enable you to see the size and style of assorted condos, along with the distance between the properties themselves.

After you view a few condo communities, consider what you'd like to find in your ideal residence. This will enable you to compare and contrast your home must-haves versus what condos offer and map out your property search accordingly.

2. Meet with Current and Past Condo Owners

Do any family members or friends who currently live in a condo community? If so, schedule a meet-up with them so they can share their thoughts and views on condo living with you.

Nothing beats firsthand knowledge about condo communities. By meeting with current or past condo residents, you can better understand the pros and cons of condo living.

Be sure to come up with a list of questions before you meet with current or past condo residents as well. Remember, the more you prepare, the better off you'll be as you determine whether condo living is right for you.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent has a simple goal: to help you find a residence that you'll be able to enjoy both now and in the future. As a result, this housing market professional can set up condo showings for you, allowing you to find out what it's like to live in a condo community.

In addition, a real estate agent can provide extensive details about what to expect if you decide to purchase a condo. This real estate professional can provide a copy of a condo community's homeowners' association (HOA) rules, inform you about any HOA fees and offer details about community pools and tennis courts that may be available to condo residents.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is happy to offer honest, unbiased condo buying recommendations. He or she can provide you with plenty of information about a broad assortment of condos to help you make an informed purchase decision.

When it comes to browsing condos, don't leave anything to chance. Instead, collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can explore a variety of condos any time you choose.

Posted by Jeff Smith on 1/8/2018

When you’re searching for a home, perhaps the price of the house isn’t as important as the overall affordability of the neighborhood itself. While you have a long wish list of what you want for your property, if you search by neighborhood in order to help you fit your budget, your search may be much easier and help you turn up with a more affordable house.

Look At The Price

This seems obvious, but we mean that you should go a bit deeper. The list price of a home and reality could be two very different things. A house could be underpriced or overpriced based on the surrounding properties in the neighborhood. If you do a little research, you’ll be able to see what the going price for similar style homes is in the area and make a judgement based on that information. 

Don’t Stick To One Neighborhood

You should take a peek around and look outside of the certain neighborhood that you find to be the most desirable. If you look just a few streets away, you could find out that the prices are better and the benefits of the area are the same. 

You’ll choose your neighborhood based on what you’re looking for in your lifestyle. If you prefer to go out to eat, you’ll need to know what types of restaurants are nearby. If you like to walk in the park, being close to parks and recreation is of course important to you. 

Know The Phrase Up-And-Coming

This description of a neighborhood can sometimes seem like a bit of a reach, but many times it turns out to be true. Once undesirable neighborhoods may become the place people want to be after a certain amount of time. The problem with this is that no one can be sure as to exactly how long this will take. Potential warnings for properties described as being in an up-and-coming neighborhood would be:

  • There’s low sales in the area
  • The value of the properties has actually been decreasing
  • There’s little access to grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment

Overall, use your judgement when it comes to what’s described as a neighborhood waiting to be gentrified. You could buy your own piece of gold, or you could be on the search for a dud.

Check Your Commute Times

Match the cost of different homes that you’re looking at with the reality of the commute times that you and your family are facing. How far are the kids from school? Will you be closer to work? Will it cost you more to get to and from work in the new location? While your commute costs aren’t exactly directly correlated with real estate, it’s definitely a part of your regular budget. You also don’t want to add a lot of time to your work commute if you can help it. 

These tips should help you to make an informed decision about what neighborhood to buy a home in that will be the most cost-effective for you.

Posted by Jeff Smith on 1/1/2018

Buying a new home can be an exciting but anxiety-inducing experience. With so many things to consider, it can be difficult to keep track of the things that matter most to you.

This process is complicated further when you discover a second or third home that you like as much as the first and you’re trying to decide which one to make an offer on.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how you can effectively compare houses to ensure that you’re making the most sensible, long-term decision for you and your family.

It’s all about the spreadsheet

Today, our method isn’t going to rely on any fancy new apps or paid tools. Everything you need to accomplish your spreadsheet is a tool like Google Sheets (it’s like a free version of Excel) or a simple pencil and notebook.

The columns of your spreadsheet will be made up of the factors that will influence your decision. This will include the obvious details like the cost and square footage of the home, but also finer details like its proximity to key places in your life.

The rows of your spreadsheet will be the properties you’re comparing. Now, it may be tempting to start listing every house on your radar in the columns of your spreadsheet. However, I think it’s more time-effective to only include the homes that you’re likely to make an offer on. This means doing some hard thinking and having a conversation with your family about your realistic goals for buying a home.

What is most important to you in a home and neighborhood?

Let’s turn our attention back to the top row of your spreadsheet. We want to fill that section with around 10 factors that are most important to you in a home and the location the home will be in.

In this section, you can include the estimated cost of the home and the estimated monthly expenses for owning that home (utilities, taxes, etc.).

Here’s the secret weapon of our spreadsheet, however. Rather than listing the actual cost of the home in this row, we’re going to give it a rank of 1 to 5. A score of 1 means the house is a lot more expensive than you want. A score of 5 means the house is the ideal cost. A 3 would be somewhere in the middle.

We’re going to use this 1 to 5 ranking system for all other factors on our spreadsheet as well.

Next to these costs, you’ll want to add other important factors to your home buying decision. Does it have the number of rooms you’re looking for? If a backyard is important to you, does it provide for that need?

In terms of upgrades, how much work will you have to do on the home to make it something you’re satisfied with? For DIY-minded people with time to spare, home improvement might be a welcome concept. For others, it simply would take too much time to accomplish everything you want. So, when you fill out the “Upgrades” column of your spreadsheet, make sure you determine a system for ranking the homes that suits your needs.

House location shouldn’t be overlooked

It’s a sad truth, but in today’s busy world, the average homeowner spends most of their time away from home, whether they’re at work, commuting, or bring their kids to and from after school activities.

You’ll want at least one column on your spreadsheet to be devoted to location. When ranking the location of a home, consider things like commuting time, distance to schools, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores. All of these things will have a larger impact on your day-to-day life than small details of the house itself.

Ranking the homes

Now that you have the first row and column of your spreadsheet built, it’s time to fill in the details and tally up the totals. These numbers will help inform your decision as to which house is really right for you.

Categories: Buying a Home   compare homes  

Posted by Jeff Smith on 10/23/2017

Applying for a mortgage is one of the biggest decision that an individual can make in his or her lifetime. As such, it is important for a first-time homebuyer to dedicate the necessary time and resources to employ the best mortgage lender – without exception.

So what does it take to hire the ideal mortgage lender? Here are three tips to help a first-time homebuyer quickly and effortlessly choose the right mortgage lender.

1. Consider a Variety of Lenders

There is no shortage of top-notch lenders in cities and towns across the United States. Thus, a first-time homebuyer can meet with a variety of credit unions and banks to explore all of the mortgage options at his or her disposal.

Spend some time learning about lenders in your area. Look at each lender's experience and reputation, and you may be better equipped than other homebuyers to select the ideal lender based on your individual needs.

Furthermore, conduct face-to-face meetings with lenders. These meetings will allow you to learn about a wide range of mortgage options and will make it easy for you to make an informed decision.

2. Ask Plenty of Questions

When it comes to getting a mortgage for the first time, there is no need to leave anything to chance. Instead, ask plenty of questions as you consult with assorted lenders, and you can gain the insights you need to pick a lender that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Remember, there is no such thing as a "bad" question, particularly when it comes to mortgages. If you meet with various lenders, you can get all of your mortgage concerns and queries addressed without delay.

A first-time homebuyer who asks lots of questions may be able to avoid potential financial pitfalls down the line too. In fact, this homebuyer should have no trouble selecting a great lender who can fulfill his or her mortgage needs for years to come.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

Let's face it – selecting a lender may prove to be exceedingly difficult. Fortunately, a real estate agent is happy to provide honest, unbiased advice to help you find the right lender in no time at all.

A real estate agent understands the challenges of obtaining a terrific mortgage, and as a result, will do everything possible to help a homebuyer discover a lender that can provide outstanding support day after day. Plus, a real estate agent can even help a homebuyer alleviate stress as he or she searches for the right lender.

Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent can provide throughout the entire homebuying journey, either. Typically, a real estate agent can keep a homebuyer informed about new residences as they become available, set up home showings, negotiate with a home seller on buyer's behalf and much more.

Get the right mortgage any time you choose – use the aforementioned tips, and a first-time homebuyer can streamline the process of selecting the ideal lender.

Categories: Buying a Home   buying tips  

Posted by Jeff Smith on 10/16/2017

The home buying process can be long and daunting. From trying to find the right home to facing rejected offers, it can seem endless. Eventually, you will find the right home and get that offer accepted. Now you must face the next phase what’s called “closing” on a home. What exactly happens at the closing table can vary based on your own situation, but the important thing to know is that the closing table is where the deal is sealed and signed. The home of your dreams will finally be yours!

Find The Location

The location of the closing will be determined beforehand. It’s usually at a lawyer’s office but it could be at a realtor’s office. The attorney who has been chosen will be noted on the closing documents you receive before you get there.   

Get Ready To Write Large Checks

When you’re closing on a home, this is the time that the downpayment is expected along with all of the lawyer’s fees, taxes, commissions, assessments, and other agreements. This money should be presented at the time of closing and there’s no wiggle room on the timing, so be sure you have the cash handy in your account. Often, a bank check will be required to pay these fees along with the downpayment. Your lender will give a a detailed report of the fees that are required before you even head to the closing table, so you’ll have time to prepare.

Do Some Hand Stretches

There will be plenty of pens available at the closing. You’ll be there for awhile signing many important documents, so bring some water. If you don’t have a safe or file folders, you’ll want to get them as well. Depending on how your closing is conducted, a lawyer or other authorized person will be present to explain the legal jargon to you for every piece of paper that you’re signing. Every document that you sign should be saved for your reference and safe keeping. The proof of insurance and the deed to your property are definitely documents that you’ll want to have handy for a long time to come. Your home is one of the largest purchases that you’ll ever make in your lifetime, so be sure to keep that paperwork in order. 

After Closing Ends

After all of the papers are signed and the walkthrough of the home is complete, you’re a homeowner! In most cases, you’ll be able to call the home your own immediately. In some special cases, there are post-closing agreements that include repairs that couldn’t be done ahead of time, or other transactions that the seller may have agreed with you on at an earlier date. 

In most cases, everything will be taken care of right at the closing table. One of the most exciting moments is when the keys are handed over to you! After a long time of searching, many phone calls, and a lot of work, now you can start putting that elbow grease into your home!

Categories: Buying a Home