Posted by Andrew Abu Realtors on 9/17/2018

Whether youíre a first-time homebuyer or youíre upgrading to a larger house to fit your familyís needs, itís vital to understand just how much house you can afford before you start shopping for homes.

When planning for your future home, there are two main things you need to figure out.

  • What is a smart amount to spend on a home for your budget

  • What are the key features in a home that will give you the most benefits for the cost

These two questions may seem simple, but there are quite a few factors that should go into determining each one.

So, in todayís post, Iím going to walk you through the process of determining what kind of house you can afford so you can make the best home buying decision for you and your family.

A smart home buying budget

To create an effective budget, youíll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).

On your spreadsheet, youíll first want to add up all sources of income that your family has. This is the easy part for most people who only have one or two sources of income based on a salaried job.

Next, is the hard part--expenses. We canít just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.

If you arenít sure of the cost of living for the area you hope to move to, try plugging it into this cost of living comparison tool to see get a better idea of the cost of things like transportation, childcare, groceries, and more.

Likewise, itís also a good idea to assume youíll be paying more in utilities if youíre hoping to move into a home that is larger than your current home. Keep in mind, however, that different houses have different levels of energy-efficiency, so itís a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes youíre interested in to determine what your costs might be.

Now, subtract your expenses from your income. The amount remaining should easily cover whatever mortgage payment you receive along with, ideally, 20% of your income going toward savings.

Deciding what you need in a home

The second part of determining how much house you can afford is to find out exactly what youíre looking for in a home. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, the size of the backyard; all of these are questions that have a monetary value.

So, to really answer this question youíll need a strong understanding of what you and your familyís goals are for at least the next 5-7 years, if not longer.

Once you have your long-term goals and a good understanding of your budget, you can start safely shopping for homes with a clearer idea of the type of home youíre looking for and just how much home you can afford.




Categories: Buying a Home   home budget  


Posted by Andrew Abu Realtors on 8/20/2018

The home inspection may seem like a standard thing that you need to go through in the process of buying a home. Really, youíre paying for the home inspection, and itís a huge opportunity for you. As a home buyer, you should look at the home inspection as an educational event for homeowners. Youíll learn a lot about the history of the property that youíll be living in. From water that may have been present in the basement to a leaky roof, youíll get to know your new home and how everything works.


When you hire your home inspector, he or she may seem like they are talking to experts. For this reason, itís a good idea to ask questions during the inspection so that you can clarify what the inspector is talking bout.


Is This Problem Urgent?


Itís a good idea to see how soon any problems in the house need to be fixed. If the roof needs to be replaced within 3-6 months and your finances are tight, itís something that youíll want to know about. While home inspectors will reserve their opinions about a property overall, professionally, they can tell you how big of an issue certain things are. You may need to hire a certified professional who specializes in a certain area like plumbing or electricity for further evaluation in many cases. For your own knowledge, itís a good idea to know what needs to be done around the property and when.             


Take Notes


Youíre never going to remember where everything is in the house on the first pass. Itís a good idea to carry a notepad with you when youíre going through the home. Make notes of any major issues, where they are, and how to fix them. This way, even after the inspection report is sent, youíll have something to refer back to.  


Is This At The End Of Its Lifespan?


Your home inspector will take a look at all of the moving parts of the home that youíre about to purchase. This includes the appliances. Is the dishwasher on its last leg? Will you need a new refrigerator very soon? Is that creak in the floor more than just a problem with a floorboard? If you find out what to expect from both the major and minor issues in the home, youíll have a better idea of what to expect from the property overall. 


Home inspectors give you an overview of the condition of a home. Inspectors will tell you that there is no home that comes completely clean when it comes to an inspection. Even a brand new home that was just built will have some issues. While it may not be the most fun to find out that your new home needs a new roof, at least you and your realtor will know what needs to be brought to the negotiation table if you decide to go through with the purchase of the home.





Posted by Andrew Abu Realtors on 8/13/2018

Historic homes are coveted by many for their charm. Some want a home with history while others one with ďgood bonesĒ of bygone construction methods. Whatever your motivations one thing is clear: owning a historic home is a rewarding experience.

This is usually due to the effort, time and investment put into maintaining the homeís old world charm. Those who take on a historic home should be ready for a project in some capacity either right after buying or down the line.

Maintaining, and sticking to, the classic style and shapes while working under stylistic limitations takes time and effort. Be sure that when purchasing a historic home itís one of an era whose style you really like. This is because many historic homes have what is called an easement in place. What an easement does is dictate what owners of that particular estate can and can not do to the home to maintain its historical integrity. This can limit everything from additions to siding color.

Historic homeowners should also be ready to get creative during the renovation process. Old houses have their quirks, itís best to embrace this when making changes and to work with them - not against them. Knocking out walls and shaving down flooring to be perfectly symmetrical compromises the entire structureís historic roots. If you absolutely must have perfect walls and flooring a historic home is probably not for you.

With that said when viewing homes ensure that any crookedness is from settling over time and not from damage to the sill plate. The sill plate is the topmost part of the foundation and especially vulnerable due to this placement along ground level. If there is damage to the sill plate know that the entire structure of the home is also compromised and in need of serious, and expensive, attention. If this is the case, itís best to walk for most homeowners.

A warped or compromised sill plate can also mean water damage. Another sign to look for water troubles is a sump pump in the basement. You want to keep an eye out for water damage, as this is a very serious threat to the structure and can also attract all kinds of bugs.

If you have your heart set on a historic home but find all of this overwhelming a historic home expert, either a contractor who specializes in historic homes and/or a local historian that restores homes, can help you significantly through the process. In fact, overwhelmed or not itís best to bring an expert on board during your buying process. This person should be in addition to your home inspector - not in place of. You also want to be sure to find someone who understands that you want to preserve and restore a historical home and not just gut the building.

Plan your budget well. While restoring a home is usually a passion project for many you still donít want to overinvest and end up taking a huge loss if you eventually resell. Know what restoration projects in your area typically go for and use these as a guideline for your own budget.

Donít be afraid to start small if you are on a tight budget or this is your first restoration project. These projects can take years so when planning start here first: roof, windows, and masonry. Create a watertight home first to prevent any further potential damage.

The good news about historic homes is that there are plenty of grants and tax programs for homeowners planning on restoration. Not every loan option will be available to you if the home requires major work but there are loans available specifically for major repairs such as the 203k. Know your options before you start looking as this will a major determination factor of your budget and the degree of work youíll be able to put into a home.






Posted by Andrew Abu Realtors on 8/6/2018

Most Americans dream of owning their own home. The size of that pictured house is often spacious. As the housing market gets tighter, the prices of homes go up. The bigger the home you wish to buy, the larger the price tag. Keep in mind that the bigger the house you buy is, the more everything else will cost. That means you have to look deep into your budget and far beyond the list price of a home to understand what you have to work with financially. Some things that a more prominent home might bring are:


Higher utility bills due to more space that you have to heat and cool

Increased property tax

Higher insurance premiums

More expensive repairs

More expensive renovations

Bigger yard to landscape


These are all additional costs that you should consider before you take the plunge to buy a larger home. The longer you live in the house, the more these expenses can add up. Many things like flooring, carpet, concrete, and roofing materials are priced by the square foot. While living large can be a great decision, the additional expenses can really add up.  


If You Have Kids, Reconsider


Raising children is expensive. While you may want your child to have a large room and a lot of amenities right inside their home, there are so many other things that kids need. Consider your childís hobbies. How much of your budget do you devote to those? Do your kids hope to attend college? How much extra money in your budget do you have for vacations and other activities that you may want to do as a family? Buying a bigger house could mean that you have less money in your budget for these things. Understand all the ways that you need to stretch your money before you have your eyes set on a larger home. 


Consider The Rest Of Your Needs


A more massive home means a more substantial monthly mortgage payment. That leaves less for you to save for things like retirement, rainy day funds, and other financial goals. Donít let the fact that you have your eyes set on a big house shadow the rest of your life and your needs. A large part of buying a home is planning ahead. It will be a smart decision all around for you and your family to buy a home thatís affordable.            


Buying a larger home fulfills a dream for many homebuyers, but donít let that idea become a singular goal.       





Categories: Buying a Home   finances  


Posted by Andrew Abu Realtors on 7/16/2018

A home inspection may make or break the property buying journey. If you attend a home inspection and find no major issues with a residence, you may choose to move forward with your house purchase. However, if a home inspection reveals significant problems, you may decide to rework a home purchase agreement or walk away from this agreement altogether.

If you plan to purchase a home, it generally is a good idea to include a home inspection in your property buying strategy. And if you know how to plan for a house inspection, you can use this evaluation to gain the insights you need to make a data-driven decision about a home purchase.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prepare for a home inspection.

1. Hire an Expert Home Inspector

With an expert home inspector at your side, you can gain comprehensive insights into a house's overall condition. Then, you can obtain an in-depth inspection report to help you weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a residence.

It is important to conduct an extensive search for the best home inspectors in your area. Search for home inspectors who boast many years of industry experience and come highly recommended from past clients. By doing so, you can find a home inspector who will meet your expectations.

2. Craft a Home Inspection Checklist

It often helps to enter a home inspection with a checklist. If you have a checklist in hand, you should have no trouble conducting a full home evaluation.

You should include all areas of a residence's interior and exterior in your home inspection checklist. Furthermore, you should include a home's heating and cooling system, roof and other key parts of a house in your checklist.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

Preparing for a home inspection may prove to be stressful. Thankfully, a real estate agent can help you get ready for a home inspection and ensure you can make the best-possible decision regarding a house purchase.

A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who is happy to help you at all stages of the property buying journey. In the days leading up to a home inspection, a real estate agent can respond to any of your concerns or questions so you can prepare for the evaluation. Next, on the day of the inspection, a real estate agent will attend the evaluation with you. And after the inspection is complete, you and your real estate agent can discuss the assessment results and determine how to proceed.

Ultimately, a real estate agent can help you streamline the home inspection process. He or she may even be able to put you in touch with the top house inspectors in your area, thereby increasing the likelihood that you can identify any major property issues before you finalize a home purchase.

Ready to conduct a home inspection? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can enter a home inspection as an informed property buyer.