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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.

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    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.

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          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 July 10, 2020

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

          We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

          So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

          Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

          What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

          Boundaries are limits

          —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

          Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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          Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

          Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

          Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

          How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

          Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

          1. Self-Awareness Comes First

          Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

          You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

          To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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          You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

          • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
          • When do you feel disrespected?
          • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
          • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
          • When do you want to be alone?
          • How much space do you need?

          You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

          2. Clear Communication Is Essential

          Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

          Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

          3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

          Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

          That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

          Sample language:

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          • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
          • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
          • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
          • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
          • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
          • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
          • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

          Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

          4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

          Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

          Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

          Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

          We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

          It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

          It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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          Final Thoughts

          Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

          Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

          Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

          The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

          Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

          Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

          They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

          Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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