Jeanne Little |


Although you may be tempted to spontaneously make an offer on a house that triggers happy memories of your childhood, it's usually best to approach house buying in a methodical, dispassionate way.

Your emotions will come into play as you visit different listings, but they should be tempered by a realistic budget, a list of personal requirements, and a sprinkling of "wish list" items -- ones that will help make your new home extra special!

A lot will depend on whether you're a first-time home buyer or a seasoned home owner. In all likelihood, the more houses you've owned, the higher your expectations will be. That's certainly not a hard-and-fast rule, but it does lend itself to reason. As is the case with most things in life, experience tends to clarify our needs, our tolerances, our quality standards, and our lifestyle preferences.

Buying a home is a huge decision for two reasons: It not only impacts our financial situation (both immediate and long term), but it effects our quality of life for the foreseeable future. So, similar to the institution of marriage, buying a house is a commitment that should not be taken lightly!

Fortunately, there are several effective ways to help ensure that the home you buy will live up to your expectations. One of the most steadfast "anchors" you can have in your search for the ideal home is a seasoned real estate agent. They have the training, knowledge, and communication skills to help you find the house, the right property, and the optimal location that will best suit your needs.

Your agent will work closely with you to create a list of house hunting requirements and preferences. Although the location, school district, and number of bedrooms will probably have a major bearing on your decision, there are literally dozens of other features and characteristics that will influence your final choice. Among those will be square footage, number of bathrooms, and the property's tax rate.

Standard checklists that include a wide range of home buyer requirements are available online and through your real estate agent. These checklists will help you rank each house you visit and objectively compare the homes you like the best. While flexibility is a necessary part of a successful house-hunting campaign, there will invariably be items you won't want to compromise on.

By deciding in advance what your new home should include, you'll create a clear vision of the type of living environment you and your family will find the most satisfying. Whether you're looking for a home with an open floor plan, a screened-in porch, one or more fireplaces, a finished basement, a two-car garage, or ample space between neighbors, getting your requirements down on paper is the first step to turning your house-buying goals into reality!



When many homeowners set out to declutter their home, they aren’t quite sure of what they’re getting into. Decluttering is a big job that requires some planning and an understanding of your end goals.

Some homeowners are setting out to declutter their home because they’re moving in the near future and want to simplify their move or make their home more appealing to potential buyers. Others have just noticed the junk piling up in their drawers and on their countertops and are fed up.

Regardless of your situation, if you want to declutter you’ve come to the right place.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about one of the best ways to set out on your mission of decluttering your home.

Why room by room?

Decluttering a home can take a lot of time and can be demotivating if you aren’t seeing a lot of progress. One way to break this process down into more manageable pieces is to declutter your home one room at a time.

This method also helps you manage the time you plan on spending decluttering. If your goal is to declutter one room per week until you move, then make sure you have 4 or 5 weeks to complete your cleaning and decluttering.

Bathroom

We’ll start with one of the smaller and easier rooms in your home, the bathroom. A good way to start is by going through your closet and cabinet and getting rid of old supplies and medicines.

Have a first aid kit that you haven’t touched in five years? There’s a good chance most things in it are expired anyway.

Once you’re done throwing out expired items, see if you can reorganize what’s left. A good way to take advantage of the space in a small bathroom is to use door hangers on the inside of your bathroom closet for hanging brooms, dustpans, mops, etc.

Does your bathroom also have messy stacks of assorted towels? One good solution is to roll up your hand towels and store them vertically in a basket that will be kept in your closet. This prevents your stacks of towels from tumbling over, never to be straightened again.

Kitchen

It’s amazing how kitchen utensils and appliances can add up over the years. Do you have a garlic clove grinder that’s been sitting in your drawer for years? Chances are you can toss it out.

Once you’ve made some space in your kitchen drawers and cabinets, bring some order to what’s left by using compartments and stackable organizers. This will help keep you on track by giving each item in your kitchen a “home.”

Bedrooms

You probably already guessed it, but the most disorganized area in most bedrooms is the closet. A good rule of thumb when cleaning out clothes is to ask yourself if you’ve worn the item since this time last year. If not, there’s a good chance you can safely donate it to a thrift store.

Have a tendency of throwing dirty clothes in piles on the floor? Make things easier on yourself by keeping a clothing bin nearby that you can toss all of your dirty clothes into and worry about sorting them later.



You've found your dream home – at least, you initially thought you discovered your ideal house. But following the home inspection, you're starting to have second thoughts about whether you want to purchase a particular residence.

A home inspection is a valuable opportunity for a homebuyer. It enables a buyer to receive expert insights from a property inspector about a house's age and condition. Thus, if a home inspection reveals myriad problems with a residence, a homebuyer still has an opportunity to walk away from a home sale.

Ultimately, there are many factors for a homebuyer to evaluate after a home inspection, including:

1. The Home's Condition

When it comes to evaluating a home's condition, there may be more than meets the eye. Fortunately, a home inspection enables a property inspector to take a deep look at a house's interior and exterior and provide detailed findings.

If a home's condition fails to match your expectations, don't hesitate to walk away from a home sale. By doing so, you can reenter the housing market and begin your search for the perfect residence once again.

On the other hand, if a home's condition is not a deal-breaker, feel free to move forward with a home sale. And in a short period of time, you'll likely soon be the owner of a great house.

2. The Home's Age

A home's age may dictate whether substantial home repairs or improvements may be needed down the line.

For example, a home's furnace usually needs to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. If a 30-year-old residence still has its original furnace in place, this device may need to be replaced sooner rather than later.

A home inspection should provide clear-cut insights into potential home improvements that you may need to perform in the near future. Use these insights to your advantage, as they may help you if you try to renegotiate the price of a house.

3. Long-Term Home Improvements

Spend plenty of time with a home inspector and don't hesitate to ask this professional plenty of questions. Remember, he or she is available to help you make an informed homebuying decision. And if you learn about potential long-term home improvements now, you may be able to avoid severe home problems down the line.

If a home inspector discovers roof problems or other substantial house issues, take his or her recommendations seriously. That way, you can avoid the danger of buying a "money pit," i.e. a house that may prove to be more trouble than it's worth.

Lastly, if you need help at any point during the homebuying journey, reach out to a real estate agent. This housing market professional can put you in touch with the best home inspectors in your area and allow you to minimize stress throughout the homebuying cycle.

Ready to make your homeownership dreams come true? Consider the aforementioned factors after a home inspection, and you can move one step closer to purchasing a terrific house at a budget-friendly price.



Getting a home inspection is usually built into the purchase contract for most real estate transactions. A home inspection contingency protects the buyer from getting any unwelcome surprises after they buy the home (think water damage or an HVAC system whose days are numbered).

In some cases, home inspections are the defining moment between a sale or moving on to other options.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about the reasons you might want to get a home inspection whether you’re buying or selling a home.

Home inspections for buyers

There’s a reason most real estate contracts come with an inspection contingency. Expensive, impending repairs on a home can greatly affect how much you’re willing to offer on a home, or if you’re willing to make an offer at all.

Some buyers opt out of an inspection. This can be done for numerous reasons. The most common reason is that the buyer has a personal relationship with the seller and has faith that they are getting the full story when it comes to the state of the house. The other reason is that a buyer is trying to gain a competitive edge over the competition on a home, sweetening the deal by waiving the inspection and paving the way for a quick sale.

Both of these reasons have their flaws. For one, the seller might not even know the full extent of the repairs a home may need and an appraisal might not catch all of the issues with a home.

Another reason a buyer may waive an inspection contingency is because the seller claims to have recently had the home inspected. While this may be true, buyers should still opt to hire their own professional. This way, they can guarantee that the inspection was done by someone who is licensed and has their best interests in mind.

Home inspections for sellers

As we’ve seen, home inspections are typically designed to protect the interest of home buyers. However, sellers also stand to gain from ordering their own home inspection.

If you’re planning on selling within the next six months to a year, it will pay off to know exactly what issues the home currently has or will have in the near future. This will give you the chance to make repairs or address issues that could cause complications with your sale. You don’t want to be on your way to closing on an offer to suddenly realize you need to pay and arrange for a new roof.

So, whether you’re a buyer or seller, home inspections can be immensely beneficial to learn more about your home or the home you’re planning on buying. It will help you be prepared to make repairs if you’re a buyer. Or, if you’re a seller, you can make a plan to negotiate repairs with the seller based on the findings of the inspection.



Selling a home takes patience. Especially when you’re balancing your time between settling into your new home, and keeping up with your work and family life. So, when you’ve finally gotten to the point of accepting an offer on your home, you’ll probably breathe a sigh of relief--and you should!  However, there are still a few more things that will need to happen and a couple of things to consider before closing the deal on your home sale.

Contingencies on the purchase contract

A purchase contract typically includes contingency clauses that are designed to protect the interests of both the buyer and the seller. These clauses mean that the contract is contingent upon the actions being completed before it can be legally valid.

There are three main contingencies that will likely be included in the purchase contract before closing--inspection, financing, and appraisal.

Inspection contingency

The inspection contingency allows the buyer to have the home inspected by a professional before closing (the time should be specified within the contract, but the inspection should usually occur no more than two weeks after you accept the offer). A home inspection lets the buyer know what to expect in terms of repairs that the home needs now or will need in the near future.

Financing contingency

Since the vast majority of buyers will be purchasing their home through a loan, a financing contingency is included to allow the buyer time to secure their mortgage. Getting pre-qualified and pre-approved makes this process easier, but the buyer will still have to finalize and close on their mortgage before their financing is official.

This clause exists to protect the buyer in the event that their mortgage application is denied, ensuring that they aren’t penalized.

Appraisal contingency

The third contingency most often found in purchase contracts is a home appraisal. The buyer will order an appraisal and then the appraiser will reach out to you to find a day to come and value your home.

If the home is then appraised at the amount agreed upon in your contract, this contingency is met. However, if the appraisal comes up lower than the purchase amount, the buyer can renegotiate the price.

Walkthrough and closing

Once the appraisal and inspection have been met and financing secured, the buyer will have a chance to do a final walkthrough of your home. The walkthrough usually occurs no more than two days prior to closing on the sale. A walkthrough allows the buyer view the home one last time to ensure that the condition of the home hasn’t drastically changed since the home was inspected or appraised. So, make sure the buyer is aware of any changes you planned to make to the home before closing.

Now you’re ready to close on your home sale. You’ll receive a disclosure form to review (read it carefully!) and sign. Once closing is complete, ownership of the home is officially transferred to the buyer.

While the closing process does include several steps, it’s important to be available and cooperative along the way to ensure a smooth sale and transition into your new home.