Our Real Estate Blog
Common-interest housing includes individually owned spaces and common areas shared by all owners. The common areas can include clubhouses, landscaping, parking lots or pools. Multistory buildings share lobbies, stairwells, and elevators. Any community that shares property including single-family free-standing homes in developments, falls into the common-interest category.
The two most familiar types of common-interest housing terms are condominiums (or condos) and townhomes (or townhouses). Although both belong in the category of common-interest housing, condos and townhouses may mean different things depending on regional or legal definitions.
A condo is a shared building or group of buildings and common spaces in which housing units are owned individually. This could be a single unit within a tower building or a conjoined home having its own ground floor with exterior entry. Other homes in the condominium category include single-family cottages or even modular homes inside planned communities. When you purchase a condo, you own the unit itself while you are a co-owner of the common areas.
A townhome is a style of house that is connected to another structure on at least one side. It may be solely owned by an individual as part of a CID, part of a multi-family apartment dwelling, or individually owned without property in common. A true townhome is built with independent sidewalls that stand alone even if they touch the walls of another townhome. When you purchase a townhouse, you own the unit itself and whatever yard area is affiliated with it as you would with a detached single-family house.
While condominium units might incorporate elements like private outdoor spaces, individual ground-floor entry options or design elements that resemble those of a townhome, it is ownership that truly defines them.
All CID properties have a homeowners’ association (HOA) of some sort. While some are mainly hands-off with regard to individual units, others have specific regulations regarding renting, remodeling, and exterior décor.
If you are trying to decide between purchasing a condominium or a townhouse, have your agent explain the differences in common ownership between them, and make certain to factor in the HOA fees to your monthly budget.
The homebuying process can be stressful, particularly for those who are purchasing a house for the first time. From the time it takes to find your "dream" home to the final closing, there may be many hurdles that you'll need to overcome to secure your ideal home. As such, it sometimes can be difficult for a first-time homebuyer to maintain a positive outlook during the most challenging times.
Lucky for you, we're here to help you remain calm, cool and collected throughout the entire homebuying cycle.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers maintain a positive outlook at each stage of the homebuying journey:
1. Establish Realistic Expectations
Although first-time homebuyers would like to believe the property buying journey will be quick and seamless, it is important to realize that problems can arise without notice. However, homebuyers who understand the ins and outs of purchasing a house should have no trouble identifying potential issues and minimizing their impact.
For example, a homebuyer who defines his or her ideal residence can narrow a home search accordingly. This homebuyer also will be able to check out a variety of houses based on assorted property buying criteria and boost his or her chances of discovering the perfect residence without delay.
A homebuyer who establishes realistic expectations will be ready for the worst-case scenarios too. And if this homebuyer submits an offer to purchase a home that ultimately gets rejected, he or she will remain confident and be ready to restart the homebuying cycle from stage one.
2. Become an Informed Homebuyer
A first-time homebuyer who learns about the housing market can improve his or her chances of getting the best possible results.
Allocating the necessary time and resources to understand the differences between a buyer's market and a seller's market, for instance, can make a world of difference for any homebuyer, at any time.
Furthermore, an informed homebuyer may be more likely than others to get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, this property buyer can set a budget for his or her home search and increase the likelihood of securing a terrific house at an affordable price.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to purchasing a home for the first time, why should a homebuyer leave anything to chance? Instead, a homebuyer can work with a real estate agent to reduce the risk of potential pitfalls throughout the homebuying cycle.
A real estate agent is happy to respond to a homebuyer's concerns and questions as the property buying journey progresses. This housing market professional will even help a homebuyer maintain a positive outlook, regardless of what happens. That way, a real estate agent can assist a homebuyer through both good times and bad and ensure a property buyer can purchase a first-rate house that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.
Take advantage of these tips, and any first-time homebuyer can keep things positive at each stage of the homebuying cycle.
The rent vs buy dilemma is something that Americans have been facing for decades. Both options have their benefits, and it’s really a matter of timing and preferences when it comes to choosing which is best for you.
However, there are a lot of things to consider before making this decision. So, in today’s post we’re going to break down some of the benefits of renting an apartment and of buying a home. That way you can make your decision with a clearer picture of what each situation looks like.
One thing to note first, however, is that it isn’t always as simple as buy vs rent. Some living situations draw on the pros of each type of living. For example, living in a condo might be a good option for people who want the privacy and independence of owning their own home, but who also don’t have the time or desire to keep up with maintenance.
So, as we compare buying and renting, keep in mind that the features of each are not mutually exclusive.
Renting an apartment
Most people who are living on their own for the first time start off renting. For younger people just out of school, renting offers the first taste of independence without the prerequisites of homeownership.
When you rent your first apartment, you’ll learn the skills associated with budgeting for your monthly expenses, making your rent payments on time, and will start learning some of the skills that it takes to run a household.
In terms of monthly costs, apartments can vary greatly. Depending on where you live (and how luxurious the apartment is) you could end up having rent and utility payments that are much lower or much higher than mortgage payments for a house.
However, apartment leases often come with the benefit of utilities, trash removal, and other expenses built in. They also typically require the landlord to maintain the apartment and the land it sits on.
Live in the northern part of the country and hate shoveling snow? Make sure your lease specifies that your landlord will provide snow removal.
One technique that many renters take is to find an apartment that is small and affordable while they save up for a home. In this case, it’s worth living with fewer amenities if your end goal is saving for a down payment.
But, what if you want to own a home someday but haven’t quite decided where you want to settle down? Maybe your work keeps you moving from place to place or you’ve always wanted to move away to somewhere new.
Renting is typically a better option for those who aren’t quite sure what their plans are for the next coming years. They can have a stable place to live while they figure things out and plan their next move.
Buying a home
Once you’ve rented a home for a while, you might become increasingly aware that you want more space and more control over your home.
You’re also likely noticing how much money you spend on rent each month that is essentially a net loss.
When you buy a home, your mortgage payments might be going to the bank, but someday the money you’ve paid toward that home will be yours in the form of equity. You can then use this as a down payment for another home.
This financial benefit cannot be understated. Since house values dependably increase over time, owning a home is a great investment toward your future.
So, those are the main pros and cons of renting vs buying a home. Think about your circumstances and determine which one makes the most sense for you right now. Then, start planning for the future.
Buying a home is the mark of an important milestone in your life. While you’re very excited, you need to be prepared for all of the costs that are associated with buying a home. There are a few different costs that go into buying a home that are often overlooked. Before you dive into the home buying process, you’ll want to be prepared.
The Closing Costs
Many homebuyers have gone smoothly through the process of buying a home until they get to the closing table. They suddenly realize that they need a bit more cash than they anticipated. You probably were more than prepared with your down payment, but there’s other costs that are associated with buying a home. Some costs that you should be prepared for include:
- The home appraisal
- Attorney’s fees
- lender’s fees
- Underwriting fee
- Processing fees
- Inspection fees
You’ll receive a disclosure up front to help you understand all of the charges and cash that you must present when your signing the final documents for the purchase of the house. Keep in mind that many of these fees can be negotiable.
Decorating Your New Home
Once you move into a new home, you’re going to want to decorate the space. You may need a some new furniture. Perhaps you own no furniture and need to furnish the entire house. You’ll want to budget for this. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to fill up your home with items that won’t break the bank yet look good in the home. Places that you can shop include online sources like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. You can even check out local second hand stores for some great deals on furniture and decor that is in good condition. The important thing is that you understand how much you’ll need to buy as you move into the home.
The escrow account typically holds the insurance and taxes for the home. Funds are withdrawn as premiums and payments are due. Not every lender has these set up, but you should be prepared to have the money up front for the home insurance and even the taxes at the closing table.
Improvements Around The Home
There will be plenty of things that you’ll want to do around your new home to spruce up the place and make it your own. From planting bushes in the front to flower gardens outside to fresh coats of paint, you’ll quickly discover how expensive it is to be a homeowner.
If you’re preparing to buy a home, now you understand why saving is so important! Investigate all the costs that you’ll need to pay up front while you’re in the midst of buying a home to avoid any surprises.
Looking to put together an offer on a house? Ultimately, you'll want to submit a competitive first offer. By doing so, you can speed up the process of acquiring your dream residence.
When it comes to submitting a competitive home offer, however, it is important to understand what differentiates a "fair" proposal from a subpar one.
To better understand how to submit a competitive proposal, let's take a look at three best practices that every homebuyer needs to consider before making an offer on a house.
1. Evaluate the Housing Market
If you plan to buy a house, you'll want to examine the real estate market closely. That way, you can identify housing market patterns and trends and plan accordingly.
For example, if you find there is an abundance of high-quality houses available, you may be entering a buyer's market. In this market, there likely is a shortage of homebuyers, which means a competitive offer at or near a home seller's asking price is sure to grab this individual's attention.
On the other hand, if you notice that homes are selling quickly in a city or town, you may need to prepare for a seller's market. If you pursue houses in a seller's market, you may need to act quickly due to the sheer volume of buyers competing for the same residences.
Clearly, a comprehensive housing market analysis can make a world of difference for homebuyers. With in-depth housing market insights at your disposal, you'll be better equipped than other buyers to submit a competitive first offer on any residence, regardless of the current real estate market's conditions.
2. Get Your Finances in Order
What good is a competitive home offer if you cannot afford to buy a residence? If you secure a home loan, you can narrow your home search to properties that you can afford. Then, you'll be able to submit a competitive offer that ensures you won't have to break your budget to purchase your dream residence.
Also, if you're unsure about how your financial situation will impact your ability to buy a house, you should consult with banks and credit unions in your area. These financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a home loan, establish a homebuying budget and much more.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to submitting a competitive home offer, it pays to receive expert homebuying support. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent who is happy to help you put together a competitive home offer.
A real estate agent can provide housing market data that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. Plus, this housing market professional can offer unbiased home offer recommendations to ensure you can get an instant "Yes" from a home seller.
Collaborating with a real estate agent is a great option for homebuyers in all cities and towns. Reach out to local real estate agents today, and you can get the help you need to submit a competitive offer on any residence.