What To Consider Before Investing in Real Estate

Gorgeous American home with blue exterior and white trim.

Making a real estate investment is always a great choice, however, people are usually faced with so many questions that they might be potentially deterred from making such an investment. So let’s discuss several factors that you should consider before making such a major decision.

The Market You’re Buying In

Carefully analyzing the neighborhood your potential property is located in is pivotal. What does the future hold for this city or region and how will it affect your property’s price/value should you decide to sell it? It is also important to keep a close eye on developing area’s nearby, trendy upcoming neighborhoods can significantly affect a potential buyers interest in your property.

Return On Investment

It’s only wise to invest in a property that will give you a high return on your investment. Do not avoid properties simply because they are need of some renovations, as the flaws will help you buy cheap and sell high after renovating. In fact most seasoned real estate experts will suggest that you had better buy a structure that needs renovations to help maximize potential profits.

Your Budget

Real estate comes in various shapes and sizes which can easily translate into different prices. As a buyer this can result in serious temptation to spend beyond your means but that shouldn’t be the case if you’ve prepared a budget. By consciously planning the money you can afford to spend on property you will be able to make a successful investment and avoid future losses. As you plan the budget remember that most expensive does not always equal to the best quality. In light of this, you should prepare your budget around other factors that would make the property appealing to you.

What Type Of Loans Do You Need?

As you prepare the budget, you may discover that your funds are not sufficient to cater to the investment. This calls for loans that enable you buy the property you’re attracted to. Before approaching the bank however, pause to consider which type of loan is ideal for you. There is the option of zero down payment, adjustable floating rate, and fixed rate mortgages, among others. Make sure to look around for the best deal to avoid paying unnecessarily high interest rates, premiums or processing fees.

Established Or Under Construction

As a new investor there is always the choice of buying a property that seasoned or established as well as one that is still being built. The latter provides options to customize, attractive pricing as well as clear titles. The downsides to such an investment is that you might experience delays in possession or minimal knowledge of the area. Established buildings may also be quite expensive but you’ll often find comfort in the neighborhood their located in. Remember, you will still need to look a little deeper into ownership and legal affairs.

Real estate agents

Finally, you should consider the assistance of a real estate agent to help guide you through this process. This is the best decision that you can make if you want to make the best possible investment. Agents understand the property market, are familiar with various neighborhoods and have close connections with financial institutions that you might need for lines of credit. The biggest advantage of having a real estate agent in your corner is that they understand all the legal jargon involved in the delicate investment property process as well. This will only help you make the ideal choice without the risk of buying a property that’s entangled in legal tussles.

Real estate is a great way to invest and protect your wealth but that is only possible if you make careful considerations before appending your signature to the sales document. This keeps you safe from unscrupulous dealers while ensuring that you get the highest returns in the long term. It might take some time to analyze all the factors involved in a successful purchase but that is a small price to pay if you want to land the best piece of real estate available. You must get a clear understanding of the landscape to gain more confidence in the property you want to buy and hope to sell in future.

5 Buyer Incentives That Can Help You Close Faster

Happy Mixed Race Couple in Front of Sold Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and House.

Your home is finally on the market and its time to begin the selling process. Now thats its listed, attracting the attention of genuine buyers should be your next important focus. Closing this deal in the least amount of time possible will give you a greater ability to coordinate the purchase of a new home. Allowing you to consider optimal tax benefits or make other important financial decisions. Fortunately, there are a number of buyer incentives that you can supply to help make buyers take immediate action.

Tack On A Few Extras

Sellers are commonly advised to depersonalize their spaces as much as possible before showing them. Staging a home correctly however, requires a few decorative elements. Take note when prospective buyers show a special interest in any window treatments, furnishings or outdoor features that you have no intention of taking with you. Add-ons like these will “sweeten the deal”, irrespective of their actual value. People like feeling as though they’re getting something of value for free.

Offer An Incentive For Closing Quickly

In a buyer’s market, consider offering your prospects an incentive, such as a closing credit for meeting your expected “close by date” along with an additional commission to the buyer’s agent. The costs of these incentives are often far lower than the losses that might occur if the sales process lags. In a seller’s market, let people know what your goals are upfront so that the offers you receive all come from people who are willing to be flexible with their closing dates.

Credits Towards Upgrades

If you have a home that lacks the cutting edge-features that are found in surrounding homes, consider setting yourself apart from the competition by offering credits towards upgrades. This will capture the attention of buyers who are shopping at your price point, but who are also looking for the latest features and amenities. Best of all, when investors get ready to make these upgrades, they can make them according to their own needs and preferences rather than having to make do with what’s already in place. This makes these credits infinitely more appealing.

Boost The Commission For The Buyer’s Broker

It is important to consider all angles of the equation when attempting to attract attention to your home. Not only do you want to appeal to the buyer, but you also want to give his or her agent a good reason to promote your property. Although the best agents advocate equally for all the homes in accordance with their clients’ purchasing goals, a heftier commission could significantly improve the awareness for your listing.

Offer A Credit For Home Repairs

In addition to or as an alternative to credits for property upgrades, you can offer a credit for home repairs. This credit can be used to address any minor issues that are recorded in the inspection report and to give investors a greater sense of assurance. Opting to handle repairs on your own can hold things up and could lead to problems further down the road if the buyer is dissatisfied with the results. Choosing to offer a credit instead will give buyers cash in hand at closing that they can use how and when they see fit. It will also relieve you of the responsibility of ensuring that buyers are happy with the quality of the repairs performed.

Choosing The Right Incentives

Choosing the best incentives for expediting your sale can be challenging. You shouldn’t run out and invest in high-end window treatments just for the sake of having something extra special to offer. Throwing in some of the decorative items that you’ve used to stage your home is best done when buyers are already showing an interest in these things. More commonly, you’ll find that credits towards closing costs are capable of generating the greatest amount of interest. This is due in part to the fact that they represent something that you can easily offer upfront, without buyers first having to outright express a desire for them. It also limits the amount of money that people have to bring to the closing table, which can be a huge relief for those who are finding themselves increasingly cash-strapped as new purchasing costs get factored in. These are direct savings that people like knowing exist. The right credits can actually reduce closing costs by as much as three to six percent, which can be very enticing to even the most comfortable buyer.

Five ways prospective home buyers can benefit from an open house visit


A young family looks up at their new home.

For home buyers, an open house visit is probably the best opportunity to review the property for sale before embarking on journey of purchasing your home. Don’t commit to a home without attending an open house, this is your chance to evaluate some very important factors prior to signing any paper work. As a home buyer, you should take advantage of as many open house visits as possible. This allows you to ensure that the property you choose meets all of your needs. Below are some of the ways you can best take advantage of on open house visits to get the best deal in the market.

Learn the market first before making commitments

One of the most common mistakes that home buyers often make at an open house is entering into deal on their first visit. Before you start making commitments with agents, always ensure that you are well informed about the pricing of the property and its market value. Also, ensure that you have reviewed other homes for sale to ensure that you make the best possible choice. Making as many open house visits as you can will help you get a feel for the market and compare actual home values with their listed prices. You can extend your search online as well to ensure that you gather as much information as possible.

Learn from the behavior other buyers

You can learn if a home is the best deal by observing and talking to other interested buyers. If everyone seems to lose interest on an open house visit, then there is a likelihood that something is wrong with the property. On the other hand, if everyone seems interested in what the agent have to say, then there is a possibility that the property is worth reviewing carefully. Observing the behavior of other buyers will give you insight on the level of competition on the property which allows you to make calculated moves.

Gather as much information from the agent as possible

Use the open house visit as an opportunity to ask as many questions concerning the house as possible. Even when you are not interested in the property in question, there is always something you can learn that will help you at another open house. Typically a house is on the market because the owner is moving but there will always e cases where you might find something wrong with the house. Thats the type of information you should attempt to discover now as opposed to a home inspection down the line. A genuine agent should be open to answering all issues relating to the sale.

Identify talented agents and create a relationship with them

If you are going to be entering into the home selling process in the near future, use the open house visit to identify talented agents. Discussing the home your inspecting with them will help provide with some insight into their experience and understanding of the housing market. If you happen to like them, ask open-ended questions such as, their general view on the market and their general success as an agent. This is essentially an informal setting to interview the potential agent you might work with in the near future. So by all means introduce yourself to them and express your interest in working with them.

Even if you’re not ready to buy a home just yet, open house visits will open up your prospective options on the current housing market. This can only help you plan for your future purchase as efficiently as possible. Even when the agents primary interest is to sell the house for the owner, you can still benefit from their insight without having to commit yourself. Make as many open house visits as possible before you start making commitments. Feel free to ask all the questions you might have as well, this is a no pressure opportunity to learn as much as you can before moving forward.

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For A Great Real Estate Agent

A young couple purchases a new home from a real estate agent.

Real estate agents differ across the board significantly. There are many amazing pros of using real estate agents, but once in a while things can go wrong and as a result spoils everything for all parties involved. In case you have had bad experiences with a real estate agent in the past, you should not allow such a thing to deter you from utilizing an agent all together. If you feel uncomfortable with your current agent then it is advisable to stop everything and look for a new, experienced and proven real estate agent. Ensure you have a good agent before proceeding with the transaction process because a good real estate agent will give you high-quality service and save you meaningless headaches. Below are 5 reasons to be thankful for a great real estate agent.

You’re Best Interests Are Protected

They’ll be there for you when you need them most. There will be situations when you find yourself in the middle of real estate transactions that give you endless frustrations. You might realize that the transaction is characterized by twists and turns that require more than your expertise. This is where a good agent becomes important.

A good agent will be willing to take your call at anytime in the day and listen to what you have to say. In case you decide not to go through with a transaction, the agent will also support your decision. Buying or selling a house is a big choice to make that requires serious financial, emotional and practical considerations. Additionally, your agent should be in a position to uncover any issues that arise as well as suggest backing out of the whole deal early if need be. In a nutshell, a good agent will take your interests to heart and will aim to build a long-term relationship rather than simply making a quick buck.

Always Have Access To Quality Advice

They’ll help get your house ready for sale in good time. A good real estate agent works essentially as a project manager, designer and even networking expert. A good agent will always be timely and efficient in preparing your house for the market. In case you are considering selling your house but you are concerned by the idea of prepping your home and making the necessary improvements or remodeling, a good real estate agent will guide you on this matter. Having someone to act as your council on things like this will always help make your life and experience easier.

With your approval, your agent can go ahead and muster up a team of stagers, painters, contractors and even home decorators if need be. Your agent will act as the lead when it comes to prepping your home for sale, and will be your main point of contact to get the job done quickly.

They Can Accommodate Your Busy Life 

They will help reduce your workload when it comes to the actual real estate transactions as well. You will be required to be available for quite a number of reasons. You will be required to provide a signature at some point for a document that needs to be notarized. Appraisers and inspectors will need access to the house on sale while another party might have a last-minute request that you can’t ignore. In such a situations, a good real estate agent will be there to again advise you on any questions or concerns you may have. Therefore, he/she will drive to your home or even catch you in the lobby of your office building when you are available for that important signature. They is tasked with making the transaction as smooth as possible and will be available 24/7.

Helpful Long After Closing

They’ll send you resourceful data about your home after the transaction is closed. Most agents do their deals and move on with other clients. However, such agents view the entire process as purely transactional. Good agents understand that their services continue even after the transaction is closed. Homeowners are interested to know what’s going on in the market as well as how their investment has fared over time. Therefore, good agents see homes in person quite frequently, taking notes of comparable homes as well as keeping their past clients informed about what’s new in the market.

You Have Access To A Professional Network

Good agents will be well-connected and have access to the inside track in most cases. Deals become successful due to the strength of the relationships an agent builds with other industry professionals over time. A good real estate agent is always connected with other agents, inspectors, deal-makers and even bankers. This way, he or she can help you find the right opportunities off the market and get the time or attention you need or get your offer to the top of a competitive bidding situation.

A great real estate agent always has your interests, need and wants kept close to their heart, and uncovers opportunities to either find your preferred house or buyer. If you’ve already encountered your dream agent, you have a lot to be grateful for but if you haven’t then take the time to identify the right one and get him or her in your team. Agents sell houses but at the end of the they exist to help make your life easier.

Pros And Cons Of Buying A Foreclosed Home

Foreclosure Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of Beautiful Majestic House.

Foreclosed homes have become somewhat of a popular option for home buyers given the increase in quality of foreclosed homes. Regardless of the path you’re choosing to take in your home buying experience, odds are you’ll come across a foreclose and you’ll question it as a viable option. So let’s break down the different elements of a foreclosed home you’ll need to consider before deciding to make your purchase.

In the recent past foreclosures were often left abandoned. However nowadays, banks usually renovate them before selling. They may frequently seem to offer a better deal but the question remains, is this always the case?


They are cheaper

Currently, foreclosed houses are approximately 5% cheaper in comparison to equivalent homes which are not in foreclosure even if they are in the same location. Previously, they were 15-20% below the market rate, but the current rates are still a better deal. Over time, the value of the home may appreciate and incase you decide to sell, you will definitely make a profit.


1) Foreclosed homes are still expensive to some extent

The prices of foreclosed homes (REOs i.e. bank real estate owned homes) have gone up compared to 5 year ago (although still lower than the market rates). Many banks invest their money into renovating these houses with the hopes of selling them at a good price. This is why the prices have gone up in addition to the fact that there are also huge risks involved. Although you may buy it slightly cheaper than the market rates, you may even find that they are more expensive especially due to all the expenses that you may have to incur in the long run.

2) They may not be in the best condition

In most cases, foreclosed homes are not in very good condition, often requiring significant repairs. Note that damages like roof leakages, molds, plumbing, and any other damage that may require major repairs are not often disclosed. Remember that prior to the foreclosure the home was owned by someone else. Obviously, that homeowner could not continue making their monthly mortgage payments and one of the reasons might have been because he/she did not have the funds to do regular maintenance on the home. Most of the time homes that reach the REO stage of foreclosure are in their worst state. Although you may get an opportunity to do an inspection on the foreclosure home before finalizing the process, they are always sold as is, meaning that you cannot request any repairs as contingency of the sale. You therefore buy the home at your own risk.

3) They may be located in undesirable locations

In most instances, foreclosed homes today are located in unattractive areas. Sometimes, the price of an REO may look great not because the foreclosure makes it cheap but because of its location. You may end up having to spend years stuck in a home located in a bad neighborhood because such houses often take time to sell.

4) Tough competition

Today, many home buyers are attracted to the foreclosure homes because again they are cheaper. Because of this, the competition for these houses is tough (especially for those located in prime locations). If you are not familiar with foreclosed houses or even the trends in the real estate markets, you may find it hard to get a good home or you could even end up paying a lot of money for an undesirable house.

5) Slow process with no guarantees

The process involved in buying a foreclosed home is not only long, it can also be frustrating. Apart from the paperwork, the whole process is sometimes very slow and you may even end up waiting for many weeks before you get a reply. Also remember that these homes are owned by the bank, and they will certainly attempt to get a good price to help recover some portion of their loss. If they get a better deal, your contract may end up being cancelled even if you were almost ready to close the deal.

One of the greatest investments that you can make in life will be purchasing a home. Buying a foreclosed home may seem to be a great deal but may be expensive in the long run. Do a lot of research before making the final decision. Look at the trends in the real estate market and if possible, consult a real estate agent for advice. while this terrain is certainly tricky, you can always find a diamond in the rough.

Holiday gift ideas for roommates

Hands holding beautiful gift box, female giving gift, Christmas holidays and greeting season concept, shallow dof

The holidays are back again! As usual it’s a time to spread some joy around and grab some gifts for your friends and family. If you’ve already gone shopping for your siblings and close friends job well done. This post is going to be specifically for those of you who have a roommate who you’re not sure what to get. See, your roommate has been presumably living with you for quite some time now, and surely they deserve they deserve a holiday gift from you as well.

Before setting out to grab a gift for your roommate, we’d like to present you with a few things to consider that might make your search a bit easier.

Talk about it

Discuss the idea of gifts with your roommate, no one wants to be unprepared or empty handed. Also consider whether or not you have created the required chemistry with them to warrant the exchange of gifts. Financially speaking it might not be something your roommate can do and if thats the case getting them a gift may only upset them. The last thing you’d want to do is guilt someone into a gift exchange when they really cant afford it. Whichever the case, just have a conversation about gifts and see how it goes. If both of you are open to the idea, then go for it.

Set Some Ground Rules

You need to make an important decision regarding the exchange of gifts. For example, what is the timeline involved? You certainly do not want to ambush your friends with gifts in the middle of a busy week. It is important that you make a unanimous decision on the specific time to hand over the packages. You also need to choose the method of exchange. If some of your roommates have traveled, then you could decide to ship your gifts to each other as long as the distance is not going to make you incur steep shipping costs. A face-to -face exchange is a great idea, especially if all of your roommates are available at the specific time suggested. Make it a special occasion and ensure that everyone has no prior engagements on the day you make the exchange. The idea is to make the event as enjoyable and memorable as possible.

Also remember to set a price limit so everyone purchases gifts that are fairly similar in quality. You do not want your friends to delve too deep into their pockets to get you a present, and you certainly do not want to overspend. Imagine getting your friend a 200-dollar denim jacket only to get a 5-dollar gift card in return! It is important that the expenditure on gifts remains more or less balanced across the board. Remember, the financial value of what your give or get is not as important as the gesture and emotion behind it.

Make it a celebration

Exchanging gifts should be an engaging event set apart from the rest of the time you spent with your roommates. As indicated earlier, you will need to set aside a certain day and do something meaningful together. Create an event and use it as a prelude to the gift-sharing process. You could go out to dinner together and take a special meal in order to set the day apart. You could go to the tracks, race some horses and take some photographs. The movies are also a great place in which to set a perfect mood for the exchange of gifts. Carry some popcorn and have fun while you’re at it. Another alternative involves a bottle of wine in the apartment (throw in some log fire if you can), setting the stage for a merry beginning to the festivities. What ever venue you choose make it memorable and entertaining for you and your friends.

Consider a gift for the apartment

This might sound a little odd, but it makes perfect sense. If you find buying gifts for everyone cumbersome, get together and buy a ‘gift’ for the apartment. This gift can be anything so long as it benefits all members of the apartment. It could be a bathtub, a coffeemaker or a blender-anything the apartment needs to be more accommodating and functional. Its important to again remember the pricing and budget limitations of your roommates.

Whatever approach you decide on, always be make sure that everything is all-inclusive, fun and exciting.


Common Real Estate Myths and Misconceptions Debunked

Portrait of a young woman has a question is asking herself something. Question mark over her head.

If you’re new to world of Real Estate you’ll undoubtably have been exposed to some of the common rumors associated with the industry. Most likely you’ve encountered some common myths by word of mouth or even one of the many T.V. Shows that you’ve probably seen. However, if you’re looking to buy or sell a house a little clarity might just help you along your way. Here are some real estate misconceptions and myths that you’ve probably heard from one source or another.

1. You do not need a real estate agent now that you can access the information online

Buying a home can be a very daunting task, especially for the first time home buyer. So it’s quite important to have an excellent real estate agent to represent your interests. Agents understand the process of buying and selling homes, and will advise you properly on all your market decisions. There is a common misconception in real estate today that buying a home using the online information you collect will result in getting a better deal. This is because there will be no commissions or “cuts” to the real estate agent right? However, nothing can be further from the truth. What you should be aware of is a significant amount of the online information you encounter may not be as valid, honest, or even useful as you may think. Just imagine the kind of service you can get from a real estate agent with 20 years worth of experience. This agent will bring a complete negotiating system to the table to ensure you get the best deal.

2. All real estate agents are the same

Another common misconception for home buyers and sellers is to think that all real estate agents are the same. Most home buyers and sellers believe that any agent is qualified to represent their interests. Although this can be quite far from the truth. You must first find out if your chosen agent is a licensed “broker” or “agent”. The buying and selling of a property needs an experienced and hard working agent who will get the transactions done with 100% excellence. Buying or selling a home may be the greatest financial decision in your life. When it comes to choosing real estate agents, choose the most qualified and experienced. You may end up saving a few thousand dollars.

3. You need 20% down payment to buy a home

There are millions of young people struggling financially with huge student debts. Since the recession, it was quite hard for millennials to buy homes. According to studies, this was a result of strict financing and the need for down payments. However, things have changed in recent times. First time home buyers are now often overwhelmed by the many financing options available. There are many financing loans and mortgages available as long as you have a verifiable source of income and a good credit. This means that there is no more need for the mythical 20% down payment.

4. Spring is the perfect time to sell your home

During the past decade, many home buyers came to the market to look for a home in spring just before the start of the school year. This made most home sellers believe that spring is the best time to sell homes. Presently however, not all home buyers are families with children attending school. Buyers can be millennials, single men and women, or couples who are not even focused on the school calendar. Regardless of the month, if your home is prepared properly, priced effectively, and marketed professionally, it will sell. No matter the season, if the home shows well, it will sell and thats the bottom line.

5. You do not need an open house to sell a home

With the many available online magazines and listings, many home sellers believe that they do not need open houses to sell their homes. Its certainly plausible to sell your home without an open house but there is really not sufficient evidence to support such a decision. If your home is priced correctly, presentable, and located in a high traffic area, you need an “Operation Open House”. You need to give home buyers the ability to imagine themselves living in your home. Holding an open house is a very great way to increase a homes market appeal.

Is It Possible To Buy A Home While Carrying A Student Loan?

college or university students studying outdoors s

First time home buyers face a great challenge breaking into the housing market. Rent keeps increasing and the availability of low-priced homes remains limited. Add several thousand dollars in student loan debt to the scarcity of low-value homes and budding buyers are likely to be convinced that they are not in a position to buy. Based on recent research, those who have completed a bachelor’s degree and intend to buy homes are modestly affected by their student loan repayment in their search. In this article, we take a look at tips from financial experts regarding how to acquire a mortgage while at the same time servicing a student loan.

What repayment strategy do you have to get rid of the student loan?

The strategy you choose to pay off your student loan plays a great role in determining whether you will be able to service the mortgage and the student loan concurrently. For instance, if you decide to use the snowball method to service your loan, you have the chance to take a forbearance period that allows you to take a break. Such a break may then be used to clear off other small loans aggressively. Once the forbearance period elapses you will have cleared the small debts you have allowing you to take on a mortgage and clear off your student loan with traction.

Another strategy of paying off your student loan would be to requester your loan administrator to give you a lower interest rate. A low-interest rate on your student loan means your monthly repayments will be reduced thus making it easier for you to take a low-interest mortgage.

What financial plan do you have to pay off the student loan?

For you to pay off your student loan fast, you should come up with a financial plan to help you cut down on expenses. By cutting down most of your expenses, you will be able to have more monthly savings thus enabling you to make bulk repayments that will help you clear the loan in a short time.

To have more money left to repay your loan at the end of the month you may decide to use public transport instead of a taxi, have a roommate whom you split house bills with, and avoiding meals out.

Work within your budget

If you are currently paying a student loan and intend to take up a mortgage, you should ensure that you work within your budget; ensure that the home you buy does not stretch your budget. Your financier will check into your financial reports to determine your debt-to-income ratio then advice you on the amount you can borrow for the mortgage.

When taking up a mortgage while servicing a student loan, you should ensure that you get very affordable repayments that allow you some breathing space on your budget to address other needs. To avoid being greatly impacted when you take up a mortgage while still servicing a student loan, you should ensure the home value is based on your income.

Should you pay your student loan before taking a mortgage?

You can pay your student loan and take up a mortgage at the same time. However, it is advisable to work aggressively towards paying your student loan when you are fresh from college. Instead of moving into high priced apartments and taking car loans, you should focus on paying the student loan fast before you have children and start having other family related bills that may interfere with your loan repayment.

Should your student loan prohibit you from buying a home?

Having a student loan should not prohibit you from buying a home. You can decide to save for a down payment on a house while repaying your student loan by saving less for retirement, automating your savings contributions, and reducing large expenses. Buying a home while servicing a student loan can be made easy through proper planning.

Tips for those who have substantial student loan debts

One of the most effective ways of getting rid of your student loan while building your wealth and savings should be to live below your means. If you decide to upgrade your lifestyle, there is a possibility of losing the flexibility of your budget.

You also need to have a positive attitude towards repaying your student loan; don’t give up. Come up with a monthly budget to help you allocate your resources so that you know what you are left with at the end of the month; this helps you know whether you can increase your repayments.

You should also set yourself a repayment deadline so you that you work towards clearing the loan before the deadline is reached.

Advice to those who want to buy homes but are limited by student loans

If you intend to buy a home but currently limited by your student loan debt, you should strive towards building a strong credit history through timely payments. As well as improving your debt-to-income ratio by paying down your credit cards as well as other consumer debts. Strive towards saving for a down payment and paying down your debts.

Your student loan should not hold you back from buying a home. However, you are advised only to follow the path you can comfortable take on. It is of essence that you balance your student loan with your other financial goals. Ensure the home you buy allows you room in your budget to work towards other financial goals.

Finally, buying a home while still paying a student loan all lies in your ability to balance. All you have to do is set your targets and figure out what matters most. You should decide on whether you can extend repaying your student loan for a few more months to save for a mortgage down payment or finish paying off the student loan then start saving for a down payment when there is no strain on your budget. If you have credit card debt that is still outstanding, it is best that you have it cleared before you start saving for the house down payment. Having a student loan should not be a barrier to you owning a home.

5 Things You Didn’t Know Your Insurance Covered

Insurance - letters on wooden desk with laptop computer and a notebook. 3d render illustration. ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Having home and automobile insurance is essentially inevitable parts of life for most people. When it comes to your home, you want the best coverage for possible incidents such as fires and roof damage. With auto insurance covers accidents and possible weather damage or stolen vehicles. While these are usually covered by a good comprehensive policy, there are other things included in most policies that you may not be aware of.

When you sat down with your agent to go over the different scenarios covered in the policies available to you, it’s likely he or she mentioned the major incidents that would be covered. Auto accident liability, uninsured driver, being the victim of a hit-and-run, etc. Home insurance typically includes structural damage from external forces, be they manmade or otherwise, and damage or loss of personal possessions, amongst others. It’s very likely that they didn’t mention the more obscure events that your insurance policies may very well cover.

Outlined below are some of the “unusual” occurrences that your insurance policies could very well cover. While some of them may be unlikely it certainly doesn’t hurt to know you’re covered.

Planes and automobiles

It’s not particularly likely that a plane will make a fiery landing on your roof, but should that happen, you will probably be covered. Seriously. What about blimps, helicopters or space shuttles? Do these also qualify? In most cases, fire, plane or other unforeseen disaster, you are likely covered for housing (aka hotels) and food costs while you’re searching for a new abode.


Would you have guessed that many insurance policies cover home damage in the event of a meteor strike? As long as the meteor that could, in theory hit your home isn’t a mile wide, you’re in luck! Most policies will cover up to the max limit of your dwelling coverage, which is usually calculated at the amount required to rebuild your house from the ground up. Again, as an added bonus (would there really be any bonus if a meteor hit your house?!?), if your home was rendered uninhabitable by the a giant space rock plunging through the center of your house, you could be covered for living expenses such as lodging and restaurant bills.

Explosions and riots

If you’re dwelling in a slightly, shall we say, volatile neighborhood, your home may be protected against the damage the riots breaking out can incur. You never know – bricks through the windows, a bulldozer in your front yard… it could happen. On the other hand, if your house is lay to waste during war, this falls into that stinking grey abyss insurance likes to straddle. Your bombed-out house wouldn’t be covered and you’d be responsible for picking up the pieces and rebuilding your life on your own. Explosions most likely fall under this grey area, as well.

Flooding and earthquakes

This is one that baffles more many home owners. Homeowners are reminded time and again that they need a separate rider on their home insurance for floods and earthquakes. So how does it make sense that this can often be found in standard auto insurance policies?

Depending on whether or not your auto policy includes comprehensive insurance coverage, you could be completely covered if a flood washes your car away, or fills the engine block with corrosive water. Oddly, every state in the U.S., excluding New Hampshire, requires you carry liability insurance should you be the responsible party in an accident. Others require you additionally carry uninsured or underinsured driver coverage, lest someone hit YOU and not have adequate coverage for your property loss and personal injury.

On the other hand, comprehensive insurance coverage is not required by any state law, however, it may be a good idea to add it on for cases of fire, vandalism or theft, or colliding with an animal. This is also the case for flooding and earthquakes. If you live in an area given to floods and earthquakes, it might be worth considering comprehensive insurance should you find yourself in this position. Of course, as with most any insurance, a big, greedy hand, also known as the deductible, will reveal itself, expecting you to pay up before it will. Look carefully at the deductibles included in the insurance policies you’re considering.


Another interesting anomaly in the insurance game is that of missile coverage. Yes, you read that right. You WOULD be covered for missile strikes, as these technically fall under explosions. So, the curious aspect here is, if your car is hit by a missile, what makes the insurance carrier think this isn’t an act of war or terror? It’s not exactly like the neighbor’s kids are going to accidentally lose control of that SCUD and send it careening into your car. The only real possibility for a non-hostile missile hit would be if one fell from an overhead bomber on accident. Should you be the one in ten-trillion this happens to, you’re in luck! Again, just make sure your deductible for missile damage isn’t too high, or you’ll be paying for most of it yourself. It’s reassuring to know that they have you covered, isn’t it?

Increase Your Square Footage By Moving or Renovating

coastal living home in Florida with cracker style tin roof accent

If your house is getting too small for your family you have two choices you can make, you can add on to your existing home, or you can move into a bigger one. Both options have their benefits and their drawbacks. Read on to find out some of the things you should consider before making your decision.

Think About Your Needs

Consider why you feel your home is too small, and then decide what your specific needs are. If your current home could meet those needs with a more efficient layout, then a renovation might be the better choice for you. Think about bedrooms, bathrooms, the kitchen, and shared areas. If you can add space by developing the basement or attic, then you may be able to make it work. Renovating works best if you really love the location of your house and your yard. If you don’t really care for the location, then you might prefer to move.

Don’t forget that if you are renovating, you may be limited in regards to what you can actually improve upon. Zoning and building laws can prevent you from making certain additions, and can even restrict the type of renovations you do inside your home. Once you look into your municipality’s regulations, you may find that an addition isn’t even a possibility.

If you do decide to move to a new home, be sure to make a list of all the things you love about your current home first. You don’t want to move to a new home that has everything you didn’t like about your old one but none of the things that made you buy it in the first place.

Don’t Stress

Whether you decide to renovate or move, you’ll likely encounter stressful situations. However, being well prepared and organized can help you avoid any and all potential pitfalls of the choice you make. If you decide to move, you will need to sell your current house and purchase a new one at the same time. Don’t loose focus on selling your home because you’re devoting to much time to finding a new one. Make sure its staged appropriately and everything is well maintained so you can keep up its appeal to potential buyers. Don’t let the Challenge of finding a new home impact your ability to sell your current one.

Ensuring that your sale and closing dates are compatible is another difficulty you might encounter. If your home sells before your new home is available, you will have to find a short-term place to live, and you may need to put your things in storage. This is not an issue if you foresee it as a possibility, talk to your friends and family and find a well located storage area just incase. If you purchase a house before your old one sells, you may need to carry two mortgages at the same time. If this is part of your plan, be sure that your bank is willing to offer you bridge financing before your make any firm decisions. If you’d rather avoid this just be sure you’re on top of your scheduling and keep an open line of communication with all parties involved to avoid any confusion.

If you decide to renovate, you’re not off the hook for obstacles either. Although you won’t be shaking up with your relatives, living in a house while it’s being renovated means workers will need scheduled access to your home. You’ll most likely want to be present for a fair amount of the work as well to make sure it meets your expectations. On top of that, the work being done will often cause a lot of dust and dirt in your home. To minimize this possibly discuss some ideas of daily clean up with you contractor. Also remember that some days you may have to go without power or water if they need to shut down services to do work. Finally consider unexpected expenses and potential delays in time. Projects almost always run over budget and over the estimated time frame. The numbers your contractor gives you is just an estimate so plan accordingly.

Financially Speaking

If you decide to renovate, decide how you will fund the work before you sign any contract. Again, remember that any number your contractor gives you is really just an estimate – the job is almost guaranteed to cost more in the end. You may not be able to resist picking out expensive fixtures when the time comes, or you might encounter unexpected areas behind your walls that need repair. Make sure you can afford both the cost of the work and have a large contingency fund.

You will also want to consider the resale value of your newly renovated home. If you are hoping to recoup even some of the cost of your renovation, ensure that you are not over-improving your home when compared to the other homes in your neighborhood, or even on your street. If your house has significantly more bedrooms or square footage than the others around it, you still won’t be able to sell it for significantly more money than your neighbors’ homes. You have a lot of money invested in your home so if renovating it really wont add to its resale value enough to validate its resale consider the move.

If you decide to move, make sure that you can afford the type of new home that you want. Be sure that you have a realistic idea of what your current home will sell for. You will need to be pre-approved by your bank for a mortgage before you put an offer in on a new home. Also remember that the size of house you can afford will vary drastically depending on the location you choose.

Another expense to consider when moving is the closing costs. Commissions paid to real estate agents, transfer taxes, lawyer’s fees (uncommon but possible), and title insurance are some of the usual closing costs.

When looking to increase your living space, remember that both moving and renovating can be good options. While both can be stressful, knowing exactly what your requirements are, planning everything carefully and not trying to do more than you can handle, will make your upgrade go as smoothly as possible.