Buying your first home can be one of the most exciting experiences of your life. But it can also be one of the scariest.
Buying real estate is a complicated process. And if you’ve never purchased a home before, the fear of all those unknown variables can make the experience stressful, frustrating, and downright terrifying.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a home but are dealing with the fear that comes along with it, don’t worry! You’re not alone. Most first time home-buyers deal with a certain level of fear as they get ready to buy their first home.
But that fear doesn’t have to hold you back. Here are three of the most common fears of first time home-buyers (and how you can overcome them).
The number one fear most first time home-buyers struggle with is the fear they can’t afford to buy a home.
But while there are certainly people who aren’t in the financial position to purchase a home, becoming a homeowner isn’t as expensive as you might think — and sometimes all it takes to be able to buy a home is a little budgeting.
If you’re worried about being able to afford a home, it’s time to take a good, hard look at your finances. Make a list of all of your monthly expenses and all of your debt. How much are you spending per month on living expenses? How does that compare to how much you’d be spending per month on living expenses if you were to purchase a home? How much are you saving each month? Are there any opportunities to cut back on spending and pad your savings a little more each month? How much debt do you carry and what’s your plan to pay it down?
Getting a firm understanding of your financial situation will a) give you a better idea of how much you can afford to comfortably spend on a house, and b) help you come up with a plan to get there.
“My credit isn’t perfect. How am I ever going to get a loan?”
If you have less-than-perfect credit, a major fear you might be dealing with is how you’re going to get a mortgage.
Many first time home-buyers fear that their credit report might hold them back from securing a loan. But while getting a mortgage with not-so-hot credit can be a challenge, it’s certainly not impossible.
First things first: if you’re thinking about purchasing a home, you need to get a copy of your credit report. According to an FTC report, 1 in 5 Americans have a mistake on their credit report — and those mistakes can end up costing you in the long run. The lower your credit score, the higher your interest rates will be, so it’s important to make sure there’s nothing inaccurate on your report that’s dragging down your score.
Once you’ve reviewed your credit report, you’ll want to do everything you can to bring up your score before you apply for a loan, like pay down any high credit card balances, which will bring down your credit utilization and bump your score. You’ll also want to make sure to pay all of your bills (including your rent and utility bills) on time, which will help show lenders that you’re responsible with your debts.
If you do all of these things and still get stuck with a high-interest mortgage, it’s not the end of the world! You can always continue to work on increasing your credit score and refinance in the future.
“I have no idea what I’m doing. How am I supposed to successfully buy a home?”
As mentioned, buying a home is a complicated process. From getting to know the market to finding the right kinds of properties to negotiating with sellers, there’s a lot to handle. And if you’ve never purchased a home, it can feel overwhelming. The sense of “I have no idea what I’m doing!” can be pretty terrifying.
But luckily, you don’t have to know what you’re doing when it comes to buying a home… as long as you work with someone who does. Working with a real estate agent who understands your market is an invaluable resource, especially to first time home-buyers. Your real estate agent can not only walk you through the entire process, but they also handle the hard stuff — like finding that perfect property and negotiating with tough sellers — so you don’t have to.
You might be afraid that the fact you’ve never purchased a house before will hinder the process, but when you work with the right real estate agent, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Purchasing your first home can be a scary process. But now that you know the most common fears — and how to overcome them — it’s time to transform that fear into excitement, get out there, and find the home of your dreams!
Whether you enjoy making New Year’s resolutions or scoff at the idea, there’s something inherently motivating about seeing a fresh page on the calendar. If you don’t want to join the masses who hit the gym or vow to go on a digital diet, you may want to resolve to set some goals on behalf of your home.
Chances are, you spend a lot of time in your home, so why not make sure it’s as energy-efficient, safe, and comfortable as possible? If you’re a homeowner, making some New Year’s resolutions—and then following through—may pay dividends all year long.
Take a look at four improvements that are easy to implement and won’t break the bank. In fact, some may even put money back in your pocket.
1. Conserve energy
If you’re not quite ready to install solar panels on your roof, you can still save energy (and money) by conducting your own energy audit.
Are lights often left on in rooms nobody is in? Is electricity powering things that aren’t even in use? Commit to turning off lights in rooms you’re not using and unplugging gadgets that aren’t being used or charged. According to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC.org), Americans waste approximately $19 billion on inactive electronics or devices every year. From your coffee maker to your laptop computer, you may be squandering energy and dollars. Give a quick look around and see where you can conserve and save.
Moving on to larger items, be sure to properly maintain your heating and cooling systems so they’re operating optimally. If you have an older model unit, you may want to consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient system to save money and enjoy a more comfortable environment.
Also, look for leaks around your windows and doors. If you find any, caulk the drafty areas or consider installing new energy-efficient windows and doors, which will help you keep heat or air-conditioning in your home where it belongs.
Installing low-flow showerheads also allows you to cut water costs at the same time you’re conserving this precious resource.
2. Do a safety check
Knowing your home is safe and secure offers priceless peace of mind. If you didn’t change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the fall, now is the time to do it. It’s also worth noting that smoke alarms have a lifespan of seven to 10 years, while carbon monoxide detectors last between five and seven years. If you’ve had yours for longer than these timeframes, it’s wise to replace them as soon as possible.
A seldom discussed, but just as real hazard, is your dryer’s lint trap. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, highly-combustible lint, which builds up in your dryer’s trap, accounts for more than 15,000 building fires per year. So make sure those are cleaned out.
But, just in case of an emergency, you’ll want to have an escape plan with two exit routes in place. If you haven’t worked those out, make it a priority in the new year.
Do an outdoor inspection and make sure all your stairs and railings are secure. Installing motion-sensing flood lights above your garage or in your backyard can make entering and exiting your home a bit safer for you, while at the same time deterring would-be burglars.
3. Deep clean and declutter
It’s not all about safety and savings, though! Making a resolution to love where you live can make your year more enjoyable, and a good way to do that is to give it a serious cleaning.
You can check this one off your list by simply hiring a house cleaner to do it for you. But if you want to save the money, just pick a room and get going. Work in manageable increments so you don’t feel overwhelmed. If you do, take a break but don’t give up. From washing bedding and windows to deep-cleaning your appliances and even your gutters, you’ll love the results that go hand-in-hand with freshly-scrubbed spaces.
Open shelving. Open shelving instantly makes a space feel larger, making it a great choice for creating the illusion of spaciousness in a small bathroom.
Gold hardware. Gold hardware—like a faucet, towel bar, or toilet paper holder—is not only on trend, but can add a sense of warmth to your bathroom space. Just make sure to tie in the gold with other design elements (like a gold-rimmed mirror) to create a cohesive look.
Floor-to-ceiling backsplash. If you want to embrace a bold Instagram design trend, try a floor-to-ceiling backsplash. This will not only add visual interest to your bathroom, but it can also make ceilings look higher—which will, in turn, can make your bathroom feel bigger.
A freshly painted ceiling. If there’s a fresh coat of paint on one of the room’s ceilings—but not on the walls or in other rooms in the home—it could be covering a water stain (for example, from a leaky roof).
Space heaters or individual ACs. If a home has space heaters or air conditioning units set up in different areas of the house, it could mean that certain rooms don’t have adequate heating or cooling—and get too hot or cold.
A strong smell of air freshener. A hint of air freshener is fine—but if a room has an overwhelming smell of artificial freshness, that air freshener is probably being used to cover up another, less pleasant smell.
So, what does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about buying a home, it’s important to know some of the common red flags and what those flags might be signaling—that way, you can make an informed decision on whether the home is the right fit for you (and not get stuck with any unexpected repairs or issues after you make a purchase).
When you list your home, you want to do everything possible to make it appealing to buyers. And while you might think only big projects will make an impact, the truth is, simple home decor can make a big impact on potential buyers—and help your home sell.
Fresh flowers. Fresh flowers create a warm, inviting vibe in your home—and because a warm, inviting atmosphere is what most buyers are looking for, fresh flowers are a great way to make a big impact with minimal cost.
Proper lighting. Buyers tend to gravitate towards light-filled spaces. If your home doesn’t have a lot of natural light, make sure to install good lighting throughout your home to give the appearance of a more light space.
Blue. Color psychology shows that the color blue makes people feel calm and relaxed—which is exactly what people want to feel in their home. Try painting the walls a soothing shade of blue or incorporating the color into your decor (for example, by incorporating a piece of art, a rug, or throw pillows).
Sometimes, the smallest things can have the biggest impact. And if you want to make a real impact on your buyers (and sell your home), you should definitely consider adding these home decor touches before you list your property
The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected life across the globe. Strict social distancing measures, school closures, and, in many locales, a ban on all non-essential businesses have turned people’s lives upside down and thrust us into a surreal existence where we’re spending nearly all of our time at home.
From a real estate perspective, it would be disingenuous to say that nothing has changed. Great agents are honest at all times, even (especially) when it’s difficult.
That said, there’s no indication that we’re in (or headed toward) a housing crisis like the once-in-a-century 2008 collapse. And, by all accounts, the fundamentals of the housing market remain in place, despite the safety precautions enforced by health and government officials.
The following list may help you better understand what’s changed and what hasn’t in the world of real estate:
1. Access to showings
In many places, the process of showing a home has changed. Some states have put limits on the number of people allowed to gather in one place, which has impacted open houses. Additionally, sellers, buyers, and agents are taking more precautions to keep themselves safe, with more cleaning, access to protective gear, and enforced distancing measures becoming the norm. Digital-only showings are also growing in popularity, although they’re still relatively new. Despite all this, if there’s a home you’re interested in seeing, it’s still possible to make it happen.
2. The closing process
Much of the work that needs to be done between going under contract to sell or buy a house and the closing can be done remotely and electronically. But there are many things that need to be done by many people throughout the process. From the mortgage, to the title work, to inspections and appraisals, getting to the closing table depends upon a lot of people doing their job. Social distancing and working entirely remotely has a certain learning curve while everyone involved figures out how to get their end of things done. So, the process may take at least a little longer, and change as everyone figures out the best way to handle things. The upshot to this is that it could create better, more efficient ways of doing things moving forward.
3. Some mortgage products
Perhaps the most impactful changes in the real estate industry are happening in the mortgage market. The conditions on certain products are being tightened, and some lenders are temporarily exiting the market altogether. Jumbo loans (a type of financing where the loan amount is higher than the conforming loan limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency) seem to be feeling the most impact, while conventional loans, which are considered less risky, have been less affected. If you have questions about getting pre-approved, you should contact a mortgage professional who can help you better understand your options.
What hasn’t changed:
1. People’s dreams
Even when the whole world comes to a stop, our hearts and minds do not. We all have dreams, whether it’s owning a fabulous condo in the city, a sprawling victorian with a rolling lawn, or a starter home that we can finally call our own. A pandemic doesn’t change that, even though it can help put things in perspective and remind us of what matters most. But don’t let the strange times we’re in stop you from daydreaming and working toward those dreams. A pandemic is temporary; our hopes are not.
2. Housing demand
There’s been a well-documented housing shortage for years, and there’s no indication that the fundamentals have yet changed. That said, every real estate market is unique, and what holds true on a macro-level may not hold true in your local area. Regardless of the specific market and overall demand in your area, people always need homes, despite a pandemic. So, if you want to sell, there’s likely a buyer for your home. And if you want to buy, there’s likely a seller who’d love to sell.
3. Our desire to help
Most agents eat, breathe, and sleep real estate, and aside from looking out for our loved ones and wishing for a healthy and safe resolution to this mess, that hasn’t changed. We want to help you with your real estate needs because we’re passionate about what we do, and it’s likely that our newfound home-time has coincided with a lot more real estate research than it has with cleaning or learning how to play the guitar.
If only buying and selling houses were as easy “as seen on TV”!
It’s probably not all that shocking to you to find out that “reality” real estate shows are pretty far off from actual reality. But how they are different from reality may surprise you…
1. Buyers look at exactly three properties before making a decision
In reality, there is no set number of homes you need to see before making a decision. Some people find the perfect property right away, while others look at dozens before making an offer.
2. Decisions are made after a brief conversation
While there are people who can probably make big financial decisions after a thirty second chat over a few drinks and an appetizer, for most people, it takes at least a little more time and consideration before deciding on which house to buy.
3. Most couples in their 20s and 30s are buying expensive properties
The people you see on TV are the exception to the rule. Most young people start with starter homes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As badly as most twenty-somethings want a fabulous penthouse, it’s usually not in the cards (yet).
4. Sellers always get offers after an open house
In reality, an open house does not guarantee an offer, though it can help drum up interest. If you watch enough HGTV, though, you might think otherwise.
5. Every property is perfectly staged
Staging isn’t uncommon, but it’s usually dependent on the seller’s living situation, their budget, and the particulars of the property. However, not all homes for sale are perfectly staged with pristine mid-century modern kitsch, and some are completely empty.
6. Renovations are fast, easy, and cheap
TV makes it look like a full remodel can happen in less than half an hour. In reality, renovations can be time-consuming, complicated, and—with some exceptions—fairly expensive. That being said, in many cases they can be well worth it.
7. After an offer has been accepted, it’s smooth sailing through closing
In reality, there is plenty of work to be done after an accepted offer, including the purchase and sale agreement, financing, inspections, title search, and taking care of anything else that might go awry.
8. The weather is perfect during every open house
As much as we want to, we can’t control the weather, and if it happens to rain or snow or be gloomy during an open house, the show must still go on. If you’ve only seen open houses on TV, however, you’d never believe it.
9. The real estate agent doesn’t have to do much
Agents on home buying shows look like they do little except show houses and call with good news. In reality, there’s so much more they have to handle, and plenty of behind-the-scenes, and in front of screens, that agents do to get you to closing.
Home remodels are on the rise with fix and flip transactions. Even with the coronavirus pandemic, it seems like remodeling is on the rise. Unfortunately, the average average amount of return for home remodeling projects is on the decline. What does this mean for you? Great question.
In light of the market, I’m going to give you a rundown of a few things that may help you decide what’s in and what’s out on the upgrade side of homeownership. Everything that glitters isn’t gold and everything that you shell out money for doesn’t necessarily add value. So let’s get into it :
This is the oldie but goodie. Paint is the cheapest means of updating a home while simultaneously adding value. Whether it’s touchup paint or simply painting the walls to a neutral color, paint can completely change the way a room feels. The great thing about paint is that it’s universal for so many things. You can paint siding, walls, cabinets, etc. any color to suit your needs.
The front of your house is the first thing potential buyers see, so make sure it’s warm and welcoming. A brightly colored door is a great way to draw attention to your house and make it feel modern and inviting.
Buyers can be turned off by minor things that are visually unappealing to them. Get new outlet and lightswitch plates. These get super dirty with use, but are really cheap to replace ($1 or less each). Paint ugly tile. Some things like an ugly breaker box can be covered with a pretty canvas.
Cabinets are a major focus in the upgrade department since the kitchen is usually a big selling point for most homes. Somewhere around 42% of millennials prefer the trend of white cabinets, according to research by Houzz. Grey is on an upward trend as well.With that being said, let’s look into some options for upgrades in that department.
Sometimes homeowners don’t want to spend the additional funds to completely replace cabinetry in the home. Painting your cabinets is like giving them facelift (hopefully a pain free one lol). A really good sanding and coat of paint may be the cheapest- yet most effective, way to do this. If your nervous about doing the tedious undertaking yourself, enlist a good painter. It’s still a cheaper alternative to replacing the cabinets all together.
You may also be tempted to replace the knobs and handles on cabinets in the kitchen. Do it! You would be surprised what a fresh set will do. It’s an inexpensive yet effective way to update your kitchen.
A Center Island
I can’t remember the last time I heard someone looking for a breakfast bar or peninsula in a kitchen. It’s all about the island. It can tie the kitchen into the rest of the home or an open floor plan. The more grand the better lol. If you want to make it super special for potential buyers – farmhouse sink in there maybe?
Imagine going to look at properties and you come across a home that screams “Buy Me”. You love the kitchen and then walk into a dark, grungy-looking bathroom. Not only is it visually unappealing, but it could also be a costly renovation for a potential buyer. To avoid this, think of the bathroom as a major selling point as well. Simple upgrades such as new light fixtures, a good cleaning, and a fresh coat of paint may be all you need to go from drab to fab!
On that note, I cannot forget to mention the bathroom sink situation. Nobody really wants to share a sink with their significant other or children lol. Double vanities are a huge bonus, especially if they’re in a private, en-suite master bathroom. Two is always better than one.
Preference vs Value
Some upgrades are more preference than value related. You don’t want to spend a fortune upgrading something that will not add value to your home, especially if you plan on selling.
Carpet vs laminate flooring
The battle between the carpet lovers, and haters is one for the ages. Most laminate flooring and carpets are right around the same price. So, it’s often hard to discern which one is better based off pricing alone. Being that laminate floor is almost expected in homes these days, pulling up your carpet to install laminate will do little to nothing to increase the value. This falls under the preference category.
Replacing your windows can cost a homeowner tens of thousands of dollars, which you won’t get back when you sell. Instead, make sure the existing frames are cleaned and well maintained. You may or may not get dinged in a home inspection for them. But that is what home inspections are for.
Out of sight out of mind could also mean out of sight no extra money. Buyers expect HVAC & plumbing to be in working condition (unless your selling the home “as-is” ) so its not something they are going to pay more for if you decide to overhaul the entire system. If you have no issues with HVAC or plumbing, it’s best to just leave well enough alone. Always maintain routine maintenance.
The same principle applies when it comes to adding a new roof. Replacing a roof past its average life expectancy is considered a maintenance issue and won’t enable you to increase your asking price in most cases.
Some homeowners will be shocked to find out what will (and Wont) be advantageous of them to improve the value of their property. While some of these enhancements won’t help you turn a bigger profit, they probably won’t hurt, either—just keep in mind, is what I’m spending going to yield me a profit? Give it a good amount of thought and research before shelling out the big bucks for nothing.