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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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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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