Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

Top Mistakes New Homeowners Make

 

When you first become a homeowner for the first time there can be a learning curve. It is a new routine to get used to, there may be projects that you want to start and you need to learn how to make joint decisions should you be co-purchasing with a significant other. Here are some of the top mistakes new owners make so you can learn what not to do. 

Hiring the wrong repairman

This may sound silly at first but if you don’t hire the person you need the first time it can cost you more in the end. One of the best places to start with repairs is to speak with friends or neighbors in the area. Explain what is going on as they may have had a similar issue. They may even help provide you with a contact they used. Most contractors have a high hourly rate so you don’t want to hire someone who cannot ultimately fix your problem.

Failing to get references

Before you hastily google someone to help fix your problem, make sure you get some references. Just because they are online doesn’t mean they are reputable! Reach out to friends, neighbors or even ask for recommendations on social media. Find out what experiences were like exactly with people you know who used them.

Not creating budget

With a new home comes new expenses. There may be things you may not have considered like HOA fees, regular maintenance fees and even property taxes. Asking for receipts or utility bills from the previous owner along with speaking with a real estate professional such as myself are great resources for this kind of important information.

Home improvements too soon instead of routine maintenance

It can be very tempting to want to make some costly changes to the home as you are very excited in the beginning. However, you want to make sure that you have a good grasp on your routine expenses of simply owning the home and properly maintaining it. Once this is done and once you have lived in it long enough then you can see if you still want to do these improvements you first had in mind. Sometimes once you live in a home for a while your list of desires for improvements can change.

Not discussing projects with significant other

Introducing homeownership into a relationship is a whole set of new things to deal with. Now there are shared expenses, shared thoughts of improvements and shared ideas of how to set up the home. It is important to keep communication open before you embark on making any decisions. Be sure you are on the same page or can make the necessary compromises where every move works for everyone involved. 

Moving Tips For Getting Settled Quickly

Once you have closed on your new home then the final step is to grab your new keys and move in. While you may have some help with movers, friends and relatives to put everything away in its place, it can take a while for the space to feel like a home. Here are some tips for getting your new home all set up quickly. 

Plan Utilities Ahead

Don’t wait until you move to line up all of the services that you will need in your new home. Schedule your internet, utilities, trash and any other services that you will be needing ahead of your move in. Most companies will have a flexible schedule to book things once you have taken possession of the home. Don’t forget to change your mailing address online too!

Create a Playlist

Studies have shown that music can help motivate people which is certainly helpful when moving. Make a playlist ahead of time so that when you are putting away your dishes and unpacking miscellaneous boxes then you have a boost in your step to keep things going. 

Unpack in Order

It pays to be organized and think ahead when you are packing to move. Many people will pack similar things together and simply label boxes with a room name or perhaps reference some major items inside. However, take it one step further and number the boxes in order of how they should be unpacked. Box number 1 should be opened right away while box number 3 may be dealt with later and can be left in the garage until you have more time.

Recharge

Moving quickly and efficiently is great but planning out some breaks will help reward and recharge. For example if you can plan on having that pizza with everyone who helped you move for dinner then you can have that to look forward to and will help keep you going. Maybe you can even enjoy it out on your new patio or screen room!

Recruit Friends

More hands will always help move faster. If you can plan a move during the weekend or save part of it for then, then you will probably have a better chance of getting help from your friends. You could have movers help with the bulky items then your friends could help with some of the more manageable boxes. Whatever you decide make sure you are clear on what you are asking them for and be sure to reward them with dinner or the like. 

 

What Exactly Is A Jumbo Mortgage?

The process of applying for a mortgage can be an overwhelming time as you collect all of your necessary documents, weigh out financing options and plan out your home purchase details. Thinking about committing to a mortgage can get you a bit nervous in general but hearing the term ”jumbo mortgage” can sound even scarier. So what is a jumbo mortgage? Let’s discuss what they are exactly and who they are for.

The definition of jumbo mortgage

Simply put, a jumbo mortgage is a home loan that exceeds the conforming amount set by the Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA). “Conforming” really means that the loan meets the requirements for purchase by a government backed entity like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Jumbo loans can have attractive interest rates but can come with higher risks for the lender which in turn means they may have more strict requirements for the borrower.

Jumbo mortgage conforming limits

While this may be subject to change each year, the conforming limit for a single-family home in this year of 2021 is $548,250. This number also may be adjusted in some areas where housing prices are far higher than average. FHFA sets these baseline amounts each year by evaluating average home values in the United States with new loan limits that are shared by year’s end for the upcoming year. 

How to qualify for a jumbo mortgage

The average person can qualify for a jumbo loan only with slightly different or perhaps more strict criteria. First, while a good credit score is important for any loan, jumbo loans are typically obtained by those with a score of 700 or more. A debt to income ratio of 36% or so is also a typical guideline. Finally, while you may find different programs in different areas you should plan on putting at least 20% down unless you qualify for a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan. 

Loan rates and benefits

While you may think that with the higher risk there would be a higher rate that is not the case. Typically jumbo mortgage rates can be found for slightly lower than your average, standard 30-year fixed rate mortgage. The other good thing is that the mortgage interest deduction still applies so anyone looking to take advantage of this benefit on their income taxes may do so. Check with your accountant on just how much you can deduct depending on your status and how you file as amounts will vary if you are single, married and filing separately or jointly. 

 

The Best Ways To Refresh Your Outdoor Space

The beauty of living in Fort Lauderdale is the impeccable weather all year round that you can enjoy right at home. Your outdoor space is an extension of your home’s square footage so make sure you are taking full advantage of it. The good news is that you can upgrade your existing patio for little money and time to give it a refresh. Here are some great ideas to consider.

Art

Consider adding a large piece of art that is outdoor friendly for some impact and interest. Choose something that is made of a solid material such as wood, metal fiberglass or resin and strategically place it out of direct sunlight so it can weather the elements.

Daybed

Select a shady corner of your patio for the perfect relaxing retreat with a daybed. Be sure to select one designed for the outdoors with weather-resistant cushions and pillows.

Potted Plants

Potted plants are the best for filling in your spaces between furniture or used to create privacy. You can select anything from colorful flowers to succulents to those with some height for privacy. Just keep in mind that these may require some extra watering as opposed to those in the beds in your yard. 

Privacy Screen

A landscape screen can work wonders for both adding interest while providing you with privacy. These can come in a variety of colors and materials for you to choose from. You can also have some plants grow along them for a living wall. 

Lighting

Hanging lanterns or pendant lights cast from an overhead beam or cable can add the right light and flair to your patio. If overhead lighting is a challenge then you can place lanterns on your surfaces as well as outline patios or walkways. There are some great solar options these days!

Create a Decorative Accent

This can be done with some outdoor tile. Perhaps a row of tiles along the risers leading to the patio or even an outline of your patio perimeter could work. If you want to go an easier route then paint can achieve a similar effect.

Keep it Clean

Take a day here and there to give your patio a good cleaning. Wipe down all surfaces, broom off the flooring then wash with an appropriate cleaner. The elements can do a job on making things dirty over time so you will want to keep up with making the setting as inviting and comfortable as possible. 

 

Great Ways To Improve Your Home For Under $1,000 Each

Most everyone wants to improve their homes whether it is for their daily enjoyment or if it is during a time that they want to list and sell. While not everyone has an enormous budget to work with, the good news is there are still plenty of small scale updates that you can make that can have a big impact. Here is a closer look. 

Crown Molding

A regular room without any detail can run the risk of looking boring or cold. Crown molding that is added to a room can add a certain dimension and architectural interest. This can be a relatively inexpensive project to do to your home’s core rooms such as living and dining spaces. Painting it a crisp white to match the ceilings is great. For any rooms with lower ceiling heights then go with the same wall color. 

Front Door
Where it is the first thing all visitors see, your front door should make a great first impression. Choose something that is current, matches your home’s style and is a complementary color. If you are planning on selling your home then select a shade that is neutral. 

Outlet Covers and Switches

Bring your older home into current years with the updating of your wall switches. Replace your old toggle switches with new rocker types. You can take the opportunity to add dimmers to certain rooms and replace others with wifi enabled ones that can be controlled via smartphones.

Update Ceilings

Save your popcorn for the movies and remove it from your ceilings. Most everyone and every buyer will not be looking for this style of outdated ceiling texture. If you plan on doing this removal yourself, you may want to hire a specialist to test it for asbestos first.

Lighting

Good lighting can have a big impact. You can never go wrong with recessed lighting as it is timeless and unobtrusive. Main living areas including kitchens and living rooms are fantastic places to invest in these types of lighting solutions. 

Guest Bath Flooring

If your bathroom is decades old perhaps with a pastel colored floor then it may be time to upgrade. Guest baths are typically smaller and of course are the place you want to showcase to your guests. These days ceramic tile remains fairly cost effective while luxury vinyl tile has come a long way in its look and durability as a fantastic option. 

Paint

The best tried and true way to transform your rooms on a small budget is with paint. Most everyone can handle a painting project themselves which can save them a lot of money as opposed to hiring a professional. If you are planning on selling soon, keep your palette as neutral as possible. Most paint companies offer ideas of current color trends that you can pull from as well!

Homebuyer’s Open House Guide

Touring homes is possibly the most fun part of the homebuying process. Viewing different style homes, layouts, features and more will help you decide what you like best and can inspire new ideas for whichever home you end up purchasing. One of the best ways to begin your search is to visit some open houses. These give you the chance to informally start to preview some homes in the area of interest. Here are some helpful tips as you begin.

Confirm your needs in a home

Before you head out without a formalized plan, get organized. This means establishing a budget along with the absolute necessary items which are separate from the “would be nice to haves.” It is really easy to get excited when you see a nice home come online but if it doesn’t have enough bedrooms, it won’t work for you in the end.

Don’t criticize owner’s décor or taste

If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything. Keep your thoughts to yourself on anything that you may not like when touring the home. Keep the focus on asking questions or making note of how you can change wall colors, flooring etc. 

Keep an open mind

Not every home will be a mind blowing great fit when you first find it online. There are some things that are important that you won’t be able to change like location. However, if you locate something that may be dated in some areas, need a little sprucing or the like, have an open mind. It may be worth buying a home in the perfect location and doing some updates over time. There are many creative ways to do even some updating to tide you over until you are ready to do a larger renovation project.

Follow the rules 

Some owners may have certain requests like taking shoes off or the like. You should always be respectful of one’s home and follow the rules. Feel free to enter each room and open doors, just do not touch the owner’s belongings. 

Don’t linger

While it may be an informal event, be respectful of other visitors and the agent. Make sure you come during the advertised hours. If you are serious about the home, take your time but if you are simply tire kicking then allow the agent to speak with those who are more ready to make their move.

Ask questions and take notes

Especially if you are pretty interested in the home you should ask questions about anything you want to know. Perhaps it may be about major repairs, roof condition, HOA fees and what they include or the like. Take notes about these things so you remember them afterwards.

Research the market and be ready

Open houses can be great when you first start looking but it is still very helpful and important to speak with an agent to have a professional’s guidance. An agent can tell you the current state of the market, how fast things are selling, what to expect to pay and more. You will also want to have a pre-approval letter from a lender so that you will be ready to make an offer when that perfect home comes on the market.