Guy Bocicaut Real Estate's Blog
If you ride through the suburbs of America, you’ll likely notice that the houses just seem to get bigger and bigger. Like our taste for large trucks and SUVs, Americans tend towards the idea that bigger is better.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are people who feel quite the opposite. From this minimalist mindset has emerged the “tiny house.” What exactly is a tiny house?
There is no exact definition. However, most tiny houses are built on wheels--to adhere to local building code--and typically don’t exceed 500 square feet in size.
You might be thinking that’s a bit extreme. And you wouldn’t be alone--Americans have taken advantage of small homes in the form of modular homes, and cottage-style houses for decades.
With the cost of heating and powering a home rising year after year, it’s beginning to make sense to downsize.
So, in this article we’ll talk about what it means to live in a smaller home to help you decide whether it’s a good choice for you.
Barriers to building small houses
If it’s your dream to someday build a small house on a hilltop in your hometown, you might have to face-off with the local zoning committee first. Some of the biggest barriers to building smaller houses are local regulations involving minimum house sizes.
This isn’t a new problem, with towns struggling with the idea of minimum square footage as far back as the 1970s. In spite of this barrier, small house and tiny house proponents have been finding loopholes.
One such workaround involves simply building your house on wheels. However, that isn’t easy to do and it doesn’t always look great either.
Depending on your hobbies and philosophy, living in a small house can be a good or a bad thing. Those who seek to become more minimal in their belongings often find that small houses help them achieve this.
The more things we own the more we have to worry about storing and maintaining them. However, if you value experiences more than objects, living in a small house could save you money and therefore leave you with more funds for traveling and other experiences.
Family is another thing to consider when living in a small house. If you have a large family or pets, living in a small house can be difficult. However, there is something to be said about growing up in a small house (it makes it harder for kids to avoid their parents by playing video games in their room or the basement!).
How to decide if you can manage living in a small house
If you’re downsizing from a larger home it can be scary to lose all of that extra space you were used to. There are a few ways to see if you can adapt to a smaller home, however.
You could rent a small apartment while you search for a new home. This will allow you to acclimate yourself to living in a smaller environment.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of signing a lease, there’s always renting a small property through AirBnB or a camping cottage for a few weeks. Then you’ll have time to notice what you like and dislike about the smaller space and will be able to plan for how to want to deal with those changes if you decide to move into a smaller house.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, odds are you’ve thrown the words “prequalified” and “preapproved” interchangeably. However, when it comes to home loans, there are some very important differences between the two.
For buyers hoping to purchase a home with a few missteps and misunderstandings as possible, it’s vital to understand the procedures involved in acquiring financing for a home.
Today, we’ll break down these two real estate jargon terms so that you can go into the mortgage approval process armed with the knowledge to help you succeed in securing a home loan.
Let’s start with the easy part--mortgage prequalification. Getting prequalified helps borrowers find out what kind and what size mortgage they can likely secure financing for. It also helps lenders establish a relationship with potential customers, which is why you will often see so many ads for mortgage prequalification around the web.
Prequalification is a relatively simple process. You’ll be asked to provide an overview of your finances, which your lender will plug into a formula and then report back to you whether or not you’re likely to get approved based on your current circumstances.
The lender will ask you for general information about your income, assets, debt, and credit. You won’t need to provide exact documents for these things at this phase in the process, since you have not yet technically applied for a mortgage.
Prequalification exists to give you a broad picture of what you can expect. You can use this information to plan for the future, or you can seek out other lenders for a second opinion. But, before you start shopping for homes, you’ll want to make sure you’re preapproved, not prequalified.
After you’ve prequalified, you can start thinking about preapproval. If you’re serious about buying a home in the near future, getting preapproved will simplify your buying process. It will also make sellers more likely to take you seriously, since you already have your financing partially secured.
Mortgage preapproval requires you to provide the lender with income documentation. They will also perform a credit inquiry to receive your FICO score.
Mortgage applications and credit scores
Before we talk about the rest of the preapproval process, we need to address one common issue that buyers face when applying for a mortgage. There are two types of credit inquiries that lenders can perform to view your credit history--hard inquiries and soft inquiries.
A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score. But a hard inquiry can lower your score by a few points for a period of 1 to 2 months. So, when getting preapproved, you should expect your credit score to drop temporarily.
Once you’re preapproved for a mortgage, you can safely begin looking at homes. If you decide to make an offer on a home and your offer is accepted, your preapproval will make it easier to move forward in closing on the home.
Once the lender checks off on the house you’re making an offer on, they will send you a loan commitment letter, enabling you to move forward with closing on the home.
We all like a clean home. As many times as we go through our daily and weekly cleaning routines, our homes can still be dirty. There’s plenty of places in your home that you might be neglecting to clean. These places are germ breeders. Especially to help prevent the spread of cold and flu, it’s important to keep these frequently used areas germ-free. The good news is that cleaning often overlooked spots is very simple. We’ll tell you where you need to clean and how with the tips below.
The Refrigerator Handles
While you’re preparing dinner, it’s very likely that you will need to open the fridge door more than once. You may surface clean the outside of the fridge, but often forget the handles that everyone grabs to get in and out of this appliance. You should scrub the handles down on a weekly basis with a mix of hot water and vinegar.
Your Computer And All The Accessories
You probably spend a lot of time at your desk and at the keyboard of your computer. Think of the times you have spilled things, sneezed on your computer, or just plain sweat while sitting there. There’s a ton of germs breeding all around your computer and its accessories. Make sure you do more than dust your computer off. Take off the accessories and scrub them every so often. If you have a laptop, turn the unit off and use a damp cloth to wipe it down.
While you probably remember to brush your teeth twice a day, you may not remember to clean your toothbrush holder very often. You can easily throw toothbrush holders right in the dishwasher. Also, boil the toothbrushes themselves in water for a few minutes every so often. This is especially important during times of cold and flu to keep viruses from spreading.
The faucets are perhaps one of the dirtiest places in your entire home. Be sure that you’re cleaning the handles and the faucet itself on a regular basis. You can do this with hot water and dish soap (something that’s already nearby!) For a deeper, disinfecting clean, use a paste of baking soda and vinegar.
These great little inventions protect your tables from having the finish damaged by glasses and cups. Without a cleaning once in awhile, they can build up residue and bacteria. Be sure to give them a once over with warm water and soap.
Some other areas that could use cleaning in your home:
- Light switches
- Cabinet handles
- TV remotes
- Coffee makers
While your home looks clean, you want it to be clean. By following these tips and by paying attention to the most used areas of your home, you’ll be on your way to a deep clean that avoids breeding germs.
If you plan to buy a house and want to achieve the optimal results, you should perform a home inspection. In fact, there are many reasons why you should allocate significant time and resources to conduct an in-depth house inspection, and these include:
1. You can gain unprecedented insights into a home's condition.
Although you might have fallen in love with a house when you first saw it, a home inspection may make you rethink your decision to purchase a residence. To better understand why this may be the case, let's consider an example.
If you conduct a home inspection and discover a wide range of problems with a house, you have a tough choice to make. In this scenario, you can continue with a home purchase as planned. Or, you may be able to make a viable argument that a seller should perform assorted house repairs or reduce his or her sale price based on the inspection results.
Ultimately, a home inspection provides you with insights that you may struggle to gain anywhere else. And if you perform an extensive home inspection, you may reap the benefits of this evaluation for years to come.
2. You can avoid the risk of paying too much to acquire your ideal residence.
As a homebuyer, it is important to do everything possible to get the best price on a house. But even if you conduct real estate market research, you risk spending too much on a house if you ignore a home inspection.
With a house inspection, you can learn about various home problems, along with the costs associated with such issues. Then, you can use this information to determine whether your initial offer is sufficient, or whether you should request a reduced home price based on a residence's condition.
3. You can limit the possibility of costly home repairs.
Thanks to a home inspection, you can identify home issues that otherwise may lead to costly repairs down the line. You then can use this information to decide whether you can complete myriad home repairs on your own, or whether professional support is needed to perform house improvements. And if you are overwhelmed by the costs associated with many potential home repairs, you can always walk away from a home sale at this time.
Clearly, there are many reasons to perform a home inspection before you finalize a house purchase. If you hire an expert real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support as you prepare for a home inspection too.
A real estate agent is happy to put you in touch with the top home inspectors in your area. Plus, a real estate agent will attend a home inspection with you and is ready to provide guidance throughout the evaluation. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can meet with you after a house inspection, go over the inspection results with you and help you make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a home purchase.