Tips for Accelerating the Homebuying Process

Let’s face it – you’re tired of your current living situation and are ready for a change. Luckily, there are many homes available in your area – you just need to find a residence that fits your needs and budget.

The homebuying process sometimes can become time-consuming and exhausting, but we’re here to help you take the guesswork out of finding a residence and ensure you can discover your dream home quickly and effortlessly.

Here are three tips that you can use to speed up the homebuying process:

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage.

Why should you look at homes you cannot afford? Instead, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage and search for residences that suit your budget perfectly.

Many lenders are available that offer financing for homebuyers nationwide. As a result, you may be able to evaluate a variety of lenders to ensure you’re able to get the lowest interest rate on your mortgage.

Before you begin your home search, get pre-approved for a mortgage – you’ll be happy you did! And remember, if you are pre-approved for a mortgage, you may be able to improve your chances of a home seller accepting your offer over others (i.e. from homebuyers who still need to get financing) as well.

2. Employ a Home Inspector.

After you submit an offer for a residence, you’ll want to hire a home inspector who can evaluate this property to the fullest extent.

A home inspector serves as an unbiased third-party who possesses the experience and know-how needed to evaluate a residence. Therefore, this inspector will be able to identify any problem areas before you buy a house.

With the right home inspector at your side, you can boost your chances of finding the right home without delay. This inspector will empower you with the insights you need to make an informed homebuying decision, one that could deliver significant benefits both now and in the future.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent.

Although you’d like to find a home as quickly as possible, you may lack the time and resources needed to fully review the real estate market. By hiring a real estate agent, however, you can streamline the process of exploring the real estate market in your area.

A real estate agent will collaborate with you, learn about your wants and needs and provide information about residences that match your preferences. This professional can even set up home showings and keep you up to date about open houses in your area. Thus, your real estate agent serves as a dedicated housing market resource and will do everything possible to ensure you can find the perfect home.

You’ll likely discover a broad assortment of real estate agents available in cities and towns across the United States. And to find the right real estate agent, you’ll want to meet with this professional and make sure you’re comfortable working with him or her as you embark on your search for your dream residence.

Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble accelerating the homebuying process.

DIY Disaster: These Home Projects are Better Left to the Professionals

When you’re a homeowner, it’s tempting to save money any way you can. Oftentimes people take repairs into their own hands when they don’t have the knowledge or experience to complete the job safely. What begins as a way to save money can quickly turn into a disaster–as you spend lengthy periods of time on a project and find yourself going over your initial budget.

It isn’t always easy to know which projects you can attempt yourself and which ones are better left to the pros. And, of course, it will depend on your comfort and skill level when it comes to various household repairs. So, if you’re a plumber, disregard our plumbing advice and dive in to your DIY plumbing projects since you have the know-how. But if you’re an average homeowner looking to make some renovations and repairs, read on to find out which ones you should attempt and which ones are better left to the pros.

1. Electrical work

So you’ve got a few faulty outlets in the new home you bought. It doesn’t seem worth calling in an electrician just for those few minor issues. However, due to the dangers and complications that can arise from electric work, it’s a good idea to hold off and call in the experts.

Aside from shocking yourself (which can be deadly), you could also create fire hazards or damage circuitry, resulting in much higher repair costs than you initially had.

Another benefit of calling in an electrician, other than having the project done correctly, is that they will be able to diagnose your home circuitry to let you know what other problems might arise in the foreseeable future. So, when it comes to power issues, always call in the pros.

2. Hazardous materials

Many people will tell you not to worry about asbestos or lead paint unless you have children. However, these are both dangerous materials than can create several chronic health problems in adults as well. If you’re concerned for the safety of yourself and your family, call in contractors who will remove the lead or asbestos.

What can go wrong if you try to do it yourself? Lead chips and dust will fly through the air when attempting to remove lead paint. Breathing in these fumes is dangerous initially and down the road when the dust settles into the corners of your home. Asbestos, especially in blown-in insulation can be particularly dangerous.

Aside from ensuring your safety, a contractor will also be able to assess the situation and determine whether your hazardous materials need to be removed or can just be “repaired” or covered up. Simple repair jobs on asbestos or lead-containing objects can save you some serious time and money.

3. Roofing and siding

There’s a reason even building contractors bring in third party companies to install roofs and siding. These are both labor-intensive and time-intensive jobs that require specialized skills and tools that only dedicated companies can accomplish correctly.

Roofing and siding are both dangerous jobs that carry the risk of falling off of roofs and ladders, as well as injuring your back lifting heavy shingles. The pros have the tools and experience to avoid these injuries.

When you hire the professionals to do your roofing or siding, you can rest assured that the job is done correctly and will last much longer than if you made it a DIY project as well.

Enhance Your Home With Attractive Fencing

Garden with stone landscapingA fence is one of the first things people notice when viewing your property. Residential fencing is most commonly used to define properties boundaries, hide an unsightly view, provide privacy, to keep children and pets safe and secure, or to enclose a swimming pool. In addition to fencings aesthetic function, your residential fence helps to provide for the safety of guests, as well as the security of your family.

When constructed from attractive, durable materials and installed correctly, a fence enhances and showcases the beauty of the landscape and adds value to the property. A broken down fence in need of repair may serve as a barrier but distracts from the attractiveness of the home and diminishes real estate values.

Make sure that the fence installation is both appealing and practical by choosing a design and materials that will best enhance your landscape. When installing a fence along a property line with an adjacent home, it should be visually appealing to both property owners while creating separation and privacy. Other considerations to keep in mind when selecting a residential fence include local ordinances; Home Owner Association covenants and if the fencing material you select will withstand the climate of your area. For homeowners living in a historic district, fencing should comply with the district design standard.

A visit to your fencing contractor’s display lot will present a diverse array of choices in fencing materials and styles. Be sure to select an experienced, established and reputable fencing contractor that warranties their work.

Types Of Fences

The American Fence Association with chapters throughout the United States and Canada is an excellent resource for finding a local experience and reputable fencing contractors.

A traditional wood fence is a classic approach to fencing, available in designs ranging from picket, rail, stockade, or privacy styles. Rough-cut Cedar is a popular material that presents a rustic, natural look to your landscape and is resistant to rot and decay. Keep in mind; a wooden fence will require periodic maintenance and painting or staining to retain its attractive appearance. Wood is strong enough for most home installations and will add beauty and visual appeal to your property.

Vinyl fencing is attractive, durable and virtually maintenance free. Manufactured with state-of-the-art technology offers a crisp, clean appearance and never requires staining or painting. PVC fences will not chip, fade, rot or peel. For families with children, PVC fences are free of splinters and outlast the majority of other fencing materials. For additional information about the merits and value of vinyl fencing contact the Vinyl Fence Manufacturer’s Association.

Iron fencing presents a sense of permanence, quality and security. Although an iron fence is initially a bit more expensive than other fencing materials, iron fences will last for the life of your home, require little maintenance and add a feeling of understated elegance to the landscape. When installing an iron fence, your fencing contractor can readily add a custom gate system with remote-controlled panels for easy access, located to offer excellent visibility for a home video surveillance system.

Ornamental fencing made of aluminum or steel is maintenance free and available in a wide variety of colors, heights and styles. To enhance the beauty of the ornamental fence, add scrolls, finials and rings for visual appeal and attractiveness. Ornamental fencing is a popular choice for swimming pool enclosures. Remember, to comply with local pool code safety ordinances; a self-closing gate must be installed.

For homeowners that want a higher level of security, anti-climb fences are an excellent option that keeps out unwanted persons and pests without losing their aesthetic appearance.

Avoid Making a “Lowball” Offer on a Home

After a thorough review of the real estate market, you’ve found your dream home. Now, you just need to submit a fair offer that the home seller will accept.

Regardless of whether you’re shopping for a home in a buyers’ market or a sellers’ market, you’ll want to avoid the risk of submitting a “lowball” offer, i.e. an offer that a home seller will turn down immediately.

Remember, if you want to land your ideal home, you’ll likely need to submit an offer that is attractive to a home seller. And if you know what it takes to minimize the dangers of submitting a lowball proposal, you’ll be better equipped to secure your dream house quickly.

Making a fair offer on a home is simple – here are three tips to ensure you can avoid the dangers of submitting a lowball offer:

1. Review the Real Estate Market.

As a diligent homebuyer, you’ve probably checked out dozens of residences in your search for the perfect home. Along the way, you might have even noticed that home prices vary depending on the size and condition of a residence.

The real estate market remains in a constant state of flux, and what a home is worth today is unlikely what it is going to be worth in five years. However, a homebuyer who evaluates real estate market trends as well as prices of similar homes in a particular area should have no trouble submitting a fair offer on his or her dream house.

2. Evaluate the Condition of the Home.

Keep in mind that the condition of the home may impact its short- and long-term value. Thus, you should try to submit an offer that accounts for the overall condition of a residence.

For instance, a home’s old furnace may need to be replaced in the near future, and doing so could prove to be both costly and time-consuming. But if you consider the cost of a new furnace installation in your proposal, you may be able to justify submitting an offer that is below a home seller’s initial asking price. Or, in some cases, you may be able to convince the home seller to repair or replace this furnace to seal the deal.

3. Understand Your Budget.

You’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage and know your budget for a new home. When you submit an offer, you should keep your budget in mind and ensure you’ll be able to make the mortgage payments if a home seller accepts your proposal.

A homebuyer who understands his or her budget can explore residences within a set price range. And ultimately, this homebuyer will be able to eliminate the chance of submitting a lowball offer on a house that he or she may be unable to afford down the line.

When in doubt, don’t be afraid to discuss your options with your real estate agent, too. This professional can offer insights into how much similar homes in an area have sold for recently, along with other housing market resources and tips to help you secure a house at a fair price.

Avoid the dangers of submitting a lowball offer on a home, and you’ll be better equipped to land your dream residence without delay.

Clarify Priorities to Get The Home of Your Dreams

There are dozens of factors to consider when shopping for a new home — ranging from property taxes and school district quality to square footage and roof condition. As you may be discovering, balancing your priorities and meeting your family’s needs can be an overwhelming process!

What’s Important to You?

While just about everyone factors in daily commuting distance in their decision, other key needs and considerations are often overlooked. There’s certainly no “one size fits all” strategy for picking the perfect house, but getting your thoughts down on paper is a good starting point.

If you have children or are expecting new arrivals in the near future, your priorities will be a lot different than someone at a later (or earlier) stage in life. For example, you might want to research local hospitals to identify the best maternity care options. Being close to public parks, playgrounds, and nursery schools would also be highly desirable for young families.

Depending on your lifestyle, you might also prefer a home that’s not too far from restaurants, concert venues, and movie theaters. If physical activity and sports are a big part of your life, then nearness to golf courses, tennis courts, and hiking trails might be worth considering.

Other Convenience Factors

You may have noticed in perusing real estate ads that many of them mention proximity to major highways, public transportation, and local airports. Whether your goal is to explore the region or simply navigate your way to doctors’ appointments, job interviews, shopping centers, or business meetings, access to a variety of transportation options can make life a lot less stressful.

By clarifying the features and conveniences in a home that are most important to you, your overall satisfaction with your final choice will be a lot higher. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t stay somewhat flexible in your requirements. Virtually all real estate purchases involve a few trade-offs and compromises. For example, if an urban lifestyle appeals to you, then a two-car garage and large backyard are probably not going to be part of the package.

As far as the actual layout and design of your living space, key features which could make your daily routine easier are a first-floor laundry room, spacious closets, and easy-to clean, energy-efficient windows.

For some people, the ideal home may include a rec room, a workshop, and a home office. A lot depends on your past experiences, your goals, and your personal passions. Having the ability to predict future needs will be invaluable in choosing a home that you and your family will be delighted with for years to come.

Comparing Features and Amenities

When you stop and think about your “wish list,” your “must haves”, and the dozens of property features you’ll be evaluating, it underscores the importance of being methodical and organized. If those two qualifies are not among your personal strengths, don’t worry! Your real estate agent can provide you with guidance, checklists, and day-to-day help in evaluating and comparing the many property choices available to you.

How to Help Your Family Cope with a Move

Moving to a new home is difficult for everyone. Children, pets, not even you are immune to the stresses of adjusting to a new life. But moving can also be a great experience. They can help a family grow closer together, discover new interests and hobbies, and create new memories together.

In this article, we’re going to give you some moving tips that will help you and your family make the most of your decision to relocate, and maybe give you a new optimism to endure the stressful process of moving.

Making a move easier on your pets

When our pets are sick or upset it can be heartbreaking for us. We can’t use our words to explain that everything will be okay. Generally, pets are resilient and can often adapt easily to a new environment. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to help make it easier for them.

To introduce your pet to their new home, take them for a visit before the move, if possible. Let them sniff around for a while and get comfortable with the place, assuring them that there is no danger there.

On moving day, have your pet stay with a relative or pet-sitter for the day so they don’t get lost or trampled on during the hectic moving process.

Once you’re all moved in, let your pet explore the new home freely, making sure their toys, bedding, or litter box are all within their reach.

Helping kids cope with a move

A move can be particularly stressful for children. Oftentimes moving homes means changing schools, leaving old friends and making new ones.

Before you even begin looking at homes, try to get your child involved in the process so they don’t feel powerless. Encourage them by showing them fun things to do in their new town, like nice parks or their favorite stores. Get them involved in planning out their new room, like how it will be painted and decorated.

In terms of school, try to time your move so that your child can make some friends before the school year begins. Plus, explain to them how easy it is to stay in touch with old friends through email, Facebook, or whatever method is appropriate for their age. Find out if there are children in your new neighborhood, or a club or sport that your child can join to help them make new friends.

Don’t neglect your own anxiety

While it’s important to help our family deal with the new move, it’s also vital to take care of our own needs. Make sure you spend time on your own interests and try to avoid isolating yourself from others during this stressful time.

If you’re starting a new job, take note of whether or not you’re bringing that stress home with you and try to set aside time for yourself to do the things you like to help you unwind. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, be sure to reach out to your spouse, a friend, and/or a counselor.

If you and your family take the time to help each other, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a fun move and enjoy your new home together.

Where to Move

As they say real estate is about 3 things: location, location, location.  Finding the perfect city, town, or village to live can be difficult especially if you have a family to take care after. If you are still midst-career and not looking to retire you probably want to live close to work (maybe not too close) , family, and to what is important for you to live in town.

The first tip is simple, you can use sites such as city-data.com to find out more about the area.  City websites with a .gov domain can provide a lot of insight, but don’t forget to do a simple google search or look at the Wikipedia page of that place when they are available.  You can find out just about anything these days:  population, school systems, cost of the average house, and even average city income of the residents.  Most of this information is available thanks to the census of course, so this is a great time to do research as the information was last collected in 2010 as part of a 10 year cycle.

Google maps has a great feature called my places.  Other maps offer similar features if you prefer another, but essentially what you do is create your own map.  There is a link to take an interactive tour underneath the big red create map button if you need help.  It is a very well made tour.  After all of your important locations are marked and labeled you can zoom out a bit and see all of the locations clearly.  There are certain exceptions such as highway access, but somewhere in the middle is generally a good place to start looking.  Combine this with the town information you can find and suddenly you are well on your way to being an expert on the area.  You can even generate driving directions and estimates to and from each location. This is great news of course, because the more you know, the better your decision will be.

How To Make Your Home Friendly For The Whole Family

When you have a family, there’s many different needs and personalities at play within your home. Trying to please all of those different ways of life can cause some confusion. There are many ways that you can create an all-in-one space without creating a major construction zone. You need to think in terms of spaces that accommodate large groups of people from entertaining to gathering around the television for a movie or sporting event.

Combine Several Rooms Into One

When rooms aren’t connected, sometimes bringing the rooms together can bring more flow into the home. Consider knocking down walls or bringing aspects of one room into another room, like a countertop or island through parts of kitchen and living spaces. Get creative! In some spaces, simply knocking down just one wall can make the entire floor of the home feel bigger.

Make The Use Of The Square Footage You Have

One wall can cause you to miss out on the full use of the space your home provides. Clearing away walls between rooms not only allows your home to feel more open and airy, but it gives you as a homeowner more use of your space. You don’t always need to add on to your home in order to make the home feel bigger.

Tuck Things Away

Keeping stools under countertops, for example, is a great way to have a multi-use and multipurpose area. A television will be perfect in a cabinet. The cabinet can be used for both storage and TV viewing. Make sure you position it in a place where the TV can be seen from all corners of the room. This way everyone will have a space for their DVDs and there’s not a bad seat in the room to watch TV from.

Use Furniture As Room Dividers

Your furniture can multi-task by serving as a room divider. If you need to have a study in your living room, use a bookshelf to separate the area. It’s easy to do and will keep the flow of a room without disturbing your established setup.

Use Rugs For Unity

Nothing unifies a room quite like an area rug. Everything on or near the rug signifies a space. If you need to separate areas within the room, try an area rug for one purpose and hardwood, bare floor for the other use. Rugs are always cozy in reading rooms, for example. Hardwood floors may work better for a computer desk and rolling office chair. The position of everything in a room helps to identify what that part of the room will be used for.

Marry The Rooms That Are Used Together

If your family tends to hang out and use the kitchen and living room the most, make sure they have open space between them. You should consider adding a study for the students of the house in either room to make it easier to call everyone for dinner and provide homework help. As a bonus, it’s a great idea that you can keep an eye on the kids’ computer activity while you’re cooking!

Most of all, no matter what room you’re working with, you want to make sure there’s a space for everything and everyone. That’s how you please an entire family with home design!