First, know how much house you can reasonably afford. To determine your mortgage costs, use our online Mortgage Calculator.
When looking at homes, check to see that all utilities and heating and cooling systems are functioning smoothly and efficiently. Also, be sure the house is well-insulated. Saved energy translates into saved dollars.
If you're thinking about buying a "fixer-upper," consider whether you really have the time, know-how, and motivation to make necessary improvements.
If you're hiring professional movers, you can reduce expenses by doing most of the packing yourself. Or, if you're moving a short distance, you might consider renting a truck and doing the job yourself. Whatever you choose, you can save on packing materials by finding free boxes at the local supermarket. Try to get used boxes from the moving company too -- they should cost about half as much as new ones.
Generally you can only insure up to $25,000 for personal property, and claims are valid only for major damages (fire, accident, etc.).
When settling in:
Remodeling can make your home more valuable, as well as more livable. Consider these points when making improvements to your new home.
- Keep the value of your property within 15 to 20 percent of others in your neighborhood. If you live in an area of $90,000 homes, buyers probably want a home close to that price. Buyers who can afford pricier homes will shop in more expensive neighborhoods.
- Style your remodeling for mass appeal. Buyers prefer neutral, mainstream design. Play it safe with colors and materials: avoid wild colors, bold patters, and kitchen schemes built around out-of-date hues. Consider local preferences, too.
- Give buyers quality construction. Use materials that look good and wear well. If you plan to do the work yourself, honestly evaluate your ability to do it right. A poor do-it-yourself job costs money in the long run.
- Purchase materials and fixtures on sale when possible, even if you can't install them immediately.
- Keep your remodeling compatible with the existing house. Additions and improvements that look "tacked on" may detract from a home's appeal. Choose materials and design elements that match or blend with what's already there.
- Be willing to endure a little discomfort. Living in unfinished surroundings for a time will enable you to put extra money toward your priorities.