Going Solo: Home Buying Tips for One

Going Solo: Home Buying Tips for One

The stereotypical picture of the happy home buyer includes kids and/or a spouse. But plenty of singletons take the home buying plunge as well.

Homeownership can offer benefits at any stage of life. But there are things you might consider if you’re single and buying a home for yourself.

Do some research on home buying

This is good advice for anyone thinking of home ownership for the first time, or someone moving to a new market—perhaps even after relocating for a job.

Talk to friends or acquaintances about their home buying experiences. Get recommendations and advice, on everything from neighborhoods to REALTORS®.

Borrow books, search for information online, attend seminars and look at the various lenders and the programs they offer.

Know what you want when home buying

Condos and townhouses are popular for singles, who don’t need all the room of a house, and appreciate the lower mortgage and heightened security. Smaller properties may also mean less upkeep––a timesaver if otherwise it would be just you doing all the mowing, painting and other chores.

But don’t hesitate to ponder the future.

If you’re planning to stay in an area for years, would your new place have room to include additions to your life? A studio might be all you need now, but if you could afford a one-bedroom, perhaps that’s an investment in the future worth making.

Going into your search with definite ideas about exactly what you want will help keep you from buying more house than you have the time—or inclination—to handle solo.

Resale value

You might not have kids, but a home in a good school district might retain its value better than a home near a lesser school. The same goes for recreation areas.

On the flip side, if you live in a heated market and aren’t worried about school districts, you might find your money goes farther in an area where parents aren’t angling for the right schools: you might get more square footage, modern upgrades, or maybe a lower price point.

Condos and townhouses might feel right for your lifestyle, but they also may not hold their resale value, depending on the market.

Privacy and security

If you’re single, it’s likely your privacy and safety feature high on your list of needs for home buying.

The type of things to look for could include these priorities:

  • A neighborhood with a low crime rate
  • A home with an alarm system
  • A fenced-in yard
  • Secure windows and doors
  • An attached garage accessible from inside your home with an electronic door

For example, condos often offer a high level of security, such as gated entrances, a concierge and underground parking.

Financial strategy for home buying

Developing a detailed financial strategy will assist you in your home purchase decision.

It should include an assessment of your existing and potential financial worth, information about your financial and associated lifestyle goals, and how your home purchase will meet your goals to fit within your financial capabilities.

Your budget will need to take account of expenses such as mortgage repayments, property taxes, insurance premiums, household bills, utility bills and maintenance costs.

Should something happen to your income—a job loss, an injury—you’ll want to consider how to keep paying the bills if you don’t have a partner’s income to help.

Just remember to take it slowly and consider all the relevant factors before proceeding with home buying.

 

The Caton Team loves working with first time buyers or those venturing off on their own.  We are patient and are happy to take each step with you on the journey to becoming a home owner.  Let The Caton Team know how we can help you!

 

I read this article at: http://www.realtor.com/advice/going-solo-home-buying-tips-for-one/?cid=eml-2014-09-bob-blog_6_buying_solo-blogs_buy&MID=2014_09_BoB_2013&RID=9851214

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

 

Pending Home Sales Surge Nationwide

Pending Home Sales Surge Nationwide

Posted by RE-Insider on 7/14/14 • Categorized as Industry News

While much of this year has proven to be a bust for those of us in the RE industry, recent waves of good news have been emerging. Lately we’ve seen mortgage rates going down, inventory going up and new jobs being created – all signs that an improving market is on its way – and now it would seem that our hopes have come to fruition, as a new study has found that pending home sales have jumped the most since 2010.

According to a study performed by the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales surged more than expected in May, the latest sign a sluggish housing recovery is picking up steam.

Nationwide, signed contracts for previously owned homes jumped 6.1% from April, beating the median forecast of a 1.5% rise and the largest bump we’ve seen in four years!

Additionally, buyers closed deals on 4.9% more previously owned homes in May than April and new home sales jumped 18.6% in May.

“An improvement in sales is likely to continue for at least a few more months, a welcomed reprieve after a significantly slow start to the year,” Sterne Agee chief economist Lindsey Piegza said in a statement. Further gains, Piegza said, will rely on “sustained improvement in income and job creation.

Still, the market isn’t humming like last year. Higher prices and fewer foreclosures have investors and families less likely to strike a deal. Pending sales in May were 5.2% below 2013 levels.

Regardless, this is a change which we can all rejoice.

Have noticed the increase of pending sales in your markets? What are your thoughts?

You can read the full story here:

 

I read this article at:  http://re-insider.com/2014/07/14/pending-home-sales-surge-nationwide/

 

 

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

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Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

 

Home Prices Cooling Slightly…

I had to share this article from the SF Chronicles Kathleen Pender.  On that note – I can feel the shift in the market as I type this.  July is coming and vacations are happening – and suddenly the mad house of the Spring market is settling down.  Can you believe – some homes only received 1 offer.  But let’s not forget – all we need is one offer per house.  So enjoy this article – I would love to hear your thoughts!

-Sabrina Caton

 

Home Prices Cooling Slightly by Kathleen Pender

 

Although it might not seem like it in San Francisco, the overheated housing market seems to be cooling off.

It’s not that home prices are falling, they are just rising at a slower pace.

This week S&P/Case-Shiller reported that its 20-city home price index rose “only” 10.8 percent in April compared with April of last year. That was a smaller increase than the 11.6 percent analysts were expecting, and substantially lower than in previous months. All 20 metro areas except Boston saw smaller year-over-year price increases.

The rate of appreciation has been declining every month since November, when prices rose 13.7 percent over the previous year. In March, the increase was 12.5 percent.

Prices “are coasting back into a more normal situation,” said David Blitzer, a managing director with S&P.

The same pattern holds in the San Francisco metro area, which also includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo counties.

Year over year, prices rose 18.2 percent in April, compared to 21.2 percent in March and 25.7 percent in September.

Blitzer expects this trend to continue, in part because there has been a drop-off in the number of corporations buying houses to rent out. He predicts that by the end of 2014, year-over-year price increases will be in the 4 to 7 percent range.

The Case-Shiller report confirms other signs that suggest the real estate market is losing momentum.

Asking prices for homes nationwide rose 8 percent year-over-year in May, their slowest rate in 13 months, Trulia reported this month. Asking prices tend to lead sales prices by about two months, making them a good early warning signal.

“In the markets with the most extreme rebounds, there has been a clear slowdown in price gains. That is a good thing. That is happening even before we have gotten back to a housing bubble,” Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko said.

Despite the sharp increase in prices, Trulia estimates that homes nationwide were still undervalued by 3 percent in the second quarter of 2014, compared with 5 percent undervalued in the first quarter and 8 percent undervalued a year ago.

At their extremes, homes were 39 percent overvalued in the second quarter of 2006 and 15 percent undervalued in the fourth quarter of 2011.

To determine whether a particular market is over- or undervalued, Kolko looks at factors such as its price-to-income ratio, price-to-rent ratio and prices relative to its own long-term trends.

Even though prices in San Francisco are astronomical, the market was only 6 percent overvalued relative to its long-term fundamentals in the second quarter. Nine other cities were more overvalued, including San Jose (11 percent) and Oakland (10 percent).

Stan Humphries, chief economist with Zillow, said he expects “a substantial moderation in home value growth” as the market transitions from one fueled by ultra-low interest rates and tight inventory to one fueled by household formation and income growth. Although the latter is more organic and sustainable, it’s also slower-growing than the former.

Zillow’s price index, which has wider geographic coverage than Case-Shiller’s, indicates that prices nationwide rose 5.4 percent in May compared to May of 2013. “Our forecast is that home prices over the next year will rise 3 percent,” Humphries said.

In San Francisco alone, Patrick Carlisle of Paragon Real Estate said, there was no evidence of a slowdown in April or May. “This is the most ferocious spring I have ever seen,” said Carlisle, who has been tracking the market since the late 1980s. “In May, 29 percent of all sales (in San Francisco were) 20 percent or more over asking,” he said.

“I’m seeing some signs of a slowdown in June. Inventory is starting to pick up for the first time in a long time,” he said, “and the percentage of listings under contracts is going down a little bit.”

But the market typically slows down in June, and there are no data yet for sales that closed in June.

It’s too soon to say whether the June slowdown is merely seasonal or reflects “buyer exhaustion or some sort of shift in the market,” Carlisle said.

Moody’s upgrades California: Moody’s Investors Service on Wednesday raised California’s credit rating by one level to Aa3, its fourth-highest grade, from A1.

Before the upgrade, Moody’s had California rated one notch higher than rival agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch. Now, it has California rated two steps higher.

This is the fist time Moody’s upgraded the state’s general obligation bond rating since 2006. The last time it was at its new level, Aa3, was in May 2001, says Moody’s spokesman David Jacobson.

S&P upgraded the state to single-A from A-minus in January 2013. Fitch Ratings raised its rating to single-A from A-minus in August.

As strengths, the report cited California’s large and diverse economy, high wealth, improving liquidity and governance improvements leading to on-time budgets for the past three years. It also cited “significant improvement in budget deficits through revenue surges and conservative measures to rein in spending.”

As “challenges,” it cited the state’s highly volatile revenue structure (which is heavily dependent on tax revenue from high-income people and capital gains), governance restrictions such as the supermajority needed to raise taxes, lack of reserves for a rainy day and its reliance in the past on one-time fixes to close budget gaps.

Even after the upgrade, California “is still on the lower side for states,” Jacobson said. Two other states, Arizona and Connecticut, have the same rating as California, Aa3. Only New Jersey and Illinois have lower ratings.

Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Net Worth runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. E-mail: kpender@sfchronicle.com Blog: http://blog.sfgate.com/pender Twitter: @kathpender

 

I read this article at:  http://www.sfgate.com/business/networth/article/Housing-prices-cooling-slightly-5579655.php

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Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

Home Values Expected to Rise through 2018

Home Values Expected to Rise through 2018 – Great Article I had to share…

A majority of more than 100 forecasters says they expect large-scale investors to sell off the bulk of homes in their portfolios in the next three to five years, boosting inventory and potentially contributing to a smoother market ahead, according to the latest Zillow® Home Price Expectations Survey. On average, panelists also say they expected nationwide home value appreciation of 4.5 percent this year, with a steady slowdown in appreciation rates each year through 2018.

The survey of 110 economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists asked panelists to predict the path of the U.S. Zillow Home Value Indexi through 2018 and solicited opinions on investor activity and federal monetary policy. The survey was sponsored by leading real estate information marketplace Zillow, Inc. and is conducted quarterly by Pulsenomics LLC.

Throughout the recovery, large-scale investors have purchased thousands of homes nationwide, particularly lower-priced vacant and foreclosed homes, fixing them up and keeping them in their portfolios as rental properties. This investor activity helped put a floor under sales volumes during the depth of the housing recession, but also created competition for many would-be buyers and contributed to rapid price spikes in some areas.

Panelists were asked to assess the impact to the market if these institutional investors were to significantly curtail their activity this year. Among those panelists expressing an opinion, 79 percent says the impact would be significant or somewhat significant. Panelists were also asked when they thought these investors will have sold the majority of homes in their portfolios. Among those with an opinion, 57 percent says they expected this to occur in the next three to five years.

“Real estate investors, both large and small, played a crucial role in helping to stabilize markets during the darkest days of the housing recession, but a decline in investor activity now isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and could have real benefits for buyers,” says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “Buyers entering the market in the next few months will not be competing with cash-rich investors like they were last year which should be some small solace given the higher prices and mortgage rates that they will encounter. The gradual decline of investor activity should be viewed as another sign of the market slowly returning to normal, and I agree with the panel’s expectations that there will not be a rush for the exit by institutional investors.”

Panelists were also asked when the Federal Reserve should end its ongoing stimulus efforts, known as “quantitative easing.” Since September 2012, the Fed has been purchasing tens of billions of dollars worth of Treasury bonds and mortgage securities each month, which has helped keep mortgage interest rates low and stimulate demand. The program is now being wound down.

“Mortgage rates have been riding a rally in U.S. Treasury securities caused by volatility in emerging markets in recent weeks, so the impact of Fed tapering on the housing market has been minimal thus far,” says Pulsenomics Founder, Terry Loebs. “More than 70 percent of the experts want to see the monetary stimulus reduced to zero before the end of this year, and the current pace of tapering will get us there. Of course, whether Janet Yellen’s Fed will maintain the current pace as new economic challenges arise remains an open question.”

Appreciation Expected to Normalize through 2018

On average, panelists says they expect nationwide home value appreciation of 4.5 percent through the end of this year, a pace that exceeds historically normal annual appreciation rates of around 3 percent. This appreciation is expected to slow to roughly 3.8 percent in 2015 and 3.3 percent by 2018, rates much more in line with historic norms.

Based on current expectations for home value appreciation during the next five years, panelists predicted that overall U.S. home values could exceed their April 2007 peak by the first quarter of 2018, and may cross the $200,000 threshold by the third quarter of 2018.

The most optimistic groupii of panelists predicted a 5.6 percent annual increase in home values this year, on average, while the most pessimisticiii predicted an average increase of 3.4 percent. The most optimistic panelists predicted home values would rise roughly 10.6 percent above their 2007 peaks by the end of 2018, on average, while the most pessimistic says they expected home values to remain about 4.5 percent below 2007 peaks.

What do you think the Real Estate Market will do?

I read this article at:  http://rismedia.com/2014-02-16/home-values-expected-to-rise-through-2018/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eNews

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

4 Ways to Supercharge Your House Hunt — and Get Your Sundays Back

It’s that time of year again – Spring is right around the corner, homes are coming on the market and Sunday’s are getting busy again!   I enjoy reading and sharing Tara’s blog on Trulia.  So I thought I would share this great article regarding how to make the best of your open house weekends.  And if you have any real estate questions – I’d be happy to help – The Caton Team is always here a call or click away.  Enjoy…

4 Ways to Supercharge Your House Hunt — and Get Your Sundays Back

Every buyer-to-be uses open houses differently. For some, they offer a rich looky-look experience at the very, very beginning of their house hunt. This empowers you to learn exactly what sort of place you can get for the money, at various price points and various spots around town. It also allows brand new buyers to figure out how the photos you see online translate into real world, brick and mortar (and stucco and hardwood) properties.

At the other end of the spectrum, serious buyers often use Open Houses as a convenient opportunity to meet up with their agent and cruise through a large number of interesting homes at one time every week without having to go through the rigmarole of setting appointments with every single seller.

Whether you’ve just decided that buying a home is something you want to do or you are a seasoned, serious buyer waiting for that moment when “the one” hits the market, supercharge your Open House hours. See more properties that are real contenders and minimize time-wasting with these four tactical tricks:

1. Prep yourself. Sure, you can just hop in the car, drive around and look for signs. If your market is very active, you can even find an interesting house or two that way. Or you can maximize your time, conserve your energy and make sure you see as many real contenders as possible in a couple of hours on the weekend by doing a little bit of digital research to create a power-packed Open House viewing session.

On the newly beautified Trulia app, you can take a look at any point on the map and see a birds-eye-view of the properties for sale, their list prices and which of them have an upcoming Open House. Tap on any property’s flag to see the property’s photo and a few of the most important details (price, address, bedrooms, and bathrooms), while still seeing the map view. For even more info, tap the image of the home you’re interested in and browse all of its relevant stats, including more pictures.  If a home isn’t checking enough of your “must-have” boxes, cross it off your Open House list for the weekend and pat yourself on the back for saving some serious time. If it is, add it to your calendar right from the app.

Tired of driving around different neighborhoods trying to determine if they’re a good fit for your family? Where’s the nearest grocery store? What’s that shady-looking character doing on the street corner? Now you can do it digitally. View the map of your target areas through a number of helpful lenses, like where schools and restaurants are located, or where crime rates are lowest. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll spend less time pounding the pavement so you can have more of your weekend back.

2. Align with your agent to create an Open House viewing list. Via the app, share the properties that you think you’d like to visit on the weekend with your agent. Ask them to do the same, sharing any properties they think you should view at Open House time with you. Then, check in via phone or email to firm up the list so they can plan out an efficient map, do some deep dive research into any property-specific questions you have in advance, and to make sure you don’t have any surprises in the form of places you really wanted to see that don’t make your agent’s list for whatever reason. Do the prep work and get on the same page with your agent in advance. It’ll make your two hours of Open House Hunting as productive as a less well-prepared buyer’s two weeks worth.

One more thing. Making sure your agent knows you are really excited about a particular property at Open House time allows them to touch base with the listing agent and let them know you might have some interest. That way, if they happen to get an offer from another buyer between the time you mention the place to your agent and Open House time, your agent will probably get a call. This prevents you from getting the awful surprise that happens when a great place goes into contract before you can see it.

3. Take notes, and compare them. After every home you see, spend a moment taking down some notes – ideally in writing or on your app – that just help you remember which property features went with which address/price/listing. Once you’ve seen 5 or 10 or 25 homes, they begin to blur, and it often comes up that you’ll want to look back and reference a particular home you visited in a later conversation with your agent or your partner. Having a few notes on your initial impressions, questions, concerns, loves and dislikes about each property prevents you from being frustrated when you later want to have a conversation about it.

Ideally, after each property you see or, at the latest, at the end of your Open House tour on a given day, you’ll also take and compare your notes about the properties you saw that day. I suggest listing out the good (what you liked), the bad (what you disliked), the ugly (any serious deal-killers) and then also the great elements for each property. Think of the great as being akin to clicking the Facebook “Like” button for a property, if that Like button were amped up to “Love.” The Great are those features – or combination of features – so strong that the property is something you’d consider writing an offer on.

The goal here is three-fold:

▪   to give you the ability to compare properties without relying 100% on memory.

▪   to allow you to give substantive feedback to your agent that will help them help you prioritize new listings as they come on the market and learn what you are looking for at a nuanced level

▪   to allow you to compare notes at the end of each Open House Hunting session with your agent or your partner (whoever you’re buying the property with), and to be able to compare pros, cons and takeaways substantively, rather than just saying you liked it or disliked it.

4. Use Open Houses as a screening tool. Here’s the other thing that taking good Open House viewing notes on each property does: it helps you narrow down all the places that looked kind of interesting to a short list for second takes. Good notes, organized by Great, Good, Bad and Ugly can help if you were hypnotized by beautiful staging or turned off unduly by ugly, easily fixable cosmetics. If you love a place, but it still has a lot of bad or ugly line items, or you dislike a place that actually has a lot of “Great” things about it, you can ask your agent to arrange for a private, second viewing before making an offer or totally crossing it off the list.

Communication with your Realtor is so important!  We cannot read your mind and the more we know about what you want – the better we are prepared to find your dream home!

I read this article at:  http://tips.truliablog.com/2014/02/4-ways-to-supercharge-your-house-hunt/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=tips.truliablog.com%2F2014%2F02%2F4-ways-to-supercharge-your-house-hunt%2F

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

4 Saving Solutions for Buyers on a Budget – had to share this article

Buying – rather saving to buy a home, especially on the San Francisco Peninsula take time and patience.  I too am in the same boat as my clients while I save for our next purchase.  That will explain why you don’t see me out to dinner as much!

I came across this article from Tara at Trulia and thought it easier to share than write my own.  Great points made to save and get a better picture of your monthly financials.  Enjoy and share your thoughts!

 

4 Saving Solutions for Buyers on a Budget

Most folks do all the math they can find online about how much house they can afford. Then they think about what they are currently paying in rent and how much they’d be comfortable going up from there, if any. Finally, they hit up the mortgage broker, have them run the numbers and get some final, definitive answer on what the bank will allow them to finance and spend.

Somewhere amongst all those numbers they pick a price that sits well in their heart, their mind and, hopefully, their monthly budget, as a maximum home purchase price – complete with its corresponding monthly expenses like taxes and insurance.

Unfortunately, there are a few critical line items that commonly slip through the cracks of one or more of these calculations. Our mortgage pros only know what they have in front of them, which is mostly based on expenses that show up on our credit reports or loan applications. Additionally, when it comes to our DIY budgets, we often create our household spending plans based on our ideal spending patterns, vs. our actual ones.

One critical exercise to do before you lock in a price range is to look back at your bank statements and spending breakdowns from the preceding few months to see how your actual spending measures up against what you think it should be. Find the places where you need to either adjust your spending or your budget to reflect reality before you buy a home. The other critical exercise is to understand what expense categories should be factored into your calculus on how much house you can afford, even though they are commonly viewed by budget software and banks as discretionary or even luxury line items.

Here are four of those overlooked expense buckets to make sure you consider:

1. Essential “Extras.” Sometimes what we say is important to us is slightly different than what is really important, but I believe you can tell what someone values by what they invest their time, energy, love and money in. So, it’s no surprise that there are lots of meaty expenses that some home buyers-to-be see as essential which a bank or even a financial planner might not have on their radar screen.

Just a few of those items include:

▪   Charitable giving and religious tithes, dues and offerings

▪   Expenses related to caring for an aging parent

▪   Non-western health cares and therapies that are not covered by your insurance, like acupuncture, massage and chiropractic.

I call these out in particular because they are categories which millions of Americans spend hundreds or thousand of dollars on every month – and because there might be no place to even enter such an expense on a loan application or budget software. If you invest a great deal of cash into these items and value them enough to keep doing so after you close escrow, make sure you factor them into your own decision making about what you can afford. It’s permissible – even advisable – for your personal price max to be a lot lower than what the bank deems your top dollar.

2. “Superfluous” Cushion Stuffing. Ding dong, the recession’s over, folks! And we made it through. But during those long, dark years, many people cut back on investing and saving for rainy days and retirement days alike. If that’s you, and your personal economy has recovered enough to support buying a home, congrats! Just make sure you circle back to those recession-era cutbacks and correct for them before you increasing your monthly housing spend. You might want or need to save more than traditional financial guidelines would suggest in order to reposition your retirement or to fluff your cash cushion back up to your personal comfort level.

Make sure you don’t overextend yourself on a home without accounting first for stuffing the cushion(s) you’ll need in the future.

3. Enriching Experiences. Buying a home is one of the single-most high ROI (return on investment) life enriching experiences a person can have, if it’s done smartly and sustainably. But lots of us also invest lots of dough into other enriching experiences, and want to avoid being so cash poor we can’t afford any of them after escrow closes.

Some of the big-ticket items that you might be expending cash on to engage in include:

  • Travel, vacations and family outings
  • Trainers, coaches and therapists
  • Yoga and mind-body wellness activities
  • Retreats and workshops
  • Schooling, conferences, basic and continuing education

If you decide you’re willing to cut back on these sorts of things or forego them entirely to redirect those funds into your home, that’s fine. Just make sure you go into that decision with eyes wide open, while you still have time to decide to spend less so you can continue to engage in these enriching activities.

4. Kid-related Cash Outlays. The honest-to-goodness truth about kidlets is as follows: they cost. Sure, the rewards of parenthood are well worth the cash expenses, but the costs are considerable and are often overlooked when it comes time to list out the line items relevant to how much you can afford to spend on housing. The big ones generally get on the list, like monthly child care for very young children and private school and college tuition for the older ones.

Lots of others get lost in translation of your ideal spending categories and allocations against where your money really goes on a monthly basis. Items that often get underestimated or flat-out omitted in this category include:

  • Extracurriculars – language lessons, music lessons, clubs and classes
  • Gear and equipment – all the gear they need to engage in the above, but also things like pricey school books and educational electronics
  • College Savings – Whether or not you have a formal 529 plan, if you have children you hope to help pay for higher education, you should be allocating some level of regular savings for this.

ALL: What sneaky expenses have you underestimated when trying to build out a budget or understand what you can really and truly afford to spend on housing?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/tips/2014/03/4-saving-solutions-for-buyers-on-a-budget/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=tips.truliablog.com%2F2014%2F03%2F4-saving-solutions-for-buyers-on-a-budget%2F

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

Buying a House Solo? Here are some tips…

3 Next-Gen House Hunting Tips for Singles

The American household has changed – big time. More and more, people get married later in life, if at all. Many even go from married to single and back multiple times throughout their lives. This all means that more and more people are buying homes while single. Many unmarried folks are buying homes to live in on their own, while others are looking for homes to live in with their children, parents or other partners – past, present and future.

If you’re embarking upon the process of buying a home on your own, here are a few things to factor into your thought process and your action plan:

1. Solo doesn’t necessarily mean condo. A decade or two ago, many single house hunters were automatically directed toward low-maintenance condos and townhomes. And truthfully, some singles still enjoy the tax and financial advantages of ownership without the responsibilities of caring for lawns, roofs and other so-called “single family home” features they have no use for.

That said, the descriptor of a detached, standalone property as a “single family home” is woefully out of date. Many single people are electing to purchase detached homes for a number of reasons. Chief among them include:

  • Needing the square footage to allow their household to expand to include future partners, future children, adult children, or even elderly parents
  • Needing extra rooms (or even extra apartments!) to rent out, do hobbies in or run a home business from, and
  • Having the outdoor space for dogs, cats, horses and vegetable gardens, oh my!

If you are dreaming of a life in more of a home than your friends and family members think you can handle and you can well afford the home of your dreams, don’t be daunted. Reach out to other people in your circle of friends who are single and own either single family homes or condos and townhomes to get a sense for their experience. If you decide to go with a condo, make sure you read the HOA disclosures thoroughly and that you understand what you’re getting for your HOA dollars. (Hint: HOA dues often cover expenses you would pay out of pocket otherwise, like waste management fees, landscaping, building insurance and even roof and window maintenance.)

But if you do decide to go the single family home route, make sure you ask your circle (and your agent) for referrals to the contractors, gardeners and handyfolk who can make home maintenance on your own much more doable. It takes a village to maintain a home over the long run. So get a village!

2. Pay extra close attention to home inspections and home warranty provisions. Much of what’s scary about solo home ownership are the seeming risks around things that could go wrong. The most common such fear is a valid one: What happens if something goes wrong with the house? With just one income, it can be frightening to think of how rapidly a lemon of a house could rock your entire financial world.

There are a couple of tools you can build into your transaction that can massively mitigate just this risk. First, your home inspections. Most people think of home inspections as almost pass-fail: if they reveal devastatingly expensive issues, they back out of the deal. But if they don’t surface any fatal flaws, the deal is on.

Single home buyers should view their home inspections as the opportunity to spend a few more hours in the home, discovering its warts and all, before they move forward with the deal. Take special care to attend your inspections in person, ask the inspector to show you the issues they find while they’re on site. Read the reports and get any follow-up inspections or repair bids before your contingency period runs out. That way, you’ll have a concrete idea of the financial exposure to repairs that are needed right now while you can still either (a) negotiate to get the seller to chip in or (b) back out of the deal without penalty, if you need to.

The second tool is a largely underrated one: your home warranty plan. Most buyers get one, and often sellers pay for it. But what many buyers don’t realize is that (a) they can pay to upgrade the plan so that the warranty company will cover a wide assortment of future home repairs, and (b) they can and should renew their home warranty plan annually, in the future. Having the ability to ring up the home warranty company and spend $50 for a service call when your water heater, furnace, or plumbing goes on the fritz can dramatically reduce the fear factor of solo home ownership.

3. Consult with legal and financial pros before you buy with a relative, friend or partner. Buying a home with a friend, a parent, a sibling or even a life partner can seem like the cure for what ails a single person’s home buying situation. Namely, it injects additional financial resources, allows you to buy a pricier (read: larger, nicer, better located) property than you could on your own, and even positions you to have help making hard house hunt decisions and maintaining the place going forward.

Co-buying has big benefits, but it also poses some serious questions – questions that a lawyer, tax advisor or financial planner can help you anticipate and resolve, in advance, to avoid conflicts later. If you decide to go the co-buying route, make the investment of time and money up front to get some professional advice about how to structure the transaction and the financial relationship. Doing so, and reducing the agreement to a clear, professionally-drafted written contract that is recognized by and filed on record with the relevant state and local governments can go a very long way toward helping you avoid later damage to the interpersonal relationship with your co-buyer.

BUYERS: Did your status as single or married factor into your house hunting decisions? If so, how? If not, why?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/tips/2014/03/3-next-gen-house-hunting-tips-for-singles/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Ftips%2F2014%2F03%2F3-next-gen-house-hunting-tips-for-singles%2F

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

VISIT OUR NEW INSTAGRAM PAGE:  http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedInhttp://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

 The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008