Posts Tagged ‘tips’

4 Signals it Might Be Time to Buy vs. Rent Your Home

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Historic HouseTo buy vs. rent

What used to be a given – that you would buy a home as soon as you could afford to – has become an agonizing conundrum for many a would-be home buyer, in the face of the housing market’s big bust and super-slow recovery. Low prices seem to create a wide-open window of opportunity, but they also create the concern that prices will keep falling after closing. And that Catch-22 has hundreds of thousands of buyers-to-be stuck on the fence.

Fortunately, there are handful of life, mortgage and local market signals which indicate that the time *might* be right to hop – scratch that – leap off the fence and into homeownership:
Mortgage rates are going up. Home prices have been low for the last several years, and in fact are currently looking like they’re heading back down to the same levels they were at the depths of the real estate recession. During this same time frame, interest rates have also been low – this one-two punch has created record-high affordability for the last four years running, causing buyers to believe that this window of opportunity won’t be closing anytime soon. While prices don’t look like they’ll be skyrocketing anytime soon, interest rates are another story. Rates have been on a rollercoaster over the past few months, and with inflation and Fed rates set to spike later this year, today’s low interest rates might be as good as they’re going to get for a long time to come. And I mean a very long time – in the next few years, governmental intervention in the mortgage markets is likely to wind down, and that means higher mortgage interest rates are not only inevitable, they’ll probably be here for a long, long time. Mortgage rates on the rise are one signal that now might be the peak of home affordability, and the peak of the opportunity to buy.


Real Estate 101 – What You Should Know

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

1. Don’t buy if you can’t stay put.

If you can’t commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner – even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it’s an even worse proposition.

2. Start by shoring up your credit.

Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.

3. Aim for a home you can really afford.

The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you’ll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.


Need help with Home Improvement? Don’t get left in a fix.

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Man painting fenceYou may be a do-it-yourselfer with the small stuff, but more complex home improvement usually calls for a pro.  In hiring a contractor, these 6 tips could help ensure you’re happy with the results:

  1. Get referrals from people you know.  Most homeowners find a contractor through friends or family.  Or check online consumer rating sites like Angie’s List. ( )
    • Your friends and family are not likely to lead you in the wrong direction and will definitely know who NOT to use!  Other sites can offer reviews to help you make your decision, though be wary as not all reviews are genuine.
  2. Get written bids from three contractors.
    • Competition will help to ensure that you have the best price possible and know all options available for the requested job.
  3. Ask each bidder for a business card.  If it doesn’t say contractor is licensed and insured, don’t be shy about making sure.
    • License and insurance is especially important if the job isn’t completed well or on time.  Their license and insurance help to assure that they will be held accountable for the job they have done.  It is common to find that the least expensive contractor usually does not have the proper license and insurance.  Remember that this is for YOUR protection!
  4. Try to use an experienced local contractor.  Check the firm’s reputation with your Better Business Bureau and/or consumer protection agency. (more…)