Category Archives: SAVING MONEY

Two Years to the Down Payment You Need

home-buying-checklistEvery month you pay the rent, you’re probably thinking, “I wish this money was going into my future.” For a lot of would-be first-time home buyers, it’s the down payment which makes home ownership seem impossible.  Climbing the “down payment mountain” isn’t impossible. Like any major challenge, it’s all a matter of breaking your big, hairy, audacious goal down into practical steps. 

 Here are some tips to conquer saving for a down payment:

 Find out where your money goes. You can’t start saving if you don’t know where you’re spending. For a month or two, track each expenditure, no matter how small. Get an objective picture of where you’re spending the cash. thdpuyvjem If you are spending over $30 a month on coffee; maybe its time to buy a coffee maker and make your own? Most coffee houses sell ground coffee for at home brewing for a fraction of the cost of a daily cup.

Get specific about how much you need to save. Even if you’re not 100% sure what your down payment needs to be yet, it’s good to start doing a little math to figure out how much you need to save. Pick a dollar amount and a timeline to hit that dollar amount. For example, a $25,000 down payment in two years comes to $1,041/month. Sound unrealistic? Either scale down your home desires to something smaller or scale up your timeline. If you can wait three years, that monthly savings goal drops to $694/month.

 Determine the big moves you can make. If you’re in a three bedroom apartment and can stomach the idea of scaling down to a one  or two bedroom, how much would you save in rent? What about going from two cars down to one? If you can make it work, these sacrifices will have a huge impact on your savings goals.

 Setup a separate savings account. Don’t let your dream home money mingle with your regular checking or savings account. Establish a high-yield savings account with a credit union or money market account to protect and build your stash. It’s important to have a separate account with a “hands off” attitude. There are some great deals at some of the online bank institutes.

 Mind the risky investment schemes. Home Mortgage Down Payment, A Gray House, Brown Card And Calculator On Stone BackgroundOnce you have a little momentum, you might be tempted to take some of that cash and invest it in order to make it grow faster. Be very prudent about this, as investing in stocks, startups, or high-yield funds can easily decimate your savings. Be conservative.

 

Of course, it’s important to know how much home you want to buy when you’re saving up for your down payment. We’re happy to give you an idea what homes are selling for in your area.  And more importantly, we can put you in touch with a mortgage rep to determine how much house you can afford – reach out and we will help you make the first move towards your own home! 

Barbara & Gregg, The Nicholas Team of RE/MAX Village Square Realtors  realestate@thenicholasteam.com   973-509-2222

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Eliminate Junk Phone Calls with Nomorobo

We’ve all been there. You’re just sitting down to dinner or your favorite Netflix binge and the phone begins ringing. hang-up If you’re like most people, you’ve probably gotten used to screening a lot of calls because so many are robocalls. You know the kind and you know the drill: Political ads, solicitations, scams. You pick up saying “Hello? Hello?” and then comes that eerie pause which tells you you’re about to hear a pre-recorded message.

It’s a rude waste of your attention, and yet many of us can’t just get rid of our home phone line. While you can ignore the call, often they call multiple times a day or every day of the week at the same time. The problem is widespread.

 In early 2013 the FTC held a contest to combat the scourge of robocalls. The winner of that contest was Nomorobo, a free service which can check incoming calls to your phone lines against a massive blacklist database of known robocall sources. If Nomorobo detects a robocall, it screens the call much like the way internet web forms use CAPTCHA graphics to make sure you’re human. If the caller is a bot, the call never makes it to your phone. nomorobo (Nomorobo will ring your phone once to let you know a call has been blocked.) Bingo! Peace and focus are preserved.

 

 The service is free, but your phone provider must be able to provide a feature known as “Simultaneous Calling.” The Nomorobo website provides a form which quickly allows you to determine if your carrier already provides this service. If not, you can request it be added.

 You can learn more about Nomorobo here:  xlarge   

 We love to share tips and tricks to make our lives more hassle-free. If you’d like to keep up with tips like these as we find them, get in touch with us today: Barbara & Gregg, The Nicholas Team of RE/MAX Village Square realestate@thenicholasteam.com   973-509-2222 and we will happily add you to our monthly newsletter!

Don’t Hesitate to Inspect a Home Yourself- Follow Your Inspector, Ask Questions…

Home inspection professionals are trained to spot problems and evaluate a home’s overall condition. While they have a reputation for being ethical and thorough, they are also still human. Sometimes details escape their attention. Its always a good idea to follow the inspector, take notes, ask questions – its a LOT of information to take in…

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If you’re making a major investment in a home, there’s no reason you have to leave 100% of the inspection up to someone else. There are definitely areas you can review for yourself visually; it is best to hire a professional- make sure they are licensed and ask for references. 

 

Before you sign off on a house, don’t neglect to review these commonly overlooked areas:

 

  1. roof8Roof: Yes, inspectors will consider the roof condition, but they probably won’t be on top of the roof when they do it. This is one area where hiring a roofing contractor to take a look can be a major benefit during negotiations.
  1. Fences: You might not think there’s much to inspect here, but replacing a fence is expensive. What looks sturdy on a sunny day can turn into a giant repair after the first storm of the season. This is especially true of wooden fences.
  1. Drains: Fill up tubs and sinks and see how long it takes them to drain. If they’re slow, you’ll want to know why. It could be something as simple as a clog, but what if it’s more?
  1. masonry_inspection_serviceFireplaces: Home inspectors will often give these the once-over, but they sure aren’t going to light a fire. If you can, make sure these operate as expected. It’s also a good idea to find out when the chimney was last cleaned and who the owner uses to maintain it.
  1. Heating/Cooling: The time of year might impact how thorough an inspector is with the heating and cooling system. After all, who’s likely to really run the A/C in the winter or the heat in the summer? With such a big ticket item, you want to be certain it performs as expected.

Pricing is directly tied to a home’s condition, so don’t overlook the opportunity to protect yourself from repair bills. Problems present you with leverage in negotiations.

Ready to hunt for a home in great shape? Let us help you with your search. There are all kinds of properties available right now: Barbara & Gregg, THE NICHOLAS TEAM   realestate@thenicholasteam.com   973-509-2222 ext.1126

Why LEDs are a practical lighting solution for the home

Do you want to make your home as energy efficient as possible, but you find the light from CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights) unappealing? It’s time to take a new look at modern LED lighting.

Advancements in LED lighting have completely changed the face of energy efficient lighting. When they were initially developed, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) were solid bulbs first limited to single-bulb use. Gradually manufacturers began to cluster these bulbs to create more powerful light sources for flashlights and directional lighting. Now, however, advancements in clustering, lens design, and positioning have made these bulbs suitable replacements for almost any home lighting scenario.

While they used to be very expensive, research breakthroughs as recent as 2009 made the manufacture of LEDs drastically cheaper. With this breakthrough, LEDs rapidly became competitively priced with CFL bulbs.

Benefits of LED lighting include:

  •  High durability: While traditional bulbs have a filament which is fragile and subject to damage, LEDs handle shocks extremely well.
  •  Lower temperature: LEDs run cool, producing significantly less than 4 btus/hour, compare to more than 80 btus for incandescents. This is a real plus in the summer months when ambient heat from lighting can build up.
  •  Longevity: LEDs can live ten times longer than CFL bulbs and outstrip even the heartiest of incandescent bulbs.
  •  Energy efficiency: LED bulbs typically draw between two and 17 watts of electricity. CFLs and incandescent lights can consume three to thirty times more energy.
  •  Both cool & warm light available: Advancements have made it possible to choose “cool” lighting for big, task-based areas of the home and “warm” for accent lighting and more cozy applications.
  •  Standard, dimmable, and 3-way available: Many people don’t realize that there are LEDs now for a full range of switching applications and don’t necessarily require switch replacement (i.e. for dimmable applications).

If you’re looking for greener choices with a long-term benefit to your bank account, consider LEDs.

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