Karen Lawley's Blog
If you're currently renting an apartment or house, it makes good financial sense to consider becoming a homeowner in the foreseeable future. There are pros and cons to owning your own home -- and it's not for everyone -- but for most people, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
An exception would be if your job requires you to relocate frequently. In that scenario, the potential benefits of building up equity in a home would be greatly diminished.
On the other hand, if you plan on staying put for more than a few years, then the tax benefits and investment value of owning real estate could put you on a stronger financial track than if you continued shelling out your hard-earned money to a landlord. You've probably heard the argument before: "If you pay rent, you have nothing to show for it at the end of the year". However, when you buy a home, an increasing portion of your monthly payments is applied to your actual ownership of the property (as opposed to how much you owe the bank).
Tax Advantages of Home Ownership
In most cases, you can deduct all of your home mortgage interest from your federal tax returns, according to the IRS. More specifically: "The only costs you can deduct are real estate taxes actually paid to the taxing authority, interest that qualifies as home mortgage interest, and mortgage insurance premiums."
However, since everyone's financial situation is different and there is no "one size fits all" approach to financial management, it's always best to consult with an experienced CPA, enrolled agent, or knowledgeable tax preparer. There may be other tax benefits you could qualify for as a homeowner, too, including getting tax credits for installing a solar energy system. The government's Energy Star program says tax credits on new solar energy systems are available through the year 2021.
Getting the Process Underway
Two key steps to becoming a home owner are finding out your credit score and meeting with a mortgage lender to determine how much of a real estate loan you could qualify for. An experienced real estate agent can also provide you with a wealth of guidance and information on how to become a homeowner. They can fill you in on many of the exact steps, requirements, and advantages of buying your first home. A buyers' agent can also help you assess your readiness to take the plunge into home ownership.
In addition to finding out your credit score, which will impact your mortgage interest rate and the type of loan you may qualify for, other vital information can be gleaned from a detailed personal budget. Although the amount of rent you now pay will provide some insights into your potential house-buying budget, there are a lot of variables which will impact how much of a mortgage you could comfortably afford.
Ready to buy a condo? With help from an expert real estate agent, you can make your condo ownership dreams come true.
An expert real estate agent will go the extra mile to ensure you can purchase a top-notch condo at an unbeatable price. In addition, this real estate professional will make it easy to discover a superior condo without delay.
Ultimately, an expert real estate agent can make a world of difference during a condo search. But it is important to note that there are many factors to consider as you evaluate a real estate agentl.
Key factors that a condo buyer should consider when he or she assesses a real estate agent include:
1. Industry Experience
How many years has a real estate agent worked with condo buyers? Has a real estate agent been successful in his or her efforts to help condo buyers? And how will this housing market professional handle difficult negotiations with a condo seller? These are some of the questions to consider as you examine a real estate agent's industry experience.
When it comes to assessing a real estate agent, industry experience is key. A real estate professional who understands the ins and outs of buying a condo should have no trouble helping you purchase a superb property that matches or exceeds your expectations.
2. Communication Skills
How a real estate agent communicates with his or her clients says a lot about this professional.
If a real estate agent strives to stay in touch with clients via text, phone and email, this housing market professional likely will be able to keep a condo buyer informed at each stage of the property buying cycle.
On the other hand, a real estate agent who fails to prioritize effective communication may struggle to help a condo buyer. This housing market professional may be unavailable if a condo buyer has concerns or questions. As a result, a condo buyer is unlikely to get the support that he or she needs to make an informed property buying decision.
Meeting directly with a real estate agent can give you a better idea about his or her communication skills. If you feel comfortable with a real estate agent after a face-to-face discussion, you may want to consider moving forward with this housing market professional.
3. Client Referrals
What are previous condo buyers saying about a real estate agent? Request client referrals from a real estate agent, and you can find out how he or she has supported condo buyers in the past.
Client referrals enable you to understand what it's like to work with a real estate agent and can provide you with insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. Moreover, client referrals can help you accelerate the process of choosing the right real estate agent to guide you along the condo buying journey.
For condo buyers, there is no need to worry as you prepare to enter the housing market. Instead, use these tips, and you can find a first-rate real estate agent who will ensure you can purchase your dream condo.
If your decor is feeling blah and drab after updating to a new home and bringing all of your old furniture with you don’t start hauling it to the dump just yet! You don’t have to toss everything out and start over to get a fresh new look.
Instead, incorporating a new trend or two can instantly change the look and feel of any room.
Here are the current top trends according to Pinterest:
Spa bathroom - Creating a spa-like atmosphere is at the top of everyone’s wish list, or so it seems. Items like cedarwood bath “mats”, rebottling products into beautiful bottles, and hanging eucalyptus and lavender are being pinned like crazy. Classics like wicker baskets, rolling up towels for display and bathtub caddies are still making their rounds. These are a great way to mix timeless elements with trending ones for a bathroom look that transcends time or at least not for the next year or two.
Sage - The color sage has won its standing in the neutral category. Use this shade to add tints of color to an otherwise neutral to the point of a sterile room. Kitchen cabinets, bathroom walls, living room walls are all popular canvases for this popular shade. Keep the trend modern by pairing it up with light pinks, taupes, creams, and denim blues. If you aren’t ready to commit to a paint color bring it in with accents via throw pillows, jars, and even the plant itself!
Big wall art - Big wall art is in and in a big way. Quickly replacing gallery walls canvases that stretch from floor to ceiling or a good ⅔ of the wall big art is taking over Pinner’s boards by storm. Abstract pieces primarily in black and white seem to be the most popular when placed against a wall painted with a pop of color. However, don’t let this stop you from reach for a piece you love that is full of color! The key to this look is to avoid generic prints. If you’d like to make it personal blow up a more artistic shot from your wedding or have the kiddos make you a custom piece for a craft project.
Patterned plants - Greenery that comes in stripes, spots and varying shades are cropping up on Pinner’s boards everywhere. Plants bring life and freshness to a room so why not also make them pull their weight be adding visual interest to boot? Popular varieties are prayer plants, calathea, snake plants, philodendron, and pothos. Mix and match varieties to make a true statement.
Colorful doors - Goodbye boring white doors! Colors like school bus yellow, blush pink, bright and cobalt blue are popping up on Pinterest boards everywhere. Go bold with yellow. Create a welcoming sanctuary with lavender. Create a home, sweet home with blush pink. And welcome guests with open arms with cobalt blue.
Ready to submit an offer on a house? Before you present a proposal to a seller, it is important to plan ahead as much as possible. That way, you can increase the likelihood of an instant "Yes" from a seller, as well as boost your chances of a quick, seamless homebuying experience.
Now, let's take a look at three steps to follow before you submit a homebuying proposal.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
What good is a homebuying proposal if you lack the necessary financing to purchase a house? If you get pre-approved for a mortgage today, you can ensure that you will have the home financing that you need to make your homeownership dream come true.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with several local banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can offer full details about a variety of mortgage options and help you select one that matches or surpasses your expectations.
Also, if you are unsure about the differences between assorted mortgage options, don't hesitate to ask for assistance. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists, and these professionals are happy to teach you about various mortgage options.
2. Define a "Competitive" Offer
If you want to acquire your ideal residence, it pays to put your best foot forward with your homebuying proposal. Because if you submit a "lowball" offer, you risk missing out on the opportunity to purchase your dream house.
A "competitive" offer generally accounts for the condition and age of a house, along with the current real estate climate. Thus, if you evaluate a wide range of housing market data, you may be better equipped than ever before to submit a competitive offer on any home, at any time.
Take a look at the prices of recently sold houses in your area. This data can paint a picture of the current state of the local housing market.
Furthermore, find out how the home that you want to buy stacks up against similar houses that are available in your city or town. With this information, you can further refine your homebuying proposal.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a must-have, regardless of where you are on the homebuying journey. In fact, this housing market professional can help you can make the best-possible choices at each stage of the homebuying journey.
Prior to submitting a home offer, it often helps to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you determine exactly what to offer on a home. And if your initial proposal is rejected, a real estate agent will make it simple to reenter the housing market and discover your ideal home.
When it comes to submitting an offer on a house, it usually is a great idea to prepare. If you follow the aforementioned steps, you should have no trouble providing a homebuying proposal that is sure to capture a seller's attention.
If, on the other hand, you adopt more of an isolated lifestyle, then the experience of home ownership may be a lot less fulfilling.
Taking the time to have a friendly chat with your neighbors, once in a while, can be helpful both now and in the long-term. While not everyone has a gregarious, outgoing personality, making the occasional effort to say hello can open the door to a number of benefits.
Home Security: The best neighborhoods are those in which everyone looks out for one another. When you know your neighbors on a first-name basis, they'll be a lot more likely to keep an eye on your house and let you (or the police) know when they observe any suspicious activity. It's also nice to feel comfortable enough to be able to ask your neighbors to watch your property while you're away -- either for the weekend or when you're on vacation. Even in low-crime areas, burglaries and vandalism has been known to happen, so it's in everyone's best interest to know their neighbors and be ready to help. Although Neighborhood Watch groups are not active everywhere, there's no reason why people still can't be alert and responsive to loitering, trespassing, or other questionable activity.
Networking Benefits: You may not need a plumber, electrician, or a reasonably priced HVAC technician, right now, but sooner or later, you will -- guaranteed! There may also come a time when you need emergency child care or fast help jump-starting your vehicle. You're probably not going to approach your neighbors for help if you don't know them, but there's a good chance you will if you do have a rapport. By sharing information, resources, and recommendations with neighbors, you'll be paving the way for a mutually beneficial relationship. While you may or may not become best friends, it's nice to know that there's someone nearby you can count on for support and help.
Feeling of community: Although some neighborhoods have a more friendly, close-knit feeling than others, it's often easy to break the ice with neighbors when you're outside -- either doing yard work, walking your dog, or going for a stroll. By taking the initiative to welcome new people into the neighborhood, you'll not only have a positive impact on their lives, but you might even forge a new, long-term friendship. You can also make social connections by chatting with people at yard sales, block parties, or by joining and being active in neighborhood Facebook or Nextdoor groups. While it may feel easier to just keep to yourself and avoid venturing outside of your comfort zone, becoming part of a larger community in your neighborhood (and beyond) is often much more rewarding!