Jeanne Little |


Finding the ideal home for your family's needs is no easy task, but if you stay organized and focused, the right property is sure to come along!

One of your most valuable resources in your search for a new home is an experienced real estate agent -- someone you trust and feel comfortable working with.

They'll not only set up appointments for you to visit homes in your desired price range and school district, but they'll also help keep you motivated, informed, and on track. Once you know and have shared your requirements (and "wish list") with them, your agent will be able to guide you on a path to finding the home that will best serve your needs -- both short- and longer term.

In addition to proximity to jobs, good schools, and childcare, you'll probably want to pick a location that's close to supermarkets, recreation areas, and major highways. If you have friends or family in the area, then that would also be a key consideration.

While your immediate needs are a good starting point for creating a checklist of requirements, it's also a good idea to give some thought to what you may need in the future. Plans to expand your family, possibly take care of aging parents, or adopt pets are all factors to consider when looking at prospective homes to buy.

If you have college-age children or recent graduates in the family, you might have to save room for them in your new house. Many grads need a couple more years of financial and moral support from their parents (not to mention home-cooked meals) before they're ready to venture out on their own. Houses with a finished basement, a separate in-law apartment, or even a guest cottage on the property are often well-suited for multigenerational households.

In many cases, people tend to buy a home based on their emotional reaction to it, and then justify the purchase with facts. For example, if the price was right and a particular house reminded you of your childhood home, then that combination of elements could prompt you to make an offer on the house -- assuming those childhood memories were happy!

Sometimes prospective buyers might simply love the look and feel of a neighborhood or the fact that there's a spacious, fenced-in back yard in which they can envision their children or dogs happily (and safely) playing.

According to recent surveys, today's buyers are attracted to homes that have energy efficient features, separate laundry rooms, and low-maintenance floors, counter tops, and backyard decks. Gourmet kitchens, stainless steel appliances, a farmhouse sink, a home office area, and outdoor living spaces are also popular features. Although your tastes may differ, many house hunters also like design elements such as subway tiles, hardwood floors, shaker cabinets, pendant lights, and exposed brick.

When it comes to choosing the home that you and your family will live in for the next few years, your top priorities will probably include a sufficient amount of space, plenty of convenience, and a comfortable environment in which you and your loved ones can feel safe, secure, and happy for the foreseeable future!



Perhaps the ultimate test of your planning and organizational skills is moving to a new house. If you fail to plan ahead and make the necessary preparations, moving can be a stressful and frustrating experience.

On the other hand, if you approach it in a methodical, goal-oriented way, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how smooth the process will unfold.

That's not to say that there won't be a few bumps along the way, but staying focused on the details can help ensure that the experience won't feel like a roller coaster ride!

Depending on how many weeks you have before your actual move, you'll probably want to get rid of stuff you don't need, want, or have room for. Planning a garage sale and a donation truck pickup are often among the first orders of business for families on the move. If a lot of your excess belongings are of questionable value (to anyone), you may want to call a junk removal service. For some people, renting a dumpster is a convenient and affordable way to have household junk hauled away.

Since one person's junk is another man's treasure, you can also get rid of things you don't want by posting them on social networking and classified websites. If the items you want to pass along are even marginally useful, the word "free" will almost always generate a few emails and phone calls from interested people looking to save or make money.

It also helps to have plenty of packing supplies on hand. That would include an ample supply of cardboard boxes, packing tape, permanent markers, and cheap packing material. Although you may be able to get your moving company to "throw in" some wardrobe boxes and other containers into the price of their service, cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, and packing paper are often free for the asking -- especially from friends, neighbors, relatives, coworkers, and sometimes retail stores.

One word of caution when it comes to cardboard boxes: Flimsy containers often have a way of tearing and falling apart at the most inopportune times! Another mistake people make is filling large boxes with too many heavy items. Not only are heavy boxes difficult to move, but it also increases the probability of dropping them or having the boxes tear while you're carrying them.

If you're hiring a professional moving company to transport your belongings to a new home, it usually pays to get two or three quotes. As is the case with other services and contractors, you can often save headaches and hundreds of dollars by comparing prices, terms, incentives, and online reviews.

Probably one of the most important methods of making sure things get done in a timely way is writing out your own detailed to-do list and revising it on a regular basis. Unless you commit goals, priorities, and tasks to paper (or a computer file), there's a good chance it will be forgotten about or left to the last minute.



A home inspection may prove to be exceedingly valuable, particularly for a homebuyer who is on the fence about whether to purchase a particular house. In fact, a house inspection may raise a number of questions that a buyer will need to consider to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a home purchase.

Some of the key questions that a homebuyer needs to consider after a house inspection include:

1. What do the inspection results reveal about the overall condition of a house?

A home inspection represents a learning opportunity for a buyer. After the evaluation is finished, a buyer will receive a report that outlines a home inspector's findings. This report usually is available within 24 to 48 hours of an inspection and can make a world of difference to any buyer, at any time.

As a homebuyer, it is essential to review the results of a home inspection closely. That way, you can learn about any underlying issues with a home and map out the best course of action.

If you find that a home has a variety of problems, you may want to ask a seller to complete myriad house repairs before you finalize your home purchase. Or, if you are satisfied with a home after an inspection, you may want to continue with your house purchase.

Keep in mind that you can always walk away from a home sale after an inspection too. In this scenario, you can simply reenter the housing market and continue your search for your dream residence.

2. After reviewing the home inspection results, am I comfortable with a house?

Oftentimes, it helps to consider the prices of possible home repairs after you complete an inspection. If you analyze these potential costs and find they exceed your budget, you should plan accordingly.

Home repairs sometimes can be expensive and time-consuming. As such, if you are uncomfortable completing a broad assortment of home repairs on your own, you'll want to account for these repairs as you decide how to proceed with a house following an inspection.

3. Is a house a viable long-term investment?

The decision to purchase a home is a life-changing choice. Therefore, you should consider the results of a home inspection to ensure you can maximize the value of this potential long-term investment.

Remember, a home inspection gives you an opportunity to assess any structural issues with a house prior to finalizing a house purchase. If you have any concerns about a possible home purchase following an inspection, you should address these concerns before you complete your transaction.

When it comes to conducting a home inspection and reviewing the assessment results, it generally is a good idea to work with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you find an expert home inspector to analyze a residence both inside and out. Plus, a real estate agent will offer tips about what to do following an inspection and ensure you can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.



Ready to purchase a high-quality residence for the first time? Ultimately, a first-time homebuyer will want to do everything possible to learn about the real estate market. By doing so, this property buyer can improve his or her chances of submitting a strong offer on a dream house, thereby increasing the likelihood of a quick, easy home sale.

Submitting a strong initial offer on a home can be simple – here are three tips to help a first-time homebuyer do just that.

1. Study the Current Housing Market Closely

A first-time homebuyer should allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about both buyer's and seller's markets. That way, a homebuyer can identify an opportunity to secure a terrific residence in any housing market and submit a competitive offer right away.

To analyze the real estate market, spend some time looking at the prices of homes that were recently sold in your city or town. This housing market data may help you differentiate between a buyer's and seller's market and map out your homebuying journey accordingly.

Furthermore, don't forget to check out the prices of houses that are currently available. With this housing market data in hand, you can better understand what it means to submit a strong offer that matches or exceeds a home seller's initial asking price.

2. Get a Mortgage in Advance

A first-time homebuyer definitely should get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will enable a homebuyer to enter the housing market with a budget that he or she can use to narrow a home search.

To obtain a mortgage, a homebuyer only needs to meet with banks and credit unions in his or her area. Each lender meeting is exceedingly valuable, as it enables a homebuyer to learn about assorted mortgage options and receive answers to any mortgage questions.

In addition, those who are pre-approved for a mortgage will know exactly how much money they can spend on a house. And as a result, these homebuyers can submit a competitive offer on a residence from the get-go, improving their chances of securing a first-rate residence in no time at all.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a must-hire for a first-time homebuyer, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.

Thanks to a real estate agent, a first-time homebuyer can differentiate between a strong offer and a "lowball" one. In fact, a real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure a homebuyer can get the best price on a house, regardless of whether this property buyer is operating in a buyer's or seller's market.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is happy to offer honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. He or she can provide expert insights to help a homebuyer determine exactly how much to offer to acquire his or her dream residence.

When it comes to buying a house for the first time, there's no need to leave anything to chance. Instead, use these tips, and a first-time homebuyer can submit a strong offer and move one step closer to purchasing a home that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.



Home prices may vary greatly throughout the country. But, buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you will make in your life.

Deciding just how much to spend on your home isn’t just a matter of numbers--it also depends on your lifestyle and long-term goals.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you a few ways you can help determine how much is a safe amount to spend on your home so that you’ll feel confident moving into the home buying process that you’re making the best decision for you and your family.

Mortgage as a percent of your income

Like most large purchases, buying a home typically isn’t dependent on the amount you have in the bank. Rather, it depends on several factors including your income, credit score, and the type of lifestyle you want to maintain.

One of the simplest ways to determine how much house you can afford is to figure out what percent of your monthly income your mortgage and insurance will be.

For most homeowners, a mortgage payment that is 25% of their income or less is ideal. So, if you earn $6,000 per month, you don’t want your monthly mortgage payment to exceed $1,500.

This “25% rule” does have one flaw, however, and that does not--and cannot--account for each individual’s financial circumstances.

Let’s say, for example, that you earn $6,000 per month, but that you have a large monthly car payment and are trying to aggressively pay off your student loans. You might find that paying another $1,500 toward a mortgage on top of your current bills is bringing you over budget, especially when combined with your other monthly expenses and retirement contributions.

Plan for homeowner expenses

Another caveat to determining how much to spend on a home is that the home itself will require a budget for maintenance. When renting an apartment, repairs are mostly the responsibility of the landlord or property manager.

Homeownership, on the other hand, requires you to make the repairs yourself or hire a professional. And, if you neglect these repairs, you might find that they cost you even more in the long run or drive down the value of your home.

Create a comprehensive budget

Throughout a given person’s life, they’ll experience raises, promotions, layoffs, medical expenses, childcare costs, and any other number of financial changes. While it isn’t possible to foresee all of the financial fluctuations you’ll experience in life, it is always helpful to have a comprehensive budget.

What do I mean by “comprehensive budget”? The goal of a good budget is to know where each dollar of your income is currently going and to have a plan for each cent that you make. This is a proactive approach to budgeting that will give you an exact number for the amount you can afford when it comes to a mortgage payment.

Within your budget, it’s vital to account for things like an emergency fund, retirement, savings for vacations, and so on.

If you take this due diligence, not only will you have a better sense of where your money goes, but you’ll also be confident in knowing exactly how much you can spend on a home.