The Five Steps to Shopping for a Home

Buying a home is a process that can seem daunting and even a little scary to most first-time buyers. After all, being a homeowner is a huge financial and personal responsibility.

To make this lengthy process a bit more approachable, we’re going to break it down into five steps. While these five steps may be somewhat different for each person, depending on their own unique situation, they do comprise most home buyer’s experience.

If you’re interested in learning the steps you’ll need to take before owning your first home, read on.

Step 1: Know your long-term goals

Before you buy a home, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of what you, your spouse, and your family want from the next five or more years. You’ll want to make sure the area you’re moving to can provide things like career advancement and opportunity, good schools for your children, and so on.

These questions may seem obvious, but it’s an important conversation to have before making the long-term commitment of owning a home.

Step 2: Your budget and your needs

It might be tempting to hop online and start shopping for houses, but first you should get a clear idea of the size and cost of the house you’re looking for. This involves determining your budget, thinking about your credit and planning for your down payment.

Step 3: Mortgage pre-approval

Getting preapproved for a mortgage can be a great way to gauge the interest late and loan amount you’ll be approved for. You’ll need to gather paperwork, including income information (pay stubs), tax returns, and W-2 forms.

Be aware that lenders will run a detailed credit report. Since credit reports count as an inquiry, they can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.

Applying to several lenders within a short period of time can make a significant impact on your score. However, it will start to rise again within a few months if you don’t open any new credit accounts or take out other loans.

Step 4: Get an agent

Real estate agents know the ins and outs of the home buying process better than anyone else. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and provide you with information that you can’t get anywhere else.

Step 5: Pick the right home for you

Now it’s time to start home shopping. However, before you begin, remember that getting approved for a loan doesn’t mean you must or should seek to spend the full amount on a home.

Plan for your needs, and keep the future in mind. Someday you might decide to upgrade, but in the meantime you can be building your credit and building equity in a smaller or more frugal home.

How and Where to Install Insulation

Image by Lutz Peter from Pixabay

Insulation keeps you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer by reducing either heat coming in or escaping from your home. You might think that adequately insulating a home would be part of the home-building process. But since many new homebuyers don’t consider insulation when buying, many home builders only meet bare minimum standards. Fortunately, you can add insulation yourself. 

Where Do You Need More Insulation?

Ceilings and attics are a great place to start. But you also need insulation inside your outer walls. Insulating an un-air conditioned crawlspace or basement can also reduce that air from impacting your home environment. And insulation around pipes reduces the risk of cracking in cold weather.

You’ll likely only need insulation on interior walls if your goal is to reduce the sound that travels through the home. If you need insulation inside your walls, interior or exterior, it’s best to contact a professional.

How to Install Installation on Your Pipes

You don’t have to cover all of the pipe to make a difference. But the more you cover, the less the risk.

The best way to insulate pipes is with foam insulators. These are made to fit most pipes and easy to install. For this project, you just need foam insulators and a utility knife to cut them and duct tape for the corners and oddly-shaped pipes.

Step one: Locate at-risk pipes. Size them up and cut foam pieces to match your measurements.

Step two: Find the opening in the insulator and slide it around the pipe, using several insulators end-to-end to cover the whole pipe. *Pro tip* If the insulators don’t fit snuggly or are oddly shaped, unfold insulators and use duct tape to hold them together.

How to Install Insulation in the Attic or Basement

To keep it simple, we’ll share how to install roll insulation. Blow insulation is a more involved project so you may want to hire a professional.

You’ll need:

  • Work gloves
  • A mouth/nose mask
  • A roll of insulation
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • A 2X4 board
  • Utility knife
  • Duct tape (optional)
  • *Pro tip* Don’t unroll your insulation until you get it into the area where you’ll staple it. It will expand–a lot.

    Step one: Put on your mask and work gloves. Touching insulation directly or breathing it into your lungs or throat will be an itchy experience you’ll want to avoid.

    Step two: Cut the insulation into manageable sections. *Pro Tip* Lay the 2X4 on top of the rolled out insulation to press it down for a smoother cut.

    Step three: Using your staple gun, affix the insulation to the rafters, walls and other surfaces on the outside of the building. If your basement has stone walls with no beams, you won’t be able to staple insulation there. Use duct tape instead to cover the area.

    For more tips and tricks to improve your space with simple DIY projects, follow our blog.

    DIY: 4 Walkways to Boost Curb Appeal

    Photo by Craig Tidball on Unsplash

    It’s probably much easier and less expensive than you realize to improve your home’s curb appeal. Simple fixes such as replacing rickety porch railings or giving trim a fresh, bright coat of paint go a long way toward making prospective home buyers smile. And when you create a welcoming pathway, that leads right to your door from the street or driveway, you may get more than smiles. Depending upon how professionally it’s done and how cozy it appears, you just might get more money for your home. Try these five attractive options for creating the perfect, welcoming walkway:

    Pavers

    They come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re relatively inexpensive when you catch them on sale at your local home store. Pavers can help you design a walkway that looks upscale and unique to your home. Place them on the diagonal, or lay them with small stretches of grass or gravel in between for a one-of-a-kind look that’s unlike any other home in the neighborhood. A paved walkway gives guests traction on rainy days and can help keep the path to your front door mud-free. 

    Stamped Concrete

    Stamped concrete lasts forever, and you can customize it to create many different looks. Mimic cobblestone or slate, brick or natural stone, simply by stamping different designs into your concrete before it’s fully set. Once cured, your design is there forever. And if your stamped concrete was dyed before it was poured, no one will even recognize that it’s concrete. 

    Stamped concrete brings texture and form to your front yard. It also provides nice, clean edges for placing annual border plants such as petunias or marigolds. Add color and function all in one, when you install a stamped concrete walkway. 

    Mulch

    A mulched pathway is an improvement over no pathway at all, but it may not raise your property’s value. Mulch keeps mud at bay, and it delineates where guests should walk as they move from driveway to front door. It’s an economic choice, however. And if budget is an issue, mulch is a perfectly acceptable material to use in building walkways. You can always up the wow factor of your mulched walkway by evenly nestling single, large pavers on top for feet to land on.  

    Natural Stone

    Natural stone such as shale or slate gives walkways an immediate boost. It can be a bit slippery when it rains, however, so be careful building natural stone walkways on slopes. Natural stone is one of the more expensive building materials to use inside or out, but its distinct appearance adds value anywhere it’s used. 

    When you’re ready to bump up your home’s curb appeal, whether for your family’s convenience or to impress prospective buyers, consider the formidable power of the front walkway. It’s a gorgeous few steps in the right direction. 

    Key Questions for a First-Time Home Seller

    As a first-time home seller, it can be difficult to determine exactly what you need to do to prep your house for the real estate market. Lucky for you, we’re here to teach you what it takes to sell a house in any real estate market, at any time.

    Now, let’s take a look at three important questions that every first-time home seller needs to consider:

    1. Am I ready to sell my house?

    For many first-time home sellers, the answer to this question is a resounding “No,” and perhaps it is easy to understand why.

    Adding a home to the real estate market requires home sellers to conduct plenty of real estate research. By doing so, a first-time home seller can determine how his or her house stacks up against comparable residences that are currently available.

    Also, it may prove to be worthwhile to complete a home appraisal. This assessment will enable you to identify your house’s strengths and weaknesses and complete any property repairs immediately.

    2. After I sell my house, where will I go?

    It is important for a first-time home seller to think about the big picture. Thus, you’ll need to consider where you’ll go after you sell your residence.

    If you think about where you’d like to relocate, you can start planning accordingly. In fact, you can establish a home selling timeline and find ways to make the most of the time and resources available to you.

    In addition, if you need to relocate as soon as possible, this may have far-flung effects on how you market your residence.

    A home seller who needs to move right away may be more likely that others to list his or her house at a below-average price. On the other hand, a home seller who can afford to be patient can wait out the real estate market if necessary.

    3. What should I expect when my home hits the real estate market?

    Unfortunately, the housing market offers no guarantees. This means a dedicated first-time home seller who goes above and beyond the call of duty to prepare a home may watch his or her house linger on the real estate market for months. On the other hand, a home seller who does minimal prep work may watch his or her house sell immediately.

    When it comes to getting ready to add your house to the real estate market, there is no reason to leave anything to chance. With an expert real estate agent at your side, you can boost your chances of getting the best results during the home selling journey.

    An expert real estate agent can answer any questions that you may have about selling your house. Plus, he or she will help you list your residence, promote it to potential property buyers and set up home showings and open houses.

    Ready to add your house to the real estate market? Use the aforementioned tips, and any first-time home seller can seamlessly navigate the home selling process.