It’s not hard to find out if the home you’re interested in buying is located in a flood zone. Simply ask your realtor, or visit the online Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Map Service Center and enter the property’s address in the search bar. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you decide whether to buy a particular home.
Flooding can happen anywhere
You don’t have to live in a designated flood zone for your home to be at risk of flooding. In fact, flooding can be the result of melting snow, burst pipes, tornadoes, hurricanes, construction issues, blocked storm drains, or problems with municipal sewer lines.
Maps don’t tell the whole story
Even if the home you want to buy isn’t in a designated flood zone, it might still be affected by seasonal changes to water levels in the area. Furthermore, these maps don’t necessarily account for trends driven by climate change such as rising sea levels and extreme rainfall.
Mortgage lenders may require flood insurance
If a property is in a FEMA flood zone that’s considered high-risk, homeowners may need to get flood insurance coverage before their lender agrees to grant them a mortgage. This is true of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA, and VA loans.
If you’re applying for a non-government loan or the home is in a low-risk area, you probably won’t have to purchase flood insurance to secure a mortgage. Nonetheless, getting this type of coverage might be recommended.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by FEMA, provides most residential flood coverage in the United States. In places where the NFIP is unavailable, homebuyers may be able to purchase flood insurance from a private insurer.
All homebuyers should be aware of the potential risks of flooding. The best approach is to do your research, ask pointed questions of the sellers and their neighbors, and spend time in the area. Additionally, working with a local realtor is a huge asset.
4 questions to ask before you buy a vacation home
Vacation homes come in a wide range of styles and sizes and can be found in a variety of locations. But whether you’re looking to buy a cabin in the woods, a bungalow on the beach, or a condo on the slopes, there are several factors to consider before you purchase this type of property.
1. Why do you want it?
To narrow down your search, you should have a clear idea of how you intend to use your vacation home. Do you want a couple’s retreat or a space that can accommodate the whole family? You should also think about what’s nearby and whether you’ll want to move there when you retire.
2. Do you plan to rent it out?
If you only use it on occasion, a vacation home can be a great source of income as a short- or long-term rental property. Keep in mind that you’ll need to manage bookings, clean the space between guest stays, and be available to address questions or problems. You might also have to pay higher insurance premiums.
3. Can you afford the upkeep?
Owning a second property comes with a lot of responsibilities and expenses. In addition to the price of the home, you should factor in the cost of utilities, insurance, maintenance, and more. You may also need to hire someone to take care of the property if you live far away, especially if you have renters.
4. What are the tax implications?
Be sure to speak with a tax professional to avoid unpleasant surprises. While you might be eligible for certain deductions if your vacation home qualifies as a rental property, you’ll likely need to pay capital gains tax if ever you decide to sell the place.
One of the best ways to ensure you find a vacation home that suits your needs and budget is to hire a real estate agent. In particular, look for one who’s familiar with the area where you’d like to invest.
How long does it take to build a house?
If you’re thinking about buying a piece of land and building the home of your dreams, it’s important to consider how long the project will take. While most houses can be built in four to 10 months, there are a variety of factors that can influence this timeline.
Common reasons for delays
The first thing you should know is that it can take quite some time to obtain the necessary construction permits. Another factor that can extend a build by several weeks or more is the location. The topography and type of soil, in particular, can slow things down. Plus, certain weather conditions and shortages in building materials may also cause delays. Any last-minute design changes will like¬wise result in a setback to the timeline.
Tips to stay on schedule
Proper planning is the best way to prevent delays and keep a build on schedule. Among other things, preparation will help ensure materials such as windows and doors are delivered on time. You should also make sure you schedule service calls with plumbers, electricians, and other professionals in the right order to keep things on track. By staying on top of the project’s progress, you can greatly reduce the risk of delays.
In all cases, the experience of your contractor will have a major impact on how fast the work gets done. Be sure to meet with several professionals and select someone who has the right credentials.
Pros and cons of buying a home near a school
Have you found a home that meets all your needs but is located near a school? To determine if you should make an offer, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of living next to this type of institution.
Your neighborhood will probably have a number of safety features if it’s in a school zone. Among other things, the speed limit is likely to be more restricted than it is on other streets, and there may be crosswalk guards posted at busy intersections.
If you have children who are the right age, they can attend school. What’s more, they can easily walk to and from the building, and your family may be able to use the schoolyard as a playground on evenings and weekends.
Another major advantage of living near a school is that your home is likely to have a higher resale value than comparable properties located elsewhere.
If you live near a school, you may have to put up with a fair amount of traffic at times when children are dropped off and picked up. Similarly, events such as recitals and parent-teacher meetings are likely to lead to an increase in traffic and parked cars in the area.
In addition, the sound of the bell and noise coming from the schoolyard might be annoying. Also, keep in mind that living near a school means there’ll often be children near your property. This can hinder your privacy and make the neighborhood feel more hectic.
To determine if living near a school is right for you, carefully weigh these pros and cons.
Selling your home before you move: pros and cons
If you’re planning to move into a seniors’ residence, you may be wondering whether you should sell your home before you make the change. Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of doing so that you may want to consider.
If you sell your home before you move, you’ll save yourself the stress and pressure of trying to complete the transaction quickly once you’re settled into your new abode. In addition, you’ll get the money sooner and can use it to decorate your new place.
In addition, you’ll avoid needing to pay the mortgage and maintenance fees on your old home while also covering the cost of the rent.
If you sell your home before you move, you may have to live there during any renovations that are needed. In addition, you’ll likely have to adjust your schedule to accommodate showings.
Furthermore, if you find a buyer for your home before the unit in your residence becomes available, you’ll need to either temporarily pay rent to stay in your old place or secure an alternative living arrangement in the interim.
Selling a property involves many steps and a lot of paperwork. To simplify the process, be sure to enlist the help of a real estate agent.
How to avoid buying a house that might be haunted
If horror movies aren’t your cup of tea, you might not want to move into a house that’s rumored to be haunted. Here are some tips to help you avoid unintentionally buying a property with a reputation for paranormal activity.
Ask if the property is stigmatized
Depending on the state, the seller might be required to disclose certain information about the property’s history. A house can be considered stigmatized if death or crime occurred on the premises. In some cases, the seller is only required to disclose this information if asked by a potential buyer.
Do your own research
Use the property’s address to search online for newspaper articles, historical documents, and other local records. These sources might reveal information about a suspicious death that occurred on the property. You might also be able to find out if the house was built on an old cemetery or battlefield.
Talk to the neighbors
If you see any of the neighbors outside during your visit to the home, ask if they’d be willing to answer a few questions about the property. They might be able to give you some information, especially if they’ve lived in the area for a long time.
Look into the history of the house
Has the property been bought and sold several times in the past few years? Has it lost a lot of value during that period? These types of changes could indicate that something strange is going on with the home, so be sure to make inquiries if this is the case.
Finally, don’t hesitate to talk to your real estate agent about your concerns. A realtor can help you find out what you need to know to make an informed decision.
3 myths about green homes
Are you interested in buying an eco-friendly property? If so, it’s important to have all the facts. Here are some common misconceptions about green homes.
1. Only new homes can be green
Older homes can be made more eco-friendly by replacing the plumbing and electrical systems, upgrading the windows and doors and improving the insulation. Purchasing Energy Star certified appliances is also a good idea.
2. Eco-friendly homes are in the middle of nowhere
While you might prefer to live off-grid, there are plenty of eco-friendly homes located in cities that use municipal electric, water and gas servi¬ces. What makes these homes more sustainable is that they consume less energy than their counterparts.
3. Green homes are utilitarian
If you want to buy an eco-friendly home, you don’t have to choose between beauty and sustainability. In fact, many green homes are quite attractive due to their thoughtful design and use of natural materials.
To find out more about the eco-friendly homes in your area, contact a local real estate agent.
If you can’t afford to move right now, consider making small changes to your current home to make it more eco-friendly. Even simple modifications like replacing your shower head and light bulbs with greener alternatives can make a difference.