Posted by Betsy Graziano on 3/12/2018

Whether youíre a first-time homebuyer or youíre upgrading to a larger house to fit your familyís needs, itís vital to understand just how much house you can afford before you start shopping for homes.

When planning for your future home, there are two main things you need to figure out.

  • What is a smart amount to spend on a home for your budget

  • What are the key features in a home that will give you the most benefits for the cost

These two questions may seem simple, but there are quite a few factors that should go into determining each one.

So, in todayís post, Iím going to walk you through the process of determining what kind of house you can afford so you can make the best home buying decision for you and your family.

A smart home buying budget

To create an effective budget, youíll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).

On your spreadsheet, youíll first want to add up all sources of income that your family has. This is the easy part for most people who only have one or two sources of income based on a salaried job.

Next, is the hard part--expenses. We canít just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.

If you arenít sure of the cost of living for the area you hope to move to, try plugging it into this cost of living comparison tool to see get a better idea of the cost of things like transportation, childcare, groceries, and more.

Likewise, itís also a good idea to assume youíll be paying more in utilities if youíre hoping to move into a home that is larger than your current home. Keep in mind, however, that different houses have different levels of energy-efficiency, so itís a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes youíre interested in to determine what your costs might be.

Now, subtract your expenses from your income. The amount remaining should easily cover whatever mortgage payment you receive along with, ideally, 20% of your income going toward savings.

Deciding what you need in a home

The second part of determining how much house you can afford is to find out exactly what youíre looking for in a home. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, the size of the backyard; all of these are questions that have a monetary value.

So, to really answer this question youíll need a strong understanding of what you and your familyís goals are for at least the next 5-7 years, if not longer.

Once you have your long-term goals and a good understanding of your budget, you can start safely shopping for homes with a clearer idea of the type of home youíre looking for and just how much home you can afford.

Categories: Buying a Home   home budget  

Posted by Betsy Graziano on 3/5/2018

There are countless reasons a homeowner might want to sell their home and buy another. Some want to move for a change of scenery or to relocate for work. Others are parents with a recently empty nest who want to downsize to something more affordable that meets their needs.

The good news for second time homebuyers is that you already have an idea of what to expect when buying a home. The research, paperwork, disappointments, and delays that come with buying a home can all be prepared for. However, if you have the burden of selling your old home, finding a temporary place to live, and then moving into a new one, your responsibilities can be doubled or tripled.

In this guide, weíll go over how to prepare for selling your old home and moving into the new one. Weíll cover some common mistakes and offer some advice to keep you sane throughout this daunting (but exciting!) process.

Buying or selling first

For most homeowners, selling first makes the most sense financially. Holding onto a second house often means having to make two mortgage payments at once. Similarly, selling first will give you a much clearer idea of your budget for your new home.

Depending on market conditions, your home may or may not sell for as much as you were hoping. Itís important to keep this in mind before signing onto a new mortgage.

Moving logistics

Once you sell your home, youíll have to work out living and storage arrangements until you are ready to move into your new home. It may seem easy at first--just rent for a couple months until your move-in date, right? It isnít always that simple, however, as deals can sometimes fall through and you can find yourself with a move-out date from your own home without having finalized a deal on your new home. Because of this, many homeowners elect to may their current mortgage for an extra month or two until they can move in to their new home. 

Research your options for short-term living and storage in your area. See if you can work with moving companies who will give you a discount for helping you move twice; once to the storage facility and again to your new home.

One way around this is to time your move out and move-in dates so that you donít have to worry about storage. Some homebuyers will even move into the new home before officially closing on the home (i.e., take possession before closing). While this may be convenient, it can also be dangerous for the buyer and the seller.

Plan meticulously

One of the best piece of advice we can give is to stick to your schedule and keep good records during your buying and selling processes. Make sure whoever buys your home is aware of your plans for moving out and that anything that could delay those plans (inspection issues, moving logistics) are taken care of.  

Keeping track of all this information can be difficult, so donít be afraid to keep a daily list or planner of the things you need to take care of, and never be afraid to reach out to your real estate agent who will often be able to advise you on the best way to make your move as smooth a process as possible.

Posted by Betsy Graziano on 2/26/2018

When you have kids, the dynamics of your home change. You often go from refined to durable. If we looked at flooring from a simply practical standpoint, weíd end up with uncomfortable flooring's like ceramic, laminate, or engineered wood. Thatís why carpets come in handy.  

For one, children spend a lot of time playing on the floor. When you put down a carpet and there are children around, you fully expect that there will be spills, blood, and much roughing around done right on the surface. So, youíll need to choose your fibers carefully when picking a carpet out. 

Know that polyester, nylon, and triexta are among the most durable types of fibers. Stay away from wool carpets, as they are really not the best choice for homes with children. Polyester (also known as PET), is a budget friendly, and environmentally friendly type of carpet that provides stain resistance and a long life. Nylon is known for durability and softness. This is another material thatís great if you want a carpet with a long life. Triexta is a unique fiber that provides the highest amount of stain resistance and really will be soil-free. 

Modular Carpeting

There is another option when it comes to carpeting and that is modular carpeting. This type of carpeting can be laid out in the form of tiles. If a piece is soiled, stained, or ripped, youíll be able to just switch out that piece of the carpeting puzzle if it canít be cleaned. This is an option for homes with children, however, itís not a popular choice in residential settings. Generally, modular carpeting is used in commercial settings like office buildings, and indoor public places like shopping malls. This can be a good option for you depending on the size of your home and your needs. If you have a room thatís completely dedicated to children, like a playroom, for example, you could use a modular carpet.

Treating The Carpets

There is an option to have your carpets pre-treated with a Scotchgard like chemical. This is also available for your furniture. It helps to prevent your furniture and carpets from stains and soiling, surrounding each fiber for a total protection. Once a fiber is treated, it will never wash or wear off. Itís a good option to treat your home with this especially when you have children.

Whether you decide to do wall-to-wall carpeting or simply place some area rugs around in order to make the floors of your home more durable and comfortable for children, you have some options to take the curse off of the inevitable mess that children will make.

Tags: carpet care   kids  
Categories: children   kids room  

Posted by Betsy Graziano on 2/19/2018

As a home seller, you'll want to ensure all areas of your house look great. By doing so, you may be able to generate substantial interest in your house and boost your chances of a quick home sale.

Unfortunately, some home areas are tougher to clean than others. And when it comes to cleaning your attic, it may prove to be a time-consuming process to transform this space from a liability into an asset.

So what does it take to fully clean an attic? Here are three tips to help a home seller revamp an attic in no time at all.

1. Look Out for Dust and Mold.

Dust and mold can be problematic, but these issues may arise if you rarely enter your home's attic. Fortunately, a home seller who spends some time cleaning the attic can minimize dust and mold with ease.

Repair or replace any loose, broken or missing shingles in your attic. Also, check attic windows for missing caulk or cracked panes. Resolving these issues may help you prevent mold from forming.

If you encounter mold, contact a certified indoor air quality professional immediately. This professional can evaluate your attic and offer recommendations to correct the problem.

In addition, dust your attic thoroughly. This will enable you to minimize the risk that dust mites and other irritants could enter other areas of your home.

2. Get Rid of Unwanted Items.

From holiday decorations to family photo albums, your attic may be filled with a broad assortment of items. And if you remove clutter from your attic today, you may be able to save time after you sell your residence.

Go through your attic belongings and separate the essential items from the non-essential ones. That way, as moving day approaches, you won't have to rush to get rid of non-essential items.

Furthermore, wear rubber gloves, eye protection and a dust mask any time you clean or organize your attic. This will enable you to stay safe as you work.

3. Collaborate with Your Real Estate Agent.

Does your attic require a complete overhaul? If so, you may need professional cleaning support, and your real estate agent can put you in touch with the right cleaning company instantly.

Your real estate agent will do what it takes to help your home stand out in the eyes of homebuyers. He or she can offer attic cleaning recommendations and general cleaning tips, guaranteeing you should have no trouble creating a dazzling home interior.

When it comes to selling your home, it is easy to ignore your attic. However, a home seller who performs extensive attic cleaning may be able to differentiate his or her residence from others Ė something that is exceedingly important in a highly competitive real estate market.

Take advantage of the aforementioned attic cleaning tips Ė you'll be happy you did! If you revamp your attic, you could improve your chances of maximizing the value of your residence and accelerating the home selling process.

Tags: cleaning tips   attic  
Categories: Cleaning   cleaning tips  

Posted by Betsy Graziano on 2/12/2018

Want to transform an ordinary garage sale into a successful one? Sell your electronics, and you can cut down on clutter, earn extra cash and speed up the home selling process.

If you plan to list your home in the near future, a garage sale offers a great opportunity to remove excess items from your house. Meanwhile, there are many electronics that you can sell to help stir up interest in your garage sale, and these include:

1. TV

You may be in no hurry to get rid of your big-screen TV. However, it is important to remember the time and energy it may take to move your TV from one home to another.

Ultimately, you may need to hire a moving company if you want to guarantee your TV can make it to a new address. And if you decide to move your TV on your own, you may struggle to do so due to its size and weight.

If you intend to sell your TV during your garage sale, you should learn as much as possible about this device. That way, you can establish a competitive price for your TV.

Also, if you have a TV remote or DVD player that complements your TV, you may want to consider selling these items at your garage sale.

2. Video Game Console

After spending many hours playing video games, now may prove to be the perfect time to sell your favorite video game console.

Many garage sale shoppers search far and wide for video game consoles, which means you may be able to generate plenty of interest in your video game system. In addition, if you own a "retro" video game console, you may be able to turn a significant profit from it.

If you sell a video game console during your yard sale, ensure the device works properly and includes all associated cables and wires. Furthermore, perform online research to understand the true value of your video game console to guarantee you can price it competitively.

3. Computer

An old computer may take up space in your house. Fortunately, a garage sale makes it simple to get rid of this device before you sell your residence.

When it comes to selling a computer, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Thus, you should clear your computer's hard drive to remove any sensitive information from the device altogether.

Moreover, if you own a printer, mouse or other items that complement your computer, it may be worthwhile to sell them as part of a package deal.

Selling your electronics at a garage sale may be one of the first steps to eliminate excess items from your residence prior to adding your home to the real estate market.

Lastly, if you need extra help with selling your home, you should collaborate with a real estate agent. By doing so, you can seamlessly navigate the home selling cycle and boost your chances of a profitable home sale.