Debra Parker's Blog
Whether you've recently purchased a new home or are in the process of doing so, one of the most satisfying aspects of becoming a homeowner is customizing your living space.
Half the fun of moving into a new home is "making it your own," which can include everything from painting the walls to remodeling the kitchen.
Although it may feel a little odd at first to move into what was recently "someone else's house," it won't take long before you and your family feel a sense of belonging and pride. In many cases, that feeling is instantaneous. While there are dozens of things you can do to create a feeling of coziness, comfort, and security, here are a few tips worth keeping in mind.
Empty those moving boxes. Once the moving crew leaves, the first thing many people do is take a deep sigh of relief and order a pizza -- and why not! If you have all your immediate essentials packed in separate, clearly labeled boxes, then there's no urgent need to set up your household right away. Relax, take in your new surroundings, and enjoy the accomplishment of purchasing and moving into a new home! Once you've taken that initial breather and acclimated yourself to your new living space, however, getting organized and unpacked is one of the next orders of business. If you leave stuff in boxes for more than a week or two, it may delay your feeling of being "settled in."
Add your own decorating touches. If your walls seem sterile, stark, or empty looking, two solutions immediately come to mind: Consider changing your paint color to a warmer shade and hang up some framed paintings or pictures that reflect your personality. In addition to wall art you already own, there are several websites and well-known retail outlets that can help you update and personalize your home décor. Over time, you can also check out local art exhibits, antique shows, and craft fairs.
Landscaping: Depending on the season and the climate in which you live, planting colorful flowers, bushes or ornamental trees can help beautify your property and make it feel like your own. Hedges and fencing can also enhance your sense of privacy and create a backyard retreat that's ideal for relaxing and entertaining.
Security matters: Regardless of how safe and secure your new neighborhood seems, it's always better to be safe than sorry! Since you don't know how many people may have been given keys to your house, such as housekeepers, contractors, neighbors, or friends of the previous owner, it makes sense to change the locks on your doors, as soon as possible. You may also want to do a security audit, which might include testing your window locks and trimming shrubbery that covers windows. Installing a couple motion detector lights in strategic places is another home security measure that can increase your peace of mind and make your new house feel more like a home.
Whatever your priorities are, before you take on the purchase of a home, answer these questions for yourself:
- Why do you want to purchase a house? Is it for financial reasons? Is it less expensive than paying rent? Until you’re certain about your reasons for buying, take it slow and make a plan. It’s your money, your time and your effort that goes into maintaining a home. Buying for the wrong reasons leads to buyers’ remorse and dissatisfaction.
- Where do you want to own a home? Is extra land important to you? Or, do you want to be near other family members? Farther away? Can your lifestyle support the commute? Buying a house that requires an extensive commute changes your life in ways you may not foresee. Moving away from friends, entertainment and shopping areas you enjoy can tarnish the pleasure of a new home. Pick your location based on what you want most, even if it means a smaller house or less land.
- What type of home do you want? Do you prefer a maintenance-free condominium with a view? A single-family home in an HOA-controlled neighborhood? A townhouse with an attached garage and street-level entry? Be clear about what living style suits you. If hearing the neighbor’s alarm clock raises your stress level, a flat-style condominium or attached townhome might not be the best option for you. A duplex with only adjoined garages could fit the bill nicely though. Let your agent know which things are deal-breakers and which are merely preferences.
Once you decide, with absolute certainty, what you want, you can set about finding just the right home in the best location at the correct time and for the optimal price. When it’s right, you’ll know it. Start by finding the right agent. Reach out today for a consultation.
With rent prices shooting soaring across the country, many young Americans who were previously happy renting while they saved for a home are now turning to other options.
One common solution is a starter home. If you want to keep your monthly mortgage prices low while being able to build equity and slowly save for your “forever home.” a starter home can be a great option for first-time buyers.
When does it make sense to buy a starter home?
Buying a home means mortgage payments, home maintenance and repairs, and closing costs. However, they can also be a great introduction to the responsibilities of homeownership.
Better yet, starter homes allow you to build equity that can be used toward the down payment of your next home, something that first-time buyers often struggle with. This could help you secure a lower interest rate and avoid costly private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Sounds great, right? But when shouldn’t you buy a starter home?
It might not make sense to buy a starter home if you don’t plan on living in it at least 3-4 years. You might find that the cost of renting is less than that of your mortgage payments and closing costs if you don’t live in the home long enough to reap the rewards.
It also might not be a good idea if your family is going to outgrow a small home in the next few years for the same reasons mentioned above. That makes it all the more important to discuss your long term plans with your spouse before considering a home.
Things to look for in a starter home
1. Resale value
One of the most important aspects of your starter home should be the ability to resell it in the future. Now, there is an endless number of factors that go into the marketability of a home. Key factors include the condition of the home and keeping it well-maintained, as well as the location of the home. Buying a starter home in an area that will attract young professionals down the road is typically a good investment.
2. Small size = low price
It probably goes without saying, but finding a home with a low price, at the expense of square-footage, is most often a smart choice when it comes to starter homes.
Small homes are cheaper to buy, cheaper to heat, and cheaper to maintain. However, since housing prices are trending upward, you’ll likely still see a positive return on your investment in ~5 years time when you’re hoping to buy again.
3. Reasonable home improvements
If you can spare the time, buying a starter home that needs some work can be an excellent investment. It can be more difficult later on when you have a large family to care for and less time to focus on making improvements.
There are many state-of-the-art smart home devices at your disposal. At the same time, there is no shortage of vendors that sell smart home devices in cities and towns nationwide.
Ultimately, it is a good idea to shop around for a smart home device. If you evaluate a variety of smart home device vendors, you can boost the likelihood of finding gadgets that fall in line with your budget. Plus, you could lay the foundation for a partnership with a vendor that can fulfill your smart home device needs for years to come.
When it comes to choosing a smart home device vendor, challenges may arise. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to differentiate an exceptional smart house gadget vendor from an average one, such as:
1. Check Out Customer Reviews
Googling a vendor enables you to learn all about this business and its brand reputation. Perhaps best of all, it may allow you to assess customer reviews to help you understand what it is like to buy smart home devices from a particular vendor.
You should try to avoid developing your opinion of a vendor based on a single customer review. Instead, read multiple customer reviews, and you could gain the insights you need to determine if a vendor can help you acquire the best smart home gadgets at the lowest prices.
2. Browse a Vendor's Inventory Closely
New smart home devices are becoming available every day. Meanwhile, a vendor that fails to update its smart house gadget inventory accordingly may struggle to satisfy customer requests for the latest and greatest devices.
As you conduct a search for smart light bulbs, smart robot vacuums or other smart home devices, assess a vendor's inventory. This allows you to see if a vendor offers best-in-class smart home devices, basic models or a combination of the two. Furthermore, once you review a vendor's smart home device selection, you can find out if this business offers the right gadgets based on your individual needs.
3. Test a Vendor's Expertise
Let's face it – shopping for smart home devices may prove to be a long, arduous process. Differentiating one smart house gadget from another may be difficult. Also, if you fail to weigh the pros and cons of myriad smart house devices, you risk making a poor smart house gadget selection.
Generally, it helps to work with a vendor that employs smart home device experts. If you visit a vendor's brick-and-mortar location or shop online, you should be able to reach out to smart house device experts at your convenience.
If you find a vendor fails to offer sufficient client support, you may want to look elsewhere for smart home devices. Or, if a vendor employs first-rate smart house device experts, you may want to purchase a broad array of smart house gadgets from this business.
Conduct an in-depth search for smart home gadgets. That way, you can shop with a vendor that can help you acquire terrific smart home devices that may serve you well both now and in the future.
Home valuation is one of the tricky areas of real estate. In general, you want a high appraisal and a low assessment. But shouldn't they be the same? Well, in a perfect world your assessment and your appraisal would be the same, but you don't want the world to be perfect in this regard. Here's why:
An appraised value comes from the report completed by a licensed professional appraiser to determine property value at a specific point, typically for a buyer to obtain a mortgage. It is a tool used by underwriters for lenders to determine if the home has enough collateral for the loan needed to purchase or refinance it.
Appraisers compare the home to similar properties in their evaluation. They look for both similarities to find a base value and difference to increase or decrease the value such as the roof's age, livable square footage, exterior materials, upgrades, and other finished. Using these numbers and other valuation formulae such as the cost to rebuild the home (similar to your homeowner insurance values), and potential income from rental or other uses, the appraiser determines a possible value.
The market value is not the same as the appraised value, however. While it starts with the appraised value, other determiners such as the desirability of the area, or circumstances such as a tornado, hurricane, or eminent domain issues may adjust the market value above or below the appraised value.
A home's assessed value typically comes from the taxing authority for the municipality. It is the method of determining the tax basis (or valuation) of the property. The tax assessment is a percentage of that value that the homeowner pays annually to provide the municipality money for water and fire services, schools, capital improvements to roads, bridge, and public parks and additional essential services.
The amount of the percentage and its designations differ for every taxing authority, so a home in one neighborhood might have a different assessed value from an identical house in another block nearby if the boundary lines for the taxing authority (school district, for example) differs.Some counties and cities reassess homes only when they sell, while others have periodic assessments. And the percentage rates of the assessments change when voters approve various tax levies for a variety of purposes.
An appraisal affects your ability to obtain a mortgage for your home while an assessment relates to the ongoing yearly tax expenses. Since a third factor determines the home's selling price, the market value, your professional realtor should guide your understanding of how these factors affect your home purchase or sale.