Bo Lee - CENTURY 21 Commonwealth



Posted by Bo Lee on 4/2/2017

When you're a new homeowner, it's hard to refrain from walking down the aisle of Bed Bath & Beyond and dumping everything you see into your cart. Initially, when making a shopping list for your new home it will seem like you need everything  and you need it now. It doesn't always make sense, however, to go on shopping sprees and starting several different renovation projects at once in your new home. Whether you need to be conservative with your money or you want to take your time and furnish one room of your house at a time, creating a household spending budget can be an invaluable tool. In this article, we'll cover how to make your own personalized household budget that you and your family or housemates can use to keep yourselves accountable when it comes to making your new house uniquely your own.

Set priorities

Moving into a new home can be sort of like camping out for the first few nights. Many of the basic things you take for granted might not be unpacked  or set up yet. Other items you might still need to purchase. This is a good reminder of which items matter the most when moving into a home. When you prepare to make your budget, think about the items on your list that are the most vital to your daily life. This may be different for each person. If you're an avid yoga practitioner but your yoga mat got ruined in the move, buying a new one might be higher up on your list of priorities than the average person who occasionally stretches. The best way to find out what items are high up on your list is to go through a few days in your new home and write down everything you need, then arrange it in order of importance. From there, we can start setting your budget.

Budgeting tools

Depending on how comfortable you are with technology, you have several options when it comes to ways of keeping a budget. In your Appstore you'll find a plethora of free budgeting apps that all fit a specific need. One of the most popular, Mint, connects securely with your bank account and lets you set up several budgets. It will track your income and spending and categorize your purchases automatically (groceries, gas, bills, etc.). You can set a "household" budget in Mint and make sure all your home purchases go into that category. If you're more inclined to using a spreadsheet, you can use Google Sheets, or a program like Excel to create your budget. The benefit of using Google Sheets is that it is easily shared and synced with others, allowing you to collaborate on the budget together. Your final option is to use a good old fashion hand-written budget. If you don't want it to be forgotten, you could hang it on the refrigerator or write it on a whiteboard hung somewhere highly visible in your house.

Commitment

The hardest part of budgeting is committing to it. You and your housemates will need to work together to make sure you keep track of your purchases and take the time to plan out your budget, be it weekly or monthly. The best way to do this is to set a reminder in your calendar for a budget planning day once per month with your housemates. Decide what needs to be purchased and who will be buying it. Once you've made a habit of keeping your household budget, you'll be on your way to completing your home in a way that makes sense for you financially.




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Posted by Bo Lee on 12/18/2016

Many first time home buyers go into the market looking for the home of their dreams. They picture a house filled with their favorite furniture, illuminated by plenty of natural lighting, and highlighted by bright and cheery wall colors. While it's good to have aspirations for your new home, it's also important to remember that the house you're buying is essentially a box. Sure, you'll put plenty of nice things in that box, but ultimately you want to make sure it's a sturdy box that's in good shape before thinking about the contents. When shopping for a new home, here are some things you shouldn't let influence your decision.

Walls and carpets

It can be off-putting when you go and view a home and the walls are covered in antiquated wallpaper or painted a color you can't stomach. It can also be hard to ignore, since the walls make up such a large, visible portion of the house. Instead, try to envision the room with the walls painted the colors you would use. If a home has a carpet that looks straight out of the 70s it can definitely be a distraction and give you trepidations about the house. However, just like walls, this is a relatively simple fix if you have the budget for it. Imagine how the room would look with hardwood floors, tile, or a carpet that's more to your liking.

An unkempt yard

The first thing you see when arriving at a house is the yard and driveway. Maybe the grass hasn't been mown in a while, the mulch is looking faded and there are weeds growing up along the walkway. These are all aesthetic problems that can be easily and, if planned correctly, inexpensively fixed. A good rule is to determine if the parts of the yard you dislike can be cleaned up in a few afternoons or if they would require a lot of time and money.

It feels like someone else's home

Viewing a home can be awkward. If the seller still lives in the home you might feel like you're intruding. In some cases, they could even be at home while you're viewing the house. As you walk through the home, be sure to remind yourself that if you lived here the picture frames would have your family photos in them instead. Similarly, if the seller has (to put it nicely) a "different" taste in decoration it can seem distracting and off putting. Fortunately, they'll have to take all their decorations with them when they move--even that wall mounted deer head in the living room.

Decide based on these factors instead

Now that we've talked about the things to ignore, here are the details you should look for when shopping for a new home.
  • Size. The size of the home, the rooms, the yard, and the driveway will all be a huge factor in your decision.
  • Architecture. Take note of how the home was built and if there are certain architectural aspects that you love or hate.
  • Windows and lighting. Natural lighting is an oft overlooked feature that really enhances the atmosphere of a home.
  • Plumbing and electrical. Make sure you're happy with the condition of the home's HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems because these will be time consuming and expensive upgrades.
  • Kitchen and bathroom features. Look for a home that has the kitchen and bathroom design elements you love, the space you need, and the features you desire (appliances, shower type, sink type, etc.)




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Posted by Bo Lee on 7/31/2016

Many first time home buyers think of the age of a home like a time bomb. With age comes costly repairs and renovations that are often avoided (or at least prolonged) if you buy a newer home. While it is true that older homes are prone to needing more upgrades, they also have many advantages over newer homes. What you don't often hear is that if an old home is maintained properly, it can be as good if not better than living in a newly built one. Old homes often come with perks that are forgotten or ignored in the buying process. In this article, we'll go over some of the best reasons to own an old home, and some of the things to look for when house hunting.

1. With age comes wisdom

Old homes are filled with history. From the people who built and lived in the home, down to the tiny architectural details, these houses will shed light upon what life was once like in your neighborhood. For those eager to learn about the history and culture of their neighborhood, it has never been easier to access historical data from internet archives or your local library. Aside from being historically significant, old homes are also aesthetically interesting. Depending on the architectural style and location of your home, it could have been built using any number of materials and techniques. Today, mass production has made home-building much more streamlined and efficient. Unfortunately, that has come at the cost of some originality in style.

2. Cost

In many instances, old homes are cheaper to buy than new ones. One reason is that sellers assume that buyers will have to pour money into the home to keep it updated and adjust the asking price. Another is simply that your average homebuyer values new homes over old ones. If you enjoy older homes, that gives you a financial advantage. For those homebuyers interested in do-it-yourself repairs and upgrades, buying a "fixer upper" is a great way to save money. However, be aware that some repairs should be better left to the professionals, especially when dealing with hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos.

3. Location

America is a young country. So the oldest homes tend to be built in centralized and urban areas. That often means easy access to things like grocery stores, schools and highways. Aside from being convenient, old neighborhoods also tend to have developed communities and landscapes. The streets are probably lined with aged trees that provide plenty of shade, and there's a greater likelihood of having nearby parks or ponds.

4. Prime land picks

Older homes tend to have the best plots of land because, well... they got the first pick. As a home buyer, this could be a huge if you're looking for a larger backyard or one with great natural features like aged trees and natural bodies of water.   When you're out hunting for new homes, don't look past the older homes. You might find that they have many benefits that are great for you and your family.  




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