Alyx Akers
Five College REALTORS ® | 413-320-6405 | AlyxAkersRealtor@gmail.com


Posted by Alyx Akers on 3/22/2020

Becoming a home owner for the first time is an exciting milestone for Millennials! Going from renting an apartment to owning your own property represents a big transition from dependency to independence.

For many people, it even symbolizes making the leap from childhood to adulthood. Once you're a homeowner and a property taxpayer, there's often a newfound feeling of being more established and successful.

While home ownership may bestow upon you a boost in status, the added responsibility of paying for your own repairs, maintenance, and upkeep can take an unexpected toll on your budget. With a little extra planning, however, you can avoid many of the pitfalls of home ownership.

Looking at the Big Picture

Here's a misconception that sometimes creates a financial strain for first-time homeowners: "If we can afford to pay $1800 in rent, every month, then we should be able to afford monthly mortgage payments in that same amount!" While that premise may sound logical, there are a few crucial "missing pieces" from that equation -- pieces which could throw your household budget out of kilter!

In addition to the costs associated with purchasing real estate, such as a down payment and closing costs, there's also the matter of home repairs and property maintenance. Depending on where you decide to live, there could be other fees to absorb, too, including garbage collection, yard waste removal, and water usage. Other expenses that first-time homeowners may overlook include the cost of buying a lawnmower, a snow blower, yard maintenance supplies, tools, and furniture. That's why creating a detailed estimated budget, based on your income, debts, and anticipated expenses can help you determine whether you're truly ready to take the plunge into homeownership.

Enlisting Professional Help

A mortgage broker or bank loan officer can provide you with assistance in calculating your financial readiness for purchasing a home. A good real estate agent can also offer insights and guidance into the process of finding, buying, and owning a house you can comfortably afford. They should be able to provide you with vital information about school taxes, property taxes, average utility bills, homeowner association fees (if any), and any issues revealed in the seller's disclosure form.

One way to avoid -- or at least be prepared for -- costs that often accompany home ownership is to have a qualified property inspector take a close look at the condition of everything in the house from the basement and attic to major appliances and structural features. They can generally tell you whether there are any concerns about mechanical systems, water in the basement, foundation damage, issues with property drainage, the electrical system, potential plumbing problems, and dozens of other vital checkpoints

Whether you're a first-time house hunter or a seasoned homeowner, it pays to understand, anticipate, and budget for the many costs of being a property owner. While owning your own home can be a rewarding and satisfying experience, a guiding principle to keep in mind as you consider available homes on the market is "caveat emptor" (Let the buyer beware)!




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Posted by Alyx Akers on 7/15/2018

If you're not one of those people who "seizes the moment" when you have the chance to save money, it might pay to establish some new bargain-hunting habits. When you adopt the mindset of a frugal shopper, you'll become more effective at stretching your household budget and having more money left over after paying the bills. One costly mistake a lot of people make is to wait until they urgently need something before buying it. Under those conditions, the pressure is on and your choices for saving money are usually limited. If your priorities include saving money, getting the best deal, or stocking up for future needs, then buying things when they're on sale is often the way to make your funds go farther. Here are a few examples of opportunities that can pass you by if you don't take advantage of them while you can:

  • Going out of business sales: There are a lot of reasons a store might be closing its doors, but in many cases that closure could mean substantial savings for you and your family. If the manager's objective is to liquidate as much of the store's inventory as possible, then you could easily negotiate incredible bargains. Although a store's signs and ads might be more promotional than factual ("Everything must go! No reasonable offer refused!"), if they're selling things you need or anticipate needing, it's probably worth stopping by and checking out the sale.
  • End of season sales: When a season or major holiday comes to an end, you may not be in the mood to buy a discounted snow-blower, lawn mower, or Christmas decorations. However, if you can afford it and you know it's something you're going to need next year, it may make sense to buy it now and enjoy the savings later.
  • Scratch and dent sales: Consumer products like household appliances can be quite expensive if you don't look for sales, compare prices, and take advantage of money-saving opportunities. If a retailer is willing to reduce the price of an appliance, a furniture set, or a piece of home office equipment because of a cosmetic flaw or some other minor issue that won't affect it's performance or quality, you might be able to get an exceptionally good deal on the item. Sometimes asking a store manager if they have any unadvertised discounts or distressed merchandise can result in unexpected savings.
  • Surplus merchandise, overstocks, clearance sales, and closeouts: Theoretically, you should be able to save a bundle of money when you shop at stores advertising clearance sales and surplus inventory. Although results may vary depending on the nature of the sale, it often pays to keep an eye out for clearance or surplus inventory sales when hunting for good bargains.
Saving money begins with a certain frame of mind and a strong desire to stretch your household budget. It just takes a little determination, research, and advance planning to ferret out an assortment of worthwhile sales, discounts, and money-saving opportunities.




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