Dick Stoner's Blog
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re upgrading to a larger house to fit your family’s needs, it’s 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 today’s post, I’m 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, you’ll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).
On your spreadsheet, you’ll 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 can’t just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.
If you aren’t 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, it’s also a good idea to assume you’ll be paying more in utilities if you’re 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 it’s a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes you’re 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 you’re 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 you’ll need a strong understanding of what you and your family’s 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 you’re looking for and just how much home you can afford.
Buying furniture is a big investment in time and money. If you’re trying to match the style and color scheme of your home perfectly, it can be difficult to find something that’s the right fit.
This is a task made more difficult when many large furniture stores carry largely similar items that don’t veer too far from the current trends.
If you want to buy unique furniture that meets your specific style it can seem like there are few options. However, there are many online stores where you can find just that, and so so by supporting small retailers and craftsmen.
In this article, we’re going to give you some advice on finding furniture that will make your home stand out. Read on for a list of how to find handmade and uncommon furniture for your home.
One way to find unique furniture and support local craftsmen at the same time is to search for furniture makers in your area. Oftentimes a Google search will help you local nearby shops. However, you can also use websites like Craigslist to narrow your search down to your area.
If you’re having trouble finding people who make or refurbish furniture in your area, try searching for local businesses on websites like Yelp or Yellow Pages.
Scavenge and refurbish
One way to guarantee that your furniture will be unique is to buy antique or discarded items and then pay a craftsman to refurbish and alter the item. This is particularly common with sofas and chairs.
Upholstering is an art form that requires a good idea, both for restoration and customization. Oftentimes you can find inexpensive, but well-worn, furniture at thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, and on Craigslist at very cheap prices.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of sanding, staining, or painting old furniture to give them a new life in your living room or kitchen. What’s more, when you take on a DIY project to refurbish a piece of furniture it will have added meaning and value to you, and you could discover a new hobby that you’re interested in along the way.
There are a number of online retailers who sell handmade or refurbished furniture. One of the most popular web stores right now is Etsy. On Etsy, you can find craftsmen and refurbishers’ work who you appreciate and follow them to see what they have in stock.
Before Etsy, Ebay was the leading place to buy handmade and refurbished items online. To this day, Ebay still has a wide selection of items. Since many items on Ebay are auctioned, you also have the potential of winning a bid at a low price.
A third option would be to seek out the hundreds of small furniture shops online. A benefit or seeking out the manufacturer directly is that you get a chance to learn about the product and ask about customization.
Those are just some of the ways to find unique, handmade furniture for your home. Remember to be patient and to ask questions while furniture shopping to make sure you find the perfect fit for your room.
Adding a residence to the real estate market can be stressful, particularly for a first-time home seller. Fortunately, we're here to help you maintain a positive outlook as you await offers on your house.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help a first-time home seller remain calm, cool and collected after he or she lists a residence.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
Although a first-time home seller might expect dozens of offers in the days following a house's addition to the real estate market, it may take some time to stir up interest in a residence. However, a home seller who establishes realistic expectations from the get-go will know how to stay the course throughout the property selling journey.
A first-time home seller should understand both the best- and worst-case scenarios. That way, a home seller will know how to respond to any potential pitfalls that may arise.
Furthermore, a first-time home seller should have a plan in place for what will happen after a home offer is accepted. This will ensure a home seller is fully prepared to vacate a house as quickly as possible.
2. Learn About the Housing Market
The housing market is exceedingly complex, especially for those who are selling homes for the first time. Conversely, a first-time home seller who takes a diligent approach can gain the real estate market insights to make confident decisions.
For example, a first-time home seller should analyze the competition closely. By looking at the prices of similar houses that are available, this home seller can establish a competitive price for a house and increase his or her chances of a quick home sale.
A first-time home seller also should check out the prices of recently sold houses in his or her city or town. By doing so, this home seller can find out whether he or she is entering a buyer's or seller's market and plan accordingly.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
Selling a home may seem like a simple process on paper, but challenges can quickly arise that prevent a first-time property seller from achieving his or her desired results. But with support from a real estate agent, a first-time home seller can get the assistance that he or she needs to remain confident at each stage of the property selling journey.
A real estate agent understands the challenges associated with selling a house and will help a property seller avoid such problems. In fact, a real estate agent is happy to provide expert guidance to help a first-time home seller operate like a home selling professional.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will respond to a first-time home seller's concerns and queries. This guarantees a home seller can obtain unparalleled insights into how to set a competitive price for a residence, how to bolster a house's interior and exterior and much more.
Want to keep things positive as you proceed along the home selling journey for the first time? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can maintain a positive outlook as you navigate the home selling cycle.