Buying Your First Home? Start Here.

Buying Your First Home? Start Here.

Purchasing your first home is an incredible feeling, as years of hard work and planning finally come to fruition. However, if you are not entirely financially prepared for this purchase you could find yourself in over your head quite quickly. A home is by far one of the most important purchases, and the most expensive, you may ever make. This means you should make every effort to ensure you are ready for this step; a bit of extra preparation before purchasing allows you the confidence to enjoy your new purchase for years to come. 

What Can You Afford?

You may have mastered the world of renting, but homeownership is a whole different ball game. It’s important to take the proper time to make sure what you are buying is affordable given your current financial position. 

Take the time to pay off as much debt as you can. This step not only improves your savings but also increases your credit score to help get a better interest rate on your mortgage. Remember, being a homeowner isn’t just about paying a mortgage. There are other additional costs associated with homeownership to consider. Take the time to calculate real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, HOA dues, and any home improvements that may pop up unexpectedly. Once you’ve mulled over these factors, you can honestly evaluate your bank accounts to see if you have the funds to pay for your home, extra costs, and still have enough to feel comfortable. 

Do Your Research

You may have found the perfect home at the perfect price but is it a perfect location? There are plenty of considerations to make before rushing into any home purchase. You can make a more confident decision if you do your research before and during the purchasing process.

Drive around the neighborhood and the others close by. Make sure you are comfortable with the location, would you feel safe out for a walk or playing in the yard? Are there parks nearby or park district facilities? How are the school districts, do they have good reviews, are they close to the home? What about shopping, can you walk to the shops or will it be a long drive? Make sure you are purchasing a home that has the amenities and neighborhood that best suits your current and future needs.

Get a Good Team Together

Since this is by far the most important (and expensive) purchase you may have made to date, it is important to have professionals at your side to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Finding a seasoned realtor can help ensure that you are getting the best deal you can find. A realtor can find you exactly what you want, taking into consideration your expectations and what you can afford. A good realtor also helps with mortgage questions, interest rates, and loan types. 

Having an experienced real estate attorney at your closing can give you the peace of mind that all documents will be ready and that each step will run smoothly and efficiently.

If you find you are ready to purchase your first home give the professionals at Bell Law a call. There is always someone available to answer any questions you may have about the buying process and can help make this life-changing step as easy as possible.

Should I Have an Inspection Prior to Putting My Home on the Market?

Should I Have an Inspection Prior to Putting My Home on the Market?

While it may be commonplace for the buyer of a home to order the inspection after putting an offer on a home or property, some sellers are choosing to invest in an inspection before putting their home on the market. Having a heads up on major issues can help improve the sale of your home and increase the time in which it takes to close.

What Do Inspectors Look For?

Most home inspectors have seven major items they inspect in a home during the inspection process. Those include water damage, structural issues, electrical issues, plumbing, pest infestations, roof damage, and HVAC issues. 

The main goal of an inspector is to identify any health, safety, and major mechanical issues. They will inspect both the interior and exterior of the home, so it is important to remember that proper yard maintenance can play a big part in maintaining your home as well.

How Can an Inspection Help a Seller?

When you have decided it is time to move on and put your home up for sale, you may already have your next perfect home picked out and waiting for you. If you could cut the time it takes to sell and most importantly close on your home, why not try. 

Having a pre-inspection can give the seller a heads up regarding any major issues that need to be addressed in the home before putting the home on the market. This can allow you to have any issues corrected in advance of the sale which can allow you to list for a higher amount and cut out most of the time it takes to haggle about home issues with potential buyers. Not only can this be beneficial for the seller, but it also sends a message to the buyer that the homeowner cared for the home and was on top of any potential issues, making the buyer more confident in their decision.

Selling your home can come with many challenges and it can be helpful to have professionals to turn to with any concerns and questions you may have. This is where the friendly experts at Bell Law come in handy. They can guide you through the selling process and advise you as to what steps would be most beneficial to you to help get your home sold fast and efficiently.

Staging Your Home for a Virtual Tour

Staging Your Home for a Virtual Tour

Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, people everywhere are learning how to live, work, learn, and shop with new recommendations or rules. The real estate market, while deemed essential, has certainly had to use new methods to help buyers and sellers with their property goals. As the more traditional open house is no longer a viable option, the real estate industry has turned to technology to give buyers and sellers the best opportunities possible. Virtual tours are the go-to option, as it gives a potential buyer a chance to see your home up close to make a more informed decision about purchasing.

Virtual tours are giving buyers the confidence to make a purchase and are certainly a viable option for your upcoming property sale. However, you do need to consider a few of our tips before your first virtual tour or photoshoot.

Every Detail Counts

Since the option of walking through a home is unavailable right now, buyers are going to be looking at every little detail during an online tour. Buyers will be especially tuned in to small (and large) details during virtual tours because they know they may not get to see it in person.

Start a successful tour by ensuring you clean ahead of time. Making sure everything has been thoroughly wiped down and dusted is a must prior to any virtual tour or photoshoot. All light fixtures, fans, windows, doors need to be impeccable. 

Resist the temptation to over-decorate, instead choosing a minimalist approach. Decluttering your home will allow buyers to picture your home as theirs. Further, rooms that are stuffed with knickknacks, books, and picture frames can make rooms seem small and messy on video. It is also important to remember to either hide or cover any safes, expensive jewelry or computer equipment to ensure your valuable personal items are not on display for the internet to see.

Light it Up

Lighting is key in movies, theater, and now virtual home tours. The right lighting can make a small boring room appear bigger and more inviting. Make sure all lights are on, even in places you wouldn’t normally think of, such as closets or attics. Buyers will want to see every nook and cranny of your home and making it sure it looks Oscar-worthy will help ensure a quick sale. When possible, make natural light the star of the show by keeping curtains and shades open.

Now that your home is ready for its virtual closeup, it’s time for you to make sure you are protected during the selling or buying process. The professionals at Bell Law are ready to advocate for your best interests throughout the real estate process. Call us to learn more about our services today.

Considerations for Buying a Second Home

Considerations for Buying a Second Home

Whether you have paid off your first home or just have extra money to spend, buying a second home could be your next big real estate move. Before you commit to owning a second home, whether as a vacation home or income property, there are several things to consider in order to make a responsible decision. Take time to do your research on both potential properties and your own short and long-term financial goals before you begin to browse what is available. 

Can I Afford a Second Home? 

Before you even begin to daydream about a second property, ask yourself if you can truly afford it. Many people decide to purchase their second homes right before or at the beginning of retirement, while others choose to buy a new home while they are still actively working. In any case, knowing you are financially stable enough to afford an additional home is paramount, as if you fall into too much debt, it can be next to impossible to recover financially.

Work with your financial advisor to determine if you can take on an additional mortgage payment, along with homeowner insurance and utilities. If it is going to be a big stretch or have a major impact on your current lifestyle, you might want to save up for a few more years before purchasing that second home.

Know All the Costs

If you do have the money available to responsibly purchase a second property, ensure you know the primary purpose of your purchase. For example, will you be using this property as an income property to rent out to others? If so, make sure you know the ins and outs of renting before you make the purchase. Or, if you are purchasing a vacation home, make sure you plan for any short-stay renters via AirBnB if you are planning on going that route. 

It’s important to be aware that most mortgage rates for second homes can run a bit higher than your first, unless you are paying cash or have a sizeable cash down payment. You should also look into additional costs that can come with purchasing in a different state, including insurance costs associated with hurricanes or flooding. Finally, be prepared to learn more about HOA regulations and requirements if you are looking at a second home within a developed neighborhood. 

If you have found yourself lucky enough to be in the position to consider buying the perfect second home, you want to make sure you do it right. Understanding landlord laws and property taxes for a home across the country can be a daunting task. There is no better time to reach out to Bell Law, as their knowledgeable real estate attorneys can help navigate you through the buying process to ensure your best interests are at the center of every decision.

What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do for Buyers and Sellers?

What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do for Buyers and Sellers?

If you are in the market to purchase or sell a property, even if you have done it before, the process can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and downright confusing. Sure, it is exciting as well, but the truth is that you need to be confident in making the best decision possible. Most homeowners and future homeowners don’t know the ins and outs of real estate law or expectations. 

It is imperative that you find a team of professionals who can give you the information you need while expertly guiding you through the process. While most people know to include a Realtor on their team, too many forget the importance of partnering with an attorney. It is incredibly beneficial to have a real estate attorney to guide you through the process.

Benefits to Sellers

A real estate attorney is there to protect your best interests and make sure all bases are covered as you sell your home or property. It is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out during the sale of your property, but having the right real estate attorney on your side can help ease this burden and get you to closing quickly. For sellers, the real estate attorney is there to make sure all necessary paperwork is in order, from signing the contract to closing. They ensure the selling process runs smoothly with no surprises. If there are surprises, your attorney will guide you through it and provide advice that puts your interests at the forefront.

Benefits to Buyers

Oftentimes, buyers carry the brunt of the work in the home buying process. A real estate attorney is there to protect one of the most important, and expensive, purchases of your life. They are responsible for ensuring all documents are in order, and that title searches and transfer of funds are completed correctly. They can also help during the inspection process, should there be any issues. Further, having experienced legal representation at closing can help ease your mind that your purchase will be done correctly and in a timely manner.

real estate attorney is a definite asset for both buyers and sellers. At the end of the day, if something goes wrong on either end, you have a professional ready to take care of any problems and get the process back on track. 

If you are finding yourself looking to buy or sell make sure to give the experienced professionals at Bell Law a call. They are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have to get the process started the right way.

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