Category: First Time Home Buyers

Shop for a new home or get pre-approved? Which to do first and why.

Couple at home

If you’re considering the purchase of a home, you may be wondering where to start. Should you begin by finding homes you like online? Should you talk to a mortgage professional first to see what you can afford? And if you talk to a mortgage professional, should you get pre-qualified, or pre-approved? These are common questions for new home buyers, but in this post, we’ll offer some helpful insight into the process. Continue reading Shop for a new home or get pre-approved? Which to do first and why.

What Kind of Information Should You Look up Before Buying a Home?

Buying a new home is both exciting and scary. After all, a home is one of the most expensive purchases that most people will make, and the mortgage will likely be with you for the next 30 or so years. While finding the property of your dreams can make you want to bid immediately, it’s best to use caution. Take some time to learn these critical stats about the home that you love. It may save you from having significant repair bills soon after purchase.

What To Know Before Making an Offer

Before you make an offer on a home, you should find out as much about it as you possibly can. At the very least, this includes when the home was built, how old the appliances are, when the roof was last replaced and whether there are any existing or previous flood damage or mold problems.

Age of the Home

You should first find out what year the home was built. In most cases, the seller can furnish this information. Otherwise, you can visit the courthouse and view property tax records for the home which will also include the construction date. If you’re lucky, your city has placed this information online so you can perform the search from home. Knowing how old the home is will alert you to potential problems like old copper pipes which may need to be replaced or the possibility of lead paint or asbestos. Knowing the age will also aid the home inspector in evaluating the structural integrity of the home.

How Old Are the Appliances and the Roof?

Some of the most costly repairs in a home are replacing the roof and the appliances. In addition, constantly failing appliances are an annoyance to daily living. Before making an offer on a home, make sure that you know exactly when the roof was last replaced and the age of all appliances in the home. Properly installed roofs can last for 20 to 25 years, so it’s good to know how close you are to needing to cough money up for a new one. If the home owner does not know when the roof was installed, hire a property inspector or a roofing professional to examine it and give you an estimate of its age.

Flooding, Water Damage and Mold

Water damage and mold are more than aesthetic problems, they are health hazards too. Other than obvious signs of black, spotty mold, a musty or moldy odor is a good indicator of water issues. Other indications are flaking plaster or walls that don’t look quite flat, which can indicate an improper repair. Mold and mildew can also hide under flooring where a leak has occurred, sometimes unbeknownst to the home seller. Pull back a corner of the carpet in rooms near water or in locations where signs of ceilings leaks exist. If the home has a basement, make sure to inspect it thoroughly for water issues, as these areas commonly flood when a home has improper drainage.

Is a Home with More Amenities Worth More Money?

Americans like to purchase the most advanced technologies and amenities for their homes. After all, who wouldn’t like surround sound in their personal movie room? However, when house hunting, it’s easy to get carried away by things like a pool, high-end landscaping and a guest cottage. So homeowners must ask themselves whether it’s worth paying more simply because the home is loaded with extras. The answer is that it depends. While there are some pretty clear rules on what amenities will add value, the truth is that it really depends on the neighborhood and real estate market that the home is located in.

Pros of Extra Amenities

A home with all of the latest amenities obviously has many positive aspects to it. First, if the amenities are chosen carefully, they can significantly add to the resale value of the home. Landscaping, as well as updated bathrooms and bedrooms are examples of amenities that can really pay off when it comes time to sell. In addition, items such as hot tubs, high-end appliances or an existing security system can greatly increase your enjoyment of the home while you are still living in it.

Cons of Extra Amenities

While installing luxurious amenities has many benefits, it also has quite a few drawbacks as well. For example, many amenities such as pools or whole-house filtration systems are more expensive to maintain on a regular basis. This will greatly add to your ongoing month-to-month living expenses. In addition, high-end amenities tend to cost significantly more to repair. This additional cost must be considered by buyers when deciding to purchase a home that already contains them.

Do Other Homes in the Area Have Similar Amenities?

Another consideration when it comes to purchase value is whether other homes in the neighborhood also contain the same or similar amenities. Just because the previous owner installed every amenity available does not mean that it increased the home’s value by the total cost of the additional amenities. Home buyers should use caution when considering these homes because they are already likely far above market value and have little room to grow. Additionally, if you need to move unexpectedly, you may not be able to find another buyer willing to pay for the extra features.

Additionally, some amenities, like pools, can be pros in some regions of the country and cons in others. While people living in many warm climate locations may expect a home to include a pool, buyers in moderate to cooler regions may see it as a costly item that won’t get much use. Other amenities that fall into this category include tennis courts, wine cellars, basement game rooms and ponds.

Choosing a Neighborhood to Buy in: A Checklist

When you are looking for a new home, the location and neighborhood is just as important as the number of bedrooms and amenities. In fact, it often makes sense to start your home search by first finding the right neighborhood and then looking for a home in it. There is no perfect neighborhood, as everyone prefers different things at different stages of life. However, below is a checklist of items to consider as you plan your future move.


Good schools are often a selling point for homes and neighborhoods, but they are just as important for those who don’t have children. Here are some ways that a school district can impact your neighborhood choice:

  • Choose a neighborhood in a good school district if you have or are planning to have children.
  • Choose a neighborhood in a good school district if you want a home that will appreciate, even if you don’t have children.
  • If your goal is living out your golden years on a fixed budget, you may want to opt for neighborhoods with the lowest school and general taxes.


Another important consideration is transportation. When looking at a neighborhood, you should ask yourself how easy is it to get to the places you go regularly.

Consider how far the neighborhood is from where you work and calculate the roundtrip travel time each day.

Opt for a planned neighborhood if you prefer not to travel far, like to walk or prefer a golf cart style commute.

Those who use public transportation should consider how close the neighborhood is to the bus or subway route.


Start by thinking about your lifestyle, hobbies and recreational pursuits. Then, decide how important it is for the locations of those pursuits to be located in your neighborhood. Here are some examples:

  • If you like to swim, a community pool or waterfront property may be a necessity.
  • If you like to spend time outdoors, you may prefer to be located near a park.
  • If you like to see movies or visit clubs, find out if these locations are near the community you are considering.

Social Considerations

Often it’s the feel of a neighborhood that makes it a perfect fit. Here are some ways to determine if an area is right for you:

  • Those who prefer charm, character and uniqueness, may prefer a neighborhood in a historic district or an older area.
  • Those who like trendy, modern lifestyles will probably prefer a new subdivision development or downtown loft.

Ask yourself whether you want neighbors who closely interact a lot or whether you prefer to be cordial but distant. Carefully observe the people in the neighborhoods you visit to determine the type of social interactions they have with each other.

Once you have a list of the neighborhood attributes that you desire, create a spreadsheet for all of the communities that you visit. Compare each one against the initial list to see how they measure up. You may not find a neighborhood with everything that you are looking for, but you will probably get pretty close. Once you’ve chosen the right home and neighborhood, contact the professionals at Luxury Mortgage for assistance in getting the right financing.

What to Expect When Buying a Home/Moving Across the Country

Buying a new home requires a lot of juggling to keep track of all the steps that must be completed before you can finally move in. When the home that you’re buying is all the way across the country, it gets even more complicated. In addition, there are the added expenses and tricky logistics of coordinating a cross-country move. While cross-country moves do take more work, some basic preparation tips will help everything go smoothly.

Buying a Home

One of the best pieces of advice is to use a relocation specialist or a real estate agent who specializes in relocations. These individuals can often provide you with a complete list of mortgage lenders, home inspectors and lawyers as well as community resources such as nannies and school contacts. Start utilizing this team of individuals in advance, so that you are prepared once you get closer to actually closing on a home.

Then, start doing your research. Begin reading the local paper of the city that you are moving to. Review the city’s website and utilize other online resources to learn as much as you can about the area. This will help you get a better idea of the areas that you want to live and the ones that you don’t.

It’s also a good idea to plan at least one to two visits to your new location. Have a phone conversation with your agent and mortgage lender beforehand so that you both know the goals of the visits and a general itinerary. While you are there, visit other important individuals too, such as doctors or your child’s school.

Cross-Country Moving Tips

One of the biggest surprises that many movers encounter is the high cost of moving their household items across the country. In fact, the cost to move a standard three-bedroom home across the country can be around $8,000 when using professional moving companies. Part of this cost includes insurance to protect against damage and packing up your items. Moves that occur between October and April tend to be cheaper, as this is the off season for moving companies. Another tip is that movers are much busier the last two weeks of each month. If you can plan your move at the beginning of the month, you may be able to score a lower rate.

Those who don’t have a lot of household goods to move may want to consider renting a moving truck and moving themselves. Renting a truck for a cross-country move will typically run around $1,000. Another option is to hire a container company, such as the ones who provide storage pods. You pack all of your goods and they ship it across the country. The cost is slightly higher than moving yourself, but it is much cheaper than hiring a professional moving company.

When buying and moving to a new home across the country, it’s best not to rush the process. Plan in advance as much as possible and setup an organized method to keep track of all of the critical steps and contact information. For more information on keeping your finances in check during a move, contact the team at Luxury Mortgage today.