Marianne Leonard Cashman's Blog
Whether you're looking for your first house, a vacation home, or a retirement condo, there's always an element of excitement in finding a new place you can call your own!
Although buying and selling real estate can be stressful, especially if you've never done it before, being prepared and knowing what to expect can help keep things on an even keel.
Similar to planning a vacation or a cross-country trip, you'll want to avoid missed connections, frustrating delays, and wasted time. When it comes to buying a home, a little research, planning, and expert advice can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth journey. Here are a few specifics:
Check your credit score: Your credit rating has a major impact on your ability to successfully apply for a mortgage and be offered a relatively low interest rate. Knowing your credit rating can help you understand your options, avoid unexpected surprises, and take action to correct errors in your credit report or improve your credit profile.
Prepare a wish list: One of the keys to getting what you want in a new home is to clarify and prioritize the features that matter the most to you. Your checklist can include everything from lot size and architectural style to the reputation of the school district and proximity to stores. Some house hunters also place a high value on features like a fireplace, screened-in porch, and an open floor plan.
Find a good real estate agent: A buyers' agent can provide you with an immense amount of help in finding properties for sale that meet your specifications. They can also provide assistance, advice, and guidance on the many steps involved in going from loan applicant to new home owner. An experienced agent can also negotiate the best possible deal, in terms of price, seller concessions, and other advantages.
Meet with mortgage lenders: A crucial step in preparing to become a homeowner is understanding the mortgage application process, knowing how much banks would be willing to lend you, and determining an affordable price range. Meeting with lenders is also the first step to comparing interest rates and choosing a financial institution that would best suit your needs. Here's a helpful tip from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "Getting a preapproval letter helps you show sellers that you are a serious buyer – but it doesn’t commit you to a lender."
When it comes to searching for and buying a house, probably the best advice anyone could give you is "stay the course!" Let's face it: It's easy to give up, get discouraged, or settle for a home that's less than what you really want. However, when you adopt a "stay the course" mindset, you'll do a better job of staying motivated, focused, and well organized until you find just the right home for you, your family, and your future!
Whether you've recently purchased a new home or are in the process of doing so, one of the most satisfying aspects of becoming a homeowner is customizing your living space.
Half the fun of moving into a new home is "making it your own," which can include everything from painting the walls to remodeling the kitchen.
Although it may feel a little odd at first to move into what was recently "someone else's house," it won't take long before you and your family feel a sense of belonging and pride. In many cases, that feeling is instantaneous. While there are dozens of things you can do to create a feeling of coziness, comfort, and security, here are a few tips worth keeping in mind.
Empty those moving boxes. Once the moving crew leaves, the first thing many people do is take a deep sigh of relief and order a pizza -- and why not! If you have all your immediate essentials packed in separate, clearly labeled boxes, then there's no urgent need to set up your household right away. Relax, take in your new surroundings, and enjoy the accomplishment of purchasing and moving into a new home! Once you've taken that initial breather and acclimated yourself to your new living space, however, getting organized and unpacked is one of the next orders of business. If you leave stuff in boxes for more than a week or two, it may delay your feeling of being "settled in."
Add your own decorating touches. If your walls seem sterile, stark, or empty looking, two solutions immediately come to mind: Consider changing your paint color to a warmer shade and hang up some framed paintings or pictures that reflect your personality. In addition to wall art you already own, there are several websites and well-known retail outlets that can help you update and personalize your home décor. Over time, you can also check out local art exhibits, antique shows, and craft fairs.
Landscaping: Depending on the season and the climate in which you live, planting colorful flowers, bushes or ornamental trees can help beautify your property and make it feel like your own. Hedges and fencing can also enhance your sense of privacy and create a backyard retreat that's ideal for relaxing and entertaining.
Security matters: Regardless of how safe and secure your new neighborhood seems, it's always better to be safe than sorry! Since you don't know how many people may have been given keys to your house, such as housekeepers, contractors, neighbors, or friends of the previous owner, it makes sense to change the locks on your doors, as soon as possible. You may also want to do a security audit, which might include testing your window locks and trimming shrubbery that covers windows. Installing a couple motion detector lights in strategic places is another home security measure that can increase your peace of mind and make your new house feel more like a home.