Matthew Walsh's Blog
Whether you’re shopping for your first house or your next house, finding a listing you love is exciting. You browse the pictures, check out the property facts, share the link to your significant other, and maybe even schedule a showing.
With the exciting prospect of owning a new home that has all or many of the features you’re looking for, it can be easy to forget about certain details that matter. Most of us look for similar things in a house--close proximity to work, enough bedrooms, an upgraded kitchen, and so on.
In this article, we’re going to give you a list of things to investigate about the house you’re looking at to get a better idea of whether or not it’s the perfect match for you and your family.
1. Re-read the listing
If you’re like me and get lost in the photos of a home and forget to make note of the details, be sure to go back and check out the listing a second time. It will likely give you important details of the house that you overlooked on your initial visit.
Look for things like the year the house was built, information of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and the total acreage of the lot and square footage of the home. These things are hard to accurately represent in the listing’s pictures, but will likely be important to your decision of whether or not you should view the home.
2. Do your online research
The number of things you can learn about a home and neighborhood on the internet is astounding. We suggest that before you go to visit a home, you spend 10-20 minutes on Google researching the following topics:
School district ratings. If you have or plan to have school-aged children, you’ll want to know what your options are for your child’s education. It’s often a good idea to check out the local schools’ websites to see what
Commute times. With Google Maps and similar sites, you can plan out what your new commute will be and see how long it will take. You might find different routes that will save you time or avoid traffic (we could all use those extra few minutes in bed every morning). Google Maps isn’t always accurate when it comes to morning traffic estimates, but it’s a good place to start.
Amenities. Having moved into a neighborhood that has no grocery stores within a 20-minute drive, trust me--you’ll want to know what’s in the area. Use Google Maps to find stores, gas, schools, parks and trails, hospitals, and other things you’ll want close by.
Street view. While we’re on Google, use street view to take a remote look around the neighborhood. You’ll be able to see how the infrastructure looks--if the neighborhood is taken care of and if there are sidewalks that offer a safe place to walk or jog.
Crime ratings. Don’t get too caught up in this section. Crimes happen everywhere, but this is a good way to see if the area you’re moving to is a safe place
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If, after all of your online research, you decide you want to go view a home, don’t be shy when you arrive. It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to be a burden in someone else’s home. But remember--if you’re considering living there someday you’ll want to know as much as possible before making an offer.
Test the plumbing, ask about average utilities, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to neighbors and ask them questions about the community. The more you know, the better. Happy sleuthing!
When your family is searching for a home, it’s an exciting time for the adults, but if there are children involved, it can be a difficult task. Children don’t have to be left in the dark during a home search. Children of all ages can be involved in the process of finding a home. Read on for tips on how to make your kids feel a part of the home search process.
Preschool-aged children might seem not to be aware of the fact that your family is searching for a home, but they can still very much be a part of the process. One thing to remember about young children is that you shouldn’t give them too many options. Once you have narrowed down the homes to a few and the time to buy a home is close, it’s a good time to tell your toddler about the fact that you’re moving. While you probably don’t want to take your kids along with you on all of your home viewings, you can bring the children with you. Even the opinions of the tiniest among us can help contribute to a final decision.
Older children may be more challenging to deal with during a move. These kids are more aware of the changes to come and maybe more reluctant of the entire process. It’s best to include children this age (around 6-9 years old) in conversions about your plans. Where do you hope to move? What neighborhood will the home be? Show them pictures of potential new homes. Allowing kids this age to share their thoughts on location and the types of houses you’re looking at can help to ease fears and anxieties. Remind your kids that the final choice is up to the adults but that you appreciate and welcome their input.
Older Children And Teenagers
Pre-teens and teenagers can play a part in the house search. Make sure that they understand that there’s no pressure on them to pick a house but their input is essential to you. Teens are tweens should be encouraged to come along on house tours to help give an opinion on the properties in person.
The older the kids that are involved, the more you should value and welcome your input. Make sure that you reassure your teens, letting them know that they can continue their favorite activities. Do a little research on the new community first, or allow your kids to do a bit of research themselves.
Looking to put together an offer on a house? Ultimately, you'll want to submit a competitive first offer. By doing so, you can speed up the process of acquiring your dream residence.
When it comes to submitting a competitive home offer, however, it is important to understand what differentiates a "fair" proposal from a subpar one.
To better understand how to submit a competitive proposal, let's take a look at three best practices that every homebuyer needs to consider before making an offer on a house.
1. Evaluate the Housing Market
If you plan to buy a house, you'll want to examine the real estate market closely. That way, you can identify housing market patterns and trends and plan accordingly.
For example, if you find there is an abundance of high-quality houses available, you may be entering a buyer's market. In this market, there likely is a shortage of homebuyers, which means a competitive offer at or near a home seller's asking price is sure to grab this individual's attention.
On the other hand, if you notice that homes are selling quickly in a city or town, you may need to prepare for a seller's market. If you pursue houses in a seller's market, you may need to act quickly due to the sheer volume of buyers competing for the same residences.
Clearly, a comprehensive housing market analysis can make a world of difference for homebuyers. With in-depth housing market insights at your disposal, you'll be better equipped than other buyers to submit a competitive first offer on any residence, regardless of the current real estate market's conditions.
2. Get Your Finances in Order
What good is a competitive home offer if you cannot afford to buy a residence? If you secure a home loan, you can narrow your home search to properties that you can afford. Then, you'll be able to submit a competitive offer that ensures you won't have to break your budget to purchase your dream residence.
Also, if you're unsure about how your financial situation will impact your ability to buy a house, you should consult with banks and credit unions in your area. These financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a home loan, establish a homebuying budget and much more.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to submitting a competitive home offer, it pays to receive expert homebuying support. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent who is happy to help you put together a competitive home offer.
A real estate agent can provide housing market data that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. Plus, this housing market professional can offer unbiased home offer recommendations to ensure you can get an instant "Yes" from a home seller.
Collaborating with a real estate agent is a great option for homebuyers in all cities and towns. Reach out to local real estate agents today, and you can get the help you need to submit a competitive offer on any residence.
Let's face it – homebuyers often face intense pressure. In many instances, dozens of homebuyers may compete for the same residence. And if you don't act quickly, you risk missing out on your dream house to a rival homebuyer.
Believe it or not, it sometimes can be beneficial to take a wait and see approach to buying a house. Some of the key reasons for homebuyers to consider deploying a wait and see approach include:
1. You can determine exactly what you want in your dream house.
Differentiating between must-haves and wants can be tough, particularly for homebuyers who are shopping for residences for the first time. Fortunately, if you take a slow, gradual approach to homebuying, you can view a variety of residences and narrow your search accordingly.
Oftentimes, homebuyers can benefit from attending open houses and getting a firsthand look at myriad residences. Each open house provides an opportunity to analyze a home, review its pros and cons and determine whether a residence is right for you. As such, homebuyers can attend many open houses to better understand what they want from a dream residence.
2. You can get your finances in order.
Although you know you want to buy a house, getting your finances in order may prove to be hassle. Luckily, homebuyers who implement a wait and see approach can find a mortgage that matches their finances perfectly.
Ideally, a homebuyer should meet with several banks and credit unions and explore all of the mortgage options at his or her disposal. During each meeting with a mortgage lender, a homebuyer can receive expert insights into many mortgage options.
A homebuyer may want to get pre-approved for a mortgage as well. If a homebuyer embarks on a search for the right mortgage today, this individual can move closer to entering the housing market with a budget in hand and simplifying his or her home search.
3. You can find the perfect real estate agent.
Ultimately, the real estate agent that you select may dictate the success of your quest to find your dream residence. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to hire a hardworking and experienced real estate agent, you should have no trouble streamlining your home search. On the other hand, if you rush to hire the first real estate agent that you meet, you risk making the wrong choice.
When it comes to finding the perfect real estate agent, it pays to be patient. By spending some time learning about various real estate agents in your area, you can select a top-notch housing market professional to guide you along the homebuying journey.
Lastly, don't forget to select a real estate agent who is available to respond to any homebuying concerns and questions, at any time. With this housing market professional at your side, you can boost your chances of discovering your ideal residence.
There is no need to rush to find your dream home. Instead, take a wait and see approach to buying a house, and you may reap the benefits of your decision for years to come.
Unmarried couples often find themselves surprised at the additional steps it takes to buy a home compared to their wedded friends.
This guide will help you prepare for buying a home together as an unmarried couple:
Banks will assess you differently than they would a married couple.
Whereas they look at a married couple as a single financial unit, you and your partner will be assessed individually. This certainly has its pro’s and con’s. Know that if one partner has a significantly lower credit score it can affect your eligibility for a loan as a couple.
Legal ownership of the title will be different.
Unmarried couples have three options when it comes to title ownership: sole ownership, joint tenants and tenants in common.
Tenants in common is the most popular. The difference between tenants in common and joint tenants is this:
In a joint tenancy ownership is 50/50. If one partner were to become deceased, ownership of their half of the property would carry over to the other partner.
Tenants in common ownership can be disproportionate to reflect each partners level of investment. If one partner were to become deceased, their living trust would inherit ownership of their portion of the property if another option is not otherwise specified in their will.
Sole ownership is just that. One partner owns full legal ownership of the property. This option can have tax benefits and increase your financing eligibility if one partner has a higher income or better credit score than the other.
It’s highly recommended for unmarried couples to sign a property, partnership or cohabitation agreement when buying a home together. This is a legal precaution to safeguard both partners in the future should anything happen.
If your finances are separate it is ideal to at the very least create a joint checking account from which to draw the down payment and mortgage installments. This is especially true if both partners are contributing to these payments. It create a clean, clearcut payment process each month.
Know each other's finances.
Discuss your credit scores, debt burden, savings, investments and financial goals. Get clear on where you each stand and how these factors will influence your buying process. Create a budget together as a couple to ensure you can take on not just the responsibility of a mortgage payment but also closing costs, homeowners insurance, property taxes and maintenance costs. Plan for savings like retirement, nest egg, family planning, future vacations, and emergency funds.
Buying a home together as an unmarried couple is a different process than that of married couples. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. With an understanding of what to expect ahead of time and a plan in place, the process can be a smooth one.