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6 Tips for Teaching Your Kids How To Be Good Neighbors

good neighbors

By Alison Hodgson, Houzz

The summer of 1968, my parents were in the market for their first home. In a neighborhood they liked, they found two houses, side by side, up for sale. After they toured both, they decided on the slightly smaller one on the corner, and moved in a few weeks before my older brother was born. Three more of us followed in steady succession.

The people who bought the house next door were an older couple. If you restrict the definition of “good neighbors” to how they keep their homes, then the Lincolns were the best. They kept their house and yards immaculate, but they were unfriendly. His constant expression was disapproval mixed with suspicion, and she always seemed to be discovering a bad smell.

My parents took care of our home and yards, but in the front our lawn met theirs, and the line of demarcation was as obvious as if there had been a fence. Second only to the care and keeping of his enormous Cadillac, lawn maintenance was Mr. Lincoln’s life’s work. When a ball fell across the property line, one of us would retrieve it, running as if the grass were lava.

 My siblings and I were taught to be respectful of all of our neighbors’ property and the neighbors themselves, but the Lincolns were such a couple of curmudgeons, our mere existence was an affront. This sort of disdain wears on even the strongest psyche. When we moved it was such a relief to have acres of woods and fields to roam through and to be free of constant suspicion and disapproval.

When I grew up and bought a home of my own, I discovered we had the kindest neighbors in the world, but even so I tried to make sure my children weren’t wearing out our neighbors’ warmest welcome.

Here are my recommendations for helping your children learn how to be good neighbors.

good neighbors

Heffernan Landscape Design, original photo on Houzz

  1. Establish boundaries and routines with your neighbors first. This sounds obvious, but in the busyness of life, simple things can be forgotten or taken for granted. Ask your neighbors what they would want your children to do if a ball goes into their yard. May your child walk into their yard and retrieve it, or would your neighbor prefer a knock on the door first? Are there any special considerations? Does your neighbor work at night, and would he appreciate quiet right outside his bedroom window during the day? Asking simple questions like these will show you care about and respect your neighbor’s wishes and needs.
  2. Teach your children literal boundaries.When they are quite young, explain where your property ends and where your neighbors properties’ begin. Explain to your kids what you and the neighbors discussed for ball retrieval or anything else. This is especially important if your neighbors have animals.
  3. Explain figurative boundaries. Your child may be entirely on your own property but yelling his or her sweet head off. Although you may be able to tune this out entirely, your neighbor cannot. Kids shouldn’t need to skulk around whispering, but a basic understanding of other people’s needs will serve your child forever.
  4. good neighbors

    Keith Willig Landscape Services Inc, original photo on Houzz

    Don’t cover it up. Accidents will happen. Teach your child what to do when things go wrong. Talk through different scenarios: kids are playing ball and accidentally break a neighbor’s window. The instinct is to run, but that’s no solution. Help children decide how to find and ask for help when they’re scared and most tempted to make a bad situation worse.

  5. Teach your children to look for opportunities to help and serve. Is a neighbor struggling to carry in a carload of groceries? A simple, “May I give you a hand?” could make a neighbor’s day and give your child the opportunity to experience the great feeling that comes from helping others.
  6. Ask for feedback. Keep an open conversation with your neighbors. Most people won’t rat out your kid for being a pest, but if you check in and ask how things are going, your neighbor may feel freer to express an annoyance that’s easily corrected.

Learning to be a good neighbor while still young will help your child find his or her place in the world.

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8 Hidden Costs When Buying a Home

by Rebecca Bradshaw

You’ve saved for a down payment and calculated how much mortgage you can afford, but are you prepared for hidden costs that can occur when buying a home?

  1. To determine the property’s true worth, you will be expected to pay for a home appraisal. The appraisal not only assures that you aren’t overpaying, but can also be used as a negotiating tool when making an offer to the seller. An appraisal can cost as much as $500.
  2. A home inspection will determine if there are any problems with your new house. Professional inspectors will look for flaws in the home’s foundation and roof, as well as check for potential costly issues in its electrical, heating, and water systems. An inspection can range from $200 to $500, but is well worth the expense.
  3. You may need to pay for additional inspections, such as a land survey to determine property lines, or for termite, sewer, chimney, or other ancillary inspections. While not overly expensive on their own (a few hundred dollars each), they can be costly when combined.
  4. If an inspection turns up issues that the seller won’t cover, or if you purchase a house that isn’t in perfect condition, you may find yourself spending money on repairs and cosmetic changes before you move in. Figure in the cost of painting, upgrades to appliances, and other expenses when planning your budget.
  5. Purchasing a home warranty is optional, but is an out of pocket expense you might want to undertake right away. Running as high as $500, a good home warranty can offset the cost of pricy repairs, ultimately saving you thousands of dollars. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to pay for the warranty at closing.
  6. Closing costs generally run between 2% – 5% of the total purchase price, and although the seller may pay for all or part of them, you may still be responsible for a portion. Be prepared to pay private mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20%, as well as for property taxes, and fees for title searches and other filing costs.
  7. Don’t forget moving costs. Professional movers can be expensive, depending on the time and distance of the move. Consider, too, if you’ll need to purchase new furniture or appliances, or, if you’re downsizing, whether you’ll need to rent a storage unit.
  8. You may find that you are required to have additional insurance, or that the water heater that passed the home inspection stops working right after you move in. Unexpected expenses can occur when buying a home, so plan to put aside an emergency fund.

 

Sources: US News/Money, Life Hacker, Real Estate Solutions, Campbell & Keller Team       

 

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How Much Mortgage Can Your Lifestyle Afford?

By Rebecca Bradshaw

There’s no getting around it, buying a home is expensive. Saving money for a down payment and then living within your means takes plenty of advance planning, strict budgeting, and might even require making a few sacrifices. But what if you have a lifestyle that you love—hobbies, sports, and other interests, that you aren’t necessarily willing to give up in order to own a home? Just how much mortgage can your lifestyle afford? The good news is that with some adjustments, you should be able to become a homeowner while continuing to do the things you love, and all without going broke.

Start by budgeting wisely.

In general, financial experts recommend that your mortgage payments (which include principal, interest, insurance, and taxes) should not come to more than around 28% of your gross monthly income. Be realistic about how much house you will actually be able to afford while still enjoying doing all the things you love and plan your home search accordingly.

Keep in mind, too, that the more money you put down on your new home, the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. A twenty percent down payment is traditional, though there may be alternative funding programs available that require you to put down much less. Do your homework, talk to your financial institution, and look for the best option that will help you continue to live within your means while still holding on to your lifestyle.

Be willing to compromise.

If traveling is your passion, but you’re afraid that homeownership will cut into future vacations to exotic locations, consider purchasing a house that won’t take such a huge bite out of your monthly budget. Be flexible when it comes to travel opportunities as well.

You can save a lot by visiting locales that are off the beaten path, or by traveling during the off-season. Search travel websites for deals on cruises, hotels, tours, and other savings. The same types of compromises can be applied to your other interests and hobbies as well.

Get creative with your lifestyle budget.

If you’re a theater buff, but visiting Broadway just won’t work in your home buying budget, then check out local websites for community productions of award-winning plays. Sign up for updates from websites such as Living Social for discounts on everything from skydiving to upscale spa weekends. Or, if shopping is your passion, bargain hunt for clothing or home décor on sites or save up for a once a year sample sale splurge, and consider shopping at consignment stores. Don’t overlook the simple luxuries; if you’re a gourmet food lover or wine connoisseur, try indulging in a good merlot with a home cooked meal rather than going out to an expensive restaurant.  Offers on everything from free or discounted tickets to concerts or sporting events, manicures, gym memberships, wine tastings, and golf getaways can all be found online with just a little time and effort.

Sources: Nerd Wallet, stephanieoconnell.com, learnvest.com

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