Did you know that numerous studies over many years show a link between owning a home and happiness and overall well-being? For example, a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows that homeowners generally have higher financial well-being than non-homeowners.
In the CFPB’s report, homeowners have an average financial well-being score of 58. That’s higher than both renters (with average of 49) and those who neither rent nor own (average of 50). The U.S. average financial well-being score is 54. You can read the entire report at this link.
Research studies have linked owning a home to a number of positive outcomes. Researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of San Diego, for example, have linked homeownership to a reduced risk of teenage pregnancy and a lower possibility that a child will drop out of school. A study conducted by Ohio State University found that children of parents who own their own homes are more likely to score higher in reading and math and have fewer behavioral problems.
At the very least, buying the right home can a key ingredient in being happy, according to a report by HomeAdvisor. The company’s research in the area has found that homeowner happiness boils down to an affordable and comfortable home in a safe and connected neighborhood and with a reasonable commute. Good things to keep in mind during your next home search.
When purchasing a home, your mortgage pre-approval is based on your current financial situation. That’s why once you are pre-approved, you should avoid making big changes to your finances. Here are several things you’ll want to avoid doing while you’re in the process of financing a home purchase:
1. Taking on more debt. Talk to your lender first before you open any new credit accounts, request a credit line increase or co-sign on a loan. As a general rule, you’ll want to avoid taking on any new debt before you close on your home.
2. Changing your job. Your pre-approval is based on a number of factors, including your employment status and pay.
3. Making a big purchase. Check with your lender before making any big purchase, either with credit or with cash. Wait to purchase furniture and other big-ticket items.
4. Making late payments. Stay up to date on all of your credit obligations and utility payments. Now’s not the time to have overdraft your checking account.
Part of the moving process is changing your address so that all of your bank statements, bills, magazines and other mail goes to your new home. The quickest and easiest way to do that is to hop online and go to the U.S. Postal Service website. You’ll need to verify your identity by using a credit card, and you’ll be charged $1, but the change can be done in minutes, and without leaving home. (You also can go into a post office and make the change without using a credit card.)
After your change of address is processed online, mail sent to your old address will start going to your new home. The USPS mail forwarding service lasts one year for most first-class mail. Magazines are forwarded for 60 days.
Certain classes of mail, however, will not forward to your new address through a change-of-address request. Companies and organizations you’ll need to contact directly to change your address include banks and credit unions, mortgage companies, insurance companies and utility companies. Don’t forget to notify the Internal Revenue Service and the motor vehicle department as well that you’ve moved.
“New car smell” is divine, but nothing quite like the smell — and look — of a newly-built home. Pristine carpets, unblemished walls, the smell of freshly-cut lumber lingering in the air — it’s hard to beat the excitement of taking ownership of a brand-new property.
Everything looks great, and you have been involved in the construction process every step of the way. Why would you need a home inspection?
Home inspectors are trained to spot problem areas, and identify issues that could cost you time and money down the line. Building a home is a massive undertaking, much like fitting together a big jigsaw puzzle. It involves many different trades, from plumbers and roofers to HVAC technicians and concrete masons. When should the inspection take place? Your home inspector may want to take a look at specific times during construction and when the home is completed.
A comprehensive home inspection is always a good idea, whether your house is the NKOTB (anyone?) or a centuries-old pillar of the neighborhood.
You found a home that’s in the right neighborhood and an easy commute to work. The only problem: It’s listed for sale in ‘as-is’ condition. What does that mean? A home that’s being offered for sale in ‘as-is’ condition means that the owner is making no guarantees about the condition of the property and will make no repairs or improvements. It means the price reflects the fact that repairs may be needed.
Being listed in ‘as-is’ condition doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with a home. Most bank-owned properties are listed for sale ‘as is,’ but you also may find an individual seller lists a property this way because they can’t afford or don’t want to make repairs to the property. They just want to sell it.
While ‘as-is’ condition shouldn’t cause you to rule out a property, this is definitely not the time to skip the home inspection. If you decide to make an offer, you should make it contingent upon an inspection. (That’s good advice when buying any type of home.) Also know that you can still negotiate on price with a property being sold ‘as-is’. Just because a seller isn’t willing to make any repairs, doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t lower the selling price to compensate for what you discover during the inspection process.
If you know me at all, you know I’m a massive food enthusiast (different from “foodie” or “connoisseur”) Well, great city of Austin is known for its diversity, incredible music scene, and of course the University of Texas, but our close proximity to the Southern Border also means we’re home to some of the tastiest, most authentic Mexican food around. If you find yourself craving something a little spicier than your usual fare, make sure to swing by one of these fine establishments:
Fonda San Miguel. For over 40 years Fonda San Miguel has been providing Austinites with some of the most delicious Mexican cuisine around. The menu is an eclectic mix of flavors and features everything from soups and salads to enchiladas, carne asada and even fresh seafood. The prices are a little steeper than your usual sit-down establishment, but the flavors are well worth the extra dough.
El Borrego De Oro. It might not look like much from the outside, but El Borrego De Oro is hiding a host of tasty treasures within its humble walls. This popular eatery is a favorite spot for local business people and hungry students alike. In addition to a wide selection of menu items (make sure you try the tortilla soup!) the establishment is open from 7 AM to 10 PM every day which means you can satisfy your cravings at almost any time of the day or night.
La Cocina De Consuelo. If you spend any time on Yelp, you’re sure to encounter plenty of reviews similar to this one “for me, it’s all about the tacos and enchiladas. The food is incredibly fresh and the flavors are amazing!” Put simply, La Cocina De Consuelo knows a thing or two about unique flavor combinations and creative takes on classic dishes. If you go, make sure to try one of Connie’s Famous Enchilada Plates. They’re to die for!
Get out and treat yourself to a delicious meal. Austin has plenty to offer, especially in terms of authentic Mexican food. booYAH!
Selling a home can be a nerve-wracking process. It’s your baby, after all. You have been there through all the growing pains, from painting the walls your favorite shade, to upgrading the bathrooms and putting your finishing touches on the window treatments.
When you put your home on the market, however, you want your house to be home sweet home to someone else, which means making it shine for a broad base of prospective homebuyers. Here are three ways to make your home stand out in a crowd.
Keep it neutral
You may be understandably proud of your rare collection of cuckoo clocks, but this can be a serious distraction for those touring your home. At the same time, you don’t want your home to be a blank slate. Studies reveal that houses show better when they are staged with furniture, as staging helps people imagine themselves living in a particular space. Your home is a reflection of your personality, which is completely normal, but personal tastes don’t appeal to everyone. Keep decorations neutral, tasteful, and understated.
Keep it nice and tidy inside and out
Cleanliness goes a long way when it comes to making a home stand out. Before a showing, make sure your home is clean and organized by vacuuming carpets, picking up toys, and clearing any clutter. The same goes for the outside: cut the grass and clean up any landscaping beds before potential buyers stop by.
Showcase your home’s best features
You don’t need a pricey renovation or all new carpeting to get a great price for your home. If your budget is tight, focus on your home’s unique features. Play up fabulous woodwork and crown molding, or remove heavy window treatments that hide a spectacular bay window. Your real estate agent can help you determine the best way to showcase your home’s best features.