John Colby


Posted by John Colby on 7/16/2017

Apartments in some cities and municipalities offer as much space as the average size house. Amenities in apartments make living at the rentals comfortable and flexible. There are granite kitchen and bathroom counters, large walk-in closets and spacious bedroom en suites, to name a few apartment amenities.

Why it might be time to transition from renting to owning

With amenities like these, you can feel like you're living at a house even while you rent an apartment. But, that doesn't mean that it always makes sense to keep renting a house or an apartment. When you rent, you're not in complete control of your living arrangements. Your landlord is.

Generally, renting a house offers more independence when it comes to making decisions about your living space than renting an apartment. However, regardless of where you rent, your landlord may communicate that you cannot:

  • Keep large dogs in your apartment or leased house
  • Upgrade bathroom or kitchen cabinets
  • Plant fruit or vegetables in the front or backyard, even easy to care for food like tomatoes
  • Install a different style of windows at the property
  • Allow guests to stay at your apartment for longer than three to four weeks without getting management approval
  • Rent  one or more rooms even if you are not using the space
  • Barbecue on your front or back porch or in outdoor areas besides set barbecue cooking locations near the clubhouse or recreation center

More reasons to stop renting

Lack of authority to have any type of pet that you want at your home or redesign and style the property the way that you want is only one reason why it might not make sense to keep renting. Check out these other reasons when it doesn't make sense to keep renting:

  • Less opportunities to build real estate equity - You'll never own property that you rent unless you enter a rent-to-own agreement with the current owner of the property.
  • Rising rents - It's not uncommon for landlords to raise apartment and housing rents once a year or every two to three years.
  • Fewer chances to make money off the property - Owning your own home gives you the chance to earn income from the property. For example, you could rent out your house while you take ownership of another house, broadening your real estate equity.
  • Limited parking options - Although parking lots at apartment complexes are large, you have a limited number of parking spaces that you can use. If parking at apartment complexes is small, the apartment management might only be allowed one parking spot per resident.

It's true that renting removes the need to pay for and perform house repairs and general maintenance. By renting, you also avoid taking on a mortgage. What you don't get when you rent is assurance that, despite inflation and other economic shifts, your monthly housing costs won't change. You also generally won't have the authority and legal right to make any design and structural changes to property that you rent whenever you want.




Tags: renting   housing costs  
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Posted by John Colby on 7/9/2017

Buying a condo represents a life-changing investment. As such, you'll want to allocate the necessary time and resources to ensure that purchasing a condo is right for you.

So what does it take to determine whether to purchase a condo? Here are three tips for those who are evaluating the pros and cons of buying a condo.

1. Understand What Condo Life Is All About

A condo and a house are two very different types of properties. Thus, you'll want to understand what condo life is all about before you purchase a condo.

For example, homeowners likely will have a front yard and backyard that they will need to maintain year-round. Homeowners also can plant a garden, install an in-ground pool and perform various home maintenance and upgrade projects at any time.

On the other hand, condo owners frequently live in closer proximity to one another in comparison to homeowners. This means condo owners likely won't have to mow their own lawns or shovel their walkways in winter. However, condo owners might lack the space to set up a personal garden, and they may require homeowners association (HOA) approval to complete any home exterior modifications as well.

2. Know the HOA Fees

Although you'll pay a mortgage as part of a condo purchase, you will still need to consider the HOA fees in addition to your monthly mortgage costs.

HOA fees cover the costs of insurance, maintenance and other property expenses. Plus, if your condo's roof is severely damaged or destroyed, you should be covered thanks to your HOA fees.

To learn about your HOA fees, you can contact the HOA directly. Also, your real estate agent will be able to provide insights into the HOA fees associated with a condo.

3. Collaborate with an Experienced Real Estate Agent

When it comes to purchasing a condo, all real estate agents are not created equal.

Finding a real estate agent who possesses many years of experience with condos is paramount. This real estate agent will be able to help you understand the ins and outs of condo life, examine HOA fees closely and discover whether a condo purchase is right for you.

Furthermore, your real estate agent should be able to help you along each stage of the homebuying journey. He or she will be able to set up condo showings, assess condos that match your price range and provide expert homebuying tips as you move along the homebuying journey.

Perhaps best of all, your real estate agent understands that the process of buying a condo can be challenging. As a result, your real estate agent is happy to respond to your concerns and queries. That way, if you're uncertain about purchasing a condo, you can consult with your real estate agent and get the best support possible.

Hire a real estate agent with condo experience – you'll be glad you did. With this real estate professional at your disposal, you should have no trouble finding your dream condo in no time at all.




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Posted by John Colby on 7/2/2017

Living in an old home is like reading an old book. When you walk through an old home you can't help but notice that there is history right within the walls. Small differences, like low height of the doorknobs, take you back in time to when we were a different society with different needs and expectations. Just like old books, however, old homes sometimes require extra care to keep in good condition. Don't get me wrong--when people boast that their old home has "strong bones" they could certainly be right. But there are some things you might have to cope with living in an old home that aren't a huge concern in a new one. If you're thinking about purchasing an old home, read this list of things you should be aware of before you buy. It isn't meant to deter, just to inform so that you're ready for the challenges you'll face when that day comes. And, if you truly love the experience of living in an old house, the work will be well worth it.

Old doesn't mean decrepit

Let's go back to our book analogy from earlier. If you have a book from the late 1800s that has been stored in a dry place, hasn't been thrown around much, and always had conscientious owners who respected it enough to repair the binding when needed, your book will be in great shape. The same is true for old homes. Oftentimes, it only takes a quick glance around the home and a peek at the foundation to see if the home has been taken care of. Just because a house was built in the 1800s doesn't mean it hasn't been renovated periodically and maintained properly.

Warning signs

If you are thinking of buying an old home, here are some things you should look out for before you sign the dotted line. Don't forget to have the home inspected by a professional as well, since they will give you a much more detailed analysis of the problems a home might have.
  • Ancient HVAC. Aside from being prone to malfunctioning, old heating and ventilation systems could also prove to be dangerous and inefficient. Be sure to have a professional inspect the entire system.
  • Pests big and small. Over the years homes begin to develop vulnerabilities to ants, termites and other pests. Similarly, don't be surprised if you find mice, bats, or other furry creatures around if the home has been empty for a while.
  • Hazardous materials. The builders of yore were excellent craftsmen, but they were using (unbeknownst to them) dangerous materials like lead and asbestos. If you have small children, even more of a reason to make sure the home is free of hazardous materials. Part of this check should also be for mold growth.
  • Inefficiencies. Old windows and poor insulation walls also tend to be issues with some old homes. Find out what the monthly utility bills cost to see how much work you'll need to do to bring them up to date.
  • Foundation issues. Eventually, nature prevails. Foundation cracks and deterioration are common problems in old homes, especially in climates like the Northeast with freezing temperatures and lots of snow, rain, and wind.




Tags: home   house   old homes   old   safety   homes   history  
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Posted by John Colby on 6/25/2017

f you are on the fence about buying a fixer-upper house, you may be wondering if it’s as affordable as you think it might be. Depending upon what needs to be done in the house and how extensive the projects are, you may be in over your head buying this type of home. Here’s a few things that you should consider before you buy a fixer-upper:


Can You Do Any Of The Work Yourself?


If you watch any television remodeling show, you think that remodeling can be done in an hour. They make it look so easy! Too bad it isn't like that in real life. If you attempt a job, and it takes longer than it normally would, that can set you back on dollars. Even worse, if you can’t complete the job yourself, you may need to hire someone to finish it, which will cause you to incur unexpected costs. Ask yourself the following questions before you decide to undertake your own home improvement projects in a fixer-upper home:


  • Do You Have The skills? 
  • Do you have the time to complete the job? 
  • Will doing the repairs stress you out? 
  • will you be happy if the results are less than professional? 
  • Do you actually want to do the job yourself? 


Before You Make An Offer, Price Out Repairs


Before you even make an offer on a fixer-upper home, make sure that you find contractors and price out the repairs that the home will need. If you do decide to do the work yourself, make sure that you price out the supplies that you’ll need. No matter what you decide to do for your repairs, you should add an additional 10-20% on to the estimated costs for other unforeseen problems.   


Don’t Forget About Permits


You’ll need to check out the permit costs for any and all repairs. Doing work without a permit may save you money, but it could cause problems once you try to resell your home. Contractors can arrange the permits for you. Getting these permits can be a time consuming matter and frustrating at times, so be prepared to go through some paperwork when you start the repair process. 


Understand The Cost Of Major Structural Work


If the home needs major structural work, it’s a good idea to hire a structural engineer for a few hundred dollars in order to inspect the home before you even put in an offer. This way, you can be confident that you have everything budgeted properly and understand the full extent of the problems. 


Generally, it’s not a great idea to purchase a home that needs major structural work unless you fall into the following categories:


  • You’re getting a great discount
  • You understand all of the problems that you’re facing in the home
  • You know for sure that the problem can be fixed
  • You have an estimate for the repairs
  • You know how you’re financing the repairs
  • You have the budget to complete all of the repairs. 


There’s a lot to consider when you’re buying a home that needs significant repairs. It can be a great bargain if you have the budget and the will to complete the projects at hand. Just know what you’re getting into when you buy a fixer-upper home!   





Posted by John Colby on 6/18/2017

Don't let your neighbors get in the way of a fast, easy and profitable home sale. Instead, home sellers can take advantage of the following tips to prevent neighbors from sabotaging a property sale:

1. Talk to Your Neighbors Before You List Your House

Communication can play a key role in the home selling process. As such, maintaining open communication with your neighbors can make a world of difference, particularly for those who want to reap the benefits of a quick, simple home sale.

Reach out to your neighbors before you add your residence to the real estate market. This will allow you to outline your home selling plans to your neighbors.

Also, don't be afraid to ask your neighbors for support.

In most cases, neighbors will be happy to help you achieve your home selling goals. And if your neighbors keep their houses looking great, they may be able to create an attractive neighborhood that helps your property stand out in a competitive real estate market.

2. Respond to Neighbors' Concerns and Questions

Neighbors may have many concerns and questions about your decision to sell your home. With an open approach, you can respond to neighbors' concerns and questions with ease.

If you've lived in your neighborhood for many years, you've likely become close to your neighbors and may consider them to be friends. Therefore, it may be difficult to share the news that you intend to sell your house.

However, try to stay calm, cool and collected as you discuss your home selling plans with neighbors. And remember, even though you plan to live elsewhere in the near future, you can still keep in touch with your friends at any time.

You can always lean on neighbors for home selling advice too. If neighbors have sold houses in the past, they may be able to offer expert insights into the home selling cycle that you might struggle to obtain elsewhere.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to selling your house, meeting with your neighbors can help you get the best results possible. Of course, if you work with a real estate agent, you should have no trouble navigating the property selling process as well.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to list a residence and stir up interest from homebuyers. This housing market professional can teach you about the ins and outs of the real estate sector. Plus, he or she will set up open houses and home showings, keep you up to date about offers on your house and negotiate with homebuyers on your behalf.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is happy to respond to any of your home selling queries. Thus, if you're unsure about how to discuss your home selling plans with neighbors, your real estate agent can provide you with plenty of help.

Ready to add your house to the real estate market? Use these tips, and you can include your neighbors in the home selling journey.




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