Buying a Home

Costs to Estimate Before Buying a Fixer-Upper

Buying a house that needs some work and turning it from a fixer-upper into a home can be daunting. A lot of effort is ahead, requiring potential buyers to determine their skills, budget and schedule to get the job done.

Here are some ways to determine the true costs of a fixer-upper:

Start With a List
Either by yourself or with a contractor or home inspector by your side, go through the house room by room and write down what needs fixing. Many problems won’t be visible to the naked eye, so a professional inspector can help by testing if there are hazards such as mold, radon or lead paint.

The inspector should also look for possible structural problems. These can include foundation damage, major plumbing or electrical problems, an inefficient HVAC system,...

How to Make Sure You Buy a House With Enough Storage Space

One of the most common regrets cited among homeowners is buying a house without enough storage space. The typical family has a lot of stuff—so much that many people pay monthly fees to rent storage units. And those costs can quickly add up. If you’re planning to buy a house, take a careful look at the amount of storage space it offers and ask yourself if it really is enough for your family. Don’t hesitate to ask your real estate agent for the dimensions of closets, or take measurements yourself.

Bedrooms
Bedroom closets can quickly become packed to the point of overflowing, especially if they’re shared by two spouses or siblings. When you view houses, note the sizes of the closets, whether there’s enough room to hang clothes, whether there are shelves or whether there’s...

Should You Consider a House Without a Garage?

In some communities, many houses don’t have garages, or they have carports with a roof and open sides. For some homebuyers, the lack of a garage isn’t a big deal because they walk or use public transportation to commute. For others, a house without a garage is a deal breaker.

Security
Storing your vehicle in a garage can be safer than parking it on the street. A garage reduces the risk of theft, vandalism and accidental damage, which can go a long way toward providing added peace of mind. A garage may even lower your insurance rates.

Weather
Anyone who has gotten into a car after it’s been sitting outdoors on a sunny day knows that the sudden, sweltering heat can be unbearable. Even if you crank up the air conditioning, it takes time to cool off the car, and, in the meantime,...

Expert Insights: Are There Such Things as No-Cost and No-Fee Loans?

You see promotions for them all the time but banking regulators have gone after lenders who misrepresent these loans. The reality is that no-cost and no-fee loans may actually cost the borrower more over the long term because costs are often hidden by rolling them into the new loan through higher principal or interest.

The rates on no-cost loans are usually about half or five-eights of a percentage point higher than the ‘full cost’ rate.

A typical no-fee loan includes points and all fees in the loan principal, so the borrower does not pay or ‘see’ these expenses at the closing. Instead, the borrower pays them over the life of the loan.

There are many options available. Talk to a mortgage broker to see what you qualify for and what’s available in your...

Keys to Buying a Home With Friends

Studies show that millennials are less likely to marry young and more likely to move in with friends and share responsibilities. And while that usually means renting an apartment, some are finding it a better idea to team up to purchase a home, either as an investment or just a savvy way to be able to afford a more permanent home.

Buying a house with a friend is a trend on the rise. While friends often celebrate holidays together, go on vacations and are around for all the important moments in life, why not purchase a home together?

The main question to consider before taking the plunge with a friend is, “will the friendship survive?” Buying a home and living together is a big commitment, and you want to be sure that a life-altering decision like this won’t kill the friendship.

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Pros and Cons of Choosing a House With a Master Suite

A house with a master suite is a dream for many. A large bedroom, private bathroom and other amenities can be an oasis for stressed-out homeowners to escape and relax. However, a master suite can also be expensive—and may or may not attract buyers in the future.

Features of a Master Suite
The term “master suite” can mean many different things. In some cases, it simply refers to a large bedroom with spacious walk-in closets and a large, attached, private bathroom. Master bathrooms are typically much more elaborate than typical bathrooms. Homeowners frequently choose showers with massaging jets, hot tubs, side-by-side sinks and more expensive wall and flooring materials than those generally used in bathrooms.

Some people use part of a master suite as an entertainment area with a large television,...

Challenges to Know Before Buying a Historic Home

Moving into a historic home can be enchanting. Full of charm and features that are hard to find in modern house, a home that’s 100 years old or so can be a wonderful place to live.

But that “character” can get expensive if the ornate fixtures break and need to be repaired or replaced, and old heating, electrical, plumbing and other systems can be costly to maintain and fix.

All homes require some regular upkeep, but a historic home that hasn’t been updated in decades may need much more maintenance to keep running. Furthermore, operating the outdated technology could mean higher utility bills. Buying a new, more efficient heating unit, for example, could save you money in the long run.

A home inspector can help you determine which areas need updates or need...

What to Know About Seller Concessions

Buying a home can be an expensive proposition for everyone involved. Whether you’re purchasing your first home or trading up for more space, the last thing you want is for the purchase to be derailed due to money—or a lack thereof.

That’s where seller concessions come into play. These concessions can help homebuyers, especially first-timers who may not realize all the costs associated with buying a home beyond the purchase price.

In fact, if a home seller is willing, part of a buyer’s closing costs could be paid as a way to save the buyer money and speed up the sale. Closing costs include some of the final payments buyers have to make before the home becomes theirs. Not only can closing costs take prospective buyers by surprise, but they may also hamper a buyer’s ability to come up with the funds needed to...

When and How to Negotiate the Price of Your New Home

You might be able to purchase the house of your dreams for less than the asking price. If the owner is in a hurry to move or the house has been on the market for months and you are the first person to make an offer, the seller might be willing to shave thousands of dollars off the price or to make concessions in other areas to sweeten the deal.

When to Offer a Lower Price
An owner who has to move by a specific deadline is motivated to sell. Someone who is moving for a new job will want to wrap up the process of selling the house in time to relocate and start over. If the deadline is fast approaching, the owner may be willing to cut a deal. You can ask the real estate agent why the owner is selling the house, but he or she may not be able to tell you.

How to Negotiate
If you want to offer...

3 Ways to Save for a Down Payment

Saving for a down payment can be a challenge. But it’s not impossible.

While a 20 percent down payment isn’t necessarily the norm anymore, most loans require some money down from buyers.

Coming up with these funds can be a sticking point on the path to homeownership, especially when you consider that a 10 percent down payment on a $230,000 home requires having $23,000 in cash.

If a home purchase is on the horizon, here are a few ways you can begin saving for a down payment before crunch time sets in.

Automatic Savings
While you may already be doing this for your retirement account, a college savings account for your child, or any other savings account for a long-term goal, set up a separate automatic savings account at your bank specifically for a...