Things Worth Checking For in a New Construction Contract

Share:

If you’re thinking about selling your house, but your dream home isn’t on the market, it may be time to consider building.

New homes offer many perks, including the opportunity to choose a floor plan that suits your personal needs.

If this is your first time purchasing a new build, the contract is very different from your typical real estate transaction. Unfortunately, they’re usually designed to protect the builder more than the buyer. 

You must be diligent about understanding every aspect of the document you’re about to sign. Address every issue you find, and if possible, hire a real estate attorney with your best interest at heart to examine it.

As you review your new construction contract, here are a few items to keep in mind.

What to Check For in a New Construction ContractTimeline Estimates and Penalties

Construction time frames are an important part of the contract. Although most new builds require about a year of preparation and building, construction has been slower in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Make sure you understand the start and finish dates and deadlines for selecting materials. Also, check for information regarding what happens if the home isn’t completed by the estimated date.

Delays and incomplete work can cause some of the biggest legal issues when it comes to construction. If there are no penalties in place, try to negotiate them. This will incentivize the builder to finish your home within a reasonable amount of time.

Scope of Work

This refers to the work your builder agrees to perform. Building is much more than hammering nails. Your builder will usually obtain all the necessary permits for your county or municipality. In addition, the builder will agree to follow the architectural specifications you’ve agreed upon.

Keep in mind, the scope of work may change at some point during the building process if you decide to add a special feature or the builder uncovers a problem that doesn’t allow for a certain element. 

These scenarios should require signed changes to the scope of work within your contract. Plus, you should be made aware of any fees or refunds that result from changes along the way.

Pricing

Perhaps the most contentious part of building a new home is determining the final price and what happens if additional expenses arise along the way. In short, is your price locked in or will you have to foot the bill for unexpected costs?

Both parties must be completely clear about what is and isn’t included in the final price. For example, will the builder include landscaping or work solely on the home? Will your driveway be finished with cement, or will you need to hire another contractor? 

Nine out of 10 construction projects exceed their budget, according to the International Journal of Innovation, Management and Technology. This can be because of delays that require more labor or even rising material costs. Investigate your contract for clauses regarding these situations. 

Warranty Coverage

Although it’s tempting to assume a new house won’t have a single problem, that’s rarely the case. Mistakes can lead to maintenance problems in new homes that are expensive to fix, but repairing them shouldn’t be your responsibility. Whether you’re purchasing your home for the first time or you’re an experienced buyer, warranties are great to have.

A builder’s warranty can last anywhere from six months to two years. Some major structural elements may be covered for up to a decade. In most cases, your warranty should include the following:

  • Concrete foundation
  • Landscaping
  • Carpentry
  • Insulation
  • Electrical wiring
  • Roofing and siding
  • Doors and windows
  • Garage doors
  • Plumbing
  • Septic system
  • HVAC
  • Waterproofing

Likewise, there are certain things that usually won’t be covered in a builder’s warranty, including:

  • Appliances
  • Fading paint
  • Minor cracks
  • Weather-related damage
  • Insect damage

The bottom line is, make sure you fully understand the scope of your builder’s warranty before signing the contract. If you’re worried that it doesn’t supply enough coverage, consider boosting your homeowners insurance.

Dispute Resolution

When you’re excited about the prospect of a shiny new home, it can be easy to view everything in a positive light. Unfortunately, disputes are common in the construction business, and it’s important to know what to expect if you encounter a problem.

Most contracts will include information about dispute resolution. In many cases, they require arbitration, which means you can’t sue the builder. You’ll have to submit a complaint to an arbitrator, who will hear both sides and make a decision. 

This is similar to a trial in court, but the key difference is you lose your right to appeal the final decision. Make sure you fully understand the guidance set forth in this section.

If there’s no information regarding attorney fees, broach the topic before signing. Some states won’t allow you to recover your money, even if the decision is in your favor, unless it’s stated in the contract.

The Bottom Line

Contracts are binding, which makes it imperative to have a full understanding of what you’re about to sign. Take time to fully review the wording of each section, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or negotiate. 

In addition to hiring a lawyer to review the contract, check your builder’s license, insurance, and references. Remember, you’re the one who will be paying the mortgage each month. You have a right to protect your interests when you make such a large investment.

5 Things to Do When You First Move Into a New House

Share:

Finally moving into a new house is the last leg of a marathon that for many homeowners involves months (if not years) of preparation.

Saving a down payment, finding a home, negotiating an offer, securing a mortgage, and getting through the inspection and closing are just a few steps in the process.

Getting settled in a new place should be easy, comparatively speaking, right?  

Moving into a new space involves more than merely unpacking your boxes. As a homeowner, you’ll need to get familiar with the inner workings of your house and how its main systems function.

You may have some immediate repairs or changes to make or services and utilities to set up. And don’t forget to get to know your neighbors.

Whether you’re moving into your first home, or you’re a seasoned homeowner who’s selling to downsize or up-size, take advantage of this time to get set up for success with a move-in checklist. 

Things to Do Before Moving Into New House

Do a Walk Through

Ideally, a complete walk through will be completed just before the closing so that any discrepancies or concerns can be addressed before the sale is finalized.

Check to make sure the terms of the sale are in order such as: 

  • Repairs that may have surfaced during the inspection that the seller agreed to make.
  • Appliances or other items (like a chandelier, for example) that were part of the sale are in the house. Likewise, items to be removed (like a pool table) are gone.
  • Outlets, lighting and plumbing fixtures, doors, and windows are in working order. Check outdoor spaces like a garage or shed as well. 
  • The house is reasonably clean and free of mold or pests.

Consult your realtor if you encounter an issue that violates the terms of the sale to determine a course of action with the appropriate parties, whether that’s the seller’s agent or the seller themselves if the sale was a For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) deal.

Walking through an empty house is also a great time to grab a notebook and a tape measure.

Go room by room, and make note of possible furniture layouts as well as any projects or repairs that need to be addressed. 

Safety first

You and your family’s health and safety comes before anything else. Do an initial child and pet-proofing of your new home to ensure everyone’s safety during the moving-in/unpacking process.

Take standard safety precautions and cover outlets, sharp edges, and corners. Install gates in restricted areas and tamper-proof locks on lower kitchen and bathroom cabinets as well as knob protectors on the stove.

Check that all windows close securely and remove any long or hanging cords from blinds.

In addition, ‘move-in specific’ precautions include: 

  • Keep sharp tools like scissors or box-cutters up high and out-of-reach.
  • Spread boxes out instead of stacking them to prevent a toppling hazard.
  • Store breakables, sharp objects, alcohol, or cleaning supplies out of reach or in a locked lower cabinet until you decide where they’ll be permanently housed.

Test fire and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries if needed. It’s a good time to store a fire extinguisher on each level of the house and to create a basic evacuation plan with a designated meeting spot in case of emergency.

Consider changing the locks as an extra layer of security as it’s hard to be certain who, besides the previous owners, may have had a key to your new home.

Temporarily store an extra key under the doormat, under a flower pot, or in a garden hose; moving in entails a lot of going in and out of the house and it’s easy to accidentally get locked out. 

Test utilities, connectivity and locate key features

Ideally, the accounts for your utilities, Wi-Fi, cable, or phone were transferred, or new ones set up and activated at your new home before moving day.

Make sure you have running water, electricity, and gas — contact the service providers right away with any issues.

Check with your township to ensure waste pick-up has been arranged. Regardless of the season, test both the heating and cooling systems to make sure they’re in working order. 

If anyone in your household will be working or schooling from home, it’s a good time to connect your devices to be certain Wi-Fi is up and running. 

Locate the key systems in the house: the fuse box, circuit breaker, main water valve, gas lines, sump pump, and the water heater or boiler — and know how to turn them on/off or reset them.

Make sure major appliances are plugged in and working properly such as: your refrigerator, freezer, washer/dryer, oven/stove, dishwasher, and automatic garage door. Be sure to check out fixtures like ceiling fans and gas fireplaces as well.

Deep Clean

It’s never easier to deep clean your home than when it’s completely empty, so dig in, if possible, after the closing and before the movers arrive. 

Clean from high to low in each room, getting the tops of shelves, ceiling fans, woodwork and trim, or other tall spaces that don’t usually get attention. 

Kitchen Give the refrigerator priority since you’ll be stocking it with perishables, then clean the cabinets, sink, light fixtures, and microwave. Be sure to run a sanitizing cycle in the dishwasher. 

Bathroom After an initial scrub down, sanitize all surfaces including the light switches, faucets, and toilet paper holders. Replacing toilet seats is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to ensure they’re completely sanitary. 

Floors Clean the floors last. For tile, hardwood, or linoleum, use a vacuum with an appropriate floor to get up any debris and mop accordingly. For carpets, a rented steam cleaner (if you don’t have one) will remove allergens, stains, and other debris if you’re not replacing the carpets altogether. 

After moving in you can tackle the exterior. Consider doing a pressure washing of the exterior including any decks or patios.

Meet Your Neighbors

No doubt you’ll want to explore your neighborhood, and that includes meeting your neighbors.

Start by introducing yourself to the homeowners on either side of you, perhaps ask for recommendations for good restaurants and grocery stores, or ask a question about garbage pick up to make conversation. 

Many neighborhoods have digital options or use social platforms for getting involved with the community.

Consider attending a town meeting, volunteering for a service project, or joining the planning committee for the neighborhood block party. The more you immerse yourself in your new surroundings, the more likely your new house will quickly become a home. 

10 Things to Look for in a New Neighborhood

Share:

From floor plans to square footage, home buyers spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect house. However, it’s also important to know what you’re looking for in a neighborhood.

The community you choose will have an impact on everything from your daily activities to your property taxes.

There’s a lot to consider as you start your search, which is why it’s helpful to have a checklist before you start looking on one of the popular home search websites.

Here are 10 things to look for in a new neighborhood. 

Picking a Neighborhood

Good Schools

Regardless of whether you have kids, your local school district is incredibly important because it can have a big impact on your home’s value, so it’s important to do a little research. Most school districts are assigned a letter grade indicating their performance level. 

If you do have children, you should also take time to ask people in the community how they feel about the specific schools your kids would attend. You may also want to consider the availability of bus routes and walkability to those schools if that’s important to your family.

Demographic Details

People buy homes at different stages of life. Perhaps you’re expecting your first child and want to live in a tight-knit neighborhood with plenty of young families. On the other hand, if you’re a new retiree, you probably prefer a quieter neighborhood with more opportunities for recreation and social gatherings. 

Whatever phase of life you’re in, consider a neighborhood that fits your demographic desires. Your Realtor can provide this type of data to help you find an area that fits your lifestyle. 

Safety 

It’s essential to feel safe in your own home. Research crime rates in a potential neighborhood before you submit an offer on a house. 

If it appears there may be problems, talk with local police about the area in question. You may find that the ZIP code has a few streets prone to crime, but the neighborhood is safe overall. 

A little research will go a long way when it comes to determining the safety of a neighborhood.

Walkability

It’s easy to overlook, but walkability says a lot about a community. You’ll likely want sidewalks that facilitate easy walking, running, and biking. The last thing you want to worry about is a car zooming by.

Some people even prefer to have a high walkability score to local amenities, such as coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores. 

Low Noise

Visit a potential neighborhood on different days at various times to scope out the noise situation. Are trees lining the backyard hiding a major road with traffic noises that would keep you up all night? Are flights from the city airport right overhead? 

These noises won’t go away. Even if you’re willing to live with them, a future buyer may not feel the same way. If you’re trying to sell your house fast, this could deter interested buyers. Plus, it could have an effect on resale value.

Nearby Amenities

Think about the amenities you access on a regular basis. Whether it’s a daily latte, the grocery store, or even the dry cleaner, make sure you have what you need nearby.

For those who now work from home, it may be important to find a nearby coworking space to escape to when your to-do list is long.

Families with kids may also want to find a neighborhood with parks and community pools.

If you have frequent medical needs, a hospital and other health care facilities would also be an important aspect to consider. It’s important to think about these amenities and their proximity to a new home. 

Manicured Homes

You may feel proud to have the nicest house on the block, but you don’t want to be the shining star among a string of dilapidated homes.

Your home’s value is affected by the surrounding neighborhood, which is why it should look clean and well-kept.

Communities with a homeowners association usually have specific rules for ensuring that every house has curb appeal. That said, living in a community run by an HOA means you’ll have monthly fees. Look closely at the dues you’ll owe and any noteworthy restrictions. 

Those who plan on downsizing often do so into a more manageable neighborhood with a homeowners association.

An Easy Commute

Adding time to your commute is as bad as a pay cut when it comes to job satisfaction, according to researchers. 

If you intend to stay at your current job after you move, it’s important to calculate your round-trip commute. In fact, you should test out the drive at the same time you’d be on the road getting to and from work. 

This will help you assess the traffic, brainstorm alternative routes, and make a final decision before you decide on a neighborhood. 

Public Transportation

If you depend on it, public transportation is important to research before you choose a neighborhood. Whether you’re traveling by bus or train, make sure you have the stops you need close to the house. People who travel for work on a routine basis should also consider the distance to the nearest airport. 

As the use of rideshare services continues to rise, there are more options, but wait times can be extended in some neighborhoods. If you frequently use Uber, Lyft, or other services, open the app when you’re in the neighborhood and check wait times and prices for rides to your usual spots.

Affordable Property Taxes

It’s easy to fixate on the price of a house, but don’t neglect research on local property taxes. This is easily overlooked, especially when they’re rolled into closing costs

The county where you buy a home will impact how much you pay every year. If the value of homes in your neighborhood are expected to rise, your property taxes will likely be higher each year. Are you able to make the necessary payments in the event of an increase?

Taxes are one of those hidden costs in home buying that can really make a difference.

Although your property taxes can be much different than your neighbor’s, you will likely see certain trends. Find a local real estate agent who can help you estimate the costs before making a decision. If you’re concerned about saving money during your transaction, consider lowering commission costs by choosing a discount Realtor.

Tips for Choosing The Right Mortgage Lender

Share:

For many people buying a first home is a milestone event involving no small amount of planning, patience, and careful decision-making.

Between choosing the right realtor, deciding when and where to buy, and finding the perfect home, you’ll make hundreds of decisions throughout the process — not the least of which involves choosing a mortgage lender.


Knowing the basics of mortgage lending and how mortgages differ from one another will help you find the lender with the best offer for your needs.

How to Choose a Lender

Where can you get a mortgage?

There are many avenues available to securing a mortgage loan, including a conventional bank where you may already hold a savings account, an online lender, or using a mortgage broker who works with many lenders to help you find the right mortgage.

Conventional Banks

Banks typically offer mortgage loans as part of their portfolio of services that may also include savings and checking accounts, investment services, and other types of loans.

As a first-time home buyer, you might be privy to benefits like better interest rates or reduced closing costs by shopping for a mortgage where you do the rest of your banking.

Credit Unions

Credit unions, like banks, offer a range of services like checking and savings accounts as well as mortgage loans. However, you must be a member of the credit union to gain access. Some people prefer credit unions for their personalized service and “members only” benefits.

Nonbank Lenders

Nonbank lenders include companies that operate entirely online and often specialize in offering mortgage loans exclusively.

Some advantages to using an online lender include quick turnaround time for pre-approval, the ability to securely upload required documents (reducing the chances of missed paperwork deadlines), and the simplicity of completing the application — including digital signatures — online.

Mortgage Brokers

A mortgage broker works with a network of lenders, will search and review a number of offers, and advise on which mortgage offer may be the best for you.

A mortgage broker may have access to a wider array of options and better rates and can streamline the mortgage process. There will be many mortgage programs to choose from.

On the other hand, mortgage brokers typically charge a fee that, while paid by the lender, is often passed on to the buyer through the terms of the mortgage. Another disadvantage is that some lenders don’t work with mortgage brokers.

How to prepare for applying for a mortgage

Before you start shopping and comparing in preparation for pre-approval, make sure your finances are in good shape to ensure you’re eligible for the best rates.

  • Check your credit score:  You’re entitled to a yearly free credit report from each of the three big credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Give yourself several months in advance to check your credit score. Report and correct any mistakes or misinformation. Strengthen your score if necessary by paying off credit card balances, and making sure payments are on time. Don’t open up any new lines of credit or take out other large loans (like a car loan).
  • Decide on your budget: A big part of finding the right mortgage is determining how much house you can afford. Lenders will approve a loan based on your gross income, and outstanding debt, among other things. Based on those criteria alone, buyers sometimes find themselves approved for a larger loan than they anticipated. However, this doesn’t mean you should max out your mortgage loan and buy a home at the top of your budget.

Don’t forget that lenders are not factoring in other home-buying expenses like real estate commissions, inspection fees, and moving costs.

Your real estate agent can advise you on how to budget for the entire home buying process, including calculating commissions, closing costs, and other fees.  Consider the total of your other monthly expenses as well when determining how much house you care to afford.

  • Get pre-approved: Different lenders may have different documentation requirements but in general start gathering documents you’ll need for pre-approval including:
    • Driver’s license or ID with photo
    • Social Security numbers
    • Last three pay stubs, or from the last 60 days
    • Social security or pension income statements if applicable
    • List of all financial accounts including savings, checking, brokerage or other investment accounts, 401K, IRA, or other retirement accounts
    • Two years of Federal tax returns
    • Print out of all bank statements from the last 60 days
    • List of all outstanding debt including auto, student, or other homeowners loans, credit card statements, alimony, or child support
    • Down payment information including the amount and source(s) of funds

Questions to ask a mortgage lender

You may choose to apply for a mortgage with more than one lender, and shopping around may result in more favorable rates. Be sure to ask the following of any lender you’re considering: 

  1. What type of loans do you offer? 
  2. Which type of mortgage do you feel is best for me and why? 
  3. What will my interest and annual percentage rate be? 
  4. Who is my main contact after the loan goes into underwriting? 
  5. Will my interest rate be locked, and for how long? 
  6. How long does the process take? 
  7. What do I need to bring to closing?
  8. Will you sell my loan? 

Comparing your mortgage loan offers

Before making a final decision, it’s a good idea to compare at least three offers to ensure you’re getting the best terms and rates for your situation. Mortgage costs can vary greatly.

Interest rates are one variable to compare between offers, but not the only one. Interest rates change frequently, so be sure you’re comfortable with the rest of the loan terms before you lock in a rate.

Points are fees paid to the lender that allow a homeowner to pay a lower interest rate. If you plan to be in the home for 10-15 years, purchasing mortgage points may be worth it.

There are a large number of fees and third-party costs that are included with closing such as lender’s title insurance and title search fee, appraisal, recording fee, transfer fee, underwriting costs, and application fees.

Ask a lot of questions about anything you don’t understand and remember that many of the closing costs originating from the lender are negotiable, although they have no control over third-party costs.

Set yourself up for success by doing your homework on the mortgage basics before shopping for a lender — you’ll have a better understanding of which type of mortgage is right for you and your situation.

What Will Real Estate Buying Look Like for the Rest of 2022?

Share:

2021 was a rough year for many home buyers who had to contend with skyrocketing home prices, lightning-fast sales, and rampant bidding wars just to get the keys to a home.

Without putting in a strong offer fast and well over asking, you would likely lose out on a home you wanted.

Once they completed the steps of buying a home, many learned the true cost of homeownership was higher than they realized. 

Still, buying a home in 2021 was a pretty great investment because of rising home values, no matter where you purchased it. So what does the 2022 real estate market forecast look like? We’ll examine predictions for this year’s market and what it could mean for buyers.

Buying a Home 2022

New Housing Supply Will Hit the Market

A housing shortage is driving the increase in home prices. Construction of new homes slowed during the pandemic because of worker shortages and supply chain problems. Additionally, many municipalities still resist high-density zoning that could create more dwellings.

The entire housing shortage won’t disappear in just one year, but a bunch of new housing is expected to hit the market in 2022. As supply chain issues ease and demand for housing remain strong, the construction of single-family homes is expected to explode. Many of those units will hit the market this year. 

Still, new housing won’t be enough to meet demand. According to Fannie Mae, there will be a 50% shortage in homes. That will keep prices high, but new supply should slow relentless upward pressure on prices.

Demographics Will Continue to Squeeze the Market

Twin demographic pressures will keep the housing market tight. For one, more than 40 million millennials are reaching the age to buy their first home.

Once they save enough for a down payment, they’re going to be looking to buy. That will keep overall demand high. 

Millennials prefer two-story homes with outdoor space, green features, and open floor plans.

They’re also interested in suburban living because many of them are starting families. This type of starter home is already among the most coveted pieces of property, so bidding wars may continue as millennials duke it out for their dream starter homes.

That’s not the only demographic pressure on the housing market. Boomer homeowners are at an age when many should be downsizing, but the lack of inventory has made it so tough that many are choosing to stay put — keeping their homes off the market.

Rising Rates Will Reduce Demand

Mortgage interest rates hit record lows in 2021, but they will likely climb throughout 2022 as the Federal Reserve raises rates to combat inflation. Mortgage rates haven’t shot up yet, and in the short term, looming increases may push buyers to purchase homes now while rates are still low.

As rates climb, demand will likely decrease as many buyers may no longer be able to afford a home. Buyers may migrate to new online brokerages offering home buyer rebates and other incentives. 

Due to rising rates, income will need to be higher to get the same home you could have purchased last year.

Climate Change May Affect Some Markets

Home buyers may start to consider climate change when they purchase a property. Rising temperatures and the subsequent bump in utility costs could change markets in the South and the Sun Belt. Other high-priced markets — such as Colorado and California, which have experienced an uptick in wildfires over the past few years — may start to feel the consequences.

Homeowners in flood-prone areas will also have to grapple with increased repair and insurance costs.

Millennials, who make up the largest cohort of home buyers, are also the most environmentally conscious generation, making it even more likely that climate change will lead to market change.

Prices Will Likely Continue to Increase

Although many experts once predicted a slowdown in home appreciation in 2022, most have revised their estimates upward.

Zillow, for example, is predicting an 11% rise in home values after earlier predicting single-digit growth. Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae also anticipate double-digit appreciation.

Not everyone is so optimistic, though. The National Association of Realtors expects less than 6% appreciation through 2022, while Realtor.com predicts an even smaller rise of 2.9%.

Many market watchers fear we’re in a bubble, but other experts theorize that the Great Recession tanked prices so dramatically that, on a longer timescale, home values are approaching the price they’d be if they’d risen steadily over the past 20 years. 

In the end, 2022 may be a little easier for buyers than 2021— but not by much. High-interest rates may bump some buyers out of the market, but low inventory, looming rate increases, and demographic pressures will likely keep competition very high. 

Final Thoughts

At some point, the real estate market will change. The pendulum always swings the other way eventually. When that exact moment occurs is hard to tell. It’s essential to remember that all real estate is local.

One area of the country might change quickly while others lag behind.

Hidden Costs You Need to Consider Before Buying a New Home

Share:

Costs Not to Forget When Buying a House

The residential real estate market is booming. Although real estate is a traditionally attractive investment because of the potential for high returns, and owning property is considered a fundamental part of living the “American Dream,” historically low-interest rates and a wave of first-time millennial homebuyers have led to fierce competition.

Bidding wars on houses are happening all over the country right now and have been for a while.

However, you shouldn’t buy a house just because everyone else is doing so. After understanding the true costs involved, you may not want to become a homeowner. 

The cost of homeownership has skyrocketed because of high demand, limited inventory, inflation, and supply chain issues. Market forecasts predict that the housing market will continue to grow in 2022, albeit at a slower pace. 

A home costs more than $15,000 a year in non-mortgage expenses on average, and a majority (52%) of homeowners say annual expenses took them by surprise, according to Clever Real Estate’s True Cost of Homeownership survey. Additionally, 3 in 5 say they’ve experienced buyer’s remorse.

From maintenance and emergency repairs to property taxes, there are several hidden and surprise costs that prospective buyers should consider before closing.

Hidden Costs Buying House

Maintenance and Upkeep

One of the benefits of renting is that your landlord typically takes care of the property’s maintenance and upkeep.

However, as a homeowner, recurring expenses such as landscaping, gutter cleaning, pest control, and pool care all fall on you – and it can get pricey.

One-third of homeowners in the True Cost of Homeownership survey say they spent $5,000 on maintenance in 2021, not including emergency repairs.

These responsibilities are also time-consuming, with homeowners indicating that they spent nearly 20 hours a month on painting and fixing plumbing, electrical, and roofing problems, as well as appliances.

Repairs and Renovations

In a competitive housing market, a growing number of first-time buyers would purchase a fixer-upper to get a better deal. More than 4 out of 5 millennials say they’d buy a house in need of major repairs, but 1 in 4 who do so regret it, according to Real Estate Witch’s 2022 Millennial Home Buyer Report

Structural problems, a leaky roof, termites, and mold are just a few hidden flaws that buyers may not notice during a walk-through. That’s why a home inspection is important to include in your purchase agreement, but many buyers are foregoing that contingency to make their offer more attractive. 

However, more than 40% of homeowners say they would have negotiated a better price or more contingencies if they had realized the actual cost of homeownership, according to the True Cost of Homeownership survey. 

If you’re buying a fixer-upper, having a good real estate agent is imperative. A Realtor’s responsibilities are many, and negotiating on your behalf is a big part of the job. If a home inspection reveals damage you’re not aware of, an agent can ask the seller to pay for repairs before closing or offer you money so you can fix it yourself.

If a house will take thousands of dollars to repair, it may be wise to keep looking or build a home from scratch. There are ways to build a house cheaply, and with all new systems and appliances, you shouldn’t need to make major repairs for quite some time, potentially saving you money in the long run.

Utilities, Insurance, and Taxes

Utilities, homeowners insurance, and property taxes aren’t necessarily surprising expenses, but the actual cost can be shocking. Homeowners’ insurance costs an average of $1,680 each year. Moreover, homeowners spend about $2,000 more on utilities each year than renters because larger living spaces require more energy to heat and cool.

Property taxes vary by state and are heavily influenced by a home’s value. The most expensive property taxes are in New Jersey, where they cost approximately $8,400 annually. Alabama, on the other hand, has the lowest property taxes at around $600 per year.

Mortgage Costs

Most homeowners have a mortgage, but the monthly amount can take some by surprise. About 1 in 4 millennial homeowners say they regret that their mortgage is too expensive, according to the Millennial Home Buyer Report. 

Buyers are typically advised to make a 20% down payment, but with rising home prices, that’s become more difficult. It isn’t mandatory to put down 20%, but if you put down less, you’ll also need to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is meant to protect the lender and alleviate some of the risk if you stop making payments on your loan. 

Pro tip: Getting a side hustle can help you earn extra money to put toward a down payment if you want to avoid PMI.

It’s normal for first-time home buyers to ask questions before submitting an offer or signing a loan. Choose a Realtor and a lender who can explain all of the potential expenses in your monthly mortgage payment.

Buying property is a great investment, but sometimes owning a house — especially the wrong house — is more trouble than it’s worth.

Homeownership is a big financial decision, and it requires proper planning and budgeting. To make a purchase you won’t regret, make sure you have enough money set aside for regular expenses, as well as unexpected costs. 

What Things Should You Buy for Your New House – Ultimate List

Share:

Most first-time home buyers are a bit overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that is needed for their new house.

While it may seem absurd, since they have been living for a while and have accumulated a lot of stuff, there are still quite a few items that new homeowners overlook.

The following collection points out the necessities that will be needed for a home to be functional and make the owner feel prepared for the majority of situations that arise.

Things to buy for a new house

Cleaning Supply

Some of these will be items that you may have on hand if you have been living on your own for a while.

But if you are moving to your first-ever spot away from home, you will need to have several things available for day-to-day cleanliness. You should have separate moving boxes for these items.

  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop
  • Mop bucket
  • General floor cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Sponges or scrubbing pads
  • Rubber gloves if you have sensitive skin
  • All-purpose cleaner for hard surfaces (sinks, toilets, countertops, etc.)
  • Window cleaner for windows, mirrors, and light fixtures
  • Scrubbing brush for toilets
  • Duster with a long handle to reach higher corners and ceiling fans
  • Vacuum (if the new home has carpet)
  • Carpet odorizes (again if the home has carpet)
  • Garbage bags
  • Dishwashing liquid

This should be enough to keep the house clean and ready for your first group of visitors. If you like to have a nice aroma in the home, you should also consider scented candles or odor eliminators that plug in the wall.

Flashlight

Owning a home means you might have to crawl under the home or climb up in the attic, or both, to check on some kind of issue or investigate a weird noise. And there is always the chance that a power outage will leave you in the dark.

Most local stores will have inexpensive flashlights. Pro tip: get some small, circular stickers and place them on the bottom of the flashlight with the date that you bought the batteries. Make a note, on your calendar, to check the batteries every 6 months.

Smoke Detector

Along with keeping a home clean, you also want to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide leak.

Make sure to have a smoke detector in the kitchen as well as in each bedroom.

It is wise to spend the money on devices that can alert you to both smoke and carbon monoxide, to save space and money on batteries.

Along with the note on your calendar for the flashlights, also check the batteries in the smoke detector at the same time.

Lightbulbs

One thing that most people underestimate with a new home is the sheer number of light bulbs that will be needed.

Consider for a moment that the kitchen will likely have multiple lights, and each bathroom will likely have at least one fixture with multiple bulbs. Add to that the number of bedrooms, the living room, the dining room, and don’t forget the garage and rear deck.

In just a few rooms, you may need a total of 12 or more light bulbs. And they may not be the same size or wattage, so you need to check the current bulbs to get the right design and the correct wattage.

Curtains and Window Coverings

Most people like to have a bit of privacy in their home, regardless of what they are doing.

For this reason, it is a good idea to have some type of curtains and possibly some blinds or shades.

These items will depend on the overall color scheme of your furniture and decorations as well as your personal preference.

Small Kitchen Items

There are a few items that will be necessary for the kitchen to keep things safe, tidy, and functional

First, get a reliable can opener. Whether you choose the old-fashioned manual kind or an electric version, being without a can opener when you need one can be extremely frustrating.

If you have the extra money, consider buying one of the under-cabinet varieties. This puts the appliance in one spot and you always have access to it, plus it clears up countertop space.

The next item that a kitchen will need is some type of garbage can along with the liners. Between cooking and eating, the kitchen is the main room in a home that has the biggest need for a garbage can. Choose one that complements the appliances and still maximizes space at the same time.

Finally, you really should consider a small fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Even if you don’t have a gas stove, there are lots of ways that a fire can start in a home. Grease fires are quite common, especially for people that are new to homeownership. These fires can spread quickly and do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

Door Locks

You just bought your first home and the real estate agent hands you the key! What an exciting moment in your life! However, throw away the key and replace the locks on all the exterior doors.

There is no way to know how many people had a key to your existing home. From previous owners to relatives to ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends, there could be a lot of keys floating out there.

It is best to start on a new page with fresh locks and new keys. This puts you in control of who can enter your home and who is locked out. And it will provide a small piece of security knowing that you have your home under lock and key.

Securing the Home

Along with the new locks mentioned above, it is a smart idea to install some sort of security system to scare off intruders.

It can be as inexpensive and simple as alarms on the windows along with one of the modern smart doorbells or it can be as lavish and expensive as one of the wireless monitoring systems with multiple videos and a monthly service that alerts the authorities.

Whichever route you go, pay special attention to the windows that face the road along with all the exterior doors. These represent the most vulnerable and often targeted spots on homes.

Small Toolbox with Tools

When you move into a home, you find yourself doing a lot of manual labor tasks. Hanging pictures or mirrors, repairing a damaged light fixture, attempting to stop a leak in a bathroom and a lot of other items require some basic tools.

Now is a time to invest in a toolbox. Get a simple, sturdy box and add the following items

  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Various sizes of screws and nails
  • Tape measure
  • Small carpenter’s level
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Nut driver with adjustable head
  • Utility knife

This basic kit should be enough to handle most of the simple household chores and home maintenance you will encounter when you move to a new place.

Locking Storage Box

While some families might need a large safe to store family jewels and other important items, most people can simply get a locking storage box.

After buying a home, you will have a deed, some mortgage papers, and home insurance documents that need to be kept in a safe space. You will likely also want to draw up a will in case something happens to you or your significant other.

A locking storage box is a perfect place to store these documents.

These boxes are much cheaper than a safe and easier to transport, and much easier to store in a closet or under a bed.

The box should be fireproof and give you enough room to store the above items comfortably.

Shower Curtains

A shower curtain does a couple of things to help you out.

First, it gives you some privacy while you are getting cleaned up.

Secondly, it keeps the water in the tub and protects the bathroom floor from a flood.

Plan to get a crisp, new curtain for each bathroom. Since you have no idea how long the old one has been in the home, it is a good idea to throw out all the old ones along with their germs.

If you have a decorative streak in you, you may choose to hang double shower curtains. One curtain is designed to keep out the water and hangs on the inside of the tub. The other curtain, which faces out into the bathroom, can be a solid color, a pattern, or just about anything you can dream of to match the bathroom décor.

Supply of Batteries

It seems that a home is always in need of at least one or two batteries. The smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors that were mentioned earlier will run on batteries. So will the flashlights that we discussed previously.

If you have a TV, there will likely be a remote that needs a battery or two.

Some thermostats run on batteries, instead of electrical power from the home.

Needless to say, you will need a few backup batteries in various sizes after you move into your new home.

Clothes Hanger

You most likely have lots of clothes on hangers now. But you will be surprised how often you find yourself looking for a hanger.

Super cheap plastic ones can be purchased in bulk at several stores and online.

If you have a nice suit or evening gown, you may want to get at least one wooden hanger. Wooden hangers help clothes keep their original shape, and they last much longer than the cheap hangers.

Plunger

This tool is only used in case of a very nasty bathroom situation, but it is very handy and extremely useful.

Most hardware stores and general department stores will have these in the bathroom section, typically for a low price.

There is a difference between a plunger intended for the bathroom toiled compared to a plunger intended for a kitchen sink. Compare the two and make sure to get the right one. You don’t want to mix them up if you have two in your home.

Laundry Items

You want to make sure you have a place for dirty clothes before they head to the wash. And you may want to have a separate item to move the clothes.

Most people like to have at least one large basket or container that is used for dirty clothes. Some people also like to have a basket for moving clean items from the dryer to their destination for folding.

If you have several people living in your home, you may want to have multiple dirty laundry containers, and designate them for outer clothes, undergarments, towels, and bed linen. This makes separation a breeze and easier to process multiple loads of laundry.

You will also need some laundry detergent and stain remover for those unexpected accidents. If you like some clean fragrance to your clothes, you may also like to get some add-in items to combine with the detergent to help with the aroma of the clothes.

Finally, you want to have some static guard sheets for the dryer. This prevents the build-up of static electricity on the clothes.

Front Door

Some people like to have a simple mat at the front door that reads Welcome. Others like to have something that speaks to their hobbies or interests, such as their pets, their enthusiasm for race cars, or their love of planting.

Some people like to have an entire theme at the front door. A small chair, with a few plants, and a sign above the chair with a whimsical expression are pretty common fare.

Whatever you choose, keep in mind that it will be seen by anyone that comes to your doorstep. This includes your old college buddies, your siblings, your parents, and your neighbors.

Final Thoughts On Things To Buy For Your New House

This list should get your home stocked with necessary items that you will use for as long as you own a house. Having these things on hand will help you take care of most tasks and make the whole process of homeownership much easier.

If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it with your social networks. Also, be sure to check me out on diigo!

First Time Home Buying Priorities: 3 Vital Things to Know

Share:

What to Know About Your First House Purchase

Buying your first home: It’s an exciting time, and a major milestone to be celebrated. But the road to homeownership can also feel overwhelming — saving for a down payment, getting approved for a mortgage, finding the right home in the right location, and everything in between. 

A successful experience for first-time buyers — one that ends with you holding the keys to your new home — starts with careful planning and smart strategies. Read on to learn more about priorities for first-time home buyers. 

There are many questions to be answered before you’ll be fully prepared.

Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as vital as following sound buying tips.

Priorities of First Time Home Buyers

1. Prepare for Your Home Buying Journey 

Before you start attending open houses, spend some time assessing your finances and getting organized. 

  • Start saving: Not only for a downpayment but also for closing costs and moving expenses. Some first-time home buyers can qualify for conventional mortgages with as little as a 3% down payment, but remember that a 20% down payment will help you avoid the added expense of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Use a down payment calculator to set a savings goal, so you can start putting money aside. 
  • Know your credit score: If you’re not sure what your current credit score is, now is the time to find out. You can get a free credit report from any of the three leading credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax. Ideally, you should review your credit report at least once a year to ensure your report is accurate and up to date. 

Maintain your good credit score by continuing to pay bills on time. And hold off on opening new lines of credit, applying for loans, or making other major purchases at this time.

Potential lenders want to see consistent financial behavior, so avoid risking final mortgage approval by taking financial chances for now.

  • Get preapproved: A mortgage preapproval letter is different from prequalification.  Prequalification is a baseline estimate of how much of a home loan you may be able to secure, based on an assessment of your income and other information you’ve provided. A mortgage preapproval letter is a document from a lender stating the exact amount of loan they’re willing to lend you, based on a more rigorous process that includes evaluation of your W-2s, bank statements, and credit score. 

Home shopping with a mortgage preapproval letter in hand gives you the ability to make an offer with confidence knowing it’s within your budget. It also demonstrates to a seller that your offer is serious and backed by a lender. 

2. Understand Your Mortgage Options

Mortgage loans have a variety of options, each with its own parameters and eligibility requirements. 

  • Conventional mortgages are the most common type of home loan. Some eligible first-time home buyers are able to obtain a conventional mortgage with as little as 3% down. Conventional mortgages are not guaranteed by the government. 
  • FHA mortgages are backed by the Federal Housing Administration and allow eligible buyers with lower credit scores to put down 3.5%. 
  • VA loans are available through the Department of Veterans Affairs for current or veteran military service members or qualified spouses and typically require no down payment. 

A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage means the loan is paid off in 30 years at an interest rate that remains the same over time. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate than a 30-year mortgage, but with a larger monthly payment. 

It’s also important to be clear with your own goals and assess how much house you can afford, according to the bank, and how much house you want to afford.

If you have other debt to contend with such as student loans, car payments, or credit cards, you may choose to spend well under budget in order to keep your debt-to-income ratio in check. 

3. Make Informed Buying Decisions

With your finances in order and preapproval letter in hand, it’s time to give serious thought to home shopping.  

  • Find the right agent: Working with an established real estate agent is a smart choice, especially for a first-time home buyer. A buyer’s agent works on your behalf, helping you find homes that suit your needs and budget, gives advice in crafting an offer and helps to navigate the negotiation process all the way through to closing.   

Depending on your needs, you might consider working with a flat-fee real estate agent or broker which could net you significant savings in commission rates or fees.  

  • Find the right location: The old real estate adage “location, location, location” still holds true. Research neighborhoods you’re interested in and attend open houses, either in person or virtually. Check out the neighborhood’s walkability score, research property value trends, crime rates, and other municipal information like economic trends or planned improvement projects. 

If you’re moving to an area you’re not familiar with, for a job opportunity. For example, make sure you understand the cost of living in the new location.

Use the expertise of a good local realtor who knows the area to help you find the right house in the right location at the right budget. 

  • Find the right home: In contrast to previous generations, many millennial home buyers are prioritizing shorter commutes in walkable communities with better schools and amenities. They’re seeking low-maintenance homes with smaller square footage. While single-family homes are the right fit for some, townhomes and condos offer affordable choices as well. 

You may have a mental list of must-haves for your first home, but zero in on three or four priorities to help you focus your search. What’s most important? Proximity to work? Having designated space to work from home? A home you can “grow into” with an expanding family? Urban setting or quiet suburb? Starter or forever home? 

First-time buyers who are handy and willing to take on a few projects might consider a fixer-upper as an affordable option, particularly if the home is in a desirable area. However, be realistic.

Don’t overestimate your skills, or underestimate the amount of time or money you’re willing to invest in updating an older home.

Make sure you understand the basics of the appraisal process so you don’t end up overpaying for a property or making improvements that have a low return on investment.

Knowing your priorities will help you determine what kind of home fits your goals for the next five years, the amount of time typically recommended when investing in homeownership. Staying put for a minimum of five years decreases your chances of taking a financial hit when it’s time to sell. 

Purchasing your first home is a process that takes planning, patience, and persistence, but it’s all worth it when you’re holding the keys to your new living space. 

Understanding first-time home buyer priorities are your first step to a successful purchase. Best of luck!