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How to Choose the Right Art for a Room

No matter how gorgeous the furnishings, a room with bare walls often feels incomplete. “For me, art to a room is like punctuation to a sentence; it is that all-important ingredient and without it a space lacks the layers and attitude that a significant piece can bring,” says designer Tara Bernerd. All of Bernerd’s projects—no matter if it’s a hotel or a beachside villa—are filled with personality pieces of varying styles, shapes, and sizes, and the works can often be found hanging in the same room together. See the masterful mix for yourself in the designer’s new book Tara Bernerd: Place (Rizzoli, $60), written in collaboration with Charlotte and Peter Fiell, which showcases many of the properties she’s transformed over the last fifteen years—including her very own apartment in London. If a flip through the pages leaves you with a strong desire to make over your walls, don’t worry. We tapped Bernerd to get her tips on finding the right art for every room in your home.

Trust your gut

“Perhaps most importantly, a home should represent its owner, so one shouldn’t be too driven by trends,” says Bernerd. “Something that you are truly attracted to is something that will ultimately stand the test of time. With our hotels, the art reflects the DNA of our clients, such as at SIXTY SoHo in New York with its exclusive Harland Miller collection in each guest room.”

Mix and match

Art doesn’t have to match your room, you can be eclectic,” says Bernerd. “Traditional rooms can take modern art, and modern rooms can take older-style paintings. Often it is better to mix it up.”

Go slow

Gallery walls are a great way of working with artworks of different sizes, colors, and styles,” says Bernerd. Her recommendation: plan it in advance, taking as much time as you need. “In order to hang a gallery wall correctly, one must lay it out. It is a considered strategy that must always be carefully thought through.”

Delve deeper

Fallen in love with a piece? Do your research on its history—the process may lead to more works that suit your style. “Once you are attracted to a picture, find out a little more about the artist, values, and background, and learn,” says Bernerd.


Source: ARCHITECTURALDIGEST.COM | How to Choose the Right Art for a Room


How to Choose and Hang Wall Art in Every Space

Bringing art that you love into your home requires time, emotion and money—and that’s all before you get it there and find the perfect place to put it. Sure, there are guidelines you can follow to get it right, but the real rule to follow is making sure your art works for you. Here are some considerations to get started and make sure you love each and every piece you bring into your home.

1. Choose what you LOVE

This is the only hard-and-fast rule to follow. Any wall art that you bring into your home should be something that you really want to look at every day. For some of us, this is the easiest part, but for others, it could certainly be the hardest.

2. Consider all mediums

Once upon a time, buying art meant investing in a painting, commissioned by a known artist that depicted you, your family or your home in the most lavish way possible. While fine art paintings are still the art choice for many, this isn’t necessarily accessible or even desired by everyone. Photography, canvas giclees, drawings or even precious pieces that your children made all count toward your art collection and can become the focal point of a room with the right presentation.

3. Pick the room

Sometimes, the pre-existing size of what you’ve brought home makes it easy to know exactly where it’s going to go. You could decide on the room and then find art you like or vice-versa—either way, these same guidelines will work:

If it’s a small piece that you’ve fallen for, it could be perfect for a powder room or hallway nook. If it’s several small-to-medium size pieces, maybe a gallery wall in your living room is in order. If it’s a large work, how about over the bed, couch or mantel? If you choose something in specially-coated aluminum, you could even take it outside.

4. Measure everything

Before you pick up the hammer, consider these things to save yourself time, frustration and potentially a jar of spackle:

Aim for eye-level: You’ll want to have art hang at average eye level, which is 57–60″ from the floor to the center of the artwork. If you’re much taller than average, consider hanging at 63-65″. (Note: You’ll also need higher ceilings—10-plus feet—for this to work, otherwise the walls will look top heavy and could feel claustrophobic).

Map it out: If you’re doing a gallery wall or hanging more than one piece, you’ll want to measure the spacing between pieces, too. Ideal spacing is 3-6″ and it can vary within your arrangement—but be consistent and maybe try mapping it out on the floor. Find the visual arrangement you like off of the wall, then measure before committing to the actual hardware hanging.

Work with furniture: A third factor to consider is the ideal distance between the bottom edge of your art and the top edge of any furniture it might be hung over. Shoot for at least 6-8″.

Use these measuring guidelines as a starting point. Ultimately, the look has to work for you and your space. Be sure to bring in at least one other set of eyes before you start putting holes in the wall.

5. Hang it up

Depending on what type of art you’re working with, this part can be more or less intensive. If your work is ready-to-hang, this is easy. You’ve already got your measurements, so you can start marking the walls in pencil and then hammering (or drilling with screws and anchors if you’re working with substantial size or weight).

If your art is not ready-to-hang, you might not even want to hang it. You could lean a piece against a wall using lower credenzas, tables or bookshelves, or even the floor itself if the piece is very large.

6. Step back
The final step is the easiest of all. Step back and gaze at your art with all the admiration it deserves. Enjoy!


Source: LUMENS.COM | How to Choose and Hang Wall Art in Every Space


8 Foolproof Tips for From An Artist for Choosing Art for Your Home

Unless you’re an art curator, gallery owner, or artist, chances are buying art does not come very naturally. Galleries can seem intimidating at first. You may be worried about choosing the right size or the right colors to fit your space. As it turns out, choosing art for the home is much more intuitive than one might think if you follow a few simple rules.

During a visit to artist Zoë Pawlak’s studio in Montréal, Pawlak offered her tips for choosing art for your home. We touched on questions like, How do I choose? When do I invest? How do I educate myself? Should I go for black-and-white abstract art or colorful photography? Suddenly, the prospect of choosing artwork seemed less daunting. She had such in-depth knowledge and insightful tips on choosing art for the home, and we are passing along her wisdom.

Like What You Like

Though your home décor can obey certain rules, such as investing in neutral couches or flooring, Pawlak urges people to use their walls for more irrational or eclectic choices. “Art is a place for expression through color, content, and texture,” says Pawlak. “Choose art at a heart level, and don’t forget about sculptures and rugs!” They can make artistic statements, too.

Get to Know the Artist

“Getting to know the artist that made your art helps you to understand the content of the work and the context around the piece itself,” Pawlak says. If you don’t get the chance to meet the artist in person, read up. Many contemporary galleries, such as Uprise, now offer artist profiles online. And of course, most anyone is a mere Google search away. Read up on the people who produced your art, or follow them on Instagram to get a glimpse into their lives!

Payment Plans or Trades Are Often Totally Legit

“You can always suggest a payment plan or a trade. It never hurts to ask,” Pawlak suggests. Did you fall in love with a piece that’s slightly above your budget? Try negotiating. “Maybe that artist wouldn’t mind receiving a few hundred dollars a month, or maybe they need your mad Photoshop or portrait-taking skills as much as you need their art in your life!” Harness your own talents, and see if you can be useful to the artist in a mutually beneficial way.

Be Ready to Act Fast or Miss Out

“There are exactly three pieces I regret not investing in at the time. How do I know that? I still think about them,” Pawlak says. Art is often unique and one-of-a-kind. If your heart leaps at the sight of a piece, don’t hesitate too long or you could miss out. “The film Herb & Dorothy is a great example of how you can buy what you love and still live on a budget.” (We’re adding this one to our list of films to watch.)

Attend Art Events Featuring Emerging Artists

“Find out what’s happening in your city in the arts, and then show up!” Pawlawk advises. This is a great way to expose yourself to emerging artists. Buying from young or up-and-coming artists who are only starting to make a name for themselves is like stumbling upon a great real estate deal. Decades ago, this MyDomaine writer’s step-dad spent $500 on a print from a young unknown artist named Andy Warhol—true story.

Buy on the Secondary Market

“This is a whole other game. I highly recommend getting advice from savvy friends and attending auctions,” Pawlak says. Books such as Seven Days in the Art World (wherein the author peels back the layers of the contemporary art world) and The 12 Million Dollar Stuffed Shark (a look at contemporary art through the economics lens) offer insightful ways to immerse yourself in the historic and ever-adapting gallery and auction systems.

Learn About Paper Works and Framing

Paperworks are often much less expensive than, say, oil on canvas, but keep in mind that many paper works are not sold in frames. If you want to save money on framing, Pawlak suggests checking the acidity in the mats first and foremost. “You can buy inexpensive frames, but make sure that the mats touching the actual artwork are acid-free,” Pawlak suggests. “Acidic mats found in budget ready-made frames can quickly deteriorate or discolor artwork.”

Commission a Piece

Getting a commissioned piece of art is a great way to get exactly the right size for your space while collecting the work of an artist you love. When choosing an artist, make sure they have experience in making commissions, or ask a client who’s worked with the artist in the past to share their experience. “Having done over 300 commissioned artworks myself, I am extremely familiar with what I can and cannot offer,” says Pawlak. “Don’t ask the artist to stray too far from their style or try to control them too much. This is a recipe for disaster.” Make sure you clearly state your expectations before the work begins so that you are not disappointed.


Source: MYDOMAINE.COM | 8 Foolproof Tips for From An Artist for Choosing Art for Your Home


9 Deck Building Tips You Must Consider Before Getting Started

Building a deck as a backyard extension of your home can add new value and quality of life to your home. To get the best fit, it is vital that you make decisions along the way during the planning and building process which reflect your lifestyle. You also want to make sure that you build a deck that lasts for years to come by choosing the right materials. Here are nine deck building tips that can help you achieve the best deck for you and your needs.

1. Determining the Size of your Deck

Determining the size of your deck is your first and most important consideration during the planning stage. As a first point, make sure that the size of your deck works compatibly with the size of your house. An outsized deck on a smaller home or a too-small deck on a large home can look out of scale and awkward. Make sure that you choose a size that creates visual balance with the overall structure of your home.

A second consideration to keep in mind when determining the size of your deck is how much effort and time you can put into its maintenance. A larger deck will clearly take a lot more muscle if it needs annual maintenance, so make sure you select a size that works within your lifestyle and schedule.

Finally, you need to consider the structural and cost implications of a large deck. For every bit of square footage you add to a deck you will need more materials and labor… not to mention that you may need more structural support in the form of concrete footings that need to be dug and poured. Select a size that satisfies your lifestyle needs but is still realistic for your household budget and build schedule.

2. Deck Access

Ensuring that you have easy and proper deck access will help guarantee that you get the most use out of your deck area. Typically, decks have glass door access to a main room in the interior, such as a living room or a kitchen. If you live in a muggy, high bug area, you will want to make sure that your entry point to the deck has a backup screen to protect your interior space from mosquitos and flies. A rolling screen door can be a viable choice or you can look into screen panels that hang like curtains and attach in place via magnets.

With an elevated deck with stairs, ensure that there’s a natural flow to their structure and that safety standards are in place, including rails and anti-slip surfaces in wet or icy regions. Keep in mind that stairs can provide intruders with secondary access to your home. Make sure that you have the necessary protections and alarms in place at direct entry points to your home to compensate.

3. Deck Materials

A primary step in deck building is considering the available material options. Natural deck materials include cedars, thermal-insulated woods, and tropical hardwoods. Synthetic deck materials are comprised of composite woods and cellular/plastic materials. It is essential to evaluate your material selection as it plays a major role in deck longevity, durability, maintenance required, cost, and aesthetics. For a complete guide for choosing deck materials:

Wood, Composite, or PVC: A Guide to Choosing Deck Materials

4. Safety Considerations

You also need to keep some additional safety considerations in mind when designing and decorating your deck. Any deck above grade level requires a railing, and the space between vertical or horizontal components must be less than 4 inches according to code. A railing can usually fall into anywhere between 36 and 42 inches in height to satisfy deck building code.

5. Deck Design Software

Many deck suppliers and retail stores offer deck pre-planning software and apps that you can use to start laying out a plan for your deck. There are also pre-fabricated deck building options available that take care of the basics in planning for your substructure and surface. Working with a landscape architect or builder is your most detail-oriented option, but comes in at the highest price point.

6. Privacy

Whether you live in an urban or suburban environment, privacy is always an impediment for maximizing the use of your outdoor living area. Ideas for adding privacy include using lattice (in complimentary or same materials as your deck), structures such as trellises and pergolas, foliage, and other outdoor space features. For an extensive look at adding privacy to your deck and outdoor space, please read here.

7. Coverage

Whether you live in a sunny or rainy clime, it’s always important to consider building some coverage into your outdoor deck area. If your deck plans include relaxing, enjoying the view, and entertaining, remember the sun can be harsh, and the rain can be an unwelcome guest. Freestanding umbrellas are of course an option, giving you movable coverage that you can use as needed. Today’s retractable awnings and canopies are another great choice to consider; modern versions of these products use attractive, durable, and weather-resistant materials that can add value to your deck and protect not only you and your guests on harsh or rainy days, but also your deck furniture, grilling accessories, etc.

8. Lighting

The proper lighting will increase the use and enjoyment of your deck. For the best results, consider lighting in the early stages of deck building design to ensure an integrated look. Use outdoor lights to illuminate your entertainment areas after hours and safety lights for stairs and walkways.

9. Decorative Accents

Adding small decorative accents can also add to the beauty and ambiance of your deck. Just as you might choose a moulding or railing detail within your home’s interiors, pay attention to these small touches in your outdoor space to add finish and polish to a deck. The detail on a moulding or handrail, whether squared-off or beveled, can help create the overall style and aesthetic you want, from modern to classic. Don’t forget to explore balls and caps to that you can intersperse along deck railing and stair rails for a final finishing touch.

Have you had your own experiences you’d like to share when building your deck? Advice to give? Chime in below in the comments and share your thoughts.


Source: SHADEFXCANOPIES.COM | 9 Deck Building Tips You Must Consider Before Getting Started




There are several features to consider when purchasing a carport. Establishing and defining these factors before making a purchase will certainly help you settle for the best carport. To start with, you have to know whether you want a temporary or a permanent carport. The size of the carport is also something you should factor in when making a purchase. More to this, you should have a clear budget of the amount to spend, and lastly, you should know if you want a single or a double carport. With the above in mind, you will certainly not go wrong in your selection process.

There are wide verities of carports to choose from. Some of the distinguishing features of carports are material, size shape, color, and design. This article will distinguish carports based on the material used to make the carport. Listed below are some of the primary examples of carports based on the latter classification.

Metal carports can have either a flat or a line roof. Based on your preference you can choose either of this. Metal designs are made of aluminum or still. This feature gives this type of carports an upper hand in durability and ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions. Once you have done a purchase, you can attach the carport in your garage, or home or have it standing on its own.

Steel carports are expensive compared to other varieties. This is attributed to the fact that they are durable, strong, and have low maintenance costs. However, if you want a quality steel carport, make sure you settle for a galvanized one.

This is another design of carports. You can either attach them to your home or have them freestanding. They are attractive and allow you to modify them based on your preference. When choosing carports make sure you check on the quality of the timber.


They are a cheap option of carports. They are light hence portable. Also, they are easy to assemble. This type of carport can be made solely of either aluminum material or a combination of aluminum vinyl or heavy canvas on the roofing part.


Like the aluminum carports, canvas carports are also portable and temporary. Support poles are made using either aluminum or PVC. On the other hand, the covering is made using a canvas canopy material.




10 Best-Kept Secrets for Buying a Home

Buying Secret #10: Keep Your Money Where It Is

It’s not wise to make any huge purchases or move your money around three to six months before buying a new home. You don’t want to take any big chances with your credit profile. Lenders need to see that you’re reliable and they want a complete paper trail so that they can get you the best loan possible. If you open new credit cards, amass too much debt or buy a lot of big-ticket items, you’re going to have a hard time getting a loan.

Buying Secret #9: Get Pre-Approved for Your Home Loan

There’s a big difference between a buyer being pre-qualified and a buyer who has a pre-approved mortgage. Anybody can get pre-qualified for a loan. Getting pre-approved means a lender has looked at all of your financial information and they’ve let you know how much you can afford and how much they will lend you. Being pre-approved will save you a lot of time and energy so you are not running around looking at houses you can’t afford. It also gives you the opportunity to shop around for the best deal and the best interest rates. Do your research: Learn about junk fees, processing fees or points and make sure there aren’t any hidden costs in the loan.

Buying Secret #8: Avoid a Border Dispute

It’s absolutely essential to get a survey done on your property so you know exactly what you’re buying. Knowing precisely where your property lines are may save you from a potential dispute with your neighbors. Also, your property tax is likely based on how much property you have, so it is best to have an accurate map drawn up.

Buying Secret # 7: Don’t Try to Time the Market

Don’t obsess with trying to time the market and figure out when is the best time to buy. Trying to anticipate the housing market is impossible. The best time to buy is when you find your perfect house and you can afford it. Real estate is cyclical, it goes up and it goes down and it goes back up again. So, if you try to wait for the perfect time, you’re probably going to miss out.

Buying Secret # 6: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Everyone’s drawn to the biggest, most beautiful house on the block. But bigger is usually not better when it comes to houses. There’s an old adage in real estate that says don’t buy the biggest, best house on the block. The largest house only appeals to a very small audience and you never want to limit potential buyers when you go to re-sell. Your home is only going to go up in value as much as the other houses around you. If you pay $500,000 for a home and your neighbors pay $250,000 to $300,000, your appreciation is going to be limited. Sometimes it is best to is buy the worst house on the block, because the worst house per square foot always trades for more than the biggest house.

Buying Secret #5: Avoid Sleeper Costs

The difference between renting and homeownership is the sleeper costs. Most people just focus on their mortgage payment, but they also need to be aware of the other expenses such as property taxes, utilities and homeowner-association dues. New homeowners also need to be prepared to pay for repairs, maintenance and potential property-tax increases. Make sure you budget for sleeper costs so you’ll be covered and won’t risk losing your house.

Buying Secret #4: You’re Buying a House – Not Dating It

Buying a house based on emotions is just going to break your heart. If you fall in love with something, you might end up making some pretty bad financial decisions. There’s a big difference between your emotions and your instincts. Going with your instincts means that you recognize that you’re getting a great house for a good value. Going with your emotions is being obsessed with the paint color or the backyard. It’s an investment, so stay calm and be wise.

Buying Secret #3: Give Your House a Physical

Would you buy a car without checking under the hood? Of course you wouldn’t. Hire a home inspector. It’ll cost about $200 but could end up saving you thousands. A home inspector’s sole responsibility is to provide you with information so that you can make a decision as to whether or not to buy. It’s really the only way to get an unbiased third-party opinion. If the inspector does find any issues with the home, you can use it as a bargaining tool for lowering the price of the home. It’s better to spend the money up front on an inspector than to find out later you have to spend a fortune.

Buying Secret #2: The Secret Science of Bidding

Your opening bid should be based on two things: what you can afford (because you don’t want to outbid yourself), and what you really believe the property is worth. Make your opening bid something that’s fair and reasonable and isn’t going to totally offend the seller. A lot of people think they should go lower the first time they make a bid. It all depends on what the market is doing at the time. You need to look at what other homes have gone for in that neighborhood and you want to get an average price per square foot. Sizing up a house on a price-per-square-foot basis is a great equalizer. Also, see if the neighbors have plans to put up a new addition or a basketball court or tennis court, something that might detract from the property’s value down the road.

Today, so many sellers are behind in their property taxes and if you have that valuable information it gives you a great card to negotiate a good deal. To find out, go to the county clerk’s office.

Sellers respect a bid that is an oddball number and are more likely to take it more seriously. A nice round number sounds like every other bid out there. When you get more specific the sellers will think you’ve given the offer careful thought.

Buying Secret #1: Stalk the Neighborhood

Before you buy, get the lay of the land – drop by morning noon and night. Many homebuyers have become completely distraught because they thought they found the perfect home, only to find out the neighborhood wasn’t for them. Drive by the house at all hours of the day to see what’s happening in the neighborhood. Do your regular commute from the house to make sure it is something you can deal with on a daily basis. Find out how far it is to the nearest grocery store and other services. Even if you don’t have kids, research the schools because it affects the value of your home in a very big way. If you buy a house in a good school district versus bad school district even in the same town, the value can be affected as much as 20 percent.


Source: HGTV.COM | 10 Best-Kept Secrets for Buying a Home


Advantages of Homeownership

Is owning a home right for you?
Becoming a homeowner comes with a lot of responsibility, but also a lot of rewards. To help you decide if owning a home makes the most sense for you, here are some of the main reasons people choose homeownership over renting.

It’s a Good Investment

While home prices move in cycles over the short-term, if you stay in your home for a long time, it could increase in value and give you a substantial return on your investment.

If you are currently renting a home or apartment, use our Rent vs Buy Calculator to help determine which option provides the most economic benefits for you over the time you plan to be in your residence. When using the calculator, be sure to include some assumption about future increases in your rent, as most landlords periodically raise rents.

You Build Equity

When you subtract the amount you owe on your home loan from the total value of your house, the amount left over is your home equity-the “dollar” value of your home that actually belongs to you. There are two ways to build equity:

  1. With each monthly mortgage payment you make, a portion goes toward reducing the amount you owe on your loan, which increases your equity. In a sense, paying your mortgage is a form of savings, as it increases the equity in your home.
  2. As your home increases in the value, it creates more equity for you

In a sense, paying your mortgage is a form of savings, since it increases your home equity which you can tap into if you need money in the future.

When necessary, you can borrow against your home equity to meet a variety of financial needs, including home improvements, education or medical expenses. A home equity loan or line of credit can also be used to pay off high interest credit card debt, since the interest rate is generally lower and the interest payments are tax deductible. Read our Cash Out Refinance article for more information on how you can one day access the equity that you build in your home.

You Enjoy Significant Tax Deductions

Owning a home can reduce the amount you pay in income taxes each year. Your mortgage interest and property tax payments may be deductible from your federal taxes, as well as many state taxes. Certain closing costs and loan discount points also may be tax deductible. In the early years of your mortgage, when interest represents the bulk of your monthly mortgage payment, these tax deductions can put a significant amount of money back in your pocket.

You Build a Strong Credit History

When you buy a home and consistently make your monthly loan payments on time, it demonstrates to other lenders that you are a good borrower and the risk of you defaulting on a loan is low. This strong credit history will be helpful in the future when you need other loans for buying a car, making improvements to your home, or paying other major expenses.

You’re Free to Create the Home You Want

Homeownership offers tremendous freedom to create the living environment that you have always wanted. You can own pets, paint rooms whatever color you like, make changes to floors and carpeting and do all the things that make a house your home – all without having to get approval from a landlord.


Source: DISCOVER.COM | Advantages of Homeownership


7 Things First-Time Home Buyers Wish They Knew

There’s a lot they don’t teach you in school.

As an undeniable step in the traditional American dream, purchasing a home is something many hard-working professionals look forward to. In fact, according to research conducted by NerdWallet, 36 percent of citizens intend to fork over a down payment on a house and sign on the dotted line for a mortgage in the next five years, a figure that’s grown by 4 percent since 2017. But while the idea of having an address to truly call your own is a major milestone, it’s a process that few truly understand until, well, they’ve done it, with or without the help of a home buying checklist.

If you have fantasized about posting one of those “I’m a home buyer!” photos on Instagram, read these words of wisdom—and caution—before diving into the sea of listings. Though these first-time home buyers are happy to have a home-sweet-home, there are a handful of lessons they wished they knew before they began the search.

First-time home buyer tips (from people who did it)


1 You can’t put a price on a great realtor.

Sure, some people have luck touring For Sale By Owner properties to avoid realtor fees, but the vast majority of homeowners turn to experts for guidance. With any industry, though, reading reviews and asking for recommendations is vital to finding a quality realtor. In September, entrepreneur Victoria Kent purchased her first home in Chicago, and hiring a realtor she could trust proved to be one of the most important factors in her search. Not only did he lead her through the process and answer her hundreds of questions as a first-time home buyer, but he also was able to step in and make strategic negotiations when she needed him.

When you work with an agent who understands the market, has tons of experience, and can be on call when you’re in a bind (or simply need reassurance), Kent says you’ll be much less stressed from day one to close. “There are so many other people [who are] a part of the process [who] are essential, and having an agent who can recommend home inspectors, attorneys, and mortgage brokers that you can rely on is critical,” she says. “I saw my dream house on August 25, 2019, and was moved in by September 28, 2019, and that wouldn’t have happened without my agent.”


2 You have to set financial limits yourself.

When Patrick Gevas, a vice president at GreenRoom Agency, started to think about buying a house in Miami in late 2016, he had been compulsively working to build an excellent credit score. He was also saving and felt confident the bank would give him a figure he’d feel comfortable borrowing. What he didn’t anticipate was just how much he was pre-approved. Though it seems like a perk, being approved for a huge mortgage can actually be a downfall if first-time home buyers don’t manage their finances. After all, you don’t want to be stuck with a mortgage that, ultimately, you can’t afford.

Since the folks at the bank won’t do it for you, it’s up to you to be savvy, Gevas says. “I was intent on never being house poor, but now understand how easily it can happen when you’re under the delusion that the bank says they’ll give you what seems like an incredible amount of money,” he says. Luckily, Gevas was able to find a dream condo in January 2017 that was in his range—and still have enough cash to pay additional hidden fees, like building maintenance, among others.


3 You should always have a home warranty.

Not so fun fact about being a homeowner: You can’t call your landlord when something breaks. (You’re the landlord now!) Typically, during a closing, the seller and buyer will negotiate any adjustments to the listing price based on damages or potential money pits that could cost a pretty penny in the future. One way to protect yourself as a buyer is through home warranty insurance, sometimes offered by the seller.

Erika Sutton, MSW, a home health social worker, purchased her first home in Hendersonville, North Carolina with her spouse in August 2016. They weren’t familiar with this type of quality control, but looking back, it was one of the best decisions they made. Not only did the seller cover the home warranty for the first 12 months of their mortgage, but they’ve continued to buy it themselves ever since. “In the first year of home ownership, our hot water heater died, the electric circuit board on our garage door went out, and the heating element in our oven burnt out. All those repairs would have put a huge dent in our savings, but all we had to pay was the $75 service call fee each time,” she says.

It also takes some of the guess work out of hiring contractors, since Sutton says the warranty company partners with local agencies, so all you have to do is make one call and the problem is solved. Easy, right?


4 You have to be prepared to move fast.

And by fast, James Linney means super-duper speedy. When he and his partner started to look through properties earlier this year in Los Angeles, they were amazed at how quickly listings came and went. “We would set alerts when something new came up, and then go to open houses with hoards of people coming in and out,” Linney says. In the hustle to find the right pad in their desirable neighborhood, they bid on two properties, and in both cases, weren’t the winners, since another buyer offered more money.

Luckily, fate (and a great realtor) helped them to find their perfect nest in Echo Park, and the engaged couple signed in May. That’s when, again, things moved quickly, since they’re based in California. The law in the Golden State dictates everything has to happen in a 30-day escrow window. “This means getting all inspections done the second our offer was accepted—appraisal, termite inspections, mold inspections, and foundation inspections—in addition to getting the mortgage officially approved,” Linney says. “It was a very stressful month.”

Reach out to a realtor in your area if you’re curious about the market in your zip code. He or she can explain the condition of the market, as well as how swiftly the process will move once a bid is accepted.


5 If you see something, say something.

You know how it goes: When something doesn’t feel right, it’s tough to ignore. Our guts are often our best defense during times that require critical decision-making. While it seems like a no-brainer, marketing manager Kim Kornfeld urges first-time home buyers to speak up when going through the home-buying process. “If you see a pinhole leak during your walkthrough? Don’t keep that to yourself. See a brown coffee-like stain on your ceiling? It’s a sign of water damage or a previous issue,” she says.

Why is this so important? Once you sign those papers, these problems are now yours. And if you don’t want to fork over more cash when you move into your humble abode, you have to identify anything and everything before it is officially yours. “Make sure you speak up while you’re still in the process to hopefully put this on the seller to fix and also alleviate some of the homebuying growing pains once you move in,” Kornfeld says. This tactic proved successful and helpful for Kornfeld, who became a first-time buyer with her husband in Long Island, New York, this August.


6 You have to be ready to walk away.

When you’re in a relationship that’s not a two-way street, the choices eventually become clear. You can lower your expectations and try to be happy. You can pretend to be someone you’re not. Or you can walk away.

Though it may not seem like a romantic predicament, buying a home is a lot like determining the right match. There are a plethora of options, and though there are some pads that would be amazing, they could be out of your price range. Having the strength to say no to what you can’t afford is a difficult practice, but one that will protect your assets for decades to come. As Gevas explains, as easy as it is to cave, once you have your limits set, stick to ’em. Sometimes, deciding to turn a cheek and hit the road could help with negotiations.

He experienced this first-hand when he couldn’t agree on a fair price with sellers, who wanted to charge more since they spent cash on renovations. “While I loved the unit, the comps and the neighborhood didn’t justify what they were asking, and the unit had been on the market for nearly three months,” he says. To try to appease the sellers, he offered to meet in the middle. If they didn’t go for it, Gevas decided it wasn’t meant to be, and with a broken heart, was prepared to leave it behind. “Two weeks later, my realtor came back and said they agreed! I went ahead—and don’t regret it one bit,” he says.


7 You have to listen to your opinion above all others.

This March, when Heather Blakley, an elementary school teacher in Salt Lake City, Utah, decided to buy a home as a single gal, it seemed everyone had an opinion. From zip codes to price ranges, styles, and beyond, many people gave their tips—usually, unprompted. “It was shocking to me how people I didn’t even really know or who had never seen my house were giving me completely unsolicited advice,” she says.

Most of the time, family and friends have kind intentions, but once you sign on the dotted line for your mortgage, that’s it. It’s yours—and your responsibility. “I actually stopped talking about my house because the overwhelming opinions began to get hurtful,” Blakley says. “When you only hear negativity, it can sometimes take the fun and the excitement out of buying a home.” While asking for feedback can be helpful, remember to trust your own gut and follow what feels right to you, your goals, and your future.


Source: REALSIMPLE.COM | 7 Things First-Time Home Buyers Wish They Knew


8 tips for buying your first home

Some of the things to consider when buying your first home.

For many Australians, buying their first home marks a significant and memorable milestone. And like most big achievements in life, we usually get there through a series of thoughtful decisions and smart, strategic planning.

Statistics show that the average-income Australian couple takes almost five years to save for a deposit on their first home in one of our capital cities.

If you’re considering putting some money down on your dream home, here are a few important factors to consider.

Figure out how much money you have

Most loan terms in Australia are generally 25 and 30 years2, and as a mortgage is likely to be one of the biggest debts you’ll ever take on, it’s important to prioritise your financial goals and figure out where a home purchase ranks on that list.

The price of the property you’re looking to buy will play a big part, as it will often determine the deposit you need. That being said, it’s well worth figuring out how much you can realistically afford before you begin looking.

If your family is planning to help with finances, it’s a good idea to sit down with them to discuss how they plan to contribute. Keep in mind that there could be risks, benefits and tax implications if financial help is given.

Meanwhile, if you’re buying property with a partner, it’s important to be upfront about your financial past and plans.

Find out if there are black marks on your credit report

A credit report, which details your repayment history, could affect your ability to get approval on a loan, especially if it highlights financial issues from the past. This is one of the many reasons it pays to be in control of your debt.

Each lender will assess your credit file against their own policies, there may be instances where some approve your application, while others reject it or delay the process. It can be discouraging, but hang in there. If you have plans to apply for a loan anytime soon, reviewing your budget and talking to your financial adviser could be worthwhile.

Knowing the details of your personal credit report could save you from surprises if you choose to apply for a loan.

Set a limit for how much to spend on a new home

Here’s a snapshot of the common buying home costs you’re likely to come across.

Upfront costs

  • Purchase price – this is the actual cost of the property. Unless you’re able to pay for it outright, you’ll generally need to take out a loan. Take note: lenders will generally ask for a minimum deposit of 10% to 20%.
  • Loan application fee – this is a one-off payment to your lender when your loan begins. Fees can vary depending on your provider, and will cover things like credit checks, property appraisals and basic admin.
  • Lender’s mortgage insurance – if you have a deposit that’s less than 20%, you may be required to pay lender’s mortgage insurance, which exists to protect your lender in the instance you’re unable to repay your loan.
  • Government fees – stamp duty is a land/property transfer tax applied by all Australian state and territory governments, which can vary depending on where your future home is located. Mortgage registration and transfer fees also apply and differ from state to state.
  • Legal and conveyancing fees – these cover the services of a real estate conveyancer or solicitor, who’ll prepare the necessary paperwork and conduct the settlement process.
  • Building, pest and strata inspections – paying for these services will help ensure that any structural concerns or maintenance and financial issues are sorted—saving you from potentially detrimental problems down the track.
  • Moving costs – this will come down to how much you do yourself, whether you rent a truck, hire professionals, or simply prod your family and friends into giving you a hand.

Ongoing costs

  • Loan repayments – what you pay back and how often you make repayments—can have a big impact on the time it takes to pay off your home loan.
  • Interest charges – you can generally choose a fixed or variable rate or a combination of the two. This is worth some research, particularly as interest rates can go up and down.
  • Other ongoing expenses – the ongoing costs of owning a home might include strata fees for communal properties, council rates, utility costs, building and contents insurance, and things like home improvements.

Make sure the locations you’re looking at stack up

They say location is everything, which is especially true when it comes to making a smart financial decision on your home purchase. To help you buy a home you love – and for the right price – consider:

  • how much properties are going for in the suburbs you’re interested in
  • how far you’re willing to live from family, friends and work
  • whether there’s off-street parking and local amenities, such as schools, shops and transport
  • whether you’ll need to renovate and if you have the extra funds to do so
  • if there is price growth potential in the suburbs you’re looking at
  • if there are proposed developments in the area that could impact the value of your home
  • what the crime rate is like in the areas you’re keen on
  • if you’re moving far away, how the local job market fares.

If you need help gathering some of this information, try speaking to real estate agents who work in the area, or look at real estate companies online. Of course, different features will appeal to different people when looking for a home to live in, so consider what works for you.

Find out whether you’re eligible for financial assistance

There are a number of ways you may be able to help fund your home purchase. We’ve outlined some options to look into below.

First Home Owner Grant

State governments offer a one-off grant to first home owners who satisfy all the eligibility criteria. If you’re unsure about eligibility, contact your state revenue office and be sure you apply with plenty of time.

Stamp duty concessions

Certain state and territory governments offer additional incentives to first home buyers, some of which involve stamp duty concessions. It’s often worth researching what’s on offer in the area where you’re buying.

First Home Super Saver Scheme

Eligible first home buyers can withdraw voluntary super contributions (which they’ve made since 1 July 2017), to put toward a home deposit. Under the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS), first home buyers who make voluntary contributions into their super can withdraw these amounts, up to certain limits, in addition to associated earnings, from their super fund to help with a deposit on their first home.

If eligible, the maximum amount of contributions that can be withdrawn under the scheme is $30,000 for individuals or $60,000 for couples.

So if you’re still some way off buying a first home, making voluntary super contributions (as opposed to saving them in a bank account), to access later under this scheme, could produce tax benefits that help you reach your first deposit goal faster.

Become familiar with different types of loans

Depending on whether you’re after a basic package or one with extra features, home loans can vary greatly when it comes to interest rates and fees. To get a better idea of costs, when you see a home loan advertised, you’ll notice two rates displayed—the interest rate and the comparison rate.

The home loan comparison rate will include the annual interest rate, as well as most upfront and ongoing fees. Some home loans with lower interest rates are laden with fees, so while they appear cheap, they could end up being more expensive. The comparison rate can help you identify this and compare loans more accurately.

Be sure to look into the potential advantages and disadvantages of various features of the loans you’re considering. For example, some loans may allow you to make extra repayments, redraw funds, or use an offset account, which could reduce the interest you pay over time.

If you’re looking for the best deal, remember to shop around and don’t be afraid to ask your lender if they can do better than the rate they’re currently advertising.

Get your finances in order so you’re ready to go

Home loan approval time can vary, so it’s a good idea to have your loan pre-approved so you know exactly what you can borrow. You’ll also need formal approval closer to purchasing and to have your deposit ready, or you may miss out. This may mean having your cheque book or a bank cheque ready to go if you’re buying your first home at auction.

As part of the process, your lender will also advise you if lender’s mortgage insurance is required.

Don’t miss out on your last chance for a home inspection

Home inspections of the property you’re considering will alert you to serious issues that may not be visible to the eye—asbestos, termites, electrical, ventilation and serious plumbing faults, for example. These problems could eventually cost you a whole lot more than the building inspection itself.

If you’re buying a townhouse or apartment, strata reports can tell you whether the property is well run, maintained to a decent standard, and adequately financed. Knowing what to look for when inspecting a house is a step in the right direction to finding these common and hidden imperfections.


14 first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid

Buying your first home comes with many big decisions, and it can be as scary as it is exciting. It’s easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of home shopping and make mistakes that could leave you with buyer’s remorse later.

If this is your first rodeo as a homebuyer or it’s been many years since you last bought a home, knowledge is power. Along with knowing what issues to avoid, it’s important to glean first-time homebuyer tips from the pros so you know what to expect and what questions to ask.

First-time homebuyer mistakes

Here are 14 common first-time homebuyer mistakes, along with first-time homebuyer tips on how to avoid them:

Looking for a home before applying for a mortgage.
Talking to only one lender.
Buying more house than you can afford.
Moving too fast.
Draining your savings.
Being careless with credit.
Fixating on the house over the neighborhood.
Making decisions based on emotion.
Assuming you need a 20 percent down payment.
Waiting for the ‘unicorn.’
Overlooking FHA, VA and USDA loans.
Miscalculating the hidden costs of homeownership.
Not lining up gift money.
Not negotiating a homebuyer rebate.

1. Looking for a home before applying for a mortgage

Many first-time buyers make the mistake of viewing homes before ever getting in front of a mortgage lender. In some markets, housing inventory is still tight because there’s more buyer demand than affordable homes on the market. And in a competitive market, you could lose a property if you aren’t preapproved for a mortgage, says Alfredo Arteaga, a loan officer with Movement Mortgage in Mission Viejo, California.

How this affects you: You might get behind the ball if a home hits the market you love. You also might look at homes that, realistically, you can’t afford.

What to do instead: “Before you fall in love with that gorgeous dream house you’ve been eyeing, be sure to get a fully underwritten preapproval,” Arteaga says. Being preapproved sends the message that you’re a serious buyer whose credit and finances pass muster to successfully get a loan.

2. Talking to only one lender

This one is a biggie. First-time buyers might get a mortgage from the first (and only) lender or bank they talk to, potentially leaving thousands of dollars on the table.

“A good mortgage loan officer can look at your situation and diagnose any potential roadblocks ahead to give you a clear understanding of your home-buying options,” Arteaga says.

How this affects you: The more you shop around, the better basis for comparison you’ll have to ensure you’re getting a good deal and the lowest rates possible.

What to do instead: Shop around with at least three different lenders, as well as a mortgage broker. Compare rates, lender fees and loan terms. Don’t discount customer service and lender responsiveness; both play key roles in making the mortgage approval process run smoothly.

3. Buying more house than you can afford

It’s easy to fall in love with homes that might stretch your budget, but overextending yourself is never a good idea. And with home prices still rising, this is easier said than done.

How this affects you: Buying a home that exceeds your budget can put you at higher risk of losing your home if you fall on tough financial times. You’ll also have less wiggle room in your monthly budget for other bills and expenses.

What to do instead: Focus on what monthly payment you can afford rather than fixating on the maximum loan amount you qualify for. Just because you can qualify for a $300,000 loan, that doesn’t mean you can afford the monthly payments that come with it. Factor in your other obligations that don’t show on a credit report when determining how much house you can afford.

4. Moving too fast

Buying a home can be complex, particularly when you get into the weeds of the mortgage process. Rushing the process can cost you later on, says Nick Bush, a Realtor with TowerHill Realty in Rockville, Maryland.

“The biggest mistake that I see (first-time buyers make) is to not plan far enough ahead for their purchase,” Bush says.

How this affects you: Rushing the process means you might be unable to save enough for a down payment and closing costs, address items on your credit report or make informed decisions.

What to do instead: Map out your home-buying timeline at least a year in advance. Keep in mind it can take months — even years — to repair poor credit and save enough for a sizable down payment. Work on boosting your credit score, paying down debt and saving more money to put you in a stronger position to get preapproved.

5. Draining your savings

Spending all or most of their savings on the down payment and closing costs is one of the biggest first-time homebuyer mistakes, says Ed Conarchy, a mortgage planner and investment adviser at Cherry Creek Mortgage in Gurnee, Illinois.

“Some people scrape all their money together to make the 20 percent down payment so they don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance, but they are picking the wrong poison because they are left with no savings at all,” Conarchy says.

How this affects you: Homebuyers who put 20 percent or more down don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance when getting a conventional mortgage. That’s usually translated into substantial savings on the monthly mortgage payment. But it’s not worth the risk of living on the edge, Conarchy says.

What to do instead: Aim to have three to six months of living expenses in an emergency fund. Paying mortgage insurance isn’t ideal, but depleting your emergency or retirement savings to make a large down payment is riskier.

6. Being careless with credit

Lenders pull credit reports at preapproval to make sure things check out and again just before closing. They want to make sure nothing has changed in your financial picture.

How this affects you: Any new loans or credit card accounts on your credit report can jeopardize the closing and final loan approval. Buyers, especially first-timers, often learn this lesson the hard way.

What to do instead: Keep the status quo in your finances from preapproval to closing. Don’t open new credit cards, close existing accounts, take out new loans or make large purchases on existing credit accounts in the months leading up to applying for a mortgage through closing day. Pay down your existing balances to below 30 percent of your available credit limit, and pay your bills on time and in full every month.

7. Fixating on the house over the neighborhood

Sure, you want a home that checks off the items on your wish list and meets your needs. Being nitpicky about a home’s cosmetics, however, can be short-sighted if you wind up in a neighborhood you hate, says Alison Bernstein, president and founder of Suburban Jungle, a real estate strategy firm.

“Selecting the right town is critical to your life and family development,” Bernstein says. “The goal is to find you and your brood a place where the culture and values of the (area) match yours. You can always trade up or down for a new home; add a third bathroom or renovate a basement.”

How this affects you: You could wind up loving your home but hating your neighborhood.

What to do instead: Ask your real estate agent to help you track down neighborhood crime stats and school ratings. Measure the drive from the neighborhood to your job to gauge commuting time and proximity to public transportation. Visit the neighborhood at different times to get a sense of traffic, neighbor interactions and the overall vibe to see if it’s an area that appeals to you.

8. Making decisions based on emotion

Buying a house is a major life milestone. It’s a place where you’ll make memories, create a space that’s truly yours, and put down roots. It’s easy to get too attached and make emotional decisions, so remember that you’re also making one of the largest investments of your life, says Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified in New York City.

“With this being a strong seller’s market, a lot of first-time buyers are bidding over what they are comfortable with because it is taking them longer than usual to find homes,” DiBugnara says.

How this affects you: Emotional decisions could lead to overpaying for a home and stretching your budget beyond your means.

What to do instead: “Have a budget and stick to it,” DiBugnara says. “Don’t become emotionally attached to a home that is not yours.”

9. Assuming you need a 20 percent down payment

The long-held belief that you must put 20 percent down payment is a myth. While a 20 percent down payment does help you avoid paying private mortgage insurance, many buyers today don’t want (or can’t) put down that much money. In fact, the median down payment on a home is 13 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.

How this affects you: Delaying your home purchase to save up 20 percent could take years, and you could limit cash flow that could be put to better use maximizing your retirement savings, adding to your emergency fund or paying down high-interest debt.

What to do instead: Consider other mortgage options. You can put as little as 3 percent down for a conventional mortgage (note: you’ll pay mortgage insurance). Some government-insured loans require 3.5 percent down or zero down, in some cases. Plus, check with your local or state housing programs to see if you qualify for housing assistance programs designed for first-time buyers.

10. Waiting for the ‘unicorn’

Unicorns do not exist in real estate, and finding the perfect property is like finding a needle in a haystack. Looking for perfection can narrow your choices too much, and you might pass over solid contenders in the hopes that something better will come along. But this type of thinking can sabotage your search, says James D’Astice, a real estate agent with Compass in Chicago.

How this affects you: Looking for perfection might limit your real estate search or lead to you overpaying for a home. It can also take longer to find a home.

What to do instead: Keep an open mind about what’s on the market and be willing to put in some sweat equity, DiBugnara says. Some loan programs let you roll the cost of repairs into your mortgage, too, he adds.

11. Overlooking FHA, VA and USDA loans

First-time buyers might be cash-strapped in this environment of rising home prices. And if you have little saved for a down payment or your credit isn’t stellar, you might have a hard time qualifying for a conventional loan.

How this affects you: You might assume you have no financing options and delay your home search.

What to do instead: Look into one of the three government-insured loan programs backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA loans), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA loans) and U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA loans). Here’s a brief overview of each:

FHA loans require just 3.5 percent down with a minimum 580 credit score. FHA loans can fill the gap for borrowers who don’t have top-notch credit or little money saved up. The major drawback to these loans, though, is mandatory mortgage insurance, paid both annually and upfront at closing.

VA loans are backed by the VA for eligible active-duty and veteran military service members and their spouses. These loans don’t require a down payment, but some borrowers may pay a funding fee. VA loans are offered through private lenders, and come with a cap on lender fees to keep borrowing costs affordable.

USDA loans help moderate- to low-income borrowers buy homes in rural areas. You must purchase a home in a USDA-eligible area and meet certain income limits to qualify. Some USDA loans do not require a down payment for eligible borrowers with low incomes.

12. Miscalculating the hidden costs of homeownership

If you had sticker shock from seeing your new monthly principal and interest payment, wait until you add up the other costs of owning a home. As a new homeowner, you’ll pay for property taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, hazard insurance, repairs, maintenance and utilities, to name a few.

How this affects you: A survey found that the average homeowner pays $2,000 annually on maintenance services. Not having enough cushion in your monthly budget — or a healthy rainy day fund — can quickly put you in the red if you’re not prepared.

What to do instead: Your agent or lender can help you crunch numbers on taxes, mortgage insurance and utility bills. Shop around for insurance coverage to get compare quotes. Finally, aim to set aside at least 1 percent to 3 percent of the home’s purchase price annually for repairs and maintenance expenses.

13. Not lining up gift money

Many loan programs allow you to use a gift from a family, friend, employer or charity toward your down payment. Not sorting who will provide this money and when, though, can throw a wrench into a loan approval.

How this affects you: “The time to confirm that the Bank of Mom and Dad is ready, willing and able to provide you with help for your down payment is before you start home shopping,” says Dana Scanlon, a Realtor with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Bethesda, Maryland. “If a buyer ratifies a contract to purchase a home with an understanding that they will be getting gift money, and the gift money fails to materialize, they can lose their earnest money deposit.”

What to do instead: Have a frank discussion with anyone who offers money as a gift toward your down payment about how much they are offering and when you’ll receive the money. Make a copy of the check or electronic transfer showing how and when the money traded hands from the gift donor to you. Lenders will verify this through bank statements and a signed gift letter.

14. Not negotiating a homebuyer rebate

The concept of homebuyer rebates, also known as commission rebates, is an obscure one to most first-time buyers. This is a rebate of up to 1 percent of the home’s sales price, and it comes out of the buyer agent’s commission, says Ben Mizes, founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate based in St. Louis.

How this affects you: Homebuyer rebates are available in most U.S. states, but not all. Ten states prohibit homebuyer rebates: Alaska, Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee.

What to do instead: If you live in a state that allows homebuyer rebates, see if your agent is willing to provide this rebate at closing. On a $300,000 home purchase, this can be a $3,000 savings for you so it’s worth asking.


Source: BANKRATE.COM | 14 first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid