Most tips for buying a home start with figuring out how much you can afford. But what else is there? Are there other tips for buying a home that can make a big impact? Yes! From our own experiences and those of our real estate colleagues, here are the top little-known secrets for buying a home you’ll love.
Know Your Borders
There have been situations where the previous owners of the property “blurred” the legal property lines, taking a bit more space than was theirs. Rather than discover that you need to move your fence three feet inward or possibly remodel your garage because it extended too far past the property line, get a surveyor to map out the legal property lines.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
It’s the American dream to own a big home. Indeed, we often measure our success by how big or expensive our home is, and it’s only natural to want the nicest house on the block. But consider this: if you plan to re-sell your home, the best house on the block will appreciate less than others. Home values are based not only on the individual home but also on the surrounding homes - essentially placing a cap as to how much houses go for in that area.
Don’t Buy Solely on Emotion
Some people make the mistake of falling in love with a home so fast that it fogs their ability to see potential problems. For example, buying a home because it has a custom-built treehouse and playset for the kids but overlooking that it will add 20 minutes to your work commute, could be a problem. Focus on logic and instinct to choose your new home, and don’t rely too much on emotion.
Understand the Neighborhood Nuances
To get a real feel for what it’s like to live in a new neighborhood, you should visit during various times of day and night. For example, all may seem quiet on a Tuesday afternoon, but what you don’t know is that your future neighbor likes to work on his car Saturday afternoons with loud music. Is that okay with you? Just like dating someone before you commit, date your neighborhood before you say yes.
Check with the Town Planning Committee
Is there a brand-new commercial development in the works that will be located across the street from your potential home? Decide if that is something you want to deal with over the next few years, and potentially forever.
Have you caught the tidy bug yet? A new year brings a great opportunity to tidy up your living space, especially if you are looking to make a move this year!
Dealing with clutter in your home can not only ease your mind and increase your enjoyment of your living space, but it is also critical if you’re making a transition in your living arrangement.
- If you are moving in with someone and will be combining two households worth of items, decluttering beforehand will make the final unpacking that much easier
- If you are putting your house on the market, decluttering could be a deal maker! Many people agree that an open house should have as few personal artifacts as possible, to allow the prospective buyer a clean slate to imagine living there
- If you are downsizing to a smaller home, decluttering will ensure the new space is not crammed with ‘stuff’
- If you are looking for a fresh change in your home, decluttering is the least expensive and most impactful change you can make before thinking about new paint colors or furniture
If you are in need of some inspiration, look no further than the new Netflix special, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. If you subscribe to her method of decluttering, you can soon find yourself ridding your life of belongings that no longer spark joy. Donate clothes that haven't been worn in years, books that will never be read, VHS tapes that have no way to be watched – you get the picture!
When you do feel inspired to organize throughout your home, you may find your space in need of new storage solutions. Many stores offer deals this time of year on bins, buckets, modular shelves, etc. Check out your local or online Michaels craft store, Target, Ikea, or the Container Store.
Whether you’re buying, selling, or staying put, the color in a home can be very important. Even the most neutral palettes need an accent to draw your eye, or a color to define a room as ‘serene’ or ‘energetic’. We love the 2019 Color of the Year picks. Here are some of our favorites:
PANTONE: Living Coral 16-1546 [Click Here]
"An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge."
BENJAMIN MOORE: Metropolitan AF-690 [Click Here]
"A stylish gray with cool undertones."
SHERWIN WILLIAMS: Cavern Clay SW 7701 [Click Here]
"A warm terracotta color with ancient, elemental roots, Cavern Clay is a nod to midcentury modern style, but with the soul of the American Southwest, which together create the desert modern aesthetic.”
BEHR: Blueprint S470-5 [Click Here]
"An honest, approachable color that conjures up the blueprints builders rely on to bring architectural designs to life, Blueprint creates a space where you can build your own reimagined life—where awareness of what we want to build for ourselves can transform into action."
Once you’ve picked your favorite 2019 Color of the Year, venture over to the links we provided next to each color swatch to see the inspired pallets from each of the vendors. They’ve done the hard part of picking colors to match, and your home will be so on trend!
If you are not ready to take the leap and paint an entire room in one of these color choices, here are several ways to incorporate some color in your home in 2019!
- Accent wall
- Blanket, area rug, or pillows
- Apholstered furniture
- Hand-painted canvas or other artwork
- Mugs or other ceramics
- New towels in the bathroom
- New phone case
Many homebuyers, both first-timers and experienced movers, have wondered whether buying an existing home or building one to their specifications is a better fit for their needs. Here’s what you need to know:
The Upfront Costs
Existing Home: The price of a home varies widely depending on location, square footage, condition, amenities, and other factors.
Building a New Home: All things being equal, generally speaking, building a new home costs about $60-$70k more than buying an existing home with similar attributes. But that is not always the case. There are some instances where the cost per square foot comes out significantly less in a custom-built home than in an existing home.
How is this possible, you ask? Consider when you build, you also have the advantage of paying for only what you want to put into the house. While an existing home may have additional perks, like hardwood floors, it may not be something that you want or are willing to pay for in a custom-build.
Existing Home: Older homes require more maintenance because they have more wear and tear. Some homes may even need a big-time overhaul! As with any home purchase, never skip the home inspection and understand that even with well-maintained homes, repairs are inevitable.
Building a New Home: Maintenance on a new home is very little, and it's one of the central benefits of building a new home. Since everything from appliances to the HVAC system is new and under warranty, you'll enjoy several years of worry-free living.
Existing Home: A mature garden with large trees and well-established landscaping is a big plus of buying an existing home. Mature trees and landscaping not only add value to the property but can even help to reduce energy costs by providing shade and efficient drainage.
Building a New Home: Professional landscaping can cost thousands plus many years to come to fruition. The benefit, however, is that you'll be able to design your outdoor space precisely to your liking. Depending on the project, you can have a custom-designed yard in two weeks or less.
Existing Home: Older homes that have had little-to-no updating use more energy. Appliances that are older than ten years, single-pane windows, and poor insulation are some updates you'll want to consider if you buy an existing home.
Building a New Home: When it comes to energy efficiency, new construction can't be beat. On average, new homes use about 21% less energy than older homes. However, this savings comes mostly from high-efficiency appliances. Meaning that if you purchase new, HE appliances for an existing home, you can save just as much money on energy with an existing home as you would with new construction.
Existing Home: With an existing home, you make your purchase with some context. You can see the home's previous sale prices, the cost of similar homes in the area, and have a good idea of what the market value of your home will be in the future.
Building a New Home: New homes, especially those in up-and-coming neighborhoods, can be more of a gamble. Without any sale history or comparables to reference, you have very little to go on when thinking about the future value of your home. Of course, if this is your forever home, which is often the case with custom-built homes, then not having a history to predict the future may not matter.
Whether you're buying an existing home or building a new one, they both begin the same way --getting pre-qualified. Reach out today to see which option is best-suited for you and your financial situation.
If you’re the host for the winter party year after year, we completely understand tiring of the same decorations and small-talk parties. If you’re on a budget or are in need a change of style while keeping the spirit of the season, we’ve put together some ideas to bring your friends and family together without breaking the bank, and maybe creating a new tradition!
Boil orange and clove on the stove to give your home a nice scent. Use the money saved by not purchasing scented candles to get extra marshmallows for a gourmet hot chocolate bar.
Plan for a gift exchange so that each guest has to buy only one gift within your group of friends.
Simplify the evening with a potluck style dinner. Decide on a themed menu to get everyone’s creativity flowing, you provide the main dish, and have your guests bring a side dish or dessert. Everyone saves a little on the groceries, and maybe you’ll find a new holiday favorite!
Sometimes, the best gift you can give over the holiday season is spending time together. Try hosting one of these types of parties to liven up your winter.
A pie party – Each guest or family brings one ingredient of a pie: crust, fruit, or other filling. Everyone works together to peel apples, line pie tins with crust, and mix fillings on the stove. In between steps and while waiting for the final pies to bake, you have plenty of time to catch up and chat. Plus, at the end, everyone gets to take home a delicious, homemade pie!
A tree trimming – Set up your tree prior to your guests’ arrival with the lights on, but don’t add any ornaments. Take turns putting up the decorations that you’ve collected over the years. This works especially well for families or friends with older children, as you can take turns and tell stories about each of the ornaments and where they were collected.
A crafting party – There are so many options for holiday crafting, why not turn one of your favorites into the main event! You can make holiday cards, bake cookies, build gingerbread houses, or decorate ornaments. You can swap these items with other attendees to remember the fun evening or gift them to a friend or family member who will appreciate a handmade holiday gift.
Even though the winter months bring longer nights, your family and friends will enjoy the light and warmth in your home with one of these new party traditions.