To Buy or Rent….that is the question!

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It’s one of those major questions you’re bound to ask yourself at some point and probably the biggest decision from a financial standpoint you’re going to make. The answer though isn’t always a simple one, there are a variety of factors to take into consideration. Ultimately, your decision will be based on what makes the most financial as well as emotional sense for your particular situation.

There is a general belief that owning a home is the ultimate goal, the key to the “American Dream.” And while there are many great reasons to support this thinking, numerous pros and cons should be weighed before signing on the dotted line. And regardless of whether you’re a first time home buyer or a repeat purchaser, be sure to ask yourself a few important questions before contacting a real estate agent to get started.

Thinking about buying, consider the following…

Pros

  • Building equity over time which creates stability and security for your family

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  • Tax benefits – great news, now you can deduct many home-related expenses
  • Potential for rental income
  • More creative freedom – you won’t need to ask anyone’s permission (well maybe your spouse) before tackling a new project
  • Unlimited pets (if you want) – there isn’t a no pet policy when you own your own home

Cons:

  • Potential for financial loss
  • Responsible for all maintenance and repairs

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  • Higher upfront costs

Considering renting…

Pros

  • You’re not responsible for maintenance and repairs
  • No real estate taxes to pay
  • No large down payment
  • Credit requirements are less strict
  • Some utilities might be included in the rental agreement
  • Relocating is easier

Cons

  • No chance to earn equity on your property
  • No tax benefits
  • Limited housing security

Regardless of whether you buy or rent these costs you just can’t escape!

Buying

  • Down payment
  • Home appraisal fee
  • Home inspection fee
  • Property tax
  • 1st years homeowners insurance
  • Any additional closing cost fees

Recurring costs

  • Mortgage loan payments
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – if you put down less than 20% of the purchase price you’ll have this added monthly payment

Renting

  • Security Deposit
  • First month’s rent
  • Moving Costs

Recurring Costs:

  • Monthly rent
  • Renter’s insurance
  • Utilities (sometimes, certain utilities are included in the rental fee)
  • Laundry (not all rentals offer washer/dryer hookups)

As you’re going down your checklist, consider the following questions

  1. How long do you plan to stay? – The longer you anticipate you’ll be there the better off you are buying. Buying and selling a home requires a good deal of time and money so take that into consideration if you plan to stay less than five years.

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  1. Would you be happy staying longer than planned? – For first time home buyers, the idea of a starter home sounds great, but what if the time comes when you’re ready to sell and it’s not a sellers’ market? Or other unforeseen circumstances arise and you are unable to move when you thought you would?
  2. How stable is your job and your life? – If things both professionally and personally are not stable you might want to reconsider locking yourself into a big financial commitment at the moment.
  3. How do the monthly costs compare? – Do the math and be realistic. Consider all of the monthly costs that go along with owning verse renting.
  4. Do you have enough money for a down payment? – Sure you can get away with putting down less than 20% but that means you’ll be paying PMI along with a higher mortgage payment. Plus, sellers might choose offers with higher down payments and less contingencies.
  5. Do you have savings to pay for repairs? – All homes require repairs at some point, regardless of whether they’re brand new or not. If you’re leaning towards purchasing make sure you have some extra cash in your account for any unforeseen occurrences.

Whatever route you choose, finding the best real estate agent will help make either process as smooth and efficient as possible.

How To: Stage your Home to Make the Best Impression

86485111So you’ve decided to sell your home, a place that more than likely holds a lot of sentimental value to you. Now is the time to try to let go of that emotional attachment. View your home for exactly what it is, a “product” you’re trying to sell.

Know your Area & your Potential Buyers

A great way to start determining what you can do to your property to make it as appealing as possible is to know your audience and your neighborhood. Doing so will give you a better idea of who you can expect to walk through the door and what these potential buyers are expecting. For example, if you’re in a neighborhood that’s popular amongst young families, you’ll want to modernize. If you’re in more of an upscale neighborhood, you’ll want to make some higher end upgrades. Try to envision yourself as the potential buyers and think about what you’d like to see if you were in there shoes. If you’re struggling in this department, bring in a few friends and allow them to give you their honest opinion.

realtor-4Buyers like to feel an emotional connection with their potential home. You want them to be able to envision themselves in your home right from the start. We recommend limiting the amount of family photos you have on display and de-cluttering refrigerators or other places where you might have photos or your children’s accomplishments on display.

Clean till it Shines!

Cleaning your home effectively is an inexpensive way to make your home presentable and show well even if it’s outdated. Dust and soap scum will be an automatic turnoff to almost any buyer!213213

Reduce the amount of items you leave out in the open. You’ll be moving soon so why not get a head start on packing? Too manyBefore-and-After decorations can be distracting to someone trying to envision themselves living in your home. Make sure to neatly organize all of your closets so everything appears roomy. You don’t want buyers to see an overflowing closet or pantry leaving the impression that there is inadequate storage space.

Make Repairs

home-repair-400x266Now is a critical time to make any repairs to your home. Leaky faucets, missing kitchen cabinet handles and blown out light bulbs will be an instant turn off. Its one thing for a buyer to plan updates to their future home but no one wants to be planning repairs. Make sure all of these things are in working order before you have your first showing.

Spruce up your Space

A fresh coat of paint on your walls is another inexpensive and highly effective way to make your home show well. We recommend sticking to neutral colors such as beige or a light grey and avoiding colors such asKitchen_BA3-1024x512 white or anything too bold or dark. Neutral colors will allow buyers to envision what they can do to the space.

If you have an outdated kitchen you might want to consider replacing the hardware on the cabinets to something more modern or painting them. Both options can make a huge difference and transform any kitchen.

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Children, pets and those occasional nights of eating dinner in front of the TV can wreak havoc on your furniture. Consider covering your couch with a slip cover and add new throw pillow to brighten the space. Place a runner on your dining room table and a vase of fresh flowers in the center.

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If your floors have seen better days consider replacing the carpet or adding an area rug for a low cost but effective fix. Peel and stick linoleum is a great option for kitchens or entryways.

Light fixtures are often considered the jewelry of a home. Having outdated lamps or chandeliers can be a giveaway as to the last time you’ve renovated. Replacing the light fixtures will keep your home looking bright and up to date.

Don’t Forget the Outside

wood-letter-from-far-awaySpruce up your front door with a fresh coat of paint and a decorative wreath. Add a colorful welcome mat or potted plant to the front steps to make your home look even more inviting.

The look of overgrown grass can make a house go from looking fab to drab! Take out your lawn mower and gardening shears and get to work. A well landscaped front yard will give potential buyers a great first impression before they even step inside your home. And of course, don’t forget the backyard, which is often the last place a buyer will view as they leave.

Quick Tips

  • Try to stick with a color scheme in places such as your living room, kitchen and bathroom.
  • Put out potpourri, fresh towels and new shower curtains in your bathroom.N26-2_FreshAir-575x382
  • Hide any toiletries or toothbrushes to keep the space looking fresh and open.
  • Make your beds and decorate with throw pillows. A clean bed will automatically make a room look more inviting.
  • Weather permitting, open windows and blinds to allow for fresh air and natural sunlight.
  • Neutralize odors.
  • Keep pets away during showings.
  • Let your Real Estate agent do their job and leave your property during showings and open houses.

For suggestions specific to your home, always consult the Realtor you’ve retained.