A growing number of singles are purchasing homes all on their own these days. Since June is Home Ownership Month, we thought we would share some advice for those thinking about taking the plunge into real estate.
As a single buyer, you have to remember that it really is all on you. Before doing anything, it is best to consider your financial health. What kind of money do you have for a down payment? What’s your credit score? Are you good with setting – and following – budgets? Do you realize what your costs will actually be?
The first thing to do is pay down that consumer debt you have. As always, try to pay the balance of your credit purchases each month to avoid expensive interest charges. Not only does this help you save money but it also does wonders for your credit rating!
You might want to also take a serious look at your career goals. If your resume shows a laundry list of jobs, lenders might be hesitant to issue you a mortgage. Shoot to be in a job for at least two years – or at least be able to reassure your lender that you are in a permanent position. A letter from your employer would be a great way to show your commitment.
Obviously the key to being financially able to purchase a home is to bulk up your savings. Maybe you don’t have to go out to dinner this weekend or perhaps that new phone upgrade can wait. The bigger your down payment is, the lower your monthly costs. And be prepared for the closing costs.
Be sure to create and follow a monthly budget. Know your costs and be ready for them. Think about mortgage, utilities, insurance, any planned updates, and general living expenses. Plan for a rainy day. There will always be unplanned expenses including repairs and maintenance. Unforeseen circumstances like an illness or a job loss can be challenging but with proper preparation, they can be managed easier.
Understand your limitations and wants. If your career doesn’t leave you with enough time to take care of a large yard or if you just don’t want to do a lot of maintenance around the house, you might consider condo living. If you have a passion for fitness or a particular style of living, think about what kind of home you want to live in. It’s easier to look for what you want rather than trying to make it into the place of your dreams.
Owning a home as a single buyer is exciting and achievable. It’s a place to call your own – paint it any color you want and arrange the rooms to your liking. It’s all yours!
June is not only the start of the summer but it’s also when many people officially sign the papers on their new home – and it is National Homeownership Month.
While the purchasing process may have been stressful, once you have the keys in your hands there is a sense of relief. Of course you still have a huge checklist in front of you, but before you totally settle in and start picking out paint samples, you might want to keep the following tips in mind.
Despite the fact that this may well be the biggest purchase you have ever made and you have lost sleep over it, you still need to celebrate. Take a little time to just step back and congratulate yourself. Have a few friends over and make a toast (of course, those friends can also help you move too!).
The first thing you should always do is to change the locks – all of the locks. You never know how many people the previous owners passed out keys to. It’s just good piece of mind to make sure you, your family, and your possessions are secure. And don’t forget the code for the garage door too.
Now that the locks are changed, you’re going to need utilities, right? Besides the electric and water, you’ll need to set up – or transfer – accounts for municipal sewer, trash removal, gas, and the ever-important cable and internet. Also consider a security system.
While everything make look clean, you know your mother would insist that you clean everything from top to bottom. Turns out, mom was right. A good, deep cleaning is always in order to make sure all the nooks and crannies are up to your standards before you start moving in your belonging.
OK – so let’s get back to the paint samples. This should be a no-brainer. It is so much easier to paint a room when you don’t have to cover or remove furniture. Same with making repairs. If at all possible, now’s the time to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls or patch those holes in the wall. You’ll be much happier avoiding the obstacles later.
While you are at it, take the time to find the main water shut-off valve. If there is ever a problem with a burst pipe or a leak, the last thing you want is a frantic search. Be ready before anything happens!
Find a secure place for all your home-related documents. Yes, we live in a digital world, but you know that you still are inundated with invoices, permits, owner’s manuals, and closing documents. Buy a filing cabinet or even invest in a safety deposit box.
Always keep a close eye on your mortgage. Through the years, mortgages can and are sold to secondary market investors. You need to know the status of your mortgage and make sure that any sale is legitimate. Make sure your payments are being submitted to the proper place.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, take the time to meet your neighbors. Don’t wait for them to make the first move. Introduce yourself and be friendly. A close-knit community is a safe one.
No matter where you live in Pennsylvania, there’s no doubt that you have experience some rough weather lately. Severe lightning, high winds, heavy downpours, and even a fair number of tornados have stuck our region causing damage to homes, businesses, and property.
Once the sky clears and the sun comes up, it’s time to survey the damage. It can be a challenging and emotional time, but how can you make sure that you are taking the steps necessary to avoid being scammed when it’s time to rebuild?
Obviously the first thing to do is make sure everyone is safe and accounted for – and that they stay that way. There is no building or item that is worth risking your life and well-being for. As they say, it can all be replaced but you only have one life. Sometimes the clean-up can be just as treacherous as the storm itself. So always take care.
If possible, start taking pictures. Document as much as possible. This is actually something you should do BEFORE a storm. Having photos of your home both outside and inside can be valuable proof that any damage was indeed caused by the storm and wasn’t there beforehand. This can help speed up insurance claims.
After the storm, walk around the entire property and take as many shots as you can at all angles. In this case, more photos are better than less! Take pictures of everything.
Obviously you are going to want to contact your insurance company immediately. Ask about policy coverage and what requirements are needed to file a claim. Save all your receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.
When it is time to start the actual rebuilding, do your research. Make sure your contractor is licensed, reliable, and comes with references. Be sure to check with your local builders association to find a list of members and then follow up to make sure you have the best people doing the job for you.
It goes without saying that you should always be wary of the door-to-door contractors who seem to pop up whenever there is a tragedy. Again, do your research and make sure that anyone who is going to do work for you is a professional.
Never sign over an insurance check to anyone. Doing that could sign away your rights to any insurance claims. Always ask for an invoice from a contractor and pay them directly. If possible, pay with a credit card since that could offer you additional fraud protection.
These are just a few suggestions for helping you get through a trying time. Spring and summer are tricky times in Pennsylvania where the weather can turn on a dime. Be alert and heed the advice of forecasters.
Stay safe and always be prepared for the next step.
So with another Memorial Day in the books, it’s time to start enjoying summer. But for many of us that means adding to the to-do list. Here’s a list of five top summer-time home improvement projects you might want to tackle when the sun is shining.
Pressure WashingQuick and easy and it can make a HUGE difference for your home, deck or patio. Get rid of the dirt as well as mold, mildew, and algae that have built up.
LandscapingAs soon as it starts getting warmer, we all want to start digging in the dirt. For a magazine-worthy look, look to your landscaper to design a garden that is not only beautiful but also manageable.
Installing a Programmable ThermostatIt is tempting to have the air conditioning turned up on full blast when the temps soar but that also makes your money blow away too. By installing a programmable thermostat in your home you can regulate the temperatures for when they are most needed. You’ll end up saving some serious bank in the long run.
Getting New WindowsWhile we’re at it, running the AC when you have older, poorly-fitting windows is just another way to waste money. It’s a good time of the year to look into getting new energy-efficient windows for your home. You’ll notice the difference in the summer and even more when winter makes its dreaded return.
Add an Outdoor Living SpaceCome on, we’ve all watched those television shows where the homeowner basically has an entire living room/kitchen/dining room/home theater/pool set up outside. Yes, it would be wonderful, but you can make those summer evenings nice with even just a small version of one of these features. Adding a deck, patio, or other outdoor living space makes for summertime memories and it increases the value of your home.
Whatever project you want to take on this summer, PBA’s got your back. Be sure to check out your local builders association and find a member close to you who can help you stay on the right track.
It's time for the Summer Regional Meetings. Following is a list of meeting dates, times, and locations. We hope to see you at the meetings. #PBAProud
Mideast Regional Meeting - June 24; 5:30 p.m. Location: HBA of Metro Harrisburg office, 2416 Park Drive, Harrisburg (RSVP by June 20) REGISTER
Southcentral Regional Meeting - June 25; 5:30 p.m. Location: Out Door Country Club, 1157 Detweiler Drive, York (RSVP by June 20) REGISTER
Southeast Regional Meeting - June 26; 3:00 p.m. Location: HBA of Bucks & Montgomery Counties, 540 Pennsylvania Avenue, Fort Washington (RSVP by June 25) REGISTER
Southwest Regional Meeting - June 26; 3:00 This will be a conference call (RSVP by June 25) REGISTER
Northwest Regional Meeting - June 26; 6:30 p.m. Location: Chovy's, 18228 Conneaut Lake Road, Meadville (RSVP by June 24) REGISTER
Northeast Regional Meeting - June 27; 5:00 p.m. Location: Marzoni's Brick Oven & Brewing, 26 Montage Mountain Road, Moosic (RSVP by June 25) REGISTER
Midwest Regional Meeting - June 27; 5:30 p.m. Location: Indiana Country Club, 495 Country Club Road, Indiana (RSVP by June 20) REGISTER
Northcentral Regional Meeting - June 27; 5:30 p.m. Location: Duffy's Boalsburg Tavern, 113 E Main St Boalsburg, PA 16827 (RSVP by June 20) REGISTER
A recent study by Trulia of the most affordable metropolitan zip codes in the United States determined that Pittsburgh ranks as number two right behind Indianapolis.
Trulia took the current value of all homes in the top 50 metro areas and calculated how much the median income could afford by zip code. Homes were considered affordable if 30% or less of the metro area’s median monthly income went to the mortgage payment.
To find the share of affordable homes on the market, Trulia calculated the maximum amount the median income could afford toward a mortgage payment. Calculations considered a 20% down payment and included property insurance and taxes.
The metro area boasts a share of 95.8% of zip codes where at least half of the home are affordable. Read more here.
In 2018, Pittsburgh was also named second most livable city in the country according to The Global Livability Index.
We’re thinking that the Steel City is a pretty great place to be right now!
Does your business need a complete packaging and mailing system? As a PBA member you can now save 15% monthly from Pitney Bowes through the National Purchasing Partners (NPP) program. Remember you can also take advantage of deals from other companies like Staples, Verizon, Expedia and more just because you are part of the PBA family! Learn more and save.
May 5-11 has been designated as Small Business Week. Of course, to many entrepreneurs, every week is small business week.
But what are the top tips that can help you be – and stay – successful? According to Business.com, these key seven steps are fundamental for those in the building industry. They may seem simple, but sometimes it is easy to veer off course. So heed these reminders and you should be well on your way.
With the warmer days, your thoughts may be about refreshing your home – both inside and out. You are not alone. In fact, those thoughts are in the minds of so many people that May has been designated as National Home Remodeling Month.
Now you may be tempted to tackle some home projects on your own, but before you do, it might be worth your while to consider the big picture before you start searching for those power tools you think are still on the shelf in the garage. You know, the ones you last used in 2014.
While many home projects are perfect for D-I-Y ventures, it’s important to realize your limits. A good way to avoid making costly mistakes – or frankly, a possible injury – is to hire a professional home remodeler or contractor.
By entrusting a qualified pro, you can be sure that your project will be done right, the first time, ultimately saving you money. Professionals will understand the importance of having the proper permits and building codes in place and will take the extra steps to be certain that your dreams are accurately transformed from the picture in your mind to reality.
By including a designer in the process, you may be able to extend your vision beyond your own expectations. Trained designers know the latest trends, understand limitations, and know ways to replicate looks without a huge price tag.
Expert contractors can be relied on to provide you with a reasonable project timeline and will communicate with you to ensure you both understand the needs and expectations. Plus utilizing their services means that you have a documented body of work. This is especially important down the road if you consider selling. It takes the doubt out of many buyers’ minds.
And don’t forget that a qualified expert will provide you with warranties that you can’t always take advantage of when you do it yourself.
Don’t forget SAFETY is always the biggest priority. As a weekend warrior, you might think you know how to be safe in a construction zone. However a licensed professional will take pains to be sure your home is safe both during the work and after it is completed.
Your local builder association can help you find a list of quality contractors, remodelers, designers and more. Check out the list of PBA local associations here.
So why take the risk on those big projects? An expert can put your mind at ease and help make your dreams come true.
Now that the weather gets warmer every day, we are all getting busier but don’t forget that as a PBA member, you are eligible for a number of special discounts available through the NAHB Member Saving Program.
Here are a few of the current specials that you’ll want to take advantage of before they disappear.
LOWE'S SPECIAL 10% + 2% DISCOUNT
DELL SMALL BUSINESS MONTH DEALS
As always, be sure to visit www.nahb.org/savings to see the available savings your NAHB membership gets you including discounts on:
View TradeSecrets newsletter archives!