Tag Archives: areas

Four steps to buying a house in 2012

Q: I am on a mission to buy a home. I’ve wanted to own a home my entire life, and thought I would miss the opportunity to buy while the market was down, because I had no real savings when the market crashed. I think I’m ready, though, and prices still seem low. What should I be doing now to make this happen in 2012?

A: The recession has done lots of favors for buyers-to-be, including dropping prices and interest rates to bargain levels. But it has also created a lending and housing market climate in which loans are tough to get, tensions about buying into a down market run high, and transactions are harder and longer to close than they have ever been.

Here are the things to do now, to buy a home this year:

1. Fix credit problems. More deals than ever are dying on the vine, and credit problems are a top reason home-sale transactions fall out of escrow. Detect and correct errors on your credit report now by reviewing the federally mandated free reports you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.

2. Study up. Do some research, both online and offline, into things like:

Areas: Start your online research into decision points like tax rates, school districts, neighborhood character and even prices in various areas. Check out NabeWise.com for some local insight into neighborhood flavor and personality.

When you start connecting with local agents, ask them to brief you on neighborhood market dynamics. They can give you a deeper view into need-to-knows like how long homes typically stay on the market and whether they generally go for more or less than the asking price, so you can be smart about how you search vis-à-vis what you have to spend.

Agents: This is the perfect time to ask your family and friends for a referral to an agent they know, have used and love. Then, follow up by doing an online search for the agent’s name and seeing what sort of online reviews and activities you find. When you’ve narrowed the field down to a few, call them up and set up a meeting to find out if you’re a good fit.

Distressed properties: In some areas, more than 40 percent of the homes on the market are short sales and foreclosures, and they involve a very different timeline and set of facts than traditional home sales. Read up and talk with the agent candidates you interview about what you should expect from these types of listings, to minimize surprise and manage your expectations way in advance.

3. Save even more. Sounds like you’ve worked hard for a number of years to save enough cash that you think you’re in the clear when it comes to funding your down payment and closing costs. Studies show that after months of saving, people often let up and relax into a spending season. Even at your early stage in the process, it’s easy to start noticing and buying the furnishings and touches you want to install in your new home.

Although you shouldn’t feel deprived or forgo amazing and affordable deals on things you know you’re going to need, rest assured that no matter what amount of cash you have on hand, when you start house hunting, making offers, closing your transaction or moving in, the time will definitely come when you’ll wish you had more.

You might want to ratchet up your offer a bit to best another buyer, or you might just end up with a place that needs a little sprucing up. It might be months before you know exactly what you’ll need extra cash for, but now is not the time to press the gas pedal when it comes to your monthly spending.

4. Purge. Now’s the time to sell, donate or give away as much of your personal possessions as you can. Use the proceeds to pad your cash cushion, or tuck the donation receipts away for your tax records next year.

Start here, and chances are good that your house hunt — and purchase — will be in full swing by spring, if not sooner.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is an author and the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com.

8 new-home trends for 2012

A recent article by MSN Real Estate focused on a survey by the National Association of Business Economics, covering new-home building trends in 2012.  Read further to get the gist of the article, and head on over to MSN’s website for more details.

The housing industry has taken a beating these past few years, but a glimmer of hope is on the horizon. Housing starts are expected to increase 10% in 2012, according to a survey by the National Association of Business Economics.

Not surprisingly, though, the Great Recession curtailed many of the extravagances that buyers desired before things went south. Homebuyers want different things from their homes today. The watchword is flexibility — things such as rooms that serve multiple purposes and homes that can accommodate either “boomerang” children or aging parents.

We talked to homebuilders and industry watchers to find out what will be behind the front doors of homes built in 2012. How do these features compare to your wish list?

Easy access

  • Single-story homes
  • Grab bars in the bathroom
  • Fewer stairs and more ramps

A bigger garage — for more than just cars

  • To accommodate storage and avoid clutter
  • “Man caves” — additional family area

The ‘resource center’

  • Fewer rooms dedicated to one purpose
  • Nooks for household work or homework areas

Homes within homes

  • About one-third of American adults are living in the same household with another generation
  • Increase in dual master suites / apartments

Really ‘green’ homes

  • Greater energy efficiency
  • Solar panels to power the house

Home plans that fit today

  • Direct access to laundry areas/rooms
  • Large pantries off the garage for bulk items from warehouses
  • Drop zones for keys, mail, cell phones

The house that flows

  • Open floor plan — increases the perceived size
  • Great rooms opening to the outdoor areas

Infill is in

  • “Infill” homes within existing towns
  • Emphasizes affordability, public transportation access, job centers

 

All of this information is from MSN Real Esate’s article. Read more of this article by Christopher Solomon, of MSN Real Estate here: “8 New-Home Trends for 2012.”