Tom Lee ABR CRS GRI LTG SRES's Blog
For many of us, it can seem like our paychecks are gone before we even get a chance to see them. With seemingly endless bills and expenses, both recurring and unforeseen, saving up for a house is a daunting task.
Fortunately, there are ways you can prepare yourself for those intimidating down payments and many closing costs.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through how you can start saving for a home right this moment. After all, every day is another day you could be contributing to your savings and taking another step closer to owning your own home.
Use a Budgeting Tool
The first step to saving and determining how much you can save is to start budgeting. Many people hear the term “budget” and get nervous thinking they’ll have to start counting the number of coffees they buy. However, there are less anxiety-inducing ways to budget.
From your phone, tablet, or computer you have access to a large number of free budgeting tools. Mint, You Need a Budget (YNAB), and PocketGuard are three of the top budgeting tools that will get you started.
With apps that integrate with your bank accounts and loan balances, there is little work required on your part. Just set an amount to save each week or month, and direct the funds into your savings account.
Set up a dedicated savings account
Speaking of savings accounts--now is a great time to set up a new one. It’s almost always free to open a new account with your bank. What’s more, it’s a lot less tempting to pull from a savings account when it’s labeled something like “HOUSE SAVINGS - DO NOT TOUCH.”
Once you have your budgeting app and bank account set up, it’s time to dig into some of the ways you can save money without skipping meals.
Cutting Monthly Expenses
Rather than telling yourself you can’t buy any more fancy Starbucks drinks anymore until you have a house (don’t torture yourself), make a list of all your monthly expenses. That can include anything from Netflix and Spotify to haircuts and car washes.
A great way to make this list is to go through your credit and debit card transactions. If you have autopay set up, you might not even realize how many services are withdrawing directly from your accounts each month.
For each item on your list, determine if you can either eliminate the expense or spend less on it. Maybe you go for the deluxe car war rather than the basic. Or, you might pay for services you don’t use as much as you used to.
If you’re worried about having no entertainment if you drop Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, you could try out your local library system. Most of the time you can have books, movies, and music shipped for free from all around your state.
When it comes to cable, cell phone plans, car insurance, and other monthly bills give your provider a call and tell them you’re thinking about switching over to a cheaper competitor. They’ll likely offer you a discounted rate. If they don’t, follow through on your promise and call other providers to see if you can get better rates.
If you’re looking to buy a property in the near future, you may be considering a condominium as a part of your search criteria. There’s so much to consider when you are deciding on whether to buy a condo or a traditional home. Condos can be great for the right buyers. You just need to be sure that your needs will be met by purchasing a condo. Hopefully, laying out the pros and cons will help you to make an informed decision that’s right for you.
There’s many great pros to buying a condo. For people who seek security and easy upkeep living, buying a condo can be great for the following reasons:
Security: Many condominiums offer gated communities with security staff on duty. In this way, living in a condo gives you a special sort of safe community feel.
Amenities: Condos also offer many different kinds of perks for owners. These can include a pool, a clubhouse, or community events. You won’t get all of these unique benefits living in a traditional house.
Maintenance: You don’t have to worry about maintaining your home or the surrounding areas. In a condo, someone else takes care of it for you! When your heating unit fails, it will be taken care of. This is one of the great benefits to this style of home.
Accessible prices: Condos are much more affordable than homes in many places. Purchasing a condo can be a great first step to home ownership.
HOA Fees: All of the amenities that condos carry come at a price. You as the homeowner cover the costs of maintenance and security in the community. This fee is paid on top of your mortgage payment. In some cases, the association fees can vary widely, so plan your finances accordingly.
Privacy: Living in a condo is similar to living in an apartment. There’s a lack of privacy that exists when you’re sharing walls with your neighbors. You’ll hear people going up and down the halls and fellow owners will be around you 24 hours a day. If you enjoy your privacy and space, condo living may not be for you.
Selling: If you have seen one condo in a specific complex, you have seen them all. That’s what makes selling a condo difficult at times. If a building has more empty units than not, the condo may be more difficult to sell. Keep this in mind when you’re searching.
Condos Have Rules: Living in a condo means you’re living under the management’s rules. You may not to be able to install the technology that you want like solar panels and satellite TV under the community regulations, for example. A condominium's home owner association may limit things like what you can do in your yard or hang on your door.
The decision to buy a condo over a single family home is a big one. There’s many different things that need to be considered on an individual basis for your choice to be complete. Look at your decision from all angles. A condo could be a great pathway to home ownership for many people.
Adding your house to the real estate market today may prove to be a great decision. In fact, there are many terrific reasons to list your home today, including:
1. You may be able to generate a profit on your house.
If you maintained your home over the years, the residence may have increased in value. Thus, you may be better equipped than other home sellers to generate a profit on your residence.
Furthermore, if you're preparing to enter a seller's market, you may be able to earn a significant profit in no time at all.
A seller's market frequently includes an abundance of homebuyers and a shortage of home sellers. As such, if you add a high-quality house to a seller's market, it may be only a matter of time before you receive multiple offers at or above your initial asking price.
2. You can downsize your home or upgrade to a larger residence.
Although your current residence may have served you well for an extended period of time, now may prove to be a great time for a change. Fortunately, if you add your house to the real estate market, you can take the next step to downsize your residence or upgrade to a larger residence.
For those who want to downgrade, it may be simple to sell a house and get rid of excess items at the same time. Then, you can relocate to a smaller residence that better suits your budget and personal needs.
On the other hand, those who want to move into a bigger and better residence can explore a vast array of residences any time they choose. After a home seller finds a buyer for his or her residence, this individual will have plenty of funds to pursue a superior residence as well.
3. You can embark on a new adventure.
Selling a home opens new doors for any individual, at any time.
For example, you can use the funds from your home sale to go on a cross-country journey. Or, you may choose to move closer to family members and friends in another area of the country. Regardless of which option you choose, you won't have to worry about being saddled to a home mortgage after you sell your residence.
Consider the short- and long-term ramifications of selling your house, along with what you'll do immediately following a home sale. By doing so, you can map out the next stage of your life.
Of course, if you ever have concerns or questions about selling a house, it is always best to consult with a real estate agent. With a housing market professional at your side, you can receive expert insights throughout the home selling journey.
A real estate agent will keep you up to date about offers on your house and offer honest, unbiased home selling recommendations. In addition, he or she is ready to respond to your home selling queries at any time.
Get ready to sell your home – meet with a real estate agent, and you can take the next step to add your residence to the real estate market.
Most potential buyers for your home will have their first impression on the internet in the form of a photo gallery of your home. Therefore it’s essential to have quality photos that show off the size and features of both the interior and exterior of your house.
As smartphones are equipped with ever-improving built in cameras, taking decent photos of your home has never been easier. However, there are still a few basic photography techniques that you should keep in mind to get the best results.
In this article, we’ll give you some tips on shooting professional-looking photos of your home that will leave a good impression on potential buyers.
Lighting matters most
It may seem like most cameras these days adjust the exposure for poor lighting pretty well. However, if you’re taking photos in a dimly lit house, you can’t depend on your camera to fix the problem. When your camera or smartphone automatically adjusts the brightness of a photo you’re really losing photo quality.
You might have noticed pictures that appear grainy or pixelized. That is often because the photographer didn’t have enough light and allowed the camera to adjust. For best results, take photos in your home when the sun is high, open up the blinds and curtains, and turn on some ambient light in the room. A well-lit home looks much more inviting in photos than a dark one.
There’s only one other lighting tip you’ll need for taking quality photos of your home, and that’s to never use flash. Phone camera flashes can be good in a pinch if you’re not concerned with how a photo is going to look. But, it if you’re trying to take nice photos of your home a smart phone flash will likely ruin your photos. It will create a glare on any number if surfaces in your home and it will create an unnatural white-colored light that is typically unflattering.
Where you stand is important
You want to show off all of the features of your home, but you don’t want to have hundreds of photos in your gallery. To achieve this, it’s best to stand in a corner or against a wall to fit as much as possible into the frame.
Avoid holding the camera up over your head or kneeling down. Typically, when we see a home we see it from eye-level. Photos that are taken from a perspective that is unnaturally high up or low to the ground will appear strange and foreign to someone who is unfamiliar with your home.
Take a ton of photos
One of the most common pieces of advice amateur photographers receive is to shoot as many photos as they can. This helps you for two reasons. First, the more photos you take the more likely it is that there will be a few great shots. Second, shooting a lot of photos and then reviewing your work is the best way to learn what looks good and what doesn’t.
In a time where digital memory is cheap, there’s no reason to be economical with the number of photos you take.
As a home seller, you need to do everything possible to learn about the competition. By doing so, you can find out what sets your house apart from other available residences and promote your home accordingly.
Ultimately, gaining a competitive advantage over rival home sellers can be simple – here are three tips to help you do just that.
1. Become a Real Estate Market Expert
Allocate the necessary time and resources to analyze the real estate market closely – you'll be happy you did. With housing market insights at your disposal, you can map out a successful home selling journey.
Take a look at the prices of homes that are currently available in your city or town. Focus on houses that are similar to your own, and you can establish a price range for your residence.
Also, examine the prices of recently sold houses in your area. This will allow you to see how long it took for these residences to sell. Plus, you can find out whether you're about to enter a buyer's or seller's market.
2. Learn About Your Home's Condition
Conduct a home appraisal, and you can gain unparalleled insights into your house's condition.
A home appraisal usually takes just a few hours to complete. During this appraisal, a property inspector will examine your residence and identify any home problems. Then, the inspector will offer a report that outlines his or her findings.
Following a home appraisal, you can determine the true condition of your house. That way, you can prioritize various home improvements and ensure that your home's condition serves as a key differentiator after you list your residence.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
If you're unsure about how to approach a competitive real estate market, there is no need to worry. Many real estate agents are available to assist home sellers and provide these sellers with extensive support throughout the home selling journey.
A real estate agent can offer tips to help a home seller bolster a house's interior and exterior. This housing market professional understands what it takes to promote a residence to the right groups of homebuyers too. Thus, he or she will do everything possible to guarantee your residence stands out from the competition.
Perhaps best of all, no question is too big or too small for a real estate agent. If you want to know the prices of recently sold houses in your neighborhood, a real estate agent can provide you with the pricing data that you need. Or, if you want to enhance your home's interior, a real estate agent is happy to help you discover the best ways to transform your house's interior from drab to dazzling.
Competition is fierce among home sellers. But with the aforementioned tips, a home seller can gain a competitive edge, one that can help this seller accelerate the home selling journey and get the best price for his or her house.