This coming weekend, we’re excited to announce we have 28 homes being held open! Every visitor that signs in to one of our open houses on May 19th or 20th will have a chance to win one of three Amazon smart voice assistants: the Amazon Echo, Amazon Spot or the Amazon Plus! These are an awesome addition to your existing smart home system or a great way to start automating your home!
All of our agents are excited to see you this weekend — even if you’re not in the market right now for a home, they’d love to be a resource for you until you are ready to begin your home buying journey! The homes being held open are gorgeous and you can explore all of them ahead of time HERE and even use our map to plan your route!
Tips for Potential Buyers
Nervous about visiting your first open house? Not sure what you should do to make the most of your fact-finding mission? Check out our blog about how to take advantage of an open house for buyers! Seeing the home in person and info you gather during an open house can be extremely useful in determining what kind of an offer you should make or whether or not the home is the right fit for your needs!
Tips for Home Sellers
If you’re in the process of selling your home, prepping your home for an open house is extremely important. Make sure you’re checking all the boxes before opening your home to the public with our blog on how to set your home up for success!
Thinking about skipping the home inspection in order to save a little money? You could end up costing yourself WAY more in the long run! Here’s why we always recommend buyers get a very thorough home inspection done:
Protect Your Investment
Buying a house is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make and throughout the transaction, we’ll work to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money. Hiring a licensed home inspector can help make sure that your investment will not be wasted on an unsound or unsafe home!
A professional Home Inspector takes a close look beneath a house’s surface, and then prepares a detailed written report for the prospective buyer on things like the condition of the foundation, electrical service, roof, insulation, and other critical structural factors. We know several experienced and trusted Home Inspectors that are familiar with the local area and can help connect you with them when the time comes.
Are They Worth It?
Although costs will vary, you can probably expect to spend $200-500 for an inspection of a single family home. And who pays for it? Well, since the benefit is almost entirely that of the home buyer, it’s usually the buyer who pays the cost of the home inspection–particularly in a hot real estate market, where the home sellers have more leverage.
All things considered, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides, and the negotiating power it can give you–especially if it indicates that there are major repairs required, but you decide to make an offer anyway. Most home inspectors are now offering a “re-inspection” service for a small fee so you can make sure that any items were repaired correctly! This is great to do during your final walkthrough for your own peace of mind.
When it comes to making your offer to purchase, our experienced agents can provide you with good advice on how to allow for a home inspection.
So you’re finally ready to buy your own home, congrats! It’s a big decision that can really impact your life and your finances. Here are our top five things to do before you take the leap to make sure you’re completely prepared!
Strengthen your credit score
Don’t know your credit score? If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future—it’s time to find out! Try CreditKarma or any of the free credit reports to see what you may need to work on or if you’re in good shape! The better your credit score, the less you’ll need to pay for your home loan. The quickest way to improve your score is to pay down any credit card balances! You’ll also want to avoid applying for credit, for example, opening a new credit card or getting a car loan, until after you’ve closed on your new home!
Figure out what you can afford
Now’s the time to face the facts and be realistic. What’s your actual budget for purchasing a home? Conventional wisdom says that home expenses should only take up around 30-33% of your income each year. What will your monthly mortgage payment be, including interest, mortgage insurance and any HOA fees? An easy way to figure out what you can afford is by using Zillow’s Mortgage Calculator—easily adjust your purchase price vs down payment and see how it can affect your monthly payment. You’ll also want to set aside an emergency fund for unexpected repairs—especially during your first year! Once you’ve figured out what price range you can comfortably afford, stick to only looking at homes in that range.
Research different neighborhoods
You know your desired price range and what kind of home you’re looking for—now ’s the time to do your homework! Different areas and neighborhoods have their own character, benefits and drawbacks—consult your Realtor, websites like Niche, Crimemapping and Yelp, and if possible, drive through any neighborhoods you’re seriously considering at various times of day to really get a feel for them.
Keep in mind that the down payment is only one part of the costs you’ll need to pay upfront. Once you cough up that 10% down payment, you’ll still need to pay for any closing costs, necessary inspections, repairs or maintenance costs, the first few months of mortgage and insurance payments, and any moving costs. Closing costs can run anywhere from 2-5% of the asking price while typical home inspections are around $350-500. That’s on top of your down payment! With all that in mind, is your dream home still within your housing budget of 30-33% of your yearly income?
Connect with a lender
An experienced loan officer can be a huge help during your preparation period! They’ll help you figure out what loan product will be best for you and what you can do to improve your credit. Your CBE agent can recommend plenty of awesome loan officers and once you’ve got your pre-approval letter, you’re ready to tour homes and make an offer!
Buying a home (whether it’s your first or not!) is an exciting experience and can be immensely rewarding! All of us at CBE wish you the best of luck finding your dream home–don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help along the way!
Moving, while stressful, is actually one of the best times to evaluate your wardrobe and all your possessions—if you’re dreading moving it to your new home, it’s probably time to let it go. ThredUp and Letgo are both awesome for paring down your closet and letting your old unwanted items have a new life. Not only will you have less stuff to move, you’ll be able to make some cash!
Schedule and organize your movers all online with Unpakt! If ever a moving website could be fun to use, this one would be! They help you figure out how many boxes you’ll need based on what kind of items you have and the size of your home and then let you compare moving companies’ prices! You can book them online for your move and the price is guaranteed—not an estimate—which is great for budgeting ahead of time!
Sortly is an awesome way to keep track of everything you own! Snap a picture of each of your belongings (or maybe just the ones most important to you!) and categorize them by room, box or any way you want. You can create searchable notes and tags to help you find things quickly and even mark boxes with QR labels to see what’s inside without digging through it! After your move, Sortly can be helpful when you’re figuring out how much you need to insure your home for—if you add the value of each of your items, it’ll total them up for you!
Let’s face it, once all your contingencies are satisfied, there’s not a whole lot for you to do besides pack until closing day. Use that hurrry-up-and-wait time to sketch out where your furniture will go, what decor should go where and what will make your new house flow as best as possible. Bonus: now you know exactly where certain boxes (and the super heavy furniture!) should go and you can label them for the movers so you’re not having to rearrange on the day of!
One of our favorite sites EVER! Updater makes transferring your mail, utilities and subscriptions to your new address a snap! Your CBE agent will put in your old and new addresses and voila! You’ll get a link to easily transfer over all of your mail and make sure your utilities are in order before the big day! A couple clicks and you’re done! Why isn’t everything this easy?
Moving soon and need an awesome checklist to make sure you’ve remembered everything? Check out our Ultimate Moving Checklist and download the room-by-room guide!
With the exception of location, the floor plan of a home is one of the most expensive things to change. A livable layout that makes sense for your lifestyle is going to be one of the most important aspects of your home search, but it’s often overlooked in favor of easily-changed aesthetic factors. If you find a home you really love, imagine going about your daily routine. When you come home from work, do you want to have a foyer with a closet for your purse or a mudroom where you can keep shoes? When you’re doing laundry, wouldn’t it be easier to have the washer and dryer upstairs near the bedrooms, so you don’t have to carry it up and down steps? Thinking critically while you’re still in the searching phase will save you a lot of heartache (and money!) in the long run.
Sound Major Systems
This is where a home inspector will be able to help you out! While you’re viewing homes, you can certainly note down the serial numbers of the appliances and look up their ages but an inspector will be able to better evaluate what condition they’re in and their life expectancy. Try to make sure the appliances are either still within their warranty or have a good couple years left in them! After putting down that big down payment, the last thing you’re going to want to shell out for is a new water heater or dishwasher. Ask about the efficiency of the HVAC system and make sure that the home is well-insulated so that you’re not going to be paying exorbitant heating and cooling bills!
Home Resale Potential
We get it! You’re excited about moving in and selling the place is the last thing on your mind. But it’s smart to be cold and calculating when you’re making such a large investment. This is where your agent can help out—look at the comps for the surrounding neighborhood. Even if you really remodeled and updated your potential home, is there a max upper limit on how much homes in that area sell for? What’s the average price per square foot, and would a different area have a better return on investment? Analyzing all these factors in an unemotional, quantitative way before you make an offer could help you protect your investment in the long run!
If you think you’re ready to start looking or you’d like some helping narrowing down your choices, drop one of our fabulous agents a line! We’d be happy to help, even if you’re not quite ready to buy–no pressure!
Fixer-uppers appeal to a wide variety of homebuyers—investors looking to cash in, first-timers hoping to score a bargain, and ambitious DIY-ers looking for their next project. The hunt is half the fun when buying your next home, but there a few key things to keep in mind when considering properties that may need a little more love.
Pretty Is As Pretty Does
Don’t get too attached to a property because of it’s appearance. As easy as it is to overlook a home for cosmetic defects, it’s just as easy to let a pretty staircase or original hardwood floors distract you from more serious problems. Try to evaluate the house based on structural issues and the state of it’s major systems first!
Location, Location, Location
Everybody knows the old adage but it’s especially true for fixer-upper properties. No amount of time, work, or money can change a home’s location. A good way to evaluate a home’s neighborhood is to visit the area multiple times at various hours. You’ll be able to better discern the local culture and neighborhood activity from multiple visits than just the snapshot you’ll see from a showing.
How Much Is This Really Going To Cost?
Look for properties with sound structural components and foundation. An appealing floor plan with minimal remodeling necessary is going to give you the best return on investment. Cosmetic fixes like new paint, lighting fixtures and flooring are generally cheap and usually DIY-friendly projects.
Structural issues, plumbing and electrical fixes are much more difficult and expensive. Unless you’re great friends with an experienced contractor or have plenty of money to invest in the home, it’s best to steer clear of homes needing more extensive renovation and structural alterations.
Consult a Pro
Even if you’re planning on DIY-ing every little part of your home’s remodel, it’s always wise to have the number of an experienced general contractor in your pocket in case you get in over your head! They will be able to help you understand how much work (and how much money!) a particular home will require to bring it up to code or drastically remodel it.
If you know you’ll be contracting out at least some of the work, it would be extremely helpful to have your contractor visit potential properties with you to give you an estimate. This information will be invaluable to you when you’re deciding between various properties.
Age Isn’t Always Just a Number
Keep in mind that homes over 50 years old are likely to have similarly aged plumbing, electrical, heating, and other systems. The home may also be too outdated or have too many code violations to be a sound investment. Will you be able to recoup all the costs you’ll have to put into the home when you sell?
Ask Your Realtor
Your local Realtor can be an invaluable resource, particularly if you’re new to fixer-upper properties. They see tons of homes a day and are intimately familiar with the various neighborhoods in their area. Not only will they be able to help you identify homes that have potential, they’ll be able to to give you great ideas about how to increase the property’s value after closing and recommend reliable contractors! Whether you’re still in the dreaming phase or looking to make an offer, talk to any of our awesome Coldwell Banker Elite agents for more information on potential fixer-upper properties.