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7 Hacks for Buying Your First Home

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7 Hacks for Buying Your First Home

Adding “homeowner” to your title is a proud moment in life. It’s exciting to think of all the perks of home ownership, from being able to grow your own garden to getting an indoor swimming pool. But before you can live happily ever after in your dream home, the hardships of finding a house and the layers of red tape surrounding it must first be addressed. Here are seven hacks to buying your first home without overpaying for it.

1. Save for Down Payment

Although mortgages are accessible to prospecting homeowners, it doesn’t fully cover every cent of the property. You will still need to save enough cash for down payment. Without enough cash on hand to be allocated as down payment, you cannot, and should not, attempt to start looking for properties through brokers. This will only take up time and effort from both you and your broker, resources you could’ve spent building the funds needed upfront. The standard down payment for a house is 20 percent of the property’s price. Note that there are financing options that allow for as little as 3 percent down or, in some cases, even no money down. As tempting as it is, avoid such deals since it often involves higher interest rates and additional insurance premiums.

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2. Decide on a Location

Location is king when it comes to real estate. It’s the single most important factor that drives supply and demand in this market. Bad locations lead to depreciated property valuations and vice versa. You can decide on a location while you’re saving up for down payment. In fact, the two factors affect each other in that the location you choose will also broadly determine the median housing prices and, consequently, the down payment amount you must save up for.

3. Peruse the Web

Your choices for housing will vary immensely, with dozens of properties falling under your set of criteria, irrespective of the factors you’ve deemed important. Traditionally, you’d be limited to the newspaper ads and in-person visits to property listings. Technology, however, has enabled society to rewrite this particular transaction in a more convenient and efficient manner. One of the best ways technology has improved the home buying and selling process is through sites like Fizber. These sites essentially eliminate realtors, savings an average of more than $10,000 in the process.

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4. Inspect the Property

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a handful, start inspecting the properties. Address important questions, such as whether or not the property is in good shape, what maintenance or repairs do you have to pay for after acquiring the home, is it child- or pet-friendly or do you have to renovate certain rooms for it to become one?

5. Negotiate With Sellers

This can either be the most awaited phase of the home-buying process or the most terrifying phase. It depends on whether or not you’re a natural-born haggler or if you dread the intensifying experience of a negotiation. You don’t have to always just accept the asking price set forth by the seller. However, be careful about setting too low of an offer since sellers can tell you to scram right off the bat.

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6. Put Down a Binder

When or if your offer is accepted, you will be asked to make a binder until the closing deal is signed. A binder is the deposit of one percent of the agreed upon price for the house.

7. Contact Your Legal Representative

Your lawyer will manage the details of the contract sent by the lawyer representing the selling party. Vet the documents carefully to ensure that all clauses were indeed agreed upon beforehand. This is where the lawyer will come in handy since they are already experienced in analyzing legal jargon that comes with a property purchase.

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Buying your first home is meant to be a positive experience, one that excites you every step of the way. With these seven hacks, you’ll be able to find, and get approved for, the perfect house both from the bank and the selling party.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

9. Working Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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