Congratulations, you’ve just moved into your new home! But now what? You’ll need to be prepared for the unexpected when it comes to maintaining your new home. Here is our guide to the 12 key items you’ll need in your arsenal to care for and maintain your new home.
1. Specialized Tools
Many people own basic tools, like a hammer, screwdriver, drill, level, tape measure, wrench, pliers, staple gun, and utility knife. However, there are some other tools that are specifically useful for a homeowner. For example:
2. Tool Kit
You’ll want one of these to organize and carry your new tools in. There are a variety of good options. You can put tool bucket liner in a 5 gallon bucket, buy a handyman belt, or opt for an old school metal tool box.
3. Extension Cord Organizer
Avoid getting your extension cords tangled up and impossible to unravel with an organizational device. You can buy a cord management device or you can make your own. One method is to use pegboard, loops, and velcro straps to create an organizational system. Don’t forget to buy a heavy-duty extension cord that can be used outdoors.
4. Wet-dry Vacuum
These come in handy for spills of all kinds. You’ll want one that can pick up liquids, dirt and small objects such as rocks. They come in handy for vacuuming the car, and cleaning every room in the house. These are definitely keepers when it’s time to move again.
5. Fire Extinguisher
An essential safety item to have on hand for any home. Fire can cause a panic, and you don’t want to have to come up with a make-shift solution in an emergency. The U.S. Fire Administration has a guide to all the different types of fire extinguishers. There are five for different situations, including ones specialized for cooking oils, wood, and paper. Choose which extinguisher or extinguishers are best for your home.
6. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Part of the responsibility of homeownership is the duty to keep everyone in your new home safe.
You will want to immediately have working smoke detectors on each floor of the house.
A carbon monoxide detector is also essential, as CO can be a more common threat than a fire.
There are even devices that can detect both smoke and carbon monoxide, so you’ll only have to make one purchase.
7. Emergency Prep kit
FEMA has a comprehensive list of supplies needed for emergencies.
Some of the items you’ll want to have on hand include cash, food, water, infant supplies, and medications. You’ll need to stock supplies for every household member, pets, too, for up to 3 days.
There are many different types of ladders to choose from depending on the type of space and usage that you need the ladder for. Here are some specifications to be aware of when choosing ladders.
This becomes essential when you need your hands free to work and you also need a light source.
Headlamps are useful for many tasks, particularly working on the faucet and other plumbing related tasks.
You don’t want to have to wait until you absolutely need one to get one.
Always have a plunger ready in case of emergency. You can get a standard heavy duty one, though it may be too large for newer, smaller toilets. Simple Human makes a chrome and white toilet plunger that is convenient and attractive.
11. New Door Lock
In most cases you will not be the first person to live in your home, and there’s no way of knowing how many people have a set of keys to the house. Within the first week of owning a new home, you should get all the locks replaced and make copies of the new keys. To make things simpler, you can use the same key for all the locks. You can opt for a standard lock, add a deadbolt, or switch to an electronic keyless lock.
12. Security System
Having peace of mind that your home is safe and protected is invaluable. Even safe neighborhoods can have burglaries from time to time, making a security system a wise investment. It’s especially important for people who spend large amounts of time away from home. There are many options to choose from, so any homeowner should be able to find one that’s affordable. Here is a convenient guide for choosing a security system.
You’ve got all your bases covered and now your prepared to run a safe, well-stocked home. Now, add a final touch, a doormat! This will give you the opportunity to add your personality to your home and it’s a great finishing touch to welcome guests. It’s also practical, keeping mud and dirt from getting into your home. Just use rug pads or grippers to hold it in place. Now enjoy your new home!
If you are not familiar with the term Feng Shui, Wikipedia describes it as: "Feng shui is a Chinese metaphysical and quasi-philosophical system that seeks to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment."
The national association of Realtor's suggests you consider the following to make your home feel more inviting:
Chi flows in.
Pay special attention to the front door, which is considered the “mouth of chi” and one of the most powerful aspects of the entire property. Make sure the area is swept clean and free of cobwebs and clutter. Ensure all lighting is straight and properly hung. Consider lighting the path leading up to the front door to create an inviting atmosphere.
Chi can flow out, too.
Energy can be flushed away wherever there are drains in the home. To keep the good forces of a home inside, always keep the toilet seats down and close the doors to bathrooms.
Consider the bedroom carefully.
The master bed should be in a place of honor, power, and protection. Place it farthest from and facing toward the entryway of the room. The optimal placement is diagonal in the farthest corner of the room. Paint the room in colors that promote serenity, relaxation, and romance, such as soft tones of green, blue, and lavender.
Offer a formal dining space.
The dining room symbolizes the energy and power of family togetherness. Make sure the table is clear and uncluttered during showings. Use an attractive tablecloth to enhance the look of the table while also softening sharp corners.
Get a clear perspective.
Windows are considered to be the eyes of the home. Getting your windows professionally cleaned is a good idea anyway, but for buyers, your home will sparkle all the more brightly and your view will be optimally displayed.
Avoid Changing your Financial Profile
If you have your house under contract, this probably means that you have gotten a pre-approval/qualification letter. Your lender will now make a formal loan application. This application is based on your finances at that point. It is vital that you don't make significant changes to you finances until after you close. Problems can occur if you buy a car, open new lines of credit, change jobs, acquire other significant debt, etc. It is a good idea to talk to your lender before making significant purchases that would out you into debt. You also don't want to spend your down payment/ closing costs.
From there, you will have a number of items to complete before closing.
Contract to Closing Check List
When going over the contract, my clients often get overwhelmed. There are a lot of deadlines in the contract that can have serious consequences if missed. I always assure my clients that they don't need to remember all the dates. My goal is to make sure you are informed and on top of everything from contract to closing.
To achieve this, I take all the critical dates and things you should be aware of and put them on a checklist. I then send you regular updates on what the next action items are. This way, if you want to get ahead of the game, you have access to all the steps but if you find all the steps overwhelming, I will break them down and give them to you as needed.
Buying a house is one of the biggest financial decisions the average person makes. I am here to make that process as smooth and as painless as possible.
As discussed in previous posts, you can sell your home at any point you want to after purchasing it, however it may not be the wisest choice financially. While it typically takes about 2 years for a homeowner to be able to turn around and sell their home without a loss, in some circumstances you may need to sell earlier. In our last post we discussed all the specific aspects of selling a home early that you need to consider in your decision. This includes the following:
Next, we’ll walk through a specific example of how to calculate your profit or loss from selling a home after living in it for six months. Let’s say you purchased a home for $300,000 in July, 2019 and you need to sell now. This is how you would calculate your profit or loss.
Home price: $300,000 in July, 2019
Home owned: 6 months
Down payment: 20%, or $60,000
Closing costs: 3%, or $9,000
Financing: $240,000 at a 4.5% interest rate, 30-year fixed loan for a monthly payment of $1,586
Equity: $2,000 from paying down principal
Closing costs for resale: $20,000
Loss: Total loss equals $29,000 (combined closing costs) plus $2,000 in equity equals a $27,000 net loss
So, based on these figures, you would need to sell your home for $327,000 to break even.
These calculations don’t include interest payments, property taxes, or insurance, because it’s probable that you would have incurred similar expenses if you had rented instead of buying and reselling.
Now, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to sell your home early, such as a job change and relocation or a health emergency, you will be able to be prepared for the expenses you could incur. Preparation will make the whole process less stressful and more manageable.
In our previous post we covered some general guidelines about selling your home soon after buying it. In this post, we’ll delve into some further details on what factors to consider when you are deciding whether or not to sell your house shortly after purchasing it.
How quickly can you sell a Home?
It’s possible to sell your home at anytime, but a good rule of thumb is to wait at least two years to sell your home after purchasing it. This way you can avoid paying taxes on up to $250,000 worth of profits from the sale of your home (or $500,000 if you’re married).
In the event that you have no choice but to sell, you can be prepared by doing a little math to figure out if you will lose money by selling early. This preparation will reduce stress and help you know what to expect.
The first step is to determine the fair market value of your home. Knowing how much your home is worth will let you know how much you could gain or lose from the sale.
An experienced real estate agent is a big help, as they will be able to look at comps of other houses in the neighborhood and do market research analysis to help determine the best price.
To get an idea of what houses are selling for around you, click here. To get full market analysis on your home contact me.
Next, be sure to subtract your estimated closing costs from the expected sale price of your home. Closing costs can take a significant chunk out of your profits, this is particularly true when you buy and then resell a home quickly. Both buyers and sellers have to pay closing costs, although it’s typically more expensive for sellers. For buyers, the closing costs are usually 2% to 5% of the price of the home. The settlement statement will tell you the total amount you paid for your home, including closing costs. For sellers, closing costs will depend on the following categories:
Then, also subtract the projected costs of preparing the house for sale and the mortgage payoff amount from the projected sale price. Even a relatively newly purchased house may need touch-ups prior to resale. Research done by Zillow suggests that most sellers spend about $6,570 on work done by professionals to prepare their homes for sale.
Cleaning, painting, staging, lawn care and moving costs are all typical expenses for sellers. In terms of mortgage payoff, for homeowners who have owned their homes for less than two years the payoff amount won’t be much different from the amount that was originally financed. Since the earliest payments on a loan go towards interest and not principal, sellers in this position will not have made much progress on paying off the loan principal. Typically, they will not break even from the sale of their homes. The only way to break even or make a profit is if the property has gone up in value since the time it was purchased.
What to expect if you sell a home early
There are several other things to be aware of when deciding to sell a home early. Here are three additional factors to selling a home early.
Capital gains taxes
Homeowners who have lived in their home for at least two years as a primary residence do not have to pay capital gains taxes on the first $250,000 worth of profits from the sale (or the first $500,000 for a married couple). However, if you are selling your home prior to having lived there for two years, you may have to pay capital gains taxes on the profits of your sale. Your income tax bracket and the amount of time you’ve owned the home will determine your capital gains tax rate. There are some cases where you would be exempt from paying capital gains taxes, even if you’ve lived in your home for less than two years, for example, if you were to move due to a natural disaster, death, or unemployment.
Mortgage prepayment penalty
If you sell your home soon after buying it, some lenders will charge a prepayment penalty so they can compensate for the loss of interest payments since you will be paying of your loan so quickly. Different loans have different terms. You may have to pay a percentage of your remaining loan balance, a percentage of the interest you owe, or a flat rate. Many loans do not include prepayment penalties, so it’s not always an issue. In the case of FHA loans, there are never prepayment penalties.
Negative buyer perception
Nowadays buyers can easily look up a home’s listings history on real estate websites. So, if you’re selling your home less than a year after you bought it, potential buyers may wonder if there’s a problem with the home. It’s necessary to make it clear why you are selling early, such as a need to relocate, to avoid lower offers on your home.
Once you have purchased a home, you can sell it at any point that you want to. However, that is not always advisable. How can you tell how soon it is a good idea to sell your home? There are a variety of factors involved, including whether you will lose money, have capital gains taxes, or owe mortgage prepayment penalties. We will look at all the factors involved in considering how soon it is wise to sell your home after buying it in this post and our next post.
First, some general information about selling your home a short time after buying it.
Reasons to Sell Early
Most homeowners live in their home for an average of 13 years before selling it, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018. However, there are a number of scenarios in which a homeowner would need to sell a home much sooner. Here are a few:
How Soon Can You Sell Without Losing Money?
Generally, selling in less than a year is not worth it. If you only need a place to live for a year or less, it may be a better decision to rent. Even if you can sell a home for the same amount you bought it for, you may still be losing money. You must consider all the expenses involved in buying and then selling a home, including the costs associated with buying, costs associated with selling, moving expenses, and equity.
The Breakeven Horizon
The breakeven horizon is the amount of time that it takes for buying to be more worth while financially than renting. It is not a static amount, but varies for different homeowners in different parts of the country.
The breakeven horizon is based on a mortgage with a 20% down payment and monthly payments on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, with current interest rates for a homeowner with a 680 to 740 credit score. The breakeven horizon also considers market appreciation rates, taxes, insurance, closing costs, maintenance, and HOA fees for condo owners. The breakeven horizon is a tool that will help you determine how soon after purchasing you can sell a home without losing money. Just remember that breakeven horizons vary around the country, but the national average is 2 years and 3 months. For more detailed information on the breakeven horizon in different locations around the country, check out this 2018 report by Zillow.
This of course is market dependent. We can't predict what the market will be like in the short term. However, if you wait long enough, the market has always historically gone up. Therefore, I always advise people to plan on 7-10 years as a safe time frame to own. In addition I advise people to be flexible because the main way people can lose money is if they have to sell. In most situations, waiting to sell will allow you to come out free and clear or make a profit.
Zillow.com and Nerdwallet.com also feature handy Rent vs. Buy calculators that you can plug a few numbers into and determine at what point you would be better off owning than renting.
Can you ever sell before the breakeven horizon?
Yes, it is possible to sell before you reach the breakeven horizon and still make money. Here are a few instances where this is possible.
We’ve covered some general guidelines about how soon after purchase you should sell a home. In our next post, we’ll delve into some more details that will help you assess your individual situation and decide whether or not you should sell. Stay tuned for our next post!
The Stonewall Jackson Inn of Harrisonburg is currently undergoing a revitalization. Located downtown at 547 East Market Street, the historic establishment is under new ownership as of August, 2019. A former dietician and a businessman, Becca and Joel Graham are breathing energetic new life into one of Harrisonburg’s hidden gems.
Last Thursday, November 14th, the Harrisonburg Homes team had the opportunity to attend a lovely open house at the Stonewall Jackson Inn, featuring wines by Brix and Columns Vineyard, hors d’oeuvres by Sub Rosa’s Kirsten Moore, and home goods by Lineage Goods. Visitors had the opportunity to tour the house and chat with Becca and Joel.
Built in 1885 as a single family mansion, the home was first turned into a bed and breakfast in the 1990s. Featuring 10 bedrooms of different sizes and configurations, the house is cozy and intimate. Each room is named for a different historical figure and is uniquely decorated, for a boutique feel. Rooms combine antique furniture and decor with modern conveniences, including a thermostat in each room and free wifi. For a hint of luxury, beds are appointed with 600 thread count sheets and each room has a naturally scented Lineage Goods candle. Rooms range from $149 to $189 per night for two people and include a gourmet breakfast. Rooms can sleep from 1 to 4 guests and bed sizes range from king to twin depending on the room.
With a passion for entrepreneurship and a thirst for something different from the 9 to 5, Becca and Joel Graham were looking for a business they could develop together. They discovered The Stonewall Jackson Inn after renting an apartment from the former owner and decided to buy the establishment from him. They set about giving the place a light makeover, purchasing some new furniture and clearing out some of the clutter to refresh the home’s ambiance. The makeover includes a new breakfast menu with recipes developed by Becca. The Grahams put an emphasis on making the Inn a community endeavor by partnering with local businesses. For example, the sausage served at breakfast is locally sourced. The Inn also features a small gift shop where guests can purchase locally produced goods, including the Lineage Goods local, hand-made soy candles found in each room. Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, just down the street, also has a special relationship with the Stonewall Jackson Inn, referring all their clients to stay at the Inn while they are in town for fly fishing tours. Joel, a fly fisherman himself, speaks enthusiastically about this partnership and his desire to cultivate more relationships with local businesses. The Grahams are always looking to meet new people and make new connections within the community.
Harrisonburg community members are welcome to stop by and check out the Inn during between 10am and 5pm, provided they call in advance. Recommending the Stonewall Jackson Inn to out of town guests is a great way to get involved and support a local business. The Inn is also available for gatherings and events of all kinds, including parties, retreats, and business meetings. Local clubs and groups looking for a space they can meet in are also welcome to look into the Inn. For more information about booking rooms and event space, call 540-433-8233. Guest rooms can also be booked online. Guests of the Inn can invite local friends and relatives to join them for a memorable breakfast at the Inn. To learn more about the Stonewall Jackson Inn, visit https://www.stonewalljacksoninn.com/.
Selling your home is a big step. How do you know you’re ready to sell your home? Here are 8 signs that you’re in a good position to sell your current home and buy a new one.
1. You have positive equity in your home
Equity is the difference between what your house is worth and what you owe on your mortgage. So if your house is worth $300,000 and you owe $200,000, then you have $100,000 of positive equity. Most homeowners have positive equity in their homes, but it’s possible to have negative equity if your home is now worth less than what you paid for it. How much equity do you need to sell your home? Unless you have to do so to avoid foreclosure, don’t sell your home unless you can sell it for more than you bought it for. In terms of what you need to buy a new home, it’s best to have enough money from the sale of your current home to make a 20% down payment on a new home and to be able to pay for closing costs and moving expenses.
2. You’re free from debt outside of your mortgage
The best case scenario for buying a new home is that you are financially secure, with no debt outside your mortgage and enough cash in an emergency fund for at least 3 months of expenses. However, it is possible to carry some debt outside your mortgage and still be approved for a loan for a new home. Lenders will look at your DTI, or debt to income ratio to decide if you’re eligible for a loan. A favorable DTI is less than 43%. To figure out your DTI, add up all your monthly debt and divide it by your monthly income. For example, if your monthly debt is $500 and your income is $3,000, then your DTI is 16%.
5. You have cash for home improvements
In order to get the most out of the sale of your current home, it may be necessary to make some upgrades. Typically, the best places to invest money are in paint jobs, the exterior of the house, and upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms. Home improvements aren’t a must-have, but having the cash on hand to update your home and maximize its value is a good sign you’re ready to sell.
6. You're emotinally ready to sell
While you may be financially in good shape to sell your home, it’s also important to assess whether or not you are emotionally ready. Can you handle the criticism of your home that potential buyers may make without taking it personally? Are you ready to let go of the memories that you created in your home? Are you prepared to put in the work to get your home ready for the market and keep it ready to show for weeks or months? These are some of the questions you will need to answer in order to determine if you’re emotionally ready to sell.
7. Your current home no longer fits your needs
Whether you need more space to accommodate new family members or you’re ready to downsize, it’s important to assess whether your current home fits your needs. Changes in your family size or lifestyle indicate that you’re ready to sell.
8. You’re in a sellers market.
Do some research and find out the state of your local market. If you're in a seller’s market, meaning that demand for homes is greater than the number of homes available, it’s a good time for you to sell. In a seller’s market you’re likely to get multiple offers on your home that are competitive and you’ll be able to make money off the sale of your home, which is always the outcome you want as a seller.
In summary, to determine if you’re ready to sell your home, you’ll want to take stock of your financial situation, your emotional situation, and the state of the local market. If these three factors are all working in your favor, it’s a sure sign that you’re ready to make the move of selling your home.