If you're new to the real estate game, there's lots to know before buying, selling, or investing in property. Real estate is an involved arena, and there's plenty of specific language and jargon related to the industry. Brush up on these 20 common terms which are used frequently in the real estate field and you'll feel better prepared to make your next property moves properly!
Amenities: All the "perks" which enhance what a building has to offer are the amenities. Think doorman, garage, storage space, gym, etc. The more of these that come with the purchase, the more you'll feel you're getting for your money.
Appraisal: A licensed appraiser will give an evaluation on the worth of a property based on the study of recent sales of properties in a similar category. The seller can use this determination to generate a reasonable and competitive asking price on their property.
Closing: More like an opening to new beginnings, the closing is the action when the ownership of the property exchanges hands from the seller to the buyer, along with a signed contract.
Commercial Zones: No, not a McDonald's ad during your favorite prime time programming, but areas where a property can be used for retail shops, eateries, and other businesses, rather than residential living.
Commission: A brokers cut of the work they've put in to market and sell a property. Traditionally, the commission will be a specific percentage of the purchase price for the property.
Contract: This legal agreement between the buyer and the seller includes the offer, the acceptance, and the description of the property in question, and must be signed by all parties in order to be legally valid. Be sure to read every bit of fine print and consult with a lawyer if required or recommended before signing on the dotted line.
Counter-Offer: While this sounds like what one may be willing to spend on a kitchen counter, it's actually a new offer made for a property when the prior one was not up to snuff. A counter-offer can be made by either the buyer or the seller until the two parties reach an agreement… or not.
Fixture: Anything attached to the property permanently is considered a fixture, and is generally accepted to come with the sale price of a property. Appliances, lighting, etc. fall into this category unless otherwise agreed upon in the contract.
Floor Plan: This is a drawn out or computer-generated plan of the property space with dimensions, room sizes, and placement, and where the doors, windows, and room partitions are located. This is helpful to plan for furnishings and to get an idea of the space layout before seeing it in person.
Full Bath: While a tub filled to the brim with warm water and bubbles is one definition, when it comes to real estate jargon, a full bath means that the bathroom contains a toilet, a sink, and a tub or shower. A half-bath would not have the tub or shower.
Lease: When you rent a property from the owner, this is considered a lease. Payments are typically made on a monthly basis and often include other facilities such as heating, electric, water, etc.
Lot: A section of land that is part of a listing is considered to be the lot. Often this is measured in acres. If you are seeking a large area for a home or property with plenty of space surrounding it, seek out a generous lot.
Maintenance: If you plan to purchase in a co-op, there will be a monthly maintenance charge to pay for the costs for the building's general needs. This includes taxes, mortgage, operational costs, even a doorman if applicable. Factor this charge into your monthly costs to ensure you've planned your spend accordingly.
Penthouse: Usually one of the grander spaces in a building, the penthouse is on the top floor of a building and is often the most expensive. If you're ready to move on up, consider the penthouse for luxury living and a smart long-term investment.
Pied-a-Terre: Some people purchase or rent a place that they seldom or periodically stay at, and is not used as their primary residence. This is called a pied-a-terre and is often used by those who travel for work, vacation in the same area year after year, or for investment purposes. Subletting is sometimes allowed so the owner may make money on the place when not in use personally.
Realtor: AKA a real estate agent, this person must be part of the National Association of Realtors and assists the buyer or seller with the purchase or sale of their property via marketing, listings, and showings. They will make a commission off the sale of the property.
Sublet: An apartment owner can rent their place to a tenant provided this action is allowed by the building. The owner may live elsewhere or in another portion of the property.
Title: This document proves that a person owns or has the right to a property. The title will change hands at time of closing.
Tenant: The tenant has temporary use of a property which belongs to another owner. A renter or sub-letter would be examples of tenants.
Valuation: Once appraised, the valuation is the estimated worth or price of a property. Be sure to acquire a reliable person or service to provide this information to you before selling or buying.
Now that you are more real estate educated, it's time to make the move to buy or sell with knowledge and confidence. Now close that deal!
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.