Here are a few things to think about as you start your home search. Educate yourself on today's issues before making any offers. Knowledge you gain today can save you headaches down the road!
Plain and simple, owning a home can improve your quality of life, provide stability and give you a sense of control you just can't get from renting. You have a place to live when you rent, but buying is something much
deeper – and better...
The intangibles are tough to measure, but there are other benefits you can quantify:Read More ›
Your monthly mortgage payment creates equity for you, not your landlord.
The interest on your mortgage is a tax deduction:
While this isn't a reason in itself to buy a home, it's nice to get a break at tax time.
Fixed monthly housing payment:
If you opt for a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly rate of your mortgage won't change for the length of the term.
Tax-free gain:When it's time to sell your home, you don’t pay taxes on the proceeds of the sale that are above what you paid (with some restrictions – see information on capital gains).
Look for a house you can stay in long-term; one that will “grow” with your family and needs. The financial benefits of owning increase over time. Look for an agent who understands your lifestyle. Make sure the agent knows the neighborhoods you're interested in, and can answer questions you'll have about the location. (Source: RE/MAX)
If you're a buyer, you're looking for someone who knows the market inside and out; someone who can help you find the right house and help you make it yours...
Whether you create your list of candidates through referrals, online searching or other means, you'll want to meet at least three candidates to see if they fit your needs. Let them tell you about themselves, and find out what skills and abilities they'll bring to the table on your behalf.Read More ›
Here are just a few questions to consider asking:
1. Can you tell me about your real estate experience?
2. How familiar are you with the area where I want to live?
3. Do you work part-time or full-time as an agent?
4. Do you have additional training or advanced real estate education?
5. What should I expect when working with you?
6. What kind of information will you provide me on the homes and neighborhoods I’ll be looking at?
7. Can you provide references from at least three buyers you’ve worked with in the past six months?
8. How will current market conditions affect my home sale?
9. What resources will you use to help me find the right home?
10. How will you communicate with me throughout the process? (Source: RE/MAX)
When you think about heating and cooling your home, do your thoughts turn to money and energy efficiency? The more efficient heating and cooling systems are, the less they cost to run...
That means your utility bills can be lower. Energy efficiency is good for the environment, too. Before you invest in a new system, ask about the EnergyGuide label — it lets you know how energy efficient a model is compared to others like it. Products that meet certain energy efficiency criteria will have the ENERGY STAR logo. If you want to increase the efficiency of your system but you're not in the market to replace it, consider a professional or do-it-yourself home energy assessment. It can show you how specific fixes — like sealing air leaks or beefing up insulation — could help you save money and boost efficiency. (Source: FTC)Read More ›
Air that leaks through your home's envelope − the outer walls, windows, doors, and other openings − wastes a lot of energy and increases your utility costs. A well-sealed envelope, coupled with the right amount of insulation, can make a real difference on your utility bills...
Insulation levels are specified by R-Value. R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-Value the better the thermal performance of the insulation. The recommended level of insulation is also based on region. For Arkansas, Energy Star recommends R30-R60 for an unisulated attic, and R25-38 to an attic with 3-4 inches of existing insulation. For unisulated wood frame walls, R5 insulative wall sheathing should be added beneath the new siding. (Source: Energy Star)Read More ›
Asbestos has been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials such as: roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products; heat-resistant fabrics,
gaskets, and coatings...
Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after asbestos-containing materials are disturbed by cutting, sanding or other remodeling activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air in homes, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living in those homes. Your home inspector should be able to tell you if asbestos is present in visible areas, and recommend methods of remediation. If asbestos is present in the home, the cost of remediation should be considered when determining your offer amount. (Source: EPA)Read More ›
A real estate transaction is a complex process involving stacks of paperwork and a number of outside service providers and contractors. An experienced buyer's agent can guide you through the process, answering your
questions and serving as your advocate (see the Anatomy of a Home Purchase)...
Your agent will help you find the property that fits your needs, submit offers and counteroffers, suggest a good property inspector and other professionals, and provide all sorts of relevant advice. With a buyer's agent, you'll have someone on your side, looking out for your interests every step of the way.Read More ›
What are the costs involved in hiring a buyer’s agent?
As a buyer, you don’t pay your agent directly. Instead, the agent receives an agreed-upon portion of the listing agent's sales commission (usually about half), which is paid by the seller. If you're thinking this structure works against you by giving your buyer's agent an incentive to let you pay more than you need to, consider this: The increase in a buyer's agent commission on, say, a $5,000 to $10,000 jump in price would be only $125 to $250. Good buyer's agents – those who are productive and engaged in the business full time – aren't going to risk their reputations. Your satisfaction – which can generate referrals to your friends and family – is the lifeblood of their careers.
When seeking out a buyer’s agent, look for factors such as productivity, education and experience. Look for an agent who understands your lifestyle. Make sure the agent knows the neighborhoods you're interested in, and can answer questions you'll have about the location. (Source:RE/MAX)
Old wiring — even knob and tube wiring that dates back to the early 20th century—isn’t inherently dangerous, but unless you were around when the house was built, you can’t be sure the electrical system is up to code. Plus, materials such as wire insulation can deteriorate over time...
Aluminum wiring, dating back to homes constructed prior to 1972, has also been associated with potential risks for electrical fires. Having a licensed electrician inspect your home can be well worth the cost for homes constructed prior to 1972. Warning signs of outdated, old wiring are: Breakers trip or fuses blow regularly; A tingling sensation when you touch a wall switch, appliance, or receptacle; Dimming and flickering lights; A burning smell in a particular room or from an appliance; Discolored outlets and switch plates that are warm to the touch; and a lack of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in bathrooms, kitchen, and other areas that may be exposed to damp and wet conditions. (Source: National Realtor Association)Read More ›
Lead, a metal found in natural deposits, is commonly used in household plumbing materials and water service lines. The greatest exposure to lead is swallowing or breathing in lead paint chips and dust...
But lead in drinking water can also cause a variety of adverse health effects. In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water above the action level can result in delays in physical and mental development, along with slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, it can cause increases in blood pressure. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.Read More ›
Lead is rarely found in source water, but enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures which can leach significant amounts of lead into the water, especially hot water. (Source:EPA)