Some of My Favorite Resources
Below are some of my favorite resources. Enjoy!
For Home Buyers
Renting vs. Buying
There are plenty of good reasons to buy a home, AND plenty of good reasons not too. It really boils down to you, your situation, your wants, needs, finances, and your short and long term goals. Want more food for thought? This is a great article on the primary pros and cons of each.
Also try out this helpful Rent vs. Buy Calculator.
My Favorite Property Search Website
If we end up working together, I have a GREAT home search website to offer you, however unfortunately I can’t post it here because it is available by subscription only (I foot the bill on that). In the meantime, with its great graphics and tools, and detailed property information provided in real time (including the ability to save properties, check neighborhood stats and search recent sales) Realtor.com is a great site for searching properties for sale here in the East Bay, and throughout the US.
Choosing a Home Loan
20% down, 3% down, or something else? Which is right for you, and how do you sort through it all? This article provides a great overview of the primary pros and cons of each. Bottom line: congratulations, you have choices, but choose thoughtfully.
Your total monthly mortgage cost is made up of 4 to 6 things: Principal (the payment on the actual amount of money you borrow); Interest (the interest the lender charges you for the loan); Property taxes (charged by your county and based on the assessed value of your home); and Insurance (your home insurance). In addition, it may also possibly include Mortgage Insurance* (if your down payment is less than 20%); and HOA Fees* (if you own a condo, townhouse or live in a planned community, it’s the monthly fee charged to manage and maintain common areas). A good mortgage calculator provides a good estimate of all those costs. Here are a couple of good ones:
Estimating Closing Costs
What are closing costs, and what do they typically run in California? Closing costs are all the costs associated with buying a home, and they typically run from about 2 – 2.5% of the cost of the home. Find a good summary of typical closing costs in California listed here.
Home Ownership for Less
How can you reduce the cost of home ownership? There are some great options to consider. In my case, I bought a fixer duplex in an up and coming neighborhood and never looked back. Bottom line: you have choices. Here are two of my favorites:
1) Buy a home with an in-law unit or a duplex, live in one unit and rent out the other. With rents in the Bay Area at an all time high, renting even a 1 bedroom unit can bring in significant rental income (find average rents for many Bay Area cities listed here). Of course you need to be comfortable with the role of landlord, and you would be subject to all laws and regulations affecting rentals in your area, but buying a home with a rental unit can both reduce the money required to purchase a home AND the cost of home ownership. How? Find out more here.
2) Buy a home, income property or vacation property together with friends or family: Founded of Seattle and now operating in California as well, CoBuy is a new company who’s purpose is to help friends or family pool resources to buy property together. They walk you through all the considerations, provide extensive advice, examples and templates, and essentially help streamline the process of helping groups of people buy property together. For more information, visit www.GoCoBuy.com.
For Home Sellers
Preparing Your Home for Sale
I searched the internet high and low, and am still looking for better information on this subject. So while there is much more to say about the art, science and strategy of preparing a home for sale, this article is a pretty good start.
Estimating Your Proceeds
When considering whether to sell, it can be helpful to get a good estimate of what you will earn from the sale at a given sale price. This site provides a good basic seller proceeds calculator to get you a rough ballpark estimate. Consult with a Realtor, Mortgage Broker or Escrow Officer to get a more accurate estimate of your likely proceeds.
The Energy Efficiency Upgrades that Add Value
So I will try real hard to refrain from getting up on my soap box, but we ALL ought to do do what we can to tread a little more lightly on this precious planet. For those of you so inclined, here are some recommendations for energy efficient upgrades that offer the biggest bang for the buck from a home owner and home seller standpoint.
Save Thousands on Your Mortgage
I love this mortgage hack, and my favorite is the method of dividing your monthly mortgage payment in half, and paying that half payment every two weeks (referred to as biweekly payments). Over the course of the year, you end up paying the equivalent of one extra mortgage payment per year, but in a fairly painless way. Why do this? Because of all the money you can save. For example, for a 30 year fixed loan of $500,000, with a 4% interest rate, you could save about $60,000 in interest AND shave about 5 years off your loan. Learn more here.
Reduce the Cost of Home Ownership with an ADU
Interested in reducing the cost of home ownership? One option is to add an ADU (an Accessory Dwelling Unit/legal in-law unit) to your single family home, creating a long term source of rental income to help offset your housing costs. Studio Shed is one of a growing number of companies out there offering pretty, flexible, affordable ADU options. In California, there are even some city sponsored efforts to help underwrite the cost of construction, such The Backyard Homes Project in LA.
Get This Book: 100 Things Every Homeowner Must Know
Want to better understand your house, all its systems, and know the difference between you can easily fix something needing repair in your home and when it’s time to call in a professional? All that, while saving time and money in the process? This book is a great, practical, and money saving home care and repair guide. Get it.
Have a rental property? In the Bay Area, rental laws and regulations are getting increasingly complex. If you’ve decided you would like someone else to manage your property with care and skill, MYND is a great local company to consider.
Interior Design Apps to Help You Create Your Dream Home
I LOVE architecture and design. But I also find that with all the choices out there it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. And what about when you are designing on a budget, or simply trying to decide between two or more different options for a room? These interior design apps will help you play around with any and all ideas, figure out the look and feel you want, and how to get the biggest bang for your design buck BEFORE you lay your money down.
Renovation Apps for Your Next Home Improvement Project
There is some overlap here, but this list includes additional great apps that cover both design and practical aspects like room dimensions and budget calculators.
Resources for the DIY-er
Looking for more information and inspiration? There are alot of great resources out there, and more appearing all the time. Here are some great places to start:
The “University of YouTube”