We’ve been having lots of landscaping done this month. It’s still not complete, but here’s some pics of our progress.
From weed field to pond with waterfall
This is Daisy, ignoring the food bowl directly to her left, waiting for me to make her peanut butter toast.
One evening I sent Cole, my oldest son, downstairs to reset the router. He came back with news no one wants to hear.
“Mom, the carpet is wet.”
The carpet in my husband’s office wasn’t just wet, it was soaked. Our house is new so I called the plumber of the builder’s list. I would have bet you good money that the water heater in the adjacent utility closet had leaked and dumped all that water.
The plumber gave the the water heater the all-clear and suggested the air conditioner might be the culprit. I doubted it. How can an AC cause that much water leakage? And I’m a Realtor, so I pretty much know everything about what can go wrong with a house, right?
Wrong. It was the AC. The condensation drainage line had clogged and caused all that lovely water to back up into the AC unit, overflowing into Scott’s office. Score.
Dang, that’s a lot of water.
A $70 part ensured we won’t have this issue again. It’s clear, so you can see if the line is getting clogged. And it has a little brush attachment so you can unclog it if need be.
Big thanks to the fine folks at ServPro who pulled up the padding, dried out the drywall and carpet and basically helped us stay sane.
I often here people lament that they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck and they’re having a hard time getting ahead. I understand. I used to be there myself. Stepping back from the financial cliff takes hard work, creativity and tenacity and it likely won’t happen overnight.
There’s tons of unhelpful stuff out there that tells you things you’ve heard a million times but they really don’t help. Cutting cable? Yes, I’m sure you’ve thought of that. Eliminating the gym? Hopefully you’ve already traded your gym membership for walking shoes, a leash, and time spent with your dog around the neighborhood. And still, the struggle continues.
No, I’m talking about making some big-hit choices that will really impact your monthly bottom line without making you feel like you’re living in a van down by the river. Here’s a few of mine thoughts. Please click on the “comment” button below to share yours!
1. Meal planning – some of you are sick of hearing me talk about this, but unless you’ve tried it, quit yer whinin’ and hear me out. Going to the grocery store every week and throwing crap in your basket is NOT SMART. That is the most expensive way to go about meeting a critical need. You must have food, water, clothing, shelter and transportation to survive these days. If you can cut your food costs, you can save big money really fast. When I started couponing and meal planning years ago I cut our monthly grocery budget by 60 percent the very first time I tried it. Read how to do it here: http://amiestreater.com/once-a-month-household-planning/
2. Use windfalls to pay irregular expenses – Trust me. You don’t need another TV. And if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, you don’t need a vacation or a massive update to your wardrobe. Be smart and pay your car insurance in full for the year. Or pay your life insurance premiums. Or set that aside for the next car repair or veterinarian check-ups for Fluffy and Fido.
3. Take the word “unexpected” out of your vocabulary – For most families, you can truck along pretty well until “the unexpected” happens.
Even if you’re not a first-time home buyer, buying a house today is not at all like buying a house five years ago. If it’s been ten years or more since you’ve been shopping for a home or a mortgage, you’re in for a real surprise.
First of all, it’s much harder to get a mortgage. The days of signing a few papers and moving in with no money down are over. Lenders require more paperwork, and more proof that you can actually afford the home you’re wanting to buy.
While getting those keys in your hand may be a little more complicated, it’s still certainly doable – even enjoyable – to buy a home if you get help and go about it the right way. Do these steps in order and you’re in for a smooth buying process. Do these steps out of order and you’re in for headaches, frustration and wasted time and money.
1. Find a qualified, energetic, hard-working Realtor who knows your area
This is NOT the time to hire your brother-in-law or your co-worker’s neighbor who sold one house last year. You need someone who is willing to work hard to find you the right home and negotiate a good price on it. Make sure you can get this person on the phone. If they don’t return your phone calls or do what they say they will do in the beginning, run. You don’t want them failing to return phone calls when there’s a contract on the line.
Your Realtor should be able to explain to you what the local real estate market culture is like right at this moment. So listen. It’s important to know this stuff so that you have realistic expectations going forward. For example in our Colorado Springs market, it’s not realistic to expect to be able to offer less than 3 to 5 percent off the current listing price. Prices are still suppressed from the recession and they haven’t caught up yet, but they’re rising. Also, foreclosures and short sales aren’t the deals they were four years ago. If you want a quick and smooth home-buying process, don’t bother with short-sales and foreclosures.
2. Find a great lender
Don’t just go with the cheapest, and if you can avoid a loan from one of the biggest lenders, by all means, avoid them. Small, local banks and credit unions will be your best bet. Ask your Realtor for suggestions because they will know whether that lender is reliable and can close the loan on time or not. Get pre-qualified, not just a phone approval. Go ahead and go through the process of submitting tax information, pay stubs and other documentation so that you know exactly how much you can qualify for and exactly how much you want to spend. You’ll know closing costs, loan costs and down payment amounts up front, which will make for a much more confident shopping process.
3. Set your budget
Once you’re approved for your loan, decide how much you’re going to spend on a house. A range of $20,000 will give you a wide variety of home options to shop for.
4. Decide on neighborhood and type of home
Funny thing is, most buyers do this first and it’s a recipe for disaster. If you fall in love with a neighborhood or a house that’s way out of your budget, you’re in for some serious heartache. It’s best to not even look at homes until you know for sure what your budget is, then your Realtor should find you the very best house for that price.
5. Stop spending, start saving
When you have a home purchase on the horizon, even a year out, start saving up. Stop eating out and cut way back on entertainment. Now is not the time to buy a new car or furniture for that home you haven’t even bought yet. Postpone the vacation. A home purchase is a big decision and a big investment and it’s best to have as much financial flexibility as possible to do it right. More cash in the bank also means an easier time with your lender, and less stress all around.
Ready to buy a home in Colorado Springs, or just need help getting started? Give me a call or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to help!