Heading Home (V)

Kristine Hayes  |  Dec 11, 2018

WITH MY OFFER of $375,000 accepted, I was faced with coming up with $80,000 to cover my 20% down payment and other closing costs. I had additional expenses as well: There was a home inspection, radon test and sewer assessment that all had to be paid for. And because I’d be breaking the lease on my apartment, I would also need an additional $1,800 for that.
Coming up with the first $50,000 was easy.

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Heading Home (IV)

Kristine Hayes   |  Nov 19, 2018

DURING THE FIRST three weeks of house hunting, I looked at a dozen different properties. None met all the criteria I’d set for my “ideal” home, but a couple came close. My price point of $380,000 limited me to looking at smaller, starter-type homes. The competition for those houses was often fierce. On at least three occasions, a home I wanted to view would appear as a “new listing” one day and be marked as “pending sale” the next.

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Heading Home (III)

Kristine Hayes  |  Oct 23, 2018

WHAT SORT OF HOUSE should I buy? My first consideration was budget. While I’d been preapproved for a $403,000 loan, I knew I wasn’t going to borrow that much. Doing so would mean spending well over half my net income on my mortgage. Instead, I figured out how much cash I had for a down payment—$80,000—and then decided to take out a loan of not more than $300,000. That way, I’d be making a 20% down payment and could avoid buying private mortgage insurance.

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Heading Home (II)

Kristine Hayes  |  Oct 4, 2018

WHEN I FINALLY MADE the decision to apply for a mortgage, time was of the essence. Mortgage rates were rising daily and I wanted to lock in a reasonable rate as quickly as I could.
Luckily, I’m one of those people who pride themselves on being well-organized. The loan officer at my credit union sent me a lengthy list of financial documents I would need to provide before she could begin processing my loan application.

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Heading Home (I)

Kristine Hayes  |  Sep 21, 2018

JUST A FEW MONTHS ago, I wrote about my housing plans. Those plans included waiting until I was closer to retirement age before purchasing a home. Having spent the past five years as a renter, I assumed I’d keep renting until I was ready to leave fulltime work behind.
Living in a relatively inexpensive apartment complex came with a few benefits. It allowed me to invest a large part of my income in various retirement accounts.

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Hot Topic

Brian Downs  |  Jul 20, 2018

IT WAS 90 DEGREES—and we were the unfortunate owners of a broken, 18-year-old heat pump. After evaluating our system, one heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor recommended replacement at a cost of $7,472.
Reluctant to spend that chunk of change, we opted for a second opinion. Company No. 2 spent an hour and a half at our house, changed out a capacitor, added refrigerant and treated the system with “stop-leak,” all for $837.99.

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Homeward Bound

Kristine Hayes  |  Jun 3, 2018

WHEN I GOT DIVORCED, I went from living in a 3,000-square-foot house to a 700-square-foot apartment. For 20 years, I’d been a homeowner. I’d dealt with the drudgery of yardwork, the financial pain of a city-mandated “sewer upgrade” and a never-ending stream of issues with broken appliances, furnaces and hot water heaters.
For the past five years, I’ve been a renter. I’ve dealt with noisy neighbors, steep rent increases and the inevitable boredom that comes with living somewhere where you can’t paint the walls,

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The $121,500 Room

Joel M. Schofer  |  Feb 1, 2018

I HAVE A WIFE, two children, two dogs, and the need for three bedrooms and two bathrooms. In March 2015, I purchased a four bedroom, 3½ bath, 3,000-square-foot house in a nice neighborhood with quality public schools.
The fourth bedroom was largely unnecessary but, like many people, we occasionally get visitors and feel it’s nice to have an extra bedroom for them, instead of spending money on a hotel room. This is the story of how that fourth bedroom cost me more than $121,500,

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My Space

Caitlin Roberson  |  Nov 14, 2017

I BOUGHT MY HOUSE in Silicon Valley by launching a Kickstarter campaign. Together, the team blew past our target and disrupted an entire industry—all while driving for Lyft (not Uber) and Airbnb-ing our couches, of course.
Just kidding.
First, what is a house in Silicon Valley? In the lauded land of garages-turned-unicorns, owning a house means any number of things: A wall, if one’s lucky. A floor. Perhaps a couch.
Not so for the wise who live elsewhere—like my Phoenix-based high school best friend.

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Hitting Home

Julian Block  |  Aug 16, 2017

WHEN IT COMES to your home, ignorance about taxes isn’t bliss—and it could be disastrous. I often field tax questions from homeowners. Most don’t understand how they’re affected by continuously changing tax rules. Even worse, they’re totally unaware that the rules have changed.
Want to save thousands of dollars? What follows are reminders of how to sidestep tax pitfalls and take maximum advantage of frequently missed—but perfectly legal—opportunities:
Mortgage points. Do you plan to purchase a new dwelling around year-end?

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Homes: 10 Questions

Jonathan Clements  |  Jul 20, 2017

HOUSING IS the biggest expense for most American families, typically devouring a third of their budget. Are those dollars getting spent wisely? Here are 10 questions to ask yourself:

Should you buy? If you play around with the mortgage calculator at, you can figure out how big a mortgage you could support with your monthly rent payments. That will give you a sense for whether homeownership is within reach. Even if it is,

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To Buy or Not?

Kristine Hayes  |  Jun 29, 2017

FOR MORE THAN 20 years, I was a homeowner. Like most people, I had a love-hate relationship with the houses I owned. I loved building home equity in the two fixer-uppers I lived in. I loved knowing my mortgage payment would stay relatively constant from year to year. But I never enjoyed yardwork and I hated dealing with unexpected repairs, including replacing an aging sewer line in one house—to the tune of $10,000.
After I got divorced,

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Seller’s Remorse?

Zach Blattner  |  Jun 22, 2017

AS I PREPARE TO MOVE from Philly to Boston this summer, I’ve struggled with how to handle my home. Do I sell the place and pocket the profit—or keep it as a rental property for future income and price appreciation? A quick Google search provides plenty of good reasons to choose either option. But when making a decision of this magnitude, what really matters is your personal situation—and that prompted me to sell. Here are my five reasons:

The financial benefits of renting out the place don’t outweigh the costs.

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Land Grab

Zach Blattner  |  May 18, 2017

WHEN WE MAKE investment mistakes, often bad advice is to blame. Someone recommends a stock or annuity or no-risk rental property, and we’re so tantalized by the upside that we completely miss the pitfalls. Sound familiar? As a counterpoint to this common trope, I wanted to share my best investment—one I never would have made if I hadn’t listened to those around me.
Before I officially closed on my house in Philadelphia, my parents drove by,

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Try This at Home

Nicholas Clements  |  Mar 9, 2017

OUR HOUSE IS 65 years old. I have lived in it for almost half that time. Originally, I bought the house with my twin brother. Now my husband and I live in it. I feel like I was a pioneer of the tiny house movement. The house is 750 square feet. The bedrooms all measure 10 feet by 10 feet. The living room is all of 150 square feet. There are one-and-a-half bathrooms. The previous owner had a family of six.

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