Why is buying a new home that important? There are perfectly good existing homes out there, you might be thinking. Why should I buy a new one?
Are you still renting? Or perhaps you’re starting to outgrow your starter home? If so, and you’re thinking about buying a new home in the next year or so, let us give you some great tips for finding your forever home.
Okay, we know it probably won’t be an actual forever home, but we do think you’ll want to find something you can live in comfortably for at least a few years. Here are some things to consider.
If you’ve just bought your new home we bet you are excited. You should be. It’s a big step. But make sure you’re prepared with the list of what items new homeowners need. Do you have everything?
1. A fire extinguisher
There’s a good chance the previous owner already had one, but you still want to check it over. Fire extinguishers have a shelf life, and we’re willing to bet the one that came with your home has already expired. They aren’t expensive. Go ahead and buy a new one.
The Wall Street Journal recently had an interesting roundup of what’s currently on the new home buyer wish list. You may be surprised by some of what they discussed.
One interesting trend was a shift from decks and patios to porches. Many of the porches are accessible from sliding doors and make the outdoor space feel like part of the home’s living space. That’s a nice trend, and we’re all for that!
The next trend is a bit troubling. They said 2014 would go down as the “Year of the McMansion.”
Meanwhile, 2014 will go into the history books as the year of the McMansion. The percentage of homes built with four or more bedrooms last year was 12 percentage points higher than at the housing market’s recent nadir in 2009. The same goes for the percentage built last year with three or more bathrooms. Those built with three-car garages was up seven percentage points from its trough in 2010.
While as real estate agents, we love the commission on those large homes, the trend isn’t good for first time home buyers and younger buyers who can’t afford the price tag of a large home. Don’t despair, though. According to the article, economists and other analysts believe the smaller homes are coming back.
Robert Dietz, an economist with the National Association of Home Builders, predicts new-home sizes will plateau this year as builders start constructing a greater number of smaller, less expensive homes. D.R. Horton Inc. already is doing so, and peers Meritage Homes Corp., Ryland Group Inc. and Century Communities Inc.are starting on that path.
We’re happy to hear that because, of course, our team loves to work with first time home buyers.
Are any of you shopping for a new home? Have you noticed any of these trends?
Congratulations on your new home! We’re sure you’re excited to be all moved in. Now that it’s yours, what should you do? There are so many options. Ways to spend your money. Things you can do to save money. Here are some areas we think are good to start with.
1. Make the home yours
It’s easy to fall into the trap of setting up your home exactly the way the former owner did. This room is a bedroom. This one is a living room, etc.
While it’s more difficult to make a kitchen or bathroom serve another function, some of the other rooms are easier to adapt to your style. One of our clients bought a three-bedroom home, and they tried to decide which room should be their son’s room. The problem? Both secondary bedrooms were so small that neither really worked. So one room became the actual “bed” room, with bed and dresser. The other became the play room, which meant that all toys had their place. Since they had moved from a two-bedroom apartment with small rooms, most of their son’s toys had ended up in the living room. Not any more!
Think creatively about rooms in your home and make them yours.
2. Have fun with paint and decorations
This is especially true if you’ve moved from an apartment or a home where you had to make everything neutral to help it sell. Now that you are in a home which is yours and you plan to live in for a while, it’s time to go crazy, if you’d like. Do you like fancy wall paper? Or perhaps wild colors in your bedroom? Now is the time to paint and decorate exactly the way you want.
3. Don’t forget to decorate the outdoors
You may already be an avid gardener and have been dreaming about your exact plans for the exterior of your house. But if you’ve just moved from an apartment, you might not be in the habit of thinking about how your outside looks.
Consider changing the trim color or painting your shutters. What about plants and flowers? Hate to mow? Investigate low-maintenance lawn options. There’s just as much to do to individualize the exterior as with your interior. Just be careful to not run afoul of your home owner’s association. You may need to ask permission before painting your front door purple!
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Have you just moved into a new home with a baby? Or perhaps you’ve been living in your home for a while but just brought home a new baby? Either way, you’ll want to do some baby proofing. (Hint. Many of these same tips will work for pet proofing as well.)
1. Proofing the bathroom
The bathroom has several potential dangers. The toilet is the obvious one, and we recommend using a safety lock on the lid to prevent problems.
However, don’t ignore the cupboard and under the sink. Many people leave cleaning solutions and other chemicals there. It’s best to remove chemicals to another location. If that’s not possible, use some sort of locking mechanism.
Finally, the bathroom is where many of us keep our medications. No, your baby probably can’t reach the medicine cabinet yet, but getting into good habits now can save trouble later. Babies don’t understand the difference between medicine and candy. As with cleaning chemicals, either lock the cabinet or move your medicines to a safer location.
2. Proofing the kitchen
The kitchen has almost as many dangers as the bathroom. Hot stoves and more cleaning chemicals under the sink are the main problems. For chemicals, use the same techniques as you did in the bathroom.
As to appliances, either use a baby gate to keep your little wanderer out of the kitchen while cooking, or remain vigilant when the stove is on.
3. Around the house
Outlets and shelves are the obvious areas here. Use outlet covers or plugs to keep little fingers away from the electricity. Move breakable items off the shelves entirely or move to storage or a safer location until your baby is older and able to understand what is to be touched or not.
Don’t forget plants. Some decorative plants are poisonous. Here’s a list of some plants you might not want to have in the same house with a baby.
If you are in a multi-story house, you’ll need to think about stairs. Baby gates are another good solution, but here’s something to consider. According to this article, you don’t want to put a baby gate at the top of the stairs. If a child goes over the gate, he or she will fall down on his or her head. Move the gate back a few feet from the stairs for additional safety.
4. Proofing the basement
If you have a basement, you probably use it for storing all sorts of things, from tools to chemicals. The safest way to keep your baby safe is to gate off the basement and makes it inaccessible. If that’s not possible for some reason (like you have your family or media room in the basement), try to move all dangerous items behind a door or gate.
Those are our suggestions, but we probably missed something. Please feel free to add your own ideas in the comments. If we get enough of them, we can create a follow up post.
Congratulations! You’ve purchased a new home, and it’s completely understandable that you want to go wild and spend some money. (After all, you put spending on hold for a while to keep your credit score high. You did do that, didn’t you?) However, there are some unwise places to put money, so don’t waste money on your new home. Here’s some areas to avoid.
1. Principle Mortgage Insurance
Okay, this is hardly something you’ll spend money on after you buy the home, but, in most cases, it’s still a waste of money. There are ways to avoid it with either a large enough down payment or certain loan options. We recommend discussing your options with a loan officer because it’s something to avoid if at all possible.
2. Lots of new furniture
Odds are you are moving from a smaller house to a larger one, and the new home might look awfully empty. However, space out your purchases. You might have unexpected new home expenses, and it’s wise to save money early on. Purchase inexpensive pieces now to fill needs and wait until later to splurge.
3. Lawn services
Companies know how to lay on the pressure. They will show up with brochures showing how gorgeous your new lawn can look. Sure, it might make sense to hire someone else to take care of it, but give it a go yourself first. You can do wonders with some seed, water and fertilizer. If it’s too much of a hassle, you can always redesign your lawn later with water-efficient, low-maintenance shrubs and plants.
4. Energy Inefficiency
This is one area where failing to spend money up front can cost lots of money over time. Have an energy audit conducted so you can see exactly where you are wasting money. Perhaps all you need to do is replace cheap, inefficient bulbs. However, you might need to replace doors or windows. If you know now, you can save up to do the work later. And save money over the years.
5. Home insurance
You probably got something quick because you needed it right away. That doesn’t mean you got the best deal. Once you’ve moved in and settled, do some shopping. You might find a much better deal and save some more money.
Any other places you wasted money right after you bought a new home? Share them in the comments!
In our last article, we discussed the types of communities for older home owners. Builders of those communities are using some trends to make their offerings more attractive to their aging clientele. Here are some of those trends in 50+ building and how they can make your home more comfortable.
Universal Design (UD) focuses on making a living space fully accessible to people of all different ages and abilities. This often requires small innovations in design that are increasingly inviting and stylish. Some examples are widened doorways for wheelchairs, adjusted showers and baths, raised flower beds for seated gardening, open, single-level floor plans and lowered appliances. These measures take away the stress of high-maintenance homes with steep staircases and high operating costs that many seniors live in today. With a move to a home with UD elements, you can have both updated style and feel totally comfortable in your own space.
Healthy and Active Lifestyle
Wouldn’t you want to live somewhere with its own nutritionist, massage therapist, spa and shuttle service? With a rise in demand for healthy living in recent years, many 50+ buyers demand these amenities — as well as lifestyle directors, workout classes and hiking trails.
50+ communities don’t just focus in physical health, but can also be great for a person’s emotional and social health. Many 50+ communities have social groups form around activities like singing, games or even line dancing. They are often located in warmer climates and most are built near central attractions.
One of the biggest trends in 50+ is to locate communities near big universities so residents can continue learning by taking classes or going to the cultural and academic events that revolve around college campuses. Many communities develop near public transit hubs or even provide their own transportation into central local areas. Some developments sponsor trips to large festivals, plays, religious services or other local events. These amenities make for a rich and busy life and manage to promote health as well as happy!
Which of these trends are most attractive to you?
We’re going to be seeing some big changes in the country as baby boomers continue to age. It’s estimated that by 2040, the number of Americans 65 or older will expand to more than 79 million—up from just 40 million in 2010.
NAHB forecasts that the share of households headed by someone age 55+ will increase through 2019 to account for more than 45% of all U.S. households. These ever-growing ranks of empty-nesters, new retirees, grandparents and active seniors create an opportunity for builders across the country to meet the special needs and preferences of 50+ buyers looking to relocate, downsize their homes or find a new senior-friendly community.
50+ homes often form around vibrant locations and social-engaged communities and often include amenities like nature trails, pools and recreation centers. Many use design elements that promote low-stress living and include special features like an extra bedroom suite for guests and accessible kitchens, bathrooms and gardens.
The 50+ niche is vitally important to help ease the transitions between life stages. Builders are redefining what it means to relocate with age by providing more lifestyle options for the growing 50+ population.
Here’s a look at the community options for older adults.
Active Adult Communities
Today’s baby boomers are not looking for the isolated retirement communities of the past, yet many still want the sense of community and shared interests that come from living in a place designed for their generation. Active adult communities are made for residents looking to remain engaged and independent. Many residents are still working or recently retired and enjoy communal amenities like pools, recreation centers, social events, hiking trails, tennis courts and nearby restaurants and shopping. For 50+ households, this can be an affordable option to downsize to a smaller home and still will allow them to age in place comfortably with a true sense of community.
Assisted living is aimed at residents who want to live somewhat independently but have access to services like meals, personal care, social activities, medical support and in many cases 24-hour health supervision. Assisted living is for those who can no longer live entirely on their own, but don’t yet need the full support of nursing care. The level of service is typically adjusted to fit the individual to create personalized attention and individual care.
Community Care Retirement Communities
Community Care Retirement communities (CCRCs) are a happy medium between the support of assisted living and the independence of active adult communities. Residents can choose more independence by living on their own in single-family homes, apartments or condominiums, but as additional assistance becomes necessary there is the added benefit of assisted living or nursing care facilities. Residents transition smoothly and can rest assured that health needs can be accommodated minus the stress and hassle of moving. Like active adult communities, CCRCs often are rich with amenities and communal areas that foster community engagement, but they are also great for a sense of stability.
In our next article, we’ll talk about trends in building for older adults, and how those trends can make your next home more comfortable.
On the one hand, it seems logical. A buyer’s agent finds homes for you to go look at. But if you’re buying from a builder, you don’t need someone to show you the homes, so you don’t need an agent. Right?
Not really. An agent does lots more than show you homes. An agent is trained to be a good negotiator. An agent can explain the endless documents you’ll be signing at closing. And most important, an agent is there to be your advocate if something goes wrong.
We’re not saying that something will go wrong when negotiating with a builder, but things happen. The builder brings in a city or county inspector, but that person didn’t represent you. What if something was missed? Once you’ve closed on the home, flaws may be your responsibility, and it could be complicated to get them fixed. If they are found by a home inspector before closing, possible flaws or defects can be handled, by the builder, before you close. Do you really want to find out there’s been faulty electrical or plumbing work after you move in?
An agent knows what sorts of concessions are customary and can negotiate on your behalf to get the best possible deal. An agent had fiduciary responsibility to you, the client. The builder does not.
And what if you are in a situation where you are selling your current home? What if that sales takes longer than expected? That’s a good reason to use an agent who is part of the Builder Trade In program. We can help that process go more smoothly.
What do you think? Are those all good reasons to hire an agent when buying from a builder?