Buying A House? Look For These 7 Things

House Size Matters

You should have a general idea of what size house you want before you do too much hunting around, including a minimum and/or maximum square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need.

What size house you should buy will depend on your needs and your personal preferences. If you have a large family or plan on starting one soon, you’ll probably need to look at houses with more square footage as well as more bedrooms and bathrooms. On the other hand, if your household is just you or you and a partner, it may make more sense and be more affordable to look at smaller houses.

While one of the main upsides of having a larger house is that you have plenty of room for members of your household in addition to house guests, there are also many pros to having a smaller home. Small houses are easier and cheaper to furnish, which can be helpful if you’re just starting out. They also tend to be easier to keep clean and cheaper to maintain.

However, how small you can go before it goes from feeling cozy to cramped is also a matter of personal preference. It may be helpful to look at houses of various sizes to get a feel for what would work for you.

The Ideal Yard

Another matter of personal preference is what kind of yard you’d like. Do you want a lot of acreage, or would you prefer to avoid the responsibility that comes with having a big lawn? Maybe you want a home that sits back further from the road, providing a little more privacy.

You’ll also have to think about what kind of features you want in the backyard. You can find homes with all sorts of natural and human-made features from streams and ponds to pools, hot tubs, patios, swing sets, decks, built-in grills and more. For some home buyers, these are attractive and useful features. For others, they signal liability, expense and time commitment. Alternatively, if a backyard doesn’t currently have the features you want, is it suited to have those features added after you move in?

When considering what sort of yard would be good for you, think about lot size, maintenance requirements, how much it’ll cost to maintain and what features you’d like in both the front and back.

The House’s Exterior

Don’t let your excitement about a perfect interior make you forget the importance of a sturdy exterior.

Here are some of the main exterior components you should be sure to check out when viewing a house:

  • Roof: This is a big one, as a new roof can cost very high. Be sure to give (what you can see of it) a once-over, looking for any signs of damage. You may also want to ask how old the roof is, though you don’t necessarily need to be turned off by an older roof. A well-maintained sturdy roof can last several decades depending on the material it’s made of.
  • Foundation: Foundation problems are another issue that can cause a lot of heartache in the form of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. To spot a bad foundation, keep an eye out for cracks in the walls (particularly those around doorways or windows). Doors and windows that stick or jam are another warning sign. Ultimately you’ll want to get a professional to sign off on the state of the foundation.
  • Siding: Check out the exterior walls for any obvious signs of damage or disrepair. Look for peeling paint, rotting wood, cracks or other signs of decay.


Whether or not the house’s bedrooms are suitable for your needs will depend on what you plan on using them for. For example, families with small children might not want a house where the master bedroom is on a different floor from the other bedrooms in the house. If you plan on converting an extra bedroom into a home office, you might prefer a layout where the bedrooms are farther away from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen and living room. Ultimately it’s going to come down to what best fits your needs.

Again, the sizes and number of bedrooms are important considerations. However, there are plenty of other factors you should also think about including closet space, sources of natural and artificial light, views from the windows, general privacy, whether there’s an attached bathroom to the master bedroom and other factors.

One seemingly small detail that can end up being a big deal? Number and location of electrical outlets. This is especially important if the natural or built-in light in a bedroom isn’t sufficient, as you’ll be plugging in at least one or two lamps.


When you’re checking out the bathroom, make sure everything’s in working order. With the seller or agent’s permission, flush the toilets, test the faucets and even turn on the shower. Make sure the fan works. Look under the sink and around the toilet for leaks and water damage. Keep an eye out for mold as well. It may seem a little overbearing, but if you’re seriously considering buying a house you want to make sure there are no post-move-in surprises like low water pressure or plumbing problems.

Make note of what type of shower or tub each bathroom has. Is it just a shower, or is it a shower and bathtub combo? Does it have glass doors or a curtain? Is the bathtub made of porcelain or a low-quality plastic? Bathroom renovations can be costly, so make sure you’re either happy with the bathrooms as-is or prepared to pay for improvements down the line.

Living Room

What are you looking for in a living room? Do you want it to feel cozy and warm or chic and modern? Keep your ideas in mind when looking at the living room, but try not to let any current decor sway you. Instead, look at the basic layout and style of the room. Does it fit your tastes? Could you see yourself relaxing in this space?

If you already have furniture that you plan on moving into this room, how well do you see it blending with the style of the room? Buying new furniture isn’t as expensive as purchasing a house, but it isn’t cheap either. You want to make sure it’s not going to clash completely.

Consider the layout of the room as well as the location of any wall outlets. Is there an electrical and cable outlet near where you’d want to put a TV? Is the room large enough for your needs? Do you want a carpeted living room for your kids to comfortably play?

The Attic

If you get the chance to peek into the attic yourself, look for signs of leaks and damage to the roof’s structure. Be on the lookout for animal droppings as well, since that could indicate an infestation you need to worry about. Rodents in your attic can cause a lot of damage.

Also take note of the attic’s ventilation and insulation. What kind of insulation is it? Does it appear wet or water-stained? These are concerns you should mention to your home inspector.

Final Thoughts On What To Look For When Buying A House

Ultimately, every house you look at will have pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide for yourself which aspects you can’t live without, which ones you can’t live with and which ones you’re willing to compromise on.

Keep in mind that, while it’s important to consider all the aspects we discussed when hunting for your dream home, no home is going to be without at least some faults. Even your dream home might need a bathroom remodel, a new range or even a new roof. While the goal should be to find a house that satisfies most of your needs and some of your wants, no single home is going to check off all your boxes.

Buying a new home can seem overwhelming, but the whole process will be a lot more manageable as long as you know what to look for and what questions to ask.

10 Treehouses From Across The Globe For A Dreamy Getaway

1.) Mirror Treehouse, Sweden

What’s a treehouse that doesn’t help you hide out from the rest of the world? The Mirror Treehouse in Sweden offers the perfect camouflage with its mirrored exteriors. By reflecting everything from the trees and the birds to the sun and sky, this treehouse seems almost invisible in the untouched jungles. If getting lost in the jungles is your dream, this four-meter glass cube will be your perfect dream treehouse.

2.) Treehouse Point, Washington

For those who dream of luxury in the mid of nature, Treehouse Point in Washington is your answer. Located right outside Seattle in Issaquah, the Treehouse Point has all the facilities and amenities that you get in any other resort but with the added advantage of a treehouse setting. It is not just perfect for glamping but also makes an ideal vacation spot for those who love to take a nature walk around the trees and beside a river.

3.) Silky Oaks Lodge, Queensland

Located in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia, the Silky Oaks Lodge is the perfect place to experience nature from within. This luxury resort overlooks the crystal clear river which makes it an even better retreat. A stay in this treehouse would help you experience tranquility. You can choose from the Daintree Treehouse, Garden Treehouse, Deluxe Treehouse, The Billabong Suite, The Lodge Suite, and the River Treehouse as per your preferences.

4.) FincaBellavista, Costa Rica

If you dream is to live in the rainforest canopies of Costa Rica and experience its natural setting from close, the FincaBellavista Treehouse should be your sole choice. You can lock yourself out of the material world outside and enjoy the company of nature in this treehouse community. Enjoy hiking, zip lining, night hiking, garden tours, birdwatching, yoga, surfing, and other excursions on your stay at this amazing treehouse.

5.) Muskosa Treehouse, Ontario

Popular as one of the coolest and the most amazing treehouses in the world, the Treehouse in Muskosa makes for a great retreat. On a dark night, this treehouse resembles a Japanese well-lit lantern in the midst of the forest. This treehouse is three-storeyed and is constructed by designer Lukasz Kos in such a way that it does not have any harmful impact on the surrounding trees of the flora and fauna of the area.

6.) Tetsu Treehouse, Japan

Hovering amid the beautiful cherry blossoms trees in Hokuto City in Japan, the Tetsu Treehouse is one of the most beautiful treehouses in the world. It is a surreal setting makes for a great escape. It is around 20 meters above the ground as is as beautiful from within as it looks from the outside.

7.) Bird’s Nest Treehouse, Sweden

As the name suggests, the Bird’s Nest Treehouse looks exactly like a huge bird’s nest amidst the forest. The way it is camouflaged in the nature and will surprise you as you step inside. Once you enter, the rustic charm fades out and you witness a classic interior with all the comfort and luxury you can ask for in a relaxing vacation. This exotic treehouse is located in Sweden and has its own spa, bar, and restroom.

8.) Free Spirit Sphere Treehouse, Canada

For the free spirited souls, the Free Spirit Sphere Treehouse in Canada offers a very unique setting for the treehouse lovers. The spherical shape of this treehouse makes it so different from others. These spheres seem like they are suspended from the space in a huge spider’s web made of rope. One can reach its rooms through a round staircase and escape into the perfect rest house while being suspended in midair.

9.) Hemloft Treehouse, Canada

An egg-shaped treehouse in Whistler, Canada has been attracting the attention of hikers in the country. If you are looking for a secret hideout deep in the woods, the Hemloft Treehouse is where you should spend your next vacation. It was built and self-funded by a carpenter Joel Allen as a labor of love. So, if you are also planning for a romantic escapade, this treehouse is your go-to place.

10.) Out N’ About Treehouse, USA

Offering a plethora of activities to all its visitors, the Out N’ About Treehouse is one of the ideal ones in Oregon, USA. A ropeway bridge, swinging between a tree and the treehouse make for an adventurous entrance. One can enjoy a number of sports like horse-riding, zip lining, swimming, etc., during their stay here.

If an escape into the nature is on your mind, booking a treehouse in one of the aforementioned locations is the ideal choice. These are some of the most unique and beautiful treehouses in the world that will make your natural getaway more amazing.

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Vastu Tips To Enhance Positive Energy Into Your House

Buying a real estate is ever so expensive in recent times, be it a residential or commercial. This calls for making an informed and smart decision before buying any property. Therefore many Indians prefer properties that are as per Vastu Shastra. Vastu Shastra helps create positive cosmic energy in real estate properties to ensure peace and prosperity.

Vastu Shastra is not only popular in India but is also followed by people all around the world. It is incorporated in many architectural designs while making modern-day structures. One can even hire a Vastu Consultant in India to help you design your house following Vastu Shastra to help keep the negative energies at bay. Here are a few Vastu tips to help bring positive energy to your house by making small changes.

  • Placing Religious Idols: Religious idols are always associated with positive and calming energies. Hence having religious idols or pictures will help you focus on positive energies and thoughts, thereby keeping negative energies and thoughts at bay. You can easily keep an idol of Ganesha, Jesus, etc whichever religion that you follow at your house and pray regularly to have a calming and peaceful environment.
  • Hang Wind Chimes: This is another easy and budget-friendly Vastu tip. Hanging wind chimes in your house helps to create positive energy in your living space. The soothing sound of the wind chimes is said to break the pattern of the negative cosmic energy from your house. You can easily buy colorful wind chimes with a variety of designs and patterns to add to the décor of your house.
  • Keep The Entrance Of Your House Clean: This tip not only helps to keep the negative energy away but helps to create a good first impression for your guests. You can also add small plants at the entrance of your house to make it look more inviting. It is essential that not only your house is clean and tidy from inside but outside as well. Therefore you must make sure to clean the entrance of your house regularly.
  • Use Sea Salt: Although sea salt is not commonly used in the Indian kitchen, it is believed that sea salt works as a healer. Therefore by keeping sea salt in every corner of your house in a bowl will help absorb all the negative energy inside your house. You can also make use of rock sea salt in different rooms to help fight against negative energies in your living environment.
  • Convex Mirror: This Vastu tip is very popular and known to many. Mirrors are used extensively in Vastu Shastra to help absorb negative energies in the living space or environment. One such tip is to use a convex mirror on the principle entrance of your building or house to keep the negative energies from entering your house. These convex mirrors are easily available in both markets and online at a reasonable rate.

The above-mentioned tips are only a few Vastu tips. Vastu Shastra is a vast field and provides useful and effective solutions to help bring peace, prosperity, happiness and wealth into your house. They even offer you different guidelines to ensure that disease, disasters, and depression are avoided in your living space.

Corona Virus Outbreak 2020- Affects the Real Estate Growth in India?

Today, on this severe Corona virus endemic, specialists are busy calculating the unusual human loss throughout the world. People are suffering or home quarantined due to this virus outbreak. In the meantime, consent has formed silently on the undulating opposing effect of this lethal virus spread out on the global economy too.

Expected loss for the world GDP has been assumed up to 0.2 percent till now considering COVID – 19. For God’s grace, the effect is somehow limited in India no further. But in this scenario, it is clear that Indian economy, which has already seen 4.5% low growth in July – September quarter, probably will not remain uninfluenced in this continued worldwide economic slowdown. And, the realty industry of the Indian residential market is telling a different story altogether.

COVID – 19 influences Property Market in India:

If the data collected from are analyzed together, it is clearly visible the fall of 9 crucial residential markets of India by the number of 30 percent during the October to December time gap of last year. It is deteriorating for a continued fifth time of the Q3 fiscal year 2019. The trend is similar for the launches of new projects too. From the third quarter of the last fiscal year, the act of launching new projects is facing continuous declination in the mega markets. It caused the annual fall of 44% during October to December time period.

Irrespective of all the schemes issued by the government, including minimum interest rates on home loan and maximum tax rebate on buying any residential property in India for the very first time in real estate history, all the efforts have failed to revive property demands among the homebuyers in India. They still chose to remain unaffected by all the tricks played by the stakeholders to force them going out of their fences. For example, the government took an action to restrict the GST for the affordable flats to 1%, which also went to vein.

The rate of property visits has fallen surprisingly!

Well, being influenced by the government plans, how much some consumers got interested in making property searches on the internet, the outbreak of Corona virus made them seize again from doing any such things right now. Till today on April 16th 2020, India has reported 12k+ corona positive cases. The activeness of the social media and News channels have got success in making people truly aware of the COVID – 19 and everyone tries to ‘Stay Home Stay Safe’. People are really making social distances after listening to the words of PM Modi. Presently India is on 40 day long social lockdown in order to prevent the contamination spread.

Plans for Project Delays!!

Indian real estate is largely dependent on China, which is the source for COVID – 19 outbreaks. India needs support in the matters of sourcing home furnishing essentials, construction materials, plastic to steel to electronic materials and construction tools from China. Now, India need to search for alternative sources as China is busy controlling the virus epidemic. This will shoot up project delays for sure.

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Your Best Home Buying Checklist

1. Determine How Much Home You Can Afford

The best way to start your home buying process is by determining your budget. After all, this progression can be complex enough without looking at homes that are outside your price range. And who wants to fall in love with something that’s unattainable?

By identifying a realistic budget, you can embark on your search with a firm understanding of your price range.

First you’ll need to determine your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which is just what it sounds like — your monthly expenses versus your monthly cash intake. This includes all the bills you have to pay, divided by your gross monthly income. When you consider your debts, include any recurring bills, such as student loans, car payments, and child support payments— anything that you pay on a monthly basis.

In order to secure a qualified mortgage from most lenders, your DTI should be no higher than 43%. But, remember that’s the “outside” number you can spend — and doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. Have you ever heard of being “house poor”? That means that you spent so much money on your home that you don’t have funds left over for activities, such as eating out or traveling, or even the many expenses that will come on top of your mortgage. You’ll want to budget for the fun stuff, like furniture, fresh paint, and plants for your new patio pots, but also the “unfun” stuff that inevitably comes along with homeownership, such as routine maintenance and even unexpected big-ticket items like a new hot water heater.

2. Save For A Down Payment

Your mortgage payment is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s also important to save up so that you can make a sizeable down payment, which will save you a good chunk of money over the life of your loan. Here’s how:

  • A bigger down payment will often result in a lower interest rate; that’s because a lower “loan to value” (LTV) decreases your lender’s risk.
  • The bigger the initial payment against principal, the less interest a borrower will pay over the life of the loan, potentially saving thousands of dollars.
  • A bigger down payment results in smaller monthly payments because there’s that much less that you owe on the house.
  • Smaller monthly payments could positively influence future borrowing power, which means you’re more likely to qualify for a car loan, credit or other financing.

Knowing that a bigger down payment will result in paying less over the life of your loan can make it less painful to save. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:

  1. Build a budget. It’s hard to save money when you don’t even know where it’s going. By developing a budget and tracking your outflow, it’s easy to see where you can plug the holes — perhaps by eating out less or putting a moratorium on online shopping.
  2. Set up automatic savings. You’ve heard the adage “pay yourself first.” By setting up automatic savings through your bank account, it can be easier to save that money because you’ll never even see it.

3. Find A Real Estate Agent You Can Trust

While you might want to do some looking on your own, whether you’re browsing online listings or attending open houses, it’s in your best interest to find a trusted real estate agent. They do far more than scout out prospective homes.

Lean on them for everything from information about the market — such as whether an asking price is appropriate and which are the up-and-coming neighborhoods — to financial know-how, such as where to look for a mortgage and what pre-approval amount to request for a particular purchase offer.

An agent will be your ally in sizing up the pros and cons of various homes and can even offer interior design advice. In short: A good agent is imperative to guiding home buyers through many of the later steps on the home buying checklist. They are the ones “on your side” watching out for your best interest.

4. Find The Perfect Home For You

Well, finally we got to the good part, right? Of course, this is a matter of opinion. For some home buyers, this step can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s smart to ask your real estate agent to weigh in. They often can offer advice on subjects that you might not have considered, such as whether the home is in the right school district for you or if it’s been on the market a while (and therefore might have a potentially anxious seller who’s ready to deal).

But make sure to do your own looking, too, by checking out homes online and visiting them to get a better sense of your own tastes and needs. The options are limitless; you can drive around to find appealing homes in your neighborhood of choice, or use one of the many house hunting sites available to find possibilities.

As with any decision-making process, the more data you have the better, so use every tool at your disposal to effectively hunt for the homes in your price range.

12 Popular Home Décor Trends

Tiny Homes

I’m pretty sure that 2015 was the Year of the Tiny Home, but the craze appears to be continuing in 2016. With several new television shows about pint-sized dwellings, I’ve grown to love and appreciate the creativity that goes into designing tiny homes.

The truth is, tiny homes, which range typically between 100 and 400 square feet, provide an affordable and adventurous lifestyle. On average, these homes cost less than $30,000 and many homeowners can travel the country by putting their home on a trailer. Not only do tiny homes provide a flexible lifestyle, but they are typically built with eco-friendly materials and energy efficiencies.

Quicken Loans doesn’t finance tiny homes without a permanent foundation at this time.

Tech Touches

Millennials were born between the 1980s and the 2000s, are one of the first generations to grow up in the digital technology era. Their need for technology seems to be driving the growing technology trends in home décor. Furniture and our homes are becoming more technologically integrated with our lives. Whether they are robots, smart appliances or app-operable gadgets, our homes can be considerably more digitized in 2016.

A new batch of energy-efficient gadgets, like smart thermostats, can help you control your home’s climate and save you money at the same time. Modern thermostats allow you to adjust your heat and air conditioning remotely via your phone or the web to heat or cool your home when you need it most. This allows you to save energy and money it costs to heat and cool your home. A few smart speakers and a streaming device for your TV can go a long way!

Peacocks and Peacock Feathers

For a couple of years, the majestic and elegant look of peacocks and feathers have been a popular design choice. You’ll find home décor inspiration in use of the rich blue and green colors, peacock feathers and peacock icons on decorative accents. Peacocks have been considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world and have long been perceived served as a symbol of prestige.

Its rich blue and bold green can give your home a touch of royalty in 2016. The peacock fad has also spilled over into jewelry and art.

Back to Nature

Many of us are getting closer to nature these days, since the outdoors should be a popular trend next year. Decorators are expected to continue using more potted plants, green walls, plant-inspired items, greenery art and accessories.

The good news is that there’s greenery out there to suit everyone’s tastes. Whether you prefer cacti, artificial plants or an urban garden, it’s a good way to inject beauty, tranquility and an earthy feel into your living space.

Mixed Metals

We’ll continue to see more metals and minerals used in the home with materials like wood and stone to create a chic décor. Gleaming gold, silver and copper, paired with steel and glass, is an inventive way to create an earthy flair.

Home accessories such as pendants, knobs, door handles and faucet are ways to infuse your room with mixed metals. Incorporating these shimmering and sparkly metallics give your home some distinct bling.

Cowhide Inspiration

Cowhide can be a perfect accent texture for 2016 with a contemporary and warm design aesthetic. I haven’t been able to escape cowhide inspiration in the home stores I’ve visited. It’s on on pillows, area rugs, throw blankets and even artwork.

Cowhide is not a new concept, but it’s a classic that has come back in style. You don’t have to be cowgirl to appreciate these home accents.

Going Green

Being environmentally conscious is in for 2016. Repurposing, recycling, reusing and reinventing materials is becoming more prominent when it comes to home construction and décor. Reused items, such as distressed wood and glass, can create an old and charming look. Using repurposed flooring, cabinets, bathroom vanities and woodwork can also be a less expensive decorating method.

Eco-friendly flooring materials that are becoming popular include cork, bamboo, recycled metal, ceramic and rubber. Using aluminum, steel, paper, concrete alternatives and salvaged wood are trendy in kitchen and bathroom design. The key is finding new uses for old things and reinvesting in pieces you’ll love and enjoy for years.

Global Prints

Next year you’ll see plenty of Bohemian- and African-inspired textiles in stores. These prints are inspired primarily by North Africa, the Middle East, India, South America and China. Fabrics and materials like tweeds and mohair match well with neutral and dark colors.

The popularity of ethnic décor can also be seen through the popularity of handmade products and basketwork. Hand-woven items and hand-knotted rugs pair well with exotic leopard, cheetah and zebra prints.

Bold Statements

Bold colors are an effective way to make a statement in any room in your house. Hot colors include yellow-green, royal blue, turquoise and all shades of pink. Colorful wallpaper, throw pillows and accent furniture pieces can light up your home.

Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color to your décor in unexpected places such as wall stickers, lighting, greenery and curtains. Bold colors are a way great to boost the vibe.

Geometric Mixes

They’re back! I’ve always appreciated the classic inspiration of geometric designs. In 2016, geometric patterns are popular again in flooring, ceramic tiling and decorative accents.

Honeycomb, fish scale and herringbone patterns are simple, calming and clean. Geometric shapes and lines are ways to create an interesting accent or add versatility to your decor.

Texture Contrast

Trendsetters are getting more creative every year at incorporating natural textures and artisan fabrics into décor concepts. Whether its suede, brown leathers, woven fabrics or beads, textures are a playful way to add depth and variety to a room.

Fur and faux fur will be big in 2016 because they add elements of comfort and elegance. Using the power of textiles is the secret sauce to a homey feel.

Black and White

Black and white will probably never completely go out of style, although the color combination is more widely used in Europe. According to home décor expert Robert DeFalco, say the combination, coupled with gray interiors and organic elements will be big next year.

The color combination may just have on again-off again popularity much like sheepskin textiles and traditional subway tiles. Black and white décor is a practical concept but maybe more impactful by incorporating an accent color.

Updating the look of your home can often be costly. But rest assured that the tips offered here can help you introduce these design trends on a budget.

The ultimate goal of home décor is creating a space where you are happy and in which you’re comfortable. Everything else is less important. If you’d like to share other 2016 décor trends, please do so below.

13 First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

First Time Home Buyer Mistakes

1.   Choosing the wrong Realtor (or not using one at all!)

From home financing jargon to complex contractual agreements, purchasing a home for the first time can be an extremely complicated process. Unfortunately, when a first time home buyer hires a real estate agent who lacks the necessary skills and experience, they are doing themselves a major disservice. The same goes for a first time home buyer who doesn’t hire a Realtor at all. It is very important that a first time home buyer enlist a trustworthy and seasoned buyer’s agent to carry them through the process from beginning to end. A top-notch Realtor should have a thorough understanding of the local market and should be able to handle all legalities. For advice on finding a good Realtor, read our advice here. 

2.   Falling in love too quickly with a home

Don’t fall in love with a “dream house.” While some home buyers claim that “you just know, when you know,” the experienced ones will tell you that all homes come with problems and issues. New homes are listed every day – and you never know what will pop up on the market tomorrow. For these reasons, a first time home buyer should avoid falling head over heels in love with a home the first time they see it (especially if it’s out of their price range!). Instead, they should have an accurate (and full!) picture of the cons before purchasing a house.

3.   Not paying attention to the home’s location

You know what they say: “location, location, location!”. When purchasing a home for the first time, buyers must pay attention to the location of the home. Why? Because a home’s location can be the most important factor in determining its resale value, as well as its future appreciation.

4.   Foregoing an inspection

While it certainly makes an offer more appealing to a seller, foregoing an inspection isn’t the best option for a first time home buyer. Without an inspection or contingency clause, a buyer could end up in a money pit of a home. For this reason, buyers should make sure the home checks out before closing on the deal. 

5.   Buying a home they can’t actually afford

Just because a buyer can obtain a mortgage for an expensive home, doesn’t mean they can actually afford the home. In addition to mortgage payments, a first time home buyer must be able to budget for other fees and monthly payments. These may include closing costs, homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, utilities and HOA fees.

6.   Not exploring the neighborhood or meeting the neighbors

There’s more to a home than its interior. A first time home buyer should step outside and explore the home’s neighborhood to make sure it’s a good fit for their lifestyle. Not doing so could be a big mistake. Purchasing a home without spending quality time in the neighborhood or meeting the neighbors, may end in a serious case of buyer’s remorse. 

7.   Making another large purchase before the deal is closed

Prior to closing, a first time home buyer should not celebrate the new house with another large purchase (think: an expensive sofa, car or anything that requires a loan). The reason? Banks/lenders will be pulling and assessing the home buyer’s credit reports before giving out a loan. Unfortunately, a disruption or change in the buyer’s financial situation (read: a pricey couch financed by a credit card) can negatively affect their approval for a loan.

8.   Not establishing good credit beforehand

If a first time home buyer is planning to purchase a home with credit, they’ll need a solid credit score first. Why? Because without it, they’ll have a hard time securing a mortgage from a bank. In addition, having a higher credit score makes it more likely that they will obtain better interest rates (and possibly a lower down payment requirement as well). For more information on why credit scores are so important when purchasing a home, check here. 

9.   Looking at homes before getting pre-approved for a mortgage

While looking at homes can certainly be fun, it may be a complete waste of the buyer’s time. Before purchasing a home, a first time home buyer should get pre-approved for a mortgage. Not only will a pre-approval letter help the buyer determine what they can reasonably afford, but it will also strengthen an offer in the eyes of the seller. 

10.  Focusing on cosmetic features instead of the bones

While it’s easy to get swept up in a home’s marble countertops, wood floors and staged furniture, it’s important to remember that the home’s bones are key. A first time home buyer should always take into account the condition of the roof, HVAC unit, natural light, construction quality, plumbing, electrical issues, age, and location. These factors should be critical when it comes to a home buying decision.

Five Reasons Why Real Estate Increases in Value

Real estate is probably the single largest investment in the portfolio of every family across the globe. Most middle-class families invest the maximum amount of money in their residential homes. In many parts of the world, this belief has been reinforced by the fact that houses have exponentially risen in value. Stories of 100 times appreciation over a period of 50 years are not uncommon. However, it is important to note that this nowhere near an extraordinary rate of return. Even if a property has grown 100 times in 50 years, its annual rate of growth is less than 10%! It is lack of literacy about the magical effects of compounding that makes people blindly chase real estate.

The important point is that people look at historical data about real estate and expect the trend to continue. This means that they expect that over the next 50 years the property prices will once again increase by a multiple of 100. This may or may not be true depending upon the specific location.

In this article, we will look at the underlying factors which drive real estate growth.

Factor #1: Zoning Laws

One of the major reasons for the change of price in the real estate sector is the change in the zoning of land. For instance, 50 years earlier, the population was not as much as it is today. Hence, a lot of land was intended for agricultural use. Agricultural land does not have as much commercial value. Therefore the prices of these lands were lower.

As a result, when the zoning laws change and the land is allowed to be used for commercial as well as residential purposes, the value of the land increases. A lot of appreciation over the past 50 years has been due to changes in zoning laws. This is particularly true regarding the locations adjoining megacities. Over time, cities tend to grow in size and as a result, the agricultural land adjoining these cities tends to become valuable. However, many cities of the world have already expanded too much. It is unlikely that they will face more expansion in the future. Hence, what has happened in the past 50 years may or may not be repeated in the next 50 years.

Factor #2: Infrastructure Development

If residential and commercial construction is allowed on a particular plot of land, then infrastructure development also needs to begin accordingly. New roads have to be developed. Also, the livability increases when markets, hospitals and schools are built nearby. The infrastructure development takes a long period of time. This stage may last for close to a decade. However, if changes are continuously visible, then the price of land will keep on increasing

Factor #3: Workplace Connectivity

People are tired of having long commutes. They are not paid for the time they commute. However, the commute certainly does waste some very valuable hours during the day. As a result, millennials prefer to stay in a location which is closer to their workplace. As a result, if a location is close to the workplace, it starts commanding a premium price. The relocation of central business districts to the outskirts of several cities has created the possibility of price appreciation in those areas. However, nowadays people do not buy open plots of land. Rather they buy developed properties. Hence, a lot of the appreciation that accrues because of workplace connectivity is pocketed by the developers themselves. The price at which the apartment is sold often factors in the developments likely to happen in the future. As a result, individual investors do not really have much to gain from increased connectivity.

Factor #4: Network Externalities

Once a location becomes popular with residents, it becomes a hotbed for several social activities. Hobby classes, restaurants, shopping malls, multiplexes etc. start operating in that area. This suits the lifestyle of many people and hence the properties in this residential market start trading at a premium. The more developed a location becomes, the more people want to live in it and prices continue to rise.

Factor #5: General Inflation

Lastly, properties become expensive to develop each year. This is because the price of inputs like cement, steel and skilled labor tends to increase every year. As a result, general inflation makes properties more expensive. If the nominal price of the property is not increasing by 2% to 3% every year, it means that the homeowner is actually losing money in real terms. This is because inflation is increasing whereas the price of the properties is not!

8 House Hunting Mistakes to Avoid

There’s a lot riding on the line when you’re shopping for a new home. Buying a house is a huge investment—likely one of the biggest (if not the biggest) that you will ever make. You need to be able to accurately understand your current needs and anticipate your future ones, and you need to find a house that fits the bill in terms of not just looks but size, location, price, and more.  It’s no wonder then that house hunting can take anywhere from six weeks to six months. With so much at stake, it’s not a process that you can simply wing and hope for the best.

Of course, every buyer’s house hunting experience is going to be different. Some buyers go into the process knowing exactly what they want and how they intend to get it, while others are a little bit less sure on one or both fronts. Regardless of where your starting point is though, successful and (mostly) stress-free house hunting is possible. Here are eight house-hunting mistakes to avoid so that you can breeze through and find your perfect home faster.

1.   You’re Going it Alone

It can be tempting to house hunt without a real estate agent. Listings are all online anyway and why not save the commission, right? However, going it alone can mean missing out on your dream property, and you might end up spending more too.

There are a few reasons why having a realtor on your side is a smart move as a home buyer. For starters, an experienced realtor will be a true expert on your local market. And likely, he or she will have some insight that can help you narrow in on your best options. Realtors also generally have access to a wider array of available listings then what you’ll find online, including early-bird knowledge on high demand homes going up for sale.

And that commission? The buyer’s agent is usually paid by the seller, meaning there’s really no downside to using an agent for your search.

2.   Your Search is Too Narrow

Obviously you have an ideal location in mind when you’re house hunting. But being overly stringent on geographical parameters can mean missing out on a house that offers everything you’re looking for, just in a different zip code.

The wider the net that you cast, the more opportunities you will find. Be willing to stretch your imagination a bit when it comes to where you want to live, whether that means looking in a different neighborhood, a different town, or even a different county. You may find that you can keep your easy commute but save big on property taxes, or that the town next door offers a more affordable way to get into the same school district you’re interested in.

This is another area where having a real estate agent on your side is immensely helpful. They may be able to guide you to an area you hadn’t previously considered but that is actually very well suited to your needs.

3.   You’re Not Being Open-Minded

They say that it’s a home’s bones that count. While you don’t need to look at fixer-uppers when what you’re really on the hunt for is a turnkey home, you should try to have a bit of imagination when it comes to things like outdated kitchens and gaudy décor. Aesthetics are highly personal, and it’s reasonable that not all sellers and buyers are going to have the exact same tastes.

If you find yourself instantly passing on homes because they don’t have just the right look, or if you’re constantly nit-picking and finding something wrong with each house that you go for a showing at, try to reframe your attitude a bit. You don’t need to compromise on the things that are really truly important to you (more on that below), but you should try to have an open mind when it comes to things that can be changed with just a coat of paint or some new cabinetry.

4.   You’re Not Being Picky Enough

On the flip side of not being open-minded enough is being so open-minded that you end up wasting your (and your realtor’s) time on properties that just de facto do not meet your needs. It’s definitely normal—and often, a requirement—that you make some compromises when you’re house hunting. But don’t lose sight of the things that you know you need in your home to make it right for you.

Every single buyer has their own set of deal breakers and deal makers. If having a yard for your dog to run around in is key, then don’t go look at yard-less homes. If you need four bedrooms, there’s no use checking out homes that only have two or three. Figure out exactly what your must-haves are early on so that you can avoid going to showings that just miss the mark off the bat.

5.   You Didn’t Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

It’s a competitive marketplace out there and anything that you can do to position yourself as a top-notch buyer is a good idea. A mortgage pre-approval is helpful for two reasons: one, it tells you exactly how much money you have to spend; and two, it lets sellers know that you’re good for your offer. Both of these things will get you a bit further ahead on the playing field.

Ideally, you should get your mortgage pre-approval done before you even begin house hunting, though you can do it after you’ve started too. Getting a mortgage pre-approval requires filling out a loan application and providing key documentation on your income, credit history, assets, and debt. A mortgage underwriter will go over all of this information and tell you how much you are eligible to borrow.

It’s worth noting as a general rule of thumb that you don’t have to take all of the money being offered to you in your pre-approval, but it’s a big factor to consider when setting your housing budget.

6.   You’re Dragging Your Feet

The world of real estate is notoriously fast-paced. Especially if you’re house-hunting in a seller’s market (when there are more buyers than homes for sale) you’re going to have to act fast when it comes to scheduling showings and making offers. Even waiting just one day can make the difference between snagging a fantastic property and seeing it slip through your fingers.

It may seem like this mistake is an antithesis to the idea that buying a home needs to be a calculated investment—after all, jumping into a multi-hundred thousand dollar purchase without careful forethought is not normally advised. But you need to find the sweet spot between thinking things through and being definitive in your actions. Fortunately, your realtor can help you figure out when to sit on something and think and when to act.

7.   You’re Letting Others Get in Your Head

The home you buy is a personal decision. If someone else isn’t going to be paying for it or living in it, then you shouldn’t give their opinions too much weight.

Nobody knows what you want in a home better than you do. If you find yourself getting talked out of something that you really liked or being pressured into prioritizing a home feature that really isn’t all that important to you, then chances are you’re giving too much credence to “objective” outside opinions.

8.   You’re Not Thinking Ahead

What you want and need right now in a house and what you’re going to want and need in the future may be different. Make sure that you’re thinking ahead when you’re house hunting and taking into consideration things like plans to work from home or expand your family. Even if you don’t think you’ll need certain accommodations for a couple of years it never hurts to put them on the priority list.

Moving isn’t a permanent decision and of course you can sell later on if the house you buy doesn’t work for you anymore, but it’s almost always going to be easier to plan ahead a little bit so you can grow with—and not out of—your home.

The biggest house-hunting mistakes are the ones that box you in and limit your options. Do what you can to have the best grasp possible of your finances, your wants and needs, and your strengths as a buyer. The perfect property is out there for you, you just have to remove the roadblocks to finding it.

Co-Working Spaces: The New Trend in Real Estate

There is a relatively new form of a business model emerging in the real estate space across the world. The model is addressed by several names viz. co-working spaces, on-demand workplaces, shared offices, etc. This workspace model has gained impetus because of spiraling real estate costs. It is also very effective for companies who do not want to tie themselves down with long-term lease obligations and instead have a flexible cost structure. In this article, we will have a closer look at this trend of shared offices.

Common Reasons Companies Opt For Co-Working Spaces

Cost: This method is particularly useful for startup companies. Most of the startup companies today are in the hi-tech space. This means that they require offices with facilities such as video conferencing, VOIP enabled phones, leased internet lines, etc. However, setting up all these facilities from scratch is a bit expensive for startup companies who are usually strapped for cash. Hence, it is economically as well as operationally feasible to use this plug and play model for office space. For a startup company, this works out to be more expensive on a per month basis. At the same time, bigger corporations find this model to be cheaper by around 25%

Infrastructure: Co-working spaces allow the cost of the operation to be reduced without affecting the infrastructure quality. Usually, such shared workspaces have conference rooms and even video conferencing facilities. Companies get readymade infrastructure from day one. They can focus more on the core tasks performed by the company instead of paying attention to administrative tasks which add to the time and cost but do not produce any value for the customer.

Travel Convenience: Several multinational companies tend to opt for this model in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. This is because these companies do not require a full-fledged office in these cities. Instead, they have a team of 10 to 15 personnel. They do not want to compromise on the quality of office space or the facilities that they provide their employees. Also, they want their offices to be centrally located because most of the times these employees work with the sales department and need to travel extensively. It is for this reason that shared working spaces become a viable alternative. The infrastructure is shared with other teams. It is just that these other teams may belong to a different organization altogether.

Shorter Commute Times: Employees in big cities are tired of spending hours commuting to and from work. Apart from a nine-hour job, many people spend another four hours commuting to and fro. This commute time does not add value and hence should be eliminated. One of the ways of eliminating this is to start using shared workplaces. All workers should not be required to commute to one location for work. Instead, workers should be allowed to log in to the nearest shares workplace center. Time saved commuting results in more productive employees who can work longer hours in tasks that actually add value to the organization.

Flexibility: Increasing the size of an organization becomes a logistical problem in traditional offices. For instance, a company may want to increase its employee strength by ten employees. However, they cannot rent additional space for only ten more employees. They have to rent an entirely new office unit. Alternatively, they have to cramp up the existing workplace and ensure that the ten new employees fit in the existing office. However, with shared workspaces, this is not the case. Companies can rent exactly as many desks they need and for the exact period of time that they need.

Problems with Shared Workspaces

Cost Allocation: Allocating costs on a shared workplace can be a very difficult task. In a fully leased office, the company pays all the electricity bills, water bills, property taxes, etc. However, in a shared workplace, these costs need to be apportioned. This is where disagreements begin to happen. Some companies believe that headcount in a more appropriate metric to allocate costs. On the other hand, other companies may believe that headcount is more appropriate. Also, since the bill is being shared, companies will not have an incentive to minimize the usage of electricity, water or other such scarce resources. Developers are trying to circumvent this problem by building these costs within the lease prices. However, that ends up causing wastage of resources and even leads to disputes in many cases.

Privacy: Shared workspaces are cheaper and may have better infrastructure. However, most companies would not be comfortable in locating their critical operations to such facilities. The reason behind this is simple. There is a high chance of data or other intellectual property being stolen. Also, if the strategy of a company is leaked to its competitors, it may lose its competitive edge. The shared workspace model, by definition, cannot overcome this problem.

The future of workspaces is likely to be a fusion of the two models. The regular, mundane work which is not mission-critical may be performed at shared workspaces because of lower costs and other advantages that they offer. However, higher-end tasks which involve sensitive data and strategy information may continue to remain within the realm of leased workspaces.