Our Real Estate Blog
Buying your first home is a big endeavor, both financially and personally. Homeownership means taking on new responsibilities and bills, but it also means true financial independence.
If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, you might be wondering what you should be doing now to put yourself in the best position when it comes time to buy a home. Well, you’re in luck. Today’s post is a simplified list of all of the things you can be doing today to start making your way toward your ultimate goal of homeownership.
1. Pay off small debts
The first thing you’ll want to do to start saving for a down payment is to make sure you’re not pouring money down the drain to credit card companies for interest rates. If you owe small amounts of money (or less than $1,000), now is the time to aggressively pay down those debts.
The goal here is to get your credit cards to a place where you pay off your balance in full each month, avoiding interest while still earning rewards and building credit.
2. Speaking of credit…
One of the most important aspects of buying a home is your credit score. Take the time to learn about the 5 main things that contribute to your credit score and then work on ways to improve your score in those areas.
3. Don’t open any new accounts if you can help it
Once you start getting closer to applying for a mortgage, you won’t want any new inquiries on your account that are temporarily lowering your score. If you need to open a new account to lift your score, then do so well in advance of applying for a mortgage.
4. Get serious about saving for a down payment
There are a few ways to proactively save for your down payment; none of them include setting money aside when you feel like it. Start by opening a dedicated account and direct-depositing a portion of your pay into that account each week.
If you have an emergency fund in place, you might be in a position to use a CD or certificate of deposit. These give the highest earnings from interest out of any form of savings. The catch? You can’t withdraw from the account until you reach your savings goal without a penalty. If you know you won’t need to dip into these funds before they’ve matured, a CD is an excellent way to save.
5. Find out how much house you can afford
Homes are expensive. but, if it’s your first home, you might need to borrow the maximum amount form the bank to find a house that you’ll love. To find out what is a reasonable amount to spend on a home, you’ll need to consider your monthly mortgage, bills, taxes, insurance, and any other expenses. Leave yourself room for savings, emergencies, and to live a little. You won’t be able to enjoy your home much if you have to spend your days struggling to afford it.
6. Career planning is vital
A good career is a balance between stability and upward mobility. Don’t be afraid to be on the lookout for new positions with higher pay and better opportunities, even if you’re happy with your current job.
If you’ve been in your position for a while, consider asking for a raise. Research salaries for other people in your position and go to your boss equipped with data to show that show you deserve a raise.
One of the final hurdles to buying a house is making sure your future home is structurally sound. To the untrained eye, the property you've made an offer on may appear to be "close enough to perfect."
However, your excitement over that gourmet kitchen, finished basement, and manicured lawn may be causing you to view your future home with rose-colored glasses!
Fortunately, you can (and should) hire an experienced, licensed professional to thoroughly inspect the property and point out flaws and potential problems that might need to be addressed by the seller -- either in the form of price concessions or repairs. If the seller is unwilling to be flexible in those areas, then you may have the option of withdrawing your offer. Hopefully, it won't come down to that -- especially if you love the house -- but that situation could arise and derail your plans for buying a particular property.
Many real estate purchases do involve a few bumps and detours along the way, but they frequently can be resolved by your real estate agent and/or attorney.
The starting point for identifying structural issues with a house is to have the property inspected by a reputable home inspector. Here are a few of the key areas they'll evaluate and include in their report:
- Foundation and basement: Cracks, leaks, and signs of instability can often be identified through a visual inspection of the underlying structure of a home. Some issues are relatively minor, while others can be quite costly.
- Roof and attic: Although most new roofs typically last for 20 to 30 years, time has a way of slipping by when you least expect it! Depending on weather conditions, climate, and falling tree branches, roofs of any age can be subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Since roofs play such a vital role in protecting your home and family from the many forces of nature, it's crucial that your roof be intact, in sound condition, and fully functional. An inspection of the home's attic and/or crawlspace will also reveal actual or potential problems with leaks, mold, roof damage, or infestations.
- HVAC, electrical, and plumbing: There are a lot of systems that provide homeowners with comfort, convenience, and the ability to meet day-to-day needs. Whether you're talking about major kitchen appliances, hot water heaters, or climate control systems, there are dozens of things an inspector needs to check and keep you apprised of.
- Exterior checkpoints: Property inspectors will also assess the condition of the outside of the house, as well as drainage efficiency and any visible structural damage or signs of deterioration.
When it comes to home inspections, your real estate agent can not only provide you with professional referrals, but they can also accompany you on the actual property inspection. That will help make sure important questions, issues, and recommendations don't slip through the cracks!
One of the many challenges of putting your home on the market is keeping it clean!
That task can be even more difficult if you have kids, pets, and a busy schedule. If everyone is always rushing off to their jobs, classes, lunch dates, meetings, practices, or appointments, it's hard to keep your home in a perpetual state of cleanliness and order.
Probably the first step to keeping your house ready for real estate showings is to remind your family to clean up after themselves. While this may require more than one reminder, any amount of cooperation will help keep messes to a minimum. Implementing some sort of reward system or even a competition among siblings, can go a long way toward maintaining a semblance of order in the house. Some parents even post a calendar of assigned chores to make sure everyone does their fair share.
Professional Help May Be Needed!
Getting your home ready for real estate showings can feel like a monumental task, especially if you have a large house and a messy family! The good news is that you can hire some outside help without depleting your kids' college funds! Many households already have a house cleaning person or service that comes in at least a couple times a month to keep things looking civilized. If your house is actively being shown to prospective buyers, however, you might want to consider having your housekeeper clean the house a little more frequently than usual. That way, you only have to do some minor tidying up when your real estate agent notifies you about a scheduled house showing in a few hours or tomorrow morning.
If any of your rooms are carpeted and the floors haven't been professionally steam-cleaned for as long as you can remember, it may be time to hire a carpet cleaning service. Carpeted floors have an unfortunate tendancy of locking in stains, allergens, and ground-in dirt for months, if not years! Although you can often improve the appearance of your carpets by cleaning them yourself, it often requires the services of a professional carpet cleaning service to really get those stubborn stains out. You can often get recommendations from neighbors, friends, relatives, or coworkers, and can look for online reviews of carpet cleaners on social media websites.
Once you've cleaned, dusted, and sanitized the inside of your house, there may be one more area to tackle before you're ready to have your house shown: its exterior! Your home's siding may be covered with filmy layers of dust, grime, splatters, and environmental pollutants -- a condition which thankfully can be reversed by using the services of a local power-washing company. While not all power-washing services are created equal, a reliable one can remove years of accumulated filmy deposits from pollen, birds, spider webs, acid rain, snow blower splatters, rust, smoky emissions from backyard barbeques, vehicle exhaust emissions, and other miscellaneous air pollution.
So even though the environment, your family, and the wear and tear of normal, everyday use will take its toll on the appearance of your home, there are many things you can do to reverse that process and restore many aspects of your home's original freshness, charm, and appeal!
5 Groveland Bridge Rd, Haverhill, MA 01830
Homeowners love the idea of creating a personal sanctuary in their outdoor living space, but many aren't quite sure of how to proceed when it comes to making the most of their yard and garden area. One of the most common issues faced by homeowners is that they don't really know how to use hardscaping elements to their best advantage. For instance, it's standard procedure to place a trellis against the side of the house and let a rambling rose clamber up and around it, and while this provides a classically charming cottage garden look, it's not the only way to use a trellis. Following are three suggestions designed to provide you with inspiration concerning how arbors and trellises can help transform your yard into the serene sweet spot of your dreams.
Create a Privacy Hedge With Trellises
One of the most primary elements of serenity is privacy. By putting in a row of trellises on the edge of your property, you can create a living hedge that does double duty by providing aesthetics as well as privacy. Climbing roses are a good option, but if you want year-round coverage, choose something like evergreen clematis. If you like the idea of mixing it up every year with different types of vining annuals, choose fast-growing options such as morning glory.
Define the Back of a Perennial Border With Trellises
Traditional perennial borders sometimes lack the necessary height for optimal balance, but you can fix that situation by installing one or two tall trellises at the back of the border and planting vining perennials. Classic choices include wisteria, clematis, vinca and, of course, old-fashioned rambling rose. Feel free to let your imagination be your guide when it comes to selecting vining plants. Blue potato vine, for instance, is a vigorous climber that's not often seen in modern home gardens but is one of the few vining plants that reliably produce true-blue flowers.
Create a Secret Glade With an Arbor for an Entrance
If you've got a small, treed area on your property, consider creating a private glade where you and yours relax in an environment filled with natural beauty. Create a small seating area using a weather-resistant teakwood bench, and plant plenty of flowering woodland vegetation such as primrose, sweet woodruff and trillium. Plant your choice of vibrant flowering vines near the arbor so they can ramble up and over it to create a lush bower leading to your private retreat.
Any one of the above approaches will bring an average yard from mundane to magical. With a little creativity, you can no doubt come up with more ideas for creating a serene ambiance using garden arbors and trellises.