Choosing a Home Size That Makes Sense for You

When you drive through a new housing development does it seem like all of the homes are enormous compared to when you were growing up? You’re not alone. In fact, over the last 40 years, average home sizes have increased by over 1,000 square feet. In other words, you could fit an entire small house inside of the amount homes have grown in size.

Why do Americans love huge houses?

It’s counter-intuitive that home sizes should keep growing larger. Bigger houses mean higher prices, more maintenance, and more expensive utilities. To understand why, we need look no further than the automobile industry.

In spite of the fact that larger vehicles cost more to buy, use more gas, and do more harm to the environment, people still buy bigger and bigger trucks and SUVs. There are a few reasons why. One is that they can afford to (or they can at least afford the payments). Another reason is cultural. For the most part, bigger meant better in American culture–until recently.

Recently, many Americans have begun saying they would prefer smaller sized houses. That desire hasn’t entirely caught up to the people building the homes, however. And even as simple living trends and the “tiny house” phenomenon gain traction, building contractors still stand the most to gain from large houses and the people with the money to build houses continue to build big to stay aligned with the other homes in their neighborhood.

There are other obstacles in place for people who want a smaller house. Some counties around the U.S. now enforce minimum square footage requirements to uphold the building standards of the area. So, people hoping to move to a particular suburban area but don’t want a huge house might be out of luck.

How big of a home do I need?

There are a lot of things to consider if you’re buying a home. Size and cost often go hand-in-hand, but even if you can afford a larger home, do you really need the space? Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine how large of a house you really need:

  • Do I or will I have a family?
    Kids need space. They need bedrooms and places to play. The size of your family is going to be a huge factor in choosing the size of your home.
  • Do I need all this stuff?
    Many people use their homes like storage containers. Think about the last time you moved and what you brought with you. Now determine how often you used the things you brought. Odds are you have a lot of items just sitting around taking up space that you don’t really need.
  • Do I have hobbies that take up a lot of space?
    Woodworking, working on cars, playing drums… these are all examples of hobbies that call for some leg room.
  • Am I a dog person?
    Just like kids, pets tend to take up some room. Larger dogs and energetic dogs require more room, both outside and inside the house.
  • Do I have time to keep up with the maintenance?
    Bigger houses means more windows to clean, more toilets to scrub, more grass to mow… you get the idea. You might find that you’d rather have a beautiful and well-kept small home than a hard-to-maintain huge one.

3 Hidden Expenses to Consider When You Buy a House

Buying a home should be simple. Unfortunately, purchasing a residence can become complicated quickly, especially if you fail to consider the immediate and long-term costs associated with a house.

Ultimately, there are many hidden expenses that a homebuyer needs to consider before he or she purchases a house, including:

1. Utilities

Heating and cooling costs, water fees, electricity expenses and other utility bills may prove to be overwhelming if you’re not careful. Fortunately, if you learn about various utility costs now, you may be better equipped to keep your utility bills in check at your new residence.

Ask your real estate agent for information about a home seller’s utility bills. By doing so, you can get a better idea about how much your utilities may cost if you decide to purchase a particular residence.

Also, if you plan ahead for your utility bills, you can budget accordingly. Keep in mind that utilities are essential in any home. As such, you’ll need to account for these costs in addition to your monthly mortgage payments, regardless of the home you buy.

2. Commuting

If you’re moving to a new city or town, you’ll want to consider how your move may impact your daily commute to work, school or any other locations that you visit regularly.

Consider a home’s proximity to highways. If you move to a house that is located near a major highway, you may encounter heavy traffic at various points throughout the day, resulting in a lengthy commute.

Also, find out whether public transportation is available near your new home. In some instances, you may be able to take advantage of buses, trains and other public transportation options to get where you need to go without delay.

3. Home Upgrades

Although a home may appear to be a dream come true, there are problems beneath a house’s exterior that could bubble to the surface after you complete your purchase. Thus, you may want to put aside money for home upgrades that may be necessary in the near future.

For example, an older home may require a new hot water heater and furnace soon. And if you start saving for a new hot water heater and furnace today, you may be able to replace them before it’s too late.

A home inspector can help you identify home problems. This professional will conduct an in-depth review of a residence and provide honest feedback about any problems that could escalate quickly.

After a home inspection, you can always ask the home seller to perform the necessary repairs, or you can walk away from a home offer. On the other hand, you can keep your current home offer, move forward with your home purchase and complete the upgrades on your own.

When it comes to planning ahead for hidden home expenses, a real estate agent can point you in the right direction. Your real estate agent is happy to respond to your homebuying concerns and questions and will do everything possible to ensure you are fully satisfied with any residence you purchase.

Interest-Only Mortgage And What You Need to Know

When it comes to mortgages there is a lot to know and a lot of choices. One loan that was popular before the housing crisis was the interest-only loan.

An interest-only loan is an adjustable-rate loan with an initial fixed period when only interest is due. They are typically available in 5-, 7- or 10-year terms.

Economists blame interest-only loans for the foreclosure crisis citing they were issued too freely. Today, interest-only loans are more difficult to obtain. Borrowers were using interest-only loans to qualify for a more expensive home and when the interest-only term ended the payment went up leaving many homeowners unable to afford the mortgage payment.

Interest-only loans are now being used by wealthy borrowers as a financial tool to help them manage irregular cash flow, reap a tax benefit, or free up cash for investment elsewhere.

Lenders that offer interest-only loans have strict qualifying standards. They generally require 30 percent equity in a property, and a minimum FICO score of 720. Lenders also look at the ability to pay back the loan is based on the fully amortized payment, not the interest-only payment.

 

 

Pros of Owning a Single-Family Home

Are you beginning your house hunt as a first-time homebuyer or looking to buy a larger home that fits the needs of your family? No matter your situation, purchasing a home is a large investment and one that should be approached with caution and the use of your head, not your heart. There are multiple types of homes that one can purchase: condo, duplex, multi-family, single-family, etc. And one of those types will be the right fit for you. Let’s take a look at the pros of purchasing and owning a single-family home.

Space: Single-family homes provide more space­—more outdoor space, more indoor space, and more parking space. Of course, there are exceptions, but generally this is the case for single-family homes. Take advantage of this luxury of more space by entertaining and fully utilizing it all. Since apartments and condos are usually in complexes, personal space can be minimal, where shared space is generally larger. Decks and backyards (if any at all) are small so that each renter or homeowner has their own space. This also goes for the inside; square footage will be less in the types of properties listed above, especially if they are located in a city.

Privacy: Privacy is extremely important to many, and for good reason. With a single-family home you will have much more privacy than when owning other types of homes. Condos and duplexes share walls with other owners’ properties, which means your neighbors are always close by. You may hear them through the walls or be enjoying your separate deck spaces just feet apart. It may not sound like it’s all that terrible, but you never know who your neighbor will be; they could throw parties every night, vacuum at 4 am, or even have triplets that never stop crying.

No restrictions: Unless you are purchasing a historical home, there are likely no property restrictions. A single-family home gives you the opportunity to completely turn it into your own and do just about whatever you want on your land (check with your town before renovating/building additions). Condos can have multiple restrictions that include parking, outdoor work, and BBQs.

If the pros above sound like what you are interested in, then a single-family home may be the option for you. But be sure to research the market you are looking in to make sure that you can afford this type of home. If you are looking in a very desirable location with a smaller budget then this option may not work for you at this time. But fear not, continue saving and in the future you will be able to purchase that single-family home you’ve been dreaming of.