5 Reasons Why A Condo Makes A Great First Home

Modern Stucco and Brick Condos Under Summer Sky


Renting may be a more popular choice for millennials who simply can’t afford to spring for a home, but with rental costs gradually increasing is it still the better choice than opting for homeownership?

Zillow research claims that rent has significantly grown at about two times the speed of wages. At the same time, home buying benefits like home values that retain their pre-recession prices and very low mortgage interest rates have been consistent in almost all areas.

Are you still doubting your financial capability to buy a house of your own? If you have a good credit and a modest entry-level income, then you might be able to afford a condo. Tools such as an affordability calculator can help you understand which condo price ranges are suited for you and your salary.

So, are you excited to commit to a new place you can call home? Here are 5 more reasons why investing in a condo is a great choice for your first home:

1. You Can Save Money

How much are you paying for rent now? In the current market, you are probably paying more for your rent than springing for a mortgage and homeowner association fees, combined! A condo might be more limited in terms of space when comparing to a single family house, but monthly fees and utility bills will be smaller as well. Less space means you can easily heat up or cool down your home whenever you need it.

A condo also provides the benefit of free recreational space and activities, some external repairs, and water might even be included in the HOA (homeowner association fees). This factor drives down the costs of upkeep and maintenance even lower (even when factoring in homeowner fees with mortgage) as compared to renting a house.

2. You Can Save Time

Living in a condo means that you can save time instead of doing outdoor and lawn chores such as trimming the hedges or mowing the grass. You won’t even need to start shoveling snow in order to get to work or the local mall! Homeowner association fees should cover all of that. Plus, dwelling in a community property saves you precious weekend time to do something you love instead of participating in a weekend maintenance project.

3. You Can Make New Friends

There’s no doubt that renting a house gives you quietness and privacy when you need it, but the more affordable ones are pretty far out on the suburbs. This makes it a bit more difficult to get out when you want to visit your favorite hangouts, or eat at your local dining restaurants. Living in a house, in a suburban neighborhood also limits your day-to-day encounters with neighbors and those in the immediate vicinity.

A condo located in a nearby university or an urban spot guarantees that your neighbors and fellow condo owners are young families, grad students and young professionals. The chances to meet new friends increase because there are common recreational spaces and areas to mingle in. Just take your dog out for a walk, or cycle around and you might just meet a new friend! If your condo management team is active, they would also probably get in the community spirit and host meet-and-greet events to get to know your condo neighbors better.

4. A Condo Is A Solid Investment

Opting for a condo is a great investment even when you plan to live in it temporarily. Before signing the agreement, check to see if the homeowner association would allow you to rent out your place. Not all HOAs allow this, and it helps to check every detail before you commit to putting money down. If they do, then great! After a few years or when you need more space to live in, you can put it up for renting and earn a little income along the way.

5. You Can Choose Where To Live

As mentioned earlier, living near the heart of a bustling urban city is more costly than selecting suburban houses farther out. You may not have much of a choice with a limited budget. You will have a broader scope of options with the same budget when looking for condos. That condo in college neighborhoods or downtown areas are still probably lower than a single-family home in the same location!

Home-Buying Fears and How to Face Them


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Buying a home can be a scary thing, this type of purchase involves a long term commitment from maintenance to financially. Home buyers often are wary that they will purchase the wrong house and be stuck with an investment not worth their money. However, of the issues most home buyers often face, there’s plenty that can be done to alleviate the all too common fears you might experience when purchasing your new home.

Structural Issues 

One common problem in real estate is a cracked foundation, leaky roof, or dry rot. With issues like these, a good inspector will be able to point all of this out for you and then you can assess the problem as necessary. An inspector is very useful in that he or she is hired to point out every issue to the buyer. So don’t let them slack and ask plenty of questions, its their job to answer them. When you do ask the inspector questions ask for an explanation on this type of issue and when the repair or replacement must be taken care of. Finally if and potentially when an issue arises you should go back to the seller and ask if they will credit you back to repair after the deal closes.

Your Deposit

Another fear buyers often have is the fact that the deposit may sometimes be locked in without the signatures of both parties. However, remember that it is nearly impossible for the deposit to be lost. If an inspection, loan contingencies or disclosure review is done, make sure you work closely with your agent to mark the timeframes. If the contingencies need to be removed be sure to finish establishing every thing at least a day in advance. If you find that you are in negotiations around the date, make sure to extend the contingency date so that you will stay under contract and the protection it affords.

Another thing you should do is find out how the selling agent intends to handle the offers received. Sometimes an agent will accept the first offer when it’s a good one and usually the seller will have a date to review any offers by a certain day. Whenever you are out of town or busy be sure to stay in contact with your agent so that you will not miss out on your dream home as it may disappear from the market while you are traveling or unable to correspond during work.

My Agent Doesn’t Have My Best Interests In Mind

Another concern some buyers have is that their agent does not consider their best interests in conducting business matters. This simply is not true, good agents are almost always on the prowl and keeping an eye on the market with your best interests in mind. If you have doubts and feel that you agent is not on the same page, simply change agents and go with the one you feel comfortable with. Both you and your agent should have a mutual commitment to one another and you should sit down before you start the process and speak with the agent you choose in the same way you would in a job interview.

We Wont Find The Right House In Time

Often buyers are concerned that they will not find the right house soon enough. However a purchase involving thousands and thousands of dollars should not be rushed. If you have some sort of time constraint make sure you have a backup plan. If a school application deadline or expiring lease is a factor, be sure that you have a Plan B if things do not go according to plan A. This will take the pressure off.

Purchasing a new home is not only expensive but also complicated. You never want to rush into making a decision, as a mistake can hurt you in the long rung, so be thorough. It’s safer to rent in the meantime or to use a temporary address while you try to find what in the long run, will be the best choice. Sacrifice the comfort in the short term to make sure you will be happy in the long term, you’ll be glad you did. Whenever you have a concern or fear about a home or the process and anyone involved in the purchase, don’t hesitate to speak up and go with your gut instinct. Avoid rushing and allow yourself to think things through.

Some Things To Consider

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Statistics have predicted a better performance this year in the housing sector than all the previous years. This includes a visibly strong 2014 that saw interest in condos and single family house outlets hit a sky high. With this increase in performance there are pros and cons that come along with it. So Let’s Talk about how some of these statistics will impact you.

It has been predicted that the mortgage rates will increase from about 4-6% by the year 2017.

It has also been noted that homes in the U.S are getting bigger. Houses in 2014 were 24% bigger than an average house in the 1990s, from the relatively low 2100 to 2400 square feet in 2014. This number is also expected to continue to slowly grow in various sections of the market.

As players in the real estate markets, buyer, seller or even an agent, there are some various factors you’ll needs to keep in mind while you consider tackling the market. In this article well review what is essential for each player.

As a Buyer your aim is always to fork out the best deal at affordable prices.

So how can we make sure you’re making sure that happens? Start by developing specifications before venturing into the market. The location, budget available, the type of home and any stipulations you need to be met. Do you need a live fence? What amount of space do you need?

The average size of a home has been increasing and conversely, the lots have started becoming smaller. This compromise between house space and lot size poses a big question to both the contractors and the buyers in equal measure.

With all needs put in place, the buyer should then contact the realtor or agent. Often, individuals decide to go alone and double up as their own agents and end up selecting house units they really did not have in mind. The agents experience in transacting property will help highlight important details that you might miss.

Another important thing to consider is what market you’re part of. In high energy producing states such as Texas and other metropolitan areas like Las Vegas. The demand for housing units is pushing the cost to nearly unmanageable levels. Avoid such areas they attract unnecessary fees.

The buyer should also have an eye for detail, especially for the little touches. Keep a shortlist of all the pros and cons of all units you see as a viable prospect. With the help of your agent you will surely nail the best deal on offer.

Informative Platforms

Remember, you can always take advantage of the data and information available to you for free. There are various web pages that rate neighborhoods and offer first hand reviews. Take advantage and have a rough idea before the actual inspection.

It’s approximated that it takes an aggregate of 5 months to construct a new home on the U.S. It’s a contrast that one month later, the unit will be occupied or bought already despite the small lots and high density of houses. The Realtor should aggregate the need to nail down a place to live and the value of having the right size of home.

When Are You Buying/Selling?

The season you’re selling/buying is very important as well. Spring will always be the busiest time for the real estate industry, typically a very good time to consider selling. However, depending on the agent representing the sellers interests, the Realtor will advise them appropriately. Spice up the mood of the houses with bright coloring to help them maximize the sales in the spring season. Also consider equipping the buyers with the pre-sale inspection scorecards to avoid inviting disappointments and instances of distrust. It will help explain why the prices have been adjusted accordingly.

The best times to buy would presumably be the same season since buyers and sellers go hand in hand right? While that may be true in most cases it never hurts to check possible listings in the fall and winter. There is always the possibility of landing a very good deal. Even if you find a good deal though always remember to talk with the sellers and make sure your buyer’s interests are well represented.


Today the world of real estate is dominated by new technology. There’s new ways to access information and ways to communicate with your agent. Make sure you’ve done your research no matter what part you play in the transaction. If your a buyer, seller, or even an agent knowing everything you need to know will help you get the best possible result.

4 Tips to Consider When Staging Your House For Fall Showings


Contemporary living room with a fireplace and stylish decor.

Staging a home for showings can be quite a taxing process but very rewarding if done right. It entails making several subtle changes and decorations that showcase your home’s best assets in a move aimed at impressing potential buyers. Having a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent to guide you through this process can help you sell your house quicker and at a relatively higher price.

The biggest buyers during Falls are the millennials who are known for their keenness to details. Empty nesters also comprise a fair share of buyers during this season as they seek to establish homes for themselves. As such, it is important to have in mind these demographics when establishing your ideal target for your home showings.

The following are some of the most vital tips to consider when staging your home for Fall showings.

  1. De-clutter your home

A jumbled environment is one of the most unpleasant scenes, which can serve as a key factor that easily puts off your potential buyer’s interest. This is because it distracts them from seeing your home’s best features while also giving the impression of a home with inadequate space.

For this reason, it is important to pack and tidy up the house early enough and before the showings begin. You should then store the packed possessions out of the buyer’s sight such as at your storage facility or in the garage. You can, however, allow your furniture to stay although it must be neutral and should not occupy excess space.

Tip: Pull the furniture away from the wall to make your room appear bigger and more appealing.

  1. Clean your house thoroughly

Cleaning your house well is another seemingly obvious yet valuable tip that significantly enhances the appeal of your home to potential buyers. Be keen to clean all areas including the not-so-accessible spaces such as under-sink cabinets, storage areas, and closets.

You can also hire someone else to do the cleaning for you since you’re likely to ignore critical areas and smells due to having become accustom to them over time. You may also want to clear your kitchen counters, leaving only a few items such as a scented candle or a bowl of fresh apples or pears.

Consider maintaining the outdoor areas as well by sweeping cobwebs, replacing burnt-out bulbs and power-wash sidings or decks where necessary. You can also use a new welcome mat or a simple fall wreath, inexpensive yet very effective additions to increase appeal.

  1. Depersonalize the house

Typically, potential buyers are looking for a conducive space they hope to call home soon. Which is why you should allow them to envision themselves living in the house. As such, remove all your family photographs and mementos that can easily prevent formation of this mindset. In a nutshell, you should put away everything that sends a strong message to the potential buyer regarding the existing home inhabitants and their influence on this space.

Consider hanging mirrors that add more light and life to the house in addition to making the room appear increasingly spacious. Besides, having a naturally illuminated house will go well with a majority of buyers. For this reason, ensure that the blinds and heavy curtains are opened to allow more light and fresh air enter the house. You can also use inexpensive sheers on your windows that easily light up the house from the interior. Be sure to set up a standby warm interior lighting system that will cover you during classic gloomy Fall days.

  1. Define your spaces

Ensure that each room in your house has a clearly defined purpose to allow potential buyers to envision their description of the ideal house formation and organization. This means that every room and space in the house has a definite purpose which helps the buyer visualize how to maximize the available space. As such, realign all the room arrangement that you might have altered over time to allow each area to regain its original purpose.

For example, a dining room that has since been converted into a catch-all station should now only serve the purpose of a dining room. Conversely, a deserted office space should be rearranged to portray the purpose of the area as it should be. This is especially important for millennials who will want to see a well-organized office space that helps them envision themselves telecommunicating.


Implementing all the tips outlined in this post will likely prove to be a little expensive and even inconveniencing in the short term. However, following them can be worth the cost since they’ll help you command higher home sale prices and enjoy less time on the market. Besides, having completed most of your packing and moving in preparation for staging your house helps you enjoy a smoother transition to your new home once the sale is completed.

Three Steps For Locating And Purchasing Your Perfect New Home


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Are you considering buying a new home? Maybe you’ve checked out a couple of houses or found a new home you’re already interested in. Don’t rush straight into buying a new home though, as there are a few crucial factors you need to take into consideration before you sign the dotted line and head to your closing.

Purchasing a home requires plenty of research – after all this will be where you live for a large part of your life. Before you dive into buying a new home you need to make sure you understand the process exactly. Here’s the three step process that every buyer should follow.

1. Locate and discover

The process of buying a house usually will occur organically and more often than not it will begin around a year or more prior to the actual purchase of the home. To start off you will view different home listings on the internet to see which types of homes are available in the different price ranges. Location is certainly something you need to take into consideration not only for the surrounding environment and scenery, but also for the value. For example you can buy a 4 bedroom house in one specific area for the same price as a 1 bedroom flat in another area. You should begin with searching for homes in some of your favorite neighborhoods. Look at the reports on home values and review the statistics. After doing this you should start to piece together a list of priorities to narrow down your search. The majority of buyers will identify a property in this stage which prompts them to quickly move onto the next stage in the process.

2. Do your homework

You need to do the math and all the homework before rushing into buying a new home. Most of us out there need a mortgage in order to buy a new home. It’s true that this process has become much easier than it was as we move away from the lending and financial crisis, however it is still challenging for those who aren’t prepared. You need to understand that there are some homes you can afford and some you can’t. Different types of loans are available to you and they can affect your home search so you should pull your credit report and make sure you know your financial situation. You can then get pre-approved.

The majority of buyers will need to save more cash, fix their credit score or allow money to season for a long time before buying. Therefore you should always use the next couple of months to address financial issues.

3. Have fun

You should at some point interact with a nearby real estate agent as having that expert on your side while searching for a new home can prove to be invaluable. Attend open houses and view as many houses as you possibly can. Make some appointments to see houses and before you make any offers you should understand the market completely. By looking at more homes you will get a good feel for the local market giving you more confidence when you see your dream home.

Don’t worry about missing a couple of deals, you’ll only stress yourself out and it’s not that big a deal. This is all part of the home buying process so you should expect to pass a few good offers. There are plenty homes out there to choose from so don’t feel pressured or rushed into buying a new home. Searching for a new house is almost like a job on the side and you should have some fun with it. Making the purchase should always be an exciting moment so make sure you buy a home you love the look of.

You should always keep in mind that buying a new home is a long term investment. It isn’t as simple as buying a new computer or phone. The process needs to be taken with caution as you don’t want buyer’s remorse to kick in. Remember that your new home is going to be a huge part of your life. It is where you will spend the majority of your life so you have to make sure you love the location and the home itself. Don’t jump out at the first offer you see and make sure you understand the real estate market in the area before making any offers.

Attracting Different Types of Real Estate Buyers

Happy couple getting keys to new house from real estate agent


For decades, the real estate market has been dictated by school calendars and the seasons. A Majority of buyers search most actively in the spring and early summer, the reason is so they can get a property and close before September, when the school year starts.

Subsequently, a majority of sellers postpone listing their properties in the winter and near the holidays. Instead they wait for the warm months of spring to flaunt their outdoor spaces and landscaping.

In the past, these cycles have worked flawlessly since most of the buyers were families. However, the vast majorities of buyers today are empty nesters or young millennials. These buyers do not necessarily rely on seasons and school schedules to purchase homes. This brand of buyers is not only active in the fall and winter months but also the holidays.

Despite conventional wisdom, fall is the best time to list your house. Characterized by much less competition compared to spring, you may even find that selling your house during this time is better financially. Below we will discuss how to attract the two kinds of home shoppers that are especially active during fall.

How to market to millennials

For this group of buyers, the market is on at all times. They are very active buyers, provided their tablets or Smartphones are within reach.

This brand of buyers is fully connected, attached, and will view listings to analyze information any time of the day. As a seller, it means that you have to keep your house in great condition and make it show-ready at all times.

You would be wrong to expect millennial buyers to wait for an open property. Most of these buyers prefer seeing homes that appeal to them on their own time. Make sure you are ready to accommodate this brand of buyers.

The moment you list the home, make sure you have great photos of it posted. These buyers are quite impatient and hate being notified of a good property only to find that there are no photos included.

Millennials tend to be very visual. This is why it is important to make sure you’re getting high quality photos to aid your listings effectiveness. You can do this by ensuring that you real estate agent contracts a professional photographer. Well-taken photos will attract buyers. Provide them with what they want.

Attracting empty nesters

This category of clients is more old-fashioned in comparison to millennials. In most cases, they are slower and also rather methodical. Do not rush them.

A Majority of these buyers will be looking to downsize from their current home size. This means that such buyers may want to dispose of homes they currently live in before they can buy a new one. Some even have to take a loan against their current homes to finance the purchase of a new home. The fact that they have to juggle finances may make them come to the negotiation table full of stress. They need time to internalize decisions.

These buyers could be less responsive compared to other category of clients. They may not be prompt in communicating via text messages or even check their e-mails during non business hours. Be sure you have a means of communicating with them that accommodates what their typically used to.  They will only e driven off if you make them feel under the gun or rushed.

Remember that a buyer with 50 or 60 years of life experience will approach the negotiating table more informed. They have been through many financial and housing crises, which is why they may show a lot of caution as they approach their retirement.

A good salesperson will strive to understand their buyers first before selling to them. This is also true when it comes to real estate. As a seller, it is important that you be ready to encounter a buyer who could differ from you substantially. Prepare in advance and make sure that you give them the specific aspects that they are looking for. Whether it is the empty nester or the millennial buyer, always know how to best approach them. Once you manage to bring a potential buyer on board, take your time to learn everything regarding who they are and find an efficient way of working with them. Buyers are different and what works for one buyer may not necessarily work for another.

Will My Home Purchase be Delayed with the New Mortgage Disclosure Laws?


Luxury house with beautiful landscaping on a sunny day. Home exterior.

Starting October 3rd, home buyers who wish to apply for a mortgage will receive a new rate and fee quote forms from their respective lenders. Lenders are required to deliver it to buyers twice, which are bound to be implemented at the beginning and the end of the loan process.
This part of the federal mandate goes by the name TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures or TRID. As these changes to the home-buying process are set to take effect next month, it puts those in the mortgage industry wary of its inefficiency and those in search for their dream home slowed down in the buying stage.

However, these rules are actually set in place to make it easier for buyers to understand the entire process, while safeguarding them from surprises brought about by unexpected costs. It also aids in giving financial security to the economy and a smooth-running profession for agents, lenders and title professionals alike.

This extra time indeed defines the thin line between a seller accepting or rejecting an offer, hence it is essential to know ways on how to optimize your timing to be able to write offers that have an edge in closing faster than competing buyers.

Timing Rules for the Loan Estimate Disclosure

The initial disclosure is the Loan Estimate document, showing the rate quote, line-item fees, the term of the loan and cash required to close.

Before the lender can collect fees for the next critical steps of the home loan process such as ordering an appraisal, your intent to proceed based on the loan estimate must be obtained.

The Loan Estimate is given three days upon applying for a mortgage, either through mail or electronic delivery as governed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB, which is the federal agency who enforces the TRID rules.

For instance, if you applied with a lender that utilizes mail delivery on late Wednesday, your Loan Estimate and intent-to-proceed disclosures are typically mailed out on Thursday and you most likely getting it on Saturday. They are prohibited from collecting fees and ordering your appraisal until the time they receive your consent. This day would already be Monday, which would count six days further into the process.

On the other hand, given a similar scenario of applying late on a Wednesday, a lender who utilizes electronic delivery could deliver your Loan Estimate and intent-to-proceed disclosures online on that evening. With your consent immediately on hand, collecting fees and ordering the appraisal is done right on the same evening, or on the very first day of the home loan process.

Timing Rules for the Closing Disclosure

The second document is the Closing Disclosure, which appears almost exactly the same as the initial Loan Estimate disclosure. This renders familiarity and allows buyers to easily review closing terms while comparing to the original quotes. Further clarity is also provided for in aspects of closing costs by outlining which line items are shouldered by the buyer, seller, or those paid by third parties.

This document is to be presented at least 3 days prior to signing documents at closing, following the new CFPB disclosure rules where Sundays and holidays are not included in the three-day waiting period. Also, day one pertains to the day after you receive the Closing Disclosure.

For instance, a lender sent it to you on a Wednesday, the three-day waiting period would basically be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Your loan will be funded and your home purchase closed on Monday, six days from the point you received the closing disclosure.

Fastest Timing for the New Disclosure Processes

Prior to October 3, 2015, funding can be performed the same day you get your final disclosures. Based on this timing, real estate agents are accustomed to writing purchase contracts accordingly.

Beginning October 3, 2015, agent and lender will closely coordinate when writing purchase contracts to ensure the new TRID timelines are followed through and write the contract in the soonest possible time.

The fastest timeline for post-application:

For a detailed loan estimate form mailed by a lender after application, the new TRID rules add six days from the beginning of the home loan process to getting an appraisal order.

For a detailed loan estimate form sent electronically by a lender, application to appraisal order is completed in a single day.

The fastest for pre-closing:

All closure disclosure documents sent by lenders must comply with the three-day waiting period once the Closing Disclosure is ready, where funding itself and closing can take more than 3 days as shown in the previous example.

The key to a smooth mortgage process with the shortest timings is by directly asking your lender about their streamlined process for CFPB’s new TRID rules. It is best to have them clarify their ideal closing timelines with your real estate agent before ultimately writing any offer.

Life After Retirement Require’s The Right House



When you are about 40 or 50 years old, you may still feel as if it is too early to worry about life after retirement. If you are buying a home right now however, and you’re planning to settle down there. You should keep in mind that, the home you select now plays a big role in impacting your options for the future. Below are some considerations that you should make before you buy your next home, especially if you are planning on living there for the rest of your life.

Can you walk along the neighborhood?

In your later years its important to consider living somewhere that’s centrally located. A place where you can walk or utilize public transit will make your life drastically easier.

The neighborhood should be walkable, well lit, well maintained and therefore safe for pedestrians. The neighborhood should also have some nearby restaurants, grocery stores and retail stores. It would also be ideal if it wasn’t far from your doctor & a pharmacy.

Are there local social opportunities?

Life after retirement can be fun if you live in a strong community that has many activities to be done and at the same time has many people to meet. A place that has enjoyable activities and can give you a chance to meet new people (especially if there is a nearby community center) is ideal. Note that, if there is a nearby community center, there may be some fun activities, volunteer opportunities and even some interesting classes that you can enjoy. Places of worship, libraries, parks and even museums should also be nearby. These areas are going to be very important later in life and they should be accessible to you at any time.

Is it the right size?

When moving to a home that you are going to retire in, you should consider downsizing. It is true that big house looks beautiful with its green lawn but you should ask yourself the question. How am I going to maintain it?” A bigger house requires more effort to maintain and if you’re not able to take care of it yourself, will you have the ability to hire a home maintenance company? The wisest thing to do is to move to a smaller house with less space that you can easily manage yourself.


Accessibility is very important because it makes it easy to live in both now and when you are retiring. The home should have;

· Wide walkways

· Single storey layout that has no entry stairs

· It should not have random steps

· There should be enough lighting

· The storage space should be easy to reach

· The counters should neither be too high nor too low

· There should be a walking shower with a seat

· The floor space should be big enough for easy movement

If you are having some accessibility challenges right now, it will only worsen as you age and therefore you should consider renovating it. Alternatively, you can move to a house that will make your movement much easier.

Can you modify it for aging in place?

Looking for the perfect house is not an easy thing and sometimes, you may find one that you love but its accessibility design is not good enough. If that is so, you should consider renovating it and doing so can make it ideal for aging. Some of the things that you can do include;

· Installing more lighting both indoors & outdoors to improve visibility

· Choosing chairs and sofas that have sturdy armrests & back support

· Installing handrails in the bathroom(i.e. to the bathtub & toilet) for extra support

· Adding non slip surfaces in the shower & bathtub to prevent falls

· Adding handrails to the indoor & outdoor stairs to help you maintain your balance

· Replacing doorknobs that are round with lever handles that can easily be opened

· Choosing countertops & tables that have rounded edges

Keep your plan in mind

By choosing a home that will support you as you get older you will make your life much easier. This is because, this house is not only going to be comfortable now, but in the future as well.

Therefore, when you hunt for a house, always keep your aging in mind and you will definitely find a house that you can live in for many years to come.

What to consider when buying a home – 5 things you should know as a buyer

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If you are a like a majority of the US population, when it comes to buying a home, you are likely going to rely on financing and working with a mortgage lender. Many people tend to feel overwhelmed at the process of choosing a lender, interest rates, and the process of buying a home in general. With the right agent by your side, and with the right information in hand, you shouldn’t be worried about the process. Consider these five factors when purchasing, to ensure you find the lowest rates, and the right lender for your mortgage needs.

1. How much does it cost? –
Understanding the true cost of home ownership is the initial phase of purchasing a home. Your ownership costs consist of 4 major categories which are: the principal, interest rates, taxes, and insurance. Your mortgage payment is made up of the principal and interest rates; interest will pay borrower fees while the principal amount pays down the overall balance due on the home. Amortization calculators come in handy when calculating ownership costs.

Property taxes are valued at 1.2% annually,, of the home’s total value. If you have a mortgage, homeowner’s insurance is typically required as well. Prices range from about $700 up to $1200 depending on the home’s value, and level of coverage you choose. For planned unit developments (PUD) or condos, there might be PITI insurance requirements as well. Homeowner association dues cover upkeep and maintenance, and general building or development amenities. Costs range from $100 to $1000 (if you are in a PUD, arrange for your own future maintenance costs).

2. Know your history –
Credit history plays a major role when lenders are determining interest rates. Lenders want individuals who have a strong credit history, pay bills on time, and have a high score; so, do your own research and know your score before applying. If you have a strong credit history this is great; otherwise, consider applying for a few lines of credit. Also note this will drop the score a few points, but after a few months of consistent, on time payments, it will go right back up. By law, you can get a free credit report. Do so, review it, and find ways to increase your score. From there, you can decide when the time is right to apply for a mortgage.

3. What’s your budget & personal timeline? –
You already know your monthly income, expenses, and general costs of purchases you make. So, you can somewhat budget for the amount you can set aside for a mortgage payment each month off of these figures. But, to choose the right loan, you should consider how long you plan on living in the home you wish to buy. With a 30 year, fixed mortgage loan,, you don’t expect your income to grow, or circumstances to change much; if this is the case, you can plan accordingly for the long run.

FHA, Fannie Mae, and VA loans are great for individuals who don’t have 20% to put down on a home; with these options, as little as 3% will allow you to buy a home. In addition to this, you still have monthly mortgage and PITI rates to calculate. An online mortgage calculator can help you get an idea of what your monthly costs of ownership will be.

4. Getting advanced approval –
Being pre-approved is something which will almost certainly guarantee you approval from a lender. If you do all the research and aren’t pre-approve before applying, it may result in disappointment if you end up being denied by a lender. Most lenders will require you to show that you are pre-approved before they even consider lending you money for a home; since it is a competitive market, a pre-approval letter may be required prior to obtaining financing.

5. What you need –
Not all lenders have the same requirements in place. So, before applying, make sure you know what a particular lender’s requirements for approval are. Full name and address, the number of children and dependents, your social security number, income, bank statements, divorce records, and several other documents may be required by a particular lender.

When applying , lenders will give you a checklist of all documents required; make sure you follow it and provide all records to ensure approval, and to ensure no delays in the process. If a lender only asks for a couple pay stubs, don’t send more or less (this can result in denial or may slow down the entire process). Only provide information requested of you, and make sure all documents are accurate and up to date.

You know what you need, and how the application process works. Now, do a bit more research on the process of home ownership, and be prepared for the application process when applying for your home purchase mortgage.

Do You Require An Umbrella Policy?

New York City Manhattan woman with fall umbrella walking happy i

It all comes down to you and your assets when deciding whether or not you need an umbrella insurance policy. Homeowners insurance and auto insurance are two types of insurance almost everybody needs in the modern world we live in today. However an umbrella policy is something that you decide on. Nobody will try to force you into buying an umbrella policy so here is some good advice on how to decide whether or not you should purchase an umbrella policy.

What exactly is an umbrella policy?

An umbrella policy is specifically designed to provide the buyer with some extra liability coverage. This goes way beyond the coverage limits set on any existing auto, rent or home policies. Basically and umbrella policy is put in place to protect your assets from any major claims or lawsuits resulting from an incident on your property or an accident you cause in which someone is injured. Assets protected include any investments, your retirement fund, future earnings, your savings and of course your home. An umbrella insurance policy will also protect you in any slander or libel lawsuits.

How does the umbrella insurance policy actually work?

The umbrella policy will be triggered after the liability of an existing insurance policy has finally been exhausted. In other words, if there is somebody injured on your property and they require some extreme medical attention which exceeds the maximum limit set on your homeowners policy, the umbrella policy will take care of everything. This is because it will cover the rest of the expenses required after you exceed the limits of your original homeowners policy. Due to the fact that umbrella policies are only actually exercised after the liability limits of an existing policy has been exceeded, the majority of carriers have some requirements which need to be achieved before you become eligible to buy the coverage.

For example the large majority of providers will require that you carry around $300,000 in liability on your original homeowners insurance policy along with $250,000 of liability on your auto insurance policy. If you meet these requirements then you will be eligible for the extra $2 million in umbrella coverage.

You should expect the cost of umbrella coverage to be around $150 – $300 per year for your umbrella coverage of $1 million. Umbrella coverage is typically sold in $1 million increments and usually the maximum coverage is $5 million. Your second $1 million will cost an extra $75 every year and it is an additional $50 each year for every $1 million you purchase after that.

Who is best suited for investing in umbrella insurance?

It is a good idea for any homeowner who has a retirement fund to invest in an umbrella policy. However most people should also seriously consider it. It is crucial to bear in mind that you probably have a lot more to lose than you may initially assume. You have to take into account your savings, your home, any future earnings and investments are at a huge risk if you are sued for a lot of money. Many small business owners purchase an umbrella policy and it has proven to be a very wise decision. If you have a swimming pool or trampoline then you should take out an umbrella policy as injuries can easily be caused with them. If you are someone who likes to blog a lot and post on social media then you should consider the policy as you could be sued for slander or libel when talking about controversial topics.

At the end of the day if you take part in any activities or own any possessions which increase your liability risks then it is a very smart decision to purchase an umbrella insurance policy to stay protected in the future. If you cause an accident due to drink driving for example, your auto insurance liability would exceed the limits and you would need to cover the rest of any medical expenses by yourself. Any injuries or deaths caused in your home would also leave you emptying your savings accounts and retirement funds in order to cover funeral costs and medical treatment.

If you want to protect your assets then it is highly recommended that you invest in an umbrella policy to ensure your own protection. When you put everything in to perspective, the cost of an umbrella policy is incredibly cheap compared to the cost of a tragedy.