Ellen McLaughlin - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 3/8/2020


 Photo by Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay

For years home ownership has been the American dream, but, according to the Pew Research Center, a higher percentage of us are renters than at any other time in the last 50 years. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. For many people renting may be the right choice. Every individual and family needs to consider all the factors and make the decision that’s right for them.

The Financial Consideration

There’s a rule of thumb called the price to rent ratio. You get it by dividing the price of a house by the annual rent. For example, if you can buy a house for $300,000 or rent it for $1500 per month, the ratio is 300,000 / (12 * 1500), or 16.7. When the number is 15 or less, buying is the better choice, when it’s 16 to 20, renting becomes more favorable and when it’s over 20 renting is significantly better. However, this fails to take in factors like down payment amount, financing terms, taxes, insurance and other costs, which can vary widely. A more accurate number, telling you how long it will take to cover the up-front costs of ownership and pull even financially with renting, can be found using one of many calculators available.

The Other Considerations

While this sort of calculation is valuable, there are other questions, both financial and lifestyle-related, that the potential renter or buyer must ask.

  • What can I spend upfront for down payment and closing costs?

  • Can I afford a major repair such as replacing a furnace or air conditioner? There are insurance-like plans to defray some of that cost, but those make up another annual expense.

  • How long do I plan to stay? Selling a home and buying a new one is costly and time-consuming.

  • Which is more important to me, stability or flexibility?

Advantages of Home Ownership

As the inheritor of the American dream, the homeowner has some opportunities and privileges that the renter can’t enjoy.

  • Appreciation and equity. As home value rises and morgage balance drops, homeowners gain equity, which for many is their most valuable asset.

  • Building credit.

  • Freedom to remodel. There’s no landlord telling you what you can and can’t do with your property.

  • Stable monthly payments. Taxes and insurance can increase, but principal and interest payment remains the same. If you stay there long enough, eventually you’ll have no principal/interest to pay at all.

  • Tax advantage. For most people, it isn’t what it was before the 2017 tax changes, but interest and taxes may still be deductible.

  • Stability. You can become a member of your neighborhood and your children can stay in the same school system. No landlord can decide to sell and give you notice.

Advantages of Renting

  • No large upfront expenses.

  • Your landlord is responsible for major repairs.

  • Still some opportunity to build credit by paying rent promptly.

  • You have less at risk. You won’t be affected if property values fall.

  • Flexibility. If you choose to move you can easily give notice and do so.

Here’s one last question: which feels better, the satisfaction of owning your own castle or the freedom to change your life quickly? The answer may go a long way toward pointing you in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 




Categories: Buying  


Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 12/22/2019

As a homebuyer, it is paramount to establish realistic expectations for the homebuying journey. That way, you can take a step-by-step approach to achieve various goals along this journey and acquire your ideal residence faster than ever before.

Setting realistic homebuying expectations can be simple. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you set realistic homebuying expectations.

1. Assess Your Home Must-Haves and Wants

Dozens of homes are available in cities and towns nationwide. If you establish realistic homebuying expectations, you may be better equipped than others to determine exactly what you want to find in your dream house. As a result, you could reap the benefits of a quick, seamless homebuying experience.

Oftentimes, it helps to create a list of home must-haves and wants prior to searching for a house. This list can be updated as you proceed along the homebuying journey and will serve as a guide to help you discover your ideal residence.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

With a mortgage in hand, you can narrow your home search to residences that fall within your price range. Then, you can speed up the homebuying journey and find your ideal residence in no time at all.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions generally offer a broad array of mortgage options. Examine all of your mortgage options closely, and you're sure to find a mortgage that matches your finances.

Also, don't hesitate to ask mortgage questions when you meet with potential lenders. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who are happy to help you in any way they can. Thus, you can gain expert insights from these mortgage specialists that could help you make an informed mortgage decision.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent understands what it takes to purchase a home in any housing market. Therefore, he or she can help you prepare for the real estate market and establish realistic homebuying expectations from day one.

Typically, a real estate agent first will learn about your homebuying goals. He or she then will help you map out a successful homebuying journey, one that concludes with you discovering your dream house at a budget-friendly price.

A real estate agent offers plenty of support at each stage of the homebuying journey too. This housing market professional will set up home showings, keep you updated about new residences that become available and help you evaluate houses. And if you want to submit an offer on a home, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to put together a competitive homebuying proposal.

Achieving the optimal results during the homebuying journey sometimes can be difficult. But if you establish realistic homebuying expectations, you may be able to streamline the homebuying journey and ensure that you can purchase a great house that suits you perfectly.




Categories: Buying a Home   buying tips  


Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 11/24/2019

When buying a house, especially your first home, it's all too easy to make impulsive decisions and fail to "see the forest for the trees."

Although it's impossible to ignore your emotional reactions to a house for sale, it's vital to look at the big picture and make sure there are no red flags being ignored or glossed over.

For example, if the foundation of the house looks unstable or the surrounding neighborhood is showing signs of deterioration, it's ultimately not going to matter how much you love the layout of the kitchen or the convenience of a first floor laundry room. Major problems can overshadow the desirable features of a home and have long-term implications on your finances (and sanity).

Even though the future marketability of a house may be the last thing on your mind when you're searching for your next home, it's a factor worth giving some serious thought to. When that aspect of home ownership is overlooked, it could result in headaches and possible financial loss down the road. While real estate generally has a tendency to appreciate in value over time, there are exceptions.

The good news is that many potential problems can be prevented by combining common sense with the advice of qualified professionals, such as an experienced, certified property inspector. If you're wondering what's covered in a typical home inspection, the American Society of Home Inspectors offers this overview: "The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components."

So while inspectors can't look behind every wall or accurately predict the remaining lifespan of an existing HVAC system, they can provide you with a lot of valuable tips, recommendations, and insights into the condition of a house for sale. Working with a top-notch real estate (buyer's) agent will also help you avoid many of the potential pitfalls of buying a home.

While nobody wants to move into a "money pit," the likelihood of finding a home that's absolutely perfect and doesn't need any repairs, updates, or improvements is extremely low. Home buyers who are too focused on perfection may eventually realize that their standards are unattainable. A successful search for a new home hinges on the ability to distinguish between a minor cosmetic problem, such as an unappealing paint color, and a major problem, like a basement that floods regularly or a roof that's been compromised by storms, falling branches, or long-term neglect.

Although home buyers have differing expectations when it comes to repairs, remodeling, decorating, and renovations, one thing's for sure: Everyone wants to add their own personal touches to a new home and make it feel and look like their own!





Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 11/10/2019

A home showing represents a learning opportunity for a homebuyer. If you know how to plan ahead for a home showing, you can optimize the value of this opportunity.

Ultimately, preparing for a home showing can be simple – here are three tips to help you get ready for any home showing, at any time.

1. Evaluate a Home Listing Closely

A home listing enables you to learn about a house's age and condition. It also may include pictures that highlight a home's rooms and features. Thus, if you assess a home listing closely, you'll be better equipped than ever before to determine whether a house may be right for you.

As you examine a home listing, it generally is a good idea to think about additional questions that you may have about a house. If you craft a list of questions prior to a home showing, you'll be ready to get the answers that you need to make an informed decision about a residence.

2. Make a Home Showing Checklist

A home showing allows you to examine a residence both inside and out. As such, it may be beneficial to create a home showing checklist that ensures you remember to analyze all aspects of a house.

Be sure to include assessments of an attic, basement and other house areas in your checklist. In addition, it may be helpful to consider checking out a home's proximity to parks, schools and other landmarks. Because the more information that you obtain during a home showing, the more likely it becomes that you can make the best-possible choice regarding a residence.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you plan to attend a home showing, hiring a real estate agent is essential. A real estate agent can help you prep for a home showing and ensure you can review all aspects of a residence in no time at all.

Prior to a home showing, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying goals. Next, this housing market professional will offer expert recommendations to guarantee that you are fully prepared to attend a home showing.

Let's not forget about the comprehensive support that a real estate agent can provide throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will keep you up to date about new houses that become available in your area and help you set up home showings. And if you want to submit an offer on a residence, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal.

For those who want to explore the housing market, attending home showings is crucial. If you're able to make the most of a home showing, you can boost your chances of enjoying a seamless homebuying experience.

Thanks to the aforementioned tips, any homebuyer can get ready for a home showing. Take advantage of these tips, and you can approach a home showing with the confidence that you need to succeed.




Tags: Buying a home   showing  
Categories: Buying a Home   showing  


Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 10/27/2019

If you're on the fence about whether to attend an open house, there is no need to worry. Ultimately, it is always better to err on the side of caution, especially if you're on the hunt for your dream home. And if you attend an open house, you may be better equipped than ever before to determine whether a particular residence is right for you.

There are many reasons why you should attend an open house, and these include:

1. You can assess a house both inside and out.

An open house provides a stress-free opportunity to walk through a house and examine it on your own. As such, an open house is a can't-miss event, particularly for a homebuyer who is actively seeking the perfect residence.

Of course, an open house enables you to learn about a home's condition both inside and out. And if you find that you like a home after you attend an open house, you can always set up a one-on-one home showing with a seller's agent or submit an offer to purchase.

2. You can envision what life may be life if you purchase a particular home.

It's one thing to look at pictures of a home and imagine what it would be like to live there. However, homebuyers who want to do everything possible to find the right residence should attend an open house to fully capture what it may be like if they purchase a particular residence.

Remember, how a home makes you feel can have far-flung effects on your decision about whether to submit an offer. And if you attend an open house, you may quickly discover whether you can picture yourself as the owner of a residence. Or, if you find that you are uncomfortable with a home, you can instantly move on and pursue other houses.

3. You can obtain home insights that you won't necessarily find in a house listing.

A home listing often contains details about a home's age, recent house upgrades and other pertinent information. But a home listing alone rarely provides you with all of the insights you need to make an informed decision about whether to submit a homebuying proposal.

During an open house, you can ask a seller's agent lots of questions about a residence. This will enable you to obtain insights that you otherwise may struggle to discover in a home listing. And as a result, you'll be able to make the best-possible decision about how to proceed with a residence.

Clearly, there are many reasons to consider attending an open house. If you need extra help as you pursue residences and debate whether to attend open houses, you may want to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer expert guidance throughout the homebuying journey. By doing so, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to find your ideal residence in no time at all.




Categories: Buying a Home   Open House