Carol George's Blog
Buying a home is a complicated process with a lot of opportunities to make costly mistakes. There’s no high school class to prepare you for buying a home but there probably should be. If you’re a first time homebuyer and you came across this article looking for advice, congratulations--you’re already doing the most important thing you can when making a big financial decision: the research.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common mistakes that first time homebuyers make when entering the real estate market. We’ll break it down by the three main phases of home-buying: saving for a home, hunting for a home, and signing a mortgage.
Saving for a home
One of the first lessons that all first time homeowners quickly learn is that being able to afford your monthly mortgage payments doesn’t mean you can afford a home. Many first time buyers are often coming from living situations where certain utilities are included (water, heat, electricity, etc.). Aside from those obvious expenses, there are also things like property tax and home insurance to budget for, both of which may increase. Finally, when you’re living in an apartment and your faucet breaks, you simply call the landlord. When you own a home, especially an older home, be prepared to spend on repairs and to start learning basic maintenance skills that will save you money.
The hunt for your first home
Now that you’re aware of the costs, it might be tempting to jump in and start looking at homes. Another common mistake first time homebuyers make is to waste time looking at homes before they’ve met with a real estate agent or have gotten pre-approved for a loan. Start there, then once you know the scope of your home search, you’ll have a much more relaxing hunt for your new home.
Another mistake that first time homebuyers make is to underestimate the time and commitment it takes to find a home. When you work with a real estate agent, make sure you are available at all times. Keep your phone nearby, stick to your schedule for viewing homes, and keep a list of each home you’re considering. Showing initiative and dedication won’t just help you stay organized, it will also show your agent and the home seller that you are worth their time.
One of the most common mistakes that buyers make when it comes to their mortgage is to fail to shop around for a lender. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that only half of all buyers considered more than one lender for their home.
Buyers, first time and repeat, often think their credit report is set in stone. What they don’t realize is that the three main credit Bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) can all make mistakes on your credit. Check your detailed credit reports and fix any errors long before applying for a mortgage to increase your chances of getting a good rate.
If you avoid these common mistakes and continue to do your research along the way, you should be able to save yourself some headaches and some money in the long term.
It’s inevitable that you will have just cleaned your carpet and suddenly, someone will spill something on it! The most important thing to know about stains is that the longer they sit in a material, the harder they are to get out. There’s different methods that tend to work better for different kinds of stains on carpets. When you know what to do to clean a stain, the next time a spill occurs, you’ll know exactly how to clean it up.
Food Or Drink Stains
when the spill occurs, you’ll need to start by getting what you can up from the carpet using a paper towel and something to help scrape up the remains of the item like a paper plate. Then, use a clot to blot over the stain with warm water. If the spill is liquid, you’ll need to try and absorb as much of it as possible. Press down firmly with a cloth and/or a paper towel to pick up the remains of the stain. Hopefully this will all that needs to be done, but most likely, you’ll need to clean the area more thoroughly.
For more stubborn food and drink stains in your carpet, make a solution using one part non-bleach laundry detergent and one part warm water. Apply to the stain and let it sit for around 5 minutes. Then, rinse again with warm water. Make sure that you get all of the detergent out of the carpet. Residual detergent could cause more permanent staining to the carpet.
The same procedure used for food and drink stains applies to pet stains. You need to scoop up any residue and blot the stain. You can use the same simple detergent solution that’s mentioned above to remove the stain. After the stain is removed, add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to warm water. This is used to neutralize the odor.
For any type of liquid stain, along with the solutions used to clean up solid stains, it’s really important for all excess moisture to dry completely. If stains aren’t dried, mold and mildew could result. Following clean-up, vacuum the area to return it to normal.
Nail polish is actually simpler to remove than you would think. First, get rid of the excess nail polish that may be on the carpet with a rag or paper towel. Blot well. You can use nail polish remover right on most carpets. Do this with caution however, as some carpets can lose color when nail polish remover is applied. Test a non-obvious area of the carpet for colorfastness. If you do find that the carpet loses color, you’ll need a professional to help you get the nail polish stain out of the carpet.
When you’ve gone through the lengthy and tiring process of seeking out, bidding on, and buying a new home and then sell your home, the last thing you want to worry about is cleaning your old house before you leave.
However, there’s multiple reasons you’ll want to ensure your old house is clean before you leave. First, as a common courtesy, you’ll want the new owners of your home to have a good first experience and to maintain your rapport with them after closing day. However, there are also legal and financial issues at play.
If your contract states that your home needs to have been “broom-swept” or some other form of cleaning before you leave, then your new owners could technically postpone closing. Furthermore, some states have laws requiring that homes are cleaned by their previous owners before they move out.
Although it can be difficult to define just how clean a home needs to be, legally speaking, your best option is to do your part to leave the home relatively clean, whether that means cleaning it yourself or hiring a cleaning company.
Legal reasons for cleaning your old house
As mentioned earlier, some states state cleaning requirements in the purchase contract when you sell your home. Their definitions of clean can often be vague, but usually include sweeping floors, wiping down surfaces, stripping nails and hangers from walls, and carrying out all furniture and garbage.
These rules are mostly designed to protect people who purchase a home from getting stuck with bulk items and other surprise issues that they’ll have to pay for.
An exception to this is when your home is sold “as is” or when you have some form of written agreement between you and the new owner that some part f your home will be left as is.
Cleaning your house
The ideal time to clean your house is once you’ve moved everything out. However, if you’re moving over a long distance, you might not be able to return to the house once it’s empty to give it a final cleaning.
In this case, your best option is to have your furniture and boxes packed away neatly in the garage, or in the corner of one room. Doing so will allow you to sweep, clean surfaces, wipe down cabinets, and so on, while your belongings are still in the house.
Just be sure to keep a broom handy once you’ve put everything on the moving truck so you can give one last sweep of the floor before you say goodbye to your old home.
It can be difficult to keep track of everything you’ll want to clean before you move out, so here’s a list to go by:
Sweep all floors
Vacuum all carpets
Wipe down cabinets, shelves
Try to sweep under appliances, oven, etc.
Spray sinks and tubs, leave air freshener in bathroom
Wipe inside of refrigerator, if applicable
Remove all nails from walls
Do a final walkthrough and remove any trash you’ve missed
9 Riverside Drive, Raymond, NH 03077
Don't let past housing experiences, including your childhood experiences, keep you from entering home ownership gradually and smartly. Right away, you might think that your housing choices are only influenced by your current family size, housing costs, business arrangements and personal preferences.
Don't let the past hold you back from enjoying row house living
What you might not know is how much your past living experiences are influencing the types of houses that you're open to buying as an adult. If you feel a need to stay connected to your childhood or family traditions, you might have a blind spot to certain types of houses. For example, you might:
- Refuse to buy a house that doesn't have large, bay windows (even if a house with smaller windows provides an equal amount of natural light to a home)
- Communicate to your realtor that you do not want to see houses that have less than three stories (you might make this demand even if a one to two story house has the same number of rooms as a three story house)
- Look at houses that are painted the same color that your childhood home was painted in (Of course, you could repaint house walls. But, if you're deeply connected to the past, you might disallow yourself access to this awareness.)
- Turn away from houses that don't have long side driveways, an attached garage or a covered parking area
Focus on what really counts when looking at row houses
You also might convince yourself that if you buy row houses, the value of the properties will only decline due to the fact that not as many people want to live in row houses as the number of people who are looking for a traditional, unattached house. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially if the number of people willing to release the past and take advantage of row house living grows.
Another thing that you might miss is the fact that it's a house's interior that wins many people over. Smartly designed rooms, more than enough living space, a beautiful decor and low utility expenses are measurable housing advantages that row houses also offer. Some row houses are designed with long, side driveways, the type of driveways in which you could park up to three or four vehicles. Be willing to step away from the past to realize these and other row house benefits.
Get over row house stereotypes
If you're feeling stuck, it could be because you're holding onto the past. Housing is one area where you might make decisions that are based on your past. If you, your parents and grandparents grew up in an unattached house, you might consider living in an unattached house as being "normal". Should you have grown up in an unattached house, you also might have stereotypes about row houses.
The stereotypes could be erroneous or flat out wrong. Believing that people who live in row houses re financially inept, socially challenges or less educated and positive than people who live in traditional, unattached houses is inaccurate. Move into a row house and you might quickly find that family background, a thirst for ongoing education and personal goals and vision are the core determinants of how well neighbors interact with each other.
Additionally, unless you were gifted a house through a will, this mindset could cost you. Row houses, especially older row houses, may save you thousands of dollars both over the short and long term. Included among savings that row houses could yield are homeowner's association fees, property taxes and interior and exterior housing maintenance costs.