Posted by Amanda Bruen on 5/9/2017

As a homebuyer, you want to prepare as much as possible when you start looking at houses. By doing so, you'll be able to fully evaluate a residence based on your personal wants and needs and ensure you can find your dream house quickly and easily. However, there are many under-the-radar factors that homebuyers must consider when they check out a house, including: 1. Homeowners Association If you're evaluating condos, you should learn about the homeowners association (HOA) that manages the property. This will allow you to review HOA fees, how the HOA operates and other factors that may influence your decision to buy a home. Typically, it is simple to discover all you need to know about an HOA. To do so, you can work with a real estate agent who should be able to provide information about an HOA. Also, you can always contact an HOA directly and receive all the information you need without delay. 2. TV, Cable and Internet Service Providers Do you work from home and require a high-speed internet connection to complete your day-to-day tasks? Or, do you want to ensure you can get your favorite TV channels at all times? Regardless of your individual needs, you'll want to check out the TV, cable and internet service providers available in cities and towns where you'd like to live. This will enable you to find out if these local providers can meet your needs consistently. In addition, you should consider cell phone connectivity in an area, as this will allow you to determine if your cell service provider ensures you can enjoy clear calls in a particular city or town. 3. Attractions and Landmarks Do you enjoy spending a day at the park, checking out historic landmarks or going to concerts? No matter which activities you enjoy, it is essential to learn about the entertainment options near a home you may purchase. For instance, if a concert venue is close to a residence, it may affect nearby traffic patterns as concert-goers travel to and from this destination. Conversely, if you want a house that allows you to separate from the everyday hustle and bustle of the city, you may want to evaluate residences that are located many miles away from popular attractions and landmarks. 4. Walking Paths If you like to stay active, you'll surely want to find a house that features a wide range of safe walking paths that you can use every day. Whether it's going for a morning jog or simply enjoying a jaunt with your dog, you may be able to improve your chances of remaining active and healthy if you purchase a home with multiple walking paths nearby. Of course, a real estate agent can help you explore a vast array of homes in cities and towns nationwide. This professional will learn about your home preferences and allow you to streamline your search for the perfect house as well. Consider the aforementioned factors as you prepare to search for houses, and ultimately, you'll be better equipped to make a more informed home purchase.





Posted by Amanda Bruen on 4/25/2017

When you’re searching for a home, perhaps the price of the house isn’t as important as the overall affordability of the neighborhood itself. While you have a long wish list of what you want for your property, if you search by neighborhood in order to help you fit your budget, your search may be much easier and help you turn up with a more affordable house.


Look At The Price


This seems obvious, but we mean that you should go a bit deeper. The list price of a home and reality could be two very different things. A house could be underpriced or overpriced based on the surrounding properties in the neighborhood. If you do a little research, you’ll be able to see what the going price for similar style homes is in the area and make a judgement based on that information. 


Don’t Stick To One Neighborhood


You should take a peek around and look outside of the certain neighborhood that you find to be the most desirable. If you look just a few streets away, you could find out that the prices are better and the benefits of the area are the same. 


You’ll choose your neighborhood based on what you’re looking for in your lifestyle. If you prefer to go out to eat, you’ll need to know what types of restaurants are nearby. If you like to walk in the park, being close to parks and recreation is of course important to you. 


Know The Phrase Up-And-Coming


This description of a neighborhood can sometimes seem like a bit of a reach, but many times it turns out to be true. Once undesirable neighborhoods may become the place people want to be after a certain amount of time. The problem with this is that no one can be sure as to exactly how long this will take. Potential warnings for properties described as being in an up-and-coming neighborhood would be:


  • There’s low sales in the area
  • The value of the properties has actually been decreasing
  • There’s little access to grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment


Overall, use your judgement when it comes to what’s described as a neighborhood waiting to be gentrified. You could buy your own piece of gold, or you could be on the search for a dud.


Check Your Commute Times


Match the cost of different homes that you’re looking at with the reality of the commute times that you and your family are facing. How far are the kids from school? Will you be closer to work? Will it cost you more to get to and from work in the new location? While your commute costs aren’t exactly directly correlated with real estate, it’s definitely a part of your regular budget. You also don’t want to add a lot of time to your work commute if you can help it. 


These tips should help you to make an informed decision about what neighborhood to buy a home in that will be the most cost-effective for you.





Posted by Amanda Bruen on 10/11/2016

You've been thinking about buying your first home and it is a very big decision. It is typically not a decision you make overnight instead you need to take the time prepare yourself.  Here are the basic steps that you should follow when it is time to buy a home.

  1. Ask are you ready? Home ownership is quite different than renting. It is a lot more expensive than renting. You will have added expenses and responsibility. There will be expenses like repairs, added utility costs, such as garbage and water, plus taxes and insurance related to your home. You will want to make sure to have an emergency fund, before you purchase your first home.
  2. Shop for a loan. Your first step will be to get preapproved. Knowing how much you can afford will help you to look for homes within your price range.
  3. Figure out how much you can afford. Just because you are preapproved for a certain loan doesn't mean you can afford that in the real world. A good rule of thumb is to keep your mortgage along with your taxes and insurance between twenty five and thirty percent of your income. You don't want to be house poor.
  4. Use a real estate professional you can trust.  A good real estate professional will listen to your wants and needs carefully. It is important that you are also educated on the process of buying a home. A good real estate professional will help meet your needs while navigating you through the process and advocating for your best interests.





Posted by Amanda Bruen on 7/12/2016

a tiny houseThe latest trend in minimalist and frugal living is owning a tiny house. If you haven't yet seen them on your newsfeed, tiny houses are loosely defined as homes that are 400 square ft. or less. As you'd expect, there are many challenges to living in a space so small; challenges both spacial and legal. Ask yourself these questions before making the move to a tiny home.

Do I really need all this stuff?

Part of the American Dream has always been to someday own your own home. Over the years, those homes have grown ever larger, even while family sizes are decreasing. Many of us have tried to make our lives more minimal in one way or another, whether its shrinking our wardrobes or cleaning out the attic. If you want to live in a tiny home you'll have to totally rethink what you consider to be the necessities of life. You'll have to prioritize and choose between things like having a television or having a bookshelf. Furthermore, you'll need to have items that serve dual purposes. Your dinner table, for instance, will also serve as a desk or working surface, namely because it will most likely be the only surface large enough in your home to do these things on.

Where will you park your home?

Finding a place to put a tiny house is one of the most difficult challenges tiny-home owners face. Almost all tiny houses are built on wheels. This is due to various state laws and zoning permits. You may also face difficulties gaining access to water and electricity. For this reason, many tiny house owners park their home on someone else's property and hook up to their utilities. Part of the reason many people want a tiny house is to be more independent, so this is obviously a huge barrier to achieving that goal.

Are you bashful about the bathroom?

There's hardly a thing that we take more for granted than bathrooms. If you're going to live in a tiny house you should be prepared to rough it when it comes to doing your business. There are some instances when you can hook your tiny house up to a sewage system. But in most cases, tiny houses rely on RV toilets or composting toilets. The benefits of disconnected toilets are that you can travel in your home and not have to worry too much about finding a bathroom. The disadvantages, however, will require some grit on your part. No sewage connection means you'll have to empty your tank or your composting toilet. This creates another obstacle to tiny living, as you don't want to be dumping refuse anywhere near your home. And if you live in a residential area there are state laws which regulate the use of composting toilets.

Is there another option?

Tiny living isn't for everyone. Whether you have a family or hobbies that require space, or just because you would feel claustrophobic living in a space this small, buying a tiny house maybe isn't for you. But there are other options. Perhaps you don't need a tiny home but rather a small and cozy one. Or you could try being more minimal in other ways like clearing out unnecessary items from your home and having a yard sale. Regardless of what you do, being minimal is a mindset, and having the intention of simplifying is already half the battle.





Posted by Amanda Bruen on 7/8/2016

Looking to move from one neighborhood to another? You'll want to do your homework first! By learning as much as possible about a prospective neighborhood, you'll be equipped with valuable insights you can use to make the best decision for you and your family. Plus, you likely will be able to reap the benefits of residing in a superior neighborhood that fulfills all of your needs. So what does it take to evaluate a prospective neighborhood effectively? Here are three tips to help you conduct a comprehensive review of a new neighborhood: 1. Check out the local attractions. Are you searching for a neighborhood near some of the area's top schools? Or would you like to find a quiet, peaceful neighborhood that is miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Regardless of your preferences, you should check out local attractions surrounding a prospective new neighborhood. This allows you to get a better idea about what it's like to commute in and around the neighborhood. In addition, think about the big picture as you examine a prospective neighborhood, as this will help you determine if this destination is the best spot for you and your family both now and in the future. For instance, those who take public transportation to work may want to live in a neighborhood close to mass transit options. Or if you're planning on raising your family in a new neighborhood, you'll want to evaluate the quality of local schools, too. 2. Take a walk around the neighborhood. A new home in a new neighborhood may leave you speechless, especially if this house features ample space, a pristine front lawn and other deluxe features. On the other hand, the same may or may not hold true for other homes in a new neighborhood – it will depend entirely on your potential new neighbors. Take a walk around the neighborhood at least once before purchasing a new home. This allows you to compare the quality of your potential new home to others in the area. If you encounter a large assortment of homes that feature messy lawns, visible exterior damage and other problems, you may want to stay away from this neighborhood. Remember, you'll want to do everything you can to maintain your home's value. But if your new residence is surrounded by subpar houses, this could negatively impact your home's value down the line. 3. Perform a criminal search. When it comes to finding the ideal home in the best possible neighborhood, you'll want to go above and beyond the call of duty to maximize the value of your investment. Therefore, conducting a criminal search is paramount, as this enables you to find out if a neighborhood is safe. Performing a criminal search can be simple, and real estate professionals may be able to provide crime stats for a specific area upon request. Also, many websites are available that publish crime stats regularly, ensuring you can access up-to-date information quickly and effortlessly. Select a home in your dream neighborhood by investigating whether a prospective neighborhood meets all of your needs. This enables you to make an informed decision and benefit from a top-notch home in an outstanding neighborhood for years to come.