Posted by Amanda Bruen on 10/11/2016

You've been thinking about buying your first home and it is a very big decision. It is typically not a decision you make overnight instead you need to take the time prepare yourself.  Here are the basic steps that you should follow when it is time to buy a home.

  1. Ask are you ready? Home ownership is quite different than renting. It is a lot more expensive than renting. You will have added expenses and responsibility. There will be expenses like repairs, added utility costs, such as garbage and water, plus taxes and insurance related to your home. You will want to make sure to have an emergency fund, before you purchase your first home.
  2. Shop for a loan. Your first step will be to get preapproved. Knowing how much you can afford will help you to look for homes within your price range.
  3. Figure out how much you can afford. Just because you are preapproved for a certain loan doesn't mean you can afford that in the real world. A good rule of thumb is to keep your mortgage along with your taxes and insurance between twenty five and thirty percent of your income. You don't want to be house poor.
  4. Use a real estate professional you can trust.  A good real estate professional will listen to your wants and needs carefully. It is important that you are also educated on the process of buying a home. A good real estate professional will help meet your needs while navigating you through the process and advocating for your best interests.





Posted by Amanda Bruen on 7/12/2016

a tiny houseThe latest trend in minimalist and frugal living is owning a tiny house. If you haven't yet seen them on your newsfeed, tiny houses are loosely defined as homes that are 400 square ft. or less. As you'd expect, there are many challenges to living in a space so small; challenges both spacial and legal. Ask yourself these questions before making the move to a tiny home.

Do I really need all this stuff?

Part of the American Dream has always been to someday own your own home. Over the years, those homes have grown ever larger, even while family sizes are decreasing. Many of us have tried to make our lives more minimal in one way or another, whether its shrinking our wardrobes or cleaning out the attic. If you want to live in a tiny home you'll have to totally rethink what you consider to be the necessities of life. You'll have to prioritize and choose between things like having a television or having a bookshelf. Furthermore, you'll need to have items that serve dual purposes. Your dinner table, for instance, will also serve as a desk or working surface, namely because it will most likely be the only surface large enough in your home to do these things on.

Where will you park your home?

Finding a place to put a tiny house is one of the most difficult challenges tiny-home owners face. Almost all tiny houses are built on wheels. This is due to various state laws and zoning permits. You may also face difficulties gaining access to water and electricity. For this reason, many tiny house owners park their home on someone else's property and hook up to their utilities. Part of the reason many people want a tiny house is to be more independent, so this is obviously a huge barrier to achieving that goal.

Are you bashful about the bathroom?

There's hardly a thing that we take more for granted than bathrooms. If you're going to live in a tiny house you should be prepared to rough it when it comes to doing your business. There are some instances when you can hook your tiny house up to a sewage system. But in most cases, tiny houses rely on RV toilets or composting toilets. The benefits of disconnected toilets are that you can travel in your home and not have to worry too much about finding a bathroom. The disadvantages, however, will require some grit on your part. No sewage connection means you'll have to empty your tank or your composting toilet. This creates another obstacle to tiny living, as you don't want to be dumping refuse anywhere near your home. And if you live in a residential area there are state laws which regulate the use of composting toilets.

Is there another option?

Tiny living isn't for everyone. Whether you have a family or hobbies that require space, or just because you would feel claustrophobic living in a space this small, buying a tiny house maybe isn't for you. But there are other options. Perhaps you don't need a tiny home but rather a small and cozy one. Or you could try being more minimal in other ways like clearing out unnecessary items from your home and having a yard sale. Regardless of what you do, being minimal is a mindset, and having the intention of simplifying is already half the battle.





Posted by Amanda Bruen on 7/8/2016

Looking to move from one neighborhood to another? You'll want to do your homework first! By learning as much as possible about a prospective neighborhood, you'll be equipped with valuable insights you can use to make the best decision for you and your family. Plus, you likely will be able to reap the benefits of residing in a superior neighborhood that fulfills all of your needs. So what does it take to evaluate a prospective neighborhood effectively? Here are three tips to help you conduct a comprehensive review of a new neighborhood: 1. Check out the local attractions. Are you searching for a neighborhood near some of the area's top schools? Or would you like to find a quiet, peaceful neighborhood that is miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Regardless of your preferences, you should check out local attractions surrounding a prospective new neighborhood. This allows you to get a better idea about what it's like to commute in and around the neighborhood. In addition, think about the big picture as you examine a prospective neighborhood, as this will help you determine if this destination is the best spot for you and your family both now and in the future. For instance, those who take public transportation to work may want to live in a neighborhood close to mass transit options. Or if you're planning on raising your family in a new neighborhood, you'll want to evaluate the quality of local schools, too. 2. Take a walk around the neighborhood. A new home in a new neighborhood may leave you speechless, especially if this house features ample space, a pristine front lawn and other deluxe features. On the other hand, the same may or may not hold true for other homes in a new neighborhood – it will depend entirely on your potential new neighbors. Take a walk around the neighborhood at least once before purchasing a new home. This allows you to compare the quality of your potential new home to others in the area. If you encounter a large assortment of homes that feature messy lawns, visible exterior damage and other problems, you may want to stay away from this neighborhood. Remember, you'll want to do everything you can to maintain your home's value. But if your new residence is surrounded by subpar houses, this could negatively impact your home's value down the line. 3. Perform a criminal search. When it comes to finding the ideal home in the best possible neighborhood, you'll want to go above and beyond the call of duty to maximize the value of your investment. Therefore, conducting a criminal search is paramount, as this enables you to find out if a neighborhood is safe. Performing a criminal search can be simple, and real estate professionals may be able to provide crime stats for a specific area upon request. Also, many websites are available that publish crime stats regularly, ensuring you can access up-to-date information quickly and effortlessly. Select a home in your dream neighborhood by investigating whether a prospective neighborhood meets all of your needs. This enables you to make an informed decision and benefit from a top-notch home in an outstanding neighborhood for years to come.





Posted by Amanda Bruen on 5/17/2016

If there was ever a time to purchase real estate it is now. A unique combination of circumstances makes buying a home a no-brainer. Here are five reasons why you should buy a home NOW...   1. Houses are more affordable 2. Historically low mortgage rates 3. Prices are stable 4. Home ownership is the path to independence and wealth 5. Owning a home gives you pride of ownership Call today to find out what homes are available in your price range or do a quick search to look for homes and create a profile on this site to save your favorites.





Posted by Amanda Bruen on 4/19/2016

When it comes to mortgages there is a lot to know and a lot of choices. One loan that was popular before the housing crisis was the interest-only loan. An interest-only loan is an adjustable-rate loan with an initial fixed period when only interest is due. They are typically available in 5-, 7- or 10-year terms. Economists blame interest-only loans for the foreclosure crisis citing they were issued too freely. Today, interest-only loans are more difficult to obtain. Borrowers were using interest-only loans to qualify for a more expensive home and when the interest-only term ended the payment went up leaving many homeowners unable to afford the mortgage payment. Interest-only loans are now being used by wealthy borrowers as a financial tool to help them manage irregular cash flow, reap a tax benefit, or free up cash for investment elsewhere. Lenders that offer interest-only loans have strict qualifying standards. They generally require 30 percent equity in a property, and a minimum FICO score of 720. Lenders also look at the ability to pay back the loan is based on the fully amortized payment, not the interest-only payment.