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What You Need to Know Before Buying a Home

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Home

House hunting can be tough. You may spend endless weeks or even months searching for that perfect home you are envisioning. When you do find it, your first impulse might be to jump right in and sign on the dotted line. After all, you don’t want to lose out to another buyer. However, before you take that plunge, here are 14 important things to do in order to ensure your dream home doesn’t turn into the stuff of nightmares.

1. Research the Neighborhood

Find out all you can about your new neighborhood online. Search government websites, tourism agencies, and any community forums or blogs. These places will let you know what’s going on in the community, what development is planned, and if any festivals or celebrations are in the works.

You’ll also want to check crime reports before moving in. Try the local police station for crime statistics, or try your search online. There are websites, such as CrimeReports, where you can find specific information linked to an address or a ZIP code.

neighborhood
    2. Know Your Loans

    Before you agree to a mortgage loan, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. Do you want a fixed rate or adjustable rate loan? What will your monthly payment amount be? Do you want it for 15 or 30 years? Are there any penalty fees, such as for early repayment? What will your closing costs be? Make sure you understand all these points before signing.

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    3. Take a Test Drive

    Sure, traffic may be light on the weekends when you’re visiting the home, but what will your workday commute be like? In order to avoid any unpleasant surprises, take a drive during rush hour to see exactly how much traffic there is and how long your commute will be.

    commute
      4. Check the Schools

      Be sure to check and see if your home is located in a good school district. You can check school district performance at GreatSchools. A school district that consistently performs well will help your home retain its value, so it’s important to look into this whether you have children or not.

      5. Get It in Writing

      Make sure your real estate agent includes everything that’s necessary in your offer – your price, finance terms, if you want the seller to assist with closing costs, a home-inspection contingency, what appliances will stay, closing date, etc. Read your offer carefully, and be sure to read anything you receive from the seller just as carefully before signing anything.

      6. Get a Home Inspection

      It’s vital to schedule a home inspection before agreeing to purchase a home. You need to know if the house is structurally sound, if any repairs are required and how much they would cost. You can request that the seller pay for any necessary repairs, in whole or in part.

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      If the home has a well, make sure the water has been tested. You should also check the tap water quality to see if you would need to put in a water purification system if you moved in.

      7. Get Full Disclosure

      Demand full disclosure from the sellers on any issues the home may have had. Were any major repairs ever required? Is there a history of termites? Have there been issues with water damage or mold? If the home was built before 1978, was lead-based paint used? Is the home at risk for natural disasters, like flooding, earthquakes or tornadoes? Has anyone died in the house or were any crimes committed there? These are all things you are entitled to know.

      8. Visit at Different Times

      Be sure to visit the house on weekends, weekdays and weeknights in order to see how quiet or noisy the neighborhood is. Are there loud weekend parties at the house next door? Does a train a few miles away honk their horn every Saturday morning when passing? It’s better to know these things in advance and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

      house at night
        9. Know Your Taxes and Other Fees

        Keep in mind that your mortgage will include much more than just your principal and interest payment. You will also need to figure in your tax and insurance payments. If you must join a homeowner association, know the fees. Also, don’t forget to include your utility bills to your list of monthly expenses. It all adds up.

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        10. Check Out Amenities

        Research amenities that are near your new home, such as parks, pools and golf courses. Will you be able to walk there? How long will you have to drive? It would be nice to know if a playground is nearby if you have children, or if the library is a mere five-minute drive away.

        park
          11. Find Out Where the Sun Hits

          This may not be something you’d usually think about, but it can be important, especially if you love having the sun wake you up in the mornings. Be sure to have windows facing east and west so you can have natural light the majority of the day.

          12. Be Neighborly

          Talk to neighbors to get a good feel for the neighborhood in general and the people you’ll be living near in particular. They can clue you in on fun events, like neighborhood garage sales, or on any problem neighbors, like the grumpy old lady who doesn’t like kids. (This is also a great time to ask about that train!)

          13. Figure in the Cost of Furniture

          If you’re moving from a tiny apartment to a large, single-family home, you will need to buy furniture. If you haven’t been shopping lately, you may be in for a rude surprise when you see those price tags. Try visiting flea markets and garage sales, or try a website like Freecycle, where people go to unload items they no longer want for free.

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          14. Consider Your Future

          Buying a home is a huge investment, and you’ll likely want to stay put for a while. Make sure the house will fit your future needs, whether you plan to have children, retire or face any other major life changes. Make sure the house works for you now and later.

          With this information at hand, you should be able to find the perfect house, in a great neighborhood, for you.

          Featured photo credit: Charles L via unsplash.com

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          Last Updated on December 2, 2018

          How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

          How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

          Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

          The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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          The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

          Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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          Review Your Past Flow

          Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

          Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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          Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

          Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

          Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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          Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

          Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

          We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

          Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

            Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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