First-time homebuyers are a declining group. Historically, 40% of homebuyers have been first-time buyers, but that percentage continues to shrink, even as millennials continue to show more interest in becoming buyers (eventually). If you’re already a homeowner, your wheels might be spinning right about now — if people aren’t buying starter homes, then the rental market has to be booming, right? It is in many areas, particularly where unemployment is low, the population is high, and homes are not overpriced. But before you start searching for a home for sale in Austin, TX to rent, you should think about the responsibility that comes with being a landlord — and learning by trial and error is not the best way to go about gathering intel (or a steady income).
You hear it a lot – there are best and worst times to make any sort of purchase. Whether it’s a television, a car, or a home, statistics are available that may influence your decision on when would be the best time to make a purchase.
Numerical data isn’t the only thing you should be taking into consideration, though. Each season has something different to offer in terms of making the home buying process easier or more challenging. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying during the summer or winter.
What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Summer
Did you know there are more homes on the market during summer? According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory in the U.S. is actually 15% greater in the warmer months than in the colder months.
If you have a lot of items on your home wish list, you might be better off searching during summer as you’ll have more homes from which to choose. The only disadvantage (depending on the climate where you live) is that summer results in more competition, as a greater amount of people are likely to visit open houses in nicer weather.
It probably goes without saying, but moving during summer is a bit more pleasant than moving during winter. For many, sweating beats freezing while trying to pack and unpack a moving truck. You can always cool yourself down, but it’s usually harder to warm up. It also tends to be safer if you reside in or are moving to an area that gets snow or ice.
If you have school-aged children, moving during their summer vacation offers more flexibility than trying to move during the winter holidays or spring break.
Lastly, one nice thing about summer is the lack of snow. That can be a huge obstacle when trying to look at the exterior of a home. You might miss the fact that a few shingles (or the entire roof) need to be replaced when there’s a pile of snow on top of it. The same goes for cracks in the driveway, and curb appeal in general.
What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Winter
There’s less competition in the winter as most people are busy with the holidays, their new year’s resolutions, or getting back into the swing of things at work. At this time of the year, buying a home isn’t typically at the forefront of most people’s minds.
What does that mean for you? No bidding wars, and more room to negotiate if a seller is feeling a bit desperate.
They might be if the reason why they’re moving is a pressing one. Combined with having to work around their real estate agent’s holiday schedule, having less showings, and subsequently, less interested buyers, sellers might be willing to give you a better deal or include more bonuses in the offer.
Again, depending on where you live, the weather during winter can be brutal. You’ll be able to easily identify drafts from windows in a house, and you’ll notice how effective the heating system is.
While snow can work against you, it can also work for you as you’ll be able to see how well the roof and driveway handle several inches of accumulation. Are there noticeable dips in the driveway? Have ice puddles formed on the property? These fairly major repairs can give you an advantage during negotiations.
Considerations for Both Seasons
There are a few factors to be concerned with during both seasons – namely, your real estate agent’s availability, and your neighbors.
Obviously, real estate agents may take time off during the holidays in the winter, but if they have children, they may also be likely to take off during the summer as well. Before you work with an agent, ask them about their availability over the next few months. You want to ensure that their planned absence won’t negatively affect your intentions to buy.
On the other hand, an agent looking to work through the winter holidays may be more motivated to help you, given the number of prospective buyers is lower.
Additionally, when you buy a new home, you’ll want to be surrounded by good neighbors, right? Summertime is great for seeing which neighbors excel at lawn maintenance and which ones let their grass grow for weeks on end. If you’re someone that cares a lot about a home’s upkeep, this might concern you.
At the same time, you’ll be able to see if neighbors work together to get rid of snow during the winter, or if houses on the block are nicely (or obnoxiously) lit up with holiday decorations.
Which Season is Better for Buying a Home?
As you may conclude, there’s no right or wrong answer. There are benefits and impediments to searching for a home in any season. You shouldn’t let weather or the trending numerical data hold you back. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll know it.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter
So you want to pare down your belongings. But how much, exactly, do you get rid of? And how can you prevent stuff from simply piling up all over again? Part of the solution to a lasting clutter-free existence may lie in numbers. As in, the number of pairs of shoes, towels, place settings and so on that you decide to keep in the house. By deciding how many items in each category of stuff you really need, those numbers become a sort of fail-safe, preventing your home from free-falling into its formerly cluttered state. Check out these ideas on how to get started, then share your own numbers in the Comments.
The “sometimes” dilemma: What to do if you use something but only occasionally? Fancy china and highly specialized cookware come immediately to mind. If you really do love to have these things when the occasion calls for it, and you have storage space for them, by all means keep them. Just be intentional about what and how much you are keeping, and know why. Try to avoid keeping large sets of anything purely out of guilt — if you’ve inherited something you don’t want, see if someone else in the family wants it, sell it or donate it to charity.
How much to keep? Set a space limit. One way to keep rarely used items in check is to limit the amount of storage space you afford them. Instead of allowing your entertaining arsenal to multiply indefinitely over time, taking over not only cupboards but basement shelves and the attic too, decide on one space to store these items in and stick with it. For instance, keep all china in one nice china hutch — if you acquire more down the road, give away or sell something to free up space.
The Rule of Three: One in the wash, one in the cupboard, one in use. You may have heard this one before, but it bears repeating because it really works. It can be difficult to come up with what seems to be a rather arbitrary number of items to keep, but sticking with one for the shelf, one to use and one to wash keeps things simple. I follow this rule for sheets (per bed) and towels (per person).
What about guests? Unless you are running a boarding house, two sets of sheets for each guest bed and two sets of towels per guest are plenty.
The seasonal exception: Even minimalists may want to keep extra stuff on hand to rotate in depending on the season — and that’s whether or not there are chilly winters.
It can be a nice change of pace to bring out thicker blankets in warmer hues for the winter and light, airy linens in summer. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should double the number of sets you have, if some sets work well year-round. For instance, you could decide to keep one set of sateen sheets for year-round use, two sets of flannels for winter and two cool, crisp sets for summer.
Special case: Clothes. Clothes and shoes may be the most personal (and difficult) category of stuff to put limits on. That said, even those with intense attachments to their wardrobes can find it worthwhile to do a proper inventory.
After figuring out that you actually have 100 pairs of shoes or 20 nearly identical black tops, you may decide to bring that number down … or you may not, but at least you will be informed.
Special case: Kids’ stuff. When a child’s room is overflowing with stuff, it’s hard to focus on any one thing, and pretty soon all of those lovingly chosen toys become just part of the mess. Setting space constraints is a smart way to handle this situation. Dedicate certain shelves, plus perhaps a toy closet (for toys not currently being used in the rotation) for your child’s belongings, and keep it at that. When a bin or shelf begins to overflow, or you notice that stuff is piling up on the floor (because it has nowhere else to go), take that as a cue to give something away.
The everyday stuff: Count it out. Do you know how many basic plates, bowls, cups and wineglasses you own? If you’re not sure, go count them — you may be surprised at just how many pieces of “everyday” tableware you have. Of course it’s nice to have enough of everything that the whole household can eat a meal or two and not worry about getting everything washed and dried, and you’ll want extras on hand for bigger casual dinners with family and friends if you host that sort of thing, but you won’t likely need more than that.
Not everyone wants to stick with one set of white dishes (although for simplicity’s sake, that’s surely an easy way to go). But you can still set a limit at a certain number of sets. If you go over your number, it’s time to start culling.
Special case: Tupperware. What is it about plastic containers that makes them seem to multiply when you’re not looking (but hardly ever with a matching lid)? Start by removing any lids that don’t have mates, then count what you have left. Most of us probably have too many food storage containers — really, how many leftovers are you likely to wrap up at any given time? Three? Four?
Special case: Your passions. Book lovers, athletes, outdoorsy types, musicians, crafters … you know who you are. And more important, you know how easy it is to collect more and more stuff to support your passion.
Being aware of exactly what you already own is a good first step toward reining in your collections — perhaps your yarn stash is in such disarray, you end up buying yarn you already have.
But it’s also a good idea to start paying attention to what you actually use. If you treasure your books, notice which ones you actually pick up from time to time — I realized a while ago that I rarely pick up novels after I’ve read them, so I decided to let go of most books in that category.
Just because you have the room to store it doesn’t mean you should. Extra space is deceptive. If you are blessed with large closets and ample storage space, you may be thinking you’re off the hook — but the truth is, everyone can benefit from paring down a little. Having fewer belongings means less time spent cleaning, moving and mending them; less time looking for things; and generally less to worry about. And if you ever need to downsize in the future, the process will be far less gut wrenching if you have already chosen to live with less stuff.
Set your own rules. The point of this ideabook is to help you gain awareness of what kind of and how much stuff you need, so you can tailor your stuff to fit your life. And no one else can really do that for you. It may take a while to figure out exactly the right amount of stuff for you, but once you do, it’s bound to make your life a little easier.
Tell us: What are your numbers? How many sets of sheets, dishes or pairs of shoes are enough for you?
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog
Condo and townhouses are often lumped together, but have some significant differences. Agent Jessica Riffle Edwards explains the differences between the two.
I’ll admit it, I’ve owned a condo for the last three and a half years and just found out what the difference was between a townhouse and a condo. While you would think that they’re pretty much the same thing, there are some key differences that might be critical to you depending on your situation and appetite for being responsible for home repair.
Here’s star listing agent Jessica Riffle Edwards explaining what the differences are between the two.
Selling an inherited house can be draining. Coldwell Banker gives 4 tips on how to successfully prepare, organize and sell your inherited house.
One difficult topic real estate agents routinely have to discuss is about selling an inherited home from a parent when they pass away. It is a situation that is an overwhelming experience, one filled with emotions and many questions. While talking about it is difficult, it is smart to be prepared. This includes having conversations as a family to determine who will be included in the will to inherit the home, where the deed to the home is kept and where other paperwork is located.
After the estate has been settled and the home received as an inheritance, deciding to sell, rent or keep the home is the first step which will help determine what to do next. For those who decide to sell the home, it is a good idea to work with a team of professionals including a lawyer and a real estate agents who can offer advice and guidance throughout the process.
Although each situation is unique, the professionals at Coldwell Banker have provided the following four tips to help prepare to sell an inherited home:
Assemble a strong team of professionals. Working with a real estate agent, lawyer and potentially a tax specialist can help make the process of selling an inherited property go more smoothly. A team of professionals can give the guidance necessary to prepare the home for sale and get all of the affairs in order. A real estate agent can offer crucial, local market information that is especially helpful if the heir does not live nearby. Lawyers and tax specialists can help put all of the processes in order to ensure that selling the home is as easy on you and your family as possible.
Do a home walk through and get organized. Going from room to room and looking at everything from the condition of the floors to how fresh the paint looks can help determine what may need to be done to the home to help it sell more quickly. If the inherited property is older, a home inspection is important before making any decisions as there may be certain systems that need renovations. Equally important is to gather all of the necessary paperwork such as the deed to the home as well as researching whether there are any mortgages on the inherited property that need to be paid. Even if the original mortgage was paid off, a reverse mortgage may have been negotiated to help cover expenses. Also looking into local property taxes and when they were last paid is important.
Have the home appraised and price it correctly. Property received as an inheritance is not considered to be income by the beneficiary. The adjusted basis of a home is its fair market value at the time it was inherited, so it is important to get an accurate appraisal of the home. A real estate agent can also provide counsel on an appropriate listing price to match market value. Out-of-town beneficiaries can also find it difficult to select competent appraisers, inspectors and other professionals to assist in the home selling process, all of which a real estate agent can assist with.
Consider staging or other cosmetic improvements. Although not necessary in all markets or price ranges, home staging can be the difference in getting a home sold in a price-competitive market. An inherited property may not be furnished in the style of other local homes on the market selling at a similar price. A real estate agent can help determine whether or not home staging is a good fit for a specific situation. They may also suggest making home design improvements such as repainting rooms and/or landscaping the yard or other parts of the property. Make sure the lawn and landscaping look good and that the exterior of the house is in good condition. Low curb appeal can keep potential buyers from researching a home they may otherwise love. Perhaps most importantly, having an experienced real estate agent to answer questions quickly and accurately frees up time to devote to other activities and events.
Find more information on selling your home on the Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog
Thanks to Amazon, “Alexa” has become a household name. Now, Coldwell Banker is turning up the volume with a Skill for agents and brokers to get real estate news on-the-fly. We’re calling it Coldwell Banker Gen Blue News. Want to learn more? Let us break it down for you.
What’s a Skill? An Amazon Alexa Skill is an app for the voice-controlled Amazon Echo speakers.
How does it work? Once you enable the skill, just prompt Alexa with, “Alexa, open Gen Blue News.” In less than 90 seconds, Gen Blue News delivers best practices, industry insights and quick challenges to help you grow your business.
Why develop the Skill? Coldwell Banker surveyed its brokers and agents and found that 79 percent of respondents would be interested in a smart home speaker, like an Amazon Echo or Dot, that was equipped with real estate news and industry insights. Your wish is our command!
What can I expect from the Gen Blue News Skill? Episodes will feature quick tips and useful info to stay ahead in the market, challenges to act on immediately to drive business and agent success stories that offer an important dose of inspiration.
Who can I expect to hear from in the Gen Blue News Skill? You’ll hear the voices of brand leadership, industry insiders and the brokers and agents who make up the Coldwell Banker network. The first episode of the Skill features Brad Inman, founder and owner of Inman News, the leading source for real estate industry news. This episode is all about how agents can suit up for change with the innovative technology available in the real estate business.
How can I try this out for myself? You can search for the Coldwell Banker Gen Blue News Skill in the Amazon Alexa smartphone app, or using your Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, you can ask Alexa, “Enable Coldwell Banker Gen Blue News.”
Don’t have an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot? Don’t worry, the Echo Dot is available as part of the Smart Home Staging Kit alongside products from Nest, August and Lutron. Or you can buy on the Amazon Marketplace. If you’re with Coldwell Banker please log-in to Coldwell Banker Exchange to get your exclusive discount code.
Learn more about the Coldwell Banker “Home of the Week Skill” here!
*Article from Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog
Thinking about investing in a rental property? Here are some great tips that will get you started!
Ideally, you want to live near your rental property
Living close to your property allows you to check on it periodically (after giving your tenants proper notice), take care of repairs yourself, and show the property when it’s time to list it for rent again. Research the best investment areas — but even if you don’t live in a prime rental region, you can still invest in one by hiring a property manager to take care of day-to-day details.
Know landlord-tenant law
Most states have specific landlord-tenant provisions that cover issues such as security deposits, level of access to the property, and how much notice you need to give your tenants when you want them to leave. There also are federal laws you need to know, such as habitability and anti-discrimination laws. “Many landlords gloss over housing discrimination laws because they assume that as long as they’re not racist or sexist, they needn’t worry about fair-housing violations,” says Ron Leshnower, real estate attorney and author of Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals. But fair-housing liability traps can arise in many ways, so it’s important that you fully understand the law and ensure that you aren’t breaking it.
Make sure you can enforce that the rent is paid on time
This seems like a no-brainer, but believe me, if you get too friendly with your tenants, you might just let them slide a couple of weeks beyond the first of the month, or allow a partial payment when they’re between jobs. Before you know it, your tenants are six months behind and you’re struggling to make the mortgage payments. But being firm doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat tenants with respect. Cultivating a good relationship with your tenants often goes a long way to ensure rent will be paid on time and that repair requests will be easier to deal with.
Screen potential tenants
It’s worth the time to do a background and credit check on all potential tenants: online tenant-screening services are convenient, and you should be sure to check potential tenants’ credit scores. A credit score alone shouldn’t be the sole reason to accept or deny an applicant, but it is a useful screening tool: For instance, if your renter is fresh out of college with a solid job offer, they may not have enough credit history to warrant a good score—but could be a great rental candidate.
You should also conduct an interview to make sure you’re comfortable interacting with them, and check references, especially from employers or past landlords. But be advised, it’s hard to find the perfect tenant. According to Casey Fleming, author of The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage, it’s important to have a thick skin, and advises people not to buy rental property if tenant shenanigans will “drive you crazy.” Case in point: Fleming once had an evicted tenant break into the house, change the locks, and move back in!
Customize the lease
If you don’t hire an attorney or a property manager, you can use a standard lease form from Nolo, for example, but you should tweak it to fit your situation. For example, if you allow pets, specify how many, what kind, and any rules that apply. Your lease could state that tenants should leash their dogs when outside the fenced-in yard and stipulate that pets should not become a nuisance to neighbors.
Inspect the property regularly
“Have language regarding inspections clearly written in your lease documents,” says Timmi Ryerson, CEO of Smart Property Systems. She suggests taking pictures to establish a baseline (and document the move-in condition) and conducting an inspection at three months. If you find problems, Ryerson recommends that landlords “issue a notice to comply and set another inspection in one week.”
Understand this is not a get-rich-quick scheme
Being a landlord is not just sitting around collecting a big wad of cash each month. You’ll need to spend some money to ready the property for tenants, buy landlord insurance, and pay property taxes. If you’re taking out a mortgage, be prepared to fork over at least a 20% down payment. Think of being a landlord as part of your overall investment strategy and be realistic about your goals — most landlords aim for about a 5% return on their investments.
Source: Trulia Blog
Traditionally considered the ultimate location, here is what you need to know before you purchase a home on the golf course!
Is there anything on par with living on a golf course?
Before you buy that home on the fairway, there are a few things to consider. From maintenance to memberships, privacy to views, life on the golf course comes with a few questions. To settle the score, we turned to our golf pro, Cara Ameer with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty, Inc. to learn her tips for what to consider before buying a home of the golf course. In the segment below, which first aired on NBC Open House, Cara explains how to tee your home search up for success and avoid any bunkers along the way.
To find a home on the green, visit Kappelgateway.com. You can find golf properties around the world using the lifestyle search found in the top navigation of the site.
Source: CB Blue Matter
You may know someone who did very well during the market crash in 2008 purchasing fixers. Its a complex issue that you need to study up on before you even consider taking that plunge!
When shopping for a fixer-upper home, some properties have potential beyond their appearance. Keep the following tips in mind as you look for that home.
When shopping for a new home, be aware of properties that have potential beyond their current appearance. Home buyers often overlook a great property because they are too focused on the cosmetic appeal, which can be easily altered. Keep the following tips in mind as you search for your perfect home:
- Finding the Best Neighborhood for You
Location is one of the most crucial factors to consider as you look for possible homes. Unlike the style and even structure, no amount of time, effort, or money can change a home’s location. To find the best neighborhood for you, it can help to visit the area multiple times at various hours. This will help reveal the local culture and activity to be expected from neighbors.
- Identify a Cost-Efficient Fixer-Upper Home
Look for a home with sound fundamentals and an appealing floor plan. Cosmetic improvements like new paint, lighting fixtures, and flooring are relatively cheap and easy to change, while work on plumbing, electrical systems, structural walls, or cabinets are more difficult and expensive. Typically, the most expensive change involves altering a home’s structure.
- Hire a Contractor Before Buying a Home
You may want to hire a contractor in your search if you know you want to make changes to a home you plan to purchase. A contractor can help you better understand what kind of commitment a given home will require. Many remodelers will visit a potential purchase at no charge to give an estimate of how much the work would cost. This is valuable information when comparing different homes with one another.
- Know What to Check Before Buying an Old Home
Examining a home can be a complex process, and looking for one with unused potential can make it more difficult. Keep in mind that homes older than 50 years are likely to have similarly aged plumbing, electrical, heating, and other systems. The home may also be worn out or too outdated to remodel.
- Real Estate Agents Can Help
Real estate agents are valuable resources. They can help you understand a home in the context of its neighborhood and area, and may be able to offer advice on how to increase the value of the property after purchase.
Source: CB Blue Matter
Ever hear the old adage “Location, Location, Location”? Well, here’s more proof!
Learn why buying in a top-notch school district can benefit you — even if you don’t have kids.
Living in a good school district doesn’t just bring better teachers, better books, and better test scores — it also can help preserve home values and ensure faster resale rates.
It’s a smart move to consider the quality of school districts in your home-buying decision — although there are pros and cons to buying in top-notch school regions. Parents hoping to land a good home deal and give their kids access to a high-quality education have several costs to weigh. If you do the math, you’ll find that pricier homes in a strong public school district may actually be better bargains than affordable homes in districts where many children attend private schools.
Seeking good public schools
Many buyers search for real estate by school district, and say school districts are among the key factors in their home-buying decision. In a recent Trulia survey, 19% of Americans indicated that their dream home is located in a great school district. But among parents of children under 18, the percentage of Americans who want to live in a great school district jumps to 35%.
How can you tell if your potential new home is in a district that makes the grade? Consider the age of the schools, the condition of their facilities, the student-to-teacher ratios, and, of course, standardized test scores.
The bigger picture
It’s not as simple as it may seem to draw conclusions between school districts and real estate, though. A poorly ranked public school district doesn’t necessarily mean that the overall quality of local education there is poor.
And there are private schools to consider as well. Parents looking for homes in lower-rated districts but who still want quality education may need to factor in the cost of a private education, which runs well into the thousands per year. Tuition rates vary widely, but the average tuition cost is $10,940, which is the same as $912 per month in mortgage payments, according to a 2014 Trulia analysis.
Put it this way: A homeowner with a $1,326 mortgage payment on a $300,000 house who is also paying the $912-per-month average tuition could, in effect, afford a $520,000 house with public school education in a better-quality school district. Because home prices and school tuitions vary so widely, buyers will have to calculate these differences on their own (and obviously there are more factors than just local school districts and housing prices that drive real estate decision making).
Considering the future
When it comes to resale value, though, even for buyers without children, investing in a home in a good-quality school district can pay off. Homes in good school districts tend to sell faster than homes in lower-quality school districts. And during tougher economic times that trigger declines in home values, homes in better school districts usually hold their value more than homes in lower-quality school districts.
On the downside, these homes in better school districts also tend to be more expensive. Buyers here will pay higher property taxes, and much of that money will be allotted right back to the schools. For childless buyers, that’s no bargain. But in general, buying in a good school district does matter and, with more stability in home prices and more savings from costly private school education, it usually works in favor of the buyer.
We are in a hot Real Estate market right now with little inventory. These tips could make the difference in the success of your next purchase!
Buying in a hot house market is sometimes inevitable, but you can save money by avoiding these mistakes.
It’s the never-ending saga of homebuyers everywhere: just when you start looking for homes for sale in Fairfield, CA or Walnut Creek, CA, prices seem to be booming and you’re stuck trying to buy in a seller’s market. House-hunting is hard to time perfectly, and sometimes it’s impossible to avoid buying in a hot market.
But don’t let the fear of tough competition send you into a panic. Avoid falling into one of these traps when shopping in a hot real estate market, and you’ll likely save yourself some money (and a few gray hairs).
Acting out of desperation
It’s hard not to be let down when attractive homes are taken from “new” to “pending” before you even have the chance to look at them, but remember: Desperation has no place in a home-buying transaction.
Once desperation sets in, you risk making an impulsive and otherwise unwise decision, such as talking yourself into a home that isn’t quite what you really want or paying more than you can afford. Even if you can’t or don’t want to make an offer, every home you research and visit will give you a better insight into the home-buying process and the market and allow you to refine exactly what amenities you want in your future house.
Once you know exactly what you want, let others know too. Give your contact information to the listing agents at open houses and ask them to drop you a note if they get similar listings.
2. Hesitating (This is a biggie!)
What’s worse than seeing great properties come and go before you can get out to view them? Seeing them placed under contract before you make an offer.
Before you walk into an open house, make sure your paperwork is up to date and your loan approval hasn’t expired so you’re in position to make an offer that day. If you haven’t already gotten a loan approval, it’s time to start the loan approval process, stat.
3. Ignoring the market entirely
It’s nearly impossible to time the market and make your real estate decisions based on current trends. A better plan is to make your buying decisions based on what’s currently happening in your family, your career, and your life (and what you envision will happen in the next five to 10 years). That said, when it comes time to execute your decision to buy, it’s foolhardy not to pay attention to the market.
You need to be able to play both sides and avoid the panic-inducing fluctuations of the market while staying informed. Ask your real estate agent to help you pay attention to neighborhood-specific information, such as which types of properties move quickly, how many days they generally stay on the market, whether multiple offers are a reality you will face, and how much over asking price homes like the one you want are selling for.
Then use this information to make strategic decisions, covering everything from which properties and areas you’ll focus on to how quickly you’ll need to get out to see listings to — most importantly — what price range you should focus your search on.
4. Misunderstanding your budget
Don’t run the numbers in your head. Don’t ballpark your income, loan payments, and bills, stick your finger in the wind, and guess at how much you can spend on a home. Financially speaking, home buying is the big leagues, so you need to be sparkling, crystal clear on precisely what you can afford.
In a hot market, you may be faced with decisions about whether to increase your price range or your offer price on relatively short notice. If you need help, don’t hesitate to bring your tax adviser or financial planner into the home-budget discussion — especially if you’re a new homebuyer. They can help you understand tax breaks for new homeowners, which can free up some extra money for your mortgage, property taxes, insurance, and HOA dues or private mortgage insurance, if applicable.
Also, make sure you include line items for your savings, retirement investing, gifts, school tuition, travel, and recreation — the sort of things that lenders will not account for when they tell you what their guidelines say you can afford.
Hot markets mean multiple offers on the same home, which often result in a bidding war. And once you’ve had one too many homes pulled out from under you after a bidding war, it can be tempting to pay more than you budgeted for.
To avoid overpaying for a home just because it’s in a bidding war, be sure to go through comparable homes with your agent before you even look at the house.
Bonus: If your agent includes active and pending sales in their pull of the comparable data set, you may find out useful information such as whether other competitive properties have just hit the market, or that all of the competition is now under contract — things that might also inform your motivation levels or price strategy.
Source: Trulia Blog
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