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5 Newbie Mortgage Mistakes That Are Soooo Easy to Avoid

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

Can’t wait to cozy up in that cute Colonial, but anxious about signing up for your first mortgage?

We get it. Buying your first home is a big stinking deal. But with a little know-how, it’s easier than expected to make smart mortgage moves and save big bucks over the course of your loan.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can put your home-buying butterflies to rest.

#1 Finding Your Home Before You Find Your Mortgage

How Much It Could Cost You: Enough to send your future kid to college. Seriously, over the life of the loan, you could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars more in interest and fees than you need to.

Why People Mess This Up: If you don’t have your financing buttoned up before you find your dream home, your desire to win the bid could influence you to offer a higher price and overpay on a mortgage because you had no time to shop around. Getting your financing all set before you feel the pressure to make an offer gives you time to qualify for a more attractive loan and gives you the confidence to make a fair offer because you’re a qualified buyer.

How to Avoid It: Start talking to lenders at least three months — maybe even a year — before you start house hunting. Time-consuming tweaks like paying down debt or improving your credit score can have a dramatic effect on overall mortgage costs.

Related: What to Do a Year Before Buying Your First Home

 

How Much House Can You Afford?

Determine how much you can actually afford. More like this.

 

Tax papers stored in a home office

#2 Not Comparing Loans Correctly

How Much It Could Cost You: Just like No. 1 above, you could overpay by tens of thousands over the life your loan.

Why People Mess This Up: First-time buyers often get seduced by a low interest rate and don’t take into account the cost of fees. A lower-interest loan could actually cost you more than one with a higher rate because those fees can be steep enough to outweigh the interest savings, says Matt Oliver, senior loan officer with Lund Mortgage Team in Glendale, Ariz.

How to Avoid It: Compare loans by the annual percentage rate, or APR, not just by interest rate. Each lender should give you a document aptly named “loan estimate.” The APR will be listed there (if it’s not, you don’t want that lender). The APR combines a home loan’s interest rate with closing costs and other fees like points (which is why it’s usually higher than the interest rate), then converts the overall costs to an annual percentage. This gives you an apples-to-apples comparison so you can understand what you’re paying over the life of the loan. You’re welcome!

#3 Falling for Marketing Gimmicks

How Much It Could Cost You: More than enough to buy a good used car (or at least enough to cover Uber fees for a few years).

Why People Mess This Up: ”Lenders use advertising hooks like, ‘We pay your mortgage insurance,’ or ‘You don’t pay the closing costs,’” says Casey Fleming, mortgage adviser in Silicon Valley, Calif., and author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.” Don’t be fooled. “You still pay those costs,” he says. “If you’re not paying in cash, you’re paying it in the interest rate.” Fleming estimates those costs can add a quarter point to an interest rate, which as an example, translates to $9,203 (the difference between a 4% interest rate and one that is 4.25%) for a mortgage of $176,000.

How to Avoid It: Block out the noise. Shop for your mortgage according to trusted recommendations and reliable reviews, not slick deals that sound too good to be true.

#4 Not Budgeting for Your Craft Beer and Yoga Pants

How Much It Could Cost You: Time and money for the things you love to do, like meeting friends over a pitcher of the newest session beer, then hitting the gym in the morning to work it off.

Why People Mess This Up: Lenders qualify you for what you technically can afford on a spreadsheet. They’re looking at your monthly debt-to-income ratio. They don’t look at what you spend your disposable income on: your passions and hobbies. So homebuyers often end up with a mortgage payment they can only afford by scaling back on the things they enjoy.

“One homebuyer may be a homebody, like to cook, and have no pets to pay for,” says Dave Jacobin, president of 1st Mariner Mortgage. “Meanwhile, a second buyer with the exact same income and debt situation might travel every weekend, enjoy fine dining, or shop a lot. Lenders can’t look at that.”

How to Avoid It: Track your spending monthly, so you really know how much you spend. Factor fun into your future when deciding which mortgage offer is the best fit. “Two years into your home purchase, you want to be happy you did it,” says Jacobin. “You don’t want to be mortgage poor.”

#5 Not Knowing How to Eyeball the Paperwork

How Much It Could Cost You: Thousands of dollars in surprise closing costs.

Why People Mess This Up: Because the paperwork seems so freaking daunting. But good news: As of October 2015, new mortgage rules require lenders to send you paperwork that actually makes sense.

This new paperwork comes in two different documents. It’s much easier to scan and understand than the old paperwork, which used to be the model for everything bad about tiny legal print.

1. The loan estimate will come first. Here are some key things to look for:

  • The APR (see No. 2 above)
  • The interest rate
  • The monthly payment
  • The loan terms, such as a 30-year or 15-year mortgage, adjustable rate or fixed
  • The total cost of the loan
  • Cash amount you’ll need at closing

2. The closing document will come at least three days before you close. It should look just like the first document, but instead of estimates it will have final numbers. If you see any increases or additional fees you weren’t expecting, question the lender immediately. Because if it shows even a tenth of a percent interest-rate jump you weren’t expecting (say 4.1% instead of 4%) — and you don’t question it — that could mean a difference of almost $3,700 on a $176,000 mortgage.

How to Avoid It: Watch for those docs. Review and compare them. And, most importantly, don’t be afraid to speak up if you spot a surprise. Now, how easy was that?

5 Surprising (and Useful!) Ways to Save for a Down Payment

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

Buying your first home conjures up all kinds of warm and fuzzy emotions: pride, joy, contentment. But before you get to the good stuff, you’ve got to cobble together a down payment, a daunting sum if you follow the textbook advice to squirrel away 20% of a home’s cost.

Here are five creative ways to build your down-payment nest egg faster than you may have ever imagined.

1. Crowdsource Your Dream Home

You may have heard of people using sites like Kickstarter to fund creative projects like short films and concert tours. Well, who says you can’t crowdsource your first home? Forget the traditional registry, the fine china, and the 16-speed blender. Use sites like Feather the Nest and Hatch My House to raise your down payment. Hatch My House says it’s helped Americans raise more than $2 million for down payments.

 

Less Than 20% Down?

Learn more about a PMI. More like this.

 

Gray home exterior and tree-filled yard

2. Ask the Seller to Help (Really!)

When sellers want to a get a deal done quickly, they might be willing to assist buyers with the closing costs. Fewer closing costs = more money you can apply toward your deposit.

“They’re called seller concessions,” says Ray Rodriguez, regional mortgage sales manager for the New York metro area at TD Bank. Talk with your real estate agent. She might help you negotiate for something like 2% of the overall sales price in concessions to help with the closing costs.

There are limits on concessions depending on the type of mortgage you get. For FHA mortgages, the cap is 6% of the sale price. For Fannie Mae-guaranteed loans, the caps vary between 3% and 9%, depending on the ratio between how much you put down and the amount you finance. Individual banks have varying caps on concessions.

No matter where they net out, concessions must be part of the purchase contract.

Related: New Law Protects You from Surprise Closing Costs

3. Look into Government Options

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, offers a number of homeownership programs, including assistance with down payment and closing costs. These are typically available for people who meet particular income or location requirements. HUD has a list of links by state that direct you to the appropriate page for information about your state.

HUD offers help based on profession as well. If you’re a law enforcement officer, firefighter, teacher, or EMT, you may be eligible under its Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program for a 50% discount on a house’s HUD-appraised value in “revitalization areas.” Those areas are designated by Congress for  homeownership opportunities. And if you qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage under this program, the down payment is only $100; you can even finance the closing costs.

For veterans, the VA will guarantee part of a home loan through commercial lenders. Often, there’s no down payment or private mortgage insurance required, and the program helps borrowers secure a competitive interest rate.

Some cities also offer homeownership help. “The city of Hartford has the HouseHartford Program that gives down payment assistance and closing cost assistance,” says Matthew Carbray, a certified financial planner with Ridgeline Financial Partners and Carbray Staunton Financial Planners in Avon, Conn. The program partners with lenders, real estate attorneys, and homebuyer counseling agencies and has helped 1,200 low-income families.

4. Check with Your Employer

Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) programs help connect low- to moderate-income workers with down payment assistance through their employer. In Pennsylvania, if you work for a participating EAH employer, you can apply for a loan of up to $8,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance. The loan is interest-free and borrowers have 10 years to pay it back.

Washington University in St. Louis offers forgivable loans to qualified employees who want to purchase housing in specific city neighborhoods. University employees receive the lesser of 5% of the purchase price or $6,000 toward down payment or closing costs.

Ask the human resources or benefits personnel at your employer if the company is part of an EAH program.

5. Take Advantage of Special Lender Programs

Finally, many lenders offer programs to help people buy a home with a small down payment. “I would say that the biggest misconception [of homebuying] is that you need 20% for the down payment of a house,” says Rodriguez. “There are a lot of programs out there that need a total of 3% or 3.5% down.”

FHA mortgages, for example, can require as little as 3.5%. But bear in mind that there are both upfront and monthly mortgage insurance payments. “The mortgage insurance could add another $300 to your monthly mortgage payment,” Rodriguez says.

Some lender programs go even further. TD Bank, for example, offers a 3% down payment with no mortgage insurance program, and other banks may have similar offerings. “Check with your regional bank,” Rodriguez says. “Maybe they have their own first-time buyer program.”

Not so daunting after all, is it? There’s actually a lot of help available to many first-time buyers who want to achieve their homeownership dreams. All you need to do is a little research — and start peeking at those home listings!

CLUE Report

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

If you haven’t heard of a CLUE report, it has nothing to do with the table game searching for a murderer. It is a report showing the insurance claims on your home and car for the past five to seven years.10340976-250.jpg

This database is used by insurance companies to evaluate risks and determine rates. C.L.U.E. stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. Rates can be increased not only due to legitimate claims but data entry errors also. Sometimes, simply asking a question without filing a claim can be logged as a claim.

For that reason, similar to verifying the accuracy of your credit report, it is important to check out the CLUE report on your home and car. The reports are free and there is a process for correcting mistakes.

An interesting and sometimes costly surprise occurs during the home buying process. The claim experience of the prior seller could impact the price of the premium of the new buyer. For that reason, you can ask for a copy of the CLUE report on the home you’re interested in buying prior to writing a contract.

What Not to Do as a New Homeowner

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

You’ve finally settled into your new home.

You’re hanging pictures and pinning ideas for your favorite bath. 

But in all your excitement, are you missing something? Now that you’re a bonafide homeowner are there things you should know that you don’t?

Probably so. Here are six mistakes new homeowners often make, and why they’re critically important to avoid.

Related: 6 Things Everyone Should Do Before Moving in to a New House

#1 Not Knowing Where the Main Water Shutoff Valve Is

Water from a burst or broken plumbing pipe can spew dozens of gallons into your home’s interior in a matter of minutes, soaking everything in sight — including drywall, flooring, and valuables. In fact, water damage is one of the most common of all household insurance claims.

Quick-twitch reaction is needed to stave off a major bummer. Before disaster hits, find your water shutoff valve, which will be located where a water main enters your house. Make sure everyone knows where it’s located and how to close the valve. A little penetrating oil on the valve stem makes sure it’ll work when you need it to.

Modern kitchen with wood floors

#2 Not Calling 811 Before Digging a Hole

Ah, spring! You’re so ready to dig into your new yard and plant bushes and build that fence. But don’t — not until you’ve dialed 811, the national dig-safely hotline. The hotline will contact all your local utilities who will then come to your property — often within a day — to mark the location of underground pipes, cables, and wires.

This free service keeps you safe and helps avoid costly repairs. In many states, calling 811 is the law, so you’ll also avoid fines.

#3 Not Checking the Slope of Foundation Soil

The ground around your foundation should slope away from your house at least 6 inches over 10 feet. Why? To make sure that water from rain and melting snow doesn’t soak the soil around your foundation walls, building up pressure that can cause leaks and crack your foundation, leading to mega-expensive repairs.

This kind of water damage doesn’t happen overnight — it’s accumulative — so the sooner you get after it, the better (and smarter) you’ll be. While you’re at it, make sure downspouts extend at least 5 feet away from your house.

Related: How to Prevent Water Damage

#4 Not Knowing the Depth of Attic Insulation

This goes hand-in-hand with not knowing where your attic access is located, so let’s start there. Find the ceiling hatch, typically a square area framed with molding in a hallway or closet ceiling. Push the hatch cover straight up. Get a ladder and check out the depth of the insulation. If you can see the tops of joists, you definitely don’t have enough.

The recommended insulation for most attics is about R-38 or 10 to 14 inches deep, depending on the type of insulation you choose. BTW, is your hatch insulated, too? Use 4-inch-thick foam board glued to the top.

Related: Attic Air Leaks: How to Find and Seal Them

#5 Carelessly Drilling into Walls

Hanging shelves, closet systems, and artwork means drilling into your walls — but do you know what’s back there? Hidden inside your walls are plumbing pipes, ductwork, wires, and cables.

You can check for some stuff with a stud sensor — a $25 battery-operated tool that detects changes in density to sniff out studs, cables, and ducts.

But stud sensors aren’t foolproof. Protect yourself by drilling only 1¼ inches deep max — enough to clear drywall and plaster but not deep enough to reach most wires and pipes.

Household wiring runs horizontally from outlet to outlet about 8 inches to 2 feet from the floor, so that’s a no-drill zone. Stay clear of vertical locations above and below wall switches — wiring runs along studs to reach switches.

#6 Cutting Down a Tree

The risk isn’t worth it. Even small trees can fall awkwardly, damaging your house, property, or your neighbor’s property. In some locales, you have to obtain a permit first. Cutting down a tree is an art that’s best left to a professional tree service.

Plus, trees help preserve property values and provide shade that cuts energy bills. So think twice before going all Paul Bunyan.

Good to Know: Emergency Preparedness

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

Mickey Mantle said “If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

Similarly, if people planning their summer travel knew they were going to have an emergency, they would have the right things available. Only 5% of drivers carry all recommended emergency supplies in their cars.9111296-250.jpg

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that all American have some basic supplies on hand in order to survive for at least three days if an emergency occurs. Some of these things would be more important if you lived or traveled in remote areas.

  • Reflective hazard triangle or road flares
  • Spare tire
  • Jumper cables
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Crucial medications
  • Emergency radio with batteries
  • Bottled water for each person and pet in your car
  • Non-perishable, high-calorie food
  • Distress signal flag
  • Matches or lighter

During cold weather, additional items are recommended:

  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Blankets and extra warm clothing
  • Road salt or cat litter to help with tire traction
  • Tarp for working outside in weather

It is recommended that emergency supplies should be checked at least twice a year to see that all of the items are in working order and in good condition. It is important that items are replaced if any of them are used during the year.

The American Red Cross is among many sources where emergency preparedness kits and supplies can be purchased.

How to Stop the Smells and Funk That Invade Your Home in Summer

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

When did hanging out on your patio with that privacy wall you DIYed back in May stop being fun? All you can see is that rusty grill staring at you, and bird poop piling up on your outdoor chaise while you sweat and fight off bugs. And, eeeew, what is that you smell? Summer’s great — but, boy, can it turn on you when the dog days set in.

Don’t start job hunting in Alaska just yet. You can take back your summer. Here’s the worst of what it can inflict on you (in no particular order) — and how to fight back:

A Stinky Bug Invasion

Squish a stink bug, and you’ll quickly learn how they got theirnom de pee-yew.While the brown pests may be harmless, your family’s noses will be happier without them.

  • Use caulk or sealant to close up cracks a sneaky stinker could use to enter your home. Look around windows, doors, vents and outdoor faucets for any openings.
  • Stick a nylon stocking over your vacuum’s hose to suck up stink bugs into the stocking instead of the vacuum bag.
  • Drown these nasty visitors by dumping captured ones into a bottle filled with an inch of soapy water. No tiny cement shoes necessary.
Modern kitchen with wood floors

A Mildew-y Smell That Won't Go Away

Hot, humid summers create an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew, which your nose knows isn’t right. At the first whiff of these funky fungi, strike back hard.

  • Keep things clean and organized. It’s the best defense against summer’s musty aroma. That allows air to move around, keeping moisture (mold and mildew’s best mate) at bay.
  • Dry out your home with dehumidifiers and air conditioners — or at least increase air circulation by adding fans.
  • In rooms that tend to get that musty smell, line closet walls and drawers with cedar for a sweet smell all year long.
  • Waterproof your basement concrete and masonry with cement paint to prevent damp walls — and the sneaky mold that comes with them. But be sure to figure out the cause of the dampness before waterproofing. It only works if the moisture is coming from the soil outside.

A note of caution: Sometimes a musty smell is a harbinger of bad news — serious water damage in your home. If these tips don’t work, you may need to call in a pro.

Gross Garbage Funk

Summer’s heat waves make the stench of garbage 10 times worse. Keeping trash cans clean (duh) is your first line of defense. But there are a couple more things you can do.

  • Yes, scrubbing out your garbage can is disgusting, but it helps control the stink and pests. Give it one good clean when your stomach’s feeling strong, and then quickly wipe it out each time you empty. You’ll never have to face that throw-up smell again.
  • Dust the bottom of the clean, dry can with baking soda to suck up future pungency.
  • Or slip a dryer sheet or two underneath the bag when you change it out.
  • Cat litter in the bottom of the can also works to absorb garbage odors.

Excessive Bird Droppings

Not even the most dedicated bird watchers want to watch droppings accumulate on their porch and outdoor furniture.

The easiest and most humane solution is to install some yard art — the kind that moves or makes a racket. Think wind socks, chimes and fun whirly sun catchers.

If, however, the birds are barn swallows that have nested (you’ll know because their nests are made of mud instead of twigs), you mustn’t shoo them away, no matter how gently. Barn swallows are federally protected. Instead, install a flat board below it or place a newspaper on the ground to prevent droppings from ruining your porch. Then next year (because they will come back — and they will bring friends) install bird netting between your eaves and the side of your home before nests are built.

Rusty, Greasy Grill Grates

You never really got around to cleaning your grill at the beginning of the season, and now that you’ve invited some new work colleagues over for a barbecue, you realize your grill isn’t going to stir up any appetites with all that rust and grime.

  • Vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice are all natural rust eliminators. You can use individually or create a paste between wet and dry ingredients. Apply and let soak overnight. Then a little elbow grease should do the rest. Try these combinations: vinegar and baking soda; lemon juice and baking soda; or lemon juice and salt.
  • If the rust is really, really tough, do the above but get a wire brush attachment for your drill and use it to scrub the rust away.
  • Once clean, season the grates by rubbing with vegetable oil and heating them.

Uninvited Homesteaders

Snakes at the zoo: super cool. Snakes around or (gasp!) in your house: NO. NO. NOOOO. Snakes might be the worst intruder (or is it bats?), but any unwanted rodent or animal in your home is gross. Your best offense is defense. But if they break through, call a professional exterminator.

  • Cover holes more than a quarter of an inch wide (snakes don’t need much). Check behind gutters and roof flashing.
  • Trim trees to keep pesky animals, such as squirrels, from getting on your roof and into your attic. Keep branches at least eight feet from your house.
  • Eliminate any food sources — like a garbage bin with an askew lid — that might tempt a scavenging pest. The closer they are to your house, the more likely they are to find a way in.
  • Get rid of yard debris, such as piles of leaves and twigs, and mow frequently to eliminate hiding spots.

Business and Respect

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

Businesses must treat customers fairly if they expect to do business with them again or get recommendations to their friends. Customers of stores like Nordstrom’s understand that a salesperson is an employee and represents the company.13959026-250.jpg

The line becomes less clear in some industries, especially ones that involve real estate. Agency is a legal relationship authorizing a person to act for or in the place of another. It involves responsibilities that exceed treating a person fairly.

The duties a buyer or seller can expect to receive from a real estate salesperson or broker include but are not limited to honesty, accountability, full disclosure, representation and reasonable skill and care. Buyers and sellers might additionally expect representation, obedience, loyalty and confidentiality.  State laws can differ on specific duties.

Mortgage and title officers are limited in their duties to the buyer to honesty and accountability and specific requirements under the federal Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act.

A special relationship with a real estate agent makes it advantageous to have them coordinate efforts with the other professionals in the home buying process. Since most buyers’ and sellers’ transactions are infrequent, the agent can bring valuable experience to the transaction.

Every buyer and seller should discuss the level of service they expect from the real estate professional they work with. Another good question is what happens if the purchase and sale are within the same company.

8 Costly Missteps New Homeowners Make in Their First Year

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

The negotiations are over. Your mortgage is settled. The keys to your first home are in hand.

Finally, you can install your dream patio.

You can paint the walls without losing your security deposit.

Heck, you could knock out a wall. You’re soooo ready to be a homeowner.

So ready in fact, you’re about to make some costly mistakes.

Wait, whaaat?

“You have to rein it in and be smart,” says Daniel Kanter, a homeowner with five years under his belt. Especially in your first year, when your happiness, eagerness (and sometimes ignorance) might convince you to make one of these eight mistakes:

#1 Going With the Lowest Bid

The sounds your HVAC system is making clearly require the knowledge of a professional (or perhaps an exorcist?).

But you’ve been smart and gotten three contractor bids, so why not go with the lowest price?

You might want to check out this story from a Michigan couple. Rather than going with a remodeler who’d delivered good work in the past, they hired a contractor offering to complete the work for less than half the cost, in less time.

A year later, their house was still a construction zone. You don’t want to be in the same spot.

What to do: Double-check that all bids include the same project scope — sometimes one is cheaper because it doesn’t include all the actual costs and details of the project. The contractor may lack the experience to know of additional steps and costs. 

Related: How Remodelers Scam You Without You Ever Knowing

Modern kitchen with wood floors

#2 Submitting Small Insurance Claims

Insurance is there to cover damage to your property, so why not use it?

Because the maddening reality is that filing a claim or two, especially in a relatively short period, can trigger an increase in your premium. “As a consumer advocate, I hate telling people not to use something they paid for,” says Amy Bach, executive director of nonprofit United Policyholders, which works to empower consumers. But, it’s better to pay out of pocket than submit claims that are less than your deductible.

Save your insurance for the catastrophic stuff. “You want the cleanest record possible,” Bach says. “You want to be seen as the lowest risk. It’s like a driving record — the more tickets you have, the more your insurance.”

Some insurance groups, like the Insurance Information Institute and National Association of Insurance Commissioners, say it’s hard to generalize about  Even claims on your house by the previous owner can count against you if the issues haven't been fixed; insurers fear the home is likely to have more claims.premium increases because states’ and providers’ rules differ. But this stat from a report by UP and the Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility at Rutgers Law School is pretty sobering: Only two states — Rhode Island and Texas — got top marks for protecting consumers “from improper rate increases and non-renewals” just for making:

  • An inquiry about a claim
  • A claim that isn’t paid because it was less than the deductible
  • A single claim 

Your best protection? Maintaining your home so small claims don’t even materialize.

#3 Making Improvements Without Checking the ROI

Brandon Hedges, a REALTOR® in Minneapolis-St. Paul, recalls a couple who, though only planning to stay in their home for a few years, quickly replaced all their windows. When the time came to sell, he had to deliver the crushing news that they wouldn’t get back their full investment — more than $30,000.

New windows can be a great investment if you’re sticking around for awhile, especially if windows are beyond repair, and you want to save on energy bills.

Just because you might personally value an upgrade doesn’t mean the market will. “It’s easy to build yourself out of your neighborhood” and invest more than you can recoup at resale, says Linda Sowell, a REALTOR® in Memphis, Tenn.

What to do: Before you pick up a sledgehammer, check with an agent or appraiser, who usually are happy to share their knowledge about how much moola an improvement will eventually deliver.

Related: The Newbie Homeowner’s Guide to Maxing Out Resale Value

#4 Going on a Furnishing Spree

When you enter homeownership with an apartment’s worth of furnishings, entire rooms in your new home are depressingly sparse. You want to feel settled. You want guests at your housewarming party to be able to sit on real furniture.

But try to exercise some retailing willpower. Investing in high-quality furniture over time is just smarter than blowing your budget on a whole house worth of particleboard discount items all at once. 

What to do: Live in your home for a while, and you’ll get to know your space. Your living room may really need two full couches, not the love seat and a recliner you pictured there.

#5 Throwing Away Receipts and Paperwork

Shortly after moving in, your sump pump dies. You begrudgingly pay for a new one and try to forget about the cash you just dropped. But don’t! When it comes time to sell, improvements as small as this are like a resume-builder for your home that can boost its price. And, if problems arise down the road, warranty information for something like a new furnace could save you hundreds.

What to do: Stow paperwork like receipts, contracts, and manuals in a three-ring binder with clear plastic sleeves, or photograph your documents and upload them to cloud storage.

#6 Ignoring Small Items on Your Inspection Report

Use your inspection report as your very first home to-do list — even before you start perusing paint colors. Minor issues that helped take a chunk of change off the sale price can cause cumulative (and sometimes hazardous) damage. Over time, loose gutters could yield thousands in foundation damage. Uninsulated pipes? You could pay hundreds to a plumber when they crack in freezing temperatures. And a single faulty electric outlet could indicate dangerous ungrounded electricity. 

What to do: Get the opinion and estimate of a contractor (usually at no charge), and then you can make an informed decision. But remember #1 above.

#7 Remodeling Without Doing the Research

No one wants to be a Negative Nancy, but there’s a benefit to knowing the worst-case scenario.

Homeowner Kanter tells the time he hired roofers to remove box gutters from his 1880s home. Little did he know, more often than not aged box gutters come with more extensive rot damage, which his roofers weren’t qualified to handle.

“We had to have four different contractors come in and close stuff up for the winter,” he says. Had he researched the problem, he could have saved money and anxiety by hiring a specialist from the start, he says.

What to do: Before beginning a project, thoroughly research it. Ask neighbors. Ask detailed questions of contractors so you can get your timing, budget, and expectations in line.

#8 Buying Cheap Tools

You need some basic tools for your first home — a hammer, screwdriver set, a ladder, maybe a mower.

But if you pick up a “novelty” kit (like those cute pink ones) or inexpensive off-brand items, don’t be surprised if they break right away, or if components like batteries have to be replaced frequently.

What to do: For a budget-friendly start, buy used tools from known quality brands (check online auctions or local estate sales) that the pros themselves use.

Related:


Hands-only CPR can save lives

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

Hands-only CPR can save lives.  The American Heart Association states that "Almost 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die.  CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival."  Most people who survive a cardiac emergency are helped by a bystander.   

  1. Check for responsiveness – shake the person and shout “Are you OK?”11700251-250.jpg
  2. Call 9-1-1 – either tell someone to call or make the call yourself
  3. Compress - Push hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100 per minute.

The victim should be flat on their back preferably on the floor. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the victim’s chest and place the heel on top of the other hand lacing your fingers together. Lock your elbows and compress the chest forcefully; make sure you lift enough to let the chest recoil.

Chest compressions should be continued until the person shows obvious life-like breathing, the scene becomes unsafe, an AED (automatic external defibrillator) becomes available, or a trained responder takes over the emergency treatment.

Alternating mouth-to-mouth breaths is not necessary using this method. Compressions are adequate except in drowning or drug overdose situations where 30 chest compressions are followed by two mouth-to-mouth breaths.

Watch this two-minute video and consider taking instructions from the Red Cross or other qualified provider. Every household should have at least one person trained in life-saving skills.

Hands-only CPR can save lives

by Terry Sullivan - Lyons-Sullivan Realty

Hands-only CPR can save lives.  The American Heart Association states that "Almost 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die.  CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival."  Most people who survive a cardiac emergency are helped by a bystander.   

  1. Check for responsiveness – shake the person and shout “Are you OK?”11700251-250.jpg
  2. Call 9-1-1 – either tell someone to call or make the call yourself
  3. Compress - Push hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100 per minute.

The victim should be flat on their back preferably on the floor. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the victim’s chest and place the heel on top of the other hand lacing your fingers together. Lock your elbows and compress the chest forcefully; make sure you lift enough to let the chest recoil.

Chest compressions should be continued until the person shows obvious life-like breathing, the scene becomes unsafe, an AED (automatic external defibrillator) becomes available, or a trained responder takes over the emergency treatment.

Alternating mouth-to-mouth breaths is not necessary using this method. Compressions are adequate except in drowning or drug overdose situations where 30 chest compressions are followed by two mouth-to-mouth breaths.

Watch this two-minute video and consider taking instructions from the Red Cross or other qualified provider. Every household should have at least one person trained in life-saving skills.

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