Philip & Hrono Partners' Blog
Open houses can be a great way to get to know a home and the neighborhood it sits in. Sure, the seller will be trying to put their best foot forward on the big day. But, you’ll still be able to get a chance to tour the home relatively uninterrupted.
But what should you look for in particular when attending an open house?
There are a number of things you can learn at an open house. Many prospective buyers spend the time looking at things like paint color and cosmetic touches that can easily be changed, and very little time considering important factors that should go into their home buying decision.
So, in today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the lesser known things you should be looking out for when you attend an open house. That way, you’ll know which houses are worth considering further and which ones should be left behind.
Not enough storage space
If you find yourself constantly running out of storage space (and who doesn’t?), you’ll want to make sure the home has ample space to store your belongings. If it doesn’t, see if you can find ways to repurpose areas for storage, such as spare bedrooms or garage space.
Overly scented areas
It’s perfectly normal for a seller’s agent to place one or two choice candles in the home during an open house.
However, if you notice some rooms have an overpowering smell of candles or air fresheners, there’s a good chance it’s there to mask offensive and hard to remove smells. Pet and cigarette odors are among the worst culprits.
The windows, doors, and cabinets should work like a dream
When attending an open house, take note of how well the doors open and close. If appropriate, ask the seller’s agent if you can try out the windows and cabinets as well.
Problems with these items can be signs of poor craftsmanship, cheap materials, or neglect.
Traffic and neighbors
If you’ve found what you think is the perfect home, it can be easy to see the world through rose-colored lenses.
However, it’s important to take them off when looking around the yard. Take note of the traffic level, and the amount of privacy the home receives. If you like the home, it’s also a good idea to stop by the neighborhood during rush house to gauge how traffic would affect your commute.
Air flow issues
Improper ventilation can lead to mold growth, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Make sure bathroom vents and fans work properly, and check windows for condensation.
In rooms with sinks, check around the base of the sink and counter for signs of water damage or mold.
Large cracks in foundations or ceilings
While small, hairline cracks in the foundation of a home are completely normal, large ones can be dangerous.
They can allow water and pests to enter the home, causing all types of costly damages.
Keep those six tips in mind when you attend the open house, and be sure to bring a list of any other questions you might have for the seller’s agent.
Buying a home that works for both seniors and young children can be complicated, if not impossible. When searching for a new home, it’s important to keep in mind the special requirements for every member of your family both now, and as they continue to age.
Parents or other older relatives may need assistance getting upstairs or in and out of a tub. Even if they are fine now, aging is a tricky thing and mobility issues can crop up at any time. Planning for them now can save you money and stress in the future.
At the other end of the spectrum, child-proofing a home is important for small children or new infants, so keep an eye out for sharp edges and remember you’ll have to bring strollers, high-chairs, car seats and more so plan for easy-to-open doors. Don’t forget that as your kids get older, their needs will change as well: plan for privacy and personal space where you can to save on upgrading your home in the future.
For the best home search, make sure to let your real estate agent know who all will be living with you. He or she can assist in finding homes with the features you need and can provide advice about what things are feasible to change yourself, and what will make a house cost more than your budget in the long run.
Some important features to look for include:
- Need help affording a home that meets all your needs? What if you just want to upgrade your existing home? Government agencies offer financial grants and assistance to retrofit your home for the elderly. Check with your agent to see what you might qualify for.
- Ready to find the forever home for your entire family? We can help! Talk to your agent about the best way to search for your new home.
- Wide Doorways: A door without a turning requirement (and those that open wider than a right angle) need to be at least 32 inches wide to ensure that wheelchairs and walkers will fit. Right angle doorways or those that require turning to enter or exit should be at least 36 inches wide.
- Wide Hallways: For comfortable use by strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs, look for hallways that are at least 42 inches wide. That much space gives you the option of installing handrails on one or both sides. Handrails can help both small children learning to walk, and elderly people with mobility issues.
That’s the easy part. The hardest room for both the very young and the elderly is the bathroom. It’s a good idea to ensure that your home has a minimum of 2 full bathrooms to allow you to accommodate the needs of all members of your family. Seniors need ADA toilets (also called comfort height) and grab bars, while your small child would need an extra-tall stool to use the taller toilet. Large showers with floor level entrances, seats and grab bars are best for the elderly, but its often easier to wash your kids in a tub, especially when they’re young. With two bathrooms, you can satisfy the needs of everyone in the family.
Last, but not least, pay attention to faucets, handles, and knobs. Rounded ones can be difficult for both the old and young members of your family. Look for a single handle, lever and touchless options for the best results all around. Don’t forget to test cabinets and drawers for weight or friction pull closers since those are more difficult than soft close or magnetic options. It’s okay if the home doesn’t come pre-fitted with the knobs, handles, etc. you want, a quick trip to your local hardware store will solve it.
Need help affording a home that meets all your needs? What if you just want to upgrade your existing home? Government agencies offer financial grants and assistance to retrofit your home for the elderly. Check with your agent to see what you might qualify for.
Ready to find the forever home for your entire family? Talk to your agent about the best way to search for your new home.
It doesn’t matter if you’re moving down the street or across the country, moving into a new neighborhood can be hard. You want to make your new property, and new area feel like home. Relocation is always a challenge. There are a few things you can do to make the transition smoother for your family. Meeting people and learning about your new community doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. Read on for tips to make it fun!
Approach Your Neighbors
It can be kind of scary to approach your new neighbors, but reaching out to them is one of the best ways to meet people. If you see your neighbors out and about give them a wave or shout “hello.” These gestures are a way to extend yourself without intruding on them. Ask questions about the neighborhood like when the trash pickup is or how the traffic on a local route is. You can even find out where the best grocery store to shop at is. Anything simple can open up a great conversation.
It’s easy to meet up with your neighbors if you give them an opportunity to see you. Sit out on your porch. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Spend some time outside gardening. Just be approachable. If you’re cheerful and seem a bit inquisitive about the area, people will be more likely to talk to you.
Spend Time In The Community
If there’s a local diner or coffee shop, spend some time there. You’ll be more likely to meet your neighbors and have something in common with many of the people that live in your new space. Check out local parks with your kids or bring your dog. You can talk to other dog owners or parents and get to know them.
Finding ways to volunteer and get involved in your community is also a great way to connect and get to know where you live.
Other Ways To Get Involved
You can get connected with people in the area through connections you have. College alumni networks can connect you with social clubs in a new city or region. Your employer may also have mentoring programs to assist you through the transition
Moving to a new area can be hard, but with an open mind to opportunities, you can make the transition pleasant for both you and your family.
Buying a home will likely be one of the largest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. While this may seem scary at first, it’s worth noting that buying a home can also be a valuable financial investment.
When it comes to preparing to buy a home, many people just wait until they run out of room in their apartment before deciding that they need to upgrade to a home. A better approach, however, would be to start planning for your first home a year or more in advance.
Saving for a down payment is a vital step to making the best long-term financial decision. A larger down payment can help you pay off your home sooner, pay thousands or tens of thousands less in interest, and start using your home equity as an asset.
But, saving for a down payment is easier said than done. So, in this post, we’re going to talk about some of the ways you can aggressively save for a down payment so that, when the time comes, you can achieve long-term financial security from your investment.
Setting your savings goals
The first thing you should be thinking about when saving for a down payment is what your goals are in a home. Setting realistic goals in this phase will make saving for your down payment more feasible and less discouraging.
Think about what you really need from a home at this point in your life and compromise where you can.
Remember that on top of your monthly mortgage payments, you’ll likely also be paying for taxes, insurance, utilities, homeowners association fees, and more.
Save on a timeline
When setting your savings goal, make sure you’re aware of the timeframe you’re working with. If you want to buy a home next year, you’ll need to focus on short-term savings options. However, if you’re okay with renting for the next 5 years, investing your money could be a better option.
Lock away your savings
Treat your down payment savings like an emergency fund. Open a separate account, automatically deposit a portion of your pay into the account, and never withdraw from it. To do this, you will, of course, need to already have an emergency fund with a month’s expenses in it.
However, once you’ve established your emergency fund, start immediately depositing into your savings account.
Pay off credit cards
It may seem like saving for a down payment is more pressing than paying off old debt. However, the numbers will show that making interest payments on your credit cards is essentially throwing away money that could have been used toward your down payment savings.
Adjust your spending habits
While it isn’t easy to start spending less once you’ve built a standard of living, there are ways to spend less money and still lead a fulfilling life. Think about where your money goes each month, including bills and services you might pay for.
Now could be the best time to cut the cord and start using a service like Hulu to save $50 or more each month.
Time for a raise?
If it’s been some time since your last pay raise, now could be an ideal time to speak with your employer. To improve your chances of success, don’t discuss reasons outside of work that might be influencing your decision to ask for a raise (such as saving for a down payment). Rather, back up your request with evidence of your accomplishments at work.
After you buy a house, it may be only a few weeks before your closing date arrives. At this point, you and the home seller will finalize your transaction. And if everything goes according to plan, you'll own a new home.
Getting to closing day, however, sometimes can be difficult. Lucky for you, we're here to help ensure you can enjoy a quick, seamless home closing.
Now, let's take a look at three steps to close on a home.
1. Complete Your Mortgage Application
A mortgage is a must-have for a homebuyer to close on a residence. Fortunately, it often can be simple to obtain a mortgage that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Consult with several local banks and credit unions. By doing so, you can learn about all of your mortgage options and select a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.
After you complete a mortgage application, a bank or credit union can provide you with mortgage options. Then, you can make an informed decision about which mortgage suits you perfectly.
2. Perform a Home Inspection and Appraisal
A home inspection is paramount, as this assessment will enable you to identify any underlying home problems and address them before closing day arrives.
During a home inspection, a property expert will assess your residence both inside and out. This expert also will provide an inspection report that details his or her findings.
Review the results of a home inspection report closely – you'll be glad you did. If you assess a home inspection report, you can review a home inspector's findings and determine whether you still want to purchase a house.
If you accept the inspection results and decide to move forward with a home purchase, an appraisal may follow.
Like a home inspection, an appraisal requires a property expert to visit your home. This expert will evaluate your home's interior and exterior, as well as comparable houses in your city or town. Following a home appraisal, you will receive a property valuation.
Oftentimes, a property valuation may match or exceed the price that you intend to pay for a house. If it does not, there may be instances in which you can still walk away from a home sale or ask the seller to lower a house's asking price.
3. Buy Home Insurance
Home insurance safeguards your residence and personal belongings against loss, damage or destruction. As such, it is essential to purchase home insurance before you close on a house. Because with home insurance in place, you'll be good to go to protect your house and personal belongings against myriad disasters.
The closing process can be long and complicated. But if you work with a real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support leading up to closing day. In fact, this housing market professional is happy to provide tips to ensure you can streamline the closing process.
Get ready for closing day – follow the aforementioned steps, and you can speed up the process of acquiring your dream house.