Budgeting to Buy a House

No matter how good the credit rating, today’s homebuyer no longer has the luxury of buying with little or zero down. Unless you are low-income with good credit, or a veteran, no-down loans are also a thing of the past.

Saving up this money takes time and careful planning. The best way to start is by coming up with a budget that is realistic enough for you to stick with and by using other tips to help you get ahead financially.

(Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV)

The Budget

The only thing more challenging than setting up the budget is sticking with it over the long run. First, you need to determine your total income from all sources. The second step is to list all the money that goes out every month, beginning with your fixed expenses. These include anything that has a fixed payment due every month, including:

Rent or mortgage (if you have a fixed rate).
Car payment.
Insurance.
Child support and alimony.
Installment loan payments.

Next, list your variable expenses. These may be a little more difficult to track, so you may want to document them over the course of a week or two on a chart. Common variable expenses include:

Utilities.
Telephone.
Cable or satellite TV.
Anything you purchase on a daily basis (morning coffee, etc.).

Make Changes

Once you’ve used the budget for a month or two you’ll be able to see where your money goes every week. This snapshot shows you where it’s being wasted and, thus, where to make cuts. Any items cut from the budget mean more money to set aside for your house. Some of these cutbacks might include bringing a lunch from home rather than hitting the café every day, riding your bike to work instead of driving or taking a cab, and using coupons to save money.

Make More Money

Cutting your budget expenditures and paying down debt aren’t the only ways to move more quickly down the road toward homeownership. Finding ways to bring in more money gives your plan a turbo boost. If you can take on overtime hours at work, do it. Consider holding a garage sale or selling unused items online. Sock away that extra cash for your down payment.

Savings

If you’re like a lot of us, you may be tempted to use the money you’re saving for something else that comes along. To avoid the temptation, put it in an online savings account that makes it difficult to withdraw. If you have to wait a few days for the money, you may think twice about withdrawing it.

As you build your savings, avoid the urge to add to your debt. There will be plenty of time after you buy the house to buy furniture, a car or whatever else you might be thinking of purchasing. Keep that house you want top-of-mind to motivate yourself to stay out of debt and continue saving.

(Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Late but great update!

Egads! It’s been ages since my last update! I’m so sorry, dear readers! With winter finally over, spring has brought in a new wave of business with offers and closings left and right! (And I’m not complaining, either!) I’m just glad to be finally able to update this blog again and let you guys know that I’m still alive! Lol.

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Anyway, as you all know, other than my main website BerkeleyWVHome Search.com, I also manage a separate website called ReliableHomeSales.com (named after this blog!). RHS just happened to be revamped quite recently with a new look, new features, and everything! Check it out!

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Pretty nifty, right? Makeovers are always fun and refreshing, whether it’s on a house or on a website. New season, new look, new changes! Here’s to hoping your Spring 2014 has been off to a good start as well!

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Not to worry, folks! I’ll be back again soon enough to keep you guys updated on the latest real estate news in the Eastern Panhandle!

Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone!

New Bedroom Ideas For 2014

Hey guys! Hope you had a good weekend! Now it’s been a while since I last posted some decor ideas for bedrooms, so if you’re looking to renovate your bedroom for the new year, hopefully this article can give you some inspiration to work with!

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

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This is a classic take on rustic chic, with elements of traditional design. As you can see, the colors are subtle but refined, bringing a pleasant, welcome change if you’re the more conventional type. The upholstered headboard is definitely one of the key pieces in the set, bringing an elegant pattern into the mix that complements the adjacent nightstand. The cushy, cozy bed linens and seat cushions make this a comfortable haven for anyone who wishes to retreat to this lovely bedroom.

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Now if you’re a sucker for whites or monochrome colors, then this combination may be just for you. Even with a very minimalistic palette, this bedroom gives off a clean, regal feel, which is definitely soothing to the eyes. You’ll feel like sleeping in luxury in this modern, stylish neutral style of grey, cream and white, accented with dark wood tones.

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Now if you’re looking for more life and color in your bedroom, how about this cerulean blue and white combination? Doesn’t it give you that breezy, seaside feel? The white definitely adds to the refreshing quality of the room while complementing and balancing out the brightness of the blues at the same time. This is definitely a fun, radical (and literally) cool change from the traditional bedroom setup!

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Feeling inspired yet? Give it a try! New year, new look! It might just be the change you need to kickstart your 2014 with positive vibes!

Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone!

(Images and concept from BHG.com)

Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year to everyone! How did you all spend the last day of 2013? It’s been a while since my last post but I hope that like myself, all of you have been able to rest and relax over the holidays and ready to face 2014 with new vigor!

Now I’ve been seeing a spike in activity on my website, and if you are some of the buyers that are looking to purchase a home by spring, surely you’ve encountered homes with ‘Foreclosure’ or ‘Short Sale’ tags while doing your home search. While you may have an idea about their difference, hopefully this article can shed a little more light and help you with deciding on your purchase.

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Short Sales vs. Foreclosures
They are known as “distressed properties,” when in reality they are properties that belong to distressed homeowners. Foreclosed properties and those being sold short are homes that the homeowner can no longer afford, for any number of reasons. If you have your heart set on purchasing from among an area’s distressed properties, you may have to look a bit harder for them than you would have last year. The number of foreclosures on the market dwindled 22 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012. The number of U.S. short sales has fallen 10 percent and is expected to keep falling.

Price
Think the listing price of that short sale is set in stone? Think again. The list price is a concoction of the homeowner and the real estate agent. The only price that matters is that which the lender sets, and that won’t happen until there’s an offer and the lender sends out an appraiser. Much of the time the real estate agent’s evaluation comes very close to appraised value, but there is no guarantee. The list price on a foreclosure, however, is set by the lender, so unless you are able to negotiate for a lower price, this is the price the lender expects to obtain.

Timing
We all heard the short sale nightmare stories during the depth of the recession – all those poor buyers who were stuck waiting sometimes as long as a year or more to find out if their offers were accepted by the bank. While today’s short sales are considerably more streamline, they still take longer to purchase than a foreclosure. There are a number of reasons for the difference in timing, but the biggest is that there are more people involved in the short sale than the foreclosure.

Condition
Many homeowners trash their short sales before moving out, but not quite as often as do foreclosed homeowners. With no recourse against the “big, bad bank,” they’ll rip out fixtures, carpets and destroy walls. Then, the bank sells them – both foreclosures and short sales – “as is.” When purchasing a short sale, at least you can meet the owners and possibly find out from them what type of, if any, work has been done with the house. With a foreclosure you don’t get that chance. Both options require extra due diligence, ordering inspections of any of the home’s major systems that you have even the slightest doubt about. Inspections are the only form of “insurance” you’ll have with these purchases. Sadly, not everything can be picked up during inspections. Work with your real estate agent to find qualified inspection professionals.

Your best source of information on buying distressed properties is your real estate agent. Nobody knows the local market as well.

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Hope that enlightened you somehow! Good luck with your home search this 2014!

Colorful Christmas Decor

Happy Friday, everyone! With Christmas only a little over a week away, I’m sure you’re all busy but excited as I am! Have you got your holiday decorations set up? If you haven’t started on anything yet or you feel like what you have now is lacking pizzazz, here are some fun and festive holiday color ideas that will definitely light up your home this year!

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

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Green, White, and Brown
Just looking at the combination above and you know that these mix of colors bring in the holiday cheer without looking overwhelming or tacky. It’s simple, modest, and brings in just the right balance to make anyone feel comfortable. Also try incorporating wood pieces to give that earthy, natural mood an extra kick.

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Blue and White
Utilize the season’s colors and be different and sophisticated with blues and whites. In the picture above, birch logs, frosted pinecones, and branches in white ceramic vases provide the indoor winter wonderland. Accents of blue help for cool pops of color. It’s minimalistic and stunning at the same time and will definitely wow anyone who comes near your Christmas table!

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Red, Cream, and White
Spice up the traditional red and green scheme by using cream or beige as the dominant color and use the reds and whites as the accents instead. This gives your holiday decor a classy boost that will surely impress your guests.

And remember–if you’re on a budget (aren’t we all?), use what you have! It’s all about the colors, not the items!

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Feeling excited yet? I for one sure am! For more ideas and color schemes, feel free to check out the rest of the article here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

(Images and concept from BHG.com)