Linda D. Dempsey - KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY


Becoming a home owner for the first time is an exciting milestone for Millennials! Going from renting an apartment to owning your own property represents a big transition from dependency to independence.

For many people, it even symbolizes making the leap from childhood to adulthood. Once you're a homeowner and a property taxpayer, there's often a newfound feeling of being more established and successful.

While home ownership may bestow upon you a boost in status, the added responsibility of paying for your own repairs, maintenance, and upkeep can take an unexpected toll on your budget. With a little extra planning, however, you can avoid many of the pitfalls of home ownership.

Looking at the Big Picture

Here's a misconception that sometimes creates a financial strain for first-time homeowners: "If we can afford to pay $1800 in rent, every month, then we should be able to afford monthly mortgage payments in that same amount!" While that premise may sound logical, there are a few crucial "missing pieces" from that equation -- pieces which could throw your household budget out of kilter!

In addition to the costs associated with purchasing real estate, such as a down payment and closing costs, there's also the matter of home repairs and property maintenance. Depending on where you decide to live, there could be other fees to absorb, too, including garbage collection, yard waste removal, and water usage. Other expenses that first-time homeowners may overlook include the cost of buying a lawnmower, a snow blower, yard maintenance supplies, tools, and furniture. That's why creating a detailed estimated budget, based on your income, debts, and anticipated expenses can help you determine whether you're truly ready to take the plunge into homeownership.

Enlisting Professional Help

A mortgage broker or bank loan officer can provide you with assistance in calculating your financial readiness for purchasing a home. A good real estate agent can also offer insights and guidance into the process of finding, buying, and owning a house you can comfortably afford. They should be able to provide you with vital information about school taxes, property taxes, average utility bills, homeowner association fees (if any), and any issues revealed in the seller's disclosure form.

One way to avoid -- or at least be prepared for -- costs that often accompany home ownership is to have a qualified property inspector take a close look at the condition of everything in the house from the basement and attic to major appliances and structural features. They can generally tell you whether there are any concerns about mechanical systems, water in the basement, foundation damage, issues with property drainage, the electrical system, potential plumbing problems, and dozens of other vital checkpoints

Whether you're a first-time house hunter or a seasoned homeowner, it pays to understand, anticipate, and budget for the many costs of being a property owner. While owning your own home can be a rewarding and satisfying experience, a guiding principle to keep in mind as you consider available homes on the market is "caveat emptor" (Let the buyer beware)!


When selling your home, you want to be able to get the largest return for your investment. And buyers are looking for their next place to call home. They are looking for a place that they can see themselves living and creating a future. And oftentimes, it’s very difficult for buyers to look beyond the cosmetics of a home, especially when viewing online. Therefore, if large investments are not in the cards for you or won’t bring a significant ROI, small home improvements are the way to go. These small improvements can take your home from blah to wow!

Let’s take a look at some of the best small home improvements that will certainly provide you with a return.  

1. Fresh coat of paint: A fresh coat of paint can make the world of a difference in a home. It can instantly brighten up a space and make the home look and feel newer—an instant plus for any seller and buyer. But be sure to choose more neutral colors as not everyone will be a fan of bold colors.

2. Adding architectural touches: Architectural features like crown molding and a chair rail can add an elegant upgrade to any home. They can be fairly inexpensive and would only take a weekend to put up.

3. Update front door: Your front door is a large part of your curb appeal. And a home’s curb appeal can leave a substantial impression on buyers. You can go the inexpensive route and add a pop of color that compliments your home’s exterior and landscaping or purchase a new door if a coat of paint won’t do the trick.

4. Add a backsplash: Backsplashes don’t have to break the bank to catch a buyer’s eye. And there are so many options from subway tile to mosaic to antique tin.

5. New hardware: Updating the hardware in your kitchen and bathroom can make the world of a difference. Adding modern hardware to cabinet doors will add a refreshing, simple update.

6. Update fixtures: Replacing old, worn down bathroom and kitchen fixtures is a very simple home improvement. Although not the cheapest of these options, they will definitely make a big difference in those rooms.Think of a home built in the 90s that has brass fixtures. The home looks very outdated and therefore worth less in the eyes of a buyer. If you update these fixtures to pewter or brushed nickel, you are instantly bringing the spaces into the 21st century and catching the appeal of buyers.

The amount of time, effort, and money that you want to put back into your home is a decision that you alone can make. It may seem silly to put more money into the home you are trying to sell, but it’s quite the opposite. Be smart about your updates and improvements. Try to think like a buyer and make updates that the majority will like and want.


Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

If you're looking for "subject-to" real estate, you know it can be a good investment. This kind of real estate is purchased "subject-to" the existing mortgage. So the buyer owns the property, but the mortgage stays in the seller's name. Payments are made by the buyer, but it's not necessary for that buyer to obtain a loan, pay all the fees associated with that, and use their own credit to buy a house. It can be an excellent deal for an investor and for a seller who's facing foreclosure or other types of problems. Here's what you need to know about the different kinds of "subject-to"  real estate.

"Subject-To" an Existing Mortgage 

The most common type of "subject-to" real estate has that designation because it's "subject-to" the current seller's existing mortgage. If you want to buy this kind of property, you won't need to get a mortgage of your own. Instead, the seller will deed you the property and you'll continue to make their mortgage payments. This can help you get properties fast and keep you from worrying about things like whether your credit is good. Not all investors like these kinds of properties, but they can be good choices when they're handled correctly.

"Subject-To" Other Types of Liens 

Even though they aren't as common, it's also possible to buy "subject-to" properties that don't have a traditional mortgage on them. These properties might have some other reason that they aren't free and clear, such as tax or contractor liens. If payments are being made on these things and you don't want to pay them off to buy the property, you can offer to buy from the seller "subject-to" those liens. Just make sure you know what you're really committing to, all the liens on the property and how much they're for, in total.

Who Would Typically Choose the Kind of Investment?

Both single-family and multi-family properties can be purchased "subject-to" existing mortgages and other types of loans or liens. When it comes to these kinds of investments, most investors who choose them are familiar with investing already. That's because there's risk involved, and brand-new investors might not protect themselves against these risks as well as they should.

Still, investors who are careful and want to get started in the market can do well with these kinds of properties because they don't have to use a lot of their own money or qualify for mortgages. Then can simply purchase properties, and that can mean a much bigger portfolio much faster than they would have thought possible. If you're looking for a way to build a big real estate portfolio quickly, buying "subject-to" properties can be one of the ways to do that.


A mirror is one of the most underrated pieces of home decor. Not only does a mirror serve a useful purpose by giving you and your guests an opportunity to catch a quick glance of your reflection, but it also helps to increase the perceived size of your room. A mirror can be a valuable accent piece, as it complements other types of decor such as wall art, monogrammed letters and more.

Instead of opting for a standard accent mirror that can be found at any department store, you can follow this step-by-step guide to creating your home.

Step 1: Find a Mirror that is the Right Size and Shape for Your Space

Accent mirrors can range in size and you need to find the one that fits the space you are designing. You can go looking for old mirrors at thrift stores and you may even find mirror pieces that can be designed into a truly unique decorative display for your wall.

Step 2: Brainstorm Materials for Designing Your New Mirror

Once you have a mirror that is ideal size and shape for the room you are decorating, you should begin thinking about materials that you can use to finish the mirror. A few examples of ideas that you could consider include:

  • Decorative beads or gems
  • Wooden frames
  • Shells or stones

Step 3: Gather the Materials You Need and Make a Plan

After you have decided on the materials that you want to use, get what you need to complete your project. Come up with a plan for how you are going to put your new mirror together, and don't forget to allocate the space you will need in your home or workshop to finish it.

Step 4: Get to Work on Your Accent Mirror

With your materials and plan ready, you can begin working on the mirror itself. Many people find that designing a custom creation and making it themselves is both therapeutic and rewarding.

Step 5: Display Your Mirror with Pride

Your accent mirror could take anywhere from hours or days to complete, but when it's done, you will have a beautiful mirror that no one else has in their home. Display it in your chosen spot with pride, and be ready to tell your guests about how you designed the mirror and completed it yourself.

Accent mirrors are one of the simplest DIY projects that you can take on. There's nothing better than making a custom creation that works perfectly with the existing color palette and theme in your home.


Image by Edar from Pixabay

Home insurance can be one of the more significant expenses when you’re a homeowner. You may feel that you’ll pay the same high monthly premium month after month, but there’re plenty of ways that you can save on your home insurance by making a few cuts here and there.

Get a Higher Deductible

Just like any kind of insurance, the higher that your deductible is, the lower your premiums. The fundamental problem with this is that when you need to make a smaller claim, the insurance may cover none of the cost. Compare the risk of paying for expenses out of pocket to the benefits of a lower insurance premium.

Get an Alarm System

Having an alarm system can help you save money on your home insurance. The alarm systems that are directly connected to police departments or a central monitoring place will save you more money. You’ll need proof of this in order to get a discount. Other alarm systems like CO2 detectors and smoke alarms are generally required by law in a home, but check with your insurance company. You could save a little extra for your efforts to protect your family and home.

Use One Insurance Company for Everything

Most insurance companies offer more than one type of insurance. This means that they love customers who use their policies to cover everything. Bundling your home, auto and life insurance with one company can help to save you some cash.

Own Your Home

Yes, paying your mortgage off completely sounds like a feat. Once the mortgage gets paid off, however, you’ll have lower insurance premiums. This is because insurance companies feel that once you own the home, you’ll be more mindful of taking care of it.

Think Before You Build

Building an addition on a home or putting in a swimming pool may sound like a great idea at first. You’ll need to think of how these construction projects will affect your premiums. A swimming pool raises your liability risk. Wood structures are considered highly flammable and cost more to insure.

Review Your Policy Often

You always have the right to do some comparison shopping once you get an insurance quote from one company. The place you work for may even offer some sort of group rate for insurance. Associations that you belong to may also be able to help save you some money. Do a little ground work and you may be able to save big just by comparing policies and levels of coverage.

Assess Your Valuables

The whole point of insurance is for you to replace your valuables if damaged or stolen. If items in your home have changed, reassess the contents of your home and just how much coverage you need. If you have less to replace, you’ll save on your insurance premiums because the value of your policy will go down.When taking a deeper look into your insurance, be sure to consider these and other factors that may have a hand in increasing or decreasing your out-of-pocket cost.

When taking a deeper look into your insurance, be sure to consider these and other factors that may have a hand in increasing or decreasing your out-of-pocket cost.