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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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Suburbia Is Here to Stay, According to New Urban Land Institute Report

By Zoe Eisenberg

Great news for suburban real estate agents: Although America’s urban landscapes continue to grow and millennials prefer walkable neighborhoods, suburbia is predicted to maintain its popularity. According to a new publication from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), suburban marketplaces are still expanding and will continue to do so.

The report, Housing in the Evolving American Suburb, examines suburbs in the 50 largest metros in the U.S., compiling key development trends in order to predict what the future of America’s suburbia will be.

“What’s happening in America’s urban places is very exciting and important, but this report pulls back the lens and presents a much broader view and a better framework for understanding where people actually live in this country,” said Adam Ducker, managing director at RCLCO, the company that developed the analytic framework of the report.

“The suburbs have evolved far beyond the monolithic bedroom community of our imagination, and this report is the first to deal with them fully, and on their own terms, in a long time.”

Below are some of the report’s most interesting findings:

It’s more diverse than you think

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While many believe the suburbs to be mostly white-washed, the ULI report shows that overall, suburbs in the U.S. are quite diverse; 76 percent of the minority population lives in the suburbs.

Suburbia rules overall.

Although cities jam-pack thousands into a smaller amount of square footage, in America’s 50 largest metros, suburbs account for 79 percent of the population and 78 percent of the households.

The young love the ‘burbs.

While it’s a widespread belief that millennials want to stomp around in cities, 75 percent of young adults between 25 and 35 are actually settling in the suburbs.

Suburbia is growing.

Over the past 15 years, from 2000 to 2015, suburbia accounted for 91 percent of the population growth and 84 percent of the household growth in the top 50 metros.

The jobs are better.

This was perhaps the biggest shocker, as you might think a city environment would offer more room for employment growth. The ULI report shows that as of 2014, 67.5 percent of the employment in the 50 largest metros was in suburbs. Additionally, between 2010 and 2014, jobs increased by 9 percent in suburbs versus 6 percent in urban areas. And it’s not just more jobs, but higher paying ones, too. The median household income in the suburbs is $71,000. In urban areas, the median is $49,200.

Click here to view the full report.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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It’s Time to Plan for the New Year!

By Buffini & Company

The new year is right around the corner. While you may be busy closing deals and putting those finishing touches on your annual holiday party for your clients, it’s crucial to set aside a day or two to assess your wins and challenges in 2016, think about what you want to achieve in 2017, and craft a plan to achieve those goals. Follow these steps to plan a successful 2017.

1. Prepare.

English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, “He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.” Consider your ‘moment of inspiration’ all of 2017. Preparation is a necessary leadership skill that allows you to face challenges without anxiety or frustration getting in the way. Preparation involves:

Reviewing the progress you made toward achieving your goals this year.

What worked well? What would you do differently? What lesson(s) have you learned?

Visualizing what you want to achieve

This can involve closing more transactions, increasing your income by a certain percentage or expanding your database (or a combination of the three). Seeing what you want to achieve will help you take action to make it a reality.

Practicing your dialogues.

Doing your lead-generating activities and consistently sending your marketing flyers will allow you to better serve your clients, setting the stage for success. The more you practice, the more prepared you’ll be to handle challenges and unexpected events that arise.

 

2. Set Goals.

Goals are essential to success. When you set measurable, realistic goals, you have a target to shoot for during the year. Increase your chances of achieving these goals by:

Writing them down.

Studies show the act of writing goals down will help commit them to memory.

Devising a strategy.

What tasks will turn your goals into reality? How often will you have to do them? What steps will you have to take to help you get there? For many people, it’s easier to start with the goal and work backward, reverse engineering the process.

Posting them where you can see them.

Whether it’s in your office, next to your bed or on a note affixed to your car’s visor, seeing your goals serves as a daily reminder of what’s at stake. A daily reminder boosts your chances of sticking with them until the end.

Adopting the mindset of a sprinter.

By nature, humans are most productive when they work in short, focused bursts. We developed The Blitz training program as a way to help agents reach their goals by doing small activities consistently every day for a set length of time, from 45 to 75 days. Kicking your lead generation into overdrive for a set length of time allows you to be more productive and effective as you serve your clients and plant the seeds for future business.

 

3. Make a Plan.

Get out your calendar and mark down your vacation time, seminars, workshops, and other important non-negotiable dates. Non-negotiables are those events you must attend, whether it’s a long weekend with the family, your child’s home games or school performances, or the annual motivational event you always attend. Once you’ve marked these down, you can fill in the rest of your priorities.

While you can’t predict when a setback will occur, planning may help to mitigate the impact, giving you the confidence to move forward. Set aside some time to plan for 2017, and enjoy your successes in the new year.

To learn more about advertising opportunities with The Real Estate Book, find your local representative  by clicking here!

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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