Tagged: The Neighborhood

How to spot a walkable neighborhood

Strolling to a cafe for breakfast, walking around the corner to yoga—isn’t that the life? Before you buy or rent, here’s how to suss out whether a neighborhood you’re interested in will let you get out from behind the wheel. See what locals have to say. On every Neighborhood page on Trulia, you’ll find What Locals Say ratings. These […]

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5 Ways to Not Get Divorced During the Homebuying Process

image of a couple fighting on a bench

Even the most level-headed couples can go a little crazy when hunting for a home. If not careful, stress levels can suddenly shoot through the roof.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most homebuying decisions swirl around major life changes: marriage, a new baby, job relocation, retirement, and downsizing. Those are tectonic shifts in one’s life, and adding a hefty down payment and a 30-year mortgage to the mix doesn't ease the burden.

Tensions don’t end there. A home isn’t just an investment; it’s a place you’re tethered to for years. You’re literally shaping your future by the neighborhood you choose.

In such an emotional situation, people easily become overwhelmed. In fact, a U.K. report found that 70 percent of respondents thought buying a home was a critically stressful time in their lives. Only one other life event was ranked worse: getting a divorce.

Yet it’s not practical to live in the same place forever. In other words, it’s up to every couple to rethink the way they handle the house-seeking experience, starting with preparing themselves for the reality of the situation.

Decisions, Decisions, and More Decisions!

Any homebuying newbie can relate to how complicated the process can be. When two people are involved, however, the strain amplifies. Luckily, knowing a few upfront expectations and being prepared to make tough decisions can ease the pressure.

First, understand the substantial financial burden. You must openly talk about your expenditure expectations with your partner. Partners can have significantly different ideas of what they are willing to spend to have a comfortable, safe home.

You must also accept that both of your priorities won’t necessarily align. For example, you drive east for work, and your spouse drives west. Whose work is more important if you can’t find a house centralized between the offices? In addition, what if the new home allows your partner to be 10 minutes from relatives, while you have a two-hour trek to visit yours? Until these considerations are aired out, a couple will be far from acing the homebuying process.

5 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Intact During Homebuying

Overall, communication is essential. In fact, with a few steps, you can turn looking for the perfect house into a way to strengthen — not wreck — your relationship:

1. Stick to a budget

Ironically, people often discuss stretching their budgets before they’ve even set them. Take a pragmatic approach, and know your budget first. A fast way to figure out your top monthly payment is by multiplying your combined monthly income by 0.25. For example, if you two make $10,000 a month, your mortgage payment with taxes and insurance shouldn’t be more than $2,500.

At that point, you can work backward. Use a mortgage calculator, like the one provided by Zillow, to figure out that a $2,500 monthly payment equates to a $500,000 house. Don’t even consider asking your mom to co-sign a loan to get more money. Instead, acknowledge the fact that you two can only afford what you can. Accepting this will help you both make decisions logically.

2. Start with the “good,” and work up to “best”

You know you can afford a $500,000 house, but don't initially schedule showings in that price range. The first three homes should be listed at about 20 percent below your budget. As you walk through the homes, notice what you like and what you don’t. For your next house, go up to the $450,000 level. Jot down what you love and hate. Finally, step into a $500,000 home. Is it tremendously better than the $450,000 one? Are its advantages worth an additional $50,000?

By starting at “good” options and moving toward “best” choices, you gain control over the process, and both partners have a chance to air out their objections. But be warned: If you flip the order and start with a $500,000 listing, anything less would seem subpar.

3. Quantify what’s important

Try to quantify preferences to put a more rational tenor on the process. An example is weighing the objective value of school districts and home prices. Typically, a home in a stellar school district will cost up to 25 percent more than comparable homes. Thus, for your money, you would have to get a smaller home to live in a preferred community.

Talk about this not as a way to “steal” opportunity from your kids but as a way to look at the pros and cons of each decision. For example, if you have 15 percent less of a house, your kids could attend a better school. This is a more rational approach than blaming your partner for not caring about your children's education. Quantifying priorities allows both of you to look at the big picture.

4. Speak magic words

Couples involved in buying homes often forget to incorporate productive, positive phrases into their conversations. Even if it doesn’t come naturally, emphasize how grateful you are for your partner throughout the process. Talk about how you appreciate that he or she has helped make it possible to look at better homes. Or admit that you’re blown away by the flexibility you’re seeing in your partner’s willingness to incur a longer commute to work.

While it isn’t an easy feat to be affirmative, you'll end up with better long-term results. You’re starting a new chapter together, after all. Don't you want your partner to know you are here for him or her in this journey? All it takes is a sprinkling of gratitude.

5. Invest in a little reflection

Whether or not you’re religious or spiritual, make time for reflection before signing on the dotted line. This will ground you and your partner and create a sense of much-needed calm. Ask yourself: “Is this really the direction for us? Is this where we’re supposed to be?”

In addition, vow not to bicker about dollar amounts after making your choice. Rather, use your home as a launching pad for the next page of your relationship.

Who has time to heap additional stress into their lives? Avoid the price of a divorce lawyer, and focus on the exciting possibilities ahead that come with buying a new home. The homebuying process might not be a cake walk, but your marriage doesn't have to pay for it.

An entrepreneur at heart, CEO Mike Kalis leads the team at MarketplaceHomes.com, a Detroit-based brokerage that specializes in new construction sales and property management. If you purchase a new home through Marketplacehomes.com, we'll agree to buy yours. Marketplace Homes has sold more than $3 billion in new construction homes through its unique home trade-in system and manages more than 3,500 single-family properties for investors who have 1 to 10 properties. It also offers new-construction homebuyers a guaranteed lease on their previous properties for up to six years.

Image © Pexels

Steps to Building a House

In this article: Check your financing options Locate the right lot Plan and design the home Hire professionals Understand the process of building a house If you can’t find your dream home on the market or if you want to create a home that’s uniquely yours, you might consider building a house. Buyers who decided […]

The post Steps to Building a House appeared first on Home Buyers Guide.

My home buying story: How VA loans helped this service member buy a home

    Name: Chris V. Year: 2004 City: Kapolei Occupation: Army Age: 21 Salary: $20,000 + $1,300 a month housing allowance Home Price: $160,000 Chris and his wife, Nichole, had only been married for a couple of years when they bought their first home in 2004. Like most young couples, they didn’t have enough income for a giant mortgage or […]

The post My home buying story: How VA loans helped this service member buy a home appeared first on Trulia's Blog.

How This 34 Year Old Owns 7 Rental Homes

My monthly Extraordinary Lives series is something that I’m really loving, and I’m back with another great interview. First up was JP Livingston, who retired with a net worth over $2,000,000 at the age of 28. Today’s interview is with Paula Pant, a 34-year-old who owns seven rental homes, which last year grossed $125,000 and netted […]

The post How This 34 Year Old Owns 7 Rental Homes appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

How to Simplify Your Holiday Celebration and Save Your Sanity

Does this sound familiar? You start the holiday season feeling festive and full of good cheer. You have big plans and ambitions to make everything merry and bright for you and your family. But as your to-do list grows, so does your stress level. The next thing you know, you just want to settle in for a long winter's nap and not come out again until spring.

Even before I became a mom, I wanted nothing more than to give my family the gift of the most magical holiday season possible. First, I had to orchestrate amazing decorations. Then I would not only make festive treats but plan elaborate five-course meals. And let's not forget shopping 'til I dropped so I could shower my friends and family with impeccably wrapped, showstopping gifts!

No pressure.

I spent so much time and energy trying to pull off the perfect Christmas that, come December 25, I was run so ragged I hoped to never see another candy cane for the rest of my life. I would collapse after the last gift was unwrapped. Fa la la la la la la la … ugh. 

Each year I vowed to be smarter with my time and efforts, but I still wound up mindlessly repeating this vicious cycle. That is, until I was expecting my fifth child. Seven months pregnant, I ended up with pneumonia and a cracked rib. As miserable as I was, it was the year I received the best gift ever—the doctor ordered bed rest!

I had to rely on my husband and the grandparents to take over so that our kids would still have a Christmas. By no means did they do everything the way I would’ve done it. (Actually, they did nothing the way I would've done it!) But by letting go of the control, I watched a wonderful holiday unfold. I finally wasn’t in the trenches driving myself crazy trying to create a perfect holiday. Instead, I was living in the moment.

I knew right then that I was finally done with all the holiday hype.

De-stress this holiday season by deciding what's important

I still enjoy the magic of the holiday season, but now I approach this time of year with much less fuss.

If you've realized that spending time with loved ones is more important than pulling off the "perfect" holiday, think about what you can cut back on this year.

  • No time to stage a photo card of your family this year? New Year’s cards are festive, too! Bonus: They might even stand out more if they arrive after the rush of holiday cards.
  • Is it really necessary to spend time and money on gifts for teachers, bus drivers, teacher assistants, and the school nurse this holiday season? Have your child write a heartfelt card to these special folks instead.
  • Does the Elf on the Shelf really have to make a pre-Thanksgiving appearance? Maybe he could show up the week before Christmas. Less work, same fun!
  • Can you simplify your holiday décor by cutting back on outdoor lighting or limiting your decorating to just one special room in your home? You don't have to be the neighborhood Griswolds to have a happy holiday.
  • Which holiday invites do you really want to accept? Politely decline invitations for parties you're not really interested in or just don't have time for.

Center your time and energy more on the things you actually love doing and less on those that feel like a chore. You’ll automatically simplify this hectic time of year.

Tap into your holiday senses

I’ve always been a Christmas junkie! Whether it's enjoying all the lights and bling of the season, soaking in the enchanting sounds and delicious tastes that surround us, or decking the halls—count me in. Being mindful of the elements that make this time of year so special can deliver an entirely new experience for both you and your loved ones.

Instead of rushing from one errand to the next, tap into your holiday senses so you can be more present this season. Here are some festive, low-key ideas.

Bake with your kids. Find an afternoon where you can roll out some sugar cookies, decorate a gingerbread house, make homemade fudge, or dabble with delicious peppermint bark. Notice how amazing your house smells while these goodies are baking. Enjoy an ice cold glass of milk as you nibble on a delightful iced gingerbread man. Make an extra dozen or so for your neighbor and leave them as a surprise on their front porch. Savor the experience. Check out these yummy holiday recipes on Food Network.

Get crafty. Watch your child swell with pride when they create a special masterpiece for Grandma and Grandpa. Head over to Pinterest for hundreds of easy, jolly ideas. In our house, our favorite DIY holiday décor is paper snowflakes. Even my college kids love to make these every year. We sprinkle a little glitter on them and decorate our windows to create a real winter wonderland feel.

Play holiday tunes. Get in the spirit by playing festive music first thing in the morning. When your kids get up, they can jingle all the way to the breakfast table. Sing along with Frosty the Snowman as you carpool to practice. Let holiday music play quietly in the background on Christmas Eve as you prepare for the excitement of Christmas Day.

Check out holiday light displays. Take a brisk early evening walk through your neighborhood and enjoy the beautiful glow of holiday lights. When you get home, make some creamy hot cocoa and talk about which scenes were your favorite. Or drive through your community to take in the festive displays. Soaking in the holiday bling can illuminate positive energy and it’s a low-cost way to spend some time together as a family.

Watch holiday classics. Pick a cozy afternoon or evening and binge-watch your favorite holiday movies together. Don’t forget the popcorn!

RELATED: 7 Ways to Save Money During the Holiday Season

Focus on tradition

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is celebrating the traditions we’ve created over the years. There’s something comforting about practicing a tried and true ritual that belongs to your family.

My parents established a fun tradition—Christmas Eve PJs! We opened them before bed each year.

When I had my own family, we continued the tradition. But I incorporated a theme each year like footed pajamas, Star Wars, Polar Express, or our favorite sports teams. This year we’re getting reindeer pajamas, and yes, they will come with antlers!

The beauty of a traditions is that you can start them any time. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Cut your own fresh tree
  • Have a Secret Santa exchange
  • Donate gifts to those less fortunate
  • Go caroling
  • Have a grab bag of both practical and gag gifts
  • Explore another culture’s tradition
  • Have a potluck holiday celebration with friends
  • Decorate your tree with colorful, handmade paper chains
  • Have a family game night
  • Create a romantic, special quiet time for you and your spouse to exchange gifts—just the two of you

RELATED: 6 Ways to Create Family Traditions

Give Experiences

The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion nationwide. Yikes!

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my kids open their gifts on Christmas morning, particularly when the gift is some pricey item I know they weren't expecting. But gifts are not what the holiday season is all about.

Experiences are a great alternative to material gifts. We started doing this years ago, and my kids look forward to receiving things like concert or sporting event tickets, a family weekend away, or private lessons more than a new electronic gadget. One year we gave them bedroom makeovers and let them pick out their color schemes!

Rely on Mother Nature

I recently attended a wellness workshop and one of the speakers focused on one of the most neglected, free assets available—mother nature.

If you live in a climate where winter weather is getting into high gear, it may be tempting to limit your time with nature to climbing in and out of the car. But winter is a wonderful time to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Embrace a walk in the new-fallen snow, take your kids to an outdoor ice-skating rink, or hike on a nature trail and take in the frosty landscape. A walk on the beach in the winter can also be invigorating. With fewer people around, you can have some quality time with your own thoughts.

Reconnect with yourself

Most parents focus on making things fun for their kids throughout the holidays. The decorating, baking, shopping, and constant running around seem to be for everyone but ourselves. Instead of waiting until post-holiday exhaustion sets in, use the holiday season to reconnect with yourself.

Finding quiet pockets of time throughout the week may seem like a laughable concept, but if you put your mind to it, you’d be surprised at the different ways you can sneak some me-time into your schedule.

Give meditation a try. Listen to an inspirational podcast or captivating audiobook that takes your mind away from the daily annoyances you have little control over. This well-spent me-time will help you to relax and get into the true spirit of the season. You may also learn something new!

Prince’s Former Los Angeles Mansion Lists for $30 Million

A star-studded home in the heart of Hollywood Hills has hit the market for $30 million this week. Formerly owned by Prince, Elizabeth Taylor, Russ Weiner, and Carlos Booze, this home has a ton of character and charm.

The post Prince’s Former Los Angeles Mansion Lists for $30 Million appeared first on Homes.com.

Affordable beach communities you can commute from

It’s that sunny time of year when you end up spending half your workday staring out your office window wondering when your next chance to hit the beach will be. What if the answer was “right after work” every single day—right outside your door? Affordable beachfront living does exist, even within commuting distance of pricey […]

The post Affordable beach communities you can commute from appeared first on Trulia's Blog.

How to Make Tough Decisions as a Couple

Marnie and Tom live in a nice suburb in the Midwest with their two young children. Marnie’s mother, Elaine, lives about an hour away.

When the kids were babies, Marnie's mother used to drive to Marnie and Tom's every day to see her grandkids and help out. But lately, Marnie's mother's health has been declining, so she can’t drive over anymore.

One day Marnie gets an idea: What if she and Tom sell their house and move closer to her mother? Then the kids would be able to see their grandmother more often. Plus, Marnie would be able to keep a closer eye on her mother in case her health gets worse. Seems like a perfect solution.

There’s only one problem—Tom doesn’t want to move. Tom likes the neighborhood they’re in. He thinks he and Marnie paid too much for their house, but other than that he’s very comfortable.

Tom says no.

Tough decisions and zero-sum situations

Faced with big decisions like this, a couple will ordinarily try to compromise. But in this case, there’s really no half-way. Economists call this kind of thing a zero-sum situation. Someone’s going to win, and someone’s going to lose.

For over thirty years, I’ve watched couples struggle with zero-sum problems. Some more successfully, and some less so.

Some classic zero-sum problems for couples involve whether or not to move—often for one partner’s career—and whether or not to have another child. But there are lots of others.    

For thirty years, I’ve watched couples struggle with zero-sum problems. Some more successfully, and some less so. Today, we’re going to talk about what works, and what doesn’t, when you’re faced with one of these situations.

Three ways not to make tough decisions as a couple

 First, let’s talk first about what doesn’t work. There are three main approaches that don’t work. Unfortunately, most couples try all three:

Mistake #1 – Trying to convince your partner they'll be better off

The first mistake is to try to convince your partner that they’ll be much happier if they do things your way. In Marnie’s case, this might involve demonstrating to Tom all the wonderful things about the neighborhood she'd like to move to. Wouldn't Tom be better off there? 

No one likes to be told they’ll be happier if they just do things your way.

 Here’s the problem: No one likes to be told they’ll be happier if they just do things your way. It's better to assume each person has good reasons for feeling the way they do. And that those reasons aren’t likely to change. In couples therapy, we call this "staying in your own lane."

Mistake #2 – Suggesting there's something wrong with your parnter for disagreeing

The second thing that doesn’t work is to suggest there’s something wrong with your partner. Otherwise, they'd see it your way. If only they were less anxious, less obsessive-compulsive, less oppositional, less stuck in their ways, or less damaged by unresolved childhood trauma. Then they’d surely agree with you!

A lot of people get sent to my office for therapy by their spouses for just this reason. Believe me when I tell you, it doesn’t work.

A lot of people get sent to my office for therapy by their spouses for just this reason. Believe me when I tell you, it doesn’t work. It usually just leads to a lot of bad feeling.

Mistake #3 – Appealing to your partner's love

The third thing that doesn’t work is to appeal to your partner’s love and insist that if they really love you as much as they say they do, they’ll give you what you want. Almost every couple tries this.

Marnie is no exception.

“Tom,” she says, one night as they're getting ready for bed, “Don’t you see how I can’t sleep at night worrying about my mother? I can't stop thinking about how she’s missing out on so much of our kids’ lives. Can’t you see what this is doing to me? Don’t you love me?”

 “The answer’s still no,” says Tom. “And it has nothing to do with whether I love you or not.”

I'd be inclined to agree. Just because you love someone, that doesn't mean you're responsible for giving them everything they want. 

A better way to make tough decisions as a couple

The good news is there’s a much better method. There are three steps involved.

Step One:  Let’s make a deal

In business, this would be a no-brainer, right?  You’d never ask someone to give you something you want for free. Instead, you’d find out what their price is.  

In marriage, it’s the same thing. The main question is: What’s going to motivate the other person to do a deal?

Let’s see what happens when Marnie tries this approach.

One night in bed, just before they turn off the lights, Marnie turns over to face Tom.

“Tom, what can I give you to make you agree to move?” she asks.

Tom is silent.

“A promise to never complain ever again about you watching TV?”

Tom smiles. “It’s going to cost a lot more than that,” he says.

Marnie thinks some more. “How about if I agree to spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas with your family?”

Tom shakes his head. But now Marnie has the idea. She’s not asking for favors anymore. She just wants to do this deal.         

“I'll do all the cooking and cleanup three times a week,” she says. "And we spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with your family."  

Tom raises an eyebrow. Now he knows she's serious. "Let me think about it,” he says, and turns off the light.

Time for Step Two.

Step Two:  The $64,000 Question

The following night, Tom is sitting at his laptop paying bills. Suddenly it hits him. “Marnie,” he says, “I think I see a way to do this. If we’re going to move, let’s get a smaller house and start saving money again. What do you think?”    Marnie’s actually been hoping for a bigger house. It’s painful to hear that this is what Tom wants. But hey, now he’s named his price. That means he’s in the game.

To me, this looks promising. Marnie gets something she wants very much. And she pays for it, fair and square. Same thing on Tom’s side.

Marnie thinks for a minute.  

“Let’s see what we can find,” she says.

Step Three: The Price is Right

Now comes the fun part.

The following Sunday, Marnie and Tom drop the kids off with her mother and start house-hunting in earnest. After a few weekends, they find a house they both like well enough. It breaks Marnie’s heart to be downsizing, but it was the only way to make things work. And it helps that once they find a place Tom likes, Marnie gets him to agree to new cabinets and closets.

Decision making builds strong relationships

 A good deal will have both of your dreams in it. That’s important, because it means you’re both fully in. You never know how a move like this is going to work out. If it goes well, you both share the satisfaction. If not, you share the blame.

A good deal will have both of your dreams in it.

One sign of a good deal is that in the end, neither of you got everything you wanted. The final result didn’t look exactly like what either of you originally had in mind.

But hey, isn’t that the case with anything creative? Eventually you have to face reality. And in a couple’s relationship, reality often takes the form of the person next to you in bed.

Sometimes life brings you to a fork in the road, where no compromise is possible. When that happens, assume you’ll need to do some serious deal-making—as if your relationship depended on it. Which in fact, it will.

Eventually, you have to face reality. And in a couple’s relationship, reality often takes the form of the person next to you in bed.

As Yogi Berra famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”

In the long run, how you settle the issue may matter more than which fork you take.

6 Steps to Buying a Preforeclosure Property

Everyone knows you can buy a foreclosed home below market value, but what about a preforeclosed home? This article explains what a foreclosure is, how the process works, and tips for buying one. Check Rates: Check Today’s Rates What is Preforeclosure? Preforeclosure refers to the status of a home. This means the owner(s) are falling […]

The post 6 Steps to Buying a Preforeclosure Property appeared first on The Lenders Network.