Five Interior Design Disasters to Avoid

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that saying rings true for how one chooses to decorate one’s home. Therefore, one person’s love of leopard print could be another person’s decorating disaster. If you are looking to sell your home this year, change up or avoid these top five no-nos.

Wall-to-wall carpeting. Having wall-to-wall carpet is the number one no-no. According to Jonathan Scott of the famed Property Brothers, no one is looking to buy a house with carpet – which can hold many of life’s unsavory side effects like dirt, stains, and hair.

Mirrored walls. In theory, this decorating idea should make a small space appear larger. However, according to Scott, the effect can actually make your room look like an “’80s dance hall.” Let the dance hall die and opt for full-length mirrors instead.

Clutter. When it comes to decorating to sell, less is almost always more. Be particularly picky about the foyer, since this provides the initial impression of the interior. Keep shoes, winterwear, bags, and other daily-use items organized and out of sight. Rearrange or remove furniture and décor throughout the home to make each room appear as spacious and inviting as possible.

Loud wallpaper. Although wallpaper can add that pop of color that a room desperately needs, a loud or dizzying pattern can turn off buyers. If you want to add appealing hues, stick with paint.

White on white. Although beautiful, the color white is not realistic when it comes to life’s many mishaps. Realtor.com recommends that homeowners gravitate toward rich shades such as rust browns, black, and forest green.

What You Need to Know before Becoming a Landlord

Thinking of becoming a landlord? While this can be financially and personally rewarding, you must do your homework before you take the leap.

To help you learn the ropes and avoid any costly missteps, here are some handy tips of the trade.

It cannot be overstated how important it is for landlords to do their pre-closing homework.

During the home inspection, remember to take a thorough look at the property to see what will need to be repaired or replaced.

For example, you might want to change the toilets to low-flow models. You’ll also probably want to invest in essential upgrades to three common areas: water, door locks, and flooring.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of underestimating the costs of fixing and maintaining the property, both before and after a tenant has moved in.

Most landlords account for insurance and taxes, but it’s easy to miss expenses like garbage, gardening, and regular maintenance.

According to Money, you should set aside at least 35 to 45% of your annual rental income to cover these costs. (And when you’re calculating this income, it’s a good rule of thumb to account for only 10 or 11 monthly payments per year.)

When it comes to finding a tenant, don’t be too relaxed. Interview prospective tenants on the phone first to find out if they meet your requirements. Then, it’s important to check your potential tenants’ credit and speak to their references. Confirm the source and amount of their income. It should be at least 2.5 times the annual rent. You should also learn what’s legal in your town. For example, can you ban pets?

Once you’ve found a great tenant, act fast to get the lease signed. From there, never forget that you’re running a business and your tenant is a customer. Treat your customer right, and success is more likely to come your way.

Prepping Your Home for Sale: Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

Every seller wants to maximize his or her profit. Partnering with a real estate agent is a great start. Homeowners can further increase their bottom line with a few simple steps. To get the most out of your house, complete the following before you list.

Hire your own home inspector. If a buyer’s inspector finds issues with your home, you can expect your profit to shrink. Stay one step ahead by hiring your own home inspector to unearth any potential issues.

Invest in repairs. In addition to addressing any trouble the home inspection reveals, it’s a good idea to have cosmetic issues addressed. Prospective buyers notice things like cracked tile, chipped baseboards, or a squeaky floorboard, and this will be reflected in their offer.

Upgrade where it counts. You don’t have to renovate your whole house to turn a healthier profit. Make small, impactful swaps, such as switching out lighting, cabinet hardware, or shower heads for cleaner, more contemporary options.

Add a few new accessories. Fresh flowers and potted plants go a long way in making a room feel inviting. For a cozier living room, drape a cable-knit blanket over the couch. String Edison bulb lights over a patio and put an Adirondack chair on the front porch. These small touches add major warmth.

Treat it like a model home. To sell your house quickly and for the most money, treat it like a house you’ve been hired to stage. Put personal effects into storage, declutter, remove artwork that could be seen as too loud, and make sure the house is absolutely spotless.

Closing Costs: It’s about More Than Your Down Payment

The first step in buying a home is deciding on a budget. How much house can you afford? Within what price range will you shop?

A down payment is, unfortunately, only one part of that budget. To correctly determine the affordability of a home, it’s essential that prospective buyers consider the costs that arise at the time of closing.

Closing costs vary from state to state. There are different kinds of closing costs, too: lender costs, including origination and document preparation fees, and nonlender costs, including appraisal and survey fees. Some of these costs are required in certain states, while others are not. It’s also important to note how the market can impact closing costs. In New York City, for example, home prices are higher, which can result in higher lender fees.

In today’s market, buyers seeking a conventional loan typically need a 20% down payment to receive optimal rates. As buyers plan their purchase, it’s important to factor in closing costs on top of this 20%.

The final total is dependent on the location of the property. Here’s a look at how approximated closing costs add up in a handful of cities across the country, assuming a loan amount of $200,000. Consult with your real estate agent about closing costs in your area – he or she knows the local market best.

    • Denver, Colorado: $1,980
    • New York, New York: $6,843
    • Minneapolis, Minnesota: $2,417
    • Portland, Oregon: $2,122
    • Los Angeles, California: $2,197
    • Birmingham, Alabama: $2,112
    • Anchorage, Alaska: $2,138

The Best-Laid Plans: Things to Consider in Your Kitchen Remodel

If a kitchen remodel is on your agenda for spring, be sure you have a comprehensive plan in place.

Here are some issues to address in your plan. (Your New Kitchen: 7 Tricky Questions You Didn’t Know You’d Ask, published recently on Houzz.com, identifies other factors to consider.)

Research your local building code: In the Houzz article, designer Yanic Simard notes that some building codes have rules around venting and the type of hood fan you install. And, if you’re renovating an apartment-style condominium, you may not be able to relocate the plumbing. Check with your association.

Outlets: Early on, decide where your electrical outlets should go. If you’re adding an island, consider outlets at the outset.

Flooring: This decision should also be made early, as everything else will depend on it.

Appliances: Your kitchen needs to work for you; where you put your appliances will affect everything from cabinets to countertops.

Sink: Before you consider finishes or backsplashes, decide what sink style you want. These range from undermount, with no edges, to drop-in, which offers the easiest install. Apron or farmhouse sinks have a deep basin for washing big pots.

Cabinets: Making a mistake here can be expensive. Decide the function and location of each cabinet before thinking about hardware. If it’s a DIY, online 3-D software can help you envision cabinet placement so two cabinet doors don’t open into each other.

Once the tough decisions are made, you can relax and consider the “jewelry,” such as cabinet hardware and backsplash. Enjoy. You’ve earned it!

‘Curb Appeal’ Remodels a Growing Trend

As the winter thaw begins, and spring buying and selling fever heats up, there are certain renovations you can make on your home to ensure you get an optimal return on investment (ROI).

Whether you’ve been waiting for that perfect time to list, or are looking to flip fast, being strategic with your home renovations can make the difference between losing money and having extra cash in your pocket.

As a Houzz article points out, when it comes to home renovations, the “size of your space, the scope of work involved, your DIY abilities, the quality of materials you choose and even your geographic location all play a part.”

Invest in curb appeal

However, your renovations don’t have to be earth-shattering. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, the trend of making “curb appeal” renovations to your home scored a higher ROI than larger renovations.

Boost energy efficiency

Surprisingly, installing loose-fill fiberglass insulation in the attic came in as number one on the report. Although it doesn’t seem as exciting as other home remodels, it makes your home more energy efficient, and it can be accomplished yourself, inexpensively. Plus, it returns an estimated 107.1% on your investment.

Interestingly, something as subtle as replacing your garage door could yield you as much as an 85% ROI. Landscaping is another tried, tested and true improvement that can return as much as 105% on your investment. Installing new windows, adding high-efficiency appliances and repainting the exterior and interior of your home can make a huge impact for little cost.

Key to success

Craig Webb, the editor of Remodeling, offers this advice: “If you see yourself keeping the house for at least five years, you shouldn’t worry about value at all … Housing trends and fads can change dramatically … If you plan to stay put, renovate however will make you happy, period.”

Why Americans Are Now Buying into the Small Home Trend

Call it the tiny house effect, or perhaps it might be considered a change in attitudes after the 2008 housing crash. Whatever the reason, small houses are continuing to gain in popularity with home buyers. As pointed out in a recent article by real estate industry news site RISMedia, some in the industry see smaller houses beginning to sell faster than larger properties. They’re not just a fad. Small houses are an increasingly attractive option for many buyers. Here’s why:

Affordability

In many hot markets with rocketing prices, prospective homeowners have had to reevaluate what they can afford. Other buyers have decided it’s not worth it to go house poor, and have sacrificed space for cash in their bank accounts. Many consider a small home a smart investment.

Less maintenance

The upkeep of a larger home can result in stress, especially for young families or aging owners. A smaller footprint requires less upkeep and outdoor maintenance, reducing stress and freeing up time.

Location vs. square footage

Location, not square footage, has become the marker of desirability in many of today’s real estate markets. Homebuyers now would rather buy a smaller house in a hip, vibrant, well-served neighborhood than go bigger in a less desirable part of town.

Trends

TV design shows where well-functioning and beautiful small spaces are created have become just as popular as those on multimillion-dollar properties. Maybe more so. Instead of thinking of a house as cramped, buyers are now just as likely to see the creative possibilities of a smaller property.

Make Your Home Buyer Friendly with Focused Staging

With the move to buyers’ markets in many areas, you’ll want your for-sale home to look its best. And that requires focus. Focused staging, that is.

Staging your home can increase the offer amount by up to 10%, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2017 Profile of Home Staging. But what if you haven’t the time or cash to stage the whole house?

You focus on the rooms that push buyers’ buttons. A messy mudroom may not kill your sale, but an unusable kitchen or master bedroom may be a deal-breaker.

Few buyers can see beyond your personal style, particularly in hot-button areas like the living room, kitchen and master bedroom. So concentrate on staging these.

This article – from RISMedia – may help:

According to the NAR Profile, the living room is one of the most popular to stage. Make it feel larger by replacing bulky furniture with smaller pieces. Help buyers to imagine their things here; leave lots of space on shelves and around furniture.

In the kitchen, declutter countertops, the fridge and inside cabinets (yes, buyers willlook). Add color with a bowl of fruit.

“Most bedrooms don’t need much more than the bed, dresser, end tables, and a mirror,” the article suggests. Make the bed the focus with beautiful, but not necessarily expensive, linens.

A clean bathroom is a saleable bathroom. The master bath, especially, should gleam. Add attractive towels and battery candles for atmosphere.

And don’t forget to tidy the outside. You know what they say about first impressions.

Down Payments Depend on Your Mortgage Type

A question from home buyers, particularly first timers, is: “How much do I have to put down to buy a house?” The answer is: It depends. The most important of those factors will be your credit, followed by income.

Conventional loans 

These mortgages are loans obtained through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If you have really good credit, you may be looking at a minimum down payment of 3%.

This is definitely something that first-time home buyers should be looking into when they start the financing process. With a down payment this low, you will require mortgage insurance, which, when certain conditions are met sometime in the future, can be removed.

Also, ask your mortgage professional about what is called the HomeReady mortgage program, obtained through Fannie Mae. This program caters to low-to-moderate-income borrowers and those purchasing in lower-income areas.

FHA loans

The minimum down payment with FHA programs is 3.5%. This program is ideal for borrowers whose credit scores may be on the low side.

While FHA is good for people who may be unable to qualify for conventional financing through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the challenge here is that these loans are generally more expensive to own. This is due to the fact that you will be required to have two kinds of mortgage insurance, and, unlike in conventional mortgages, the mortgage insurance will be in place for the life of the loan.

Keep in mind that, in addition to the down payment on both of the loan types listed above, you can expect to have other outlays of cash associated with the purchase, including closing costs and some type of escrow account.

You will still be able to get seller credits to help you with these other outlays, but note: seller credits can’t be used to help you with a down payment.

Downsizing Happens at All Ages Now: Here’s How to Ace It

Downsizing is often associated with empty nesters and retirees, but as it turns out, more and more homeowners of all ages-including millennials-are looking for smaller residential footprints.

As New York Real estate agent, Tyler Whitman, points out in a recent article inuexpress.com: “Downsizing isn’t just for empty nesters. To meet their goals, many millennials must go through this challenging process too.”

Downsizing dilemmas

Getting rid of belongings that won’t fit in your smaller space is challenging. The upside-of particular interest to millennials-is the opportunity to dump old inherited pieces for trendy modern furniture.

Measure your new home before moving day, and decide what to take before you start packing. If there’s a too-big item that you can’t bear to part with, store it. But not at mom and dad’s, say experts; they may be downsizing soon themselves.

Emotional attachment can make it hard to decide what you should throw out. Ask a straight-talking friend or family member to help with an unbiased second opinion on tough decisions-like whether your bookcase or king-sized bed is way too big for your new digs.

Once you’ve rounded up everything you won’t be taking, have a garage sale. You’ll feel less guilty about parting with so much, and you can make a surprising amount of money to help with moving expenses.

Trying to dispose of all the items you can’t sell can be overwhelming. Hiring a pickup service for junk removal or to take to a charity can be well worth the expense.

Home Alone: More Women Are Buying Homes on Their Own

“Skip the spouse, buy the house” was a line from a recent Bloomberg news story about single women buying homes on their own. It’s catchy, but also true: as the article reported, single women currently account for approximately 17% of new homebuyers in the U.S., versus 7% of single men.

Why? Despite the wage gaps that remain between men and women in the workforce, many millennial women appear to value homeownership more than their male counterparts do, and are adjusting their lifestyles accordingly to make it happen.

In the Bloomberg article, Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of ATTOM Data Solutions, noted that single women typically buy at a lower price point ($173,000 compared with $190,600) and have a slightly higher foreclosure rate than men (73 per 10,000 vs. 70 per 10,000). This may be a result of the aforementioned gaps in wages, or possibly because more women raise children on their own than men do – a scenario with major financial implications.

Single women homeowners say there’s a sense of independence and a comfort level that comes with owning your space, and that despite the need for often-expensive home maintenance and other costs, homeownership can be personally fulfilling.

For both single men and women, buying one’s own home requires more financial independence than does buying with the support of a partner. It’s essential not only that prospective buyers have a down payment and months of mortgage payments saved, but also that they’re emotionally prepared for the stresses that come with homeownership – and are ready to take them on alone.

Our Future Homes: Easy Care and Open Plan

Thanks to an exhibition organized by Japanese retailer Muji, we can peek into the home of the future. And according to a recent article in Houzz, we can expect to live with new materials, adaptable spaces, and open-concept floor plans.

The exhibition, House Vision 2, introduced the ideas underlying tomorrow’s homes as seen by companies in the housing industry, architects, and designers. Ten life-sized prototypes offered insight into the way housing may go in the future. Here are a few examples:

  • “Open House with Condensed Core” was a collaboration between architect Shigeru Ban and Lixil, a Japanese building materials manufacturer. Their prototype addressed the limitations of traditional plumbing, which make layout changes difficult. In their vision, the plumbing is installed in the ceiling, making it easier to reconfigure. The house also features glass windows that can swing up and out of the way for a truly indoor-outdoor space.
  • Commissioned by Daito Trust Construction, Sou Fujimoto’s installation explored new types of multi-dwelling residences in his “Rental Space Tower.” It rearranges both private and shared spaces of a typical apartment to reduce the square footage of private zones and maximize public areas, creating new shared amenities like libraries and theater rooms.
  • Airbnb and architect Go Hasegawa teamed up on “Yoshino-sugi Cedar House,” a wooden dwelling that brings a new meaning to house-sharing. It’s part community space, part temporary residence, which is used, maintained, and operated by the community, not a private individual. On the first floor are a meeting space and communal kitchen; upstairs are bookable sleeping quarters for guests.

Finally, it seems we don’t have to bid goodbye to open-concept living just yet; open floor plans were featured in many installations. They’ll just look a little different down the road.

Address Your Credit Score before You Start Home-Hunting

Your credit – including ensuring credit reports are correct, knowing your credit score, and acting to improve it – is among the most confusing topics related to personal finance. Yet it’s extremely important – particularly if you’re planning to buy a house, and especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Your credit score is one of the first things a lender will look at when you apply for a mortgage.

To cut through all that confusion, here are five tips you can act on right now to identify and address any problems with your credit:

  • Check your credit reports for free once a year through the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because the information in each bureau’s report can differ. If one or all reports include mistakes, your credit score may be negatively affected, and you may need to address the errors before going house-shopping.
  • Be strategic with credit card use: the percentage of your credit limit that you use every month can affect your score. Make sure your balance doesn’t come too close to your limit.
  • The simplest and most important tip? Pay off your balance each month. To maintain a healthy score, pay it off before the due date. Anything after 30 days post due date can spell very bad news for your score.
  • Be consistent: good credit behavior over the long term will keep your score high.
  • Don’t take on more credit. If you apply for several different credit cards, you’re sending a message that you may have maxed out your other accounts.

Small Homes Are Trending with First-Time Buyers

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), first-time homes are coming in smaller packages.

The Association recently released the NAHB Home Builder Preferences Survey indicating that smaller homes are selling well, primarily to first-time buyers, such as the latest cohort – the millennials. The home builders interviewed for the report suggest that many people now prefer to purchase small. And U.S. Census Bureau figures support that position: the average home built in 2016 was 2,634 sq. ft., down from 2,689 sq. ft. in 2015.

Says Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president of survey research: “2016 marked the end of an era that began in 2009, when homes got bigger and bigger with more amenities. I expect the size of homes to continue to decline as demand increases from first-time buyers.” Smaller homes are finding favor with other groups as well. Retirees who enjoy traveling find that smaller, lock-and-leave residences fit their on-the-go lifestyles, and economic realities mean that they now have to think small.

While both the downsizing and millennial buyers are comfortable with less space (and the resulting savings on utility bills), they still expect the luxurious finishes and modern amenities available in larger homes. Millennials, because that’s what’s trendy now, and retirees, because they don’t want to feel they’re settling for less.

As a result, home décor magazines and TV network programs are touting the benefits of small homes and showcasing elegant space-saving solutions designed for those who want to scale down their homes without changing their lifestyles. Because they won’t.

Shopping for a Home This Spring? Get a Credit Checkup

Spring may bring thoughts of your dream home – and what better time for a home search than now?

By the time summer comes you could be happily ensconced in your new home. Think outdoor living and a relaxed intro to a new neighborhood.

But before the dream turns into a full-fledged home search, there are several things to consider. One of the most important is your credit score and what that score may mean as far as your mortgage options.

To advance to the search phase, you’ll need to know what your credit score looks like now and where it ultimately needs to be for you to be in a position to purchase a home. So now is an ideal time to contact your mortgage professional to review your credit.

Indeed, you can pull your own credit, but what you need is a way to interpret what’s on the report and how it will impact you throughout the lending process. Many things that you may see as minor on your report may actually make a significant difference in accessing the programs and interest rates you want.

For example, if you carry a lot of credit card debt or if one card has a higher balance than most lenders feel is appropriate, that’s a negative. But if your mortgage advisor draws this to your attention, you’ll have time to pay off or reduce your balance before you start to search.

And the sooner you start, the sooner you can be in your dream home.

How to Set the Stage for Home Buyers

In a hot market, selling your home may be easy. Selling it for top dollar takes a little more work. To achieve this, staging is the way to go. This is the process of beautifying your home to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.

Many people can’t visualize the possibilities within a room, so staging helps the buyers as they view your home. The goal of staging is to transform your home into an environment so inviting that buyers can imagine themselves living in your space.

Creating this buyer-ready environment takes talent, and it can be a critical step for a fast sale.

What does a stager do?

A good stager improves the interior and sharpens curb appeal as well. Today, most buyers see pictures online before choosing which homes to tour. Staging ensures that yours is seen in the best possible light. It makes your listing stand out from the competition.

While some people actually replace all the furniture, smart staging may mean anything from stripping your home of personal photographs and knick-knacks to cleaning the rugs or polishing floors. You may need to deep-clean bathrooms or clear kitchen counters. The stager may suggest painting everything a warm and inviting – but always neutral – color.

How much does staging cost?

The cost of staging ranges from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars, depending on the reputation of the stager, the size of the property, and the quality and quantity of fixes required. The final results can be well worth the investment. If you live in a neighborhood where several homes are listed, staging may mean a quicker sale at a better price.

Can I stage my home myself?

Of course, you can try to stage your home yourself, but it’s hard to be objective about your own things. A fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference – which translates into dollars.

Should You Consider Investing in Real Estate?

Real estate is becoming an investment of choice, and many investors are either abandoning the more traditional vehicles such as stocks and bonds or using real estate to diversify their portfolios.

A recent RISMedia article pointed to a survey recently undertaken by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, which found that “(n)early all (96%) of U.S. investors surveyed who have invested in real estate believe their decision has helped them achieve some form of financial success.”

The interest in investing in real estate may be driven by our largest demographic-the millennials, who, according to the survey, show a greater interest in making a real estate investment than do boomers. Millennials in particular are more interested in personal real estate purchases (homes) than in buying commercial properties; the survey noted that “79% of investor respondents feel it is important to invest in a property that they could use for themselves or a family member at some point.”

There are various ways even a small investor can participate in real estate investments, such as a self-directed or real estate IRA. However, many fear they aren’t sufficiently knowledgeable about real estate investing. As the RISMedia article points out: “Unlike many other investments that can be made with the click of a button, real estate investments are often complex and require careful consideration.”

To ensure that your investment will be a good one, it’s important to consult with a financial professional who is familiar with real estate investing, as well as an investment-savvy real estate agent.

Location, Location … the Good, Bad and Ugly

We all know that living near a good school increases the value of your home. But who knew a neighboring cemetery can adversely affect your property value? Or that proximity to a hospital isn’t a good thing?

In fact, we now know – or should know – that nothing is more important when selling your home than your neighborhood. So if you’re buying, think ahead; purchase your dream home in the wrong location and you may be buying into a nightmare. Here are some location no-nos:

  • Realtor.com research has found that living near a cemetery will lower your property value by 12.3% and having a hospital nearby means when you sell you can expect an impact on your sale price of 3.2%. Also note: make sure you move near a “good” school; a “bad” school will reduce your home’s value by 22.2%.
  • An article in the Journal of Transport Economics and Policy indicates that having an airport nearby can discount the value of your home. The greater the noise level, the greater the negative impact.

Among the amenities to look for in your neighborhood-to-be:

  • Proximity to transit. According to a Transit-Oriented Development in America survey, 55% of Americans would pay more to live near good transit options. The study, conducted by consultant HNTB Corporation, found that 57% of respondents liked not having to depend on cars to “work, live, and play.”
  • A neighborhood on its way up-not down. In transitional neighborhoods, you get a lot of value for your home-buying buck. Your real estate agent is the best source of information and will also know if there are any planned roads or developments that may impact the neighborhood-positively or negatively.
  • Water, parks, and green spaces. A nearby waterfront can add up to 25% to the value of your home. A fabulous view is also a moneymaker when it comes time to sell.

Home Shopping? Look beyond the WOWs!

When shopping for a new home, it’s easy to fall in love. You can find yourself dazzled by the sprawling backyard, trendy kitchen, or sky-high ceilings, and want to make an offer right then and there.

But it’s important to take a step back and take the time to evaluate the perhaps less-exciting details. These often overlooked details may ultimately lead to significant, costly issues. Here’s what to look for and how to get beyond the WOWs:

  • Windows: Does every window open? For emergency reasons, every room needs a window that can be opened. Do they close and lock securely? Is the glass intact? Is there a tight thermal seal (which is important to regulate temperature)?
  • Flooring: Look for cracks, stains, holes, and warping. Ask if there’s another layer of flooring under carpet, tile, or laminate. Is the floor level? If not, it might be an indication of water, or worse, structural problems.
  • Basement: That beautifully finished basement could be hiding a plethora of problems, from leaks to mold to holes to critter infestations. Use a powerful flashlight to carefully examine corners and walls and look behind and under finishings.
  • Roof: Roof replacements are costly. Find out when the roof was last addressed, and whether it was a patch or a replacement. Look for signs of damage from the street.
  • Neighborhood: Look beyond the obvious into the details: Is local traffic a nightmare in rush hour? Is there reliable transit nearby? Is the home near green space, schools, and recreational facilities?
  • Parking: If the house doesn’t have a garage, will the driveway accommodate your vehicles? Is there good on-street visitors’ parking?

Even after you’ve checked the details, make your offer contingent on a home inspection. A reliable home inspector can dig deeper into the details. Isn’t your peace of mind worth it?

The Surprising Upsides to Holiday Home Shopping

With so much other shopping to do, should you add shopping for a new home to your list? It’s such a busy time of year. Maybe you should simply wait until spring. Or maybe not. Buying a home during the holidays offers several advantages over other times of the year.

Everyone else is at the mall. With other potential home buyers busy with holiday festivities, you’ll find you have less competition for your dream home. Plus, sellers have fewer buyers to choose from, meaning you might get a better deal.

Tax gifts from the treasurer. Buying a home at the end of the year may offer tax advantages, so it could be beneficial for you to close before January 1. There are additional factors at play here, such as potential conflicts with other deductions you hope to take, so if this is a key reason for buying now, be sure to talk to your tax professional first.

Holiday sales on interest rates. Often interest rates are lower during the holidays, thanks to a decline in demand during this time. Securing a loan now might save you a bundle in the long run.

Resolutions for a quick close. Finally, for buyers seeking a quick closing, this can be a prime time to shop. Typically, all parties involved in a year-end transaction are motivated to complete the sale before the start of 2017: sellers want to get resettled, and so do buyers, particularly if the kids will be switching schools and need adjustment time.